When I started looking into taking a cruise it was advised to use a travel agent if you had never traveled before. I spoke with an agent who recommended Holland America Line. My girlfriend who cruises all the time recommended I shop around to find the best deal. I ended up booking though an online cruise site. I really saved a lot of money that way.
Our week on the ms Westerdam was great. Before leaving the forecast was mostly rain. But we didn't get the rain! It was overcast but we even got sunshine. The temperature wasn't too hot nor too cold. It was great for sightseeing at the different ports.
My husband and I are foodies and we were so please with the quality of the food we ate! Since we were in a deluxe verandah suite, we had our breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. That was always nice. The service was usually good but we had a couple of times that were not up to par but overall it was a great perk. The only thing I would not recommend is the oatmeal. Hard to believe you can screw up oatmeal but it was the only breakfast item that really was not very good.
Eating in the MDR was always outstanding. The only thing is that the desserts were not as good as the meal. I was really surprised. That was disappointing but since the main meal was so good, it wasn't horrible to just leave the dessert.
We also ate in the Pinnacle Grill and enjoyed that too. I don't know that the food was that much better than the MDR but the atmosphere was nicer and so the whole experience was worth paying the extra money. Of course the food was delightful.
The most disappointing food was at the Lido Restaurant. We only ate there twice - the first lunch buffet as we left Seattle and the last night before arriving back to Seattle. Since the food was so good on the rest of the ship, we were surprised that the Lido was only OK, not even very good in our opinion. I'm glad we didn't eat there any more than we did. We hate to waste a meal with mediocre food! Especially since there was plenty of good food on board!
We also ate at the Canaletto. We enjoyed our meal there. The antipasto they offered at the beginning was especially delicious. We tried to go again on the last night but got back from Victoria too late and lost our reservation so that is how we ended up eating at the Lido.
The dinner at Le Cirque was excellent. We really enjoyed everything we ate at that meal. It's hard to single out what part of the dinner was best since we loved it all. We especially liked the creme brulee because it was done in the traditional classic way. Absolutely delicious! Be sure to eat a light lunch that day because you get lots of great food at this dinner!
The entertainment was hit or miss. We went the first night and it was terrible! It was just an introduction to all the people who would be performing during the week and then they ended with a game show with passengers participating. That was not a "show" to us. Later in the week we saw a good show and caught the end of the Elton John tribute which now I wish I had seen the whole show. I'm assuming they don't want to spend the time putting on full shows each night so that is why the first two nights were pretty "campy." But when they did the more professional shows at the end of the week, the quality was very good.
We especially enjoyed spending time in the Crows Nest listening to the guitar player. We got up there as much as we could and enjoyed that immensely.
Another fun place was the piano bar. He mostly did Broadway tunes which were not bad but we would have enjoyed more variety.
The scenery was beautiful! We loved just relaxing and enjoy the scenery. We took two excursions. On Juneau we went on the float plane to Taku lodge. The salmon lunch was absolutely fantastic. It was great to fly over the glaciers. The day was beautiful and we saw a black bear up close! It was a very enjoyable experience.
In Sitka we took a whale watch tour. We didn't pre-book this trip. We just went with a guy who was there when we debarked. We saw whales, otters, bald eagles and the most beautiful scenery! He had his dog on board which we loved! We were lucky we had such nice weather to really enjoy being out on a small boat.
It would have been nice to get closer to Hubbard Glacier than we did. Didn't get to see or hear any calving.
Overall we had a fantastic time. Staying in a suite really was special. Having access to the Neptune Lounge was wonderful. We had open seating in the MDR which worked out perfect for us. The concierge in the Neptune Lounge was very helpful in getting us dinner reservations, having laundry picked up and delivered and answering any questions we had! Most of the staff was very helpful. Of course, some were better than others but overall we felt we got good service throughout the ship.
My dad went dancing three nights and had a great time. He took some of the dance lessons and enjoyed those too.
We took the hands on Italian cooking class. That was fun. The food we prepared was fantastic too. We hope to do the same menu here at home for friends. We got a nice apron to keep as a reminder to our fun and informative experience.
We hope to go cruising again, maybe even back to Alaska! I would recommend Holland America Line and the ms Westerdam for a great cruise experience.
Afterwards we shopped around town. Enjoyed spending time in Juneau.