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.