A little about us first, my husband is in his sixties and I am 55, we have cruised over 20 times on numerous lines from the 320 passenger Paul Gaugian to the Queen Mary. We cruise two to three times a year departing from different ports around the world, our cruises range from 12-22 days.
This was our second cruise with HAL, our first being on the Volendam.
We had booked an SY guarantee and were lucky enough to get an up-sell to a SA suite.
Our embarkation point was originally to be the overseas passenger terminal in Sydney but because of issues related to the Australia Day Celebrations the ship docked in the Darling Harbour area.
Passengers were informed that due to the later arrival of the Oosterdam boarding would not commence until 1.00pm. We arrived at the wharf just after 11.00am and handed in our suitcases. We were one of the first to check in as we had priority boarding however the process was delayed due to a breakdown with the computer system, once checked in it was suggested that we go for a walk and have a look at the local area and return after 1.00pm. We decided to wait it out and were allowed to board at 12.30pm, we were met with smiles as we boarded and given directions to out suite. In the past we have normally had verandah cabins and this was our third experience in a suite.
Dennis and I were very impressed with our room, en suite with double basins, separate shower and jacuzzi, we fell in love with our large balcony and spent a lot of time out there.
Opposite our cabin was the Neptune Lounge which became our second home over the next 11 days, the Neptune lounge is exclusively for the use of Penthouse and Deluxe veranda suite guests,we would drop in for cold drinks, coffee, tea and nibbles throughout the day and were looked after by the fabulous Diane and Essay who were always so welcoming and remembered our names from the first day! We availed ourselves of the light lunch most days and canapes in the afternoon to get us through to dinner.
On our previous cruises we have not really taken advantage of room service however with the larger balcony most nights we ordered dinner from the Main Dining room menu and ate on our balcony as the sun set! It was truly magical. Room service normally quoted a wait of 45 minutes but in reality it was never more than a 30 minute wait, the food always arrived hot and very well presented.
Suite guests also have the benefit of enjoying breakfast in the Pinnacle grill, a very refined and soothing experience, staff were great and always remembered our names and beverage preferences, some mornings we just enjoyed room service and ate on the balcony.
We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night and the food, ambiance and service were surreal, it was our 20th wedding anniversary and one we will always remember.
We attended a couple of shows and really enjoyed them, we found the venue to be well laid out and never had any problems seeing the stage from the circle, drink service was very efficient.
From our arrival until that sad final walk down the gangway we found the staff to be excellent, always willing to chat and ask how our day in port had been, our room stewards Ary and Bagus were excellent and took very good care of us.
we loved the Oosterdam, loved the bright colours, art work, lamps and everything else about her, we liked that there were many little bars and no large atrium where crowds tend to gather. Thinking back the only thing I think I would change would be the lounge/cafe/library/computer room/bar at the top front of the ship, just make it a lounge with bar and move the cafe, library and computes elsewhere.
We found the Oosterdam to be sparkling clean and there always seemed to be staff cleaning, yes she could do with some minor updates but we love her as she is.
We really enjoyed the food as previously mentioned, our couple of visits to the MDR were not disappointing, we were on select dining but never had to wait for more than 10 minutes.
I cannot comment on the buffet lunches as we would normally eat in the Neptune Lounge.
We had six ports, we missed one due to weather, two of the ports were tender and three docked.
Tender process was not a problem for us as we had priority tendering. Our favourite port was the Ile de Pins in New Caledonia, a superb beach and the softest sand. We did not do any of the ships excursions, this cruise was about lying on beautiful beaches and relaxing.
With heavy hearts we left the Oosterdam with promises to return, this has been one of our favourite cruises and one we will not forget. There is something about the Oosterdam that endears her to us, can't put a finger on it but we will return again for her to work her magic on us.
Marina and Dennis