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mcduck

Westerdam Cruise Review

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While there have been several less than great reviews about the Westerdam and her sister ships, we had a cruise that using HAL's 1-9 scale was a definite 10! All of our expectations were met or exceeded, and we had a great cruise.

 

I have tried to start a thread of our review three times, but it does not seem to get posted, so I aplolgise if this suddenly shows up three times. I am going to break it down into several smaller parts to see if that helps.

 

(1)

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(2)

 

Air/Hotel: As we live north of the 49th and winter travel is always a concern we use the cruise lines air package. In general we end up with the same flight schedule and a better fare through the cruise line. We were met at FLL and quickly put on a bus. We dropped off all the other passengers at the pier for a cruise that day, leaving just the three of us to be taken to the Westin. The Westin is a liitle out of the way, but as we arrived around 4:00 on a day that started around 5:00AM that really didn't matter. The beds are great at the Westin. The next day our bags were taken to the pier by truck (eliminating the need to deal with the porters at the pier), and we boarded buses based on a colour code. We were at the terminal around 2:00, and as there were no lines at all, were quickly processed and on the ship. The ship left an hour late as we were waiting for a few passengers whose flights arrived late - I would have to think that these were passengers that used HAL's air add-on.

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(3) Cabins: We were booked in cabins 5024 and 5026. The cabins are a little smaller than the Amsterdam, but were more than adequate. As mentioned before, drawer space is at a premium, and the TV takes up a great deal of the counter space. The new beds are great, but the new "salon quality" hair dryers are terrible. They barely blow air that could be considered warm, and are in the oddest of places, stored in the cabinet in the sitting area, using up more of the little drawer space available. It was the first time in 29 years of travelling that we never packed a hair dryer - big mistake. (But this is about the only complaint, as small as it is about the ship).

 

Our cabin stewart was great. He introduced himself the first afternoon, confirmed our dinner times, and let us know how to reach him if we had any problems. He quickly opened the divider between the cabins, and at the end of the cruise when he found out we had not received luggage tags, said he would look after the problem. Within an hour, he delivered the tags to us. The room was always cleaned quickly at least twice and sometimes three times a day, and he always had a smile and greeted us in the hallways. He was a definite "10"!

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(4) The Ship: The ship reminded us of the Amsterdam, and with one or two exceptions, seemed understated and elegant. Even though the ship was full, we occassionally wondered were all the passengers were on the ship. There was never any problem finding a lounge chair, although they are somewhat tightly lined up. The absence of the theatre did not seem to be a loss to us as the movies are all shown in the room on several channels all day long, and the Queen's lounge was used for many different functions during the cruise. The art work is everywhere, and I am sure there is a lot that we missed.

 

(5) Entertainment: We always attend the evening shows, and this seems to be an area that HAL has greatly improved on over the years. (Our first cruise on the niew amsterdam featured a xylophone player on two nights!) The stage on the Westerdam is large and allowed the used of 14 singers and dancers on stage. I believe that they said they spent $7 million on the stage and lighting.

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(6) Dining: Always a very subjective area, but you cannot expect the same quality as a 5 star restauarant. Overall, the presentation of all the dishes was excellent, and it appeared that a lot of thought and effort went into this area. The food itself was well above banquet hall levels, and the duck, venison and a fillet mignon were as good as we have had anywhere. Deserts were the highlight including the chocolate volcano, chocolate swan and chocolate box (there is a trend here!). Sevice was very good, and our waiter always found a few minutes to chat and ask about our day. Water glasses were constantly being refilled ,and after the second day, the assistant waiter always brought our coffees the way we liked them without asking. The Lido was also very good, but at times a little crowded. The staff at the stations always had a big smile and were usually singing Christmas carols.

 

(7) Staff: All the staff that we met always seemd to be happy and made a point of saying hi or good morning when you passed them in a hall or on the staircase. We dealt with the front desk twice and they were always pleasent, efficient and immediately rectified our problem. There were never any line ups at the front desk, which leads me to be that there were few passenger problems for them to deal with.

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(8) Tenders - we only had to tender at Grand Caymen, and they were well organised, with no line ups. Half Moon Cay was cancelled due to weather issues.

 

(9) Cruise Director - Jason and Vook were great, and a nice change from the CD on the Amsterdam who seemed to disappear and leave her staff to do all the work.

 

(10) Mariner Gift - Instead of the tiles we received a hardcover copy of a book about the history of the Westerdam and HAL. It is very informative, and if HAL is doing this for all their ships, it would be fun to try and get a "complete collection".

 

Overall, there was nothing that HAL could have done to make our Westerdam Christmas cruise any better. The new Westerdam is a dam great ship with any equally great crew!

(End)

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mcduck

Thank you. We are leaving on the Westerdam on 1/9 and your review made me wish the next 10 days would fly.

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Thanks for the great review. We are sailing on her on Jan 16th. Can't wait. Hope to meet up with some fellow cruise critics on board. Anyone interested??

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Thanks for the great review. We are sailing on her on Jan 16th. Can't wait. Hope to meet up with some fellow cruise critics on board. Anyone interested??
If you really want to meet up you have to set up a specific time and place. I always think the first sea day, just before lunch is a great time. Everybody is up and out and about by this time and who has anything planned at that time that couldn't be interrupted for a short time. IF you really want to meet other CCers that is. Some people say they do but they really don't. You are just NOT going to run into people you don't know to begin with. How would you know? Hehe.

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mcduck, thank you so much for such a thorough review. It told me everything I want to know. Almost.

 

Could you tell something about the individual performers, please. Who performed on stage? How were the shows?

And a little something about the who/how was of the musicians/groups in the various lounges.

Thanks! :)

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RuthC - The 14 singers and dancers put on three performances rather than the usual two (it was an 8 night cruise), and made great use of the stage mechanics and lighting. In addition there was an illusionist, but I cannot recall his name, and a singer by the name of Alfreda Gerald. In addition, the illusionist and the singer did a combine performance one night (Which to us was the least entertaining of the bunch). Unlike some cruises, we never saw people bailing out of any of the performances.

 

Cannot comment on the entertainment in the lounges as that is an area where we did not spend much time. What we did hear/see was first rate.

 

This is a ship that has a young, but very enthusiastic and terrific CD, and his staff seem to emulate his infectious style.

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Thank you mcduck.

I like it when posters name the various entertainers so I have a better idea what the show will be like when the same entertainers are on my cruise!

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I do not understand why you did not receive tiles! We were on the Westerdam on a B to B December 5-12, 12-19 and received tiles both cruises and the nice book you mentioned. You should have received tiles, too!

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Thanks for the great review. We are also on the 1/16 sailing. Did you eat in the Pinnacle?

 

Linda

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Thanks for your review of the Westerdam. Very helpful! Will be taking a Spring Break Cruise March 21. Can't wait! Dissapointed to hear no movie theater. Thought there was.Always enjoyed the theater on past cruises. Love to hear more of the illusionist as my husband is hobby magician. Have enjoyed many magicians performances throughout the years. Appreciate the reassurance that Westerdam a good ship/staff. First cruise was on Maasdam. We were hooked! Will be fun to be back on one of Holland's ships.

 

Happy Cruising to All,

Motokins:

Holland Maasdam

Celebrity Constellation

Norweigan Wind

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They still use the Queen's lounge to show movies during the day and in the evening. It is just not a true movie theatre seating arrangement any more. The movies can be seen in your cabin, and the TV's are quite large.

 

Popcorn, as always, is available when they are showing movies in the lounge (as is bar service).

 

The illusionist was a step above many we have seen before, so hopefully he will still be on the ship.

 

I had forgotten that they also had a husband and wife juggling team. Sounds corny, but they were actually quite good.

 

Other than the hair dryers, which was our only complaint, the ship is a sparkling new addition to the HAL line, and I know you will have a great time!

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We were on the 12/19 cruise and thought the Westerdam and it's entire crew were as close to perfection as possible. Leo has signed a 2 year contract per Jason (CD). He is so funny that he's like getting two entertainers in one. I can't wait to book another cruise on the Westerdam. Jason was wonderful and made us feel that he really loved his job. Happy cruising to everyone booked on the Westerdam!

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MC DUCK-Great review. Very helpful. We will be cruising in March and have booked 5035. Do you know if the cabin has the same lay out as yours? It looks like the elevators are close by which is important to me because I'm limited in my walking. How much is involved, walking wise, to the dining room? Is there anything obstructing the view when you look down from your balcony? What deck do you usually get off when you come into port? What deck did you have to go to for lifeboat drill? I have to plan ahead because I can't do the steps.

 

Motokins-Hi there. We are on the same cruise. I'm traveling with my brother, his girlfriend, my sister, husband and 2 kids and my hubby. We're from Maryland. I was born in your state at Ft. Leonard Wood. Have you met anyone else going on this cruise on these boards?

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If you are Mariners, you should have received tiles. Send an e-mail to the Mariner Society and they'll mail them to you. We had that experience on the Oosterdam when we were told that they "ran out" of tiles. It took a while, but we did have them mailed to us.

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Have just got acquainted with CC Boards again after a few months and have seen that there are lots of people due to be on board Westerdam 1/9 sailing. I have seen some great reviews of recent cruises. Thought I would contribute by just saying that I was on this ship when it was two weeks old last May sailing from Venice to England, the first HAL cruise I have taken after 12 with Princess. Lots of differences between the two some good, some not so good. Suffice to say that I have chosen to travel again on Westerdam and will be travelling on the 1/9 sailing and I have chosen to fly 4000 miles from England to do so. Looking forward to it. If you see a 6 feet tall Brit with not much hair doing the trivia, that will be me. Say hi.

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O C Pat - We were in 5024 and 5026 and other than the pictures on the wall were identical. Did nor see any differences in any of the other cabins as we walked by.

 

If you look down from deck 5 you will see about one half of the balcony of deck 4, but otherwise you will have a great view of the ocean and any ports that you are in. The deck railing is a clear panel so you can see right through it.

 

The gangway is on the "A" deck (or level 1), but is accessible by elevator.

 

For the life boat drill we ended up on the promenade deck (deck 2), and while you are on the other side of the ship from where we were, I would guess that is were your muster station will be as well.

 

You will have a bit of a hike to the dining room. As Jason the CD put it, entertainment is to the front, food to the back. To give you an idea of the size of the ship, three laps around the Promenade deck is the equivelent of 1.6 Km or 1.0 miles!

 

I am sure you will have a great time, and as I just finished shovelling 12 inches of snow from a storm last night only to learn that 3 or 4 more inches are on the way tomorrow, I really wish I was on that Dam ship right now!

 

bobpatj - thanks for the suggestion - I will send a email to the Mariner Society and see what happens, after all I have nothing to lose, and a tile to gain!

 

McDuck

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Janisutx - Thanks for adding the name of the illusionist - but you are right he is very funny (especially at the talent contest), and as good an illusionist as he is, he may have missed his calling as a standup comedian!

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