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This cruise represented a couple of firsts for us; it was the first time we had booked air and transfers with the cruise line, and the first time we had a verandah stateroom, both of those proved to be nice additions to the cruise experience. As this cruise started out of San Diego we took a risk and booked our flight for the departure day as it is only a two hour flight from home and there are a multitude of flights everyday. We had the quickest check-in experience we have ever had, perhaps because we were later in the day. It was a little odd that some of the online check-in information such as credit card info and the request for twin beds had not come through, but those things were taken care of quickly. Our stateroom was a good size for two with enough room to unpack our things, though slightly more counter space might have been nice. The verandah was more enjoyable and useful than we had anticipated. We used it as a quiet place to read and for bird watching during the day, and for stargazing at night. We were at the stern and just one deck above the Promenade. The stern of the Promenade is closed to passengers during the canal transit so it was a great advantage to have this verandah as it provided an up close rear view going through the locks. The ship has beautiful and interesting artworks throughout, I particularly loved the floor mosaic which was slightly damaged but still very beautiful, although I cannot now recall whether it was on the Promenade or Lower Promenade deck. Some new touches since the last time we sailed with Holland America that we enjoyed were: Lincoln Center Stage where there were 45 minute classical music concerts by a piano quintet five nights a week at 7:00 and 9:00 (and sometimes in the afternoon); EXC Guides, whose job is to tell you how to enjoy the port on your own, not the shopping stops or a big upsell for the shore-excursions, but facts about the country and area you are visiting and practical tips for how to get around and sights you might like to visit (some of the presentations were more helpful and informative than others); America’s Test Kitchen presentations which are a lot like watching a semi-live episodes of the show. We did not attend many of the evening shows, just the Planet Earth II in concert which was marvelous, and an Argentine group which was quite good. The food was, on the whole, excellent. We ate breakfast and lunch (when on board) in the Lido and dinner in the Dining Room each night. We had free seating and went to dinner between 5:15 and 5:45 every night which meant we never had a wait, but there were some long waits for those arriving later, particularly on gala nights. At breakfast the waits for omelets could sometimes be longish but generally not too bad and it was, as usual for Lido on every ship I have been on, often difficult to find a place to sit. At lunch there was a great variety in what was offered. The best were often the asian dishes, (the Indian food was amazing!) but they also offered some excellent vegetarian sandwiches. The taco bar was probably under-utilized and so offered a quick tasty lunch if you did not feel like standing in line for something. The burger/hot dog counter seemed to always have a huge wait, they even gave you a buzzer so you could sit while you waited, if you could find somewhere to sit. Dining room service could be slow, but the food was beautifully presented. There were a couple dishes that I did not like, but most were tasty and a few were excellent, including an amazing chocolate dessert which had a long name we had never heard of and cannot remember, so be sure to ask what something is on the menu if you don’t recognize it. For disembarkation we did not put our bags out as we only had carry-on sized luggage and we had booked an excursion and transfer (our flight was in the evening) so we were in the third group called after the expedited passengers and those who took advantage of the ships luggage direct service which transferred checked bags to the airport and checked them for you. The times were slower than expected so rather than being called at 7:45 we were called at 8:25 so we got a bit worried that we had somehow missed the call, It is the first time we have been on a ship that did not allow persons with only carry-on bags to depart whenever they wished. Puerto Vallarta Took “Two if by sea” excursion by motor Catamaran. The morning was cool and the water somewhat rough. On the way out we were given breakfast and an introduction to the area. We paused briefly at Los Arcos, small rocky islands, to see nesting Blue-footed Bobbies, Pelicans and Cormorants. We then suited up with snorkel, mask and fins for the first stop Majahuitas Cove. Our guide, a marine biologist, led the snorkeling bringing up sea creatures like urchins and sea cucumbers from the bottom for everyone to experience. Visibility was good near the rocks where we entered the water and there was a lot to see, then as we swam toward the beach where the boat tied up, reduced to almost nothing. It was a fair distance swimming and one man became exhausted and had to be towed back to the boat. The water was quite cold and the boat apparently had wet suits available, but I did not learn that until I was already in the water. There was a chance to kayak for those interested. After the water activities, brunch was sandwich fixings, including some really awesome roasted vegetables, more fruit, a macaroni salad, water and juice, and the bar was open for those so inclined. At the second stop, Yelapa we walked through town and up to a waterfall the guide went sometimes a little too quickly as some people got behind and did not get to hear some of the commentary about local plants and etc he shared along the way. It was a pretty little waterfall and a cute little town. We then had an hour on the beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas. On the way back to the ship the captain took a route further out to sea and we spotted a sea turtle, several Manta Rays, and we were very lucky to spend several minutes with Humpback Whales, a mother and baby. The crew put on a fun and rather silly lip sync show to keep us entertained when not spotting wildlife.

Lovely Canal Trip

Westerdam Cruise Review by portsimportant

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Trip Details
This cruise represented a couple of firsts for us; it was the first time we had booked air and transfers with the cruise line, and the first time we had a verandah stateroom, both of those proved to be nice additions to the cruise experience. As this cruise started out of San Diego we took a risk and booked our flight for the departure day as it is only a two hour flight from home and there are a multitude of flights everyday. We had the quickest check-in experience we have ever had, perhaps because we were later in the day. It was a little odd that some of the online check-in information such as credit card info and the request for twin beds had not come through, but those things were taken care of quickly.

Our stateroom was a good size for two with enough room to unpack our things, though slightly more counter space might have been nice. The verandah was more enjoyable and useful than we had anticipated. We used it as a quiet place to read and for bird watching during the day, and for stargazing at night. We were at the stern and just one deck above the Promenade. The stern of the Promenade is closed to passengers during the canal transit so it was a great advantage to have this verandah as it provided an up close rear view going through the locks.

The ship has beautiful and interesting artworks throughout, I particularly loved the floor mosaic which was slightly damaged but still very beautiful, although I cannot now recall whether it was on the Promenade or Lower Promenade deck. Some new touches since the last time we sailed with Holland America that we enjoyed were: Lincoln Center Stage where there were 45 minute classical music concerts by a piano quintet five nights a week at 7:00 and 9:00 (and sometimes in the afternoon); EXC Guides, whose job is to tell you how to enjoy the port on your own, not the shopping stops or a big upsell for the shore-excursions, but facts about the country and area you are visiting and practical tips for how to get around and sights you might like to visit (some of the presentations were more helpful and informative than others); America’s Test Kitchen presentations which are a lot like watching a semi-live episodes of the show. We did not attend many of the evening shows, just the Planet Earth II in concert which was marvelous, and an Argentine group which was quite good.

The food was, on the whole, excellent. We ate breakfast and lunch (when on board) in the Lido and dinner in the Dining Room each night. We had free seating and went to dinner between 5:15 and 5:45 every night which meant we never had a wait, but there were some long waits for those arriving later, particularly on gala nights. At breakfast the waits for omelets could sometimes be longish but generally not too bad and it was, as usual for Lido on every ship I have been on, often difficult to find a place to sit. At lunch there was a great variety in what was offered. The best were often the asian dishes, (the Indian food was amazing!) but they also offered some excellent vegetarian sandwiches. The taco bar was probably under-utilized and so offered a quick tasty lunch if you did not feel like standing in line for something. The burger/hot dog counter seemed to always have a huge wait, they even gave you a buzzer so you could sit while you waited, if you could find somewhere to sit. Dining room service could be slow, but the food was beautifully presented. There were a couple dishes that I did not like, but most were tasty and a few were excellent, including an amazing chocolate dessert which had a long name we had never heard of and cannot remember, so be sure to ask what something is on the menu if you don’t recognize it.

For disembarkation we did not put our bags out as we only had carry-on sized luggage and we had booked an excursion and transfer (our flight was in the evening) so we were in the third group called after the expedited passengers and those who took advantage of the ships luggage direct service which transferred checked bags to the airport and checked them for you. The times were slower than expected so rather than being called at 7:45 we were called at 8:25 so we got a bit worried that we had somehow missed the call, It is the first time we have been on a ship that did not allow persons with only carry-on bags to depart whenever they wished.

Puerto Vallarta

Took “Two if by sea” excursion by motor Catamaran. The morning was cool and the water somewhat rough. On the way out we were given breakfast and an introduction to the area. We paused briefly at Los Arcos, small rocky islands, to see nesting Blue-footed Bobbies, Pelicans and Cormorants. We then suited up with snorkel, mask and fins for the first stop Majahuitas Cove. Our guide, a marine biologist, led the snorkeling bringing up sea creatures like urchins and sea cucumbers from the bottom for everyone to experience. Visibility was good near the rocks where we entered the water and there was a lot to see, then as we swam toward the beach where the boat tied up, reduced to almost nothing. It was a fair distance swimming and one man became exhausted and had to be towed back to the boat. The water was quite cold and the boat apparently had wet suits available, but I did not learn that until I was already in the water. There was a chance to kayak for those interested. After the water activities, brunch was sandwich fixings, including some really awesome roasted vegetables, more fruit, a macaroni salad, water and juice, and the bar was open for those so inclined. At the second stop, Yelapa we walked through town and up to a waterfall the guide went sometimes a little too quickly as some people got behind and did not get to hear some of the commentary about local plants and etc he shared along the way. It was a pretty little waterfall and a cute little town. We then had an hour on the beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas. On the way back to the ship the captain took a route further out to sea and we spotted a sea turtle, several Manta Rays, and we were very lucky to spend several minutes with Humpback Whales, a mother and baby. The crew put on a fun and rather silly lip sync show to keep us entertained when not spotting wildlife.
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VB 4183
Our stateroom was a good size for two with enough room to unpack our things, though slightly more counter space might have been nice. The verandah was more enjoyable and useful than we had anticipated. We used it as a quiet place to read and for bird watching during the day, and for stargazing at night. We were at the stern and just one deck above the Promenade. The stern of the Promenade is closed to passengers during the canal transit so it was a great advantage to have this verandah as it provided an up close rear view going through the locks.
Observation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    Took “Cartagena by Land and Sea” excursion. A fairly comprehensive tour made somewhat difficult because we were so often mobbed by street vendors while with the group, which even made it difficult to keep up with the guide sometimes particularly as he was fairly soft spoken. We took this tour because it promised free time and we did get about 45 mins, but if I had known when we bought this (before sailing) that more independent options would be available on board I would have chosen one of them. However with those options we would not have had the “Sea” portion of the tour which was quite enjoyable.
    View All 312 City Tour Reviews
  • Corinto
    Took the “Colonial Leon and Chorotega Museum” excursion. Our guide on this tour was marvelous, funny and insightful he really knew his business and was passionate and optimistic about his country. We started with the museum, which was housed in the school which is more fully visited on other tours. It was a smaller museum than I had anticipated but still had some very nice artifacts. We then continued to Leon where we had a brief tour of the city with some historical highlights and a more extensive tour of the Cathedral, or rather Basilica as this is a place the pope has visited. The views from the top were magnificent and we were lucky to be there on a holiday so we did not have to remove our shoes as is usually required. We then had an adequate amount of time to get a little something to eat and do a little souvenir shopping in the square.
    View All 58 Corinto Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Half Moon Cay
    Started the day with a long stroll around the island. I think we walked most of the roads and walkways accessible to the public. We then had an excellent lunch, then we spent a while shopping in the straw market but failed to find anything we wished to purchase. Then it was time to sign in for the Stingray adventure. Staff at the meeting place were rather abrupt and unclear in their directions, but eventually we sorted out where we were supposed to be. There were only four people doing this excursion so we had plenty of time with the stingrays, swimming with them first, then holding them and feeding them at the instruction of the very friendly and knowledgeable guides. And, because it was the end of the day we were happy to head back to the ship to clean up afterwards.
    View All 12,995 Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Huatulco
    Took “Bird watching Eco adventure” This trip should be taken by those who love to bird watch and are prepared with binoculars and/or camera with telephoto lens, and perhaps some previous birding experience. After leaving the ship we were split into groups of 15-17. Each group had a guide and driver. Some of the guides had spotting scopes, but our guide did not. We were taken to two bird spotting areas the first was at a higher elevation and was very quiet the day we were there so we did not linger long before returning to a lower elevation area nearer the coast. We walked slowly down the entrance road to a local beach park that cut through woods and brush. We saw around 25 birds most of them new to us, however those who did not have binoculars were not able to see as much and often looked a little bored. The guide really knew his birds and was able to identify birds for us from just our description of what we had seen without even seeing the bird himself. I think the guide was disappointed that we did not see more birds that day as he said usually they see between 30 and 40 birds on the trip. For us it was a lot of fun!
    After the bird tour we had time to explore the little town area around the pier. We were looking for a local restaurant which had mole, a Oaxaca specialty, we found a restaurant where the waiter/tout said they had molé even though it was not on the menu so we ordered it and it was delicious.
    View All 169 Huatulco Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)
    Took the “Antigua on your own” excursion. This excursion sold out quickly so we felt lucky to get a spot just a week before the ship sailed after putting ourselves on the waiting list a couple months earlier. This consisted of a guided bus ride to Antigua, about three and a half hours to explore as we wished, and a guided bus ride back to the ship. Leaving the ship we were on a standard size bus then just outside Antigua near a beautiful ruined church we switched to small vans or mini buses to be driven into the city center where we began with a short orientation at the Jade museum. There were private guides available, which the tour operator highly recommended, but we opted to just walk around on our own. We took in the famous convent arch. Then made our way to the market, first we found the local produce market where we took lots of photos then the tourist souvenir market for some shopping. We stopped at the Pollo Campero, a local fast food place, for lunch and also sampled fresh mango from a street cart. We made time to tour the cathedral ruins before heading back to the meet-up point.
    View All 299 Puerto Quetzal (Antigua) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Yelapa
    Took “Two if by sea” excursion by motor Catamaran. The morning was cool and the water somewhat rough. On the way out we were given breakfast and an introduction to the area. We paused briefly at Los Arcos, small rocky islands, to see nesting Blue-footed Bobbies, Pelicans and Cormorants. We then suited up with snorkel, mask and fins for the first stop Majahuitas Cove. Our guide, a marine biologist, led the snorkeling bringing up sea creatures like urchins and sea cucumbers from the bottom for everyone to experience. Visibility was good near the rocks where we entered the water and there was a lot to see, then as we swam toward the beach where the boat tied up, reduced to almost nothing. It was a fair distance swimming and one man became exhausted and had to be towed back to the boat. The water was quite cold and the boat apparently had wet suits available, but I did not learn that until I was already in the water. There was a chance to kayak for those interested. After the water activities, brunch was sandwich fixings, including some really awesome roasted vegetables, more fruit, a macaroni salad, water and juice, and the bar was open for those so inclined. At the second stop, Yelapa we walked through town and up to a waterfall the guide went sometimes a little too quickly as some people got behind and did not get to hear some of the commentary about local plants and etc he shared along the way. It was a pretty little waterfall and a cute little town. We then had an hour on the beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas. On the way back to the ship the captain took a route further out to sea and we spotted a sea turtle, several Manta Rays, and we were very lucky to spend several minutes with Humpback Whales, a mother and baby. The crew put on a fun and rather silly lip sync show to keep us entertained when not spotting wildlife.
    View All 12 Yelapa Reviews
  • Zip-Lining
    We took a private tour from “Thumbs up tours” After looking over what the ship offered we really wanted to do a tour that combined things the ship just did not combine. We chose to go for a zipline tour plus a crocodile boat ride. The tour started with a stop to see the monkeys, where I was ashamed to see people from the ship who had taken fruit off the ship and were giving it to the monkeys this is not only illegal you are not supposed to take food from the ship, but also harmful to the long term health of the monkeys. We then stopped at a little fruit stand and tried the local mango ceviche. A quick stop at the crocodile bridge came next. Then our zipline tour. It was supposed to have been 10 zips, but there were bees at the end of the ninth so our tour ended after eight zips for safety reasons. We then had a delicious lunch at a restaurant high on the hill with a magnificent view. This is where you can usually spot Toucans but they were stubbornly out of sight the day we were there. We then went down to the river for our Crocodile boat tour. We had a bit of a wait before it started but some of the other folks had been waiting for nearly an hour and a half by the time we got on board so our wait was not so bad. We saw a few Crocs and lizards and many interesting birds. We finished up our day with a quick tour around Puntarenas and were back to the ship about an hour before sail time.
    View All 31 Zip-Lining Reviews