Starting off my expectations were a little tempered with this cruise for a few reasons. Mainly that we were travelling with elderly relatives, inlaws, 10 month old son...you name it. So obviously this wouldn't be our normal "relaxing" trip. On top of that was the slightly tempered hesitation about sailing a line perceived to cater to the retired and not families with young infants. Some of these worries were realized...many were not.
Let me first say as we just got off the ship yesterday...I could not have been happier with most of our experience with the Westerdam. Nearly all of my fears about the actual ship and line proved to not be true. A lot of this MAY have been because we cruised over a holiday(Thanksgiving) but the notion that somehow this line thumbed there nose at family cruisers is simply not true. This leads me to my next and most important praise. The staff. The staff on this ship were something we had not experience in any other line or on any other ship. In past cruises we have always had great experiences with staff but not in ALL areas. The staff on the Westerdam were just truly one of a kind. They always remembered who we were, what we liked to eat, our names, our sons name heck I think they must be required to take notes. This wasn't just a few staff this seemed to be anyone who had ever run into us. Truly amazing. Not only was this a wonderful experience but all staff need to go through whatever training HAL provides in how NOT to pester guests into buying things..(drinks of the day etc) the staff was just great and I think this is what stood out the most on this cruise.
The only things im going to bring up here regarding a few minor hiccups that need to be noted or they too would have been considered great. First off the Food. The food in the main dining room was fantastic. The wait staff well see the above points. The only misses here arent deal breakers but need to be noted. The room service wasnt good. It wasnt terrible, but it wasnt good. Also the Thanksgiving dinner was a bit of a let down. I do of course think this is because they only make this dinner ONE day a year and clearly arent experts in Americana homestyle Turkey day dinners. No deal breaker but worth noting.
Secondly and lastly, photographers, photographer availabilities and their seemly archaic system of organizing their pictures. We could rarely find them to get family pictures taken. Having taken a cruise on NCL and seeing the face recognition system at play and organization by room numbers the HAL system is just so 1990s lol. Our final night was filled with an hour trying to locate our pictures in large stacks marked by post it notes only to find that the ships printer was down and some photos were missing from their files. What a downer.
Finally the Bad:
Traveling with large extended families, inlaws, parents etc...lol jk jk but in all seriousness the only things that kind of irked me in the end was the way some people held a sense of entitlement on this cruise more so than others. It could be the age group that was represented but there were a few snide comments about bringing kids on a cruise and allowing our child to come to a formal dinner. In all honesty our son was very well behaved and when he wasn't we took him out of the dining room. AND in MOST cases everyone loved all of the kids on board. but there were just a few rather rude vocal exceptions....anyway.
All and all given all the variables it was a wonderful experience and we would sail HAL again. PM me if you have any questions about cruising with an infant on the vista class ships.