This was our fourth HAL cruise in the Asia-Pacific region and we enjoyed it. Westerdam has been refitted in recent years and the ship was in very good shape. Carpets and furniture were clean and well maintained. Public spaces were very pleasant. We had a verandah cabin which was nicely maintained with a modern flat screen TV on the wall across from the bed, and a good bathroom with tub/shower combination. This repositioning cruise spent 7 days on the North Pacific between Vancouver and Japan, and the crossing had both choppy and calm seas. An unexpected re-routing around Japan was necessary to avoid Super Typhoon Hagibis but the captain and crew did a great job of keeping us informed and safe. After two missed port calls and one-day delay in reaching Yokohama due to the storm, the subsequent 2 week itinerary stopping in Japan, South Korea and China was excellent.
HAL is known for its older crowd, and this was certainly the case on this cruise. If you don't like spending a lot of time with mostly seniors this isn't the cruise line for you, but what the passengers lack in youth they make up for in travel experience. Most have been all over the world and make for great conversation any time you are wanting to chat.
Food aboard was great. We mostly eat in the dining room and find the menus to be varied and quality of the food excellent. We generally eat late (8pm or later) and tables for 2 were always available at that time, which made it very relaxing. The Lido Market cafeteria usually had seating available and the range of food for breakfast and lunch was good, but we found the offerings at dinner were not spectacular.
HAL seems to have improved its entertainment and we enjoyed the shows on the Main Stage. The variety was good, from full dance and music shows to comedians, and individual musicians. America's Test Kitchen daily presentations were great. Some of the cultural lectures were better than others (a function of who was doing the presentations) but overall set the stage for our ports of call. And port information sessions provided in advance of each port were excellent, not just designed to sell the cruise line's tours.
The best thing about HAL's ships is the mainly Indonesian and Filipino crew. They are very friendly and helpful. We are always greeted with a smile. Cabin staff were excellent. Food servers and wine stewards were cheerful and efficient. It's always amazing how the servers and other staff remember your name and your preferences.
HAL shore excursions are, as usual, high priced and sometimes lack quality, but it's possible to organize a mix of cruise line tours and private tours. We used a lot of HAL tours for the China portion and most were very good to excellent.
Overall a very good Asia-Pacific cruise this time around on Westerdam.
Good cabin. Comfortable seating area. Good flat-screen TV. Bathroom had tub/shower combination. Quite far forward so could be a consideration if you get motion sick and need a cabin more in the centre of the ship. Otherwise very quiet, and deck 5 is nicely located about midway between the Lido on deck 9 and shopping, food service and entertainment on decks 3 and 2.