Panama Canal April 15 2011: Westerdam Cruise Review by Se4deb
Overall Member Rating
Panama Canal April 15 2011
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Aruba was the surprise port for us. I don't know what we expected but it is a very nice port, full of helpful people. It was hot - to hot to be ashore very long but there was a nice little white sand beach just behind the first row of shops that was easily accessible and covered with seashells. We spent some time there and then worked our way back to the ship.
The Panama Canal was the reason for the trip and it did not disappoint. We were up early and enjoying Panama buns. Don't know what is in those little bits of heaven but I really don't care, they are melt in your mouth. The locks were very interesting and the whole process was explained by the CD and his staff. It took about 8 hours but we enjoyed every minute of it.
The next port was in Costa Rica. Made it to dry land and turned around and went back to the ship. Nothing there if you don't take an excursion. As my sainted mother would say, "didn't leave anything there, no reason to go back."
Nicaragua is without a doubt the poorest of the ports. There is a little shopping plaza within walking distance of the ship. Recommend it just to see what little people can do with.
Guatemala was next, again a shopping plaza within walking distance of the dock. Nicer but still a very challenged area of the world. No curb cuts.
The next two ports were in Mexico. Again, shopping areas within walking distance of the ship, local entertainment and things to do rather than rush back to the ship. The last two ports in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were big cities with a lot of $$. Not much to write about except that Cabo is a tendered port and those are always a challenge for those with mobility issues.
The worst part of the trip was San Diego. We didn't get off the ship until after 10:00 because someone thought that the immigration screening was for everyone except them. I know that some people missed flights because of the immigration hold up. Retrieving luggage is always a problem if you are pushing a wheelchair and I hate to say it, but at San Diego the porters were working the taxi crowd and ignoring the bus transfer crowd. The buses got blocked in by a firetruck and ambulance so it took quite a bit of time to get out of the terminal area. I know that people that took the ship to airport excursion were very frustrated that it was not handled well. They didn't know where to go or which bus to get on.
The Westerdam is a wonderful ship - a little scrapped up on her sides by the canal sides when we left her and I hear she had a little problem with an iceberg in Alaska, but a good ship full of great people that worked hard to make our Panama Canal experience wonderful. She needs a little spiffing up in some areas. They really need to do something about the problem with the hydro pool dumping out into the hallway in rough water. They also need to get rid of every one of those artfully designed steak knives, that they use in the main dining room. They won't stay on your plate unless you glue them down and are awkward to use. I think they are top heavy or something. They just aren't right. The staff is hard to beat in my opinion. The busing staff in the Lido are quick to jump to your aid and carry whatever needs carrying since they did away with trays. Not sure that was a good move but I do understand the reasoning. My wish for the Westerdam and HAL in general in continue doing what you do the way they do it. Less
Cabin review: 5001
5001 - has to be one of the best cabins on the Westerdam. I am assuming the same for the opposite 5002. 5001 on the front of the ship has a nice size balcony but also has a good sized window that looks to the front of the ship. It is amazing how large that room feels with that additional window. Plus when you are cruising the Panama Canal or the glaciers in Alaska, they open up the front and you have access to the bow just steps from your room. The room is very quiet. No traffic except the stewards. The only problem is that it is a long walk to just about everywhere on the ship, but the same can be said of most cabins.
StarBreeze Panama Canal
Island Princess Panama Canal
Overall, A Good Trip