186 Holland America Line Westerdam Family Cruise Reviews

Cabin: poorly working A/C, dripping with water on bedding. Moisture running of walls. Overhead bed hinges broken, bed leaning forward/downward. Bathtub would backup off and on. First couple days toilet didn’t work. Used washroom off ... Read More
Cabin: poorly working A/C, dripping with water on bedding. Moisture running of walls. Overhead bed hinges broken, bed leaning forward/downward. Bathtub would backup off and on. First couple days toilet didn’t work. Used washroom off exploration cafe, only to have urinal contents flush on pants and shoes. Staff knew of problem, but didn’t correct. Didn’t offer immediate help with clothes and shoes.... 2 days later !!!!! After having complained nothing happened!! Ports: what a joke! You wake up to the smells of container harbours, thousands of containers, cranes and trucks, not exactly a luxury holiday stop, but worse... what’s not advertised is the huge amounts you have to spend to actual go to the port of call, as in at least at couple of ports we were 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hrs away. What a disappointment. Decor: there was very little Christmas decor, they couldn’t have done any less, pathetic. Entertainment: what entertainment!! It was pretty much nonexistent, and whatever little they had was so terrible. New Year’s Eve was the biggest disappointment - after a so so dinner - nothing happened... there was not one single thing going on. No entertainment in any one corner of the ship. How terrible is that. Shame on you Holland America!! Food: boring and repetitive. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We have always dreamed of an aft cabin got one one the ship. At first glance we were very disappointed because if was so small, old, and dreary but at least we had an aft view but the veranda was filthy, covered in soot. I asked the cabin ... Read More
We have always dreamed of an aft cabin got one one the ship. At first glance we were very disappointed because if was so small, old, and dreary but at least we had an aft view but the veranda was filthy, covered in soot. I asked the cabin attendant if it could be swept at least but he said they don't clean it. Although the view was beautiful I could not sit there because of the filth. I would have bought a broom myself had I known they don't sweep the verandas. We ate in the dining room one time. at the the waiter threw the tiny amount of food down and ran away. Couldn't ask for anything. The rest we ate the Lido. Much better. The whole immigration procedures from Hal were chaotic. I was told multiple times that I needed to get my own visas only to find out they were available through the ship. The busiest places on the ship were the medical unit and customer service. That tells you a lot. I have been on other HAL cruises but this one seemed like everyone was in training. You had to explain everything to them. I'm done with HAL. No recognition of Mariner status at embarkation. Hot tubs were ice cold. Dont book any overnight packages. They change them and then tell you sorry they're nonrefundable,\. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
we had the best time ! the best time in this boat !! everything was super clean the staff were very friendly! we cannot wait to go back . we had room 7069 that was perfect for us ( Neptune suite) we also had access to the lounge John ... Read More
we had the best time ! the best time in this boat !! everything was super clean the staff were very friendly! we cannot wait to go back . we had room 7069 that was perfect for us ( Neptune suite) we also had access to the lounge John and Sarah (sorry if I got that wrong) were amazing ! getting the boat in Singapore was a little manic as the people on check in didn't know that suites have a priority check in so they were keep sending us from one counter to the other but other that that everything else was very smooth . we loved the piano players they were the best ! food was amazing everywhere a special thank you to our Turkish friend in the dining room he was the best holland america is having the best service in every port we went people were in the doc with cold water flesh towels and fruits first class service Read Less
Sail Date November 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
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 were part of an 18 member family party on a cruise from Vancouver BC to Anchorage AK. The staff were generally helpful, the facilities fine, the Alaskan scenery amazing, the food ok, yet my experience was largely negative. We brought ... Read More
We were part of an 18 member family party on a cruise from Vancouver BC to Anchorage AK. The staff were generally helpful, the facilities fine, the Alaskan scenery amazing, the food ok, yet my experience was largely negative. We brought our three small children with us. Mistake. The marketing literature implied “child friendly” but that is misleading. The kids center “Club Hal” was fun for older kids (mostly they watched movies) though occasionally with limited hours, but unfortunately not available to toddlers. But THERE WAS NO SAFE PLACE ON THE SHIP FOR OUR TODDLER. Lots of ways he could get hurt. For example, on Glacier Bay day we rented a cabana and we were on high alert (hard to enjoy) because he could easily slip thru the bars and fall 11 stories to certain DEATH. Deck 2 was the floor with the entertainment on it, and it included a Casino with sounds and lights which seem designed to attract toddlers. CASINO STAFF (manager Tom) WERE MILITANT ABOUT NO KIDS. So I spent endless hours in the evenings going up and down the stairs and elevator, trying to keep our toddler entertained, safe, and out of the casino. BEING TRAPPED ON THE WESTERDAM WITH A TODDLER WAS A FRUSTRATING, STRESSFUL, and EXHAUSTING EXPERIENCE. Never again. For the most part, with the exception of the casino staff, the WESTERDAM staff were empathetic and helpful to our situation, but still a horrible way to spend a vacation. In retrospect we should have just told the family we were not going with them. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. ... Read More
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. Food good. Only disappointment was lunch in the Pinnacle Restaurant. Not worth the extra $. Not sure why a Coconut Trifle would gave 2 layers of rich chocolate that overpowered the taste of anything else...inedible. Strawberry pavlova...better pavlova in the Lido. Crab cakes for appetizer were excellent. Entrees (mains) pretty ordinary. Dinner may have been better. Santos and Otto did a great job in looking after us in our stateroom on Deck 10. Recommend this Stateroom, in particular location. Great service with a smile everywhere. Plenty of updates from the Captain. Smooth sailing. Embarkation was easy and we were able to board earlier than designated. Disembarkation needed more signs for lines of group colours. Easy to look up everything on TV in cabin, e.g. account and dining menus for the day. Good movies too. 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 selected this cruise because we had never been to Japan. We typically cruise with Holland America but have found on our last couple of cruises that their standards are starting to slip. The quality of the food and the ... Read More
We selected this cruise because we had never been to Japan. We typically cruise with Holland America but have found on our last couple of cruises that their standards are starting to slip. The quality of the food and the selection/variety is not what it used to be. As well, even though the staff are all dedicated and hardworking and do their best to keep the cruisers happy, HAL seems to have reduced the number of staff and so the service is also not what it used to be. Embarkation, in our opinion, was poorly handled and slow and we spent a lot of time simply standing in line. Disembarkation, on the other hand, was quite efficient and quick. The selection of ports for the 14 day Japan portion of the cruise was very good and we enjoyed all of them. We arranged private tours for all but one of the ports and so were always in a very small group, which meant we had more flexibility and usually were able to see more than the large groups. We had an inside cabin and it was quite comfortable and our room stewards were great. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit ... Read More
We had AFT suite which had the perfect outlook as a panoramic view including the side. Vibration can take a little getting used to during the night but this only occurred when we were making up time or docking. Steward service was hit and miss for a suite as we were surrounded by non suite staterooms and the allocation to each steward would be higher. Rarely did we see a child(I think there were 2 on board), most passengers were American Australian UK then South African average age 65. Loved the free laundry and staff in Neptune lounge were fantastic. Shows were nothing like the big ships so were a bit hit and miss. Pinnacle restaurant was great especially their degustation but MDR food was also great and service perfect. Always hard to compare different ships particularly of different size. Suite benefits vary dramatically in different cruise lines so check what suites you. As a 1900 passenger ship it is less crowded with fast elevators less queuing but the trade off is less shops and activities and shows of a lower standard. Tours in china and Japan were poor value with communication issues with the guides but they were well organised. Internet even on the premium package was hit and miss. Would definitely recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We had travelled as a family with HAL on 4 previous occasions. Always loving it however HAL lost some of their shine for us with this cruise. There appear to have been service / facility reductions compared to previous cruises. I am not ... Read More
We had travelled as a family with HAL on 4 previous occasions. Always loving it however HAL lost some of their shine for us with this cruise. There appear to have been service / facility reductions compared to previous cruises. I am not sure if this is peculiar to the Westerdam or a trend for HAL. 1) No self service laundry any more - only valet service. 2) No separate disco anymore; has been converted into a games / TV area. 3) New Years Eve celebrations had been confined to Lido instead of multiple options across the ship. 4) The number of hand sanitizers around the ship were far fewer. 5) No prizes anymore for daily activities. 6) Trivia and happy hour no longer located on Observation Deck. No reason to go there any more. 7) Entertainers had far less interaction with the guests than previous cruises. I still rated the service aspect very highly for our cabin staff and waiters in the Main Dining Room. The food was excellent too. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth and efficient. The Visa costs for Vietnam and Cambodia added a lot to the cost of our trip. This was handled well by HAL but guests need to be aware of these charges before booking the cruise. On previous HAL cruises we have felt like Royalty. On this one, we felt like a number. I hope these reductions are only on the Westerdam but I fear it might be across the fleet? Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
4 of us took a family trip on the Westerdam from Hong Kong to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Singapore. Excellent value for money -- the food and service was great and we enjoyed all the ports. There was a good mix of people on the ... Read More
4 of us took a family trip on the Westerdam from Hong Kong to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Singapore. Excellent value for money -- the food and service was great and we enjoyed all the ports. There was a good mix of people on the cruise and it was a nice change to experience Christmas and New Years on a ship. Our rooms were between mid-ship and aft on deck 4, and we didn't have any issues at all. On shorter port days we took some of the excursions organized by Holland America, which worked out well. And on the overnight stay in Laem Chabang we organized a round-trip taxi at the cruise terminal and stayed the night in Bangkok. For many of the ports, you can find reasonable taxis and tours when you get off the ship, if you're willing and able to negotiate. Looking forward to another cruise with Holland America! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We are a family of five with three young people aged 19, 17 and 16 and chose this cruise to celebrate our son's completion of high school. He wanted to visit Hong Kong and go on a cruise from Hong Kong. We spent 6 days in Hong Kong ... Read More
We are a family of five with three young people aged 19, 17 and 16 and chose this cruise to celebrate our son's completion of high school. He wanted to visit Hong Kong and go on a cruise from Hong Kong. We spent 6 days in Hong Kong prior to boarding the ship. This was a good amount of time to explore Hong Kong. Embarkation was smooth although the customs process onboard, before leaving port was slow and tedious. Our passports were retained by cruise staff at this time. We received a receipt and a photocopy of the passport was provided for each visited country which was something I hadn't experienced before. Passports were returned prior to disembarking the ship back in Hong Kong. The cruise took us to two ports in Japan, Naha and Ishigaki, two ports in Taiwan, Keelung (Taipei) and Kaohsiung, and Manila, Philippines before returning to Hong Kong, total of 10 nights. The balance of cruise days, 4 and ports, 5 was good. There was plenty to do in each port. Our cabins were excellent, the food terrific and provided entertainment fabulous. The only negative was that our 19 year old son's drink package was not honoured. This was despite prior written confirmation. He was not impressed! Otherwise everything went well and we would definitely travel on Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise to visit most of the ports that I had never visited before. Therefore 1st remark, Cruise says it stops in Bangkok, but Bangkok is 3 hours away by car. Had to group together with others and still paid $100 for 2 for ... Read More
We chose this cruise to visit most of the ports that I had never visited before. Therefore 1st remark, Cruise says it stops in Bangkok, but Bangkok is 3 hours away by car. Had to group together with others and still paid $100 for 2 for the round trip. Was very disappointed by Bangkok and would have prefered to have spent the day in Pattaya, which was right next to the ship. We visited Pattaya the second day, by ourselves, by taxi which is inexpensive $75 for 2, private tour all day. We booked for our selves the elephant ride, and the floating village tour. Cambodia is really a surprise and we cannot understand why it is even a stop on the route. Its dirty and poor, the taxi cab drivers or tuk tuk drivers throw them selves on the shuttle bus that takes you into town and most of the people on the bus refused to get off. There is NOTHING there, a big dirty market, no bargains,, same products as found everywhere. A waste of time. We booked ourselves the elephant ride, and the floating village tour. The ship itself, is old and they may say its been refurbished or renovated but where? The fitness club?? The entertainment was non existant. Even the cooking show that they seem to think is the main theme of the cruise was not allowed to give out any food as it was located in the same room as the night club so didnt pass health inspection, If thats the case, move the night club!! The only saving grace we had was that the movies which were free in the cabin for all and they had a lot of them and newer films. Thank goodness. Remember every other day is a sea day!! HAL wants to attract a younger crowd, I really dont see it happening!! The only good show they had was the 2 comedians, and I heard they had played a few extra days as the dancers all got sick. What a break for us. The singing and dancing team looked like amateurs out of high school, certainly no extra money was spent on good entertainment. The one good thing they did have onboard was the guest services crew and the excursion crew, that really didnt push the excursions and were available for advise in all the ports. That was very helpful. The suite we stayed in is very large and agreeable, so is the balcony. It was our first trip on Holland America and hopefully our las and we are very seasoned travelers. the problem is the cruise started off badly as I had booked the trip one year in advance and by the time the date for the trip came around they had lowered the price for the balcony room that we choose down $1140 for 2 of us, I of course complained immediately, I wanted the money difference back but to no avail. They made me a deal to up grade me to a suite at a discount price. I received $200 onboard credit, thats it. Why bother to book in advance!! Never again. If you book this cruise with the same ports, be aware there are free shuttles at a lot of the stops into town, to save you money. You can book most everything in advance on line without the high excursion prices that the ship offers. We took a junk cruise at Halong in Vietnam, it was fun, though it rained, I had booked this myself problem was the tour company didnt give a very good address or directions so with the taxi it was a little difficult to find the correct port as that is the main activity to visit the beautiful Halong bay. We took a luxury cruise which was maybe $20 more per person but it certainly had better quality food and some extras. Booked thru Classy Travel online beforehand, would definitely recommend them. For all additional info or tips send me an email I will be happy to answer all questions. Vickiducanois@gmail.com Read Less
Sail Date November 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 was our second Alaskan cruise and Alaska did not let us down. The weather was great -83 degrees in Haines! But such a relief from Texas heat. Plus, the air was so clean and fresh. My sister and I were about the average age of ... Read More
This was our second Alaskan cruise and Alaska did not let us down. The weather was great -83 degrees in Haines! But such a relief from Texas heat. Plus, the air was so clean and fresh. My sister and I were about the average age of passengers and there were few young people or kids. We took a Bear Paw shuttle from Anchorage to Seward and it broke down along the way. Our driver was a pleasant young man who took good care of us. We did have a cabin with a veranda (4002) but it was not our favorite. It was smaller than we've ever had before and the veranda did not have plexiglass so we had to stand to see the beautiful sites. Made the chairs and table useless. Our wonderful cabin steward Enjay could not have been better or friendlier. We had anytime dining but never had to wait. I would suggest this alternative as we met some great people from all over the US and New Zealand, Ukrane, Canada, etc by sharing a table. The food in the Main dining room was good but not as we have had on others cruises. They tried too hard to make it fancy but the flavor just wasn't there most of the time. The Lido buffet was great for breakfast GREAT MELONS but just ok for lunch and dinner. Not enough variety-Asian and Italian every day. and a few other options. We did get a great premade ham sandwich. The salad bar had a lot of selections and we did like that they had servers rather than everyone dishing for themselves. Made going through the line much faster. Kannika was our server who was so pleasant and worked so hard. The ice cream was also delicious. Ok now for Entertainment. The Westerdam hit a homerun with the Billboard twin pianos (OUTSTANDING, we went every night) and the entertainers in BBKing. All these entertainers were absolutely professional quality and so much fun. The classical music was above reproach. The comedian CHRIS had one of the funniest shows we've seen but we didn't go to see the illusionist. Other activities seemed to be scarce if you didn't want to learn how to buy stuff or learn about excursions.Trivia was rare but enjoyable. Missed having Marriage show and game shows. We saw a couple of movies in the main stage area that were very good.Alaska provided so much to enjoy so the trip was certainly not a waste! We took a city tour in Haines which is a lovely place but you can do the town by walking. It was 83 degrees that day and we dressed for cooler temps. In Juneau we took a whale watching tour and saw whales and sea lions. Our Nature person was very knowledgeable. I would suggest this excursion as but the whales and orcas were not putting on a show that day. The weather was perfect and the scenery you can't even begin to describe. Wish we had gone on shore in Ketchikan much earlier to explore the town. We did see a fun show (Logger show which was hilarious) and ate some awesome snow crabs near the show. Shopping is good there and there are diamond stores everywhere! Too many. We would love to cruise Alaska again someday but probably wouldn't take Holland America. Our Norwegian trip was more fun. Holland is a little less lively than we enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My in-laws chose to go on this cruise to celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary and was my first cruise. Made the mistake of buying their soda package for about $70. The Dining Rooms have one specific person (the Wine Steward) for ... Read More
My in-laws chose to go on this cruise to celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary and was my first cruise. Made the mistake of buying their soda package for about $70. The Dining Rooms have one specific person (the Wine Steward) for the zone you sit in and you can only place your soda order with that person. That person holds off coming to your table until 1/4 to half way through your meal to even take your soda order. Rarely could I get their attention for a refill. To make matters worse they kept constantly bringing me Diet Coke instead of regular which I was very specific about. Officially complained to management at Customer Service expecting at least a partial reimbursement since I didn’t get even half the value on what I paid. He only offered to print a copy of my bill to date. Also be aware when using late night room service that even though I had their soda package that they charged me $2.49/can of Coke because the night staff have no access to a soda dispenser. After filling out their official survey I got a formal email from the shiplines management saying they’ll talk to their staff about it. In other words they don’t care. They got my money... So in return they get this somewhat negative review. Also be warned. Turn OFF your cellphone data on your cell phone if you don’t pre-purchase or sign up for overseas cell service. We ended up with over $50 each in roaming charges for two phones being Verizon non-Unlimited customers. Lastly do NOT purchase their wifi plan. It is next to useless with your website requests mostly timing out or having to reload many times to get to where you are going on the Internet. And that’s using the ships desktop computers they use for the onboard Microsoft training classes. In my official survey I said they shouldn’t be charging people for crap wifi service that doesn’t even work and should just include it for free use. Other than that the views were amazing, the staff friendly and accommodating. A very enjoyable trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We are from india , dr. ASHISH KOTAK AND FAMILY 1ST ABOUT CABIN THEY HAVE UPGRADE MY CABIN WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE AS LOCATION IS CHANGE AND FLOOR IS ALSO CHANGE WHICH I DID NOT LIKE 2nd as we are vegetarian and already we have inform ... Read More
We are from india , dr. ASHISH KOTAK AND FAMILY 1ST ABOUT CABIN THEY HAVE UPGRADE MY CABIN WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE AS LOCATION IS CHANGE AND FLOOR IS ALSO CHANGE WHICH I DID NOT LIKE 2nd as we are vegetarian and already we have inform them before 2 month they have provide veg meal but everyday same rice and dal , i mean they are nit interested to serve good variety of indian veg food though main chief chef was indian but not good response as on board only 2 family are pure vegetarian and indian , thumb rule is if indian family are more then they have to serve indian good veg. Food so though we have paid same cost and service or tip daily as others we were getting nothing , for non vegetarian food with so much option but for pure veg, one or two , so be prepared . OTHERWISE SERVICE OF ALL STAFF EXCELLENT AND EVERYTHING WELL ON TIME OVERALL ENJOYED MY 1 ST CRUISE Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This is quite a lengthy and detailed review, so I've decided to split it into two sections. The first section is a review of the ship itself, and its services, eateries, and amenities. The second part of the review will cover the ... Read More
This is quite a lengthy and detailed review, so I've decided to split it into two sections. The first section is a review of the ship itself, and its services, eateries, and amenities. The second part of the review will cover the itinerary, our experiences in port, and the shore excursions we went on! Having already experienced the best of Alaska courtesy of Celebrity Cruises in 2014, we decided to return to the Pacific Northwest for a second adventure, this time with Holland America Line. After our voyage on the (then) ageing and since retired Celebrity Century, we'd gained some useful knowledge, and wanted to travel on a more modern, better-appointed ship, with more amenities and a wider range of dining options, and so we booked onto the Westerdam for a seven night cruise to Glacier Bay, on a round trip from Vancouver. We also took a step up in cabin class, from an ocean-view stateroom to a verandah stateroom. The first impressions of our cabin (number 8029) were positive. Reasonably spacious and well-located close to the forward elevator shaft, it contained lots of storage space, a well-appointed bathroom, and of course, the verandah (ideal for the Caribbean: maybe not a must-have in Alaska). A major plus point is the addition of USB charging sockets: very handy if you don't want to use your own power adapter. However, on closer inspection, I was shocked at how worn, tired, and seemingly poorly-maintained the stateroom was. Stained curtains, a loose hinge on one of the overhead cupboards, and a badly-fitted ceiling panel all came as a major surprise to me. I also found that the mattress on the sofa bed was perhaps too hard, and that the curtains didn't quite close fully. Perhaps I'm naive about this, but is it unreasonable to expect a ship of only fourteen years' service to be maintained to the highest standards? I didn't feel that was the case here, sadly, although, when we reported the loose hinge and the loose ceiling panel, an engineer was promptly sent to fix it. Another flaw is that announcements from the ship's in-house PA system could not be clearly heard in the cabin, I'm guessing because speakers aren't installed in all staterooms. A major positive, however, was how powerful a water flow you can get from the shower. I was expecting it to be little more than a trickle, but it was more than good enough to get yourself a very good shower on a morning! An important point to note is that if you have cruised before and have been able to access your room bill from your stateroom TV, the Westerdam does not allow for this. Machines located near guest services require you to swipe your key-card and you will able to view and print your bill as it stands at any point. For such a large ship, the Westerdam is surprisingly easy to navigate your way around. Signage is present at all elevator shafts and passenger stairwells, and the ever-friendly cabin crew are always available to point you in the right direction. Looking at the service provided onboard as a whole, the standards are very high. All of the staff we met were polite and very courteous, the housekeeping staff were friendly and welcoming, and if you need to ask questions at guest services, as we did, you can expect them to be answered swiftly and satisfactorily. Although we didn't make use of it, the swimming pool on deck nine is one of the ship's most impressive features, with its retractable roof, separate hydro pool. Also worth a visit is the fabulous Explorer's Bar, located on deck ten. Here, large windows offer views of the outside world, and. This is also where you will find EXC Central, your go-to place to book shore excursions, should you wish to wait until you're onboard before choosing. From a food point of view, your options are many aboard the Westerdam. The main eatery on board, the Lido Market, is always well-stocked for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a wide variety of foods, some of which are cooked to order. You are sure to find something that you'll like! Downsides include a regular lack of seating space at peak times (I would definitely advise arriving early if you want to find your ideal seat), a lack of variety when it came to drinks from the dispenser, and, cereal bowls that are far too small, and bizarrely, a lack of trays. It should be noted, however, that there is additional seating available alongside the lido pool, which, when the roof is closed, is a very pleasant place to sit and eat. The two-story main dining room, located aft also offers a good selection of good quality food, while the other two main restaurant, Caneletto and the Pinnacle Grill, are slightly more high-end. Having purchased drinks packages on our previous cruise, we decided not to do so on this occasion, having felt that we didn't get value for money. That said, the Westerdam does offer a variety of drinks packages, and if you purchase an alcoholic beverage package, you may find some value in it, if you wish to live a little more freely and really 'cut loose' whilst on your cruise. It's horses for courses, but we found that purchasing sodas and bottled water as and when we needed to gave us good value. The subject of shipboard wifi is something that people will doubtless be interested in. Having relied upon the appallingly slow and unreliable internet terminals on the 'Century', I was extremely pleased to find that the connection was reasonably fast and reliable. Definitely something worth considering if you want to stay connected! A definite highlight on our cruise was the fabulous piano-playing duo of Vinnie and Anderson, who made the Billboard lounge a very lively place. On the second night of the cruise, we decided to bypass the stuffy gala dinner and head to Billboard for a raucous evening, which was much more fun! Our itinerary After a smooth and stress-free boarding at Canada Place, we proceeded straight to our cabin, which was a nice bonus: no waiting around in the dining room while the stateroom was made ready. Monday April 30th was a full day spent at sea. We took breakfast in the Lido, spent some time in the Explorer's Bar, and participated in the trivia quiz held in Billboard Onboard. For days at sea, a full programme of events and activities will be scheduled, and the chances are that you'll find something that you'd like to participate in! Be prepared however, to have to deal with what I called 'forced socialisation'. It is almost certain that fellow cruisers whom you have never met, will ask to join your quiz team or attempt to engage in conversations with you out of nothing. Not good if you're part of a group who enjoys their own company. At 12:30pm on Tuesday, we docked in Juneau. For some reason, I had an inkling that this was going to be a bad day, and it turned out to be completely accurate. Maybe it was the weather, or the fact I'd only managed to grab five hours of sleep in two days. The shore excursion we had booked combined a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier and a ride on the Mount Roberts tramway. We met in the MainStage theatre as our tour parties were called out, and one thing that didn't sit right with me was the cancellation of all seaplane and helicopter tours with barely ten minutes notice. Surely, if regular weather reports were being received, it would've been possible to inform the passengers with plenty of time to spare? Adding insult to injury, the people whose tours had been cancelled were told to proceed to the dock where they 'may have been able to he accommodated on a different tour'. I found this to be, frankly, shabby. It left people with no next to no time to make alternative arrangements, and would doubtless have left them feeling deeply annoyed. Everyone knows that the Alaska weather can be unpredictable, but surely Holland America Line should not offer excursions that are liable to cancellation if the weather does not cooperate? Something to consider. After the announcement about the seaplane and helicopter flights, some tours began to be called out. In all, around six tour parties departed, before things came to a grinding halt. And then we waited. And waited. And began to lose our tempers. Eventually, after forty five minutes, we were allowed to disembark and head to our tour buses. The reason given was a bottleneck at the gangway, something that was surely avoidable? If Celebrity Cruises can do it (and they did, in 2014, in Juneau) surely HAL can too? In all honesty, the shore excursions arrangements in Juneau were less than impressive, and, dare I say, slightly chaotic? Nobody really seemed to have an idea as to what was happening, and we sat in the theatre for a long time before anything happened. For my money, the organisation of the shore excursions on the 'Celebrity Century' was better organised and more professionally executed. Updates were almost non-existent, and you could feel a sense of dissatisfaction among the people who were seated. To be perfectly honest, the horrific start to the day in Juneau kicked things off negatively,and things never really recovered, which was a real shame. The atrocious weather didn't help. The Mendenhall glacier, however, was a spectacular sight, and the ride on the Mount Roberts tramway was certainly memorable. Overall, however, not a day I will remember fondly, and I now understand why only one Inside Passage cruise departed from Vancouver in the month of April; the weather in Alaska at this time of year is simply atrocious. Wednesday was our day in Skagway. This was a very early start, and we took breakfast in our stateroom in order to save time in the morning. We only ever had one tour in mind for our day in the Gateway to the Yukon, and that was a journey on the White Pass railroad. Defying the forecasts, the weather was beautiful! We met our tour guide and driver, CJ, at the dock, and the whole process was smooth and stress-free. CJ was a wonderfully engaging and friendly guide, and she really enlivened the whole experience for us all! I can honestly say that this excursion was the undoubted highlight of the entire cruise. The 27-mile journey from Skagway to Fraser, BC took us through some of the most spectacular scenery. As we climbed higher, the snow became deeper and the scenery even more beautiful. The train itself featured an outside viewing platform, which gave us some incredible views! A running commentary was also provided, which gave us a real insight into the history of the region, the Klondike gold rush, and of course, the railroad itself! We disembarked the railroad at Fraser and reboarded the coach for our trip to Caribou Crossing and then the town of Carcross. Both were great places to visit, and we were given plenty of time to explore. If your cruise includes a visit to Skagway, please, PLEASE make sure you put the White Pass Railroad at the top of your list, and ideally an excursion that combines the railroad with a visit to Carcross & Caribou Crossing. It really is an experience not to be missed. Book it in advance online as well; this tour, I'm sure, is immensely popular! Thursday took in the magnificent Glacier Bay National Park and the many inlets, fjords and glaciers that make up this vast expanse. In 2014, we visited Hubbard Glacier, which did not disappoint, and this was arguably even better! It is on days like this, when the views are at their best, that securing a verandah stateroom really comes into its own. This way, you can avoid the hustle and bustle on other outdoor viewing areas of the ship, and enjoy the beauty from your own balcony. Photograph opportunities were plentiful, and it was fascinating to see how the captain and his crew manoeuvred the enormous ship through the ice-studded waters. Friday was our final day on shore, in Ketchikan, before we embarked on the inbound voyage to Vancouver. We decided to slow down the pace and take in 'The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show' for our shore excursion. Located ten minutes' walk from the dock and held in a heated outdoor grandstand, this was a raucous and fabulously entertaining show! Four world-class timbersports athletes, and a couple of guest stars, competing in a series of different wood-chopping events. It was a brilliant show to watch, with lots of crowd participation, and the perfect final excursion of our cruise! Overall, this Alaskan cruise was one of contrasts. Certainly, were we to repeat it in the future, we would give serious consideration to the time of year and to the cruise line we used. I cannot stress enough that I do not recommend undertaking the inside passage cruise in late April/early May, as we did. The weather is simply too drizzly and too bleak to get the most out of your cruise. I can't recommend Alaska highly enough as a cruising destination, but do yourself a favour and sail from mid-May onwards. If, like us, you had an 'ideal ship' on which you'd like to sail, you will be forced to compromise on date. It's a balancing act, but personally, I would rather sail on a less-.well appointed vessel and have better on-shore experiences and better weather. As to the Holland America Line experience? There was some exceptional service, fabulous amenities, and good food on board, but their organisation of the excursions, particularly Juneau, was nothing short of a disgrace, and the standard of the accommodation was not particularly overwhelming. Overall, it was a cruise of contrasts; some great days, great entertainment and good food, tempered by some issues that prevented me from giving it any more than a 7/10 rating. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
WE decided to spare Captain Mark Rowden’s blushes. The gallant Yorkshire-born skipper of the Holland America Line’s Westerdam had probably had enough after his vessel was apparently, as the late Frankie Howerd might have said, ... Read More
WE decided to spare Captain Mark Rowden’s blushes. The gallant Yorkshire-born skipper of the Holland America Line’s Westerdam had probably had enough after his vessel was apparently, as the late Frankie Howerd might have said, verily thrice whupped by the Island Princess. Yet earlier, the Island Princess had been the butt of the jokes around his own ship. One of Westerdam lecturers was rash enough to show a map, pointing out: “The Island Princess had to go all the way round South America to reach Panama Canal. Yet it was almost on their doorstep in Fort Lauderdale.” But cliche though it might be ... it is still true that he who laughs last etc. So what happened? Well, the first hint of a reprisal came on the evening of March 16 when we were advised by a letter “there will be two ships in port and we will be sharing the same narrow pier to dispatch the tours”. Followed by a list of what NOT to do. So what happened? Although the Westerdam arrived first next day, the Island Princess had thoughtfully and craftily nicked all the best parking spots in advance for their tour buses in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The net result was that our tour was dispatched 45 minutes late. The following day, on the run in to the Panama Canal, the Island Princess whipped past us like Lewis Hamilton overtaking a backmarker. This meant, of course, they were tantalisingly ahead of us all day during the passage itself. And all the while there was great honking and tooty fruiting of sirens from both sides. Don’t know enough about ship points scoring even after 20-plus cruises to judge who won that battle. They were at it again in Cartagena, Columbia, where the best someone could do in the face of taunts from the Princess vessel was a rather pathetic sign saying: “Our balconies are bigger than yours.” Which was, fortunately, true. We had sailed on the Island Princess in 2015. The morning after our departure from Cartagena was accompanied by one of those freak weather scenarios where the wind was blowing so hard that it felt as though our balcony door was permanently locked. It took a massive heave from one of our cabin stewards to force it open. The floor of the balcony was littered with bits of detritus, including a pair of knickers. That very same morning Captain Mark was giving a sort of “My Job” talk in the theatre, followed by a question and answer session. Given the proximity of our forward balcony position virtually below the bridge we wondered whether it might be prudent to ask him whether any of his crew might claim ownership of the said undergarment ... or alternately, know who the owner might be. Eventually, after a discussion, we decided to spare him any further embarrassment. The excursions themselves were generally acceptable with the exception of the first rather humble one in a very crowded and noisy Puerto Vallarta. But, annoyingly, all the guides insisted on leading from the front at a pace which would have made them genuine contenders for a 10km walk medal in the Olympics, completely ignoring the average age of their charges. We were reminded of that on the very first day when we entered the Lido Market casual dining area to be greeted by a flustered senior woman steward, busily mopping the floor with tissues and informing us: “Please be careful where you tread. A lady has just peed on the floor.” Or the couple who arrived an hour late for an excursion, blissfully unaware that the time had moved another hour foward the previous night. The ship travelled 4,301 miles from San Diego where boarding was amazingly rapid. Less than an hour after being picked up at our pre-cruise hotel we were in our cabin. Praise was slighly tempered when the ship departed an hour late without a proper explantion. The odyssey ended in Fort Lauderdale where chaos reigned supreme and we parked next to a building site. On the way we visited Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco in Mexico, Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala, Corinto in Nicaragua, Puntarenas in Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, Cartagena (Columbia) and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, where we might have created a record by catching one ferry out and the next but one back. We admit we’re not beach people and there was no wi-fi on this private Holland America island. And talking of wi-fi ... we were sent pre-cruise data with their prices. The offer of $100 for 250 minutes seemed a fair deal but when we rang the desk to book it, we were told the offer had now been withdrawn. Yes. Thank you. Other niggles: Complete confusion over departure arrangements. We were sent Pink 1 luggage tags and told our approximate departure time. It was just as well we rang the information desk to check something. They then informed us we had been sent the wrong tickets. They should have been Red 1 and new ones were duly supplied with an apology and a different departure time. Plus note: We were were allowed to stay in our cabin and have breakfast there until we got the call. Departure from the ship was amazingly fast, too. It then took an hour to clear customs and and a further hour waiting in broiling sunshine for the coach to take us to Fort Lauderdale airport. Bad one Holland America! Good points: 1.) Sya, the ship’s towel folding star, and his mate Alan were our pleasant and capable cabin stewards. Hope they were happy with their tip. 2.) The courtesy throughout the ship was impeccable. 3.) Top-class live band in B.B. King’s theatre. Fair points: 1.) Entertainment quality rather mixed although we only once used those “bummer” seats next to the aisle in the Mainstage Theatre which enable people to leave without disturbance if the show is a bummer. 2.) We always eat in the Lido-style establishments. It’s quicker and there is a wider choice. It was on the whole, though, only marginally above average in quality. 3.) As so often happens on cruise ships, the temperature was far too cold in some places, particularly the Mainstage Theatre and some of the bars. *The ship was nicknamed the “Westerdram” by the heavier whisky drinkers in Gallery Bar. Not guilty, m’lud! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
14 of us book a cruise from our bridge club. We notified HAL we needed a table and bridge supplies and they said "no problem" Had we known they wouldn't supply anything we could have brought our own stuff. This where the bad ... Read More
14 of us book a cruise from our bridge club. We notified HAL we needed a table and bridge supplies and they said "no problem" Had we known they wouldn't supply anything we could have brought our own stuff. This where the bad started. LIES, LIES, LIES after they get you money your just screwed. At one point of the cruise at port the closed the kitchen for hot foods saying the power went out. MORE LIES. There was hot food available for people willing to pay extra. The port times were really short and to far away from most things. Best way is to buy the excursion from the ship and shop on the internet before you go. They DO guarantee price matching. It was by for the best part of the cruise. Sad to say. The entertainment was crap. A talking dummy, ventriloquist. That's the best they could do. One night they even made the crew put on a show. SAD The pool in the back of the ship often got blasted with black blobs burnt oil from the diesel engines. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Excellent value and an excellent ship. We opted for a Signature Suite 6045 which was well worth the money. Room Stewards (Nyoman and Yusep) were attentive and always accommodating with a smile. We had thoughts of opting for the upscale ... Read More
Excellent value and an excellent ship. We opted for a Signature Suite 6045 which was well worth the money. Room Stewards (Nyoman and Yusep) were attentive and always accommodating with a smile. We had thoughts of opting for the upscale restaurants, but elected not to do so since the regular food service and quality were very good. Our Wine Steward, Yohan, was exceptional and most helpful. Being that the cruising itinerary has almost 7 sea days, the entertainment and ship-board amenities have to be good. The Lincoln Center Stage quintet was excellent, and, although we did not see all the stage presentations, the few that we saw were very professionally done. Land tours were good, and the bus lines were not long, given that there were several handicap people on board. The several tour guides that we experienced all spoke with different levels of English competency, which is to be expected. All in all, they were knowledgeable and had good senses of humor. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
From the time we boarded there was courtesy, assistance and helpfulness. Our cabin stewart was excellent and the room service for our coffee every morning between 6:30 and 7:00 was right there...we did tip the waiter that brought our ... Read More
From the time we boarded there was courtesy, assistance and helpfulness. Our cabin stewart was excellent and the room service for our coffee every morning between 6:30 and 7:00 was right there...we did tip the waiter that brought our coffee every morning it was someone different everyday....as well as our cabin stewerts.... we presented them with a thank you card with a tip of our personal appreciation. There were several waiters in our dinning room that we also tipped with a card and money. We did not pay the standard ship graturity...I like to personally express my appreciation to the people who made my trip a wonderful experience....there were some that were very rude and not very friendly....so I don't choose to pay for unkind behavior...I am thankful for the attendents we had they were great and VERY appreciative for the added bonus!!! We had a wonderful time Westerdam could kick up the entertainment a little for those of us over 55!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Westerdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.3
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 2.5 3.8
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.5 4.3
Value for Money 4.5 N/A

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