This was our third cruise with Holland America and first on Westerdam. We have also cruised with Azamara, Oceania, NCL, Windstar, Louis, Katarina and several river cruise operators. This cruise was 12 nights, starting in Civitavecchia and finishing in Barcelona.
The ship is looking very smart in the public areas. We were in an ocean view cabin on deck 1. The cabin looked a little tired. The job done by our room stewards was not very thorough.
On our previous 2 HAL cruises we had found the food to be boring, bland and repetitive. This food on this cruise was no different. The service in the Lido Market was poor – they supposedly served water and lemonade at the tables, but we usually had to go and get our own – it was difficult to attract any waiter attention. Plates were often not cleared between courses.
Ordinary ocean view cabin, looking a little tired. Conveniently placed. Quiet. Room stewards were not very thorough with the cleaning.
Embarkation port. Cheap and easy enough to catch the train from Rome to Civitavecchia (provided you don’t have too much luggage), but the port itself has become something of a pain since they shifted the cruise port transfer point further away from the railway station. We have been to Rome multiple times and it is such an interesting place to spend some time either side of a cruise from/to Civitavecchia.
There are many options for day trips from Livorno, but the big industrial port is not very user friendly for those wanting to DIY. We did a HAL tour to Cinque Terre. This was new territory for us, but did not really come up to expectations.
This was a replacement stop for St Tropez, which was cancelled due to wind making tendering unsafe. Villefranche is small, with a citadel and a pleasant enough old town to wander. Of note was the “Rue Obscure”, an underground street which dates from the 13th century. Villefranche was also a tender port. There is a big tourist information centre near the tender drop off, which had free wi fi.
Famous for the Napoleon connection, this place is pleasant enough. We docked adjacent to the town and just wandered.
Many people went to Granada to see the Alhambra, but it is quite a long drive from here and we had been before, so we spent the day wandering Almeria on our own. It is walkable from the cruise ship pier to the sights of the city. We climbed up to the Alcazaba, which is impressive, and free to enter. Then we walked up the San Cristobal hill to the monument and more views of the city and the Alcazaba. The cathedral, which is built like a fortress is also worth seeing. There are also many churches, most of which were closed.
Lots of options here. We had an overnight, so spent the first day on our own, then did a HAL tour the second day. We had been before so we decided to just concentrate on a couple of major sights. We only saw La Sagrada Familia from the outside on a previous visit, so this time we went inside. I booked online beforehand. There are several bus options from the port to near the Columbus monument. We used the most convenient one, which ran specifically to/from the Westerdam. It was 5 Euros per person and could be used all day, as many times as you liked. Having caught the shuttle out of the port, we then walked to La Sagrada Familia, stopping at several churches and various buildings in the Parc de la Ciutadella along the way. We spent 2 hours in La Sagrada Familia, including going up the Nativity tower. A truly amazing place and a must see in our book. From here we walked up to the Hospital de Santa Creu I de Sant Pau. This is a lesser known sight in Barcelona and is well worth a visit, even if the entrance fee is a bit steep. It is an amazing collection of modernista buildings, built as a hospital, with interconnecting tunnels.
We had an overnight in Barcelona before disembarkation the next morning. We did a HAL tour to Montserrat, which then dropped us off at the airport. We had done Montserrat before, but it is a pleasant excursion and this was a convenient way to fill time before our afternoon flight. Our guide was good, and we got to Montserrat ahead of most of the crowds of tour buses.
A base to go further afield if you want, but we stayed in Marseille for the day and did our own walking tour – about 25kms of it! The cruise ships dock quite a long way out. There are several transport options to get into Marseille, but for convenience and to save time we used the HAL shuttle, which was US$14 per person return to Rue Barbusse, near the History Museum. There are lots of sights of interest in Marseille, including the Palais Longchamp, Notre Dame de la Garde, Vieuz Port, St Victor Abbey, Palais du Pharo, Fort St Jean, Hotel de Ville, Cathedrale La Major, Le Panier (Old Marseille). We really enjoyed Marseille.