Sail Date: July 2018
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America ... Read More
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America provides easy access to Denali National Park via the Alaska Railroad. We were transported by a special train to the McKinley Resort at Denali National Park and to the ship in Seward via comfortable motor coach. Both trips are lengthy and are narrated. Brace yourself for the usual bad puns from time to time. The better guides limit themselves to a wealth of information of the area you are in. The best guide was the guide for the chartered Wilderness Tour, a 7.5 hour narrated ride on 60 of the 90 miles of two lane gravel road into the park. The return trip is on the same gravel road as it's the only one in the park. Those exploring on their own must ride the National Park shuttle. We saw the following mammals: Grizzly bear (a couple singles and a sow with 2 two-year-old juveniles); 3 wolves; about 10 Dall sheep, red fox, snow-shoe hares, and caribou. I'm not going to give a grade since the three transports are so different in scope. The Wilderness Tour should not be missed. BOOKING From conversations on-board, we got the impression that we spent less for some of the same amenities since we booked through Costco's travel agency. At the very least the large added on-ship credits added by Costco allowed us to skip paying for the drink plans which seem somewhat reasonable, but the idea of having access to 10-15 drinks per day was not something we would use. Through cruise-critic, we found out that our price went down about 4 months before the trip. Through the travel agency, we saved $500, keeping the same reserved cabin in the middle of the ship. However, we ended up with about $750 in combined on ship credit. No money is used on board, it's all part of your room key/credit card. Make sure you check your balance daily which is easily done on a machine near guest services. You can view it electronically or have the machine print the record. There is also access through the on-board app which runs on the free portion of wifi. You can purchase the slow, expensive Internet access if you wish to degrade your vacation time by being online when you "should" be enjoying the scenery. Grade: B+ CABIN I'd read reviews on cruisecritic.com saying the rooms were outdated. It appears that the Westerdam has gone through a recent upgrade. The photos on this site were no longer accurate. The condition of our room was quite good. What to ask for when greeted by your room stewards who will ask you if there's anything additionally you want after first viewing your room: Ask your room steward to explain how the shower works AND to put the single beds together as a (queen-sized) larger bed. By booking a half year early, we were able to reserve a cabin mid-ship and one level below the lido deck where the buffets are available nearly 24/7. Our cabin was smaller than a hotel room, but since you don't spend much time there, that is hardly a problem. There were two single beds that the room stewards put together as a queen sized bed on the first night by request. The head has a toilet, bathtub, sink, and shower. There was a 3-shelved medicine cabinet for storage. The balcony was a bit bigger than I expected. The suite includes 2 end tables with two drawers for storage, bed with able storage for suitcases below, love seat with small table, desk with small refrigerator and two more small shelves. One includes a hair dryer for your use. The room stewards automatically clean twice a day and replace towels during those two visits. More visits may be done by request. Grade: A DINING The buffet area on the lido deck is very clean. It's easy to access hand disinfectant at various places near the food service. Used dishes are quickly picked up by friendly staff. Tables are also cleared quickly so it's not difficult to find a place to sit near the buffet or near the pools. Most areas have attendants preparing made-to-order items or simply ladling food into bowls and onto plates. This isn't your average buffet. It's mostly fine dining quality food which is easily accessible. You could easily take all your meals here, but I'd suggest using the dining room most evenings and as often as possible for breakfast. You will be seated with others on-board unless you request otherwise. I'm not much on meeting new people, but I'm glad we chose to eat with new acquaintances each time we went for breakfast in the dining room. We were seated with the same couples at night, but if someone chose to eat in the specialty cafe or lido buffet, their seats were empty. Gala nights are a step up in quality of environment, but the the food is always exquisitely prepared and served. Meals in the dining room last about 2 hours, which surprising goes quickly if you simply talk about what you did during the day with your table-mates. On those evenings we ate at the Lido Market (buffet) we made separate trips for appetizers, salad, main course, and dessert, much like those served in fine dining. Drinks are served by request in all areas. The dining room attendants are numerous and very attentive learning your name quickly. You will most likely find that nearly every person associated with the dining room make your voyage amazing. From our viewpoint, the small added cost dining areas, such as the Pinnacle Grill, are not necessary. However, those we talked to reported being very pleased by their meals there. Grade: A+ ENTERTAINMENT VENUES The entertainment venues that we attended after dining: BB King Stage (Rhythm and Blues and Soul), Lincoln Center Stage (violin, cello, viola, and piano), and Main Stage which included hour long performances a comedian, illusionists which we attended as well as some song/dance variety shows (which we didn't but heard were good). Drinks are served by request. During the day there are various activities available from card playing to trivia to afternoon concerts. The BB King Stage was transformed to a cooking show by PBS's America's Test Kitchen, now in its 18th season(see episodes at https://www.americastestkitchen.com/episodes or teasers on youtube such as the following: https://youtu.be/mpnshdmtE2Y ). Carla, from the youtube link was the host on this ship. This cooking show was very well done. I loved Carla's dry sense of humor. The technicians could do away with the canned applause, though. Even if you don't prepare meals, make it a point to get to at least part of a 45-60 min. presentation. You are given the recipes to the items prepared so you can follow along. Get to the Main Stage show about 20 minutes early or you may not find a seat. It's ok to send one of your party to save 3-4 seats while others wait to enter spending $$ in the nearby casino or have a drink in a nearby lounge. We were surprised to find a lack of interaction between audience and musicians in the BB King Stage. However, the quality of the music was quite high. The classical musicians at the Lincoln Center Stage were quite accomplished in many different styles of music (not just classical). There was a small contingent of hearing impaired guests. An ASL interpreter was at the Main Stage. I don't think the ship supplied interpretation, but the signers did a good job for those they served. I appreciated that the comedienne interacted with the interpreter and indirectly with those they served. Grade: B+ OVERALL SERVICE One of the supervisors at the guest services mentioned that Holland America is not for the rowdy and you won't find lots of children. There were families with with children, but the kids had an access area on the 10th deck all their own and could play basketball, paddle ball, table tennis and have other activities without being bothered by adults. It sounds like Carnival (corporate owner of Holland America) is more of a ship for kids/young families. We found that on a ship of over 2000 people, we did not feel crowded until disembarkation morning and that's only because breakfast was only available on the lido deck. Still, the staff did an excellent job keeping tables available for those later arrivals. If you abhor cigarette and cigar smoke, stay off the aft area of the lido deck. That's the only place for smoking. Generally, the smoke is blown off the back of the ship while moving. In short, the diverse staff, representing some 80 different countries and regions, was outstanding. If you are on board, you are treated like family (except for the family squabbles). Grade: A OVERALL EXPERIENCE We imagined our first cruise would be very good with some pitfalls due to not having cruised before. It was much better than we could have imagined. The Westerdam's crew and staff's grade: SUPERIOR. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our second Alaskan cruise and Alaska did not let us down. The weather was great -83 degrees in Haines! But such a relief from Texas heat. Plus, the air was so clean and fresh. My sister and I were about the average age of ... Read More
This was our second Alaskan cruise and Alaska did not let us down. The weather was great -83 degrees in Haines! But such a relief from Texas heat. Plus, the air was so clean and fresh. My sister and I were about the average age of passengers and there were few young people or kids. We took a Bear Paw shuttle from Anchorage to Seward and it broke down along the way. Our driver was a pleasant young man who took good care of us. We did have a cabin with a veranda (4002) but it was not our favorite. It was smaller than we've ever had before and the veranda did not have plexiglass so we had to stand to see the beautiful sites. Made the chairs and table useless. Our wonderful cabin steward Enjay could not have been better or friendlier. We had anytime dining but never had to wait. I would suggest this alternative as we met some great people from all over the US and New Zealand, Ukrane, Canada, etc by sharing a table. The food in the Main dining room was good but not as we have had on others cruises. They tried too hard to make it fancy but the flavor just wasn't there most of the time. The Lido buffet was great for breakfast GREAT MELONS but just ok for lunch and dinner. Not enough variety-Asian and Italian every day. and a few other options. We did get a great premade ham sandwich. The salad bar had a lot of selections and we did like that they had servers rather than everyone dishing for themselves. Made going through the line much faster. Kannika was our server who was so pleasant and worked so hard. The ice cream was also delicious. Ok now for Entertainment. The Westerdam hit a homerun with the Billboard twin pianos (OUTSTANDING, we went every night) and the entertainers in BBKing. All these entertainers were absolutely professional quality and so much fun. The classical music was above reproach. The comedian CHRIS had one of the funniest shows we've seen but we didn't go to see the illusionist. Other activities seemed to be scarce if you didn't want to learn how to buy stuff or learn about excursions.Trivia was rare but enjoyable. Missed having Marriage show and game shows. We saw a couple of movies in the main stage area that were very good.Alaska provided so much to enjoy so the trip was certainly not a waste! We took a city tour in Haines which is a lovely place but you can do the town by walking. It was 83 degrees that day and we dressed for cooler temps. In Juneau we took a whale watching tour and saw whales and sea lions. Our Nature person was very knowledgeable. I would suggest this excursion as but the whales and orcas were not putting on a show that day. The weather was perfect and the scenery you can't even begin to describe. Wish we had gone on shore in Ketchikan much earlier to explore the town. We did see a fun show (Logger show which was hilarious) and ate some awesome snow crabs near the show. Shopping is good there and there are diamond stores everywhere! Too many. We would love to cruise Alaska again someday but probably wouldn't take Holland America. Our Norwegian trip was more fun. Holland is a little less lively than we enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
My in-laws chose to go on this cruise to celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary and was my first cruise. Made the mistake of buying their soda package for about $70. The Dining Rooms have one specific person (the Wine Steward) for ... Read More
My in-laws chose to go on this cruise to celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary and was my first cruise. Made the mistake of buying their soda package for about $70. The Dining Rooms have one specific person (the Wine Steward) for the zone you sit in and you can only place your soda order with that person. That person holds off coming to your table until 1/4 to half way through your meal to even take your soda order. Rarely could I get their attention for a refill. To make matters worse they kept constantly bringing me Diet Coke instead of regular which I was very specific about. Officially complained to management at Customer Service expecting at least a partial reimbursement since I didn’t get even half the value on what I paid. He only offered to print a copy of my bill to date. Also be aware when using late night room service that even though I had their soda package that they charged me $2.49/can of Coke because the night staff have no access to a soda dispenser. After filling out their official survey I got a formal email from the shiplines management saying they’ll talk to their staff about it. In other words they don’t care. They got my money... So in return they get this somewhat negative review. Also be warned. Turn OFF your cellphone data on your cell phone if you don’t pre-purchase or sign up for overseas cell service. We ended up with over $50 each in roaming charges for two phones being Verizon non-Unlimited customers. Lastly do NOT purchase their wifi plan. It is next to useless with your website requests mostly timing out or having to reload many times to get to where you are going on the Internet. And that’s using the ships desktop computers they use for the onboard Microsoft training classes. In my official survey I said they shouldn’t be charging people for crap wifi service that doesn’t even work and should just include it for free use. Other than that the views were amazing, the staff friendly and accommodating. A very enjoyable trip. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
This was the only one that had a land package available with three days in Denali at the time we booked. We would have preferred a smaller ship. The ship had three maintenance issues during the cruise.The first was the PA system was ... Read More
This was the only one that had a land package available with three days in Denali at the time we booked. We would have preferred a smaller ship. The ship had three maintenance issues during the cruise.The first was the PA system was broken. The boat drill was a disorganized. Another was for, as the captain explained, to fix the breaks. The other would shut off the air conditioning for four hours (not a problem in Alaska). The restaurant served average bland food. When you order seafood, it is mostly foreign imports. The frozen fish and meat is standard fare. All is cooked to a bland person's liking. Nothing was savory of juicy. We tried the 3 "special restaurants", which were just as bland and boring. The Alaskan King Crab legs was the only locally sourced seafood I had, which was good, with a tiny amount of drawn butter. The side of creamed spinach was like baby food. I always had to ask for a take-up plate for shells and a seafood fork. You had to ask for salt and pepper also. They must have a shortage. The full service restaurant was not always available for lunch and if you did not make a reservation for the empty specialty restaurant, you would have to eat at the food toughs. My husband ordered a baked potato and he got a 1/2 of a baked potato upside-down on a plate. There are no rib eye steaks. The shore excursions were hit or miss. I would not do anything that involves a family style dinner or show again. Food was barely shared and you had to beg for someone to pass it down. This include dinner shows, wagon rides & ATV rides. The wagon and ATV rides are in the same place with two dirty outhouses to use without running water. We enjoyed the river rafting in Denali and the hike/canoe to the Davidson Glacier. The outhouses were the worst ever at the Davidson Glacier. The room where the enrichment talks was open to the Explorers' Lounge where there are bar blenders making noise for drinks and people milling about. The lectures were good and well worth going to. I found many of guests on this ship had a lack of manors, hygiene (using hand sanitizer at the restaurants) and talked in an "outdoor voice". We ended up catching a cold from a man who coughed directly on my head during a bus trip. I would go back to Alaska again because it is totally awesome. I just would not go on a large ship ever again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This cruise was a great value for the money. The food was always good, although I won't say it was ever amazing. The cabin stewards were fantastic. All the entertainers were really talented. The clients were mostly retired people, ... Read More
This cruise was a great value for the money. The food was always good, although I won't say it was ever amazing. The cabin stewards were fantastic. All the entertainers were really talented. The clients were mostly retired people, although we did see some families. This was definitely not a party ship. There were not a lot of extra things going on during the cruise, and usually the ones they had overlapped a lot. Most of the entertainment was in the evenings. The days in port did not have much going on, so I would definitely advise spending the money to go on shore excursions. We liked the choice of open seating where you could show up anytime between 5:15 and 9:00 and be seated in the dining room with random people each night. The dining room was very casual, even on the two gala nights. Glacier Bay was amazing. Our ship spent an extra half hour there because it was such a beautiful day. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
This was our second Alaskan cruise. We chose this itinerary because we wanted to see Denali and then sail one way to Vancouver rather than just the Inside Passage. We had been on Holland America before on the Eurodam and had a great ... Read More
This was our second Alaskan cruise. We chose this itinerary because we wanted to see Denali and then sail one way to Vancouver rather than just the Inside Passage. We had been on Holland America before on the Eurodam and had a great experience. The Westerdam was not as nice as the Eurodam in terms of the ship's condition. We were expecting more after reading about the refurbishment of the ship. The second deck reeked with a sewage smell. It was the worst the first two days of the cruise before it got slightly better. In fact, it was so bad that we just avoided Deck 2 around America's Test Kitchen for most of the week. All in all, the cruise was great, but the ship's condition less so. Food was delicious on all occasions at all venues, and the servers were wonderful. If you have dietary allergies/needs, the servers and kitchen take very good care of you. In terms of the passengers, it was a much older average age than we were. That was fine for us as we didn't want a wild, nightlife. However, we were mostly to ourselves because of the age difference. Embarkation at Seward was horrendous. All the buses from Denali arrived at once, along with the train. So, almost all the ship's passengers arrived at once and overwhelmed the cruise terminal. This was extremely poor planning and made for a not so nice start to the cruise. All the terminal workers were friendly and made the best of a bad situation, but better planning by HAL was needed. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
I liked the fact that this was a smaller ship than many and it suited us perfectly. The cruise was no too long but long enough to leisurely see the sights we wanted and the ports we thought the most worth seeing. The full day up to the ... Read More
I liked the fact that this was a smaller ship than many and it suited us perfectly. The cruise was no too long but long enough to leisurely see the sights we wanted and the ports we thought the most worth seeing. The full day up to the glaciers was spectacular. Our cabin was well appointed and very comfortable. The staff were all exceptionally friendly and helpful and they came from such a diverse range of cultures it was a pleasure talking to them. They seemed to have no pressure to not have the ability to stop for a chat. The entertainment, in particular with two pianists was spectacular. This was my first cruise so I was unsure what to expect. The boat was very stable and even the first night when we went through a storm, it was uneventful, although I had chosen a cabin on the first floor to avoid too much movement, and it paid off. Well worth the experience. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
We are from india , dr. ASHISH KOTAK AND FAMILY 1ST ABOUT CABIN THEY HAVE UPGRADE MY CABIN WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE AS LOCATION IS CHANGE AND FLOOR IS ALSO CHANGE WHICH I DID NOT LIKE 2nd as we are vegetarian and already we have inform ... Read More
We are from india , dr. ASHISH KOTAK AND FAMILY 1ST ABOUT CABIN THEY HAVE UPGRADE MY CABIN WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE AS LOCATION IS CHANGE AND FLOOR IS ALSO CHANGE WHICH I DID NOT LIKE 2nd as we are vegetarian and already we have inform them before 2 month they have provide veg meal but everyday same rice and dal , i mean they are nit interested to serve good variety of indian veg food though main chief chef was indian but not good response as on board only 2 family are pure vegetarian and indian , thumb rule is if indian family are more then they have to serve indian good veg. Food so though we have paid same cost and service or tip daily as others we were getting nothing , for non vegetarian food with so much option but for pure veg, one or two , so be prepared . OTHERWISE SERVICE OF ALL STAFF EXCELLENT AND EVERYTHING WELL ON TIME OVERALL ENJOYED MY 1 ST CRUISE Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
My husband and I traveled on the Holland America Westerdam to Alaska in May (2018). Both of us were very pleased with the trip. Though we were embarking out of Vancouver we flew into Seattle and took the Amtrak Cascade. What a great way to ... Read More
My husband and I traveled on the Holland America Westerdam to Alaska in May (2018). Both of us were very pleased with the trip. Though we were embarking out of Vancouver we flew into Seattle and took the Amtrak Cascade. What a great way to travel! We found a fun, funky hotel (Moda) near the cruise terminal which was inexpensive and had a great restaurant/bar attached. We explored some of Vancouver and would love to go back and see more. All of the advice that we read was to get to the cruise terminal, Canada Place, early but my husband works at the port here and based on his experience we waited until about 1:30 to go. It was a smooth process and took less than an hour to get on board. We did hear from quite a few people on the cruise that their embarkation took a long time and they had issues but they all got there super early. Based on our experience I would wait until later to go (and yes there were 4 ships leaving from there that day). The ship and crew were great. Yes, it was a cruise of predominantly older folks and I do not think I would recommend it for families. For us though it was fine. If you want excitement every minute you won't get that either but if you are ok with relaxing, sitting on the deck and just enjoying the ride than you will be fine. We were not that impressed with the stage shows but the talent t BB Kings and Billboard On Board were great and we spent each evening in one of those two places. Our balcony cabin (4021) was a nice size and we had plenty of room for everything. I am not sure how much other people bring when there are complaints that there is not enough room. We were taking the land tour as well so had 2 large suitcases and 2 carry on bags and we had no issues putting things away. The room had several USB ports so we did not use the extra plug adapter we brought. We did have them do laundry twice during the cruise (the all you can stuff in a bag option) and it was returned the next day beautifully pressed. My husband wishes he had that kind of service at home! Our steward was super friendly and though we never asked for anything special I am sure he would have taken care of it in a heartbeat. All the crew was very friendly. The ship never felt crowded except in the buffet areas but if you just go out by the Lido pool (and there is a roof and is climate controlled) it was easy to find a table. Much nicer than sitting inside anyway. We had open seating for the dining room and had most dinners and a couple of breakfasts there. We met new people every time which was fun. My only real complaint was that only the wine stewards could bring drinks and there were not enough of them. I don't mind waiting for food if I have my drink but waiting a long time for both was a little irritating at times. We ate in the Pinnacle grill once and they had the same issue. Disembarkation at all of the ports and the final one went smoothly and we never had any issues.Just pay attention and don't be in a hurry to be the first off and it goes easily. We enjoyed each port (Ketchican, Juneau and Skagway). We did a few excursions that we booked separately and only booked the White Pass train in Skagway through the cruise. That was so much fun and I highly recommend it.I would have liked more time in Ketchican and less in Juneau and Skagway (which is tiny!). Glacier Bay was amazing and being a smaller ship we were able to get close to the glacier. Overall we had a great time. We are not high maintenance people so we didn't ask the crew for much but anything we did ask for was taken care of promptly. We would absolutely go again (and I really want to). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We did this cruise coming straight off a relocation cruise Sydney to Vancouver on the Noordam. We disembarked the Noordam at 10 am and boarded the Westerdam 3pm on the same day. All went smoothly and we were able to drop our luggage ... Read More
We did this cruise coming straight off a relocation cruise Sydney to Vancouver on the Noordam. We disembarked the Noordam at 10 am and boarded the Westerdam 3pm on the same day. All went smoothly and we were able to drop our luggage in the morning which allowed us to explore Vancouver during the day. This was the Westerdams second cruise after a major refit so everything was fairly new including our cabin. One negative of the refit compared to the sister ship Noordam is the change to the Crows Nest on deck 10 which I think is a negative step as thee space is now taken up by future cruises desk,,explorers café and a lecture space. As such much of relaxing atmosphere of the old Crows Nest is gone as is most of the scenic cruising space. Moving the Explorers Café from the Promenade Deck to deck 10 was a big mistake as you have to go down 7 decks to eenjoy your coffee etc in the deck chairs on the Promenade deck. The space and associated library/games ae is much much smaller. Please HAL don't ruin your other ships with this retrograde step. Enough of a whinge. The cruise was as expected glorious scenery nice ports(with decent amounts of time to explore etc and no tenders) and a great crew. Our cabin attendants new our names from day one which is always a sign of an attentive crew. Did not attend any of the lectures etc, to busy looking at the scenery. The cruise director and assistant cruise director were not as fun as on previous HAL cruises(this is our 4th HAL cruise) and seemed to do it by the numbers. One thing I love about HALis that they go out of their way to keep the guests up to date and alert to what is going on(eg whale spotting etc) Recommend this cruise to anyone without hesitation 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 3.7
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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