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big al

Help! Seeing lots of negative reviews and posts on Westerdam-convince me!

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Hey guys-My wife & I are sailing the Westerdam Thanksgiving week and have an SS suite.It's our first HAL cruise.We've done Princess(our fav),Celebrity(our least fav),Carnival,RCL,and NCL(2nd fav).As a PT cruise agent I wanted to try the new HAL ships-bigger,more modern,and we wanted to visit Tortola.

But lately I've read alot posts saying that service is poor,food is somewhat mediocore,and just some dissatisfaction amongst many of you.If you had a great cruise,please tell me and why.If you had a negative experience,also let me know..we are considering cancelling and doing either the new Caribbean Princess or the soon to be NCL Jewel....Thanks!

Big Al

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I'm beginning to question my decision to book the Westerdam too. When we booked in January, it came out very highly in the CC polls, but I've read so many negative reviews since, that I don't know what to do for the best. It's a bit difficult for us as we are flying in from England, so if we cancel and switch to another cruise line, we have a very small window of opportunity. We could switch to the Millennium (Celebrity), which leaves the same day, but we were attracted to HAL as for the first time ever could treat ourselves to a Suite. The suites on Celebrity were way too expensive.

 

I'm hoping that the majority of people who sail the Westerdam were happy, but just don't post!!

 

Sue

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We had a wonderful cruise on the Westerdam in early December. The food was very good and arrived hot or cold as appropriate and the service attentive at our table for two in the Vista Dining Room. The food was very good in the Pinnacle, although the service was not. The Lido food was also excellent and varied. I loved the new layout of the Lido. We had a veranda cabin, 5139, our room steward was efficient mostly and invisible. We would sail again on the Westerdam in a heartbeat.

 

We had a less than great experience with the HAL See and Sea excursion in St. Maarten, and the HAL shore ex staff and HAL HQ in Seattle were unresponsive to our complaints. (3 hour tour, no guide on bus to tell us what we were seeing nor any interesting facts or history about the island. Driver didn't even direct us to restrooms when we stopped in Marigot. Expected better for the $$ we paid.)

 

Enjoyed the Shore Ex to the Baths on Virgin Gorda while in Tortola.

 

Do not be deterred by the naysayers. The Westerdam is a great cruise ship and HAL is the best!!

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We had a less than great experience with the HAL See and Sea excursion in St. Maarten, and the HAL shore ex staff and HAL HQ in Seattle were unresponsive to our complaints. (3 hour tour, no guide on bus to tell us what we were seeing nor any interesting facts or history about the island. Driver didn't even direct us to restrooms when we stopped in Marigot. Expected better for the $$ we paid.)

 

I don't have Westerdam experience, but we had a similar tour problem a few years ago in Spanish Morocco. In our case we did have a guide but he didn't speak English - the trip was pretty much a waste of time. So many people compained to the Shore ex staff and that they finally gave ship board credit for those on that trip. So I guess persistance pays off.

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While still on board we requested a 50% refund, in writing, twice. No response. Shore Ex mgr. never contacted us. We also have written two letters to HAL very nicely requesting a 50% refund and giving a detailed explanation of what we thought was wrong and what we expected from past experience. First letter elicited a "thanks for writing, and we can't dictate how the contractors provide the service" response. Huh, I thought that was why you have a contract! The second letter, six weeks ago, is still unanswered.

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We were also on the Westerdam in December and I concur with what 2ofus states about the ship.

 

You have to remember that a very small group of people who sail on any ship are actually posters on Cruise Critic. Take what is said, either good or bad, with a grain of salt and form your own opinions. Don't cancel a cruise simply because a few people gave negative comments. Remember, all comments are "personal" opinions. There are different waiters as there are different cabin stewards - it's the luck of the draw.

SueOverend - you will like the suites on Westerdam. Make good use of the Neptune and enjoy!

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It's strange that I really haven't seen many negative reviews of the Westerdam. Everyone I know personally who has sailed her has only had glowing reviews . . . .

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We've sailed on the Westerdam in an SS and loved it. Had a great time. Don't know where you are seeing all these negative reviews. :confused:

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Had to jump in here. Have not had experience with HAL. What I can tell you is that we have been on Princess twice (Grand March 04, Sun March 05). In both cases we found negative comments prior to our cruise. (Sun more than Grand). In both cases we experienced exemplary service and felt many comments were unwarranted. The long and short of it? The experience is what you make of it-go, have a great time, bring home memories.

 

We have booked Westerdam for next March, and have no hesitation that it will be a memorable experience. We will take each comment with a grain of salt. (Although I must say-if HAL arranges shore excursions and no guide is available-they need to follow up. Shore excursions don't come cheap.)

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I was on the Westerdam 3 weeks ago. I posted my review here last week. It was my 27th cruise, but my first HAL cruise.

You just have to keep in mind that the review was from my personal experience, and your experience may have ben different. There were others on the same cruise that had great room stewards! (mine was less than stellar). I loved the ship and found it very easy to get around. I was somewhat disappointed in the food in the main dining room, but it was certainly OK and we did not go hungry! The Lido cafe was very good and had many choices.

I was really diappointed in the evening entertainment. THe big production shows were pretty good, but there was not a whole lot to do after that main show. There were no evening trivia games, which I really like.

So, I would go back on HAL in the future and give it one more try!

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I was on the Westerdam eastern Carib. 3/6-3/13 and had a great time. No, it wasn't perfect but I would go again on HAL and the Westerdam for another vacation. Biggest plus for me was the crew which was always smiling, friendly, and eager to help. Cabin steward great, dining staff good (but seemed hurried to deal with all their tables), Lido great setup and food. Pinnacle great food and service.

 

About the biggest negative I would have is that food, particularly portions, in main dining room was sometimes not what I would have expected. Not a big complaint as I was trying not to overeat. But 3 thin slices of Chateaubriand do not make an entree. Also 3 shrimp do not make a shrimp cocktail and 2 oysters do not make an Oysters Rockefeller appetizer. Pitiful lobster tail.

On the other hand steak entree was nice size and prime rib was a good serving of tasty beef. To all those who will post and say I could have ordered multiple appetizers/ entrees, I already knew that. It's just not my style, interrupts the food flow, and as I said I was trying to not overeat.

 

If I felt the overall cruise was average or bad, I'd tell you to cancel. But it really wasn't. Don't worry you'll enjoy it. P.S. HMC was absolutely great. Puts Disney's private island to shame.

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I was the writer of the "Live from the MS Westerdam Thread" Yes there were some problems and more than we have had on our previous 3 HAL cruises. but it was still 100% better than RCL. As I tried to express our previous HAL cruise was on the Ryndam and it was our first Suite. We felt like royalty a lot having to do with being a lot smaller ship and less suite passengers and a wonderful Captain that really loved his passengers and crew and it really showed. Ninety percent of the time the food was wonderful but there were just a few occasions that it fell from HAL's normal.

 

The Westerdam is a beautiful ship and most of the crew are extremely friendly. There are many of us that just like to report exactly what happened and that is not to say that it was totally bad or that when you board the same thing will happen. I do believe that HAL does read these boards and tries to correct what they can.

 

I really think you need to try HAL it really is a great cruise line, you are not going till November and a whole lot of things can be different by then.

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A request from a cruise agent to convince him to cruise...

 

for what it is worth this board is arranging a group cruise aboard the Westerdam. It does not appear that any negatives have deterred them.

Have a great cruise!

Cheers

MarkB

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We were on the Westerdam in January and had a wonderful time. Our cabin steward was fantastic and every request was taken care of immediatly. Our experience in the dining room was also wonderful. The food was better than we had expected after reading these boards (this was our first cruise). Our servers did a great job with everything arriving at the proper temperature, prepared as requested and special requests handled quickly without any issue (one night one of the people at our table ended up ordering 3 different entree's!). The food in the Lido for breakfast and lunch was great and the selection very good. Room service was excellent and the Pinnacle Grill was also fabulous. We booked all of our shore excursions through HAL and had no problems.

 

The only negative about the entire cruise was a large group who took over certain areas of the ship at various times. Even that did not detract from our enjoyment.

 

All of the above being said there were folks on the same cruise who thought service was lacking, the food poor and generally had a miserable time. Service is going to vary depending on who your server is, what's going on in THEIR life at that time and your attitude towards them. Tase of food is very subjective so who's to say how YOUR taste compares to the person posting the review.

 

I think it all comes down to individual tastes, and attitudes.

 

Go with an open mind and you will have a great time.

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Hey guys-Thanks for the quick replies....Vegas-I felt like you had several or more dissappointments on the Westerdam,but reading your reply it looks like you nevertheless enjoyed your cruise.We are not picky eaters,and I understand service can sometimes be spotty on cruises..I have had 90% good-to-great service on my 8 cruises so far.Entertainment is a plus for us-on Celebrity(Mercury),the entertainment was awful-I had neighbors that could do better.One night the ENTIRE show was a violinist sitting on a chair for 60 minutes!!Food & service was fine,but really no great shows to talk about....is it true the Baths excursion is pretty difficult?My wife does not swim,so if the water gets above the waist,it's a no-go for that.I hear Virgin Gorda is beautiful..any tips would be great..and thanks again guys & gals-looks like right now I'll still do the Westerdam....

 

Big Al

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big al,

 

I will be on the Westerdam for two weeks, for both the Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings, just prior to your cruise. I'll almost certainly file some reports from the ship, so if you watch this board you'll have a report just prior to your cruise as to how the ship and crew are doing.

 

For what it's worth, I'm not really worried about the Westerdam. I've been on cruises where some people had major complaints while I, my party and table, had a totally different -- a very positive -- experience. I do know that, sometimes, things do not go as good as one would hope; it's happened to me on a cruise or two. In most of those instances, it's a particulate thing -- it's not the whole ship, or all of the service, just a localized problem ... localized regarding which staff, which tables, and which cruises.

 

One must also remember that some people view a scrap of paper in a corner of a lounge as being evidence that the ship is a garbage scow. So ... be very careful in reading hyperbolic statements as if they were gospel. I'm not saying that this is the case here; just be sure to weigh all reports.

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My wife and I were on the Westerdam 3/6-3/13 . It was an excellent cruise. Our only complaint is that it had to end. Our cabin guy was great. He kept our cabin spotless and well supplied. The crew was very friendly and always helpful. The food was very good, portions adequate. The Pinnacle Grill was great! We ate dinner in the Lido a couple of times, very good. We didn't book shore excursions at all prior to the cruise. We just played it by ear, worked out well. We felt the entertainment was good, better than on the Oosterdam last year. Hey, it's cruise ship entertainment, my expectations aren't too high. The ship is beautiful and well appointed ( whatever that means ). We found the ship board activities to be fun. We did not do too many of those. I did win a game of Bingo! A real highlight. You can find a lot of things to do on board. We spent a lot of time just relaxing. St. Martin and Tortola were great. We mostly hung out at the beach. Half Moon Cay is beautiful. We did the horseback riding. It was fun. Probably not too much fun for experienced riders. I recommend the Westerdam. I can't imagine not having a great cruise.

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I think we always have to remember that when reading these boards, you'll often see the negatives pointed out more than the positives only because the positive is what is expect from HAL. So when people say something wasn't quite right they're working down from 100%.

 

Never over-analyze your decisions. If you read everything you can find on any ship you're going to go positively nuts.

 

As CDRMark said, we're planning a group cruise on the Westerdam in 2006. I don't think so many would be deciding to do that if we had any doubts about the ship or the line.

 

Something is always going to go wrong no matter what vacation you take. It's how you feel overall that counts. I wouldn't even hesitate if I were you.

 

And be sure to come back here and let us know!!!:D

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Thanks everybody for your very reassuring comments. We always make the best of things and are not easily upset, so I'm sure we'll have a great time. I think I spend too much time on this board, reading every review. I like to be prepared for every possibility. I really should save some suprises for the cruise, but at this rate, I'll know where every chip of paintwork is missing and every stain on the carpet!!

 

We'll stick with the Westerdam, and I promise to write my review when we get back (which is December!).

 

Sue

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We've been on the Westerdam twice, in the Med last May and the crossing from Barcelona to FLL last November - and loved both experiences!

 

It's a beautiful ship and we found it very comfortable. We thought the food was very good - I especially like the wide choice of entrees and the Lido food stations.

 

There were some minor service issues in the main dining room but it was no biggie. We were fortunate to have a great table for six with interesting tablemates - which is usually the case on HAL.

 

We've been on all three Vista class ships and Westerdam's our favorite. We've also been on two of HAL's smaller ships.

 

The Vista class hold 1848 pax at two per cabin - far fewer than many ships the same size accommodate.

 

Go with an open mind and remember that you're on vacation - explore new places, meet new people, relax and have fun.

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Where the heck are all the negative reviews? I just visited the C-C review page for Westerdam. Out of seventeen reviews, the overall rating is 3.7 out of 5.0. Nine rate it 5.0. Nothing worse than 3.0 (three of those).

The C-A review page has one negative review out of five recent ones.

 

Negative? - Fuhgeddaboudit.

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Stevesan,

 

I don't think it was forma "reviews" but, rather, the jabber on the board. Problems from a few cruises were being lifted and magnified. Sometimes people do that -- heck, *I* did that -- when we get concerned about a cruise or a ship.

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Stevesan,

 

I don't think it was forma "reviews" but, rather, the jabber on the board. Problems from a few cruises were being lifted and magnified. Sometimes people do that -- heck, *I* did that -- when we get concerned about a cruise or a ship.

 

Jabber is so without value that it certainly shouldn't inform anyone's vacation plans. Much of it makes about as much sense as Lewis Carroll's Jabberwock:

 

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe

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THe only thing that concerns me, Big Al, is that you say your Celebrity cruise was your least favorite. But Celebrity's style is closer to HAL's than any of the other lines you mentioned. So do take that into consideration.

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Hi Big al:

My wife and I were on the Westerdam two weeks ago. We found the ship beautiful and the service excellent. Thi is the friendliest staff we have ever had. Our only dissapointment was the food in the main DR. The portions were generous, but the food was on the whole unremarkable, and sometimes really tasteless (particularly the meats were not god at all) The food at the Pinnacle excellent. The cabins very nice and the bedding fantastic!

I have written about this problem about the food on another thread. In addition, I sent a letter to the CEO of HAL with my complaints about the food.

I believe that if we are dissatisfied with service, food, etc, we ought to let management know. They might correct the problem. I hope you have a wonderful time, and please let us know how you liked it.

 

JL

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