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WE decided to spare Captain Mark Rowden’s blushes. The gallant Yorkshire-born skipper of the Holland America Line’s Westerdam had probably had enough after his vessel was apparently, as the late Frankie Howerd might have said, verily thrice whupped by the Island Princess. Yet earlier, the Island Princess had been the butt of the jokes around his own ship. One of Westerdam lecturers was rash enough to show a map, pointing out: “The Island Princess had to go all the way round South America to reach Panama Canal. Yet it was almost on their doorstep in Fort Lauderdale.” But cliche though it might be ... it is still true that he who laughs last etc. So what happened? Well, the first hint of a reprisal came on the evening of March 16 when we were advised by a letter “there will be two ships in port and we will be sharing the same narrow pier to dispatch the tours”. Followed by a list of what NOT to do. So what happened? Although the Westerdam arrived first next day, the Island Princess had thoughtfully and craftily nicked all the best parking spots in advance for their tour buses in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The net result was that our tour was dispatched 45 minutes late. The following day, on the run in to the Panama Canal, the Island Princess whipped past us like Lewis Hamilton overtaking a backmarker. This meant, of course, they were tantalisingly ahead of us all day during the passage itself. And all the while there was great honking and tooty fruiting of sirens from both sides. Don’t know enough about ship points scoring even after 20-plus cruises to judge who won that battle. They were at it again in Cartagena, Columbia, where the best someone could do in the face of taunts from the Princess vessel was a rather pathetic sign saying: “Our balconies are bigger than yours.” Which was, fortunately, true. We had sailed on the Island Princess in 2015. The morning after our departure from Cartagena was accompanied by one of those freak weather scenarios where the wind was blowing so hard that it felt as though our balcony door was permanently locked. It took a massive heave from one of our cabin stewards to force it open. The floor of the balcony was littered with bits of detritus, including a pair of knickers. That very same morning Captain Mark was giving a sort of “My Job” talk in the theatre, followed by a question and answer session. Given the proximity of our forward balcony position virtually below the bridge we wondered whether it might be prudent to ask him whether any of his crew might claim ownership of the said undergarment ... or alternately, know who the owner might be. Eventually, after a discussion, we decided to spare him any further embarrassment. The excursions themselves were generally acceptable with the exception of the first rather humble one in a very crowded and noisy Puerto Vallarta. But, annoyingly, all the guides insisted on leading from the front at a pace which would have made them genuine contenders for a 10km walk medal in the Olympics, completely ignoring the average age of their charges. We were reminded of that on the very first day when we entered the Lido Market casual dining area to be greeted by a flustered senior woman steward, busily mopping the floor with tissues and informing us: “Please be careful where you tread. A lady has just peed on the floor.” Or the couple who arrived an hour late for an excursion, blissfully unaware that the time had moved another hour foward the previous night. The ship travelled 4,301 miles from San Diego where boarding was amazingly rapid. Less than an hour after being picked up at our pre-cruise hotel we were in our cabin. Praise was slighly tempered when the ship departed an hour late without a proper explantion. The odyssey ended in Fort Lauderdale where chaos reigned supreme and we parked next to a building site. On the way we visited Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco in Mexico, Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala, Corinto in Nicaragua, Puntarenas in Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, Cartagena (Columbia) and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, where we might have created a record by catching one ferry out and the next but one back. We admit we’re not beach people and there was no wi-fi on this private Holland America island. And talking of wi-fi ... we were sent pre-cruise data with their prices. The offer of $100 for 250 minutes seemed a fair deal but when we rang the desk to book it, we were told the offer had now been withdrawn. Yes. Thank you. Other niggles: Complete confusion over departure arrangements. We were sent Pink 1 luggage tags and told our approximate departure time. It was just as well we rang the information desk to check something. They then informed us we had been sent the wrong tickets. They should have been Red 1 and new ones were duly supplied with an apology and a different departure time. Plus note: We were were allowed to stay in our cabin and have breakfast there until we got the call. Departure from the ship was amazingly fast, too. It then took an hour to clear customs and and a further hour waiting in broiling sunshine for the coach to take us to Fort Lauderdale airport. Bad one Holland America! Good points: 1.) Sya, the ship’s towel folding star, and his mate Alan were our pleasant and capable cabin stewards. Hope they were happy with their tip. 2.) The courtesy throughout the ship was impeccable. 3.) Top-class live band in B.B. King’s theatre. Fair points: 1.) Entertainment quality rather mixed although we only once used those “bummer” seats next to the aisle in the Mainstage Theatre which enable people to leave without disturbance if the show is a bummer. 2.) We always eat in the Lido-style establishments. It’s quicker and there is a wider choice. It was on the whole, though, only marginally above average in quality. 3.) As so often happens on cruise ships, the temperature was far too cold in some places, particularly the Mainstage Theatre and some of the bars. *The ship was nicknamed the “Westerdram” by the heavier whisky drinkers in Gallery Bar. Not guilty, m’lud!

A whupping for the Westerdram!

Westerdam Cruise Review by jaxgang

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Trip Details
WE decided to spare Captain Mark Rowden’s blushes.

The gallant Yorkshire-born skipper of the Holland America Line’s Westerdam had probably had enough after his vessel was apparently, as the late Frankie Howerd might have said, verily thrice whupped by the Island Princess.

Yet earlier, the Island Princess had been the butt of the jokes around his own ship.

One of Westerdam lecturers was rash enough to show a map, pointing out: “The Island Princess had to go all the way round South America to reach Panama Canal. Yet it was almost on their doorstep in Fort Lauderdale.”

But cliche though it might be ... it is still true that he who laughs last etc.

So what happened?

Well, the first hint of a reprisal came on the evening of March 16 when we were advised by a letter “there will be two ships in port and we will be sharing the same narrow pier to dispatch the tours”. Followed by a list of what NOT to do.

So what happened?

Although the Westerdam arrived first next day, the Island Princess had thoughtfully and craftily nicked all the best parking spots in advance for their tour buses in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

The net result was that our tour was dispatched 45 minutes late.

The following day, on the run in to the Panama Canal, the Island Princess whipped past us like Lewis Hamilton overtaking a backmarker.

This meant, of course, they were tantalisingly ahead of us all day during the passage itself.

And all the while there was great honking and tooty fruiting of sirens from both sides. Don’t know enough about ship points scoring even after 20-plus cruises to judge who won that battle.

They were at it again in Cartagena, Columbia, where the best someone could do in the face of taunts from the Princess vessel was a rather pathetic sign saying: “Our balconies are bigger than yours.”

Which was, fortunately, true. We had sailed on the Island Princess in 2015.

The morning after our departure from Cartagena was accompanied by one of those freak weather scenarios where the wind was blowing so hard that it felt as though our balcony door was permanently locked. It took a massive heave from one of our cabin stewards to force it open.

The floor of the balcony was littered with bits of detritus, including a pair of knickers.

That very same morning Captain Mark was giving a sort of “My Job” talk in the theatre, followed by a question and answer session.

Given the proximity of our forward balcony position virtually below the bridge we wondered whether it might be prudent to ask him whether any of his crew might claim ownership of the said undergarment ... or alternately, know who the owner might be.

Eventually, after a discussion, we decided to spare him any further embarrassment.

The excursions themselves were generally acceptable with the exception of the first rather humble one in a very crowded and noisy Puerto Vallarta.

But, annoyingly, all the guides insisted on leading from the front at a pace which would have made them genuine contenders for a 10km walk medal in the Olympics, completely ignoring the average age of their charges.

We were reminded of that on the very first day when we entered the Lido Market casual dining area to be greeted by a flustered senior woman steward, busily mopping the floor with tissues and informing us: “Please be careful where you tread. A lady has just peed on the floor.”

Or the couple who arrived an hour late for an excursion, blissfully unaware that the time had moved another hour foward the previous night.

The ship travelled 4,301 miles from San Diego where boarding was amazingly rapid. Less than an hour after being picked up at our pre-cruise hotel we were in our cabin. Praise was slighly tempered when the ship departed an hour late without a proper explantion.

The odyssey ended in Fort Lauderdale where chaos reigned supreme and we parked next to a building site.

On the way we visited Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco in Mexico, Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala, Corinto in Nicaragua, Puntarenas in Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, Cartagena (Columbia) and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, where we might have created a record by catching one ferry out and the next but one back. We admit we’re not beach people and there was no wi-fi on this private Holland America island.

And talking of wi-fi ... we were sent pre-cruise data with their prices. The offer of $100 for 250 minutes seemed a fair deal but when we rang the desk to book it, we were told the offer had now been withdrawn. Yes. Thank you.

Other niggles: Complete confusion over departure arrangements. We were sent Pink 1 luggage tags and told our approximate departure time. It was just as well we rang the information desk to check something. They then informed us we had been sent the wrong tickets. They should have been Red 1 and new ones were duly supplied with an apology and a different departure time. Plus note: We were were allowed to stay in our cabin and have breakfast there until we got the call.

Departure from the ship was amazingly fast, too. It then took an hour to clear customs and and a further hour waiting in broiling sunshine for the coach to take us to Fort Lauderdale airport. Bad one Holland America!

Good points:

1.) Sya, the ship’s towel folding star, and his mate Alan were our pleasant and capable cabin stewards. Hope they were happy with their tip.

2.) The courtesy throughout the ship was impeccable.

3.) Top-class live band in B.B. King’s theatre.

Fair points:

1.) Entertainment quality rather mixed although we only once used those “bummer” seats next to the aisle in the Mainstage Theatre which enable people to leave without disturbance if the show is a bummer.

2.) We always eat in the Lido-style establishments. It’s quicker and there is a wider choice. It was on the whole, though, only marginally above average in quality.

3.) As so often happens on cruise ships, the temperature was far too cold in some places, particularly the Mainstage Theatre and some of the bars.

*The ship was nicknamed the “Westerdram” by the heavier whisky drinkers in Gallery Bar. Not guilty, m’lud!
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VE 7011
More than adequate, particularly the size of the balcony. One or two minor niggles in the bathroom but nothing to mar the overall verdict.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

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