Westerdam Cruise was fine for our family cruise: Westerdam Cruise Review by CastroValley1

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Westerdam Cruise was fine for our family cruise

Sail Date: March 2013
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
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 More 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. Less

Published 03/28/13

Cabin review: SS Signature Superior Verandah Suite

Midship on 6, category SY. Quiet location, great balcony except for the cigarette and cigar smoke. Bathrooms are great with dual sinks, shower and jetted bathtub with shower fixtures.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Everglades Tour

We were taken by bus to the Everglades about 45 minutes from Port Everglades. The tour guide on the bus was pretty informative. We took a fan boat that held the whole group. You are given ear plugs but with younger children, it would have been hard to keep the plugs in their ears. My son-in-law got first in line and picked the first row of seats, the farthest away from the fan propeller. It was windy in front and the 1 year old got wind burn. We saw one alligator in natural surroundings on the tour. There were some at the dock near the boats but didn't want a closer look. It was earlier in the day following a cold spell so they don't like to come out of the mud bottom. There is a small zoo with gators and snakes and farm animals and a rescue animal group presentation that we found interesting. The rescue group showed a baby alligator, a small fox and a panther. The bus took us back to the pier to drop off a passenger who was going on a second leg of a cruise. Then we proceeded to the FLL airport to be dropped off.

Half Moon Cay: The beach is a crescent with fine white sand. The ocean is the promised Caribbean blue. There are buildings such as the cafe and bar. My son-in-law reserved a 2 story villa with hot tub, snacks, and drinks for the seven of us. It is a new amenity and costly but for a family, it is worthwhile. The ocean is a little cold so the hot tub was very welcome. The only problem was that the preordered snorkel gear never showed up. We asked three different staff people but no one ever got back to us. When my son-in-law trekked over to the cafe to get the barbecue lunch for all of us, he checked with the snorkel gear hut and was told that he could get them there. He got three sets of gear but time was limited so snorkeling was limited to ½ hour to 45 minutes. The gear is suppose to be in the villa so improvement is needed by the staff on that island. My daughter says that Half Moon Cay is wonderful. Princess' private island cannot compare with Half Moon Cay. Holland should have substituted either Half Moon Cay or Nassau for skipping Grand Turk.

Puerto Rico: In the morning, we headed for San Cristobal up the hill from the cruise pier in old Town. A Disney ship is docked beside us. We walk up the hill and enter the fort. The views did not disappoint. The ocean and shoreline were magnificent. We could see El Morro and the old walls of the city. We have been to El Morro but San Cristobal is a little different. It has tunnels and views of the city. We notice a demonstration with plenty of police. It turned out to be a protest by the police asking for their pay. They haven't been paid in months. We left looking for the post office to send a post card home. We ask directions but are still not sure where to go. We wander a bit and with luck found it. After that, we walk down to the pier and get lunch before our tour to El Yunque Rainforest in the afternoon. In the afternoon, we took the shore excursion in Puerto Rico to the El Yunque Rain Forest. It took about one hour to get to the Park and it seemed rushed once there but we saw some incredible views of the park and ocean.
Read 2982 San Juan Reviews

St. Marten: Daughter went to French Riviera with family and enjoyed the beach. The two countries tour was sold out so we decided to explore Philipsburg. We paid $7 each for the round trip water taxi to Philipsburg. We walked around Front Street and then Back Street when we saw a group of people loading on a small bus. I asked if it was a public bus and where it was going. I was told by passengers of another ship that it was going to Marigot and it was $2 one way per person. I decided that we should hop on. When we reached Marigot, we weren't sure where to get off so my husband asked a local passenger and she said, if you want to go to the Royal Pier, get off here so we did. We found ourselves in a shopping district and started to walk downhill toward the harbor. At the harbor, we met some fellow passengers who was looking for a return bus. There was a bus stop but no buses running that they could see. We suggested they walk up a couple of blocks. They said the visitor information center was a couple blocks away and some great French pastry shops a few blocks back. We decided to look for the pastry shop. We found a large one called Sarafina and the pastries were works of art. We each ordered a pastry plus an extra chocolate croissant and one fresh squeezed orange juice. It cost about $20 US. After the snack, we walked to the open air market. The tourist items were overpriced because it appears to be a tour bus stop. We left to walk through town to find our way back to Philipsburg. We saw a sign indicating bus stop and asked a shopkeeper if buses stop there. He said yes and a few minutes later, we saw a Toyota minivan with a sign "Philipsburg". The bus was empty and paid him $2 each as we stepped in despite the fact that I noticed on the first bus, the locals paid upon exiting. Cesar was the driver. We asked him what the procedure was. He said that originally, riders paid first but some didn't and later claimed to have paid so they require the riders to pay on exit to avoid disputes. We are of Chinese ancestry but born and raised in the USA. We asked him about the abundance of Chinese businesses along the thoroughfare. Many restaurants and groceries were run by Chinese on St. Marten. He told us the natives, particularly the young don't want to operate businesses or farms. Everything is imported into St. Marten. He had operated farm machinery on his home island but switched to driving a bus on St. Marten to earn more money. He told us which roads flood during rainy season and about where the fishing was good. He seem to know everyone on the island by honking often to say hello. It was nice to ride public transit and speak to the local people. We were dropped off in the middle of town and headed for the water taxi back to the ship. No beach time but my son and husband stuck their legs into the cold water of Big Bay to say they waded into the Caribbean.

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Member Since 2005
71 Forum Posts
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