This past cruise was my first time sailing on the Holland America Line. We sailed to Alaska on September 21-28, 2013 out of Seattle. Our itinerary was a day at sea, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, B.C. before returning to Seattle. Due to rough weather the schedule changed to a day at sea, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay, Juneau, another day at sea, Victoria and then on to Seattle. I was sad at missing Sitka as I had not visited there before but visited the other two ports on my previous Alaskan cruise. The weather was rough at times but I think that’s to be expected when you sail to Alaska at the end of September. We were on the last cruise north for the season.
The Westerdam was launched in 2004, so it’s almost 10 years old. There were a few places that I noticed the age, like some chipped tiles in the pool area on deck 9, but for the most part the ship as aged gracefully.
Our stateroom was on deck 6, the Upper Verandah deck. Our stateroom was the largest I’ve ever had on a cruise. We had two twin beds, plus a desk and a vanity. There was also a couch (that double as a pull out bed) with two chairs and a coffee table. On our balcony there was a table and two chairs plus two wicker chairs with ottomans, and a small table in between them. There was also a flat screen TV with a DVD player, as well as access to the ship’s DVD collection. We had a small vase of fresh flowers and a fruit bowl. We spent a lot of time in our cabin relaxing and it was a great size. We did not feel cramped at all.
Oh, wait…there’s the bathroom! It was also the largest bathroom I’ve ever had. It has two sinks, plus a full size Jacuzzi tub with a shower PLUS a separate shower stall. It is possible that two people could shower at the same time, each with their own shower.
The crew has been well trained and is very friendly. They are always ready with a smile and a Good morning/afternoon/evening and a How are you? From housekeeping, to the bar staff to the dining room. They go out of their way to make your trip and experience a memorable one.
I had one odd request on the trip. I was a nursing mom without my baby. I could not find my pump before I left so I was hurting. I was able to hand express some of the milk but I was still in pain and engorged. While they did not have a pump on board, they were able to give me pain reliever. I also knew that cabbage leaves would help. I asked one of the supervisors in the dining room if it was possible to get 3 or 4 cabbage leaves. He did inquire why and I told him. He said no problem and got me the requested cabbage leaves. When I asked him for some more the next night he got them and said that he would put in a request for them so I could get them every night. He had them for me every night, until I told him I didn’t need them anymore. I was so thankful that he went out of his way to help me.
The food superb as I have come to expect on a cruise. I love eating in the main dining room, called The Vista, as they serve gourmet meals and I am able to try things I normally wouldn’t eat. I like knowing if I don’t like it I can send it back for something else. I love soup and enjoy the soup options on the menu and I often order two. The soup was delicious! My biggest complaint about the dining room is that my food was not always hot. My baked potato was cold and undercooked the first night. Other than these two complaints, the dining room was excellent.
There was also a buffet, called the Lido Restaurant. Food was always available here. I’ve had some so-so buffets on cruise ships but this was not one of them. The food was hot and delicious. There was also a great variety, from pizza, pasta and salad, to sandwiches, carved meat, to stir fry and and Asian section.
The Greenhouse Spa & Salon
My biggest disappointment of the whole ship was the spa. As we sailed away from Seattle, Mom & I got facials. Mom loved hers. I was not impressed. The woman who did the facial was ok. The face, neck and head massage was short (it’s always my favorite part!) I would not have another one done on this ship. Then the next morning I got a fire and ice pedicure. It was nothing special. The ice part was a cooling mask for my legs that was on for about a minute and then the fire part was a massage with hot rocks. The massage lasted maybe a minute and half on each leg. That was it. I was really disappointed. I will say that in less than 24 hours the polish chipped on two toes and they did fix it at no extra charge. We couldn’t figure out which color I had done so they repainted all my toes. The polish lasted much longer the second time around. I still feel that it was very overpriced for what I got. I much prefer the local salon we go to for half the price; they do a much better job.
One highlight of the spa is the Thermal Suit. There is a hydro pool, filled with warm water infused with minerals. There is a center part that if full of bubbles that gives a wonderful massage. At one end there is a metal bed to lay on in the water , with bubbles coming up between the metal rods. It’s wonderful. It’s warm and soothing, perfect after a chilly Alaskan day. After the hydro pool, there are 6 heated ceramic tile beds to lay on. They are contoured to your body and you have a view of the passing scenery. My only complain is that 6 beds is not enough. You have to purchase a pass to access this area, either a daily one or one for the entire cruise. It is pricey but well worth it.
There are changing rooms and you are given a key to a locker and a key to the suit. In your locker is a robe. You also have the option to get one of four scents of body scrub. I only got the lavender and it smelled so good. It was perfect to use in the shower after the hydro pool but before the heated beds. We tended to use the thermal suit after dinner and it was usually less crowded and the perfect way to end the day.
Compared to other cruises I’ve taken, I feel that the activities were lacking. There were things going on but it never seemed like there were a lot of things going on and very few that I was interested in. It wasn’t until our second to last day and our unexpected second day at sea due to a schedule change that the activities were what I expected. It might have been because the majority of the passengers were my parents age and older. Sure there were some kids but they were few and far between. I really won’t complain too much, because even of the schedule had been full of activities, I probably wouldn’t have participated in most of them.
The ship did have a digital lab with a Techspert. The lab was full of Microsoft computers and the lessons were on Windows 8. I did make it to one class on how to navigate the new system. I found the class helpful and learned several new things. The class was full, mostly with older people really confused by the new look. This would have been a perfect class for my mother in law who has been complaining about how confused she is by all the new features of Windows 8.
Overall I give the cruise an B+. The spa experience took away from it a little, as well as the hiccups in the food service. Other than that, it was excellent. While I don’t know that Holland America will be my first choice for my next cruise, I will consider sailing with them again. I think it is an excellent cruise line for those who are a little older and want a more sedate experience. It is not a party ship by any stretch of the imagination.
*Holland America Cruise Line has no idea who I am or that I am writing this review. I simply cruised on one of their ships to Alaska and wanted to share my thoughts, opinions and experiences on their ship. I have been given no compensation for this review and everything expressed is my own thoughts and views.