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mhshapiro

Live from the Westerdam - Ft. Lauderdale to Rome.

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We are now aboard Westerdam. This is the third day of the voyage, and here are my impressions of the trip so far.

 

Embarkation was as smooth as could be. The ship had been in wet dock for several days, so we were able to board as soon as we taxied over to the port from our hotel (Hyatt Regency Pier 66) shortly after noon on Wednesday. The whole process didn't take much more than 15 minutes.

 

Our journey from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale was not so smooth. Owing to mechanical problems our flight was five hours late leaving LAX, and we did not arrive in Miami until 2 AM. By the time we had collected our luggage and drove by taxi to Ft. Lauderdale it was 4AM on Tuesday. The front desk clerk at the Pier 66 took pity on us and gave us a very nice room in the tower section. We slept for about six hours then woke up in time for lunch. Later that day we had dinner with acquaintences in Ft. Lauderdale.

 

The moral of that story is that it pays to allow extra travel time when flying to meet a ship.

 

Our first day at Half Moon Cay was beautiful - about 82 deg F and partly cloudy. We very much enjoyed our eco-lagoon tour in the morning then had lunch at the BBQ on the Cay. About 1:00 PM we headed back to the ship.

 

The Westerdam, itself, is a quite beautiful ship with lots of excellent artwork.

 

Our cabin, a standard outside verandah is about the same size as cabins we usually book on Crystal, perhaps slightly larger. However, it is much less efficiently laid out. The TV takes up most of the desk, and there is no drawer space, although there are shelves in the closest. This made it a little harder to unpack and get organized. The bed is comfortable and high enough off the floor that we could store our suitcases underneath it. However, the bed covering is very light, and not as comfortable as a regular duvet.

 

Entertainment so far has been very good. The cast shows have been excellent, the comedian was quite funny, and the big band (Guy Lombardo) was tolerably good. They got better as they warmed up. The singer in the piano bar is quite good.

 

The food in both the dining room and Lido has been reasonably good so far. The variety is less than I would like, but better than on my previous HAL cruise. Initially our dining room service was atrociously slow, but a complaint from one of our table mates seems to have speeded things up.

 

The demographic on this cruise is the oldest of any of the cruises that we have taken. The average age must be well over seventy. All six of our table mates are over eighty, but interesting nonetheless.

 

We have run into many interesting folks including at least four other CC members, and we are trying to organize a get together.

 

More Later....

 

Mark

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Mark - if you need an extra blanket, look in the drawers at the foot of the beds - we found a couple of lovely soft blankets in there. Also a good place to store some our stuff because as you say, drawer space is limited.

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Sorry to hear about your travel difficulties but it does point up the need to fly in the day before - imagine if you had left LAX on an early morning flight and been delayed 5 hours!

 

Have a great crossing!

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So glad to hear things are going smooth now that you are on board. It is a good thing you came in a full day in advance. It can be a long flight going across country then when there is a delay:eek:

 

Looking forward to hearing more of your travels.

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So very happy to hear all is going well! My parents and grandmother are aboard your sailing. LOL my grandmother MORE THAN fits the demographics, my poor parents are probably some of the youngest people on the ship! I'm 43, they married young, so you do the math :D

 

Our entire family sailed the Zaandam Christmas time with some minor trials and tribulations so I think my mom was a little leary about another HAL cruise. Her all time favorite had been Celebrity as noted below :) but after she has sent me this email today I wonder 'bout that :confused: ...my notes are in [ ]

 

"Hi

the ship is gorgeous - in same catagory as the Constellation

the cabin is absolutely fantastic - sooo much space and closets [cat S. 7063]

the service is much better than the Zandamm

the whole experience is better than the Zandamm - i have spent the last 2 days at the aft pool

God is watching out for me - the sea is like a lake almost -

having sailed on HAL before is a help - because all the common rooms are in basically the same place [Dad and Nana are "directionally challenged ;) "]

dad and i sat in the crow's next for departure because it was so hot and humid outside

love you all and wish you were with us

mom"

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The ship definitely is beautiful. Probably the most elegant cruise ship that we have been on when it comes to artwork and decor.

 

We will dig out one of those blankets tonight as the weather is getting cooler as our course takes us further north.

 

Our cabin steward is excellent. Otherwise I would say that the service has been somewhat spotty. Dining room service has improved since the first couple of days of the cruise, but still seems a little haphazard.

 

Weather has been good. The seas so far have not been too high. It has been windy with today's temp about 70 and scattered clouds.

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Mark,

Thanks for sharing your cruise with us, we are sailing on the Westerdam next year and am loving hearing about the ship!

Blue skies and Calm seas to you!

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Last night we ate at the Pinnacle Grill. I had the petit filet and my wife had the rack of lamb. Our impression was that it was good but not great. The filet was tasty, but not "butter knife" tender. The rack of lamb was good but not outstanding. The side dishes were OK, but again nothing special compared to the regular dining room fare (which actually has been very good).

 

My favorite eating spot on the ship so far has been the Lido. The pizza is great, and I really like the variety available there.

 

The highlight of the cruise so far -- the entertainment. The evening entertainment has been first rate. The various acts have been among the best that I have seen on cruise ships.

 

The lowlight -- afternoon tea. My wife is a tea drinker. She has been disappointed with the tea they serve and the ambiance. Yesterday was Dutch High Tea, and she reported that the pastries were very good but one had to stand in line to get them (and the tea was the same old stuff they always serve). HAL definitely could do better here.

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Mark - Can you tell us what the weather has been like - I leave on Monday on the Prinsemdam Transatlantic NYC - Barcelona. Have you been able to use the outdoor pools & sunbath in bathing suits?

 

Thanks

 

Also - how have the seas been?

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Thanks Mark for the information on your trip. We are looking forward to our trip this November but we are wondering if 14 days on 1 ship will be to much. Wondering if we should do 7 days on the Westerdam then change to another when we get back to FL. Keep us posted....Most all have have fun and enjoy the ship.....

 

Deb

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The weather has been excellent. It has been mostly sunny, with only one brief period of rain so far. As we have tracked north the weather has gotten cooler and dryer. It's brisk out on the promenade desk and on the observation deck.

 

But, on the main Lido deck they have the retractable roof closed about 4/5ths of the way, which makes it very pleasant up there. I saw several folks in the main Lido pool today, and also lots of folks sunbathing around it.

 

It probably is a bit too cool and windy to sunbathe around the aft pool though.

 

We are in the midst of our fourth sea day since leaving Half Moon Cay, and we have one more sea day before reaching the Azores. So far we have not been bored. There is plenty to do during the day and evening. As I mentioned in the previous posts, the entertainment has been first rate, and we have been treated to daytime events with the entertainers as well as the evening shows.

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Would you mind giving some names and what their act is? A good recommendation goes a long way when I see the same name on a daily program.

Thanks!

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The cast shows have been excellent. In addition, we have the Guy Lombardo Big Band on board. Their show was very good. Bill Acosta, an impressionist, put on a really funny show, and Marty Henne -- a singer who does Gershwin and other classic songs along with a marvelous insight into the composers also has been outstanding.

 

In addition, our geology lecturer has been great.

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Thanks, Mark. I remember having the Guy Lombardo Orchestra on my first trans-Atlantic in '01. Ask them to play Dearie and see if they know the song. They didn't on my cruise, and Guy Lombardo is the only one I ever knew to play it!

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Yesterday afternoon at 4 PM we had a meeting of about 10 CC people in the Explorer's Lounge. DW organized this. We swapped "war stories" about our various cruises, and talked about our impressions of the cruise so far.

 

Everyone agreed that the entertainment was the highlight of the cruise so far (remember that we have had mostly sea days), and that the food in the dining room actually was quite good. Some of the more frequent HAL cruisers did think that the level of service has been cut back, and that there is more "nickel and diming" going on. One couple that also cruises regularly on Celebrity felt that Celebrity is edging out HAL when it comes to service. Since we have not cruised with Celebrity for a long time, I really don't know how accurate that observation is.

 

Dinner last night included calf's liver, which seemed to be a table favorite. At least four people ordered it, and all agreed that it was excellent (if you like liver). Again, I think that complaints about the dining room food on Westerdam that I have seen previously on this board are unfounded. The food has been quite good.

 

Service in the dining room also has improved, although there have been a few minor misqueues (sp?). But, these were quickly corrected.

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MHShapiro : Very interesting itinerary on which to get a "day by day" report. Can't wait to read about the Azores and then the Europe mainland! Enjoy your voyage! :)

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Thanks for your posts. For one who has never crossed the "big pond" I've wondered about daily activities.

 

Glad you're enjoying your cruise. I look forward to reading your "journal" throughout the trip.

 

Smooth sailing...:)

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We will be crossing on the reverse cruise this October which is also a big band cruise. The Nick Ross Orchestra will be on board.

 

Cheers

 

General Max

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We have left the Azores and now are on our way to Cadiz, Spain. We did tours on Faial where the ship tendered at Horta, and yesterday morning at Ponta Delgado in Sao Miguel. Both islands are very beautiful. The volcanic topography of Faial is impressive, and our tour was quite interesting. The weather was good for us on Faial, but on Sao Miguel we ran into fog and rain at the higher elevations so we had a difficult time seeing the "seven cities" lakes. But back at lower elevation it cleared up and our trip to the pineapple plantation was very interesting. For this stop we were on an American Express/Golden Bear Travel tour (freebie) with an excellent guide. We made a final stop in Ponta Delgado to see the downtown area. Both islands were very clean and pleasant.

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We have left the Azores and now are on our way to Cadiz, Spain. We did tours on Faial where the ship tendered at Horta, and yesterday morning at Ponta Delgado in Sao Miguel. Both islands are very beautiful. The volcanic topography of Faial is impressive, and our tour was quite interesting. The weather was good for us on Faial, but on Sao Miguel we ran into fog and rain at the higher elevations so we had a difficult time seeing the "seven cities" lakes. But back at lower elevation it cleared up and our trip to the pineapple plantation was very interesting. For this stop we were on an American Express/Golden Bear Travel tour (freebie) with an excellent guide. We made a final stop in Ponta Delgado to see the downtown area. Both islands were very clean and pleasant.
Thanks for your posts Mark! Glad you are having a good time!

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Mark - thank you for the weather report.....we sail Monday & will be following your path.....enjoy the rest of your cruise!

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Thank you for your ongoing report - am enjoying it very much!

 

Have you ordered room service, and, if so, what has your experience been?

 

We encountered discrepancies in our room service orders pretty regularly on the Oosterdam recently, and have read of others experiencing this on other HAL ships as well. Just wondering how room service has been for you.

 

Hope you continue to enjoy your cruise, and thank you again!

 

p.s. Are you staying warm now with the extra blankets?

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We haven't done room service on this cruise because my wife's tends to wake up much later than I do, and our dining room tablemates have been a lot of fun.

 

So far the weather has held up for us. A bit cool and overcast at times but not bad.

 

Our Taste of Cadiz tour was very good - liked all those sherries. Yesterday we did Taste of Barcelona, - a short city tour plus three tapas bars, yum!

 

Today we did the bus tour to St. Paul de Vence. It included a drive along the Cote d'Azur then the trip to St. Paul and a walking tour of the old village. It does involve a bit more difficult walking than was indicated in the tour book, so anyone who has mobility problems should take that into account. Tomorrow we are in Livorno, then we depart the ship and stay overnight near the airport for our Friday morning flight.

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