This was our eighth cruise with Holland America and our second on a Vista Class ship. By far, the Westerdam is at the top of our list and we would sail on this ship again.
The ship recently came out of dry dock and all the common areas have been nicely refurbished. We do, however, miss the library and hope that Holland will find a way to incorporate that feature in the future.
Our shipboard experience was very good. We had a wonderful captain, Mark Rowden, who consistently kept us updated and informed. He would also break in with announcements at various times to let us know if there were particular things that might be of interest, such as a wonderful sunset off the port side or the time we would be cruising the Gibraltar straights. The cruise director, Nathan Hinojosa, was one of the best we have ever sailed with. He took it to heart that it was his job to ensure that everyone was having a good cruise.
Our cabin, 4145, was a balcony (VB category) in the aft section of the ship. The bedroom part of our cabin had been freshened, but the bathroom is showing some wear. (It was clean and perfectly functional). The cabin itself was adequately sized and we did not feel cramped on the balcony. We were a bit too close to the elevators, but we were only rarely bothered by the noise. Our only serious complaint is that there were only two TINY drawers in the nightstands and absolutely no drawer space anywhere else. I would gladly have sacrificed the mini-bar in the vanity for extra storage. It would have been fine for a week, but for any future cruise of twenty-five days we need a cabin with more space.
Venice was our embarkation port. We did book a pre-cruise hotel and transfers through Holland America.
We were met at the airport and taken to a water taxi (along with several other passengers and our luggage) almost immediately. Transfer to the Hotel Bonvecchiati was very expeditious. The service at the hotel was outstanding and the breakfast buffet was very, very good. When the air-conditioning went out in our room the first day, the hotel upgraded us to a better room (with great air-conditioning) without our even asking. Transfer to the ship was prompt and professional. Embarkation was a breeze. We were able to enjoy a leisurely embarkation lunch in the main dining room and our luggage was in our room (and unpacked) before the safety drill. All in all, the experience was seamless and enjoyable.
Our first view of Greece, and frankly, disappointing. Our shore excursion was merely OK. We visited a winery, which was really below average.
Beautiful harbor! The old town is within walking distance of the ship. There are a lot of fun palces to get tapas and some local beer, wine or coffee.
We did not go ashore in this port.
We chose not to get off the ship at this port.