Sail Date: May 2012
****LONG REVIEW***** We had a great time on HAL's MS Oosterdam. I was crazy enough..I mean cheap enough....to book me, my wife, my 17 year old daughter and my 70 year old uncle in a VC Verandah on the starboard bow. We wanted to ... Read More
****LONG REVIEW***** We had a great time on HAL's MS Oosterdam. I was crazy enough..I mean cheap enough....to book me, my wife, my 17 year old daughter and my 70 year old uncle in a VC Verandah on the starboard bow. We wanted to take advantage of the very discounted 3rd and 4th person discounts. I really thought we would be okay in our 174 square foot room, but we caught a huge break the Tuesday before the cruise. The world's greatest cruise consultant called me and emailed me and said that there was a cancellation in Suite 7065, a Deluxe Verandah (Balcony) Suite directly across from the Neptune Lounge that we could have for a total of $498.00 more. I did things right this time and told her immediately to book it. The reason I got the call is that I had received the same upsell offer 13 days before our cruise. The email came out at 12:01 p.m. and I was on the phone shortly after that. The consultant said there were three rooms available in the Deluxe Suite category.....all of the Superior Suites being offered at $198.00 extra were gone. I made the mistake of asking questions about the category and which room would be best. It took me about 2 minutes to get through my questions and I decided to book. Wouldn't you know it? During our conversation, the three rooms disappeared. I asked if any more upsells are typically offered and was told that one may come up if there is a cancellation, but the chances were somewhere between no way and no how. To anyone looking for an upsell, I was told I got the email because I had specifically called and asked to be notified of any upsell opportunities. This was the first time I had ever been offered such a deal, and we saved about $1,800.00 over booking the Suite directly. We were excited about the extra room, the bigger verandah and all the perks....especially the laundry. Our journey started in Texas. We flew into Seattle on Saturday night and stayed at the Hilton by the airport. This gave us a chance to try out the new light rail from the airport to downtown. A three minute walk from the hotel to the 176th Street Bridge and we were able to to get on the rail for $8.50 total and store our luggage with no problem. After a couple of hours in the Market, we took the $20.00 cab ride to Pier 91. We were taken to a special line and checked in immediately and given our stateroom cards. The ship opened for boarding at 11:45 a.m. and we were among the first on the ship. The embarkation looked like it was moving well for everyone and was very well organized. Our room was ready so we were able to go straight to level 7 and drop off the things we were carrying. We explored the ship and felt it was very fancy and very clean. It was the nicest ship we had ever been on. Like others, our expectations were low with the reviews talking about how worn the ship is, but we did not see any evidence of that whatsoever. I am not questioning the other reviewers, may be we just did not look hard enough. The public areas were well laid out and easy to get to. We went up to the Deck 9 Lido Buffet, which was really never quite like a buffet since we were served throughout the cruise. After 48 hours, the beverages became self serve and the desserts, pastries and fruits were self serve. Mostly, though, you need to stand in line at every station and wait for the crew member to plate your food and hand it to you. We also noticed the curious lack of trays. Some of the many, many elderly aboard the boat would use the sitting area of their walkers as trays.....which I thought was ingenious. The buffet was extremely crowded on sea days and part of the problem was that groups would anchor window tables for hours and play games and cards and look at the spectacular scenery why others were very anxiously looking for a place to sit and eat. HAL should have someone with authority gently move these folks along or consider opening the Vista Dining Room, the main dining room, for lunch. The Vista Dining Room hosted breakfast and dinner, but I never saw lunch. To avoid crowds, you may want to pay the $10.00 upcharge and go to the Pinnacle Grill for lunch on Deck 2. Overall, we thought the food was very good. However, it is our least favorite of the 3 lines we have sailed on. Norwegian's incredible variety makes NCL food our favorite and Carnival's food on our December 2011 cruise was excellent. Our theory....just a theory....is that the dishes on HAL are made less spicy and seasoned due to the average age of the consumer. Our guess was that 80% of our shipmates were over 60. It seems that HAL really caters to senior citizens, who are their bread and butter. The catering to seniors seems to show up in the entertainment, the activities, the music around the ship.....everywhere. Unlike Carnival and NCL, there was no 24 hour restaurant or pizza. Only room service was available after around 11:00 p.m. but there were no room service menus. It was a little disheartening to try and get the room service order taker to try and tell me the menu categories in a very thick accent that I just could not understand. Room service was about a one hour proposition, but the food did come warm. The nightly entertainment was much less ambitious than that of other cruise lines. Barnaby was really funny and edgy. Joel Mason as Elton John was a lot of fun. Joel Mason is really entertaining and funny, but his voice will never be confused with Elton John's. He is a fair singer at best, but he made the audience participate and everyone had fun. The ships best entertainment is in The Crow's Nest with the soothing crooning of Matt Murphy and in The Piano Bar with the incomparable Nathan Temby. Temby was in his second week on the ship and he can really belt out tunes from every genre. The drinks were very reasonably priced on the ship and the happy hour promotion of buy one get one for a dollar was extremely popular. The crew was outstanding. They work very, very hard and make you feel at home. Our room stewards were great and our wait staff was fun and full of energy. The auto tips per person are now $12.00 per day. We tipped the heck out of our concierges, waiters and room stewards.....the really deserved it. Be careful about booking your excursions too early.....the ship ran late to Juneau. Even though we were anchored just off shore, we were not ready to get off the ship until about 7:50 a.m., and we were supposed to meet our tour rep at 7:30 a.m. We did not get off the ship in Victoria until about 8:00 p.m......an hour later than the already delayed time. The Captain said it was the headwinds that delayed us, but the NCL Pearl left after we did and ended up in Victoria at 6:00 p.m. Three shore excursions were cancelled....all Butchart Gardens related. Hopefully, HAL will straighten this out. We sailed Endicott Arm instead of Tracey Arm due to ice. We got very close to the glacier and the wildlife was great. My wife and daughter went to the Pinnacle Grill Friday night for "An Evening at LeCirque". The charge was $39.00 per person. They reported an interesting dining experience, but not enough of an upgraded menu to make the $39.00 charge worth it. I scoured Cruise Critic for every detail about the Oosterdam and appreciated all the reviews and posts that helped prepare us for our cruise. I saved all of The Explorer daily guides and can tell you what you need to know about activities or scheduling. The vast majority of the passengers wear slacks to dinner, but you can get away with jeans. Monday and Thursday are the formal nights. Lobster is served on Thursday, along with with what they call a fillet of beef. The last thought I have is to pack carefully and watch your weights and measurements. We saw several folks at the airport having to check over sized carry ons and having to pay oversize checking fees. We would sail again on this ship anywhere and anytime. I hope you all enjoy your cruises on this great ship. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
First let me say that I did a lot of research on Alaska cruises prior to booking. My research included the individual cruise lines comparing pricing, accommodations, services and dining, as well as through sites like cruisecritic.com. We ... Read More
First let me say that I did a lot of research on Alaska cruises prior to booking. My research included the individual cruise lines comparing pricing, accommodations, services and dining, as well as through sites like cruisecritic.com. We ultimately booked through an independent agent through the Internet due to some booking incentives. After booking I started watching the blogs closely in anticipation to our cruise on the HAL Oosterdam leaving Seattle, WA on Sunday, May 13, 2012. We arrived a couple of days prior to the cruise and stayed in Seattle, arguably one of our favorite places in the US. We arrived at the port for embarkation early (about 10:30am) and met DW's sister and her DH. Porters were available everywhere and before we were able to put a foot on the ground one was there ready to take our bags. The awesome service had begun. We entered Terminal 91 and found it to be clean and very well marked. The brother-in-law had rented a powered scooter and it was ready and waiting for him when they arrived at the terminal (big plus). As we entered the terminal, it became clear that one hand didn't always know what the other hand was doing. We were ushered toward an elevator (because of the scooter) but my DW was in the bathroom. The nice man that had offered the elevator had stepped away and a not so pleasant woman, pointing toward the elevator said "GO OVER THERE". Mind you, I am just starting my long awaited vacation...RUDE was not what I was looking for. Just as I started to chime in, the nice man returned and got us on the elevator. Security screening was not horrible, but I did have too many carry-on's (not more than I could physically handle, but more than I wanted to handle) so I was getting a bit crabby standing in line that wasn't moving as quickly as I would have liked. As we reached the front of the line, we were ushered to a nice lady that had a total of 3 people standing behind her...helping her. Not only was she new, but they were learning a new booking system as well. She did the best she could with what she had to work with, and surprisingly enough, I let it roll off. We were inside the terminal with check-in completed and waiting to board by 11:10a Boarding began promptly at 11:30, and being in the front of the disabled line we were on board by 11:45. As we walked on, I asked if we could wait for our cabins in the Vista Dining Room - the response was "your cabins are ready". WOW! That has never happened on Carnival - we have always had to wait until at least 1pm. We were on and our vacation had begun. Now, all of the things that I had read in the blogs that I would like to comment on. CABINS: We booked a guaranteed SY category "Superior Suite". We were upgraded to an SS in cabin 8042. Upon entering the cabin we were definitely in love. Very large (for a cruise ship) bathroom with 2 sinks, tub with Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. There was lots of storage space, not only in the 4 closets but in drawers around. The sofa was a red leather color, but was very comfortable. I laid on it most every evening for movie night. There are 3 nice chairs and a footstool. The lighting could be better, especially in the entry hall. We had a slight problem with the in-room safe, but the staff came and took care of it. This cabin is shown as having a queen sized bed - we had a king. I had heard that the refrigerators were more like cooling boxes. I can tend to be very critical about things, but I must say, it worked much better than I expected. It was nice having it in the room. We brought on a 12-pack of soda and some bottled water and it was very drinkable. The veranda was spacious with 2 chairs and footstools, as well as a round table and 2 chairs. We were impressed by the cabin, and more so after looking at the other part of the family is 8027 veranda. It was quite a bit smaller and more cramped than ours. The upgrade was worth it for us. CREW: The reviews that I have read about the crew were pretty right on. The staff that we dealt with (excluding the front desk staff) were awesome and always willing to go the extra mile. Our room stewart ("Su") always had the room cleaned and turn down down while we were out. He tried once when we were on the balcony, and when we offered to vacate so he could work he apologized and said that he would come back. Awesome... The Vista Dining Room staff (Mafood and Gun) were great - could not have asked for better service. The front desk staff were not so great. I found it very difficult to communicate with them over the simplest of issues. Their English was not horrible, but the accent does tend to get in the way when you are frustrated and trying to deal with a problem. We had purchased a soda card ($25 for a $50 card) - it was a good deal, but it would not activate and I took it back. After about 10 minutes of explaining the problem about 4 times, she gave me a new card. I didn't look real close and we tried to use it at dinner and it didn't work because it had not been "activated", which is supposed to happen the 1st time you use it - it didn't. I took it back a 2nd time - frustration level climbing - only to find that they replaced the soda card with a $50 beverage card and charged me for both. After explaining the problem to someone else again...they were able to make it right, and charge all of our soda purchases that had not been covered on the card. FOOD: Let me start with our top pick. The Pinnacle Grill was amazing! It was definitely worth the additional money. We ate there once for dinner and once for lunch. Would highly recommend. The Vista Dining Room - as I said, the staff was excellent. I was really looking forward to the food after reading through the blogs and HAL's website. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the food was nothing special. The shrimp that they served had no taste, the steaks were less than prime and not very tasty. I could go on and on - but, it didn't ruin our cruise. If we had be left only to the Lido I would have jumped overboard - even in frigid waters. The only word to describe it is "gross". I had better food in boot camp. The oatmeal was paste, the scrambled eggs were powered, and everything I tried (outside of the hamburger, taco bar and the ice cream) didn't get finished. SHIP: I had heard differing comments about the condition of the ship. I found the ship to be very clean and in good condition. I did not notice the areas of disrepair that were mentioned - and I was looking for them. One thing that was not mentioned was the on-board photography. The sister-in-law found a package deal on HAL's website for $299 - all photo's taken on board included. We figured that we would look when we arrived and decide after that. Once on-board we found that the package had increased $50. If you like good photo's this is a good deal even at full price. We ended up with about 20 different seating's for photos, and came home with a ton of photo's. You can go to any of the places on ship where they are taking photos as much as you want, change cloths and go back if you like. If they are not busy, they will often do as much as you want, and as goofy as you like. DW took advantage of it and we go our monies worth. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
This was our second HAL cruise. It may be our last. We had taken this cruise five years ago on the Norwegian Pearl, but this time we wanted to try HAL as a previous repositioning cruise with HAL was very nice. We thought the food and ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise. It may be our last. We had taken this cruise five years ago on the Norwegian Pearl, but this time we wanted to try HAL as a previous repositioning cruise with HAL was very nice. We thought the food and service might be better than on the Pearl. We were right about that. It was what we didn't know that would have caused us to choose the Pearl again. DEPARTURE HOTEL We always fly in a day before the cruise and out the day after a cruise primarily because my wife does not have a lot of stamina as a result of a medical condition. This time we chose the Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle and loved it. We took the train from the airport to the hotel, which has the advantage of being both very inexpensive and ending in the mall next door to the hotel. Fortunately the ride was on a Saturday afternoon and the train was not crowded - there is really no place to store Pepto and Bismal, our very large, very "findable" hot pink suitcases. (This was their first trip with us and they provided many a laugh while never being hard to spot in the sea of suitcases!) The hotel is about 5 blocks from Pike's Place Market. Being Mother's Day weekend the market was more awash in flowers than usual. We love street vendors, and we found a wonderful leather bag to replace one we'd bought 18 years ago in St. Thomas. EMBARKATION The Mayflower's van vendor is wonderful, and they delivered us to the ship at about 11:15 a.m. We were in our room by 11:45, and eating lunch by 12:15. STATEROOM We stayed in 6175, which is a handicapped aft suite. It was a wonderful room, with more room than the three of us needed. I have never seen so much storage! It was nicely appointed with excellent craftsmanship (I'm a woodworker, so I notice such things). The bed was excellent. The window was quite big with a wonderful desk in front of it and sash big enough to sit in. The balcony was very large with a table, 5 chairs and a chaise lounge. Previous reviews I'd read had warned that there is virtually no overhang over the balconies on deck 6 aft and that proved to be a handicap on the few times it rained during the cruise. I would have loved to have had the corner suite next door so I could have seen "around the corner" on the wrap-around balcony, but the very nice folk that stayed in it had booked before I. We had never sailed in an aft cabin. Though I don't care to not being able to see where we were headed, the advantage of very little wind as the ship moved through chilly air was nice indeed. The biggest disadvantage, at least on the Oosterdam, was at Tracy Arm. The captain got us there just fine, but once there he kept the ship pointed forward for a short time, then turned it around and promptly left. We only had moments to see the glacier and the harbor seals on the ice. Had I known that's what he was going to do I would have fought the crowds and gone forward for a while. Our room stewards Joe and Tree were just exceptional, astoundingly wonderful, beyond words, etc. DINING The food in the main dining room was excellent - almost every dish was as good as one could get anywhere. The service was mostly good except at lunch a couple of times. The Pinnacle was mediocre, crowded, with inadequate seating, and it always closed before the posted closing time. We always had our "first breakfast" via room service ordered for 6 a.m., and it always arrived at 5:30 a.m. It was quite tasteless. We were thankful for the order forms we filled out the night before and hung on the door, as room service did not answer the phone one single time on our cruise. As a result, we consider HAL's claim that food is available 24 hours a day just so much hot air. If you are hungry after about 8:30 at night, your menu choices are pizza and ice cream, at least until about 11. After that, forget it. We learned quickly to buy food in port, or get extra yogurt at breakfast for those late night snacks. What became amusing, but nice, was that later in the cruise coffee that we didn't order started showing up about an hour after breakfast was delivered. ACTIVITIES AND SHIP SHOPPING The "activities" were a source of derision, especially to our 20 year old daughter. It reminded me of the days I have visited folks in adult daycares. But, I don't go on cruises for ship activities, so that might explain why I thought they were so funny. My girls are professional shoppers and it didn't take them long to explore, then dismiss shopping on board - they forgot swimsuits and were out of luck as there were none. For me - no bandaids or (few) toiletries or socks or underwear? Wow. I've gotten on ships before with little or no extra clothing - on purpose - to just buy it there without having to bring a big bag, and it's a good thing I did not try that on Oosterdam! ENTERTAINMENT The one show we went to was ok; the female lead singer was very good, and some of the dancers were excellent. The routines were a mixed bag from mediocre to quite good. The comedian, Julie Barr, was quite funny. PORTS We love any port in Alaska and either shop or just walk around town visiting with locals. When shopping we avoid the cruise line's in-pocket shops and seek out locally owned places. Sitka is wonderful, as there are only about 3 places affiliated with the cruise lines. We found an amazing piece of whale bone art at Sitka Rose Gallery, and I could have maxed out a credit card or two there. (The piece beat us home to Oklahoma too!) The walk to, and around the national park in Sitka is stunning and not to be missed. I loved Sitka so much that I am going back in August for a week just to fish and hang out. There was a native art place in Ketchikan back from the harbor near the Creek Street shops that had an amazing piece of marble bear and seal (I can't remember the name of the shop), but ma wouldn't let me spend $4,000 on a rock! Darn. I'm still thinking about tracking the place down and calling them to get it. The State Museum at Juneau is small, but fun. One of the displays was a spoof and I felt rather silly after saying "Oh, give me a break" several times, then seeing the explanation outside the room only upon leaving it. We love shopping in Victoria, but unfortunately our favorite shop closed down/changed its inventory "because the younger generation does not care for fine woolens" drats. However, as I've detailed below (and noted that cruise reviews for the week before ours say the same thing), don't count on anything happening in Victoria as there is not time there- a pox on HAL! If you do get a little time in Victoria the taxis are half the cost of ship-provided transportation, and there was absolutely no waiting for one either to get to town or back to the ship. THE "YUCKIES" This ship had some mechanical issues. The toilet seemed to have a mind of its own re: flushing. Some of the time flushing occurred successfully upon pushing the button. Other times it might flush five minutes after pushing the button. Many other times it would flush an hour later. And at least 6 times it would not flush at all and we had to call maintenance. On one visit the tech actually admitted that they were having system problems all over the ship and whole sections would become inoperable because of "air locks". I asked a few of our neighbors if they were having problems, and all said "Oh, yes." I found it odd that most of the propulsion came out of the port side propeller. I even asked the captain himself about it and he gave me some nonsensical mumbo jumbo; I didn't care until it became obvious that the ship was running slow everywhere it went. We sat for four hours outside the Sitka harbor while they repaired "a problem with the anchor." Apparently it wouldn't come aboard. They only managed to make up 2.5 of the hours, so we were late getting into Ketchikan and lost that hour and a half in that port. As other Oosterdam cruisers have reported, we left Ketchikan half an hour ahead of the Norwegian Pearl, but the Pearl passed us late afternoon. We got into Victoria an hour and a half late and saw the Pearl already docked and unloaded on time. We ran into a local who claimed his brother was a harbor pilot, who explained that Oosterdam had a history of running late; that the pilots thought it was because the captain wanted to collect his fuel savings bonus, and that none of the cruise lines wanted to stop in Victoria anyway but were required by law to do so. Who knows if this is true or hogwash, but at any rate, the whole is not a positive. The end result, whether because of ship issues or captain's motives, we lost a lot of time in port. So, if I ever go HAL again, I will assume that the itinerary is probably baloney. DISEMBARKATION Walked right off at 9 a.m., found our suitcases immediately, and were outside in the van back to the Mayflower by 9:30. SUMMARY The food was worthy, the cabin extremely nice, and most of the service was outstanding. However, if we do a third Alaska cruise, we will go on the Pearl again, or try some other line. Toilets are things one only notices when they don't work, and dishonored itineraries left me feeling less than comfortable about trying this one again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2012
We traveled from Seattle to Vancouver by chartered bus that was arranged thru our travel agency.AAA in Seattle (Tina & group) does a wonderful job of taking care of everything. Boarding in Vancouver was easy & cabin was ready when ... Read More
We traveled from Seattle to Vancouver by chartered bus that was arranged thru our travel agency.AAA in Seattle (Tina & group) does a wonderful job of taking care of everything. Boarding in Vancouver was easy & cabin was ready when we arrived. 8147 is a very nice cabin located starboard side aft Our cabin stewards were fantastic (Topic & Trish). Room was always clean, seemed like these two never rested. Dry cleaning & laundry service came with our room & it was efficient, prompt with nothing lost. We had read from previous critics that the Oosterdam was dirty & in need of repair in many areas. We found none of that. The ship was very clean, with what I would consider normal wear on the furniture. Pool areas were constantly being cleaned, towels were prevalent & lounge chairs were always available. Water temperatures were keep at 86F the entire cruise. Even in cold, rainy conditions. the large pool has a covered roof & is maintained at a very comfortable temperature. Since we had booked a SA category room, our dining choices were expanded. The Neptune lounge is a wonderful place to have a quick snack or breakfast. The staff in the lounge were more than helpful & will make it unnecessary to have to ever go to the front desk for anything. Another nice feature is the Pinnacle Grill, were breakfast is served for SA staterooms. We ate most lunches in the Lido dining hall & its a buffet style service. For the first 48 hours of every cruise, the Lido staff serves the food but after that, its mostly self serve. We found the salad bars to be good, large selection of specialty salads. the Italian buffet was also very good. One recommendation would be to relocate the soups to the salad bar area. They are currently located with the entrees & the line is very long there for someone just wanting soup. Dinners in the Vista dining room were excellent. Our servers were Wan & Nur. They discovered the first night what you wanted & it was always there every night. As was previously written, the lounge shows were average. One exception was Bill Harris, a TV reporter for those who remember him. His afternoon chats about Hollywood, MGM Studios & specific movies were well attended & fascinating. A prior write up said that the ship is always selling something & that might be true, Photo Department is at every occasion to take your picture & the gallery shops are always open at sea. Most everything is "discounted" & no sales tax. There is no pressure to buy anything, its just available. We especially enjoyed the Art Auctions run by Conrad, Mitch & Vi. Again, you need not bid on anything but the knowledge about the modern day artists is interesting. In summary, this cruise catered to an older crowd but it was a relaxing experience on a very lovely ship. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the ... Read More
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the glass elevators on the outside of the ship that traveled between decks at midships. The pools are large and one could actually swim laps in them. The hot tubs were clean and generally warm but not really hot. The central pool deck covers when the weather is poor making it quite comfortable to sit at even when the weather doesn't cooperate. There were lots of nice nooks and crannies to sit and read in a sheltered area. The Lido deck has the different buffets: Entrees, Dessert, Drinks, Asian and Italian. This changes at the different meal times. We ate supper in the Vista Dining lounge and found the food to be excellent, and the service was doting. I felt it would have been nice to have a little more seafood such as lobster or crab but, nonetheless it was very tasty. The shows at night were entertaining, but not amazing. At least they try to entertain you so you have to give them some credit. I was not impressed by the activities because they seemed to be all about upselling you products rather than just giving you information or an activity to do. I was not please to find that they charged extra to use the steam rooms, hot pool and sauna- they wanted $100 for four days. This was included in the Carnival cruise. The port we stopped at was quite limited with very few activities unless you wanted to pay to do the usual whale watching, kayaking etc. Other than that we enjoyed ourselves. This would be a good cruise for just relaxing as long as you don't get bored to easily. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
I had always resisted the thought of cruising, but after doing the cruise with Holland America on the MS Oosterdam it would be my first option or a cruise/fly holiday.The ship was spotless, the emphasis is on hygiene for the protection of ... Read More
I had always resisted the thought of cruising, but after doing the cruise with Holland America on the MS Oosterdam it would be my first option or a cruise/fly holiday.The ship was spotless, the emphasis is on hygiene for the protection of the passengers, with anti bacterial hand wash stations around the ship as well as at the entrance to the dining areas no self respecting germ would survive in that environment:)I found all the staff pleasant and very helpful, always willing to meet our needs with a smile.We ate all our meals in the Lido restaurant, and found the food to be good quality and plentiful with lots of variety on the menu.We found the on shore excursions offered by HAL were expensive and not value for money, at every port there were tour operators offering better value options, the only draw back was IF the independent operator was late returning you to the ship there was no guarantee the ship would wait unlike a HAL excursion almost a scare tactic to book with HAL, we took our chances and all was fine.Being first time cruisers we were not sure what to expect with the entertainment but at best I would say it was amateurish almost like high school review productions.In conclusion you can do as little or as much as you like on a cruise ship, walk laps or veg out around the pool with a good book, enjoy chatting with other passengers or keep to yourself a cruise is what YOU make it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2012
I picked this cruise because of the itinerary and because it left and returned to Vancouver (our neck of the woods). My husband and I are in the 35-54 demographic so wondered if Holland America was the right cruise line for us but were ... Read More
I picked this cruise because of the itinerary and because it left and returned to Vancouver (our neck of the woods). My husband and I are in the 35-54 demographic so wondered if Holland America was the right cruise line for us but were certainly willing to give it a try. Turns out that there were only a few minor drawbacks to sailing on a line pretty much dedicated to not only seniors but the elderly. Yes, we saw a few children from time to time and a handful of couples under 40 but our general impression was that the average passenger was about 80. I believe that the same ease of transportation that attracted me to this itinerary was also a draw to many older seniors living on the lower mainland of BC and Vancouver Island. Staff on board made mention several times that they had never seen so many mobility impaired pax on a single cruise and that their wheelchair facilities were stretched to the max. Also there were a lot of Canadians. I didn't get the stats but we did run out of Clamato juice for Bloody Caesars so, yeah, lots of Canadians. Embarkation was quick and easy. We had paid a little extra for an upgrade to a Deluxe Verandah which was roomy enough with lots of storage space and a big verandah (compared to my only other balcony on Celebrity). The stewards were very good; one was a bit shy about using English but there was no communication problem and they were both very quick to keep us in extra ice and laundry request sheets. We choose the unlimited laundry and pressing option which for our 16 days was $119.00 and well worth it. There was also a $20.00/bag option but we're both XL-sized so wouldn't fit much in the bag. The first day out I sent my husband's dress shirts and two of my dresses for pressing so they looked pretty for dinner. The next day and every two days after that I sent socks, underwear and whatever else might need a wash so that when we got home there was only one small basket for me to tackle. I've read some recent reviews complaining that the Oosterdam's furnishing are old, dirty and tatty. I noticed a few very faded lounge chair pads and some scarring on furniture but only when I was looking with a critical eye - generally I was so busy running from one event to another or meals or schlepping back to the cabin for a nap I never saw the imperfections. The food was good to excellent. I was disappointed that the Chinese and Indonesian and Indian buffets were so mild but there was always Sriracha hot sauce or sweet chili sauce available to spice things up. There were so many food choices that even with devoted attention to five or six meals a day I didn't manage to get "a bit of everything". Breakfast choices include: fresh fruit, danish pastries, donuts, congee, oatmeal, made to order omelets, waffles with choice of toppings (mango!), french toast, blueberry or banana pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns made with white and sweet potatoes, beans on toast, fresh squeezed orange juice, twenty types of tea, Swiss muesli, eggs benedict station with choices like Scottish (gravlax), St. George (real crab meat), and Messina (mushrooms and cheese sauce) oh, and bacon, eggs fried to order or scrambled, sausage links or patties, also bagels, cream cheese, gravlax, cheese slices and a few cold cuts just in case. Early in the cruise they promoted a tour of the kitchens. There was one guy at the front of the line of passengers which stretched out as folks stopped to take pictures and look around. We didn't get to hear him at all but they did provide us with a map of our route and the stations we were passing. Some of the stations also put out samples. The pasta station had a nice display of ingredients (they use Barilla pasta) and plates of Italian sausage to taste. There were also big wheels of cheese with tastes, demos from staff making bread animals, fondant roses and ice carving, giant raw steaks that would be grilled up for dinner that night and a tray of warm cookies at the end. We had the "As you wish" dining option which turned out pretty well for us. Again, because of the clientele we discovered quickly that planning for the later show (10pm vs. 8pm) and dinner anytime after 7:15 allowed us to ask for a table for two and frequently get it as well as choice seating for the show. Many sea days our evening went something like: 5pm happy hour with free hot appys in the Crow's Nest listening to Matt Murphy (excellent). Change for dinner, win trivia at 7pm (we got some great lootz) then head to MDR for dinner. There was plenty to do on board. Trivia and karaoke seemed very popular on this sailing. Diane in the piano bar is fabulous and Matt the guitarist in the Crow's Nest knows almost as many songs as she does. Matt in particular likes to "adjust" the lyrics to the room and works the waitstaff into his act. The HALCats are great but I wasn't very keen on their vocalist. The Adagio Strings were also nice to listen to for awhile. The movies shown in the screening room during the day and twice instead of live entertainment on ports days included: The Help, War Horse, The Artist, Adventures of TinTin, Sherlock Holmes II, The Muppets, Mission Impossible IV, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (US). The screening room is too small for demand and we never arrived in time to get a seat but were able to sometimes catch the show we missed on the in-room TV the next day. No worries, there was always something to do even if it was time to lie in a lounger and read. Speaking of reading I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and size of the library. In addition to many, many choices of books there were also two jigsaw puzzles on the go, chess table, daily Sudoku and crossword, as well as many board and party games available to borrow. Also in the Explorations Cafe (library and internet spot) you can get specialty coffees for almost exactly the same price as on shore. I only had one and it was very Starbucky. The barrista also has a little cooler with tea sandwiches, cookies and pastries. He'll offer you some with your beverage but I did see at least one person walk up and just get some goodies without purchase. Happy hour (all of them) was always popular. 4-5 Ocean Bar, 5-6 Crow's Nest, 7-8 Ocean Bar, 9-10 Crow's Nest, 11-midnight Northern Lights. Second drink for $1 and a little dish with hot appys like mini crabcakes, chili rellenos, or siu mai. I used the gym a couple of times before I got too lazy. The movement of the ship on the second and third days out made standing exercise challenging so I worked out from a mat on the floor. Really enjoyed the Lido pool. It was never very busy. On the rougher sea days it was actually the best place to avoid sea-sickness since you're body is completely in sync with your senses. It was also a hoot playing in the waves created by the ship's movement. The Lido pool was covered for much of the trip to and from Hawaii and the dome opened when we were in port. Very convenient. The evening entertainment was also geared to what people think the older crowd likes. We found it mildly entertaining but somewhat cheesy and didn't even bother the last few nights. The two things that were really outstanding were the Travel Guide Kainoa and most of the cooking events in the Culinary Arts Center. Kainoa is a gentle giant of a Hawaiian man who knows something about anything you could care to ask him about the history, traditions, culture, natural environment and food of Hawaii. I thought he was brought on board specifically for the Hawaiian cruise but he's been working for Holland America for years and is equally adept at lectures about Alaska and Mexico - who knew? The events in the Culinary Arts Center were pretty much the on-ship highlight of this cruise. Young Daniel (a chef tournant, meaning he can work any station in the kitchen) from Vancouver and with the help of perky party planner a girl named Kyle entertained us every sea day with cooking demos of different foods made on board. Most demos ended with a tasting. Daniel also was the instructor for four hand-on cooking lessons ($29.00 each) where he had classes a large as 9 and as small as 4 put together several recipes into a meal which we then plated for ourselves and snuck into the back door of the Pinnacle Grill where we ate our creations with fancy table settings and wine service. I thought it was totally worth the money but now what do I do with 4 aprons... The only other "enrichment" event we attended was the Digital Workshop on Making Movies using Windows Live Movie Maker. Even though we consider ourselves tech savvy we hadn't used this program before and are now much more likely to. We even got along really well with the photographers on board who were very open to us using our own props (my husband brought his ukulele) and inventing our own poses to suit our personality. I strongly recommend if you want great pictures the photo staff would be delighted to do something different and have a chance to express their creativity. (Especially Daniel Gabor). Port reviews appear separately. We really enjoyed ourselves. The median age of the passengers didn't really bother us. We met nice people who just happened to be our parent's generation and they seemed to think we were cute, so it's all good. I will probably not pick Holland America for my next cruise but I certainly haven't written it off for the future. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
The Captain kept referring to the "Beautiful Oosterdam". Well he should have walked around to see it more closely. So let me tell you about this ship: Threadbare furniture, cracked leather seating, filthy chairs you ... Read More
The Captain kept referring to the "Beautiful Oosterdam". Well he should have walked around to see it more closely. So let me tell you about this ship: Threadbare furniture, cracked leather seating, filthy chairs you wouldn't want to sit in, lampshades in dining room scotch taped together, restrooms that either smelled of urine or were not working, 3 out 8 treadmills dysfunctional and our bathroom drain was broken and had to be used manually to get rid of the water. The Lido Buffet was a Chinese fire drill - you had to run all over the place to get your meal. The food was cold and the selection boring. The drinks were served in juice glasses so you had to fill them up several times. And there was absolutely no logic to the layout......none! And you couldn't help yourself to anything it all had to be served. The cabin stewards were magnificent but the waitstaff was unhelpful. Whatever you asked them the answer was "I don't know".......unless they sent for their supervisor. My guess was they didn't speak English. On the plus side: the restaurant food was tasty, well presented and superior to other Carnival lines; the entertainment was professional and the disembarkation procedure was phenomenal. Unfortunately this was my first - and probably last - Holland America Cruise as it did not meet by a long shot my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
This was our second HAL cruise, first time on the Oosterdam. Embarkation was very fast and really well organized. HAL has its act together. Our obstructed oceanview cabin on Deck 4 amidships left ample space above the lifeboat. The safety ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise, first time on the Oosterdam. Embarkation was very fast and really well organized. HAL has its act together. Our obstructed oceanview cabin on Deck 4 amidships left ample space above the lifeboat. The safety drill was held an hour before sailaway. Names and cabin numbers were called and marked off lists. Almost everybody paid attention to instructions. We found the food in the MDR excellent, compared to our 16 cruises on many other cruise lines. Even going for low-fat, low-cholesterol was easy and delicious. Early fixed seating being so popular, the dining room was crowded and quite noisy. The tables are very close together. We sailed into a howling storm with 35 ft waves right the first night and a lot of people got very sea sick. We were happy to be on a lower deck amidships and rode it out with our usual SeaBands and ginger pills. The first 24 hours the dining room was sparsely populated. We found food and service to be excellent. The 3 times we ate in the Pinnacle Grill were truly superb, exquisite, you name the adjective. We never ate in the Lido except for one breakfast before an early shore excursion. HAL's beds are luxurious compared to other lines'. We slept wonderfully well. We spent a lot of time in our cabin reading, especially on "rocky" days. The ship was not as overly air-conditioned as some, but our cabin was cozier. We'd hoped on lots of dance practice but that did not happen, either because it was a struggle to stay upright or the dance floors being used for other things and thus full of chairs. But we enjoyed the Neptunes, who switched from the "golden oldies" to our more up-tempo favorites once they got to know us. We found the ship to be spotless and very elegant in a subdued and classy way. The crew and staff were wonderful and genuinely friendly. A couple of the shore excursions were very disappointing but I've sent in a review about them separately. Disembarkation on April 15 was the fastest and best organized we have ever experienced! We were off the ship in 10 minutes after our color and number were called, and that included customs! We're very impressed with HAL and the Oosterdam. Our favorite ship so far. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
Hi, I'm Traveling Dot and this is my fourth cruise on Hal. We have done Canada/Maasdam (round trip Boston to Boston), Alaska/Statendam (Fairbanks to Vancouver) and the Panama Canal/Rotterdam (from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale). We ... Read More
Hi, I'm Traveling Dot and this is my fourth cruise on Hal. We have done Canada/Maasdam (round trip Boston to Boston), Alaska/Statendam (Fairbanks to Vancouver) and the Panama Canal/Rotterdam (from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale). We flew from Boston to San Diego on Jet Blue the day before we were scheduled to sail. Would recommend Jet Blue for the extra leg room they provide at coach prices. We were met at the airport by HAL representative and helped us to the shuttle to the Sheraton Marina Hotel. Our room faced the harbor and the next morning we could see the Oosterdam from our balcony. The provided shuttle to the pier was flawless and being my husband walks with a cane we got special attention both at the hotel and at the pier. Check-in went smoothly and we took the elevator to the boarding level of the ramp to the ship. Our cabin was ready on our arrival and we met our room steward, Eric. He was a great help throughout the cruise and whenever I needed something he was right there. Our room was always clean and everything was taken care of fast considering how many cabins they had to care of. We had a veranda room on deck 4 almost mid-ship. This ship is a lot bigger than the ships that we have sailed on previously. After we dropped off our carry ons in the cabin we went to the Vista Dining Room for lunch with other fellow Mariners. When we finished lunch and went back to our cabin our suitcases had arrived and I was able to unpack and get settled. At 3 PM we met the other cruise critic passengers for a Banner Wave from the fore deck and we took pictures and got to know each other. Our meet and greet was scheduled for the next day in the Crow's Nest. Our next order of business was the lifeboat drill where everyone had to attend or they would be asked to leave the ship. Roll Call was held and everyone was accounted for or they were called personally and told to get to their station. We found out after the drill that the Catholic Priest did not make the ship and we would not have one on board. This was a downer for us because we sail with HAL because they do have a priest on board. And especially because this was Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The first night out was a rough one. We had 36 hours of bad seas and winds and a lot of people were seasick by dinner time. Barf bags were to be found by the elevators on each deck. I would suggest if anyone going on this cruise even thinks they may get seasick to take something as soon as they board just to play it safe. It is not a pretty sight to see people getting sick while you are trying to eat or just walk to another end of the ship. I just wish those who were sick had stayed in their cabins. By the second day things started to calm down and people were getting their sea legs and didn't sway from side to side as they walked. Each day got calmer and warmer as we neared Hawaii. Finally on day 6 we arrived in Hawaii, I opened the curtains to see the island in the distance. We didn't dock until 11 AM because we had slowed down because of the rough seas the first day. We had arranged a private tour with four other people from the cruise critic group. We were met at the end of the pier by our driver and we walked to were he parked his van. The tour we received was well worth the money and we got to see all the places that were offered by HAL without the crowds. We had a tour of Hilo, went to Volcano National Park, walked through the lava tube, saw lava fields and the Rainbow Falls before going to the Moana Loa factory and then back to the ship in time for boarding. Our next port of call was Honolulu for two days where we took the ship excursions. On day one we went to Pearl Harbor and the Mighty Mo and that night we we went to the Paradise Cove Luau. Day 2 we did the Little Circle Tour of Oahu. Next port of call was Kauai and now I know why it is so green, rain. We took the Scenic Hanalei Valley tour and it seemed to rain while we were on the bus and stop when we arrived at a scheduled stop. So it wasn't all rain there was a lot of sun too. The last port of call was on Maui, on this island we did the Maui Tropical Plantation and Ocean Center Tour. The Ocean Center was very interesting and worth the time to see it, the tram ride at the Plantation was not what I expected and I could have skipped that. Being this was a tender port we did not rush back to the ship and took the bus to Hilo Hatties and did a little shopping before taking the free shuttle back to the area by the pier. We had lunch at a place across the street from the dock which was nice but everything is on "Hawaii Time" (slow). The cruise back to San Diego was uneventful and mostly smooth. We made the mandatory stop in Mexico before heading to the US. Some people got off the ship but we stayed on and were serenaded by some seals on the shore next to the ship. I have one thing to say about the cabin with the door closed you did not hear the loud barking of the seals. The travel guide on our cruise was Kainoa who was very knowledgeable about the islands and very entertaining. He even taught us how to hula. We had some very good entertainers on the cruise and we enjoyed the shows. The food was good no matter where we ate, the Lido, the Dining Room, the Pinnacle Grill, or the Terrace Grill. The only place we didn't try was Canaletto, I'm not big on Italian food. Pizza at the Lido was good enough for me. All the crew members that we met were very pleasant and always had a smile and hello for you. I did the Ship Tour (cost $150) and it was very interesting to see the different areas of the ship and how they are run. From the Engine Room to the Bridge, from the garbage room to the kitchen to where they store the food and beverages, it was all very, very interesting. And we met the Captain (had a picture taken with him) and learned how the ship is navigated. After the tour we had a cocktail and canapes and received a goody bag and the picture of us with the Captain. It was worth the money and if you want to know what goes on behind the scenes it is a must do. Overall we had a great cruise and plan on sailing with HAL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Oosterdam is the twentieth ship that we have travelled on, therefore we feel qualified for the review that we are submitting for this ship. Additionally, we generally travel on voyages of two weeks' duration or longer, so have ... Read More
Oosterdam is the twentieth ship that we have travelled on, therefore we feel qualified for the review that we are submitting for this ship. Additionally, we generally travel on voyages of two weeks' duration or longer, so have substantial experience of what is and is not acceptable for paying passengers on a cruise line that claims such terms as "refined elegance", gracious service", "signature service style", "our 5-star world" (all quotations from the 2012 Holland America Voyages brochure). We had travelled on Volendam for a 17-day cruise from Sydney around New Zealand and return to Sydney over Christmas 2011. This was our first Holland America experience and we were thrilled at the quality of that voyage; Captain Pieter Bos and his team kept Volendam in absolute top condition, staff were always right on the money for first-class service and we had no reason to complain about the accommodation, food or service. It was primarily on the goodwill built-up on Volendam that we chose to use Holland America again for our next voyage. What a mistake. We travelled from Australia (Sydney) on 16 March on Qantas Flight QF11 to Los Angeles, staying there overnight and self-driving to San Diego the next morning to join Oosterdam. Qantas enroute to Los Angeles was excellent, the flight being on the A380 aircraft with very good creature-comforts and superb service by cabin crew. Accommodation at Los Angeles was the Airport Marriott (very well-priced and comfortable, close to freeway entrances), vehicle rental was from Hertz at the Marriott. A nice upgrade from Hertz - we booked a Dodge Caravan for ease of transporting luggage, instead provided with a Mercedes GL450 4WD at no extra cost. Porters at San Diego Cruise Terminal are as usual, excellent. They know what they're doing and they do it very efficiently and politely. On arrival at our cabin, the premises were nothing short of putrid. Past passengers' pubic hairs on the bathroom floor; more hair within the bed linen; soap scum layering the sink, soapdish and shower-tile surfaces; carpet lined with grit and filth; litter (potato-crisp packets) on the floor adjacent to and beneath the bed; mattress stinking and reeked of perspiration; sofa head covered in dust with some dead insects for good measure; sofa and cushions stained and obviously not correct for use in accommodation represented as "5-star"; makeup stains on the pillow-linen for the bed. We genuinely believe that the bed-linen had not been changed from the cabin's previous occupants, if not longer than that. The hair-dryer's casing was severely chipped and therefore a safety risk. No steward identified themselves to us as being responsible for our cabin. We approached a steward standing in the corridor (not doing much) near our cabin and asked him whether he was responsible for Cabin 5150, he said that he was and that seemed to be the end of the conversation. No enquiry as to the satisfaction of our accommodation, no greeting blurb as to the location of our lifeboat station, etcetera. I rang the front desk to advise that we wanted housekeeping management to view our accommodation. Shortly afterwards, Housekeeping Managers Tessa and Melanie arrived at the cabin and agreed that the accommodations were in fact filthy. They could provide no explanation for the condition that the cabin was presented to us in, but advised that it would be properly cleaned when we went for dinner. On return from our meal, the cabin appeared to have been thoroughly cleaned. Over the next number of days enroute to Hawaii, other events occurred - unfolding a napkin at the Lido Buffet Restaurant during a lunch, the napkin contained somebody's fresh nasal discharge - whoever folded the napkin must have seen this but chose to make the napkin available for use, complete with cutlery folded into it. Another lunchtime napkin in the Vista Dining Room contained some luxuriant black hair on another day. The bartender at the Ocean Bar one evening gave us a drink with somebody's fresh lipstick nicely decorating the glass's rim. The strip of corridor on Deck 2 between the Atrium and Queens Lounge stank strongly of vomit, all day every day, widely-commented on by many others. Then the air-conditioning unit over the bed in Cabin 5150 started spewing out black soot into the cabin - onto the bed and cabin-furniture, probably onto us during the night and being inhaled by us, too. Even after a claim of repair, the unit continued to do this until finally stopping. The Hawaiian ports were excellent, we made use of Dollar Car Rental for Hilo, Honolulu and Nawiliwili, Hertz for Lahaina. Lacklustre service at the Dollar depots, excellent service at Hertz. Tendering at Lahaina was fairly efficient and if you were prepared to start the day early, you got off early, too. From the Hawaiian Islands back to San Diego, grumbles amongst various passengers were becoming more bold, but whether or not anybody else made their grievances known to the Oosterdam management, we are unaware. Corridor-carpets and stairwells were always filthy, especially in the rearmost internal areas of the ship. At lunch in the Vista Dining Room on the second-last seaday enroute to San Diego, I ordered a Tuna Melt sandwich, clearly stipulating without bellpepper as I have a severe allergy to this and to pickles. The waiter repeated the order back, which was witnessed by three other Florida passengers with whom we were having lunch. I bit-into the sandwich, and it was loaded with bellpepper. The response from my insides was immediate, resulting in a dreadful mess at the table (you can guess the images). Lots of apologies from the restaurant staff at all levels, no explanation though as to how it had happened especially given that the order had been correctly-taken and supposedly then correctly relayed to the kitchen. What the checking mechanism is then for the meal's forwarding to the Dining Room, is unknown by me. The next day (final seaday), same time, I ordered a cheeseburger without pickles due to allergy. The cheeseburger arrived, on this occasion I checked the burger before biting it, and the burger was loaded with pickles. I informed the Head Waiter (same one as on the previous day with the bellpeppers) and he could not advise why this had now happened to me on consecutive days with advice of an allergy that would cause me to be seriously ill. At this table with us were four British passengers (one a retired judge). The judge ordered a meal which when arrived, he advised that it was inedible and insisted on a replacement. When the replacement meal arrived, the judge advised the Head Waiter that this meal was also inedible due to the way in which it had been prepared. The judge then gave-up on getting an edible meal in the Dining Room and they left to try to obtain edible food at the Terrace Grill. We cancelled our housekeeping tips that afternoon, and only left the Dining Room tips still standing due to some degree of loyalty to our Dinner (Fixed Seating) Waiters, who were relatively solid in their table-service to us each night. We wrote five positive-feedback compliments for various staff on Oosterdam, including the fabulous Glenn Gonsalves (personable and super-professional Manager of the Pinnacle Restaurant). As a comparison, we wrote over twenty compliment-cards for Volendam crew-members, struggled to find five to write about on Oosterdam. We received a letter from Oosterdam Hotel management thanking us for the compilment-cards we had written, and they included on the list a further four crew-members we had never heard of. The two Cruise Critics Meetings that were held were well-attended, and many, many thanks must go to our wonderful Cruise Critic Den Mother Norma from Arizona, who did all the pre-cruise organisation and correspondence with Holland America for the CC meetings. Special hellos from us also to Dobie Mom from San Diego and Cruznmonster from Chicago. We very much enjoyed the company of all the Critics who attended. It was a nice moment to sign the CC banner which is held aboard Oosterdam. Our dinner table (65) was an excellent collection of wonderful folk (family Dan, Diane and Shirley from San Diego, friends Kathleen and Dianne from Seattle). Disembarkation at San Diego was relatively efficient, again with those great porters who know their business so well. We hired a Chevrolet Tahoe truck from Hertz and kept this vehicle until departure from Los Angeles to Sydney on the night of 3 April. Holland America place a 'Let Us Know' slip in the cabin in each evening and advise that if you have any concerns, put it in writing. We have learned that this is lip-service only by Holland America, and in our experience on Oosterdam this 'Let Us Know' advice is lacking in sincerity and commitment. We wrote four advices to the Oosterdam management during this cruise, firstly for the completely unacceptable cabin-presentation, then for the deteriorating condition of the hygiene-critical items (napkin with nasal discharge, etcetera). then for having been served on consecutive days with food-ingredients that I had advised the restaurant would cause me serious illness with a potentiality for worse. On the first two occasions, we received short responses signed 'Thoughfully' from the Hotel Services Manager. After the incident which caused me to be violently ill in the Dining Room, I received a note saying my correspondence had been sent to Head Office in Seattle (no mention of 'Thoughtfully' against the signature this time); there was no acknowledgement even that something had happened to me. We submitted a further letter after I was served with an allergic-food on the consecutive day - we did not even receive an acknowledgement this time, even though we specifically asked for a response. Gutless or incompetent management? Make up your own mind. Any goodwill generated by Volendam on Holland America's behalf is well and truly gone now. We had intended to travel on Noordam in Europe this year, but not now. One older female passenger on this same Oosterdam voyage, when we advised of our intention to write this review for Cruise Critic, said "Tell 'em their ship stinks". Where does the 'buck stop' on Oosterdam - how could this ship vary so differently in a passenger-experience to Volendam? Whispers to us from some crew-members from various departments on Oosterdam were that this vessel is perhaps not a good example of Holland America. In our view, on this ship, the buck stops with the Hotel Services management (go as far up the tree of the ship's management as you wish). During the course of the voyage, we had never asked for any form of upgrade, only seeking a vacation that lived up to (or near enough to) the promises in the advertising. Oosterdam is relocating to Australia later in 2012. P&O Cruises in Australia, often commented for a rowdy passenger-demographic, at least provide very clean ships with good reliable service in recent years. Our tip to Australians who may be considering booking on Oosterdam, either as the opportunity to travel on a 'new' ship to Australian waters or due to previous good experiences on the excellently-run Volendam is DON'T. Instead give your fare to P&O or Royal Caribbean (who have also demonstrated a serious commitment in providing quality ships with responsible management to Australian passengers). This was a waste of vacation-time on a poorly-managed ship whose Hotel Management doesn't even have the courtesy to respond in writing after having actively solicited feedback (supposedly good or otherwise). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
My wife and I are in our early sixties and consider ourselves as being quite active. We have done 10+ cruises in the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera. Our cruise line of choice has been Royal Caribbean. We boarded the ... Read More
My wife and I are in our early sixties and consider ourselves as being quite active. We have done 10+ cruises in the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera. Our cruise line of choice has been Royal Caribbean. We boarded the Oosterdam shortly after 1:00 PM and went directly to our stateroom on the stern starboard of deck seven. We were promptly greeted by our cabin stewards Bari and Tasman. Everything within our stateroom met our expectations and we thanked out steward. Our luggage arrived within a short period of time. During the entire cruise stateroom service was outstanding and was rewarded with additional gratuities We departed San Diego in rain and high winds. On the following windy miserable day one at sea, we were informed that during the night we were in 24 foot seas and 65 mile per hour winds. Day one and day two at sea continued to be very windy and cloudy. Passengers were not allowed on any of the outside deck areas (I assumed part of the reasoning was due to the average passenger age of around 75 years). We had been under the false assumption that the days at sea would be warm and sunny, we were badly mistaken. In talking to crew members we learned that cool cloudy weather is more the norm on the Hawaiian crossings. The Oosterdam does show wear in many areas. The only stained furniture that we observed were water stains on some of the deck furniture cushions. This situation was very easily remedied by placing readily available towels on the cushions. We never used the elevators always using the stairs, there was constantly staff polishing vacuuming etc. almost to the point of being annoying, they always had a friendly greeting as you passed them. We did find it quite odd that the exterior decks were flushed and scrubbed just prior to sunrise leaving them wet for morning walkers and joggers. When cruising we normally have morning coffee in the buffet area waiting to take sunrise pictures. Out of nine days at sea there were only two decent sunrises. The Lido Buffet offered numerous breakfast choices setup at different stations including the omelet choices, waffle selections, a variety of eggs Benedict, cold cuts and cheese, fruit/pastry area as well as the main lines serving eggs, pan cakes, toasts, breakfast meats, etc.. It is "buffet" food but for the most part was quite good. Lunch at the Lido also offered a large variety at different stations including Oriental, Italian, salad bar, build your own sandwiches, desert/ice cream bar as well as traditional. We appreciated that for the most part buffet items were not self serve that contributed to more sanitary conditions as well as expatiating the serving process. Given the age of the majority of passengers patience was a virtue but the buffet area pushed the limit of patience at times. Most areas varied selections daily. In addition to the Lido Buffet the Terrace grill located pool side served hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages, The Terrace also had a small buffet serving different ethnic foods daily. We selected assigned dinning for dinner in the Vista dining room. In our opinion food quality was not as good as we have experience on Royal Caribbean and the friendliness and efficiency of the dining room staff was below our expectations. On the plus side for us they did offer lobster on two occasions. Having cruised the Caribbean we love the days at sea with poolside activity and live bands. Of the nine days at sea there were only three days with sun, poolside activities were almost nonexistent and there were no live bands on deck. Canned music being played in the background was from the forties to the sixties. Passengers did a lot of card playing and reading. Some of the activities that were offered were intro computer classes, craft classes, culinary demonstrations and a variety of lectures. The ship offers many spa options and therapy for a price. We utilized the Fitness Center daily when at sea and found the equipment to be adequate. Classes at the fitness center were also offered, mostly for a fee. Our first port of call was Hilo on the Island of Hawaii. We had prearranged a private tour with Ricky's Tours for sixty dollars per person. Ricky met us and seven other passengers at the pier to begin our five hour tour. We visited numerous attractions on the island with the high light being The Volcanoes National Park. Ricky was very informative and readily answered questions. The only drawback of the day was the intermittent rain showers. The second port of call was Honolulu on the Island of Oahu. We have previously spent time on Oahu and visited most of the attractions on the island therefore we did not plan any activities. We took the free shuttle to the Maui Divers Jewelry operation and from there did some shopping in Waikiki before returning to the Oosterdam. Port number three was Nawiliwili on Kauai. We walked around the nearby shop area and watched the surfboarders. We finished our time ashore by taking the free shuttle to Walmart. Our final port was the "Tender Port" of Lahaina, Maui. We were able to get on one of the first tenders to enable to get to our private snorkeling excursion on the Scotch Mist II, sail boat. We departed the harbor with our captain Gene and crew Kerstin along with another couple that were vacationing on the Island. We sailed to a relatively sheltered area on the edge of a reef to begin our snorkeling. As the boat was being anchored we spotted two giant Sea Turtles within a hundred feet of the boat. We dove the reef for about an hour viewing many tropical fish. We than spotted a number of whales vying for a female off in the distance. With no need to operated a motor we were able to sail close enough to the fighting whales to see the barnacles attached to their skin. We watched and photographed the Whales for an hour then sailed back to the harbor. The morning aboard the Scotch Mist II was a great adventure. The crew was very friendly, hospitable, and extremely knowledgeable about Whales and their migration/mating habits. We highly recommend one of the excursions offered on the Scotch Mist. http://www.scotchmistsailingcharters.com/ The trip back to San Diego via Ensenada (to fulfill the requirements of the Jones Act) was mainly cloudy and chilly with relatively calm seas. Prior to booking on the Oosterdam we understood that Holland America is the Carnival Corporation line to cater to senior cruisers, but we were not prepared for quite such an inactive ocean crossing nor were we prepared mentally for such dreary weather. We found crew members to be very friendly and helpful . Holland America is not our premiere line but would book with them again. In reading cruise reviews I have always said it is hard to believe how completely different review can be written by people on the same cruise. In the case of the Oosterdam's March 17th Hawaiian cruise I feel that somehow there must be two Oosterdam's making this voyage. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, ... Read More
OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, what's wrong with ten days back and forth on the Pacific? We had done two East to West TransAtlantics in years past and enjoyed them immensely. We had also done one cruise with HAL, the Veendam from NYC to Bermuda. We flew directly into San Diego and met pouring rain getting to and from the bus to the passenger terminal. This was something of a portent for our trip. Finally through Security, we boarded and went to find our cabin, Deck 7, Portside, Forward. We were greeted in the appropriate hallway by Mus and Wayan who introduced themselves as our stewards and welcomed us to our spotlessly-prepared verandah cabin. (We are aware that not all Ccers were so fortunate as to be taken care of in this manner, but we were delighted). Once we found more drawers available under the end of the bed, we were able to store everything. Anyway, after a cold and rainy lifeboat drill (seemingly more important now after the Costa Concordia), we shoved off at 5 PM. We dined in the Vista Dining Room with Ali, our headwaiter, and it was an excellent experience. Not only did he explain the use of the Vegan-Vegetarian Menu to my wife, who prefers such things, but from that night on, the appropriate teas and decaf coffee automatically appeared at the end of the meal without our asking. The food during our VDR experience was varied, very tasty, and well prepared. Not being pressed for time, we utilized the VDR for lunches, as well and they were equally good. Since we were still on Eastern time and had been up quite a while, we went to bed around 8:30 (11:30 EDT) and fell asleep in our exceptionally comfortable bed, only to waken sometime later to a howling wind and an actively moving ship. If memory serves, the Captain described 60+ mph winds and 25+ seas, not as much as we experienced on the Atlantic one time, but the larger Oosterdam handled it well and we slept on. However, given the average age and impaired mobility of many of our fellow passengers, if they weren't safely in their cabins, they might have had a difficult time getting there. Some did, apparently, have issues as several passengers sported oversized bandages on their thumbs the next few days, the reason for Captain's warning about doors, fingers, and doorframes repeatedly broadcast. Awake before 6 AM (!), the prospect of waiting for the VDR to open at 8 AM was too daunting so we decided to go to the Lido and forage for food. Not our favorite food venue due to crowds, lines, and searching for open, clean tables, we think we have 'cracked the code' for the Lido breakfast and subsequently ate there most mornings, particularly as we kept getting up before 6 AM as we went from Pacific time to Hawaiian time (- 3 more hrs). Coffee and tea were available when we got to the Lido and, around 6:30, the Continental Breakfast opened with yogurt, fresh berries, and melon. Finally, we could see when the omelette chef opened where we could obtain the best made-to-order omelettes I have ever had! After this, we would return to our cabin, which had already been made up. Thank you, Mus and Wayan. During the cruise, we would spend time in the Crow's Nest with our lap-top attempting to annoy our children with wifi emails. Not always successful, due to the dial-up (or worse) speeds, we soldiered on, hoping that the islands would re-invigorate our cell phones so we could text our children so they would not forget us! :} We attended interesting port lectures by Nancy, the excursion director, and a great guest lecturer, Dr Charlie Urbanowicz, an anthropologist who lived several years with his wife on South Pacific islands. He did an excellent job talking about WWII in the Pacific, which generated good crowds, and the South Pacific cultures and history. We only wish he had been scheduled for more lectures. THE BIG ISLAND Upon docking at Hilo, we disembarked smoothly and met the Enterprise shuttle which took us directly to their office. Our plan was to drive to Volcano's National Park 30 miles away, and it was helpful that their office was located on the same road as the park. After a 45 minute drive, we were in the Visitor's Center and shortly after on the road around Kilauea Crater, which was smokin' and so part of the road around the caldera was closed due to sulfurous gasses. We got out at an overlook for the crater and saw a trail to the Jagger Museum so off we walked. Bad choice. It began to blow and rain heavily, so by the time we reached the museum, where we could have driven to and parked, we were soaked. Blame it on the trip planner (me!) But I wasn't through. I also parked at the first lot for the Thurston Lava Tube, walked 15 or so minutes through the drizzle to get to...another lot, right at the entrance to the tube. The time spent at the Park was worthwhile, but, due to the unattractive weather, our thoughts turned to lunch at the Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant in the little town of Volcano, just a few minutes from the Park. Owned by a former makeup artist on Hawaii 5-0 and set in an older building, the menu was varied and the food excellent (antelope burgers, anyone?) While returning to the ship, we stopped at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory outside Hilo and bought some nutty souvenirs (sorry) for friends at home. Fresh? The trees were across the street! Prices? The best we saw in the islands. OAHU While I had been in Oahu in 1974, my wife had never been there so when our choice of excursions was cancelled for lack of interest, we signed up for the 3 ½ hr Little Circle Tour of Oahu. Past Diamondhead to Hanauma Bay and the Blowhole, then continuing up to the Pali Lookout. It really reacquainted me to the area and my wife got to see some of the interesting backcountry of Oahu. We had hoped to be dropped off at Waikiki after the tour, but the drive was going back another route. When we asked, he said we could use Hilo Hattie's free shuttle to get there so we got off at the huge store. The Hilo Hattie shuttle driver apparently was practicing to be a stand-up comedian and was funny and informative. When I asked him where to get off for Duke's Restaurant, he dropped us at a hotel door and told us to just walk through the lobby and turn right! And there it was. Nice lunch, virtually on the beach, followed by the largest dessert I have ever shared-- Duke's Hula Pie. Since I was on Waikiki 38 years earlier, it seems that they have built three times as many hotels and the beach has shrunk! We were headed for Ft. DeRussy near which there was supposed to be a place called Parrot-Dise where you could have your picture taken with various exotic birds. My wife grew up with a brilliant parrot, who lived more than 50 years, so Parrot-Dise was a dream for her. (We found it in a Cruise Critic review posted in the Hawaii Port thread). When I told Dino, the proprietor, that my wife had traveled 5000 miles to see his birds, he went to work and soon we had pictures of her with 2, 4, and finally 6 birds, the last one with two patiently lying on their backs in her hands! Between Duke's and Parrot-Dise, we had a great day on Waikiki. The ship planned a bar-b-que for the aft pool area and the Lido as we weren't scheduled to leave Oahu until 11 PM. Unfortunately, the wind and sporadic rain were unplanned visitors, but the food was good anyway and the staff did their best given the conditions. KAUAI Kauai was the next stop and we had reservations at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters for an aerial tour. It turns out that their office where we would check-in could be seen from the ship and was a less than 10 minute walk. The helicopter ride was spectacular and even though I was not at a window seat, the views from the newer Eco-Star copter were great. You just needed to be aware of reflections on the window when taking photos. We had lunch after the flight at The Feral Pig, a nice, informal restaurant located in the same mini-mall as Blue Hawaiian. MAUI The last stop was Maui, where we had signed up for an 8 hr tour to the Haleakala Crater and 'Iao Needle State Park. Unfortunately, the crater was overcast (at 10,000 ft) and filled with clouds. It was, however, an interesting bus trip around Maui and the 'Iao Needle was a compelling spot. The only minor drawback, besides the clouds, was our very genial guide/driver who ran out of information at about the 5 ½ hr mark and resorted to singing us Hawaiian songs. Great if you like Hawaiian music. Maui was our only tendering port which was one of the reasons we chose to take a ship's excursion--priority disembarking. I can say it was uneventful although the re-tendering process was annoying: "Sir, may I look under your hat?" They also checked ID's at both ends of the pier raising the question of how did I get to the end of the pier if I didn't have an ID? Did I swim? If you have kept up with this long review, you know we had a great time and HAL was a big part of it. We have been on Regent and Oceania five times and were worried as to how we'd like a much bigger ship. Well, we liked it so much that we signed up onboard for a similar trip next March on the smaller Zaandam. By the way, if you're thinking about a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, you can't do better for research than the Hawaii (Maui, Kauai, Oahu) Revealed series by Wizard Publications available at Amazon. Much of what we saw and enjoyed in the islands came from these books. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Background Info: We were a party of "3 girls", me (47), my mom (82) and my cousin (51). We have all sailed HAL before, and had all been on the Oosterdam at least once. We had sailed 7-10 days in the past, and were looking for ... Read More
Background Info: We were a party of "3 girls", me (47), my mom (82) and my cousin (51). We have all sailed HAL before, and had all been on the Oosterdam at least once. We had sailed 7-10 days in the past, and were looking for a longer trip with more sea days. This was a logical choice as we all live on the West coast. Travel to San Diego and Embarkation: We flew into San Diego the morning of embarkation, 2 of us from Portland, 1 from San Francisco. We had a family member pick us up and he dropped us at the cruise terminal at about 11:30am. There was another ship in port and a lot of people waiting in line! There seemed to be a lack of organization on the part of the port authorities. We were in line about an hour; once we dropped our bags on the luggage cart and entered the terminal, things were much smoother. We went to the short line for suite guests, and were onboard a short 15 minutes later, by about 1pm. We went directly to our room and our luggage arrived by 2pm; our case of wine which had been left with our luggage arrived by 4pm. Stateroom: We had sailed in a Superior Suite on the Oosterdam before so we knew what to expect. Our suite was lovely, with plenty of closet space (and trust me, we didn't pack light!). We found the bathroom to have more than enough space for all of us and didn't use all of the storage in the stateroom. The beds, including the sofa bed, were very comfortable and we had no issues throughout the trip. In fact, twice during our stay, maintenance knocked on our door to repair issues with a shower head and a door that didn't close properly. Both had been reported by our cabin stewards...we hadn't even noticed! Ship Info: We had read several reviews prior to sailing, and several had commented that the ship looked rundown and in need of sprucing up. We didn't really see that; sure if you looked hard enough you might see a pillow or cushion that could have been replaced, but overall, this is a beautiful ship that has been well cared for. There certainly wasn't anything that would have prevented us from having a great time. We are just not very critical I guess. Dining: One word....FABULOUS!! I don't recall a single meal that we didn't completely enjoy. We ate breakfast all over...the Lido, the Vista and many days in the Pinnacle Grill. What a nice treat for suite guests. Same menu as the Vista, but a really calm, pleasant way to spend your morning! We had room service for breakfast a few times...always right on time, and the coffee was always hot. I had read several reviews that mentioned the temperature of the toast from room service, and honestly, I don't understand why someone would expect toast to be hot. The sheer distance from the kitchen to the stateroom should explain why the toast wasn't hot! Heck my toast at home isn't usually hot by the time I get it from the toaster to the table. Needless to say, the toast was warm and just fine! We had dinner (early seating) most nights in the Vista and our servers were wonderful, always remembering that we liked our skim milk and that I had a food allergy. We celebrated mom's birthday in the Pinnacle Grill; we loved it so much we made another reservation on the way out. The grilled salmon was out of this world and the others said it was the best lobster they had ever had! Most days we had a later breakfast, and with the early seating at dinner, we often just grazed at the Lido or the Neptune Lounge at lunchtime. We did have burgers at the Terrace Grill once, and they were very good. Activities: As I said, we were here to relax and get away from very stressful jobs, so we spent a lot of our sea days on our verandah with a cocktail and our Kindles. We did take part in Team Trivia several days, and completely enjoyed The Marriage Game with CD Eric Dowis. That man has more energy and enthusiasm than any other CD I have sailed with! We went to several sessions of "Good Morning Oosterdam" where Eric would interview members of the crew. Very interesting conversations. We went to several of the cooking demonstrations but our favorite was when our Captain Arjen van der loo made his Dutch Pancakes. Between his cooking and his interview with Eric, Captain van der loo found 3 new fans in us. What a great sense of humor and upbeat personality. Far and away, the most personable Captain we have seen. We never saw him around the ship without his big smile! Our first few days at sea were pretty rough, but we felt very safe in his capable hands! Service: In my opinion, this is where HAL really shines. Smiling faces, always willing to help, and how do they remember all our names?? This is what brings me back to HAL time and again. Special kudos to Ruel and Candice in the Neptune Lounge. Always happy, and willing to help with anything that we needed! Ports and Shore Excursions: We didn't schedule any excursions and did things on our own. We missed Hilo due to the rough seas the first few days. In Honolulu, we spent the day with a friend and went to Pearl Harbor and then just toured the city. We had been there before. In Nawiliwili, we took a shuttle bus and did some shopping. We found a great little restaurant, JJ's Oceanfront Broiler. Nice beachside views, great beer and wonderful homemade potato chips. In Lahaina we went to the Maui Ocean Center which was very nice and then spent the afternoon walking around town. The local artists that are under the BIG banyan tree have some fantastic crafts at very reasonable prices. Disembarkation: One big problem. They told me I had to get off the ship. I did everything I could think of to stowaway, but in the end, we took our bags (we had opted to handle our own luggage) and left this lovely ship under protest. We were in off the ship by 8:15am. Dropped my cousin at the airport at 8:45am and she was home by 11am thanks to a standby flight. We were safely back in Portland by 3:30pm, already plotting our next HAL adventure! In summary, we can't think of a single thing that would have made our trip more enjoyable. What a lovely ship, with a fantastic crew. A very special shout out to CD Eric and Captain van der loo. The two of them make an outstanding team, and we hope we can sail with them again. We are already looking to book a trip to Alaska this summer on the Outstanding Oosterdam! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Cruise Critic Review of the Oosterdam Hawaii Trip Feb 25, 2012 First let me start with the positives. The service staff on this ship are great. The room stewards work hard to keep their assigned rooms clean and neat. The bar staff ... Read More
Cruise Critic Review of the Oosterdam Hawaii Trip Feb 25, 2012 First let me start with the positives. The service staff on this ship are great. The room stewards work hard to keep their assigned rooms clean and neat. The bar staff are friendly and courteous - special shout out to the Ocean Bar staff (Eddie et al). We ate all our meals in Lido and were impressed both with the service and the quality of food. The Captain was approachable, informative and friendly. On our entry into the Hawaiian Islands, there was a pod of hump back whales that we could watch frolicking in the sea. That was really the highlight of the journey! Kudos to Holland America for being not just handicap accessible but handicap friendly. there were many seniors on this cruise that needed assistance and it was provided with a friendly smile. We had 2 medical emergencies on board that were handled in an expedited fashion, showing that the customer truly does come first when it comes to health issues. A captain that sends out for medication to be delivered by air drop from the US Coast Guard out of San Francisco and stops the ship to retrieve said medications shows a great respect for his medical staff and their patent and should be commended for his handling of the situation. The negatives: No one's fault but the weather just didn't' cooperate. Can't blame Holland America but 10 days at sea with wind, cloud cover, cool and rainy to say nothing of when in Hawaii itself tended to colour the whole trip in a negative light. The first couple of days at sea were rough with moderate swells for much of the journey. This wasn't an issue for myself or hubbie but I think a lot people were battling sea sickness for the first while. Our room was intruded on at 1030 PM by someone who only identified himself when my husband called out to ask if I was ok - the intruder was in our washroom and Hubbie thought it was me. When he called out, a male voice responded that he was maintenance checking our toilet. We did complain to the front desk staff about this and they said they would address the appropriate department. We did get an apology but both feel that everyone was busy covering their you know whats and no one would explain or take responsibility for this frightening intrusion. The Oosterdam is not that old a ship and I understand that it has recently been refitted. However, everywhere there are signs of wear and tear in this ship. The carpets are worn, the furniture is worn and there is often a musty smell in some areas. While the ship claims that the casino is smoke free with only designated areas to smoke in - That's a bit of an oxymoron. If you allow smoking, it drifts and all are exposed. It was nice that the eating areas were all non-smoking and would have been nicer if the casino was non smoking. Designated smoking areas need to be walled off and have a good air return so others are not exposed to the second hand smoke. Even to get to the shows, one had to run the gauntlet of stale smoke. Also the musty smell was predominate in the area just outside the Queen's Lounge. In summary, if what you want is a relaxing holiday with not much to see for most of the vacation, then this is the trip for you. If, like me you like to watch the shorelines and ships pass by, pass this one up. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Just off the Oosterdam (opronounced 'Oh'sterdam) (Jan 28-Feb 18). Visited Mexico and Hawaii. As veteran HAL cruisers we love HAL. Here are our 'likes': typical HAL experience. Food was GREAT! Service, ditto. Staff ... Read More
Just off the Oosterdam (opronounced 'Oh'sterdam) (Jan 28-Feb 18). Visited Mexico and Hawaii. As veteran HAL cruisers we love HAL. Here are our 'likes': typical HAL experience. Food was GREAT! Service, ditto. Staff ditto. Ship, excellent shape. Ships's personnel continually cleaning and polishing. We very much appreciate HAL offering religious services on board...thanks HAL. BIG SURPRISE: HAL coffee was very drinkable. Up till now all the coffee on any cruise was at best exceedingly low quality and almost undrinkable....coffee on this cruise was a very pleasant surprise :) Dislikes: First time at sea for so long a spell, 5 days one way, 5 days another. We thought this would not be a problem but neither one of us were very happy sittin on board for so long a time. (I know this is not HAL's fault...no blame). Seas were VEY HEAVY going to Hawaii. Missed HILO (big island) due to conditions. Almost fell outa bed couple times :( (If you are reading this and questioning whether or not you would 'enjoy' lengthy times on board and are wondering how crossing the pacific to Hawaii might be, you may not want to take this cruise). Was very upset that Mazatlan was cancelled. HAL's response that it was due to pax 'safety' is a bunch of baloney. (odd though it may seem, one of the main reasons we signed up for this cruise was the stop in Mazatlan....and the other reason was the stop in the only island we have not visited..you guessed it, the big island!) If you ever decide to cruise from San Diego, do get there a day early and visit the greater San Diego area. We had a wonderful time visiting the huge open air farmer's market (little Italy) and the 'gaslight' district. Old town was very nice as well. Any questions, feel free to write me at: tlc_grantsburg@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large ... Read More
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large non-luxury ship for the first time. We chose HAL as non-of our preferred ships were scheduled for a Hawaii round trip at the time we wanted to go. This was also our first sea-intensive cruise. Pre-Cruise We have owned timeshares for more than twenty years and decided to use some of our points to stay in the San Diego area the week before the cruise. We chose the Lawrence Welk Resort in nearby Escondido and found it to be one of our best exchanges ever. For those of you who may be timeshare owners, I will post a review on Timeshare Users Group www.tug2.net. Embarkation One of the things that concerning us was how difficult embarkation might turn out to be having experienced curbside to glass of sparkling wine in the atrium in about 15 minutes while watching the mob scene at nearby ships. This cruise was surely the embarkation from hell, though not necessarily the fault of HAL. We turned in our rental car and were driven to the cruise port only to find a big electronic sign declaring "no passenger discharge" at the entrance and a very long line waiting to get into the building. Our driver ended up having to leave us and all our luggage literally in the middle of the street. I found out later that the Port Of San Diego had shut down the terminal right in the middle of the embarkation process and said, to inquiring ships officers, the reason was none of their business. Passengers who arrive before 11 AM got on with no problem and those arriving after 12 went right on, but we had a 90 minute ordeal. Things were not helped by sharing the port with another large ship, resulting in nearly 5,000 people going through the terminal. Cabin We had a VD/Veranda cabin in the aft area. We had expected to be unhappy with the size and layout but were pleasantly surprised that the cabin was large enough to be comfortable and we found enough storage between the two wardrobes and the drawers in the end tables and under the bed. The balcony was small but this type of cruise doesn't lend itself to sitting out there. The bed was comfy and the bathroom utilitarian. Crew I have to agree with HAL fans that this has to be the friendliest crew at sea. Everybody we dealt with was cheerful and eager. However, there was an issue with crew to passenger ratios. An example is our cabin attendant. He appeared to be very good but overextended. I observed that he appeared to have more than 30 cabins to service. This results in service that is more like a hotel than a cruise ship. Our earlier experiences were that, every time you left your cabin, the cabin attendant seemed to have a sixth sense and, when we returned, it was apparent someone had been there, if only to do minor things such as freshen the ice or neatly fold clothing that had been tossed on the bed. On this cruise, the pattern was for the cabin to be made up sometime before the end of lunch and turned down by bedtime. Small issues such as buckets of melting ice not being replaced came up. I know I could have called for service, but hated to bother the already overworked guy. Dining One of the most important reasons people cruise, especially when you're at sea for ten days, is to dine. I've seen everything from two star to five star reviews. I gave HAL dining three stars. For one thing, the food was not up to what we found on "luxury" lines, but that is to be expected. What was disappointing was the unevenness of the food. At one meal we would be saying the food was delicious and, at the next, would find our entrees to be inedible and improperly prepared. Some of our dining companions were long-time HAL cruisers and were lamenting the fact HAL no longer had "white glove service" in the dining rooms. As this was my first time, I can only go by what they say. I also understand sommeliers have been replaced with "wine stewards" and my impression was these people did not have a really professional knowledge of wine. I believe I saw at least one or two of them actually serving as cocktail waiters in other parts of the ship. One of the biggest knocks I have on the MDR is how every meal opened with a server coming to our table and trying really hard to get us to buy a carafe of "special" water, filtered seven times. Don't they realize how this kind of stuff cheapens the experience? I can live with someone asking if I would like a cocktail or wine with dinner, but a hard-sell on water? We had open seating and enjoyed meeting our fellow passengers. The Lido was quite good. There is nothing like that on the small ships and the variety of food stations was excellent. We had met a couple at the resort who had just got off the prior cruise and said they ate only in the Lido for three weeks. I couldn't figure out why someone would want buffet food rather than the MDR but realized, after a few days, they were serving much of the MDR menu, with a few exclusions, in the Lido. We attempted to eat in the Canaletto Italian restaurant, which is an area of the Lido at dinner, but couldn't get reservations when we wanted. I heard very mixed revues on the food from several people. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill and the food was fine, but did not interest us in paying for a second visit. We had room service for a few breakfasts and thought they were quite good. I know some posters have complained about cold food, but I guess it depends on how far from the kitchen you are on this big ship. Our cabin was off the elevator bank that was one floor above where room service came out of the kitchen, so we were only about five minutes away from where it was handed off to the server. Another frequent topic I see is coffee. I mail order beans from two different sources but am not a coffee "expert". I thought the coffee was fine. It wasn't necessary to pay for coffee in the Crow's Nest as I noticed it is made from the same bags as the other restaurants. Entertainment There were good performers in all the lounges. The production shows were surprisingly elaborate with an energetic cast. Outside entertainment brought on board included a comedian, harmonica player and ventriloquist. The biggest hit of the cruise was probably Jeff Trachta (Thorne of "The Bold And The Beautiful) who had an excellent Vegas show of singing, comedy and impressions. Both his shows were packed and I understand he had a big turnout when he did a sit-down interview in the Vista Lounge the following morning. The issue I have with the entertainment venues is sightline problems. I cannot believe a ship built as recently as this one has a showroom full of large pillars and overhanging balconies that make, probably, 25 percent of the seats have an obstructed view of the stage. I you were attending a popular performance , you had to get there early and hold down a seat for at least 45 minutes. Worse was the screening room with very comfy theater chairs and fairly current releases. The down side was, with only about 30 seats, you have to get there about an hour ahead of time to know you can get into a showing. Ports Due to rough seas, we got a day behind and missed Hilo. That was a big loss. We docked in Honolulu and roamed independently. In Nawiliwili we originally had no plans but, as our tour in Hilo was scrapped, did a ship's tour to the "grand canyon of the pacific" which was nice. On Maui we had our own private tour booked. Getting on and off the ship was a big issue with us, again, being used to much smaller ships. All the tour busses seemed to arrive back at the ship in Nawiliwili simultaneously resulting in hundreds of people in a line that crept toward the gangplank. We saw that mess and, immediately, accepted a ride to Walmart on their free shuttle. We used an hour to pick up some items, including some of the least expensive Hawaii tee shirts I had seen. By the time we were delivered back to the ship, there was no line. In Maui, tendering was a mess. We were told there were tenders departing about every ten minutes but, after nothing moved for 45 minutes and the crowd in the Queen's Lounge turned into a mob, we finally got moving and, after nearly two hours, arrived on shore, late for our tour. Coming back was another mess with arriving busses and really long lines. And what can I say about our Jones Act stop in Ensenada. The port is in the middle of nowhere and, unless you've booked the inexpensive tour to see dancers and mariachis, there's no reason to get off the ship. Fellow Cruisers I was told this would be an older crowd. Yep. Disembarkation Like butter. We had a flight to catch and were down for 9 AM and were called at 8. Our suitcases were stacked together so we didn't have to search. Customs and immigration had us hand them the forms as we walked by. Oh, if embarkation was anything like this. General impressions Some people love these big ships and some that are much larger. We were not happy spending two weeks with 2,000 of our closest friends. Our cabin was close to dining but a trip to the other public areas involved a walk close to the length of two football fields. It was often hard to find a seat for dinning in the Lido and we actually saw people standing and eating. I had always heard about chair hogs, but hadn't experienced it until my walks across the Lido deck seeing every lounger had either a fanny or towel on it. But, there were always plenty of chairs on the observation deck. I mentioned before how much time you have to waste getting to show venues early in order to be sure you have a decent seat. Getting on and off this ship in port is agony for those of us used to smaller ships where there is never a line. Again, I'm not a snob, but that is my total experience cruising. Finally, as HAL considers itself a premium cruise line, I was very surprised by the lack of attention to detail. The furniture in lounges and common area can be quite beat up. Other reviewers have pointed out the poor condition of some of the leather furniture and upholstered pieces with buttons missing. The metal table on our balcony was actually rusting and it really shocked me that it hadn't been noticed and taken care of. We have had considerable experience with fine dining and found it rather strange that the Pinnacle would go to the trouble of having Rosenthal Bvlgari china along with the very common flatware used in the rest of the ship (with the logo "hotel" emblazoned on the back). To Sum Up The trip wasn't all that bad. We didn't have high expectations and were pleasantly surprised at some of what we found. We spent the first week saying, "Never again" but, by the end of the trip, had decided we might try HAL again, but on a more port intensive cruise on one of the smaller ships. We also have to consider cost. We could do several HAL cruises rather than one luxury cruise for the same price. HAL is not all inclusive and, had we opted for a suite or other more expensive accommodation and drank a lot more than we did, the cost might have been closer. But we were pretty happy with what we got.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
This cruise was our third cruise in the past 3 years to Hawaii on 3 different cruise lines, our second HAL cruise on a Vista Class Ship, and our fifth cruise in the last 3 years. Our other HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam doing the inside ... Read More
This cruise was our third cruise in the past 3 years to Hawaii on 3 different cruise lines, our second HAL cruise on a Vista Class Ship, and our fifth cruise in the last 3 years. Our other HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam doing the inside passage to Alaska. We booked VA5185 cabin, a stern veranda cabin. We always have a wonderful time on our cruises and this cruise was no exception. Lin was excited before we left to be cruising on HAL and was anticipating that this would end up being our cruise line of choice for future cruises. Let me start by saying that the crew on the Oosterdam were the happiest (genuinely happy, not corporate mandated happy) crew we have ever sailed with. We saw behavior of some passengers that was absolutely atrocious and the crew handled themselves with a dignity and respect that made the offending passengers look like idiots. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived early and when we were allowed to board, were one of the first people on-board. This was actually the easiest embarkation we have ever had on a cruise, even compared to two previous cruises where we were in suites. We did not have a cabin steward on this cruise, we had a cabin elf. Everything was always magically done and any request was met with a smile and was accomplished promptly. Our cabin elf was named Harry and we left a "Let Us Know" card praising his work at the front desk. We purchased the Thermal Suite package for the cruise beforehand knowing that the price would be cheaper on embarkation day. Upon embarking the ship we went to the spa and verified our reservation and they told us that since the special was $200 less than what we paid beforehand they would only charge our on-board account for the special price, in effect giving us another $200 of on-board credit. We absolutely love the Thermal Suite and made good use of it during the cruise. Our cabin was a little larger than I thought it would be and our veranda was huge compared to regular veranda cabins. It was about 15 or 16 feet deep. It was outfitted with two of the faux-wicker loungers and two faux-wicker chairs and the obligatory small table. This was our first time ever having a fully covered veranda and we found it to be perfect. You can find more details and photos in our blog at: http://thegeomonkeys.com/2012/03/our...osterdam-2012/ We love the promenade deck on the Vista Class ships as you can walk completely around the ship on one deck unlike some other ships that require you to go up and down stairs at either end of the ship to make a complete lap. The first night out of San Diego we had 30 foot seas and 20 foot seas the first full day at sea. Neither of us are bothered with motion sickness and slept like babies with the rocking motion. Many others were not so lucky and the bags and medication were readily available for those who needed it. This is the first time that I have ever seen a formal night canceled and rescheduled due to rough seas. We don't do formal nights and had made reservations for the Canaletto Restaurant for those nights so on the rescheduled night we ate in the Lido instead. The food on this cruise was good overall, probably better than we expected based on previous cruises. The shows were hit and miss, as expected. We always sit near an exit so we can escape if need be and we did that several times. We don't do Bingo, Karaoke, or Trivia, although we will sit in occasionally on Trivia or Karaoke to have a good laugh. We felt the cultural program left a lot to be desired. We attended the first one and left when the "expert" was basically reading a script. We don't do ships excursions because they are generally overpriced and we aren't sheep and don't like to be herded. We had arranged our own things to do while in Hawaii and enjoyed them immensely. It was nice to see that the muster drill had a little more importance placed on it although HAL needs to tweak it some. Roll was taken, under threat of not being able to sail if you weren't there. That is a good thing. However, to have everyone meet at their muster station and have a crew member try to show everyone how they should put on their life jacket when only the people in the front row could see them is rather silly, especially for first time cruisers. Our first stop was in Lahaina, Maui. This is a tender port (thankfully the only one on this cruise) and the tendering process was absolutely horrible. We have been here on two other cruises, on different lines, and HAL really screwed this up. They put 5 tenders in the water and found that two of them were broken down. REALLY! SERIOUSLY! Rather than putting in two others to replace the broken down ones, they decided that they would work on them in the water to fix them. Maybe they thought the other eleven on the ship were broken down also. These are the life boats that would be used in an emergency and they weren't working properly. So much for the enhanced muster drill procedures. From the time we got our tender tickets (#10) it took us 2 ½ hours to be put on a tender. I feel sorry for the people who showed up for their tickets 45 minutes later and had ticket #36. On our other cruises we never had more than a 20 minute wait after getting our tickets. Returning to the ship was excruciating also. We stood on the dock for over an hour for a tender to show up to take us back to the ship. There was no traffic in the harbor and the seas were calm. The tendering process was ridiculous. HAL definitely dropped the ball on this one. We did our own things on the other islands and getting off the ship was easy since all HAL had to do was make sure the gangway was secure. Unfortunately a huge storm pretty much canceled anything on Kauai. Roads were washed out and torrential rain dominated the agenda. Amazingly, some passengers were absolutely incensed that their tours were canceled and blamed HAL for it. More childish, spoiled, entitled people! Disembarkation in San Diego was a breeze. Unusual to be sure, so we'll take it and enjoy it for a change. Now for something new in my reviews. Ahhh! To Dream. IF I WERE KING: (and I had unlimited funds) I understand some of these thoughts are not possible, some are funny and some could be put into service. 1) Make it so that you could view your on board account on your stateroom television. 2) Make the atrium large enough to feel like a destination of it's own. 3) Make the Vista Showroom large enough to accommodate everyone that would like to attend a show there so you don't have to show up 45 minutes early to get a seat. 4) Have muster roll call taken with hand held mobile scanners that they use when you disembark the ship. 5) Hold muster drills inside (requires more seating in the Vista Lounge, etc) so that elderly people aren't standing for long periods of time while roll is taken. Everyone might be able to see the life vest demo that way also. 6) Make sure all tenders (life boats) are operational prior to needing them. 7) Use more tenders to get people ashore in a reasonable amount of time. 8) Install a button to turn on the T-Pool jets that can be reached while IN the T-Pool. 9) Install sensors in the Thermal Suite that will sense when someone on the tile loungers is snoring that will drop down a "Cone Of Silence" (remember Maxwell Smart) around them so others don't have to listen to them snoring. 10) Install a human wash (similar to an automatic car wash) at the entrance to all hot tubs, pools, and T-Pools so that everyone has to take a soapy shower before entering the public pools. 11) Cappuccino Bomb would be on the dessert menu every night. Prior to our cruise we saw posts from people on Cruise Critic that have sailed on the Oosterdam who said they were disappointed with the condition of parts of the ship. These people, some of whom are long time cruisers and posters to CC, were vilified, attacked, and called trolls from other boards because they dared to say something was "wrong" with the "O". We heard many comments while on-board from people who were upset about the condition of some sections of the ship. So we did a little investigation while on-board to see for ourselves. Feel free to yell at me now for what I am about to post. There are areas of the "O" that are in need of repair. Should they ruin someone's vacation? I don't think so, but everyone needs to decide for themselves. It's very easy to attack someone you don't know when it is your word against theirs, so I decided to take pictures to support what I found and people can make their own judgments. The "O" underwent a dry dock a few months ago so I expected her to be in pretty good shape throughout. Yet, some items were not addressed during the dry dock, but someone had to make the decision that these conditions were acceptable for HAL's standards. You can view the photos and what the complaints were that we heard about while on board at the following link: http://thegeomonkeys.com/2012/03/hol...am-march-2012/ The offensive, obstinate, self-righteous, arrogant, demanding, holier than thou passengers were in greater numbers on this cruise than on any other we have taken. The only cruise we have taken that had similar clientele was on the Zuiderdam. The standards that HAL has for what is acceptable in public areas for furnishings also surprised us. While it didn't ruin our cruise we found much higher standards on Princess and Celebrity. Therefore, we will not sail on HAL again, not because of the crew but because of the clientele. __________________ Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We are Australian,frequent cruisers, now that we are in retired. As such, we can choose to travel whenever and on whatever ships we like. This short cruise on the Oosterdam was chosen because of a previous wonderful cruise on the ... Read More
We are Australian,frequent cruisers, now that we are in retired. As such, we can choose to travel whenever and on whatever ships we like. This short cruise on the Oosterdam was chosen because of a previous wonderful cruise on the Westerdam, her sister ship, and because it sailed out of our home port, Sydney. We looked forward to a voyage with quality inclusions including decor, food and service - the ports were unimportant as we had been to the Sth pacific before. Unfortunately we disembarked feeling very dissapointed. Perhaps we are now spoilt, having cruised on many different ships in many exotic and interesting locations. However, I dont think we were the only passengers who found the ship to have boring and uninspiring activities, entertainment and food. So, to be fair I will list the points that were: Favourable - the size of the verandah - very spacious, enough for 3 people to sit - the stateroom service - efficient and friendly cabin steward and assistant who was happy to vacuum the sand I dragged in - the library - good selection of books - the open dining room service - we were met each night by a wonderful smiling personable "seating manager"( dont know his title) and other staff who greeted us by name and pandered to my gluten free dinner requests. - the popcorn in the screening room - eggs Benedict in various ways Unfavourable - The drill on deck - manually calling out the cabin numbers for 20 mins while we stood and were spoken to like children that had been naughty! - the boring music in the lounges and deck - at this time of year we needed something lively not something to put us to sleep, the rough seas did that! - The pathetic movies in the screening room - some good but some atrosious - the variety of the food in the Lido - what was there was ok but every day the same thing, OMG, there sure was creativity lacking in the deserts with no gluten-free selections. The Pizza looked so tired and unappertising each day! The salads were the same and lacked flavour - the production shows - they were OK but perhaps the lethargy we noticed was due to their contracts coming to an end at the end of the cruise! - The Captains noon announcement - OMG - talk about boring. These noon announcements are something we look forward to on cruises but not on the Oosterdam. Our personality lacking Captain should have delegated these announcements to someone who wanted to do them!! - the state of some areas of the deck by the end of the cruise - food and cigarette butt strewn areas!! - some entertainers were more like buskers - please HAL, we expected better! I think that is enough of my negative comments but the whole time we were on board, we got the impression that HAL was cutting costs by reducing staff and the quality of entertainers, food and other minor things. Maybe we are wrong but our 10 day experience was not one we wanted to repeat. We are booked on the Eurodam in october and only hope it is a better experience. In the meantime, we will continue to cruise with a variety of cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
All the usual stuff about embarking and disembarking, the food, the entertainment and programs on the ship are basically the same as stated by others. This review is meant to give helpful hints. The room: SY has three large closets. ... Read More
All the usual stuff about embarking and disembarking, the food, the entertainment and programs on the ship are basically the same as stated by others. This review is meant to give helpful hints. The room: SY has three large closets. Hangers are provided. There are fold down shelves in each closet. There is also a safe in one of the closets. There is one full size drawers under the foot of each bed. There are six small drawers in the vanity and two large drawers in the desk. There is extra storage in the vanity stool. Just take the top off and you will find a cavity to store stuff. There are two night stands with two drawers each. One of the drawers locks. There is a two shelf cabinet at the end of the couch. The Bath room: Has two medicine cabinets with three shelve each. There is also abundant storage under the sink both on a large shelf which runs the length of the double sink and on the floor under the shelf. There is a cooler in the room under the TV. It is not a refrigerator but it does keep drinks cool. We were three adult females and the storage was sufficient and plentiful. The Electricity: Not good. The room had 3 plugs total. One in bathroom, one on vanity and one on the desk. You should bring your own power strips if you need more then three outlets. We were on the port side of the ship. We had the sunrise on the way to Hawaii. Once we turned the sun was on the other side of the ship. In Lahaina we were on the sea side of the ship. In Maui we were again on the sea side of the ship. In Kauai, Hilo and Encenada were were on the dock side of the ship. The food: It was good but at time bland, no salt butter. If you choose to eat in your room you can have the same meal as the dining room if you order within the first half hour the dining room is open. If you wish to dine in the Lido you get the same meal as the MDR however you serve yourself. The Vista Lounge as well as the other venues are very well attended and if you want a good seat you better get there early. Oosterdam: The ship is well kept, clean and comfortable. It is showing a little wear. Some chair arms looked warn, drape in the room were showing their age, The wicker footstools on the balcony were showing wear but this did not detract from our pleasure in any way. The staff is excellent, Captain Van der Loo is charming and very capable. The Cruise director Eric is really good at his job. Our cabin steward Yedi was very accommodating. In fact the whole staff was friendly always with a smile and a hello. We did not eat often in the dining room due to the illness on one of our roommates but when we did the service was outstanding. We used the Medical Facility twice. One of my room mates was gravely ill the first few days and the physicians and nurses were able to turn her around and restore her to enjoy the rest of the trip. We had a flawless trip all things considered. Looking forward to traveling again with Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We expected a much better experience than we had. This was our first time on this line and this ship. Food was good, but dining room service terrible. We complained about cold food and time between servings and were told there was only ... Read More
We expected a much better experience than we had. This was our first time on this line and this ship. Food was good, but dining room service terrible. We complained about cold food and time between servings and were told there was only 1 waiter per five tables which could mean 30 plus guests to serve. Open seating was disorganized and had long lines for early seating. We ended up ordering breakfast in room and going for sit down dining for lunch and endured the terrible service at dinner. We could not find a lot we wanted to do on the ship. The staff that does activities is subcontracted and minimal. Might as well forget Internet access. Tried to log on to Gmail and message came up that their software does not support Google. Could not open email and they refused to adjust the package I had bought to the tune of $100. It would not support tablets either. This department is also subcontracted. On last day of cruise people were offering others money to print boarding passes. Under cabin I have listed all the problems we had with it. The crow's nest was supposed to be library and reading room? Too many other activities there to be a good place to read and relax. Even a cruise critic meeting that got real loud. Other venues for activities are small. Lido buffet is cut up and disorganized and no trays so you could collect your food before you sat down. Had a burger on deck was dry and tasteless. Early on in the cruise I smelled mold around the Greenhouse Spa which seemed to be corrected later on. Upholstery on chairs in Crow's nest had holes on the arms and one glass top table had water and dirt under the glass. Buttons missing from the leather seats there also. Daily movies were offered in a screening room with seating for only 25-30 people. People were continually disappointed. Entertainment was just average. Seems like a lot of activities are offered to sell something, like spa treatments, etc. Art department is very small. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
My spouse and I had originally booked this cruise as a late celebration of our 40th anniversary. As it turned out, we celebrated it in Sep/11 with a cruise to Alaska on board the Diamond Princess. But, no matter, as we knew we wanted to ... Read More
My spouse and I had originally booked this cruise as a late celebration of our 40th anniversary. As it turned out, we celebrated it in Sep/11 with a cruise to Alaska on board the Diamond Princess. But, no matter, as we knew we wanted to get away from the typically cold Canadian weather in January and this cruise was a good mid-winter break. Getting There We flew from our home gateway of Winnipeg to San Diego via Denver the day before the cruise. We are always concerned about being storm-stayed. It was unusually cold the day we left but quite mild in Denver when we changed planes and very pleasant when we arrived. We arrived just after lunch and took the shuttle to the hotel. It's a bit of hike from the baggage carousels, up to the pedestrian walkway and down to the shuttle/taxi area and it can be crowded with all the shuttles, buses and taxis jockeying for a spot; just keep an eye peeled for your hotel's shuttle, if you are using one. Our Hotel We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay, just across from the B Street Cruise Ship Terminal. It's located at 1355 N. Harbor Drive. We had a 'bay view' room which was located on the 10th floor of the south tower, a building separate from the main hotel complex. There are two main elevators as well as a panoramic elevator which gives great views of the bay. The room was not overly spacious and showing its age, but it was clean and comfortable. There is a pillow menu, flat screen TV, coffee/tea maker, and separate table for your PC or tablet. Complimentary WI-FI is included. The view from the balcony was spectacular and we were able to watch our ship slowly come into the pier area - it was literally "parked" directly across the street from our room - nice! We had supper at Antonio's across the street from the hotel, and breakfast on embarkation day in the Elephant & Castle restaurant, located in the main hotel building. We would recommend both. Embarkation We initially signed up for the shuttle from the hotel (has to be done between 8 and 10 on the morning of embarkation) but realized that it was only about 100m from our hotel to the Terminal so we just hooked up our bags and literally walked across the street. We were in about 10:45 a.m., dropped our bags at the luggage check-in area, and through HAL check-in by 11:10. Our group number was called about 11:45 and after the customary embarkation photo, we were literally on board by 11:55. Our room was forward, port side, so we made our way to the forward elevators and were in our room by noon. Our Room We had a Superior Verandah Suite on the Navigation Deck. It is a spacious room with a large bathroom consisting of dual sinks, whirlpool tub and separate shower, medicine cabinets and Elemis toiletries. There are three closets opposite the bathroom, with fold down shelving and a safe. The bed was queen and faced a dresser/vanity area. There is a sofa bed, three armchairs, a cocktail table and a desk area holding more shelves, a DVD player, flat screen TV and ports for data and AC (110 and 220v). The balcony was large with a table and two dining chairs and two deck chairs, and wicker ottomans, all with seat pads. We noted that all the chairs and throw pillows in the room were very dirty. The wicker balcony furniture had seen better days as well and most of the wicker strands was literally unravelling. The bathroom tile work needed a major cleaning and despite reporting the problem to ship maintenance, we had a chronic leak from the shower stall for the entire two weeks of the cruise. Ship Information There is lots of information on this site about the Oosterdam so I won't go into that here. The ship was built in 2003. I am not sure if it has had a refurbishment but it sure needs one. We noted several areas where maintenance looked overdue and the waterline area was badly rusted and fouled. Dining We had second seating in the Vista Dining Room on Deck 3, table for 6. Curiously, no one offered to escort us to our table on the first night; we had to ask a couple of waiters before one would show us. We had a small table with a banquette on one side and chairs on the other. Unfortunately, this table was located below another level of the dining room which permitted guests at the table for four above us to constantly stare at us (not sure what their problem was but it was very rude). Our waiter and assistant waiter were pleasant and reasonably efficient but not overly so. Our meals arrived usually on time but never hot, just warm. We were never sure what the problem was in getting entrEes to our table so that they were more enjoyable. Portions were small and presentation was always excellent. Service from the wine steward was always very slow. The Lido buffet was OK with a reasonable selection of dishes. For the first two days at sea, there was no self-service; everyone had to point to their desired food items and they were placed onto small plates by stewards. We ate in the Lido on a few mornings. The specialty restaurant, Pinnacle Grill ($25 cover charge) was excellent. Superb service, ambiance, menu and wine selection. On one night, the Le Cirque menu was presented although we do not believe the $14 surcharge was worth it and this was shared by most other guests we talked to as well. The menu was not as good as the regular menu. Room service was OK. Orders were delivered on time and accurate for the most part; just don't order toast as it will be cold - guaranteed. The pizza selections were just OK; we believe Princess has a better pizzeria. The grill on the Lido deck serves up hamburgers and hot dogs although we were appalled to see dogs and patties sitting in warming trays and just reheated on the grill prior to being served; it makes the waiting time shorter but who wants reheated food? On the Honolulu port evening, a "Hawaiian" BBQ was served, supposedly with suckling pig. Perhaps, but all we got was a little bit of pork and a lot of fat. Activities We went to the gym most sea days. My spouse did fitness classes and Tai Chi. I attended some Microsoft workshops. We attended the Royal Dutch Tea but this has really deteriorated since we were last on HAL in 2002. We also attended some bingos. On the last formal night, there was a Dessert Extravaganza, spread over three decks. Although it was well done (presentation) and the desserts were to die for, we thought this should have been done in one of the dining rooms as we have experienced on other cruise ships, to avoid the congestion that results from putting on this type of event. What surprised and appalled us even more, however, was the amount of food that was thrown out after the event was finished; perhaps HAL could take a lesson from this and just make less desserts? Service Service was generally very good to excellent. The best service was from Guest Relations; they were masters at problem solving. The Hotel Manager, James Deering, was absolutely superb at his job; you saw him everywhere, talking to guests and answering questions, including the two Meet & Greet sessions we attended as part of the Cruise Critic roll call for this cruise. The worst service was from the photography staff who are contractors; they were at times unreasonable and argumentative. We had to go to Guest Relations to intercede on our behalf. Entertainment Entertainment varied depending on the venue. The Ocean Bar and the Piano Bar had particularly good performers. The Vista Lounge was a two (or three) level theatre which curiously, had many obstructed views from overhanging balconies and structural posts (I thought ship designers had corrected this in the 2000's). Acts varied from the ship's dancer/singer ensemble, a Liberace wanna be pianist, a violinist/comedian (OK, but not really that good), a magician (OK), the Las Vegas Tenors (OK but a copycat act for the Italian group)and a really good comedian by the name of Elliot Maxx. Port & Shore Excursions Lahaina (Maui). This is a port that require a tender. Be patient as the harbormaster controls access very tightly and you could be bobbing around in a tender for a while. We did the whale watching tour and it was excellent. Honolulu (Oahu). The ship docks right in downtown Honolulu. We did the Pearl Harbor and city tour. It was quite good but there is only a short window on board the Arizona memorial and it is quite crowded. Nawiliwili (Kauai). The ship docks at a local commercial pier. We did the river cruise and Fern Grotto tour. It was excellent. The cruise is relaxing and the cultural tour at the Grotto and on the way back to the river pier are some of the best local entertainment we have ever experienced; we even learned to hula! Note that there a couple of local malls near the pier where the ship is docked, including a nice public beach. Hilo (Hawaii). The ship docks at a local commercial pier. We did a local tour which included Paradise Falls, a stop at Big Island Candies (bring your sweet tooth) and the Imiloa Astronomy Centre. The latter is an astronomy museum and planetarium. Don't bother with a ship's photo in any of these ports; the backdrop is industrial. Disembarkation This was colour-coded as it is on most cruises we've been on. We were scheduled off at 0900 but our colour was never called. When the colours to date had been called, we realized our colour was among those that should be disembarking. We proceeded to Deck 2 only to be swallowed up in a morass of cruisers trying to get off the ship. In spite of the instructions to guest to stay in their rooms until their colour was called, several were hanging around the gangway and crowding the hallways. HAL staff were very frustrating and yelling at guests to form two lines to clear the clutter. What they should have done is clear out out all the guests who were loitering. Other than that, the process to get off the ship, find our luggage and exit the terminal was straightforward. There is a bit of a queue to get a taxi but eventually we did and were at the San Diego airport in less than 10 minutes. It's about a $12 fare. Summary Overall, it was a very good cruise and a welcome break from winter (although our winter has been unusually mild as it has been in most of North America). If you like sea days just to relax and not do much, this cruise is perfect. All tour guides were excellent and very proud of their culture. We noted that there is a noticeable difference (i.e. fewer) in the numbers of staff from our 2002 HAL cruise. There was no presentation of leis on embarkation; odd for a ship going to Hawaii. This ship is in bad need of a major refurbishment; it's looking really old and worn in a lot of areas. For us, in our early 60's, we learned a new meaning of the word 'patience.' Most guests were in their 70's and 80's with a good measure of 90+ year-olds. So be prepared for a lot of walkers, scooters, canes, etc. and time to enter and exit elevators, rooms, theatres, and buses. Perhaps we will consider HAL in future when we reach that age. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
Last time on Oosterdam was on a Mexico cruise. We had been on other HAL ships, but there was something about the Oosterdam...it felt like coming home. I wondered this time -- before we boarded on January 14, 2012 -- "Would it feel ... Read More
Last time on Oosterdam was on a Mexico cruise. We had been on other HAL ships, but there was something about the Oosterdam...it felt like coming home. I wondered this time -- before we boarded on January 14, 2012 -- "Would it feel again, like 'home'?" particularly, since we were cruising in an interior stateroom for the first time ever; previous cruises had all been done in veranda suites. Frankly, when we stepped aboard I could not find a single familiar physical detail. Though I knew to a certainty we had been on the Oosterdam before, the physical surroundings had simply homogenized into a total HAL experience. But, when we heard "The Voice from the Bridge" Captain Arjen C. Van Der Loo, and Eric the Cruise Director, our previous experiences on the Oosterdam came back into focus. I don't know how HAL assigns crew and staff to a ship; maybe Captain Van Der Loo and others get to choose their staff. I do know that the "people" of the Oosterdam make it my most memorable ship. The Captain, the Cruise Director, Subi and Trish (our cabin stewards), Erza the entree server and cook on the starboard side of the Lido, the wonderful man at the podium of the Vista Dining Room...who valiantly tried every night to try to meet our needs though we walked in without notice or reservations...there is a spirit among the people of the Oosterdam that can only result from fair, disciplined, and constant leadership. Our next cruise will be this September...the 75-day "voyage" to Asia and Australia on the Amsterdam. I already know the ship and its people will be more than satisfactory...I've never had a bad HAL cruise...but I hope the Amsterdam will feel like we're "coming home" -- just like our two cruises on the Oosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We arrived at the port in San Diego at around 11:30 a.m. and though there was a line we were aboard the Oosterdam in good time. We didn't have to wait for our cabin like on other ships. We went straight to our cabin, dropped off our ... Read More
We arrived at the port in San Diego at around 11:30 a.m. and though there was a line we were aboard the Oosterdam in good time. We didn't have to wait for our cabin like on other ships. We went straight to our cabin, dropped off our stuff and headed for the Lido deck. The food was ready and waiting for us. My luggage was in the cabin when we returned from lunch, but my companion had to wait until 4:45 p.m. for hers. The cruise to Hawaii took four days and was relaxing except that we did not receive any water in our stateroom the first three days. We thought that they didn't provide it in the stateroom anymore, until there was two bottles in the room on the fourth day along with a receipt for three bottles that we never received. I couldn't find the cabin steward so I returned the water to the front desk and requested that no more be left in the stateroom for the rest of the cruise. The next day we returned to the stateroom to find a bottle of water with a receipt for two more bottles. Once again I took the water to the front desk and requested our bill be corrected, which it was. When I returned to the cabin I left the cabin steward a note requesting the removal of all items in the mini bar so we were not charged for anything else. He complied. As I stated, the cruise to Hawaii was relaxing, but on the cruise back it seemed as though the number of children doubled in size. I was told by another passenger that most of them were children of the crew, which I could not substantiate. I certainly hope that Holland America does not risk the loss of paying customers in this way. The unsupervised children took over the pool and all three of the hot tubs. At one time there was an elderly person with a noodle in the deep end of the pool and the kids were jumping in the water on both sides of him. Another time a child in the hot tub was splashing people as they practiced line dancing. The aft pool is for adults only, but it is outside and the air temperature stayed in the 50's and 60's. The aft pool should be for the children; it is even decorated for them. The shore excursions were organized and informative. The food in open seating was excellent on some nights, but bad on other nights. Service after the first night was excellent. We had Gede as our server after the first night and we requested him every night until the end of the cruise. We took a cruise to the Panama Canal a couple of years ago on the Zuiderdam and was very impressed with the food. I guess your can't judge by cruise lines, you have to judge each ship on it's own merit. The shows were good, especially the Oosterdam singers and dancers. I would have liked to see more of them. We were scheduled for disembarkation between 9:50 and 10:00 a.m. but were called around 9:10 and went directly off the ship. Easiest disembarkation ever. When I returned home I checked my credit card account online and was again charged $12.03 for the mini bar, that was empty since day four. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
DH and I are both in our late 60's with some mobility problems. We chose this 7-day trip as our "practice" cruise. This was DH's first cruise and my first cruise as an adult. Our cabin, VB 6080, was mid-ship and ... Read More
DH and I are both in our late 60's with some mobility problems. We chose this 7-day trip as our "practice" cruise. This was DH's first cruise and my first cruise as an adult. Our cabin, VB 6080, was mid-ship and close to the elevators. It was clean and had plenty of storage. Our stewards were friendly and accommodating. I had asked our TA to request a fan per a cruisecritic suggestion. It was in the room when we arrived and I never needed to use it. The AC and heat worked perfectly. And as everyone knows...the beds are super comfortable. We ate in the Pinnacle Grill, the Lido Buffet, the Canaletto and the Vista Dining Room where we had open-seating. The food was very good and so was the service. We always requested a table for 4 or 6 and had great visits with our variety of table-mates. Before I get labeled as a total "cheerleader"....I will report that one man had a tough piece of steak in the MDR (which he should have returned) and we will never forget our first breakfast when a lady at our table announced "it was the worst cruise ever". If I hadn't read months of pros and cons on cruisecritic....I might have take her seriously. Instead it was pretty funny...!!! I hadn't even considered signing up for any of the spa services. However, that very first day we toured thru the hydro-pool and the thermal spa room and purchased the one week program for $199, Laying in the hydro-pool was so relaxing. We also liked using the walk-in showers in the dressing rooms. Sure hope that was one-way glass....??? We watched a few shows, played bingo once, sunbathed on the observation deck, shopped in Puerto Vallarta and basically had a very nice cruise. Was every single thing perfect..?? No. I did see a worn spot in the Explorer's Lounge. Thought about taking a photo and posting it on youtube. Decided it really didn't spoil our cruise tho... The only thing I would do differently was when we were leaving the ship. They announced that wheelchair passengers should exit at another area and since we both use canes we proceeded to use the main gangway and it was really too steep. Luckily a nice HAL volunteer came to my rescue and helped me with my carry-on bag. Lesson learned. Read Less
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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