9 Rome (Civitavecchia) to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Holland America Westerdam Cruise Reviews

My wife and I booked this 12 night cruise because of the interesting itinerary. It was heavy on our much desired Adriatic coast, but also included great and/or new destinations for us such as Kotor, Montenegro, both Valletta and Gozo, ... Read More
My wife and I booked this 12 night cruise because of the interesting itinerary. It was heavy on our much desired Adriatic coast, but also included great and/or new destinations for us such as Kotor, Montenegro, both Valletta and Gozo, Malta, Dubrovnik, Split, and Korcula, Croatia, and Slovenia. The cruise ended in Venice. As stated, a great itinerary. However, our experience on board was far from satisfactory in several key areas ... and we have Holland America experience since 2007. We are 4-Star Mariners with 213 actual sea days on HAL as we write this review. Our ship, the MS Westerdam, is among the first of the HAL fleet to undergo an extensive renovation/modernization that will fit the new image for all their ships over the next couple of years. (1) The Library is gone. (2) The Ocean Bar dance floor is gone ... all carpet now. There is in fact only one dancing venue on the ship ... the B.B. King's Blues Club. That club is excellent if you like that kind of music ... we enjoyed it and danced to a great live band ... all terrific musicians. They played 5 out of 7 nights, as I recall, with 2 nights off per week and no other music/dance on those nights there. They did not start until about 8PM. However, for those that don't care for blues, there was no other dance venue. The Ocean Bar had a classical pianist ... excellent ... but don't expect to hear any popular numbers that you can dance to ... and that would be on carpet. So, the once great Ocean Bar with the cocktails and dancing to a trio or quartet is gone! (3) No Crow's Nest for dancing and music anymore. The entire Crow's Nest has been transformed into EXC, or Explorations Central. (4) Conventions and/or groups allowed to reserve and take over "common areas". On three evenings that we personally experienced, about half of the Ocean Bar, the part with the pianist, and where most of the chairs and tables are, was closed off to all guests except for the group/convention. Therefore, there was no seating for many guests. We were told by a couple of officers that "all HAL ships are now doing this". What next for a surprise? (5) Sick/extremely ill two times on board ... myself and several days later my wife. Each time that we were sick we only ate on board that day ... and late those nights we were vomiting, etc. in our stateroom (symptoms of food poisoning, but no proof). We spoke to the ship's medical officer/nurse. After 24 hours we were each mostly recovered, but it did ruin that day's ability to go ashore. In general, over the past few years HAL is not what it used to be. Service in general has declined, sharp attention to detail is no longer present. The crew/staff for the most part are, in our opinion, over worked and too few. Many times one is left waiting. Where are the officers to supervise and see that the guests are taken care of in a timely manner? Lastly, we wrote and mailed a letter to the President of Holland America Line in early December, 2017, regarding our experience and suggestions for improvement (HAL has always said that they want to hear from we "Mariners") ... and we have never received a response. Apparently, they do not care how we, as loyal and good customers/guests/Mariners feel! That is our experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We have cruised on other lines. This was the first cruise in Holland America and will also be the last. By comparison to Princess, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean this ship was a disappointment. The stateroom steward was excellent but the ... Read More
We have cruised on other lines. This was the first cruise in Holland America and will also be the last. By comparison to Princess, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean this ship was a disappointment. The stateroom steward was excellent but the other service on board was not nearly as good as what we have experienced before. The Guest service desk seemed very inexperienced and did not live up to commitments made. The booking agent also did not provide us with the same deal they gave our travel companions. The tour groups were very large and tour guides could not be heard. Not all wore microphones which were definitely needed with 50+ people in one group! The disembarkment process was clearly a message that Hollland America was no longer engaged with theur customer. They had us to the airport 2 hours before the line was even open for check in. We were dropped off and had to walk about 15 minutes (with our luggage and no porters) to get to the terminal. We were told a Holland America rep would be inside to assist. There was no one there to help us. Very disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We are equal opportunity cruisers…we will consider almost any line and choose based on itinerary, schedule, and price. As an example, our last four cruises have been Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and most recently Holland ... Read More
We are equal opportunity cruisers…we will consider almost any line and choose based on itinerary, schedule, and price. As an example, our last four cruises have been Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and most recently Holland America. Our next cruise is on Regal Princess so maybe we're repeating the cycle, who knows? We were on the first Westerdam cruise following dry dock at the end of April. Our cruise was extremely port intensive. It was a 12 night cruise with only one sea day. My husband and I thought the ship was an excellent choice for such a port intensive itinerary, but I don't think we would choose it for an itinerary with a lot of sea days. For a cruise with a lot of sea days, we prefer a larger ship with a wider variety of venues and activities. We didn’t do too much in the evenings because of the type of cruise…we were worn out after full days of touring! One change that was made during drydock was the addition of Billboard Onboard, a dueling piano bar that packed people in every night. That venue and Lincoln Center Stage were always crowded and had loyal followers. We appreciated the smoke-free casino but didn't spend too much time there. I was lucky enough to hit a decent payout on a slot machine early in the cruise and thought it prudent to lock up the cash and stay out of there! I can't tell you much else about the nightlife because our days were so long and tiring we became early to bed cruisers! In my opinion, the food in the dining room and Lido was very good. I liked having items served in the Lido, and the limited hours were not a problem for us because we usually had lunch on shore. We had any time dining and never had to wait for a table. The burgers and fries at the "Dive-In" window were excellent! We also enjoyed specialty dining in the Pinnacle Grille and Canaletto. We were in a Neptune Suite which had been beautifully refurbished during the dry dock. Service throughout the ship was exceptional, and we had no problems that were related to the drydock. The Crow's Nest was closed during our cruise due to continuing construction. We were given a $200 OBC each for that inconvenience. I thought the ship was a great choice for the ports that we visited. My preference on this kind of itinerary is for a "smaller" ship, which ruled out quite a few options. My other requirement was a minimal number of sea days since I can get those closer to home without spending the money to fly transatlantic. Believe it or not, I actually could have used an additional sea day! We loved the places that we visited, but it really was very tiring. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of planning. I read/heard complaints about a lack of things to do in several of our lesser known ports, but we had a great time on the independent excursions we booked. We thought variety was important…you can only walk around so many ancient walled cities without a plan! I would put HAL at the top of my list for this kind of cruise, and I would visit again at the same time of year. Because it was early in the season the ports weren’t too crowded and we were able to dock in ports we had anticipated would be tender ports. We wanted a ship to truly be our floating hotel on this trip, and the Westerdam did the job perfectly! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I chose this cruise for the destinations especially Dubrovnik and a chance to relive memories of Malta and Gozo. On arrival at the embarkation I could not believe how simple and easy check in went - on board within 30 minutes of ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the destinations especially Dubrovnik and a chance to relive memories of Malta and Gozo. On arrival at the embarkation I could not believe how simple and easy check in went - on board within 30 minutes of arrival. Apparently the ship had been in dry dock and some work would continue during the cruise. A benefit of $200 each for the inconvenience was added to our onboard account as a gesture of goodwill. Some noise was evident but as the cruise only had a single sea day this was not a problem. Part of the ship were out of use but this did not hamper our enjoyment. Valletta - choose the hop on hop off bus tour which is value for money . Red route in the morning ,blue route in the afternoon. Gives a good impression of Malta but having revisited Bugibba ,St. Julian's etc. I don't want to see them again. Gozo - very pretty on arrival but unfortunately I damaged my meniscus on alighting the tender in choppy seas and lasted only 15 minutes on Gozo. On return to Westerdam I made my way to the Ship's medical centre and was seen by the excellent Dr Dupreez and his team . We were given the option of early disembarkation,not a nice situation to be in. Having weighed up the options this seemed to be the way forward having now been fitted with a full leg brace and on crutches . The next day being a sea day gave me a little more thinking time before our arrival in Corfu where I spent most of the day in a clinic for more X-rays etc. We made our way back to the ship with 20 minutes to spare. The option of leaving the ship was discussed but the only suitable flights were some 19 hours duration with a couple of stops on the way. Faced with recovery at home or on the ship we chose the later and we were allowed to stay on board. I missed out on Dubrovnik and a couple of destinations as I couldn't board the tenders but having said that we managed to get a lot of enjoyment out the cruise and the kindness of the ship's company due to my lack of mobility. Kotor - very pretty and fairly easy to get around. Busy market Korcula - tender transfer so unable to vist. Split - Probably the best location for my limited mobility . Very busy with many market stalls and numerous ferry passengers. Koper - Sunday visit so most things closed but pleasant ambling around. Venice - misty arrival but very busy with at least three cruise ships in dock. Always a memorable place to visit and this was no different. Cabin 7015 - well tended by Bagus and Sugiman , well sited for Lido breakfast . Not so for the main dining area when on crutches. Dining - always a good standard in the Lido. The main Dining room served by Alip and Fauzi , a good choice throughout the courses and superbly tended by the afore mentioned gentlemen. However the best meal was served in the Pinnacle Grill. I have never seen prawns so large and the filet mignon was outstanding. It was unfortunate that there was a ' bright star ' medical emergency during our dinner and suddenly reality bites. I hope the lady in question has now fully recovered. I will revisit on our next cruise with Holland America. B.B.Kings club is always to our taste rather the shows on the main stage but from the small amount of viewing the performers were very capable and professional. One small gripe , why have music trivia quizzes at 9:00 when most people are still in the late dinner sitting. 9:30 would have been better from our point of view. Service - throughout our cruise,through the ups and downs of medical problems this has been the best cruise I have been on . We didn't t get the feeling that everything as a cost and suffer the perception that you have to pay for every thing, however small. Congratulations to the Hotel staff. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Based on my experience with the Veendam and now the Westerdam, Holland America Corporate doesn't give its ships enough time in drydock to finish repairs and modifications. That caused major problems for some passengers from broken ... Read More
Based on my experience with the Veendam and now the Westerdam, Holland America Corporate doesn't give its ships enough time in drydock to finish repairs and modifications. That caused major problems for some passengers from broken glass in uncleaned rooms to no electricity in the room or no water or no ability to raise the temperature above 58f. (We were relatively lucky. Our key cards didn't work, but our steward let us in the room until the locksmith came. Our veranda was repainted 2/3rds into the sailing, so we could no longer use it b/c of fumes, but upon asking, they provided us with a fan, so there were no fumes in the room.) Lines of angry passengers were long at first, and it seemed like, with numerous workers hammering away at modifications to Deck 10 and taking up crew beds, that the Westerdam was short staffed and unable to handle issues quickly. Nevertheless, good weather and good ports improved spirits and this was a good sailing. The quality of the food was adequate though people thought changes to the buffet were odd. There's very little that's self-serve now, and the variety of options seems to have diminished. Entertainment and enrichment were also adequate. Classical music in the Lincoln Center Stage venue was exceptional. The dueling pianists in the piano bar were loud and off-key, but hugely popular. They must have been doing something right, but what it is, I'm not sure. Trivia with Jake was fun. Tom, the port lecturer, did a great job helping people NOT on shore excursions figure out how to get around the various destinations and learn about what to see. By the end of the cruise, his talks became more akin to sales pitches, but he was available to answer questions mid-day. That was good because people complained his talks were scheduled in the middle of dinner. He was highly knowledgeable and an asset to the ship though this sailing could definitely have used more in the way of enrichment. The condition of the ship was less than stellar. A fair amount of mess created by the new carpet, a crop of technical difficulties, leaks causing minor floods in several areas, and inadequate replacement venues for the unavailable Observation Deck all led to furrowed brows. Hopefully, all that can soon be fixed. On the other hand, flow felt counter-intuitive. Why must people tramp through the spa to get to the Lido? Lack of staff led to confusion at disembarkation, too, and made it harder for people with limited mobility. Good things about the ship: The refurbishment means it's not at all smoky. Elevators are plentiful. The beds were comfortable, and in our room at least, the air flow was excellent. This was my second HAL cruise and compared to Princess, HAL seems much better about not creating a high-pressure sales environment for jewelry and art. Pre-cruise arrangements (airport transfer, hotel stay) with HAL were organized and efficient. After the initial hiccup, service was great. They did a markedly better job than the Veendam of keeping track of my dietary restrictions - really impressed. Stand out crew members include Wisnu in the buffet, Rirus in the dining room, Darius at guest services, and our stewards Eko and Juns. Overall, a cheerful and earnestly friendly crew. Fellow passengers were mostly friendly and, after the first three or four days, smiling and having a good time. Most ports were excellent and considering the crowds we've heard to expect in Croatia in the summer, going to the Adriatic in late April/early May, before high season, was a good idea. Enjoyable overall, and I'd sail with HAL again, but if at all avoidable, not right out of drydock. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Having learned so much from these boards, I wanted to share my thoughts on our recent Med cruise aboard the ms Westerdam departing and returning to Rome. Ports of call included: Naples, Messina Sicily, Corfu Greece, Dubrovnik Croatia, ... Read More
Having learned so much from these boards, I wanted to share my thoughts on our recent Med cruise aboard the ms Westerdam departing and returning to Rome. Ports of call included: Naples, Messina Sicily, Corfu Greece, Dubrovnik Croatia, Venice, Malta and Salerno. EMBARKATION: If you are departing from Rome, keep in mind that the port of Civitavecchia is a good hour drive from Rome. As our driver approached the port, I was craning my neck to get a glimpse of the Westerdam. And then, suddenly, there she was! Embarkation was a snap. We were aboard by 12:30 pm, had lunch in the Lido and our cabins were ready by 1:30. CABIN: We had booked a verandah cabin as I can't imagine doing a cruise without having a balcony. What I was not prepared for was the amount of storage space; we had packed tons of clothes and found room for everything with storage space to spare. (Hint: the round stool beneath the desk has a removable lid even more storage space.) The bathroom layout was amazing for a cruise ship with full-size tub/shower, plenty of storage and good water pressure. WESTERDAM: The ship is beautiful, if only very slightly worn around the edges. I had read here that she had recently undergone a makeover while in drydock with the installation of flat screen tv's and DVD's. We did not find this to be the case at all. Indeed, the desktop tv would swivel back and forth with the movement of the ship. Some peeling wallpaper in the corridors, minor fraying of carpet seams in elevator lobbies and some burnt out bulbs among the countless light fixtures aboard all indicated to me that things were not quite as up-to-snuff as they could have been. FOOD: I cannot say enough about the quality of food in the dining room. We had late seating and the food was absolutely First-Class. As mentioned here, portions are small, but requesting a second appetizer or entree was accommodated with no questions asked. The Lido was a different story. I don't know how to put this. Breakfast was adequate with an omelet station and the usual sides along with fruit, yogurt, breads, scrambled eggs, etc. One would certainly never start the day hungry, but it was average buffet food to say the least. Except for the inedible hash brown patties. Just awful. We did order breakfast with room service a couple of mornings and it was fine except the first morning when our meal was accompanied by those horrible hash browns. For other meals there is a sandwich station, an Asian station, a pizza and pasta station and the Terrace Grill with hamburgers, fries and a Mexican buffet. While the hamburgers were passable, the fries were terrible. The Mexican buffet was tasty, but not well stocked. The evening offerings in the Lido looked appetizing. Walking through one evening, I saw prime rib offered which I did not experience in the dining room unless we missed it one night. Most frustrating of all was that the fact that our party went to the Lido for dinner at 9:45 on a Saturday night and the only option available to us was the pizza and pasta station. DRINKS: If I recall correctly, cocktails were $5.25 plus a 15% gratuity. Nothing more than an even shot was ever poured and served in 12-16 oz glasses which resulted in a very diluted cocktail. Of course, ordering a double made the drink more palatable, but doubled the price. What you may not know is that if you specify any brand other than well, there is a $1 upcharge per shot and if it is a premium brand, add another 50 cents. Again, all of this is served in a tall glass. The best bargain was ordering the drink or martini of the day. You can't go wrong with a Bombay Sapphire martini for $5.25. Surprisingly enough, the prices of the cabin mini-bar were comparable in price to drinks elsewhere on the ship. Trying to convince our cabin steward to keep the mini-bar stocked, however, was another matter. Which leads me to... SERVICE: I have read so often on these pages of the personalized service offered by the staff of the Westerdam. Friendly, yes. Incredibly efficient, there is no doubt. BUT. We returned one day at 6:45 pm after touring all day to find our cabin still being cleaned. A couple of days later we returned at 8:00 pm and again found our cabin in the midst of being cleaned. After our second or third night in the dining room, we ended up with a server who embodied everything I have read about service aboard the Westerdam. By our second night with him, he knew our names and preferences. If you ever voyage aboard the Westerdam, ask for Herdi in the dining room; you won't be disappointed. We still keep in touch with him via email. THOUGHTS: Traveling to the Med in August can be a challenge. Weather is hot, humid and there are hordes of tourists from all over the World. I packed way too many long pants and not nearly enough short pants. Forget what everyone else says on these boards about looking like an American. Dress for comfort. I bought more clothes for this cruise than I even packed and would have been far more comfortable in my everyday shorts and tennis shoes. While everyone we dealt with was helpful and friendly, I might still caution against wearing the red white and blue, rah-rah, my country right-or-wrong type of apparel. IN CONCLUSION: While I might not consider doing such a port-intensive cruise again in the near future, I would not hesitate to sail with Holland America again. We had a great time with good friends and wonderful food. We got to see so much. Even with ten days there was not nearly enough time to see everything. The whole trip remains a blur, but this cruise is one that will be remembered for a lifetime. And that is exactly what we had hoped for. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Westerdam: Eastern Mediterranean July 20 Ten night sailing 1. Embarkation We traveled independently and took the train from Rome Termini Station to Civitavecchia. The cost of the train for 2 people was 9 Euros (about 13USD). We found ... Read More
Westerdam: Eastern Mediterranean July 20 Ten night sailing 1. Embarkation We traveled independently and took the train from Rome Termini Station to Civitavecchia. The cost of the train for 2 people was 9 Euros (about 13USD). We found other people at the train station in Civitavecchia and shared a cab with them to the ship (2.50 Euros each). Embarkation was very smooth. We had done online check-in previous to arrival. All documents were processed in less than 2 minutes at the pier. There was no line when we arrived. Note: The brochure notes that it "strongly suggested" your passport not expire for 6 months after travel date. However, in reality, HAL will not let you complete embarkation if your passport expires within that period. Trust me: my partner's passport expired in October and he had to run to Philadelphia 2 days before we traveled and get a new one. 2. The ship a. Entire ship At first, as many of us are, I was not overly impressed. But as the 10 days went along, I really came to enjoy the layout and feel of the ship. The corridors had a nice flow. It was very clever the way the gift shops open up to one large area. The glass elevators overlooking the sea are so much nicer than those on other ships that merely overlook an atrium or public area. It was great to see a real wood Promenade Deck, which was used by many of us for walking and jogging. Of course, HAL has those great deck chairs on that deck. Put me in one with a book, look at the sea, and I'm asleep! My only concerns were the atrium and some of the dEcor. The atrium was clearly too small and always seemed tight. There is a bar on Main Deck right in the center, which obstructs traffic flow. Some of the dEcor is eclectic, at best. While the elevator doors are designed with beautiful metal designs, the interiors are modern with strange colors and the areas in front of the elevator also had a mixture of classic and modern styles. b. Dining Room The dining room is very attractive. Get a table near a window; part of the dining room is windowless. The service was wonderful, as it usually is on HAL. I did my best to learn some basic phrases in Indonesian and Tagolog, showing the wait staff interest in their culture. c. Spa/Gym While I didn't use the spa, I did use the gym every day. It's the not the biggest and is missing cross-training machines, which I prefer. Nearly half of the gym floor was taken up with exercise classes, which did not often take place. d. Cabins Nicely decorated, though the art work was a bit strange. There was plenty of 'secret' storage space. I discovered midway through the cruise there were drawers under the cushion portion of the couch, and on the last day realized that there were very large drawers under the bed. The bathroom was attractive and offered sufficient room. The amenities were plentiful and of high quality. e. Activities/Shows I participated in many trivia contests, although I was disappointed that many occurred during late "main" seating dinner. I would suggest having them very late 10:30, or before late seating. The shows were much better than I expected. The house is large, but there are many poor sight lines. I always have trouble with canned singing on cruise ships, but the dancing was excellent. 3. Food a. Breakfast - We ate most meals in the dining room, planning our day, so that we gave ourselves enough time to enjoy it. Nearly everything that was offered in the Lido buffet was offered in the dining room. b. Lunch - This we had to take in the Lido, since we were off the ship during lunch hours. I was impressed with fact that there was an Asian station, which stayed open throughout the afternoon. There was usually a vegetarian meal. Occasionally, we ordered sandwiches in the room when we returned from touring. They were tasty and presented with class. c. High Tea - One of the highlights of the day. Between trips to the gym, we indulged on pastries and scones with clotted cream at high tea. The service was white glove and a very professional string quartet entertained. d. Dinner - We took this in the dining room each night, except when we stayed in Santorini for sunset. (On that night, there was a barbeque buffet poolside. We returned at 9:15 and it seemed disorganized and sloppy.) Dinner was always presented with style and was prepared and plated well. I usually had 2 appetizers, since portions were small and some were just wonderful! Kudos to the Head Chef for having an abundance of mango an papaya selections. I couldn't get these in the Caribbean!! Not being a meat eater, I cannot speak to those dishes, but I can tell you the fish was excellent, particularly the sea bream and Dover Sole. 4. Ports of Call. -- I must preface all ports by saying there was a heatwave. It was 100o or higher many days and touring was just tiring. I carried liters of water with me and still looked like I just ran a marathon. a. Dubrovnik - This was one of the highlights of the cruise. We shared a taxi from the ship to the city walls. I think it was 5 or 10 Euros for the cab. Cab drivers will try to sell you tours. That's your call. We walked the entire city walls. Well worth it—the highlight of the city. We visited churches and synagogues in the city and stopped for a beer (a daily ritual). b. Corfu - The weakest port. We walked to town. Big mistake (well, I got lost!). We should have taken a cab. (HAL had shuttle bus service, but it was always more than sharing a cab.) Corfu had little to offer. We stopped for a Greek (Turkish) coffee and beer and visited St. Spyridon church, paying respects to the saint and icons. A priest blessed all who saw the crypt. c. Katakolon - I had been here before, but didn't go to Olympia. We found a well air-conditioned new train that goes from Katakolon to Olympia for 1 Euro (yes ONE euro). The ship did not mention this. We found some other cruise passengers who joined us. We visited the Museum in Olympia, before seeing the ruins. The museum is well worth it; those on the tour who did not see the museum were disappointed. d. Santorini - We took the donkeys up the mountain. Faster (and smellier) than the cable car, whose line seemed to wrap around the island). Hint: go after 12 pm, most people have made the assent by then. We enjoyed the shopping and tiny streets. We found some churches and took tons of pictures. We stopped for a beer (surprised), high above the harbor. 3 cruise ships were in. We returned to the ship at 1pm and came back to Santorini (tendered) at 7pm for sunset and another drink. Do this—all the visitors do e. Athens - We walked to the Metro (mistake—take the #845 bus) and then took the Metro directly to Monastiraki, where we shopped, visited the Agora and Temple of Hepheastion. We had been to the Acropolis, so we skipped it this time. Besides, it was 8 bi-zillion degrees. Again, we stopped for a cold local beer. (Beer note: I'm a dark beer drinker. It's very hard to find any dark beers in the Med and on the ship, there are NONE for sale.) f. Kusadasi - we enjoyed shopping in the city. I bought a 14k ring and some cheap souvenirs. Everything is walkable. We found the mosque and visited it. A local showed us the proper way to wash our feet. We took a shore excursion to Ephesus - the only shore excursion we took. We really enjoyed it, even with the extreme heat. It's really spectacular g. Messina - We really wanted to go to Taormina (having been there before) and would have taken the train, but the ship departed at 2pm. Therefore, we walked around the city, visiting 5 churches. The most fascinating (and we found it by accident) was a monastery where we saw the preserved body of a female saint. (I'm sorry; I cannot remember her name). We found a way up to pay respects, high above the alter. h. Rome - We stayed in Rome one night before the cruise, and again, one night after the cruise. On the first day, we saw (via bus and Metro) all of the major sites, except for the Vatican Museum (line too long). As tired as we were, on the return to Rome, we took a train to Assisi for a quick 3 hour visit. The train ride was worth it; Assisi is truly unique. Our hotel in Rome was the Diocleziano, near the train station. Well worth the $120 euros. We could walk to and from the train station. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
My husband and I traveled on the Westerdam. We were a bit disappointed in a few aspects of this cruise. When we arrived the air conditioning was down. They did not have it fixed for about 5-6 hours. I was amazed at the fact we had to ... Read More
My husband and I traveled on the Westerdam. We were a bit disappointed in a few aspects of this cruise. When we arrived the air conditioning was down. They did not have it fixed for about 5-6 hours. I was amazed at the fact we had to endure this w/ very little mention or apology from Holland American staff...(not a big deal? try unpacking in a room that is 80 plus degrees and you cant open a window..the room being 300 sq ft!) We were thankful when it was fixed and because of the heat it did not become comfortable till the next day. The age level on the ship are severely ELDERLY. We are middle aged 30's and everyone there looked like my grandparents. Sweet but pretty much lights go out at 10:30! I didn't mind that too much but if your looking for any sort of adventure you better find another cruise line. WE didn't want a Carnival and party cruise but we would have liked to see more people there our own age. The food was fabulous but you get this feeling that Holland America is nickel and diming you to death. NO water then hey you have their 6 dollar bottles! Its a feat to get the pitcher of ice water...we didn't give up we just kept ordering it every few hours but I really never felt like I could get enough water in our room that was drinkable. If you want good food its extra..30.00 cover charge, if you want food other than the room service (that is not near the quality of the lido or the dining) then you need to make sure you hit their exact times on the lido. The food there some is good some is substandard...like the Sushi was gross! but the pizza or pasta dishes were pretty good. Buy their tours you get off sooner, need contact lens solution? be ready to be gouged and pay 10 bucks. I mean it got pretty old after a while the continual sell job. I dont like their tip system. They give the ones who really work hard to service you only like 3 bucks a day from your 10 bucks...the rest will go to the chef... NOW you tell me do you tip the chef at your local restaurant?? of course not but you do here... I mean can holland america not pay their people or can we get a discount on their rates? I dont know it wasn't as nice as described on the site (no special dvd tv..that ate up too much room the old tv) how hard would it have been to get it and then advertise it? Do they discount when they dont come through?? no! The internet service was the biggest rip off to me My husband paid to work it was 11 mpbs and took 8 times as long to do anything to send one -7 emails it took him 45 minutes. thats not writing thats just trying to upload ! know how much they charge? 75 cents a minute for substandard internet. Want a cappuccino...2.60 please! I mean come on! So no holland american... maybe before carnival took over they were better off but now no way Id go this line again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
My husband and I are back from our 10 day eastern Med cruise on the Westerdam. We are in our mid-40s and this was our 8th cruise. Our early cruise experiences were with HAL and this was the first time back in 5 years after trying out other ... Read More
My husband and I are back from our 10 day eastern Med cruise on the Westerdam. We are in our mid-40s and this was our 8th cruise. Our early cruise experiences were with HAL and this was the first time back in 5 years after trying out other lines (Princess, RCCL and German based Aida). We flew from Germany to the small Ciampino Airport which caters to european charters and discount airlines. Transfer per Taxi to our hotel was 55€. They charge 30€ up to the Aurillian Wall and the taxi meter goes on for the rest of the trip. The driving in Rome is nerve racking, they don't stay in lanes! It is just one big high-speed merge along the roads. I was glad to arrive safely! Pre-Cruise We stayed in Rome 3 days pre-cruise in the Sofitel Hotel, a bit expensive (250€-/night) but in a good location near the Via Veneto with a wonderful quiet room. We did the hop-on hop-off bus to orient ourselves on the first day. We then used the Metro with a day pass (4€/person) for the rest of our sightseeing. We also used a taxi at the end of a long day touring. We found it easiest to hail taxis close to a bus stop. After the bus pulls out the taxi can pull in easily. We didn't see taxi stands any place other than the train station Termini. I wanted to visit at least one museum so DH and I walked up to the Bourghese Gallery. I was at their web-site pre-cruise to verify opening times. We got there later in the day hoping to avoid crowds and got a big surprise. You need reservations to visit the Gallery! They could fit us in on Thursday at 3pm. Unfortunately we would be in Dubrovnic on Thursday. Tip: Make your reservation for the Bourghese Gallery online in advance! Another Tip: The Coliseum is open til sunset, so visit it after 5 pm and have it (practically) to yourselves. (You do not need a reservation here!) Earlier in the day the ticket line was verrrrry long. We had a private transfer to Civitavecchia with Romana Limo for 125€. They weren't the cheapest but were prompt answering my e-mails. Service was excellent, I would use them again. Embarkation Pre-boarding begins at 11 am. We arrived at the pier at noon and were onboard in the Lido having lunch at 12:15. It was the fastest check-in that we have ever experienced. The captain made an announcement shortly after 1:00 pm that the cabins were ready. We had SS Stateroom 8082 (upgraded from a SZ guarantee). It was a good size with a large balcony. The bed was very comfortable and the linens were ultra soft. We loved the pillow combination (three different kinds to mix and match). The balcony had two lounge chairs with footrests and a table with two chairs large enough for dining. We had breakfast there almost every morning. Simply wonderful! Sea Day I love a sea day at the beginning of a cruise. We got to know the ship and were able to start touring relaxed. We cruised past Stromboli Volcano while enjoying breakfast on our balcony. What a way to vacation!!!! Dubrovnic We used the HAL Shuttel (5$/each way) that dropped us off in front of the Pile Gate. Right inside the gate to the left are the stairs to walk the wall. You could pay in euro or dollar (8€ or 10$? I think) and rent a narrative for a few euros/dollars more. The stairs are steep with little or no railing. The views from the wall are impressive. Watch out for your children!!!! There are many spots where the drop is steep with no railing at all! There are a few places along the way where cold drinks are sold. We went half-way around the city wall then went down into the town (the rented Narrative was collected at the foot of the stairs). We visited the aquarium which was small but cool and quiet making it a nice break. From there we wandered through the old town back towards Pile Gate. We had lunch in one of the many restaurants. They accepted euro and dollar almost everywhere but gave us change in local currency. Corfu We did the ships tour to the Achillion Palace. The palace was nice but very crowded. We left the group and walked through the palace on our own then went out to enjoy the gardens. The gardens are definitely the highlight of the visit. There are shops outside of the palace near the busses with drinks, postcards and souvenirs. The bus brought us into Corfu Town where the group went to visit a church. We wandered throughout the streets, had lunch and enjoyed the atmosphere. We ordered an appetizer plate and a carafe of local wine so we would be able to try the local specialties. We were disappointed to get a mixture of deep fried fish, meats and cheese with a few cucumbers and tomatoes on the side. It was good but not what we were looking for. The wine was nice. We met at the bus at a pre-arranged time to go back to the ship. About half of the group stayed in town. There were lots of taxis to go back to the ship on. We spoke to fellow cruisers that afternoon who did the Villa tour with a garden lunch. They loved the tour and they said that the luncheon was memorable. Katakolon We did the ships excursion to the ancient Olympia Site with a short visit to the museum. We had a wonderful guide who really made the site and its history come alive. He took us through the site as if we were participants of the games and showed us how a typical “day in the life” was back then. When we arrived back in Katakolon we walked down the (short) street that went along the harbor. There were lots of shops and restaurants to choose from. We ordered an appetizer plate again hoping to get a different combo. Alas, it was the same thing! Lots of deep fried sardines and calamare, a few meats and cheese (deep fried) with cucumber and tomato on the side. The quality was better than in Corfu Town but again it wasn’t what we were looking for. Live and learn…. We have a few more greek ports ahead of us to try the local cuisine! Santorini I had been looking forward to Santorini. We made an early stop for all bus tours to disembark. The busses had to climb a very steep cliff, switch-backing along the way. I had to close my eyes and pray we would make it safely to the top. Of course every bus made it safely but it is not for the faint of heart. Oia was very nice, probably a lot nicer when the bus tourists are gone. We saw a lot of fellow cruisers getting off the local bus but it was standing room only. There were 3 other cruise ships anchored on that day so the public transportation was much in demand. I was glad that we decided to take the ships tour instead of doing it on our own. The streets in Oia are very narrow and the crowds massive. Our bus took us back to Fira where we were given tickets for the cable car. We walked around the charming streets but were again overwhelmed by the masses of tourists. We went to a local restaurant on a back street to try yet again the local greek cuisine. We ordered Suvlaki and a carafe of the local wine. Lunch was very nice. Our tablemates told us that evening at dinner that they rented a scooter for 15€/day and went to Oia. They told us it would have been better to rent the Quad (four wheel scooter), it cost a little more but would have been safer and more comfortable. Our other tablemates did the hot spring / volcano crater tour and were disappointed. It was very difficult climbing to the crater and to get to the hot springs, they had to jump overboard into deep water and swim to the springs. Consult the shore excursion staff before booking that one. Athens We were told the evening before that there would be seven ships in port. When the shore excursion guide tells you to expect crowds they are not kidding! We booked the full day tour of Posidons Temple, lunch and the Acropolis. After driving over an hour to get there, Posidons’s Temple was disappointing, just a small ruin site, a few columns. The stop was just over an hour, half of which I spent waiting to use the rest room. We walked up to the temple then back to the shop. We drove another hour back to Athens along the same route and went to a large hotel’s banquet room for lunch. 6 Busses of HAL tourist joined us for a very nice buffet lunch. After lunch, we drove on to the Acropolis. The walk from the bus station to the top of the Acropolis was steep. Our guide took us up a few levels then stopped to narrate. The ruins are impressive, the architecture fascinating. The temples of the Acropolis are a site to see and worth every step of the way! The bus went directly after the Acropolis back to the ship. Looking back, I would not recommend taking the time to visit Posidon’s Temple. The time would probably have been better spent in Athens. Kasudasi / Ephesus We booked a private tour with Ekol Tours. The private tour for the two of us was less expensive than the ships tour. The guide and driver met us on time where we drove first to the ruins of the Temple of Artemis then on to Ephesus. The ruins of Ephesus were the highlight of the entire cruise! There are not just a few stones piled up but an entire city! We went to the Terrace houses on the site, do not miss going in there!!!! Fascinating! From the public toilets on to the local house of ill repute continuing to the Library and the theater. The tour went downhill after Ephesus. Our guide told us we would stop at his friends place for a snack and refreshment. His friend was a carpet salesman. I told him right away that we were not interested in buying a carpet. We were shown how the carpets are made and given a delicious snack and cold drink. Then two men started rolling out the carpets. They must have rolled out 20 of them while the salesman kept telling us how the poor women in the villages have only these crafts to make their livelihood. Then he went on about what a great investment the carpets are. In a few years you won’t be able to get carpets of this quality……Get me out of here!!!!! We went back to Kasudasi port where we were to leave our guide. We paid ($119 + tip) and thought it was over until the guide brought us over to a jewelry shop to what seemed to be a pre-arranged visit. Two salespersons started fawning over us bringing tea and pulling out jewels for us to look at. We were not interested but they would not listen! The salesman started talking prices and we kept saying no thank-you. He went down in price we still said no thankyou. We finished our tea, thanked them and left. We went on to a leathershop close by. DH just wanted to look and see but that is not possible in the turkish bazaar. We saw many beautiful well priced leather jackets but were not interested in buying. We left that shop and took a few steps and were dragged into another leather shop! He must have seen us leave the first shop without a bag and kept saying that it was now his turn to show us his jackets! Okay, we were on vacation and tried to just go with the flow. We looked at his jackets. Very nice, well-priced (the price dropped 50% while we kept saying no thankyou) and we then tried to leave. The salesperson followed us, his boss accosted us un the stairs asking why we didn’t buy anything, he could make a better price!!! Help, get me out of here!!! We went straight back to the ship. That afternoon and evening we met many fellow cruisers who had the same experiences with carpet salesmen and bazaar harassment. So, if you go to a turkish bazaar be aware that any interest you show in their wares is an invitation to bargain with the shopkeeper. It did not seem possible to just browse. If you are interested in buying you can easily find great leathergoods, jewels, gold and of course, carpets. Know your prices and value of the goods beforehand and bargain away! Sea day We slept in and relaxed. I was disappointed that HAL did not offer any Edu-tainment courses or lectures. I had taken a Photo-Shop editing course and enjoyed investment info lecture on a Princess cruise and was hoping to find similar things here. We watched a few movies that we had missed in the theaters and had a nice day anyway. Messina Sicily We did the ships tour of Taormina with the Greco-Roman Theater. The town was nice, it was great to be able to browse in the shops! We had great views of Mount Etna from the town square area. Disembarkation They began calling colors/numbers a little late but by 7.30 everyone was back on time. We had room service breakfast in the stateroom (the balcony was being prepared for the next cruise) and waited to be called. We had the latest Disembarkation called (9am) but were called at (last call) 8.30am. Our transfer with Romana Limos (125€ port/airport) was waiting for us and we got to the airport with time to spare. Last notes The Westerdam is a beautiful ship, the layout took us a few days to master but was fine. The new Explorers Café with the internet lounge were very nice. Internet was (as on every ship I have sailed on) very slow. It took 5 minutes to load a secured site, sending or receiving e-mails with attachments took just as long. The food in the dining room was very good. There was always something to tempt me. It was served well. We only used the Lido a few times. The set up with a Deli, Pasta, Pizza, Tacos , Burgers, Chinese or warm meal areas was well done. The food there was okay, I just do not care for buffets. As mentioned above, we had room service for breakfast almost every morning. It arrived early and as ordered most mornings. The shows were okay, the highlight being an australian pianist who was fantastic. We spent a lot of time in our stateroom just relaxing. The Greek Isles are beautiful and worth visiting. Temperatures (early June) were comfortable at around 80-85°F for all of our morning tours. This itinerary was the right combination of sightseeing and relaxation for us. We enjoyed the cruise with HAL and will cruise with them again. Happy cruising everyone! Read Less
Sail Date May 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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