54 Vancouver Holland America Westerdam Cruise Reviews

We did 2 back to back cruises from Vancouver to Shanghai on the westerdam. The staff as usual were friendly and very efficient from the room stewards to the waiting staff they were all very pleasant and full of smiles. The food ... Read More
We did 2 back to back cruises from Vancouver to Shanghai on the westerdam. The staff as usual were friendly and very efficient from the room stewards to the waiting staff they were all very pleasant and full of smiles. The food overall was a good standard in all dining locations though a little salty for our liking at times but great presentation and choices. We had a signature suite which was very nicely decorated and still looking fresh after the refit a couple of years a ago with great bed and large tv with on demand movies. The entertainment was disappointing with the two pianists in the Billboard lacking any personalities and no feeling of atmosphere, the singers and dancers put on 3 good productions and the BB King band were fantastic but the ship died at around .11pm as the enteruhad stopped and the bars closed. There were 2 trivia’s a day which were well attended but apart from that there was very little entertainment during the day and many passengers commented on the lack of things to do during the day.. The lack of a library onboard was a huge disappointment and lots of complaints from the guests. The drinks onboard were very expensive and the bars very quiet and unfortunately there was no cocktail hour music and dancing only to prerecorded music tucked away in BB King so many nights we were sitting in the bars by ourselves before dinner. It is a shame HAL is cutting back on so many things that made people want to come back as we are 4 star mariners but are already looking at alternatives to spend our money on. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We wanted to embark at the Port of Vancouver, Canada as it is a short flight from our home. The repositioning cruise offered a fantastic fare and gave us a chance to visit Japan. We planned to join a land tour once we disembarked in ... Read More
We wanted to embark at the Port of Vancouver, Canada as it is a short flight from our home. The repositioning cruise offered a fantastic fare and gave us a chance to visit Japan. We planned to join a land tour once we disembarked in Yokohama. This was our first ocean crossing and it was surprisingly uneventful (weather-wise). Except Typhoon Hagibis was scheduled to arrive in Tokyo the same day we were scheduled to disembark at the Port of Yokohama. The crossing itself was blissful for us. We napped, we walked, we used the spa, we enjoyed the cultural talks, and the variety of entertainment on board. To outsmart the typhoon, the Captain did have to cancel one port stop in order to re-route the ship out of the path of the storm. This meant an additional day of sailing, a transit through the Kanmon Straits, and leisurely sailing to allow enough time for the storm to blow itself out of our way and arriving safely one day later than scheduled to our port for disembarkation. Holland America provided free internet time as well as free ship to shore telephone privileges for passengers who needed to re-book flights or other travel arrangements because of the delay. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our fourth HAL cruise in the Asia-Pacific region and we enjoyed it. Westerdam has been refitted in recent years and the ship was in very good shape. Carpets and furniture were clean and well maintained. Public spaces were very ... Read More
This was our fourth HAL cruise in the Asia-Pacific region and we enjoyed it. Westerdam has been refitted in recent years and the ship was in very good shape. Carpets and furniture were clean and well maintained. Public spaces were very pleasant. We had a verandah cabin which was nicely maintained with a modern flat screen TV on the wall across from the bed, and a good bathroom with tub/shower combination. This repositioning cruise spent 7 days on the North Pacific between Vancouver and Japan, and the crossing had both choppy and calm seas. An unexpected re-routing around Japan was necessary to avoid Super Typhoon Hagibis but the captain and crew did a great job of keeping us informed and safe. After two missed port calls and one-day delay in reaching Yokohama due to the storm, the subsequent 2 week itinerary stopping in Japan, South Korea and China was excellent. HAL is known for its older crowd, and this was certainly the case on this cruise. If you don't like spending a lot of time with mostly seniors this isn't the cruise line for you, but what the passengers lack in youth they make up for in travel experience. Most have been all over the world and make for great conversation any time you are wanting to chat. Food aboard was great. We mostly eat in the dining room and find the menus to be varied and quality of the food excellent. We generally eat late (8pm or later) and tables for 2 were always available at that time, which made it very relaxing. The Lido Market cafeteria usually had seating available and the range of food for breakfast and lunch was good, but we found the offerings at dinner were not spectacular. HAL seems to have improved its entertainment and we enjoyed the shows on the Main Stage. The variety was good, from full dance and music shows to comedians, and individual musicians. America's Test Kitchen daily presentations were great. Some of the cultural lectures were better than others (a function of who was doing the presentations) but overall set the stage for our ports of call. And port information sessions provided in advance of each port were excellent, not just designed to sell the cruise line's tours. The best thing about HAL's ships is the mainly Indonesian and Filipino crew. They are very friendly and helpful. We are always greeted with a smile. Cabin staff were excellent. Food servers and wine stewards were cheerful and efficient. It's always amazing how the servers and other staff remember your name and your preferences. HAL shore excursions are, as usual, high priced and sometimes lack quality, but it's possible to organize a mix of cruise line tours and private tours. We used a lot of HAL tours for the China portion and most were very good to excellent. Overall a very good Asia-Pacific cruise this time around on Westerdam. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our sixth cruise to Alaska, all on Holland America ships. People, I know ask “Why Alaska? Why Holland America? Why the same cruise?” I’ll answer the last question first, “Because we can, because it is the most ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise to Alaska, all on Holland America ships. People, I know ask “Why Alaska? Why Holland America? Why the same cruise?” I’ll answer the last question first, “Because we can, because it is the most convenient cruise to take from our home, and because we can afford it”. The Alaska cruise is always a lovely cruise, the scenery cannot be beat, and yes you may encounter some rain, but it still can be a marvelous experience. Why Holland America? Well there aren’t too many surprises on their ships, we have traveled on three different ones, and comments about aging vessels really don’t make a lot of sense, they are all well maintained. For the doubters, every ship will have occasional problems, toilets, and a/c malfunctions, but you will get those on any ship in any fleet. We found that Holland America prides itself on service. On the three ships, we’ve sailed the crews seem to be a happy crew. A smile and a greeting will always get a positive result on a Holland America ship. Something we’d been told and found out for ourselves, once the crew gets to know you, they always call you by your name. When they only know you for a seven-day cruise, I find this amazing. You can be way down the hall, and they’ll call out to you. Thank you Holland America for your hiring system. The dining facilities aboard ship, from the Main Dining Room to the buffet and even the Dive-In, are exceptional and there’s always something to please the palate. Now in fairness, I must admit I haven’t sailed on any other cruise line, yet, so my submission may be tainted. We have found the food service to be well above par, regardless of the venue. We have found a home in the Ocean Bar, and it’s not surprising as do many of our fellow cruisers. The bartenders and wait staff can’t seem to do enough for you. Happy Hour is always packed. And again the crew call you by name, which is even more surprising due to the number of passengers they deal with. Each cruise for us has been different, different ships, different cabins, but the service has always been exceptional. On this trip, we were offered a paid upgrade to a suite. It is larger than the oceanview and balcony that we have had in the past. There is plenty of storage space and the bathrooms had two sinks, a jet tub, and a shower stall. The suite was furnished with a most comfortable queen-sized bed, sofa and two chairs. A large widescreen TV had a multitude of options from ship activities, dining options, live TV and movies. There is little to want for in these cabins, they provide a very relaxed comfort zone. The Westerdam is a beautiful ship, the design is marvelous, there is so much to see and do on the ship. In reading some of the reviews on Cruise Critic I sometimes wonder at some of the negative comments from cruisers that were on the ship I was on, where we actually on the same ship? Throughout the ship is works of art, it's like being in a floating museum. On Deck 1, below the atrium, there are even picture frames that you can use to make your own photo portrait. The ship has plenty of elevators but there are also stairs, to wear off the pounds collected in the dining venues, plus the Promenade deck which is covered and allows you to walk around the outside of the ship. When I hear that there is little to do onboard I wonder where these folks may be. Entertainment abounds, music from classical to blues and jazz to modern pop, plus shows in the main theater nightly. There is a small casino. During the day the ship’s activities are for everyone, take your choice - it seems endless. There is lots to do aboard ship. And when we dock, there is a myriad of shore excursions. The highlight of any Alaska cruise is the time spent looking at glaciers. Usually, this includes several hours in Glacier Bay. On this trip, we encountered a different and most marvelous glacier experience. We traveled up Tracy Arm to the Sawyer Glacier. What makes this cruise so special is getting to the Glacier requires sailing up a narrow passageway, through ice flows. Streams flow down the mountainsides making the whole trip an exciting passage. The ice flows are not large, but much larger than those we’ve experienced in Glacier Bay. It is said if you’ve never cruised to Alaska, you need to see Glacier Bay. Once you’ve seen Glacier Bay, you need to see Tracy Arm, you will never experience a more wonderful site. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We sailed Sept 22-29th 2019 and had a positive travel experience made so by the excellent serving staff throughout the ship, in our cabin (thank you Ricki and Ahmad), and dining service (thank you Ari Komang Joseph Izebb and Sudika table ... Read More
We sailed Sept 22-29th 2019 and had a positive travel experience made so by the excellent serving staff throughout the ship, in our cabin (thank you Ricki and Ahmad), and dining service (thank you Ari Komang Joseph Izebb and Sudika table 311). Among ourselves, we commented daily on how hard working and pleasant all the ship’s staff were. We ate breakfast and dinner in the dining room, and used the Lido Market and Lido Dive In for lunch. We chose a wine package so that we could enjoy a bottle of wine with dinner. This was much more reasonable in price than any of the drink packages. Any cocktails we wanted were purchased a la carte. Embarkation was a long but necessary process, again with excellent staff and lots of helpful agents to answer our questions. Disembarkation was extremely smooth. Well done Westerdam! We arranged tours in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan through Holland America. The tours were a little pricey for what was offered. They were pretty basic. Again the staff assisting with the tours and security check in. Our only complaint is Westerdam’s outrageous charge for internet and bottled water in the room. Westerdam, you’re taking advantage of a captive market by charging these exorbitant fees! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
As a former Hal loyalist, I was excited to cruise again after a short 2-3 years break. I grabbed my son to go with me as my hubby didn’t want to visit Alaska for the Nth time. The first indication that things weren't as rosy as ... Read More
As a former Hal loyalist, I was excited to cruise again after a short 2-3 years break. I grabbed my son to go with me as my hubby didn’t want to visit Alaska for the Nth time. The first indication that things weren't as rosy as I’d remembered was our embarkation lunch at the Lido. We selected a variety of items from the Asian section (Thai) and the meat was dry, tough and too salty. We thought, "Ok, maybe this is because it's embarkation day so quality control isn't as thorough..." How naive we were. Over the next couple of days, we realized that the Lido had severe issues. The Asian station's meat was consistently too dry, tough and salty. The pasta tasted like pure salt and no other flavours. Desserts usually had raw tasting dough. The waffle cones tasted stale. The printed menu on display was frequently wrong (as in the wrong menu was put up altogether or ingredients were missing compared to the printed version). And the plates are often too hot to hold. The only consistently decent hot food was from the Homestead station! How about the MDR food? Well, the taste there was quite a bit better but we found that the only thing consistent about the kitchen was their inconsistency... and their overly salty soups (we end up asking for half a bowl of soup and diluting it with hot water whenever we felt like soup). In the MDR, we've had two orders of the same item come differently(missing ingredients), a salmon filet filled with bones and pasta the texture of soggy cardboard. Our warm/hot water has come smelling/tasting like the pool and a medium-rare steak arrived overcooked. The most disappointing thing was the prime rib I ordered - it came was so filled with those fatty hard-to-cut parts I ended up not having a single bite because I literally could not cut the beef with my knife... even after I requested for another steak knife! Other than food issues, we've noticed the effects of budget slashing coupled with a lack of proper planning/training. We had to visit the photo gallery three times to receive our complimentary mariner picture of the shop and received a different answer/information each time. The Exploration Cafe didn't offer ceramic cups until the third day - the paper cups offered were completely inadequate: hot drinks were scalding to hold even using two cups. The paper cups were also prone to crumple if you kept cold drinks in them! Ordering hot water kettles from inroom dining resulted in kettles with hot handles most of the time.... The women’s washroom on Deck 3 was had completely unusable toilets one day (all of them!). Hotel management seemed a mess because we received the wrong information documents to our cabin... But although all these issues were disappointing, they weren’t completely “vacation ruining”. We can choose to eat the decent stuff in the Lido and the crew usually tried their best to fix things when problems happen (which was fairly often... we became VERY well acquainted with Guest services). It was our experience with the beverage manager that utterly ruined our vacationing mood. Here's the background: we aren't heavy alcohol drinkers so we purchased the quench beverage package planning to avail ourselves of mocktails, smoothies and specialty coffee. Unfortunately, we immediately noticed that all the bar menus on-board had been revamped for the worse. The drinks' description were removed, and most pertinently, the section on mocktails and smoothies disappeared. Not a problem, we can still ask the bar to make the drinks right? Well... Sort of! Turns out the bars no longer make drinks using real fruits. Instead it's "syrup" all the way! This caught us off-guard because we've had real fruit smoothies on previous cruises and during our cruise planning we saw another cruiser's May 2019 beverage menu and THAT one (multiple ones actually) still had drinks with detailed descriptions and real fruits stated. As we weren't reconciled to having only "syrup" ( corn syrup with a small % of real juice plus other favouring ingredients and preservatives) drinks, we wrote in to guest services and after a series of back and forths... we finally ended up speaking to the beverage manager in person. Horrible mistake. The beverage manager ( Cyrill?) had the worst service attitude ever and was confrontational to boot. He stated that he was the one in charge of ordering everything related to drinks. When asked about using real fruits in drinks, he basically implied we were lying about having it before or that it was some special one-off service. He swore that in all his 20+ years of service across multiple ships that he has NEVER ordered fruits to the bar and that drinks made due with just syrup. He even grabbed one of the bystanding crew members to collaborate his claim. Really? Was the poor guy going to contradict his BOSS to his face?! Talk about abuse of authority. When pressed, he told us to try the inroom dining... MAYBE they could make us a real fruit smoothie. As for if there was a charge there? He said he wasn’t sure. What kind of manager are you...? So after giving us a "that's that" attitude with no effort to apologize or make things better, he left and all we felt was incredulity. How did someone like this become a manager?! Was nepotism involved somewhere...?! On the spot, we weren't able to refute his highhanded claims but we afterwards we found the website with photo proof of previous/other ships having fruits in their drinks. (That url previously mentioned) We later also spoke privately to older bartenders who acknowledged that yes, they used to make drinks with real fruits. In fact, they still did so on their last contract a few months ago! So, the beverage manager straight up lied to our faces while trying to browbeat both us and his staff into accepting HIS way. This encounter with that disgrace of a manager completely destroyed any goodwill we felt towards HAL. In fact, because it's the beverage manager who has been such a disappointment, it's affected my impression of the whole beverage department and more... I know I’m sort of on the emotional side (really, most women are right? XD) but I ended up going out of my way to NOT walk by the bars if I could. Of course, we responded to Guest services about the horrendous treatment we received and the next day we met with the Food and Beverage DIRECTOR (one step up the chain?). He was a lot more gracious and friendly. We were given complimentary freshly made juice for breakfast/dinner (MDR) and one mocktail/smoothie of our choice each day for the remainder of the cruise. So in summary: - the kitchen was consistently inconsistent: the food was missing ingredients, under-cooked, over-cooked, too salty, wrong portions, etc - drinks from the bar for non-alcoholic drinkers nowhere near a “premium” experience - hotel management seems to have a systematic issue with procedures/training - crew was still great and did their best... except for ONE notable counterexample Final rating: Would not recommend and we’ll be trying other cruise lines in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have sailed on a number of HAL cruises and this was our first time on the Westerdam, one week Alaska Inside Passage followed by a one week land tour. The Westerdam was remodeled last year and we were impressed with the tasteful decor, ... Read More
We have sailed on a number of HAL cruises and this was our first time on the Westerdam, one week Alaska Inside Passage followed by a one week land tour. The Westerdam was remodeled last year and we were impressed with the tasteful decor, (except the odd colorful benches on each floor by the elevators). The decor is understated elegance, neutral colors, with many comfortable public spaces to relax. Our mini-suite 6190 was very roomy, more storage than I could fill, lots of room between the bed and the furnishings. Bathroom was also very large, double sink, separate shower and jetted bathtub. A wall of closets/shelves too. Once of the nicest staterooms we've had in our 14 cruises. Food was very good though the service in the dining room for dinner was a bit slow. Entertainment also exceeded our expectations with the exception of the HAL dancers/singers who's performances were a bit too theatrical rather than light and upbeat (this is the fault of the director, not the singers). The public spaces did not feel crowded, perfect size ship for our sailing. The EXC presentations on the Iditarod, Whales and Salmon were excellent as were the cooking classes presented by the chef for America's Test Kitchen. Very enjoyable cruise and highly recommend this ship for an Alaskan cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
HAL Westerdam July 14 to 28 Alaska We were on Niew Amsterdam in 2016 and found it to be excellent. We loved it so much, both managers and crew were very friendly and accommodating. Therefore, when an opportunity for an Alaska cruise ... Read More
HAL Westerdam July 14 to 28 Alaska We were on Niew Amsterdam in 2016 and found it to be excellent. We loved it so much, both managers and crew were very friendly and accommodating. Therefore, when an opportunity for an Alaska cruise North and Southbound on the Westerdam came by, we did not hesitate to book the cruise. However, what we experienced was far from our previous HAL experience. It was the total opposite that I am compelled to write this review. 1. Maitre d and Chef were unaccommodating to special requests unlike Niew Amsterdam wherein they were so pleased to fulfill any requests. The Lido servers in contrast were the friendliest and the only saving grace of this cruise. 2. Check-in was a pain. Their computer system had issues and therefore all the information I had filled in prior to the cruise was erased and had to be re-done. By the time we were assured that all information was complete and that both North and Southbound cruises were linked including our payment credit cards, etc, it was already over an hour. 3. Despite reassurances that all is well, when we got to immigration and looked at the key cards we were given, it said roundtrip FLL instead of Alaska! We did not even bother going back to queue again just to change our key cards- Florida it is. 4. The next day of our vacation, we were woken up very early at 6 AM! by incessant knocking on our door despite the privacy notice on our door. It was room service insisting we ordered breakfast at 6! We told him he had the wrong cabin whereupon he checked and he was indeed in the wrong cabin. Geez... 5. On several occasions, we tried calling reception for information; or room service; or anyone in the ship and we are always put on hold. When I asked other pax, I was told the same thing to the point we just give up and cancel the call. It really feels like the ship is short staffed! 6. Southbound: Well, despite reassurances during check-in, my key card no longer works. Security had a problem with it when I was about to leave the ship for a shore excursion- had to take photos again, etc. 7. After a long and very tiring day of excursion, the new key card I was given DID NOT WORK- NOT one time when I returned to open my cabin door, NOT the second new card, NOR NOT the third new card! Each time, I had to walk from my cabin down to reception and back 3x. All I wanted was to shower and sleep but with my key card not working, I could not get into my cabin. The cabin attendant felt so bad for me and he let me into my cabin. (Even the, I will still have to get a key card that works.) When finally a couple people from reception came up to the cabin, they key they brought with also DID NOT WORK. They wanted me to go down again and get a new key whereupon we requested that they are the ones who should bring the key up to us so they can also check if the 5th key card will work. NOT make me walk a 4th time roundtrip to their desk and my cabin. What if the 5th key also does not work? Walk roundtrip a 6th time?! This is a basic of CUSTOMER SERVICE. One should take care of the problem for the customer and not have the customer do the run around for you. 8. We waited a couple of hours whereupon I called reception to follow up (thank goodness someone answered the phone after ONLY 14 minutes on hold) and they said they will bring the key cards for both of us up. We had the PRIVACY PLEASE note on the door, but regardless, they knocked and despite our reply, they barged in anyway without waiting for us to say come in or go to the door. I was fresh from my shower and hastily had to dive into the bed for cover. 9. Despite all the issues with key cards, one would think there would be no other issues. However, the next day, I got a call from reception early in the morning to ask how I would like to pay for our account! I groggily informed the caller that they have my credit card all along since the Northbound trip and do not understand why they are waking me up for this information. But of course, system issues, bla bla, I later had to go down and given them the same credit card again. 10. Next day, guess what? Another early morning call. On vacations, we are hoping to sleep in and not wake up early-- after all, that is what we look forward to. This time the call was to ask if I was joining one of the excursions. Well, the excursion ticket was already delivered to my cabin a couple days prior so I am wondering what the question is all about. Turns out, they do not even know if I was going on the excursion or not when I informed them that they had already delivered my ticket! WHAT A MESS HAL's SYSTEM IS! 11. Did I mention none of their ship clocks on each floor on their stairwell work? Despite notices that the ship's clock would be one hour ahead or fall back for time changes, their clocks do not work.--- Not the entire 14 day cruise. The ship itself is good, facilities are well maintained by the crew. The cabins are good as well. Dining at Lido during lunch is a pleasure but dinner offerings are pretty much the same each night of the 14 days we took the cruise. With regards to information regarding wildlife, etc, I received far more information when we took the same North and Southbound Alaska cruise last year through Star Princess. To the point that other passengers followed me as I have a map from Princess showing waypoints where wildlife sightings are expected. I love wildlife and my hobby of photographing them calls me to cruise to Alaska each year. Next year, I will likely go back to Princess or try other lines for different ports. The saving grace as mentioned were the servers at the Lido including the Dive In personnel from the Philippines. They were most friendly and accommodating. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was an extended family cruise+land tour of Alaska. My parents were celebrating their 60th anniversary and said the only place they had ever been that they wanted to return to was Alaska. Because we have all had great experiences ... Read More
This was an extended family cruise+land tour of Alaska. My parents were celebrating their 60th anniversary and said the only place they had ever been that they wanted to return to was Alaska. Because we have all had great experiences with HAL in the past and my mom describes them as the "most elegant" and luxurious cruise she's taken, we only focused on them for our planning. Our group ranged in age from 3 years to 83 years old, so we had a lot of perspective. The Neptune suite I had booked for my family was upgraded to a Pinnacle so our accommodations on the ship were amazing. This VERY disappointing part of this arrangement was the upgrade did not extend to the land portion of our journey. Service in the Neptune lounge, Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, and main dining room was top notch, very attentive staff, really great meal choices. The entire cruise itenerary was fine with us. The ports were a great mix, the bus up to Denali was surprisingly enjoyable because of our driver/guide, and the train trip back to Anchorage was relaxing and breathtaking at the same time. Now...for the reason I'm rating this cruise only average -- the shipboard activities were dismal. My daughter is normally a real "joiner" on cruises we've taken. She was not at all attracted to the kid's program. She went one time for about an hour and a half and that was it. I've already mentioned what a wide range of ages we had. None of us really found anything appealing about the daytime activities on the sea days. Only one of the nighttime shows had any attraction for us -- we all went, we all got up early and left midway through the show. We really expected better entertainment on this cruise and this was one reason why we chose HAL. I tried to excuse this by saying that Alaska itself is the real attraction on this cruise, but we found lots of time to be bored and that was a first on any of the many cruises our family has taken. P.S. - Embarkation in Vancouver was a huge pain in the rear. Getting there, getting to the port, going up and down stairs over and over with 80+ year old travelers. The HAL check in part was quick and easy, all the rest was very NOT. I would do anything to avoid Vancouver in the future. We cruised out of Seattle last time. I would pick that or fly straight to Alaska next time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose the Westerdam for the itinerary from Vancouver to Alaska and Denali addition. The ship was very nice, many small bars or sitting areas for when weather was cool. However we had great weather all but one day! Enjoyed BB King ... Read More
We chose the Westerdam for the itinerary from Vancouver to Alaska and Denali addition. The ship was very nice, many small bars or sitting areas for when weather was cool. However we had great weather all but one day! Enjoyed BB King Blues bar the most - we prefer blues music anyway and enjoyed the band every night. The Billboard lounge has the “dueling pianos” and they were okay. Did not care for the classical music at Lincoln Center. Food at the Lido Market was just average. You really had to work at picking out decent food. The Main Dining Room was much better. The entire staff was VERY friendly and always had a smile and a nice greeting. We had an ocean view obstructed room. It was large enough with plenty of hangers and shelving. Ice whenever we needed and fresh fruit. I thought the ship was sold out, but we never had a problem finding a place to sit. The rooms had a hair dryer and makeup mirror, and we never needed an extra plug for electronics. Also, every step of moving a large group of people went very smoothly from embarkation to transfer to buses, to check in at hotels. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
In 2015, we did our first Alaska trip, which was an HAL Land/Sea Tour, where we did a land based tour of the Yukon first, and then did a short (4 night) cruise on the Volendam to finish off our tour. This week long cruise on the ... Read More
In 2015, we did our first Alaska trip, which was an HAL Land/Sea Tour, where we did a land based tour of the Yukon first, and then did a short (4 night) cruise on the Volendam to finish off our tour. This week long cruise on the Westerdam, from Vancouver to Anchorage, paled in comparison to that experience, for a number of reasons. On this trip, my husband and I also brought along my mother in law, who had never been on a cruise or to Alaska, and who stayed in an inside cabin across from our balcony cabin. See detailed cabin comments, below. FYI, if you have never cruised out of Vancouver, there is a pretty extensive "check in" process. Not only are you checking in for your cruise, but if your cruise is heading to Alaska, your first port is the US = customs. So, you actually go through the US Customs process in Vancouver, before you even leave the cruise terminal!! This saves time when you do get to your first US port (which probably doesn't have the capacity to handle customs for so many arriving passengers at once). So, plan for extra time before boarding the ship in Vancouver - you can get to the port around 10:30 or 11:00 am and not be early! The public interior areas of the ship appeared to us to have been recently refurbished. The carpet appeared newer; the seating in the theater was actually comfortable (we have been on several cruises where we had backaches getting up after a show in the theater!). The refurbishment did not seem to extend to the artwork/walls of the hallways and lobbies of the ship. As a matter of fact, that was one of the weirdest parts of this ship - I couldn't figure out the "theme" of the decor - what it was trying to be: a classic elegant cruiser; a ship that featured Greek or Baroque type of art/display; an Asian inspired vessel (there was some brightly colored Asian furniture in the lobbies of the elevator bank closest to our room). It needs some cohesiveness in design. Also, there were no activities or entertainment in the atrium area, as there are on many ships - and again, there was a modern light fixture/chandelier hung above the area, but the rest of the atrium looked more traditional. But, the "artwork" on the walls in our hallway was especially atrocious - it looked like prints that had been installed on the wall when the ship was built and never updated or changed since then, no matter what new carpet was put down, etc. Like prints my grandmother might have framed as "art" in her house. So, we could never get a handle on what the vibe of the ship was supposed to be, which has typically been pretty easy to figure out on any other ship we've cruised on. The exterior of the ship looked fine, to us, and the refurbished parts of the interior were also nice - but there was no consistency in decor, which just made it weird. The theater itself was more intimate feeling than other ships we've been on - not sure how many it seated, but we got good seats for the shows we saw, and had a good view of the productions. Unfortunately, the number of theater shows on this particular cruise was disappointing. We saw one production show with the onboard singers/dancers on night 2, and nothing afterwards. I found out on our last sea day that there were some technical and staffing issues with backstage/tech crew, which meant the normal shows could not go on - which was really disappointing for us, as that is one of the things we look forward to most on cruises - the onboard entertainment. They had also brought onboard an illusionist (who focused on sleight of hand magic) and a pianist/singer/comedian who was a very talented piano player. The illusionist did two shows one night; the piano player did two shows one night, and they did a show together one afternoon or evening (I think to make up for the lack of a second or third production show by the onboard singers/dancers). I am not a huge fan of either of their type of entertainment, but I went to the first magic show (he is very talented at what he does) and the first piano show (again, excellent pianist) but skipped their joint show - just didn't need to see more of either one. The first night we skipped the show in the theater - there was only one at 7 pm, and it was an introduction to Alaska preview (movie?) hosted by the cruise director. The fourth night was a BBC Earth movie about Alaska, with live music playing as accompaniment to the movie - again, only one show that night, at 7 pm. The fifth night was an EXC presentation about Iconic Whales of the Northwest - I think it was a talk by the cruise director - again we skipped it. So, this was, unfortunately, not enough "entertainment" in the main theater for us, and was a major disappointment. We barely heard/saw anything from the Cruise Director onboard. This has not been our experience with other cruises we've taken, so not sure if this is an HAL thing, or if it's just because he is new at the job & with HAL. However, the entertainment in the smaller venues was a highlight for us. The quintet that performed in the Lincoln Center Stage were all young people (20's or 30's) and very accomplished musicians. That small venue was full every time they performed, I think, and they also had a unique themed set of music for each performance - I think their performances were each approximately 45 minutes long (maybe an hour). The Billboard Onboard venue featured the "dueling pianos" concept which I love, and there were even some opportunities for sing-alongs with the crowd. I also liked those two performers and thought they were talented, as well. The BB Kings Blues Club was where we spent almost every evening - there was a great band in there, fronted by both a male and a female lead singer. We really enjoyed their sets, and cruisers were often dancing, too. However, the band themselves seemed to have a lot of technical issues with the sound techs - I think sometimes their monitors weren't working, sometimes a keyboard wasn't working, sometimes a mike or two wasn't working - they just seemed extremely frustrated with the tech crew. It didn't affect the sound quality/performance for the audience, fortunately. And, I know, from walking by in the afternoons, that the band rehearsed earlier in the day, so I'm not sure why the tech team couldn't get the sound right when it came to performance time. But, again, BB Kings was a highlight of entertainment for us on this cruise - we often stayed for all 3 sets they played nightly! For dining - we ate all but our first night's dinner in the Main Dining Room on the "Anytime Dining" program. We were fortunate to be assigned a table that was in the back of the dining room (so, at the back of the ship) with a gorgeous view of the wake of the ship out the huge window. It was a perfect location for us, and we had the same waitstaff each night, who were outstanding and remembered our preferences for drinks, etc. We thought the dinners in there each night were delicious, and had everything from apps through dessert almost every night. I would give the dining room 5 stars! We also enjoyed eating lunch either in the Lido (buffet) or out at the Dive In or the Taco Bar near the main pool. For some reason those burgers and fries just taste better than at home! In the buffet, they offer a pizza/pasta bar, as well as a custom made salad bar - which we chose several times - they prepare it for you, and then add the dressing and mix it up for you, if you like. There was also a dessert area that featured about 5-6 ice creams, frozen yogurts, gelatos, etc. per day, in addition to other individual dessert selections. We also ate breakfast in the Lido each morning, mostly because of the omelet stations - made to order omelets each day, along with many other buffet options (Eggs Benedict, etc.). Our first night, we decided to treat ourselves to the Pinnacle Grill at the special "first night" pricing (note, you need to book this in advance when you board - don't just show up for dinner there and expect to get the discounted price). Although my mother in law and I both had excellent dinners featuring perfectly cooked filet mignons, my husband's entire dinner there was a "fail". He had been wanting King Crab Legs forever, so went for that; but his crab was so awful that he asked to have it replaced with a filet mignon like we had. Then, they brought him his steak, and it was uncooked in the center - like not even warm. So, he asked for it to be cooked more, and they instead brought him a different steak (looked like NY strip) which was tough and overcooked. They also make a big deal about their lobster bisque, which features one tiny piece of lobster in a bowl, then poured over with the bisque - which, as my husband observed, tasted a little bit like gravy. But, the worst part of the meal was that our server was continually looking at other tables he was waiting on, even when he was taking our orders/serving us! And, he never really got the severity of how badly my husband's entire meal service was going. We asked for the manager, who tried to make up for it; but it couldn't really be saved, by that point. We got MUCH better service from our waiters in the Main Dining Room than we did in the Pinnacle Grill. Again, when we went on the Volendam 4 years ago, we had a lovely dinner in the P.C. with excellent service. so, this was a disappointment, and was the reason we couldn't give dining a 5 star rating. The only shore excursion we booked through HAL was in Skagway - the White Pass Yukon RR trip, because the train literally pulls up next to the ship for boarding. I'm not sure it was HAL's fault, but for some reason we had to stand outside for a very long time prior to boarding the train, which was sitting right there! And, each cruise ship is assigned cars, which are labeled for the guests to find! So, not sure why there was such a long delay getting us boarded onto the train and on our way. All other ports/excursions we did on our own. Other random observations: The Lido Pool (under the retractable roof) seemed to be filled with kids on our trip. If you are interested in a more adult pool experience, I would suggest signing up for the Spa experience and using the therapy pool in there - it looked lovely; wish I would have used it at least 1 day onboard! The America's Test Kitchen demos were held in the Blues Club and did have TV screens so you could see what the chef was doing. Unfortunately, there were only 3 demos; one on the first sea day, and two on the last sea day. I had the impression there would have been more. And, I thought the recipes selected were weird - one was Asian Dumplings; one was a take on Tomato Soup and (gourmet) Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I didn't get it...This was something my mother in law was looking forward to, and thought there would be more of throughout the trip. Based on the totality of this cruise, compared to other cruises we have been on (Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival) we probably would not choose to cruise on HAL again (unless it was on one of their newest ships - and not sure why we would choose them over any of these other cruise lines, anyway). Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary, both sea and land portions along with Holland America's experience in Alaska. Our first time on HAL. We really appreciated the opportunities provided by HAL to upgrade our cabin and ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary, both sea and land portions along with Holland America's experience in Alaska. Our first time on HAL. We really appreciated the opportunities provided by HAL to upgrade our cabin and ended up in a Neptune Suite for a nominal fee. Our room steward and Neptune Lounge concierges were fantastic. Pre-cruise in Vancouver at the Pan Pacific hotel was perfect. Embarkation was good except for an hour delay due to a surprise Coast Guard inspection. We liked being able to use our Signature Beverage Package in the Neptune Lounge. However, we were misinformed on what we could order. We were told beverages up to $9 but learned after the cruise it was $11. We booked two excursions through HAL - the Discover Whale Watch in Juneau and Husky Homestead in Denali. Both great - well organized and delivered as promised. We planned to participate in more onboard entertainment but only managed to make it to Billboard Onboard, the casino, and a couple EXC presentations. All good! Some of the presentations offered in the EXC lounge were standing room only. Dining overall was good. We tried the Main Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill, Room Service, Lido Market, Dive-In and taco bar. We only tried a couple of the bars because we primarily used the honor bar in the Neptune Lounge. We cruise primarily for the destinations and excursions, not the ship itself. However, all were very good. The only significant negative was the hotel in Anchorage. Holland American needs to seriously renovate this hotel. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Our Alaska cruise on the Westerdam was fantastic. We had 3 generations, with teenagers being the youngest of the group, so I was a bit nervous hearing about the usual demographics of Holland America cruisers. To my pleasant surprise: there ... Read More
Our Alaska cruise on the Westerdam was fantastic. We had 3 generations, with teenagers being the youngest of the group, so I was a bit nervous hearing about the usual demographics of Holland America cruisers. To my pleasant surprise: there were many multi-generational families, and we rather enjoyed not having the ship overrun with small, running, loud children. Rooms: we all had a row of balcony rooms, on the port side, which was perfect when we were in Glacier Bay. Our steward opened up the dividers so we basically had our own loooong balcony to share during our trip. Service in all areas was outstanding. From our smiling steward to each restaurant server to the entertainment - ALL were so eager and friendly and we enjoyed seeing them in port having a good time with us passengers. Food was amazing. We enjoyed the various restaurant choices, and there were plenty of options to choose from, including 1 member who is gluten-free. Entertainment: the older grandparents really enjoyed the nightly shows and educational presentations in the main ballroom, while us parents with 20 somethings tended to go to the lively BB King's or piano bar or casino every night. Westerdam provided the right amount of partying, because we usually woke up early the next day for excursions, so we didn't need loud, late conga lines every night. Excursions: so many to choose from and here's a brief review: 5 star for: Zipline in Ketchikan, & Glacier View Sea Kayaking in Juneau 4 star for: Halibut Fishing in Ketchikan (they caught Lingcod but not Halibut). 3 Star for Skagway Hike and Float trip (only because we are experienced hikers so wanted a more strenuous hike and longer time on the river) Overall: I'd say Holland America is a bit more sophisticated for the discerning customer, which we prefer. We met other cruisers from around the world, and we all were impressed with Holland America! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We choose this cruise as we wanted to visit the Far East but couldn't face flying 14 hours each way. The cruise was 42 days from Vancouver to Hong Kong and it was everything we had hoped for. The weather was incredible, in all that ... Read More
We choose this cruise as we wanted to visit the Far East but couldn't face flying 14 hours each way. The cruise was 42 days from Vancouver to Hong Kong and it was everything we had hoped for. The weather was incredible, in all that time, there wwrw brief rain showers twice. We were the last ship of the season in Alaska and the weather was sunny. We had worried about being in Alaska the beginning of October and instead Juneau, Glacier Bay and Kodiak were lovely. The North Pacific crossing has 6 consecutive sea days, and they were pleasantly filled with enrichment lectures, America's Test Kitchen and deck walks. We ate dinner in the dining room and went for group tables, and met many very pleasant people. It meant often meeting people around the ship that we had met over dinner. The dinning room food was nicely served and we enjoyed the choices. We had breakfast and lunch in Lido, and enjoyed the service and food there as well. The pasta station, the Asian station and salad bar added a nice variety to the regular items on the main serving station. We tried Dive-In hambergers for a snack a couple of times and they were great. Didnt really like Dive-In fries, but there were chips on the taco bar adjacent for that salty crunch. Once we reached Japan the pace really picked up. We had ports in Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and the Philippines. About half the time in Japan we just walked ashore and went exploring. The ports all had welcoming committees and maps and info were readily avaiable, the EXE guides on the ship had also provided a lot of solid information. The remainder of the ports we booked our tours through Holland America. We were very pleased with the offerings. Our selection included a nice balance of sight seeing in cities, in the countryside, in temples and shrines, and even a Hot Spring resort for bathing. There were many highlights to our time ashore, including visiting the Great Wall of China, seeing the Acrobats in Shanghai, attending a dance festival in Japan, visiting a manga museum (we knew nothing about manga). Many times were at locations that local families go on their days off, seeing all the families and their children out enjoying the location and sunshine added a great deal to the experience. The trip was an incredible success. Our time on the ship was wonderful, the staff are so welcoming and so good at their jobs, our fellow passengers were great to hang out with, and the ports were fascinating. And as a bonus it only took 2 weeks to get over the jet lag after we got home. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We love doing the Alaska trip, it is very easy for us coming from Vancouver Island. This trip makes the 4th time we have done this route and we will do it again, next time we will probably do a southbound run. Each time we have done ... Read More
We love doing the Alaska trip, it is very easy for us coming from Vancouver Island. This trip makes the 4th time we have done this route and we will do it again, next time we will probably do a southbound run. Each time we have done something slightly different: change in port Skagway to Sitka, change in glacier, Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm/Endicott. Embarkation took about an hour, there were only 2 ships departing on the 23rd (Westerdam and Noordam). We have experienced longer. They had more lines moving and sorted out passengers better than on previous trips. Luggage was in the cabin when we boarded. Disembarkation was quick. Since our last trip HAL has changed the way things are done. We chose our timing to go with the pick up time for our bus back to the island. We waited in the cabin until our color was called and then headed for the gangway. We took all of our luggage with us this time. Customs took about 30 seconds as I had the form fully completed. The ship: Well maintained. The crew: Excellent. We are still trying to figure out how the cabin stewart knows we are out, we have only caught him in the cabin once and that was because we came back for something. The entertainment and activities: Very good, this trip we had a comedian and a magician. The HAL dance crew were fun to watch. We love to play trivia (music and other), there were several times available and we hit most of them. The ECO talks that we got to were informative, wish they could have done them more than once on the trip as we found there were conflicts with other activities. Captain Mark did a talk about his duties and how the ship runs, very interesting. It was also his birthday that day so the entire audience sang to him, then the cruise director and some of the officers presented him with a gift. His slide show of the bridge was hijacked by the CD and pictures of Capt Mark were inserted into the show. Lots of fun and he took it well. He is very well liked by the crew. Dining: The main diningroom was excellent, we chose anytime dining so we didn't sit at the same table twice so didn't get the same waiters. I booked each morning once we had looked at the daily activities and the menu and was successful in getting a table for 2 each time. The Lido was a bit of a disappointment. The menu was varied, lots of choices and the servers were very nice and helpful. The downfall was the temperature of the food. We found the entrees lukewarm at best. So to get hot food we ordered made to order omelettes or other made or order items for breakfast. Lunches we did the same. The Dive-In was excellent as usual. Love the dive-in sauce for the fries. Really like the taco bar. Ports and excursions: Juneau was wet, only rainy day tho; not bad for the end of September. We did the Alaska Brewing Company tour on our own, always a good time. Went to the library to get the wifi to check email. Skagway was fairly warm. We did the HAL excursion to Dredge Town. It is a little cheesy but the PUPPIES were fun; they made the excursion worth while. Tracy Arm/Endicott. We couldn't get as close to the glacier as we wanted as there was a lot of ice in the way; some of the ice was as large as a semi trailer. We were still able to see the glacier with binos. The trip in and out was beautiful. First time we had seen Endicott. Ketchikan. It WASN'T raining!! :). We didn't get to go up the funicular as it was down for repairs. We did go on a non-HAL excursion just a quick city highlight with a trip out to the fish spawning grounds. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We just wanted a short get away and this suited us fine. We always like Alaska and for the most part enjoyed the ship. We found the food not all that good and did not really like the entertainment but everything else was fine. We ... Read More
We just wanted a short get away and this suited us fine. We always like Alaska and for the most part enjoyed the ship. We found the food not all that good and did not really like the entertainment but everything else was fine. We found that in the evening there just was not that much going on, if you did not like BBKing there was not a lot else. I really do not like the TWO pianos but that is what we seem to have now on Holland America. We did go several times to Pinnacle Grill which we think is the best of this type of restaurant on any line we have cruised with. We also like that you can get lunch there, not the variety but much more reasonable serving size . Did the test kitchen but for some reason you can not eat anything you prepare so I guess they throw out all the food we worked so hard on . We took one tour that was very good , the crab feast and loggers show, good value for the money so it you like crab its the one to go on. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
I choose HAL after reading many reviews on all cruise lines sailing to my location. Embarkation & disembarkation was smooth. The ship/cabin was updated clean & comfortable. The activities were appropriate for older adults I ... Read More
I choose HAL after reading many reviews on all cruise lines sailing to my location. Embarkation & disembarkation was smooth. The ship/cabin was updated clean & comfortable. The activities were appropriate for older adults I especially liked the educational talks Glenn Michaels was awesome. The entertainment was nice B.B. King Allstars, billboard onboard, Lincoln center stage. The staff was very nice and they seemed eager to help make your stay pleasant. My cabin stewards were AWESOME. The ship captain was informative letting us know the cruising process which I found interesting. I sailed solo but met and spent time with other passengers on board and on excursions. The food was exceptional, the Lido market, the Dive-In, The taco bar, the dining room & in-room dining (no extra charge) mmmgood. I booked excursions onboard using the Navigator app. that was easy and your tickets and instructions were brought to your cabin and the prices for the excursions were comparable to the prices I saw online before my cruise. I didn’t use the fitness center I preferred to do laps around the promenade deck because the weather was so nice, this is pretty much what I do at home I go to the gym when it’s to cold outside but the gym was nice and worth using if the weather wasn’t favorable. Overall, I really enjoyed my cruise on HAL Westerdam. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Holland America, the Westerdam and her crew were excellent. This was my first time on Holland America and I would sail on her ships anytime. The ship was beautiful and incredibly well kept. Someone was always cleaning without being ... Read More
Holland America, the Westerdam and her crew were excellent. This was my first time on Holland America and I would sail on her ships anytime. The ship was beautiful and incredibly well kept. Someone was always cleaning without being obtrusive. I ate most of my meals in the Ledo marketplace because it was a much more casual atmosphere and I was able to meet so many more people. There was never more than a brief wait for the food and everything was hot. Tables turned over regularly but if you wanted to linger that was fine too! The excursions were well planned and we were never rushed. The tour guides were wonderful. The entertainment was very good and always fun. I am a convert to Holland America Cruises not the land tours. What I would not do is book a land tour D5C (double Denali) again without a lot more investigation. The Westmark Hotels, owned by Holland America were beyond disappointing. The Westmark Anchorage was shabby and we had to change rooms immediately because the sink backed up in the main line. The staff quickly moved us to another room...that had a slow leak in the bathroom from the room above. The second Westmark - McKinnley Chalet was fine and we could at least relax. The Fairbanks Westmark was clean and nice but there was no where that you could eat except the hotel. Many of the buildings nearby were boarded up or closed and didn't appear safe day or night. Many of us had to spend 10-12 hours in the lobby eating packaged snacks watching a screen with a 7 minute film on Alaska on endless loop. We could not reach anyone in authority to voice our concerns too. I wanted to see as much of Alaska as possible on this trip but now I know why most people stay with just cruising. Again, the ship, the excursions, the food, entertainment on the ship was great 5 stars. I couldn't say more about how great the ship experience was. The staff was delightful, greeting people by name on day two! The Ledo deck staff was wonderful, very solicitous. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was our first cruise and we loved it! From the perfect flight into Vancouver with great views and a beautiful airport to an easy flight home with more great views from the air including northern lights, it was all amazing! We got ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we loved it! From the perfect flight into Vancouver with great views and a beautiful airport to an easy flight home with more great views from the air including northern lights, it was all amazing! We got into Vancouver a day early and absolutely loved the Pan Pacific Hotel which is literally part of the cruise terminal! This allowed us an opportunity to see one HAL ship sail away and for us to watch the Westerdam sail in! This was so special! We went to mass on Saturdaybat the Cathedral that is an easy walk and had a great dinner with a view at the Steamworks brewing company. Our HAL hotel package included a yummy buffet with a view of our ship and luggage pickup at our room so we just needed to go downstairs, check in and we are on the ship enjoying the buffet by 11:30. Rooms were ready soon after and we unpacked, took a ship tour, and we were ready for the sail away party. Loved the size and elegant ease of the Westerdam, very relaxing and good food. The shows and music venues were nice. The star was Alaska and all the wildlife. This was accented by the naturalist programs and the beautiful port adventures. Our first port was Ketchikan. We loved watching sailing in and out of here and all the ports from our balcony. We had a Totem Bight tour in the morning with a really informative guide. Then we had plenty of time to shop and explore the town. Guess what? No rain! We had sunny clear skies throughout this trip and really comfortable temperatures! So lucky! In Juneau we rented a car to go to Mendenhall Glacier. We walked out to the falls for some fantastic views and enjoyed the guest center. Then we picked up our friends, who did the helicopter ride out to the glacier (which they loved), had lunch at the Red Dog Saloon, then out to The Shrine of St. Theresa, which has beautiful views, and back to town for a little shopping. In Skagway we loved the luxury car on The White Pass RR! Instead of 50 people on bus like seats we had 14 big comfy leather swivel chairs, our own guide, drinks, the best coffee, hot and cold snacks, a large platform outside, and we were first car up and caboose back for great views. It was a splurge but well worth it for the experience. Do it! Then we went into town, had a drink and snack at the brewery, and met a local carving soapstone and bought a seal from this artist. Great day! Then the big day, Glacier Bay. I was so excited that I got up really early and we got to watch the park rangers come on board. With only a quick breakfast and lunch break, we spent all day on the deck and it was worth every freezing moment. We saw whales, orcas, bears, puffins, and the most beautiful scenery you could imagine including a giants glacier calving which I caught on video! I loved this whole day. Truly once in a lifetime experience! We had another sea day...did I mention that we saw whales spouting several times a day...keep your eyes on the ocean and always go out when the naturalist is speaking on deck 10. We were sad to end our cruise but excited to jump on a bus and head to Denali. On the way it was so clear that we saw Mt. Denali ( which is very rare) all the way there. We also saw baluga whales! We stopped at some scenic viewing spots and a Iditarod center and held puppies! We stayed at HAL lodge, had a great meal, shopped, and even roasted marshmallows. The next day we explored the lodge area and then went on about an 8 hour tundra wilderness tour. It was epic! The guide told us to relax and enjoy and remember that we aren’t going to get real close to wildlife...well, at the first stop, she said that we had already seen more wildlife than most people see the whole trip...and that was just the beginning! We saw 3 young wolves playing in front of and beside the bus, a moose also walked right by the bus, we saw several bears, elk, and clear as can be Mt. Denali the whole trip! Oh, then that night, we saw the northern lights! Wow!! Then we took the McKinley Exolorer glass top train back to Anchorage...again Mt. Denali was visible the whole way. The guide said that in 10 years he had never heard of the views and wildlife we got to experience. He said it was more than a picture post card day...he said we got the whole brochure! We stayed at the Westmark which was a fine hotel very well located to walk everywhere! We enjoyed dinner at The Glacier Brewhouse (everyone, but me, got a variety of their Mac and cheese which they loved). We had a late flight with transportation with HAL so we had a relaxing day, late breakfast at Snow City Cafe, and didn’t the day shopping and watching free movies at the Alaska Center in the Federal Building caticorner from the visitors center ( note, you have to get scanned for security so no ulu knife!). Felt like we did everything we set out to do and more...we saw it all and ate it all. Love cruising. Love Alaska. Oh, try the hamburgers, hotdogs and fries at the Dive In! Yum! You can see my trip info on YouTube. SSVacationista Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
My wife and I have cruised on 4 different cruiselines with this most recent cruise being our first on Holland America. From this point on, we need look no further. We took a Land and Sea journey to Alaska and the level of customer ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised on 4 different cruiselines with this most recent cruise being our first on Holland America. From this point on, we need look no further. We took a Land and Sea journey to Alaska and the level of customer service, efficiency, comfort, exceeds Disney whom I thought couldn't be beat in these areas but I was wrong. From the moment we boarded a bus at the Seattle airport to go to Vancouver to board the ship until we arrived at out hotel in Seattle for our return flight home we didn't touch our luggage. Holland America moved it and us seamlessly throughout our 12 days which included 2 nights in Denali National Park. They included nights in their own resort in the park, as well as 2 very nice hotels, one in Anchorage and one in Seattle. With each step, a Holland America representative greeted us with all necessary details taken care of. Quite remarkable. The Westerdam is a beautiful ship. The food, in our opinion topped any of the other cruiselines, including Celebrity with whom we sailed in March of this year. The on board entertainment, especially what they call Billboard on Board was high quality. This is a "dueling piano" type set up and Joey and Emily, the two performers were first rate. Planning another cruise next summer and Holland America has won my business. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose HAL Westerdam because we wanted to see Glacier Bay on our first trip to Alaska (and our first cruise!). We actually went against the advice of our travel agent who thought we would be happier with a luxury line even though they ... Read More
We chose HAL Westerdam because we wanted to see Glacier Bay on our first trip to Alaska (and our first cruise!). We actually went against the advice of our travel agent who thought we would be happier with a luxury line even though they don't stop at Glacier Bay. I think she was right and next time we will listen to her. Westerdam Is not a bad ship but the decor is dated and the service can be indifferent and sometimes rude. Here's an idea of what we loved, liked and didn't like: Loved: EXC Explorations Lounge - this lounge, education center and coffee bar is in the crow's nest area of the ship and has magnificent views. It was recently renovated and the decor is modern and comfortable. I could have spent my whole trip there but it was very crowded as everyone else quickly discovered its value too. The EXC education programs (free!) were great as was the free library. EXC Shore Excursions - we booked 4 and all were excellent. We especially liked the Dogsled adventure and musher's camp in Skagway and The Neets Bay Bear Watch from Ketchikan. All our guides were knowledgable and considerate. The Pinnacle Grill Restaurant and Rudi's Sel de Mer (pop up restaurant at Pinnacle)- top notch fine dining. We ate here 3 times and enjoyed every one. Great service and excellent food. Alaska - Wow. Amazing place. Every port was charming, the people are kind and friendly, the scenery is breathtaking. Glacier Bay is awe-inspiring. We loved shopping in Juneau, taking the White Pass and Yukon Railway in Skagway, dogsledding and holding puppies, having fish tacos at Deckhand Dave's, and getting really close to black bears at Neet's Bay. I would definitely come to Alaska again. Liked: Entertainment: We didn't do a lot of it, but what we did do was fun. We enjoyed America's Test Kitchen (even though they are not allowed to give our food samples) and both the magician and the Alaska in Concert programs were great. Our Room - Our Neptune Suite was large, had a lot of storage, a comfortable bed, and a great balcony. It is overdue for a renovation, however. Neptune Lounge and Cabin Steward staff: All our Neptune staff were really great. Very considerate and helpful. The Dive-In: a hamburger and hot dog stand by the pool that provided a great lunch. Disliked: The ship overall - the decor is dated, the one tiny pool is unwelcoming, and there is not a lot of comfortable lounge space. The upselling - Holy Cow, there is a lot of upselling. Besides the usual beverage packages and future cruises, everyone on the ship wants to sell you something. The Spa was the worst. I was hassled in the tiny waiting area (no, I don't want acupuncture) I was hassled during my treatment (how relaxing!) and I was hassled to provide an extra tip after my treatment. The wifi - expensive and awful. I bought the most expensive package hoping it would work. All I wanted to do was play games on my tablet. Nope. Not even at 4 am when everyone else was asleep. The buffet and the main dining room - food was mediocre to bad and the service was either indifferent or rude. One dining steward in the main dining room berated me for my allergies to the point where I couldn't eat my dinner and just left. Other points: Embarkation was smooth and I guess reasonably quick - it was my first time so I don't know how its supposed to work. Disembarkation was fine. We spent two days before the cruise in Vancouver which is a great city to explore. We went to Stanley Park, Chinatown, and Gastown. I highly recommend the Fairmont Waterfront Gold level. Tremendous value as you basically get free breakfast and a light dinner along with your room as well as a dedicated front desk and concierge. They will also transfer your luggage to the ship for free. So overall while we enjoyed many parts of this vacation (especially Alaska!) we've learned we need to listen to our travel agent and next time go with the cruise line she suggests for us. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I love the many changes I've seen on the Westerdam, particularly the decor, which isn't garish like so many other HAL ships. I did find the 'entertainment' to be unbelievably poor, other than one lady who did a ... Read More
I love the many changes I've seen on the Westerdam, particularly the decor, which isn't garish like so many other HAL ships. I did find the 'entertainment' to be unbelievably poor, other than one lady who did a comedy/violin act. There was a magician who was laughingly pathetic, and the balance of the shows were performances by the HAL crew, not at all to my liking. We found ways to entertain ourselves, though, so those were minor issues. What was horrendous was the land tour, which was the bulk of the trip. Other than Denali, which was a 3 night stay, I wish we had never signed up for the land tour. Our 'guide' didn't have a clue how to manage this job, and he failed us at each destination. We were all left to our own devices as to where to meet, when, etc. He abandoned us at our first stop, taking off to our hotel before the bulk of us knew what was going on. We learned to help each other. We're adults, so we figured things out, but the worst part of the whole mess was the hotels that Holland reportedly owns, the Westmark. It was borderline ok in Anchorage and Fairbanks, but in Dawson City, it wasn't even close to acceptable. As if Dawson wasn't bad enough, Whitehorse Westmark should be torn down--or burned down--because it is one nasty, dirty, filthy, repulsive excuse for a hotel. I won't even write down what we found in our pathetic room. NO ONE AT WESTMARK CARED. We got excuses, no results. We will NEVER do a land portion with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Was part of a package with a well known travel group. First, the HAL employees are wonderful and eager to please. The amenities, however, are very average compared to other ships. Wallpaper yellowing and peeling off the walls in common ... Read More
Was part of a package with a well known travel group. First, the HAL employees are wonderful and eager to please. The amenities, however, are very average compared to other ships. Wallpaper yellowing and peeling off the walls in common areas, bath tub coating coming off, plumber had to be called at one point because of a problem with the shower, card room not set up with tables when event was scheduled, etc. Embarkation process in Vancouver, B.C. was a nightmare. Took at least 30 minutes as we had to go back and forth, up and down stairs and escalators to complete the process. It was tedious! They already had credit card information from online check in so all they had to do was look at passports, basically; No reason for it to take so long. On the plus side, the land tour to Denali NP was wonderful! The bus ride is way long so they really need to focus on getting drivers with appropriate personalities, some of which didn’t. The hotels are adequate and the schedule is well run. The train trip (McKinley Explorer) is great with good meals and scenery, even in the rain. The Tundra Wilderness Tour was awesome! Well worth the all day bus trip through a beautiful wild place. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We choose this cruise for the itinerary, we always wanted to go to Alaska Boat was nice very clean, abit boring Hardly any music, the PA on deck did not work well Hotels used were dumps Dirty and old and worn Excursions ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary, we always wanted to go to Alaska Boat was nice very clean, abit boring Hardly any music, the PA on deck did not work well Hotels used were dumps Dirty and old and worn Excursions hit or miss Could do better privately crew nice but not that friendly The cruise director a nwaste Specialty Steak house awful Shows very sub par The cruise was a land cruise on the westerdam , started in Fairbanks, awful, to Denali great, to Anchorage, awful hotels call the Westmark. They were both dumps, hairs in bed, stains on sofa, smelled, carpets dirty, Needed to sleep with your day time cloths on and use saddles on the sticky floors Told Holland America about it and they said too Bad all part of the Alaskan experience An example of the terrible excursions was the wilderness small boat tour, the boat broke and did we drove up then down a river Holland American said sorry and gave us back 20 bucks back on a 159 dollar trip All in all use another ship line, Holland is old and has not changed in years SPEND YOUR MONEY SOME WHERELSE Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This cruise was a great value for the money. The food was always good, although I won't say it was ever amazing. The cabin stewards were fantastic. All the entertainers were really talented. The clients were mostly retired ... Read More
This cruise was a great value for the money. The food was always good, although I won't say it was ever amazing. The cabin stewards were fantastic. All the entertainers were really talented. The clients were mostly retired people, although we did see some families. This was definitely not a party ship. There were not a lot of extra things going on during the cruise, and usually the ones they had overlapped a lot. Most of the entertainment was in the evenings. The days in port did not have much going on, so I would definitely advise spending the money to go on shore excursions. We liked the choice of open seating where you could show up anytime between 5:15 and 9:00 and be seated in the dining room with random people each night. The dining room was very casual, even on the two gala nights. Glacier Bay was amazing. Our ship spent an extra half hour there because it was such a beautiful day. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
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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