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Japan - Cherry Blossoms and Tranquility

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Japan & Russia on HAL Westerdam - April 2019

01 - At Sea - Stripe

Part 8 - At Sea

Traditionally I use the sea days to take photos of the ship. But before I show them to you, I would also like to share some of our first impressions as newbies on HAL.

We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and we would book HAL again for the right itinerary. However, we did notice some differences to what we are used to from Celebrity. Maybe we took things for granted on Celebrity which we only got to appreciate by seeing the difference.

The Westerdam is a fine ship. Clean and in good shape, and about the size of a Celebrity Millennium class (Millennium, Constellation, Summit, Infinity). We found that the interior design is a bit darker and more traditional, but nice nonetheless.

Celebrity is more loungy in a modern sense. On Westerdam we missed the many open spaces we are used to from Celebrity ships - even the ones of the same size. All the spaces here seemed small and confined to us. The layout is not as intuitive as we found it on other ships of other cruise lines.

Breakfast and lunch at the Lido were of good quality. However, although all we needed was there, the choice was limited in comparison to Celebrity. Also, there is no self-service at the buffet, where you just help yourself on Celebrity.

The seating in Lido is very comfortable and when it comes to the service at the buffet restaurant HAL beats Celebrity by far. An empty plate didn’t last more than a few seconds on the table. There was also a constant offer of coffee, water or lemonade by very attentive waiters. Tables are set when you get there. Cutlery, cups and glasses are on the table. That’s definitely something that could be improved on Celebrity.

We found the service in the Main Dining Room good and the food very tasty - so on par with Celebrity. The menus seemed a bit repetitive though.

We can’t and won’t comment much on entertainment since we generally don’t care for shows on any cruise. However, we liked that there was an offer of classical music performances at the “Lincoln Center Stage” and we enjoyed the live music at “Billboard Onboard” and the “BB King´s Blues Club”.

Bars were pretty empty in the evenings, and once we were even asked for our last orders at around 10pm (!). That would never happen on Celebrity. We were surprised by the short opening hours in general. Even the regular buffet closed at 8pm. After that it was just snacks, which we find very unusual.

Westerdam features nothing like Celebrity’s fabulous Sunset Bar, where you can end a beautiful day on a drink outside while enjoying the sea breeze as you sail away. Westerdam doesn’t provide much open deck space in general, which is something we really missed.

I am 47 and I certainly helped bring down the average age on this cruise... Hey, here I am: the young guy! I don’t know if that is good or bad.

We also noticed that ship‘s officers weren’t as present and engaging as they are on Celebrity. Not that we personally care, but it was really noticeable.

Again, we really enjoyed our cruise and we are definitely NOT complaining! Celebrity and HAL are both good cruise lines and HAL will remain an option for us, especially with the lower prices and different itineraries. However, when it comes to our personal preferences, Celebrity still remains our preferred cruise line and the better fit.

Now, here are some photos of the ship...

The Lido Pool (the roof was opened on sunny days)

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The Lido Bar

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Dive In - a good place for burgers, hot dogs etc. for lunch

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Sea View Pool

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Lido Market buffet restaurant

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EXC & Explorations Café / Crow´s Nest

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Elevator lounges

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Shops

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The Dining Room

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Pinnacle Bar

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Gallery Bar

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Guest Services & The Atrium

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