Length: 951 ft
One of the four "Vista-class" ships; movie theater, fine library, alternative dining, lovely staterooms.Best For People Who Want
A combination of elegant surroundings with refined music, cognac and cigars next to raucous Karaoke and piano sing-along bars. Recent release movies, large and comfortable cabins in all categories.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Mainstream resort cruise ships with Waterslides and rock climbingOnboard Experience
The Westerdam is the third in the series of Vista-class ships that began with Zuiderdam (the four sister ships; Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam and Noordam represent the four points of the compass in Dutch). Westerdam, however, is nothing like Zuiderdam except in structure. The main difference in this class is the number of decks adding additional cabins. One thing to watch out for is the upper promenade deck is now populated with cabins rather than public rooms, and if you get an oceanview cabin on that deck you may have people walking outside your window during all hours of the day & night, or your view will be fully obstructed by a lifeboat. There are verandah cabins on that deck with no structural problems.
With Westerdam, Holland America attempts the difficult trick of melding traditional elegance with modern pizzazz, and mostly succeeds. Because the ship's designers have filled it with intimate public areas that feel like private clubs or lounges, it's easy to forget you're aboard an 82,000-ton middle-liner, unless, that is, you venture into the casino, larger than on other Holland America ships and now with an active Texas-Hold'em table resting in the Sports Bar; behold the influence of Holland America's parent company, Carnival Corporation.
If you want to read a book and enjoy the sunshine, there are a great number of comfortable spots both inside, or even better on the line's signature teak and cushioned deck loungers on its open promenade deck. Service staff is always warm and near at hand, but very discreet.
Westerdam benefits from Holland America's "Signature of Excellence," a program of fleet-wide enhancements the company began in 2004. New features include tableside waiter service at dinner in the Lido, a new Culinary Arts Program with show kitchen for demonstrations and classes, expansion of spa and fitness facilities, upgraded Club HAL Kids' Centers, and new shore excursions. The Explorations Cafe is a combination library, Internet center, music listening area and sidewalk cafe. Staterooms now offer the best mattresses and duvets sold in Europe, and top level suites offer flat screen TVs and DVD players. There's early boarding and a choice of four dinner seatings.
The Explorations Cafe is a combination New York Times-powered library, Internet center, music listening area, and sidewalk cafe. Westerdam has the best crossword puzzle area ever glimpsed at sea. While there is an Internet center with typical cruise prices available ($70 for 100 minutes) the throughput speed can be so dismally slow that audible moans of frustration may be heard. Its better to wait for a port day and follow a crewmember to a nearby Internet cafe.Public Rooms
The central atrium, only three decks high, would look right at home in the lobby of a small chic hotel. The attractively laid out Vista Lounge, for the most elaborate nighttime shows, is big enough to accommodate everyone aboard over two performances with tiered seating both upstairs and down and universally excellent sight lines.
The large (at least for HAL!) casino is next door to a sports bar with big-screen televisions on which to watch the big game. The sport's bar is also where you will find the Texas Hold'em Poker games. The casino has many slots and a vatirty of games including Blackjack, Let it Ride, Craps, Roulette and Caribbean Stud Poker.
The large Ocean Bar, with sea views by day and romantic lighting at night, is the most popular spot for pre- and post-dinner cocktails, not least because of the complimentary d'oeuvres it offers before dinner. The Queen' Lounge doubles as the movie theater and karaoke bar, but the Piano Bar, enlarged from earlier Holland America ships to accommodate more guests, is rather more popular. The Crows Nest observation lounge, with its 320-degree view, is the perfect place from which to watch your departure from port.
Westerdam separates smokers and nonsmokers as effectively as any ship at sea. In general, smoking areas are located "wherever there is an ashtray," which in most cases is in the corner of any given room. Smoking is not allowed in the Dining Room or Pinnacle Grill.
There's a variety of brightly lit shops onboard selling logo-wear, jewelry, knick-knacks and chocolate.Cuisine
The beautifully presented, banquet-quality, Continental cuisine in the Vista Dining Room has improved in recent years as a result of more contemporary menu selections such as seared tuna and grilled rack of lamb. Gone are the bland entrees of a few years ago. Service in the dining rooms has taken a noticable leap forward, now that the expansion of the cruise line is no longer tapping the best service people for the newest ships. On a recent cruise, the waiter was not only efficient, but engaging and warm, remembering our preferences and never missing a beat. In fact, when it was pointed out to him that his badge had the all too typical misspelling "Dinning Room Steward" he actually had it corrected by the end of the cruise.
The lunch buffet on Lido Deck, along with the separate food stations for Italian and Asian cuisine, offers abundant variety and easy access. Lines are rare except at peak times. The Deli custom sandwich bar serves its phenomenal grilled BLT on a baguette; don't even consider not trying it, while the Poolside Grill offers hamburgers and hotdogs all day with hand-stirred mayo, mustard and ketchup. There's also a taco bar immediately forward of the Grill. Unlike many mass-market cruise lines, a request for an ice tea from a bar waiter outside will not be answered with "you can get those yourself inside." They will actually bring to your table for you - no charge.
The alternative Pinnacle Grill specializes in dishes featuring ingredients from the Pacific Northwest, an homage to Seattle, the home city of Holland America Line. There is a $20 per person surcharge. The food is cooked in a separate area of the main galley, and served piping hot. The desserts alone are worth the price of admission, especially the tri-flavored creme brulé sampler or the "Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake."
Watch for specialty nights such as the "Chef's Dinner" for 12 people with wine-pairing - cost $89 per person.
Also the "Le Cirque" night in the Pinnacle Grill when they serve itrems from the menu of the iconic New York restaurantRestaurants
The two-level Vista Restaurant has spacious seating for two, four, six, eight and 10, and good soundproofing. The unusual central curved staircase between the two decks creates the feel of a much more intimate restaurant. The Murano glass ceiling is well worth looking up from your food to admire.
There are four assigned seatings -- 5:15, 6:15, 8 and 8:30 p.m. The idea was to improve service, but it may not have worked, as servers can seem harried, on the one hand, or bored, on the other. That said, a staff member will greet you every time you enter, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. From the Rosenthal china and Riedel glassware to linen tablecloths, dining is an elegant affair. Some evenings you will dine by candlelight, others to the accompaniment of a string quartet. The menu includes special "health-conscious," vegetarian, and low-salt items, as well as sugar-free desserts.
The Pinnacle Grill, Westerdam's alternate dining venue, offers cuisine (and wine) of the Pacific Northwest in an irresistibly elegant atmosphere. Reservations can be hard to come by, but the restaurant is open for lunch on some sea days (for only $10 per person) with a different, but comparably wonderful, menu.
The buffet-style Lido Restaurant is an attractive alternative to the main dining room. Breakfast and lunch are served on a tray that a staff member will carry to your table for you. In the evening, the Lido offers waiter service. There is ample seating both indoors and out. In addition to the large main line of hot entrees, there are separate stations for omelets in the morning and for pasta, salad, desserts (including HAL's famous bread pudding) at lunch. There's even a deli/sandwich bar, and a very popular ice-cream bar, with cups, cones or sundaes at no charge. Daily afternoon tea is served and late-night (usually around 11:30 p.m.) snacks are also available in the Lido Restaurant.
Another alternative is room service, available 24 hours a day at no additional charge. Holland America has one of the widest-ranging room service menus at sea. In fact, it is possible to order dining room meals from the evening's menu to be served in your cabin, but only if you order during the first 1/2 hour the dining room is open (6:00 on most cruises, but this can vary, call room service to verify when it is available).Service
Westerdam's gracious, ever-attentive staff are some of the best at sea in the premium class due to the line's most organized system of grooming crewmembers. With schools in Indonesia and the Philipines feeding the crew for the fleet, the average crewmember has been on board for five years and really knows his/her stuff. They take pride in their jobs and seem to enjoy the passengers' company as much as their counterparts'. You never see them congregating and ignoring their duties.Tipping
For years Holland America was known for its no-tipping policy, but today gratuities of $10.00 per person (including children) are automatically added daily to the shipboard account for dining and stateroom service. Visit the front desk to adjust that amount. There is also a 15 percent service charge automatically added to bar bills.Entertainment
/Activities: on Holland America used to be almost an embarrassment for such a quality line, but Westerdam's serves notice that things have changed. Instead of the usual four singers and dancers in the production shows, the Westerdam has more than a dozen, with much more elaborate sets and costumes designed by Bob Mackie. The ship's library is excellent (though book-borrowers, shockingly, are required to deposit $25 deposit on every book they borrow!). Daily activities include exercise and dance classes, bridge, bingo, Friends of Bill W meetings, guest lectures, and ice carving.
A highlight is the dessert buffet, presented late night sometime in the middle of each cruise. Picture taking is as good as the tempting delights, with the abundance of ice carvings, pastry statues, fruit carvings, and sugar and marzipan creations.
The new Culinary Arts Center, with overhead video monitors for those seated far from the action, is set up very much like a TV Food Channel set, and must be adjudged a marvelous addition. A number of demonstration classes are offered at no charge. Hands-on classes, limited to about a dozen students, charge modestly. As these classes are very popular, be sure to sign up early.
There is no dedicated onboard cinema, as on the S-class of Holland America ships, but the Ocean Bar is transformed into a movie theater at least twice daily and you can still find the free bags of popcorn, though they have gone from hot to lukewarm. The movie selection is surprisingly recent releases and refreshingly intelligent in content, favoring good plots over mindless action flicks.
An adjunct to the Internet center are the computer classes on a few basic topics mostly having to do with digital photography. There are two classes offered for free, with follow up classes for $20 per person for those who want to become advanced users.Cabins
Westerdam's staterooms are larger than most mass-market cruise lines', with balcony cabins bigger still. Standard inside cabins are 182 sq. feet, outside staterooms 197 sq. feet, and standard balcony cabins 284 sq. ft. Balcony cabins have a spacious veranda with two chairs and a table. Be forewarned, though, that staterooms have few shelves and no drawers.
The verandahs on Holland America are quite adequate for two. The well-equipped staterooms offer wonderful new pillow-top beds, better pillows; fluffier towels; duvets and high-thread count sheets; a stocked mini-bar (with charges for all beverages consumed); hair-dryers; safes; functional storage space. Staterooms always feature fresh flowers; a filled ice bucket; and a bowl of fresh fruit that's replenished regularly.
Television service includes several stations, such as CNN, ESPN, television shows, shore excursion presentations, and shopping presentations. There's no self-service laundry, but several laundry packages are available, the $45 unlimited laundry package seems a good deal, though it doesn't include dry cleaning.
Suite passengers have access to the Neptune Lounge on Rotterdam Deck, a private room that serves various snacks (from light breakfast fare in the mornings to hors d'oeuvres at cocktail hour). The concierge therein can book dinner reservations and shore tours.
There's no self-service laundry on this ship, although several laundry packages are available through your room steward.Fitness/Spa
Westerdam has one of the most spacious gyms on the high seas, with cardio equipment and weight machines arranged in tiers, and a large hot tub in the center. The Greenhouse Spa and Salon's reception area is situated in the midst of a hallway between the main pool and an elevator bank, making the fitness center purposely difficult to locate. Despite the name, it's still run Steiner's, which means that its treatments are somewhat pricey, though the staff is not quite so relentless about sales.
An nice alternative to a massage is a day pass to either the thelasotherapy pool with extremely strong water jets to soothe your muscles ($20/day), or you can go to the steam and aromatherapy center and relax on heated loungers and take steambaths infused with essentail oils. Day passes to this are also $20/day. Or you can buy a weekly pass to both for $250 unlimited.
The Westerdam has two outdoor swimming pools, one with a Magrodome roof that can be closed in case of inclement weather. There are also several hot tubs available at no charge. The large gym has state-of-the-art strengthening and aerobic equipment, and there's a jogging track on one of the upper decks. There's a nominal charge for some of the exercise classes.Attire
On the two weekly formal nights, half the men opt for a dark suit rather than renting a tuxedo. Casual on these ships means comfortable, but T-shirts, jeans, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are all forbidden in the dining rooms and public areas. It isn't allowed, but also not unusual for people to change back to casual after dinner on formal nights. As long as you stick to the deck areas or casino, no one will frown at you.
I've read some of the reviews here that are less than flattering for the Westerdam, and I feel I must step in and say something. I've also noted, however, that some reviews are a bit outdated. So hopefully my review will help a bit, since my husband and I have just returned from a cruise in September of '13.
I will start with the cons of the Westerdam, as that won't take as long to describe. In the description of the formal evenings we were told that the men "sometimes choose to wear jackets" in the Vista Lounge. When we arrived at the Vista we were told that jackets were "required." So that was a bit of a surprise because my husband didn't bring a jacket. Fortunately they had jackets there for him to borrow. Also, there was one fellow in the Lido cafe who I noticed never smiled. Okay - those are my two "cons" with regard to the entire trip and the whole cruise line and the Westerdam itself.
Now the pros - the ship was clean, shiny, beautiful, well appointed and just plain incredible. (This was our thirdcruise and also the third cruise line we had tried.) The staff was beyond helpful, always smiling (except for that one guy in the Lido) and our steward even called us by name! Every single one always greeted us with a smile - every single time! There was ALWAYS a "Good morning madam," or "Good afternoon, how is your day?" It was amazing. One day we requested a banana for our room, and for the rest of the cruise we had bananas every single day. The food was wonderful, plentiful, and just plain terrific.
There were always great activities. "High Tea" included an amazing array of goodies that even my husband - a large eater and sugar addict - couldn't possibly finish. One night there was a barbecue featuring salmon and chicken, along with so much other fancy food, as well as a marzipan sculptured eagle and so many desserts. Other outdoor feasts included a HUGE banana cream pie, an apple pie, and a chocolate bread pudding - all to die for.
And, contrary to what another reviewer said, the performers possessed the most incredible talent I've ever seen. The choreography was mind blowing, and the singing - wow!!! The lead male singer had the best voice of any singer I've ever heard - hands down. That guy needs an agent. I don't know where HAL gets these talented people, but once a talent agent sees these kids they are out of there! There was a "Dancing with the Stars" contest where cruisers could try out their own abilities at dancing, and the winner would go on to compete with other HAL dance winners. They gave away a free cruise in a drawing, and had huge jackpots at several bingo games. There's not enough space to describe the daily activities that went on - geared to every age level and type of person - active, lazy, old, young, athletic, nerdy, etc.
We have been on a Royal Caribbean Cruise, Norwegian, and now Holland American. The best by far is Holland America. Do not be afraid to book a cruise on the Westerdam. You will love it.
This was the worst cruise I've been on by far. Ever since being acquired by Carnival, Holland-America line has been steadily declining. This was my second HAL cruise. 6 years ago, I cruised on the Veendam and had a wonderful experience. ALOT has changed since then.
When Carnival "updated" the ship in 2010, they removed most of the common areas from the 9th deck. The library and internet center were moved to the Crow's nest. The movie theatre was removed entirely and movie showings were in the Queen's Lounge, deck 2, which was very inadequate given the number of people on the ship. All of this was done in order to make room for more staterooms on the 9th deck. So instead of carrying 1500 passengers like the ship used to, it now carried close to 2000. The ship was very crowded.
The first night we went to dinner in the Vista dining room, we were made to wait 45 minutes before being seated. Once seated, I noticed at least half of the tables in the dining room were open, yet hundreds of people were still waiting to be seated. It became veryapparent that the ship was understaffed. Lines in the Lido restaurant were ridiculously long.
Service overall was terrible. There simply were not enough staff to take care of the number of passengers. It was very obvious to me that the staff were not happy, probably due to being overworked. When you called room service, it would take at least 45 minutes for someone to show up.
In typical Carnival tradition, I felt like HAL was nickel and diming us the entire cruise. You want popcorn with your in room movie, sure, it will be $5. They even started charging $20 per passenger for carrying your bags off the ship at the end of the cruise. Hotel service charges were tacked onto the bill for each person staying in a cabin (they used to charge one service charge per cabin, regardless of number of guests) Shore excursions were ridiculously overpriced. For example, 6 years ago, we went whale watching in Juneau for $40 per person. It now costs $140 per person to book on the ship. Need internet access? That will be 75 cents per minute plus a $3.95 activation fee. The majority of the ships activities each day were designed around the idea of selling your something(art, jewelry, etc.)
And then there were the little things we noticed. No more ice sculptures. No more fresh fruit in your stateroom basket. No more chocolate extravaganza. I guess those activities were affecting the bottom line.
The food was mediocre at best. The food in the lido was okay if you could tolerate the long lines. The main dining room food was very disappointed, with some nights verging on being edible. One night, I tried 10 different options from the menu in an attempt to find something decent. I gave up and ordered a hamburger from the stateroom. When the hamburger arrived, you could hardly recognize it as such. It was burnt beyond recognition.
We noticed that our time in port was much shorter as compared to six years ago. Then we discovered the cause. HAL has decreased energy consumption by 10 percent in the last 4 years. Now, they will tell you that it is all in the name of "going green" and being environmentally friendly, but in reality it is all about the money. By slowing the ships down, they save alot of money in fuel costs. Also, the shops onboard have to be closed while in port. If the shops are closed, they can't sell you something, and they would rather you spend your money on the ship rather than at the port. So spending more time at sea helps accomplish that goal.
This was our last Holland-America cruise. We will now be trying Celebrity or Reagent. It is sad that Carnival has ruined what was once possibly the finest cruise line around.
This ship is small, but adequate. The decor is red with various oriental ornaments and art. We purchased a balcony room and I must admit, I expected a larger room. It was extremely small and quite cramped. The couch made out into a bed and it was impossible to access the balcony when this bed was down. The cabin service was adequate, but nothing special.
We ate in the dining room once and from them on, the buffet, which was very good. We found the dining room to be too slow and the portions too small. We had "ship envy" whenever we saw the gigantic Princess cruise ship near. It was 3 times the size of the Westerdam! Overall the trip was very good, but I would not book a cruise on this ship again. I have sailed with Royal Carribean, Carnival and Holland America and definately prefer Royal Carribean of the three.