4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We were a group of 3 couples & a travel agent recommended this cruise & itinerary. In addition to the cruise we also booked a 3 day land tour. Our trip didn’t start very well, as we all flew out of Chicago O’hare Airport for ... Read More
We were a group of 3 couples & a travel agent recommended this cruise & itinerary. In addition to the cruise we also booked a 3 day land tour. Our trip didn’t start very well, as we all flew out of Chicago O’hare Airport for the land portion to Anchorage. Our initial departure of 9:35am turned out to be 10:20pm, due to a brief storm early that morning. The delay was awful. We finally arrived at our hotel in Anchorage about 3:30-4am. We had to have our luggage out at 6am with a full day Glass Dome Train Ride to Denali. We were obviously exhausted. The train ride was really nice with dining facilities on the 1st level of each car & reserved seating on the 2nd floor with all Glass Dome to view the beautiful landscape. Unfortunately there was a family of 21 people in our car with about 6 of them children 6-12 years old. They were understandably noisy as kids would be, but it made for a very disturbing ride, especially with how tired we all were. We had breakfast in the dining level which was very good & peaceful. Our waiter suggested taking a walk to the last car where we could be outside looking at the scenery. It was a great suggestion, although we were in the first car & there were 9 cars. We had to traverse up and down two sets of stairways in each car to get back to the 9th car caboose. The reason was each car had their own kitchen so we couldn’t walk straight through. It was interesting to see how peaceful all of the other cars were without the young kids. In hindsight we should have asked if there were 6 seats available in a different car. We finally arrived in Denali where we checked into our room at the Chalet Lodge, which is owned by Holland America. Our luggage was already in our room. I will say Holland America is unbelievably well organized & ALL of their staff on land & sea were outstanding. Always had a welcoming smile even when just passing by. The next day we did the included Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour through Denali National Park in a somewhat modified school bus. Not real comfortable. The tour was about 8 hours. Our driver & tour guide, Steve, was a great driver, especially when going along the edge of the narrow roads way up high. He was very knowledgeable but unfortunately he had no personality. His narrations throughout the tour came across monotonous which made for a very boring day. Others on the bus had the same sentiment. We did stop along the way several times & saw some bears, moose & bald eagles that made the trip somewhat interesting. But it didn’t make up for Steve’s demeanor. He seems like a really nice guy, but he doesn’t have the ability to make a tour like this interesting. It made for a very long day. That night we went to The Music of Denali, combination dinner & show. The all you can eat food was very good but we were rushed & it felt like the food was being thrown at us. The waitstaff also were the actors in the sophomoric music show that followed. It was a fun time & was at extra cost, not included in the land package. In the Denali Chalet Resort there is a small square area that had a restaurant & some shops. There also was outside seating with a guy playing guitar & singing popular songs. It was very relaxing & entertaining to sit outside & listen to his music each night while in Denali.The next day was a full day motor coach ride to Seward where we started the cruise. Our driver/narrator, Mike, was just the opposite of Steve. He kept us engaged with his enthusiasm, knowledge & humor. He made the drive very interesting with several stops along the way. We were fortunate to be in the 30% that were able to see Mt. Denali/McKinley. When we arrived in Seward at the port our embarkation was amazingly smooth & fast. We soon were in our cabin. Our luggage was in our cabin too. We didn’t have to wait for it which was very nice. We soon met our two cabin stewards who were very nice & did a great job always keeping our cabin fresh. We opted for a cabin with a balcony & the other two couples did an ocean view without a balcony We were very glad we did the balcony. It gave us a little extra room to chill out with beautiful views. Unfortunately for our friends their cabins were just below the dining room kitchen which every morning had loud noises of carts rolling above them & often could hear loud banging noise starting at 5-6 every morning. When they complained to Guest Services they were each provided a bottle of wine, hardly reasonable compensation. The next two days we were at Sea, one of which was cruising around Glacier Bay. It was beautiful & relaxing. It was nice having a vantage point from the bow of the ship, which is normally closed to the public. They served pea soup & hot chocolate was also available. We had open seating for the evening dining which did work out & gave us lots of flexibility for our evening dinners. The cuisine overall on the ship I would rate a strong 7, it was very good. One night we ate in the Pinnacle Grill, one of the specialty restaurants. It was excellent. I had a huge order of king crab legs & my wife had a steak. The service & staff on the entire cruise were extremely friendly & welcoming, always with a smile! The entertainment was excellent as well. The band in the BB King Lounge were fantastic as well as the piano players/singers playing dueling pianos. The Lincoln Center had a nice orchestra too. Also every night there was a show in the Main Showroom with a nice variety of talent, singers, comedian, illusionist & more. Very entertaining. We took some excursions, in Haines we went on a Jet-boat Tour. The driver/narrator was egotistical & there wasn’t much wildlife that we saw. Not a great tour. In Juneau we went on a Whale Watching Cruise on a smaller not crowded boat that was excellent. We saw Killer Whales & lots of Pods of Orcas. Great excursion. Afterwards we did a Helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier with Dog Sledding. That was the highlight of the trip. Worth every penny & an amazing experience. Next stop was Ketchikan where we did The Misty Fjords Wilderness Cruise. It was 4.5 hours & unfortunately very boring. The staff was excellent & very safety conscious although the naturist speaking throughout the tour, very nice, was too monotonous sounding & not very interesting to listen to. She had no enthusiasm or engagement with us passengers. Half way out we did see quite a few beautiful waterfalls that were running due to the recent rain. Other than that the tour was really boring. Our last day on the ship was at sea. Our wives all had massages that they seemed to enjoy. Although they were all over pitched on buying their products. Which they didn’t! The next day we arrived in Vancouver & the disembarkation was extremely well organized as was the entire HAL experience, with a very quick exit from the ship as well as through customs. My brother & his wife live in Seattle. They drove up to Vancouver & we spent one night there & then drove back to Seattle with them for two days followed by our flight back to Milwaukee. We had a very memorable trip with lots of laughs, good cuisine & unforgettable excursions. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
My husband and I have gone on 4 cruises; HAL was the worst. First of all, we embarked in Seward at 6:30 pm. After going through the muster drill, we came back to our room to unpack. The steward knocked on the door and introduced ... Read More
My husband and I have gone on 4 cruises; HAL was the worst. First of all, we embarked in Seward at 6:30 pm. After going through the muster drill, we came back to our room to unpack. The steward knocked on the door and introduced himself. My husband told him that the safe did not work. He said someone would get in touch with us. No one ever did. We wanted to close the drapes to go to bed and they were on a motorized track. We were not shown by the steward how to work anything in our cabin. When I opened our cabin door to look for him, he was NOWHERE to be found and that is how it was the WHOLE week. Our bed was made everyday with replacement bathroom towels as well as turned down service every night; however, he never ONCE knocked on our door to see if we needed anything. It just so happened that I found a crew member on our floor and asked him to come in and show us how to close the drapes. The next morning (1st full day of the cruise), I called Guest Services. I was on hold for ten minutes! And that is how it was the entire week. I was on a Celebrity Cruise with 3,500 people and when I called Guest Services, they answered in a couple of minutes. HAL had 1,980 people. I had to go in person to Guest Services and told them about the problem with the safe and that the steward told us that someone would be calling us and never did. She came with me to the room and said a locksmith would have to fix it and it was fixed by mid-afternoon. We stayed in a signature suite with a veranda on the Upper Veranda deck. The room was very nice EXCEPT the tub was way too high to get in or out of. Thank G-d for the bars or I would have fallen. The food was average. We ate in the dining room for breakfast as well as dinner everyday. We ate at the Lido market for lunch and one breakfast and were disappointed. Could never find a seat and the food was fair at best. My husband and I had to order room service because we were not feeling well. We both ordered soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. We could not believe that the "grilled cheese sandwich" was actually two slices of toasted bread with a piece of cheese in between, not melted cheese. HORRIBLE. The trays and dishes were too heavy for us to put outside the cabin door. Again, where was our steward?? The nightly entertainment was very good. BB King's was fantastic. Great singers and musicians. Fitness center was adequate; enough machines for use. I did ALOT of research on which cruise line to go with regarding Alaska. The two cruise lines that were always mentioned in my research were HAL and Princess. I decided to go with HAL since they have been going to Alaska for years. We did a land/sea tour, the land tour being first, starting in Fairbanks and catching the ship in Seward. I give HAL a 10+ on their land portion EXCEPT we had to pay for ALL meals EXCEPT one lunch in a 7 day period which was not totally spelled out on the booking. The tours, the organization, everything was seamless. It was wonderful. However, I will not cruise with HAL again. I did complain to the head of Housekeeping Services regarding the steward. The last day they sent a bottle of wine with their apologies and asked if we wanted another steward. Our cruise was over and the damage had been done. I give bad marks for the crew overall. Service was fair at best. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
HAL Westerdam July 14 to 28 Alaska We were on Niew Amsterdam in 2016 and found it to be excellent. We loved it so much, both managers and crew were very friendly and accommodating. Therefore, when an opportunity for an Alaska cruise ... Read More
HAL Westerdam July 14 to 28 Alaska We were on Niew Amsterdam in 2016 and found it to be excellent. We loved it so much, both managers and crew were very friendly and accommodating. Therefore, when an opportunity for an Alaska cruise North and Southbound on the Westerdam came by, we did not hesitate to book the cruise. However, what we experienced was far from our previous HAL experience. It was the total opposite that I am compelled to write this review. 1. Maitre d and Chef were unaccommodating to special requests unlike Niew Amsterdam wherein they were so pleased to fulfill any requests. The Lido servers in contrast were the friendliest and the only saving grace of this cruise. 2. Check-in was a pain. Their computer system had issues and therefore all the information I had filled in prior to the cruise was erased and had to be re-done. By the time we were assured that all information was complete and that both North and Southbound cruises were linked including our payment credit cards, etc, it was already over an hour. 3. Despite reassurances that all is well, when we got to immigration and looked at the key cards we were given, it said roundtrip FLL instead of Alaska! We did not even bother going back to queue again just to change our key cards- Florida it is. 4. The next day of our vacation, we were woken up very early at 6 AM! by incessant knocking on our door despite the privacy notice on our door. It was room service insisting we ordered breakfast at 6! We told him he had the wrong cabin whereupon he checked and he was indeed in the wrong cabin. Geez... 5. On several occasions, we tried calling reception for information; or room service; or anyone in the ship and we are always put on hold. When I asked other pax, I was told the same thing to the point we just give up and cancel the call. It really feels like the ship is short staffed! 6. Southbound: Well, despite reassurances during check-in, my key card no longer works. Security had a problem with it when I was about to leave the ship for a shore excursion- had to take photos again, etc. 7. After a long and very tiring day of excursion, the new key card I was given DID NOT WORK- NOT one time when I returned to open my cabin door, NOT the second new card, NOR NOT the third new card! Each time, I had to walk from my cabin down to reception and back 3x. All I wanted was to shower and sleep but with my key card not working, I could not get into my cabin. The cabin attendant felt so bad for me and he let me into my cabin. (Even the, I will still have to get a key card that works.) When finally a couple people from reception came up to the cabin, they key they brought with also DID NOT WORK. They wanted me to go down again and get a new key whereupon we requested that they are the ones who should bring the key up to us so they can also check if the 5th key card will work. NOT make me walk a 4th time roundtrip to their desk and my cabin. What if the 5th key also does not work? Walk roundtrip a 6th time?! This is a basic of CUSTOMER SERVICE. One should take care of the problem for the customer and not have the customer do the run around for you. 8. We waited a couple of hours whereupon I called reception to follow up (thank goodness someone answered the phone after ONLY 14 minutes on hold) and they said they will bring the key cards for both of us up. We had the PRIVACY PLEASE note on the door, but regardless, they knocked and despite our reply, they barged in anyway without waiting for us to say come in or go to the door. I was fresh from my shower and hastily had to dive into the bed for cover. 9. Despite all the issues with key cards, one would think there would be no other issues. However, the next day, I got a call from reception early in the morning to ask how I would like to pay for our account! I groggily informed the caller that they have my credit card all along since the Northbound trip and do not understand why they are waking me up for this information. But of course, system issues, bla bla, I later had to go down and given them the same credit card again. 10. Next day, guess what? Another early morning call. On vacations, we are hoping to sleep in and not wake up early-- after all, that is what we look forward to. This time the call was to ask if I was joining one of the excursions. Well, the excursion ticket was already delivered to my cabin a couple days prior so I am wondering what the question is all about. Turns out, they do not even know if I was going on the excursion or not when I informed them that they had already delivered my ticket! WHAT A MESS HAL's SYSTEM IS! 11. Did I mention none of their ship clocks on each floor on their stairwell work? Despite notices that the ship's clock would be one hour ahead or fall back for time changes, their clocks do not work.--- Not the entire 14 day cruise. The ship itself is good, facilities are well maintained by the crew. The cabins are good as well. Dining at Lido during lunch is a pleasure but dinner offerings are pretty much the same each night of the 14 days we took the cruise. With regards to information regarding wildlife, etc, I received far more information when we took the same North and Southbound Alaska cruise last year through Star Princess. To the point that other passengers followed me as I have a map from Princess showing waypoints where wildlife sightings are expected. I love wildlife and my hobby of photographing them calls me to cruise to Alaska each year. Next year, I will likely go back to Princess or try other lines for different ports. The saving grace as mentioned were the servers at the Lido including the Dive In personnel from the Philippines. They were most friendly and accommodating. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
this trip was WAY beyond our expectations - it was AWESOME and I highly recommend! Definitely recommend doing the Alaska land part first - because you are in constant motion and it can be a bit exhausting. And then you get on the ship ... Read More
this trip was WAY beyond our expectations - it was AWESOME and I highly recommend! Definitely recommend doing the Alaska land part first - because you are in constant motion and it can be a bit exhausting. And then you get on the ship where you have more time to relax. Our overall itinerary only included one full day in Denali - I would recommend two Full days there if possible. Flew into Fairbanks and home out of Vancouver - highly recommend! Part of the cruise itinerary included a half day Riverboat tour in Fairbanks - I wasn’t expecting much, but it was actually a fantastic excursion and learned alot about the history and culture. From Fairbanks, you only have to go 2 1/2 hours south to Denali....where we had Two nights and One full day. On the full day- the cruise package included an 8-hour bus ride that goes 2/3 of the way into Denali Park (62 miles) where you see wildlife and gorgeous beauty. Later on that day, we took a 2+ hour Flightseeing Tour into Denali (details below). From Denali, you take an 8 hour Dome train ride (awesome) down to Anchorage. Spent one night in Anchorage (eat at the Glacier Brewhouse for dinner) - and next day was a 5 1/2 hour train ride south to Seward - where you board the ship. We sprung for a Neptune Suite on the Holland Westerdam ship - it was worth it! Details below. We really enjoyed the Holland Westerdam. It was refurbished in 2017 and is very tasteful, understated elegance and more of a quiet ship. You won’t find big theatrical productions or go-kart tracks/rock climbing etc - but we liked that. 1940 passengers and about 800 crew. Not 3000-5000 passengers.... ideally, the smaller the better, but the price points go WAY up for that. (I.e. Seabourn). The ship has an always-open Lido Cafe - with tons of different food, buffet style (they serve you, which is good - more healthy/less germy). The main dining room where you can have breakfast and make a standing reservation for either late or early dinner seating (we chose early) was very nice - we had the same two waiters at our Table 81 the whole week. The menu changes every night and the food was delicious. Then there are a couple of specialty restaurants for a slight upcharge. THE best was Pinnacle - upcharge of $35 pp, and worth it! We only ate there once and wish we had eaten there more! The ship also has a very nice spa (I had a massage, facial and accupuncture treatment!) We did a 7 night Southbound inside passage - Seward to Vancouver. We did Two major excursions during our trip. 1) in Denali - a flightseeing/glacier landing ($549 a person - worth it!!!!) - THE HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE! We flew in a 8-seater plane including the amazing pilot, Joe (Fly Denali) for one hour, into Denali park (6 million acres), through/over mountain ranges, right past the North Face of Denali - then landed on the Ruth Glacier and threw snowballs in the brilliant sunshine and took pictures with Mt Denali in the background - and then flew another 40 minutes back to base. It was incredible that we were even able to SEE Denali (all week long while we were in Denali and traveling southbound) - only 30% of people get to see it, because it’s usually covered in clouds. We took the 6:15pm departure - and with 21 hours of sunlight a day (in July) - it was still super bright and sunny at that point. 2) In Juneau - did the Tracy Arm Fjord excursion - a 7 1/2 hour day - aboard a high speed catamaran - ending up at the South Sawyer Glacier (almost in the Yukon) - watching it calve, sea lions, floating icebergs, Caribbean blue colored water, waterfalls/cascades, bald eagles Both excursions were major WoW factor!! Ending in Vancouver was fantastic - and so glad we chose to spend a few more days instead of hopping off the ship and flying home. First day in Vancouver - we checked in EARLY (by 11am) to the Westin Bayshore - perfect location. Rented bikes right out in front of the hotel and biked 9 miles around Stanley Park - very organized bike and walking paths. https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/stanley-park.aspx Next day - FULL Day- did an All-day trip to Victoria - through Viator tours. They picked us up at 8:30am at our hotel in big bus, then picked up other people at their hotels - took us to ferry - bus gets on the ferry 1 1/2 hours over to Victoria. Did the Butchart Gardens (amazingly beautiful!), then only had 1 1/2 hours to explore downtown Victoria (had dinner), and took the 7pm ferry back, then bused us to our hotel - it was 10pm before we got back. LONG DAY. But It was worth it for the gardens. Next day - FULL Day - we walked 20 minutes to Canada Place and hopped on a free bus over to Capilano Suspension Bridge park - beautiful! Spent most of the day there - had a delightful lunch there as well. Next day flew home. You might also want to tack on another 3-4 days and go over to Lake Louise/Banff/Whistler area - about 2 hours east of Vancouver, i think. Trying to load photos but having trouble... will try to do that separately. HOTELS: let me preface by saying I travel a LOT for work and am very picky about hotels. I’m used to staying at Hilton and Marriott - good beds/pillows, clean, etc - but because of some reviews I had read before the trip, I was initially not all that keen on the hotels that were part of this itinerary. However, they all turned out to be just fine! Westmark Fairbanks - One night - not 100% contemporary but room was big, bed/pillows clean and comfortable, bathroom fine, dining room (arrived late, cannot comment on dinner) but breakfast buffet was good. McKinley Chalet (Denali) - reviews I had read had complained about no AC. You DO NOT need it! I get hot very easily - and we were in Alaska during a major heat wave - i.e. in Denali, it was high 80’s, low 90’s each day! The river flowed right behind our Cabin unit (Building P, Room 105) and there was a great cool breeze of mountain air flowing all the time. Left our windows open and frankly, I got a bit cool at night! The rooms are rustic - think Ski Chalet - don’t go expecting Four Seasons and you will be A-OK! The rooms had a small living room/sitting area, bathroom and smaller bedroom with King Size bed. Everything was comfortable and clean. Westmark Anchorage - One Night - reviews I read said REQUEST HIGHER FLOOR - Agree! We requested - were on the 9th floor - and it was fine. There is a lot of street/traffic noise down below. The room was HUGE, king sized bed comfy and clean. Big bathroom. Again, not 100% up to contemporary standards, but it was all good. There is a fantastic restaurant across the street where you can have dinner - HIGHLY RECOMMEND - Glacier Brewhouse (upscale brewhouse - not just burgers - with great variety including fantastic seafood). The hotel also has a restaurant - good for breakfast, or grabbing a drink/salad at the bar. Westin Bayshore (Vancouver) - AWESOME! Perfect location overlooking the marina - and adjacent to shoreline walking/biking trails. 20 minute walk to Canada Place (where the cruise ships disembark and where it’s a central stopping place for buses/transportation to take you on excursions. You can rent bikes right in front of the hotel - (the little three-speeds are free, but in limited QTY - otherwise we rented the 21 speed for $20 each.) - and ride through Stanley Park - which is right there! Stop at the Totem pole area in the park, see sailboats and beaches.. great sights. It’s only 9 miles around - and very organized - everyone walks/bikes in the same direction - there is a bike path and a pedestrian walking path. Actually, this is how Vancouver is everywhere - very bike/walking friendly! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We were part of an 18 member family party on a cruise from Vancouver BC to Anchorage AK. The staff were generally helpful, the facilities fine, the Alaskan scenery amazing, the food ok, yet my experience was largely negative. We brought ... Read More
We were part of an 18 member family party on a cruise from Vancouver BC to Anchorage AK. The staff were generally helpful, the facilities fine, the Alaskan scenery amazing, the food ok, yet my experience was largely negative. We brought our three small children with us. Mistake. The marketing literature implied “child friendly” but that is misleading. The kids center “Club Hal” was fun for older kids (mostly they watched movies) though occasionally with limited hours, but unfortunately not available to toddlers. But THERE WAS NO SAFE PLACE ON THE SHIP FOR OUR TODDLER. Lots of ways he could get hurt. For example, on Glacier Bay day we rented a cabana and we were on high alert (hard to enjoy) because he could easily slip thru the bars and fall 11 stories to certain DEATH. Deck 2 was the floor with the entertainment on it, and it included a Casino with sounds and lights which seem designed to attract toddlers. CASINO STAFF (manager Tom) WERE MILITANT ABOUT NO KIDS. So I spent endless hours in the evenings going up and down the stairs and elevator, trying to keep our toddler entertained, safe, and out of the casino. BEING TRAPPED ON THE WESTERDAM WITH A TODDLER WAS A FRUSTRATING, STRESSFUL, and EXHAUSTING EXPERIENCE. Never again. For the most part, with the exception of the casino staff, the WESTERDAM staff were empathetic and helpful to our situation, but still a horrible way to spend a vacation. In retrospect we should have just told the family we were not going with them. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise as part of a Land/Sea cruise for our 25th Annivrsary. The ship is in great shape, the staff is always friendly and the services can't be beat. We started in Seattle for the beginning of our R6L. We flew to Alaska ... Read More
We chose this cruise as part of a Land/Sea cruise for our 25th Annivrsary. The ship is in great shape, the staff is always friendly and the services can't be beat. We started in Seattle for the beginning of our R6L. We flew to Alaska on Alaska Airlines, SEATAC is a bit chaotic.. We wandered around Anchorage, went to the Huli knife shop, began souvenoir hubting and a headed back to get something to eat at a Brewery across the street from the Westmark Anchorage, a a good hotel to get some sleep. We picked up a snack for our breakfast the next morning, choosing to eat on the train. The next morning we were bused to the train station, got on our assigned train car and settled in. Once the train was moving we ate breakfast (1/2 the hotel pric) which was excellent!. Back in the train car we enjoyed our train attendan and his knowledge of Alaska while having a couple cocktails. We had an afternoon snack and arrived in Denali 9 hrs later. Debarking the train we were bused to out lodge, we were in the new lodge, Ridge View. These are very nice! Our luggage was waiting for us in the room, we changed and went for a stroll and enjoyed a dinner at Kartstens, good food. After a good night's sleep we had an early start to the day, meeting the Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour at 0530! It was worth it though, seeing allot of animals and great views of Denali. The next day we took a bus from Denali to Seward, another 9hrs! We stopped half way for a very nice make your ouwn sandwich at the Settles Bay Lodge. T he boarding was quick, and we were on the Westerdam. Cruising Glacier bay was beautiful, They expect the glaciers to be completely receeded in 5 years! Haines is a nice small town, Alaska Rod's is a great souvenoir shop, most items are hand made by Rod himself or elsewhere in Alaska. Junea is anothe great port, be sure to see the Medenhall Glacier, it is also quickly receeding! Ketchikan is a busy place, uualy 5 ships in at a time. The Lumberjack show is very entertaining! If you want real canned Salmon, go to Salmon Etc. It is privately owned and operated. Another day of relaxing and then disembarking in Vancouver, we were qulified for direct to ship. You meet in the mainstage area and then are quided to your coach on a seperate brow from everyone else. Yur luggage is already in the bus. After a stop at the borde and passing US customs it's off to SEATAC. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose the Westerdam for the itinerary from Vancouver to Alaska and Denali addition. The ship was very nice, many small bars or sitting areas for when weather was cool. However we had great weather all but one day! Enjoyed BB King ... Read More
We chose the Westerdam for the itinerary from Vancouver to Alaska and Denali addition. The ship was very nice, many small bars or sitting areas for when weather was cool. However we had great weather all but one day! Enjoyed BB King Blues bar the most - we prefer blues music anyway and enjoyed the band every night. The Billboard lounge has the “dueling pianos” and they were okay. Did not care for the classical music at Lincoln Center. Food at the Lido Market was just average. You really had to work at picking out decent food. The Main Dining Room was much better. The entire staff was VERY friendly and always had a smile and a nice greeting. We had an ocean view obstructed room. It was large enough with plenty of hangers and shelving. Ice whenever we needed and fresh fruit. I thought the ship was sold out, but we never had a problem finding a place to sit. The rooms had a hair dryer and makeup mirror, and we never needed an extra plug for electronics. Also, every step of moving a large group of people went very smoothly from embarkation to transfer to buses, to check in at hotels. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
In 2015, we did our first Alaska trip, which was an HAL Land/Sea Tour, where we did a land based tour of the Yukon first, and then did a short (4 night) cruise on the Volendam to finish off our tour. This week long cruise on the ... Read More
In 2015, we did our first Alaska trip, which was an HAL Land/Sea Tour, where we did a land based tour of the Yukon first, and then did a short (4 night) cruise on the Volendam to finish off our tour. This week long cruise on the Westerdam, from Vancouver to Anchorage, paled in comparison to that experience, for a number of reasons. On this trip, my husband and I also brought along my mother in law, who had never been on a cruise or to Alaska, and who stayed in an inside cabin across from our balcony cabin. See detailed cabin comments, below. FYI, if you have never cruised out of Vancouver, there is a pretty extensive "check in" process. Not only are you checking in for your cruise, but if your cruise is heading to Alaska, your first port is the US = customs. So, you actually go through the US Customs process in Vancouver, before you even leave the cruise terminal!! This saves time when you do get to your first US port (which probably doesn't have the capacity to handle customs for so many arriving passengers at once). So, plan for extra time before boarding the ship in Vancouver - you can get to the port around 10:30 or 11:00 am and not be early! The public interior areas of the ship appeared to us to have been recently refurbished. The carpet appeared newer; the seating in the theater was actually comfortable (we have been on several cruises where we had backaches getting up after a show in the theater!). The refurbishment did not seem to extend to the artwork/walls of the hallways and lobbies of the ship. As a matter of fact, that was one of the weirdest parts of this ship - I couldn't figure out the "theme" of the decor - what it was trying to be: a classic elegant cruiser; a ship that featured Greek or Baroque type of art/display; an Asian inspired vessel (there was some brightly colored Asian furniture in the lobbies of the elevator bank closest to our room). It needs some cohesiveness in design. Also, there were no activities or entertainment in the atrium area, as there are on many ships - and again, there was a modern light fixture/chandelier hung above the area, but the rest of the atrium looked more traditional. But, the "artwork" on the walls in our hallway was especially atrocious - it looked like prints that had been installed on the wall when the ship was built and never updated or changed since then, no matter what new carpet was put down, etc. Like prints my grandmother might have framed as "art" in her house. So, we could never get a handle on what the vibe of the ship was supposed to be, which has typically been pretty easy to figure out on any other ship we've cruised on. The exterior of the ship looked fine, to us, and the refurbished parts of the interior were also nice - but there was no consistency in decor, which just made it weird. The theater itself was more intimate feeling than other ships we've been on - not sure how many it seated, but we got good seats for the shows we saw, and had a good view of the productions. Unfortunately, the number of theater shows on this particular cruise was disappointing. We saw one production show with the onboard singers/dancers on night 2, and nothing afterwards. I found out on our last sea day that there were some technical and staffing issues with backstage/tech crew, which meant the normal shows could not go on - which was really disappointing for us, as that is one of the things we look forward to most on cruises - the onboard entertainment. They had also brought onboard an illusionist (who focused on sleight of hand magic) and a pianist/singer/comedian who was a very talented piano player. The illusionist did two shows one night; the piano player did two shows one night, and they did a show together one afternoon or evening (I think to make up for the lack of a second or third production show by the onboard singers/dancers). I am not a huge fan of either of their type of entertainment, but I went to the first magic show (he is very talented at what he does) and the first piano show (again, excellent pianist) but skipped their joint show - just didn't need to see more of either one. The first night we skipped the show in the theater - there was only one at 7 pm, and it was an introduction to Alaska preview (movie?) hosted by the cruise director. The fourth night was a BBC Earth movie about Alaska, with live music playing as accompaniment to the movie - again, only one show that night, at 7 pm. The fifth night was an EXC presentation about Iconic Whales of the Northwest - I think it was a talk by the cruise director - again we skipped it. So, this was, unfortunately, not enough "entertainment" in the main theater for us, and was a major disappointment. We barely heard/saw anything from the Cruise Director onboard. This has not been our experience with other cruises we've taken, so not sure if this is an HAL thing, or if it's just because he is new at the job & with HAL. However, the entertainment in the smaller venues was a highlight for us. The quintet that performed in the Lincoln Center Stage were all young people (20's or 30's) and very accomplished musicians. That small venue was full every time they performed, I think, and they also had a unique themed set of music for each performance - I think their performances were each approximately 45 minutes long (maybe an hour). The Billboard Onboard venue featured the "dueling pianos" concept which I love, and there were even some opportunities for sing-alongs with the crowd. I also liked those two performers and thought they were talented, as well. The BB Kings Blues Club was where we spent almost every evening - there was a great band in there, fronted by both a male and a female lead singer. We really enjoyed their sets, and cruisers were often dancing, too. However, the band themselves seemed to have a lot of technical issues with the sound techs - I think sometimes their monitors weren't working, sometimes a keyboard wasn't working, sometimes a mike or two wasn't working - they just seemed extremely frustrated with the tech crew. It didn't affect the sound quality/performance for the audience, fortunately. And, I know, from walking by in the afternoons, that the band rehearsed earlier in the day, so I'm not sure why the tech team couldn't get the sound right when it came to performance time. But, again, BB Kings was a highlight of entertainment for us on this cruise - we often stayed for all 3 sets they played nightly! For dining - we ate all but our first night's dinner in the Main Dining Room on the "Anytime Dining" program. We were fortunate to be assigned a table that was in the back of the dining room (so, at the back of the ship) with a gorgeous view of the wake of the ship out the huge window. It was a perfect location for us, and we had the same waitstaff each night, who were outstanding and remembered our preferences for drinks, etc. We thought the dinners in there each night were delicious, and had everything from apps through dessert almost every night. I would give the dining room 5 stars! We also enjoyed eating lunch either in the Lido (buffet) or out at the Dive In or the Taco Bar near the main pool. For some reason those burgers and fries just taste better than at home! In the buffet, they offer a pizza/pasta bar, as well as a custom made salad bar - which we chose several times - they prepare it for you, and then add the dressing and mix it up for you, if you like. There was also a dessert area that featured about 5-6 ice creams, frozen yogurts, gelatos, etc. per day, in addition to other individual dessert selections. We also ate breakfast in the Lido each morning, mostly because of the omelet stations - made to order omelets each day, along with many other buffet options (Eggs Benedict, etc.). Our first night, we decided to treat ourselves to the Pinnacle Grill at the special "first night" pricing (note, you need to book this in advance when you board - don't just show up for dinner there and expect to get the discounted price). Although my mother in law and I both had excellent dinners featuring perfectly cooked filet mignons, my husband's entire dinner there was a "fail". He had been wanting King Crab Legs forever, so went for that; but his crab was so awful that he asked to have it replaced with a filet mignon like we had. Then, they brought him his steak, and it was uncooked in the center - like not even warm. So, he asked for it to be cooked more, and they instead brought him a different steak (looked like NY strip) which was tough and overcooked. They also make a big deal about their lobster bisque, which features one tiny piece of lobster in a bowl, then poured over with the bisque - which, as my husband observed, tasted a little bit like gravy. But, the worst part of the meal was that our server was continually looking at other tables he was waiting on, even when he was taking our orders/serving us! And, he never really got the severity of how badly my husband's entire meal service was going. We asked for the manager, who tried to make up for it; but it couldn't really be saved, by that point. We got MUCH better service from our waiters in the Main Dining Room than we did in the Pinnacle Grill. Again, when we went on the Volendam 4 years ago, we had a lovely dinner in the P.C. with excellent service. so, this was a disappointment, and was the reason we couldn't give dining a 5 star rating. The only shore excursion we booked through HAL was in Skagway - the White Pass Yukon RR trip, because the train literally pulls up next to the ship for boarding. I'm not sure it was HAL's fault, but for some reason we had to stand outside for a very long time prior to boarding the train, which was sitting right there! And, each cruise ship is assigned cars, which are labeled for the guests to find! So, not sure why there was such a long delay getting us boarded onto the train and on our way. All other ports/excursions we did on our own. Other random observations: The Lido Pool (under the retractable roof) seemed to be filled with kids on our trip. If you are interested in a more adult pool experience, I would suggest signing up for the Spa experience and using the therapy pool in there - it looked lovely; wish I would have used it at least 1 day onboard! The America's Test Kitchen demos were held in the Blues Club and did have TV screens so you could see what the chef was doing. Unfortunately, there were only 3 demos; one on the first sea day, and two on the last sea day. I had the impression there would have been more. And, I thought the recipes selected were weird - one was Asian Dumplings; one was a take on Tomato Soup and (gourmet) Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I didn't get it...This was something my mother in law was looking forward to, and thought there would be more of throughout the trip. Based on the totality of this cruise, compared to other cruises we have been on (Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival) we probably would not choose to cruise on HAL again (unless it was on one of their newest ships - and not sure why we would choose them over any of these other cruise lines, anyway). Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. ... Read More
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. Food good. Only disappointment was lunch in the Pinnacle Restaurant. Not worth the extra $. Not sure why a Coconut Trifle would gave 2 layers of rich chocolate that overpowered the taste of anything else...inedible. Strawberry pavlova...better pavlova in the Lido. Crab cakes for appetizer were excellent. Entrees (mains) pretty ordinary. Dinner may have been better. Santos and Otto did a great job in looking after us in our stateroom on Deck 10. Recommend this Stateroom, in particular location. Great service with a smile everywhere. Plenty of updates from the Captain. Smooth sailing. Embarkation was easy and we were able to board earlier than designated. Disembarkation needed more signs for lines of group colours. Easy to look up everything on TV in cabin, e.g. account and dining menus for the day. Good movies too. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
The Holland American Alaska Land & Sea Cruise was a marvel in it's organization from Fairbanks to Seward on land and Seward to Vancouver at sea. The hotels, ground transport, buses and train moved us with without any problems. ... Read More
The Holland American Alaska Land & Sea Cruise was a marvel in it's organization from Fairbanks to Seward on land and Seward to Vancouver at sea. The hotels, ground transport, buses and train moved us with without any problems. The weather was exceptional for May. The Panning for Gold, Steamboat Cruise, The Denali Outback was 102 miles filled with moose, brown bear, caribou, sheep was great. The sea excursions the White Pass Train and Salmon Fishing was outstanding. The transfers from airport and to ship were again very On the ship the Neptune Lounge, staff, the stewards, our waiters, wine steward, and the entire crew were helpful and friendly. They tried their hardest to improve the food that was being served and it did improve a little. The quality of menu was terrible. The managing chef his menu lacked any inspiration. His plate pairings were off the wall. His line chefs plaited the food poorly and no one was tasting the food or were uneducated with what good food should taste like. The quality of the food has been reduced to the level of it's parent company Carnival. It was not like this on my previous sailings with Holland American. Even the cafe was dull and tasteless and the specialty restaurants were only slightly better, just OK that's all we can say about the food. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary, both sea and land portions along with Holland America's experience in Alaska. Our first time on HAL. We really appreciated the opportunities provided by HAL to upgrade our cabin and ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary, both sea and land portions along with Holland America's experience in Alaska. Our first time on HAL. We really appreciated the opportunities provided by HAL to upgrade our cabin and ended up in a Neptune Suite for a nominal fee. Our room steward and Neptune Lounge concierges were fantastic. Pre-cruise in Vancouver at the Pan Pacific hotel was perfect. Embarkation was good except for an hour delay due to a surprise Coast Guard inspection. We liked being able to use our Signature Beverage Package in the Neptune Lounge. However, we were misinformed on what we could order. We were told beverages up to $9 but learned after the cruise it was $11. We booked two excursions through HAL - the Discover Whale Watch in Juneau and Husky Homestead in Denali. Both great - well organized and delivered as promised. We planned to participate in more onboard entertainment but only managed to make it to Billboard Onboard, the casino, and a couple EXC presentations. All good! Some of the presentations offered in the EXC lounge were standing room only. Dining overall was good. We tried the Main Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill, Room Service, Lido Market, Dive-In and taco bar. We only tried a couple of the bars because we primarily used the honor bar in the Neptune Lounge. We cruise primarily for the destinations and excursions, not the ship itself. However, all were very good. The only significant negative was the hotel in Anchorage. Holland American needs to seriously renovate this hotel. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Previous trip on HAL Westerdam was so nice that we made a special effort to get the same cabin on this trip. Partially obstructed view, but twofold panels of glass kept the room bright even on the cloudiest day (and we had about 5 of ... Read More
Previous trip on HAL Westerdam was so nice that we made a special effort to get the same cabin on this trip. Partially obstructed view, but twofold panels of glass kept the room bright even on the cloudiest day (and we had about 5 of them). Cheerful, gracious crew always seemed to be looking for a way to improve the experience. They were available without being intrusive. In various lounges and bars, if you declined a drink, they just leave a napkin there so that you won't be approached by every last server. Great idea. As I said, 5 rainy, windy days across the north Pacific, and the crew were resolutely cheerful at all times. Captain Mark took us a bit out of the way to avoid the worst weather, which was so very thoughtful. We stopped at Kushiro in Japan, and the rain was blowing, but many us took the free shuttle to a kind of mall which gave us an insight into some of the Japanese culture. Stops in Alaska were fortunately sunny, and Icy Straits is one of the most hauntingly beautiful place I've seen. We were sorry to leave, and we learned how difficult it had been to dock due to winds and nearby reefs. We saw a couple of whales, which for most of us was a first. Overall, a serenely beautiful cruise with the most amazingly gracious staff ever. Once again, Denny and Theo, thanks for taking such good care of us. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I choose this 15 day cruise to get away from my regular daily life and it was great for that. 6 days at sea, including 5-6m waves for a couple days. The food ands staff was great as I remember it from my other HAL cruises. But the ... Read More
I choose this 15 day cruise to get away from my regular daily life and it was great for that. 6 days at sea, including 5-6m waves for a couple days. The food ands staff was great as I remember it from my other HAL cruises. But the Westerdam state of repair is sad. So many little things broken. Lights in public bathroom about to fall out, fan in elevator running at full speed as it is burning up (you could smell the plastic melting), hot bench in Thermal Suite out of order since February (3 months). 1 sauna not working at all, 1 sauna on its last leg, including a thermometer just wedged into mount and could have fallen during heavy sea and create tiny glass splinters, etc. etc. The central sound system for the Greenhouse Spa was also broken for weeks and so it was music everywhere or no music at all. This meant on one of massage I asked for music, but it was turned off 2 minutes later as someone else requested it to be turned off. I never was able to relax at all. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise to experience Japan in Cherry Blossom season and experience the culture and history of the country. The tours provided by EXC (HA's onboard service) were good. I feel I saw most of the attractions I wanted ... Read More
We chose this cruise to experience Japan in Cherry Blossom season and experience the culture and history of the country. The tours provided by EXC (HA's onboard service) were good. I feel I saw most of the attractions I wanted through these tours, while being guaranteed I wouldn't miss the boat at the end! The price was up there, but after sorting out some private tours at either end of the cruise, the costs were comparable for the amount we experienced. The ports we stopped at were new for Holland America. There really weren't any ports that were in the centre of town. It was at least a 20 minute bus ride into the town centres if you were wondering around by yourself for the day. The frequency of busses was adequate. Due to Japanese law we had to visit a different country at least once before we made it the whole way around Japan. This is the only reason why we went to Russia for one day. The port was Vladivostok. Don't bother doing a tour here, the town is run down and you have to go on a HA tour for Visa reasons. The customs debacle for this one day out of Japan was appalling. I understand all customs issues are never fun, but HA was definitely did not make it any better. For a cruse company that is meant to be professional at this stuff, they could have made their clients a lot more comfortable through the process. We had a lot of older guests on the ship, I felt horrible for the them. The quality of the ship was a little tired, with maintenance undertaken at every port we stopped at. Sometimes this was an inconvenience to the patrons. We were on level 8 in a stateroom. They had asked us if we minded being in a an 'accessible/disabled' stateroom before the cruise. We agreed, but we would not do this again. Mum and I were twin sharing, but if this room was used for a disabled person, you could only fit one person in there. We missed out on a good shower, cupboard space and a sitting area because of this, and we paid jut as much as the other guests. The food in the main dining areas was good, tasty and well presented but not as fresh as I am used to. The dining experiences in the premium restaurants was much better. Don't worry about the special events like seafood nights or degustations and wine pairing, these are much steeper in price and not much better in quality to any other night. The hospitality, bar and dining staff were great, nothing was a problem, my mother and I came down with illness on the ship and they were very accommodating. Our waiters and bar staff knew us by name from the second day and remembered what we liked to drink - which was an extensive list! Drinks packages - definitely get one. we got the 'Signature' package for approx $50USD/day. The wine options were a little too limited for us, if we had the time again, we would have purchased the top drink package for approx $10USD/day extra. The most disappointing this was the accounts department of HA. We printed our statement every morning to check our account. Almost every second day there were charges on there that shouldn't have been - we were charged for drinks that were covered in our pre paid package, room service charges that we didn't order, etc. On the last night, the whole cruise was taken over by chocolate and towel animals as a bit of fun, but I can't help thinking this type of activity is to 'smooth everyone over' at the end so we leave happy and recommend them to our friends. At the end of the cruise, we went to pay our bill, and they held the amount on our credit card. On the last day we received an account that they had charged us. This was fine, apart from they still had the amount on hold as well, effectively holding twice the amount of money they owed us. This can be quite debilitation if you are only half way through your entire holiday. Through waiting for statements to reflect charges and calling HA a couple of times to sort it out, I am still waiting for this money to be released 7 days after disembarking their ship. The HA girl assured me this would be released no later than 72 hours after the cruise finished. After trying to explain that didn't happen, I am also chasing this through with my bank. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the price. The first 14 nights were spent cruising around Japan with a stop in Vladivostok. The next 15 nights included two more ports in Japan and then 6 sea days crossing the north ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the price. The first 14 nights were spent cruising around Japan with a stop in Vladivostok. The next 15 nights included two more ports in Japan and then 6 sea days crossing the north Pacific to our first port in Alaska, Kodiak. I have to say, the first 14 days were very busy with tours and I really enjoyed the sea days to rest up! I flew into Narita Airport and took the Limousine Bus directly to my hotel in Yokohama. The desk for Limousine Bus was directly across from where you exit the secure area of the airport. The ticket to Yokohama was around $35. The bus picked us up right outside the door. Very convenient. It was about a two hour ride to the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama. We were dropped right in front of the hotel. I had a double room in the tower for about $260 per night. Right across the street from the hotel is a pretty park and the harbor. The cruise ship terminal is within walking distance, but I chose to take a cab, about $7. Getting on board was pretty efficient. My first stop was the Lido Buffet for lunch. The buffet is not self serve, but seemed to move along quite well. The buffet staff were very helpful and were happy to fetch anything you may have forgotten to pick up as well as replenish drinks. Most of my dinners were in the main dining room. I had anytime dining and was traveling by myself. I was always seated at a table with other English speaking travelers. The staff in the dining room were great! They were so friendly. Of course with anytime dining, you don't get that personal touch that you would get with fixed time dining. My favorite food place was Dive In, the burger joint out by the pool. The burgers and hotdogs are done as you order them and are great. The French fries were the best. Overall, the food was very good. However, I didn't care for the lasagna. I had one dinner in the Pinnacle Grill and it was outstanding. Get the soufflé for dessert. I was very impressed with the crew on this ship. They were all so friendly and helpful. I had the best cabin stewards, Wayan and Alex. Entertainment was your usual comedians, magicians, singers and dancers. One night a local group of Japanese girls came on board for a Taiku drums show. This was one of the best shows I have ever seen on a cruise ship and I've been on 36 cruises! These girls were fantastic! The audience was mesmerized by their performance. I'm so glad I saw this show. I was in a verandah cabin. I liked the layout of the room. As you entered, the closet was on the right and the bathroom was on the left. On the newer ships I've been on, the closets are next to the bed and awkward to access. My biggest cabin complaint on this ship and most others cruise ships is that the hairdryer and outlet for a curling iron are at the desk where the lighting leaves a lot to be desired. The lighting in the bathroom is great and it would be nice to be able to do my hair there. I wish the desk would have had some drawer space. However, the desk actually had a real chair instead of some uncomfortable stool to sit on. I found the ship to be well maintained and clean, but I was not impressed with the décor. The ship seemed dark. I loved the aft pool and deck area. It was a great place for sail away. You could bring out your food from the Lido buffet as there were tables and chairs here as well as loungers. The biggest disappointment for me and many others that I talked to was the lack of a library. I love the library on ships. Not everyone has a Kindle nor do they want to be bothered with one and rely on the ship's library for their reading material. There was so much wasted space in the Crow's Nest and a library would have been welcomed there. I was on the Rotterdam last year and that ship had a wonderful library. Please don't change it! I won't discuss ports as there were so many of them. I do want to offer one tip for the port of Shimizu. When you sail into Shimizu, you will get spectacular views of Mt. Fuji on the star bird side of the ship. Sailing out of port, it will be on the port side. If you're lucky, it won't be covered with clouds! All in all, it was a great cruise and I could have stayed on the ship longer. The Japanese people were friendly and polite. Language was not a problem in the tourist areas. Would I do this cruise again? No, because there are so many other places to see, but I enjoyed every minute of this cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
Our first cruise with Holland America was to South America and Antarctica on Zaandam in January 2017. We were very happy with life on board and were particularly impressed by the Lido Market, the informal food outlet, where food is often ... Read More
Our first cruise with Holland America was to South America and Antarctica on Zaandam in January 2017. We were very happy with life on board and were particularly impressed by the Lido Market, the informal food outlet, where food is often cooked to order. Therefore, we were pleased to come across back-to-back cruises, including a Pacific crossing, on Westerdam in April and May this year. The first cruise took us around the Japanese Islands, a location we would not normally have considered, while the second, repositioning, cruise completed the Japanese itinerary before crossing the sea to Alaska, a place we have visited on two previous occasions and were very happy to revisit. We flew into Narita Airport directly from Manchester and stayed overnight in the Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport hotel before a private taxi took us into Yokohama the next day to commence our cruise. Embarkation was swift and easy. Lunch was first on the agenda because our room was not ready until early afternoon. As before, we only used the Lido Market for our meals and we were very impressed by the friendliness of the staff there and throughout the ship. Our individual preferences were remembered from the start, which was remarkable. One point of concern was that the use of hand sanitizers was not promoted as on other ships, which we did discuss with the Hotel Manager. There is less self service on HAL than on other cruise lines, but there are common utensils and other opportunities for contamination. We had chosen a Signature Suite, a larger room than normal because of the length of the cruise and it certainly offered all the space we could wish for. We had selected the Starboard side and we were amused that at almost every port we were against the dock and our views ranged from enormous scrap heaps to piles of sand or coal, covered by flapping tarpaulin and old tyres! The ship docked in rather industrial areas because of its size, requiring the use of shuttle buses at several ports. However, public transport was easy to use and allowed us to venture further afield, as the places of interest were not all conveniently within walking distance. We don't attend the evening entertainment (or use the fitness facilities, so I have scored both as average below) because we prefer to look outside as much as possible, from the open deck or the shelter and convenience of our balcony. We had managed a very hazy glimpse of Mount Fuji in Yokohama, but Shimizu on Day 2 allowed us to watch her unveil from behind cloud as the sky cleared in the afternoon. Osaka on Day 3 and Kochi on Day 4 had castles and their gardens to explore. Osaka Castle has a lift, but also extremely long queues to use it, so we climbed the stairs, but Kochi Castle had no lift and we were unfortunate to visit at the same time as a large group, meaning that we shuffled slowly from floor to floor, negotiating extremely steep, narrow stairs with two-way traffic, which was dangerous. Coming down backwards or sideways was safest! This rather spoiled our visit but the gardens, with their emerging Cherry blossom, made up for it. Being over 65, we had free entry into some places we visited. On Day 5, we cruised the Kanmon Strait, perhaps not exactly scenic, but interesting nevertheless.The next day, Good Friday, was spent in Sakaiminato. We had expected there to be little to see independently, as the Yuushien Garden we wanted to visit appeared to be a complicated bus journey away, confirmed by information from the ship, but fortunately we called into the local Tourist Office before leaving, after enjoying the many fascinating bronze statues of cartoon characters created by a resident of the town. There we were told about a free shuttle bus to and from the Gardens, including a ride over the famous “Wonky” Bridge, the Eshima Ohashi Bridge. The Garden is very small but is what we think of as a typical Japanese garden, with raked gravel and moss gardens. The two other, much larger, gardens we visited were, to us, far less typical. Kenrokuen Garden, in Kanazawa on Day 7, is considered to be one of the top three gardens in Japan and the darker Cherry blossom was in flower. There is also another castle to visit, with views of snow-capped hills. Day 8, Easter Sunday, was spent at sea, before an obligatory non-Japanese port, Vladivostok, on Day 9. To avoid the need for independent Visas, we booked a walking tour with the ship, which was enjoyable, with the advantage of a sunny day as we were shown the town. Unfortunately, the result of this visit caused considerable delays on our return to Japan after another sea day, on Day 11, because we had to go through Immigration before disembarking, which took several hours. We did no more than visit the town on foot, involving a longer walk than expected, so a shuttle bus might have been useful. The best part for us was a Steam Clock, similar to the one in Vancouver, but otherwise there was little of interest. Hakodate, on Day 12, was another matter, with a viewing tower and a star-shaped fort and garden with hundreds of the paler Cherry blossom trees just about coming into flower. We had intended to take the Rope Way, or cable car, to the top of Mount Hakodate, but it was closed because of strong winds. Instead, we walked part of the way through the woodland, until we found a viewpoint over the town. We could see that the Ropeway had reopened after we returned to the ship, but our alternative walk was very enjoyable. Day 13, in Aomori, offered little to do before another sea day on the way back to Yokohama. We like to look out for wildlife while at sea, but there was remarkably little on this cruise, other than welcome Leysan Albatross and the smaller Short Legged Shearwaters, which were migrating. Oriental Turtle Doves heading for Alaska were also seen circling the ship occasionally and once perched for a while on wires in front of the large windows in the Crow’s Nest lounge. Black Kites were common in the ports and were interesting to watch and attempt to photograph. Day 15, the change-over day in Yokohama, was spent visiting the Sankeien Gardens, where we found another good view of Mount Fuji. The garden is obviously a popular place for wedding photographs and we enjoyed the beautiful traditional dress of brides and grooms. The Garden contains many ancient buildings, removed from their original locations and preserved in the Gardens by the founder. Another sea day took us to Muroran on Day 17. We took a tour of the town on a Hop On, Hop Off bus, with an interesting view point at Cape Chikyu, but not much else. Day 18, our last Japanese port, was spent at Kushiro, the only wet day of the cruise. A bus took us to the amusingly named MOO (Marine Our Ocean) and EGG (Ever Green Garden) buildings, where at last we found local craft for souvenirs, including that of the local Ainu people. The EGG building held craft sessions and an archery demonstration involving local school students, although the day was part of an extended public holiday for the start of a New Era in Japan. The Nusamai Bridge is famous for its statues of the Seasons, the first bridge to be so decorated in Japan. However, they all look as though they should represent Summer! The next six days were spent at sea, as we crossed the Pacific Ocean. Stormy weather at the beginning meant that the Promenade Deck was closed, during which time an Albatross took refuge in a corner of the deck for several days. Its presence and the reopening of the deck were not publicized and we did not see it. We also missed a pod of Orca which passed the ship, observed by people sitting in the bar in the warm. We were told about them several times, after the event, as we braved the Promenade deck on a wildlife watch. A significant part of the voyage for me was crossing the IDL. To see the beginning of a day in the far East, among the first to do so, then see its ending two days later in the far West, among the last to witness it, is special. The International Date Line diverts from the 180° line of longitude, the Antimeridian, to avoid dividing the Aleutian Island from the rest of Alaska, so knowing when we would cross it was not easy. The itinerary initially named it as our first day at sea, then our second, but both were clearly wrong. Even so, Day 21, the second after leaving Japan, was indeed selected as the day to be repeated and this is probably explained by the fact that the correct day, Day 22, was May 4th and Holland’s Remembrance Day. We decided to go by the ship’s position instead. We were advised that we would cross the IDL at around 04.00 on Sunday morning by our calendar and, by following the ship on a tracking web site, we could see it approach the Antimeridian. We did wake at 04.00 to photograph the changing morning light, but there was no sunrise, unfortunately. We crossed the 180° line of longitude at approximately 10.00 and took photographs of the view in front of us as we approached, which was for us, still in the East, yesterday in the West, Saturday; the view to the side which was briefly today, Sunday and the view behind, the East, which would soon become for us as we reached the West, a day in the past, Sunday. One of my favourite hymns sums it up beautifully as it describes the day passing from evening in the West to morning in the East, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord is Ended.” https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/The_Day_Thou_Gavest_Lord_Is_Ended/ So, Sunday became Saturday once again and we agreed with the ship’s calendar as we crossed into the Western Hemisphere. We had been given a certificate to mark the incorrect crossing, but we returned it and asked for a correct one, which we received. We marked our second Sunday evening the next day with photographs as the light faded and the day was finally complete around the globe. Our days at sea provided the occasional evidence of a whale from its blow, but little else. Each day had included losing an hour as we worked towards Alaskan time, with a second hour being necessary on the last day. Japan does not have Daylight Saving Time, so it was dark very early there and it was pleasant to have longer light evenings as we moved further towards Alaska. We arrived at Kodiak, a new port for us, on Day 25. We were delayed getting into the port, through a narrow channel because of the rocky coastline, by strong winds, but we were able to dock about two hours later. The Captain added two hours to the departure time in compensation. We spent the day walking around the small town, visiting the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Centre and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Although the famous bears are usually not in the town, we did have a welcome opportunity to watch a Sea Otter having a wash-and-brush-up in the harbour, close enough to see clearly and Bald Eagles on a slope directly opposite our balcony. One more sea day took us to Icy Strait Point on Day 27, another new port. We had booked a whale watching trip, which was good but very misty and chilly. After exploring the Visitor Centre, we returned to the ship and enjoyed several whales which were using the bay, from the comfort and warmth of the now sunny, outside deck. As we sailed away from Icy Strait Point, on a beautiful evening, an NCL ship was about an hour ahead of us and her exhaust seemed to hang on one side of the valley as ours filled the other side. Legal, but unpleasant and also a matter of concern. Day 28 was spent at Ketchikan, which we have visited several times before, so we used the time to shop for family souvenirs. There were three other ships in port in the morning, but two left surprisingly early and the town was much quieter in the afternoon. Our departure was delayed because the Captain had to go to hospital with appendicitis; luckily for him it had not happened in the middle of the Pacific. Day 29 saw us cruising through the Inside Passage, on a beautiful day to enjoy the scenery, logs being hauled on the water and fishing lodges being towed to their Summer location, before arriving at our final destination, Vancouver. We had chosen to spend a night there before flying home, so disembarkation was not rushed and we could enjoy a final breakfast in the Lido Market before leaving the ship after a long and interesting journey. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Never cruised with Holland And America before heard good reports. Ship size is good do not like really big ships. Cabin smaller than I’d expected. Dinning good had one very slow night put a comment ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Never cruised with Holland And America before heard good reports. Ship size is good do not like really big ships. Cabin smaller than I’d expected. Dinning good had one very slow night put a comment card in stating this and was always better after that. We found there are a lot of rooms and she’s on this ship not always being used to full potential. Entertainment on the main stage was average, BB Kings blues club the band and singers were very good, sometimes the band had solo spots which went on too long, only spent two or three occasions in here. Billboard on Board, two piano players and singers here Rachael and Ian very good spent every night with these guys, different era and type of music played each slot, they both had very good voices and soon became very popular. The only problem we found was when these guys had there well earned break nothing else carried on here to encourage people to stay for the next part of the evening, it was the same everywhere one slot finished that was it until their next slot came around. If it wasn’t for Rachael and Ian we wouldn’t have rated entertainment very high on this ship a lot of room for improvement. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We selected this cruise because we had never been to Japan. We typically cruise with Holland America but have found on our last couple of cruises that their standards are starting to slip. The quality of the food and the ... Read More
We selected this cruise because we had never been to Japan. We typically cruise with Holland America but have found on our last couple of cruises that their standards are starting to slip. The quality of the food and the selection/variety is not what it used to be. As well, even though the staff are all dedicated and hardworking and do their best to keep the cruisers happy, HAL seems to have reduced the number of staff and so the service is also not what it used to be. Embarkation, in our opinion, was poorly handled and slow and we spent a lot of time simply standing in line. Disembarkation, on the other hand, was quite efficient and quick. The selection of ports for the 14 day Japan portion of the cruise was very good and we enjoyed all of them. We arranged private tours for all but one of the ports and so were always in a very small group, which meant we had more flexibility and usually were able to see more than the large groups. We had an inside cabin and it was quite comfortable and our room stewards were great. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise primarily to visit Japan at a specific time of year.Now regretting choice of cruise line.READ on what to find out what you can expect. PROS. First of all the ship is clean although ageing. The signature suite ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily to visit Japan at a specific time of year.Now regretting choice of cruise line.READ on what to find out what you can expect. PROS. First of all the ship is clean although ageing. The signature suite we had was clean and comfortable although its furnishings were dated ,the sofa bed was also past its best. Crew and staff generally ok no problems. CONS (litterally in respect of wine package) Bottled water is available in your room at $5 dollars a bottle and on going ashore. .Reluctantly we purchased a signature drinks package ($1486 plus %15 service charge ).You have to buy 2 if you are in a two person cabin..The drinks package. allows you to get any wines on the wine menue at $9 dollars or under. However most of these are undrinkable and even then you only have two choices of a white wine or three of a red.Within a few days of sailing they even ran out of a cheap white leaving you no choice unless you paid an extra full price for a wine above $9.. One.,evening we were even charged full price for a higher priced glass of wine that we had paid extra for even though they had run out of it.( we were given a cheaper plonk in its place) .'In previous reviews it has been stated that the food in the Lido Market is cold , unapettising and very repetitive.Apparently on this ship it is difficult to keep warm so you need to go early to take advantage of the hot food at the start. OK if you like to eat early.In the evening by 8pm they are closing down.Having said that, after visiting several more times every hot item is almost cold A word of warning for those of you who want a spa bath. The water jets in the bath initially spewed out a torrent of dirty water leaving the bottom of the bath full of scumand slime..Advise you run it several times before use with soap. Internet cost $170 dollars for 14 days and is very slow. A bagfull of laundry cost $30 dollars. but came back clean and pressed within 24 hours..Apparently the self service laundry on this ship was removed several years ago .(presumably so that they can extort more money out of you).. All the above issues have been raised with customer services but the ship is what it is. One other thing that needs mentioning is that at 11pm at night save for a few areas the ship is like the Marie Celeste IT DOES NOT OFFER VALUE FOR MONEY AND WE WILL NOT SALE WITH HOLLAND AMERICA AGAIN Generally entertainment on the ship is ok ,the resident band is very good with no complaints.The service is variable.. depending on what part of the ship you are in.. We have not been on any excursions as we feel they are overpriced Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit ... Read More
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit and miss for a suite as we were surrounded by non suite staterooms and the allocation to each steward would be higher. Rarely did we see a child(I think there were 2 on board), most passengers were American Australian UK then South African average age 65. Loved the free laundry and staff in Neptune lounge were fantastic. Shows were nothing like the big ships so were a bit hit and miss. Pinnacle restaurant was great especially their degustation but MDR food was also great and service perfect. Always hard to compare different ships particularly of different size. Suite benefits vary dramatically in different cruise lines so check what suites you. As a 1900 passenger ship it is less crowded with fast elevators less queuing but the trade off is less shops and activities and shows of a lower standard. Tours in china and Japan were poor value with communication issues with the guides but they were well organised. Internet even on the premium package was hit and miss. Would definitely recommend this ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because of the 2 day stop in Shanghai and Beijing and ending in Japan. This was our first time cruising on HAL. It was just the 2 of us cruising and we stayed in a balcony cabin, which was very nice. We arrived at ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the 2 day stop in Shanghai and Beijing and ending in Japan. This was our first time cruising on HAL. It was just the 2 of us cruising and we stayed in a balcony cabin, which was very nice. We arrived at embarkation to find out we needed copies of our Passports and Visas on separate sheets of paper. We waiting in a line for 15 minutes + to have this done. If we knew prior to arriving, everyone would have these copies available. There were numerous agents to check us in and was quick. Unlike other cruise lines we've been on, the ship does not have a bright center atrium. It's quite small and dark. The ship as a whole in the interior is dark, the evening entertainment is just so-so, MANY people walk around with their bathrobes on visiting the pool/spa/buffet which we found strange and their were limited activities on sea days, All our tours were private with 8 people so can't comment on the ship's tours. We did attend several information sessions about ports, culture and various topics and found them well done and interesting. The service and food options in the Lido Marketplace, buffet, was very good. We ate our meals here for the variety and did not participate in the formal nights. We met friendly people since most times you share a table in the Lido Marketplace. For the first time ever, we took our luggage off by ourselves since we had reserved tickets for the bullet train. This worked well since we each only had 1 suitcase. Depending on the ports/cost, we would consider going again on HAL. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I booked this cruise mainly due to the itinerary it offered to East Asia, the brand of Holland America was the second reason. The Westerdam is a nice, clean and comfortable cruise ship and offered all the amenities that cruise lines ... Read More
I booked this cruise mainly due to the itinerary it offered to East Asia, the brand of Holland America was the second reason. The Westerdam is a nice, clean and comfortable cruise ship and offered all the amenities that cruise lines offer. I enjoyed the itinerary and all the ports visited. However, my experience of the Westerdam was a little disappointing and although the staff were polite and welcoming that really hid the lack of attention to detail and lack of service in some areas. Having spoken to a few guests who had travelled on the Westerdam previously it appeared I was not the only one experiencing a lack of service that would be expected on a ship of this calibre. Keeping it brief I experienced: A wait of over 20 minutes for food from the Dive Inn take-out only to find they had not switched on the little box that notifies you when the food is ready and then served me cold food. Having clothes returned from the laundry where on 3 occasions the clothes were not pressed or part pressed. For the whole cruise (apart form the last 2 nights after I had to highlight this to the waiter) I was not offered any alcoholic drinks with my dinner whilst watching other passengers arriving at their tables with wine, beer or soft drinks waiting for them. Whilst staff would acknowledge you with the obligatory good morning, afternoon or evening the Officers must of believed I was a member of staff because they were arrogant and rude on some occasions and this even includes the Captain who passed me one day and whilst I was attempting to see what his name was I got such a look of distaste, no hello or how can I help you. Being lied to by the EXC team (excursions) in regards to dis-embarkation resulting in many passengers paying $15 for a transfer when in fact there were plenty of options at the dis-embarkation port. The EXC team presented that taxis would be not available and even provided pictures of lines of people queuing for a taxi, there were lots of taxis on stand by! There were other little things which you normally brush off as 'oh well things happen' but a lot of these things add up and just highlighted the lack of control the management had on its staff and service suffered. First time on Holland America and not a good experience. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was the friendliest cruise ship, we have been on. The crew were helpful and happy to serve. Stateroom was comfortable and larger than those on the newer ships. Good selection of tv programmes and movies available. The only problem ... Read More
This was the friendliest cruise ship, we have been on. The crew were helpful and happy to serve. Stateroom was comfortable and larger than those on the newer ships. Good selection of tv programmes and movies available. The only problem we had was with the air conditioning was not strong enough to cool the room enough during the night. The main dining room was good especially in the anytime dining restaurant, food was well presented and there were plenty of menu choices available including regional specialities to suit everyone. The lido was a little bit of a let down, due mainly to the way it was arranged for service. Breakfast was the worst as I had to wait at two different counters to be served my bacon and eggs as the english bacon and sausage were not available on the same counter as the fried eggs or the omelette counter. The dive in was excellent as the burgers are cooked to order with fries etc.... The salad bar was also good with a lot of choice. Entertainment on the main stage was a little disappointing and repetitive, the enrichment program was better and I especially enjoyed the port talks and lectures on the places we visited. The entertainment staff were very visible and I especially enjoyed the trivia and games. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Great ports, lots of activities aboard ship on sea days. Services were outstanding; staff was pleasant and aimed to please. Food in the main dining room included options that were specific to our ports of call, and Lido Market dinners ... Read More
Great ports, lots of activities aboard ship on sea days. Services were outstanding; staff was pleasant and aimed to please. Food in the main dining room included options that were specific to our ports of call, and Lido Market dinners often reflected that as well. Ship is well-maintained. Would sail on this ship again and again. Embarkation process was a little slower than other cruise lines but disembarkation was efficient and smooth. Lectures by Master Kam enhanced the experience in understanding the histories and cultures of the Asian countries we visited. He also conducted tai chi classes that were open to all. Shore excursions were a bit pricey but the Holland American EXC tours that we took were run efficiently and showed us the highlights of the regions that we visited. We also booked some tours with friends. These were less expensive than the HAL tours and often covered the same areas. The ship-sponsored tours have the "convenience factor" and consistently expert guides. Read Less
Westerdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 2.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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