34 Holland America Line Westerdam First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

Although I have nothing to compare it to, I thought the cruise was perfect! We went with a couple who were experienced cruisers and they were pleased as well. I'll break it down in sections: 1)Food- sophisticated and elegant ... Read More
Although I have nothing to compare it to, I thought the cruise was perfect! We went with a couple who were experienced cruisers and they were pleased as well. I'll break it down in sections: 1)Food- sophisticated and elegant choices. Each night we had dinner in the main dining room with the exception of one night at the Pinnacle Grill/Selle de Mere. The service was extraordinary and top shelf. The sommeliers were very educated and helped select the right wine for the courses chosen and for our price range. We especially liked a reasonable Chilean red (Loma Linda?) we had dine at will and never waited more than 5 minutes for a table. The portions are elegant and continental so are generally modest. If you can't decide what to order, then order 2! I'm laughing out loud when people on cc whine about portions being too small (e.g. only 2 scallops in an appetizer) ...then order a second one! The husbands enjoyed the rack of lamb so much one night, the head waiter asked if they wanted another and they said YES, thinking another rib would come, no ...another entire entree of ribs came for each of them! Lido Buffet was tasty and generally quite busy. Enjoyed the Asian stations for lunch and breakfast. The made to order pasta station was perfect with scallops and pesto and fresh grated Romano cheese sautéed. We had nachos at the natcho/taco station and they were delicious. We would fill up a plate for our happy hour party and sail away on our balcony each night with nachos and yummy appetizers with cocktails. Selle de Mere is a seafood restaurant pop up which comes up one night in the Pinnacle Grill. The dishes were superb and the service extraordinary. We eat 4 star in the DC area and this easily compares. Room Service-We had room service every day for happy hour and about 5 breakfasts when they had excursions. They were quickly delivered (happy hour) or exactly delivered at the prescribed breakfast time. My only suggestion was the eggs Benedict muffins could have been toasted longer as they appeared a bit underdone. The fruit smoothie was so good, I had it three different mornings! The husband enjoyed his steak and eggs and said it was a first grade New York strip and not scrap. Cabin 8140 is the best on the ship. Our balcony hosted a sail away happy hour each night.. it was hard. Service and quality was top notch. You could tell some Indonesian maintenance folks couldn't speak English, yet would still smile and say good morning when you saw them. We chose this cruise for the itinerary-just wonderful Entertainment. It can be said that blame on whether you enjoy something goes both ways. Choosing correctly whatever requires self awareness and honesty. It you think winding the night away at the disco beyond 2am is da bomb, then maybe this isn't the cruise for you. There was dancing in the BB king lounge every night well after 11. The band focused on music and hits from the 60s-70s-80s. This is a key clue! We found the classical musicians talented and dedicated. The local talent which came aboard was very good in the main ballroom. The cooking classes appeared well attended every time I walked by --to the casino. Didn't make any money in the casino but did win a nice tee shirt. The entertainers in the dueling piano forum were fun and entertaining. Great movies and documentaries in the On Demand system. The HAL corporation messed up and decided to devote millions to upgrading the crows nest and create a high tech explorations cafe. Really neat concept but really placed in the wrong place!!! Why not use the wasted space on the 1st deck where the art galleries are? If they are so focused on revenues, then have a bar and tapas concept in the crows nest and sell sell,sell! Medical clinic-came down with a cold and visited the clinic. Professional and well run. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was my first ever cruise so I do not have any reference to another ship. The ship to me was in great shape, everything was clean and new looking. The crew was fantastic always smiling and very helpful. they all seemed to remember ... Read More
This was my first ever cruise so I do not have any reference to another ship. The ship to me was in great shape, everything was clean and new looking. The crew was fantastic always smiling and very helpful. they all seemed to remember our names and what we needed. See my Cabin Review for my thoughts on the cabin. The food options to me where very good. I am not a foodie so i am not going to complain about the food options I enjoyed them all. The Lido market was fine lots of options, i liked the English breakfast they had including baked beans and black pudding, We ate on time at the pinnacle and it was very good the service was great. had one meal at the Italian restaurant and the food was good. MDR was good every night I have no complaints. The Entertainment was a little dull, I saw a couple of shows in the main stage and only the two magicians i liked, The singers where ok but the show seemed out of wack there did not seem to be no reason to it. The BB king band where good but it was the same thing every night. the billboard on board was just not that impressive. about 10:30 pm the ship seemed like a ghost ship. bars where empty entertainment done. there was a novo virus breakout two days before the end that made things a little different. you could not pick up food on lido they would bring your cups and silverware. It was a bit of an inconvince on the last port Naples where we where not allowed to leave the ship for a 1 1 /2 delay The ports where great except for two Sardene Albania was not much fun nothing much to do there. I did not do an excursion but i did take a cab to the castle. The only real complaint i had was the excursion to Capri. it was $400 for two of us. The description was deceptive. Example " Enjoy a jet boat to the island looking at the panoramic views of the island" Reality they put us on a ferry that held about 300 people all inside i did have a window it was so dirty you could not see out of it .. nothing special. at that price i thought they might have there own boat. when we got there. we had to wait 30 min in the hot sun for public transport to get to the top and they can only hold 20 people so we had to wait for two... I wont go on about this but all they did is took us shopping for 45 min free time. bus down then lunch and then back to shopping and to a park.the guide really did not have much to say he was nice but not worth $400 over all i loved the trip and would not hesitate to go on the westerdam again Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This was our first cruise, and trying to read ratings, reviews and make a decision on which cruise line to pick can be daunting. I read one reviewer that noted some of the poor reviews were from pretentious cruisers with expectations that ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and trying to read ratings, reviews and make a decision on which cruise line to pick can be daunting. I read one reviewer that noted some of the poor reviews were from pretentious cruisers with expectations that were beyond reasonable. I witnessed that first hand more than once. We cruised on the Westerdam from Seattle to Alaska. We had a balcony, which is a must when you have such amazing scenery. The rooms are dated - however they were clean, someone was always making sure our beds were made, fresh towels and ice all the time. The guest list ranged from young families to older cruisers, definitely a variety of ages. Dress ranged from yoga pants to suits. The Lido food is meh....Lido had several different stations, lunch included hot choices of meats and vegetables plus a pasta bar, sandwich bar, fruit choices, dessert bar, oriental food, pizza and salad bar (salad bar was excellent). The food in the dining room was excellent. Room service was fine, we ordered a couple of late snacks, one not so good was the cheese tray which was a few different varieties of cheese served with graham crackers, but we survived. If you starved, well that would be almost impossible as there are tons of options. The entertainment that we went to was a comedian, an illusionist and the Westerdam singers/dancers. Comedian and illusionist were great, the singers/dancers were okay. We did the bar crawl (fun), played trivia (fun), hit martini night every night! (fun), and the blackjack tournament (fun). During the Glacier Bay excursion there was a spotter on the ship pointing us to the different wildlife (bears, whales, otters, sea lions and eagles) along with a forest service guide talking about highlights and history of the area. We hit the exercise facility to workout and the spa for massages and facials. Almost every day of the cruise there were specials posted in our rooms for discounted spa services. Crew and cruise director were very friendly and accommodating. Excursions: Juneau - float plane trip to Taku lodge and salmon bake. Awesome sights, salmon was excellent, local black bear came up to clean the grill, and we finished with a short hike. Sitka - 4 hour salmon fishing. Our guide, Sam was friendly and we had a blast. Caught two kings and shipped them home. Five people on the boat, 4 fish caught. I would have liked to fish longer, but I wasn't up for the 8 hour trip that was offered. Ketchikan - we went kayaking with Autumn on a 3 or 4 hour trip. She was super friendly, talked about the wildlife and the area and kept everyone on track. Saw deer, sea lions and lots of eagles. It was really peaceful. The excursions are spendy but it is worth it. There are several excursions at each port to pick from, and varying price ranges. There is an excursion "help desk" that can answer questions or book excursions for you during the cruise if you did not book any in advance. All of our excursions were seamless as far as loading, transportation, etc. Summary: I get that cruises are expensive, but am annoyed by the nickel and dime stuff...I only want to pay one fee. I don't want to pay separately for soft drinks, alcoholic drinks or things like wi-fi. We had a great time, and the Alaska cruise was an excellent first choice. Only really one full day at sea, and the rest of the time we were on deck watching for wildlife, checking out the scenery or heading on an excursion. No regrets! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I have to say it was my first cruise and the ship was beautiful and clean. The room was supposed to be partially obstructed, however it was fully obstructed, unless they count the sky as partially obstructed. The staff was awesome! ... Read More
I have to say it was my first cruise and the ship was beautiful and clean. The room was supposed to be partially obstructed, however it was fully obstructed, unless they count the sky as partially obstructed. The staff was awesome! Our room stayed cleaned the entire trip, as I said, it was an awesome staff. Now, the food was okay, more bland than I would like. The portions for scallop appetizer were shamefully small. The food portions were also small, but it also depended on what you ordered. The desserts were okay, but not something you want to have more of, or want in the middle of the night, just because you were thinking about it. They did have a Windows 10 person on board to provide training for windows 10, which was excellent! (I know why? I used my days at sea to learn about my new computer, and I sunburn easily, so I found things to do inside.) The instructor was awesome! Bring a flash drive, so you can have a copy of his training. The entertainment was good, but our trip was charted so we used different entertainment in various areas. (our own DJ, Comedians, and Singer (Patti Labelle, and Ruthie Foster) Now what I didn't like: The staff seemed to only want to use the room key card. I purchased a soda gift card and another for other beverages, I had the room key card and beverage card on a lanyard, and when I wanted a drink I always stated I want to put on gift cards, however they always reflexively used the was room key card. It was annoying to have to go to the front desk and have them remove the charge from room to the gift card. I also felt the massage was entirely to expensive! It was okay, but not worth the cost per person. I also attended the food and wine demonstration located in their Culinary Arts Center, where they prepared Shrimp Scampi with a Curry Mango Butter and Chilled Avocado Soup with fresh Ginger and Lime Cream. I know sounds delicious right? All that attended thought so, however we were not able to taste either dish. They gave each us the recipe for both dishes, but we couldn't taste it. Smelled good too. They did allow us to come up and get a closer look at both dishes. We purchased the pictures they took of us at different events. ($19.95 each pic, 5x7) Nicely done. They did have packages of pictures that started at $3000.00, and of course they try and talk you down to $600 for three Black and White pictures. Disembarkation was very organized and it took only 15 minutes to leave the ship. Smooth exit for so many people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
First time cruisers (my dear wife and myself) we read reviews, we did our research. Getting on and off the ship was an art, it was flawless and the airlines could learn a lot. The ship (though old) gave a great first impression and the ... Read More
First time cruisers (my dear wife and myself) we read reviews, we did our research. Getting on and off the ship was an art, it was flawless and the airlines could learn a lot. The ship (though old) gave a great first impression and the first few days we were loving it, discussing what we'd like in a second cruise. By the later days the age of the ship and the quality of it's outfitting began to show. It lost all it's luster. The staff started off early by impressing us from stem to stern and we were treated like royalty no matter where we went on bard, as the days dropped off the calendar the staffs enthusiasm also waned. By the 5th day I was sure a cruise was not the BEST choice for a vacation and by the 7th day I was sure HAL would not get more of my money. The photography staff, spa staff and excursions staff was proactively after any money we might have spare and were not shy about it, very annoying. The staff by mid cruise was no longer interested in doing anything beyond the bare minimum. (Our room stewards were the only exception as they were wonderful throughout) The Westerdam is an aging old lady ready to retire but far to determined (via poor plastic surgery and caking on the makeup) to stay on stage and in the public eye. HAL needs to turn over a new leaf. Her old body creaks with every swell of the ocean, she needs her rest. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
First let me say my husband and I are 53 and 52 and this was our 1st cruise. Checkin, check out and getting our rooms were great. It's was the food and entertainment that was a BIG disappointment. All foods shut down 9:00 or 10:00 and ... Read More
First let me say my husband and I are 53 and 52 and this was our 1st cruise. Checkin, check out and getting our rooms were great. It's was the food and entertainment that was a BIG disappointment. All foods shut down 9:00 or 10:00 and you could only get room service from there with maybe 10 items to pick from. Food was not anything special very average tasting and pretty much the same day after day with little variation. Entertainment was for anyone over 60 nothing hip or modern and all borek get except for James at the piano bar he was so funny and entertaining so much so we spent 3 nights watching the same show. Shows were poor no classic rock, no county to dance to and the last show was at 10. We choose this cruise line because it was to be up scale and more for mature adults not realizing this really meant 60 or older. They pushed jewerly and local stones so much it was disgusting offering free gifts if you went to listen or shop which were so cheap in the trash they went. So disappointed, we really were not expecting to be wowed but looking forward to the food we hear so much about and all the things to do on the boat. we were in bed by 10ish each night. I would not recommend Holland American, sadly Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Being first time cruisers, we had no idea what to expect once we boarded the Westerdam. The embarkation process started about 11:30 am and moved along very quickly. We found our room on the Rotterdam deck aft #7136. Our luggage was ... Read More
Being first time cruisers, we had no idea what to expect once we boarded the Westerdam. The embarkation process started about 11:30 am and moved along very quickly. We found our room on the Rotterdam deck aft #7136. Our luggage was already delivered and once we completed the emergency drill, we were soon underway. Our room had a verandah which we spent a lot of time enjoying the cruise north to our first port of call Juneau. Everything about the room and bath were clean and comfortable. I can't say enough about the hard working stewards....they are there to take care of your needs but yet you rarely see them. I have read previous reviews and many people say the Westerdam décor is dated and worn. I found the ship to be in excellent condition and reminded me of what the older cruise ships of century ago would of liked like yet it had all the modern technology. I loved the promenade deck with the old fashioned deck chairs and plaid blankets to keep you warm on a chilly day. We walked the deck every day along with many others but it never seemed crowded. We were blessed with beautiful weather and enjoyed the sunrise and sunsets. One of our favorite things to do was going up to the crows nest and sit in a comfy chair, enjoying the sights and sipping a glass of wine. The food was okay, better than I expected. We ate in the Vista dining room every evening except for one night in the Pinnacle which was very nice. We had wonderful dining partners who kept the conversation going during the meal. Kudos to our waiter and all the dining staff who work very hard to give excellent service. Our favorite sights were the Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, the Glacier Preserve NP, Sitka and Victoria BC. Also the wildlife, we saw whales, otter, eagles and seals. Alaska is amazing and our last frontier...so grateful we were able to this cruise and would love todo another one. I highly recommend the Westerdam and the Holland America Line. Perfect size ship for first time cruisers! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My husband and I were surprised by our daughter Julie and her husband Will with the trip of a lifetime, an Alaskan cruise. Along with them and their 2 children, Catherine 10 and Matthew 6 1/2, we embarked in Seattle, Washington on the MS ... Read More
My husband and I were surprised by our daughter Julie and her husband Will with the trip of a lifetime, an Alaskan cruise. Along with them and their 2 children, Catherine 10 and Matthew 6 1/2, we embarked in Seattle, Washington on the MS Westerdam on July 4, 2015. I am disabled so Julie had arranged for an electric cart on board, which was waiting for us so I could use it to embark. Everyone was so helpful; we embarked very quickly. The perfect experience for a first cruise or any cruise. I was overwhelmed with the beauty and comfort of the Westerdam. My husband and I felt so welcomed and doted on by the crew, whom we fell in love with by the time we had been there a couple of days. Thank you to Yasa and Nova and Joseph in the dining room. The food choice was unbelievable and delicious. I told Yasa about my chicken allergy so every night I chose my menu for the following night so it could be prepared chicken free. Each night they provided amazing origami for the kids. Our staterooms were impeccable, thanks to Juli and Ricardo. We even had towel animals every evening when they came to turn down the beds. We also had an amazing experience in the Neptune lounge with Jules and Sandy. All of this plus seeing Alaska in all it's glory. Whale excursion in Juneau, raptors and totems and Tlingit dances in Sitca, lumberjacks in Ketchikan, and Hlacier Bay are among the many amazing things we saw. On top of this, Club Hal for the kids provided a great respite for them and us. Hal even had a talent show that we were privileged to see. This was one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We were first time cruisers and not sure of what to expect but we had always heard about incredible food and top-of-the-line service. We didn't experience either. The food was mediocre and room service took a minimum of 45 minutes, ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and not sure of what to expect but we had always heard about incredible food and top-of-the-line service. We didn't experience either. The food was mediocre and room service took a minimum of 45 minutes, when the food arrived.. it was cold and far less quality than what was in the dining room, and that's not saying much. The restaurants, however, were great! The Pinnacle Grill had a great selection and everything tasted incredible! The italian restaurant was also very good! But truly the best thing about the cruise for us... was the balcony! So thankful we paid the extra for it since we spent about 80% of our time on board enjoying the sights and wildlife around us. Also, the ports were very enjoyable! HAL offers a great combination of ports on this cruise: Juneau, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Sitka, and Victoria, B.C. Juneau -Tracey's Crab Shack was phenomenal!! It also had a lot more to offer in authentic Alaskan souvenirs. We had been told that Ketchikan offered better deals but I feel like they were more limited in what they offered. Glacier Bay - Gorgeous!! Bring your camera and wear layers! The water was so beautiful and the scenery cannot be missed! Plan to spend the majority of time on the front decks and be ready to be captivated for hours. Ketchikan - Offered a great fishing experience with Baranof Fishing Excursions. We shipped the halibut we caught home and have even ordered fresh fish from them since for a reasonable price. Also had a beautiful park we visited at Settlers Cove where we saw beaches, waterfalls, and lush forests. Sitka - By far our favorite!!! This quaint island-town quickly became the highlight of our trip with the help of Paul Davis of Gallant Adventures! His boat is small which allows for a private tour specific to your family's interests for a great price! In addition, he was extremely personable and had great knowledge and experience to share about Sitka and its inhabitants. We came home with photos we'll always treasure and memories we'll never forget. The BEST excursion offered in Sitka by far! Victoria, B.C. - We walked down to the docks which were beautiful. The eclectic 'house-boats' were so unique and the dungeness crab was scrumptious! We were also visited by harbor seals while we enjoyed our meal and then stopped at a coffee cart and exchanged some US bills for 'loonies' and 'toonies' -- Canadian money, I kid you not. We returned to Seattle and ate at the Space Needle -- definitely worth the experience and the views! We also visited the aquarium which had a great diversity in its inhabitants but was somewhat disappointing after what we had seen in the wild in Alaska. The cruise itself, again, was okay. When we return to Alaska, we plan to fly and go into the ports of our choosing at our own pace so we can thoroughly enjoy it and not feel so rushed with a mere 4-7 hours in each port. BUT I will give a rating of 'very good' due to the ports and the excursions we experienced which made our trip Wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Since this was my first cruise and my wife and I were sort of celebrating my 65th birthday during the cruise. Service in the Lido Dining room was good however the portions were sort of small and if you wanted soda with meals they cost ... Read More
Since this was my first cruise and my wife and I were sort of celebrating my 65th birthday during the cruise. Service in the Lido Dining room was good however the portions were sort of small and if you wanted soda with meals they cost extra. And at every place you could get a soda they have to put it in a glass instead of giving you the can. Cabin steward told us when we got on that we should unpack our bags and he would stash them for us. He never came back so we stashed them under the bed. The greeters/schedulers at the spa were very rude. Maybe because we are not one of the "beautiful" young people in their eyes. After our massages the sales pitch comes on as they try to get you to buy high priced items for your stress. I thought that what the alcohol they sell all over the place was for. The two excursions we took were good-one in Juneau that went to the temperate rainforest that you walked through for about 1/4 of a mile, the glacier outside of town and then to the tramway overlooking Juneau- the Ketchican excursion to the Misty Fjords was very interesting-saw orcas, otters,etc. Overall I am glad I went but not sure I would use HAL again. What I did like was that the ship only has 1900 people and there were few kids on it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
First let me say that this was my very first cruise! I am 54 and my sisters finally convinced me to try cruising. Alaska was our destination which I have also never been to. They are avid long time cruisers and my expectations of this ... Read More
First let me say that this was my very first cruise! I am 54 and my sisters finally convinced me to try cruising. Alaska was our destination which I have also never been to. They are avid long time cruisers and my expectations of this trip were quite high based on their prior stories of their great cruises they had previously taken on other ships. This was also their first time on the Westerdam. The disappointment truly was regarding the quality of food, the lack of selections and the overall preperation of the food not being cooked as ordered. This encompased the Lido buffet, the Vista Dining room and the Italian restaurant Cannolinos. The Pinnacle Grill dinner was very good in all areas including service. That was only the first night at sea. We kept hoping that with each meal that something would be better but alas, it was not to be. In addition they did not serve any Alaskan King Crab! I had to come home to Florida to eat that meal! The service of our Stewards and the ladies in the Neptune Lounge was fantastic, the suite was lovely (so glad we got the larger suite) the scenery was wonderful but the food was not even average at best. Juneau was a nice town. We visited the Red Dog Saloon hoping to have a good dinner but it was just ok. Fun place to grab a drink though! Glacier Bay was absolutely beautiful! The John Hopkins glacier took my breath away! Sitka first what a great small town and the people were very friendly. Was able to purchase seafood and have it shipped back home for a very reasonable price at the Northern Pacific processing plant. You have to really look for the shoe box of a store by going in between the two buildings and the store will be almost all the way down to the entrance door at the end of the walkway. It is on the left side and although I do not know how to spell her name correctly we were greeted by Aralia who handled my sister and my orders splendidly! They even opened just for us on that Wednesday as they are only open on Friday and Saturday for a short period of time. Mark from the fur store called for us and got them to open it up just for us! If you get a chance stop in and say hi to him! I bought my husband a furry jock strap as a joke and after he modeled it for me our cats decided I bought the furry front and tail for them so much for that! :) I really liked Ketchikan. Jewelers galore but we found a nice shop called Exotic Gems and we all bought a beautiful ring from Rajah and his partners Sonny and a beautiful lady whose name I did not catch. They were very nice and sized my sisters ring in no time at all! They also have a store in Port Charlotte Fl that I will be visiting when they open up in October. All in all the cruise and staff were wonderful! Unfortunately due to the poor food choices and quality I do not think I will be able to cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
As i was worried about sea sickness visited the acupuncturist in the spa he applied some little pressure point tabs on my wrists and ears. So pleased as the first day at sea was not nice ,and we were unable to dock in our first port Grand ... Read More
As i was worried about sea sickness visited the acupuncturist in the spa he applied some little pressure point tabs on my wrists and ears. So pleased as the first day at sea was not nice ,and we were unable to dock in our first port Grand Turk due to weather. The staff arranged extra activities,the Captain kept us fully updated,and the restaurant catered for all with a lovely lunch. I am not going to review all the places just a quick review to confirm it was lovely,cabin large and included a spa bath,shower and nice balcony. All the staff were brilliant,and a special mention to the childrens club. Our son went on his own,and any concerns were erased as he constantly asked to go(aged 9). We had a couple of meals later with grown up conversations nice treat !! The Pinnacle is wonderful for a special night,I did a camera work shop .and the evening shows all good quality. We took two bottles of wine on board,and had a welcome sparkling on arrival for a treat,Soda package had one betwwen three of us and still managed not to use it all had a refund bonus. My husband worked out the drinks package you would need at least 7 drinks per day. Small tip had ginger ale daily to drink seemed to calm my digestive system. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Family of three sailed on Westerdam March 21-28, 2015. This was our first HAL cruise. We’ve cruised Princess, Royal Caribbean, & Carnival. We prefer Princess, but this experience has turned us into loyal HAL customers. We can’t ... Read More
Family of three sailed on Westerdam March 21-28, 2015. This was our first HAL cruise. We’ve cruised Princess, Royal Caribbean, & Carnival. We prefer Princess, but this experience has turned us into loyal HAL customers. We can’t wait to book our next HAL cruise. This was a very special cruise for our family. We celebrated Mom’s birthday and also celebrated the success my sister had this past year battling breast cancer at the age of 33 years old. This was a cruise to celebrate life and how special each day is we have to enjoy. The following comments are not to be arrogant, but to help you understand my point of view. I am 41 years old and consider travel has one of my hobbies. Family is fortunate to have traveled extensively to various parts of the world. We enjoy traveling. I’ve held elite status with various airlines and hotels. I’ve stayed in amazing properties and some outright terrible properties. My expectation with service, food, and accommodations is very high. My friends say I am a “snob”. Then if what HAL provided us this past week on the Westerdam makes me a snob, then I am a proud “cruise snob”! We had an amazing week. The entire cruise exceeded all my expectations. The many positive reviews across many sites were true. I see why the Westerdam and HAL have such a loyal following. I conduct lots of research before I travel. This was no exception with this cruise on the Westerdam. Cruise Critic, Cruise Critic forums, Ship Mate, and halfacts.com were great resources. Please make sure you understand the negative comments. I am convinced if 1,900 people are on one cruise and only 1-2 people have harsh, negative comments, then you need to carefully consider those comments. And the same for the positive comments. The many, many positive comments about the Westerdam I read all proved to be accurate. The ship is absolutely beautiful and well maintained by a diligent, hard working crew. The environment is sophisticated and elegant. The entire cruise was very relaxing. That was exactly what my family wanted. The demographic was not the elderly age group I had anticipated. That was actually a minority. There were families with small children and even college age children. I don’t know that the activities onboard rival those of other cruise lines for children and young adults, but the families all seemed to be having a good time. The large majority of passengers were couples and families in the ages of 40-65. There were a number of young adults on board under the age of 40. In some of the ports, we were next to Carnival and the larger Royal Caribbean ships. It quickly became clear to us those environments and demographics are not us. HAL is more “our people”. I think that is where HAL is finding a strong niche. They are catering to people who want a sophisticated and relaxing cruise without all the “entertainment” value of the larger ships of 4,000-5,000 people. Even the boarding process in a port is a clear distinction. HAL passengers board the ship on a red carpet roped off with an area with chilled towels and water or lemonade as you return to the ship. If you could have only seen that contrast to Carnival or RC. No comparison. The entire crew is very professional and caters to the passengers. This was the case from the stateroom attendants to the waiters in the Lido Restaurant, to event the front desk staff. They were all very efficient and helpful. EMBARKATION & STATEROOM - The embarkation was very efficient. Easy to take a cab from Ft. Lauderdale airport ($15-$20 in 10-15 minutes). Make sure you check-in online several days in advance. I checked-in online the night before. We had to provide all the same documentation again at check-in. We had access to our verandah stateroom (#5114) when we boarded around Noon. It was very nice to have access to your room upon boarding that early. STATEROOM - The room was not set up for twin beds as reserved, but the stewards corrected that quickly. The room was a verandah stateroom and very comfortable for 3 adults. I slept on the sofa bed. It was fine. Great linens and pillows. The balcony was a very nice size and offered great seating. The stateroom has plenty of storage in closets, cabinets, and under the beds. Our stateroom stewards worked very hard and always had our room spotless and well maintained. They were great to accommodate our requests for ice, bathrobes, etc. The bathroom tub made the space feel roomier and the tiles on the wall were a nice touch. FOOD - The food was delicious. Again, my inner snob has a refined palette. I was not disappointed. People have commented that the food isn’t the best. I remind myself there are 1,900 people eating on this one ship. How can they make world-class culinary cuisine each meal for each person? Not possible. The MDR was very nice with good food. They didn’t have too much variety as the week went on, but the food was delicious and well presented. Yes, there were some issues with the speed of service on a small number of occasions, but I’m on vacation! They MDR staff did their best considering they serve so many people. Very gracious staff. I’ve had worse service and wait times in many award winning US restaurants. We ate at Canaletto and enjoyed our meal. The service was impeccable. We ordered too much food. It didn’t change my life, but very good. We celebrated Mom’s birthday dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. The service was amazing. The food was delicious. Our waiter made certain my Mom had a special evening. Both specialty restaurants were worth the extra expense. The Lido Buffet was always delicious and well staffed. The staff was constantly cleaning and refilling glasses…and with a smile every day! The food was consistently delicious and offers a nice dinner option if you don’t want to be concerned with dress codes. I recommend Dive In on the Lido Deck. It is in the Lido pool area near the Mexican buffet they have at lunch. Be patient. Yes, the service is slow. They give you a pager. Each burger and hot dog is freshly made for each passenger. Well worth the wait. Order the complimentary room service! Food was good and very timely. We had a balcony, so coffee delivered from room service was a nice treat each morning. My sister really enjoyed the chocolate cake on the room service menu. If you are in San Juan, go to the Caribbean BBQ at the Sea View pool as you leave port. Great atmosphere as you sail away. Also, happy hour from 4-5 p.m. each day in the Crow’s Nest and the Ocean Bar is a great deal. One drink regular price and another same drink for only $1.00 more. Two house chardonnays was $7.53 total with gratuity. Great deal, especially because they also provide hors d’oeuvres. The BBQ on Half Moon Cay was standard. Get the guava juice. ENTERTAINMENT - We went to the Vista Lounge only one night to see the illusionist. He was very good. Our favorite entertainment was in the elegant Explorer’s Lounge each evening to hear Adagio after dinner. Beautiful music! We also enjoyed hearing the B.B. King act one night. Very good musicians. We enjoyed the “married game” one night and also enjoyed one movie night in the Queen’s Lounge. I listened to the piano bar one night and enjoyed the band in the atrium near the Ocean Bar. All were very good. We did go to the Vista Lounge the first night. The HAL dancers and singers were on stage. We didn’t stay because it reminded me of an episode of Saved By The Bell when they made a music video. Not the highest quality. Northern Lights is a fun disco, has themed nights, and was actually where I saw more of the “older” crowd for some reason. EXCURSIONS – Grand Turk is absolutely beautiful. Family went on an island tour. They enjoyed it. I just got a free beach chair and found a quiet spot to the right of the pier (opposite Margaratville). Carnival was also in port, so Margaritaville was not my scene. Very well situated port and cruise area. Water was spectacular. We took a cab in San Juan up to the San Felipe del Morro. Beautiful day. We took another cab to the cathedral and took the free trolley back to the ship. Just enjoyed exploring San Juan. We took an island tour of St. Thomas. Nice views, but not the best tour guide. Not much to really do in St. Thomas except snorkel at Magens Bay, visit St. John, or go shopping. Just see the island and go back to the ship to relax. Now to Half Moon Cay. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. The water is crystal clear. Such an amazing day. Get a clamshell cover for your beach chairs for $150 and enjoy the water and the sand. We took a bicycle tour of the island. Fun to see, but the “guide” was lack luster. Just relax on one of the most beautiful beaches. Be patient with the tendering. The ships load quickly and hold a number of passengers. PUBLIC SPACES – The Crow’s Nest and Explorer’s Café are personal favorites. The views during the day from the Crow’s Nest are wonderful. Great place for happy hour. In the evening, they have fun activities with trivia and karaoke. The Ocean Bar is a beautiful place for happy hour. The Explorer’s Lounge is elegant and a nice place to enjoy beautiful music in the evenings. Make time for daily walks around the Promenade. That is one of the features that sold us on HAL. Covered deck that encompasses the entire ship. Make time to sit in one of the teak chairs and enjoy the view from the Promenade. We also participated in Deck for a Cure since both sister and mother are breast cancer survivors. Nice event. The atrium is a beautiful place with live music in the evenings. The ship has lots of beautiful artwork and sculptures. It makes the entire environment very elegant. Enjoy the glass elevators and the view. Even the inside elevators have beautiful artwork in the designs. The ship interior design met my expectations for a cruise ship. It was elegant without being over the top. Also, the outside area outside the Crow’s Nest on the Observation Deck has lots of chairs and seating areas that are quiet and have nice views. This deck is also a nice place to enjoy walking outside. The pools were very nice and the Lido area was always a fun spot. They do have some smoking at the Sea View pool. Not a big issue. Fun area to listen to the steel drums. DISEMBARKATION – We asked for an early departure time to be safe with catching a cab to the Ft. Lauderdale airport. Front desk staff was very accommodating. They even started calling groups earlier than posted, which said to me the luggage was already off the ship and ready. We were supposed to be called at 9:00 a.m., but they called our group around 8:40 a.m. We were off the ship and past customs within 40 minutes. There were plenty of cabs even with one of the larger RC ships next to us. We were off the ship and at our gate at FLL within 1.5 hours. Very efficient and stress-free disembarkation. I highly recommend the Westerdam and this itinerary. Yes, the Westerdam was not “perfect”. Nothing is perfect! There were some very small areas that showed some age and usage, but remember this ship turns around weekly with 1,900 people each cruise all year long. I was amazed at how many crew members were constantly cleaning the ship to keep it beautiful and well maintained. The ship looked great and never felt overcrowded or dirty. We plan to sail on the Westerdam again. The crew seems happy and enjoys their job. This is a relaxing ship and itinerary. If you want lots of late night entertainment and all the excitement of rock climbing walls, pool contests, etc., then you will want to consider other cruise lines. HAL does a great job providing a high quality experience to their demographic. You are on a vacation in an industry that caters in one cruise over one week to over 1,000 people from all over the world. There may be issues or unexpected experiences. Be patient and remember your attitude makes or breaks your trip. The crew on the Westerdam works very, very hard. They made our trip very special and memorable. We will post a video in the Cruise Critics forum soon. Thanks HAL & the Westerdam crew for a family vacation I’ll never forget!   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Husband and I had never been on a caribbean cruise and we decided that, with the low cabin prices, it was time to do it. We chose Holland America's Westerdam because it had the 7-day itinerary we wanted, and seem to be geared towards ... Read More
Husband and I had never been on a caribbean cruise and we decided that, with the low cabin prices, it was time to do it. We chose Holland America's Westerdam because it had the 7-day itinerary we wanted, and seem to be geared towards 'older adults' (this turned out to definitely be true). Overall, we had a very good experience, with a few missteps, some of which were due to the fact that we were 'first time' cruisers and probably were unaware of the 'hidden' or 'unspoken rules/tips' on such a trip. The pluses: excellent cabin, with verandah (only slight extra cost), which turned out to be a godsend; fantastic cabin steward/cabin service (including nightly freshen up with chocolates and towels folded into animals -- at first, I had no idea what that was); gorgeous theater and vista dining room with flexible, open seating (but, if we had wanted a table for two, we would have needed to reserve before we got on the boat -- the only reservation times available were 5:15 and 8pm); phenomenal music show -- the BB King Blues Club Band -- doing R&B, motown, soul, -- they were superb -- saw them twice; classical music duo -- nice way to wind down the evening. The big draw, evidently, was the 'Dancing with the Stars' tryouts/finals. They had shows in the afternoons so that was when I hung out at the pool, which was very enjoyable. Shore excursions were a mixed bag - Half Moon Cay, the first, was an island owned by HA and was a private beach club with seating, beach buffet - wonderful way to begin the cruise. Unfortunately, we didn't plan well for St Thomas, which was very hot and humid - -got tickets for Paradise Point, a cable car ride that takes you to the top of a hill with shops, restaurant, views, breeze, etc. However, the taxi service to get there was chaotic, uncomfortable -- prepare for a 'third world' experience. Paradise Point was a photographer's delight, however, and was worth the trip. San Juan, the next port of call, however, was not. The ship only docked there for a total of 6 hours so if you didn't start your excursion at 8 am (we're late risers on vacation), you had barely 3 hours to sightsee. Old San Juan was crazy congested with traffic since there were several ships in port.We gave up on the public trolley to get us to El Morro, which was the one thing in SJ I wanted to see and ended up cabbing it both ways. El Morro is definitely worth seeing, gorgeous ocean views, great historical interest but we had to leave by 12:30 to make the 'all aboard' time of 1 pm! Fortunately, our cab driver on the trip back was hilarious, very friendly and had us in stitches all the way back to the boat (I speak a poco Espanol, so that helped). Finally, Grand Turk Island was a 'hidden gem' for sure -- it's the closest thing you'll see on the trip to 'unspoiled'. Damaged by recent hurricanes, the Island hasn't really bounced back, but it's worth seeing for historic houses, natural coral inlets, and a whole lot of nothing, which, after SJ, I really enjoyed. Had a great open bus tour, with Rodney, our very knowledgeable, friendly guide, that took you around the island, to the lighthouse, etc. The highlight was the afternoon spent swimming at Governor's Beach, where the boat docked -- this time, we had until 5:30 pm to spend on the beach and in the shopping area, which is very attractive. Gorgeous waterfront. Finally, the Lido buffet, which served breakfast, lunch and dinner. Despite the fact that the ship carried a maximum of about 1900 passengers, the Lido buffet always seemed very crowded, with a good deal of jostling, people dodging and general confusion at peak times. We figured out that it was best to go late, which is what we did for breakfast and lunch. The food was very good, of course, but by the time you waited on line for the hot food (some of the servers on the line weren't exactly friendly), got rolls, beverages, butter, etc., your food was half cold. Took a lot of juggling to get everything you wanted and I never did figure out the cold drink situation. Sometimes the server at the drink station poured ice into glasses for lemonade, etc., sometimes it was self service. Not sure why the whole buffet situation seemed so disorganized and spread out. Needed at least two trips to get everything for a meal. Overall, despite our experiencing some discomfort (but not norovirus) probably due to changes in food, water, for one or two days of the trip, we had a superb time, met some nice people, were consistently treated with kindness, consideration and personalized hospitality by the staff and would recommend to adults over 45. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
As usually independent travelers who develop our own itinerary, make lodging reservations, locate by choice and chance our meal experience, the cruise was a bit heart pounding in the planning of the unknown. All in all we traveled a few ... Read More
As usually independent travelers who develop our own itinerary, make lodging reservations, locate by choice and chance our meal experience, the cruise was a bit heart pounding in the planning of the unknown. All in all we traveled a few miles short of 5,000 miles did not buy gas, have wear and tear on the car/rent a car, had excellent meals at least 3 times a day, a nice room, live entertainment every night, and educational classes with that. Met many folks at open dining and during activities. Unpack once for 2 weeks. Felt our items were safe in our room. Food was excellent. Too excellent. Lido buffet had so much variety. Fresh squeezed orange juice every morning. Eggs Benedict my style (no bread) or Scottish Eggs Benedict-that is smoked salmon no Canadian bacon or just cereal and milk. Portions were appropriate for the 3 course meals in the Vista Lounge. Lobster tail as one of the entrees on two of the formal nights. Liked the Pinnacle Grill best for lunch. The entertainment was very good. A variety of entertainers that was appropriate for the age group. Humor at the shows and for the game nights was appropriate for a mature audience. Was worried about paying for days at sea that we would have to entertain ourselves with reading a book or baking in the sun working on a melanoma episode. Had a variety of classes with culinary items, at least 22 digital (microsoft) topics, discussion/lecture of history of the areas we were visiting, information about the ships functioning, tours of various areas on the ship. Some days we split up because there was so much to do. The ship was very clean and well maintained. The crew always had a smile and a Hello from the Captain to the newbies serving the candied ginger after dinner. Cons: Wine is a bit pricey per bottle but they will hold it so you can have it the next day(s). We brought two of our own so we had plenty. Wine selection was +/-. Wine stewards for the most part were excellent with recommendations. Spa services were more than what we pay at home.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Recently returned from our Alaska vacation on the Westerdam. I didn't really know what to expect having never been on a cruise before. The service was excellent. Everyone was so friendly. Saying hello, good morning. That was really a ... Read More
Recently returned from our Alaska vacation on the Westerdam. I didn't really know what to expect having never been on a cruise before. The service was excellent. Everyone was so friendly. Saying hello, good morning. That was really a nice touch. I was kind of afraid I might get sea sick. All I needed was some sea bands on my wrists. Never had to break out any of the meds. The ship really was pretty stable. The ship is in pretty good shape for 10 years old. Things are a little worn but not much. Our favorite thing to do on ship was to go up to te observation (explorer's lounge) after dinner and get a coffee and sit in those supper comfortable chairs and look out over the bow. Great view from there. Nice music in the background and the decor of an upscale library. Very relaxing. Another fun thing to do is grab a chair by the pool and enjoy a drink while all the folks spash around in the pool and play ping pong. That's always enteraining. Meal time was a treat. Service was great. We bought wine with dinner and what we didn't finish the first night they held over for us the next night. $32 a bottle wasn't bad. I liked everything I tried on the menu. Presentation of the meal was top notch. The only thing that I could think to compain about might be the long line to register but with so many people getting on board I don't know how they would do it any differently. We done Holland! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I went on my first cruise this past Christmas with my father. He is a Holland America regular and a senior so I was a bit worried about how much fun I would have. I consider myself fairly well traveled and have always felt a cruise or a ... Read More
I went on my first cruise this past Christmas with my father. He is a Holland America regular and a senior so I was a bit worried about how much fun I would have. I consider myself fairly well traveled and have always felt a cruise or a resort would be quite dull. I ended up fully enjoying this cruise more than I would ever expect. The Westerdam is a very classy looking ship both inside and out. Her size was just right for me where the amenities we plenty and varied but the amount of people on the boat did not make me feel cramped. Lounging on the promenade deck reading a book while sailing at sea is probably the most relaxing thing I have done in a long time. Things I liked: -The staff in the Crow's Nest bar (Cesar, Luisito, et al.) are an example of the finest bar staff I have ever seen. If I worked in the industry I'd poach this team. Their cocktail knowledge is the best I have experienced in all of my travels -BB King Blues Club. The band is stellar and I enjoyed their acoustic jam sets as much as any concert I would pay to see. -Vista dining . Portions are a good small European size and the food was top-notch. I had only one "meh" meal - skip the salmon. The rest was delicious. -Staff and crew. The Staff are friendly and excellent and the crew are efficient and will meet your special requests -The casino is small but fun -The evening shows were good (but of course was family-friendly) -I really enjoyed using a exercise bike looking out the front of the ship. It's a surreal feeling to be biking on the ocean. -The decor is classy and rarely cheesy as I have seen on other cruise ships but it could use a refresh in the stateroom hallways -Get a balcony. it's worth it. Things I didn't like: -Skip the Pinnacle Grill. I got two free upgraded meals here and I found the food in the Vista dining lounge at the same caliber if not better. The Pinnacle spends too much effort on the presentation and loses something on the execution - although the blue cheese filet was excellent -The ship does shut down after midnight. I like staying up and over Christmas it was a ghost town after 11:30ish -Debarking was a bit of a pain but It was Christmas so I'll let that one slide. -Breakfast is a pain. HAL please separate the omelette line from the regular bacon and eggs line. We don't all have to have made-to-order eggs So-so: -The lunch buffet is really hit or miss depending on what you get -The Asian dishes were passable and the Mexican buffet spread was delicious -The Eastern Carribean ports aren't the greatest if you aren't a beach lover Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I cannot compare our August 31 cruise on the Westerdam to any others because it was our first cruise, but we have already booked one for the spring based on our great experience with the Westerdam. Embarking and debarking were both quick ... Read More
I cannot compare our August 31 cruise on the Westerdam to any others because it was our first cruise, but we have already booked one for the spring based on our great experience with the Westerdam. Embarking and debarking were both quick and smooth, even for rookies. We were in Cabin 6069 (superior verandah suite) and found even with newbie overpacking we had plenty of storage and cabin space. We could not have asked for more help from each crew member we encountered. We had open dining and, with a just a little flexibility on a few nights, we were perfectly pleased taking most of our meals in the main dining room. All of our food on the Lido was good but a handful of rude passengers (elbow people to jump in line - really?) left us more than happy with the fine service and food elsewhere. We celebrated our 25th anniversary in The Pinnacle Grill and it was excellent for the special occassion, though I think the food was just as good and the service was fun and lively the evening we ate in Canaletto. We will always book both on future cruises. We booked two Holland shore excursions, sticking with ones highly rated by previous passengers. They were spot on and worth every penny. The park rangers narrating Glacier Bay were wonderful, as were the daily programs on the geology and wildlife of Alaska. Holland provides lots of info and enrichment opportunities - plenty to do. Two minor quibbles - the decor and the floor shows were a little "tired" but these were really minor issues. The fitness center was usually full so we powerwalked on the Promenade Deck. We spent a lot of day hours in Explorations Cafe and evenings relaxing in the Pinnacle Bar, listening to music from across the atrium.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
From the moment we stepped on board until we departed, we knew we had made a great choice, I think attitude has a lot to do with ones experience. We had great attitudes. Our room was ready when we boarded. We booked a balcony suite and ... Read More
From the moment we stepped on board until we departed, we knew we had made a great choice, I think attitude has a lot to do with ones experience. We had great attitudes. Our room was ready when we boarded. We booked a balcony suite and loved it. Our cabin stewards greeted us by name and continued to be very attentive all week. I mentioned that I liked ice available all the time and we always had fresh ice in our bucket. We enjoyed the towel animals and the treats and information left on our bed nightly. Even in the hallways there was a friendly greeting from staff. The food was delicious especially considering the number of meals served each day. We had room service, we ate in the MDR, Lido, on deck Bar-b-que and the Pinnacle Grill. The service was great and in the MDR and the Pinnacle servers always addressed us by name. The Pinnacle was outstanding and well worth the up charge. We loved, loved, loved our balcony - especially while we were in Glacier Bay. The views are beautiful. The first morning, I woke about 4:30 a m and peeked out - the view was incredible. We spent a lot of time at sea on the balcony. We spent time in the crows nest and enjoyed drinks there each afternoon while watching the most amazing wrap around view. We went ashore at each port and booked excursions at two of the ports, Juneau and Ketchikan. We would have enjoyed more time in both of these ports. We enjoyed Sitka as well but thought the tendering process a bit unorganized. Our call in Victoria was brief because a large ship 'beat ' us into port and we had to wait for them to clear before we were allowed off the ship. This was not a big deal for us as we had not booked anything in Victoria. The only bad thing for us was leaving the ship. Not the process- which was hassle free- just the fact that it was all over. We have already booked a November cruise on HAL. I can't say enough nice things about HAL and Westerdam. Great staff- right size ship for us - good food. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Our 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise on Holland America Line's Westerdam from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale -- Sunday, November 25 through Sunday, December 2, 2012 -- exceeded our expectations in almost every respect. We had taken ... Read More
Our 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise on Holland America Line's Westerdam from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale -- Sunday, November 25 through Sunday, December 2, 2012 -- exceeded our expectations in almost every respect. We had taken two cruises before (a last-minute weekend cruise nearly 25 years ago and a week-long school vacation cruise with two of our sons), but this was truly our first real cruise vacation. As a result, this review is really for the first-time cruiser -- not the seasoned or experienced cruiser. Because of our limited experience, we can't provide comparisons between the quality of the staterooms, food, services, amenities and entertainment with other ships or cruise lines. Boarding the Westerdam at Pier 21 in Port Everglades -- Fort Lauderdale Holland America allowed passengers boarding the Westerdam to arrive as early as 11:00 AM to begin the process of boarding and embarkation. We stayed at a nearby hotel so we took a cab to the pier. Our cab left the hotel at 11:15 AM, and despite waiting 5 minutes for the 17th Street drawbridge to open and close, we still arrived at Pier 21 at 11:30 AM. Our cab driver drove us right to the unloading area where there were dozens of staff waiting to assist with our luggage. We had pre-printed our luggage tags using Holland America's easy on-line process so it was simply a matter of tipping the cab driver and the porter for taking care of our luggage. The entire boarding process -- from the moment we walked through the door, including security checks, passing through the x-ray machine, verification of all our pre-boarding documents, getting our ID photos taken, printing our ID and stateroom cards, stopping to have boarding photos taken by the cruise photographer and walking onto the Westerdam -- took only 15 minutes! It was easy, well-organized and very efficient. Our stateroom category (SC) allowed us to go to a special check-in counter and we're sure that made a difference, but the entire operation was amazingly smooth and impressive. We were enjoying our first drink at the Lido Deck pool less than 45 minutes after checking out of our hotel! The ship is large (935 feet) with eleven passenger accessible decks. The Westerdam was clean, well-maintained and tastefully decorated with interesting art at every turn. The brass was highly polished, the windows were crystal clear and spotless, the decks immaculate, the carpets bright and freshly vacuumed and all members of the staff were warm, welcoming and very attentive. The Library was simply spectacular, with an assortment of very comfortable chairs and tables with a bar and cafe a few steps away. We found a great selection of classic and current books, magazines and DVDs -- and breathtaking views high above the ocean. Our Cabin - 6164 When we finally made it to our cabin, we were greeted by our room steward. If first impressions are important -- and they often are -- he made a great first impression. He introduced himself, showed us our stateroom, encouraged us to call him at any time, and addressed us by our names. All we could think of was a luxury hotel where nearly 2,000 guests had checked out just a few hours earlier, and 2,000 new guests were all arriving at the same time, and he already knew our names. He and his colleagues provided us with a level of service that equaled or surpassed every five-star hotel we've been lucky enough to stay in. The cabin and deck really exceeded our expectations. Both were larger and more beautiful than we expected, and the stateroom was in pristine condition. We're still not sure why, but the verandah for Cabin 6164 is twice as wide as most other verandahs in the SC category on the Westerdam. Everything was perfect, including the time of our departure from Fort Lauderdale -- sunset. With our cabin perfectly located high and at the center of the rear of the ship, we started our cruise by enjoying a glass of wine with fresh fruit, a light warm breeze, calm seas and a spectacular sunset with a panoramic view of the South Florida coastline. Being at the stern, we enjoyed completely unobstructed views and protection from the wind. While the ship was underway, we felt only the slightest breeze. When the ship was docked, we were treated to beautiful views while relaxing on our verandah high above our ports-of-call. Our SC category cabin included use of the Neptune Lounge located at midship on Deck 7. The Neptune Lounge is like the best Concierge level at high-end hotels, only better - the staff were always available, attentive and helpful. They answered all our questions and took care of every reservation we wanted to make -- dinner, culinary arts program, wine tastings, etc. It's a very private suite, beautifully decorated, with an endless and varied assortment of coffees, teas, juices, appetizers, fruit and desserts. From early morning to late evening, the service, comfort and offerings far exceeded our expectations. Dining and Food The service, menu and food were extraordinary. The matre d' and our head waiter took exceptional care of us each time we visited - from our first visit to our final early morning breakfast before we disembarked at the conclusion of our cruise. We have never enjoyed such exceptional restaurant service. While there is a reasonable additional charge for dining at the Pinnacle Grill and Le Cirque, and a small charge for Canaletto, we felt it was well worth it. Our dinner at the Pinnacle Grill on the first evening of our cruise was simply perfect and set the tone for our dining experiences throughout the week. Starting with the matre d', who sat us at a very private corner banquette on the window, the service was extraordinary and the setting was elegant. Our head waiter and wine steward were also exceptionally warm, engaging, professional and knowledgeable. We were so impressed and pleased that we reserved (and enjoyed) two additional nights at the Pinnacle Grill. Our dinner at the Canaletto was good, but uninspired by comparison to the Pinnacle Grille and Le Cirque. The service was excellent, and the Italian cuisine was good -- but not exceptional. The concierge in the Neptune Lounge told us we could also enjoy breakfast at the Pinnacle Grill because of our cabin category. This was another very pleasant and unexpected surprise that we enjoyed several times. There was no additional charge for breakfast, and the service and food was just as exceptional in the morning as it was in the evening. We tried every restaurant on the Westerdam during our seven day cruise: the hamburger and hot dog grill; the taco bar near the pool; the Lido buffet and Main Dining Room; Canaletto; Pinnacle Grill; and, Le Cirque. There were more options than we expected at all of them, and the food was consistently well prepared, delicious and plentiful. Although there were over 1,800 fellow passengers on board, we never felt crowded or hurried, and never had to wait for seating. We enjoyed lunch at the Lido buffet three times and were able to easily find a table with beautiful window views each time. The Westerdam offered As you Wish Dining, which means you can make a reservation in one section of the main dining room for pretty much anytime you want -- you're not committed to the early (5:30 PM) or late (8:00 PM) seating. It took a few minutes with the matre d' desk each evening, but they were always happy and able to accommodate us. On-Board Entertainment and Activities The on-board entertainment was varied, well-staged and professional. No criticism meant for the professional performers, but we enjoyed the performance by the staff the most. We signed up for the Culinary Arts program and the Premium Wine Tasting class during our day-at-sea. The Culinary Arts program was exceptional. One of the Westerdam's chefs hosted the program and did a great job of teaching the 16 participants how to cook several of the dishes served on board. It was inexpensive, and the lunch (the food the class had made) was served with wine in a private section of the Pinnacle Grille. Truly memorable and delicious. The Premium Wine Tasting class was very informative, but disappointing in comparison to the Culinary Arts program. It was more expensive and not nearly as enjoyable. The casino was exactly what we expected. Those who do not like smoke might want to avoid it, because one section of the casino is the only interior location where smoking is allowed. It's noticeable, but easily avoided. My wife had booked a Spa treatment package shortly after we made our cruise reservations. She enjoyed it, but was surprised (and a little aggravated) when a couple of days into our cruise the Spa began to offer essentially the same treatments at a much better price. She returned and took advantage of one of the daily specials, but lesson learned for new comers to cruising -- wait until the second or third day to buy a Spa treatment because it will cost less. Ports-of-Call Our eastern Caribbean itinerary included: Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and, Half Moon Cay. We were blessed with great weather throughout our cruise for walking (not too hot) and relaxing on the beach. We did not use or take any of Holland America's Shore Excursions -- or any of the many local tours -- so we can't offer any advice or opinions on those. We planned to just start walking and see what we found. For us, this worked out great. No schedule -- except getting back to the ship on time. Grand Turk -- Turks and Caicos Grand Turk is an ideal Caribbean port-of-call with a modern pier that is conveniently located only steps from a beautiful public beach, shopping, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and a small, but interesting site dedicated to remembering John Glenn's landing of the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule nearby in 1962. Old San Juan -- Puerto Rico The Westerdam docked at the base of the hill that is the center of historic Old San Juan. We spent half of our time visiting the old fort, learning about its remarkable history and taking photos. Those who enjoy historic sites will truly enjoy visiting the fort. For photographers, every view provided a palette perfectly preserved in time, with a natural patina and light that guaranteed memorable photos. The architecture of Old San Juan has been wonderfully restored and maintained. The streets are busy and crowded with locals, tourists and lots of cars. But, finding a quiet, seemingly forgotten-in-time street, is as easy as turning a corner. Phillipsburg -- St. Maarten Again, the Westerdam docked within walking distance (maybe 15 minutes) of a beautiful, although very crowded, public beach and picturesque downtown shopping area. We decided to take the 10 minute ferry across the harbor to see the downtown from inside the harbor. Front Street contains every store a tourist with a shopping problem could dream of -- from very high-end jewelry to the fun and cheesy store fronts offering painted coconut heads and local rum. Half Moon Cay -- Bahamas Every good thing you may have read or heard about this private island is true -- even more than Holland America Line says in its marketing literature. The beach is one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen. It is meticulously clean, and the sand is like fine white powder. There are more than enough chaise lounges for every visitor and, the further you walk from the main part of the beach, the fewer fellow guests you see. A 15-minute walk from the tender and you'll think you have the beach to yourself. The main beach faces southwest, is shaped like a half moon (hence the name) and is about a mile long. A round trip walk the length of the beach (including a lot of dawdling to explore) took a little over an hour. Other than a few buildings for guest services and cruise employees (Holland America owns the island), it is virtually undeveloped. There is a small square with all the amenities needed for a day at the beach. A bar-b-que style lunch is served just a stone's throw from the beach -- think a county fair or large company picnic. The service was good and the food was fine for a day at the beach. I heard a few complaints about having to pay a couple of bucks for a soda or beer, but we couldn't find a reason to complain in paradise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Sorry this has no particular order, but I thank those who reviewed before me and wanted to contribute. We really enjoyed our cruise on the Westerdam. You have to realize that it is an Alaska cruise and what the clientèle will be... ... Read More
Sorry this has no particular order, but I thank those who reviewed before me and wanted to contribute. We really enjoyed our cruise on the Westerdam. You have to realize that it is an Alaska cruise and what the clientèle will be... i.e. a mix of old people and families... not too many young 21+ people, but we still had a great time. Next time, we are going to try and do a Caribbean cruise with a minimum age to try and avoid the children. But that's just because we're in our late 20's/mid 30's without kids. For example, it was totally impossible to get in the hot tub... that would have been nice, but it closed at 10. And sitting anywhere near the pool got you splashed and listening to "Marco Polo" for hours on end. The buffet was great, but after we discovered the Vista dining room we never went back. The food was absolutely incredible there. We had open seating... some classier people I think had reserved times and tables, but honestly we enjoyed the flexibility to go whenever we wanted to, and never waited very long in line. I never dreamed the food would be this good, and you could order as much as you wanted. Tons of activities. You'll miss more things that you'll want to that you think. Not that we partook, but they even had LGBT gatherings, so in that sense I was pleasantly surprised at the progressiveness. Our Captain got us so close to the glacier in Glacier bay... the whole ship shook when the massive chunks of ice broke off and crashed into the water. What a very cool experience. We had the tiniest inboard room, but it honestly didn't matter. I don't think it would have been much better to pay for an upgrade. It was easy to get to the outdoor deck. My grandfather unfortunately had to spend a night in the infirmary with some heart problems. Fortunately, he was ok. They were not supposed to be open, but stayed with him, took x-rays, and did lots of tests on him... the bill was an amazingly-low $1,200 which can be reimbursed with his insurance. We thought the bill was going to be substantially more than that... I think a big reason we had such a great time was because we didn't have a speck of rain on any day, even for our excursions. Not something you can plan for, we just got really really lucky. It was nice to get away and be off the grid completely for a week. It was good enough that we'll be looking at Holland America Line first for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Purchasing the cruise- did it all online just follow the clicks and pay what you can when you can as long as paid in full by designated date. Didn't need to leave home or call anyone! Too bad they won't give you the travel ... Read More
Purchasing the cruise- did it all online just follow the clicks and pay what you can when you can as long as paid in full by designated date. Didn't need to leave home or call anyone! Too bad they won't give you the travel agent percentage as a discount when you book yourself, but I understand the reasons. ID - for Alaska, Enhanced Drivers License is simple and cheap if you live in a state that has them, and you don't want to pay the cost of a passport. (If you get stuck in Canada, you will not be able to fly back on EDL! But rail, car, or sea is fine.) Luggage / Boarding - Took six large suitcases and four carry ons ... Just fine - Were met by shuttle in parking lot at Seattle - they load the luggage and take you to the terminal, there a porter will take all checked luggage and you walk through some check points and then the gang way! (There is a little health form that takes a minute or two to fill out - (get it ahead of time if you can.) There is a little bit of line but it moves quickly! Cruising - Wander, participate, sit, eat, lots to do, just watch the restaurant times, because even the lido buffet has to change food from meal to meal so there will be some down time with limited offerings. Shows were great, Piano bar, Queens Lounge, Crows Nest, and other places have musicians and entertainment all evening. Sometimes you have to miss one thing to see another, but the Bar musicians can be seen pretty much every night. Ports - Get off, or not. Get off, then on, then off as much as you like. Even eight hours in port is short if you want to do a lot, but I preferred to debark later and embark early to avoid lines. Buy an excursion through HAL and they will even hold the boat if it is late. Save money and hire a cab or buy a tour at the dockside vendors can be a lot cheaper. Best to figure out what you want to see before you even cruise, otherwise you will waste valuable cruise time trying to find something you like. Pretty much a ton of stuff to do like museums and shopping require no vehicle. Alaskan towns are little and squeezed against mountains, so if you can walk a mile or two, you can see a lot. Seemed like Ketchikan had the best prices. (Find the coupon book at the cruise terminal before boarding!) Glaciers/ Weather - Just a beautiful cruise in the national park. Find a place to see what you like, inside or outside. Can be cold and wet, but we had sun in every port, and just a bit overcast in Glacier bay. I hear that record is rare. Waiting for HAL to send a "Perfect Cruising Weather Adjustment Claim" - No just joking. Wanted to do this cruise again, but doubt it could ever be so perfect. Disembark - Worried about this with all the luggage we had - no need. You will get a time and color - Attach the colored tags to luggage and put in hallway the night before. When your time comes, show up at the gangplank and scan off one last time, walk into the terminal, find your row of luggage by the colored tags, and have a porter load them into the parking lot shuttle. Check yourself through customs (quick) then ride the shuttle to your car, transfer luggage and go home. Really simple and efficient. No line or crowd. If you flew in you can have your luggage all go direct so you don't see it until home airport, for a small charge. Medical - Wife had to see doctor for insect in eye that cause infection - very professional, well equipped, done with prescription in hand in about 30min. Cost $95 not including medicine. You pay, seek reimbursement from your own medical insurance company if you have one. Cost/Value - This is a pretty personal and subjective topic, but I am a cheapskate, or stated differently, never had a lot of money to throw around. This was the most expensive vacation I have ever taken by far, and door to door I spent about $3500.00 for my wife and I for a seven day vacation. (That includes some gifts and specialty coffees, sodas, and a bit of alcohol.) I stayed in a veranda stateroom on deck 5 near the center of the ship. (Forward and aft are a bit cheaper). The room was quiet and for a long time we thought there were no guests beside us because I never heard any noise. About the only sounds I heard were a few "noisy walkers" in the hallway, and an occasional door shut. I was really surprised at this compared to most hotel stays I have had. I ate whatever I wanted and if you want two desserts they will give it to you. Anything I needed they tried to accommodate. I have heard that some lines push drinks, or have sales "hawkers". This was never the case on HAL. (Although some of the activities that I didn't do might have been "product oriented?) Most cruisers were retirement age, and this suited me just fine. Some younger people and some kids, but other lines probably have more Kid activities. I did not encounter any drunks or disorderly people, I think that is for other cruise lines with a party reputation. The service staff is friendly and your room is cleaned twice or more a day. Tipping is built into the cost, and although I did provide several cash tips, there was never a pressure to do so, in fact just the opposite. I think if you consider the cost of three great meals a day, entertainment every day, travel costs of fuel and distance traveled, the ability to have a veranda view of 7 days of Pacific ocean, Alaskan towns, Canadian towns, and coastline, it was a fair deal. If you are willing to stay in a room with little or no view I think it would cost about half of what we paid, so in this regard it has to be one of the greatest travel bargains there is. Will I do it again? - Probably. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
First of all, I'd like to thank fellow CC members for providing a ton of valuable information. I wouldn't have enjoyed my trip nearly as much without your help on this website. I hope my review can continue this tradition and ... Read More
First of all, I'd like to thank fellow CC members for providing a ton of valuable information. I wouldn't have enjoyed my trip nearly as much without your help on this website. I hope my review can continue this tradition and help make someone's cruise as enjoyable as well. Having said that, let's start from the beginning... Our group : 3 young ladies in their 50s and 60s plus me in my 30s, all first-time cruisers Weather : everybody hit the jackpot this week, almost no rain for the whole cruise. Embarkation : arrived at Pier 91 in Seattle around 11:30am. There were maybe 6-7 baggage handlers from Princess helping their customers unload their luggage into carts. Nobody from HAL anywhere to be found at the same drop-off area. Were we too early ? Oh well, we had a small group so DIY is not a problem. Check-in was very organized and efficient as most people mentioned. We were on the ship in about 20-25 mins. The sea of people on the other side of the building for Princess looked mighty intimidating in comparison. Our room was already prepped for us (thumbs-up to housekeeping) so we were able to drop off our stuff before heading to the Lido for lunch. Ship : exterior looked great. Obviously not brand new, but definitely well maintained. The black and white color scheme made it look like it's wearing a tux. Very classy compared to the all white paint job of the Golden Princess. Inside the Westerdam, signs of wear-and-tear were noticeable if you're looking, but hardly enough to be a bother. The fact that she is one of the more "green" ships is also a big plus. On the flip side, the library doubled as a cafe and was relocated right next to the Crow's Nest where some loud activities were often held. As a result, folks looking for a quiet place to read got screwed at times. This is probably a temporary arrangement as there is remodeling going on at certain parts of the ship. Captain, PJ van Maurik : nice gentleman with a sense of humor. pointed out interesting scenery along the way. got our ship within 100 yards of the glacier. won the drag race against the Golden Princess on our way to Victoria just so we could dock first. Sir, I salute you. Crew : wonderful, friendly, helpful. They made you feel like family and made the ship feel like home. About 95% of the time, we were greeted with a smile when we walked by. They handled the ship's cleaning, vacuuming, repairing, re-painting all day, everyday. Simply amazing. Cruise Director, Jason Venner : agree with everyone else that he was a great host / comedian / dance instructor. He's incredibly talented for his job and he does it well. DJ Brett : didn't go to his nightly dance parties but he's also good as an MC (ex : bingo). Darlene & The HALCats : band rocked, singer was so-so. Piano Man, Glenn-Michael : excellent with the piano & keyboard. Very experienced entertainer. Violinist : average. played with the sheet music in front of her which made it seem like amateur hour. Party Planner, Amber : really nice lady and clearly enjoys doing her job. we liked every activity that she hosted (culinary arts, making greeting cards, flower arrangements, towel animals) Westerdam Singers & Dancers : a group of hard-working professionals who put on quite a show. Vegas-quality but just smaller in scale. Vista Lounge was packed for every performance so we had to go 15-20 minutes early for good seats. Rockin' Roadhouse was their best show. Lifestylist, Clare : homegirl looked like she needed a vacation. saw her smile only once for the entire cruise. her tai-chi could use some work too. Filipino Crew Show : for non-professional entertainers, they did pretty well. once they got over their nerves, they gave a very heartfelt show. Vista Dining Room : exceptional. for most part, the food was seasoned just right, not overly salty/sweet like at most restaurants. we never had to wait for a table of our own or make reservations and usually were seated right by the window. service was stellar except for one breakfast when the omelet orders got backed up. Formal nights : only attended the second of the two nights and only because they were serving lobster tail (not available in the Lido, I checked). i didn't bring a suit but they were nice enough to let me and other violators borrow a jacket, a nice gesture also previously mentioned by fellow cruisers. Lido buffet : slightly better than the average buffet. it does get crowded sometimes (ex : first 2 days when crew does all the serving; lunch after everybody comes back on the ship at Ketchikan) but usually not too bad. Some folks just took their food back to their rooms to eat. Also agree that staff was not excessively pushy with alcohol/beverage sales. Salmon bakes by the pool were the best meals they cooked up. saw one waiter perform random magic tricks for diners. Afternoon tea : highly satisfactory. i'm a sucker for fruit tarts and cream puffs and they had a mountain of those. we usually stayed until they kicked us out so they could setup for dinner, haha. Glacier Bay National Park : I now understand why people said this day was the highlight of their trip. Words fail me, just go. Comedian / Magician, Jeff Peterson and "Indy" : not bad. might be a bit boring for those who are used to seeing fancier tricks. Jazz band : again, the band itself was pretty good, but the singer was no bueno. dude was a young caucasian who had a voice like a black woman, bizarre as that sounds. people got tired of his falsetto pretty quickly. Pools and hot tubs : brought my swimming trunks but unfortunately didn't get to use it. saw a lot of folks enjoying themselves though. would've been awesome to relax in the jacuzzi with the spectacular scenery going by. Room service : we only ordered tea several times and it takes them anywhere from 10 minutes to 1.5 hours to bring it. meh. Disembarkation : again, smooth as everyone said. we opted for the last group (9:30am - 10am) because we were in zero hurry, which meant that we got to have one last breakfast in the Lido. True to their word, we were allowed to hang out anywhere on the ship until it was our time to leave. In fact, most of the crowd got off the ship so fast that our group was able to disembark about 10 minutes early. Whole process took even less time than embarkation. Sooooooo as you can tell, my family and I had a good time. We felt we really got our money's worth and yes, we would sail with HAL again to other destinations. A big thanks to everyone on the Westerdam for making our first cruise so memorable. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
First time cruiser tips! Two friends (who were arriving from different city) and I arrived in Seattle night before cruise. We stayed at The Arctic Club Hotel, which we all really enjoyed. NOT a cookie cutter hotel, the service was ... Read More
First time cruiser tips! Two friends (who were arriving from different city) and I arrived in Seattle night before cruise. We stayed at The Arctic Club Hotel, which we all really enjoyed. NOT a cookie cutter hotel, the service was amazing and the hotel had a lot of history to it. Great service and unique rooms. We pre-arranged a car to pick us up at Sea-_tac. I would HIGHLY recommend A PLUS TOWN Car service. Tehir rates were so reasonable, less than a cab. The driver was prompt, courteous and knowledgable about the area. They also picked us up at Pier 91 after the cruise to take us back to the airport. Keep in mind, I have NO basis of comparison to other cruise lines. Three of us (all adults) booked a Superior Veranda Suite (SY) and we were all amazed by the size of it!! DO NOT take a cruise to Alaska in a cabin without a balcony! It is amazing to sit on the veranda and watch and the beautiful scenery pass by. The cabin had 2 twin beds and a sofa which converted to a single bed.. all very comfortable. The balcony was huge!! Enough room for a small table with 2 chairs and 2 other lounge chairs with matching ottomans. The room had a flat panel TV on a large table, with a chair and window above it. There was another desk/vanity with lighted nake up mirror. I was surprised to see 3 closets, more than enough room. The bathroom had a long vanity with double sinks and 2 medicine cabinets. There was a whirlpool tub and a separate shower. DO NOT OVER PACK, as I did!! You can get by on far less clothes than you think you will need. Formal night in the dining room was not that formal! I wore dressier black slacks and a dressy top; that was fine. The other days on board were casual. In ports, a long sleeved top, vest, light jacket were enough. I was not overly thrilled with the food. I heard that food on board was fantastic........it was average. Lido dining was sometimes filled with long lines, and the food was not always that warm. The pastries were my favorites! Other than room service, food is NOT available 24/7. Food int he dining room was much better, Room service was ok, especially for breakfasts on morning you have an early port call. We did a whale watching tour with Harv and Marv in Juneau. Our caption was great, and we did see whales; however, the boats are NOT allowed to get that close to them. Being that I did that once, I would not do it again. Roberts Tramway was something we lookind forward to doing, however, it was so foggy, 2 of the locals said it would not be worth it. I enjoyed Stika, an old Russian village. But I did not know until we got there that we would all have to be tendered to the pier....that means we all had to take life boats to get there!!! They were very efficient though and it did not take all that long. In Ketchikan, we took a Duck boat tour; we all enjoyed that, as it gave us a tour of the city and then time in the water. We saw so many bald eagles. There are SO many shops in Ketchikan, mainly jewelry stores where they are really all pretty high pressure. I bought nothing! The Westerdam had a nice, though small casino. The shows were limited, but enjoyable. We did not try any of the other restaurants that charged a surcharge, The Crows Nest and the Observation Deck on the 10th floor was a nice way to spend time. Many comfortable chairs all facing the spectacular views. The day we sailed through Glacier Bay was one of my favorites. We heard what sounded like an explosion and it weas an avalanche; you could see the huge pieces of ice in the sea. All in all, it was amazing...scenery too beautiful to be real. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Pre-Cruise: Flew in on Thursday afternoon and got to enjoy some truly amazing weather in Seattle along with some of Seattle's sites. We stayed at The Paramount, which was great. It was reasonably priced (given its location) and is ... Read More
Pre-Cruise: Flew in on Thursday afternoon and got to enjoy some truly amazing weather in Seattle along with some of Seattle's sites. We stayed at The Paramount, which was great. It was reasonably priced (given its location) and is close to all of Seattle's attractions downtown. Embarkation: We pulled up to Pier 91, a porter helped us with our luggage and within 25 minutes we were boarding the ship. Cabin: After taking advantage of some price drops, we ended up with a VH guarantee and were ultimately assigned to 5170, which is a standard verandah cabin. The cabin really was the perfect size.. I wouldn't have wanted anything much smaller. We also loved having the verandah, especially for sail away as the weather in Seattle was perfect. Our cabin steward was Cy (sp?), who introduced himself almost the minute we got to our cabin. The entire week he took very good care of us. He was always very energetic and happy to help with any request, and knew us by name almost immediately. Food: This was the one area where I had some frustrations, but overall I was still really happy. We opted for As You Wish Dining, which we were generally happy with. The first night we went to dinner a little after 7pm and did have to wait about ten minutes to be seated; however, as the cruise went on we found that if we went either a little before or a little after 7 we could avoid the line. The food in the Main Dining Room was always very good. We primarily ate our breakfasts and lunches in The Lido and while the food was very good for a buffet, we could NEVER find a table. It was extremely annoying. I can imagine that in nice weather people would eat out on the aft by the pool, but for most of the week this was not an option. This meant that on more than one occasion we brought our food back to our room. Also, while I generally didn't mind the Code Orange for the first 48 hours, is it really necessary to do it for glasses of water too? Given that the staff in the Lido had glasses of water and tea pre-poured, I would argue no. The biggest let down of the entire cruise was the in room dining. On our first morning we decided to get breakfast to the room because we had a relatively early (10am) Roll Call. When the food arrived, everything was there but some of the items were sub-par. For example, we ordered scrambled eggs and found powdered eggs. On the night leaving Juneau, we ordered room service for dinner. After waiting about 45 minutes for the order, both of the entrees arrived cold. This was a real disappointment. One night we did opt to dine at The Pinnacle Grill and I was blown away. This was the best meal I've ever had in my entire life. The food was delicious, and the service was excellent as well. Entertainment and Activities: During the day, there were tons of options that appealed to me. I particularly enjoyed the activities in the Culinary Arts Center. Our CD, Jason (who is awesome), did a good job of promoting activities over the PA, but also mentioned that this was our vacation and many times said, "Do it all, or do none of it." I felt like he struck a great balance of encouraging participation, while letting people enjoy their cruise. In the evenings, we tried out a number of different options. On the second night at sea we went to the main show and Capitan PJ's toast. I was really underwhelmed by the show. Its not that the performers aren't talented... they clearly are. And its not that HAL has invested enough in their sets.. they definitely have. It is that the performers kept doing the same thing over and over again. Every song seemed like it was the same thing. I ended up leaving half way through the performance. Other nights, we went to the Piano Bar or the Ocean Bar to see the jazz group. We enjoyed both of these venues. Roll Call: We had our Roll Call on the first day at sea and had somewhere around 35 members drop by at some point. It was great to put names with faces. The Hotel Manager and the Beverage Manager both stopped by as did Jason, who kept us laughing the whole time. He mentioned that during the previous cruise, one feedback form had complained that the glaciers were dirty and that HAL should invest in cleaning them. I also learned that Jason is actually the most senior CD with HAL, and in fact sometime in the near future he will be leaving the Westerdam and will be replaced by DJ Armen. General Comments on HAL & the Westerdam: Many previous reviews have said that the ship is showing some signs of her age, but I didn't really see this. While its clear this isn't a brand new ship, I felt that it was in good condition. There were a few very minor things that could use some attention (i.e. the curtains in our stateroom had come off the track and kept getting caught in the door), but it was clear to me that HAL has taken good care of the ship. Also, one of my biggest concerns heading into the cruise was that I was going to be one of the youngest adults on the cruise... and I was right about that. I saw maybe 5 other 20-somethings on the cruise the whole time. It is clear that HAL is making an effort to have activities for this age range with their Generation Next activities, but I went to one of these and found that while the event was advertised as being for 18-25 year olds most of the people here were juniors/seniors in high school. I think these events would be better served by separating under 21 and over 21 age groups. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
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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