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This is my third cruise with Holland America and first time to Alaska. We were overall very pleased with the cruise and would highly recommend not only this ship but, also the destination. It was gorgeous! I really have no complaints about anything on the Westerdam except the Lido restaurant wasn't always up to par. More times than not the dishes were dirty and one would have to go through the stack of plates to find a clean one. I realize they are washing in bulk, restaurant style but it was annoying and gross. The staff were top notch as usual and we were well taken care of. I mainly wanted to write a review to offer tips to anyone cruising Alaska. Here is a list of either what I wish I had done or what I did that I was grateful for:Packing- they aren't kidding when they say temps in the 50's! Temps hovered in that range and with the windchill it felt much colder on some days. Layering is best. I recommend a lightweight shirt for each day with jeans and then pack a couple of interchangeable fleece jackets for the week. I didn't heed the advice to take hat and gloves and wish that I had! If you like to walk on the decks or will be viewing the glaciers, you will need them. Don't forget a raincoat and umbrella (we were grateful for ours). Also, there is no clock in the stateroom so if you are one that needs to look at a clock at night and such, you will need to bring one.Dining- we were only given the "as you wish" dining option when we signed up for the cruise many months prior to sailing. I had read reviews that you need to make dinner reservations with this option. I did this on the first day and the only times you are able to select from are 5, 5:15, and 5:30 pm and then again at 7:45, 8, etc. So, it pretty much mirrors the upstairs dining room early and late seatings. We were given the option of sitting with others or a a table for 4 (there were 3 of us and we selected the later option). We had a great table by the window and our waiter informed us we could reserve the same table by calling the reservation # and giving our table #. Once we did this 2 nights in a row, it seemed to become our table for the week and we got notices at our stateroom of our dinner reservation without even having to call. Nice.Embarkation- get to the terminal early. Our shuttle dropped us at 10:45 and we checked right in with no lines. We did have to wait until 11:30 to board the ship but, there was plenty of seating for the wait. It was just nice to get through everything and then have a breather before boarding. Staterooms are now ready upon embarkation...no waiting around in public areas with your carry ons anymore. Once again, nice.Exercise- if you have never cruised before and like to walk, don't miss the 3rd deck of the ship. Three laps equals a mile and you can't beat the view!Travel- if you are coming a fair distance from home to embark in Seattle, I recommend coming a day early to prevent stress. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express City Center and an independent shuttle to the pier is provided there. It was a short drive. If you can afford to stay over a night after the cruise before flying home, I recommend that too. Seattle airport was packed Saturday morning as 3 cruise ships disembarked all at the same time. The lines at the airlines and security were VERY long that morning and many were missing their flights as a result of the lines. Our flight left at 11:30 and we were fine. We did the expediated disembarkation where we carried our own luggage and liked this.Souvenirs on ship- If you are looking to buy souvenirs in the gift shop, wait until the last 2 days of the cruise when they put many items on sale. They also sell items on the Lido deck all week (tshirts, etc...) but buyer beware. They double the price tag and then put them on a table marked 50% off (i.e. a sweatshirt with price tag of $68...really?) I still found the best deals in the gift shop and the items are better quality than on the Lido deck sale.Spa services- these get cheaper near the end of the week and check your daily paper/schedule for specials from the spa. Port days are cheaper than at sea days for services as well.Lanyard- if you would like to carry your key card which you use for everything (like your credit card on ship) bring a lanyard from home. They are about $7 in the ship store. The front desk will punch a hole in your card for you if you need it.Soda Card- we paid $25 for $50 worth of soda. We didn't use it all and my son treated the teens on the last day in the Loft to lots of soda! Sodas are around $2.35 a piece (including the service charge). The card was a good deal and I highly recommend if you drink soda. Someone mentioned that this can't be used in the main dining room but we had no problems and the drink steward took it without question.Internet Access- this was the first cruise that I didn't purchase internet access. Most ports had accessibility in cafes in port. The town of Sitka has Wi-Fi throughout the town. As the store clerk told me, "you can just plop down anywhere in town and have free internet access!" She was right and that was great. Excursions- we did not sign up for any organized excursions. They were very expensive and we did just fine without it. Every port has a tourist info booth at the dock and tons of tour companies offering about everything they offered in an excursion for cheaper. I have reviewed the ports separately on this site. It was a GREAT week and once again, I highly recommend this trip! Ms. Westerdam has some of the hardest working people I've seen and very friendly. Alaska was breathtaking! Would be happy to answer any questions.

Excellent week in Alaska on the Westerdam

Westerdam Cruise Review by momof2inva

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2011
  • Destination: Alaska
This is my third cruise with Holland America and first time to Alaska. We were overall very pleased with the cruise and would highly recommend not only this ship but, also the destination. It was gorgeous! I really have no complaints about anything on the Westerdam except the Lido restaurant wasn't always up to par. More times than not the dishes were dirty and one would have to go through the stack of plates to find a clean one. I realize they are washing in bulk, restaurant style but it was annoying and gross. The staff were top notch as usual and we were well taken care of. I mainly wanted to write a review to offer tips to anyone cruising Alaska. Here is a list of either what I wish I had done or what I did that I was grateful for:Packing- they aren't kidding when they say temps in the 50's! Temps hovered in that range and with the windchill it felt much colder on some days. Layering is best. I recommend a lightweight shirt for each day with jeans and then pack a couple of interchangeable fleece jackets for the week. I didn't heed the advice to take hat and gloves and wish that I had! If you like to walk on the decks or will be viewing the glaciers, you will need them. Don't forget a raincoat and umbrella (we were grateful for ours). Also, there is no clock in the stateroom so if you are one that needs to look at a clock at night and such, you will need to bring one.Dining- we were only given the "as you wish" dining option when we signed up for the cruise many months prior to sailing. I had read reviews that you need to make dinner reservations with this option. I did this on the first day and the only times you are able to select from are 5, 5:15, and 5:30 pm and then again at 7:45, 8, etc. So, it pretty much mirrors the upstairs dining room early and late seatings. We were given the option of sitting with others or a a table for 4 (there were 3 of us and we selected the later option). We had a great table by the window and our waiter informed us we could reserve the same table by calling the reservation # and giving our table #. Once we did this 2 nights in a row, it seemed to become our table for the week and we got notices at our stateroom of our dinner reservation without even having to call. Nice.Embarkation- get to the terminal early. Our shuttle dropped us at 10:45 and we checked right in with no lines. We did have to wait until 11:30 to board the ship but, there was plenty of seating for the wait. It was just nice to get through everything and then have a breather before boarding. Staterooms are now ready upon embarkation...no waiting around in public areas with your carry ons anymore. Once again, nice.Exercise- if you have never cruised before and like to walk, don't miss the 3rd deck of the ship. Three laps equals a mile and you can't beat the view!Travel- if you are coming a fair distance from home to embark in Seattle, I recommend coming a day early to prevent stress. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express City Center and an independent shuttle to the pier is provided there. It was a short drive. If you can afford to stay over a night after the cruise before flying home, I recommend that too. Seattle airport was packed Saturday morning as 3 cruise ships disembarked all at the same time. The lines at the airlines and security were VERY long that morning and many were missing their flights as a result of the lines. Our flight left at 11:30 and we were fine. We did the expediated disembarkation where we carried our own luggage and liked this.Souvenirs on ship- If you are looking to buy souvenirs in the gift shop, wait until the last 2 days of the cruise when they put many items on sale. They also sell items on the Lido deck all week (tshirts, etc...) but buyer beware. They double the price tag and then put them on a table marked 50% off (i.e. a sweatshirt with price tag of $68...really?) I still found the best deals in the gift shop and the items are better quality than on the Lido deck sale.Spa services- these get cheaper near the end of the week and check your daily paper/schedule for specials from the spa. Port days are cheaper than at sea days for services as well.Lanyard- if you would like to carry your key card which you use for everything (like your credit card on ship) bring a lanyard from home. They are about $7 in the ship store. The front desk will punch a hole in your card for you if you need it.Soda Card- we paid $25 for $50 worth of soda. We didn't use it all and my son treated the teens on the last day in the Loft to lots of soda! Sodas are around $2.35 a piece (including the service charge). The card was a good deal and I highly recommend if you drink soda. Someone mentioned that this can't be used in the main dining room but we had no problems and the drink steward took it without question.Internet Access- this was the first cruise that I didn't purchase internet access. Most ports had accessibility in cafes in port. The town of Sitka has Wi-Fi throughout the town. As the store clerk told me, "you can just plop down anywhere in town and have free internet access!" She was right and that was great. Excursions- we did not sign up for any organized excursions. They were very expensive and we did just fine without it. Every port has a tourist info booth at the dock and tons of tour companies offering about everything they offered in an excursion for cheaper. I have reviewed the ports separately on this site. It was a GREAT week and once again, I highly recommend this trip! Ms. Westerdam has some of the hardest working people I've seen and very friendly. Alaska was breathtaking! Would be happy to answer any questions.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 5131
Love this cabin as it is near the stairwell/ elevator in the back part of the ship. Easy access to the Lido dining and Vista Dining room. Great view from the balcony with no obstructions.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Juneau
    Our day in Juneau could have been better if the weather wasn't cold and rainy. I don't want that to taint the review of this quaint little town though! The visitor center folks were very friendly and helpful. We took a $16 pp round trip shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier which was well worth it. We wish the weather had been better to enjoy more of Juneau!
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  • Ketchikan
    Our least favorite port visit. There is lots of souvenir shopping but beyond that, we really didn't find much to do here. It was a crowded port and lots of sea planes to watch taking off and landing from the ship.
    View All 1,787 Ketchikan Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Sitka
    Our favorite stop on our Alaskan cruise. Very quaint little town with lots of neat shops and rich in history. We spent part of the day hiking on the trails with beautiful scenery and the other part visiting historical sites and shopping. Everyone was very friendly. Wi-Fi access is throughout the town for free. Just as the store clerk told me, "you can just plop down anywhere in town to get free internet access!" She was right! Dont' miss getting off the ship at this great town!
    View All 341 Sitka Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Victoria
    Beautiful city and only wish we had more time here. Our visit was at night from 7- midnight but I really couldn't stay up that late and get up early the next morning for disembarkation! It was organized at the port as far as tours, shuttle buses, and those walking to town. Maps were readily available and very helpful. They gave walkers several didn't routes to get to town and the walk was probably 30 minutes at most through cute Victoria neighborhoods. Victoria itself was bustling and you could tell it was the only port city we visited that wasn't totally dependent on the cruise ships coming in. So, it was crowded with locals and cruisers alike. Would love to have had more time to explore here.
    View All 1,319 Victoria Cruise Port Reviews
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