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This was our third cruise with Holland America and first on Westerdam. We have also cruised with Azamara, Oceania, NCL, Windstar, Louis, Katarina and several river cruise operators. This cruise was 12 nights, starting in Civitavecchia and finishing in Barcelona. The ship is looking very smart in the public areas. We were in an ocean view cabin on deck 1. The cabin looked a little tired. The job done by our room stewards was not very thorough. On our previous 2 HAL cruises we had found the food to be boring, bland and repetitive. This food on this cruise was no different. The service in the Lido Market was poor – they supposedly served water and lemonade at the tables, but we usually had to go and get our own – it was difficult to attract any waiter attention. Plates were often not cleared between courses. There were no lecturers. The concerts by the HAL entertainers was not to our taste. A guest pianist one evening was very good, and the resident pianist on deck 3 was good. We also tried the chamber music group in the Lincoln Centre on several occasions, which was okay. It became very windy while we were anchored off Monte Carlo. The crew did an excellent job of ensuring passengers were tendered safely on and off the ship. The following day was still windy, leading to the cancellation of the St Tropez stop. The advice that this port had been cancelled was very late – we only found out because of the lack of shore excursion staff in the theatre when we went to join our booked tour. St Tropez was replaced with Villefranche, where the harbour was sheltered and tendering was straight forward. Disembarkation instructions were confusing. We booked a HAL tour with drop off at the airport, but we still received a letter telling us to disembark when our tag colour/number was called. This happened before the reporting time for our tour, and when we went to the theatre for the tour meeting time there were no shore excursion staff there, which made us wonder which instruction we should be following. Eventually someone showed up to allocate bus numbers. This tour with drop off at the airport worked very well, and certainly solves the problem of what to do with the luggage for the day. Holland America would not be our choice of cruise line, but if the itinerary was of interest we would consider it.

An average cruise

Westerdam Cruise Review by roaming_kiwi58

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2017
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
This was our third cruise with Holland America and first on Westerdam. We have also cruised with Azamara, Oceania, NCL, Windstar, Louis, Katarina and several river cruise operators. This cruise was 12 nights, starting in Civitavecchia and finishing in Barcelona.

The ship is looking very smart in the public areas. We were in an ocean view cabin on deck 1. The cabin looked a little tired. The job done by our room stewards was not very thorough.

On our previous 2 HAL cruises we had found the food to be boring, bland and repetitive. This food on this cruise was no different. The service in the Lido Market was poor – they supposedly served water and lemonade at the tables, but we usually had to go and get our own – it was difficult to attract any waiter attention. Plates were often not cleared between courses.

There were no lecturers. The concerts by the HAL entertainers was not to our taste. A guest pianist one evening was very good, and the resident pianist on deck 3 was good. We also tried the chamber music group in the Lincoln Centre on several occasions, which was okay.

It became very windy while we were anchored off Monte Carlo. The crew did an excellent job of ensuring passengers were tendered safely on and off the ship. The following day was still windy, leading to the cancellation of the St Tropez stop. The advice that this port had been cancelled was very late – we only found out because of the lack of shore excursion staff in the theatre when we went to join our booked tour. St Tropez was replaced with Villefranche, where the harbour was sheltered and tendering was straight forward.

Disembarkation instructions were confusing. We booked a HAL tour with drop off at the airport, but we still received a letter telling us to disembark when our tag colour/number was called. This happened before the reporting time for our tour, and when we went to the theatre for the tour meeting time there were no shore excursion staff there, which made us wonder which instruction we should be following. Eventually someone showed up to allocate bus numbers. This tour with drop off at the airport worked very well, and certainly solves the problem of what to do with the luggage for the day.

Holland America would not be our choice of cruise line, but if the itinerary was of interest we would consider it.
roaming_kiwi58’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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Dining
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin C 1079
Ordinary ocean view cabin, looking a little tired. Conveniently placed. Quiet. Room stewards were not very thorough with the cleaning.
Main Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Almeria
    Many people went to Granada to see the Alhambra, but it is quite a long drive from here and we had been before, so we spent the day wandering Almeria on our own. It is walkable from the cruise ship pier to the sights of the city. We climbed up to the Alcazaba, which is impressive, and free to enter. Then we walked up the San Cristobal hill to the monument and more views of the city and the Alcazaba. The cathedral, which is built like a fortress is also worth seeing. There are also many churches, most of which were closed.
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  • Barcelona
    Lots of options here. We had an overnight, so spent the first day on our own, then did a HAL tour the second day. We had been before so we decided to just concentrate on a couple of major sights. We only saw La Sagrada Familia from the outside on a previous visit, so this time we went inside. I booked online beforehand. There are several bus options from the port to near the Columbus monument. We used the most convenient one, which ran specifically to/from the Westerdam. It was 5 Euros per person and could be used all day, as many times as you liked. Having caught the shuttle out of the port, we then walked to La Sagrada Familia, stopping at several churches and various buildings in the Parc de la Ciutadella along the way. We spent 2 hours in La Sagrada Familia, including going up the Nativity tower. A truly amazing place and a must see in our book. From here we walked up to the Hospital de Santa Creu I de Sant Pau. This is a lesser known sight in Barcelona and is well worth a visit, even if the entrance fee is a bit steep. It is an amazing collection of modernista buildings, built as a hospital, with interconnecting tunnels.
    We had an overnight in Barcelona before disembarkation the next morning. We did a HAL tour to Montserrat, which then dropped us off at the airport. We had done Montserrat before, but it is a pleasant excursion and this was a convenient way to fill time before our afternoon flight. Our guide was good, and we got to Montserrat ahead of most of the crowds of tour buses.
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  • Corsica (Ajaccio)
    Famous for the Napoleon connection, this place is pleasant enough. We docked adjacent to the town and just wandered.
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  • Florence (Livorno)
    There are many options for day trips from Livorno, but the big industrial port is not very user friendly for those wanting to DIY. We did a HAL tour to Cinque Terre. This was new territory for us, but did not really come up to expectations.
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  • Marseille
    A base to go further afield if you want, but we stayed in Marseille for the day and did our own walking tour – about 25kms of it! The cruise ships dock quite a long way out. There are several transport options to get into Marseille, but for convenience and to save time we used the HAL shuttle, which was US$14 per person return to Rue Barbusse, near the History Museum. There are lots of sights of interest in Marseille, including the Palais Longchamp, Notre Dame de la Garde, Vieuz Port, St Victor Abbey, Palais du Pharo, Fort St Jean, Hotel de Ville, Cathedrale La Major, Le Panier (Old Marseille). We really enjoyed Marseille.
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  • Nice & Eze
    We did a half day HAL tour to Eze & Nice. A bit too early to be in Eze – the shops were only opening as we left. The gardens at the top of the village are supposed to be excellent, with great views, but it is not worth paying the hefty admission price because of the very limited time you get to spend there. In Nice we only had an hour’s free time, which was only a taster – will have to go back! Our guide was extremely hard to understand because of his strong accent. On our return to Monaco we did our own walking tour of Monacoville, the old town on top of the hill. The cathedral is impressive, the aquarium is an amazing building (we didn’t go inside), the palace was a disappointment. We enjoyed wandering the old town and admiring the views. It became very windy in the afternoon, and we were scheduled to stay here until 11pm. HAL made sure we were safely transferred to the ship after a rough tender ride from shore.
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  • Rome (Civitavecchia)
    Embarkation port. Cheap and easy enough to catch the train from Rome to Civitavecchia (provided you don’t have too much luggage), but the port itself has become something of a pain since they shifted the cruise port transfer point further away from the railway station. We have been to Rome multiple times and it is such an interesting place to spend some time either side of a cruise from/to Civitavecchia.
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  • Carcassonne
    The cruise ships dock at the industrial port quite a way out. There is a shuttle to get into town. We did not investigate Sete, choosing to take the HAL’s “Carcasonne on your own”. It was well worth the long drive there and back. At Carcassonne buses cannot drop off near the old town. There is a bus park which they must use, and a shuttle is provided from there. So you lose time waiting for shuttles to get to and from the town. The tour description said you get 4 hours on your own at Carcassonne, but this is not true – it was 3 hours actually in the town. The walls of the town are very impressive. We went into the castle. It would have been useful to have known beforehand that part of the castle is closed from 11.30am to 2pm. If we had known we would have done that part of the castle first, but the entrance is not obvious. As it was by the time we had done the main part and discovered there was an entrance across a courtyard to another part, it was closed. We had no time to return later, as the meeting time back at the shuttle stop was 2.15pm.
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  • Villefranche
    This was a replacement stop for St Tropez, which was cancelled due to wind making tendering unsafe. Villefranche is small, with a citadel and a pleasant enough old town to wander. Of note was the “Rue Obscure”, an underground street which dates from the 13th century. Villefranche was also a tender port. There is a big tourist information centre near the tender drop off, which had free wi fi.
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