Sailing On The ms Westerdam - My Family Travels

Holland America Line now welcomes grandparents, their kids and their kid's kids, and treats them all to a memorable and classy cruise vacation.

Holland America Line’s ms Westerdam is not a Disney ship, so if your kids or grandkids need a lot of stimulation, it may not fit the bill.  However, if you are looking for a fun family holiday that caters to all generations, then this latest reincarnation of the Westerdam is perfect.

The ms Westerdam is the 130-year-old company’s newest Vista-class ship, the largest and most luxurious in the Holland America Line’s fleet.  The Westerdam boasts that 85% of all the staterooms have an ocean view and 67% of these staterooms feature verandas.  Those lucky enough to stay in a penthouse or deluxe veranda suite can relax in the Neptune Lounge – a private concierge lounge. The line’s Signature of Excellence program has upgraded all staterooms with new European linens and duvets, stylish wood cabin furnishings, a better TV, more choices of a carte and buffet restaurants and other passenger amenities.

Keeping Busy Aboard Ship

There is so much to do on this ship, but the wonderful rooms (the superior verandah suites sleep three easily) and the new amenities such as the luxurious beds on board, Euro-top mattresses with triple-sheeted beds at 250 thread count, made it hard some mornings to get up and begin the days activities, especially after a night of variety entertainment at the Vista Show Lounge, followed by dancing in the trendy Northern Lights and a nightcap at the Crow’s Nest.

The Westerdam holds its 1,848 passengers quite comfortably, with many areas to sit and relax or have some fun including a library, internet café, casino, golf simulator room, and a number of bars, cafés and lounges.  There are four separate seatings in the dining room, so there is more of a choice to suit families’ needs.  Additionally, the Pinnacle is a formal option to dining, costing a premium per person for a wonderful meal.  We would recommend that you hire a babysitter (available on board) and make this an adults-only night.

One of the most popular places on board is The Greenhouse Spa & Salon, so if you are planning to partake of an aesthetic experience, better book it right away because appointment spots book up quickly – and deservedly so.  Treatments include massage, body treatments such as the Exotic Coconut Rub & Mil Ritual Wrap or Float or the Exotic Frangipani Body Nourish Wrap or Float.  Facials include the La Therapie HydraLift Facial using a galvanic current for deep cleaning and The Greenhouse Silk Booster Facial that contains natural Japanese silk protein.   The spa has a state of the art fitness facility to help those who care to battle their bulge while cruising.

Nearly 15% of the passengers aboard HAL ships are under 18 years of age. That’s why all the Holland America Line ships, including the Westerdam, have a terrific children’s program called Club HAL. In addition to the other upgrades made recently, the Westerdam’s age-appropriate children’s clubs now accommodate 3-year-olds up to age 17. The ship’s KidZone is geared to younger children offering a wide variety of supervised activities both in and outdoors.  The Wave Runner is where the pre-teens hang out.

Teens have a teens-only outdoor lounge on the top deck to complement their new indoor lounge, with its dance floor, large screen movie corner, and a computer and video game area. There is a full-time director and for every 30 children attending, there is a counselor provided.   The staff is very flexible when it comes to programming, and will tailor the activities to suit the ages of the children and teens on board each and every cruise.

Ports of Call

The Westerdam will spend the winter alternating its itinerary between seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean routes cruising out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  In the summer, it will pursue a seven-day sailing from San Diego to Vancouver, British Columbia on a Pacific coastal route.

All Westerdam’s Caribbean itineraries like mine include a day at Holland America Line’s own private island – Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.  For five straight years, Half Moon Cay has received Porthole Cruise magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Award for Best Private Island.  A day on the beaches of Half Moon Cay is just so much fun.  Brides and grooms who haven’t tied the knot on the ship can opt for a Bahamian style wedding at the island’s little chapel. If you are already hitched, you can renew your vows there too!

You can shop on the island, get your hair braided, or take part in The Personal Watercraft Adventure through Stingray Cove where guests can snorkel with sea creatures.  Next you can have fun with the kids in Half Moon Lagoon, an island-themed aqua park with 21 large water “toys” in the shapes of whales, octopi, sharks and dolphins.

An amazing experience is offered by Half Moon Cay Horseback Riding by Land and Sea, yes in the sea!  You and your four-legged friend enter the Atlantic Ocean, the horse swims, while you try your utmost to stay seated atop the animal’s special waterproof saddle that has no stirrups to help keep you afloat. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for children, or anyone for that matter who isn’t comfortable on horseback and doesn’t have the leg strength to keep on your horse.

For more information on the ms Westerdam, contact your travel agent, call Holland America Line at 877/SAIL-HAL or visit them online at

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