Sorry for the long review
We usually sail on Carnival, but went with Holland American this time because of the itinerary and deal. Brooke, our travel agent, knows exactly what we like and do not like but took a chance on booking us a VH guaranteed room at a great price. A week before the cruse we were assigned a room and it turned out to be a VB room aft. What a great room.
Holland American has a great selection of items that you can pre-purchase. From drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to on board credit, coffee cards, soda cards and even casino chips. This was great in pre cruise preparations. We were able to purchase our soda and coffee cards along with a picture package and not have to worry about having it on our final bill. We didn't use all of our speciality coffee card and the balance was credited to out final bill. this was sooooo nice, The cards wre waiting in our stateroom as soon as we arrived. Amazing!
We traveled the day before the cruise and stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North. The hotel was easy to find, right off 95 and 15 minutes from the port. We had a vey nice room with a king sized bed. Plenty of restaurants within driving distance and the staff were very helpful in providing directions to the local drug store and grocery store for last minute supplies.
We had breakfast at the Moonlite dinner, just up the road from the hotel and went to the port. Not knowing how long it would take we left about 9:30 and arrived at the Park and Go in fifteen minutes. The Staff at Park and go were extremely helpful and courteous. I reserved the parking on line and received a coupon for $8.99 per night. Out of the car, on their bus and 5 minutes to the ship.
Check in was easy because we were one of the first people their. They began boarding and we were in our room at 11:30am. No kidding, the room was available at 11:30, it was great.
Being used to Carnival, I was in awe of the Westerdam. It was beautiful and elegant. Everyone was friendly with a hello or good morning and they were all eager to help. My fellow Cruise Critics were helpful when they said that it would not be stuffy. It wasn't.
Lido resturant was excellant, like a fine dinning area. The first 48 hours the staff will serve you. this is to help cut down on cases of Norovirus. I understand and completely agree. It only slows down the service a little. You get your food and grab a seat, the waiters come by and will bring water, coffee, tea, iced tea. Another waitress will come by to see if you want someting from the bar, soda or other selections. Tables are always kept clean. It was excellant.
Christmas Eve dinner was formal and was great. All the dinners were great. Smart casual was the dress, polo shirt and pants. Formal was suit and tie. For the people who didn't want to dress up the Lido restaurant was great and nicely made up. Not like what you would see on Carnival.
Holland American does "On Deck for the Cure". A 5k walk to support brest cance research. A good crowd took time out of thier day and did the walk, it was great.
There were also religious services almost daily. We had midnight mass on Christmas Eve and a Christmas Day mass. It was really a nice way to help celebrate the holiday.
All I can say is Amazing!!!. The ship, the crew, the atmosphere everything AMAZING!
Even departure, We filled out our intentions the first few days onboard and received out directions the night before. You are assigned a 15 minute window and a colored tag. It made it go so smooth. We were assigned 8:30 -- 8:45, got down to the gangway at 8:30, the Park and Go bus was there as soon as we stepped out of the terminal and we were on I595 going home by 9:00.