Holland America has been in the midst of a change for several years and Westerdam is a perfect example of the line's new, younger persona. Rather than exclusively catering to the senior market, Westerdam now is perfectly positioned to attract both baby boomers and older Gen Xers.
The ship offers something for most everyone in those age brackets. Music lovers have three amazing choices from classical (including modern hits in classical style) at Lincoln Center Stage to have-to-dance blues and rock 'n roll in B.B. King's to sing-along sessions of your favorite radio hits at Billboard Onboard. While you're not going to find any raucous early-morning parties on Westerdam, the entertainment onboard keeps the boat rocking until a bit past midnight. This is particularly true on the ship's European itineraries, which bring in a more global -- and younger -- group of passengers.
Foodies will love the America's Test Kitchen theater, with its step-by-step cooking demonstrations (recipe cards with simple directions included), as well as the two pop-up gourmet restaurants, each providing epicurean feasts at reasonable prices.
Those looking for enrichment during their travels will find computer and camera classes in the Digital Workshop, as well as destination lectures from the Explorations Central (EXC) experts. Plus, the neat interactive touch tables in the Explorations Central lounge have a variety of information about many of the ports of call on every itinerary. We loved stopping by the Question of the Day display each day to give our answer to questions like, "Which country could you visit over and over and never get tired of?"
With all that's on the daily schedule, along with the spaces that are still perfect for relaxation -- the Crow's Nest section of Explorations Central, the King's Room library -- Westerdam is a perfectly calculated mixture of energy and tranquility.
But with all that's new, Westerdam has not lost Holland American staples like an emphasis on service (though on our cruise, service had the occasional bump, particularly in the restaurants) and delicious food in all venues.
Even the smallest cabins (approximately 151 square feet) on Westerdam don't feel cramped, with a tasteful decor in light colors that gives them an airy feel. All cabins come with a desk and chair, small coffee table, bedside nightstands each with two drawers, plug in hair dryer and 5X magnifying makeup mirror, safe (large enough for a small tablet computer), bathrobes for use onboard and a video on-demand flat-screen TV system with lots of movie choices and a smaller selection of TV shows (mostly cooking, travel and BBC nature shows, though "Game of Thrones" is an option). Live TV is restricted to several news channels and two sports channels. Each room has two 115 and two 220 voltage outlets, as well as at least four USB ports -- two by the desk and one on each side of the bed.
All cabins aside from inside rooms also have a love seat or convertible sofa, either a twin or double depending on room category.
Bathrooms, while tight, have plenty of storage space including two wall-mounted soap dishes and a mirrored medicine cabinet with three shelves. Wall-mounted dispensers of Elemis shampoo, conditioner and bath gel can be found in the shower. All cabins except inside rooms have a full bathtub/shower combo. The combos have shower curtains, which are not too clingy.
All rooms also come with twice daily housekeeping, including a turn-down service that comes with two chocolates and a towel animal. Fresh fruit is available by request, as is ice and shoeshine service.
There is a selection of connecting and accessible cabins in most cabin categories.
Inside: Ranging in size from 151 to 233 square feet (for an accessible room), inside cabins come with two twin beds that can be pushed together to form a queen.
Ocean-view: Ocean-view cabins range in size from 174 to 180 square feet and only differ from inside cabins in that they have a full bathtub and shower combo, and a picture window for views of the outside. Some ocean-view cabins have partially or fully obstructed views; check the description of the cabin before booking.
Balcony: Balcony rooms are larger than ocean views, ranging in size from 212 to 359 square feet (including the balcony). As with most other cabins, they come with two twin beds that can be pushed together to form a queen, plus they have a bathtub/shower combo, floor-to-ceiling windows and a sitting area with loveseat or sofa bed. Balconies feature two chairs with matching footrest (essentially a two-piece lounger) and a small table. The deluxe veranda category (typically aft cabins) features larger balconies.
Suite: Westerdam has three categories of suites onboard. All include binoculars for use during the sailing, a pillow menu and concierge service. During the ship's 2017 refurb all suite bathrooms received a face-lift with new marble countertops and wall and floor tiling, as well as mirrored medicine cabinets.
Signature Suites (approximately 372 to 384 square feet) are the ship's entry-level suite category. They feature two twin beds that can be converted to a queen, a bathroom with a two-sink vanity, full-sized whirlpool bath with shower plus a separate shower stall, and a large sitting area with twin-sized sofa bed. Balconies feature chairs and a small cocktail table.
Neptune Suites range from 500 to 712 square feet, including the balcony and can hold up to four people. Two single beds that can be pushed together to form a king-sized master bed, plus the sitting area has a double sofa bed. Also in the sitting area are a wet bar, coffee and espresso machine, a glass table and extra armchairs. The bathroom has a two-sink vanity, a full-sized whirlpool bath with shower, plus an additional shower stall. In between the main room and the bathroom is a small sitting area with extra closet space and makeup desk. There's more than enough storage space for four people with several closets and lots of drawers tucked away throughout the space. The oversized balcony has two two-piece loungers, a dining table with four chairs and a small cocktail table.
The ship's two Pinnacle Suites are each approximately 1,150 square feet (including the balcony) and feature a bedroom with a king-sized bed, separate living room with double sofa bed, dining space, microwave and refrigerator, guest half-bath and dressing room. The bathroom has an oversized whirlpool bath with shower, along with an additional shower stall, while the balcony has its own whirlpool.
In addition to the previously mentioned suite perks, cruisers staying in Neptune and Pinnacle suites also get priority boarding for tenders; special disembarkation service; free mimosas with in-suite breakfast orders; exclusive use of the Neptune Lounge; an expanded selection of Elemis bath amenities; free laundry, pressing and dry cleaning throughout the sailing; free bottled water provided at embarkation; fresh corsages and boutonnieres on the first formal night; cold hors d'oeuvres served before dinner upon request; and in-suite high tea service upon request.
Dining is a highlight on any Westerdam sailing, with most people raving about their meals whether in the Dining Room or a specialty restaurant (a nice change from many big ships where the best food is always only in the specialty restaurants).
Perhaps this is because dining choices are limited, so chefs are free to give their undivided attention to each venue. In fact, there are separate kitchens for some of the venues (one for room service, one for Pinnacle, one specifically for preparation of meals for people with dietary needs or allergies and one for everything else), narrowing the focus even more.
With that said, there were hiccups here and there (the occasional meal that wasn't cooked quite right or servers delivering the wrong item). But overall, complaints about the food on Westerdam were few and far between.
In terms of choice, there are four free and four specialty choices onboard (three of the four are held in the same venue). Special needs diets can be catered for and there is a separate kitchen specifically for all special needs meals, with dishes put aside only for gluten-free meals. Vegetarians in particular will find an enormous variety in all dining venues. There's even a small menu for kosher meals, though these meals must be ordered several months in advance.
The Dining Room (Decks 2 & 3): Passengers on Westerdam can choose from two types of main dining room experiences for dinner on the ship: set seating (with early and late seating at 5:45 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively) or As You Wish flexible dining, whereby cruisers can either make a reservation or show up to the dining room anytime between 5:30 and 9:15 p.m. Breakfast is also served every morning and lunch is served on sea days and select port days in an open-seating format.
Breakfast in the Dining Room is typically served from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and offers a robust menu. In Europe where the passenger base is more global, options include traditional American, British and Asian items, and the juice selection is excellent with nine choices.
Lunch in the Dining Room is a much smaller affair; typically only open for one hour on sea days and select port days and having just a one-page menu with items like watermelon caprese, pork and mango skewers, grilled tuna melt, avocado and bacon burger, beef stroganoff, shrimp tomato risotto and a black bean patty. There's plenty for dessert including lemon meringue pie, coconut raspberry or fresh strawberry tart, pineapple sundae and several ice cream and sherbet choices.
But it's dinner where the Dining Room shines, with food that's just as good as what you'd get in a specialty restaurant, excellent service (with a hiccup here or there) and a comfortable atmosphere that's just traditional enough without ever being too stuffy or formal.
The menu is divided into starters (including soups and salads), mains and dessert. Starters might include crab and scallop ceviche, pumpkin and squash soup, coconut-crusted scallops, chilled kiwi melon soup, and orange and radicchio salad.
Main options might be penne primavera, grilled flat iron steak, chicken breast with Israeli couscous, eggplant and zucchini piccata, prime rib, veal tenderloin, couscous Florentine, short rib with black olives, and wild mushroom strudel.
Signature starters available every night are French onion soup and a classic Caesar salad, while signature mains are grilled salmon with ginger-cilantro pesto, broiled New York strip loin and turkey scaloppini.
Indulgent desserts might include chocolate fudge brownie cheesecake, Viennese apple strudel, creme brulee, banana crisp with vanilla ice cream, chocolate panna cotta, and warm espresso-date pudding. There's also always a fruit plate and a selection of ice creams and sherbets available.
Gala Nights offer a smaller selection. Appetizer choices might include jumbo shrimp cocktail or foie gras, while the soups and salad menu might feature roasted parsnip soup, or an apple, pear and cucumber salad. Entree choices on our first Gala Night included mushroom ravioli, surf and turf, basil-crusted veal, pan-seared sea bass, Asian-style rotisserie duck, and pistachio and cheese-crusted eggplant piccata. For dessert we could choose from a warm flourless chocolate cake, an almond and orange cake, passion fruit cheesecake, and no-sugar-added tiramisu.
Lido Market (Deck 9): Up on Deck 9, between the two pools is the ship's buffet, called Lido Market. The space received a spruce-up during a 2017 refurb, getting new chairs and a slight tweak to the serving stations. Most notably, there are no more trays and cruisers can no longer serve themselves. Instead, crew dish out the requested menu items in smallish portions. (You can ask for more or go back as many times as you want.) A handful of items are pre-plated and you can just grab and go.
While there are several seating areas throughout the Market, it can be quite difficult to find a spot to eat during breakfast or lunch. Even asking a crew member didn't result in getting a seat; instead we always had to walk around for five minutes or more until we were able to snag a spot. It can be a frustrating experience. Thankfully this sense of crowdedness does not transfer to the lines for food. We rarely waited longer than three or four minutes to get served and usually it was much more immediate than that.
Breakfast brings with it typical morning fare including scrambled eggs, a choose-your-fixings omelet station, assorted pastries, fruit and cereal.
Lunch and dinner offer themed stations, with the same choices on both sides (salad, bistro, ice cream and sweets) except for one side having a pizza and pasta spot and the other side having a pan-Asian station.
Among the choices you might find at lunch (at all stations combined) are two to three types of pizza, a selection of sandwiches, a carvery (roasted strip loin, beef brisket, roasted turkey, etc.), two soup choices (cream of celery with ham, roasted parsnip and carrot), ziti with sauteed andouille sausage, spinach and clam baked farfalle, pork in coconut, pad Thai noodles, stir fried vegetable curry, an assortment of sushi, and spiced haddock in a remoulade sauce.
Dinner choices are similar though perhaps a touch more refined. The carvery, for instance, might have lamb shoulder or roasted prime rib, while other choices might include a short rib lasagna Bolognese, crab carbonara, five-spice roasted chicken, broiled New York striploin, grilled lamb chops, olive-crusted plaice, Parmesan-coated veal loin and mustard-crusted tuna.
Our favorite station by far (at both lunch and dinner) was the choose-your-ingredients salad bar, where you point out what you want to the guy behind the counter and he puts it all in a big bowl for you and adds the dressing of your choice. The array of fixings is much larger than what you normally find in a cruise ship buffet.
There's always hard ice cream available for dessert (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and a flavor of the day) with DIY fixings including various sauces and toppings. Other dessert options at either lunch or dinner could include bread pudding, mango fruit tartlet, marbled cheesecake, double chocolate cupcakes and berries financier.
For those who need a bite to eat after dinner service is over, there's a late-night buffet from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. Here you'll find items like fresh fruits, cheese plates, chicken Caesar salad, spaghetti Bolognese, pork fried rice and a portobello Gruyere quiche.
Dive-In Burger (Deck 9): Located on the front end of Lido Market, tucked away in a small corner is the Dive-In Burger and Taco Bar. This is the place to go if you're in the mood for a burger or hot dog, or want a fully-loaded DIY taco. Options include: the Cannonball, which comes served with Gouda, applewood smoked bacon, sweet caramelized onions, lettuce and tomato; the Gainer, served with a mound of crispy, frizzled onions, lettuce and tomato; and the Freestyle, a vegetarian grilled portabella mushroom burger with cheddar and Gouda. There's also a traditional cheeseburger (called the High-Dive) and the Back Flip grilled chicken burger with guacamole -- all are served with Holland America's secret Dive-In sauce. Three styles of Nathan's hot dogs are also on offer and the fries aren't half bad either!
Just next to Dive-In is a DIY taco bar. Fixings include chicken or beef, drunken beans, yellow rice, cheese sauce, pico de gallo sauce, crab and corn salad, guacamole, pineapple or mango salsa, and sour cream.
Dive-In is also the spot on the ship for those with a hankering for a milkshake. For $4.50, you can get a strawberry, chocolate or vanilla shake.
Room Service: Cruisers looking to eat in can take advantage of the ship's complimentary room service menu (there are just a handful of extra-fee items, including the always available-24-hours-a-day choices). At breakfast, which you can pre-order by putting out the order form on your door knob the night before or call to order any time before 11 a.m., choices are the Continental (assorted pastries, fruit yogurt and sliced fruit), the Classic (scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and toast), the Healthy Start (muesli, cottage cheese and sliced fruit) or a ham and cheddar or vegetable and goat cheese omelet. There are nine cereals available and eight juices, coffees or teas.
The all-day menu is actually only available 12 hours, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (between 11 p.m. and breakfast, you have to pay for a la carte room service options, see below). Among the six starters are a chicken or cheese quesadilla, chicken noodle soup, three-bean chili, and Caesar or Cobb salad. Four sandwiches are available, including a roast beef panini and barbecue pulled pork sub, as are a sausage rigatoni and an oven-roasted chicken. Want to satisfy your sweet tooth without leaving the room? Call up for a chocolate layer cake or New York cheesecake (among other choices).
Pinnacle Grill (Deck 2); $35 for dinner and $10 for lunch: For a special night out most nights, your only option is Pinnacle Grill, a fine dining steakhouse with a sophisticated decor that features dark green walls, lustrous reddish-brown floors and accents of gold throughout. The food is delicious (and there's plenty for a vegetarian to feast on), but we found the service to be slow at times. Our group was divided into two tables and by the time one of the tables was finishing up their main courses, the other table was just getting served. With that said, the food was worth the wait.
First course options include lobster bisque, jumbo shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, crab cakes and steak tartare. There's also a caviar option that costs an additional $70.
The main courses are divided into land and sea choices. For the steak lovers, choices include filet mignon (two sizes), New York strip steak, bone-in rib eye (two sizes, including a 36-ounce choice that costs an additional $59) and a porterhouse. Diners can make it a surf and turf by adding a 5-ounce lobster tail for an additional $10. Other land options include a double-cut pork chop, Colorado lamb chops, roasted Jidori chicken, baked-stuff eggplant, wild mushroom ravioli, and roasted pumpkin risotto.
Seafood lovers have a few choices as well including Alaskan king salmon, Alaskan king crab legs, cedar planked halibut with shrimp scampi, and a seafood stew with clams, mussels, shrimp Alaskan crab and halibut. There's also a 12-ounce Maine lobster tail that'll cost an additional $20.
And if all that weren't enough, diners can select any number of the seven side dishes, especially as they're made to share. We recommend the creamed spinach and shoestring fries with truffle aioli.
Pinnacle Grill is also open for lunch on select days with a smaller menu that consists of six appetizers, nine main courses (including Alaska king salmon, black cod and beef tri-tip) and six dessert choices.
Rudi's Sel de Mer (Deck 2); $49: Once per cruise, the Pinnacle Grill is transformed into a French seafood restaurant with a menu created specifically for Holland America by Chef Rudi Sodamin. The three-course menu includes appetizers, a main course and dessert, as well as a selection of six side dishes (French fries, cauliflower puree, wild rice, green beans, truffle mashed potatoes and ratatouille). Appetizers include steak tartare, escargots, bouillabaisse Marseillaise, tuna salad nicoise, foie gras and Rudi's seafood tower, which comprises lump crab, North Sea shrimp and octopus in a brandy cocktail sauce. For an extra $25 diners can also select a fruits de mer appetizer for two, consisting of lobster and crab claws, langoustine, jumbo shrimp, mussels, oysters and clams.
There are eight main course choices: fresh catch of the day, broiled Maine lobster, whole Dover sole, rack of lamb persillade, salt-crust baked branzino, steak frites, duck cassoulet and a cheese souffle.
If you've still got room left for dessert your choices are profiteroles, crepes Suzette, apple tarte tatin, Rudi's souffle (a version of the Salzburger nockerl) and a cheese plate. A serving of petits fours is automatic.
Taste of De Librije (Deck 2); $49 without wine or $69/$89 with wine pairing (3/5 ounces per glass): Created in partnership with Michelin Three Star Chef Jonnie Boer, a member of Holland America's Culinary Council, Taste of De Librije is a five-course culinary delight for foodies that mimics much of the experience found at the land-based De Librije right down to the uniforms and table settings. Each of the five courses offers diners two choices. First course is either Maine lobster with avocado or oysters; second course is a lobster bisque foam or crispy pork belly; and third is seared bass with speck ham or sweet breads. The fourth course is baked cod with North Sea shrimp or miso-glazed duck breast. The fifth course, dessert, is a deconstructed apple pie or roasted white chocolate. (Diners with dietary restrictions are not recommended to eat here.)
Canaletto (Deck 9); $15: Located within a small section of the Lido Market is Holland America's popular, and delicious, Italian eatery. The menu is divided into small plates, pastas and large plates. Portions are designed for sharing; the menu recommends two people order two small plates, one pasta and two large plates. Canaletto is open only for dinner.
Small plate options include antipasto, veal and sage meatballs, fish soup, buffalo mozzarella, beef carpaccio, stuffed eggplant, and saffron risotto with zucchini. Among the six pasta choices are garlic shrimp ravioli, potato gnocchi, rigatoni with sausage, mushroom gemelli, and spaghetti with clams and shrimp. There are five large plate choices: prosciutto-wrapped veal tenderloin, chicken cacciatore, lamb cutlets, grilled sea bass fillet, and zucchini spaghetti with portobello mushrooms. We recommend sharing more than one dessert as well; choices include tiramisu, almond lemon tart, ricotta and marsala-filled cannolis, a selection of gelatos and a cheese plate.
Room Service; a la carte: The vast majority of the room service menu is free for anyone to order but there is a small selection of extra-fee items including smoked salmon Benedict ($7.50), steak and eggs ($9.50) and a fresh fruit smoothie ($4.95), all for breakfast; and select menu items from Dive-In Burgers (available 24 hours, all options $4.95) or Pinnacle Grill (only available for dinner, $15 to $20).
Casual attire is appropriate during the day and most evenings in all dining venues. Shorts, beachwear, distressed jeans and men's tank tops are never permitted in any of the restaurants except the Lido Market. On Gala Nights (there's usually one per seven days), passengers are encouraged to dress to the nines, though slacks and a collared shirt are all that is required for men, while women should wear a dress, or skirt or slacks and blouse ensemble. You will see plenty of men in suits and even a few in tuxes, and you'll see women in gowns.
Mainstage, on Decks 2 and 3, is Westerdam's big production theater. On our 12-day sailing, there were four big-stage musical productions and a number of performances from guest entertainers (think comedians or magicians), including a few local acts brought on to give cruisers a taste of the local culture (in particular Spanish guitar and flamenco).
The talent at the musicals was excellent, particularly among the four singers. The shows ranged from enjoyable revues of themed songs (all love songs, for instance) to a show with a loose plot based on fairy tales that was a bit corny, though it had beautiful costumes and stage settings.
Westerdam's cruise director and supporting crew do a good job keeping passengers as busy as they want to be (less so on port days, but you'll still find some options) with a variety of activities ranging from a movie in the theater to digital workshop classes to destination lectures, and spa and retail "seminars" (which are really just excuses to sell cruisers something) to daily trivia sessions, extra-fee drink tastings and America's Test Kitchen shows.
Based on the popular public television show of the same name, America's Test Kitchen (Deck 2) is held several times throughout each cruise, with two sessions on a sea day and one on select port days. The set, which was installed during the 2017 refit, is pretty snazzy with several burners and an oven, as well as a shiny display of silvery pots and pans. Two large-screen TVs show what the chef is doing, but unfortunately don't show any close-ups, which could be helpful. A typical "show" consists of two or three themed recipes. On our sailing we could attend "Flavors of the Mediterranean," "New Italian Favorites," "Everything with Salmon," and "Meatless Mondays," among others. During each class the onstage chef walks the audience through the preparation and cooking of each item, including explanations of why certain ingredients work the way they do. Audience members can take home recipe cards at the end of each session.
Another learning option offered most days are classes at the Digital Workshop (Deck 3). Here cruisers interested in learning more about Windows 10 or other Microsoft software can take complimentary hands-on classes. Among the classes that might be offered are: Make Movies with Windows 10, Do More with Microsoft Edge, Store and Share with One Drive, Bring Photos to Life and Get Creative with Photo Gallery. On our sailing the Digital Workshop teacher was also a photographer so she also offered a class on how to get the most out of your digital camera. Classes are free but fill up fast so show up early to get a spot.
Yet another enrichment option is the Explorations Central (EXC) lectures. Lectures are given by EXC staff and might simply be about upcoming ports, what the excursion options are and what some of the must-see attractions are. Other lectures will have a narrower focus and might include basic language lessons or be about local culture or legends. Options on our sailing included "Spanish Tapas," "The Legend of the Pillars of Hercules," "The Legend of La Cara del Moro," and "The Legend of Sibylline Books," among others. Lectures are taped so if you miss it live you can catch it on your in-room TV later.
Many cruisers also while away the time in the King's Room library playing bridge or board games or in Explorations Central on Deck 10 doing a jigsaw puzzle or the day's New York Times crossword puzzle.
Outside of the nightly theater shows, nighttime on Westerdam is all about music with three venues offering a variety of musical styles. Called Music Walk, this three-pronged experience comprises Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Stage and B.B. King's Blues Club.
Billboard Onboard, added during the 2017 refurb, is a bar featuring two head-to-head pianos, lit by funky neon lights. Here you can rock out to all the Billboard hits from the 50s through to today sung by the dueling pianists. Sessions are themed (by decade, Hot 100, Icons, British Invasion, all request, etc.) and the crowd tends to swell when theater shows let out, so grab a seat before that if you can. Most nights there are three sessions, with the first starting in the early evening and the last getting started closer to 11 p.m. or later.
Also added during the 2017 refurb, Lincoln Center Stage is a more sedate, but nevertheless brilliantly executed music experience. Via a partnership with New York City's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Holland America is able to offer a series of classical (and not so classical) chamber music recitals with top musicians. The piano quintet (piano plus three violins and a cello), perform three 30-minute shows most evenings, starting around 6:30 p.m. Shows range from straight-up classical to themes that might include Latin sounds, jazz favorites, American composers, fresh perspectives (which included classical covers of Sting and Radiohead) and specific composers (on our sailing those included Schumann and Dvorak). The performance space is intimate and tends to fill up for later performances (the last show typically starts at 9 p.m.).
B.B. King's has been on Westerdam for some time, but the lounge, which it shares with America's Test Kitchen, got a face lift during the refurb. The most popular spot on Music Walk with the most varied crowd, B.B. King's offers a live band doing a variety of blues and Motown tunes, as well as rock 'n roll. People were up on the dance floor till about midnight most nights. As with the other Music Walk venues, B.B. King's offers three sessions most nights with the first set starting between 8:30 and 9 p.m.
If you're not in the mood for live music, there are several bars open late, or you can try your luck in the casino.
Ocean Bar (Deck 3): A sizable bar decorated in golds and dark browns, Ocean Bar wraps three-quarters of the way around the upper atrium and the spiral staircase that leads to Deck 2 (the remainder of the staircase down to Deck 1 was eliminated during the 2017 dry dock). It's is a popular spot for cruisers to gather before and after dinner for drinks and small talk. You'll also find live piano music most nights from 7:15 to 8 p.m. On select nights, music trivia is offered here as well.
Gallery Bar (Deck 2): A somewhat whimsically designed cocktail bar, added during the refurb, Gallery Bar is a unique blend of museum gallery and private social club reading room (think the Yale Club or the New York Yacht Club). On the walls you'll find an eclectic mix of artwork from traditional-looking portraits and landscapes to more modern and abstract pieces. It's a friendly, busy place in the evening, especially at the 7:30 p.m. trivia session. Look for cocktails with names like "Another Shade of Greyhound," "Gallery Gimlet" and "Slightly Less Than Perfect Perfect Manhattan." Wine, spirits and beer are also available.
Pinnacle Bar (Deck 2): Not a wine bar, per se, the small Pinnacle Bar nevertheless is framed by displays of wine bottles inset in wooden cubby holes. It's most commonly used for pre- and post-dinner drinks, and you'll find a variety of signature, tropical and classic cocktails, as well as wines and spirits.
Explorer's Lounge (Deck 2): Located at the back of Lincoln Center Stage, this space seems to be mostly used as a spillover spot during performances. There's no bar service here and it seemed to go mostly unused the rest of the time.
Lido Bar (Deck 9): This poolside bar serves people hanging out by the Lido pool or dining in the Lido Market.
Sea View Bar (Deck 9): Another poolside bar, this one is for people hanging out at the aft Sea View pool.
Explorations Central/Explorations Cafe (Deck 10): Located in the Crow's Nest, Holland America's popular forward observation lounge, Explorations Central is a multi-faceted lounge designed both for learning and relaxing. It's a lovely spot, with nearly 300 degrees of floor-to-ceiling windows for phenomenal views, and comfortable furnishings in neutral shades of tans, sky blue, browns and rusty orange. Popular throughout the day is the Explorations Cafe, presented by The New York Times, where cruisers can come for extra-fee specialty coffees and free pastries. And while the large lounge is popular with readers and those who like to gather to do jigsaw puzzles or play cards, Explorations Central is much more than just a place for passive relaxation.
It's here you'll find the EXC desk for cruisers to book tours or get help planning self-directed tours. EXC guides are more than happy to spread a map out and sketch out a rough itinerary with you. You'll also find touch tables with information about most of the ports on the ship's current itinerary; typically, for each port of call there are three articles, each highlighting some attraction of note. Nearby is also a small library with fiction, nonfiction and photo books related to the ports on the current itinerary, as well as maritime and Dutch history. On the port (left) side of the lounge is the small Explorations theater, a lecture space used for themed presentations including basic language lessons or talks on local culture or legends.
Cruisers can also come up to Explorations Central each day to answer the interactive, travel-based Question of the Day and see how others have responded. The digital screens animate your answer (i.e., highlighting the country you've chosen), then list other peoples' answers so you can compare. Another digital display mimics what the captain sees on the bridge -- azipod status, propeller rotation rates, speed, ocean depth, etc.
Westerdam has two pools, both open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Lido Pool, on Deck 9, is domed by a retractable glass roof and is considered the more family-friendly of the two options. There are three hot tubs near the Lido Pool, as well. (Hot tubs are open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.) The Sea View Pool, also on Deck 9 but located at the back of the ship, is an open-air pool; there's one hot tub here. Though kids are not forbidden from using this pool, it is generally considered more of an adult space. No matter which pool kids go into, all children under 16 must be supervised by an adult while in the water and all must be completely potty trained and not in swim diapers.
On Deck 11 at the back of the ship you'll find the sports court with a full basketball court, which can also be converted into a soccer pitch or a volleyball court. There are two Ping-Pong tables on Deck 9, near the Lido Pool and two shuffleboard layouts on Deck 10. The ship has no jogging track, but you can walk all the way around on the promenade deck (Deck 3). Three laps equals 1 mile.
You'll find plenty of sun deck space on Decks 9, 10 and in a little hidden spot on 11. There are also loungers along one side of the Promenade Deck (Deck 3) but there's not often a lot of sun here.
For those wishing to splurge a little, the Retreat offers 12 cabanas (each for two people) and family cabanas (fitting up to eight people). The three-sided canvas cabanas come with a chair and couch inside the cabana and two loungers outside (with little to no shade), as well as butler service, free bottled water, fresh fruit, a snacks menu and cabana room service delivery of anything from the room service menu, the Lido Market and Dive-In Burger. Port days are significantly more affordable than sea days, with a two-person cabana costing $55 for a port day and a family cabana costing $75. On sea days, prices go up to $85 and $125, per day respectively. A cabana day is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hidden on Deck 11 just across from the Retreat is a sun deck few people know about. There's nothing there except loungers, so it's quiet and peaceful. Perfect for reading a book or dozing off; but keep in mind, there is no shade.
The Guest Services desk is located on Deck 1, right across from the onboard Rijksmuseum. In its current state, the Rijksmuseum comprises a wall-sized digital screen on which oversized copies of paintings from the namesake Amsterdam museum are displayed (making it easier to see smaller details you might miss when looking at the actual painting); three walls of reproductions tracing the history of art from the 1100s through the end of the 19th century; and a wall of books and pamphlets about the Rijksmuseum and Dutch artists. There is talk of future Rijksmuseum-branded lectures or evening events "at the Rijksmuseum" but so far none of this has been implemented. Unless you're going to sit and watch the slideshow of digital reproductions (which can take hours), a visit to the Rijksmuseum takes no more than 10 minutes; from what we saw on our sailing, only the most dedicated art lovers have shown any interest in the space.
Shore excursions can be booked at the EXC desk in Explorations Central on Deck 10, and future cruises can be booked with the future cruise office, also on Deck 10 in a corner of Explorations Central.
You'll find several shops on Deck 3 selling jewelry, perfume, Holland America-branded clothing and souvenirs and assorted toiletries and other essentials. Near the shops is the ship's Digital Workshop space. Also on Deck 3 is the photo gallery, where you can try to spot any pictures taken of you among the photos of nearly 2,000 other cruisers.
You'll find three meeting rooms on Deck 3, as well as a small Internet Cafe with four computers. Cruisers with their own devices can connect to the ship's Wi-Fi; there are three packages to choose from. The Social Plan ($14.99/day or $99.99/12-day sailing) provides access only to the most popular social websites and apps including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The Enhanced Plan ($24.99/day or $149.99/12-day sailing) includes all the social media sites, plus access to email, news, sports, weather, banking and finance, but does not support Skype video calling or music streaming. The third plan, Premiere ($29.99/day or $199.99/12-day sailing) includes access to pretty much everything, as well as faster speeds.
Down one deck is the ship's Art Gallery, where you can peruse paintings, drawings, mixed-media works, sports memorabilia and more. Art auctions are held throughout the cruise.
Though Westerdam has no chapel, religious services are offered regularly with a Catholic mass held daily, an interdenominational service conducted each Sunday and a Jewish Sabbath Eve service held each Friday night in one of the lounges.
There's a doctor's office with limited hours on Deck A.
While Holland America Line is not a cruise line with a heavy emphasis on families, the line's ships do offer a kids' program for children ages 3 to 17. Club HAL on Westerdam can be found on Deck 10 and is divided into three age groups: 3 to 6, 7 to 12 and 13 to 17.
Club HAL, like the rest of the ship, does not offer anything for children under 3, and all children must be toilet trained to participate; youth staff will not provide any type of restroom service. Nor can youth staff offer one-on-one service to children with special needs.
Limited in-cabin babysitting might be available when the ship is at sea only. The cost is $10 per hour for the first child and $7 per hour for each additional child. Inquire at guest services if you're interested.
Lastly, a kid's menu is offered in the Dining Room and on the room service menu.
There are two Club HAL programs (3 to 6 year olds, 7 to 12 year olds) operating most days between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and then again for an hour at night, from 9 to 10 p.m. Youth staff will take kids to lunch at noon and then bring them back to the kid's club.
There is no printed schedule of activities for kids; parents can look on the interactive in-room TVs or go upstairs to the club to see what's available. Most days activities for the 3 to 6 year old set include things like arts and crafts and sports sessions; their space is a brightly colored area with easy-to-use computers and tables for arts and crafts. For the 7 to 12 year olds (which Holland America refers to as tweens, despite younger kids being included in the group), similar activities are offered, along with video gaming; their space is pretty barren with not a lot to excite tweens. In fact, the small tables appropriately sized for the 7 and 8 year olds would probably turn off the 11 and 12 year olds the minute they walked in.
All children 12 years old and younger must be signed in and out by a parent or guardian.
Teens, ages 13 to 17, have their own space called The Loft. More of a hangout spot than anything else, teens will find a circular couch in front of an oversized TV screen for movie watching and Xbox or Wii playing. There's not much else there and we heard from one 15-year old that he and the other teens rarely hung out in there. Occasional group activities are offered including mixers, scavenger hunts and late-night discos.
Your fellow passengers on a Westerdam cruise will be remarkably different depending on whether you're cruising in Europe or the Caribbean. In Europe, the passenger base is heavily Australian and Dutch, with people also coming from England, the United States, Asia and Spain, and the age range is wider than in the Caribbean with more families including kids (in some cased more than 100 kids under 18) and adults ranging from 45 to 80 years old. On these cruises the party goes a little bit later into the early morning hours and the overall atmosphere is more active in general.
In the Caribbean, the demographic shifts back to Holland America's core North American market and the age range goes back up to 55-plus, with nightly fun coming to a close closer to midnight (or earlier). This is not because the onboard offerings change, but because the line historically draws an older clientele in North America and its newer offerings have not yet been adequately communicated to the cruising population at large.
Westerdam's Greenhouse Spa & Salon is a quiet refuge at the top of the ship (Deck 9), though cruisers we talked to who had massages or facials all complained of a hard sell at the end of their treatments. (To avoid this, let them know beforehand that you will not be purchasing anything and to skip the sales pitch.)
A full complement of treatments are available from facials and massages to ionithermie treatments, scrubs and wraps, as well as acupuncture, hair and nail options, waxing and even several options just for men. Prices are comparable to what you'd find in a big city: a 50-minute Elemis Oxydermy facial is $169; a 75-minute Thai Herbal Poultice massage is $195, while a 50-minute Swedish massage is $119. Salt scrubs start at $155 for a 50-minute half-body treatment and acupuncture is $150 for the first 50-minute session and $125 for each additional 45-minute session. Men's treatments start at $15 for a "Tidy Up" and go up to $129 for a 50-minute Elemis Urban Cleanse Facial. A traditional manicure costs $29, while a gel manicure will set you back $45.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to your spa bill.
The spa's thermal suite has a thalassotherapy pool and heated ceramic loungers. Passes are available for a day or an entire sailing. On our 12-day sailing, a day pass was $40, while a full-cruise pass was $149 for a single person or $299 for a couple.
Open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Deck 9, Westerdam's fitness center has a variety of cardio and weight machines. Both free (morning and evening stretch, ab workout) and for-fee classes (yoga, spinning) are offered on a somewhat regular basis. Extra fee classes cost $12 each (except for Body Sculpt Boot Camp, which costs $120 for four 30-minute sessions), and personal training is available for $85 for a 60-minute session. Children under 16 may not use the fitness center's facilities.
There is an automatic service charge of $14.50 per person, per day for anyone staying in a non-suite cabin. Cruisers in suites are charged $16 per person, per day. You may adjust the charge downwards at the end of the cruise if there has been an issue with your service. A 15 percent gratuity is added to all bar drinks and spa treatments.
Date Refurbished: 2004
Country of Registration: Netherlands
Regular Capacity: 1916
Maximum Capacity: 1916
Number of Crew:612
Crew Nationality: International
Officer Nationality: Dutch
Language(s) Spoken:< Multiple Languages
OverviewRecently updated with new bar, entertainment and dining venues, plus completely reimagined suites, Westerdam is a fascinating destination in her own right. On board, enjoy live entertainment with Music Walk , including Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King's Blues Club and Billboard Onboard. Learn culinary skills at a cooking show or hands-on workshop with America's Test Kitchen. Enrich your travel experience at the new Exploration Central atop the ship.
Health and Beauty
No. of Dinner Sittings: 2
No. of Dinner Sittings: 6:00pm & 8:00pm
Special Diet: Available upon Request
Dress Code: Daytime: Casual / Evening: Resort wear to formalGratuity Policies
Hotel Service Charge for Suites: $15.00 USD Per Person per day
Hotel Service Charge for Non-Suite: $13.50 USD Per Person per day
Sailings AFTER Dec. 1 2018, HSC Non-Suite $14.50 USD Per Person Per Day
Sailings AFTER Dec. 1 2018, HSC Suites $16.00 USD Per Person Per Day