We were delighted to discover that about 50% of the passengers were not from the U.S. We enjoyed meeting people from all over the world including Holland, England, Scotland, Malta, Italy, Belgium, Canada, and Mexico. Our dining room table group consisted of U.S., Dutch and British couples, and we enjoyed comparing our lifestyles and traditions.
We had been on the Zuiderdam last year, so we learned our way around the Westerdam very quickly. The interior decorating was toned down more to our liking. The artwork and fresh flowers were lovely. We noticed how the flowers on the tables in the Ocean Bar were the identical colors as the plaid on the fabric of the chairs.
The Queen’s Lounge is still a poor venue for movies because of its round shape. It worked better for the seminars such as the excellent talks on digital photography.
Our group from the Roll Call Board met in the Crow’s Nest right after the lifeboat drill. We finally put faces to all the names! Many of us “hooked up” during the cruise for independent sightseeing and on-board activities.
The ship is laid out so that you don’t feel that there are 1800 passengers. You just don’t see them. We never had to wait on line for anything, and there were always seats in the Lido Buffet and in the theater. The Lido does a great job of feeding large amounts of people. There are about 8 different stations with a great variety of food. We learned to walk around the entire buffet first - to check the posted menu for each station before making our decisions. The dining room was already closed when we returned to the ship after sightseeing in the afternoon, but we always found several lunch choices in the Lido.
Shore Excursions: Much has been written on the Europe Board about the pros and cons of the ship’s shore excursions vs independent sightseeing. It is really a matter of personal choice, so I won’t go into it here. I did hear some folks grumbling that the independent travelers could not leave the ship until after all the tours had departed. They had booked a car and driver for 9:00 a.m., but they could not obtain a tender ticket until 10:00.
Shopping: The Westerdam had the best selection of merchandise and gifts that I have ever seen on a ship. The prices were excellent. I bought a Skagen watch that was 50% less on the ship than in Denmark were it was made! Girls, check out the amber jewelry!
The entertainment on the ship was excellent. Even the revue of singers and dancers was very professional compared to other cruise lines where I found it rather amateurish. They performed 2 terrific shows during our 12-day cruise. We also enjoyed the male and female soloists, the illusionist, the comedian, and the two men who played one piano.
The food was of great variety and well prepared. Service was always excellent, even at breakfast and lunch when you didn’t have your regular waiters. The dining room staff was especially friendly and helpful. Our dinner in the Pinnacle was the best meal we have ever had on a ship.
Internet: I bought a package of internet minutes so that I could communicate with my family. The service was excellent except for when we lost contact with the satellite because we were north of the Arctic Circle. The service was also sporadic when we were deep in the fjords and surrounded by mountains. Be sure to purchase your internet package on the first day, as you receive 20 bonus minutes for doing so. There are about 20 computers in the Internet Center so there are almost always some available for use. It is open 24/7. There are also ports in the cabins and laptops available for rental.
In all, we had a fabulous experience on the Westerdam. I hope that others will add on to my thoughts.