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Review of Westerdam 12/18-12/26 Christmas Cruise

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Embarkation: Lines to get into port were very long, probably because of the 9 or so ships that were leaving on the 18th. Once in the terminal, things progressed smoothly, although because the computers were down, we had to make an appearance at the Front Desk on day 1 to give our credit card info and get pictures taken.

Soda “card” digression: On the way upstairs, we were asked if we’d like to buy a soda card, and we bought two. Unfortunately, the soda card is now just that—a card like an index card, which is very inconvenient to carry in addition to the ship’s ID card. I saw the Beverage Manager one day and complained, and she said that the ship had not received any Coke stickers (the former “soda” card) in several weeks, and she understood that the current card was not handy. We were also charged a gratuity on top of the $32 for each card, which is not mentioned on the card’s details nor on the receipt we signed for (total: $64). Finally, the cards did not appear on our room charges until several days later, were noted as a charge from the Atrium Bar, and included the gratuity, so we figured we’d been mischarged until we figured it out. Overall, the card is more convenient than signing continually for sodas, but the system is not smooth.

Cabin: We were upgraded from our F Guarantee to a VC Verandah, and we ended up in cabin 5039. We were in an SS on the Zuiderdam in August, so we really missed the double sinks in the bathroom, but otherwise the cabin was fine and we were thrilled to have a verandah again. Our cabin steward, Mei, was efficient and also made wonderful towel animals for us.

Food: Generally, we thought the food was great, and of course not having to do dishes or plan meals for a week is an extra treat. We ordered several breakfasts from room service, including on disembarkation day, and they always arrived correct and prompt. We ate breakfast in the Vista once on a sea day, which was a nice change of pace from the Lido. We ate one night in the Pinnacle, courtesy of our travel agent, and the food was terrific and the service from Giawa was very polished. For dinner in the Vista, we were well taken care of by Ananta and his assistant. I agree with an earlier Westerdam reviewer that the cold soups were great, except for the Mango Gazpacho, which worked except for the sprinklings of onion and other vegetables. Also, I tried the sugar-free Baked Alaska, and it was terrible.

Entertainment: We didn’t do many shows on the Zuiderdam, so we made an attempt to check out some of the entertainment this time around. On the first night, we saw comedienne Janine Gardner, and she was okay, but she had an annoying Fran Drescher-esque laugh. Day two, we went to the Captain’s reception, where we met Capt. Peter Harris and enjoyed his introductions of his crew. As an aside, Capt. Harris was very visible on the ship during the week—we saw him in the gym, the Lido, the shops, everywhere. Seemed he had his eye on things. We saw the show “Grand Tour” with the regular singers and dancers, and it was good. On the last night, we saw comedian Danny Storts (funny, funny) and singer Alfreda Gerald, who was okay, but certainly brought the happy Christmas mood to a halt with her sad tale about her father.

Ports: We didn’t get off at Nassau, both because we’ve been there and the stop was only 4 hours long, which wasn’t a lot of time to do anything. At St. Thomas, we took the Champagne Catamaran to St. John for snorkeling, which was fun, but the water was a bit rough. One woman also had a bit much to drink and spent a lot of the return trip doing her version of a pole dance. Yikes! In St. Martin, we took a taxi to Orient Beach for most of the day, then did a little shopping on the way back. We were there until 11 p.m., and I don’t know why. Next stop, Tortola. We took the ferry to Virgin Gorda to see the Baths, then did a little shopping. We enjoyed this port. Last stop, Half Moon Cay. We rented the taupe cabana, which, if you’re considering it, has a sidewalk that leads right into it, which results in people trying to cut through it all day. We also were amazed at the number of people (last count: 4) who used our shower without so much as a “hello, there.” I enjoyed the cabana, but I think it’s not as necessary in the winter—we would really have liked it in August.

Disembarkation: We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale very early (left HMC at around 3:10 because of rain), so we were off the ship at about 9 a.m. even though we drove. Smooth trip through immigration, customs, etc. We were home (Orlando) by 1—some heavy traffic on I-95.

Notes: We enjoyed hanging out on the Promenade Deck, where we read and/or took naps. I also took several morning walks there, as well as used the gym. I took two Fitball classes that were well worth the $11 charge. We had 8:00 dinner this time, which we liked better than 8:30. I think the Upper Vista Dining Room is more attractive than the Lower, for some reason. We enjoyed viewing the Dessert Extravaganza one evening (pictures from 10:30-11, eat at 11) and thought that worked better than the afternoon time on the Zuiderdam. (Our dining steward said holding it on the Lido deck makes for easier cleanup.) We played a few bucks of slots in the casino, but it didn’t seem particularly busy. The ship was well decorated for Christmas, with Christmas trees and beautiful poinsettias everywhere. Santa arrived on Christmas (we were at Half Moon Cay) by parasailing around the ship! That was a fun sight. He also made a visit to the beach and rode a jet ski. I’m hoping those pictures come out!

We will definitely sail HAL again. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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I agree with an earlier Westerdam reviewer that the cold soups were great, except for the Mango Gazpacho, which worked except for the sprinklings of onion and other vegetables.

 

That was me! It really was an odd combination of flavors, wasn't it? I didn't even finish mine, the only night I was tempted to lick the bowl!

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That was me! It really was an odd combination of flavors, wasn't it? I didn't even finish mine, the only night I was tempted to lick the bowl!

 

Yes, it was odd. I understood the idea, but mixing the mango with the garnish of onion and tomato didn't work in practice. I ate the soup and left most of the garnish. :rolleyes: But the Triple Berry (?) soup was great.

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Yes, it was odd. I understood the idea, but mixing the mango with the garnish of onion and tomato didn't work in practice. I ate the soup and left most of the garnish. :rolleyes: But the Triple Berry (?) soup was great.

 

I just realized from your quote of me that I had a typo - that obviously should have read the only night I was NOT tempted to lick the bowl!

 

Yes, the triple berry was great, but I think my very favorite was the blueberry the first night. YUM!

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I am horrified being home and am already planning our next cruise ....hopefully on the Westerdam!!! We had 8 days of pure bliss and I cannot rave enough about how wonderful every single staff member on this ship is! Here is an extremely abbreviated (because if I go into detail I'd sit and type for days!) review.

 

Embarkation: We found it to be a breeze! Stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn and a bus took us to Port Everglades at 12.00noon. By 12.30 we were having lunch in the Lido!...and we too bought the inconvenient soda cards on the way up to the ship.

 

Cabin: We were upgraded (for a small fee) from a verandah(VF) to an SS. Our cabin was SS 8078 and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law were 8080. This was so convenient as we were interleading and could have the verandah open between the 2 cabins too! Luckily, we had cushions on the outside patio furniture! Yakim was our steward too...a darling...he could not do enough to make one feel like royalty!

 

Dining: We ate the first night - 18th and the night of our anniversary (21st) at the Pinnacle. Have done a review re those 2 nights in a previous thread but will repeat. The steak is superb....the shrimp awful! They also messed up our champagne order (my dad had ordered a bottle to be served on our anniversary.....the head waiter, Nana, in the dining room as well as our wine steward Manny, was supposed to organize it to be served in the Pinnacle on the 21st. To cut a long story short....messages got crossed and we were served the wrong bottle of champagne!(Even though we had signed for the correct bottle 3 nights previously!) Guess that happens and it really wasn't a big deal. Chandra was our dining steward and Deddy his assistant....both fabulous....and it really didnt bother me that Chandra asked us on the 2nd to last night to give them a good review! They work so hard and deserve it! The food was really excellent. In fact, there were numerous occasions that I asked for 2nds .....feeling quite disgusted with myself and being teased by all at the table! We had the late seating (8.30pm) and this was wonderful as we could nap after a busy day before we went to dinner!

 

Entertainment: Found every show.....comedian, jugglers, Alfredo, etc etc to be fabulous. Michelle, the cruise director, was efficient and I think did her job very well. She really,(just my opinion) is mean't to be around to make sure everyone else entertains well....and she did just that! I was not impressed with Holly Dolly (think that was her name) who did the Bingo. She was so irritating and gave up bingo after day one at sea.....that was the one and only bingo game my sister in law and I played! (Actually many...even elderly Bingo connoisseurs felt the same way about her .......heard it discussed a few times). We closed the casino every night(about 2am)......played blackjack and craps and found every dealer and manager just so friendly and fun! (Didn't exactly win but didn't lose much either!....and we certainly got our money's worth).

 

Port of calls: Nassau......did a bit of shopping...definitely our least favorite.

St. Thomas: We did the ship excursion over to St. John....snorkeled at Trunk Bay Beach. Had never snorkeled before (done 2 cruises to Mexico) ....am 46 yrs old.....and this is something everyone should do at least once in a lifetime! We went shopping that afternoon in Charlotte Amalie where my DH bought me a gorgeous bracelet (our 25th remember)!

St. Maarten: This was our best stop and most fun. We rented a jeep and drove to Orient Beach where we spent the day just lounging, drinking and eating (and observing...lol!) Then drove back to ship via Marigot...lots of traffic but such fun! Very interesting observing the difference between the French side and Dutch side of island. Thought 11pm was a little late to leave St Maarten as the casino and shops on board could not open until we left and that was a catastrophe!)

Tortola: Took the ferry across to Virgin Gorda (the Baths)...did this on our own and was so pleased we did, as wecould spend the day there ....just amazing....not to be missed. We met some lovely people that day ...the Queen Mary 2 was in port too ....interesting discussing the differences between ships with them....they had 6 formal nights ( a 2week cruise out of New York)....I would absolutely hate that!

Half Moon Cay: Wonderful......Santa Claus parasailed by! Rented a clam shell and found that to be perfect as it felt as if the day sped by and we hardly had time to enjoy the island. Admittedly. the day came to an abrupt end at 2pm (a downpour like I have never witnessed before). The bbque lunch was okay......nothing stupendous but well organized and fun.

 

Disembarkation: A breeze...fabulous being called from the cabin and not a public meeting area. We were off the ship by 9am....far earlier than we had anticipated as we had a driver picking us up to take us to Miami Intl for our flight home to LA(now that I could really pick apart.....American Airlines should be avoided at all costs is all I could say!!!!) Unfortunately, we never realized we should have waited until 4pm to catch a flight from Fort Lauderdale...rather than a 2pm one from Miami...we would have gotten home sooner!

 

This was our first HAL cruise....been on RCL and Carnival previously and am now quite sure I will try to stay with only HAL.....they were far superior and we have now been spoilt! There was a perfect blend of all ages and I never for one moment felt like we were amongst elderly company (my husband is 49, his sister 50 and brother in law 52). We never took our kids....mine are 16 and 19....there were apparently about 150 kids on board but we never felt like we were at Disneyland either. Amsure my boys would have loved it...as I witnessed many teenagers enjoying the late night disco and my 19year would have been able to legally gamble (not that I am sure it's something we should encourage!) We did give them the choice to come and they declined.

 

If you are booked on the Westerdam any time soon, I AM JEALOUS!!!!!! We just had a vacation of a lifetime and cannot wait to be able to repeat it ASAP!!!!

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Dang, luvabeach, you just made me homesick for *my* Westerdam!

 

Didn't you just LOVE Yakim?? I'd always heard about wanting to bring your cabin steward home with you, but never thought it to be literal before I met Yakim!

 

Although I don't play Bingo, I heard a lot of "she gets on my nerves" grumbling about Holly as well.

 

Welcome home!

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Thanks so much TidePrideGa! Yes.....do I wish I had brought Yakim home with us...especially today....am having a huge dinner party tonight and NEED HELP! (lol!)

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Just a note here - even though we never get the soda card, I have reported several times that there is 15% gratuity added on to it.

 

Mangospacho - that was prepared on the Ryndam at one of the culinary shows. I have the recipe for it. It does have a little red onion in it along with the mangos and the only vegetable in it was cucumbers. DH tried it and loved it.

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Hi,

Thanks for the great review. My wife and I are scheduled to sail on the Westerdam on January 22. We are starting to get excited about our vacation. Anyway, we always enjoy spending time in the Piano Bar and are curious if you know who is play there? Happy New Year!

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Hi,

Thanks for the great review. My wife and I are scheduled to sail on the Westerdam on January 22. We are starting to get excited about our vacation. Anyway, we always enjoy spending time in the Piano Bar and are curious if you know who is play there? Happy New Year!

 

Crayola, when we were on the Westerdam 12/11-18, Michael was in the Piano Bar... not sure what his last name is. He was "okay" in my opinion, not great. DS and I did the TV Show Name That Tune one night, and it was very hard! Many of the shows were somewhat obscure. However, there was one group that got 12/15 - even Michael was amazed! The rest of us got closer to 5/15.

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Good review! We, too, miss the Westerdam, and after our last (not so good) experience on the Ziuderdam, we were so pleased with the Westerdam and staff that we are looking to travel with HAL again.

Happy New Year

 

Rick

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Nice review! I'll be onboard 1/22!! Can you tell me in St. Maarten, did you dock or tender and did you stay on ship time or island time?

 

Thanks

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We docked...only tendered in Half Moon Cay and we stayed on ship time.....(were extra hour ahead of EST.) Hope that helps. St. Maarten was absolutely outstanding!

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I just wanted to add that I miss the Westerdam as well. We did the holiday cruise and I sure wish I was there right now!

 

Rabbitlady:):)

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