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Follow along with our cruise journal for photos, videos, and notes from on board the Westerdam
2015 Cruise Preview
from our Tour Manager, Albert Webster
We know it’s coming up quick but we have room and we’d love to see you on board! A few of us had the chance to usher in the New Year aboard the Westerdam to learn about the ship so that we can provide you with the best program possible. We had a great time and think you would too.
This really is a terrific cruise for the weather, the beaches, and just overall relaxation. Plan to spend plenty of time outdoors while on the ship. Bring a bathing suit and beach shoes! You can explore historical sites as well, especially in San Juan and in St. Maarten. There is plenty of shopping to do if that’s what you like… at all price levels.
The Westerdam is a bigger and newer ship than we have sailed before, one of their “Vista” class ships, but we were surprised at how comfortable and intimate it felt. There are all kinds of places to gather: out on the deck, in a lounge, on a nice quiet couch, or in their “Northern Lights” nightclub. The dining room has groups of tables in smaller areas and is surprisingly quiet.
There’s a lot of room around the Aft Pool to gather with Garrison and the showroom has plenty of space too. There’s a whole new theater down in the entertainment levels of the ship. Wireless access is vastly improved and available throughout the ship, including in the cabins. Most cabins are on their own deck without public areas nearby, and you can get from end of the ship to the other on every deck.
I looked out of the hotel and realized that what I thought was another hotel was actually a cruise ship docked in port. From higher up you can watch over a dozen ships coming and going in a day.
Try the water taxi which stops at the hotel and takes you to all of the sights — hop-on, hop-off!
This really is a tiny island. You can take a cab ride all the way to visit the lighthouse at the other end and be back for lunch.
If you’ve ever wanted to snorkel, this is the place — it’s easy to get to a beach, and reasonably priced. The water is perfectly clear, just swim out as far as you’re comfortable and you will be rewarded. Swimming just a few more yards out reveals a whole other world down there!
A new helicopter excursion gives you a fantastic view of island, a good idea of its history, and you might even spot a shark in the water.
On the way in to San Juan the ship will open access to the bow and give you a commentary about the historical sites we sail past.
An easy city to explore on your own. Walk out to the fort and take a taxi back, if you want to. On your way to the Fort, at the end of the main waterfront, look for the excellent local artisan work in a plaza full of outdoor stalls.
The beaches you may have heard about are probably on the French side. No problem getting from one side to the other, you don’t even need your passport.
For sites and shopping and restaurants, try taking a cab or water taxi in to Philipsburg.
Half Moon Cay
Holland America’s private island was a delightful surprise to all of us. They take great pride in providing excellent service in a clean, safe environment. Get off the ship here, for sure. Debark early… you’re going to like it more than you expect!
If you’re in a relaxed “I don’t want to spend money” mood, take a walk along the beach as far as you’d like. Come back to one of the roped off areas and take a swim. Then, find a beach chair: they’re included. You won’t regret it. If you’re in a “I want to do something I probably won’t be able to do anywhere else” mood, try riding horses in the ocean or swimming with stingrays.
Just don’t miss it. You can get right back on the Westerdam at any time.
We are bringing a lot of talented people on this cruise! Garrison has also invited a number of friends from the show’s past. There will be opportunities to meet them, watch performances, and maybe even learn something about APHC’s history. Some of our performers will be available for informal picking sessions — feel free to bring your instrument along to join them, or enjoy just listening in. There will be big shows and lots of intimate events. We know that when we’re in port you want to get off the ship and explore so we won’t schedule any “must-see” events while we’re tied up at the pier.