2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2014
Service in the dining room was disorganized and very slow. The waiters are having to serve more tables but that didn't excuse the chaos that characterized the first and last night's dining. The dining room staff looked quite ... Read More
Service in the dining room was disorganized and very slow. The waiters are having to serve more tables but that didn't excuse the chaos that characterized the first and last night's dining. The dining room staff looked quite stressed. The courses that were served sometimes differed from the menu description. The musical ensemble no longer plays at dinner. The chocolate buffet has gone. And room service was inconsistent. Nevertheless the ship is well maintained and elegant and the atmosphere was generally friendly and relaxed. This was our 5th HA cruise and I suspect that the short cruises out of the US offer somewhat less than the longer cruises from foreign ports. One delightful aspect of this cruise was the large number of children taking advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday. Very unusual for HA cruises but it was great to so them enjoying the experience. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
We did our second consecutive Thanksgiving cruise with HAL on the Westerdaam and we have come away from both extremely pleased with the ship, its service personnel, its itinerary and especially the food. In over 15 years of ... Read More
We did our second consecutive Thanksgiving cruise with HAL on the Westerdaam and we have come away from both extremely pleased with the ship, its service personnel, its itinerary and especially the food. In over 15 years of cruising...mostly aboard Princess, we switched to HAL two years ago after dealing with an extremely unpleasant maitr 'd aboard the Grand Princess. While Westerdaam is not nearly as glitzy as any of the Princess ships, she comes across as a regal and dignified aging dowager, wise and self-assured and gracious to all. The food, though not nearly as varied as the food on the Princess ships, was appreciably better in quality and preparation. The dining room filets were really filets rather than overcooked hockey pucks we found standard on Princess. We also found the dining room steaks to be equal quality to those we had at Le Cirque, one of Westerdaam's specialty restaurants. The dining room wine list was not as extensive nor as pricey is the wine list at Le Cirque but the reasonably priced dining room wines were descent and enjoyable. On our most recent trip we encountered extreme cautions to prevent an epidemic of Noro virus which has plagued, not only HAL, but most of the cruise lines sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. The cautions must have been effective because I was aware of no widespread outbreak of illness of any kind. Two years ago when we returned to Fort Lauderdale we also avoided a Noro outbreak but we saw numerous other ships flying quarantine flags. I did not notice any quarantine flags flying when we returned this year. Our cabin stewards on both voyages were very attentive, generally available and quick to respond to our requests. On this cruise Westrerdaam had a very good selection of reasonably-priced excursions. As an experienced Scuba diver in my earlier years, I decided to try the SNUBA excursions which is billed as a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving. It really is more like scuba diving because you breath through a regulator but you're attached to an air hose connected to a tank which floats on the surface. The hose is about 15 feet long so it limits your depth to less than that. It's a great way to try out scuba but as a former diver out found it quite limiting and much prefer regular scuba diving. As I recall, the cost was about $100 which included 45 minutes of snorkeling and 45 minutes of snuba...very reasonable for the time and quality instruction. Overall, our experience with HAL and the Westerdaam has been very positive and I would have no hesitation in recommending HAL to a friend. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
This was our 9th cruise overall, and third NYE cruise. We have sailed on Oceania, NCL, and Carnival. This was our first cruise on Holland, and our expectations from reviews and reputation; we expected something between Oceania and NCL. ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise overall, and third NYE cruise. We have sailed on Oceania, NCL, and Carnival. This was our first cruise on Holland, and our expectations from reviews and reputation; we expected something between Oceania and NCL. Overall, the staff and service was exceptional (except for one area that I will address later). Embarkation was a bit surprising. Having secured a Deluxe Veranda Suite (SB), we were eligible for VIP Priority embarkation. When we arrived in the VIP line, there were eight couples in front of us and two workers checking passengers in. Having done VIP check-in on the other lines, we expected a few minutes per person to do the normal check-in procedures. However, 4 of the 8 couples must have incurred problems with paperwork or not done the online check-in prior to the sailing. These couples took 10-15 minutes each. Our check-in at the counter took about 2 minutes. By far, the longest priority check-in I have experienced on any cruise line. I will say the cabin steward delivered the checked bags faster than any prior sailing. Although, standing in the VIP line for over an hour gave the baggage personnel plenty of head start. The first night, we ate in the main dining room. Overall, selection of food during the cruise was okay and quality was about the same. Nothing memorable, but nothing disappointing either. The signature restaurant, Pinnacle Grill, is exceptional. Unfortunately, we were only able to get one reservation during the whole cruise. Went to the Neptune Lounge a number of times to get priority reservations, but was not able to secure any other days for the rest of the cruise. On other lines, when we have been in the top suites, we were given priority reservations. Apparently, Holland does not do the same. Additionally, because this was a NYE cruise, making reservations in advance online was not allowed either, even though we booked 8 months in advance. Lido buffet had a good selection of food for lunch and dinner (just make sure you check the hours of operation because they are not open as much as other ships). The pizza and pasta station did a good job of keeping up with the pace of customers. The Caribbean buffet in the pool are at the middle of the cruise was probably some of the best and most original food from several of the islands. The private island, Half Moon Cay is very nice and permanent amenities are the best we have seen from other lines. Also nice was that we were the only ship that day. Procedures for the tendering was some of the best we have experienced. Upon arrival back to the ship, the evening was a formal night and NYE. Having read previous cruise comments and reviews, we were expecting a fun evening. Dinner was okay, and they passed out paper hats and noise makers as you exited the dining room. The NYE parties were spread out throughout the ship. The main party was in the theater with the Cruise Director and Entertainment staff. The two hours of entertainment leading up to midnight consisted of watching the staff and assorted passengers dancing to the Electric Slide, Macrena, Cha Cha and other assorted night club tunes. They did come around 10 minutes before midnight to offer one glass of their house champagne. Really, this is what I paid the higher cruise fare compared to other sailings. To say we were disappointed is a severe understatement. We went to the night club after the midnight balloon drop where the netting holding the balloons would not release (actually was funny and fitting). Upon seeing the multitude of elementary, middle and high school kids and their families, we decided just to have our own celebration on our balcony. Probably the one event that has made my determination on Holland was the policy and procedures of how they run their Poker Tournaments. The night before our sea day, they announced through the newsletter that they would conduct a two Poker tourneys at 1130 and 1330. There are only ten seats for each. After dinner, I went down to sign up. Upon looking at the sign-up sheet, seems one individual (same handwriting) signed up the first eight slots of both tourneys, and the other two and all standby slots were already filled. I asked the person in the casino cage how they can let the same eight people occupy both tourneys and was told "first come, first serve". I pointed out that I understand that principle, but showed the worker how one person effectively shut out the other 2200 passengers (these are the same people who played in all the other tournaments as well). I asked to talk to the Casino Manager (Robert Beatty), and was told he was not available and to check back in the morning. Came back the next day and asked for him at 1000, and was told he would be in the casino at 1100. Came back then, and no sign of him. To make sure I would have evidence of what I was complaining about, I took a photo of the sign-up sheet with my IPAD, to which I was told "you cannot do that sir". I informed the worker that they knew my cabin number and they could have it back when the Casino Manager comes to talk to me. I never saw the Casino Manager or anyone further about the matter. I still have the photo (in case Holland would like to discuss or see the evidence). Disembarkation was the biggest disaster I have witnessed in all the cruises. Since we had a flight three hours after the first passengers were allowed to depart, were we given number 1. At 0800, those passengers willing to take their own bags were allowed to disembark. Group 1 was scheduled to leave at 0815. So, at 0815, we headed down to the gangway area and proceeded to hear the announcements over the next 30 minutes of the six groups after us. All of us that were group 1 were confused and asked security what was going on. We were told there was an issue and that group 1 bags were not ready. Really, the people who all have flights within 2-3 hours of disembarkation and were given group 1 are not ready. Just before 0900, they finally announced our group. We made it to the airport, checked in, got through the TSA line and arrived at the gate as they were making the announcement for all passengers on our flight. Overall, the staff was friendly and attentive. The policy and procedures need work. For the price we paid for a NYE cruise, I will look for other options in the future, as we were not impressed. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
My wife and I took our grown children and spouses on the Holland America Westerdam Eastern Caribbean cruise during Christmas week and had a wonderful vacation from Dec 23-30th. This cruise traveled to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, San ... Read More
My wife and I took our grown children and spouses on the Holland America Westerdam Eastern Caribbean cruise during Christmas week and had a wonderful vacation from Dec 23-30th. This cruise traveled to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Philipsburg, Saint Martin and Half Moon Cay. This is our 3rd Holland cruise and 5th overall cruise. (see comments below) Ft Lauderdale- I booked two rooms at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 across from Port Everglades and highly recommend it for future cruises from Fort Lauderdale. We also ordered two cases of wine and champagne from Total Wine and More store which is located about 2 minutes down the street. Embarkation- I highly recommend an early arrival (noon) so we dropped off our suitcases and wine boxes at curbside without any crowds. The line was very short and quick when we arrived and we only waited 5 minutes before they called us to board the ship. Our grown kids arrived later in the afternoon and they said that it was crowded. Rooms- Our balcony room (4133) was immediately available and our suitcases arrived shortly afterwards. The Verandah suite is a good size for two people, but can get a little crowded when you add four other people. Our room was in a good location to get to the main dining room. We booked our cruise and reserved a Verandah balcony room (4133) for us and two nearby Oceanview rooms for the 'kids' (4115 & 4117). Service- We prefer the main dining room and reserved fixed seating for table 136 next to the rear window every night at 8pm. The Maitre D-Eddi greeted us every night and promptly seated us. Our waiters were very polite and service was excellent. We brought two bottles of my favorite wine, Chateau St Michelle, to dinner every night and the wine steward took care of us. The captain made an emergency stop in St Thomas for a passenger that had broken his/her hip and he did an excellent job keeping us informed of the ship status and didn't interrupt our plans. Food- We always enjoy Holland Americas food and the Westerdam was excellent every night! The appetizers (especially the Jumbo Shrimp!), soup and salad and entrees are all great, but we especially enjoyed the Surf and Turk on formal night! (Sport coats are fine!) Grand Turk- As divers, I booked a two tank dive trip with Blue Waters divers (see tripadvisor.com post) for four of us and my wife and daughter took the Catamaran excursion through Holland. All of us had a great time! San Juan, Puerto Rico- We docked at 12noon, so we spent the afternoon walking around Old San Juan. I highly recommend that you just turn left at the dock, stop by the Tourist office for a map and continue walking down the Promenade/walkway to the Old San Juan Gate and El Morro fort! Saint Martin- I rented an SUV at Hertz ($155/day) and all six of us drove to Maho Bay beach to see the incoming airplanes, then we drove to the French side of the island and circled the island back to the port. In the future, I would skip the French side (dirty) and just drive to Orient beach. Half Moon Cay- we just enjoyed playing on the beach (bring a Frisbee) and rest in the sun (sunscreen!) Entertainment- we enjoyed all of the shows, casino, piano bar, and dancing in the lounge. Overall, we had a great Christmas cruise on the Westerdam and will do it again in the future! For perspective, this is our 3rd consecutive cruise with Holland and we have a fourth planned for the Baltic this summer. We switched to Holland since we felt that NCL was always up selling us on the restaurants and we didn't care for many of the NCL and Carnival customers. We highly recommend Holland for the great service, excellent dining room food and respectable customers! (We're not snobs!) Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport about 11 am, took a taxi to the Port and were on board and in our room by 12 noon. We met our neighbours in the Lido for lunch. It was only their 2nd cruise and they drove to Fort Lauderdale and ... Read More
We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport about 11 am, took a taxi to the Port and were on board and in our room by 12 noon. We met our neighbours in the Lido for lunch. It was only their 2nd cruise and they drove to Fort Lauderdale and spent the night before in a hotel close to the Port. We had anytime dining and found the meals in the dining room to be excellent with lots of choices. We are pleased that the servings are not large so we can have all five courses without feeling stuffed. We had two dinners in the Pinnacle and as always the food was perfect. The first time we found the steaks to be too large for us, so the second night we asked about the steak sizes and ordered accordingly. We also bought a wine package the first night on board and we find it to be economical. We had lunch and breakfast most days in the Lido but we did have a few in the Dining Room. We really enjoy the waffles and omelettes for breakfast in the Lido and the sandwiches for lunch. We used a non alcoholic beverage card to buy speciality coffees in the Explorations Cafe just outside the Crows Nest. They also have a chocolate cafe on either deck 2 or 3. We did not try the chocolates but had some speciality hot chocolate. The entertainment on board the first week was amazing except for one performer which did not appeal to our taste. The second week was also excellent except for one performer. We both agreed that the singers and dancers were of high calibre. The production shows were well done and very enjoyable. We spent part of each evening in the Piano Bar and also in the Explorers Lounge. For Christmas the ship was decorated tastefully. Not too much but enough. The ports the first week were Half Moon Cay, Cayman, Cozumel and Key West. One of the best, if not the best private island is Half Moon Cay. I took an excursion to Coba Ruins from Cozumel. The pyramid there is the only one that you can still climb. According to our guide you can no longer climb the pyramid at Chichen Itzua. We had 2 1/2 hours at the ruins. The ferry ride to the mainland was 30 each way and the bus ride was 1 1/2 hours each way. At Key West, I toured Hemingway House and we had lunch at Two Friends -- shrimp and key lime pie. Back at Fort Lauderdale we did a tour to Sawgrass Mills Mall. Thought there would be tons of people doing last minute shopping the Sunday before Christmas -- not so. We bought a few things. The second week the ports were Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, St Maarten and Half Moon Cay. We were at Grand Turk on Christmas Day but we enjoyed the pool and the beach. I took an excursion on St Maarten to the French side on a downhill trek of 2 1/2 miles down through the tropical forest. It was quite interesting, but the walk was very difficult and some little ants managed to find me and I have many ant bites. We were almost finished the walk when the rains came in a torrent. Those (including me) who did not have rain gear got soaked. Although usually there are very few children on Holland American ships (it seems so) during Christmas week there were 250 children registered with the children's program. They were not a problem. Also, during Christmas week there were large families travelling together. There was one group with 28 and an other with 19 that I knew of. Santa Claus even made an appearance for the children. I noticed that there were more teenagers and young adults (20-30 years) on board. Quite a different mix than one would expect on Holland America. Overall, it was an excellent cruise and our neighbours also enjoyed their first HAL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
For background, DH and are in our late 30's. We were traveling with our daughters, ages 8 and 10. We were also with my parents and aunt/uncle, all in their late 50s-early 60s. This was our first time on HAL, but have sailed on 12 ... Read More
For background, DH and are in our late 30's. We were traveling with our daughters, ages 8 and 10. We were also with my parents and aunt/uncle, all in their late 50s-early 60s. This was our first time on HAL, but have sailed on 12 previous cruises (2 on Royal Carib, 1 on Norwegian, and 9 on Disney). This was our 3rd consecutive Christmas cruise, although the two years prior were both on Disney. I've listed our review of the specific details below, but all-in-all, we thought the cruise was just ok. Nothing was terribly wrong, but nothing was great either. I had heard that HAL catered to an older, more "low key" crowd, but we just felt like there was an overall lack of energy or fun on the ship and we could hardly even tell in was Christmas. Ship/Cabin The ship itself, as well as our cabin, were well laid out and clean. We had two connecting VD cabins on deck 4 and found them adequate for two people in each room, but we would have been miserable if all 4 of us had shared one cabin. We liked that the balcony divider between the two cabins opened. We also really enjoyed the Crow's Nest on deck 10. It was the best public space on the ship. We also appreciated the sliding cover on the midship pool, since we had a lot of rain. The fitness center was one of the nicest I've seen at sea and seemed to be well used, although not too crowded. Dining The Lido was a nice buffet and generally speaking we thought the food was pretty good. The main dining room was also nice, but nothing special. Usually I have at least one dish on a cruise that I think is spectacular, but that didn't happen, although most things were good. Our service was efficient, but not especially friendly. Ports We loved all 4 of our ports (Half Moon, Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire). We did an off-road Jeep tour of Aruba that was the highlight of our trip. Our excursion in Curacao was cancelled due to rain, but HAL refunded the cost with no hassle. Entertainment This is probably where we were the most disappointed in the cruise. We found very few activities onboard that were fun or interesting. Generally speaking, most of the music around the ship was targeted at a much older audience and we often didn't even recognize the songs. There were a ton of technology classes that seemed popular, but they didn't teach anything we didn't already know. I barely cook at home, so the Culinary Arts center wasn't of interest either. It was so bad that we ended up buying a deck of cards and playing in a conference room one night. The highlight of all the entertainment was the Talent Show that the Club HAL kids put on. We smiled and laughed and had such a good time watching them! Kid's Club (Club HAL) All in all, I think Club HAL was pretty good. After 9 Disney cruises, my kids expectations are pretty high, so they would say it was dull, but it met my expectations and was similar to what we experienced on NCL. Both of my kids were in the "Tween" group which was 8-12 year olds. There were 250 kids on our sailing, but only 50 in the Tween group, although I never saw more than 25 kids in the Club at a time. Most of the staff seemed attentive and interested, but my kids said they seemed happy to get rid of the kids when it was time to close. The activities were pretty basic - mostly video games and arts & crafts, but my kids made some friends and had fun. The highlight of the week was the Talent Show. All the kids from ages 3-12 were invited to participate. They did magic tricks, dances, skits, and sang songs. My kids loved participating and it was so fun to watch!! Christmas As I mentioned above, this was the 3rd year we sailed for Christmas. In all fairness, the past two years were on Disney and no one celebrates anything like Disney. However, we really felt like we missed the entire holiday on this cruise. It felt very "un-festive." Don't get me wrong, the ship was decorated, there was a tree in the lobby, and the crew wore Santa hats on Christmas day, but generally speaking, Christmas Eve and Christmas day weren't any different than any other days at sea. I certainly didn't expect HAL to have all the Christmas activities that Disney has, but something was missing. After some thought, I really think this is much more related to the passengers than anything HAL did or didn't do. The HAL crowd simply isn't the "festive" type and I felt it on our cruise. Summary So the ultimate question in a review is "Would you do it again?" For us, the answer No. The only way we would sail HAL again is if it was a very port-intensive itinerary and we got a really great price. We definitely wouldn't sail with HAL at Christmas again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Sorry for the long review We usually sail on Carnival, but went with Holland American this time because of the itinerary and deal. Brooke, our travel agent, knows exactly what we like and do not like but took a chance on booking us a ... Read More
Sorry for the long review We usually sail on Carnival, but went with Holland American this time because of the itinerary and deal. Brooke, our travel agent, knows exactly what we like and do not like but took a chance on booking us a VH guaranteed room at a great price. A week before the cruse we were assigned a room and it turned out to be a VB room aft. What a great room. Holland American has a great selection of items that you can pre-purchase. From drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to on board credit, coffee cards, soda cards and even casino chips. This was great in pre cruise preparations. We were able to purchase our soda and coffee cards along with a picture package and not have to worry about having it on our final bill. We didn't use all of our speciality coffee card and the balance was credited to out final bill. this was sooooo nice, The cards wre waiting in our stateroom as soon as we arrived. Amazing! We traveled the day before the cruise and stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North. The hotel was easy to find, right off 95 and 15 minutes from the port. We had a vey nice room with a king sized bed. Plenty of restaurants within driving distance and the staff were very helpful in providing directions to the local drug store and grocery store for last minute supplies. We had breakfast at the Moonlite dinner, just up the road from the hotel and went to the port. Not knowing how long it would take we left about 9:30 and arrived at the Park and Go in fifteen minutes. The Staff at Park and go were extremely helpful and courteous. I reserved the parking on line and received a coupon for $8.99 per night. Out of the car, on their bus and 5 minutes to the ship. Check in was easy because we were one of the first people their. They began boarding and we were in our room at 11:30am. No kidding, the room was available at 11:30, it was great. Being used to Carnival, I was in awe of the Westerdam. It was beautiful and elegant. Everyone was friendly with a hello or good morning and they were all eager to help. My fellow Cruise Critics were helpful when they said that it would not be stuffy. It wasn't. Lido resturant was excellant, like a fine dinning area. The first 48 hours the staff will serve you. this is to help cut down on cases of Norovirus. I understand and completely agree. It only slows down the service a little. You get your food and grab a seat, the waiters come by and will bring water, coffee, tea, iced tea. Another waitress will come by to see if you want someting from the bar, soda or other selections. Tables are always kept clean. It was excellant. Christmas Eve dinner was formal and was great. All the dinners were great. Smart casual was the dress, polo shirt and pants. Formal was suit and tie. For the people who didn't want to dress up the Lido restaurant was great and nicely made up. Not like what you would see on Carnival. Holland American does "On Deck for the Cure". A 5k walk to support brest cance research. A good crowd took time out of thier day and did the walk, it was great. There were also religious services almost daily. We had midnight mass on Christmas Eve and a Christmas Day mass. It was really a nice way to help celebrate the holiday. All I can say is Amazing!!!. The ship, the crew, the atmosphere everything AMAZING! Even departure, We filled out our intentions the first few days onboard and received out directions the night before. You are assigned a 15 minute window and a colored tag. It made it go so smooth. We were assigned 8:30 -- 8:45, got down to the gangway at 8:30, the Park and Go bus was there as soon as we stepped out of the terminal and we were on I595 going home by 9:00. Amazing cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Background: my wife and I booked an 8 day Caribbean cruise on the Holland America (HAL)Westerdam since this was our first Christmas without our grown children. We have cruised on Carnival and Norwegian several times, but this was our first ... Read More
Background: my wife and I booked an 8 day Caribbean cruise on the Holland America (HAL)Westerdam since this was our first Christmas without our grown children. We have cruised on Carnival and Norwegian several times, but this was our first time with Holland. As a scuba diver, I wanted to take this cruise so that my wife would see my favorite Caribbean island, Bonaire. Pre-cruise- we originally booked directly through HAL for a Superior Guaranty balcony suite for $1,299. We upgraded from a Superior balcony to a Deluxe balcony room after receiving an Holland email offering a $199 upgrade. (Great upgrade!). Ft Lauderdale: We flew Southwest airline (bags fly free!) and stayed overnight at the Sheraton FL Beach resort ($65/nt Priceline) located about 1 mile from Port Everglades. Tip: reserve wine and champagne online from Total Wine & More Ft Lauderdale and pickup your order on the way from the airport or to the cruise terminal. Embarkation: an easy taxi cab ride ($20) from the Sheraton to Pier 19 at Port Everglades where the Westerdam (and many other ships) was docked. Curb side baggage support was good, but keep an eye on your box of wine/champagne. We only waited 10 minutes in the "Priority" line to check in and immediately boarded the ship. Cabin: We splurged for a Deluxe Verandah suite on the Rotterdam deck (7th floor) and across the hall from the Neptune Lounge. The cabin was clean and available to us as soon as we boarded the boat at 12noon. The suite was very large (5-700ft) with seating for 6 adults inside and outside. The other benefits of the deluxe suite included the dual sink, bathtub & shower, separate dressing area for my wife, daily flowers and fruit, FREE laundry and dry cleaning and daily breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. Neptune Lounge- the lounge was across the hall from our room and was available from 7am-8pm daily. The concierge's Margaret and Jane were very helpful with everything from dinner reservations, excursions and hand carrying our wine to the main dining room. Initially, we were very concerned that the other suite guests would be snooty, but we were pleasantly surprised. Dining- my wife and I enjoyed breakfast in the Pinnacle grill, especially the lox and bagels! We prefer the main dining room (MDR) versus the Lido deck and the MDR food was fantastic compared to NCL! The service was fast and friendly from the Maitre D, waiter (Kosi) and Wine waiter. We really enjoyed the formal night (dress varied from sport coats, suites to tuxedos) and the food was fantastic. Entertainment- we really enjoyed the entertainment variety on HAL, from classical violin's, piano bar, casino, to the Vista lounge. Ports- we enjoyed the 4-wheel jeep ride excursion on Aruba, particularly since it rained that day and was fun driving through the muddy water. We walked around downtown Curacao and then rented a car for $52/day from Budget car rental in the Renaissance hotel next door to the cruise port. We toured the back roads of the Curacao island and enjoyed the small beaches and Boca National Park. As expected, Bonaire was the best of the three islands since its the best scuba diving. Summary- we really enjoyed our first cruise with HAL and will definitely choose HAL again in the future. We consider HAL to be much classier than Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and HAL appears to be focused on serving you rather than up selling you. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Starting off my expectations were a little tempered with this cruise for a few reasons. Mainly that we were travelling with elderly relatives, inlaws, 10 month old son...you name it. So obviously this wouldn't be our normal ... Read More
Starting off my expectations were a little tempered with this cruise for a few reasons. Mainly that we were travelling with elderly relatives, inlaws, 10 month old son...you name it. So obviously this wouldn't be our normal "relaxing" trip. On top of that was the slightly tempered hesitation about sailing a line perceived to cater to the retired and not families with young infants. Some of these worries were realized...many were not. The Good: Let me first say as we just got off the ship yesterday...I could not have been happier with most of our experience with the Westerdam. Nearly all of my fears about the actual ship and line proved to not be true. A lot of this MAY have been because we cruised over a holiday(Thanksgiving) but the notion that somehow this line thumbed there nose at family cruisers is simply not true. This leads me to my next and most important praise. The staff. The staff on this ship were something we had not experience in any other line or on any other ship. In past cruises we have always had great experiences with staff but not in ALL areas. The staff on the Westerdam were just truly one of a kind. They always remembered who we were, what we liked to eat, our names, our sons name heck I think they must be required to take notes. This wasn't just a few staff this seemed to be anyone who had ever run into us. Truly amazing. Not only was this a wonderful experience but all staff need to go through whatever training HAL provides in how NOT to pester guests into buying things..(drinks of the day etc) the staff was just great and I think this is what stood out the most on this cruise. The OK: The only things im going to bring up here regarding a few minor hiccups that need to be noted or they too would have been considered great. First off the Food. The food in the main dining room was fantastic. The wait staff well see the above points. The only misses here arent deal breakers but need to be noted. The room service wasnt good. It wasnt terrible, but it wasnt good. Also the Thanksgiving dinner was a bit of a let down. I do of course think this is because they only make this dinner ONE day a year and clearly arent experts in Americana homestyle Turkey day dinners. No deal breaker but worth noting. Secondly and lastly, photographers, photographer availabilities and their seemly archaic system of organizing their pictures. We could rarely find them to get family pictures taken. Having taken a cruise on NCL and seeing the face recognition system at play and organization by room numbers the HAL system is just so 1990s lol. Our final night was filled with an hour trying to locate our pictures in large stacks marked by post it notes only to find that the ships printer was down and some photos were missing from their files. What a downer. Finally the Bad: Traveling with large extended families, inlaws, parents etc...lol jk jk but in all seriousness the only things that kind of irked me in the end was the way some people held a sense of entitlement on this cruise more so than others. It could be the age group that was represented but there were a few snide comments about bringing kids on a cruise and allowing our child to come to a formal dinner. In all honesty our son was very well behaved and when he wasn't we took him out of the dining room. AND in MOST cases everyone loved all of the kids on board. but there were just a few rather rude vocal exceptions....anyway. All and all given all the variables it was a wonderful experience and we would sail HAL again. PM me if you have any questions about cruising with an infant on the vista class ships. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
I wanted to treat the whole family on a Caribbean cruise during the Thanksgiving holiday. Holland America is our favorite line and chose the eastern Caribbean itinerary because it included good beach stops for the younger ones. Our age ... Read More
I wanted to treat the whole family on a Caribbean cruise during the Thanksgiving holiday. Holland America is our favorite line and chose the eastern Caribbean itinerary because it included good beach stops for the younger ones. Our age group ranged from 76 (me) to 12 my grandson. Grand Turk is a fantastic stop for all ages, great pool at the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville where we rented a cabana around the pool which worked out very well, giving us a meeting place to store stuff, etc. Puerto Rico was fun, we just hired a bus right outside the cruise terminal for $10 each and got a full 2 hour tour of San Juan and surrounding areas. The group used the cruise line to book a catamaran boat for a snorkeling and beach excursion on St. Marteens and were very happy with the trip, lunch, etc. Don't try to walk from the cruise ship to St Marteens shopping area, the water taxi is only $6 round trip and runs constantly. We had balcony staterooms which were nicely decorated, clean and roomy enough for sleeping and showering, the balconies extended the feel of the room and by opening the partitions between balconies gave us some party room. I found the food to be very good, meeting everyone's taste, including the cheeseburgers that were provided to the 12 year old in the main dining room when the menu was a little to fancy for his taste. all in all a great family vacation that satisfied the veteran cruisers and the new kids. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
We always wanted to go to the south pacific and this was an affordable cruise with Holland America an round trip from San Diego. We had a great time visiting all the ports and overall enjoyed the cruise. However, we will not be cruising ... Read More
We always wanted to go to the south pacific and this was an affordable cruise with Holland America an round trip from San Diego. We had a great time visiting all the ports and overall enjoyed the cruise. However, we will not be cruising on this line again do to the demographics of the ship. If you are over 75 this is the cruise for you. Fellow Passengers: The passengers were definitely seasoned cruisers as the brochure states. We knew that the typical demographic was 50 plus. This cruise attracted passengers that fit a demographic of 75 to 90 year olds. Many people joked that this was a floating nursing home. Lots of wheel chairs, walkers and electric scooters on the ship. My husband and I do have our AARP cards however, were surprised by the age group of the passengers. We did not have much in common with the majority of our fellow passengers. Overall people were friendly and we made some new friendships. Dinning: The food was great on the ship lido and the dining room. Varied menu items. Quality was good. The only snacks available in the afternoon were deserts in the Lido. No healthy foods like yogurt, or cottage cheese or veggies. The lido also closed early at 8:00 pm then late night snack from 10 to 11 pm. The service in the lido was poor. Wait staff did not pick up the dirty dishes in front of you. Many times I had to bus our table. The service in the dining room I would rate poor. One evening I had to chase down the waiter as he forgot to take my husband's order for dinner. Food did not come out of the kitchen consistently. When ordering food sometimes more often than not, the people's food came out at different times. By the time I finished eating my husband was just being served. There is an opportunity for additional training for the wait staff. Italian Restaurant, Canaletto was fairly good it is similar to the leading chain restaurant and is not gourmet Italian fair. It was not worth the 10 dollars per person. Steak House, Pinnacle Grill -- We found that we did not need to make a reservation at this restaurant we just walked in and were seated. This steak house did not meet our expectations. The cost was $20 per person. We ordered steaks -- filet and rib eye. The rib eye was tough very hard to cut my husbands appeared to be baked not seared rare. They had to be using a lower grad of Sterling Beef. I was expecting an experience like we get when we dine at Motrin's or Ruth's Chris steak house, USDA Prime Beef. When you spend $45 for a steak you get the best. We sent our steaks back and our money was refunded. Public Rooms: We did not care for the layout of the ship -- it was very compartmental. Not open like other cruise ships. The pool area most of the time had the cover closed it was like a sauna. People would get there early and sleep in the lounge chairs all day. We spent most of our time out back of the ship at the pool. Cabin: Our inside cabin was extremely small -- the bed just fit and we had one small chair with a table. The space for clothing ext.. was limited. It would be good for a 7 day cruise but, not for a 30 day. I felt like we were hiding in the closet. I have stayed in inside cabins but never one this small. We did not spend very much time in the room so it was not that big of a deal. SPA and Fitness: The gym was adequate plenty of machines etc.. However, you had to pay extra for boot camp, spin and yoga. There were no cardio classes available -- aerobics or zumba. It was extremely hot in the gym and the staff was asked several times to turn on the air conditioning but, they said they asked the captain and he would not change the temperature. Shore Excursions: We did not purchase any shore excursions from Holland. We found them extremely overpriced. We purchased our excursions in the ports from the locals. Tendering was a challenge -- long wait times to get off the ship. Some were 1 hour from the time you got your number to get off the ship. Once again do your homework - if you are used to the FUN SHIP this is not the cruise for you. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
The Westerdam: The Atrium was puny, the shopping on board was minor. The artwork was unimpressive. The food at dinner was far different from the beautifully presented meals we were served seven years ago on the Zaandam. It reminded me ... Read More
The Westerdam: The Atrium was puny, the shopping on board was minor. The artwork was unimpressive. The food at dinner was far different from the beautifully presented meals we were served seven years ago on the Zaandam. It reminded me of the food on our most recent cruise on the Carnival Legend, mostly food that I would cook at home for a nice dinner. The lounges, library, spa, dining areas were all clean, attractive and seemed to include plenty of space. We never felt crowded on the boat except perhaps at night in our stateroom when the sofabed was pulled out. We saw a few shows including a magician and a Beetles "sing along" which we enjoyed. Overall nothing about the ship was outstanding or unusual. The crew around the ship were almost universally friendly when spoken to, although I never saw the captain wandering the boat. Our room steward was friendly and seemed happy to see us each day. Our dining stewards were super busy and could barely serve us dinner in the two hours we allotted each night. They also never had time to chat. Perhaps that was because we were on a holiday cruise and the ship was more full than normal? I don't know. Shore Excursions: At Grand Turk my sister paid $29 per person for the ship's snorkeling excursion at Governor's Beach which left at 7:30 a.m. - far too early for us. Her family saw few fish and snorkeled for only about an hour. We took the island tour for $59 per person. There was little to see beyond a few hills with tropical vegetation, a lot of boarded up homes damaged by Hurricane Ike, several new homes, a few donkeys and goats and the landfill. Upon our arrival at Governor's Beach we noticed that few were snorkeling. Most were enjoying the sunshine on beach chairs which we did as well. I'd advise guests at Grand Turk who want a beach day to stay at the cruise port which is much like a day at Half Moon Cay. You can walk on the ship for lunch but enjoy a lounge chair on the sand and swim or snorkel there if you prefer. At San Juan we took my mother in her wheelchair on the free shuttle to El Morro which has its stop 1 between pier 3 and 4. (We were surprised that we had to walk to the west toward pier 3 after crossing the street based on maps we had seen of the shuttle route which indicated that stop 1 was to the east of pier 4.) The ride was interesting since the shuttle was full of Puerto Ricans on holiday. We enjoyed listening to their Spanish exchanges with the driver as they hopped aboard. El Morro, although not handicapped accessible in any way, was still a great destination for us. My husband and I took turns going up and down from the main floor while accompanying my mother where she could go. All of us enjoyed the fortress and the views of the San Juan Cemetery next door. We took a taxi back to the port for $10 - probably too much but with the wheelchair we did not know what to expect. We easily hailed the taxi after we waited at the shuttle stop for a return shuttle for what seemed like a long time. At St. Thomas we took $69 shore excursion which included the ferry to St. John plus an island tour. This was the most scenic part of our trip and by far the best shore excursion we purchased. Our guide, a 30-something mother and her six-year-old son along due to the holiday we assumed, were delightfully informative and articulate. At the Annaberg Plantation stop in the National Park, a volunteer peeled and served sugar cane. I cannot say enough about how impressed we were with the vistas from St. John. All of us would like to return there for a week's stay to hike and snorkel. We were surprised by how easy the boat ride over was and previously had feared getting on any small boats from our cruise ports. After the Cruise: Our shuttle driver from Hyatt Place North who dropped us at the port advised us that after the cruise a long line of taxis would be available to return us to the airport and that the cost should not be more than $12. When we walked off the boat and headed to the right where taxis were waiting, a man with a vest with "Taxi Dispatcher" on it assailed us and asked us if we needed a taxi. We answered in the affirmative and I asked the cost to the airport to which he answered $15. I did not feel the need to argue over $3 so I agree and he guided us to the third or fourth taxi in line. The dispatcher seemed to want a tip and we had no singles, so we agreed to tip the taxi driver for both of them. Upon arrival at the airport the driver told us the charge for the drive was $20. I told him that the dispatcher had told us $15 as I handed him a $20 bill and that I thought a $5 tip on a $15 fare was quite good. He told me that he would not argue with me, but . . . It was easy to get a cab and much less expensive than the cruise line transportation to the airport at $17 per person, but be careful to negotiate the price before you get in a cab. Maybe ignoring people with a "Taxi Dispatcher" vest would be good advice also? Summary: We had another wonderful family cruise, and were glad that we paid a very low price for what we previously thought of as an "upscale" cruise alternative since their prices are frequently a little higher - Holland America. After cruising with Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Holland America I would not in the future pay a premium for a Holland America cruise, at least not on the Westerdam. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
My wife and I just concluded a New Year's cruise on the Westerdam (departing Ft Lauderdale on December 27, arriving back on January 3). It was a pleasant cruise but not a stellar one; as I wrote of the holiday cruise we took on the ... Read More
My wife and I just concluded a New Year's cruise on the Westerdam (departing Ft Lauderdale on December 27, arriving back on January 3). It was a pleasant cruise but not a stellar one; as I wrote of the holiday cruise we took on the Volendam two years ago, I would consider traveling again on Holland America but would certainly consider other lines as well, and would make my decision largely on the basis of factors such as price and itinerary rather than any compelling desire to cruise on HAL again. EMBARKATION was quite well done. While I had read somewhere that it started at 1pm, by noon lunch was already being served on the ship. We arrived shortly before noon and were on board in about fifteen or twenty minutes. The only off-putting note was the baggage handler at the pier who demanded a tip before I even had a chance to reach into my pocket. I was tempted to refuse on general principles but then wondered if I would ever see my bag again if I did so. PORTS: Our first stop was at Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos. There is an extensive cruise center at the pier consisting of shops, a pool and a (pretty, but somewhat rocky) beach, and so, we were told, many people never go anywhere beyond that. We had, however, opted for a snorkel/sting ray shore excursion. After boarding the boat and getting to the coral reef where we would be snorkeling, the skipper announced that the waves were too rough to accommodate snorkeling and we would proceed to the sting ray area, a deserted beach. When we got there, the waves were also bad and the water so cloudy that it was difficult to see even inches in front of your face. One of the guides did find a ray and brought it briefly out of the water for everyone to see. The operator then announced that the tour was officially cancelled (which at least meant we would not be charged) but since we were on the beach anyway we might as well stay for an hour or so and enjoy ourselves. Given that the weather was obviously beyond anyone's control, I thought this was about as good an outcome as could be expected; it certainly contrasted favorably with my experience on a Royal Caribbean cruise a few years ago where a snorkeling excursion off Key West should have been, but was not, cancelled, and even though snorkeling proved essentially impossible, no refunds were given by the cruise line. In the afternoon, my wife and I took a ten-dollar cab ride to the pretty historic downtown of Cockburn Town, where we killed an hour strolling around and buying beautiful shell stamps in the local post office. Next port of call was Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. This was the first time the Westerdam had docked here, and in fact this was the first time any cruise ship this size had. The local townspeople were obviously glad to see us; there were parties going on at both the pier and the downtown. At the pier there were colorful native dancers, a person giving away literature and free caps, and displays with free samples of delicious local food, including a pig roasting on a spit. (There were also free soft drinks, always a welcome sight for those who don't like paying two dollars for a can of coke.) The main square downtown was also alive with activity, including free internet access (another welcome sight for those who don't like paying the ridiculous amount of money HAL charges for slow internet service on board.) Free walking tours of the town were also offered. The enthusiasm of the townspeople, however, seemed not to be shared by the Westerdam personnel, who offered minimal shore excursions and minimal information about the town, and did not even bother telling passengers that there would be these parties going on. The third port was St Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands. We took a cab to town and then after walking around and shopping for awhile found a very nice tour company (the proprietor's name was Raymond; he and his mother did the driving) who for 25 dollars took us on a two-hour tour of the island and then left us on a good snorkeling beach for two hours. We stopped at Sapphire Beach, but Raymond said it would be too rough for really good snorkeling, so after letting us take pictures there, he took us to Secret Harbor, a more sheltered and very picturesque beach where we had pretty good snorkeling (along the rocks on each side of the beach) as well as good swimming. This was probably our most successful day ashore. After a day at sea, we arrived at Half Moon Cay, the private island for HAL. We arrived at it and looked at it, but that was all we did- wind and waves were acting up here as well and the captain cancelled our stay there. This was particularly annoying to us since we had booked another snorkeling excursion here to replace the one we missed in Grand Turk, but we recognized that the captain couldn't be blamed for the weather- a recognition that was missing in several other passengers, who seemed to act like it was Holland America's fault that the water was too rough. In view of the disappointing weather conditions it is difficult for me to evaluate the ports. I suspect Grand Turk could be very pleasant if snorkeling or diving was possible, and I also believe that there are some nice beaches within a reasonable distance from Mayaguez, though in other respects the town seems like a fairly unusual choice for a port of call (and is apparently not one that HAL is planning to go to with any frequency; according to HAL's website the next time one of their ships stops here will be December 22, 2010.) St. Thomas has a lot to offer- scenery, shopping, and beaches. All told, I was more impressed with the itinerary we took in 2007: Panama, Costa Rica, Aruba, Curacao, and Half Moon Cay. DINING: This is, of course, what most people look for in a cruise. The food on the Westerdam was plentiful and of pretty good quality, though looking back I doubt I can point to any one entree as being superlative. Breakfast was served in both the main dining room and the Lido buffet (for some reason, freshly squeezed orange juice was available in the latter but not the former). The same options were available for lunch, with the added option of pretty good hamburgers and hot dogs from the Terrace Grille. I had most of my breakfasts and lunches at the Lido, where service was faster; however I did have a few lunches in the dining room to take advantage of chilled fruit soups, which I particularly like and were not available in the Lido. Dinners were also served in both the Lido and main dining room, but I always used the latter venue for this meal. I never ate at the "premium" restaurant and so cannot comment on whether dinner there is worth the extra fee. The food in the dining room was generally good, though I was a bit disappointed with the menu for New Year's Eve, which I thought should be extra-special and really was not. I think the Westerdam made a tactical error in serving, as their version of surf and turf on this evening, steak and lobster cake; I heard several people grumbling after dinner that HAL had gotten too cheap to serve real lobster. (They in fact did serve real lobster tail the very next evening.) I also had the impression that the wait staff in the main dining room was stretched a bit too thin; the waiters were certainly pleasant enough and eager to please but service was sometimes a little slow. I definitely believe, however, that they were trying their absolute best and any slowness was a consequence of the large number of people they were being asked to accommodate. ENTERTAINMENT: I thought the shows on the Westerdam were curiously unbalanced, with a heavy emphasis on singing and dancing. Only one show during the week was comedy. All the shows were, I thought, of average quality. DISEMBARKATION is usually the most annoying part of a cruise, not just because it means the cruise is ending but because it usually entails a cattle call of people being herded off the ship. HAL does it right, however: you can stay in your cabin, comfortably, until the time you have been assigned to leave, and then you leave with minimal waiting on line. Once off the ship in Ft Lauderdale there are long lines for customs, but that probably can't be helped. OVERALL: If I were rating this cruise, I would give it a B, recognizing that some of the reasons for this are due to circumstances beyond the control of the company. Overall, I had fun, I'm glad I went, and I would go again, but the trip fell short of being the kind of dream vacation that HAL constantly says they want to provide. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Sun Nov. 22, 2009 Leaving Ft Lauderdale We boarded the Westerdam, without any problems. We have been on 3 HAL cruises, this one was the speediest. Once onboard we had the option of going to the Lido Lounge on Deck 9 or going to the ... Read More
Sun Nov. 22, 2009 Leaving Ft Lauderdale We boarded the Westerdam, without any problems. We have been on 3 HAL cruises, this one was the speediest. Once onboard we had the option of going to the Lido Lounge on Deck 9 or going to the Neptune Lounge on Deck 7 since we had a suite. We opted to go to the Neptune Lounge and were informed that the cabin 7048 would be ready about 1:00pm. As you have to wait until 1:00pm for your cabin, why board earlier. I spoke to Angelo, steward in charge of the Neptune Lounge, informed him of the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet for the 11/22/09 HAL Westerdam Cruise Critic tomorrow at 10am, gave him the list I had of the attendees and their cabin numbers and he sent out invitations on HAL letterhead; I had received information and helpful suggests on the Meet and Greet from Serendipity and Hallover (cruise critic names). When we got to our cabin the bed was made as a queen, I informed the steward and was informed it would be rectified by 7pm. What was different this time was the fire drill. We were informed to show up at the designated place without lifejackets. There was a sailing away party where the stewards gave h' dourves. Before that I went to the Lido restaurant on Deck 9 for a sandwich then to the Terrace Grill for a hotdog; what is going on a cruise without having a hotdog? We had supper in the Vista Dining Room on deck 2. At 7pm there was a Welcome Party for Verandah suites in the Observation Lounge. I went to the show tonight, the Entertainment Team; they were talented. Mon Nov 23, 2009 at sea Our cabin was the Deluxe Verandah Suite type and one of the perks was free laundry service. We all know there is no such thing as free, but this is how it is billed. At 7am each morning, before I got ready for the day, I put my laundry outside for pickup as it would be ready the next day. Today I went to the Lido Restaurant on Deck 9 for breakfast. Today was meet and greet in the Crow's Nest on deck 9 at 10am for the roll call for cruise critic members although anyone could attend. At 9:58 the only people in attendance were Bob and I and I was concerned that we would be the only ones. Low and behold others arrived and we had over 20 attendees. We even had people show up that did not reply. An area was blocked off in the Crow's Nest for this get together. As far as I was concerned it was very successful. HAL set up 20 cups, regular coffee, decaf coffee, tea, cookies. Some people even brought their own coffee. I had lunch in the Lido Restaurant on deck 9. Then I went to the Future Cruise area on deck 1 to put a $100 deposit on a future cruise. Next I went to the digital workshop for two classes - A New Window To You World at 2:30pm & Show And Tell at 4pm. Tonight was formal night so I went back to the cabin to change into my tux. Then went to dinner in the Lower Vista Dining Rm. One comment about dinner, service is slow. There are normally 2 shows each evening, 7:30pm & 10pm. Seldom do you make the 7:30pm show when you show up to eat at 5:15, for most I left early in order to make the early show. Many people agreed that the service was slow. But then again you are on a cruise. Talking about food, there is too much of it. You can constantly eat. The Lido Restaurant hours are 6:30am - 11am, 11:30am - 5pm, 5:30pm - 8pm, 11-12pm. They serve pizza which I hear from other passengers, is very good. I attended the 10pm show, Captain Edward G. van Zaane had a welcome toast and introduced his officers and as with other HAL ships I've been on, someone came out with a big bottle, I was sitting in the front row and was the recipient a ton of confetti. The performance by the Singers and Dancers was superb. Tue Nov 24, 2009 Grand Turk Bob & I had a quick breakfast then took the Conch Tour at 9am offered by HAL. This was a very informative tour. Yet although this was interesting, I did not think it worth the price. I was speaking to Chris who runs the Digital Workshop and he said at the ports we go to, you can't go wrong with beach activities. The beach at Grand Turk is at the end of the pier where the ships dock. If you go ashore as early as possible, you will have your pick of beach chairs with shade. Back at the ship, at lunch a couple informed me of an offering the Spa has for a weekly price that includes a heated lounge, use of a sauna, use of a steam bath, whirlpool, and shower message. I told them I was on the cruise for next week also; they said maybe the Spa would cut me a deal. Well they did cut me a deal; $200 for the 2 week period. Deal; there is no such thing as a bargain with HAL. But this would prove advantageous. After a hot, humid day, you end up in the Spa area taking a shower right before supper. It is refreshing and well worth the price. I do not know what the charge is for couples, but it is less expensive than a single. We finished dinner in time to see Joel Mason. He usually does a takeoff on Elton John but the Cruise Director Jason Venner said Joel was not feeling well earlier today and there was talk about cancelling the show so Joel played various guitars as well as the piano. There is one thing I will say about Joel. There are ways to work an audience and Joel knows how to do it. He brought the house down or the house brought him down, Joel was fantastic. Wed Nov 25, 2009 San Juan Bob & I took the rain forest tour at 9am offered by HAL. We were warned in advance to bring a rain jacket, I ended up purchasing them for $4 at a rest stop prior to entering the rain forest. When they say rain forest, they are not kidding. And the views; the bus went to the top; breathtaking. We made about 4 stops, 15 - 30 minutes each and got back to the ship about 3pm. I went to the Spa, then to supper in the Lower Vista Restaurant on deck 2. Tonight I ate with a couple from Canada; he is retired and used to be a police officer. What pushed him into retirement was the 9/11 World Trade Center. At 7:30pm in the Queen's Lounge on deck 2 there was a Mama Mia movie sing along. Great audience participation. Then I went to the Explorer's Lounge for awhile to listen to Adagio Strings then to the show at 10pm in the Vista Lounge on deck 2 with comic Joe Yannetty who put on a very good show. At 11:15pm in the Vista Lounge there was an Indonesian Crew Show that was very good. I later asked the guitar player where he practices; in the cabin was his reply! Thu Nov 26, 2009 Philipsburg, St Maarten Bob & I had a small breakfast in the Neptune Lounge. The pier at St. Maarten is long and it is one heck of a walk from ship to where the tour begins. This stop was the highlight of all the islands; perhaps it was the tour we chose. In "ports of call" "Caribbean" St Maarten", Bernard's Tours got rave reviews; so I chose him. We met at 9am and the tour left at 9:30am, there were 10 of us in the van. Our first stop was Orient beach at the point where nudity is on one side, clothing on the other, but there are topless walkers on both sides. I had been there before, but last time was a ship tour and we were at the beginning of the clothing side. This time I took a beach chair for $15 (last of the big spenders) for 1.5 hrs use. After 2 hours, we drove to a beach on the Dutch side where there was water, the beach, the road, then an airplane landing field, and next to this was a restaurant with photographers viewing; we viewed a 747 landing, the strip is that large. The landing wheels of the airplanes are about 30-50 feet above the bathers. Bernard was going to stop at a Dutch mall that sells expensive souvenirs but the vote was no, by all the people on board the van so he continued to an open air market. Most of the van decided against stopping here, but the few ruled so Bernard gave us 15 minutes. We made a stop by the old town, which is near the ship, most of the van got off. We arrived back at the ship about 3pm. Supper tonight was in the Pinnacle Grill on deck 2. This restaurant costs $20, turkey was not on the menu here but was on the menu at the Vista Dining Room. Tonight's show in the Vista Lounge on Deck 2 was Eric Buss, a comic and magician. He was not as good as last nights, the audience expected better and did not get it. However, I was able to make the 7:30 & 10pm shows. Tonight the Dessert Extravaganza in the Lido Restaurant between 10:30 - midnight (chocolate). As I am on a diet, I went to the Lido just to observe. Fri Nov 27, 2009 at Sea Bob & I went to the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast. This is one of the free perks allowed Deluxe Verandah Suites. I next went to the Hudson room on deck 3 to hear future cruise consultant Vladka talk about Alaska; I have been there and should have gone to the Crow's Nest on 10 where Cruise Director Jason was interviewing Joel Mason. At 10:30am in the Vista Lounge, Cruise Director Jason presented a Disembarkation Briefing & Crew Farewell. I would have gone but have been to these before. Someday I would like to take a 30 day cruise, someday. Bob & I had a lunch for the mariner's society in the Vista Dining Room. Then I went to the Digital Workshop on deck 3 for classes at 1 & 2:30pm. It was near 4pm, so I went to the Spa then back to the cabin to dress for formal night. Tonight I wore my white dinner jacket. If I did not take the tuxes, I could have taken a smaller suitcase. At the table tonight in the Lower Vista Dining Room on deck 2, I spoke to one couple at the table the husband was a lawyer who was thinking about retiring; difficult for lawyers to do. The other couple, he is a mailman that will retire a year from now. Tonight at 7:30 & 10pm Stage & Screen by Westerdam Singers and Dancers; the entertainment was great. After the 10pm show was over I went to the Lido Restaurant on deck 9 for a late night snack. Sat Nov 28, 2009 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Bob & I ate at the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast again, then I went to the Digital Workshop on deck 3 for the class on "insert photo here". All the Digital Workshop classes are free. I was going to go ashore but there was a wait. Perhaps I did not want to go ashore bad enough. So I took a lounge chair on deck 9 and read. At noon went to the Lido Restaurant on deck 9 for lunch as the Vista Dining Room on deck 2 was closed. Then at 3pm I went to the Spa. At the Vista Dining Room on deck 2 for supper tonight there was the Master Chef's Dinner where the stewards danced, sang, and juggled as they served the meals. Then at 7pm I went to the Queen's Lounge on deck 2 for the Club HAL Talent Show (about 300+ kids on the 11/22 cruise). One act had 2 adults holding a tube with a child in the center. Various kids came to her asking if she had Hershey Bars, Kit Kat bars, etc. The answer to all was no. Finally one kid came up & asked "what kind of candy bar do you have"? Two suckers on a stick was the reply. Another skit had a boy, and various kids came up asking where he got his shirt, hat, etc. JC Penny was the reply. Next another boy came out wearing a towel wrapped around his waist; he was asked whom he was. JC Penny was the reply. There were other skits; the whole talent show had by HAL personnel. Then the Marriage Show Game again in the Queen's Lounge at 9pm. This is always fun. One couple was married 68 years with 69 a few weeks away. Some questions Cruise Director Jason apologized to the couple. At 10pm in the Vista Lounge on deck 2 for Joel Mason & Friends; a great show as usual. Sun Nov 29, 2009 Ft Lauderdale The end of the 11/22/09 cruise and beginning of 11/29 cruise for us as we are doing back to back. Bob & I had breakfast in the Vista Dining Room. Then I went back to the cabin to sort the numerous papers given us for week one, most of which I threw out. The back to back passengers were told to meet in the Vista Lounge. Our baggage was left on the ship. From The Vista Lounge we were escorted off the ship, made our way to Customs (a zero count is required for Customs purposes), then back on the ship. The whole procedure takes about 1 hour. Also leaving the ship were the Cruise Director Jason, the Captain, the entertainment team remained as well as Joel Mason but the others left being replaced by comedian Julie Barr. Lunch in the Vista Dining Room was Indonesian. For an entrEe we were served soup which I found to be very spicy; I noticed one lady putting cold water in it. I noticed this too late, as mine had already been returned. The lunch itself was not bad. Then to the Lido Restaurant on deck 9 for a snack and the Lido Pool area to read. At 3pm I went to the Spa; supper in the Vista Dining Room. At the Crow's Nest on deck 10 at 7pm there was a Welcome Party for the Deluxe Verandah Suite passengers. It was here I met Michelle who is going to host the 11/29 meet and greet. Her cabin is 7046, a Penthouse Suite; mine 7048. Next the Game Show at 8:30 with Cruise Director Keith Fox in the Queen's Lounge followed by the Welcome aboard Show at 9:30pm in the Vista Lounge with Cruise Director Keith Cox and comedian Julie Barr. Mon Nov 30, 2009 Half Moon Cay Bob & I had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill then we took the tender ashore for HAL's Glass Bottom Boat Ride of 1 hour duration. I view it as a lazy man's way of snorkeling. There is a barbeque on Half Moon Cay but I returned to have lunch in the Lido Restaurant on deck 9, Lido Bar area to read, Trivia in the Crow's nest at 3pm. I went to my daily Spa at 3:30. Dinner tonight in the Vista Dining Room on deck 2 then saw juggler Thien Fu at 7:30 & 10pm. HAL could have done better. Tue Dec 1, 2009 Grand Turk Bob & I had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, and then I went down to the future cruise consultant to make another back to back and cancel the one I had made. I met a man a few days ago who said that sometimes he takes a cruise then extends it 1 week while on board, he said that cruise lines will give him a cabin if one is available, they would rather sell a cabin than have it go empty. So that is what I am thinking; take a back to back for 2 weeks, bring medication for a month, then see if I can extend the cruise a week while I still onboard. I'll look into cruises when I return, but as I usually cruise solo, I will pick a ship based on single supplement. I went ashore to see what the shops had to offer then returned to the ship for lunch in the Lido Restaurant on deck 9; then the Spa about 3. Tonight was formal night and I did not wear the tux, just another jacket I packed, slacks, and tie; supper in the Vista Dining Room on deck 2. Tonight was the Grand Tour and Captain's Welcome Toast. What I liked about Captain Peter Harris is that when he introduced the ships Officer's, he gave a breakdown of each is responsible for. But tonight, unlike last week, the large Champaign did not bombard me with confetti. There entertainment by the Singers and Dancers of the Westerdam was very similar to last week. I did not notice that much of a difference between the Captain this week versus the Captain last week. But the Cruise Director this week had more experience than the Cruise Director last week. Wed Dec 2. 2009 at sea Bob & I had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grille on deck 2. Then I went to the future cruise consultant on deck 1 to see how crowded cruises are in Jan. Next I went to deck 3 and walked the perimeter of the ship. The Captain invited Bob & I to the Pinnacle Grill for lunch. I left early to attend the Windows 7 Workshop in the Crow's Nest on deck 10 and left early to go to the Spa and hurried with that as I had the 4pm Meet & Greet with Michelle in 7046. Michelle did all the work though, I just attended. Captain Peter Harris, Cruise Director Keith Cox, and other crew members were also there. I have to agree with another review that the Captain and Cruise Director were personable and would always say hello. Supper tonight was in the Vista Dining Room but I left early to attend the 7:30pm show with Joel Mason in the Vista Lounge on deck 2. Joel uses audience participation to his advantage; his show tonight was a tribute to Elton John and was good as usual. Then the Marriage Game in the Queen's Lounge on deck 2 and Cruise Director Keith Cox ran it a bit different. He took a newlywed couple, a couple that had been married about 25 years, and a couple that had been married about 55 years. Next was the Joel Mason show at 10 in the Vista Lounge. After that Julie Barr for Late Night Adult Comedy in the Vista Lounge. She was funny and again audience participation, some of it not planned. Some of the remarks by the audience were so funny you could not make it up! Thu Dec 3, 2009 Grand Cayman Bob and I had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill on deck 2. I then went to deck 3 and took a walk outside in the heat & humidity. As usual there were people jogging or walking fast. I went with Bob to the Pinnacle Grill, got the meal free for signing for a future cruise. I did not go ashore, read instead near the Lido Pool on deck 9. To the Spa on deck 9, then to the cabin to change for supper. I wore boat shoes, no socks, and long pants that zipper to short pants. As I got down to the Pinnacle Bar I noticed people in formal dress. I asked and was told that tonight was formal night. Well I was not about to return to the cabin and change, instead Bob & I were going to the Pinnacle Grill. The steward told us that it was formal night, jackets were required, and proceeded to give us jackets. Now this is interesting; my brother asked for 2 lobster tails and was told the extra entrEe would cost $20. However in the Vista Dining Room there is no limit & no cost. Tonight was the last performance by the Singers and Dancers as they were leaving the ship Sunday. Last night Joel Mason told us that this would be great. It turned out to be roughly the same as last week with the addition of Joel Mason who was with the group when they first performed. Joel Mason was in the audience, front row, and I saw next to him. Fri Dec 4, 2009 Costa Maya Bob & I had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill; I got there early as the clocks were set back, and ended up reading to kill time. I met a man from Florida who has his own business repairing air conditioners and has not taken a vacation in years. This is the first cruise he has taken and he likes HAL because he was upgraded cabin wise, says the cruise cost him about $50/day. Last night at formal night in the Vista Dining Room, he and his wife had 3 lobster tails each. He said back home this would cost him about $200. I had a Spa appointment at 9:15, it cost $99. Earlier this week I asked them about the $99; they knew nothing about it. Last week they had the special so I figured they would have it again this week. For $99 I got a back rub, facial, head rub, feet rub. They put certain good smelly cream on you but I ruined it by taking a shower. From where the boat docks to land is about 1/8 mile walk. There is transportation but we were in port with another HAL ship. Besides the walk did me good; I browsed around the various shops looking for a deal, did not see one, so returned to the ship. Lunch in the Lido Restaurant on deck 9. Went for my daily Spa at 3pm then supper in the Vista Dining Rm. Tonight for entertainment there was the Mamma Mia Movie Sing Along in the Vista Lounge at 5:45 & 8pm, the Game Show at 10 pm in the Queen's Lounge and the Filipino Crew Show at 11:15pm. Tonight was also the Dessert Extravaganza in the Vista Dining Room, chocolate this and chocolate that, I had to say no as I was still on a diet? Sat Dec 5, 2009 at sea Bob & I ate at the Pinnacle Grill on deck 2 for breakfast; then back to the cabin to pack and I managed to pack most of my stuff. Then I attended one of the classes in the Digital Workshop as I wanted to ask Chris the email address. There was the Disembarkation Briefing & Crew Farewell in the Vista Lounge on deck 2, I caught a few minutes of it but went to the Lido Restaurant for a bite to eat, however they were closed, setting up for lunch. So I went down to the Vista Dining Room for lunch, then back to the cabin to change to my bathing suit, next to the Lido Pool on deck on 9 to read. At 3pm I headed to the Spa for my daily workout, then to the cabin to change for supper. Now I don't know how I did this. Bob wanted to meet me in the Lower Vista Lounge on deck 2, but somehow I managed to sit in the Upper Vista Lounge on 3. The steward eventually came to me and said I belonged in Open Seating on deck 2, but the table insisted I stay. After dinner I went to the cabin to do more packing then attended the Family Karaoke Fun at 8pm in the Queen's Lounge. At 10pm there was the Farewell Variety Show with Joel Mason & Friends. This was not to be missed. Back at the cabin I put my #1 suitcase out for pickup. My carryon will be packed tomorrow. Sun Dec 6, 2009 Ft Lauderdale Bob & I were going to eat in the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, but we got there early. We were told yesterday that they would open at 6am but they were to open at 6:30am. Disembarkation was a breeze mainly because when Bob flies or with cruising embarks or disembarks he uses a wheelchair and crutches. We stayed in Ft Lauderdale Sunday night. Observations: There was talk that the Casino lacked payouts The food was excellent; plenty of it. Something was going on all the time; as a matter of fact, too much. Sometimes they overlap. The Digital Workshops I mention are all free. Chris is there from about 9am to 8pm. There is hand sanitizer throughout the ship. A tux is not necessary, just a jacket and slacks and tie. I would not consider wearing anything less, but this is me. Laundry is available; it is free to those staying in Suites, but for others the cost is $45 for unlimited laundry for 7 days, unlimited pressing $30 for 7 days. Yes there is internet service $100 for 250 minutes. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
My husband and I booked this cruise last January at a cruise show sponsored by our travel agent. We are in our early 50's and have cruised before (2 Carnival and 2 Royal Caribbean.) Stress levels have been high for us the past couple ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise last January at a cruise show sponsored by our travel agent. We are in our early 50's and have cruised before (2 Carnival and 2 Royal Caribbean.) Stress levels have been high for us the past couple of years, so our cruise goals were to "get away from it all" and relax and be pampered. Since activities and ports were not our prime concern, we chose this cruise primarily based on dates and ship amenities. We drove to Fort Lauderdale from the Charlotte NC area, leaving a day early and staying at the Cocoa Beach Doubletree (a "freebie" with my Hhonors points). We were quite satisfied with our overnight stay there. We had a good night's rest, a leisurely breakfast, and finished the drive to Fort Lauderdale. I had prebooked Park-n-Fly through the HAL website at a GREAT rate ($82 for the entire week). They were efficient and courteous, and we arrived at the port about 1:00. This was absolutely the fastest, easiest embarkation I have ever experienced. No lines - and we were not waylaid by photographers as we boarded. We were on the ship within minutes of being dropped off. Our stateroom (4081) was well-appointed and comfortable, a bit smaller than I had expected, but offset by a larger bathroom with a tub. The luxurious bed, soft comfortable robes and the wonderful Elemis toiletries provided were a great perk and very conducive to relaxation.. Even though this room is a "fully obstructed" (a lifeboat blocks the view), the floor-to-ceiling windows let in lots of light and quite a bit of seaview. Our room stewards Allen and Taufik were attentive and efficient - couldn't have asked for better. The Westerdam is a lovely ship, well laid out and easy to get around. Travelers who expect glitz and lots of activity (such as we experienced on our last cruise - RC's Adventure of the Seas) would be disappointed, but it was perfect for our cruise goals. Our favorite spots were the Crow's Nest/Explorations Cafe, the aft pool deck , and the quiet observation deck. We did enjoy participating in the trivia and bingo conducted by Jazzy, the DJ. We had fun, met some nice people, and won some "Dam Dollars" . On our first day we had bought a Thermal Suite pass ($250 per couple for the whole week) which proved to be a good value, as we did not spend much time in port We had main (early) fixed-seating dining, which was the upper level of the dining room. The table layout seemed crowded, and the long rectangular tables impeded socialization among tablemates. Food choices were good , with some entrees better than others (Mahi was passable, prime rib was very good, steaks varied in quality and flavor). I found their appetizers, salads, and soups to be excellent, and truly one could make a meal of these. The dessert menu offered some interesting choices, including a cheese tray. Our dining service team, Waiter Gusti and assistant Eca were wonderful, as well as our wine steward Antonio. We did breakfast and lunch in both in the dining room and the lido - the food was fine both places, with the dining room option offering the opportunity to meet and socialize with new tablemates.. We found the layout of the buffet to be a bit confusing, and the difficulty in navigation was worsened the "no tray" policy. We did okay working in tandem but I'm not sure how solo diners or those assisting children would manage. The best lunch was the hamburgers and fries from the Seaview grill - they were excellent. Our first port was Half-Moon Cay. We were the only ship in port. There were lots of family groups there; this was the most children I saw the entire cruise. We had pre-booked the Glass-Bottom boat excursion; the view was not as clear as I thought it would be, but we enjoyed feeding the yellowtails. We decided to go back to the ship early and enjoyed the thermal suite. After HMC, the seas became rough and the weather turned bad. I had a bout with moderate seasickness for the next a couple of days (this has never happened to me before). Even though I did not feel up to par, I was determined we would get off the ship at St,.Thomas, as we had pre-booked the Champagne Catamaran to St, Johns. We did get off the ship and visited a couple of shops, but we soon found out that the excursion would be able to go to St. Johns because of the weather. They offered a substitute trip or our money back; we too the money and ran - back to the thermal suite. We were in San Juan Christmas Day. It was raining and most things were closed, and we'd been to San Juan several times before, so we just stayed on the ship and relaxed. By the time we arrived at Grand Turk, I was feeling good again. We thoroughly enjoyed this port. There's not much to do there, but it's great for beach bums. We spent a couple of hours poolside listening to music and sipping drinks at Margaritaville, shopped for souvenirs in the shops, and then laid out on the beach under the palms. We found there to be adequate entertainment options in the evenings - and they were very good. We enjoyed the nightly shows, particularly the well-staged performances by the talented singers and dancers, several funny comic/variety performers, an excellent string ensemble, and Nathan at the piano bar. We would have liked to have seen some entertainment scheduledearlier in to day, such as a pool band mid-day or some strings or piano in the late afternoon. Our tablemates convinced us to go to the Pinnacle Grill on the final night. This was truly one of the most enjoyable dining experiences we have ever had. Service was impeccable. I had the fillet, my husband had the ribeye, and our friends had the surf & turf and the lamb - all were superb. We had the to-die-for chocolate soufflE for dessert and THEN the waiter brought out a delicious chocolate mousse cake (It was my birthday) with our coffee. The Pinnacle is not to be missed and is well worth the $20pp upcharge. This was the perfect capstone to an overall great cruise. Like embarkation, disembarkation was a breeze. Westerdam uses a "silent" disembarkation, with passengers leaving at pre-assigned times. Passengers can move about the ship as they wish until they disembark. No herding into lounges to wait interminably, and no crowded stairwells, etc. Customs was very efficient, and port personal were friendly and helpful. Park-n-fly came through again - their shuttles were waiting for us and handled a heavy crowd with courtesy and efficiently. In summary, I recommend Westerdam for those who want to relax and enjoy traditional cruising. I give Hal and\ A+ for efficiency and quality service, We will definitely do HAL and the Vista Class ships again. Read Less
Westerdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 2.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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