Nearly identical to her sister ships in the Vista Class, Westerdam is a mid-sized ship with excellent dining, adult-tailored recreation, and excellent entertainment. She does family-friendly Alaska sailings in the summer, and Pacific coast and Hawaii itineraries the rest of the year. Her calendar is a pik-a-mix of uber-short sailings (1-day Seattle to Vancouver, 4-day Pacific coast), mid-length cruises along the Pacific coast from BC to the Mexican Riviera, and lengthy circle-Hawaii itineraries.
Decor is an appealing retro-chic mélange of classy wine reds, dark blues and earth tones, and just the right amount of fun touches, like the silver-framed benches on the elevator landings and in the Pinnacle Grill and Pinnacle Bar.
Holland America is known for its variety of high-end culinary options at either no surcharge or a very minimal one. Even the crème of specialty dining experiences, the one-night Le Cirque pop-up experience offered on 12-night or longer cruises, is a relatively modest $49 per person.
Longtime HAL cruisers will see many familiar venues, two of which have gotten concept/menu updates in recent years: Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto. Pinnacle is the signature steakhouse, with a permanent menu of classics and a specials section featuring Pacific Northwest seasonal bounty. Lunch is $10 per person surcharge, dinner is $29.
Canaletto used to be a complimentary “family-style Italian” concept tucked into the larger Lido dining area. Its menu was expanded and elevated a couple years back, and a nominal $10 per person fee was added.
One of Holland America’s strengths is its organization—which you can really appreciate when observing the Lido Market buffet in peak mode. Not only is it well organized, but it’s really not self-service. Each station is staffed. Specialty stations include a sandwich bar and pizza counter.
The main restaurant seats 1,112 guests on two decks. In keeping with the times, it offers flexible seating (“As You Wish, they call it) or traditional seatings. Also, it doesn’t have a permanent menu. This can lead to some minor timing wrinkles, but for the most part, diners are happy with the experience.
There are two specialty coffee bars, the Java Bar and Explorations Café. There’s also a casual pool grill—The Terrace, open for lunch.
Bars & Lounges
No deviation from the fleet-wide standards, which check off all the expected experiential boxes for traditional cruise lounges: atrium bar, pool bars, Piano Bar, Lido bar, sports bar.
Crow’s Nest is the observation bar. Explorer’s Lounge is a wine bar that often showcases classical music ensemble. Both of these venues sometimes host beverage tastings in the day. The sports bar serves the casino, which can be a benefit to sports fans who want to watch their game in the company of other gaming enthusiasts.
Explorations Café is actually a specialty coffee bar and Internet access point, not an alcohol purveyor, but it sees just as much activity as the boozy venues.
HAL not only continues to focus on live entertainers instead of DJ playlists, but is improving its entertainment offerings even as other lines cut corners. The Vista showroom stage was recently updated with LED panels to enhance its visual effects, but this only enhances the Broadway-caliber performers; it doesn’t replace them.
The Queen’s Lounge is the versatile smaller show lounge. It hosts the Culinary Arts Center programming by day and transforms into B.B. King’s Blues Club five nights a week.
The Piano Bar and the casino both have their regular repeat visitors. And the Northern Lights Nightclub, which can be underused on certain ships, actually does turn into quite the late-night scene on Westerdam—especially during school holidays when lots of families are traveling.
While this ship offers the normal cruise lineup of trivia, games and live music, the specialty programming is much more enrichment, not wild-and-crazy poolside fun. The big draws in the daytime are Digital Workshops by Microsoft, which have their own dedicated “lab” with 14 stations; and Culinary Arts Center demos and tastings, which are mainly in Queen’s Lounge although tastings are sometimes in smaller venues. Also, tours of the ship’s unique art collection are a HAL signature.
With no dedicated movie theater, cruisers can watch films either in Queen’s Lounge or outdoor on the Lido Deck in the evening.
This ship has two pools on Lido Deck, both all-ages friendly, and an additional hydro-pool in the spa. The wraparound promenade deck is a visual feature that also serves cruisers in need of fresh air and a stroll.
Children’s facilities are important on this ship, as it’s one of the most family-friendly in the fleet. Club HAL kids’ club has its own game room, while The Loft teen area can host everything from cooking classes to a nightclub.
Explorations Café is adjacent to the library, which is fairly well stocked and well used on this ship. With computer stations and espresso drinks available for a few dollars, this little room is often a hub of activity.
- This ship is nearly due for its next dry dock—scheduled for April, 2017. Until then, expect to see some wear and tear, plus slightly dated entertainment venues.
- A lot of the enrichment classes have some sort of product sales element