Our extended family, which included two toddlers, was on the Westerdam that sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale for 7 days on November 27, 2011. I was very, very skeptical after hearing that Holland America had an older crowd and not many children. Lesson learned - don't believe everything you read and wait to form your own opinions.
We had a wonderful time. Yes, there were plenty of people who were probably retired. However I think we got only one strange look at a child who was dancing around the Lido restaurant. Other than that all the passengers were very courteous to my 3 year old daughter and asked if she was enjoying herself (which she was!). In addition the crew was fabulous and a lot would ask where my daughter was if we showed up somewhere without her.
The food was good, although my husband wanted more in the dining room. I let him know he could have ordered as much as he wanted : ) I felt the servings in the Dining Room, if you got a salad and appetizer, were good sizes. Since we had a little one we mostly ate at the Lido Restaurant. The food wasn't bad but nothing to write home about especially at dinner time. The lunch options seemed to have more variety. The Grille at the Lido pool was really good but only available at lunch. We also got room service a couple of times which came in really handy.
Rooms - Very nice size. I had been on one other cruise on Carnival about 13 years ago and remember cramped cabins and bathrooms. This time there was a lot of storage (unfortunately I saw the under bed storage at the end of the cruise) and the bathroom was a good size for us.
The ports - Half Moon Cay was very nice. It was fascinating how they cart everything on when we dock and take almost everything back on when we leave. My husband did the bike tour and said it was very informative. Our next stop was Curacao. What a disappointment. People were not friendly and it was very commercialized. I can see Denny's, McDonalds and Subway at home. Also the goods for sale at their open market looked like they were made in a factory. When we got to Bonaire we expected much of the same. Surprise! What a treasure that island was. Everyone we met was friendly, bars on the water, quiet beaches (you have to take a taxi to get to the beach but well worth it), and their open market had all items that were made on the island. I wished we'd stayed in Bonaire for 10 hours and Curacao for only 7.5 instead of vice versa.
On board - there was enough to do without being too much. My husband played a game of volleyball and entered the chipping contest. My 3 year old "took" a dancing class with the ships dancers. We played trivia a few times and really enjoyed the piano bar one night he did Billy Joel songs. The only thing I didn't enjoy was the Exploration Cafe. That's where the library was but it was connected to the Crow's Nest so it wasn't quiet enough to read. But there were plenty of quiet decks to enjoy a moment to yourself. I was also confused why the pool said that children with diapers weren't allowed. I'm assuming they're referring to a normal diaper, which doesn't hold solid waste in, and not to swim diapers, which will hold the solid waste. If anyone has clarification on that I'd like to hear it.
All in all, the vacation was very nice. The ship was probably a little older than most but they kept it very clean. I would absolutely book on Holland America again.