We wanted to visit Alaska and chose the Holland America Westerdam because of 1)price 2)sailing from our hometown Seattle 3)Agents recommendation. My most recent cruise before this was on the Disney Magic with which I was incredibly impressed. I was, however overall mildly disappointed with the Westerdam.
The room was nice, although cramped but the extra large balcony made up for it. We had an excellent steward, however, the attention to detail for cleanliness was disappointing. Twice, the blanket put on our bed was dirty with hair and spots. There was trash stuffed in the stool caddy that was apparently overlooked from past cruisers. This may sound trivial but the towel animals put on the bed every night were clearly quite amateur. I have seen some pretty elaborate ones and these looked like they were made by small children.
I was pleased with the spa, myself and my boyfriend each had a treatment and it was top notch service. They were also very accommodating and offered many good deals.
They did offer a lot of activities on board, however, most of them seemed geared towards the older demographic. I really wasn't interested in learning about my PC or photoshop while on board. I was initially excited about the culinary classes but felt they only offered "light" things like smoothie classes and lemonade. I expected real culinary classes. My boyfriend and I did enjoy the wine tastings. My 18 year old son, however was incredibly bored during the days at sea. i was surprised that the ping pong tables were in disrepair as well. Again, attention to detail.
We booked our shore excursions on our own and were incredibly happy with them. During our visit to Sitka, however, we weren't made aware in advance that we had to disembark onto boats that would take us to port and that we needed to have tickets ahead of time. We found this out the morning of and nearly missed our kayaking excursion. We also thought that there was much confusion as to where we disembarked the ship in a couple of ports. We even asked employees at one point and they didn't even know. Several people were wandering around much like us wondering. The ports were amazing as was Hubbard Glacier, perhaps my favorite part of the cruise. The ship was late getting into Victoria however. We arrived at night and were looking forward to seeing the town but had little time to do that.
We dined at LeCirque/Pinnacle Grill twice and were incredibly happy with the service and food. The food in the Vista Dining room was equally as wonderful although the service was a little less attentive. The Lido Deck buffet really left something to be desired however. I found a fly in my salad once and didn't eat there again. The room service breakfasts were really terrible. The rest of the room service menu was just ok. It seems that most of the culinary attention was to the main dining room and specialty restaurants which I highly recommend.
We were told that Holland America really emphasises the "formal" nights. We were in a tux and cocktail dress and we were among the best dressed on board. I was really surprised to see that "formal" meant something entirely different to most of the passengers.
I was pleasantly surprised with the comedians on board. I didn't see any of the other entertainment however. We are night owls and it seemed that the only thing to do after 10pm was the disco. It was fun for a while but the DJ played the same songs over and over.
All in all, I have to say the cruise itself was pleasant. The scenery and ports were amazing. The food in the dining rooms was really top notch as was the wine. Room service and the casual dining were really not good. As far as activities, this cruise if definitely set up for the older crowd. Young adults or the young at heart might be really bored. I was disappointed in the cleanliness of our room. Service in general was good but could have been way better. There seemed to be a lot of confusion about disembarking and such, perhaps this being the first Alaska cruise of the season contributed to that. The highlight of this cruise was the food and the scenery/ports. The rest is forgettable. Compared with Disney, this cruise line falls way short overall. I had a great time but won't be cruising with Holland America again.