Sorry it has taken so long, but I am finally getting around to doing the review on the Westerdam Feb. 4 sailing. Things have been crazy since we got home, in fact we need another cruise just to recover! Little bit of a background, DW and I are both in our early 60's and this was our 37th cruise, not all of them on HAL but over all the lines. The purpose of this trip was just to relax and veg out. We were in these ports in Dec. so we had no plans on rushing around trying to see everything in sight.
We flew down to FLL the day before as we usually do. For those of you in the Midwest you will remember that was the time of snow and ice. It felt so good to arrive in 76 degree weather. We rented a car and drove over to Weston. We really like it over there, it is away from the hustle and bustle of FLL, they have great restaurants and of course the Saw Grass Mall where we can pickup last minute things whether we need them or not. We usually stay at the Marriott Residence Inn there. The next morning we got up and had a nice leisurely breakfast, did a little bit of repacking for the things we bought the night before and then headed off to the pier about 10:30. Dropped my DW off at the pier with the luggage and I went to return the car. I was back and we were on the ship by 11:30. I had heard that they were going to try and have the rooms ready by 11:30 on these boards and as we walked on the ship they announced that the rooms were ready. It was so nice to drop off our carry ons before going to lunch.
We were in 8002, all the ways forward, next to either the captain's or an officer's room. It was your typical veranda room, just what we expected. We had ordered a soda card and a bottle of Sterling Vodka and made reservations at the Pinnacle which was all there waiting for us. Also there was a letter from the hotel manager stating that he noticed that we had given some low scores to certain items on our Dec trip on the Zuidy and that if there was any thing we needed assistance with to please let him know. Boy talk about customer service, someone does actually read those surveys. To be honest the things we talked about on the survey were very minor. Since we had been on the Zuidy in Dec and this is the sister ship, we knew where everything was. Before we left for lunch we did meet our room stewards who were absolutely wonderful, we could not have asked for anything better. We headed off to the Lido to get some lunch. On the way we stopped at the restaurant reservation stand. I had tried to book the Pinnacle for that night on line but they only showed 5:30 as being available, too early for us. No problem, got a 7:30 reservation. We do not like going to the DR the first night, too much chaos. We also made reservations at Canaletto Restaurant for later in the week. We already had reservations made for later in the week for the Pinnacle again. Went to the Lido for lunch, food was good as usual and we were under code orange for the first couple of days. Some people were complaining about it, but hey if you can keep me from getting sick go for it.
That afternoon we just relaxed around the ship, went back and unpacked our luggage, did the drill, etc. That night we went to the Pinnacle for dinner. As usual the food was excellent and the service was top notch. This time I had the Lamb chops and they were cooked perfectly and seasoned just right. As usual we ate too much, but what the heck we are on vacation. Hit the casino for a while and then off to the room. We enjoy sitting on our balcony for a while before bed, it is so relaxing.
Next day we were at HMC. Been there a number of times, went over for a little bit, then back to the ship. I would rather eat on board, and not fight the crowds and flies. The Noordam was also there.
That night was the first formal night and we decided to eat in the dining room. We had signed up for AYWD as we usually do and go there about 7:30. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. I did not consider that a problem since we were going in prime time. We sat at a table for 8 and for those of you asking about how to dress for formal night here is what was worn at our table. I had a suit on, one had a Tux on, one had a jacket but no tie, and one had no jacket or tie on. - in other words wear what you want. Anyway great table mates and had some good conversation. This was actually the only time we ate in the dining room, all the other days we ate at the Pinnacle, Canaletto Restaurant or the Lido. The next day there was a plate of homemade candies and a note apologizing for the wait we had in the dining room. Boy HAL no one can beat you when it comes to customer service.
The next day was at sea and also Super Bowl Sunday. We relaxed all day and went to the Lido at night to get something to eat. That night they had the Super Bowl party in the theater. All sorts of decorations and food. Wish I would have known how much they were going to put out would have skipped dinner. Game was great the only thing that was missing was the commercials but from what I hear they were not very good this year anyway.
We were in Aruba the next day. Just relaxed and walked around. We didn't sail out until 11:00pm. We did go to the crow's nest for a couple of drinks. Mike is great up there and ended up being one of our favorite spots to go. We also went to the Piano bar which was another place we frequented quite often. On the way to the piano bar we noticed the casino was open - wait how could that be, we were still in port. Someone said that because the ship we of Dutch registration and we were in a dutch port they could be opened.
The next day we were in Curacau. Another relaxing day since we had just been there. We docked in Downtown this time. Did not like it as much, area is run down and don't have the little market before you get on the ship.
We had two relaxing sea days after that. Yes the chair hogs were out, but that is just a fact of life. Have a little patience and something will open up.
One thing I did want to mention is we were in the Crow's nest one evening sitting up at the bar talking to Mike the bartender and we hear "where is my bucket of beers, I've been waiting 5 minutes! I want to see the man in the white shirt (meaning the manager). The waiters tried to explain that it was on it's way out but he would have nothing to do with it. The manager came up and he was just as belligerent to him. After he finished he turned to the bar and flipped them off. That is where I said enough is enough and went over to the manager and said "let me tell you the other side of the story" I told him one of the reasons we go on HAL is the service and the crew in the crow's nest was top notch and he should disregard what the "jerk" had to say. What makes people think they can treat others like dirt because they pay for a cruise. He never did show up in the crow's nest again at least while we were there all week.
We did the Luggage express where you don't see your luggage until you get to your home airport, it was great, took all the hassle out of getting off the ship. All in all this was a great cruise and we accomplished what we wanted to, relax, eat good food and meet some great people. What more could we ask for. We are not scheduled for another cruise until Dec - going through deep withdrawal!