1,115 Holland America Line Westerdam Cruise Reviews

We just returned from a 35 day cruise of the South Pacific and were left with mixed feelings about the overall experience. This was our first cruise on Holland America and we selected it based on its South Pacific itinerary. ... Read More
We just returned from a 35 day cruise of the South Pacific and were left with mixed feelings about the overall experience. This was our first cruise on Holland America and we selected it based on its South Pacific itinerary. Embarkation: Boarding in San Diego was efficient and uneventful with the exception of a noticeably high number of over 70 guests - some with walkers or scooters. Although this did not present a problem for us socially, we did find accommodating them on tenders (which there were a lot of) tedious at times and we wondered why there wasn't a dedicated tender for older/disabled cruisers. Common Areas: After boarding, we self-toured the ship to orient ourselves and were struck by its dark interiors and small spaces. We also noticed a lot of worn and outdated furniture in the Crow's Nest and library. Their two specialty restaurants and even the theater were not very private and did not evoke a sense of being special. On the plus side, the Crow's Nest and Library's spaciousness invited more light than any other area of the ship without being outside. Stateroom: We were pleasantly surprised with the size and comfort of our stateroom and adjoining bath. The balcony was comfortable as well. The sofa and chairs were worn and outdated, but still serviceable. The downside of the stateroom was that the aroma of food occasionally drifted in through our ventilation system causing discomfort, especially on days when curry was added to recipes. Not pleasant. Amenities: The ships gym had a lot of broken equipment and even the scale stopped working at one point. Again, it was serviceable and I enjoyed my workouts, but expected more. Same with the casino. The pool was adequate, but charging for the mineral pool was a bit crude. Solarium's on other cruise lines are typically complimentary. The basketball court was rarely used and would better serve the clientele of HAL by being converted to a putting green. As I mentioned before, the ship's theater was not very private (a curtain was pulled to create darkness) but since it was in a heavy traffic area, it did an inadequate job. The selection of movies was excellent, but we typically watched them in the comfort of our stateroom. Dinning: Food and service in the Vista dinning room was adequate, but not special. I sent plates back to the kitchen at least three of the first five nights due to over cooked or under cooked meat. Our dinning room attendants were attentive, but did not seem genuinely interested in presenting food to our liking. They seemed more interested in supplying ice tea in advance (because I asked for it on the first night) when what I wanted was a medium rare lamb chop. Salads were served warm and I eventually stopped ordering them altogether. Maybe our expectations are higher than most, but we have cruised enough to know what to expect. This is not meant to be critical of our dinning room attendants work ethic, professionalism or demeanor. I believe they were just unaware. We made reservations at both specialty restaurants and enjoyed our experience at the Pinnacle - excellent food, outstanding service and beautiful presentation. We ate at Canaletto one time and cancelled our other two reservations. Although the grilled vegetable anti-pasta platter was delicious, the main courses were extremely salty. Could have been a bad night, but we weren't willing to pay the up charge again to find out. Ports of Call: This itinerary piqued our interest from the first time we read about it, and it did not disappoint. The chance to visit Bora Bora, Fanning Island and Rarotonga were worth the slight discomforts we endured on an aging ship. Excursions: We did not avail ourselves of the ship's excursions and booked privately instead. This was entirely an economic decision and has no reflection on the quality of HAL's excursions. We cannot speak fairly to that subject. Staff: We found the staff of the Westerdam helpful, professional and hard working at all times. Standouts include; Travel Talks by Julia,Cruise Director Armen, Digital Workshop instructor Emily and our ever present stateroom attendants. We appreciated the high viability of cleaning staff in every part of the ship and the overall cleanliness. While we rate the overall experience just above average, we would still recommend it to anyone who wants reliable, comfortable transportation to some of the most amazing ports of call imaginable. I am sure we will cruise on HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
I've watched the quality and integrity of Holland America decline dramatically over the years, and it's a sad thing to see. Their latest gimmick is to hold cruise fares down as much as possible while compromising quality in ... Read More
I've watched the quality and integrity of Holland America decline dramatically over the years, and it's a sad thing to see. Their latest gimmick is to hold cruise fares down as much as possible while compromising quality in hopes that no one notices. In order to do that and still operate the fleet, they've turned over control of the cruise line to their accountants in Miami and their bosses at the Carnival Corp. The "Revenue Department" sets up these little "bait and switch" deals because they don't think their customers are smart enough to know the difference, but we do. As one cruise review said about Holland America, "The Dutch have learned to lie with a smile", and it's true. I felt we were being deceived. The ships now pull into Caribbean harbors at 7 am, and they leave port at 2:30 or 3. In Saint Martin and Half Moon Cay, everyone had to be back on board at 2:30 in the afternoon -- right in the middle of a beautiful sunny day. They've slashed port times to increase on board revenues. The ships crawl along at 18 knots instead of 25 as they're designed to do. Slowing down the ship saves fuel. Leaving ports early increases ship on board revenue in the peak afternoon hours. It's all about money, leaving the guests inconvenienced and annoyed. No one wants to get up at 5 or 6 am on their vacation to hurry and get off the ship. Who wants to go swimming at 7 am? It's still dark! Since food quality and service have deteriorated in the main dining room, we ate in the Pinnacle Grill (for an extra charge), or we went up to the Lido deck cafeteria (which has no dining atmosphere at all). Dining in the main dining room is a joke! You'll wait 2 hours to get your entree, and if you need coffee or want to order to dessert -- forget it! They also eliminated most of the wine stewards, so you can't order wine either. Service staff in every department throughout the ship has been deeply cut back. Our cabin steward had 31 cabins to clean, twice a day. The Indonesian crew is so exhausted from overwork -- they look like they're ready to pass out. I felt sorry for the crew. No one was looking out for their best interest, and all they talked about is exactly how many days they had until their contract was up. They were all terribly homesick. Every single crew member we came in contact with was visibly unhappy. How does this make the guests feel? The entertainment at night is programmed for the 20-year olds who are in charge of entertainment. The music in the production shows is blaring too loud, and they keep repeating the same stale song & dance shows over and over. Holland America desperately wants a younger clientele on board, so they think if they program all the entertainment and activities to young people, this will make it so. The quests on board are still all 50 to 90 years old, no matter what ridiculous acts they put on stage, and no matter how outrageously loud they play the music. Why can't they place a mature entertainment director on board with entertainment that's appropriate for the age of the guests? Also, it would help if the entertainment department in Seattle was run by more mature people. It as if Holland America deeply resents the older population that they service. We have over 200 sea days with Holland America. Up to this date, we've been loyal customers, but we're done. There are other cruise lines, comparably priced, that deliver a better product, more time in port, fresher food and better service. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
As in other areas of service, dining and entertainment HAL has been cutting back on its stateroom amenities. Though these items were included in the HAL fact sheet of Stateroom Amenities, we found them lacking on the Westerdam. We did not ... Read More
As in other areas of service, dining and entertainment HAL has been cutting back on its stateroom amenities. Though these items were included in the HAL fact sheet of Stateroom Amenities, we found them lacking on the Westerdam. We did not have a steward escort us to our stateroom, or meet us there until well into the night. Service levels are still there, enhanced if you give the steward a tip in advance. The plush bathrobes that were promised, and experienced on previous cruises, now are absent unless you pay $49.00 each. there may be a complimentary fresh fruit basket, but it was empty. The satellite edition of the New York Times was no longer delivered to your cabin, had to hunt for it. The menus, both in the Vista Lounge and on the Lido buffet, suffered from a lack of variety over the three week cruise. Portions in the dining room, were decidedly smaller than previously experienced on a sister ship. Noted repeated use of leftover entree ingredients from the previous night incorporated into the following days appetizers, salads and soups. The lobster tails were very small, and only offered at two formal nights. Escargot only, one night, but frequent usage of smaller sizes of shrimp. The preparation of the nightly fish entree varied greatly in terms of cooking times, frequently dry and over cooked. The biggest disappointment was the use of half green tomatoes even in such dishes as a beefsteak tomato appetizer plate, and on the Lido salad line. Entertainment was generally geared toward the older crowd except for the delightful Roadhouse review. And even with a three week schedule, there were only a few song and dance shows. Comedians were okay, ventriloquist was the best show.Stateroom was comfortable in size, but the furnishings were outdated. The seating was very uncomfortable when one spent the evenings in the room. Had to pad the sofa with additional scatter pillows provided by the steward. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Embarkation and disembarkation not a problem. It was well organised using a number system to filter people on and off. Would work better if everyone could count! Luggage was quickly transferred to cabin. Cabin was showing it's age ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation not a problem. It was well organised using a number system to filter people on and off. Would work better if everyone could count! Luggage was quickly transferred to cabin. Cabin was showing it's age in some areas but was clean and tidy. Throughout the voyage cabin steward was excellent. The buffet food was of better standard than some other cruise lines, usually hot. the choice of bread and rolls was very limited and the coffee was poor. The real letdown was the main dining room. We chose select(anytime) dining. On previous HAL ships we were able to reserve a table now this option is no longer available. Table service was very slow, with several serving mistakes being made. The food was,at best only barely warm, portions were very small and sometimes not cooked to their best. The general standards of desserts were poor. On occasions we didn't bother to order. The attitude of the staff was a lot different to previous HAL cruises, not the usual cheerful lot. The Canaletto restaurant has been our favourite. Just a section of the buffet cordoned off during the evening. In the past it was a free option, but now there is a service charge. The service charge in the Pinnacle grill has also been increased. These are just two of the many ways HAL are using to prise extra money out of the guests. Drinks prices are expensive with 15% charge added on top. Apart from the two lead singers the shows on formal nights were poor. In England they would be called "end of the pier" shows. The dancing and general production was the worst. Other areas of the ship were ok apart from some being very cold. The air conditioning was being "deep cleaned". Cleaning fumes entered our cabin at night making my wife ill for a day. For two nights we slept with our balcony door wedged open. The next night we were kept awake by someone working on the air conditioning ducting above our ceiling. Contractors were cleaning the ducting at NIGHT! When I complained to the front desk they knew it was happening. Some form of warning would have helped. This is a good example of the disregard toward passengers. Overall, well below the standard expected from HAL. This will definitely be our last voyage with this cruise line. We have cruised with many other lines and will return to those. Anyway, we are both fit and in our sixties so we are really too young for HAL. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My first ever cruise. Had a brilliant time, didn't want to get off and would sail with Holland America again at the drop of a hat. Pre-departure: stayed at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 the night before having flown into Miami and ... Read More
My first ever cruise. Had a brilliant time, didn't want to get off and would sail with Holland America again at the drop of a hat. Pre-departure: stayed at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 the night before having flown into Miami and taken a shuttle to Fort Lauderdale. The Hyatt Regency Pier 66 has that 'tropical worn' look, a nice tropical garden feel and is convenient to the cruise boat terminals. As a newbie, I had no idea how to get from the hotel to the Westerdam. I understood there were 8 cruise boats in and out on the day and there would be a lot of passengers and bags going in both directions. The concierge was clear and helpful on how to get to the Westerdam; "Talk to the lady over there directing the shuttles". I did, she was also clear and helpful and the transfer worked as advertised. The shuttle transfer itself was an experience; we touched all the terminals and I have never seen so many vehicles, people and bags; organised chaos. At the Westerdam terminal I was a little disappointed to have the Porter asking for a tip before our bags were out of the shuttle. As a newbie, the ship check in procedure was not entirely clear to us. We were handed our boarding number prior to / without being directed to check in which confused us for a while. However, that was a minor muddle, and everything went smoothly once we knew what to do. Boarding was smooth and we found our cabin quickly. Departure was delayed a little by the loading of food and supplies. From our portside vantage point I was amazed at the long stream of trailers bringing in everything from milk and fresh produce to new mattresses. Cabin: Great. Great linen including bathrobes, fridge, wi-fi, nice veranda with two chairs, table and footstool. Bathroom was fine. Cabin was serviced twice a day with a turn down and the stewards were awesome. Nothing was too much trouble and any of our questions and queries were answered promptly, clearly and accurately. Absolutely no complaints. TV programmes included tracking map and reruns of shore excursion briefings. Fresh fruit was constantly topped up. We took the 'by the bag' laundry service and that worked fine. Complimentary shoe cleaning worked fine too. Food : Breakfast and lunch was generally in the Lido. No issues with the quality, quantity or range, it was always awesome. My quibble, which is insoluble, was that the Lido would get pretty crowded at peak times as passengers worked to find a table (with a view!) and get their food. You needed to bring some patience with you to breakfast most days! Staff, with one minor exception, were unfailingly friendly and anxious to ensure your needs were meet. Failing that, there was always a team of officers in white shirts and executive chefs circulating to address any issues. I recommend the Terrace Grill; the Lamb burgers were great as were the sweet potato fries. I felt sorry for the cooks at the Terrace Grill; because of the nature of their cooked to order product, there was often a line and they were under pressure but they maintained their smiles. The nearby Mexican station was good; check out the mango and pineapple salsa salads. We had afternoon tea in the Vista dinning room several times. My small quibbles were that the 'Dutch' afternoon tea didn't seem very Dutch and that butter was not served for the scones. Admittedly a small point which I solved by bringing my own from the Lido! I witnessed an interesting exchange one afternoon when an English passenger asked the Indonesian steward for a piece of 'fruit cake' with his afternoon tea. There was no fruit cake on the menu and the steward was not clear what fruit cake was but they seemed to muddle through. We had dinner most evenings in the Vista using the walk up / free seating which worked fine. After a week or so, we had found of group of like minded other guests and would form up with them. That got around the constant need to reintroduce yourself of an evening. Service was always good (prompt, polite, accurate and sensitive to what's going on at the table) but the food standard varied abit. My quibbles were that the soups were often so mildly flavoured that you could not tell what it was supposed to be (the always available French onion soup being the exception), a fish was very dry and that the presentation of the same dish on the same night could vary quite widely. Portions were fine, the range and quantity of bread was fine and, bottom line, you could always say something to the staff and they would do their best to fix it. I witnessed an issue one evening with a table apparently concerning their dietary needs. It seemed pretty animated but they were back the next night; it appeared the catering staff addressed the issue/s and the customers happily completed their cruise. I am not personally a fan of 'formal' so putting on the tie for 'formal nights' was an imposition. I didn't feel that the Vista food on formal nights was significantly different to the other nights. We also ate once each at the more upscale (you pay an additional amount) Cannaletto and Pinnacle restaurants. Both were great; excellent service and excellent food. We talked about going back to these very nice restaurants but the problem for us was that we were surrounded by great food all over the ship! We purchased wine by the bottle. Next time I will look more closely at Holland Amercia's wine packages and also maybe bringing wine on board. They had a very good system of storing your unfinished wine for your next meal. It worked smoothly every time, even across different restaurants. Well done. Bars: We settled in to a very nice routine around 'happy hour' at the Atrium. Great barman, Henry, who developed quite a clientele. We met some very nice people around Henry's bar. Entertainment: the Cruise Director, Armen, was awesome! An almost constant, but carefully measured, presence amongst the passengers. Part of the fun some days for us was just to watch and listen as Armen did his thing. We went to, and enjoyed, most of the shows, usually the later post dinner production. Armen also mc'ed the Team Trivia up in the Crows Nest which we enjoyed a lot. We won a pin, came runner up a couple of times and again met some nice people. We were conscious there were lots of other entertainment options going on around the Westerdam. There seemed to be something for everyone or very close to it. Summaries of the New York Times and some foreign press were available daily along with Crossword and Sudoku and a daily cruise update appeared in the cabin each evening along with the turn down chocolates. The ship photographers were a constant, but not too pushy, presence. Cleanliness and maintenance: seemed to be constant cleaning and appearance maintenance going on and the Westerdam felt clean and well maintained. My two minor quibbles are (1) a taco shell that was lying on the deck by the Mexican station the next morning; how many cleaners and other crew missed that? and (2) a maintenance rag left behind a box on Deck 9 near the flag staff. It had been there for a while but was easy for passengers to spot; how many maintenance crew had also missed that? Crew friendliness and professionalism: Awesome, from top to bottom. I was left wondering "how do they manage to train and motivate this entire crew to this consistently high standard day in day out?". The two minor exceptions (both in the Lido at breakfast!) were the cook at 'express eggs' who seemed a little stressed (he did manage to start smiling towards the end of the cruise) and the executive chef who offered to deliver a grapefruit half to my table one morning when it looked like they ran out. I didn't see him again that morning and did eventual find my own grapefruit. It appeared that fresh grapefruit was in good demand on this cruise (the demographic?) and they seemed to struggle at times to keep it on the breakfast bar, along with Granola. Excursions and port calls: my one quibble is that it was very hard, if not impossible, to get decent maps suitable for the ports we called at. Some maps provided by the ship were focused on shopping and a couple didn't even mark where the Westerdam would be docked, which made planning any independent shore activity that much more challenging. That being said, the shore excursions team did a great job of providing 'pre port call' briefings on history and culture which were repeated in the TV, and the 'on the day' excursion organisation and disembarkation was always smooth for us. The two tender port stops were well organised and smooth. Half Moon Cay, by tender: swam in the sea with some fish, posted a post card, had the barbecue lunch, walked the island 'trail', another swim then a drink in the Capt Morgan 'pirate ship'. Great spot. Willemstad, Curacao: walked around the town, posted some post cards (with difficulty!) and had a couple of beers. Kralendijk, Bonaire; did a local tour of the island from a guide engaged at the pier which was great. She then told us where we could swim in the harbour close to the Westerdam. Oranjestad, Aruba; did a Holland America sailing and snorkelling excursion, totally awesome; fish and a WW2 wreck. Wi-fi at Starbucks and posted some more post cards. Cartagena, Columbia; did the Holland America 'Walking Tour of the Old City'. Again, awesome, great guide, really interesting city. Panama Canal; the ship did a great job of historic briefings and bringing on a commentator for the day. It was an amazing day and experience. Highlight of the cruise. Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puntarenas is pretty ramshackle, and apparently the day was an Easter holiday in Costa Rica which meant the roads were jammed. We did the Holland America Scarlet Macaw & Mangrove Cruise tour and had a wonderful day. Corinto, Nicaragua; Good Friday. Corinto seems an interesting little town. There was a tourist market about 2 blocks from the wharf with some unusual items. The vendors were friendly and many spoke English. We did the Holland America Botanical gardens and Leon tour, which was ok and an excursion was probably the only way for us to see something of Nicaragua. The botanical gardens were modest / a work in progress and they were still learning how to work with tour groups! They sold us beer at US$1 / can, some of the group would have preferred water, the guide was constantly apologising that they were still learning about tourism, used up a lot of time with toilets and then got his count wrong as we left! Streets in Leon were very narrow and parts were crowded but the Cathedral is an impressive structure. An interesting day and glad that we did it but not a highlight. Pto. Quetzal, Guatemala; did the Holland America Iximche, post classical Mayan ruins excursion. A long but excellent day in the bus. Great guide, provided map and bottled water, ruins were accessible and interesting and opportunities for some interaction with local Mayan. Interesting stop for lunch (tortila, soup, rice, beans, chicken, cheese, fantastic 'cream caramel' with very tasty sugar) on the way back. Great shopping at the wharf with lots of interesting stuff and not too crowded and a great little bar that did rum in coconuts. Great day, a highlight! Puerto Chiapas, Mexico; nothing here other than a cruise boat terminal building! However we walked through the pier gate and found a little family run cantina, had a Coke, talked with another couple off the Westerdam. There was a family eating food; my lasting regret is not trying to buy some lunch! After Mexican for lunch on board we went back to the cantina for a couple of beers. Huatulco, Mexico; getting more touristy as we head north. Walked off the Westerdam for a beer, guacamole, nachos and fish tacos. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; just walked off for a walk around, checked out the local Wal-Mart and shopping mall! Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, by tender; there was a short delay while the ship found a calmer spot to stop. The captain keep passengers well informed. We just walked off to find the Post Office, then fish tacos, nachos and a couple of beers. Disembarkation: very smooth. Armen, the cruise director, spent several hours carefully informing passengers, step by step, on what was going to happen, what was happening and / or which group of passengers was to do what. We opted for a later disembarkation time as we were staying overnight in San Diego. Our bags were waiting for us on the dock and Customs waved us through and we walked over to the nearby Embassy Suites. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My wife and I and another couple decided at the last minute to take this ship as it was reasonable in price and we just wanted to get away. We were assigned what were possibly the last two available inside cabins that were available, ... Read More
My wife and I and another couple decided at the last minute to take this ship as it was reasonable in price and we just wanted to get away. We were assigned what were possibly the last two available inside cabins that were available, which was our choice. The temperature was not really warm enough for a balcony type cabin. Check in was OK. We waited in the terminal for awhile, but once we were allowed on board, we went directly to our cabins, which was a nice touch. The cabin was plain but adequate. The problem was that the toilet quit working on three different occasions, two of them at 11:00 PM or so. We had some difficulty getting the right person to report the problems too, but response time was good once we made the right contact. (Within 20 minutes) Where we were most disappointed was in the service in the dining areas. We ate at both the dining room (main) and the Lido restaurant. The food selection was good, but it seemed that the staff had been cut back excessively so that it took far too long to eat in the dining room and in the Lido it took some hunting to find eating utensils and also tables (though that is not very unusual). Coffee was difficult to come by and refills were not always offered or available. Again, this is due to lack of personnel I believe. On a positive note, the entertainment staff were first rate. The ship's permanent entertainers were as good as any we have viewed and the outside entertainers were also very good. Both my wife and I picked up rotten colds by the last day of the cruise, but that was due to the passengers, I cannot blame that on the Westerdam. This is the second Holland America ship in a row where we feel the service (dining in particular) is not of the caliber that it was a few years ago. We no longer place Holland America in our most desired catagory. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My husband and I have cruised over 20 times on numerous ships. This was our second time on Holland America. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale two days early. We had never been to Ft. Lauderdale before and we just wanted to sightsee. We took ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised over 20 times on numerous ships. This was our second time on Holland America. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale two days early. We had never been to Ft. Lauderdale before and we just wanted to sightsee. We took a cab from the Airport to the Embassy Suites on 17th St. Cost of cab was $14.50 for the two of us. Embassy Suites was nice and in a convenient location. However, it was very crowded. Obviously, it is a very popular hotel to stay in before your cruise as most people we met were going on a cruise. We took the River Taxi to Hollywood and to Las Olas. River Taxi was excellent. The narrators onboard were very friendly and had a lot of information regarding the area. Would highly recommend taking the Water Taxi in Ft. Lauderdale. We boarded the ship on Sunday. Getting on was very easy and went very smoothly. Was very impressed. We arrived at the port around 11:00 via Taxi. We were easily in our cabins by noon. We have traveled extensively on Carnival. I have to say that Holland America is a step up in quality. The ship was spotless and areas were constantly being cleaned. Our cabin was very spacious and very clean. Balcony was a little larger than we are used to. We were able to open the door between our balcony and our friends' balcony next door; so that made it seem like a very large balcony. Furnishings were very comfortable. Each day we had fresh fruit placed in our cabin. The food on the boat was much better than Carnival. The quality was very good. However, the service in the dining areas was below average. In the main dining room it was as though they were herding us through. We had the early seating and I realize they had a group coming in behind us; however, we always ate at the early seating on Carnival and was never rushed. The service on the Lido deck restaurant was probably even worse. They were not friendly and acted as if you were bothering them if you asked them for something. However, the food was very good. Holland America caters more to the older clientel. There were a lot of wheelchairs and walkers. This caused slow moving lines; however, it was not that inconvenient. Life on this boat moved at a much slower pace. It was definitely not a "fun" ship as advertised by Carnival. Having said that, it was a nice change. Seems like we relaxed more on this cruise. Our first port stop was supposed to be Grand Turk; however, it was canceled due to an outbreak of the virus on the island. But that was O.K. I didn't want to get sick, but I was disappointed that we didn't make port because we were interested in seeing it since we had never been there before. We were looking forward to the Dune Buggy excursion that we had booked. They did credit this back to us with no problem. We stopped in San Juan. We were supposed to be there from noon until 8:00 P.M. Since we didn't get to stop at Grand Turk we were on San Juan from 8:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. Made for a long day and we really enjoyed it. We didn't book anything off the ship for this port. However, we did take a tour of the city that was offered by an individual on the dock. It was a 2 hour tour and we very much enjoyed it. Saw a lot of San Juan. He dropped us off at Barachinos where we had reservations to eat. This was a nice place to eat. Food wasn't that great, but it wasn't bad. The staff was great and the atmosphere was great. A fun place to eat. We did some shopping and more sightseeing before we returned to the ship. Easy to get around and easy to get back to the ship by foot. Our next stop was St. Marteen. Here we did a guided tour on waverunners through "Happy Hour". We booked this on line before we went. It was $75.00 per person and worth every penny of it. It was advertised as a 1 1/2 hour tour. However, it ended up being about 2 hours. Our guide (Dave) picked us up at the dock and drove us to his place and afterwards returned us to the dock. This was $10.00 per person. He was an excellent guide. He and his wife (Adriana) are from Canada and have been operating this business for about 2 years. I highly recommend this tour. He keeps the groups small. First we toured through the bay and then went out into the ocean. He pointed out points of interest. We had so much fun and would definitely do it again. Our last port was at Holland America's private island - Half Moon Cay. One of the prettiest places I have ever seen. Service on the island was much better than service on the boat. We rented a claim shell for $15.00, which was great because there is not much shade on the island. We had lunch on the island that was very good - hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs - all cooked on an open grill. There were several open bars on the island, which was very nice. They offered numerous activities on the island. There was plenty to keep you busy, or you could just chill. I hated when the week ended. As I said before it was a very relaxing vacation. Getting off the boat was a breeze - very organized. Plenty of cabs waiting for you. Getting off a Carnival ship is a nightmare most of the time. If you are going for a relaxed vacation - this was it. However, if you wanted to party a lot - go on Carnival. Again, most of the people on the boat are older and they are catered to. Which I can understand. Nothing wrong with that. Just depends on what you are looking for. Would we do a Holland America again? I doubt it. I say this mainly because the service was way below par. However, if the price was right and we were going to Ports we are interested in, we would consider it. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Never having sailed on the Westerdam we chose this cruise (Mar 10, 2013) partially because of the ship's rankings, but also because we wanted to try the Holland America experience. If I had to select a ranking for it now, it ... Read More
Never having sailed on the Westerdam we chose this cruise (Mar 10, 2013) partially because of the ship's rankings, but also because we wanted to try the Holland America experience. If I had to select a ranking for it now, it wouldn't be any more than a three, and that would be a stretch. We arrived at the ship around 2 pm and were quickly through security and in our cabin by 2:30. No hassles, no lines and when our bags arrived before 3 pm, we thought it was a perfect start to what we expected to be a wonderful cruise. Unfortunately, much was in store for us. Our cabin -- Although somewhat small by today's standards, we were able to get most of our belongings into the closets and storage areas provided. Although, my wife found that leaving one of our suitcases on the sofa was more convenient than the drawers provided. The cabin appeared clean enough but the furniture and rugs were showing their age. And, as we were to find out over the succeeding days, so was most of the ship. We understood that the ship had recently been in dry-dock (Apr/May 2012) for upgrading and renovations. Shame on us because it seems that the "upgrading and renovations" were only some much needed mechanical repairs (stabilizers), hull cleaning, paint and a new pool deck. And given the malaise of the passengers during the 1stt two sea days, it didn't appear that the stabilizers did much good. Cabin Service -- It took two days until I could get the steward to bring clean towels at the evening turn-down, the squeak in the bathroom door hinges never did see any oil and the verandahs were rarely cleaned, if ever. Over the succeeding days we managed to finally get clean towels, even if some of them were a bit ragged. Oh, but the folded-towel animals were cute! Dining -- If HAL has a "Training University", as they claim, this bunch must have been the wash-outs. Getting a meal, especially the 1st two days, was an exercise in patience, patience and more patience. You had to have been there! Breakfast in the Lido was a disaster! At the start of the cruise there was a 48-hour moratorium on self-serve, meaning everything you wanted had to be handed to you by the staff. So, not only are the lines extraordinarily slowed, one had to fight the language barrier to get or find something they wanted. There was virtually no help in finding a table and little or no help for a passenger with a cane or infirmity getting their selection back to the table. And what's with the "no trays" policy? You got it, more trips back and forth to carry your breakfast only added to the melee. Are we having fun yet? And, I haven't even gotten to the quality of the food! The first two nights in the main dining room seemed to be O.K., but just barely. The menu selections were varied, but when served were generally luke warm. Then it seemed to all go downhill from there. Not in any particular order but the seafood was always over cooked, the vegetables were cold and the two or three steaks I had were tasteless, even after sending a couple back because they too were very, very overdone. We decided to try one of the "up charge" restaurants, the Canaletto. While the offerings were not bad, the restaurant location was sliced out of a section of the Lido and didn't have much in the way of ambience. My "Cod Puttanesca" was the only sea food dish that was served at the proper temperature. My wife's "Cheese Tortellini" was not very "cheesy" and the pasta was, may I say it again, way over cooked. Another aspect of the Tortellini not mentioned on the menu, was the addition of potatoes into the dish! Maybe it was way to add volume to the plate? Service in the Canaletto was poor. We arrived for our 8 O'clock reservation to find no one at reception. Finally one of the servers came to ask "what did we want?" When the ma'tre' d arrived it was another 10 minutes 'til he had a table cleared and we were seated. (Seated, yes, but on what? I didn't realize until later that my chair seat cushion was absolutely filthy, stained and discolored from too many spills.) When we were finally seated and served, the table next to us hadn't been cleared of dirty dishes and it took nearly an hour for that to happen. $10 per person cover? I don't think so! Scratch Canaletto. And so it went, not much improved. We decided to "graze" our way through the cruise, finding selections that we thought would not be too challenging, like cereal for breakfast, burgers for lunch and salads for dinner! If cost-cutting is the object, I certainly think they should have succeeded. I even believe they've come up with a novel approach to "portion control", by constantly running out of certain food, drink or supplies. When the tea dispensing machine ceased functioning, that was it for the morning. Lemons? "Don't have any this morning". Want some ice cream in the afternoon? (Probably the busiest spot on the ship) Stand in line because there was only one staff working and scooping the ice cream (maybe the people in line would leave and we wouldn't have to scoop so much). Hamburgers at the Lido Grill functioned in about the same way -- only one employee taking orders, cooking the food, plating and serving the passengers. Formal Night, "Captain's Gala Dinner". I know that the "Midnight Buffet's, Ice Carvings and Food Parades through the Dining Room are long gone, but there was a quote by a writer that said: "Formal nights (on the Westerdam) are particularly memorable, with chairs covered in linen and passengers all dolled up in finery. The kitchen really shines and makes an extra effort -- don't miss these evenings if you want lobster or chateaubriand." I guess we got on the wrong ship! Our experience was nothing special.Suffice it to say it was more of the same. We were with two other guests at the table, getting acquainted and making our menu selections. Several times our conversations were rudely interrupted by the waiter, who insisted on telling us he had too many tables and was really rushed, so he needed to get our orders. When they arrived, and brought by a different server, he didn't know who got what! So it was "Who has the beef?", "Who has the fish?", etc. Just like the Diner back home. Somewhere in amongst all of this was the "convenient" cancelling of the stop at Turks & Caicos due to the Novovirus. This added a second, consecutive sea day and putting a lot of passengers in their cabins sooner than they anticipated. And, for this inconvenience the Captain grandly ordered a glass of "free champagne" for all, which was both undrinkable and insulting. And to be sure that we hadn't had enough, disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale was a disaster. I was awfully glad that we were driving back home and didn't have to worry about connections or other important schedules, because it appears there was very little concern for the people that did once you were off the boat. Many, many people were frustrated and angry. If you had more than one carry-on bag which you could carry yourself, you had to fight to find a porter to help get your bags through customs and passport control. I'm guessing it took us nearly an hour to get through that torturous process. Near the end I risked arrest for being a terrorist because I dared to use my cellphone to let our ride know we'd neared the end of the pain. (Apparently, to make everybody feel safe, one is not permitted to take pictures nor talk on the phone inside of the terminal building, or maybe outside as well or maybe even in all of Fort Lauderdale!) Bon Voyage to HAL. Quem Fal Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
What a wonderful experience to sail from one coast to the other aboard the SS Westerdam. We left a overcast Ft. Lauderdale on March 17, 2013. The embarking to the ship was easy and uneventful. This was the most hassle free embarkment we ... Read More
What a wonderful experience to sail from one coast to the other aboard the SS Westerdam. We left a overcast Ft. Lauderdale on March 17, 2013. The embarking to the ship was easy and uneventful. This was the most hassle free embarkment we have experienced. The professional manner and ease can't be stressed enough. Staged seating was provided for those who have not earned enough cruise points to go immediately. Our cabin was easily accessible on the port side of the ship. The view was clear with beautiful sight lines. the veranda balcony has a slight crotch bend to it as it is located where the ship structure begins to change direction. The room was well designed and easy to maneuver in. The bathroom was spacious with a tub/shower. Much larger that other cruise ships we have been on. The closet space held our clothes with room to spare and we took way too much clothing for the trip. The food was good and as with most cruise lines, Holland American allows you all you can eat. Just ask for it. The crew was very friendly and always available should you need them. The beverage servers were not pushy as they are on other lines. Entertainment on the ship was wonderful with shows every night. The dancers and singers rank with the best in the industry. The single acts were top notch as well. The ports 13 overall had wonderful excursions available access to and from the ship was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We just returned from a 20 day cruise through the Panama Canal and had a truly great time. BACKGROUND: I am in my early 60s, my wife in her 50s. We lived our working lives amidst the madness of metropolitan New York and retired to ... Read More
We just returned from a 20 day cruise through the Panama Canal and had a truly great time. BACKGROUND: I am in my early 60s, my wife in her 50s. We lived our working lives amidst the madness of metropolitan New York and retired to western Colorado almost seven years ago. This was our third cruise, our second with Holland America. PRELUDE: My wife is recovering from shoulder surgery that she underwent in December, we both were sick on and off for weeks prior to the cruise and even both of our dogs required admittance to a local animal hospital three days before our flight. We only were able to get them released the day before our flight. In short, it was the worst prelude to a vacation in forty years of traveling, so based on past experience, we expected the cruise to be memorable! PRE-CRUISE: From the taxi picking us at our home to our late arrival in Fort Lauderdale, everything went perfectly smoothly. We were able to get a taxi within fifteen minutes of collecting our baggage and were at our hotel fifteen minutes later. We arrived two days before the cruise and stayed at the Hilton Marina. Although we expected our room at the hotel to be just a bit nicer, it proved to be adequate. Tip: If you book a room in this hotel, stay in the "Tower" section. Our room was on the twelfth floor with our balcony overlooking the pool and the Intercoastal Waterway. Loved it! Bellhop and room service was prompt and friendly and you can get a bite to eat most nights until after midnight, a godsend on our arrival night, This hotel public areas are quite nice and we very much enjoyed the outdoor bar/restaurant. In addition, it is located just across the road from the cruiseport. EMBARKATION: After a brief tour of the entire cruiseport, as our taxi driver missed the turnoff, we arrived at the terminal. I didn't appreciate the luggage handler/ director asking for a tip before I could get my wallet out, but otherwise embarkation was orderly and friendly. I just wished the soda/water machine in the terminal wasn't completely sold out.SHIP: The ship was in excellent condition, very clean, well laid out and never seemed to be crowded at all. We can say the same for the pool areas. I particularly enjoyed the Dutch nautical theme that was ever present throughout the ship. CABIN: We opted for an aft cabin directly over the wake of the ship and it worked out perfectly. The verandah was very large, about 10 feet across, sixteen feet or so deep, with enough room for two lounges, two chairs and several tables and was almost completely covered, which provided a great deal of privacy. The views, sunrise and sunsets from the verandah were awe-inspiring and photo opportunities abounded. As for the cabin itself, it was nicely appointed with more than enough storage for two (and we packed a lot!) DINING: While the food in the main dining room was varied and mostly delicious, we found the portions to somewhat smaller than we had remembered from our last cruise with HAL so on a few occasions we just asked for an extra portion of something. As for Lido, the food was - well - Lido. It was generally good and better than we had recalled. The taco bar and Terrace Grill were visited often by us during "pool" days and were satisfactory. ENTERTAINMENT: We're not much of "show" folks, especially as we opted for late dining but the one musical show that we attended was pretty lame. However, we very much enjoyed the classical "Adagio" presented in the Explorations Lounge and the light jazz presented aboard was nice as well. As yes, we really enjoyed the steel drummer who played daily at the Lido Pool. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS: HALF MOON CAY: we rented a clamshell well in advance of the cruise and the day was PERFECT! The water was a little chilly for some though. CURUCAO: Very pretty port area. We took a beach excursion to the other side of the island. Nice beach, but were we to visit again, we would probably take a taxi to town. BONAIRE: Perhaps our favorite port. It is not very commercialized and the two-site snorkeling tour provided the finest array of fish that we have ever seen. ARUBA: We were planning to jeep through the desert but opted to snorkel and do some beach time instead. The director aboard the Pelican, Robertson, was a hoot! We would have enjoyed a little more beach time, but all in all, it was a fun day! Low point - at the conclusion of our tour we were locked inside the marina for more than half an hour, despite valiant efforts by the tour operator to contact the ship and the port authority. I complained to HAL but they just passed the buck in a vague letter to us. CARTAGENA: We docked in the container port. Ugly but fascinating. There was nothing ashore to interest us ashore, so we just spent the day onboard. PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT: We grabbed an early breakfast and were able to secure a good spot in the bow at about 5;20 AM. Get there early by all means. The transit itself was amazing. after leaving the bow, we spent much of the day on our verandah and were able to take hundreds of photos. The canal transit is a once-in-a lifetime experience. PUNTARENAS: A fairly dingy port, but the mangrove river cruise was very good. We saw quite a few birds, a few crocodiles and our guide was first rate. There was plenty of shopping on the other side of the pier, which we enjoyed after returning to ship for lunch. CORINTO: Clean port, but nothing much to do. It must be a fueling stop. PUERTO QUETZAL: It was the day before Easter and the port area, beaches and roads were mobbed! It was a bit inconvenient but very enjoyable to be in such a festive atmosphere. Our tour to Tikal was perhaps, besides the Panama Canal, the highlight of the entire trip. We saw several huge volcanoes and a lot of beautiful scenery from the plane and Tikal itself is not to be missed. Just be prepared to do a fair amount of walking and negotiating of stairs to make the most of it. The day's finale was one to remember. The ship was set to sail at 5:30. At that time we were just arriving in the local miltary airport with several miles of very crowded roads and streets between us and the pier. So, we were greeted by the sergeant, our bus was escorted by a military jeep with lights flashing, sirens blaring and four soldiers with automatic rifles in plain view sitting in the rear. All in all, Guatamala left us with a very favorable impression. PUERTO CHIAPAS: Very nice port area. We opted to just do a little shopping in the pavilion across from the pier. HUATULCO: There is a very nice shopping area near the pier. In the afternoon, we took a "Land and Sea" tour. The Sea part was excellent and very scenic as we sailed the bays of the area. The Land part was a waste of time.We're not interested in seeing luxury resorts and listening to sales pitches. PUERTO VALLARTA: We took an all day tour to Las Caletas. OUTSTANDING! This beach retreat is gorgeous, the all-inclusive food and drinks were first-rate and we spent about four an a half hours in total relaxation mode. We would surely do this again. CABO SAN LUCAS: Although the tour went out, we opted out for a refund, as it was reported to us just before sailing that jellyfish had been sighted in the snorkeling area of Chileno Bay the night before. So we missed Land's End! Instead we just shopped in the port area. Be prepared to be endlessly hounded by locals pedaling tours. SERVICE: Five ++ stars for our cabin steward, waiter and his assistant and those at the Lido. DISEMBARKATION: Disembarking the ship was extremely smooth and orderly. Our expected disembarkation time was 10:45 and we were on our way by 10:20. We expected customs to be a long hassle but instead we walked right through. The inspector didn't even want to see our passports! We took the transfer offered by HAL and were at the airport before 11:30. PROS: The Westerdam itself, dining, pool, service, and captain Rens van Eerten. He certainly demonstrated time and again why the Westerdam is dubbed the "Queen of the Horns". CONS: One major fault. the piped-in music in the pool area was far out of touch with the clientele. Christine Aguilera, Hootie and the Blowfish and other white noise. Anything from Glenn Miller to Tom Petty would have been much more suitable. I mentioned this to the front desk and was told that this is a corporate decision made in Seattle. Perhaps their research team needs to investigate the demographics of HAL's customers more closely. But, all in all, we can't wait to sail with Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We returned to the Holland America Westerdam after 7 years because we thought that a smaller ship with great style, tradition, and service, would be wonderful for our anniversary. We booked a deluxe verandah, and hoped for an upgrade, ... Read More
We returned to the Holland America Westerdam after 7 years because we thought that a smaller ship with great style, tradition, and service, would be wonderful for our anniversary. We booked a deluxe verandah, and hoped for an upgrade, and indeed were told that cabin 4183,on the stern, next to a suite, was quite a nice location. Boy were we mistaken!! Embarcation wasn't too bad, even though the port was packed, and the luggage was delivered promptly to our cabin. The cabin seemed nice enough, till the boat started moving. Maybe part of the problem was that our last cruise on the Emerald Princess,we had such a wonderful time on that ship, that we expected a repeat with Holland America. Talk about Disappointment! Firstly, we didn't remember the boat rocking, rolling, creaking,and vibrating so much on our first trip in 2006. Our first sea day out started oddly when we had a medical emergency aboard and had to divert to nassau to drop off a passenger in distress. This wasn't a big deal, but turned out to be a bad omen for us; we docked across from the Costa "Mediterrania", the WORST cruise we have ever taken, but that is ANOTHER cruise from Hell with a story all it's own. The Captain was now behind schedule for Grand Turk, so he proceded at full speed through the florida straits, with moderate "following seas" and everyone got pretty unsettled.(read sea sick). The next day an announcement was made to the effect that we would be skipping Grand Turk due to "noro-virus" reports. Again, probably a good decision on the Captains part, but remember, this wasn't a stellar itinerary to begin with; Grand Turk, San Juan, and St Maartin isn't the best of the Eastern Caribbean in the first place, but hey, we went for the food,rest, and excellent service that we had come to expect from Holland America. First, DO NOT book a Stearn Cabin unless you want a fresh dusting of black soot on your verandah every day with your morning coffee. Second, the crew is now mostly indonesian, and though they are trying hard, they totally lack the enthusiasm of other crews we have experienced. Third, the food has totally taken a turn for the worse since we were last aboard, not even CLOSE to the offerings on Celebrity or Princess for the same price. An example was the Master Chefs Dinner, "a Rudy Soloman" Signature Experience". It was advertised at $59.95 extra per person, and was pretty good compared to the standard Lido fare offered upstairs. BUT, 2 days later we were informed that they failed to charge us an EXTRA $30 EACH for the wines which were not included ! DECEPTIVE to say the least! Was the Dinner Worth $60 extra? Maybe. but $90? Absolutely not, especially when you didn't meet the Chef. For that kind of money, I EXPECT to meet the Chef, a Clone, or Rudi's Cousin. (I realize he can't be on board all the time). Entertainment was just O.K. The Ship is now Dated and out of step with the new Superliners Ala, Solstice, Ruby, and Oasis of the Seas. A couple of high end jewelry shops and an Aspirin Stand, Cheap and Used Robes in the Cabin, Luke Warm Steam Rooms and Aroma therapy suites with little or no AROMA, makes the Spa Package a RIPOFF, along with the $20 a sheet charge for photographs. They have these things called "digital camera's" and I-pads now, that take BETTER pictures and Videos FOR FREE ! HELLO ! The same goes for their "Windows Workshops"They were SUPPOSED to be teaching an introduction to "Windows 8". Yet the 20 laptops in the lab had no Windows 8 on them. The instructor said there were 20 brand new laptops in the hold with windows 8, but she hadn't had time to set them up yet! Is it just ME? Or was I beginning to see a trend here. We RE-CHRISTENED the Ship "PROUD-MARY" cuz she just kept Rollin,Rollin, Rollin on the River! By the time we reached San Juan, (a poverty stricken, crime ridden port), I was looking up return airfare to florida, ready to jump ship. The "POLICE PROTEST" in the streets THAT DAY, because the government owes 8 million in back pay to their "cities finest" was a lovely touch; and when we arrived the next day in St.Maartins, Guess who was at the next dock to greet us? Yep, the Famous "Carnival Dream" BROKEN DOWN in all her Glory! But Hey, who am I to complain? We only spent 2 days in our cabin feeling Queezy, the BEST was yet to come! Dis-Embarkation, my FAVORITE part of the cruise! What a COMPLETELY disorganized and TOTALLY MISHANDLED operation that was! Leaving from Pier 19, (with our car in the pier 19 parking garage), ARRIVING at Pier 4 with Expedited Departure and a PROMISE of a complimentary shuttle! Only guess what? You're getting the hang of this by now aren't you you brilliant little cruisers. NO Shuttle, BAZINGA, a $10 taxi and 45 minutes to get to my $105 dollar a week car parking garage! The Dutch have learned how to Lie with a smile, and their new motto has become "A Tradition of Mediocrity". Steer Well Clear Cruisers ! You probably won't get sick aboard, but if the bland about "average" food and Boring itinerery, don't kill ya, trying to get off the ship just might do the trick!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We have just returned from a 7 day Caribbean cruise on the Westerdam. We have traveled on Holland America multiple times and always loved the boats and the service. To treat ourselves, we upgraded our cabin to a larger suite with a big ... Read More
We have just returned from a 7 day Caribbean cruise on the Westerdam. We have traveled on Holland America multiple times and always loved the boats and the service. To treat ourselves, we upgraded our cabin to a larger suite with a big balcony. We have not been on a Holland America cruise in almost 6 years. Embarkation was not a problem. We were shocked by the downward decline of the ship and our accommodations. The boat appeared old and in serious need of renovation. The carpeting throughout the ship looked old and dirty and the furniture looked original to the boats 2004 christening. We were afraid to walk on the floor of our cabin. The sheets on the bed were not big enough and I spent the night trying to remake the bed. We have never checked to see when a boat has been refurbished, but we will from now on. The staff was, however, great and everyone was helpful and pleasant. The seas appeared relatively calm, but the boat felt rocky and was not a pleasant cruising experience. Our first port was Turks and Caicos which was cancelled due to a norovirus outbreak. We also heard that the boat did not go to Turks and Caicos the week before. This all sounds a little fishy and one of the explantations was that Holland America did not want to pay the high port fees. This is all a rumor, but one that gained currency with the passengers. I find it hard to believe that an entire island is closed due to norovirus. We also heard that other ships visited that port, and that port was one of the main reasons that we picked this boat. 2+sea days at the start of the cruise were a definite letdown. I tried to spend the first sea day in the spa, which also needs major renovation. The hydrotherapy pool also had some sort of a breakdown. The only part of the boat that appeared to be new was the gym which was clean and beautiful with new machines. The food has also taken a nosedive. The shrimp that I was served in the Pinnacle on our first night was one shade from spoiled and the crab cakes had no crab. The lobster tails appeared to have been frozen many years ago. Cost cutting seemed everywhere. The Pinnacle grill needed dusting and a renovation. A good cleaning would have helped tremendously. In the MDR, clam chowder had no clams. Hot and sour shrimp soup had no shrimp. If you can't provide what you are selling, serve something else. The food did improve as the week went on, but I think that is designed to leave the guests with a good feeling. The best food of the whole week was on the Bar B Q at Half Moon Cay. Simple food, hamburgers, hot dogs and fish. On the plus side, Half Moon Cay is spectacular, a beautiful beach on what appears to be a deserted island with all of the amentities. When we lost the port day at Turks and Caicos, we would have been delighted with another stop there. Entertainment with a ventriloquist who was great. Another great show was the steel drum and the karaoke night. The staff is really trying to give you a good time. In general, you can see the deterioration of a great cruise line. These boats cannot compete with the newer, more elaborate ships that are out there. They try to make it up with great service and staff but that is not enough. I would avoid this class of ships unless they undergo a complete renovation and improved food. For our next cruise, we are looking at other cruise ship companies. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Our family of seven headed to Port Everglades through a massive traffic jam in our rented minivan. Port security asked two of us for identification which we provided and we slowly made our way to Pier 19. Boarding at Fort Lauderdale Pier ... Read More
Our family of seven headed to Port Everglades through a massive traffic jam in our rented minivan. Port security asked two of us for identification which we provided and we slowly made our way to Pier 19. Boarding at Fort Lauderdale Pier 19, you must have passports and boarding pass and health survey to board. Unfortunately, husband had my passport and he was returning the rental car at FLL. I was able to be seated in the terminal to wait for his return. In about one hour, he returned by taxi through the traffic jam at the port. We got into the line and moved quickly to the registration desks. Because we had sailed before, they had our photos from the previous trip in 2008. Our son had his photo quickly taken and our sea passes were issued. We were now on board and after dropping our hand luggage off in our room, we headed for the Lido deck for lunch. It was about 2:30pm and the Lido was crowded but we found lunch and a place to sit. Our ship was scheduled to depart at 4pm. We returned to our cabin located mid ship. It was more spacious than a standard balcony and the sofa converted to a single bed for our son. Our bed was a queen size bed. The bathroom had double sinks, a small shower with detachable shower head and a jetted bath with another detachable shower head. The shower was so tiny that the pan filled up with water so we found it better to shower in the tub. There were three small closets, one with shelves and safe, one where you can hang long items, and one that you can hang shorter items. There was a vanity with the hair dryer in the top left hand drawer. The remaining drawers you can use for small items. There is a media wall with TV and DVD player. There was a second desk area that my son used for his suitcase. He chose to live out of his suitcase instead of unpacking. We went down the hall to my daughter's cabin, category SB. Her cabin is larger than ours. They had a king size bed and a large sofa that converted into a bed for two persons. She had a dressing area before you entered the bathroom. The bathroom seemed to be the same size and configuration as our bathroom. The amenities include Neptune Lounge and laundry. They enjoyed the Neptune Lounge located on 7. They really liked the Concierge. The laundry was very handy for her family of 4, including two young children, ages 1 and 3. They generate a great deal of laundry. They really appreciated the extra room and bathtub for the children. Dining: We used the Lido Restaurant almost exclusively because of the young children. The menu for the Lido is different from the Vista Dining Room. There may be a couple items from the Vista that are served at the Lido. We ordered room service for a couple breakfasts and one dinner when surf and turf was on the Vista Room menu. My daughter and her family never entered the Vista Restaurant but my husband and I enjoyed the Mariner's Brunch and the final night in the Vista Room before we returned to Fort Lauderdale. The Lido Dining Room was adequate for our needs. The pasta station was excellent serving a terrific meat sauce. We found the Lido was crowded mostly at breakfast and lunch and less used at dinner. In fact they close down half the stations at dinner. We also found it inconvenient that the main buffet lines close at 8pm and because we are from the West Coast, head down to dinner late and almost missed dinner completely. After 8pm, there are limited offerings of pizza, pasta and drinks from 10:30pm until 11:30pm. After that you have to order room service with another limited menu if you are hungry. Room service for breakfast isn't that tasty. The best meal we had for room service was from the Vista Dining Menu; Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail with Escargot for appetizers. It was delicious! The service was great and they called to make sure we received our order. Room service tray had a small vase of flowers with the meal. I found that to be a nice touch. Appearance of Cabins and Rooms: The cabins were kept clean by Joko and Dewa. The cabins were well maintained and the balconies had sufficient room and furniture. We have absolutely no complaints about our cabins except we couldn't use the balconies when our neighbors smoked. Because I am allergic to smoke, I had to retreat to my cabin. I am grateful I didn't get second hand smoke inside the cabin. I wish Holland America would have a no smoking policy on balconies like other cruise lines. Appearance of the Ship: Outside of the ship, there were rusty areas but inside the ship, it was clean and well maintained. The rugs were clean and the areas kept very tidy by the staff. I did not use the exercise room but my son did and he said it was good. The public restrooms were very clean and consistently so. I appreciate the terry hand towels to wipe your hands. I have been on ships where the public restrooms were dirty and not kept up. There were potted orchids at every table at the Lido Restaurant. The staff was constantly cleaning tables so tables can be made available for other guests. Pool Area: The hot tubs were usually filled and the swimming pool outside the Lido Restaurant had children swimming. Small children aren't allowed in the pool but there is a perimeter around the pool with overflow and the grandkids waded and splashed happily. Amenities: The library is one of the better ship's libraries with some good selections to check out. There are magazines and newspapers also. The ship's computers for guests are located in the library. Outside the library is the Explorations Cafe for specialty coffees and desserts. We did not check out the DVD's or used the DVD player in our cabin. Shows: We did not attend any shows since we were sleepy after dinner. I had heard from other guests that the pianist and comedienne were very good. Final Comments: We do not agree with Cruise Critic posts that criticize Holland for bad food and a dirty ship. The food was on par with other lines and the facilities were far cleaner than other ships. This is our 14th sailing. In 2008, we sailed on Holland as part of a cruise tour and the food was superior. However, the overall experience on the Westerdam was more than adequate. It is a smaller and older ship and seem to vibrate or creak sometimes. However, we had no need for sea sickness patches that we brought because it was not that rocky where we were midship on 6. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
OVERALL: The Westerdam went above and beyond my husband and I's expectations for service, cleanliness, luxury, and quality. We had an ocean view room that was very nice (and more spacious than what we were expecting). Our cabin ... Read More
OVERALL: The Westerdam went above and beyond my husband and I's expectations for service, cleanliness, luxury, and quality. We had an ocean view room that was very nice (and more spacious than what we were expecting). Our cabin stewards were fantastic and extremely professional, and my husband and I had a great time sight-seeing and taking advantage of the shore excursions offered by HAL. DINING: I LOVED all of the food choices on the Westerdam. The lido always served a large variety of options. My husband and I stuck mainly with the Asian options because about 95% of the crew were of Asian descent (mainly from the Phillipines) and we figured they know how to cook their own food. Boy were we right: The Asian section of the Lido was always fantastic, and we highly recommend it for anyone who is open to eating things other than hamburgers and fries on a cruise. My husband and I also spent the $40 for a night at the Pinnacle Grill, the Westerdam's award-winning restaurant. It was PHENOMENAL! The service was outstanding and the food was out of this world. The Vista Dining room food was superb, but the wait time was often quite long. We would go at around 6pm and not be leaving until around 8pm. ENTERTAINMENT: The Westerdam put forth their best effort in this category; however, since my husband and I are under age 55, we found the entertainment to be a little blase for our taste. The show tunes were primarily from the 50's and 60's, and although those decades produced some fine tunes, I would have liked to experience some entertainment that was at least from our own generation. There was one night where they had an Elton John tribute that was OUTSTANDING and hilarious. Other than this, I felt the entertainment was geared more towards the older crowd. Which brings me to my next category.... CLIENTELE: My husband and I were told prior to booking with HAL that their ships are geared towards an older crowd, so we figured we knew what to expect: quieter nights, a slower pace, etc. However, we were SHOCKED at the ways in which other passengers treated staff. On a regular basis, we overheard 70 year-old guests literally YELLING at poor crew, complaining of the most ridiculous things. For example, my husband went to the spa to purchase me a massage and had to stand behind an older woman yelling at the front desk woman that the steam in the steam room "wasn't hot enough." Are you kidding me? Every time we walked past the front desk, we would hear some retiree talking down to a crew member as if we were still in the era of slavery and that these crew members were property. WE WERE APPALLED!!!! I couldn't believe that on a luxury cruise ship that has so much to offer, pretentious and well-to-do passengers thought they were entitled to speak to crew members in such a rude and inappropriate manner. Nonetheless, crew members always seemed to keep a smile and assist these guests. As guests ourselves, my husband and I were embarrassed to say the least. All in all, my husband and I were very impressed with the service we received on the Westerdam. In fact, our only real complaint has nothing to do with the Westerdam itself, but with the other passengers! I would recommend this ship to retirees but NOT to anyone under the age of 55. The ship did their best, but there's only so much you can do when the only people who book it happen to be old, wealthy, and pretentious. Also, beware of wheelchairs GALORE! If you think walking around through Wal-Mart is frustrating, try navigating a ship where about 60% of the passengers are on some sort of assisted vehicle. It's like spending a week at a retirement home, or as I like to call it: Death's waiting room. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
My wife and I have cruised almost exclusively with Holland America and have sailed only with them since we retired several years ago. We have just turned 65, but we are as they say "active adults" and we find that Holland ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised almost exclusively with Holland America and have sailed only with them since we retired several years ago. We have just turned 65, but we are as they say "active adults" and we find that Holland America is a good fit for us. I run 5 to 10 miles a day and the fitness centers have always been a welcome amenity. I would not suggest running on the sports deck, at least in good weather, as the deck chairs often create an obstacle course that kill your stride. Using the equipment in the fitness center plus walking and taking the stairs instead of the elevators helps counter the caloric intake that is hard to avoid. Living in South Carolina, we drove down to Ft. Lauderdale, stopping at Jacksonville and Palm Beach Gardens. On the morning of the cruise we drove from PBG to Ft. Lauderdale - about 50 miles - and arrived at the port at 9:45. We parked in the Midport Parking Garage, directly across from where the Westerdam was docked and brought our luggage over to the terminal where it was swiftly loaded onto the luggage containers. Having a Deluxe Veranda Suite we would have priority boarding, so we thought this time would work out well. There was some delay, as the previous cruise was a "Smooth Jazz" themed cruise and the "last night" party caused some of the guests to sleep in a bit too long. However, we were brought into the terminal, checked in and brought to a "lounge" to wait. Some refreshments were served and it was an opportunity to meet and mingle with some of the other Suite guests. At about noon we were escorted onto the ship and able to go directly to our rooms. Fresh fruit, fresh flowers and chilled sparkling wine were nicely displayed in the room. We dropped off our small bags and cameras and went over to the Neptune Lounge, which was almost directly across from our cabin, to check in. Here comes the really good part. We met Hazel and Bong, the two Neptune Lounge concierges. They were absolutely fantastic. Throughout our two week cruise (we did both the eastern and western) they were professional, efficient, informative, helpful and very simply a pleasure to be around. Holland America should be very proud to have individuals of this caliber on their staff. My wife and I cannot say enough good things about them and we would hope that we would meet them again on a future cruise. They are the best!!! Additionally, the two stewards in the lounge, Made and Su, were likewise a pleasure to be around and could not be more accommodating. This Neptune Lounge, with Hazel, Bong, Su and Made went a long way in making this such an enjoyable cruise. Our Room Stewards, Achmad and Gede, were also excellent. They asked if we had any special requirements or if there was anything that we needed them to do. There wasn't, but they delivered outstanding service and we couldn't have asked for more. Again, two individuals that Holland America can be proud of. Overall, the staff seemed fine. The only less than sterling performance was in the dining room. We typically like the early seating and a table of six. We find six to be good for conversation and allows for everyone to be heard by the others. Sometimes with eight or more, separate conversations have to take place, because not everyone can hear everyone else. We were fortunate to have wonderful table mates on this cruise and we enjoyed their company very much. Dining with them was something to look forward to each day that we dined in the dining room. I won't mention our head steward's name. He never introduced himself to the table and always seemed somewhat confused. His assistant the first week was Wayan and he was excellent. He introduced himself and was always pleasant and efficient. He was moved to different tables on the second leg of the cruise and replaced by an assistant who was more like our head steward. Honestly, if it weren't for their name tags we wouldn't have a clue as to what their names were. The tables that they had were always the last to be served and the last out of the dining room. The gong was always sounding when we were finally able to finish our diner and leave. The service was, as previously stated, less than sterling. On the second leg, we were unable to go ashore at Half Moon Cay because of strong winds, so the Captain announced that everyone would receive a glass of champagne that evening at diner. Our table noticed that the champagne was being served with coffee and dessert at all of the other tables, except the ones being served by our steward. None of us really cared - the champagne was a nice gesture, but we could live without it. Again, these tables were the last served and so the last out of the dining room. As we exited we saw our steward carrying the champagne glasses from the kitchen to the serving station. Again, he had that look of bewilderment, but said nothing and neither did we. We thoroughly enjoyed the "Night at Le Cirque" held at the Pinnacle and also dining at the Pinnacle on other nights. We always set aside some evenings to dine at the Pinnacle and we have never been disappointed and the Pinnacle on the Westerdam was no exception. Both the Le Cirque night and the others in the Pinnacle were excellent. The serving staff and the quality and preparation of the food made for very enjoyable evenings. Special mention for our server, Su. Yes, the same fellow who served as steward in the Neptune. My wife was having the ribeye, but mentioned that the lobster mac-n-cheese sounded interesting. So, he brought her a rather generous portion, in addition to the steak, so she could see if she liked it. Of course, she did. Just a nice touch, which made her feel good. The only negative comment would be about the maitre d'. Normally, at least on other ships, the Pinnacle chef and the maitre d' make a point of coming to each table to inquire about how the guests are and if they are enjoying the meal. The chef the night of Le Cirque, did just that, but the maitre d' each of the nights that we were there went to a few tables, but not all. It seemed very hit or miss and below the standards one would expect. Two shore excursions standout. Stingray City off Grand Cayman, which my wife and I both thoroughly enjoyed (which was recommended by friends of ours who lived in the Caymans for several years) and the America's Cup Regatta in Cozumel. I did that one and it was just a great experiences and a lot of fun. The fact that our racing yacht, the Stars and Stripes, won, was an added benefit - although one might surmise these wins go back and forth between the two racing yachts. Still, a great time was had by all. One other item worth noting was the Customs clearance at Ft. Lauderdale between the two legs. As the ship returned to Ft. Lauderdale after the first week and some passengers disembarked and others embarked, we, who were staying on were told that we would have to get off the ship and clear customs and then get back on. All passengers staying on for the second week had to meet at the Vista Lounge and would be escorted off, go through customs and get back on. Not a Holland America requirement - strictly government. Because the terminal we were using had only two stations for US citizens we were backed up with those folks who were disembarking that morning. After finally getting through we had to line up in the terminal to be escorted back on to the ship. The ship had to have a zero passenger count before anyone could get back on. Apparently, one passenger, didn't get off and couldn't be found, so we stood in line in the terminal while he was being searched for. After a half hour or so, some of the elderly guests were having difficulty standing so wheelchairs were sent for. After some more time the wheelchairs arrived. Really felt sorry for these folks. Eventually, the missing passenger was found. We were told he got tired of waiting in the Vista Lounge to be escorted off the ship and left and fell asleep in the Queen's Lounge. Once found, he was escorted off the ship, past all of us waiting passengers so he could clear through customs. We all got a good look at him and although we know he was on the ship for the second leg, none of us ever saw him again. We opted to do early disembarkation. We had our car at Ft. Lauderdale and were going to be staying in Orlando for a while. You do have to carry all of your luggage off the ship yourself with early disembarkation, but it wasn't a problem and we were on the road within 45 minutes of leaving our cabin. All in all it was a good cruise and we enjoyed it enormously. Calm waters, good weather and the pleasure of meeting Hazel and Bong in the Neptune - life is good. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We had always heard nothing but great things about Holland; less children, elegant ships, no loud music, and the kicker, Great, above board service. This is not what we found. The first thing we encountered was an hour long embarkation. ... Read More
We had always heard nothing but great things about Holland; less children, elegant ships, no loud music, and the kicker, Great, above board service. This is not what we found. The first thing we encountered was an hour long embarkation. There were 4 metal detectors in the entrance area and only 1 in use, hence the long wait. On our last cruise, we went straight through. Next, we heard of exceptional service. Not so. Our cabin steward didn't come around til late the first night. We asked for ice to be in our cabin every day for the wine we brought. We did not get it. The second day when we got no ice we called and were assured that we would get continuous ice, which didn't happen. We also asked for fresh fruit and received fresh fruit the first day. After that the fruit looked like it had been left from the previous cruise. We told them to forget it. During our entire cruise we saw our cabin stewards only once or twice. On the other cruises with the sister ships Carnival and Princess we saw them all the time and were greeted by name. Dining: The dining room was elegant but we didn't find the food all that good and the service was very slow. Yes, we usually dine in the formal dining room on all of our cruises and we know it's not fast food. The food on the lido deck was very good and the wait staff very friendly. We were served all of our food there, rather than serve ourselves. The lido also closed down around 9:00 also. We were disappointed that the dress code in the dining room didn't allow shorts even on port days. We made it back from shore late and had to go to the lido for dinner. Again, the other ships make allowances for port days. Entertainment: We were surprised at the lack of entertainment also. We always go to the shows after dinner. If it hadn't been for Hildy the German Juggling Boy, there wouldn't have been much entertainment. There was 1 show of singing and dancing and little else. One other show ended only after 30 minutes. The good thing is the music on the ship was not so loud you couldn't think, and the people were singing, not screaming. The Hal Cats band was very good, and the music by the pool was good and again not too loud. My husband wrote a letter to Holland Cruises, their regional travel agent and to our own travel agent and as of today, we have heard nothing from Holland. What a pity. Lest anyone think it's just us, we polled lots of loyal Holland cruisers and they were also disappointed with the lack of service with Holland and many said they wouldn't be back. As for us, we're moving on to other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
DW and I are both retired, S.Fl. residents. This cruise on Holland America's Westerdam was our third "Smooth Jazz" themed cruise. We partnered with another couple to get to the ship, dropping off our vehicle at an area ... Read More
DW and I are both retired, S.Fl. residents. This cruise on Holland America's Westerdam was our third "Smooth Jazz" themed cruise. We partnered with another couple to get to the ship, dropping off our vehicle at an area parking facility which has a shuttle to the Ft.Lauderdale port departure point. We arrived at 12:15PM and were aboard within 45 minutes, good timing considering the fact that it appeared that nearly the whole passenger content had arrived at nearly the exact same time frame! Our cabin, 7134, "Deluxe Verandah" was ready for us so we were able to drop our carry-on luggage and head to the Lido cafe, 9th floor, for lunch. It became evident immediately that this ship's management takes any possible viral based illness very seriously, as signs were posted, that for two days, there would be service by the staff exclusively in the food lines, to avoid possible contamination by the bringing aboard of a potential illness by any passenger. Staff also wore latex gloves; this was also the case with what would usually be self service drink service. Two or more stood behind a marked off area, taking verbal orders for tea, coffee, water etc. Food was of excellent quality and staff, mostly Indonesian, were smiling, helpful and eager to please. Even though this was, per earlier comments, apparently peak arrival time, we were able to find a table easily and enjoy our meal. We returned to our cabin and found it to be well laid out and immaculately clean and orderly. Our verandah was the perfect size for a couple, with two chairs and a small table. The cabin per se had our requested Queen bed configuration, small sofa, dressing table/desk, TV and ample storage. Hint; If you haven't found it in any other recent review, there is hidden storage at the foot of the bed in two large pullout drawers. Unlike an earlier voyage on this ship, this was partly taken up by extra linens but we were able to easily use a considerable part of it. There is also a bit of extra space in an Ottoman, with the top being removed showing space to easily accommodate clothing such as socks, underwear etc. where wrinkling would not be a concern. Fortunately, our suitcases fit under the bed and out of sight. Adjacent to a convenient safe at the verandah end of a cabinet/closet area is a split wardrobe closet, half for DW and half for Sparkle, with space aplenty for a seven day voyage. Our smiling steward (regret name not at hand) kept the cabin clean and well tended throughout the voyage, and it was near impossible to get by a staff member, housekeeping or otherwise, without a greeting accompanied by a generous smile. Our next step was to tour the ship; we had read the Westerdam had recently been in drydock and we saw no evidence of problems anywhere that had not been well taken care of. DW was impressed in particular with both the quality and chosen colors of the new carpet in the gym and the Lido. We were assigned late (8:30PM) seating, freestyle and were simply told by the Maitre d' to sit wherever we chose. We usually sat with the couple we were traveling with, only two nights having a table for six and on only one of those nights being joined by another couple. The two story dining room,the "Vista" is well laid out, clean and orderly, service was always excellent and food was very good. Staff competently and happily handled several requests with deviation from the menu. This being a theme cruise, comments on entertainment would be different than most. The "SmoothJazz" cruise is under the auspices of the TimeLife umbrella; this was the 10th anniversary of this endeavor. Similar affiliated cruises are offered and seem to be in an expansion mode. Numerous well known entertainers are on board and in addition to a main show in the Vista Lounge nightly, perform individually or in tandem at the several other lounges throughout the ship at various times. In fact, it soon became evident that it became near impossible to be without musical entertainment without locking yourself in your cabin! But then, that's not what you came for, is it? The theatre itself is well laid out with only a few seats having obstructed sight lines. Seating is on white leather (?) couches and is the most comfortable I remember on any ship. Where the entertainment differs from any "regular" programming is the fact that the (most nights) two shows are on average two full hours long. The first hour can be any mix of the numerous entertainers aboard, and the second a completely different group. The (why would it not be, with nationally known talent and recording artists) shows were so good that we (both couples) often returned for what we could see after our late dinner. The only show not two hours long was headlined by George Benson and was an hour and a half. Well known and very funny comedian Alonso Boden entertained twice; DW pronouncing him "The funniest comedian I have ever seen!" Boden, in a long discourse on the gemstone Tanzanite: "I don't think there's any such thing as Tanzanite; I think its real name is 40% off..." Ports: There were three ports covered in this Westerdam voyage, Cozumel, Belize and Key West. We did not debark at Cozumel having been there several times before. We tendered into Belize, a brief 15-20 minute ride, and landed directly into the central area of shops, restaurants, etc. We visited the "MOHO Chocolate Factory" directly at dockside, and enjoyed it very much. It is both a retail and distribution center for organic chocolate bars and derivatives made on premises, where you can watch the process through large windows, directly abutting the showroom. A friendly associate circulates with dishes of free samples with their own specialty exotic flavors, such as lime, native coffee, and the like. For a nominal fee you can purchase a brief tour, for quality control reasons not including the manufacturing center itself. Numerous varieties of large bars of the tasty confections are available, as well as chocolate themed accessories such as T-shirts (embossed "Don't Fall In Love: Fall In Chocolate!"), chocolate colored polo shirts, caps, and more. We were very glad we went and took the tour, hosted by a charming young lady, Nicole. At Key West we were, arriving back in the U.S. from foreign ports, greeted by Customs&Immigration for a quick and courteous passport inspection, had our boarding passes stamped with a punchhole device to show we had been cleared, and then, off to town we went. We took a brief look about at the dockside shops before returning to the ship. Debarking in Ft. Lauderdale was quick and efficient, with the usual presentation of custom forms showing purchases abroad and were on our way. Final thoughts? The Westerdam is a clean, comfortable ship staffed with friendly quality staff. We highly recommend this themed cruise, offered with its variants several times throughout the year. WWW.SmoothJazzCruise.com is where you can book your voyage, and has full details on upcoming trips. We found other passengers to be exceptionally friendly and easy to talk to, perhaps as all are there because of a common interest and in fact, may have met each other before. There were no young children aboard, other than those of the entertainers, as being a full charter, HAL was not providing staff for them. Sponsors provided several good will gifts to our cabins, themed to the voyage and all highly useful and`appreciated. All in all, this is a class act on a beautiful ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We just returned from the January 6th Southern Caribbean cruise and had a well deserved restful cruise on the Westerdam. This was our 24th overall cruise and our 3rd HAL trip, the first 2 on the Maasdam. We are 62 and 57 which fit well in ... Read More
We just returned from the January 6th Southern Caribbean cruise and had a well deserved restful cruise on the Westerdam. This was our 24th overall cruise and our 3rd HAL trip, the first 2 on the Maasdam. We are 62 and 57 which fit well in the demographic. We arrived a day early and stayed in the Hilton Beach Resort. Most of the bill was paid for with points. It was very nice but not worth the $400 they command for one night. It was fairly well located and about a $20 cab ride to the port. Lunch at the Casablanca, a small and somewhat eclectic restaurant, was convenient and tasty. Dinner that night at Timpano was not so good. I would rate it as an upscale Olive Garden. Food was OK but not the high caliber claimed by the concierge at the Hilton. I wonder what his kickback was? After dinner, we walked to the CVS and stocked up on snacks, last minute essentials, and wine for my wife. I have to admit that this was the first time I bought alcohol in a pharmacy. The next morning, my wife walked to the Dunkin' Donuts for her morning fix. She is truly addicted to the stuff. Decaf to boot. Go figure! She brought back a little something for me and then it was off to the port. We hopped onto a Taxi and got there in about 15 minutes. What struck me was that every one of the cabs we took, the driver was Haitian. All were very polite, friendly and honest. We arrived around 11:15 and there was a short line for security. Once through, we went to the line, got our documents, ran past the photographers and were on board by 11:45. We had gotten a VERY reasonable upsell offer a week before we boarded and had an SA cabin on Rotterdam deck. We had stayed in SA cabins before so we knew what to expect. Our cabin was ready when we boarded so we dropped our bags of and did a quick inspection of the cabin. The cabin was quite large with a large sofa bed, 2 chairs and a table, a very comfy large bed, lots of storage but a small TV compared to the size of the cabin. The bathroom was spacious with a small stall shower and jetted tub. I would have preferred no tub and a larger shower. Elemis products were supplied but we did not use them as my wife always brings her own bar soap. We had double sinks which, i must say, were in need of replacement. The counter was badly chipped and cracked and the faucets were in the wrong place, obviously a poor design. Be careful since the water is very hot. The only other complaint I had is that the grey water used in the toilet was always stinky which wasn't noticeable if the cover was down. We then met Ramon and Mohammad who did a great job of keeping our cabin spotless. Next stop was the Neptune Lounge where we spent plenty of time during the week. We met our 2 concierges, Clair and Florida who always greeted us with a smile. They did a good job of keeping everything tidy.It was nice to go have a quick snack, a cup of coffee or other refreshment or to socialize. It was also a good place for the internet where the signal was stronger than other areas. The only complaint I has was that it closed at 8:30 which was unlike our experience on other lines where the lounge was accessible all day. I didn't find the concierge able to do much other than dining reservations which was not an issue for us since we had fixed seating. It was off to the Lido for lunch. There always seemed to be a good selection and I liked that we were served the first 2 days. I hate touching dirty serving utensils. It was also nice to see people helping you to your table and carrying your plates and getting drinks. Although the salad bar became self service, the hot food was always served. Not a fan of pastries but the ice cream was always yummy. I can't comment on the burgers since I didn't have one since I always find them just slightly less chewy than a hockey puck. The French fries and sweet potato fries were delicious. Pizza was also pretty good. Next, we did a tour of the ship. We started in the Crow's Nest where we spent a fair amount of time during the week. Between trivia, happy hour, and other activities it seemed to be a hot spot. It was also a nice place to sit and watch the ocean. The Library and Coffee Bar was next. They had the only decent coffee on board. There were a good selection of reading material, computer terminals, a jigsaw puzzle and comfy chairs. My wife set up her internet account and took advantage of the bonus minutes. The staff was very pleasant and accommodating which was unusual. Most of the time, they are not so nice. Then it was a trip to the spa for my wife to schedule a few treatments. Not my cup of tea. We walked around the pool deck and were surprised that there were so few lounge chairs for 2,000 pax. Most of the deck space had tables and chairs. It was then off to explore the lower decks. We sneaked into the MDR and found our table.. We had Main seating wait list and eventually got our assignment at a table for 4. We are not big drinkers so our trips to the bars were mainly out of curiosity. One complaint I had was that there was a fair amount of smoking on board. The Sports Bar was divided by an open top wall with the actual bar being the smoking side and the other non-smoking. It didn't matter. The place always stunk. HAL needs to get on board with their corporate partners. We walked by the casino, another area of no interest. The Vista Lounge was next and was very nice with good sight lines from most seats. There were seats obstructed by poles. Never seemed crowded when we were there. The Culinary Arts Center seemed to be an afterthought, which it was, and was the sight for movies and televised football playoffs. The shops were obviously closed but, when opened, offered a very nice selection and were well priced. These were the areas which most interested us. The Atrium was elegant with a nice chandelier. It was not massive as on other ships. Overall, the ship is beautiful, well maintained, showed no signs of wear, and never seemed crowded. We then prepared for the muster drill which was a big failure in my opinion. The good point was not having to drag the life jackets. It took place outdoors at the assigned location which was good. We could not hear a thing. First, the roll call was done by a crew member with a very heavy accent and we had difficulty understanding him. Next came the drill which no one in our area could hear with the speakers not working, planes flying overhead, noise from pallets clanging, and back-up beeps from all of the commercial vehicles. This drill would have saved no one in a real emergency. Again, they need to learn from their corporate partners. Our next activity was my favorite, dinner. We found our table and met our table mates who were a friendly couple from Rochester, NY. Our waiter and his assistant were friendly and efficient. I was concerned with all of the criticism about the food but, throughout the week, we very much enjoyed the food. Some of the choices, especially the fish which I enjoy but not on this ship, were less successful but it was never a problem changing. The wait staff could not have been better in making sure we enjoyed our meal. For the first 3 days we had excellent bar service from Lovely (her real name and it fit her well) until she got word that her father had suddenly died and she had to return to the Philippines. The other bar server took over and it was slower but very understandable. Speaking with her made us appreciate how much the crew sacrifices to make a living. She was on board with her husband. He was not able to return with her because he had a critical position and could not be replaced easily. So, here they are together on board. They have 2 small children being cared for by her parents. She has little time to spend with them and now her dad dies. God bless her and all of the crew. They work so hard. Other than that, our dining experience was very positive. Breakfast we had in the Pinnacle. It was very pleasant with everything well prepared and fresh. I like poached eggs and they came out perfectly. Coffee still was bad. This was a nice experience for the suites. Before I move on from dining, I just wanted to mention Le Cirque. We opted for the wine pairing which I do not recommend. They brought out a glass of Champagne, a glass of Chardonnay, and a glass of some red wine. The Champagne was fine. The Chardonnay was horrible. It was dark and tasted corked. The wine steward said that this particular Chardonnay was that way. I beg to differ. He then exchanged it for something different which was fine. I just found it odd to bring all three glasses at the same time and not with each course. I had the Trio which was just OK. My wife had ravioli which was luscious. We both had the squash soup, another excellent choice. We then had Chateaubriand. I ordered mine medium rare and my wife medium. They have the most talented chefs because they managed to accomplish both temperatures in one piece of beef. Nevertheless, it was great. Finally, we both ordered creme br'lee also very good. One note I must make is that, although I did not find the drink prices on board to be high, wine prices were. I bought the Navigator's package only because the Admiral's package wasn't worth the extra price. Even with the package, markup was at least 200%. I buy these wines for around $9 and they charge over $30. I also felt their regular wine list to be a little high. Oh well, it's vacation. Half Moon Cay was our first stop. We were only there for a few hours. We had reserved a snorkel excursion which was cancelled and we rented a clam-shell instead. This worked out fine. The sand was soft but the water was cold. We walked up to the Shipwreck to check out the bar but, at that time, it was time for lunch. Nothing special. Average cookout food. We went back to the ship early and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Next day was a sea day. Boy, was it rough!. We had gale force winds all night. A lot of people seasick. Meclizine was being handed out like candy. The dining room was 1/3 empty. I actually felt a little under the weather the next morning but it passed quickly and I never get seasick. Some even got sick in the MDR which was choice including a woman at the table next to us. We finally arrived in Aruba on time. We were lucky. We got off the ship and walked around town. We then returned for out sunset catamaran cruise. This was nice and relaxing. Then. back to the ship. The next morning we sailed into Curacao. We were lucky. Other ships either could not dock or were several hours late. We did the dolphin encounter which we loved. It was twice the price to swim with them and we were quite content being near these gentle and beautiful animals. It was a blast interacting with them. The rest of the afternoon we spent at the Aquarium attached and saw the dolphin show and a shark show. As we were pulling out of Curacao, the captain gave us an update and told us to expect the same rough seas. It was not as bad as the way down. We had 2 sea days coming up to rest and explore the rest of the ship. We spent a lot of time in our cabin and appreciated the our SA. My wife bought me a watch at a good price. we caught up on our email and just enjoyed to period of rest. My wife would have preferred another port but I was content. As far as activities, there weren't many that interested me. Trivia is always a favorite. The menus in the Culinary Arts Center didn't interest me but that is personal. I am not big on shows but the entertainers were very good. There was an male Asian singer who was excellent. The comedian was terrible and was billed as the Canadian Bill Cosby which was an insult to Bill. The juggler Hilby was hilarious the last night. I wished he would keep on going on. Debarkation was a snap. As suite guests, we could debark when we wanted. We had a simple breakfast in the Neptune, said our goodbyes and left. Our luggage was easy to find and we were standing on the taxi line for 15 minutes and then off to the airport. A few closing comments. As far as cutbacks, I truly did not see any. Bar service was prompt except during Happy Hour when they were swamped. There was no lack of service in the MDR. The ship is not dated and was immaculate and well maintained. The service was on par with Azamara, Cunard and Oceania. I am not a cheerleader and have no ties to any line as we have sailed on 11 lines so far. HAL service and professionalism is on par with any of them. Of the mass marketing lines, HAL, in my opinion leads the pack. Again, we are more mature, do not travel with children any more, have sailed on a lot of lines, and entertain ourselves. I like the size of their ships and they fit our bill. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We had a great time on HAL's Westerdam the week before Christmas. Our seven-night cruise took us to the western Caribbean: Grand Cayman and Cozumel plus Key West and Half Moon Cay. Precruise: We flew to Fort Lauderdale the night ... Read More
We had a great time on HAL's Westerdam the week before Christmas. Our seven-night cruise took us to the western Caribbean: Grand Cayman and Cozumel plus Key West and Half Moon Cay. Precruise: We flew to Fort Lauderdale the night before our cruise began. I booked us a room at the Hyatt Place, 17th Street and Convention Center. I was happy to get that hotel at a good price--around half the price through Priceline than I had seen on the Hyatt website. The hotel offers free shuttle service from the airport and free breakfast. It charges $7 per person for the shuttle to the port. We took a taxi instead, which worked out to be about the same price and a lot quicker because we did not have to stop at all the other ships first. The Westerdam was docked at one of the piers farthest away. The other ships in port included the Ruby Princess, Allure of the Seas, Silhouette, Nieuw Amsterdam, and a Carnival ship whose name I don't remember. The second great thing about the Hyatt Place is its convenient location to shopping to stock up on essentials before the cruise. We arrived after 9 on a Saturday night, which was after Total Wine's closing time. We purchased wine for our cruise at the Publix grocery store. The stores in Fort Lauderdale are not allowed to sell alcohol before noon on Sundays. Embarkation: We breezed through security and filled out our health questionnaire quickly. Then the lines began. We had about a 15-minute wait at the check-in area. By the time we arrived at 11:30, they were already allowing suite passengers to board the ship. Since we were not in a suite, we had received a number (9) and had to wait for our group to be called. There were plenty of seats, and they had already called the first three groups before we arrived. Our total wait in the seating area was about 40 minutes. As soon as we made it past the obligatory photo point, I headed directly to the front desk to sign up for the cooking class. I asked the woman which dining room was serving lunch, and she tried to direct me to the Lido buffet. When I mentioned my Mariner status, she pointed us to the dining room. Food: Overall the food was good. My biggest complaint was that HAL doesn't serve enough vegetables. I occasionally asked for extra vegetables, but learned to order more salads and fruit instead of having to wait. Even the Lido buffet did not have a good selection of cooked veggies. We tried to eat most of our meals in the dining room. We ate there six out of seven breakfasts and three out of seven lunches as well as six out of seven dinners. Service was attentive most of the time. We had second seating dining at a table for eight. They had originally assigned us a table for four, but I put in my request to change to the larger table the first afternoon. The maitre d' called me around 7:30 to let me know he had arranged to move us to the larger table. After the second night, our assistant waiter always had my glass of iced tea waiting for me. Lovely (the wine steward) also gave us attentive service. We brought several bottles of wine to the dining room during the week and paid the $18 corkage fee for each. The food highlights in the dining room include the surf and turf both times (once it was filet mignon with shrimp and the second time, filet mignon with lobster tail), most of the appetizers and salads, and the fruit plate for dessert. At breakfast, I alternated between smoked salmon on rye toast and a spinach, mushroom, and cheese omelet. I always ordered the fruit plate and sometimes ate a half grapefruit as well. I thought it was strange that they did not offer melon separate from the fruit plate. Sometimes it included cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew--but other times it would be one melon without the others. It never had fresh pineapple, but I occasionally helped myself to that in the Lido buffet either before our formal breakfast or as a midmorning snack. The real food highlight of the cruise was our evening at Le Cirque. Once a week they change the Pinnacle Grill from its regular steakhouse menu over to Le Cirque. We started off with an amuse bouche of pate de foie gras over a rhubarb compote. We both ate the lobster salad. It's a stunning presentation of Bibb lettuce, potato confit, green beans, tomatoes, avocado, grapefruit segments, and lobster tail. My only complaint about it was that the tomatoes were not good. They should leave them off rather than serve substandard ones. I ordered the butternut squash soup with huckleberries, and my partner ordered the melon soup with shrimp. Both were delicious. I had superbly cooked lamb chops for my entree, and he had the chateaubriand. Once again, both were delicious. I had tasted the crème brulee at a cooking demo the day before, so I ordered the chocolate souffle for my dessert. My partner enjoyed his crème brulee (probably more so since he did not have to offer me a taste). We ordered an extra dessert of a berry napoleon. The waiter delivered an assortment of sweet morsels before the desserts. None of them were outstanding, but the presentation looked good. We returned to the Pinnacle Grill for its regular lunch menu one day when the main dining room was not open for lunch. I thought the lunch menu was good. The best things to me were the lobster crème brulee and the shrimp bruschetta. (The shrimp on the bruschetta tasted better than the lobster we had on our salads for our Le Cirque experience.) The Northwest five-onion soup was also tasty but a little too rich for me. I ate the crab and shrimp cakes for my entree and they were tasty. My partner ordered the same appetizers, but added the lettuce and tomato tower salad. Once again, the presentation was great, but the tomato was not. He had the blue cheese crusted filet mignon for his main course. We finished off with the brownie decadence and ice cream. Cabin: We had a VA balcony cabin near the aft of the ship on the Navigator Deck. It was a great location--one deck below the Lido buffet. Our beds were not made together as requested, but we did not bother to get the cabin steward to change them. They were comfortable, and our cabin steward did deliver extra feather pillows for me. He and his assistant kept our room made up well most of the time. A couple of days, they did not get it done as soon as I would have liked. (We always left our "Service Please" card in the door to let him know when we went to breakfast. Once we came back a couple of hours later, and he had not gotten around to cleaning yet.) The bathroom was nice and large, especially compared to the one on the cruise before this one--on the Sapphire Princess. I disliked that they no longer give you individual bottles of shampoo and conditioner and bars of bath soap. There are three dispensers on the wall of the shower/tub with shampoo, conditioner, and liquid body soap. I had a bar in my Dopp kit from a previous hotel stay that we used the first part of the week, and our cabin steward gave us a couple of the tiny bars they have for handwashing. We enjoyed having the balcony. We spent a lot of time watching the stars at night and sipping wine. The furniture on it included two plastic wicker chairs with thin cushions, a small round table, and a plastic wicker ottoman. One char was larger (and more comfortable) than the other. We ordered room service for breakfast once. It came 20 minutes early. Fortunately we were already up. Activities: There are not a lot of activities compared to some cruise lines. The cruise director doesn't have much of a staff to schedule them. I'm not positive about the makeup of his staff, but it seemed like he was in charge of a DJ, the "party planner," and a lifestyle coach. For a ship this size, he really could have used the help of three or four more staff members. I was disappointed that trivia was not offered regularly in the morning and afternoon. It was well attended every time we made it, probably 15 to 20 teams of up to six people (officially, although some occasionally had more). We never won the general trivia, but we managed to win three of the specialized food trivias that the party planner had on her schedule. She was in charge of scheduling activities for the culinary arts center. I enjoyed the demonstrations that the chef from the Pinnacle Grill did. One of the dishes was shrimp with curried mango butter. He also gave a demo of Le Cirque's lobster salad and the crème brulee. I was fortunate to be seated on the side that did not get the demitasse-sized portions to taste the crème brulee. They ended up giving us full-size portions instead. The cooking class was a lot of fun. When we sailed on the Westerdam in 2009, I attended the cooking class by myself. On this cruise, I made sure we both signed up. My partner, who doesn't do much cooking at home, was concerned that he would feel out of place. He didn't. He had a great time with the new format of the classes. In 2009, we broke into teams of three or four passengers. Each team got to prepare one course, with the chef moving back and forth among the teams to offer tips. I missed a lot of what he was telling the other teams since I was concentrating on making our appetizer (the shrimp with curried mango butter). This year, the chef led the entire class, moving from course to course. He had volunteers help him along the way, slicing and dicing, stirring and mixing. The dishes we prepared were a salad with lime vinaigrette, sofrito mashed potatoes, and pork tenderloin with picadillo salsa. They also gave us recipe cards for grilled pineapple with caramel rum sauce. After the class portion was concluded, everyone went to the Pinnacle Grill to eat the same courses, only not the food prepared during the class. They also served us red and white wine (four bottles for the table of 10). I'm assuming the new format is for health concerns. A mother-daughter pair did not like the new format and left at the beginning. I think they missed a fun experience. (But I'm glad I did not have to listen to them whine the whole class.) The only change I would have made would have been for the chef and party planner to have stayed and eaten with us during lunch. Entertainment: We usually enjoy the production shows on cruises, but HAL's left me a little disappointed. On the Sapphire Princess, we were among the first cruisers to experience Princess's new pared down shows--30 minutes in length. The shows on the Westerdam seemed to go on a little too long. The male main singer was very good, but the other three singers were average. (I always think of Simon Cowell's critique of American Idol contestants when he's telling them that they sounded like a cruise ship singer.) The dancers were OK, nothing to write home about. But I think the real blame is on whoever put together the songs for the two production shows. (The costumes were also disappointing, without much bling or sex appeal, perhaps yielding to the taste of the Lawrence Welk crowd.) There were three guest entertainers during the week. The first was Hilby, the skinny German juggle boy. He was very funny. The second was a piano player (Lionardo) billed as a combination of Liberace and Jerry Lee Lewis. He's a Vegas performer (http://www.pianofollies.com/index_flash.htm) . The third was comedian Rondell Sheridan. We missed his first performance, but caught his abbreviated act the last night of the cruise when he shared billing with Hilby. He was funny. The various lounges had musical groups playing in them. We did not go to any of them specifically. The only group I heard for more than a passing moment was the Adagio Duo--a violinist and pianist. They were decent but not great. I would have preferred more classical music from them than the Broadway songs and movie theme music they chose to perform. The steel drummer who played by the pool was very good. Unfortunately he performed alone with a taped accompaniment. Spa and Gym: The gym had the usual equipment. I was glad to see that they had bicycles for use. On Princess, they keep the bikes locked up except for the spinning classes that cost extra. I did not use the gym a lot, but I saw quite a few people using it. I got most of my exercise walking around the Promenade Deck and taking the stairs most of the time. I got more than my 10,000 steps each day. We purchased the weeklong pass to the hydro pool and thermal suite. I love the warm water of the pool and never made it into any of the other pools. (Another reason is that I try to avoid getting too much sun.) The hydro pool worked all week, as did the heated ceramic lounges. Unfortunately, the special steam rooms in the thermal suite did not. My favorite the first couple of days was the large steam room with eucalyptus scent. It stopped working after the second day. The peppermint-scented steam room worked intermittently. There's only enough room for four in it--and even four is a tight squeeze. The third steam room never worked during our cruise. The chromotherapy showers did not seem to function correctly either. My biggest disappointment, however, was that the thermal suite and hydro pool were closed the last evening. We were fortunate enough to run into one of the spa attendants at lunch, and she let us know. Our favorite time in the area was between 6 and 7 p.m. The areas closed at 6 p.m. the last day. Ports: Our first stop was at Half Moon Cay. Tendering there was not a problem. We went around 9:30 and did not have much of a line to wait in. The water was crystal clear but a little cool. The facilities on the island are very nice. We decided to go back to the ship to eat lunch instead of staying on the island for the big barbecue. I enjoyed a small plate of melon and pineapple and the other food looked pretty good. We decided to stay on the ship when it anchored off of Grand Cayman. We have been there three times before and did not want to bother tendering in. I booked the Fury catamaran snorkeling excursion for us in Cozumel. We had time before the excursion to check out the shops at the pier and eat lunch on the ship. This excursion was a lot of fun. There were about 60 passengers on the large catamaran plus a half dozen crewmembers. The snorkeling stop was not great, but I nevertheless enjoyed seeing the fish. The biggest problems at the snorkeling stop were fighting the current and trying to stay out of the way of the other snorkelers. After snorkeling, they opened up the bar for margaritas and beer. I had time for a few before we hit the beach. Fury owns a nice beach with plenty of activities. We stayed in the water the whole time. One of my favorite things was the large inflated slides. They provided me shade while in the water. Kayaks and paddleboards were available at no extra charge. Many people took advantage of them. There were two other catamarans there at the same time, but it didn't feel too crowded. On the way back, we enjoyed more beverages and watched the crew lead a few passengers in Gangnam Style and other dances. All in all, it was one of the best values in excursions that we've ever taken. Our last stop was Key West. We did a walking tour on our own, seeing Hemingway's house, the Audubon House, the butterfly place, and other points of interest. We did not bother to pay for any tours of these places, but still enjoyed our day. We had been to Truman's Little Whitehouse on a previous cruise and did not need to see it again. Disembarkation: I requested late disembarkation, and we received Black 3 tags. Our companion in the next cabin, however, got Brown 2 tags. We ended up getting off the ship around 9:15 and breezing through Customs. (Everyone had gone through Immigration in Key West.) There was a long line for taxis, including passengers from the Silhouette, but our wait was under half an hour. At the Fort Lauderdale airport, two of trivia teammates were waiting in the middle of the line for Southwest, letting everyone go ahead of them. They had arrived at the counter four hours and ten minutes before their flight and could not check in until four hours before it. Our flight was originally scheduled for 12:50 but was delayed until 1:20. It was nonstop back to Raleigh and reality. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
My wife and I took our grown children and spouses on the Holland America Westerdam Eastern Caribbean cruise during Christmas week and had a wonderful vacation from Dec 23-30th. This cruise traveled to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, San ... Read More
My wife and I took our grown children and spouses on the Holland America Westerdam Eastern Caribbean cruise during Christmas week and had a wonderful vacation from Dec 23-30th. This cruise traveled to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Philipsburg, Saint Martin and Half Moon Cay. This is our 3rd Holland cruise and 5th overall cruise. (see comments below) Ft Lauderdale- I booked two rooms at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 across from Port Everglades and highly recommend it for future cruises from Fort Lauderdale. We also ordered two cases of wine and champagne from Total Wine and More store which is located about 2 minutes down the street. Embarkation- I highly recommend an early arrival (noon) so we dropped off our suitcases and wine boxes at curbside without any crowds. The line was very short and quick when we arrived and we only waited 5 minutes before they called us to board the ship. Our grown kids arrived later in the afternoon and they said that it was crowded. Rooms- Our balcony room (4133) was immediately available and our suitcases arrived shortly afterwards. The Verandah suite is a good size for two people, but can get a little crowded when you add four other people. Our room was in a good location to get to the main dining room. We booked our cruise and reserved a Verandah balcony room (4133) for us and two nearby Oceanview rooms for the 'kids' (4115 & 4117). Service- We prefer the main dining room and reserved fixed seating for table 136 next to the rear window every night at 8pm. The Maitre D-Eddi greeted us every night and promptly seated us. Our waiters were very polite and service was excellent. We brought two bottles of my favorite wine, Chateau St Michelle, to dinner every night and the wine steward took care of us. The captain made an emergency stop in St Thomas for a passenger that had broken his/her hip and he did an excellent job keeping us informed of the ship status and didn't interrupt our plans. Food- We always enjoy Holland Americas food and the Westerdam was excellent every night! The appetizers (especially the Jumbo Shrimp!), soup and salad and entrees are all great, but we especially enjoyed the Surf and Turk on formal night! (Sport coats are fine!) Grand Turk- As divers, I booked a two tank dive trip with Blue Waters divers (see tripadvisor.com post) for four of us and my wife and daughter took the Catamaran excursion through Holland. All of us had a great time! San Juan, Puerto Rico- We docked at 12noon, so we spent the afternoon walking around Old San Juan. I highly recommend that you just turn left at the dock, stop by the Tourist office for a map and continue walking down the Promenade/walkway to the Old San Juan Gate and El Morro fort! Saint Martin- I rented an SUV at Hertz ($155/day) and all six of us drove to Maho Bay beach to see the incoming airplanes, then we drove to the French side of the island and circled the island back to the port. In the future, I would skip the French side (dirty) and just drive to Orient beach. Half Moon Cay- we just enjoyed playing on the beach (bring a Frisbee) and rest in the sun (sunscreen!) Entertainment- we enjoyed all of the shows, casino, piano bar, and dancing in the lounge. Overall, we had a great Christmas cruise on the Westerdam and will do it again in the future! For perspective, this is our 3rd consecutive cruise with Holland and we have a fourth planned for the Baltic this summer. We switched to Holland since we felt that NCL was always up selling us on the restaurants and we didn't care for many of the NCL and Carnival customers. We highly recommend Holland for the great service, excellent dining room food and respectable customers! (We're not snobs!) Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
My husband and I did the seven-day Western Caribbean aboard the Westerdam December 2-9. It was our third time to visit the Caribbean in three years and our second Westerdam sailing. We flew Delta from Knoxville to FLL with no problems, ... Read More
My husband and I did the seven-day Western Caribbean aboard the Westerdam December 2-9. It was our third time to visit the Caribbean in three years and our second Westerdam sailing. We flew Delta from Knoxville to FLL with no problems, and stayed at the Marriott Renaissance near Total Wine and the port. HAL has a generous 'bring aboard' policy for wine and we always pick up a bottle or two before a cruise. We ate at a nice little Italian restaurant near the hotel and had breakfast at Panera before sailing. It's a quick trip to the port from the hotel by cab. (We've tried other near-by hotels often favored by cruisers, but found that they are tired and dated; we enjoyed the Renaissance much more.) Embarkation was quick and easy and our cabin was ready when we boarded. We were in SA 7076 which is mid-ship. The cabin and veranda are large with lots of storage, the bed, pillows, and linens comfortable as always, and the separate shower and spa tub were a nice touch. We were close enough to the Neptune Lounge to access to quick snacks and good coffee. Late in the cruise we had an hour or so of plumbing problems (the toilet wouldn't flush), but it was quickly dealt with. Our cabin stewards were pleasant and attentive. And kudos to the HAL laundry team; I love the free laundry service that comes with HAL suites! Our turn around time was quick and everything looked great. Over all, the ship was in lovely, sparkling condition. She's well cared for and it shows. My one criticism is the broken lounge chairs in the rear of the Crow's Nest. It's a lovely room and those chairs are prime real estate. Friendly service remains excellent. Cost cutting is mainly evident in the menu selections. There are more vegetarian offerings (a good thing), but also more lower cost offerings. If HAL is open to suggestions, I'd like to remind them that with food it's often better to do a few items well than to offer several less than stellar selections. The cold soups continue to shine. And the Pinnacle Grill remains excellent in service and quality, but perhaps it's time to add a few new items and expand the menu. (It's my guess that the chefs are facing lowered food budgets; they're doing the best they can with what they've got, but I'd pay more for better quality ingredients. Are you listening, HAL?) I suppose the orange juice falls under food cost cutting. We ate our breakfasts in the PG and I assume were offered the best to be had. Once was enough; it's a small thing but a disappointment. Where is the fresh squeezed orange juice of the past? The Adagio duo had a loyal following. They played mostly from a request book, so it was more Broadway, less classical, more movie theme music. We defected to the Crow's Nest where there were many empty tables; the guitarist was adequate. But it's a beautiful room with a friendly bar staff and good drinks. Our port highlight was lovely Key West. I promised to recommend the Butterfly Garden to you and I do. We rented a taxi for the day in Cozumel and enjoyed seeing the island and learning a bit about its history. (We learned how to do that here at CC in the ports section.) We shopped a bit in Georgetown, and walked on Half Moon Cay. Our past experience with HAL's HMC excursions hasn't been great, so we just stroll the beach. The beach 'barbecue' is in reality a picnic, but it's fun. It was smooth sailing and smiling faces. It was relaxing and quiet. And it was our last Western Caribbean cruise. Next year we're returning to the eastern ports which we find more interesting and we're going to try a new cruise line. It's time to shake things up a bit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
WE have sailed on the Westerdam 2 times before, in 2004(new & the Med) and 2008(the Caribbean). She is still a beautiful ship. It appears they have redone the carpeting in many areas and have added a chocholate shop (we resisted)and ... Read More
WE have sailed on the Westerdam 2 times before, in 2004(new & the Med) and 2008(the Caribbean). She is still a beautiful ship. It appears they have redone the carpeting in many areas and have added a chocholate shop (we resisted)and updated the Pinacle Bar area. Our suite had new carpet too, but there were a few places in the cabin that have shown wear. The bed was very comfortable and all the great storage is perfect. The meals were good, some better than others, and portion size was small (but really we do not need to gain weight on a cruise). Had a delicious dinner at the Pinnacle Grill one night, would do that if you can. Did not opt for the Canaletto (10.00pp) but did enjoy the pizza for lunch in the Lido. We felt the entertainment has improved....very good HAL singers and dancers! The costumes too were more Vegas like. Jeff Nease a comedian was very funny as well as Hilby/juggler and comedian. Adagio still plays in the Exployers Lounge at night, again VERY good!. Service in our cabin and the dining room (we picked open seating)was good and always a smile. Room service was prompt. The ship seemed pretty much full and a few times in the Lido felt crowded. I would like too for HAL to have a chaise lounge chair on each balcony (are they reading this?) But, yes we would do it again.....how beautiful to sail and feel well taken care of. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
My husband and I are in our 40's. This was our ninth cruise and our third time on HAL. We expected the ship to be the similar to the Zuiderdam and Noordam which we have previously cruised on and we were not disappointed. We really ... Read More
My husband and I are in our 40's. This was our ninth cruise and our third time on HAL. We expected the ship to be the similar to the Zuiderdam and Noordam which we have previously cruised on and we were not disappointed. We really love the layout of these ships, especially the covered promenade deck that allows you to walk all the way around the ship without having to go inside and offers quiet space for reading and watching the waves. Embarkation was smooth and our room was ready upon arrival which was a pleasant first for us. Our room was an SY on the starboard side. We had never had a suite before and it was a treat to have a larger bathroom with double sinks, more space, and a larger balcony. Oddly, this cruise was shorter than our other HAL cruises and our room was bigger but I found I struggled with clothing storage. There were very few hangers and I missed the extra shelving that is over the TV in the balcony rooms. I realized on the last day that there are flip down shelves in the closets. I wish I had realized that sooner! One other minor irritation is that I have noticed on all three HAL ships that the balconies are always dirty when we arrive with the chair cushions all wet and unusable for days. Our room was cleaned timely but our room steward never introduced himself to us, in fact, we saw him only 2-3 times during the whole cruise where he called down the hallway to us to have a good day or evening but never got close enough for an introduction. Not a huge deal but we do usually enjoy meeting the person taking care of our room. It's a personal touch we've experienced on other cruises that we missed on this one. In addition to walking on the promenade deck, we enjoyed the comfy chairs in the Crow's Nest and partook in a few activities including trivia, bingo, and Mixology. Mixology really was the highlight of the activities and I can't give enough accolades to Nino, Bill, and Lisette at the Ocean Bar for the enjoyable time we had there. One thing we really loved was the surprise appetizers at happy hour. I've never had food served to me in the cruise ship bars before. That was awesome. During the cruise we participated in 2 HAL excursions and purchased one non-ship tour. The non-ship tour we took was horseback riding in Grand Turk with Sunset Rides and Tours and it was fabulous. If I get a chance I'll write a review for that on the boards as it does not belong here. In San Juan we took the El Yunque Rainforest Day Hike and I have written a review on HAL's site for that already so I won't go into detail here except to say we liked it. The other excursion we purchased was the Around the Island Art Tour which, in keeping with the 5 star rating on HAL's website, we loved. On Half Moon Cay we rented a clamshell which we needed due to our pale northern skin. Although that was a very inexpensive purchase I wasn't psyched about the clamshell as the chairs were on an embankment. The chairs sloped so steeply that I could not stay in the chair unless I put my feet on the bottom edge which quickly became very uncomfortable. We tried to adjust the chairs by digging sand out from under the legs but there were huge chunks of coral or cement under the sand and the small adjustments we were able to make didn't do much. We eventually gave up and made the best of it. At one point I moved the chairs out of the clamshell and put my towel down on the sand which was a bit better, doable at least. Switching over to food... the lido restaurant was good with reasonable selection, though fewer desserts than I remember which probably saved me some significant calories. I missed the trays because I often order my eggs over hard so they set aside my plate while the eggs cook and when they hand the plate to me it is too hot to carry. The first day that this happened I asked a nearby staff member for a tray and his response was "we don't have those anymore" so I set the plate down and went to find some napkins in order to be able to carry my plate. The next day I grabbed the napkins ahead of visiting the egg station. Finding a seat was not always easy but not the worst we've encountered. However, often there was no silverware and inquiring resulted in "it's on the table" which obviously wasn't the case or I wouldn't have gone looking for it. While this sort of service wasn't really ideal, it didn't ruin my vacation. And, I do want to credit the cooks in the buffet as they did a great job. They took my order quickly and delivered what I asked for the way I asked for it with a cheery smile and a "have a good day" every single time. For dinner we had "Select Dining". We traveled with some friends this time and seating was very efficient. Only once did we have to wait for a table. The food on the first couple days was just ok. The low point was a really really bad chocolate dessert. I took one bite and I almost spit it out because it tasted like soap. I wasn't going to say anything about it because I consider it divine intervention when I don't like the dessert, however, our friends seated with us also ordered this dessert and before I could say anything about it they tasted it and said "wow, that tastes bad" and I said "like what?" and they said "like soap!" Upon confirmation that it wasn't just my crazy taste buds we flagged someone down and ordered different desserts which came quickly and were much better. On the third day the food improved greatly. I particularly liked the wasabi crab roll which I think may have been served the same night as the turkey dinner which was also very good. There were also a few really good soups throughout the week and my husband had a hazelnut cream cake that was outstanding. We did go to the Pinnacle Grill once as well which was wonderful. I really like the experience of dining in the Pinnacle Grill, though I get bored of the menu which is always the same. The food really is awesome though, especially the spicy cream soup and the steak Diane. Regarding debarkation, we signed up for expedited debarkation and that went very smoothly for us. We were off the ship and at the airport in record time which was terrific because we were headed to visit family and had a bit of a drive ahead of us. Overall I like the older clientele and calmer vibe offered by the HAL cruises, and I really love the ship layout. We have had better service on other HAL cruises (particularly Zuideredam) but I feel my issues were minor and I'm not the type that needs to be waited on hand and foot to be happy. I was ok with what we got for the money we paid and I only mention the minor glitches here for those who need to know them as everyone has a different style and things that don't bother me might very much bother someone else, which is the whole point of writing and reading reviews. This reminds me that we did not receive an end of cruise survey in our room so I did not report anything you see here to HAL. Again, despite these minor issues we did have a great cruise vacation and I would get back on the Westerdam (or any HAL ship) in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was my 4th cruise, the first 3 were with NCL, and bigger ships than the Westerdam. My last cruise with NCL was a disappointment, so I was looking for a change, with the attractive prices on this xmas cruise, I was happy to give HAL a ... Read More
This was my 4th cruise, the first 3 were with NCL, and bigger ships than the Westerdam. My last cruise with NCL was a disappointment, so I was looking for a change, with the attractive prices on this xmas cruise, I was happy to give HAL a try. I liked the free style food options on NCL and I missed that on the Westerdam, if you are looking to just kick back and eat when you want,like you might with NCL, you could go hungry on HAL, I did twice. I also found the Westerdam to roll a lot more than either the NCL Pearl or Gem, a lot more! We had great weather and little wave action and you can feel that boat rock around. Likely because it is a smaller ship than what I have been on before. The entertainment is also not as good as on a NCL ship, only 3 of the 7 nights had "great" acts, one act was so bad, it was awful. In general there is far less to do on board the Westerdam, than on a NCL ship at sea. On the plus side, HAL doesn't try to squeeze every dollar out of you like NCL does, the staff is much warmer than NCL's, I had the best cabin stewards ever on this trip!! I was treated so well, I would be happy to recommend them, if it was not for the lack of eating timings, twice I went hungry. The extra money for a suite is well worth it, free laundry service, and the express check in was very handy. Having access to the Neptune Lounge's assistant is very handy too. The breakfast delivered to your cabin every morning is also a nice touch. My last word is for the ship's Captain, he was great, he let you know what was going on, and did a great job communicating information to the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our 9th cruise overall, and third NYE cruise. We have sailed on Oceania, NCL, and Carnival. This was our first cruise on Holland, and our expectations from reviews and reputation; we expected something between Oceania and NCL. ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise overall, and third NYE cruise. We have sailed on Oceania, NCL, and Carnival. This was our first cruise on Holland, and our expectations from reviews and reputation; we expected something between Oceania and NCL. Overall, the staff and service was exceptional (except for one area that I will address later). Embarkation was a bit surprising. Having secured a Deluxe Veranda Suite (SB), we were eligible for VIP Priority embarkation. When we arrived in the VIP line, there were eight couples in front of us and two workers checking passengers in. Having done VIP check-in on the other lines, we expected a few minutes per person to do the normal check-in procedures. However, 4 of the 8 couples must have incurred problems with paperwork or not done the online check-in prior to the sailing. These couples took 10-15 minutes each. Our check-in at the counter took about 2 minutes. By far, the longest priority check-in I have experienced on any cruise line. I will say the cabin steward delivered the checked bags faster than any prior sailing. Although, standing in the VIP line for over an hour gave the baggage personnel plenty of head start. The first night, we ate in the main dining room. Overall, selection of food during the cruise was okay and quality was about the same. Nothing memorable, but nothing disappointing either. The signature restaurant, Pinnacle Grill, is exceptional. Unfortunately, we were only able to get one reservation during the whole cruise. Went to the Neptune Lounge a number of times to get priority reservations, but was not able to secure any other days for the rest of the cruise. On other lines, when we have been in the top suites, we were given priority reservations. Apparently, Holland does not do the same. Additionally, because this was a NYE cruise, making reservations in advance online was not allowed either, even though we booked 8 months in advance. Lido buffet had a good selection of food for lunch and dinner (just make sure you check the hours of operation because they are not open as much as other ships). The pizza and pasta station did a good job of keeping up with the pace of customers. The Caribbean buffet in the pool are at the middle of the cruise was probably some of the best and most original food from several of the islands. The private island, Half Moon Cay is very nice and permanent amenities are the best we have seen from other lines. Also nice was that we were the only ship that day. Procedures for the tendering was some of the best we have experienced. Upon arrival back to the ship, the evening was a formal night and NYE. Having read previous cruise comments and reviews, we were expecting a fun evening. Dinner was okay, and they passed out paper hats and noise makers as you exited the dining room. The NYE parties were spread out throughout the ship. The main party was in the theater with the Cruise Director and Entertainment staff. The two hours of entertainment leading up to midnight consisted of watching the staff and assorted passengers dancing to the Electric Slide, Macrena, Cha Cha and other assorted night club tunes. They did come around 10 minutes before midnight to offer one glass of their house champagne. Really, this is what I paid the higher cruise fare compared to other sailings. To say we were disappointed is a severe understatement. We went to the night club after the midnight balloon drop where the netting holding the balloons would not release (actually was funny and fitting). Upon seeing the multitude of elementary, middle and high school kids and their families, we decided just to have our own celebration on our balcony. Probably the one event that has made my determination on Holland was the policy and procedures of how they run their Poker Tournaments. The night before our sea day, they announced through the newsletter that they would conduct a two Poker tourneys at 1130 and 1330. There are only ten seats for each. After dinner, I went down to sign up. Upon looking at the sign-up sheet, seems one individual (same handwriting) signed up the first eight slots of both tourneys, and the other two and all standby slots were already filled. I asked the person in the casino cage how they can let the same eight people occupy both tourneys and was told "first come, first serve". I pointed out that I understand that principle, but showed the worker how one person effectively shut out the other 2200 passengers (these are the same people who played in all the other tournaments as well). I asked to talk to the Casino Manager (Robert Beatty), and was told he was not available and to check back in the morning. Came back the next day and asked for him at 1000, and was told he would be in the casino at 1100. Came back then, and no sign of him. To make sure I would have evidence of what I was complaining about, I took a photo of the sign-up sheet with my IPAD, to which I was told "you cannot do that sir". I informed the worker that they knew my cabin number and they could have it back when the Casino Manager comes to talk to me. I never saw the Casino Manager or anyone further about the matter. I still have the photo (in case Holland would like to discuss or see the evidence). Disembarkation was the biggest disaster I have witnessed in all the cruises. Since we had a flight three hours after the first passengers were allowed to depart, were we given number 1. At 0800, those passengers willing to take their own bags were allowed to disembark. Group 1 was scheduled to leave at 0815. So, at 0815, we headed down to the gangway area and proceeded to hear the announcements over the next 30 minutes of the six groups after us. All of us that were group 1 were confused and asked security what was going on. We were told there was an issue and that group 1 bags were not ready. Really, the people who all have flights within 2-3 hours of disembarkation and were given group 1 are not ready. Just before 0900, they finally announced our group. We made it to the airport, checked in, got through the TSA line and arrived at the gate as they were making the announcement for all passengers on our flight. Overall, the staff was friendly and attentive. The policy and procedures need work. For the price we paid for a NYE cruise, I will look for other options in the future, as we were not impressed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Westerdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.3
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 2.5 3.8
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.5 4.3
Value for Money 4.5 N/A

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