Just Back From the Westerdam

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237 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
The new Westerdam is a beautiful ship. We had a SS cabin, no. 8063. The room is spacious and the balcony is also. Check in went smoothly and we were on the ship by one o'clock pm on Sunday. Our room was not quite ready so we ate a sandwich on the Lido Deck. The food and the lay-out of the Lido Deck is just like the Zuiderdam and the Oosterdam. I thought that the food was a little better on the Oosterdam. We sailed on time at 5 pm.
On Monday we stopped at Half Moon Cay and the island is beautiful as always. The trees and foliage were damaged by the wind and salt water but have been restored nicely. I saw a lot of new palm trees that have been recently planted. The lunch on the island was pretty good.
The weather all week was nice. It was a little windy most of the time.
The dockage in Ocho Rios left a lot to be desired. We were not at the regular cruise ship dock. It looked like we were in a shipyard along with commercial ships. To get to the business district of Ocho Rios you either had to take a cab or walk along a busy road with no sidewalks. It was a really bad area and while we were walking we were constantly harrassed by people trying to solicit business. It was almost impossible to ignore them but we did kept walking and did not answer them. Even ignoring them brought rude comments. I would not go back into town there again.
The next day at Grand Cayman was not very pleasant either. There were 5 ships there and the tendering process was horrible. I heard several stories about why the Westerdam only had one little slip in the harbor but do not know the real truth so will not elaborate except to say that it was a terrible experience. We sat in the water in the sweltering head in a lifeboat for almost an hour while other tender boats had priority to unload their passengers. It was just as bad or even worse trying to get back to the ship. The line was long and our boats seemed to have no choice but to let the others go ahead of us. I felt so sorry for people in wheelchairs having to sit there in the extreme heat.
Cozumel was a lot better. We were docked at Puerto Maya. We were in port til eleven o'clock on Friday night so much of the crew had a chance to have some R&R. We did attend the deck BarBQue that night. The food was okay but not outstanding. There was nowhere to sit so we took our food back to our cabin.
The debarkation was a long drawn out process. Since we have a 9 hour drive home I went to the main office on Saturday and requested an early departure. On The Z and the O this request had been graciously honored. The girl at the main office on the W was not helpful at all. She just told me that everyone would be off the ship by 10 am. We were in the last classification of tickets to be called. It was 10:35 am when our ticket color and number was called. It was 11:15 before we were able to get a cab. All the cab drivers wanted to go to the airport. I guess the fare would be larger. We finally got a young cab driver to agree to take us to our hotel.
We had stayed at the Renaissance the night before the cruise and left our car there in their parking building during the cruise. The staff at the Renaissance are some of the friendliest and most helpful people that we have ever encountered. I would certainly stay there again and highly recommend the Renaissance.
Our cabin on the Westerdam was kept nicely by our steward. The beds are very comfortable. We also enjoyed room service for breakfast. The room service staff was very polite and friendly.
I do plan to write a letter to Customer Service at HAL about our cruise experience. Right now I am not sure that we will ever sail on HAL again.
112,581 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Thanks for the report.

In Ocho Rios - was the Westerdam docked at the freight dock?

We never had a problem with tenders in Grand Cayman in the past on HAL. I hope the situation changes by the time we cruise on her in Jan.

237 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
I don't think I am the right person to ask the question about debarkation. In retrospect I would have called customer service in Seattle before we sailed and would have checked with the front desk the first day of the cruise. When we were on the Zuiderdam and the Oosterdam those with early flights and handicapped were first off the ship. We were not first and did not expect to be put first but at least were given some consideration about the length of the drive on Sunday. Some people in wheelchairs got off at the same time we did yesterday.
About the dock in Ocho Rios, I am not sure what the name of the dock was. You could see the cruise ship dock from where we were out in the boondocks.
We did not have the option of self carrying the luggage off.
New York, NY
503 Posts
Joined Aug 2004

On the Zuiderdam last month you were able to carry off your own luggage if you wanted or if you missed the appropriate time to have it in the hall the night before. From what I've seen they give out the disembarkation numbers based on when your flight leaves, they know this information from your immigration papers you have to turn in when you board the ship at check in.
Somers, CT
47 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
We were just on the Zuiderdam with an 11:25 am flight. Had no pronem getting off the ship, cab, airport on time. In fact we had about 2 hrs to spare. When you fill out your debarkation questionare make sure you put down your departinig flight time, We had # 8, and were off by 9 am.
Reston VA
980 Posts
Joined Sep 2004

I'm so sorry I never got to meet you -- or didn't know it if I did. Met Vitamarion and Driftwood (and pearl10) from the roll call board, and had some good chats. We had a somewhat better experience at Ocho Rios as we took the river rafting trip. Aside from a longish walk to the bus, it ran very smoothly with very little "soliciting" and the rafting trip itself was wonderful. The tour bus had scheduled a stop in town, but several of us said we were too tired to shop so the tour guide had the driver let us off at the pier before heading for the shopping. Glad we didn't get off the ship at Grand Caymen -- my cabinmate had been there several times and thought the tours were a waste of time & money. She can't walk long distances and would have been extremely unhappy sitting in a wheelchair for all that time.

The only complaint we had was that foods that should have been hot were served lukewarm at best, both on Lido and in the dining room. The service was also less attentive than on previous cruises -- when something was obviously wrong -- cold split pea soup, for example, there was no offer to have it heated up or replaced with something else. The so-called pate, for example, was worse than canned, and several people at our table took only one bite. Waiter didn't ask anybody why, just removed the plates with no offer of another appetizer. One night service for the main course was so slow, one man gave up and went off to Lido.

The temperature of the food there wasn't much better. Three times I tried the breakfast sausage. Always cold. The food itself was okay, but Beth had the pancakes, which were not only cold, but so tough she had to cut them with a knife. Ditto the pizza.

Had we been able to get reservations after our first dinner in the Pinnacle, we would have eaten there the other nights. Excellent, and much more like cruise food as it used to be in the dining room on the best ships.

Of course I'd go again -- maybe in a suite next time. Veranda cabin was nice, but very small. Poorly laid out, with too little counter and drawer space.
Point of Rocks, MD
9,521 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Originally posted by anngie
I do plan to write a letter to Customer Service at HAL about our cruise experience. Right now I am not sure that we will ever sail on HAL again.
Because they wouldn't let you off early? Or were there other problems? It seemed from your posting that you liked the ship and the service from the stewards so I'm at a loss as to what made you decide not to go back with HAL....

Point of Rocks, MD
9,521 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Originally posted by Cruiser1260
Oh my, I have an 11:00 am flight out. Any hints on how to get into the first group off. Would they let you carry your own luggage off?
When you fill out the debarkation form, let them know the time of your flight (there is a space for that information) and you'll be accomodated.

237 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Dave, I gave the review a lot of thought before I did it. I did not include minor things that by the time of the end of the cruise had added up. I am glad that Gooselace posted some of them. I do plan to address some of those things in my letter to Seattle. I am not a complainer and usually go with the flow. However, this cruise was not up to my expectations and it was not just because of the way that my request to leave the ship in one of the earlier groups. When we sailed on the Zuiderdam and Oosterdam I felt a completely different atmosphere on the ship. I really do believe that the new tipping policy has made a difference. We have always tipped so it does not make a difference to us except that I do believe in rewarding a larger tip for better service. Now it is like a service charge. We did see a difference in the food too. A lot of the chicken tasted like the pressed stuff that you get from fast food places. The breakfast sausage was the pre-cooked kind. When we had attended the poolside BarBques before the dessert table was just great. This time it was an assortment of small cakes that were not very good. Gooselace, did you try the seafood pate? It was really bad. We did the Pinnacle Grill the first night. The food was good but the service was not all that great. The waiters were spread pretty thin so there were long waits between courses. I did get to sample the chocolate volcano cake. It was good. Overall, I would have to say that the cruise was ok but not special. The most special thing about the cruise was the bread pudding. It is as delicious as ever!!
I am not really into fashion on the ship too much but I did notice that there were 5 casual nights and wondered if the informal nights have been dropped. I did see shorts at night in public areas and never saw them on the O or the Z.
We have never sailed on Celebrity before and think we will try them next time. Gooselace, I would have liked to have met you too. I am glad that you enjoyed your excursion in Ocho Rios.
Winter Haven FL
3,340 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
IMO, these Vista Class ships are taking a beating about service and food quality. Sure hope HAL gets the message pretty soon.

We are looking at the eastbound TransAtlantic on the Westerdam for next spring. Your comments about your cruise give me pause.

Thanks for your report.
Reston VA
980 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
I certainly wouldn't dismiss the Westerdam and would probably take it again. We were told that many of the dining room staff were quite new to the ship and it appeared that there were too few of them.

I'm not sure what effect the new tipping policy may have. Some of the Lido and lounge stewards were very helpful and attentive and were rewarded with small cash tips, which seemed to be appreciated. I realize that 15% is added to bar bills, but where I live 20% is normal, so usually tipped an added $1 per drink. Same drink at the bar at Dulles Airport was $8.10 and my $10 bill didn't merit a return smile or nod, never mind a quarter back!
n/a Posts
We were on the Westerdam and had the tender from hell day experience. Everything seemed to go smoothly until Star Princess showed up. They were very agressive. Hogged and pushed our tenders out of the way. What a nightmare. There were 4 mega cruiseships plus us in that port that day. I was told that only 3 are allowed. We tried to shop but you could not move around in any of the stores. We found a small shop on a side street and went in to purchase 2 bottles of water. The shop owner was totaly exhausted and ready to close her doors for good. She said it was awfull.
We then stood in line for almost an hour in the sun and watch and waited for our tenders to show up. Luckily I had a big giant hat on.

By the way the same cruise ships joined us in Ocho Rios.


Unadilla, Georgia (@ Lumberjack's Campground)
719 Posts
Joined Jun 2000
I just checked the Cayman cruise ship schedule and it says we'll have SEVEN ships is port including 1 giant Princes, 1 giant RCCL, 2 giant Canrivores and 2 others Looks like a good day to stay on the ship!!!
Also checked Jamaica (their schedule is from 2003 ) and Cozumel (only goes out for one week ).
And the Port Everglades site doesn't work.
Cruiseclues port schedules
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237 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Marion, we may have been in the line in Grand Cayman at the same time. When I was sitting on the tender trying to get in to the dock I wished that I had never left the ship. I would really like to know just how this mistake was really made to have that many ships in port. There was no way that we could have known as passengers what was in store for us because the itinerary was changed so often before we cruised.
If there are going to be seven ships in the port at one time I definitely would not go ashore. It is just not worth it.
Colorful Colorado
7,035 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by Krazy Kruizers
We never had a problem with tenders in Grand Cayman in the past on HAL. I hope the situation changes by the time we cruise on her in Jan.
KK- We had the same problem last time we were in Cayman (August 2003) on the Zuiderdam. We sat in the tender for almost an hour, DH was sweating buckets by the time we got off - we had to buy him a new shirt - good thing Hard Rock Cafe was right at the pier. He got a new HRC Grand Cayman t-shirt.

DH and several of the other men opened most of the tender windows, even though the tender driver said not to open all, people were ready to pass out. It was August and extremely humid. People were even asking the driver to turn around and go back to the ship!

I hope your experience will be better.
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Annie was that you standing in from of us waiting forever in the sun to tender back? Looking back on that day the captain of our ship may have stop the tenders since Princess tenders were causing the dangerouse wakes on the pier. I will never go onshore to Grand Cay. again.
237 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
It very well could have been me. I did not buy a thing while in port at GC.
Just like you said the shops were a zoo. You may be right about the Captain.
The Harbormastor pulled rank on the officer from HAL who was on the dock and let the Princess tender unload. They were using the Grand Cayman tender boats and held 3 or 4 times as many people as ours. Our tender boats windows would not open. I thought some of the people were going to faint while sitting in the water for so long when we were waiting to dock.