14 Rome (Civitavecchia) Holland America Westerdam Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise with HAL having previously cruised with Azamara, Celebrity (Elite), NCL (Silver) and Princess. We picked this cruise as it was very port intensive, (18 ports in 24 days with overnights in Venice & Athens) ... Read More
This was our first cruise with HAL having previously cruised with Azamara, Celebrity (Elite), NCL (Silver) and Princess. We picked this cruise as it was very port intensive, (18 ports in 24 days with overnights in Venice & Athens) and we had the opportunity to see a lot of the Mediterranean in one cruise. The passengers were a 60+ crowd and if you were looking for entertainment to keep you amused throughout the day this was not the cruise for you. Food is a very subjective topic so I’m not going to go into any details besides saying (in my opinion) that is was very similar to what we have experienced on Celebrity. There was lots of variety in the Lido Buffet and the food was very good in The Dining Room. The Good: • Embarkation, we arrived at the port at 11AM and were onboard at 11:30 AM and our stateroom was ready, • Luggage was in our stateroom at 1PM, • All of the ports guides for the entire cruise were in our stateroom, • KK & Brett,EXC staff gave great port presentations. • $30.00 for a bag of laundry and you can put a lot of clothes in the cloth bag if you roll them tight, • Great tender service, they always had 5 tenders running and by 9:30 AM there was no waiting for one, • The Cruise Director provided clear and concise information whenever he spoke on the ship’s PA, • The elevators are the fastest we have experienced, • All of the staff (bar, Lido, dining room) were friendly, polite and willing to provide assistance. • The stateroom attendants were fantastic, polite, and knew our name from day one. They had 29 staterooms to look after. The So So: • When you went to the muster drill you reported to the Lido Deck and stood around your assigned life boat. It was so packed you couldn’t see the life jacket demonstration unless you were right in front of the person providing the demonstration & the announcements on the PA were hard to hear. I found it to be a strange location to hold the drill due to the passenger congestion. On a positive side it only took about 20 minutes to complete the muster drill. • The evening entertainment was ok but nothing special. This was the first cruise I have encountered where they showed a movie on a couple of nights instead of live entertainment for the evening show. The Not So Good: • No pay per minute internet. They only offer packages that are for the entire cruise. So if you only want to use the internet to print you boarding pass on the last day of the cruise you would have to buy a package. • I found the ships excursion staff to be very abrupt and they seemed to be very rushed when I went to see them at the Excursion desk. • The ship just completed a refit this spring and they relocated the Future Cruises Consultant into a small office on the 10th deck in the Explorations area. There is nowhere for her to leave out any pamphlets on any future cruises so you have to make an appointment to see her and get the pamphlets/brochures. It seemed to me that it was a waste of everyone’s time to have to book an appointment just to get brochures. • Prior to the cruise I went on HAL’s website to confirm the dress requirements of Gala Nights in the Dining Room. The website states that men must wear a collared shirt and slacks. Along with others, I wore a collared golf style shirt and was turned away from the dining room. They informed me that the collared shirt has to be completely buttoned down from top to bottom. So you can attend Gala Nights if you wear a buttoned down short sleeve shirt that you bought on your last Caribbean Cruise for $10.00. But, if you wear a golf style shirt that cost $90.00 you get turned away. I went to customer service and showed them the dress requirements on HAL’s website and the reply I receive was that fully buttoned down is implied. On our last Gala night I saw them let in a gentleman who was wearing jeans but according to the dress requirements that is not allowed. If a buttoned down shirt is the requirement then HAL needs to update the dress requirements on their website. • This was the first cruise where I have seen passengers wearing robes and their PJ’s allowed to eat breakfast in the Lido Buffet. All I can say is it is appaling seeing passengers sitting around in robes and PJ’s eating breakfast. This practice needs to stop. • Approximately 10% of the passengers and staff used the hand sanitizer dispensers when entering the ship or eating areas. It appeared that the ship didn’t put an emphases on Hygene/sanitation. This was the worst we have experienced on any ship. All in all it was a very enjoyable cruise, lots of great ports and we would sail with HAL again as we appreciate that they have collector cruises which provide for some interesting destinations. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We like to cruise with Holland America for years and are in general happy with the company. We notice that the signature of excelence is slowly less "readable". Too many changes not really in favor of the customer... The ... Read More
We like to cruise with Holland America for years and are in general happy with the company. We notice that the signature of excelence is slowly less "readable". Too many changes not really in favor of the customer... The changes on the Westerdam are an example for us that the changes are not a big better for us. The librairy is converted in a small amount of travel books in the Crowsnest oh sorry the exploration room. The frontdesk, sorry again, the guests service office is now on deck 1. For your accountprint are two machines available, but the last two days those machines were out of order.... The Indonisian crew is still fantastic, although you notice that there are less people working on the ship. The officers too are very busy! The first invitation was not ery good prepared, we did not see anyone of the officers to meet and greet.... But we still keep on cruising with the HAL!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We were already in Rome and wanted a cruise that left from there. We decided on this cruise because is was 12 days and went to spots that we have never been before and wanted to see. We also like port intensive cruises as we like to visit ... Read More
We were already in Rome and wanted a cruise that left from there. We decided on this cruise because is was 12 days and went to spots that we have never been before and wanted to see. We also like port intensive cruises as we like to visit new places. The food was excellent but I wish this ship had more dining options. We went to the 8 o'clock show one night and waited to go to dinner in the Lido and didn't realize that it closed at 8:30 so we were stuck with pizza as the pasta line was too long. The entertainers were very good but the shows were not as elaborate as the other cruises we have been on. I would have enjoyed a bit more splash. Our cabin was very nice and we were on deck 8 at the very front of the ship and loved our location as well as the cabin. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We choose this cruise because of our past cruise experience with Holland America, ie Alaska cruise 2014, the food was excellent. This particular cruise the food was very good, but not quite the same as the Alaska cruise. The ship was ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of our past cruise experience with Holland America, ie Alaska cruise 2014, the food was excellent. This particular cruise the food was very good, but not quite the same as the Alaska cruise. The ship was smaller and the entertainment was below our experience from the Alaska cruise. There was no entertainment on our last night, which was quite disappointing. The staff and wait service (dining room) was very good, of notable dinning room staff were 2 servers, Domas (excellent) and Rai (very friendly with great voice), also the room service was quite good, Martin and Sigit, thank you for their great service. All 4 were very pleasant and stood out for us. Overall the crew and staff were friendly and always said good morning or hello. We had a few concerns and one was with the Spa, we found them to not be as helpful and vague at times in their explanations and choices. We won some spa giveaways and found it difficult to use them since the Spa would not honour them on sea days. We won a couples day in the spa and were only able to go for about 1 hour....disappointing! The dining room Maitre de (host) sat us alone one night for dinner without our travelling companions, he sat another couple with our friends for that dinner. When I voiced my concern, one of the supervisors offered us a glass of red wine, it was terrible wine and very little in the glass! Quite disappointing since this was near the end of the cruise and they should of known that we always had a table of 4, for my wife and I and our friends, who we convinced to cruise with us. We had some problems with a few bartenders who were impatient and vague in their explanations of happy hour and drink choices...we ended up purchasing drinks we did not want and they gave us no options for returning them. Again, very disappointing. We did not use any of the ships excursions, we found them over-priced so my wife and I planned our on excursions for each port. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We choose this cruise because of the ports in this itineray...Most of those ports were new for us like St-Raphaël (France), Ajaccio (Corsica), Almeria (Spain), Ceuta (Spain), Marseilles (France) and Sète (France) and we were happy to see ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of the ports in this itineray...Most of those ports were new for us like St-Raphaël (France), Ajaccio (Corsica), Almeria (Spain), Ceuta (Spain), Marseilles (France) and Sète (France) and we were happy to see the ports we went before like Livorno (for Cinque Terre), Monte Carlo and Barcelona....We cruised a lot in the mediterranean but we were happy to find a cruise with some ports we never did....All those ports are very nice towns and easily walkable so you don't need to have private or ship excursions...On Westerdam they have specialists who describe what to do and see in each port of call without trying to sell excursions..... The service was exceptionnal on this ship (dining room, cabin attendants, service desk....in fact everybody from the cruise personnel on the ship was friendly and smiling....)....The ship itself is old and need some improvements.......The only bad thing about Holland America is the Internet service (it is very disturbing for us) in the ways you have to pay $29,95/day if you want to send only one E-MAIL or to chek-in for your flight back home.....In St-Raphaël we walked from the port to Frejus and back to St-Raphaël and it's a very nice town....In Ajaccio we walked around the town and took a bus to visit some Islands out of the town and we liked it....In Almeria we walked to the fortress Alacazaba and it was worthed it's so nice and we walked around the town it's very pretty.....In Ceuta we walked from the port to monte Hacho and back around the town (we could see Gilbraltar from the ship and along the coast) and we likes very much this town.....In Marseilles we walked to the cathedral Notre-Dame de la Garde and back around the town and we took a tour to Aix-en-Provence and we loved it ....and at Sete we took a tour to Montpelliers and we walked around the town after the tour and we loved it.... Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Hal should not of done away with the library. The food was excellent but lacks adequate staffing for the tables in the Lido at dinner time. Pinnacle grill not up to its usual standards steaks not too great. The ports were terrific. ... Read More
Hal should not of done away with the library. The food was excellent but lacks adequate staffing for the tables in the Lido at dinner time. Pinnacle grill not up to its usual standards steaks not too great. The ports were terrific. Cabin was good. This was more of a family cruise with plenty of children. They would run up and down the halls and at the Lido. Staff was instructed to just let them do their thing. The future cruise consultant was hidden up on deck 10. She could accommodate only two people by her desk. The guests waiting to see her would be left standing in the hallway outside her office, not a good way to sell future cruises. It seems HAL has lost their direction in what it wants to be. It is stuck between the older generation that doesn't spend a lot of $$$ on amenities and the newest generation that want things to do on the ship. The new T.V. system is awesome. Put it on the longer cruises. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
The newly refurbished Westerdam was wonderful.....except on a back to back cruise that they encourage, you get repeat entertainment from the ship's entertainers. One show was a week after the first time. This to me is unacceptable. ... Read More
The newly refurbished Westerdam was wonderful.....except on a back to back cruise that they encourage, you get repeat entertainment from the ship's entertainers. One show was a week after the first time. This to me is unacceptable. The have, in my opinion ruined the Crow's Nest. The comfortable tecliners are gone and replaced with less comfortable chairs. The whole ambiance has been ruined! The new library is now located in a small space on deck 10 but has very few books now....most are reference type books. The excursions office has taken over a large space on one side but their staff don' spend a lot of time there. There are a few electronic tables where you can explore but??? I heard a lot of people who did not like these changes to the Crow's Nest. The new carpets and curtains add a little colour to the decor. The cabins also have new carpets, newly covered couch and new veranda furniture. I was disappointed that they did not refinish the bathtubs. Ours was quite marked and pitted. The staff as always were exceptional and did their best to please. All in all, the Westerdam provides a good environment for you to enjoy a wonderful cruise vacation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
The ports on the cruise itinerary were interesting and new to us and this was our first HAL cruise. We enjoyed the nightly entertainment like the Lincoln Center quintet, the B. B. King singers and especially the Billboard on Board dueling ... Read More
The ports on the cruise itinerary were interesting and new to us and this was our first HAL cruise. We enjoyed the nightly entertainment like the Lincoln Center quintet, the B. B. King singers and especially the Billboard on Board dueling piano players. The staff at the Explorations cafe, Lido buffet and the main dining room were the best as they were always so helpful and provided service with a smile. I wasn't lucky at the casino so I limited my play. We had the Signature Beverage package which was part of our Explore 4 promo but will probably not purchase it if it was not given to us as we could hardly make 6 drinks a day (including specialty coffees and bottles of water). My daughter and I attended the free half-hour stretch class. Embarkation in Rome and disembarkation in Barcelona went smoothly. In summary we had a great time on our 12-day Mediterranean cruise on the Westerdam and would definitely sail with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I chose this cruise for the great itinerary. As for embarkation, getting aboard the ship went incredibly smoothly, but then the issues began. The tone set from the beginning was negative. No welcoming glass of juice, much less champagne, ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the great itinerary. As for embarkation, getting aboard the ship went incredibly smoothly, but then the issues began. The tone set from the beginning was negative. No welcoming glass of juice, much less champagne, and no one available to help with directions. No sail away party. For the first two days, there was a lot of finger pointing about which department was responsible for fixing snags. For example, our key cards did not work, a problem not rectified for six hours. Lines were long to have this addressed because an enormous number of passengers had issues. What I learned from this experience is to avoid taking a cruise on a ship just out of drydock, partly because of the newly introduced glitches and partly because the refurbishment wasn’t finished – paint fumes were everywhere. Neither the observation deck nor the library were available for the entire cruise. Onboard credit was given for this mishap, but it was inadequate, especially for passengers without a veranda. After the first few days, the staff went out of their way to be helpful and were very pleasant and friendly. The size of our veranda room was adequate, but could have been better laid-out—the closet/bathroom area didn’t make it easy for two people to get ready at the same time. The food was good, but not exceptional. There were unusually short hours for both the dining room and the buffet. The passengers we met were well-traveled, very friendly, and interesting. On a positive note, the ports were exceptional. They were all enjoyable, scenic, historic, and at times breathtaking. Most of the shore excursion guides were informative and engaging (with one big exception in Gozo.) The astonishing beauty, wide-ranging history, and charming Mediterranean atmosphere I encountered on this itinerary made this a wonderful trip. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
The MS Westerdam October 21 - November 12 Western Mediterranean Cruise was as different as any Holland as any Cruise I have been on. (Which now is twelve) This was my fortieth cruise overall.We embarked from Civitavecchia after three days ... Read More
The MS Westerdam October 21 - November 12 Western Mediterranean Cruise was as different as any Holland as any Cruise I have been on. (Which now is twelve) This was my fortieth cruise overall.We embarked from Civitavecchia after three days in Rome. The ports of call were as follows: Livorno, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Cartagena, Malaga, Cadiz, Lisbon and Funchal Madeira. I won't dwell on the ports as everyone's perception of a destination is completely different. I enjoyed them all and some were repeats and Malaga, Cartagena, Livorno and Madeira were new to me. I enjoyed Funchal the most as we were there overnight and the island is just simply stunning.In my opinion HAL has been downgraded in several ways. The first thing I noticed was laundry was four days instead of next day service as advertised. I travel in the SA Class as I am used to getting one day service and therefore bring fewer clothes. When I complained I was given a lecture by my cabin steward (twice) stating they were understaffed and I should not expect the kind of service I am used to. I certainly am not used to this kind of disrespect from the crew and I was rather amazed.The next thing lacking was entertainment. In the Crow's Nest, for instance, they had for the entire eighteen days one singer from eight until nine and that was it. No HAL Cats or anything else. There was some entertainment in the Ocean Bar and the Queen's Lounge but the quality was poor. The shows were typical cruise fare and generally were terrible.On a positive note, the food was good, the Spa was great and the ship impeccably clean. I had lunch with the Captain one day and he was a jolly fellow, though quite serious.The ship seemed very understaffed and lines in the Lido were long. Also there was an outbreak of the Norwalk Virus during the cruise which slowed things down around the ship with their prevention methods.The seven Sea days from Funchal to Fort Lauderdale were dreadfully boring as there was little offered to the passengers during the day other than normal cruise ship fodder such as bingo and trivia games.Embarkation and disembarkation in all ports was efficient. We tendered in Monte Carlo and that was smooth as well.Another point of concern is now HAL has changed their Mariner recognition codes. I am now level three, yet no pin was awarded. I was told it will be mailed to me. We were given a lunch, but no personal recognition was given to long time passengers as in the past.I have to say this was the first time I was happy to leave the ship. Usually I can't get enough. My future plans will have to be reevaluated regarding cruising. One last issue. My travel agent sent me a bottle of Scotch for my cabin. It never arrived. I contacted the Cellar Master, a Erik Van Kampen, and he assured me credit would be issue to my account. This did not happen. I will be looking at upgrading to Silver seas or Seabourn as I feel I was on a Carnival cruise on this last one.If you have any questions please contact me at peterc6@bellsouth.net.Peter CFairhope, AL Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
There can be little more memorable than watching large, sleek cruise ship at anchor in the clear azure water of a Caribbean inlet like Half Moon Cay. Unless it's looking up at that very ship from a tender as you make your way back ... Read More
There can be little more memorable than watching large, sleek cruise ship at anchor in the clear azure water of a Caribbean inlet like Half Moon Cay. Unless it's looking up at that very ship from a tender as you make your way back from the pier at Monaco, the city climbing the ridge behind you. Or perhaps gazing out over the tiled rooftops of a small Spanish city like Almeria at that very same ship anchored in port beyond them. The Westerdam's Journey to the New World (transatlantic) cruise in October offered all those memories and more. I am a 60-year-old single male who traveled solo on this cruise. I booked this cruise based on the itinerary not because of expectations for the cruise line or the cruise itself. My perceptions and opinions may be somewhat different from those of many considering Holland America Line (HAL), the Westerdam, or a similar itinerary and should be read as one viewpoint among the many that can be found at CruiseCritic. I have tried to touch on points not covered by other reviews rather than give my impression of ports of call and the like. As a result this is a somewhat longer review than many. Precruise visit to Rome I booked a short precruise visit to Rome and used HAL to reduce the potential for disruption and problems. If I were to do it again, I would have certainly used HAL for the air travel and transfer to the port, but not for the rest. The transfer to the hotel was poorly organized, slow, and chaotic. HAL's contractor for the transfer provided guides whose English left a lot to be desired, a problem that they compounded by providing little useful information. I believe I could easily have found a better-located hotel at a more reasonable price at this time of the year. The hotel was the Parco Dei Principi, which was a good 20-minute walk from the central part of the city. While the Villa Borghese Park separating the hotel from the city is very pleasant and great for walks (and from all appearances very safe) the streets in the park are somewhat confusing and many of them did not appear on any of the four maps that I was using. The Galleria Borghese is within walking distance. I had no difficulty getting a ticket with an almost immediate entrance time late in the afternoon there. Hotel staff were efficient, responsive, and knowledgeable. I ate dinner in the dining room the night I arrived and the staff was very accommodating, going out of their way to make a single traveler feel comfortable. The food was so-so. Many people have written reviews about visits to Rome and I will not duplicate what they have written. My only suggestions are definitely prebook a tour for the Vatican early and if you want to see the inside of the Coliseum, buy the combination ticket at Palatine Hill (allowing you to see both this fantastic ancient palace area and the Coliseum). The lines are much shorter there. The Ship The Westerdam is a relatively new ship that was refurbished earlier this year. As part of that process the Lido restaurant was expanded, which was badly needed since it is still too small to accommodate all 1800 guests on sea days. Despite the fact that the ship was just in for updating there are noticeable signs of wear. As an example, the seating outside the dining room on Deck 2 is thread bare and worn through. Carpets in many areas are a monstrous riot of reds and blues that is discordant with the crystal, prints, and statues found in various parts of the ship. HAL advertises the quality of the "art" displayed around the ship. It is true that there were no velvet bullfighter pictures in gilt frames, but beyond that I'm not sure it rises to the level of 'art'. I booked an inside cabin that was more than large enough for my needs. I didn't miss having a porthole or a verandah and in fact I found it much easier to sleep in the darkness that the interior cabin afforded. It was my plan to spend minimal time in the cabin and I elected to spend the money elsewhere (HAL cooperates with that by giving you lots of opportunities to spend, spend, spend). There was plenty of storage in terms of closets for one person, although drawer space was quite limited. I can believe that a couple or a person with more "gear" (such as make up) might find the lack of counter space a severe limitation. There were several other problems as well. The lighting is quite good in the central part of the cabin, but the configuration was such that the closets were very dark and it was often hard to find things in them, especially in a hurry. Additionally, the walls are thin and I sometimes heard the people next to me (or their television). HAL does provide toiletry items and a hair dryer; however the shampoo and body wash were quite thin and the hair conditioner was so thick that it was very difficult to get it out of the bottle. I would carry my own if these items are important. The hair dryer is mounted under the counter in the sleeping area and did not appear to be moveable. If using a hair dryer at the sink is important bring your own. The Westerdam offers a range of television programming, including a wide selection of movies. Unfortunately its not possible (or at least I didn't figure out how to) tell what movie is being shown when. Some of the channels offer ship information (weather log, navigator log, and so forth) and information about ports of call. Others are pretty much a shill for HAL products and services. More information on ship activities as well as more detailed weather reporting would be helpful. HAL talks about flat screen televisions. I didn't see any. One of the real attractions was Westerdam's exercise facility. The ship has a fairly large number of Cybex treadmills, stair steppers, a rowing machine, and weight machines as well as exercise classes (for a fee; always for a fee). Additionally there is a spa facility that offers a wide, wide range of services and packages. Incidental feed back about the spa was uniformly good. The promenade deck was a great place to walk (3 laps equals one mile) or to run, although casual walkers frequently had a problem making passing room (or understanding the courtesy involved in doing so) and were dangerous at times. Westerdam's crew was professional, efficient, and responsive; however, I didn't notice the level of personalized customer care that others comment on here. Passengers were asked to complete comment cards by Saturday morning. Services and attitude both seemed to decline after that point. Another interesting event occurred when HAL hosted an officer's reception. This event was attended by Westerdam ship's officers as well as other members of the crew (mainly those having to do with customer services). HAL provided free drinks (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) to its personnel, but charged passengers bar rates (which are quite steep) for the same products at the reception. I find this sort of behavior outrageous. At $2.00 US for a soda and $5 to $7 dollars for an alcoholic drink like wine or a cocktail HAL can easily afford to comp attendee drinks (at least nonalcoholic ones) rather than so blatantly treat their passengers like cash cows. Passenger Characteristics HAL's reputation is generally as a refuge for the pale and frail. The passengers on this cruise fit that profile with both its benefits and detriments. There were no loud parties or packs of drunken passengers coursing through the corridors in the middle of the night. On the other hand (setting aside some very clear exceptions) a significant percentage of the passengers were slower, more muddled, and more whiny than average. There is, in addition, an incredible sense of privilege, entitlement, and superiority in certain quarters. Piano Man Kory's parody of passenger behavior entitled "Get Out of MY Way" (sung to "I did it My Way") on the last night of the cruise highlighted this unattractive behavior among some passengers. If this behavior (the presumption of privilege, not the making fun of it) irritates rather than amuses you, then you would be well off to look at other cruise line alternatives. Food Westerdam food was significantly better than I expected it to be, although it is far from gourmet. I am a diabetic and carefully watch what I eat, so I signed up for a healthy diet dinner selection; however, I found lots of diversity on the menu and decided to order from it instead. In addition to a range of dishes that varied from night-to-night plain fish, chicken, and steak alternatives were offered every day. These dishes were grilled and served with steamed vegetables. I had no problem keeping my glucose levels within target over the entire 16-day cruise. I had lunch in the dining room only one day. The food was similar in type to that offered at dinner and was quite good. I visited the dining room once for breakfast, where I asked to be seated alone as I was planning to read. After waiting for 10 minutes for service I left and went to the Lido instead. As a rule, I found, HAL tolerates single travelers rather than welcomes them and this was one example of how HAL tends to make the single traveler feel like a burden. Most of my lunches and breakfasts were eaten in the Lido. The Lido is organized as a series of buffet type stations, which helps keep the lines down, but on sea days the dining room was slow and crowded anyway. It offers healthy alternatives (baked fish and roasted meats along with healthy vegetable selections and sushi) as well as no sugar added deserts of several types. Sugar free pancake and waffle syrup is available, if you ask for it. Westerdam offers free coffee and tea at the Lido. All other drinks (including coffees in the cafes) are on a cost basis. Soda, wine, and cocktail cards are available and are convenient, but not really a bargain. Unfortunately the ship ran out of most of the better wines long before the cruise ended (even in the house pour categories). Since Westerdam operates on a cashless basis (all costs are charged to the cabin account) it is very easy to run up significant bills one soda at a time without realizing it. I checked my bill periodically to stay on top of charges and ended the cruise within budget. Entertainment I found that I enjoyed the entertainment thoroughly, much to my surprise. There were two acts that more or less fell to my expectation: a juggler and a magician. The others were much better. I especially enjoyed the oboist, the pianist (Amy Ambler, who has incredible energy) and the pianist/classical singer duo. Other aspects of the entertainment program were well attended and I think enjoyed by most passengers. There were a couple of lecturers, one of whom was excellent; the other was less so. There were many and varied classes, meetings, and lessons. Shopping The Westerdam offers a range of shops, especially selling watches and jewelry. There were continuing sales and specials that resulted in feeding frenzies of various levels of intensity. Prices are hefty and it would be wise to buy staples (motion sickness and cold pills and most types of clothes) before starting the cruise. Shore Excursions and Visits The Westerdam had an interesting itinerary as well as a five sea-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. The Shore Excursion Office on Board is open several hours a day. In addition there is an electronic booking kiosk that can be used anytime. We visited the following ports: Livorno/Florence Florence is a beautiful city with better prices and friendlier people than Rome. Tickets to the Uffizi and to the Accademia (home of Michelangelo's David as well as home to a Stradivarius violin) can be ordered via the Internet and will save you significant amounts of time (I used Florence Art) and doing it as early as humanly possible. I booked a couple of months out and had significant limitations on hours available. Getting into the Uffizi is time consuming and involves several lines and stops. It's well worth the effort. The Duomo and the Santa Croce church are both worth seeing. The Santa Croce houses the graves of a number of famous Florence citizens. As in Rome sidewalks are narrow and crowded in Florence. It therefore takes longer to walk anywhere than you would normally expect. Also (as in Rome) the streets are twisty and often change names from one block to another. Bring more than one map and consult them frequently. Everyone knows you are a tourist and looking at a map won't make it any worse. Florence is definitely a more refined, pleasant, cleaner, and friendly Italian city than Rome (which is, after all Rome). I will definitely visit Florence again. Monaco We tendered into Monaco, a very pleasant and well organized experience. I took the tour to Nice, Eze, and Monaco, which I thought was excellent and well run. While Eze is picturesque and lovely it is high on a hill and involves lots of walking. Marseilles I took the tour to Arles and Le Baux, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Again the tour operated smoothly and on time. Le Baux, like Nice and Eze, is a great place to buy souvenirs of Provence. I have always found French people to be incredibly warm and friendly (especially if you try to speak a little French) and the people of southern France seemed even more so. I look forward to revisiting this area in the future. Barcelona/Valencia I had a cold these two days and limited myself to short shore visits in both cities. Both Barcelona and Valencia are beautiful and clean cities (although pick pockets appear to be active in both places). I thought that Las Ramblas in Barcelona offered little beyond the very standard tourist fare. Almeria This is a small city on, I believe, the Costa Del Sol. I visited the Abacazar, a restored Moorish citadel, which is well worth the climb and the visit (and its free!). The ship docks within walking distance of most sites, which is uncommon, but Almeria offers limited alternatives for tourists. Ponta Delgada We visited Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island on a Sunday and little was open. I took a bus tour that allowed me to see much of the island, which is very lovely. The tour also visited Riberia Grande on the north coast. This is a small town with a lot of charm. Watch for the cows! Half Moon Cay Half Moon Cay is privately owned by HAL and offers many water sports as well as horse back riding (which is not so widely advertised). There are also a few souvenir shops, a replica of a Caribbean village, a dining pavilion and several bars. After five days at sea, several of them quite rough (waves in the 12 foot range) being on dry land was a wonderful experience in and of itself. Visits to Half Moon Cay are also via tender; however these tenders are based at the Cay and the process worked far less effectively than Westerdam's visit to Monaco. Waiting for the tenders on Half Moon Cay can be a debilitating experience as chairs are provided in the hot sun and the wait can be 20 minutes to half an hour (HAL staff on duty at the embarkation point are given a tent fly for shade; passengers have no cover). Embarkation/Disembarkation Embarkation was incredibly smooth and fast. I registered online and there was literally no wait in CIVITAVECCHIA. My cabin was ready by the time I boarded (about 12:30) and luggage arrived shortly thereafter. The boat drill was very well managed and provided excellent preparation for emergencies. Disembarkation was much less successful. Stewards began coming around at 7:30 trying to begin making up cabins. I felt we were herded into public rooms, where we waited until nearly 9 before disembarkation began. There was no water available and the ship was hot. The baggage area was chaotic and although luggage was sorted it was very difficult to locate (the signs weren't accurate). There reputedly were fights in the baggage area, which I can understand given the crowded conditions and the sense of entitlement some passengers held dear. While immigration and customs were well handled by the federal people there was practically no direction or assistance from HAL in boarding buses to the airport. Again, if I were to do it over I would handle that transfer myself and would probably carry my own luggage off (an option offered by HAL). Security The Westerdam is a very secure facility. All boarders are screened at entry. Safes with electronic locks are available in all cabins. The ports that we visited are well known for pickpockets. I purchased a messenger bag from Travel Smith that was very secure (zippered pockets within zippered pockets and a steel cable in the strap, which was long enough to slip over my head). I was very careful to watch the street in all of the cities that we visited and to keep my bag close to my body. I also made sure to carry only a limited amount of cash and one credit card. I had one encounter with what I believe to have been a pick pocket team in Barcelona, which I circumvented by slipping around them. In Conclusion I took this trip in order to visit the ports at which the Westerdam stopped and for the experience of sailing across the Atlantic rather than for the cruise experience itself. On that basis the ship was a delivery system for me that was cost effective (room and board are in US dollars not in far more expensive Euros) and pleasant. I would equate the "hotel" aspects of the Westerdam with those of a reasonably good hotel chain in the US. I would sail on a HAL vessel in the future if it "going my way" as it were. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Review of European Crossing Holland America Westerdam October 4-21 Arrival and Transfers We flew from Austin to Rome via New York (JFK) on Delta Airlines. The Austin-New York leg was fine but the transoceanic flight to Rome was ... Read More
Review of European Crossing Holland America Westerdam October 4-21 Arrival and Transfers We flew from Austin to Rome via New York (JFK) on Delta Airlines. The Austin-New York leg was fine but the transoceanic flight to Rome was terrible. We flew a Boeing 767-300 in coach class. There was absolutely no leg room for anyone over five feet ten inches. We were cramped beyond belief and thus got little sleep on the flight. Our arrival at Rome's Leonardo De Vinci Airport was uneventful as all our checked baggage arrived safely. Holland America (HAL) provided for transfer to the Westerdam at the port of Civitavecchia. After a long uncomfortable flight, it took close to two hours to transport all guests to the ship. Embarkation Check-in at the ship was pleasant and efficient. We were provided our passkeys and other documents quickly and cheerfully. Our baggage arrived in our cabin within an hour or so of boarding which was very quick based on other cruises we have made. Ports of Call The Westerdam sailed from Civitavecchia and stopped in Livorno, Monte Carlo, Marseilles, Barcelona, Valencia, Almeria, and the Azores. The only complaint was that the port visits in Monte Carlo and the Azores were on Sundays and most of the shops were closed. Ship tours were informative and interesting. In some ports we chose to sightsee on our own and this worked out just fine. We did have a final stop in Half Moon Cay, a HAL island in the Bahamas. This is one stop that could have been skipped as it offered very little to guests. Accommodations We received a cabin upgrade to one with an obstructed window view mid-ships. The cabin was quite large with adequate storage space. The bath included a bathtub as well as a shower. Location on the 4th deck was perfect. During some days when the seas were a bit rough, we barely noticed the roll when in our cabin. Ship Condition The Westerdam entered the HAL fleet in 2004. The crew has done well to maintain the vessel. There were some minor issues such as jammed exterior doors and non-working sinks in public toilet areas but overall the material condition of the ship was excellent. Crew members were observed painting, scraping and polishing each and every day. Food The Westerdam food was ordinary and average for a cruise ship. The Vista dining room menu was varied but portions for many entries were very small. Many of the selections were over salted and required a substitute in some cases. Salads in the dining room were uninspiring to say the least. The Lido buffet was better than the dining room in many cases. The Lido layout facilitated diners and long lines were the exception. Desserts are the hallmark of HAL ships and the Westerdam was no exception. Desserts were varied and delicious. We also ate one meal in the Pinnacle Grill, the high-end restaurant. The steaks were outstanding but the entire meal was not worth the extra $30 a piece to eat there. I discovered several sanitation issues in the Lido. However, when I brought these to the attention of the Food and Beverage Manager, he willingly discussed them in person and promptly rectified the situation. He deserves a emphatic well-done for his customer service response. Service The Philippine and Indonesian crewmembers were simply outstanding. Food service in all dining areas was prompt, cheerful and efficient. Our waiter and assistant waiter were the best we have ever experienced in twelve years of cruising. Not only were they attentive to our needs but also they went out of their way to know our names and recognized us when they were working the buffet as well as the dining room. Our room steward was rarely visible but the room was always clean. And any requests were promptly filled. One negative was the shipboard laundry service. Clothes were cleaned, pressed and returned to us within twenty-four hours; however, HAL raised their prices by over 100% in the past six months so the service was very expensive. There were no coin-operated laundry facilities on board so guests were captive audiences. Activities The Cruise Director, Rebecca, and her staff left a lot to be desired. Except for introducing the evening entertainment, we rarely saw her about the ship. Her staff members were on occasion rude and condescending to passengers. More activities could have been planned, especially for the at-sea days. The guest lecturers were boring and dull in their presentations. The duplicate bridge instructor/host was the worse I have seen since I began cruising. Rather than host duplicate games, he ensured that he and his partner played in every game, even turning away other guests in the process. Evening Entertainment Holland America is not known for outstanding entertainment. However, this cruise was a pleasant surprise. The HAL singers and dancers were below average for cruise ships. However, the Three Tenors, David Copperfield, and Amy Abler were outstanding, and gave memorable performances. The other entertainers were very good as well. This was by far the best evening entertainment we have ever seen on a HAL ship. Fitness Center The Westerdam fitness center is barely adequate for a ship of her size. It was made worse when staff members decided to use the equipment during peak morning hours. I brought this to the attention of the Greenhouse Spa and Fitness Center Manager as well as the Office but no action was taken. To add insult to injury, staff members never wiped their equipment when finished with disinfectant wipes. Debarkation Debarkation in Fort Lauderdale was a complete farce. Many passengers had HAL transfers to either the Miami or Fort Lauderdale airports. There was mass confusion with the buses. No one seemed to be in charge and people were boarding buses based on the amount of luggage they had rather than where they stood in line. Some guests were put on a bus while their spouse was asked to board a different bus! HAL needs to review their debarkation process and institute significant improvements. Overall Assessment Overall the cruising experience on the Westerdam was positive. There were problems which I enumerated above. I have seen similar concerns with other ships and cruise lines. I felt the positives far outweighed the negative. We would do a few things different to mitigate some of the concerns such as taking a cab to the airport rather than rely on the HAL transfer. We plan to cruise Holland America again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Background: This was my 3rd cruise within the past 2 years, my first on a HAL ship, my first time visiting European ports, and my first Trans-Atlantic cruise. I'm a woman in my 40's, traveled solo but had family members also on ... Read More
Background: This was my 3rd cruise within the past 2 years, my first on a HAL ship, my first time visiting European ports, and my first Trans-Atlantic cruise. I'm a woman in my 40's, traveled solo but had family members also on board, did most activities on my own. Hotel Info: We were in Rome for 5 days pre-cruise and stayed in an apartment which we found through the Bed & Breakfast Association of Rome, after reading about it on our ship's roll call board. It was clean, large, nicely furnished, in a decent neighborhood (Trastevere) and it was convenient to a train stop that took us into the central area after about a 10 minute ride. It was also very affordable compared to the price we would have paid for 3 separate hotel rooms. Communication with our hostess was a bit challenging as she spoke little English and we spoke little Italian, but we knew that would be the case for the apartment we chose. I would utilize that association again for future accommodations. I enjoyed Rome and have already decided to go back after my next cruise lands in Barcelona next spring. I found it very easy to get around the city on foot and much less time consuming, enjoyable and entertaining than to utilize the public transportation. I found most people of Rome to be pleasant and helpful. I enjoyed the food and wine, especially at the restaurants in the neighborhood we stayed in. Transportation from airport to Rome and from Rome to the Port: We arranged in advance to have a van pick us up at the airport then deliver us to our apartment, then pick us up at the apartment for travel to the Port. It went very smooth and was very affordable for 5 people and lots of luggage, at 55 euros from the airport, then 75 to the port. We used a service found on these boards. Embarkation: It was quick & easy; we had filled out our immigration information online, had our boarding passes, and were on board quickly after arriving at the Port about 11am. Lunch was being served in the Lido, cabins were ready about an hour later, followed by our luggage in about another hour. Cabin: My balcony cabin was on the 4th deck, starboard, only a few cabins back from the very front. It was large, the balcony was larger than I had expected, the storage was great and would have been suitable even if I wasn't traveling alone. The bed and bedding were very comfortable. It was nice having a bathtub. Ship: I thought the ship was beautifully and comfortably decorated. The artwork throughout was interesting and I thought it was enjoyable to look at. There were lots of public areas, inside and outside, with comfortable seating. I like to walk outside whenever possible, but I found this ship not very conducive to that. The only deck one could really walk around on easily, without a lot of obstructions, was the Promenade Deck, and the only outside stairs were between the Lido and the Observation Decks. One area I particularly did not care for was on the Lido deck, the hallway from the front elevators is narrow and goes right through the front desk for the salon and spa. The layout of that hallway was awkward, frequently overcrowded, and the staff at that desk seemed to rarely smile. Activities: The spa did have what I thought were some good deals on treatments, and the gym was nicely equipped with a fantastic view, but was too crowded many of the times I went there. The culinary demonstration area was also difficult to enjoy unless you went there way ahead of time. The in-room movie selection was good but lots of people couldn't seem to find their schedule - it's located inside the hard cover book that also includes the room service menu's and other usual hotel-type info. Shore Excursions: I didn't utilize the ship's shore excursions except for Half Moon Cay, opting instead to explore the Ports on my own. In many Ports, we had to take a shuttle bus from the ship to outside the port area and then in the reverse. This wasn't organized, and most times seemed to result in a lot of pushing and shoving, downright rude behavior by passengers, and a couple times I witnessed bouts of swearing between passengers. It was these times that I found the general crowd to be made up of people I really didn't want to be on a ship with; men who seemed to abandon all thoughts of being a gentleman (even towards the very elderly folks with special needs), and loud, pushy women who wouldn't recognize lady-like behavior if they saw it. Truly it often was a disgusting display of human behavior. I enjoyed all the ports but feel most of those are best discussed on the boards since this review is long enough as it is. However, I will say that Half Moon Cay was an island paradise. I had booked the horseback riding and swimming with the stingrays, which were both adventures I really enjoyed. Worth every dime in my opinion. The water was so nice that it was impossible to stay out of it. Dining: Personally, I much prefer anytime dining. However, I enjoyed the dining room atmosphere, our waitstaff, and I found the selection on the menu to be nicely varied. Certainly there were repetitions, but it was a 16-day cruise. The dishes considered the chef's specialties were marked as such, which I thought made it nice to try new things. I never had a bad meal. The lobster was really good, which is not always the case on a ship. I always enjoyed the soups (hot or cold selections). One thing I really liked was that I could order room service off of the dining room menu during dining room hours. I simply had to call room service to ask for a menu; they were very nice and very quick. Once they forgot my silverware, but they brought it very quickly after I called. Next day I was surprised to get a nice plate of chocolate strawberries with their apologies. Ordering off the dining room menu truly was a nice bonus because about 9 days into the cruise I developed a nasty cold so was keeping myself away from other people. Had I not been able to enjoy the dining room food, and enjoy the ocean from my private balcony, I would have been a very sad, sick, puppy. The Lido restaurant did a nice job with breakfasts and lunches, and I understand the dinners were very nicely varied, although I never had dinner there. Although the staff in the Lido seemed to be very on top of their duties, that's the other area of the cruise that I often encountered very rude behavior from fellow passengers. It was quite ordinary to have people literally trying to push their way ahead, or around, those already in line. I heard so many rude comments from other passengers about others that it was really disheartening. The rooms did get quite crowded at peak times, making it difficult to find seating especially when the weather wasn't nice enough to be outside. Disembarkation: I thought it was the nicest I've experienced yet. I felt no rush to be out of my cabin, enjoying a room service breakfast and movie before leaving my cabin around 9:15 to hang outside on the Lido deck until we were called off about 10:30. Summary: Beautiful and comfortable ship, great itinerary, very relaxing atmosphere. That said, it wasn't what I could consider a fun ship by any means, I was really turned off by the rude and generally unpleasant crowds, and I was way too young for this cruise. I had read that about HAL prior to booking, but booked because I really liked this itinerary. I don't think I'll be swayed again by an itinerary into booking with HAL anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This was our 20th cruise/8th with Holland America. Embarkation was a breeze - absolutely no waiting. We took a van from Rome and cost was about 160 euro for 8 people. Westerdam is impressive - large for Holland America. The ship was ... Read More
This was our 20th cruise/8th with Holland America. Embarkation was a breeze - absolutely no waiting. We took a van from Rome and cost was about 160 euro for 8 people. Westerdam is impressive - large for Holland America. The ship was immaculate - staff always cleaning the railings, carpets, hallways. The ship layout was good with most public areas on decks 2 and 3. The casino was quite busy every night, and offered lots of slots, roulette, Black Jack, 3 card poker, Let it Ride, Caribbean Poker and even Texas Hold-em. We spent lots of time in the piano bar - Kory the Piano man was excellent and not to be missed! We saw several shows - thoroughly enjoyed the magician and comedian. Service onboard was excellent - staff always friendly and outgoing. My only negative observation - we never saw the cruise director. Rebecca (I believe that was her name) made periodic announcements but was never to be seen around the ship. Not that we missed her, but information seemed lacking regarding onboard activities. The gift shop area on Deck 3 was very nice and organized - more like walking through a department store - excellent design. The gym facility was ok - nothing special, and the sauna was quite small - room for maybe three. Seems unusual for such a large ship. The food (both dining room and Lido buffet) was average - nothing special. This was a disappointment as Holland America has always been a cut above the rest. The steaks were small and tough - not what you would expect. The dining room staff and wine stewards (Zuleman and Ana) were exceptional - always friendly and inviting! Ports of Call - Monte Carlo - beautiful and a must see. We spent the entire day exploring. Lots of people watching. It's probably the cleanest place on earth - nothing out of place. The public bus system cost 1 euro and was a great was to travel from one end of town to the other. The Palace (on the hill) is not to be missed. There's an old city there with lots of shops and restaurants. Pisa/Florence - We had arranged for a private van for the day to tour Pisa, the Tuscany countryside and Florence. This was a great day - lots to see. Pisa is only about 20 minutes from where the ship docked, and was great to see - it really does lean. Tours are available about every 30 minutes to climb the tower. Florence was beautiful with lots to see and do. David is a must - simple amazing. Lots of shopping opportunities. Word of caution - keep your wallet and purse close at hand - lots of thieves - one in our group had their backpack (with wallet and passports) stolen out of our van - they had distracted our driver. Barcelona - a great European city - only wish we were there overnight. The open roof double decker bus is the way to go - you get headsets for a narrative tour as your drive around the city. Lots to see. Beautiful architecture. Las Ramblas is main street - lots of shops and things to see - street vendors galore. We took a cab from the cruise terminal to the foot of Las Ramblas - about 8 euro. Palma de Mallorca - fabulous - definitely a place I could live. A small but cosmopolitan Spanish city. Beautiful harbor area that rivals Monte Carlo for yachts. Great shopping in the old town area. We took cab from the cruise terminal (don't wait for the bus) and it dropped us in the old town - about 10 euros. We spent about 4 hours wondering through the old town area, then took a 15 minute cab ride to a nearby beach resort area. Great beach for the kids - water was warm and calm. Lots of water activities nearby - jet skis, parasailing etc. Tunis - interesting - definitely worth seeing. We hired a van to take us to the old town (Medina) area. The guide stayed with us the entire time - important as I don't think you would want to wonder around on your own - very easy to get lost. Good shopping opportunities for perfume (they make their own). The driver then took us to the other side of town Carthage. This is where some ruins are (not many) but the area is much more upscale with shopping. Palermo/Sicily - the city is much larger than I imagined. Traffic is heavy. We spent the morning walking through Palermo - lots to see and lots of shops. In the afternoon we took the bus (line #389) 1 euro up the mountain to a very quaint town of Monreale with an incredible view of Palermo and the coast (not to be missed). There's shopping, restaurants and a wonderful Duomo - the ceiling all gold mosaic. Naples - We had arranged for a private van and guide, and spent the day touring the Amalfi Coast(Positano), Sorrento and Pompeii. All great places and not the be missed. Positano is the place you see on all the postcards - a seaside village built into the side of the mountain - fabulous. Lost of shopping and dining opportunities, and there's a sandy beach. Sorrento is a beautiful town also right on the water. Great shopping and dining. The ruins at Pompeii are not to be missed. I was amazed at how large this is - you can spend hours walking down the ancient streets, through buildings, homes. It's simply amazing how well these ruins survived. This was a great trip. Summer is hot but bearable, the food in Italy is fantastic - eat pasta wherever you go! The only downside is Europe is quite expensive - the exchange rate was about 70 euros to 100 dollars. Beers were typically 6-7 euros, simple pasta 8-10 euros. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Westerdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 2.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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