New to cruising and new to cruising with a food intolerance: Westerdam Cruise Review by afollett
Overall Member Rating
New to cruising and new to cruising with a food intolerance
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Our cabin was aft on the starboard side - VC. The cabin was nice, very quiet hallway. Cabin steward was great. He kept the room in tip top shape and was very helpful getting a few extras we requested. My only complaint was the hairdryer - bring your own, and the pillows weren't great but I didn't request new ones. Only minor things. We had a balcony which was wonderful. There were 2 chairs, foot stool and a teeny table.
Dining - We opted after the first day to order room service for breakfast each morning. It arrived on time and as order minus a couple coffee mixups (hot water one morning and lemon in the coffee another day??). I managed to get gluten free breads/muffins/english muffin for breakfast each morning just by indicating on the room service menu put More out the night before. I did have to specify to keep the items separated as the first morning they showed up in the same basket as the regular bread. They also had gluten free bread/muffins (kinnikinnick) on the lido deck at the breakfast buffet although not all staff were aware of that fact. There is also a pizza/pasta bar on the lido deck where I did get gluten free pizzas on request. I tried to get gf pasta one day - I managed to get it.. maybe...but it was warmed in the same water as other pasta. That was the only time I did that. I stuck to the pizzas and was happy enough.
The first night we ate in the dining room and shared a table with 4 others (open seating). This was the last time we did that - personal preference. The first night I ordered from the menu what was available without modification. I was then given the menu for the following night to pre-order in order to allow for modifications. The following evening we arrived at the dining room and asked for a table for 2. We were given a pager and waited about 40 mins to get the table. Was definitely worth it. We enjoyed our food and wait staff. It didn't seem to matter which waiter I had..I only had to advise that I had pre-ordered. The second night we made a reservation for 2 in order to allow for the same waiter and not have to be explaining things to other dining guests. That plan failed. We were assigned a table for 4 and had to wait about an hour to actually get a table for 2. The food that night was ok. My partner was not overly impressed - he works in the offshore oil industry and advises the food was comparable.
We then decided to try the Pinnacle Grill - 20USD per person. What a different experience. When making the reservation I advised about my GF needs and the order was placed. I got specially made peppercorn sauce and GF chocolate cake! Service was excellent. The food was exceptional - both of us had steak. We opted to go back on the last night and were pleasantly surprised once again with the quality. I'm not so sure about the wall paneling but the food/service certainly outdid the decor. Cheers to the chef and wait staff as it was a wonderful experience. We wished we had eaten there each night.
Ports - Half Moon Cay, Bahamas was beautiful. As it is owned by HAL it was an extension of the ship. Easy to get drinks..easy to spend :) Food was also served onshore although I didn't indulge. Grand Turk - We didn't go any farther than the beach which is somewhat rough on the feet. The shops are new and built solely for cruise ships. Grand Cayman - We took in Captain Nemo's Snorkel Safari. Great tour - semi submersible vessel with windows underneath. Lots of fish and coral. Snorkeling was optional and well worth it ! Cozumel - We took the 12 hour tour to Chichen Itza. Worth the trip but be prepared for the ferry to Playa del Carmen, 6hrs in a bus and really really hot temps at the site (42C). Subway sandwiches were provided for lunch and there was a rest stop on the trip to the site. Anyone with GF needs..bring a lunch! Note: Only use the washrooms at the entrance to the site.
Overall the trip was very relaxing and the Pinnacle Grill definitely worth the extra money. Certainly a learning experience in regards to eating GF for me. Most food staff were aware of the gluten free diet but weren't always sure of ingredients (buffet) and need some training in keeping GF foods separated during prep and serving. I suspect my next cruise I will request set dining to allow for one waiter and less explaining.
The crew seemed happy and were always helpful. The entertainment we saw onboard seemed good although we didn't take in enough of it to give a decent review. Service was comparable to other ships however the dining room may need more waiters. Less