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satchiesmom

A few notes on Westerdam 1/22/06 E. Carribean

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Hi Everyone!

We just got back last night from our first Holland America cruise, and it sure won't be our last. I thought no other line could ever beat Celebrity, but I can admit when I'm wrong.:D

I'm not going to write a full review, but I will post a few notes.

Embarkation: A breeze. Short lines, fast service, then on the ship

Had a blast exploring the ship the first evening then ate in the Pinnacle. Whoever posted the opinion that it wasn't worth it must not have eaten in the same restaurant that we did. We are 3 very well travelled couples and real foodies and all felt the meal was exquisite. I guess if you didn't want steak, maybe you wouldn't have enjoyed it, but we all loved every bit. Filets, rib eyes and porterhouse ( the latter big enough at 22 oz. to cover the plate!) were all good. The mushrooms - yum! Chocolate volcano cake can't be described. And our waiter Andre asked often if we wanted seconds. Lunch can also be eaten in the Pinnacle, but only on sea days for those of us below SS level accomidations. Speaking of which...

 

We had a standard verandah cabin and it was great. Plenty of room, lots of storage and I liked having the tub. One of the couples chose to have an inside cabin, and they were happy with it, but after seeing ours, I am booking them in a verandah cabin for a back to back next Jan. on the Westerdam. Our cabin steward was wonderful. We gave him $20 up front and told him what we wanted (not much, just fresh ice throughout the day, that's about it) and he just couldn't do enough for us. We didn't use the verandah much this time because we had some high seas and it was covered with water and crusted salt crystals often, despite the staff's constant attention to cleaning it off.

 

Food: Loved every bit of it. Again I have read complaints on this board over and over about the food. Though I am not a professional chef, I have taken professional classes both in Japan and in Europe and couldn't find one nit to pick about the food, except I was too full to order everything I would have liked to try. Our table for six often ordered and extra of something for tasting amongst us and our waiter and his assisant (Victor and Alex, respectively), always brought it with a big smile and asked if we wanted more. On the night they served Nasi Goreng our dining area manager came over and asked how we liked it. We told him we all loved it and he asked me if I like Sambal (chili paste). He was delighted to learn that I kept a bottle of it in my kitchen at home, and pretty soon here he comes with a jar of sambal from the kitchen for us to spice up our dinner. Thanks BamBang!!! Some of our faves: Parmesan crusted chicken, Nasi Goreng (go hungry if you're going to order it), cream of Asparagus soup, Lobster bisque, Cold fruit soups, Portobello appetizer with the Ricotta Bruschetta, Artichoke, cheese and crab dip, Venison, any of the duck or lamb dishes (loved the lamb shanks!) Desserts were great, even the simple ice cream sundaes. Loved anything chocolate, the berry crisp, panna cotta. Each couple was celebrating and anniversary so we had three cakes for the 7 days. The folks at the tables aroud us were starting to stare!

 

The ship itself is gorgeous. Pretty classic with touches of whimsey everywhere like the ivory and gold chairs off to the side in the Crow's nest that we called Queen chairs, and the barstools by the mid-ship pool bar. Every where we went for the whole week, we saw something new that caught our eye. One of our friends has a degree in Fine Arts majoring in photography and she took over 400 digital photos. If I can persuade her to sent them to me, I'll post them.

 

For those of you who have asked about the Thalassotherapy pool and the Thermal suite, here is the scoop: A week's package for both is $150pp or $250 per couple. If you only want the pool its $75 per week, but they don't tell you that unless you ask. I got the package for the week and if you can fit it into your budget, I suggest that you do the same. If you look at the photos of the thermal chairs they don't look too comfortable, but don't let looks fool you. One of the other women and I went every day and wanted to bring the whole thing home. If you can, do it. Massages are also great. Hair and nails, so so.

 

Entertainment: We found it great. No Las Vegas, nor should it be, but it was sure better than anything we ever saw on Celebrity. Loved the cast shows and Alfreda Gerald. We didn't go to the shows every night 'cause there was just too much to do.

 

Casino: Too smoky for me at night, so I played during the day when I had time. Lost every dollar too! Oh, well.

 

Excursions: Didn't do one in Nassau. The other couples with us had never been on a cruise before and one of them wanted to go into town so we did and walked about a block and they were bored so we came back to the ship and had a few drinks (more about drinks later!) and went to dinner.

Tortola was next, 4 of us went to the Baths at Virgin Gorda and none of us thought it was all that great. Don't get me wrong, we were glad to go see it, but by the time you take the jitney to the ferry, the ferry to Virgin Gorda, climb down to the baths, you don't have much more than an hour, if that, before you climb back up, get on the jitney, ride the ferry back (approx. 1 hr. ride each way) then get back to the ship, you realize you didn't get to do much at all. Plus it was too rough to get any decent snorkeling done. But at least we saw it. Next excursion was St. Maarten Golden Eagle Catamaran to Tintamar for snorkeling. Three of us went to that and it was fun, but again no real snorkeling. My husband went for the second year in a row on the 12 metre Regatta and had a blast. I did it with him last year and we won and his crew won again this year. It's a great excursion, please don't hesitate to try it. Next came HMC - Glorious! Perfect weather except for that darn wind. All of the snorkeling excursions, kayaks, glass bottom boats and many others were cancelled. We got into port late, so the excursions that were still going were all push back. I did the horseback riding, we were supposed to go at 9:45 and didn't get to go til 11:00 but boy was it worth the wait. If you are considering it, do it. I had horses of my own til a few years ago so I was a bit disappointed with the pace of the horses, but it was still fun and for those of you who haven't ridden or haven't ridden in years, you should have no problem. The experience of riding that horse in the water is something I will never forget.

Our sea days were spent being lazy, drinking, eating, doing spa treatments and watching the world go by, with an occasional nap thrown in on those wonderful beds. Boy, sorry I rambled on so, this was supposed to be short. and I am sorry that this is a little disjointed. If you have any questions you can ask them here or email me at : sytreen@adelphia.net.

Oh, and about those drinks: The Westerdam has the best bartenders ever! They make the best mojitos we have ever had and I especially loved the Blue Coco Mojito. It's not blue:confused: , but they make it with coconut rum and it is great. Great martinis, hand shaken cosmos, coral lemon drops, and for those of you who said to get a BBC, shame on you!!!! I couldn't have just one of course, so whenever I ordered one, I ordered 2. Now I don't know what 12 step group to go to.:)

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Thank you for your notes. Even though it is many months till we go on this same cruise-not until November 26, 2006!-you have increased our excitement and anticipation level with your post. I am curious what deck/cabin you had, as we were in a SS on the Zuiderdam last year, but are booked for connected VF for November. Are concerned about the size of the verandah mostly I suppose, is it comfortable for more than 2 to sit outside at one time. Also my sister, who is a first time cruiser, would love to rise the horses at HMC, but was worried that the animals maybe in poor shape(similar to ones she has ridden in Mexico), so your thoughts on their condition would be appreciated. Again, Thanks!!! would love to see some photos.

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Let's go again,

Our stateroom was 5064 and the verandah was very small. Not much room for more than 2 comfortably. The horses at HMC were in fairly good shape. They are in a place where everything has to be shipped in to them since there is no place to graze. Their feed, hay and fresh water is all brought in. They are of course basically trail horses that do the same thing time after time, so they aren't very challenged and you won't be either. They maybe got up to a canter for very short periods of time, but really took off in the water. Seemed like they loved it. I was on a very stubborn guy named Elviro and he simply did not want to do what he didn't want to do. I asked one of the guides why he put me on such an unspirited horse and he said they always give Elviro to experienced riders because they are the only ones who can get him going! Elviro was kind of scarred up, but didn't seem unhealthy. I gave him lots of love and attention while I had him and he seemed to enjoy it. Oh, and he's a head shaker too, but didn't follow through with any craziness so if you get him don't worry. I hope you folks have as much fun as we did on our cruise, it was such a blast we're doing it again next Jan. on the Western route or maybe even a back to back.

Take care, and if I haven't answered your questions satisfactorily, let me know.

Susan

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We just got back from the same cruise on the Westerdam. We had cabin 5080 on verandah deck.

 

It was our first cruise, and it was great except that I was sick most of the time due to the high seas.

 

Unfortunately it has put me off of cruising, so that'll be it.

 

I was very impressed by everything on board, except the age demographic.

 

We did the Tortola See and Sea, and the St. Maarten Explorer and Circle Island Tour.

 

I'd like to go back to that area again, but not be ship.

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Geomeow,

Please don't let your seasickness experience stop you from trying another cruise. Did you try the patch? Or start taking motion sickness meds a few days before your cruise? Try a cabin lower and more midships next time. And don't give up on the Westerdam, she's great.

The age demographic was a bit older, but we saw many young couples having a great time. We are a very active 60 (DH) and 58 (me) and had a blast talking to the young crowd and the older crowd. In fact the older folks were very nice and had some great tales to tell about cruising in the old days. We didn't stop going from 7 a.m. to after midnight every day and there was still stuff going on on the ship. The disco on this ship was way to loud for us to step into, and we have closed the disco on ships many times, dancing and drinking. Whatever you decide, I am sorry you had a less than perfect cruise, and hope that whatever you do for your next vacation you will have a great time. It's all good.

Susan

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Loved your review. You had about the same experience we did on the Westerdam 1/23/05. We can't wait to be back on her in less than 9 months!

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Great review. We leave on 2/12 for the western Caribbean on the westerdam. I can't wait.

Thanks

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I enjolyed reading your review. (It made me nostalgic since I was just on the Westerdam in December.) Glad you had such a great experience! Your food reviews made me hungry and what you said about the drinks is so true. My fav was the Cucumber Lime Smash. When I first saw it I thought ewwww, but it is a refreshing, yummy drink and I plan to make some this very weekend for the super bowl party!

 

Laura

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Thanks for posting so many great insights...we don't cruise on the WESTERDAM until October, so I vicariously cruise with everyone else in the meantime.

 

I appreciate all the info about the horseback riding on HMC...being a former rider myself, I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it as much as I'm anticipating I will. Did your "group" actually SWIM with the horses or do the horses just trot and canter through the water? I used to ride my horse (many years ago) into a pond where she actually swam with me on her back...it was a sensation that can't be beat and I'd like to experience that again!

 

Debjo

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Loved your review and tips :) Thanks so much for taking the time to share them with us! :) We will also be on the Westerdam 10/29/06. Why wait till Jan, join us in Oct hehehe it's a cc group cruise so the price is right and you get both b2b weeks at same price if you want :)

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Thanks everyone for your kind comments about my mini review. As far as the horses at HMC, they are pretty docile and they don't really swim in the water. According to the guides they used to do that, but too many novice riders got scared so they don't do it anymore :( . But it is still worth it, the experience is so great. Whatever all of you do, have fun. And for you drinkers out there, have a Blue Coco Mojito for me!!

Susan

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Hey Satchie.......Sorry we didn't get to meet up...in case you noticed I was the late 40's guy chasing a 16 month old all over the Lido, Lido pool, Vista etc etc.

 

My wife did the thermal pools a few days, hopefully you met.

 

I have to second everything about the ship...we were fortunate enought to run into two old friends, especially Edwin, (from the Zaandam) in the ocean bar.

 

We were in suite 7063.... Neptune was great, Kudos to Monette and her staff. Warm milk delivered every night at 7:30...for the baby thank you...

 

I was suprised by how small the Delux suites were in relation to the Maasdam's..still spacious but smaller.

 

Nice ship, don't know if I quite like the layout and the forced pass through the shopping arcade. Seemed managable enough, and not crowded even tho it had a good occupancy level. I would have hated to been on the behemouths that docked next to us a few times.

 

I, like Satchie, made my contribution to the orphaned croupiers fund over 3 nights.

 

Over all, well executed ship...food was on par w/ my prior HAL experience...very good, the Pinnacle was superb!!

 

I'd give it an A....but I still like the Maasdam better!!!!!

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Thanks for sharing your great experience on the Westerdam. I truly loved this ship! We were on the Westerdam in December and enjoy the thermal suite/thallostherapy(sp?):) pool as well.

 

Rabbitlady

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