Finally the much anticipated day arrived. Time to leave for our Holland America Caribbean cruise on the Westerdam. Work was a bit slow so I got to leave a couple hours early. I had already packed the previous weekend, but the extra time came in handy for taking a shower and making dinner before my sister (the house sitter) arrived. She got there just about the time the food finished cooking. I couldn’t have asked for better timing. After dinner we fed the dog and horses together so she would know where to find everything they would need.
Our ride came to take us to the airport. After slogging through very rainy streets we left the car, got our bags checked in and waited for the plane. We like to travel cheap, so we took the redeye overnight flight to Miami. It was the only direct flight where I could go on the greatly reduced companion fare.
We arrived in Miami several hours early for our 10:30am meeting with Art, whom we had met on the Inner Sea Discoveries Alaskan cruise on the Safari Quest. We decided to find something for breakfast while we waited. I wanted to try something that you can’t get everywhere. John likes to stick with the known, so we ended up at Burger King. He’s really got to get a bit more adventurous now that we have our new site My Travel Tastes up. Actually he eats all sorts of weird things in other countries, grasshoppers, scorpion-on-a-stick, fish eyeballs, that sort of thing. But try to get him into a local cafe instead of a fast food chain? Maybe the new website will help.
Art picked us up at the airport and took us to the local Bass Pro Shop. He figured
John would like that. They had a very nice restaurant there where he treated us to lunch. We ate out on the covered patio and watched birds swimming around in the pond. Now and then a bird came begging for food. An iguana sunned itself on a rock near the water. On the way out we met jaws.
Art dropped us off at the cruise ship dock. We had quite a few hours yet before the scheduled departure time, so not much of a line had formed. The check-in went fairly quickly. My new rolley bag was small enough to keep with me, but John brought the mega-bag so he had to give it to the luggage guys before we checked in. They had the rooms open about half an hour after we boarded. In the meantime we had a meeting with the hotel manager, who set up a few special things for us since we are writers. We skipped the welcome aboard lunch since we had just eaten.
We had a room on deck 6, the upper veranda deck, same as we had when we cruised on the Oosterdam. Except we had a veranda then, and an inside room this time. Definitely much nicer to have the veranda. After the first couple days, we took to leaving the TV on overnight with the sound off. Tuned in to the bow cam channel, the screen remained dark until the sun came up, so at least we knew when daylight came. Sort of like an electronic window.
John wanted a nap after our sleepless night on the plane, but I am used to sleepless nights as I rarely sleep the first night in a new place. Armed with the map provided in a little packet with my room card key, I set out to wander about the ship. Westerdam is a sister ship of the Oosterdam, so I thought I would find my way around a lot easier than I actually did. The Westerdam had some recent remodeling so this ship was not exactly the same. Not to mention too many years passed to remember the exact layout.
The crow’s nest lounge, which had been the poker room on our card player cruise on the Oosterdam, now housed and internet café and the library instead of taking up the entire front room of the 10th deck as it had back then on the other ship. The lido deck sported a new Italian restaurant for dinner service, the Canaletto.
The rest of the layout of the lido deck seemed much as we
remembered from the other boat. The midship pool on the Lido deck has a sliding cover which they close at night, or I would assume in bad weather, though we didn’t really have any. Somewhere along the line, somebody decided to have the midship pool open to all ages, and the aft pool for adults only. Judging from the pool sculptures, this was not the original intention when they built the ship.
I found the showroom at the bow on decks 1,2, and 3. The dining room filled the stern on decks 2 and 3. In between were most of the other public areas. The photography area, shops, the casino and numerous bars.The shops and casino are never open in port. In the former library, I found the digital workshop, where computer classes would take place. On deck 2, I found the Queen’s Lounge where John spent a lot of time watching culinary demonstrations.
After a bit of exploration, I thought I knew my way around. I saw our original rooms
near the theater, and even wandered through the disco area. The Westerdam has a beautiful atrium. I really liked the boat light hanging above it, though I never could get a really good picture of it. In the gym, I signed up for a lecture the next morning on how to get a flat stomach, and entered a raffle for free spa services.
Whenever I wandered back toward our room, I checked the mountains of luggage piling up near the elevators on our deck for John’s mega bag. I never did find it. Eventually someone delivered it to our room.
From our ship, we could see quite a few other ships in port. Several other Holland America Vessels, and the new Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas, preparing for its maiden voyage. About 5:00 other ships started
leaving the harbor. That was our original departure time, but we had received an email a couple weeks before the cruise stating a change to 7:00pm instead. Alas, that was not to be. The captain made an announcement that upon arrival from Europe, the coast guard did an extensive inspection of the vessel. The back-up generator did not pass their scrutiny. This was about the time that the Carnival Splendor had just been rescued from drifting off the coast of Mexico. So getting stuck in port with all our ship’s amenities fully functional did not seem too bad, and they expected to get underway within a few hours.
Sitting in the Vista dining room around 8pm, we enjoyed a lovely dinner. One of our dinner companions complained that she was not enjoying herself yet as the ship had not left port. I could not see how anyone would be doing anything different right then in or out of port, and since the ship is a floating resort one could honestly have an enjoyable holiday right there. We did meet people on board who never left the ship regardless of what port we visited. They liked the quiet times on board when everyone else left.