Travel

Published on September 16th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor

Exploring the Eastern Caribbean with Holland America Line

Today’s post comes to us from Helene McCartney, who traveled with Holland America Line cruises on a trip across the Eastern Caribbean. Thanks Helene!


Once we arrived at the cruise terminal, the friendly Holland America agent took my photo, issued room cards and sent me on my way in a few short minutes. The cabin was ready when we arrived, and once we entered the room, our cabin steward introduced himself, provided a quick tour of the cabin and showed me the amenities. He was professional, friendly and helpful at all times during my time on the Westerdam.

At 4 p.m. we assembled at our stations for emergency drill procedures – no lifejackets required. We spent about 10 minutes going through the various drills, calling out all cabin numbers and making sure all passengers were present.

I was very comfortable in my cabin. It was a good size and suitable for 2 adults. Included was a hair dryer, flat screen TV and shower with a good supply of shampoo, conditioner and body wash. We slept in one bed that converted to two doubles, and also had access to a small couch, table, and veranda. The exterior provided two chairs, foot rest and small table.

hollandamericaroom

DINING OPTIONS

Lido Deck

The Lido Deck features a number of endless food order stations which serve omelets, waffles, and breakfast sandwiches as well as fresh juices, coffee, teas, fresh pastries, muffins and fruit. For the first 48 hours, we were advised that the Lido Deck would be full service to contain cross contamination. The Lido Deck was available for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late night snack between 10:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. The staff was excellent, and we were always greeted with a friendly smile and welcome.

HAL DiningVista Dining Room

Behind the scenes, master chefs bring flavors to perfection. For an elegant breakfast, and unforgettable five-course dinners, the Vista Dining Room is the place to be.

As You Wish® Dining

In the main dining room, it’s your choice of a traditional pre-set seating and dining time or a flexible open schedule. Cruisers are treated to two formal nights on a 7-night sailing. One level of the two-tiered restaurant offers flexible dining service from 5:15-9:00 p.m. daily, and the other hosts two seatings: an early seating at 5:45 p.m. and main seating at 8 p.m. You can select open seating and make your reservation during the cruise, or at any point during the day up to 4 p.m.

Pinnacle Grill

Refined and luxurious, romantic and intimate, the Pinnacle Grill represents the pinnacle of exceptional dining. Make reservations for an intimate meal graced by luxurious appointments such as Bvlgari china, Riedel stemware and Frette linens. We received nothing but excellent service in the restaurant and enjoyed the professional wait staff, menu and extras, not to mention the little plate of truffles.

La Cirque

Holland America Line has added another famous partnership to its innovative culinary program as it enters into an exclusive agreement with the illustrious Le Cirque restaurant to offer “An Evening at Le Cirque” in the Pinnacle Grill. Master Chef Rudi Sodamin worked with Le Cirque’s Executive Chef Craig Hopson to re-create the award-winning dining experience on board — from serving the amuse bouche on fanciful orange Le Cirque china to featuring the restaurant’s famous crème. On this special evening, menu offerings, wine selections, table decorations and the restaurant setting were tailored to create an authentic Le Cirque dining experience. I loved my time at Le Cirque; it was a wonderful dining experience, and definitely worth the cost. On the menu was lobster salad, butternut squash soup, lamb chops with goat cheese, and a wonderful crème brule.

Terrance Grill

Located outside on the Lido Deck, the Terrace Grill features buffet bars offering pizza, nachos, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, sandwiches and gourmet sausages. This is a great area to relax and get some finger foods during the day.

ACTIVITIES

There were many activities to try onboard the Westerdam. I enjoyed the signature cooking class, fitness studio, shopping centres, and galley tour. Besides that, a daily walk on the promenade deck was a great way to start the day. Here’s what was offered:

  • Culinary Arts Center
  • Guest Chef Schedule
  • Demonstrations & Classes
  • Signature Cooking Classes
  • Wine Tasting and Mixology
  • Party Planner
  • Digital Workshop powered by Windows®
  • Greenhouse Spa and Salon
  • Fitness Onboard
  • Explorations Café
  • Art Tours
  • Art Gallery
  • Photo Gallery
  • Shopping Onboard
  • Special Programs
  • Weddings On Board

SHORE EXCURSIONS

San Juan

What a fantastic destination! I confirmed the San Juan Old and New Tour as soon as I could. The group met off the ship in the cruise terminal, and it was very organized and easy to find the local tour director. We hopped onto a tour bus, and visited the old sights of San Juan while also taking in a self-guided tour of the San Cristobal Fortress.

Grand Turk

There are several water and land excursions available with Holland America, so I opted to spend some time on the beach. There was no additional cost for renting umbrella chairs, and I enjoyed the wonderful beach area and shops close to the ship. A great place to visit is Margaretville; it’s a lively entertainment venue with a huge pool, several bars, restaurants and shops. I had lunch here, listened to the DJ and enjoyed some very well priced seafood.

St Maarten

This is such a lively destination and great place to visit. From the ship, we walked to the water taxi that provided a quick shuttle to the downtown pier. I opted to visit the Great Bay Resort Hotel offered with Sunwing Holidays. I did a tour of the property, and loved the close proximity to the downtown area. The hotel itself has a beautiful beach featuring three restaurants and pools as well as two bars. It’s an older hotel, but you can’t beat the location. The hotel did advise that we could spend some time at their sister hotel (the Maho) for no extra charge, including changing resorts. Lunch on the beach was lovely.

Half Moon Key

Half Moon Key has one of the most beautiful white, sandy beaches that I have seen. The day turned out to be windy and rainy, but I did visit a second time. The island is very tropical, and the beach chairs are available at no additional cost. The barbeque runs from 11 a.m.–1 p.m.

ENTERTAINMENT

All ships in Holland America’s fleet offer Dancing with the Stars: At Sea dance lessons developed by the show’s professionals and lead by the onboard Westerdam dance team. Select guests from these classes will be invited to dance center stage in the show lounge in an exciting dance-off performance. B.B. King’s Blues Club is also now on the Westerdam. World-class musicians create a dynamic energy that will move you to sing and dance along. Spectacular shows, live music, diverse lounges, movies and casino gaming are all offered on the Westerdam.

One of the delights of Holland America Line ships is the variety of venues where you can enjoy drinks with great views of the sea. I enjoyed cocktail hour in the crow’s nest and the pinnacle bar’s wine parings.

Sailing with Holland America was a wonderful experience. The Westerdam is an older ship, but I the ship offers great amenities, restaurants and entertainment.

Interested in taking a cruise of your very own? CAA’s Member-exclusive cruise benefits and bonuses, experienced Travel Consultants and relationships with top international cruise lines mean you can book your dream vacation with complete confidence.

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