We chose this cruise because the itinerary was what we were looking for and the dates suited us.
Let's start with the positives. The ship was clean and the staff were generally very good; some of them gave us exceptional service. The cabin was very good as was the food on board. We ate in the both the Pinnacle and the Italian speciality restaurants and they were well worth the additional cost.
We had one of the drinks packages and the choice of drinks was perfectly adequate, although it did make us smile when we saw the number of drinks priced at just over our $9 dollar limit.
We booked an extra night in Singapore before the cruise and an additional night in Hong Kong afterwards and they were both excellent hotels. Having the additional time in the two cities added greatly to the overall experience.
Our cruise was for 16 days, not realising there was an option for a further 15 days, but this was plenty and the itinerary was excellent.
Both embarkation and disembarkation were very efficient and ran smoothly.
We did 3 excursions booked through Holland America and they were very good although expensive (more on this later).
Without a doubt the entertainment highlight for us was the Philippino Staff Show. It was excellent and this was reflected in the feedback from the audience.
The other big plus was that we made some very good friends on board and we had a great time together.
Now for the negatives:
As I have said, we booked 3 trips through HAL but their trips were so expensive that we also looked at other options. We booked tours to Ho Chi Minh City and Hue through ShoreExcursions.Asia and they were top class and around half the price. We resolved to do our own thing at most of the stops and we were so glad that we did. It wasn't until we were on board that we found that at a number of the ports a free courtesy bus was provided to run guests into the city/beach. On most sea days, we were given a presentation by Jeremy about travelling independently once going ashore at the various ports and these presentations were excellent. I assume we were not told this in advance because HAL want you to but their excursions but the demand for the information was clearly illustrated by the fact that by the end of the cruise Jeremy was giving two presentations a day and the theatre was packed. The one trip we did do indepenedently that didn't pay off was at Sanya and this was through a Chinese Travel Agency and this was a disaster. What made it worse was that Sanya was one of the destinations where there was a free courtesy bus to the beach!
We were also not told in advance about ports where tender transfers were required. This didn't concern us but would have been a real issue for those passengers with mobility problems.
The clientale on the Westerdam were generally older and this was reflected in the entertainment and bar facilities that were provided.
On other cruise ships that we have been on, the Atrium is the focal point of the ship but this was certainly not the case on the Westerdam. There were aslo a number of random bars and quiet rooms that we felt could be better used.
Overall, the entertainment was not that good. The Request Shows by the pianists were a bit of a mockery as they actually played very few actual requests and the shows in the theatre were also nothing to get excited about.
One big criticism of the Westerdam was that it was so cold onboard. Despite numerous complaints, this was never resolved. this was also the case with the unpleasant smell emanating from the toilets near the BB King Club.
As I said earlier, we had a drinks package and whilst it was expensive, I'm glad we had it.
We were told beforehand that a gratuities charge would be applied and this would have added up to $480. However, in common with a number of other English guests we filled the form in to say we would not be paying it and chose to tip those members of staff who served us well.
Generally, the staff were very good but this cannot be said of the ship's officers who made little attempt to interact with us. Whether they were more welcoming to the American guests I don't know.
Another excessive additional charge, which I understand is not just applicable to HAL, is the wi-fi. This is purely a money-making exercise and on sea days in particular the coverage was very poor.
Overall, I very much doubt that we will be travelling with HAL again.
Clean, comfortable and well-furnished.
We had an overnight stop in Singapore prior to joining the ship and we were very impressed.. We stayed in a lovely hotel and it is a city well worth visiting. The waterfront area is particularly nice.
We took a taxi from the port and despite the weather beaing particulalrly bad we saw enough of the island to see why it is so popular. I would love to re-visit in good weather. what didn't help was the arrangements for getting the tenders back to the ship; it resulted in Westerdam guests standing out in the pouring rain and getting soaked. The German TUI ship was much better organised.
This was a good tour and we got to do exactly what it said in the description of it. The lunch was sumptuous. The only downside was the price.
We took the courtesy bus to the beach. Sihanoukville is in a a very poor area although there is a lot of Chinese investment being poured in which will make a considerable difference. The beachfront area wasn't the best but we sytill had a relaxing time there.
We got the courtesy bus to the beach which was very clean and we had a very relaxing day
This tour was just over half the price of the HAL tour and we had a comfortable vehicle, good driver, excellent guide and we got to see just about everything that we wanted to.
A good tour around the island and into the cave but it is such a popular destination that it is difficult to get the quality of photographs you want because of the number of other boats in the area.
We booked an independent trip to Hanoi with a Vietnamese company and it was very good. The driver collected us just outside the port and we picked up the guide as we entered Hanoi. He was excellent and varied the itinerary to accommodate our requests.