Holland America - Westerdam
It took one hour to check in but it was a very orderly process. We immediately realised she was the same size as the Queen Victoria and P&O's Arcadia (previous lines cruised)- the ship layout was virtually identical which made orientation very easy. Our stateroom was ready on arrival and we were very impressed. We had chosen a Signature suite and it was significantly bigger than previous cabins. There was so much room we had drawers we didn't even use when we unpacked! The super sized Samsung TV was the best quality we had ever seen! The bathroom was full size and had a shower and bath with a jacuzzi function. The balcony was a good size with two loungers. A pair of binoculars was also provided. The stateroom lacked for nothing and we had two very friendly and attentive stewards. Initial impressions of the ship were very good - indeed, the quality of the interior design was the best we had experienced. We had chosen the freedom dining option meaning we could eat at any time we liked although there was still the opportunity to book a time to eat if required. The food was of very good quality and well presented. We chose to dine on a table with others and with 43 nationalities on board was always sure of an interesting discussion at mealtimes. Despite the different nationalities, English was the language always used by everyone. We usually ate in the main dining room but always took breakfast in the Lido restaurant - although finding a seat during busy times could be a bit of a challenge. The dress code is quite relaxed and it seems that anything goes as long as it's not shorts or torn jeans. There were 2 gala nights on our 13 night cruise when most men wore ties - I wore a dinner jacket and was probably 1 of only about 6-7 who did (out of nearly 2000 passengers!) The drinks in the bar were a reasonable price although the wine packages were quite high. We found a good deal by buying drinks during the happy hours, when the 2nd drink was $2. Prices were always in $US and a 15% surcharge added to everything. The tours were very well organised and Westerdam had a very good online facility called EXC (Exploration Central) which was easy to use and gave very full and honest descriptions of all the tours (which were not cheap!). We cancelled one of our pre-booked tours and were given a full refund (up to 2 days prior to the tour). We cancelled this later tour as we had seen enough temples on a 12 hour tour to the former capital of Siam! Holland America has a superb facility called Navigator which you can access on your phone onboard without internet connection. This gives you access to the daily events, dining options, news channels and to your Onboard account. Our cruise was from Singapore to Hong Kong via Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. A very very good cruise and we will definitely cruise with Holland America again.
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