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woodofpine

HAL newbie mini-review Westerdam last week.

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Seventh cruise - Princess and Celebrity cruiser.

 

HAL strengths - flowers, flatware, deck furniture. Teak decks and nice fresh water pools, but too few (compared to Princess). Very nice ship overall.

 

Very good shows.

 

Food (here we go)... Good or better, not great, generally bland.

Dining Room Service - not as good as the food, sorry - not impressed. My impression was this was an institutional dining room management thing rather than the fault of our servers; not enough european training or crew influence. Clearly lesser than the above cited competitors.

 

Disabled cabins - my mother in an aft suite - were not that well configured given the large size; veranda was difficult to wheelchair access (important), higher deck coverage shade would be better (less important)

 

Bar and buffet service - very good.

 

Cabin care and service - very very good.

 

Noisiest large ship I've been on. Engines were not synchronized which caused oscillating vibrations everywhere from the mid-ships back. Cabin a/c loud and constant. I was told the engines were to be worked on prior to repositioning to the Med this month (hopefully they'll get them synchronized). Despite almost too few anouncements (nice), ambient background noise was surprisingly high.

 

On the other hand, we had strong gale force winds and rough seas the last day at sea and the ship barely moved (well stabilized).

 

Being spring break there were a lot of youngsters (400) but their behavior was fairly exemplary - meaning - it was a good parent demographic too! The passengers seemed uniformly nice.

 

HAL didn't WOW me - maybe I'm over that stage, but it is a good product overall and depending on itinerary and price point I may return.

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Interesting review of a class of ship and a ship we haven't been on. We were on the old Westerdam. Generally a pretty unbiased review given your prior experience with Celebrity and Princess. Glad you enjoyed most of it and are thinking about trying another. Variety is a great part of the cruise experience both in ships and in cruise lines.

 

Have a great next cruise whatever line it is on.

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Thanks for your review. It was very fair and I agree with you in many respects. Unfortunately the dining room has been understaffed the last year, it was evident on each of 4 cruises we took (on 4 different HAL ships!).

 

I also agree that HAL wins on the flowers, deck chairs, beds and space per cruiser. Additionally we love the crew, many of whom we have met repeatedly as we cruise.

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woodofpine,

 

Thanks for posting your thoughts. I will be a "newbie" too when we sail on the Oosterdam in Oct. Even though they are two different ships, they are both in the Vista class. Nice to read someones review on a ship I might sail on in 06.

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I was on the same cruise. The best food in the dining room was the food prepared in smaller quantities. The venison, for example, was wonderful. My wife had a spicy tofu dish one night and it was excellent. Her lobster tail, a couple of nights later, was not worth eating. Lunch in the dining room was great on all but one day. Oysters Rockefeller, served on the final night of our cruise, were good enough that four of the people at the table had a third order (true, with only 2 oysters per order, this isn't saying that much). The Asian style roast duck was another stand out.

 

My only serious complaint about the dining room experience had to do with wine. The lower priced wine package (choose 6 wines off of a list of 12 wines, $125 plus 15%) had three bottles of Chardonnay among the 6 whites, two of the six bottles we ordered were good enough to drink again, but four bottles were poorly chosen. Even a low priced wine list should have decent wine.

 

At the end of the first dinner, the wine steward approached me and asked me which wine I wanted for the next night's dinner. I asked if he could let me see the menu, because I choose wine to compliment the food that is being served. The wine steward looked at me like I was from another planet. Next time, I will bring a few bottles of my own choice on board and live with the corkage fee (now $15 per bottle) rather than having to bear with such mediocre wine.

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At the end of the first dinner, the wine steward approached me and asked me which wine I wanted for the next night's dinner. I asked if he could let me see the menu, because I choose wine to compliment the food that is being served. The wine steward looked at me like I was from another planet. Next time, I will bring a few bottles of my own choice on board and live with the corkage fee (now $15 per bottle) rather than having to bear with such mediocre wine.

 

Odd, we've never had a problem getting a copy of the next night's menu so that we could pre-order wine. Sounds like a poorly trained wine steward (and there are more and more of them every cruise, it seems. They are worked very hard, and they can get decent shore-siide employment after a couple of contracts, so perhaps the turn over is just very high).

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Thank you for sharing your experience with us - especially interesting in regard to your opinions of the food and information about the noise.

 

Appreciate your review very much.:)

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I'll be on the Westerdam in 5 days (eek!) and I hope they get the engines fixed. We're on the last cruise before the repositioning to Europe. It would be something if our 7 day cruise turned into a 9 dayer....:eek:

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Sadly, there are more and more reports coming out of the Westerdam that are less than glowing. They seem to have issues other ships in the fleet don't have ... at least not as routinely. I hope they will get their act together on the Westerdam.

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