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Review of the HAL Westerdam 7 day cruise
1. Ship Decor and Navigation
The ship had very classic feel, very well taken care of. The ship's decor is very classy but I felt like it was designed for an older generation of cruisers. The ship was in a good state of repair and I don't recall seeing any trash or anything damaged. Overall the ship was very nice and easy to navigate the interior and alot of maps to help you along.
Our stateroom was a Verandah in the back of the ship [VA]4183. The room was very nice seemed about average size for most balcony rooms we have had in the past. The acceptation to this is we had a larger bathroom with a tub/shower combo and the balcony/deck area outside our room was near 10'x10'. Enough room on the deck to have 2 chairs, a lounge chair and small table and still plenty of room left over for additional standing space. The downside of the room was its position in the ship, being in the very back and near to the bottom, the motion was felt in a big way and many unusual ship noises could be heard from our room. Also when going out onto the deck area you had to make sure to wipe off your chairs for a minor collection of soot from the smoke stacks.
3. Public areas
The public areas, such as the pool area and bar areas were very spacious and only during high traffic times was it difficult to find a nice place to sit and relax. The casino area was quite a bit smaller than all other ships we have been on, but even during peak hours it still didn't seem overfull. There also never seemed to be a problem finding an elevator. We rarely if ever had additional riders on the elevator with my wife and me. The public areas flowed so well that wait times were minimal. The Vista lounge had alot of seating and because of the early and late dinner seating separation there were always seats available. Making it easy to even come in last minute and still able to get a good seat.
Lido buffet, I have to say it was the best buffet design I have ever seen. The areas were all separated by type of food. They had a specific area for italian, asian, deli, grill items, mexican, ice cream desert station, and area called hot food which was various dishes. Ample seating inside and outside. The downside of the Lido buffet was the drink area. They provided the standard free drinks, lemonade, teas hot and cold, coffee, water. But the glass size was about 6oz and occasional 8oz glass would sneak in there. But speaking as someone who likes alot of drink with my meal, it made it a bit tough to coordinate drinks and keeping food hot. I usually had to grab at least 2 or 3 glasses at once, find a table. Then grab the food and hope your drinks were still there when you returned. Also there were no drink stations outside near the pool or grill area. So if you wanted to eat outside you had to go inside to get your drinks. I found this drink issue to be a great annoyance on this cruise. If you decide to go on this ship bring some large cups with you to avoid this situation.
Vista dining room, we had a late fixed seating and had some very enjoyable and interesting people at our table. The food though was another story. I do not consider myself a very picky eater and will in most cases be willing to try new things. But it seemed most evenings I ordered a standard steak. The combinations and choices they had made for most dinners seemed to not work for me. This feeling was shared by at least 6 of the 8 guests at our table. There also seemed to be some lapse of communication between us and the wait staff. They made many mistakes and had to be asked several times for many things. This being my 9th cruise and logging at least 60 days aboard different cruise ships, I had come to expect a certain standard from the staff in the dining room. For my wife and I the evening dining experience was a major disappointment.
I have to say first that any day on a cruise is better than my best day at work. Though it was neither the best cruise we have been on nor was it the worst. Overall I would give it a 5.5 out of 10. But would I go on HAL Westerdam again or other HAL ships? Yes I would be willing to give them another try if one of our preferred lines was unavailable. I do realize that many cruisers have different expectations of what makes a cruise line and a cruise vacation great. If you are reading this and are considering the Westerdam or another HAL ship. Give it a shot and just take my time aboard as a learning experience and use it to make your cruise with the Westerdam a 10!!!