Diappointment with the Westerdam

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#1
Oregon
50 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
We have cruised a number of times. This was our first on Holland America. Our ship was the Westerdam on the Panama Canal Cruise October 19 – November 2nd.. We chose to cruise with Holland America because it offered the Panama Canal transit cruise, it had a good reputation and we didn't care for all of the children we had experienced on Carnival. We had a balcony room on the Upper Promenade deck of the Westerdam (4035). We really enjoyed the canal transit and our visit to Cartagena Columbia, where we had arranged a private tour with Dora de Explorer. We had considered taking this cruise for a long time and unfortunately we were very dissatisfied with almost every aspect of the Westerdam and disappointed with our Holland America experience.


The room was dirty, stains and hair on vanity, blanket was stained and dirty, TV remote was filthy. Our room had a slow draining shower, and the toilet didn't flush correctly. A plumber was quick to respond, and fix the problem in the shower by removing debris. However, he did not contact the room steward to clean the bathroom and we had to call again to have the steward reclean the bathroom. The plumber could not find the problem with toilet and it never worked correctly throughout the cruise.


We had a stained blanket, which we repeatedly reported to the steward, which was never replaced (just turned over on bed!) The room had dirty worn chairs and couch, nicked and marred tabletops, frayed outdoor furniture, dirty, stained, torn, and frayed curtains, shower curtain was old and dirty, and old worn carpet.


The room was smaller than on other cruises, balcony was deep but narrow. The outside partition between the two balconies had a broken latch that was held shut by stuffing a towel between the partition and rail.


We experienced poor service from our room stewards. We seldom saw the stewards throughout the cruise, they never checked to ask if there were any problems or we needed anything. We had to contact the front desk to request anything. The room did have good air conditioning, the bed was comfortable, and the towels were nice.


Overall the food was good, but certainly not exceptional like we had on our other cruises. The buffet was not really a buffet, with food mostly being served by the staff throughout the cruise. Times of the buffet were too limited and items often not restocked or unavailable.


Ethnic food was bland, different Asian foods all tasted alike and were under seasoned, the pasta/pizza station and Mexican poolside buffet (a real buffet) were good, but again repetitive. The hamburgers were not very good, precooked and no variety over the two weeks.


Wine was extremely over priced for selection.


The Pinnacle Grill food and service was excellent, but the plastic covers on tables were cracked and showed through the tablecloths (so they looked dirty.)


All of the Westerdam staff were very friendly and polite. Unfortunately our service in dining room was sporadic. Room service was mostly on time and the food was hot.


Same as Carnival, tours were expensive and crowded. Both of HAL’s tours we booked were disorganized and lacking substance for the price. HAL's behind the scenes tour of ship cost of $150 per person which was ridiculously priced. The narrative while going through the canal was poor; it lacked information, the speaker was poor, clearly not an expert and it was impossible to hear as the ship’s sound system was terrible.


The Crows Nest (the bow viewing area and bar) was nice and overall the bars were less crowded than other ships we have been on. Alcoholic drinks were heavily pushed starting early in the morning throughout the cruise, promoting excessive drinking.

The casino was very small, tight (low payout) machines, poor selection of slots, no drink service. Like Carnival, the internet was expensive and only offered in select public areas. Ship shopping heavily pushed throughout the cruise, but all very expensive. Like Carnival the spa was very over priced. ..

Demographic of guests was a trade off of too many kids on Carnival with a very elderly crowd on HAL. It's either running screaming kids or very old folks blocking the aisles in walkers and wheelchairs.

Overall we felt that the Westerdam is very old and plain for a cruise ship. The entire ship needed lots of touch-up/repainting. The ship common areas were very run down. Furniture was worn and stained, the carpets were dirty, stained, and frayed. Tables in buffet were often sticky and not sanitized well. The Westerdam needs to be refitted with updated carpets and furniture throughout. The communication system on the Westerdam is very poor and could not be heard in our rooms, on balconies, on decks or on the television.

Entertainmentwas hit or miss, some good, some not so good, for example the "BB King Blues Club" group was excellent, comedian was not so good, magician was very good and professional. Cooking demos were cute, but not to the standards that were advertised by HAL. The Cruise Director was overly condescending at times.

Embarkation was very good. Rooms quickly available, and luggage quickly delivered. The debarkation was not. Organization, signage, and staff support on the disembarkation deck was lacking.


The quality of this cruise was definitely not worth the cost. We had such high expectations and were extremely disappointed with almost everything on the Westerdam and thus our cruise was not the experience we had hoped for.
#2
North Carolina
8,824 Posts
Joined May 2009
Thank you for your review. I am sorry that you were disappointed in you HAL experience. Cruising is very subjective. People tend to have certain areas of high interest (e.g. spa, dining, casino...). Sometimes when our area of interest fails us, it ruins the entire cruise.

I would have called head of housekeeping regarding the cleanliness of the room. I just don't like dirt, especially other people's. I would have struggled with this as well.
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#3
Ontario, Canada
1,153 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
I'm a self-diagnosed germaphobe, and walking into a dirty room like that would not make me happy either! But on the other hand, if people are starting to board at 10:00, realistically, what can one hope for in terms of cleanliness?
( I pack a small amount of my own disposable disinfecting cloths and windex in my carry on and will clean my own cabin all over again before I unpack and start to enjoy my vacation. Im pretty certain that there is not one hotel or cruise line out there, that would meet my standards). I know I'm crazy to do this, but it just gets me over that initial disappointment of a less than sparkling room.
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Trixiee
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#4
Rochester, NY
1,785 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
It's a shame that the cruise did not live up to your expectations. We experienced much the opposite when we sailed the Westerdam last December. We are going again in December and hope to enjoy the same great experience that we did a year ago. Time will tell.
#5
2,439 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
We were on the Westerdam Sept. 29 - Oct. 5 and the ship was in great condition including our cabin. We also heard no complaints from anyone. I doubt the ship went downhill during the two jazz charters that were between our cruise and OP's cruise. While we prefer the R and S class ships, we've much enjoyed both our Westerdam cruises.
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Jemima
#7
Beautiful Southwest
8,083 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
We did not care for the Westerdam either.
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#8
333 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
I too wouldn't think of moving into a cabin on any ship or hotel room without wiping down things that will come in contact with my hands. All knobs, pulls, handles, tv remote, light switches, etc. are wiped as soon as we enter the cabin, and again each day after the steward has cleaned. Takes maybe 5 minutes.
#9
Ontario, Canada
1,153 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Originally posted by twentyknots
I too wouldn't think of moving into a cabin on any ship or hotel room without wiping down things that will come in contact with my hands. All knobs, pulls, handles, tv remote, light switches, etc. are wiped as soon as we enter the cabin, and again each day after the steward has cleaned. Takes maybe 5 minutes.
Ahhhh! Soul mate!
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#10
North Carolina
8,824 Posts
Joined May 2009
Our local dollar tree sells
travel size packages of disinfectant wipes for one dollar. Fabulous bargain and helps to ease some of the discomfort of other people's germs.


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#11
9,407 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Demographic of guests was a trade off of too many kids on Carnival with a very elderly crowd on HAL. It's either running screaming kids or very old folks blocking the aisles in walkers and wheelchairs.
Maybe next time you see someone in a wheelchair or walker, you could consider them an inspiration. And hope to yourself that if or when you become in need of mobility aids, you still have the enthusiasm for life to continue travelling.
#12
Naperville, IL
13,358 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
Originally posted by lmentzer
We have cruised a number of times. This was our first on Holland America. Our ship was the Westerdam on the Panama Canal Cruise October 19 – November 2nd.. We chose to cruise with Holland America because it offered the Panama Canal transit cruise, it had a good reputation and we didn't care for all of the children we had experienced on Carnival. We had a balcony room on the Upper Promenade deck of the Westerdam (4035). We really enjoyed the canal transit and our visit to Cartagena Columbia, where we had arranged a private tour with Dora de Explorer. We had considered taking this cruise for a long time and unfortunately we were very dissatisfied with almost every aspect of the Westerdam and disappointed with our Holland America experience.


The room was dirty, stains and hair on vanity, blanket was stained and dirty, TV remote was filthy. Our room had a slow draining shower, and the toilet didn't flush correctly. A plumber was quick to respond, and fix the problem in the shower by removing debris. However, he did not contact the room steward to clean the bathroom and we had to call again to have the steward reclean the bathroom. The plumber could not find the problem with toilet and it never worked correctly throughout the cruise.


We had a stained blanket, which we repeatedly reported to the steward, which was never replaced (just turned over on bed!) The room had dirty worn chairs and couch, nicked and marred tabletops, frayed outdoor furniture, dirty, stained, torn, and frayed curtains, shower curtain was old and dirty, and old worn carpet.


The room was smaller than on other cruises, balcony was deep but narrow. The outside partition between the two balconies had a broken latch that was held shut by stuffing a towel between the partition and rail.


We experienced poor service from our room stewards. We seldom saw the stewards throughout the cruise, they never checked to ask if there were any problems or we needed anything. We had to contact the front desk to request anything. The room did have good air conditioning, the bed was comfortable, and the towels were nice.


Overall the food was good, but certainly not exceptional like we had on our other cruises. The buffet was not really a buffet, with food mostly being served by the staff throughout the cruise. Times of the buffet were too limited and items often not restocked or unavailable.


Ethnic food was bland, different Asian foods all tasted alike and were under seasoned, the pasta/pizza station and Mexican poolside buffet (a real buffet) were good, but again repetitive. The hamburgers were not very good, precooked and no variety over the two weeks.


Wine was extremely over priced for selection.


The Pinnacle Grill food and service was excellent, but the plastic covers on tables were cracked and showed through the tablecloths (so they looked dirty.)


All of the Westerdam staff were very friendly and polite. Unfortunately our service in dining room was sporadic. Room service was mostly on time and the food was hot.


Same as Carnival, tours were expensive and crowded. Both of HAL’s tours we booked were disorganized and lacking substance for the price. HAL's behind the scenes tour of ship cost of $150 per person which was ridiculously priced. The narrative while going through the canal was poor; it lacked information, the speaker was poor, clearly not an expert and it was impossible to hear as the ship’s sound system was terrible.


The Crows Nest (the bow viewing area and bar) was nice and overall the bars were less crowded than other ships we have been on. Alcoholic drinks were heavily pushed starting early in the morning throughout the cruise, promoting excessive drinking.

The casino was very small, tight (low payout) machines, poor selection of slots, no drink service. Like Carnival, the internet was expensive and only offered in select public areas. Ship shopping heavily pushed throughout the cruise, but all very expensive. Like Carnival the spa was very over priced. ..

Demographic of guests was a trade off of too many kids on Carnival with a very elderly crowd on HAL. It's either running screaming kids or very old folks blocking the aisles in walkers and wheelchairs.

Overall we felt that the Westerdam is very old and plain for a cruise ship. The entire ship needed lots of touch-up/repainting. The ship common areas were very run down. Furniture was worn and stained, the carpets were dirty, stained, and frayed. Tables in buffet were often sticky and not sanitized well. The Westerdam needs to be refitted with updated carpets and furniture throughout. The communication system on the Westerdam is very poor and could not be heard in our rooms, on balconies, on decks or on the television.

Entertainmentwas hit or miss, some good, some not so good, for example the "BB King Blues Club" group was excellent, comedian was not so good, magician was very good and professional. Cooking demos were cute, but not to the standards that were advertised by HAL. The Cruise Director was overly condescending at times.

Embarkation was very good. Rooms quickly available, and luggage quickly delivered. The debarkation was not. Organization, signage, and staff support on the disembarkation deck was lacking.


The quality of this cruise was definitely not worth the cost. We had such high expectations and were extremely disappointed with almost everything on the Westerdam and thus our cruise was not the experience we had hoped for.


I was on the same cruise and thought every aspect of it was great.
#13
Carolina Coast
3,836 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
Originally posted by lmentzer

Wine was extremely over priced for selection.

HAL wine prices are in the same range as ALL of the other lines we've sailed (not to say the prices are great but they're all the same)



Demographic of guests was a trade off of too many kids on Carnival with a very elderly crowd on HAL. It's either running screaming kids or very old folks blocking the aisles in walkers and wheelchairs.
I find it hard to believe there were hordes of walkers or wheelchairs blocking your every move - and not sure why, on a cruise ship, such constant rushing was critical (just sayin') ... and while I'm at it .... be careful ... "Karma's a Bitch" ... and you will be "elderly" before you know it

The communication system on the Westerdam is very poor and could not be heard in our rooms, on balconies, on decks or on the television.
Again, on none of the lines we've cruised do the announcements play in the cabins. Even on the Queen Mary and on RCCL's we had to open the cabin door to hear loud speaker announcements.
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#14
Lincoln, NE
2,487 Posts
Joined Jan 2001
Imentzer, so sorry you had such a bad experience on the Westerdam. We have sailed on her twice and we experienced no problems on either cruise. So happy we did not have the experience you had. You mentioned you have cruised a number of times. May I ask, which other cruise lines you have sailed?

Diane
#15
Oregon
50 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
In reply to a couple of you that responded. More power to the "old" folks still traveling. I'm happy for them, but had I known that the average age on this HAL crusie would be over 70, I might have had second thoughts. I saw one child under the age of 16 on the entire cruise...he must have been lonely for some his own age. Being old does not grant the right to be rude to staff and other passengers, cut in lines, be loud and obnoxious, block aisles and think they deserve special attention. Just consider my post as notice to future cruisers that my experience with HAL is that it is for the very very "mature" traveler and not for all.


I agree that wine prices are high on all cruise lines, but bottles selling for 5 to almost 10 times the grocery store prices is a bit much, and remember these cruise lines probably buy their goods tax free.


And, the comm system on the Westerdam was worse than on any of the other ships I've cruised on. None were great, but this one was worse.


For those commenting on the cleanliness of the ship, I agree, but more than anything, this ship was old and needed a ton of refit (furniture, carpet, painting, etc). Not just in our state room, but most or all of the public areas as well. We didn't have a good steward team, but others told me they did. Could have probably happened on any cruise line, but it was a first for us. We had none of these complaints on our other cruises.
#16
Oregon
50 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Legalslave, We've done the Mexican Riviere, Alaska, and the Caribbean. All on different Carnival ships. Our friends that we traveled with, who share my opinion of this cruise, have done six other cruises. The four of us have traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and North America. We do enjoy the occassiooal cruise.
#17
Eastern Pacific
1,413 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Originally posted by lmentzer

HAL's behind the scenes tour of ship cost of $150 per person which was ridiculously priced.

Overall we felt that the Westerdam is very old and plain for a cruise ship. The entire ship needed lots of touch-up/repainting. The ship common areas were very run down. Furniture was worn and stained, the carpets were dirty, stained, and frayed. Tables in buffet were often sticky and not sanitized well. The Westerdam needs to be refitted with updated carpets and furniture throughout. The communication system on the Westerdam is very poor and could not be heard in our rooms, on balconies, on decks or on the television.
1. Behind the Scenes Tour: I took this tour on the Westerdam this past summer and was impressed. Have to admit I've worked on cruise ships so I'm familiar with alot of what we saw, and did the tour for fun. To give passengers that much access to crew only areas was extraordinary, and IMHO, it was well worth the price. Besides having the chance to talk with engineers, Captain, bridge officers, environmental officer and other crew, lunch in the Pinnacle Grill was included. The tour guide was terrific and knowledgable and clearly had a good working relationship with ship's staff. We also received a generous "goodie bag" of HAL souvenirs. I have and will recommend this tour to anyone interested in how a ship truly operates (it will cut down on the whining, that's for sure !)

2. Condition of the ship: I was onboard one month prior to your cruise, and I had friends onboard shortly before you. The ship was immaculate in all areas...public and private. Granted the Westerdam just finished a very busy Alaska season and there may be some worn areas. If my friends (HAL and Crystal devotees) saw anything amiss, they certaily would have mentioned it.

The ship is far from "very old and plain" but I understand you have your opinion. It certainly does not have the glitz of Carnival ships, and rightly so. HAL and Carnival ships are designed for a different demographic and feel.

One question: when you spoke to the Guest Relations Manager about your problems, what was the response ?

And finally (and most importantly)...your comment about elderly people, walkers and wheelchairs was uncalled for and callous.
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#18
New Brunswick
45,750 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Thank you for your review.

I am sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your cruise.

We sailed the Westie last year happily and we were surprised by how much we enjoyed her as we typically prefer the smaller ships.

Our stewards were excellent as was the service in the MDR and the PG.

Such a shame that you did not receive the service we did.
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#19
Montreal, Canada
360 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
My husband and I, along with our daughter and son-in-law, disembarked the Westerdam on Saturday morning having enjoyed a wonderful 7-day cruise. We had a great time and I'm sorry to hear that everyone didn't have as much fun as we did. We certainly found nothing to complain about!


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