CABIN SS - Superior Veranda Suite on the Navigation deck is one of the best cabin layouts possible found on HAL Vista class ships. Large bathroom with both tub and shower, plenty of closet and drawer space for 28 day cruise, spacious feeling, large deck with both settees and table and chairs - smoked glass railing. One floor up to Lido deck. No noise except a little chair scraping at the end of the afternoon when they clean the Lido deck pool area. Everything worked and temperature of room easy to regulate. Would recommend port side cabins for this itinerary for the best views.
DINING: getting better all the time with smaller portions of better quality entrees and usually excellent soup and appetizer courses. Dinner salads cold, fresh and crispy - always a good choice when not ready to eat a full dinner. Specialty teas excellent with the addition of the Aussie Tea which was another chance to get those delicious ANZAC biscuits alone with some other new Aussie treats. Good selection of after dinner cheeses and various desserts. LIDO food similar to all HAL ships with remarkable variety though often just a very slight sprinkling of salt perked up the favors enough to make them sing, or use of optional spicing/flavoring sauces available on the side. PINNACLE GRILL- I found new asian menu items to be an excellent addition though DH found his "Silver Label" steak to be tough and overly massive.
SERVICE: excellent on all levels. Oosterdam was a ship of smiles like all HAL cruises. Ship condition good.
ENTERTAINMENT: Solar ellipse and enrichment lecturers all superb, even the wacky "Star Lady" grew on you with her novel approach to valuable astronomical information. Shows great variety. Adagio classically accomplished pianist and violists first rate and an excellent change over the Adagio Strings quartet's typical fare.
ITINERARY: Excellent, though one missed port (MacKay - AUS) due to high winds, but spent more time cruising the Great Barrier Reef in the day light as we positioned ourself for the Solar Eclipse. Water was too cool for easy snorkeling in New Caledonia which was a disappointment, but Hamilton Island stinger suits in the GBR made snorkeling there comfortable - be prepared if you travel to this area in November - not yet hot enough but Isle of Pines beach has to be one of the prettiest places on the planet. Hobart Tasmania was a very nice stop, even if this meant giving up the NZ "sounds" that are included on other itineraries to this part of the world. All NZ stops were very good up the eastern coast - very port intensive but all shore excursions were great - two train trips into the inland and even one visit to the Hobbit film village which was a surprising and unexpected delight.
SHOPPING: Fell in love with the NZ "possum silk" sweaters and bought several of them even though quite pricy -best deals in Dunedin at I love Merino shops, but found some last minute choices in Auckland as well. These are going to be travel staples as they are light weight, comfortable, easy to pack, breathe and provide wonderful warmth and wind insulation.
NOVEMBER WEATHER - even though this is the start of summer it was quite cool and the Oosterdam public rooms also felt quite cool - we needed to dress more warmly than we expected. Wish we had purchased our "possum silk" sweaters earlier in the trip.