5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We were a group of 3 couples & a travel agent recommended this cruise & itinerary. In addition to the cruise we also booked a 3 day land tour. Our trip didn’t start very well, as we all flew out of Chicago O’hare Airport for ... Read More
We were a group of 3 couples & a travel agent recommended this cruise & itinerary. In addition to the cruise we also booked a 3 day land tour. Our trip didn’t start very well, as we all flew out of Chicago O’hare Airport for the land portion to Anchorage. Our initial departure of 9:35am turned out to be 10:20pm, due to a brief storm early that morning. The delay was awful. We finally arrived at our hotel in Anchorage about 3:30-4am. We had to have our luggage out at 6am with a full day Glass Dome Train Ride to Denali. We were obviously exhausted. The train ride was really nice with dining facilities on the 1st level of each car & reserved seating on the 2nd floor with all Glass Dome to view the beautiful landscape. Unfortunately there was a family of 21 people in our car with about 6 of them children 6-12 years old. They were understandably noisy as kids would be, but it made for a very disturbing ride, especially with how tired we all were. We had breakfast in the dining level which was very good & peaceful. Our waiter suggested taking a walk to the last car where we could be outside looking at the scenery. It was a great suggestion, although we were in the first car & there were 9 cars. We had to traverse up and down two sets of stairways in each car to get back to the 9th car caboose. The reason was each car had their own kitchen so we couldn’t walk straight through. It was interesting to see how peaceful all of the other cars were without the young kids. In hindsight we should have asked if there were 6 seats available in a different car. We finally arrived in Denali where we checked into our room at the Chalet Lodge, which is owned by Holland America. Our luggage was already in our room. I will say Holland America is unbelievably well organized & ALL of their staff on land & sea were outstanding. Always had a welcoming smile even when just passing by. The next day we did the included Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour through Denali National Park in a somewhat modified school bus. Not real comfortable. The tour was about 8 hours. Our driver & tour guide, Steve, was a great driver, especially when going along the edge of the narrow roads way up high. He was very knowledgeable but unfortunately he had no personality. His narrations throughout the tour came across monotonous which made for a very boring day. Others on the bus had the same sentiment. We did stop along the way several times & saw some bears, moose & bald eagles that made the trip somewhat interesting. But it didn’t make up for Steve’s demeanor. He seems like a really nice guy, but he doesn’t have the ability to make a tour like this interesting. It made for a very long day. That night we went to The Music of Denali, combination dinner & show. The all you can eat food was very good but we were rushed & it felt like the food was being thrown at us. The waitstaff also were the actors in the sophomoric music show that followed. It was a fun time & was at extra cost, not included in the land package. In the Denali Chalet Resort there is a small square area that had a restaurant & some shops. There also was outside seating with a guy playing guitar & singing popular songs. It was very relaxing & entertaining to sit outside & listen to his music each night while in Denali.The next day was a full day motor coach ride to Seward where we started the cruise. Our driver/narrator, Mike, was just the opposite of Steve. He kept us engaged with his enthusiasm, knowledge & humor. He made the drive very interesting with several stops along the way. We were fortunate to be in the 30% that were able to see Mt. Denali/McKinley. When we arrived in Seward at the port our embarkation was amazingly smooth & fast. We soon were in our cabin. Our luggage was in our cabin too. We didn’t have to wait for it which was very nice. We soon met our two cabin stewards who were very nice & did a great job always keeping our cabin fresh. We opted for a cabin with a balcony & the other two couples did an ocean view without a balcony We were very glad we did the balcony. It gave us a little extra room to chill out with beautiful views. Unfortunately for our friends their cabins were just below the dining room kitchen which every morning had loud noises of carts rolling above them & often could hear loud banging noise starting at 5-6 every morning. When they complained to Guest Services they were each provided a bottle of wine, hardly reasonable compensation. The next two days we were at Sea, one of which was cruising around Glacier Bay. It was beautiful & relaxing. It was nice having a vantage point from the bow of the ship, which is normally closed to the public. They served pea soup & hot chocolate was also available. We had open seating for the evening dining which did work out & gave us lots of flexibility for our evening dinners. The cuisine overall on the ship I would rate a strong 7, it was very good. One night we ate in the Pinnacle Grill, one of the specialty restaurants. It was excellent. I had a huge order of king crab legs & my wife had a steak. The service & staff on the entire cruise were extremely friendly & welcoming, always with a smile! The entertainment was excellent as well. The band in the BB King Lounge were fantastic as well as the piano players/singers playing dueling pianos. The Lincoln Center had a nice orchestra too. Also every night there was a show in the Main Showroom with a nice variety of talent, singers, comedian, illusionist & more. Very entertaining. We took some excursions, in Haines we went on a Jet-boat Tour. The driver/narrator was egotistical & there wasn’t much wildlife that we saw. Not a great tour. In Juneau we went on a Whale Watching Cruise on a smaller not crowded boat that was excellent. We saw Killer Whales & lots of Pods of Orcas. Great excursion. Afterwards we did a Helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier with Dog Sledding. That was the highlight of the trip. Worth every penny & an amazing experience. Next stop was Ketchikan where we did The Misty Fjords Wilderness Cruise. It was 4.5 hours & unfortunately very boring. The staff was excellent & very safety conscious although the naturist speaking throughout the tour, very nice, was too monotonous sounding & not very interesting to listen to. She had no enthusiasm or engagement with us passengers. Half way out we did see quite a few beautiful waterfalls that were running due to the recent rain. Other than that the tour was really boring. Our last day on the ship was at sea. Our wives all had massages that they seemed to enjoy. Although they were all over pitched on buying their products. Which they didn’t! The next day we arrived in Vancouver & the disembarkation was extremely well organized as was the entire HAL experience, with a very quick exit from the ship as well as through customs. My brother & his wife live in Seattle. They drove up to Vancouver & we spent one night there & then drove back to Seattle with them for two days followed by our flight back to Milwaukee. We had a very memorable trip with lots of laughs, good cuisine & unforgettable excursions. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
this trip was WAY beyond our expectations - it was AWESOME and I highly recommend! Definitely recommend doing the Alaska land part first - because you are in constant motion and it can be a bit exhausting. And then you get on the ship ... Read More
this trip was WAY beyond our expectations - it was AWESOME and I highly recommend! Definitely recommend doing the Alaska land part first - because you are in constant motion and it can be a bit exhausting. And then you get on the ship where you have more time to relax. Our overall itinerary only included one full day in Denali - I would recommend two Full days there if possible. Flew into Fairbanks and home out of Vancouver - highly recommend! Part of the cruise itinerary included a half day Riverboat tour in Fairbanks - I wasn’t expecting much, but it was actually a fantastic excursion and learned alot about the history and culture. From Fairbanks, you only have to go 2 1/2 hours south to Denali....where we had Two nights and One full day. On the full day- the cruise package included an 8-hour bus ride that goes 2/3 of the way into Denali Park (62 miles) where you see wildlife and gorgeous beauty. Later on that day, we took a 2+ hour Flightseeing Tour into Denali (details below). From Denali, you take an 8 hour Dome train ride (awesome) down to Anchorage. Spent one night in Anchorage (eat at the Glacier Brewhouse for dinner) - and next day was a 5 1/2 hour train ride south to Seward - where you board the ship. We sprung for a Neptune Suite on the Holland Westerdam ship - it was worth it! Details below. We really enjoyed the Holland Westerdam. It was refurbished in 2017 and is very tasteful, understated elegance and more of a quiet ship. You won’t find big theatrical productions or go-kart tracks/rock climbing etc - but we liked that. 1940 passengers and about 800 crew. Not 3000-5000 passengers.... ideally, the smaller the better, but the price points go WAY up for that. (I.e. Seabourn). The ship has an always-open Lido Cafe - with tons of different food, buffet style (they serve you, which is good - more healthy/less germy). The main dining room where you can have breakfast and make a standing reservation for either late or early dinner seating (we chose early) was very nice - we had the same two waiters at our Table 81 the whole week. The menu changes every night and the food was delicious. Then there are a couple of specialty restaurants for a slight upcharge. THE best was Pinnacle - upcharge of $35 pp, and worth it! We only ate there once and wish we had eaten there more! The ship also has a very nice spa (I had a massage, facial and accupuncture treatment!) We did a 7 night Southbound inside passage - Seward to Vancouver. We did Two major excursions during our trip. 1) in Denali - a flightseeing/glacier landing ($549 a person - worth it!!!!) - THE HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE! We flew in a 8-seater plane including the amazing pilot, Joe (Fly Denali) for one hour, into Denali park (6 million acres), through/over mountain ranges, right past the North Face of Denali - then landed on the Ruth Glacier and threw snowballs in the brilliant sunshine and took pictures with Mt Denali in the background - and then flew another 40 minutes back to base. It was incredible that we were even able to SEE Denali (all week long while we were in Denali and traveling southbound) - only 30% of people get to see it, because it’s usually covered in clouds. We took the 6:15pm departure - and with 21 hours of sunlight a day (in July) - it was still super bright and sunny at that point. 2) In Juneau - did the Tracy Arm Fjord excursion - a 7 1/2 hour day - aboard a high speed catamaran - ending up at the South Sawyer Glacier (almost in the Yukon) - watching it calve, sea lions, floating icebergs, Caribbean blue colored water, waterfalls/cascades, bald eagles Both excursions were major WoW factor!! Ending in Vancouver was fantastic - and so glad we chose to spend a few more days instead of hopping off the ship and flying home. First day in Vancouver - we checked in EARLY (by 11am) to the Westin Bayshore - perfect location. Rented bikes right out in front of the hotel and biked 9 miles around Stanley Park - very organized bike and walking paths. https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/stanley-park.aspx Next day - FULL Day- did an All-day trip to Victoria - through Viator tours. They picked us up at 8:30am at our hotel in big bus, then picked up other people at their hotels - took us to ferry - bus gets on the ferry 1 1/2 hours over to Victoria. Did the Butchart Gardens (amazingly beautiful!), then only had 1 1/2 hours to explore downtown Victoria (had dinner), and took the 7pm ferry back, then bused us to our hotel - it was 10pm before we got back. LONG DAY. But It was worth it for the gardens. Next day - FULL Day - we walked 20 minutes to Canada Place and hopped on a free bus over to Capilano Suspension Bridge park - beautiful! Spent most of the day there - had a delightful lunch there as well. Next day flew home. You might also want to tack on another 3-4 days and go over to Lake Louise/Banff/Whistler area - about 2 hours east of Vancouver, i think. Trying to load photos but having trouble... will try to do that separately. HOTELS: let me preface by saying I travel a LOT for work and am very picky about hotels. I’m used to staying at Hilton and Marriott - good beds/pillows, clean, etc - but because of some reviews I had read before the trip, I was initially not all that keen on the hotels that were part of this itinerary. However, they all turned out to be just fine! Westmark Fairbanks - One night - not 100% contemporary but room was big, bed/pillows clean and comfortable, bathroom fine, dining room (arrived late, cannot comment on dinner) but breakfast buffet was good. McKinley Chalet (Denali) - reviews I had read had complained about no AC. You DO NOT need it! I get hot very easily - and we were in Alaska during a major heat wave - i.e. in Denali, it was high 80’s, low 90’s each day! The river flowed right behind our Cabin unit (Building P, Room 105) and there was a great cool breeze of mountain air flowing all the time. Left our windows open and frankly, I got a bit cool at night! The rooms are rustic - think Ski Chalet - don’t go expecting Four Seasons and you will be A-OK! The rooms had a small living room/sitting area, bathroom and smaller bedroom with King Size bed. Everything was comfortable and clean. Westmark Anchorage - One Night - reviews I read said REQUEST HIGHER FLOOR - Agree! We requested - were on the 9th floor - and it was fine. There is a lot of street/traffic noise down below. The room was HUGE, king sized bed comfy and clean. Big bathroom. Again, not 100% up to contemporary standards, but it was all good. There is a fantastic restaurant across the street where you can have dinner - HIGHLY RECOMMEND - Glacier Brewhouse (upscale brewhouse - not just burgers - with great variety including fantastic seafood). The hotel also has a restaurant - good for breakfast, or grabbing a drink/salad at the bar. Westin Bayshore (Vancouver) - AWESOME! Perfect location overlooking the marina - and adjacent to shoreline walking/biking trails. 20 minute walk to Canada Place (where the cruise ships disembark and where it’s a central stopping place for buses/transportation to take you on excursions. You can rent bikes right in front of the hotel - (the little three-speeds are free, but in limited QTY - otherwise we rented the 21 speed for $20 each.) - and ride through Stanley Park - which is right there! Stop at the Totem pole area in the park, see sailboats and beaches.. great sights. It’s only 9 miles around - and very organized - everyone walks/bikes in the same direction - there is a bike path and a pedestrian walking path. Actually, this is how Vancouver is everywhere - very bike/walking friendly! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise as part of a Land/Sea cruise for our 25th Annivrsary. The ship is in great shape, the staff is always friendly and the services can't be beat. We started in Seattle for the beginning of our R6L. We flew to Alaska ... Read More
We chose this cruise as part of a Land/Sea cruise for our 25th Annivrsary. The ship is in great shape, the staff is always friendly and the services can't be beat. We started in Seattle for the beginning of our R6L. We flew to Alaska on Alaska Airlines, SEATAC is a bit chaotic.. We wandered around Anchorage, went to the Huli knife shop, began souvenoir hubting and a headed back to get something to eat at a Brewery across the street from the Westmark Anchorage, a a good hotel to get some sleep. We picked up a snack for our breakfast the next morning, choosing to eat on the train. The next morning we were bused to the train station, got on our assigned train car and settled in. Once the train was moving we ate breakfast (1/2 the hotel pric) which was excellent!. Back in the train car we enjoyed our train attendan and his knowledge of Alaska while having a couple cocktails. We had an afternoon snack and arrived in Denali 9 hrs later. Debarking the train we were bused to out lodge, we were in the new lodge, Ridge View. These are very nice! Our luggage was waiting for us in the room, we changed and went for a stroll and enjoyed a dinner at Kartstens, good food. After a good night's sleep we had an early start to the day, meeting the Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour at 0530! It was worth it though, seeing allot of animals and great views of Denali. The next day we took a bus from Denali to Seward, another 9hrs! We stopped half way for a very nice make your ouwn sandwich at the Settles Bay Lodge. T he boarding was quick, and we were on the Westerdam. Cruising Glacier bay was beautiful, They expect the glaciers to be completely receeded in 5 years! Haines is a nice small town, Alaska Rod's is a great souvenoir shop, most items are hand made by Rod himself or elsewhere in Alaska. Junea is anothe great port, be sure to see the Medenhall Glacier, it is also quickly receeding! Ketchikan is a busy place, uualy 5 ships in at a time. The Lumberjack show is very entertaining! If you want real canned Salmon, go to Salmon Etc. It is privately owned and operated. Another day of relaxing and then disembarking in Vancouver, we were qulified for direct to ship. You meet in the mainstage area and then are quided to your coach on a seperate brow from everyone else. Yur luggage is already in the bus. After a stop at the borde and passing US customs it's off to SEATAC. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Previous trip on HAL Westerdam was so nice that we made a special effort to get the same cabin on this trip. Partially obstructed view, but twofold panels of glass kept the room bright even on the cloudiest day (and we had about 5 of ... Read More
Previous trip on HAL Westerdam was so nice that we made a special effort to get the same cabin on this trip. Partially obstructed view, but twofold panels of glass kept the room bright even on the cloudiest day (and we had about 5 of them). Cheerful, gracious crew always seemed to be looking for a way to improve the experience. They were available without being intrusive. In various lounges and bars, if you declined a drink, they just leave a napkin there so that you won't be approached by every last server. Great idea. As I said, 5 rainy, windy days across the north Pacific, and the crew were resolutely cheerful at all times. Captain Mark took us a bit out of the way to avoid the worst weather, which was so very thoughtful. We stopped at Kushiro in Japan, and the rain was blowing, but many us took the free shuttle to a kind of mall which gave us an insight into some of the Japanese culture. Stops in Alaska were fortunately sunny, and Icy Straits is one of the most hauntingly beautiful place I've seen. We were sorry to leave, and we learned how difficult it had been to dock due to winds and nearby reefs. We saw a couple of whales, which for most of us was a first. Overall, a serenely beautiful cruise with the most amazingly gracious staff ever. Once again, Denny and Theo, thanks for taking such good care of us. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
Our first cruise with Holland America was to South America and Antarctica on Zaandam in January 2017. We were very happy with life on board and were particularly impressed by the Lido Market, the informal food outlet, where food is often ... Read More
Our first cruise with Holland America was to South America and Antarctica on Zaandam in January 2017. We were very happy with life on board and were particularly impressed by the Lido Market, the informal food outlet, where food is often cooked to order. Therefore, we were pleased to come across back-to-back cruises, including a Pacific crossing, on Westerdam in April and May this year. The first cruise took us around the Japanese Islands, a location we would not normally have considered, while the second, repositioning, cruise completed the Japanese itinerary before crossing the sea to Alaska, a place we have visited on two previous occasions and were very happy to revisit. We flew into Narita Airport directly from Manchester and stayed overnight in the Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport hotel before a private taxi took us into Yokohama the next day to commence our cruise. Embarkation was swift and easy. Lunch was first on the agenda because our room was not ready until early afternoon. As before, we only used the Lido Market for our meals and we were very impressed by the friendliness of the staff there and throughout the ship. Our individual preferences were remembered from the start, which was remarkable. One point of concern was that the use of hand sanitizers was not promoted as on other ships, which we did discuss with the Hotel Manager. There is less self service on HAL than on other cruise lines, but there are common utensils and other opportunities for contamination. We had chosen a Signature Suite, a larger room than normal because of the length of the cruise and it certainly offered all the space we could wish for. We had selected the Starboard side and we were amused that at almost every port we were against the dock and our views ranged from enormous scrap heaps to piles of sand or coal, covered by flapping tarpaulin and old tyres! The ship docked in rather industrial areas because of its size, requiring the use of shuttle buses at several ports. However, public transport was easy to use and allowed us to venture further afield, as the places of interest were not all conveniently within walking distance. We don't attend the evening entertainment (or use the fitness facilities, so I have scored both as average below) because we prefer to look outside as much as possible, from the open deck or the shelter and convenience of our balcony. We had managed a very hazy glimpse of Mount Fuji in Yokohama, but Shimizu on Day 2 allowed us to watch her unveil from behind cloud as the sky cleared in the afternoon. Osaka on Day 3 and Kochi on Day 4 had castles and their gardens to explore. Osaka Castle has a lift, but also extremely long queues to use it, so we climbed the stairs, but Kochi Castle had no lift and we were unfortunate to visit at the same time as a large group, meaning that we shuffled slowly from floor to floor, negotiating extremely steep, narrow stairs with two-way traffic, which was dangerous. Coming down backwards or sideways was safest! This rather spoiled our visit but the gardens, with their emerging Cherry blossom, made up for it. Being over 65, we had free entry into some places we visited. On Day 5, we cruised the Kanmon Strait, perhaps not exactly scenic, but interesting nevertheless.The next day, Good Friday, was spent in Sakaiminato. We had expected there to be little to see independently, as the Yuushien Garden we wanted to visit appeared to be a complicated bus journey away, confirmed by information from the ship, but fortunately we called into the local Tourist Office before leaving, after enjoying the many fascinating bronze statues of cartoon characters created by a resident of the town. There we were told about a free shuttle bus to and from the Gardens, including a ride over the famous “Wonky” Bridge, the Eshima Ohashi Bridge. The Garden is very small but is what we think of as a typical Japanese garden, with raked gravel and moss gardens. The two other, much larger, gardens we visited were, to us, far less typical. Kenrokuen Garden, in Kanazawa on Day 7, is considered to be one of the top three gardens in Japan and the darker Cherry blossom was in flower. There is also another castle to visit, with views of snow-capped hills. Day 8, Easter Sunday, was spent at sea, before an obligatory non-Japanese port, Vladivostok, on Day 9. To avoid the need for independent Visas, we booked a walking tour with the ship, which was enjoyable, with the advantage of a sunny day as we were shown the town. Unfortunately, the result of this visit caused considerable delays on our return to Japan after another sea day, on Day 11, because we had to go through Immigration before disembarking, which took several hours. We did no more than visit the town on foot, involving a longer walk than expected, so a shuttle bus might have been useful. The best part for us was a Steam Clock, similar to the one in Vancouver, but otherwise there was little of interest. Hakodate, on Day 12, was another matter, with a viewing tower and a star-shaped fort and garden with hundreds of the paler Cherry blossom trees just about coming into flower. We had intended to take the Rope Way, or cable car, to the top of Mount Hakodate, but it was closed because of strong winds. Instead, we walked part of the way through the woodland, until we found a viewpoint over the town. We could see that the Ropeway had reopened after we returned to the ship, but our alternative walk was very enjoyable. Day 13, in Aomori, offered little to do before another sea day on the way back to Yokohama. We like to look out for wildlife while at sea, but there was remarkably little on this cruise, other than welcome Leysan Albatross and the smaller Short Legged Shearwaters, which were migrating. Oriental Turtle Doves heading for Alaska were also seen circling the ship occasionally and once perched for a while on wires in front of the large windows in the Crow’s Nest lounge. Black Kites were common in the ports and were interesting to watch and attempt to photograph. Day 15, the change-over day in Yokohama, was spent visiting the Sankeien Gardens, where we found another good view of Mount Fuji. The garden is obviously a popular place for wedding photographs and we enjoyed the beautiful traditional dress of brides and grooms. The Garden contains many ancient buildings, removed from their original locations and preserved in the Gardens by the founder. Another sea day took us to Muroran on Day 17. We took a tour of the town on a Hop On, Hop Off bus, with an interesting view point at Cape Chikyu, but not much else. Day 18, our last Japanese port, was spent at Kushiro, the only wet day of the cruise. A bus took us to the amusingly named MOO (Marine Our Ocean) and EGG (Ever Green Garden) buildings, where at last we found local craft for souvenirs, including that of the local Ainu people. The EGG building held craft sessions and an archery demonstration involving local school students, although the day was part of an extended public holiday for the start of a New Era in Japan. The Nusamai Bridge is famous for its statues of the Seasons, the first bridge to be so decorated in Japan. However, they all look as though they should represent Summer! The next six days were spent at sea, as we crossed the Pacific Ocean. Stormy weather at the beginning meant that the Promenade Deck was closed, during which time an Albatross took refuge in a corner of the deck for several days. Its presence and the reopening of the deck were not publicized and we did not see it. We also missed a pod of Orca which passed the ship, observed by people sitting in the bar in the warm. We were told about them several times, after the event, as we braved the Promenade deck on a wildlife watch. A significant part of the voyage for me was crossing the IDL. To see the beginning of a day in the far East, among the first to do so, then see its ending two days later in the far West, among the last to witness it, is special. The International Date Line diverts from the 180° line of longitude, the Antimeridian, to avoid dividing the Aleutian Island from the rest of Alaska, so knowing when we would cross it was not easy. The itinerary initially named it as our first day at sea, then our second, but both were clearly wrong. Even so, Day 21, the second after leaving Japan, was indeed selected as the day to be repeated and this is probably explained by the fact that the correct day, Day 22, was May 4th and Holland’s Remembrance Day. We decided to go by the ship’s position instead. We were advised that we would cross the IDL at around 04.00 on Sunday morning by our calendar and, by following the ship on a tracking web site, we could see it approach the Antimeridian. We did wake at 04.00 to photograph the changing morning light, but there was no sunrise, unfortunately. We crossed the 180° line of longitude at approximately 10.00 and took photographs of the view in front of us as we approached, which was for us, still in the East, yesterday in the West, Saturday; the view to the side which was briefly today, Sunday and the view behind, the East, which would soon become for us as we reached the West, a day in the past, Sunday. One of my favourite hymns sums it up beautifully as it describes the day passing from evening in the West to morning in the East, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord is Ended.” https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/The_Day_Thou_Gavest_Lord_Is_Ended/ So, Sunday became Saturday once again and we agreed with the ship’s calendar as we crossed into the Western Hemisphere. We had been given a certificate to mark the incorrect crossing, but we returned it and asked for a correct one, which we received. We marked our second Sunday evening the next day with photographs as the light faded and the day was finally complete around the globe. Our days at sea provided the occasional evidence of a whale from its blow, but little else. Each day had included losing an hour as we worked towards Alaskan time, with a second hour being necessary on the last day. Japan does not have Daylight Saving Time, so it was dark very early there and it was pleasant to have longer light evenings as we moved further towards Alaska. We arrived at Kodiak, a new port for us, on Day 25. We were delayed getting into the port, through a narrow channel because of the rocky coastline, by strong winds, but we were able to dock about two hours later. The Captain added two hours to the departure time in compensation. We spent the day walking around the small town, visiting the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Centre and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Although the famous bears are usually not in the town, we did have a welcome opportunity to watch a Sea Otter having a wash-and-brush-up in the harbour, close enough to see clearly and Bald Eagles on a slope directly opposite our balcony. One more sea day took us to Icy Strait Point on Day 27, another new port. We had booked a whale watching trip, which was good but very misty and chilly. After exploring the Visitor Centre, we returned to the ship and enjoyed several whales which were using the bay, from the comfort and warmth of the now sunny, outside deck. As we sailed away from Icy Strait Point, on a beautiful evening, an NCL ship was about an hour ahead of us and her exhaust seemed to hang on one side of the valley as ours filled the other side. Legal, but unpleasant and also a matter of concern. Day 28 was spent at Ketchikan, which we have visited several times before, so we used the time to shop for family souvenirs. There were three other ships in port in the morning, but two left surprisingly early and the town was much quieter in the afternoon. Our departure was delayed because the Captain had to go to hospital with appendicitis; luckily for him it had not happened in the middle of the Pacific. Day 29 saw us cruising through the Inside Passage, on a beautiful day to enjoy the scenery, logs being hauled on the water and fishing lodges being towed to their Summer location, before arriving at our final destination, Vancouver. We had chosen to spend a night there before flying home, so disembarkation was not rushed and we could enjoy a final breakfast in the Lido Market before leaving the ship after a long and interesting journey. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit ... Read More
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit and miss for a suite as we were surrounded by non suite staterooms and the allocation to each steward would be higher. Rarely did we see a child(I think there were 2 on board), most passengers were American Australian UK then South African average age 65. Loved the free laundry and staff in Neptune lounge were fantastic. Shows were nothing like the big ships so were a bit hit and miss. Pinnacle restaurant was great especially their degustation but MDR food was also great and service perfect. Always hard to compare different ships particularly of different size. Suite benefits vary dramatically in different cruise lines so check what suites you. As a 1900 passenger ship it is less crowded with fast elevators less queuing but the trade off is less shops and activities and shows of a lower standard. Tours in china and Japan were poor value with communication issues with the guides but they were well organised. Internet even on the premium package was hit and miss. Would definitely recommend this ship. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was the friendliest cruise ship, we have been on. The crew were helpful and happy to serve. Stateroom was comfortable and larger than those on the newer ships. Good selection of tv programmes and movies available. The only problem ... Read More
This was the friendliest cruise ship, we have been on. The crew were helpful and happy to serve. Stateroom was comfortable and larger than those on the newer ships. Good selection of tv programmes and movies available. The only problem we had was with the air conditioning was not strong enough to cool the room enough during the night. The main dining room was good especially in the anytime dining restaurant, food was well presented and there were plenty of menu choices available including regional specialities to suit everyone. The lido was a little bit of a let down, due mainly to the way it was arranged for service. Breakfast was the worst as I had to wait at two different counters to be served my bacon and eggs as the english bacon and sausage were not available on the same counter as the fried eggs or the omelette counter. The dive in was excellent as the burgers are cooked to order with fries etc.... The salad bar was also good with a lot of choice. Entertainment on the main stage was a little disappointing and repetitive, the enrichment program was better and I especially enjoyed the port talks and lectures on the places we visited. The entertainment staff were very visible and I especially enjoyed the trivia and games. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Great ports, lots of activities aboard ship on sea days. Services were outstanding; staff was pleasant and aimed to please. Food in the main dining room included options that were specific to our ports of call, and Lido Market dinners ... Read More
Great ports, lots of activities aboard ship on sea days. Services were outstanding; staff was pleasant and aimed to please. Food in the main dining room included options that were specific to our ports of call, and Lido Market dinners often reflected that as well. Ship is well-maintained. Would sail on this ship again and again. Embarkation process was a little slower than other cruise lines but disembarkation was efficient and smooth. Lectures by Master Kam enhanced the experience in understanding the histories and cultures of the Asian countries we visited. He also conducted tai chi classes that were open to all. Shore excursions were a bit pricey but the Holland American EXC tours that we took were run efficiently and showed us the highlights of the regions that we visited. We also booked some tours with friends. These were less expensive than the HAL tours and often covered the same areas. The ship-sponsored tours have the "convenience factor" and consistently expert guides. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Full Marks to Holland America ! The Ship excellent very well refurbished & very very clean,balcony cabin very good no complaints but the staff throughout WOW !! brilliant done 32+ cruises with various cruise lines but probably the best ... Read More
Full Marks to Holland America ! The Ship excellent very well refurbished & very very clean,balcony cabin very good no complaints but the staff throughout WOW !! brilliant done 32+ cruises with various cruise lines but probably the best staff. The food was first rate in the restaurant, always tables to share with no waiting.The entertainment a bit lacking around the ship mainly piped music on a loop and the ships production shows just OK but that`s normal I think for Holland America, the bill board on board was brilliant & very entertaining. The main thing the itinerary Brilliant !!!! Cambodia Bangkok Da Nang & Siagon just fantastic not to mention Singapore & Hong Kong , please don`t let others put you off Cambodia they obviously didn`t do there home work cambodia is a third world developing country very raw rough & ready great for me & my photography & the people are lovely,great experience ! Well Done Holland America great cruise . Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We initially chose Holland America's 15-Day Far East Discovery because of the itinerary and dates. Having sailed primarily on Princess and Carnival many times, we were able to compare cruise lines. We actually loved Holland America. ... Read More
We initially chose Holland America's 15-Day Far East Discovery because of the itinerary and dates. Having sailed primarily on Princess and Carnival many times, we were able to compare cruise lines. We actually loved Holland America. We flew into Hong Kong four days earlier and stayed in Singapore two days after our cruise. We probably should have extended our stay in Singapore by one or two days because there was so much to see and do. The Ship: The Westerdam is much smaller than other Princess and Carnival ships, but the cabins tend to be larger with a sofa in our ocean view room and sensor floor night lighting for late at night if and when you must get up. The whole atmosphere is one of relaxation. Being a smaller ship means fewer passengers (1,850) which also means that you tend to meet the same people quite often on the ship and on excursions. So there is much more in terms of quality and quantity of personal interactions. And there are almost no children (I counted three!), which helps with the relaxation. You won't find loud music playing on the Lido Deck by the pool areas. There are no crowds on board. It's relaxing. Additionally, the Internet is 100% better than what we have found on other cruise ships. For $170.00 for 15 days, we had Internet 24/7 on board with no limitation to minutes used. It was quick and effective 95 percent of the time. And there were real interesting hour long talks on each country where we stopped and another on the history, geography and culture. If you wanted to know about a particular city that you were going to visit, the knowledgeable staff on Deck #10 give you detailed info on each city to help you explore with the organized tours or on your own. The food and entertainment were perhaps less exciting and scrumptious than on Princess, but it was fine. And the gym was not as modern as other ships I have seen, but it was a gym. They don't have a laundry room on board, but they do have laundry service for $30.00 USD per rather large bag of whatever clothing you can fit in the bag. You are served at the informal buffet style dining area for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There's no scooping up oatmeal by yourself. The HAL shore excursions were O.K., but I would avoid the ones that transport you 3 - 3 1/2 hours one way like the 3 hour ride to Ayuthaya, an ancient capital in Thailand where we saw a replica of Angkor Wat. It was too long for the short visits to each site and definitely not worth it.We got back to the ship around 10:30 pm! We chose to go with another tour company for our Halong Bay cruise. It worked out well, but my guess is that Holland America's excursion might have been more convenient and just as enjoyable. Of course, the staff's professionalism is what I would expect on any cruise ship. The dueling piano musicians were awesome! The captain was one of the best in that he was personable, likable, transparent, decisive and prepared. He kept us safe and went out of his way to make our cruise even more enjoyable, especially in our over night stay and morning sunrise in Halong Bay. Both embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and everyone was pleasant. We did notice that for some reason, many of the public areas were very cold to the extent that we avoided them. There were two pools, one that had a retractable roof top. The pools were never crowded because there were only 1,850 passengers on board. Finally, I should mention that because we traveled through so many visa requiring countries, HAL made it so much easier by helping us with immigration forms and having the individual customs officers on board to facilitate and expedite our entrance to their countries. HAL was really organized on that. The HAL excursion process, especially during tender egress was less smooth than expected because everyone meets in the same MainStage area for their excursion tickets. All in all, we really enjoyed a different and more relaxing cruise on Holland America. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We choose this cruise as we wanted to visit the Far East but couldn't face flying 14 hours each way. The cruise was 42 days from Vancouver to Hong Kong and it was everything we had hoped for. The weather was incredible, in all that ... Read More
We choose this cruise as we wanted to visit the Far East but couldn't face flying 14 hours each way. The cruise was 42 days from Vancouver to Hong Kong and it was everything we had hoped for. The weather was incredible, in all that time, there wwrw brief rain showers twice. We were the last ship of the season in Alaska and the weather was sunny. We had worried about being in Alaska the beginning of October and instead Juneau, Glacier Bay and Kodiak were lovely. The North Pacific crossing has 6 consecutive sea days, and they were pleasantly filled with enrichment lectures, America's Test Kitchen and deck walks. We ate dinner in the dining room and went for group tables, and met many very pleasant people. It meant often meeting people around the ship that we had met over dinner. The dinning room food was nicely served and we enjoyed the choices. We had breakfast and lunch in Lido, and enjoyed the service and food there as well. The pasta station, the Asian station and salad bar added a nice variety to the regular items on the main serving station. We tried Dive-In hambergers for a snack a couple of times and they were great. Didnt really like Dive-In fries, but there were chips on the taco bar adjacent for that salty crunch. Once we reached Japan the pace really picked up. We had ports in Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and the Philippines. About half the time in Japan we just walked ashore and went exploring. The ports all had welcoming committees and maps and info were readily avaiable, the EXE guides on the ship had also provided a lot of solid information. The remainder of the ports we booked our tours through Holland America. We were very pleased with the offerings. Our selection included a nice balance of sight seeing in cities, in the countryside, in temples and shrines, and even a Hot Spring resort for bathing. There were many highlights to our time ashore, including visiting the Great Wall of China, seeing the Acrobats in Shanghai, attending a dance festival in Japan, visiting a manga museum (we knew nothing about manga). Many times were at locations that local families go on their days off, seeing all the families and their children out enjoying the location and sunshine added a great deal to the experience. The trip was an incredible success. Our time on the ship was wonderful, the staff are so welcoming and so good at their jobs, our fellow passengers were great to hang out with, and the ports were fascinating. And as a bonus it only took 2 weeks to get over the jet lag after we got home. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I choose HAL after reading many reviews on all cruise lines sailing to my location. Embarkation & disembarkation was smooth. The ship/cabin was updated clean & comfortable. The activities were appropriate for older adults I ... Read More
I choose HAL after reading many reviews on all cruise lines sailing to my location. Embarkation & disembarkation was smooth. The ship/cabin was updated clean & comfortable. The activities were appropriate for older adults I especially liked the educational talks Glenn Michaels was awesome. The entertainment was nice B.B. King Allstars, billboard onboard, Lincoln center stage. The staff was very nice and they seemed eager to help make your stay pleasant. My cabin stewards were AWESOME. The ship captain was informative letting us know the cruising process which I found interesting. I sailed solo but met and spent time with other passengers on board and on excursions. The food was exceptional, the Lido market, the Dive-In, The taco bar, the dining room & in-room dining (no extra charge) mmmgood. I booked excursions onboard using the Navigator app. that was easy and your tickets and instructions were brought to your cabin and the prices for the excursions were comparable to the prices I saw online before my cruise. I didn’t use the fitness center I preferred to do laps around the promenade deck because the weather was so nice, this is pretty much what I do at home I go to the gym when it’s to cold outside but the gym was nice and worth using if the weather wasn’t favorable. Overall, I really enjoyed my cruise on HAL Westerdam. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was our first cruise and we loved it! From the perfect flight into Vancouver with great views and a beautiful airport to an easy flight home with more great views from the air including northern lights, it was all amazing! We got ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we loved it! From the perfect flight into Vancouver with great views and a beautiful airport to an easy flight home with more great views from the air including northern lights, it was all amazing! We got into Vancouver a day early and absolutely loved the Pan Pacific Hotel which is literally part of the cruise terminal! This allowed us an opportunity to see one HAL ship sail away and for us to watch the Westerdam sail in! This was so special! We went to mass on Saturdaybat the Cathedral that is an easy walk and had a great dinner with a view at the Steamworks brewing company. Our HAL hotel package included a yummy buffet with a view of our ship and luggage pickup at our room so we just needed to go downstairs, check in and we are on the ship enjoying the buffet by 11:30. Rooms were ready soon after and we unpacked, took a ship tour, and we were ready for the sail away party. Loved the size and elegant ease of the Westerdam, very relaxing and good food. The shows and music venues were nice. The star was Alaska and all the wildlife. This was accented by the naturalist programs and the beautiful port adventures. Our first port was Ketchikan. We loved watching sailing in and out of here and all the ports from our balcony. We had a Totem Bight tour in the morning with a really informative guide. Then we had plenty of time to shop and explore the town. Guess what? No rain! We had sunny clear skies throughout this trip and really comfortable temperatures! So lucky! In Juneau we rented a car to go to Mendenhall Glacier. We walked out to the falls for some fantastic views and enjoyed the guest center. Then we picked up our friends, who did the helicopter ride out to the glacier (which they loved), had lunch at the Red Dog Saloon, then out to The Shrine of St. Theresa, which has beautiful views, and back to town for a little shopping. In Skagway we loved the luxury car on The White Pass RR! Instead of 50 people on bus like seats we had 14 big comfy leather swivel chairs, our own guide, drinks, the best coffee, hot and cold snacks, a large platform outside, and we were first car up and caboose back for great views. It was a splurge but well worth it for the experience. Do it! Then we went into town, had a drink and snack at the brewery, and met a local carving soapstone and bought a seal from this artist. Great day! Then the big day, Glacier Bay. I was so excited that I got up really early and we got to watch the park rangers come on board. With only a quick breakfast and lunch break, we spent all day on the deck and it was worth every freezing moment. We saw whales, orcas, bears, puffins, and the most beautiful scenery you could imagine including a giants glacier calving which I caught on video! I loved this whole day. Truly once in a lifetime experience! We had another sea day...did I mention that we saw whales spouting several times a day...keep your eyes on the ocean and always go out when the naturalist is speaking on deck 10. We were sad to end our cruise but excited to jump on a bus and head to Denali. On the way it was so clear that we saw Mt. Denali ( which is very rare) all the way there. We also saw baluga whales! We stopped at some scenic viewing spots and a Iditarod center and held puppies! We stayed at HAL lodge, had a great meal, shopped, and even roasted marshmallows. The next day we explored the lodge area and then went on about an 8 hour tundra wilderness tour. It was epic! The guide told us to relax and enjoy and remember that we aren’t going to get real close to wildlife...well, at the first stop, she said that we had already seen more wildlife than most people see the whole trip...and that was just the beginning! We saw 3 young wolves playing in front of and beside the bus, a moose also walked right by the bus, we saw several bears, elk, and clear as can be Mt. Denali the whole trip! Oh, then that night, we saw the northern lights! Wow!! Then we took the McKinley Exolorer glass top train back to Anchorage...again Mt. Denali was visible the whole way. The guide said that in 10 years he had never heard of the views and wildlife we got to experience. He said it was more than a picture post card day...he said we got the whole brochure! We stayed at the Westmark which was a fine hotel very well located to walk everywhere! We enjoyed dinner at The Glacier Brewhouse (everyone, but me, got a variety of their Mac and cheese which they loved). We had a late flight with transportation with HAL so we had a relaxing day, late breakfast at Snow City Cafe, and didn’t the day shopping and watching free movies at the Alaska Center in the Federal Building caticorner from the visitors center ( note, you have to get scanned for security so no ulu knife!). Felt like we did everything we set out to do and more...we saw it all and ate it all. Love cruising. Love Alaska. Oh, try the hamburgers, hotdogs and fries at the Dive In! Yum! You can see my trip info on YouTube. SSVacationista Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
In celebration of my retirement, my husband and I, along with our two adult children made this "bucket list" trip. We thoroughly enjoyed the Westerdam – the ship, the staff, our staterooms, and the food were all high quality. ... Read More
In celebration of my retirement, my husband and I, along with our two adult children made this "bucket list" trip. We thoroughly enjoyed the Westerdam – the ship, the staff, our staterooms, and the food were all high quality. Recently refurbished, the ship was in excellent condition and very tastefully appointed. The food was very high quality and we found a nice variety of selections. Also, many comfortable and attractive places to relax throughout the ship. We did not book excursions through Holland America, so I can't rate the HAL excursions, but the activities we booked privately were all excellent. We visited the Kroschel Animal Rescue center in Haines (we rented a car, which also allowed us to explore and look for bears!); we did a seaplane trip to the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan which was fantastic! We literally flew through a rainbow! Did the tram in Juneau and found a great place for king crab. Our family did not partake of all the ship entertainment - the only show we went to was the BB King room, but we did enjoy that. I would definitely book on the Westerdam again, and hopefully experience more of the on-board programs and entertainment. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My wife and I have cruised on 4 different cruiselines with this most recent cruise being our first on Holland America. From this point on, we need look no further. We took a Land and Sea journey to Alaska and the level of customer ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised on 4 different cruiselines with this most recent cruise being our first on Holland America. From this point on, we need look no further. We took a Land and Sea journey to Alaska and the level of customer service, efficiency, comfort, exceeds Disney whom I thought couldn't be beat in these areas but I was wrong. From the moment we boarded a bus at the Seattle airport to go to Vancouver to board the ship until we arrived at out hotel in Seattle for our return flight home we didn't touch our luggage. Holland America moved it and us seamlessly throughout our 12 days which included 2 nights in Denali National Park. They included nights in their own resort in the park, as well as 2 very nice hotels, one in Anchorage and one in Seattle. With each step, a Holland America representative greeted us with all necessary details taken care of. Quite remarkable. The Westerdam is a beautiful ship. The food, in our opinion topped any of the other cruiselines, including Celebrity with whom we sailed in March of this year. The on board entertainment, especially what they call Billboard on Board was high quality. This is a "dueling piano" type set up and Joey and Emily, the two performers were first rate. Planning another cruise next summer and Holland America has won my business. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Holland America reviewed well for our selection with our 2 friends and we wanted to go to Alaska. We booked the Westerdam on the southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver with strops in glacier Bay, Haines/Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. ... Read More
Holland America reviewed well for our selection with our 2 friends and we wanted to go to Alaska. We booked the Westerdam on the southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver with strops in glacier Bay, Haines/Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. HAL has priority over the vessels to cruise glacier Bay where 2 boats/day are allowed and docking privileges for a once a week ship at Haines. We booked the Neptune Suite and selected the drink package, upgraded restaurant 1 night and shipboard credits. We pre-cruised with 3 days in Anchorage and the pre-cruise train from Anchorage to Seward. Our introduction to HAL was minutes after the easy boarding process and entering our awesome stateroom. Absolutely WOW and a large balcony and enough closet/drawer space form many large luggage pieces. Our service stewards throughout the week gave us many WOW moments, from the afternoon snacks to towel animals greeting us in the afternoon. Service aboard was incredible from our stewards, concierge, bartenders, and dining room staff. Most notable is the Pinnacle Grill which serves breakfast to Neptune guests. The best food we experienced was clearly the Pinnacle Grill and then fooled by our lunching at the Dive-In hot dog and burger bar. Dining room and Lido buffet food was decent but nothing to WOW about and we would give it a C+ with some food much better. Never without an opportunity for food. The shipboard atmosphere was relaxed and only required pants and a collared shirt for men in best dining evenings...So no Tux needed! The wildlife experts aboard and the Crows Nest public area was fun as we constantly spotted some form of wildlife or a notable attraction. We loved the wildlife interaction and the day on glacier Bay was memorable with bears, otters, eagles, etc...and the glacier. Our onshore tours were very good with the Juneau helicopter to the glacier and2 mile sled dog mushing being a real 10+...expensive and worth the money...Our first day in Haines with the fast ferry to Skagway and helicopter to the glacier was interesting although not too exciting with a "wrote" pathway there/back and a limited opportunity on the glacier...at the end of that trip their helicopter service bus dumped us in town and told us to walk back to the fast ferry...poor. The third land tour was a fast boat to Misty Fjords and floatplane ride back...pretty nice. The cruise was everything se expected and more and everything we made it to be. We saw some show, listened to blues at BB King club and danced...and explored the entire ship where allowed. Some issues arose with our final night in the dining room whereby our sommelier ordered drinks and charged us overage for those that had been OK as we had asked/been answered by bar staff throughout the ship...A lively discussion with the beverage Manager was fruitless and not very nice...However one rotten apple....and we loved the cruise. Off-boarding in Vancouver and 2 days of sightseeing was wonderful and a great finally to our memorable cruise on Holland America...We will return. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America ... Read More
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America provides easy access to Denali National Park via the Alaska Railroad. We were transported by a special train to the McKinley Resort at Denali National Park and to the ship in Seward via comfortable motor coach. Both trips are lengthy and are narrated. Brace yourself for the usual bad puns from time to time. The better guides limit themselves to a wealth of information of the area you are in. The best guide was the guide for the chartered Wilderness Tour, a 7.5 hour narrated ride on 60 of the 90 miles of two lane gravel road into the park. The return trip is on the same gravel road as it's the only one in the park. Those exploring on their own must ride the National Park shuttle. We saw the following mammals: Grizzly bear (a couple singles and a sow with 2 two-year-old juveniles); 3 wolves; about 10 Dall sheep, red fox, snow-shoe hares, and caribou. I'm not going to give a grade since the three transports are so different in scope. The Wilderness Tour should not be missed. BOOKING From conversations on-board, we got the impression that we spent less for some of the same amenities since we booked through Costco's travel agency. At the very least the large added on-ship credits added by Costco allowed us to skip paying for the drink plans which seem somewhat reasonable, but the idea of having access to 10-15 drinks per day was not something we would use. Through cruise-critic, we found out that our price went down about 4 months before the trip. Through the travel agency, we saved $500, keeping the same reserved cabin in the middle of the ship. However, we ended up with about $750 in combined on ship credit. No money is used on board, it's all part of your room key/credit card. Make sure you check your balance daily which is easily done on a machine near guest services. You can view it electronically or have the machine print the record. There is also access through the on-board app which runs on the free portion of wifi. You can purchase the slow, expensive Internet access if you wish to degrade your vacation time by being online when you "should" be enjoying the scenery. Grade: B+ CABIN I'd read reviews on cruisecritic.com saying the rooms were outdated. It appears that the Westerdam has gone through a recent upgrade. The photos on this site were no longer accurate. The condition of our room was quite good. What to ask for when greeted by your room stewards who will ask you if there's anything additionally you want after first viewing your room: Ask your room steward to explain how the shower works AND to put the single beds together as a (queen-sized) larger bed. By booking a half year early, we were able to reserve a cabin mid-ship and one level below the lido deck where the buffets are available nearly 24/7. Our cabin was smaller than a hotel room, but since you don't spend much time there, that is hardly a problem. There were two single beds that the room stewards put together as a queen sized bed on the first night by request. The head has a toilet, bathtub, sink, and shower. There was a 3-shelved medicine cabinet for storage. The balcony was a bit bigger than I expected. The suite includes 2 end tables with two drawers for storage, bed with able storage for suitcases below, love seat with small table, desk with small refrigerator and two more small shelves. One includes a hair dryer for your use. The room stewards automatically clean twice a day and replace towels during those two visits. More visits may be done by request. Grade: A DINING The buffet area on the lido deck is very clean. It's easy to access hand disinfectant at various places near the food service. Used dishes are quickly picked up by friendly staff. Tables are also cleared quickly so it's not difficult to find a place to sit near the buffet or near the pools. Most areas have attendants preparing made-to-order items or simply ladling food into bowls and onto plates. This isn't your average buffet. It's mostly fine dining quality food which is easily accessible. You could easily take all your meals here, but I'd suggest using the dining room most evenings and as often as possible for breakfast. You will be seated with others on-board unless you request otherwise. I'm not much on meeting new people, but I'm glad we chose to eat with new acquaintances each time we went for breakfast in the dining room. We were seated with the same couples at night, but if someone chose to eat in the specialty cafe or lido buffet, their seats were empty. Gala nights are a step up in quality of environment, but the the food is always exquisitely prepared and served. Meals in the dining room last about 2 hours, which surprising goes quickly if you simply talk about what you did during the day with your table-mates. On those evenings we ate at the Lido Market (buffet) we made separate trips for appetizers, salad, main course, and dessert, much like those served in fine dining. Drinks are served by request in all areas. The dining room attendants are numerous and very attentive learning your name quickly. You will most likely find that nearly every person associated with the dining room make your voyage amazing. From our viewpoint, the small added cost dining areas, such as the Pinnacle Grill, are not necessary. However, those we talked to reported being very pleased by their meals there. Grade: A+ ENTERTAINMENT VENUES The entertainment venues that we attended after dining: BB King Stage (Rhythm and Blues and Soul), Lincoln Center Stage (violin, cello, viola, and piano), and Main Stage which included hour long performances a comedian, illusionists which we attended as well as some song/dance variety shows (which we didn't but heard were good). Drinks are served by request. During the day there are various activities available from card playing to trivia to afternoon concerts. The BB King Stage was transformed to a cooking show by PBS's America's Test Kitchen, now in its 18th season(see episodes at https://www.americastestkitchen.com/episodes or teasers on youtube such as the following: https://youtu.be/mpnshdmtE2Y ). Carla, from the youtube link was the host on this ship. This cooking show was very well done. I loved Carla's dry sense of humor. The technicians could do away with the canned applause, though. Even if you don't prepare meals, make it a point to get to at least part of a 45-60 min. presentation. You are given the recipes to the items prepared so you can follow along. Get to the Main Stage show about 20 minutes early or you may not find a seat. It's ok to send one of your party to save 3-4 seats while others wait to enter spending $$ in the nearby casino or have a drink in a nearby lounge. We were surprised to find a lack of interaction between audience and musicians in the BB King Stage. However, the quality of the music was quite high. The classical musicians at the Lincoln Center Stage were quite accomplished in many different styles of music (not just classical). There was a small contingent of hearing impaired guests. An ASL interpreter was at the Main Stage. I don't think the ship supplied interpretation, but the signers did a good job for those they served. I appreciated that the comedienne interacted with the interpreter and indirectly with those they served. Grade: B+ OVERALL SERVICE One of the supervisors at the guest services mentioned that Holland America is not for the rowdy and you won't find lots of children. There were families with with children, but the kids had an access area on the 10th deck all their own and could play basketball, paddle ball, table tennis and have other activities without being bothered by adults. It sounds like Carnival (corporate owner of Holland America) is more of a ship for kids/young families. We found that on a ship of over 2000 people, we did not feel crowded until disembarkation morning and that's only because breakfast was only available on the lido deck. Still, the staff did an excellent job keeping tables available for those later arrivals. If you abhor cigarette and cigar smoke, stay off the aft area of the lido deck. That's the only place for smoking. Generally, the smoke is blown off the back of the ship while moving. In short, the diverse staff, representing some 80 different countries and regions, was outstanding. If you are on board, you are treated like family (except for the family squabbles). Grade: A OVERALL EXPERIENCE We imagined our first cruise would be very good with some pitfalls due to not having cruised before. It was much better than we could have imagined. The Westerdam's crew and staff's grade: SUPERIOR. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This cruise was a great value for the money. The food was always good, although I won't say it was ever amazing. The cabin stewards were fantastic. All the entertainers were really talented. The clients were mostly retired ... Read More
This cruise was a great value for the money. The food was always good, although I won't say it was ever amazing. The cabin stewards were fantastic. All the entertainers were really talented. The clients were mostly retired people, although we did see some families. This was definitely not a party ship. There were not a lot of extra things going on during the cruise, and usually the ones they had overlapped a lot. Most of the entertainment was in the evenings. The days in port did not have much going on, so I would definitely advise spending the money to go on shore excursions. We liked the choice of open seating where you could show up anytime between 5:15 and 9:00 and be seated in the dining room with random people each night. The dining room was very casual, even on the two gala nights. Glacier Bay was amazing. Our ship spent an extra half hour there because it was such a beautiful day. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
I liked the fact that this was a smaller ship than many and it suited us perfectly. The cruise was no too long but long enough to leisurely see the sights we wanted and the ports we thought the most worth seeing. The full day up to the ... Read More
I liked the fact that this was a smaller ship than many and it suited us perfectly. The cruise was no too long but long enough to leisurely see the sights we wanted and the ports we thought the most worth seeing. The full day up to the glaciers was spectacular. Our cabin was well appointed and very comfortable. The staff were all exceptionally friendly and helpful and they came from such a diverse range of cultures it was a pleasure talking to them. They seemed to have no pressure to not have the ability to stop for a chat. The entertainment, in particular with two pianists was spectacular. This was my first cruise so I was unsure what to expect. The boat was very stable and even the first night when we went through a storm, it was uneventful, although I had chosen a cabin on the first floor to avoid too much movement, and it paid off. Well worth the experience. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
My husband and I traveled on the Holland America Westerdam to Alaska in May (2018). Both of us were very pleased with the trip. Though we were embarking out of Vancouver we flew into Seattle and took the Amtrak Cascade. What a great way to ... Read More
My husband and I traveled on the Holland America Westerdam to Alaska in May (2018). Both of us were very pleased with the trip. Though we were embarking out of Vancouver we flew into Seattle and took the Amtrak Cascade. What a great way to travel! We found a fun, funky hotel (Moda) near the cruise terminal which was inexpensive and had a great restaurant/bar attached. We explored some of Vancouver and would love to go back and see more. All of the advice that we read was to get to the cruise terminal, Canada Place, early but my husband works at the port here and based on his experience we waited until about 1:30 to go. It was a smooth process and took less than an hour to get on board. We did hear from quite a few people on the cruise that their embarkation took a long time and they had issues but they all got there super early. Based on our experience I would wait until later to go (and yes there were 4 ships leaving from there that day). The ship and crew were great. Yes, it was a cruise of predominantly older folks and I do not think I would recommend it for families. For us though it was fine. If you want excitement every minute you won't get that either but if you are ok with relaxing, sitting on the deck and just enjoying the ride than you will be fine. We were not that impressed with the stage shows but the talent t BB Kings and Billboard On Board were great and we spent each evening in one of those two places. Our balcony cabin (4021) was a nice size and we had plenty of room for everything. I am not sure how much other people bring when there are complaints that there is not enough room. We were taking the land tour as well so had 2 large suitcases and 2 carry on bags and we had no issues putting things away. The room had several USB ports so we did not use the extra plug adapter we brought. We did have them do laundry twice during the cruise (the all you can stuff in a bag option) and it was returned the next day beautifully pressed. My husband wishes he had that kind of service at home! Our steward was super friendly and though we never asked for anything special I am sure he would have taken care of it in a heartbeat. All the crew was very friendly. The ship never felt crowded except in the buffet areas but if you just go out by the Lido pool (and there is a roof and is climate controlled) it was easy to find a table. Much nicer than sitting inside anyway. We had open seating for the dining room and had most dinners and a couple of breakfasts there. We met new people every time which was fun. My only real complaint was that only the wine stewards could bring drinks and there were not enough of them. I don't mind waiting for food if I have my drink but waiting a long time for both was a little irritating at times. We ate in the Pinnacle grill once and they had the same issue. Disembarkation at all of the ports and the final one went smoothly and we never had any issues.Just pay attention and don't be in a hurry to be the first off and it goes easily. We enjoyed each port (Ketchican, Juneau and Skagway). We did a few excursions that we booked separately and only booked the White Pass train in Skagway through the cruise. That was so much fun and I highly recommend it.I would have liked more time in Ketchican and less in Juneau and Skagway (which is tiny!). Glacier Bay was amazing and being a smaller ship we were able to get close to the glacier. Overall we had a great time. We are not high maintenance people so we didn't ask the crew for much but anything we did ask for was taken care of promptly. We would absolutely go again (and I really want to). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
picked this cruise because of start and finish in Vancouver rather than flying one way. 99% of passengers were retired, staff were very attentive, dining menus were varied. went to Rudy's Sel De Mer one evening , the meal was ... Read More
picked this cruise because of start and finish in Vancouver rather than flying one way. 99% of passengers were retired, staff were very attentive, dining menus were varied. went to Rudy's Sel De Mer one evening , the meal was excellent as was the waitress, only fault was that we felt rushed when the entree came minutes after the appitisers. After asking the waitress to slow down dessert came when we wanted it. cabin 6085 was a signature suite with tub and shower stall, the hot water control and the shower diverter in the tub was not working when we boarded but was fixed shortly after telling stateroom attendant. embarking and disembarking was a breeze. Our luggage was at our cabin within an hour of boarding. overall the cruise was great, weather to and from Hawaii was not good. i would recommend Holland America. in fact we are doing a transpacific cruise on the Noordam. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Excellent value and an excellent ship. We opted for a Signature Suite 6045 which was well worth the money. Room Stewards (Nyoman and Yusep) were attentive and always accommodating with a smile. We had thoughts of opting for the upscale ... Read More
Excellent value and an excellent ship. We opted for a Signature Suite 6045 which was well worth the money. Room Stewards (Nyoman and Yusep) were attentive and always accommodating with a smile. We had thoughts of opting for the upscale restaurants, but elected not to do so since the regular food service and quality were very good. Our Wine Steward, Yohan, was exceptional and most helpful. Being that the cruising itinerary has almost 7 sea days, the entertainment and ship-board amenities have to be good. The Lincoln Center Stage quintet was excellent, and, although we did not see all the stage presentations, the few that we saw were very professionally done. Land tours were good, and the bus lines were not long, given that there were several handicap people on board. The several tour guides that we experienced all spoke with different levels of English competency, which is to be expected. All in all, they were knowledgeable and had good senses of humor. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
My husband and I planned this cruise a while back and looked at a lot of reviews before we booked this cruise. Our age group is between 49-54 and we thought this was a perfect cruise for us. It turned out even better than we could have ... Read More
My husband and I planned this cruise a while back and looked at a lot of reviews before we booked this cruise. Our age group is between 49-54 and we thought this was a perfect cruise for us. It turned out even better than we could have imagined. Just a piece of advice, if you are into dancing and being up late at night this cruise is NOT for you. Also if you are traveling with children of any age this cruise is NOT for you. The night life on the ship is minimal and so is the entertainment during the day. BB Kings and the Billboard have some fun evening entertainment that we enjoyed. During the day American's Test Kitchen was good but packed so get there early! I wish they would have given you a taste of what they were making. There was live music on the deck by the pool a couple of days but mostly there was music playing over a speaker. This was fine with us and where we spent most of our time. We read and people watched most days. The ship was on the smaller side and very easy to navagate. Our cabin was nice and our balcony was great! It was always kept clean by our very nice room stewarts. We did not eat in the dining room at all so I can't comment. We ate most of our meals in the Lido Market and the food was outstanding! They served the same food in the Lido Market as they did in the dining room and it was just so much easier picking out what we wanted to eat. The service on this ship was great. The bar tenders in several bars knew our names on the second day and were always helpful. The ports we visited were very interesting and the excursions were all great! Puerto Chiapas, Mexico was the only bad port. If you are going here please book an excursion because there really is nothing to do except shop at the market by the port. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The ship was great, just underwent a refit this past spring. Elevators are extremely fast, service was excellent, easy to get around the ship, food was really good (way better than most lines) and the small details really made a ... Read More
The ship was great, just underwent a refit this past spring. Elevators are extremely fast, service was excellent, easy to get around the ship, food was really good (way better than most lines) and the small details really made a difference. The Casino and bars were great as well! Grandmother, Mother and Father, and 2 teens traveled in 2 Veranda rooms - very comfortable. We dined mainly in the Dining Room for dinner. The selections were top notch - not lobster every night but, some really nice duck breast, halibut, prime rib, rack of lamb, etc. all well prepared, meats were cooked perfectly, sauces were very good, and sides were also good. The Lido restaurant had some great breakfast and lunch offerings - not just leftovers from the dinner before, and dinner there was comparable, on most days, to the dining room just buffet style - and the Dive Inn had delicious, cooked to order burgers and fries daily. One thing we really appreciated was the selections, most of them anyway, were served by kitchen staff instead of "help yourself". It seemed much cleaner, less waste, and fresher. The casino staff were exceptional on this trip. $6 Black Jack and $5 Craps were available. The dealers were professional, especially the pit bosses, and the servers (Pio in particular) were fantastic. We were never left waiting for a cocktail for more than a few minutes. Our room attendants were barely seen but, certainly noticed. The rooms were cleaned promptly and quietly. The spa staff were good. We enjoyed massages although felt pressured to buy over $120 worth of oils immediately AFTER - while still sitting on the massage table. Massages in nice spas are not inexpensive so we thought the pitch while trying to enjoy the relaxation was a bit much. Other than that specific sales pitch, the Westerdam had very little overzealous photo selling, photo taking, trinket peddling, etc.... although they still have the same "outfits" selling gold plated jewelry at real gold prices, etc. but, they aren't constantly shoving them at you. Overall a relaxing trip, easy ship to get around on, great dining, and excellent service! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
Son in Law worked for line. Enjoyed the smaller ship. great crew and accomidations. Will take this cruise again. Great casino, food choices very good, staff bent over and beyond taking care of our needs and wants. Entertainment was ... Read More
Son in Law worked for line. Enjoyed the smaller ship. great crew and accomidations. Will take this cruise again. Great casino, food choices very good, staff bent over and beyond taking care of our needs and wants. Entertainment was excellent and relaxing. Enjoyed the afternoon bingo games even tho we didn't win, we did very well at the casino. We used Room service Quite often early in the morning and the service was fantastic with servers friendly. Rented a few movies to watch during down. time. We all enjoyed the ports. We also liked that we could choose to tour the area on our own and not use the shore excursions that we learned later on that they were great. Next time I (lost wife in Jan19) cruise I would like to cruise the Panama Canal and after that both the Western and Eastern Carribean ceuises. Thanks for making this area available and all the crew in board the Westerdam. Read Less
Westerdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 2.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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