Westerdam Cruise Review by darthdes: Westerdam - Not too bad
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Westerdam - Not too bad
Sailed on the MA Westerdam from Seattle (6/18-6/25) round trip Seattle: Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria BC. Had a veranda cabin on the port side on Deck 5 with four.
Embarkation was not bad (had to fill out health questionnaires while standing in line which was "semi annoying") and went by pretty fast for the size of the line (arrived at the terminal around 1:30 pm).
If you are going to shop, grab 2 or 3 Alaska coupon books by Alaska Magazine) that were handed out just before you board (several free items in Ketchikan and Juneau, nothing in Sitka or Victoria but curiously in Skagway which we did not dock at). Several fellow passengers asked me where I got that book (Westerdam did not give or have any of these books).
In the Lido and Vista Dining Room, they do not serve complementary soda!!!
If you do not care about paying $2.44 for a can of soda then help yourself to the cabin mini bar (they check it daily when they clean the More room) or $6.00 for a large bottle or $2.00 for a small size of water. The stuff in your room is NOT complementary as several first time passengers thought (in some hotels, they post the prices inside the refrigerator mini bar. You can take small cartons of milk from the buffet to store there or sneak stuff aboard.
When I first ate lunch on Embarkation Day in the Lido Buffet, I thought the sodas were complementary. I also thought the bottled water was complementary. When the first server asked for a room card...I stopped him and handed back the water bottle. The second server opened the sodas before I could stop him, guess he saw me stop the first server....(On the Disney cruise, soda was complementary, but that was back in 2008).
They should say there is a charge or at least have it in print someplace. One older couple got annoyed over this when settling their account.
The second pull down bunk was directly over the main bed....BE CAREFUL if you sit up...They should at least have put padding under that pull down bunk. My wife hit her head several times and I did too.
This is an "older" crowd demographically so if you have kids, teens and are younger, you may want to rethink this cruise.
Saw some returning Humpbacks (from Baja?) and Orcas on the return.
Ate in the Vista Dining Room every night (service was slow on some days but fast on others, there was some lapses but nothing to make a real "federal case over"). You can eat breakfast and lunch there too as opposed to the Lido Buffet. Never saw any burrito skins at the Mexican buffet in the Lido pool area and they did have real taco shells for 2 days.
On Disembarkation Day, had a late "gray" tag for 9:30 am so there was no general "everyone for themselves" but if you have a 12:15 flight (board at 11:45 am) then you are risking it. I got through a very officious and semi paranoid TSA (we had some "newbie" trying to impress the boss and the boss had to come over and tell him to step it up) and had to run a long ways to my flight with 20 minutes to spare.
Alaska Air needs a lot more help at their check in. Factor in a full 3 hours from when your transportation arrives at the terminal to when you board. Simply tell Holland that you have an "earlier" flight if you want to get off earlier.
Customs was fast. They were as "interested" as their Canadian counterparts.
The pickup at the Seattle terminal is a mad house and several drivers had to "orbit" repeatedly. Security seemed to be on "power trips".
Holland America's two 7 day Glacier trips are essentially the same so if I want to see other cities or have more time then I may have to check out the competition but then again, this was the least expensive at this time. The more popular July and August bookings are more expensive.
Hope this helps. Saw some negative reviews on the May 2011 voyages so I was apprehensive. They need to paint the outside especially the lifeboat divots. Lots of rust that probably does not affect the operations but it detracts from the ambience and experience.
Three shows (13 person cast). Shows were okay. Nothing to cheer about after you seen the Disney shows.
Did not play in the casino (1 and 2 cent slot machines as well as slots up to $1 per pull). Poker and 21 card games. Must cash out any winnings on your room key by 2 pm of the last day.
Librarians seems "bored". If you want to "permanently borrow" a book then you can do that. Coffee shop prices as standard for what you would pay at home.
During dessert in the Vista Dining Room, their capaccino machine died so the server had to run forward. I opted not to force him to run to the other edge of the galaxy. He appreciated that. Less
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Cabin review: VA5056 Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
5056 - port side. Can see the glacier from here as opposed to the crowd at the back of the ship. Only thing was the positioning of the pull down bunk. The room attendant should have warned you but I think that the management told him "not to" as to avoid "scaring the passengers". To hear announcements, I had to sometimes open the door and stand in the hallway. Four passengers max. If you bring lots of stuff, ask for more hangers or bring your own. Had a shower/tub. Had the electrician come in to fix the light switch. There is a complementary safe in the room. Faucet water tastes like "desalination"
Port and Shore Excursions
Hubbard Glacier - Great. Saw some calving (ice falling off the glacier with "booms").
Here's where that Alaska Coupon Book comes into play.
Answer: You ONLY need your cabin key. No passports or picture id!!! Canadian customs and emigration did not check anything. When you return, you only have to show that cabin key.
The downtown is a 45 minute "force march" according to the bus driver. To do that at night in an unfamiliar place....? Was here from 6:00 pm to midnight. Again, would have liked to arrive in daylight for a full day. I would suggest the Holland America first go to Victoria from Seattle then sail up to Juneau.
Bus driver took us on a impromptu tour of the city on the way back to the bus. There is a small tourist shop at the dock for the "made in China" souvenirs or post cards. You need Canadian postage and not US stamps!