Cruising in the Far East with HAL: Ship Updates

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Special by Dennis Cox

ABOARD the WESTERDAM – As great as they are, one cannot live solely on the French fries from the Dive In poolside grill, not even with a side of secret dipping sauce.

Here’s the update on restaurants and art, the food for the soul:

The ship’s main Dining Room served excellent, sometimes too leisurely meals, which is the standard for Holland America cruises. The highlight on this cruise was the Gala Dinner toward the end of the cruise with a generous portion of surf and turf.


The Lido Marketplace was it’s normally chaotic go-to place for quick and simple meals. Holland America, as always, offered a variety of choices with assurances of “all fresh ingredients and freshly made.” Lines were generally kept short and moved smoothly while Andy Warhol’s Marilyns kept a colorful eye on diners.

There are only two specialty restaurants on the Westerdam, the Canaletto and The Pinnacle Grill. The prices for dinners at both, not surprisingly, have escalated a bit from what was charged three years ago on the Eurodam.

The Italian cuisine of the Canaletto maintains its standard of quality that we experienced on our Eurodam and Zuiderdam cruises. Those restaurants occupied poor spaces on those ships given the quality of the food as both were relegated to a semi-walled off space tucked away in the corner of the Lido. Unfortunately the restaurant fares no better on the Westerdam.
To experience classic dining in The Pinnacle, booking early was essential. That was especially the case on the evenings when The Pinnacle featured the modern innovative menus of internationally famous chef and Holland America Culinary Council member, Rudi Sodamin.

Plate designed by Chef Rudi

The cuisine of celebrity Master Chef Rudi Sodamin features his Sel de Mer (literally “salt of the sea”) braisserie of seafood served on Limoges porcelain plates painted with Rudi’s own whimsical artistic designs inspired by the Cote D’Azur. The extra charge for the evenings was $49 per person for Sel de Mer.

On one evening per cruise, the Pinnacle features a Cellar Master’s Dinner. This special night has pairings of food with wines chosen by the ship’s cellar master, Jean-Francois Marottee. Three whites, two reds, a rose and a dessert wine were paired with courses from two starters, a soup, and main courses of grilled halibut with lobster and a filet mignon wrapped with bacon. Extra charge for the evening was $79 per person.


New contractor for the Art Gallery on all HAL ships for the past six months has been the 20-year-old company, ArtLink. Following upon their past success of promoting emerging artists they are initiating an innovative residency program to bring local artists on board in several ports to do show-and-tells as well as provide instruction to passengers interested in learning painting techniques. Also proposed are tours coordinated with EXC to visit studios of artists in selected ports.

CORRECTION: I wrote earlier that the Westerdam does not a Gallery Bar. Well, it took a while to find it tucked away behind the Casino. Just as on the Zuiderdam, it’s a comfortable oasis surrounded by art.

Photos © Dennis Cox / WorldViews, All Rights Reserved

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