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jodster

Westerdam Review Nov. 12th - 19th.

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This was our first HAL cruise on the beautiful Westerdam...........

 

 

We have only sailed Princess but wanted to try HAL. I'm 42 and my husband is 35. We really enjoyed our cruise and loved the itinerary (Grand Turk, Tortola, St. Maarten and HMC). I would say that there were a majority of older passengers on this cruise, but there were also sprinklings of couples our age, some younger and families too. We met so many fun and interesting people throughout the cruise.

 

Embarkation: Okay, I have read so many reviews where people say that they were on the ship in under 30 minutes. This has never happened to me until this sailing. Walked right up to the counter at 1:30 got checked in and we were on the ship and in our stateroom within 20 minutes.

 

Impressions of the ship: Again I have only sailed Princess and I love the light open feeling of their ships so to compare the Westerdam really wouldn't be fair. I thought the ship was beautiful in it's own way, to me a more traditional ship. There were beautiful displays of fresh flowers everywhere on board. Lots of dark woods and use of color which really nice. The ship was very clean and I didn't notice much wear and tear at all. They crew always seemed to be cleaning, polishing and running a vacuum. Restrooms were always clean. I loved the cloth hand towels. This was a ship that I could actually navigate and find my way around.

 

Cabin: It's true what everyone says about the beds. I have never slept so well. Not even at home. The bed and linens were fabulous and the pillows were just right. Nice towels in the bathroom too. Princess could take a cue from HAL and upgrad all their beds/bedding not just mini-suites and above. The cabin was very clean and was maintained that way the whole cruise. Our room steward (Yuli) was the best we have ever experienced. He was polite and friendly and knew our names by day two. Any request we had of him was always met. I can't say enough good things about him.

 

Dining: Now I know that with 1800+ people to feed that you can't please everyone so please don't flame me. With that said I was a little underwhelmed with the food. It was good but not great. There were nights I couldn't seem to find anything for a main course that I liked and I am NOT a picky eater. I'm not a big meat eater and the menu was pretty heavy with things like lamb, pork, beef etc. I am more of a seafood/fish person. Some nights the desserts were bland. Needless to say I did not starve! I felt bad for our waiter, his assistant was new and didn't speak or understand english very well so our waiter had to compensate for him. I also felt that they had too many tables to serve so we didn't get much interaction from them. This was my first taste of "Traditional Dining" since we have always done "Anytime Dining" on Princess. I did like the fact that you got sit and get to know your table mates. One couple from England we really liked and had some really good conversation with.

 

Pinnacle Grill: I loved the PG. It was the best meal we had and it was so nice and quiet. Service was top-notch. Did I mention the coffee?? I have never had such a smooth cup of coffee anywhere, not even at home.

 

 

Lido Buffet: Hands down HAL has Princess beat by a mile! I loved all the different stations you had to choose from (Wok, Pasta, Deli) and a very fresh salad bar too. There was also the grill where they had burgers, chicken breasts and fries. The taco bar was also very good. Of course being the ice cream lover that I am I had ice cream in a waffle cone everyday. I thought the desserts in the buffet were actually better than the dining room. I did try the famous bread pudding with vanilla sauce and loved it!

 

Crew: This is where HAL really shined in my opinion. I have never met such a friendly crew. This was ship wide. I have never felt so welcome on any ship and I felt it was genuine not forced. Everytime we ran into a crew member they always had a smile and greeting for you.

 

Ports of Call:

 

St. Maarten: We had been to St. Maarten before so for the first time we decided to stay on the ship. The ship has a totally different feeling when passengers are on shore. I liked the feeling of having the boat more or less to ourselves. While we were docked in St. Maarten we had the Carnival Liberty docked behind us. It wasn't until we got home that we read that the ship had a huge outbreak of virus on board.

 

Grand Turk has some of the bluest water I've seen. We did the Gibbs Cay Stingray Excurion through the ship. My husband loved being in the water with the rays, but I was a little nervous and kept closer to shore. They are very gentle and docile. Gibbs Cay has the clearest water and a breathtaking beach, I could have stayed longer.

 

Tortola: We did the Virgin Islands Sailaway with the ship since we were in port at an odd time (2pm). This excursion exceeded our expectations. The crew on the catamaran were very professional and fun and went out of their way to make it a fun experience for everyone. We snorkeled at two locations. Since I am new to the whole snorkeling experience I thought it was great but to some on our trip who were more experienced they thought it was just average.

 

Entertainment: I can't comment too much on this. We saw a total of two shows and they were both good. I am not a late night person and I was so tired after spending so much time in the sun and sea I honestly couldn't make it past 11pm. My wonderful bed was calling me.

 

I better stop now this is turning into a saga. I'm sure I have left so much out but just wanted to tell of our first HAL cruise. We had a great time on the Westerdam and would sail HAL again in a heartbeat!

 

Happy Sailings,

Jodi

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Jodi,

Glad to hear that you had a great time on the Westerdam. It's always wonderful when you try a new cruise line and it is good instead of so-so or bad.:D

 

We were on the 10/29 sailing and it's nice to hear that you enjoyed just as much as we did.

 

And I love those mattresses, the fresh flowers, and the cloth hand towels in the public bathrooms too!!

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Welcome back, Jodi. Your cruise sounds dreamy. So, have you booked your next HAL cruise yet?

 

:D I know how tempting these trips can be.

 

Thanks for letting us know.

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I have to say that I agree with you about the seafood on HAL -- it is usually a bit lacking, and frequently boring. The lobster is always good but otherwise there is little shellfish.

 

I have learned to fill out my meal with other courses, especially the more "exotic" dishes I would not have at home. The soups are wonderful and the salads are usually good. There are almost always good appetizers including lots of seafood things. They seem to think that fish always goes with rice, but asking the waiter to bring you some of the more interesting side dishes from other entrees can make it more enjoyable!

 

And of course, my DW the meat eater loves HAL!

 

;o)

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Hi Jodster

 

Thanks for the great review. We are on the Westerdam on Dec 17th and having read an awful review yesterday I was starting to wonder if I had booked the right cruise.

 

I hope it as good for us, as it was for you. Take care Regards Me

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thanks for your review - good to hear positive comments after reading a very negative review yesterday. We are sailing on HAL for the first time in Feb. - even on our other favorite line, we will hear negative comments in the elevator and wonder "are we on the same boat?" There always seems to be positive and negative experiences. Glad to hear that you enjoyed your trip.

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We are going on the same cruise Dec. so I have been curious to see how great a time others were having. Haven't been on Westerdam before, but have made several HAL cruises. We have been so pleased with HAL that we haven't tried other lines yet. I do however, think that they have had a decrease in satisfying menu selections since Carnival purchased HAL. Also, noticed other cutbacks, such as charging for previously free exercise classes. Overall, we still have had great times with HAL and are really looking forward to our upcoming trip. Hope to find some other comments on outstanding activities for the various ports. Thanks again!

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I can't believe I forgot to mention our day at Half Moon Cay! It was a piece of paradise and I could have stayed here another day. We rented a cabana (Purple) and thought it was worth the money. It came stocked with your choice of sodas, bottled water, fruit, chips, salsa and guacomole. There was also snorkel equipment, mats for floating in the water, fresh water shower. We didn't upgrade to the butler service so I can't comment on that part.

 

The beach was about a mile long and the sand was sooo soft and the water was crystal clear. Absolutely loved it!

 

I heard a lot of negative comments about the food on this cruise. It certainly didn't make my cruise experience terrible. I'm just not a big meat eater but there were many items that I found that I liked.......the fruit soups were really good and I thought many of the appetizers were good as well. I mostly had trouble finding a main course that appealed to me.

 

I don't think those of you who are scheduled to sail the Westerdam in the near future won't reget it. It is a beautiful ship with an exceptional crew!

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it was our first cruise on HAL, we have cruised on Carnival, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean 2 times each. Never ever on Carnival again...it is like a frat house, bus station on the ocean!!

 

It was a great cruise, the ship never felt crowded, the balcony room we occupied (7015) was very nice, our stateroom attendant (Agst pronounced August) was wonderful.

 

Everyone employed by HAL was more than gracious and friendly.

 

The food was good, at night we ate in the dining room 2 times, Pinnicle Grille 2 times and the Lido 3 times...all the food was good. Lido was good for breakfast also the dining room. Room service was good also.

 

Went to the magic, vetrilocist (sp?), El Frida (she was great!!) and the comic act...all very entertaining. Did not go to any singing and dancing shows (not our preference).

 

Ports of call were also good...really enjoyed Half Moon Cay, rented a cabana..beautiful island.

 

All in all, I would cruise HAL again. We had an early flight out of FLL to DFW (10:00 am). Got off the ship at 8:45, caught a cab, checked in, had enough time to visit the restroom and board the flight back home.

 

This was the cleanest ship I have ever been on. The crew made you feel like you were very special even though they go through the same routine week after week.

 

We will :) cruise HAL again!!

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Like the other posters we really loved the Westerdam. It was our first HAL cruise, but won't be our last. We are booked on the Princess Sapphire in April and I am worried it won't be half as good. We had a coveted aft balcony cabin which was everything I expected it to be. No problem with soot or people staring down on us from the lido deck, except for the night they had the BBQ by the pool a few people were at the edge but their comments were about how nice that balcony was. The fresh flowers everywhere on the ship were beautiful. The entire ship was immaculate. Our cabin steward, Hardy, was the best we have ever had. The staff was friendly and helpful. The lido buffet was hardly ever overcrowded, never a problem finding a place to sit and the assortment of foods was incredible. The soups were hot, the salad bar was fresh and there was great variety. They had a pasta station with wonderful pizza and was open until 1:00 am. The bread pudding was to die for. I took the recipe and maybe some day I will attempt to make it to remind me of that cruise. The only thing I found better on Celebrity and Princess was the dining room, but that was because our waiter had a very poor busboy so each night we were finished with our dessert before we got our coffee. The menu was somewhat limited, but I am a beef eater so I was happy with their offerings. I rarely make it at home and living in Florida I get my seafood when we eat out. I also loved Grand Turk, walked off the ship and to the beach. We have been to St. Martin so many times we stayed on the ship this time and enjoyed the uncrowded pool. Since we waited too long to sign up for a cabana and there were none available we indulged in the Hydrotherapy pool package for the week and it was worth every penny. The thermal suite was wonderful as was the aromatic sauna and the hydrotherapy pool. We also each got massages, DH liked it so much he got a second one. Will we take another HAL cruise, you bet!

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Even though the food didn't "wow" me I would and will sail HAL again because there were so many other things that I just loved about the Westerdam. I loved the traditional feel of the ship but most of all the service and attention we received while on board was outstanding.

 

I still like Princess and will sail with them again in the future but I feel that I have found another line that fits us very well.

 

 

Jodi

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I do however, think that they have had a decrease in satisfying menu selections since Carnival purchased HAL.

You do realize that Carnival Corporation purchased HAL eighteen years ago.

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:) yes, I knew that. For the difference in the two cruise lines it is hard to believe they are owned by the same company.

 

RCCL is part of Celebrity also.

 

I guess it is like Lexus & Toyota, Acura & Honda.

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Glad to have the opportunity to read this thread since we'll be on Westerdam 12/10. Much of what I've been reading leads me to believe the quality of food is not quite what it was when we sailed on the Statendam about ten years ago. We haven't been back on HAL since and are looking forwarding to trying it again. I do remeber excellent service and in all honesty, we'd rather have decent food with outstanding service than fabulous food and mediocre service. We'll see.

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