Like any cabin category, ocean view cabins can vary from ship to ship and even among cabins on the same ship. Holland America Westerdam is no exception having lower level ocean view cabins on deck 1, obstructed ocean view cabins behind the lifeboats on deck 4, and even a couple forward facing ocean view cabins on deck 6. The biggest variation among ocean view cabins is in the view, particularly in the deck 4 cabins where some have a full view, some are totally obstructed by tenders in front of the window, and most fall somewhere in between with partial seaviews above life boats and/or between life boats or tenders. (Tenders are the taller life boats used to take people to shore at ports where the ship is at anchor and has to use its own boats to bring people back and forth from the dock.)
Besides the views, cabin categories for ocean view cabins, as with all cabins, vary according to deck location and location of the cabin on the deck. Just like with real estate, it’s location, location, location, with higher level decks and closer to the center of the ship being the prime real estate in cabin classifications when all else is equal. Of course with ocean view cabins the view is the prime concern which makes deck 1 cabins priced higher than the deck 4 cabins with obstructed views.
Since the majority of cruisers travel 2 people per cabin, besides base cabin prices being for double occupancy and going up for solo or down for additional people, many cabins hold just 2 people. Not all of them though. Some cabins have a couch that unfolds out into a bed for an extra person, and some have bunks that drop from the ceiling (or wall in older ships) for additional cabin occupants.
For cruisers with more people than the maximum occupancy of one cabin, connecting cabins are an option. These cabins have a connecting door in the wall between two side-by-side cabins. While having a connecting door is an advantage when sailing with the people in the room next door, it is a disadvantage if you are not because you are more likely to hear the people in the room on the other side of the door than you are next door neighbors with a solid wall. Since there are more people who are not together booked in those cabins than those who are, the connecting door usually remains locked keeping the two rooms separate.
Location of the cabin within the ship can also affect the noise level. Cabins at the back often have some engine noise while those near the front may hear the bow of the ship slapping into waves when the sea is rough, especially if they are on lower decks. It’s a good idea to try and find a stateroom not near, under, or over public areas as well since places like the galley, bars, and theater can be noisy at night.
Most cruise ship cabins are rectangular in shape, but corner cabins and those near bends in the ship’s structure are sometimes oddly shaped. These cabins may be bigger or smaller than those around them. Accessible cabins tend to be the largest cabins within each category. Some ships have cabins with a structural post in the middle of the room somewhere. While we have not ever stayed in one of those, we did come across one with a bulkhead in the wall in cabin 1115 on the Westerdam. When the beds are pushed together as one bed the bulkhead is not that noticeable, but when splitting them apart into twin beds only one bed can go over to the wall leaving less space in the center to get to the window which makes the room seem smaller than if both beds went all the way to the wall.
Our deck 1 cabin 1115 was located near the back of the ship, but the engine noise was actually drowned out by the air vent, which had a control to make the air it released warmer or colder, but no off switch. We would have liked to shut it off at night for a quieter room. We were in a dead-end hallway with just a few cabins beyond ours so there was very little traffic in the way of people passing by our door, which can get noisy for cabins located in high traffic areas.
People often look down on low-deck cabins as undesirable, perhaps stemming from the days of steerage on old-time ocean liners. Since they charge less for them than for comparable cabins on higher decks apparently the cruise lines feel that way as well. These cabins have their advantages though. The lower down you are the less ship movement you feel when the boat rocks. It’s close to the dining room, theater, and some public decks, close to the gangway, and when crowds are leaving an area all at once such as following the safety briefing or at the end of a show you can go down the stairs while the crowd goes up, thus avoiding the crowd. Or leave shows in the theater through the exit on deck 1 and avoid the stairs altogether.
Holland America has tubs in all the rooms that are ocean view or above. Besides the option for taking a bath, having a tub rather than a shower means a longer clothesline as well as more space for stringing extra line, which comes in quite handy for drying hand-washed clothes when taking a long cruise on a ship with no guest laundries – like the Westerdam. Sending laundry out to the for the crew to wash is always an option, but one that costs more than I care to pay and you have to get very high up in Holland America’s loyalty program to get free laundry service.
The room has 3 closets, one with shelves, one with a high hanging bar, and one with a low hanging bar and shelves. Along with a drawer under each bed and in each nightstand this was plenty of storage space for us, though with the amount of luggage we saw some people bring it may not have been enough for them.
Besides the beds, furniture included a desk with a chair under it, a TV on it and a cupboard containing a hairdryer and extra glassware. The refrigerator under the desk started out full of mini-bar items which the steward emptied on request. If you don’t plan to buy any of them it’s nice to have that space if you have anything like cold drinks you want to put in there instead. The room also had a small couch and table.
As with most cruise ships, the Westerdam’s cabin walls are magnetic, which is quite handy for hanging paperwork to keep things organized if you bring along some magnets.
This room had a light under the closets that lights up when anyone walks by in the dark. At first we were not sure if this was a new safety feature or a malfunction of the emergency lighting system that kicks in to light the way to the exits out in the hallways when the power goes out. We had not seen this feature previously on any other ship or in other cabins on this ship on prior cruises. At first it seemed a bit annoying, but after we got used to it the light was actually quite useful as it turned itself off after a short time. Near the end of the cruise we received a survey saying this was a new safety feature they were testing in some cabins and they wanted feedback on what the passengers thought of it. It’s nice if you get up for anything while someone else is sleeping because it provides a bit of light without being as bright as turning on any of the overhead lights.
While one outlet used to be standard in cruise ship cabins, more of them seem to be adding more options for plugging things in when ships are remodeled. This cabin had 2 outlets over the desk and a USB port next to each bed. We still always bring a power bar, and I have a quite useful travel clock which has 2 USB ports. Cruise ship cabins don’t normally have clocks unless you bring your own.
The bathroom in that particular cabin could use some updating as the tub seemed a bit on the worn-out side and the mirrors showed a bit of wear around the edges, but overall the room was quite nice. Holland America still has the nice extra touches like chocolates and towel animals left in the room each evening. We often choose ocean view cabins because they are usually larger than inside cabins and come with a view at a significantly lower price than balcony cabins.