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We scheduled this cruise because it gave us six days on four islands (with an overnight in Honolulu) which seemed to balance out the sea days. It also included a night passing of Kilauea with the spectacular sight of lava entering the sea the highlight of the cruise for me. We have sailed with HAL before on other long cruises and knew that it would be an older crowd (I think only 8 children) with more sedate activities and that was not a concern. We met a lot of interesting people while sailing, often folks who had sailed the same itinerary many times. The Westerdam itself was a very nice ship though larger than we prefer. Considering it is about to go in for refurbishing, it was attractive and in very good condition, not too worn. Our cabin (6046) was behind the elevators but not at all noisy. Our room stewards (Tutu and Gede) were excellent; they knew our names right away, figured out our schedules quickly but worked around days when we spent extra time in the cabin, and were extremely helpful when we had a scooter problem. The balcony even got cleaned off from the collected sea salt several times during sea days. Front desk and shore excursion staff were also quite good. You can tell that there have been cuts to staff in the Lido and dining room as service was not what it once was--but we were usually very well satisfied. In the Lido I saw staff going out of their way to assist some of the many passengers with disabilities--and several times a crew member would carry my plate and drink to the table for me. It was, however, often hard to find someone to clear plates or fill water, especially at dinner. We had open seating dining and this worked well for us since we were willing to share a table. We typically had breakfast and lunch in the Lido where the selection and quality of food were good. I especially liked eggs cooked to order and sushi availability. Hamburgers by the pool and pizza at the Italian station were also good. Soft ice cream availability by the pool was missed. Room service for breakfast was disappointing since the menu is now much more limited--but we did discover that if you wrote something on the order sheet that wasn't on the menu (like bagels and cream cheese) they would provide it. Menu for dinner in the dining room seemed more limited than it used to be, especially the first week, but the food was good. The Lido dinner menu was similar but with the hot appetizers and cold soups missing. One disappointment was that on an 18 day cruise we only had lobster available one night (it was excellent!). Even in the Pinnacle Grill (pay extra restaurant) you pay extra extra for lobster. Perhaps that is why it often seemed almost empty. We had lunch in the Pinnacle one afternoon and enjoyed the quiet there. Our first evening we ate in Canneloni, the extra pay Italian restaurant up on the Lido deck, but find the new menu not nearly as much to our liking as the old. Service was excellent. For us days at sea are for reading, relaxing, talking to people and attending shipboard activities. HAL seems to be cutting back on libraries which is a shame. Entertainment in the showroom was varied and enjoyable, especially the magician and floutist. Unfortunately, if you didn't get there 45 minutes before the early show you wound up with a seat behind a pole or no seat at all. If there was only one show for the night it was even worse. This was the biggest complaint I had with the cruise--seats filling up long before the events and full rooms--which to me is a sign that there was not enough going on from which to choose. This was the case for the showroom, movies, trivia, afternoon tea, cooking demos, pretty much everything. This makes it even more annoying when some people insist on "saving" the better part of a row of seats for friends who come much later. Teas are now in the Ocean Bar--and I miss them being in the dining room (at least some of the time). Educational talks were not as good as I expected from past experience in that they were often not related to the Hawaiian itinerary (really--the Bermuda Triangle when you are mid-Pacific?). The talk as we sailed by the lava flow at midnight was only available in the Crows Nest but the sound should have been broadcast on stateroom TVs for those like us who wanted to watch in PJs. The group of Hawaiian entertainers who were onboard as we sailed to Hawaii were charming and did a very nice job with making leis, teaching hula, etc. The pool area was not often too crowded to find a spot and was enjoyable. Sometimes the pool was like a wave machine but the hot tubs were usable most of the time. Shore excursions did a good job of making things do-able for passengers with disabilities (thank you Debbie). At tender ports the crew members were wonderful helping passengers on and off the tenders in rough waters. We did two privately arranged excursions (Chief's Luau in Honolulu and Marylou's Tours in Hilo) that were reasonable in cost compared to HAL tours. Marylou's was exceptional and I would recommend her to anyone visiting Kona or Hilo. HAL's Pearl Harbor / Arizona tour and Pali Coast tour in Honolulu were both good but had much more overlap than was evident from the descriptions. Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour and time sitting along the nearby beach were a great way to spend a day in Kauai. A Trilogy Catamaran tour in Maui was not a good choice for anyone in need of shade or who wound up in the back of the vessel where you could not hear the narration. Two hours mid-day on the water in the sun was too much for many on board. It also was too high in price when purchased through the ship--there were definitely better and more reasonably priced options available on-shore--but we did see whales!! I wish we had done another Marylou tour in Kona as that had more personalized guidance at the sites (Coffee museum and store, Painted Church, and a Refuge along the beach) but our ship arranged tour was good as we went from one place to another. I very much enjoyed this cruise and think it is a wonderful way to see Hawaii. In spite of some corner cutting with staffing HAL continues to provide a good experience for the price.

Loved the days in the islands!

Westerdam Cruise Review by kidpsyc

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2017
  • Destination: Hawaii
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
We scheduled this cruise because it gave us six days on four islands (with an overnight in Honolulu) which seemed to balance out the sea days. It also included a night passing of Kilauea with the spectacular sight of lava entering the sea the highlight of the cruise for me.

We have sailed with HAL before on other long cruises and knew that it would be an older crowd (I think only 8 children) with more sedate activities and that was not a concern. We met a lot of interesting people while sailing, often folks who had sailed the same itinerary many times. The Westerdam itself was a very nice ship though larger than we prefer. Considering it is about to go in for refurbishing, it was attractive and in very good condition, not too worn. Our cabin (6046) was behind the elevators but not at all noisy. Our room stewards (Tutu and Gede) were excellent; they knew our names right away, figured out our schedules quickly but worked around days when we spent extra time in the cabin, and were extremely helpful when we had a scooter problem. The balcony even got cleaned off from the collected sea salt several times during sea days. Front desk and shore excursion staff were also quite good.

You can tell that there have been cuts to staff in the Lido and dining room as service was not what it once was--but we were usually very well satisfied. In the Lido I saw staff going out of their way to assist some of the many passengers with disabilities--and several times a crew member would carry my plate and drink to the table for me. It was, however, often hard to find someone to clear plates or fill water, especially at dinner. We had open seating dining and this worked well for us since we were willing to share a table. We typically had breakfast and lunch in the Lido where the selection and quality of food were good. I especially liked eggs cooked to order and sushi availability. Hamburgers by the pool and pizza at the Italian station were also good. Soft ice cream availability by the pool was missed. Room service for breakfast was disappointing since the menu is now much more limited--but we did discover that if you wrote something on the order sheet that wasn't on the menu (like bagels and cream cheese) they would provide it. Menu for dinner in the dining room seemed more limited than it used to be, especially the first week, but the food was good. The Lido dinner menu was similar but with the hot appetizers and cold soups missing. One disappointment was that on an 18 day cruise we only had lobster available one night (it was excellent!). Even in the Pinnacle Grill (pay extra restaurant) you pay extra extra for lobster. Perhaps that is why it often seemed almost empty. We had lunch in the Pinnacle one afternoon and enjoyed the quiet there. Our first evening we ate in Canneloni, the extra pay Italian restaurant up on the Lido deck, but find the new menu not nearly as much to our liking as the old. Service was excellent.

For us days at sea are for reading, relaxing, talking to people and attending shipboard activities. HAL seems to be cutting back on libraries which is a shame. Entertainment in the showroom was varied and enjoyable, especially the magician and floutist. Unfortunately, if you didn't get there 45 minutes before the early show you wound up with a seat behind a pole or no seat at all. If there was only one show for the night it was even worse. This was the biggest complaint I had with the cruise--seats filling up long before the events and full rooms--which to me is a sign that there was not enough going on from which to choose. This was the case for the showroom, movies, trivia, afternoon tea, cooking demos, pretty much everything. This makes it even more annoying when some people insist on "saving" the better part of a row of seats for friends who come much later. Teas are now in the Ocean Bar--and I miss them being in the dining room (at least some of the time). Educational talks were not as good as I expected from past experience in that they were often not related to the Hawaiian itinerary (really--the Bermuda Triangle when you are mid-Pacific?). The talk as we sailed by the lava flow at midnight was only available in the Crows Nest but the sound should have been broadcast on stateroom TVs for those like us who wanted to watch in PJs. The group of Hawaiian entertainers who were onboard as we sailed to Hawaii were charming and did a very nice job with making leis, teaching hula, etc. The pool area was not often too crowded to find a spot and was enjoyable. Sometimes the pool was like a wave machine but the hot tubs were usable most of the time.

Shore excursions did a good job of making things do-able for passengers with disabilities (thank you Debbie). At tender ports the crew members were wonderful helping passengers on and off the tenders in rough waters. We did two privately arranged excursions (Chief's Luau in Honolulu and Marylou's Tours in Hilo) that were reasonable in cost compared to HAL tours. Marylou's was exceptional and I would recommend her to anyone visiting Kona or Hilo. HAL's Pearl Harbor / Arizona tour and Pali Coast tour in Honolulu were both good but had much more overlap than was evident from the descriptions. Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour and time sitting along the nearby beach were a great way to spend a day in Kauai. A Trilogy Catamaran tour in Maui was not a good choice for anyone in need of shade or who wound up in the back of the vessel where you could not hear the narration. Two hours mid-day on the water in the sun was too much for many on board. It also was too high in price when purchased through the ship--there were definitely better and more reasonably priced options available on-shore--but we did see whales!! I wish we had done another Marylou tour in Kona as that had more personalized guidance at the sites (Coffee museum and store, Painted Church, and a Refuge along the beach) but our ship arranged tour was good as we went from one place to another.

I very much enjoyed this cruise and think it is a wonderful way to see Hawaii. In spite of some corner cutting with staffing HAL continues to provide a good experience for the price.
kidpsyc’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VC 6046
Located behind the elevators but convenient, quiet location. Up the stairs to the pool and spa area and down to the showroom--but hoof it to the other end of the ship for dinner. Ship is about to be refurbished so I'm guessing some of the signs of wearing won't be there for the next cruises. Size of room and balcony and storage space were all fine.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Volcano National Park & Hilo Waterfall Tour
    This was one of the best tours we have taken--privately booked with Marylou's Big Island Guided Tours. She picked us up at the pier and we essentially had a private tour since the other couple from our ship that had booked with her was ill. We drove around Hilo at the beginning and end of the 6 hours seeing the town, beautiful parks, areas affected by the tsunami, and black sand beach. Then we headed out seeing waterfalls and varied landscapes on our way to Volcano National Park, talking about what living near an active volcano is like. Marylou guided our experience at the park, sharing binoculars, narrating what we were seeing, and answering questions. A number of people on bus tours with the Westerdam who were pretty much on their own wound up joining us for the great information and joy in what she was seeing (actually could see lava shooting up as well as the steam from the crater) that Marylou provided. She also guided us through the museum explaining things we might not have noticed on our own. We have mobility problems and were not intending to get out places like the lava tubes on the initial tour agenda, so (since we were her only customers) we slowed the pace a bit and spent more time with fewer things. The drive thru and stops within the national park were very interesting. On the way back to town she continued to point out sights along the way. We opted to by pass the macadamian nut stop in favor of the candy factory / store. Our lunch stop at a coffee processor included an interesting explanation of coffee processing; the food (not included in the tour) was okay.
    View All 112 Volcano National Park & Hilo Waterfall Tour Reviews
  • Luau
    We used the bus arranged thru Chief's Luau for transportation. The setting was beautiful (already seen earlier in the day on the Pali Coast tour from the ship) and the show was wonderful. The food and drinks were good enough, but nothing to rave about. We paid for the highest level but I really don't think it was worth the difference in price, particularly if you weren't there early enough to get one of the seats closest to the stage. Go for the basic package or the middle level at most.
    View All 43 Luau Reviews
  • Pali Outlook
    This was a good tour and our driver / guide (Keao) was excellent. Only complaint is that the description didn't make it clear how much overlap there would be with the HAL Arizona tour we took the next day.
    View All 15 Pali Outlook Reviews
  • Pearl Harbor
    We were lucky that we were able to go out to the Arizona and the day before boats were not able to go. Only complaint was that there was more overlap between this and the Pali Coast tour that we had taken the day before than the write-ups suggested.
    View All 179 Pearl Harbor Reviews
  • Helicopter Tour
    This was our first helicopter ride and, although expensive, was definitely worth doing--the scenery was fantastic. Blue Hawaiian makes a DVD of each tour available for $25--complete with video of the passengers and audio of any questions / comments made--couldn't pass it up! One complaint--shore excursions had recommended signing up for handicapped accessible transportation--when the van came the driver talked us out of needing that and we climbed into the regular van with some assistance; however, one of the gentlemen waiting with us clearly needed the specialized transportation and they did not make it available (even though indicated on his ticket). Instead he struggled for a good while to get into and out of the van--and it looked exhausting. This was unnecessary--they should have been prepared to provide what was promised. After the tour we took a shuttle to the shopping area near the ship, ate lunch overlooking the beach, then walked around the beautiful public beach and some of the grounds of the Marriott.
    View All 60 Helicopter Tour Reviews
  • Place of Refuge
    This was a bus tour that included a stop at a coffee "museum", the Painted Church, and Place of Refuge. Our bus drive gave excellent commentary on culture and scenery as we drove along, but at each stop we were on our own. The coffee museum was nothing special and samples always seemed to be running out. The docent at The Painted Church was excellent and made this brief stop memorable. The Place of Refuge was beautiful and would have been a truly fantastic experience with some guidance. After touring with Marylou in Hilo I wished we had booked with her for Kona as well (same sites with more guidance).
    View All 12 Place of Refuge Reviews
  • Whale Watching
    This was not the best tour for us--or for anyone who can't stay out in the mid-day sun for two hours without shade--but that was not evident from the shore excursion write up. They did recommend sun-screen, but even with that at least one of the passengers who stayed out in the sun got a nasty sunburn. There would have been much better options for us available onshore to book privately. Booking this two hour tour thru HAL cost $120 each, twice the price listed on their website. I do have to say we did get to see a number of whales pretty close up and to hear them over the sound equipment dropped into the water. The crew on the Trilogy was very good and knowledgeable and tried to be helpful. For passengers who were able to sit on the front of the catamaran there was great information to be had and sights to be seen. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no sound system so, if you were sitting towards the back, you missed much of what was said. There was an enclosed area below where the bar and restrooms were located--a number of us stayed there out of the sun for part of the tour--but unless you were standing in the doorway you could not see any of what was going on from that level--like whales. The snacks provided were quite good. I'm sure this would have been a better experience later in the day.
    View All 57 Whale Watching Reviews
  • San Diego
    duck-boat land/sea tour was fun and gave a nice overview of SanDiego
    View All 287 San Diego Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's San Diego Cruise Port Review