1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Oosterdam
This is a review of the Oosterdam's 2/2/19 Tropical Caribbean cruise. We chose this cruise for the itinerary, four ports in the Caribbean that we had not previously visited, as well as the competitive cost that allowed us to step up to a Signature Suite, when we typically purchase a balcony stateroom. We, a 50ish married couple, are experienced cruisers who have sailed on Celebrity, NCL, Carnival, RCCL and Princess in the past, but this was our first with HAL. While I am only giving 3 stars, please note that I am a rather picky reviewer and this is really a 3.5 star review with the positives definitely outweighing the negatives. Embarkation was flawless, very quick and painless despite showing up right around the 1PM start time when I thought it would be crowded. Our bags were brought to our stateroom quickly. First impressions were that the ship is clearly older, but in generally good repair. The ship is classy and traditional. It was much nicer than the RCCL Jewel of the Seas that is of a similar vintage, on which we took a somewhat disappointing cruise a couple of years back. What stood out from a design perspective right off was that the ship lacked a bit of drama due to no central atrium as most ships seem to have these days, but I liked the rear dining and bar area where we spent sail away; larger than is typical in my experience. I strongly prefer ships with wraparound promenade decks and the Oosterdam's traditional teak one did not disappoint. The cabin was quite nice, while it was renovated last year there was a lack of information on just how far the renovations had gone. I would say that perhaps 50% of the cabin was updated with significant original elements left intact. So, there was a mix of the older light-colored wood and the newer darker wood. The shower and tub seemed original but the hardware appeared new. The couch seemed new but was already showing some wear, and the carpet was new and in good condition. The toilet was new, but the flush control mounted on the wall was old and cracked. There was some visible rust in the balcony area, but not too much and overall the balcony was great. The bed was very comfortable and the TV the largest I've experienced at sea. The separate shower would not drain properly so we just used the tub which also had a shower. The toilet stopped working briefly but was fixed promptly. All in all the cabin was a plus, and good value, and I would book it again without hesitation One positive thing that really stood out, I think as a mixture of calm weather, the cabin's central location and perhaps the ship itself, but this was the smoothest and quietest cruise in memory when in the stateroom. Very little motion overall until post-Grand Turk when the ship hit the Atlantic unless one was up in the EXC lounge or far astern, and even then while noticeable it was minimal compared to many past cruises. We did not attend any shows in the main hall, as they were not to our tastes. We did attend two shows at BB KIng's and two at Lincoln Center and found them to be above average to very good. We also enjoyed the daily trivia games in one of the bars, and some of the available games as well. A thing I absolutely hated about Oosterdam was the horrible piped in music in the common areas. Just awful, probably heard 2-3 decent songs all week. I don't know who they think they catering too, but it's neither their older clientele nor anyone of any age with any discerning taste whatsoever. This is typically a weak point of cruises, but Oosterdam took it to a new low. Dining was the big negative for us on this cruise. I would put the Oosterdam, despite its top 10 ranking among mid-sized ships in this area per CC, as below average. The buffet was slow, and I think the fact that they serve you vs. you serving yourself on many items is a big culprit there. The buffet staff often seemed overwhelmed, frequently running out of coffee cups and being MIA for drink orders. The buffet offered a relatively meager variety of food choices, and hours of operation were slightly more limited than some other lines. Quality was spotty there as well as in the MDR. In the buffet the best options were the pasta bar, the omelettes and the salad bar. The MDR service was good but the food was poor to good, never great. On two occasions I didn't bother eating more than a couple of bites of the MDR entrees they were just so underwhelming. Dive In and the Taco Bar were nice pluses, definitely above average for what they are. Rudis sel de Mer was pretty good if perhaps not quite worth the $49 tab. Still, I'd book it again. Pinnacle was a disappointment, the ribeye simply wasn't of true premium steakhouse quality and the sides were just OK. The lobster bisque was pretty bad. We hit all the bars multiple times and had good service. Beer selection was lacking as is typical but they did have several IPAs on offer so that was a plus. Drinks were weak, but they always are at sea unfortunately. Service was excellent throughout, probably our best in all of our cruises except for the buffet area and the outdoor seating adjacent. Our cabin steward Gede was outstanding. I can totally see why many people return to HAL primarily for the service as it was clearly a notch above in most areas. Disembarkation was completely painless, HAL really has this process down. We used the service where HAL checks your bags and gives you boarding passes in advance and it was worth it. We would have been at the airport in time for a 9:30 AM flight had we been daring enough to book such a time, though as it was we had a lot of time to kill. Key West was a great port. Plenty to do on your own. Lots of options. Amber Cove was fun with the Iguana Mama City tour that included the cable car, fort, cigar factory, rum factory and a good lunch. Grand Turk was a relaxing day at Jack's Shack surrounded by friendly local beach mutts and I would do it again. Half Moon Key was just OK, with a crowded beach, expensive clamshell rental and poor food at the barbecue. Definitely bring water shoes to the beaches in both Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay. All in all it was a very good cruise and HAL has a lot going for it. I liked the ship overall, the itinerary and the service. The value was good. While I would book another HAL cruise again if the itinerary and value were standouts like this time around, there were enough negatives that Celebrity is still preferred everything else being equal, with HAL and Princess my second choices. HAL was a better experience than NCL, Carnival or RCCL for sure however, and unless you are as picky about your food and your music as I am you will likely find the Oosterdam to be a great choice.

So much to like, yet lots to improve

Oosterdam Cruise Review by Shep_Proudfoot

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Signature Superior Verandah Suite
This is a review of the Oosterdam's 2/2/19 Tropical Caribbean cruise. We chose this cruise for the itinerary, four ports in the Caribbean that we had not previously visited, as well as the competitive cost that allowed us to step up to a Signature Suite, when we typically purchase a balcony stateroom. We, a 50ish married couple, are experienced cruisers who have sailed on Celebrity, NCL, Carnival, RCCL and Princess in the past, but this was our first with HAL. While I am only giving 3 stars, please note that I am a rather picky reviewer and this is really a 3.5 star review with the positives definitely outweighing the negatives.

Embarkation was flawless, very quick and painless despite showing up right around the 1PM start time when I thought it would be crowded. Our bags were brought to our stateroom quickly. First impressions were that the ship is clearly older, but in generally good repair. The ship is classy and traditional. It was much nicer than the RCCL Jewel of the Seas that is of a similar vintage, on which we took a somewhat disappointing cruise a couple of years back. What stood out from a design perspective right off was that the ship lacked a bit of drama due to no central atrium as most ships seem to have these days, but I liked the rear dining and bar area where we spent sail away; larger than is typical in my experience. I strongly prefer ships with wraparound promenade decks and the Oosterdam's traditional teak one did not disappoint.

The cabin was quite nice, while it was renovated last year there was a lack of information on just how far the renovations had gone. I would say that perhaps 50% of the cabin was updated with significant original elements left intact. So, there was a mix of the older light-colored wood and the newer darker wood. The shower and tub seemed original but the hardware appeared new. The couch seemed new but was already showing some wear, and the carpet was new and in good condition. The toilet was new, but the flush control mounted on the wall was old and cracked. There was some visible rust in the balcony area, but not too much and overall the balcony was great. The bed was very comfortable and the TV the largest I've experienced at sea. The separate shower would not drain properly so we just used the tub which also had a shower. The toilet stopped working briefly but was fixed promptly. All in all the cabin was a plus, and good value, and I would book it again without hesitation

One positive thing that really stood out, I think as a mixture of calm weather, the cabin's central location and perhaps the ship itself, but this was the smoothest and quietest cruise in memory when in the stateroom. Very little motion overall until post-Grand Turk when the ship hit the Atlantic unless one was up in the EXC lounge or far astern, and even then while noticeable it was minimal compared to many past cruises.

We did not attend any shows in the main hall, as they were not to our tastes. We did attend two shows at BB KIng's and two at Lincoln Center and found them to be above average to very good. We also enjoyed the daily trivia games in one of the bars, and some of the available games as well.

A thing I absolutely hated about Oosterdam was the horrible piped in music in the common areas. Just awful, probably heard 2-3 decent songs all week. I don't know who they think they catering too, but it's neither their older clientele nor anyone of any age with any discerning taste whatsoever. This is typically a weak point of cruises, but Oosterdam took it to a new low.

Dining was the big negative for us on this cruise. I would put the Oosterdam, despite its top 10 ranking among mid-sized ships in this area per CC, as below average. The buffet was slow, and I think the fact that they serve you vs. you serving yourself on many items is a big culprit there. The buffet staff often seemed overwhelmed, frequently running out of coffee cups and being MIA for drink orders. The buffet offered a relatively meager variety of food choices, and hours of operation were slightly more limited than some other lines. Quality was spotty there as well as in the MDR. In the buffet the best options were the pasta bar, the omelettes and the salad bar. The MDR service was good but the food was poor to good, never great. On two occasions I didn't bother eating more than a couple of bites of the MDR entrees they were just so underwhelming.

Dive In and the Taco Bar were nice pluses, definitely above average for what they are.

Rudis sel de Mer was pretty good if perhaps not quite worth the $49 tab. Still, I'd book it again. Pinnacle was a disappointment, the ribeye simply wasn't of true premium steakhouse quality and the sides were just OK. The lobster bisque was pretty bad.

We hit all the bars multiple times and had good service. Beer selection was lacking as is typical but they did have several IPAs on offer so that was a plus. Drinks were weak, but they always are at sea unfortunately.

Service was excellent throughout, probably our best in all of our cruises except for the buffet area and the outdoor seating adjacent. Our cabin steward Gede was outstanding. I can totally see why many people return to HAL primarily for the service as it was clearly a notch above in most areas.

Disembarkation was completely painless, HAL really has this process down. We used the service where HAL checks your bags and gives you boarding passes in advance and it was worth it. We would have been at the airport in time for a 9:30 AM flight had we been daring enough to book such a time, though as it was we had a lot of time to kill.

Key West was a great port. Plenty to do on your own. Lots of options. Amber Cove was fun with the Iguana Mama City tour that included the cable car, fort, cigar factory, rum factory and a good lunch. Grand Turk was a relaxing day at Jack's Shack surrounded by friendly local beach mutts and I would do it again. Half Moon Key was just OK, with a crowded beach, expensive clamshell rental and poor food at the barbecue. Definitely bring water shoes to the beaches in both Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay.

All in all it was a very good cruise and HAL has a lot going for it. I liked the ship overall, the itinerary and the service. The value was good. While I would book another HAL cruise again if the itinerary and value were standouts like this time around, there were enough negatives that Celebrity is still preferred everything else being equal, with HAL and Princess my second choices. HAL was a better experience than NCL, Carnival or RCCL for sure however, and unless you are as picky about your food and your music as I am you will likely find the Oosterdam to be a great choice.
Shep_Proudfoot’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Holland America Oosterdam price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Signature Superior Verandah Suite
Cabin SS 6077
Nice room, spacious and plenty of storage. Big TV and good sized balcony. Very comfortable bed. Very quiet and little motion from the ship. The shower did not drain properly but the tub was roomier anyway so we just used it instead as it has a shower head as well. Some of the fittings were older in the room but many were fresh from last year's dry dock. Overall, definitely recommended and good value here.
Upper Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews