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Kathryn Dickson

Age: 62


Number of Cruises: 18

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Westerdam

Sailing Date: September 25th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

The new Westerdam was a mix of delight and disappointment. What follows is a summary of what was great in our minds, and what wasn't. We have taken 18 cruises.

The food, service, and the warm Indonesian staff were lovely. The front desk was beautifully run. The shows were quite entertaining especially the Indonesian Show. The stage is nothing short of wondrous with raised, revolving sections, and fantastic lighting. The bed was the most comfortable of any ship yet. Lido buffets were delicious. Tours were good but the groups too large and unwieldy, especially in Florence where it is now wall to wall people. Florence was disappointing owing to the overwhelming crowds and it may be that Lucca would be the best tour option at this port.Owing to the large groups, bathroom breaks are too long and in the end, the tour is rushed and you are shortchanged. However it is all about money, so....Tour buses are gleaming but have cramped seats.

The negatives come into play primarily with the design of the ship. There is simply no outside space that is quiet. Huge, horribly noisy ventilation fans are everywhere including the promenade deck and there are simply no nooks and crannies on this ship where you can find peace. Even the aft lido pool is noisy as all get out, leaving only the covered pool where most guests relax, as a place of limited noise. Two of the features in public areas that I judge a ship by are its show lounge and the centrum lobby. The show lounge here reminds one of an old studebaker as it is done in heavy, dark grey, art deco. The only charm is provided by the lighted tulip vases.

The centrum lobby has all but disappeared, leaving a huge blue chandelier brushing against walls. Instead, we have the a la carte restaurant ( $20 extra per person) taking up space that was once soaring public space for all to enjoy. Although there are many fine art pieces and two floor medallions of inlaid marble to entrall you, the decor is heavy and where it tries to be whimsical, as it does on the aft lido pool, what appears to be a blown- up pool toy turns out to be the pool statue. What were they thinking? There are areas of the ship where the decor is positively tacky, in bright carnival colors, surprising for Holland America. The dining room is dark,intimate and lovely. Again though, the design is heavy, the ceiling low, scarcely giving space for the gorgeous flower lighting. There is no sweeping staircase, no real view of the lower dining room, and none of the drama that soaring windows would provide. Tables are mostly for two's or four's with only large groups travelling together getting a table for 8, it seems.

A few new gimmicks have been added to make more money from the passengers. There is no bar other than the lido where you can get a coffee unless you want to pay for it in the Explorer Lounge. The flaming desserts following dinner are offered in this same lounge, but then there is this additional charge for the coffee. The drink of the day, with its special price has sadly disappeared. Many times there is no answer at all when you ring room service, and that is inexplicable. There is no self-serve laundry aboard.

The row of outside cabins on the main deck, port side from #1122 to #1106 suffer from unacceptable noise levels coming from the kitchen galley above as well as the manifold deck below where you can hear heavy things being shoved around. These cabins should just not be there and guests should know what they are in for.

We had a lovely time with an absolutely stunning itinerary, but I would not sail this particular ship again. You are welcome to email me with questions about tours, touring on your own ,etc.

P.S. If you book an aft balcony suite, be aware that everyone looks down into your balcony from the lido deck.

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