New Photos Show Off Westerdam’s Enhancements Including EXC and Rijksmuseum at Sea
When Holland America Line’s ms Westerdam emerged from a 12-day dry dock at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Palermo, Italy, in late April, the ship debuted major renovations that added many new public spaces and amenities, including two firsts for the fleet: Explorations Central, or EXC, in the Crow’s Nest and Rijksmuseum at Sea. Westerdam also received the popular Music Walk venues Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard, the intimate Gallery Bar, a reimagined Lido Market and The Retreat area with private cabanas.
Newly released photos show the renovations, along with additional upgrades and modifications including suite upgrades, enhancements to the Greenhouse Spa and Salon, renovations to youth areas Club HAL and The Loft, and the new Holland America Line logo on the funnels. Deck 10 saw the addition of 25 guest staterooms, including 18 verandah and seven interior staterooms, increasing the capacity of the ship to 1,964 guests.
“We have many innovative new programs and enhancements launching across the fleet, and it’s exciting to see them finally come to life on Westerdam, which is the first Holland America Line ship to get Rijksmuseum at Sea and EXC,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Holland America Line is moving into a transformative era, and that will be reflected across the fleet in the coming years as our ships go into dry dock and emerge with new venues and programming that are moving our brand forward.”
Rijksmuseum at Sea Introduced on Westerdam
Holland America Line’s partnership with Rijksmuseum — the Museum of the Netherlands in Amsterdam — celebrates the company’s Dutch heritage. With Rijksmuseum at Sea on Westerdam, reproductions of some of the museum’s most famous masterpieces are showcased at a dedicated space located on Deck One of the Atrium. Guests also can view videos about the museum and its collections on the in-stateroom television.
New EXC (Explorations Central) Program Unveiled on Westerdam
Holland America Line is amplifying its destination immersion experiences with the launch of EXC programming on Westerdam. The multifaceted EXC experience combines a wide array of indispensable travel resources with enrichment opportunities for guests making their travel experience more engaging, vivid and meaningful. Much of the EXC experience is featured in the newly created Exploration Central’s hub located in the Crow’s Nest, now a comprehensive resource and engagement center with interactive screens and a Virtual Bridge. EXC programming also offers a full EXC Team to engage with guests, EXC Tours, EXC Destination Guides, EXC Channel and Theater EXC.
Music Walk Adds Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard
Guests have even more entertainment options with the addition of Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard, complementing the already-existing and wildly popular B.B. King’s Blues Club. Under the exclusive partnership, Lincoln Center Stage showcases an ensemble of world-class musicians performing multiple chamber music programs nightly, while Billboard Onboard features the talents of two pianists performing dynamic shows centered around the interesting facts and figures of the music industry as chronicled by Billboard.
Raising a Glass in Gallery Bar
During the dry dock, Westerdam received the intimate Gallery Bar. The sophisticated venue, serving an exclusive cocktail menu created by celebrity mixologist Dale DeGroff, replaces Northern Lights and is adorned with an eclectic and whimsical mix of artwork including portraits, landscapes, still lifes and abstract pieces.
America’s Test Kitchen Receives New Look
America’s Test Kitchen also sports a new look with the room receiving a new color palate and enhancements to the show kitchen featuring gray and red motifs as well as new tables and chairs for guests viewing the cooking demonstrations. Produced in partnership with the namesake, long-running public television cooking program, America’s Test Kitchen features shipboard cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops — with topics ranging from creating authentic Asian dumplings to making the perfect pie crust — that will combine foolproof, accessible recipes and cooking techniques that are rooted in the rigorous testing and science-based approach of America’s Test Kitchen.
Food and Service Reign at Lido Market
The traditional, casual Lido buffet has been transformed into the Lido Market concept — a marketplace with different themed stations offering a selection of delicious options guests can grab on the go or have quickly made to order. Areas include fresh-baked breads and pastries at Breadboard, classic comfort food at Homestead, dishes from around the globe at Distant Lands, Wild Harvest’s freshly made personalized salads, and sweet treats at Sweet Spot.
Service at Lido Market is enhanced with coffee, juices, water and iced tea served tableside, and in the evening the tables have an upgraded setting with placemats, glassware and cutlery awaiting guests after they have selected their food from the new menu.
Additional Upgrades and Enhancements to Westerdam
To further complete Westerdam’s transformation, 25 new staterooms were added near the top of the ship on Deck 10. The 18 verandah and seven interior staterooms increase the ship’s capacity to 1,964 guests.
Additionally, the suites on board received the fleetwide suite upgrades. The main living area was refreshed with a new headboard, new carpet, wall coverings, a privacy curtain, drapery, bed runner and bed skirt. New quartz-stone surfaces were added to the desk, dresser, nightstands and makeup vanity which, along with new vanity lighting, enhance the cosmetic transformation. Electronic upgrades include a new USB outlet added to the bed’s headboard, bedside LED lights, upgraded electrical outlets and a lighted closet rod. Suite bathrooms also were upgraded, including a wall of designer glass tile, new vanity area, stylish floor tiles and a nightlight.
A new interactive television system was installed throughout the ship, featuring large LED flat-screen TVs with complimentary movies and popular TV shows on demand as well as easy access to the daily program and shipboard information including restaurant overviews, spa services and guest billing.
Outside on Deck 11, The Retreat was relocated from Deck 10, providing a quiet lounging area and 15 private cabanas available for rental that offer a relaxing oasis on deck.
Various other public spaces around the ship received new soft furnishings including carpets, drapery, chairs and sofas, while additional outside enhancements include new pool deck loungers and teak decking.
I cannot believe HAL would put obstructions (TV sets) and a brochure rack in the front windows of the Crows nest. Someone wasn’t thinking. That is the prime forward viewing space. Hardly and improvement.
still don’t understand why you would install a TV above a couch which means it is of no use to sit on and watch TV……and then there is still little seating left for others to sit on to watch TV. So once again I am sitting/laying in the bed since there is not sufficient seating despite paying much more money than a plain verandah room?? Wish my travel agent had advised me about this ahead
Loving the new enhancements on the westerdam except what has been done to the crows nest. This used to be an area where you could sit and watch the forward view whilst enjoying a drink and chatting to other passengers or doing a trivia quiz. A lot of seating has been taken away leaving the area feeling not as welcoming now.
I agree with Dave Dex about the placement of a TV in the Crows Nest. If I wanted to watch TV I would stay home. If I want to enjoy the experience of sailing on the ocean I will take a HA cruise and spend evenings in the Crows Nest for sundowners and trivia with friends.
Fabulous views…no TV!
Hate what has been done to the atrium especially. Why remove that beautiful crystal chandelier? And the staircase?? New chairs in the different areas (dinning, lounges, etc.) are fine except I thought the old ones were all nice too and probably had more unique style to them. Please don’t do this to the others, especially the Noordam. Sailed on both ships and loved them as is. Maybe a few updates and enhancements (new carpet, upholstery in keeping with the original bones) but don’t take out the soul of these ships. Do like the gallery lounge in place of the nightclub as I found that space was under utilised.
Forgot to mention the beautiful atrium ceiling that was removed and replaced with something cheap and cold looking like went into the Konningsdam. Didn’t think much of the Konningsdam decor and those I know who have been on her agree. I can understand putting something cheaper (and yes maybe more modern) on a new build but why destroy a beautifully done ship and replace expensive looking things with much cheaper looking ones. The Atrium which should be the heart of the ship could have perhaps done with some lighting up and increased functionality which surely could have been done with new soft goods, colours, and activities planning. Now it looks like a cross of something from an office building and public library not a unique, warm, inviting, classy yet funky space it was.
I thought the enhancements to the Westerdam were outstanding and the decor tasteful, particularly the bed runner and curtain colors in the Staterooms.
The Rijksmuseum at Sea was wonderful, a beautiful presentation of fabulous art, a vast improvement in the Front Desk area, and such happy and helpful staff at the Front Office!
I like the new look Crows Nest, so modern and attractive, however I do agree that the placement of the Sea Monitor Screens, though interesting should have been placed against a wall and not in front of the windows.
My only wish is that Noordam had been refurbished and upgraded in time for the Summer season in Australia & NZ this year. December will be our 3rd Christmas sailing on Noordam, and although a lovely HAL ship, she has been a tired ship for the past 3 years, and deserves an upgrade. A real shame we will experience a tired ship downunder once again when so many Australians are cruising locally and overseas. Australians were the largest number of guests on our Westerdam cruise in the Med in August!
Recently on the Westerdam and I (and many others) was very annoyed at the absence of a library on the refurbished ship. The screens in the centre front of the Crow’s Nest are a ridiculous idea, and the changes to this part of the ship have destroyed the atmosphere it had. The Observation Deck was no longer accessible: sometimes I wonder if the people who plan the renovations spend any time observing the way passengers use the ship. Many of us don’t mind the wind blowing in our hair (or where it was) and enjoy being up on top of the ship.
The new colours look very fresh and modern.
I am on the Westerdam now, have reserved one week Retreat Cabana but do not like the new layout. There is no more regular table with 2 small chairs, just a coffee table, a sofa, therefore no more room for the 2 lounge chairs inside the Cabana, those are now outside in the sun facing the ship and not the ocean.
HAL please reconsider and go back to the old layout.
Enjoyed both our early July cruise to Alaska on Oosterdam and December cruises on Westerdam thru Panama Canal and Christmas cruise Ft Lauderdale round trip. Two of our favorite entertainment venues were Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard on Board. We particularly enjoyed Billboard on the Panama Canal cruise. Danny O’Neal was particularly talented and entertaining. Would love to track where he will be on HAL cruises.
I do have to ask what was meant by improved vanity lighting They must have forgotten to install in our handicapped room on Verandah 4. I am sure someone thought the redo of closet space was an improvement. Being HC myself, I must say I wholeheartedly disagree. Perhaps you should have some HC people on your “improvement” team???? Remember – not all HC persons are in a wheelchair.
Holland America is one of the few cruise lines that offers a place like the Crows Nest. I am an early riser and LOVE watching our ship pull into port or see where the ship is taking us. I am always excited about updates and refurbishments to ships, but have to say I am not looking forward to seeing the changes to Crows Nest. It was always so much fun to gather with so many on the ship sitting on the cushioned benching all around the front windows. That benching was removed? Why? It didn’t take away any space? Also agree from other comments and viewing your Crows Nest update photos online…the TV is ill placed. I’m considering an Alaskan cruise this summer….hope you reinstate more seating AND move the TV blocking the stunning views to Alaska. Thanks for reading.
An in planning stages of another Holland America cruise but am disheartened after reading the comments on the “improvements” being made. As another person stated, if I wanted to watch TV I’d stay home. I look forward to looking out at the sea or engaging (talking with, in case you youngsters behind the improvements don’t know what I mean) with my fellow passengers. It sounds like these ships are being turned into floating Applebee’s. Very sad.
I always thought HA had a fabulous library….now it’s gone…the new area is a mistake….
Just returned from Westerdam trans pacific Toyko to Vancouver and was very disappointed there was no dance band on the ship. The only Dance area on the ship is the BB King Loung but its impossible to dance to a jazz/soul band that plays extremely loud music that lasts for 20 minutes per song.
The Atrium or lack of one was the most boring dull area of any ship (Over 30) we have been on.
The dual pianos were at least one of the saving graces on the ship – very enjoyable watching and listening to the very talented piano player/singers.
Took the TA fall 2017 on Westerdam and truly missed the library and the cushy bench around the crows nest. About to book Transpacific for Sept and at least I know to bring my Nook all loaded up.
Just read the reviews…regarding The Westerdam. We have recently been on your cruises were some of the mentioned updates were discussed. Like many, we miss the quiet, yet fun, Frank Sinatra type lounge, with a dance band. We also miss the small combo in the Crow’s nest later in the evenings. We know you are getting ready for a younger generation…but don’t forget about so many of us that are of an older age. We will be on The Westerdam in June…hope you will have made some gentle changes as many of your guests have suggested. Ron and Mary
Just checking to see how the Westerdam compares to other HAL ships…..not looking forward to our April trip to Japan now. We love the Crow’s Nest to relax and watch the sail away, enjoy a cocktail in a comfortable chair, meet people and dance in the evening. Sounds like everything we like about HAL ships is dwindling rather quickly! The photos of the carpeting, furniture and surrounds looks like IKEA upgrades.
Praying it isn’t as industrial and sterile as it looks.
Our first cruise on HAL was on the Westerdam when it was only 6 weeks old. I loved the Waterford ship in the atrium, but thought the area needed to be lightened up. I made a point of going on the Vista class ships to see the other Waterford sculptures–all lovely. Our 2020 April Japan cruise has just been cancelled and we are re-booked on the Alaska Westerdam cruise in August. I’m curious to see the changes, but am not wowed by what I see in the photos. I think the screens should be removed in the Crows Nest. We rarely could find seating in the comfy chairs on any of the Vista class Crow’s Nest areas as they always had long term occupants who were often reading and sleeping, not enjoying the view. I remember thinking that the chairs should be a little less comfortable so that all guests could enjoy them. I have always loved the art on HAL ships so will keep an open mind as to how it looks in the new modern setting. I hope it is a warmer feel then shown in the photos. I miss the lovely flowers on recent HAL cruises. Maybe replacing the stick arrangements with fresh flowers would brighten up the stark new look.
Going to Antarctica next January 2022. I’m sure the Crow’s Nest will be a very popular lounge to enjoy the beautiful sights, particularly considering the climate in the region.
Did HAL take in consideration the comments above and move the TV screens and add more seating to the Crow’s Nest? Thank you!
As a professional interior designer, I will sadly give my opinion of the photos I have just seen of the “Westerdam” refurbishment.
OMG-If the design team was going for an inexpensive retro 60’s look, they achieved their goal. What a crime to take a ship that had wonderful design basics that should have been modified and enhanced to bring it into the 21st century and instead, strip it of these basics and substitute what looks like earth tone hell. And as any GOOD designer will tell you-function comes first-so how in the world can you justify what was done to the Crow’s Nest???? Whoever is responsible for this design atrocity should be immediately dismissed and PLEASE find the right person or team to correct your mistakes.
I gather from what I have read that dispute most people disliking the changes to the Crows Nest, especially the TV’s you intend to leave them so add us to the list who are no happy with this odd change. I truly hope that HAL rethinks this. J
I am booked on Westerdam on your Japan cruise from Hong Kong in February 2023. Having done your world cruise and loving HAL ships I am distressed to hear all the comments on the “upgrade” refurbishments which sound like a “degrading”. I am especially disappointed with the Crows’ Nest refurb. This is where I spend my mornings overlooking the ocean or view and was my go to place to dance every night. As a retired professional dancer, single and in my late 60’s this was my #1 reason for travelling on HAL so I could enjoy my love of dancing every night. Where am I supposed to go now. Just sitting listening to live music is not my MO and I hope there are still shows in the theatre. Linda
I must agree with prior reviews, this refurb. missed the mark in so many levels. It is far from inspiring. Please, please rush a team to redo it, asap. It is so disappointing, it has made us us rethink our booking…