The MS Westerdam is the third of Holland America Line's Vista Class ships, as well as being the third ship to bear the moniker Westerdam. It is sister to the ms Oosterdam, ms Zuiderdam, and the ms Noordam. The names of the four ships translate to the four directions of the compass in Dutch. The ship was christened on April 25, 2004 in Venice, Italy by Dutch actress Renée Soutendijk.
As with all Vista-class ships, she is equipped with a diesel-electric power plant and an Azipod propulsion system, and eighty-five percent of her staterooms have ocean views and sixty-seven percent have verandahs. The theme of her art collection is Dutch heritage in the New World. Paintings of historic Dutch ships, such as Henry Hudson's Half Moon, and various sculptures and statues are displayed throughout the ship. Contemporary pieces include an original Andy Warhol portrait and sculptures by Sedona artist Susanna Holt. In April 2007, as part of Holland America Line's "Signature of Excellence" program, modifications to the ship were done to add 34 staterooms, as well as modifications to several public areas of the ship.
The second Westerdam began service as the Homeric for Home Lines in 1986. Holland America Line acquired the ship in 1988 where the ship was lengthened in 1989 by 130 feet. After 643 cruises spanning over 13 years with Holland America, she was transferred to sister company, Costa Crociere in 2002, and renamed the Costa Europa.