Ship Review – Westerdam – Day 1

Image – Westerdam in Ketchikan, Alaska – Taken by me

I intend to offer cruise reviews on this site every so often and will give some insight as to what you can expect in various locations of the world and so forth. For my first review, I want to show you the ship I know the best, as I’ve spent (including tours) over 20 days exploring the various halls, public rooms and behind the scenes areas.
Please keep in mind these are my personal opinions from the time of the cruise, and that I was a full fare paying guest with family on this cruise, so I’m giving my personal opinions. While most of this cruise was in fact perfect, I do identify a couple hiccups. Cruise Lines are the greatest when they have the feedback to know what did and didn’t work, so they can adjust from there.

I wrote a very extensive review on Cruise Critic for this cruise to Alaska, and here it is (please dom’t mind any typos or references that you don’t follow with regard to the Cruise Critic boards. This was originally written as a post, then copied and pasted into a review.) :
Day 1 – Embarkation Day
Embark – Perfect. We were on about 10:45, met the Guest Relations Manager Marion who is a total dear and a delight (and on vacation for the next 3 months!). After this, we stopped by the room just long enough to drop off my mom’s walker for IN THE ROOM navigation and did a bit of a walking tour of the ship, which is in AMAZING shape (it should be as it’s only 4 years old and a year out of drydock, right?), noticed a lot of the changes from that drydock (Explorations Cafe sharing the space with the Crow’s Nest, the new “Signature Cafe” just off the shops, the Erasmus Library which was briefly turned into the Russian nicknack shop and is BACK to a library with puzzles and crosswords and just big picture books and almanacs. (I would say AT MOST there were about 100 books in there. All big, off size, collection or special interest related)… the now HUGE aft pool deck which was great for Glacier Bay day, the brilliant new layout for the shops and addition of the luxury shops surrounding the entrance to Merabella…)
After the whirlwind tour it was off to lunch in the Lido and we found a spot, although it took a little bit of hunting. We had mom in the wheelchair so she “guarded” the table and we grabbed food for 3. Mainly just soup and salad at the time, then we killed a little more time before the rooms opened up.

And once they did, WOW were we spoiled. We had the following in our room: With the Suite Amenity Package- -2 Coffee Cards -Bouquet of 12 long stem red roses -Card indicating Pinnacle Grill dinner for 2 (and we just bought the third for $20 and the request we make a reservation at our earliest convenience. -The order form for our beverage set-up (We got Absolut Mandarin, which wasn’t on the list, but Citron was and the ship had an extra bottle and allowed it and Bacardi White, then bottles of Twin Fin Shiraz and Mondavi Private Reserve Reisling) -2 HAL bathrobes that were monogrammed -Card allowing us access to the DVD library onboard at no cost -The final evening onboard (Victoria) we got our disembark tags which also included cards to get access to the Neptune Lounge (we never had a chance to go) and an invitation to the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast on disembark morning. Besides the suite amenity package, we also had: -1 cocktail card -1 bottle of Ruffino Pinot Grigio -A bottle of Champagne from the Hotel Manager and Captain -A plate of chocolate covered strawberries -A plate of various canapes (we also opted for them on one afternoon as part of the suite package) -And a couple hundred in shipboard credit

The room itself was J 1060, just forward of midship, an inside room but one of the big square ones. There was tons of room for 3, even once the couch was folded out for bedtime, 3 big closets which held everything the three of us needed, plenty of room under the beds for the EIGHT bags we brought onboard, a chair besides the curved couch, the ottoman and the adjustable height coffee table. My only VERY MINOR grievance with the room was: The tv when they switched to a flat panel was mounted to the shelf at a bit of a sideways angle, so when the beds are in twin configuration and the one is on the back wall of the room, the very left edge isn’t totally easy to see. But no big deal… I just adjusted slightly if I cared about what was on.
Possible change to procedure I haven’t seen mentioned before on here: The fridge in the room is empty, and there was a card with a VERY thorough list of items and prices of what could be brought to the room to stock the mini-bar with, and the extension to reach the beverage department. Due to the above obviously MASSIVE supply, we didn’t take advantage of this other than a soda package (sodas are usually about 3.00 each after the service charge, but if you get three at once, same or different kinds, it was $4.25 plus the service charge. This worked great and the only thing the beverage staff did on disembark day was make sure nothing was left behind in the fridge and that the guests in the room either took it with them or trashed it.
Shower only room: This worked great and even with a shower stool that my mom used it was easy and a really good size. Note for those that need the shower stools, this is the kind with ONLY a seat and 4 legs. There is no back and there are no handles on it. There was no soaping of the walls and spinning around, and at 6’0″ and in the 200-300lb category, I didn’t feel squeezed or claustrophobic at all.

Medicine cabinet had plenty of space for the three of us with all of our various stuff, although my mom’s make-up and most jewelry did stay in a separate toiletry bag (it was easier to keep it all together that way)

Sail Away party: We were promised sunshine and then a system of mild crap came back westbound and down from the mountains and kept the skies grey and cloudy with just a little rain and a somewhat chilly breeze. Charlie and the Hal Cats provided live entertainment at the lido pool and we were off before the Star Princess, but not before first engaging in about a 5-10 minute “horn war” This was great, and since it was the first “big cruise” I’ve done, it really gave me goosebumps. Lisa called to wish me a bon voyage right as we enjoyed a couple wang wangs and my mom had a “pina not colada” That’s what they’re called. Promise!
And then we were off. The lido cover being open was short lived but still great anyway. The Cruise Director Kerry Watkins was there to welcome everyone (VERY AWESOME GUY, along with DJ Jazzy who literally had me in stitches at each event, game show, name that tune, etc)
Dinner: If you have the pleasure of getting on the Westerdam in the near future, hope with everything you have that you get Kadek as your dining steward. He is seriously THE HIGHLIGHT of this cruise for us. Wonderful personality, amazingly friendly, takes part in the Indonesian Crew Show and is so obviously happy to be there. In Ketchikan he saw us coming down the gangway (we was ahead of us coming back from his own day in port, and came running up the ramp to help out even though we DID have it just fine in the grand scheme of things. We then chatted all the way down and back onboard) on the evening of the Dessert Extravaganza he grabbed one of the alligators made of bread that was carved by the chefs and gave it to my mom as a gift so that she’d always remember the cruise, then on her birthday (Victoria day) he and Ade the asst. dining steward gave her an origami frog that says “See you next time” and “Happy Birthday mom” on it with their names. The Dining Room Manager and Asst. Dining Room manager came over with Kadek and Ade to sing to her, and first joked around that they were going to do the spanish rap version of her birthday song before singing the normal way. They also presented her with a larger than usual cake that was a white cake with a frosting so light it was almost like a vanilla whipped mousse with chocolate shavings and a huge strawberry.
But I’m getting ahead of myself… that’s what happened the final day which I’ll get to eventually.
The show was a quick introduction to the singers and dancers called Up Front and then an introduction to the magician on the ship, Leo Ward, who positively has the best (yet sinister and twisted) sense of humor I’ve seen in a long time. More on him at a later point. We saw him 3 times total, not just the regular two… More on that later as well) The show was decent, but clearly a quick one.

About the time we made our way back to the room, we had a quick chance to meet our Room Steward Rudi, who over the course of the week gave us a swan, a stingray, a dog, an elephant… Incredibly friendly and again, so obviously happy to be there.
We went into our miniature chocolate coma and called it a night. We were up late the night prior getting everything packed in typical last minute fashion.
To be continued…
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