We have never sailed Holland America before. We have sailed Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. HAL ran some great last minute deals, and we decided to give it a try. The Westerdam is a beautiful ship. Very well maintained, and the service was terrific. Every crew member that we encountered had a pleasant demeanor and went out of their way to be helpful.
We flew in the night before and stayed at the Hyatt Place North. It was close to the cruise terminal. We used our points, and I really don't know how much it would normally cost. It was clean, the staff was friendly, and it was convenient. We took advantage of HAL's policy to bring wine and soda on board. We also pre-ordered a bottle of liquor to be delivered to the cabin. The price was reasonable, and how convenient!
Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze. I've experienced much worse on other crusie lines.
Overall, the food was excellent. We ate most of our dinners in the Vista dining room, and we tried the Pinnacle and Cannaletto (sp?). We did not have a bad meal on the ship, although I would say that you could skip the Cannaletto. It was just okay. The Pinnacle was outstanding. We were also pleasantly surprised by the selection and quality in the Lido restaurant. We were used to cafeteria quality on the other cruise lines, and HAL knows how to do it right.
The entertainment on the ship was pretty good. We saw almost all of the shows. The singers and dancers did a fine job. We saw the comedian Barnaby and really enjoyed him. Very funny guy. We checked out the disco a couple of nights, and apparently, this just wasn't the crowd for dancing. There were only a few people dancing at any given time. Half of the time, the DJ was wandering around other areas of the ship. The casino was always crowded.
There isn't much in the way of shopping onboard. This cruise line does cater to folks who want to spend a lot of money on jewelry. They have a nice private area set up to look at jewelry in private. We did not take advantage of that :)
We hope this review is helpful. We really enjoyed our cruise, and we will definitely sail on a Holland ship again.