We travelled with our 2 sons, age 24 and 21 on the November 27th sailing of the Westerdam from Fort Lauderdale.
Embarkation: We were impressed with how organized Holland America was. We arrived at the port about 1045 a.m. We waited in the check in line for 5 minutes, then our turn came and within 10 minutes we were done. After that we sat for about 30 minutes til we could board. Once on the ship we went straight to our cabin which was ready for us. Our stewards came by soon after we boarded and introduced themselves and told us to let them know if we needed anything. After that they always greeted us by name and with a big smile whenever we saw them.
Cabin: We were in cabin 5009, very near the front, starboard side with a balcony. It is a quad cabin, which means there is sleeping for four people. My husband and I shared the queen bed, one son had the sofa bed and the other was in the 4th bed that drops down from the ceiling. It lies perpendicular to the lower bed, over the head end of the lower beds. Each night the stewards would drop it down ( I think they had to have a special key to do it)and thjen the next morning they would stow it away again. I wondered how I would feel about sleeping with that over top of my head but it was no problem, actually felt kind of cozy. Just be careful getting up in the night!
Our cabin was always cleaned and tidied whenever we left it. We found the airconditioning worked really well. Storage for our 4 large cases and 4 carryons all fit under the beds. We took extra hangers with us which came in handy as there were four of us sharing all the closet and drawer space.
Staff: We found all the staff friendly, professional and eager to please. We could not say anything negative about the staff at all.
Ship: The ship itself was nice. I have read reviews that some people say it is run down, but I don't agree. Yes, there are areas that show a bit of wear, but big deal. It is kept spotlessly clean, is nicely decorated, has beautiful artwork everywhere you look. We thought it was great. It is not too big, never seemed crowded (except around the show lounge as the shows let out, but that soon clears), there are ample elevators, lots of quiet little areas to sit. We loved the Crow's Nest - quiet, comfortable relaxed place to hang out. If ever I couldn't find my husband, that's where he was.
Food: Overall the food was great. The Lido is quick and has for the most part tasty food, but not much ambience. The main dining room is nicely decorated, has attentive servers and offers many choices on it's ever changing menu. Our problem was trying to decide what to order from all the things that sounded so good. We felt the quality of food was very good, and the food presentation was great. We were on anytime dining. Somedays we called earlier in the day to prebook a time, other days we just showed up. Once this had us waiting for about 1/2 hour, but they gave us a pager and we went and sat in a nearby lounge and listened to the lovely music of the Addagio Strings.
Pinncale Grill: We had a wonderful meal here that was worth every penny of the extra premiun they charge. Very good food, large portions, very professional servers, nice setting- what's not to love!
Le Cirque: We dined again in the Pinnacle grill on the night they turn it into Le Cirque. Again, wonderful food and service in a lovely setting.
Entertainment: We enjoyed the shows we saw. The singers and dancers were good, and we liked the comedians quite a bit.
Activities: Always lots to see and do around the ship - just check out the daily planner they leave in your cabin for the next day's activities. You could be as busy or laid back as you wanted. I like that they don't go around and try to drag you into an activity like happens at some land resorts. I would recommend the behind the scene kitchen tour and see where all your lovely meals are coming from!
Disembarkation: Again this was very organized. Depending on what your travel plans/flight times were, you were given colour coded tags for your bags which you put out the night before. In the a.m. you waited for your tag to be called then exited the ship and met up with your bags in the terminal, again in the area that corresponded to your colour tag. Easy, organized, no pushing or rushing around. They had it down to an exact science.
We exited the building, walked a short distance to the taxi area and were in a taxi on the way to the airport in about 10 minutes. I had already printed off our boarding passes for Southwest while on board the ship in the Explorations Cafe so check-in at the airport was a breeze.
Overall: We had a great time and would definitely cruise again with Holland America. My sons only complaints (other than that mom snores) was that they were much younger than most passengers and would have liked a bit more action at times. But hey, when you get to go a cruise for VERY little money because you are sharing with your parents, thems the breaks!!