My boyfriend and I saw an ad in the paper for a repositioning cruise package including stays in San Diego and Las Vegas for a very reasonable $900 CAD tax included!!! I had heard good things about Holland America from coworkers and travel agents. I had previously cruised with Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas and was very pleased with them.
Embarkation was easy as we live in Vancouver, the starting port. We arrived around 1pm and were on board within the hour. We were greeted by staff on the ramp and saw a booth that was selling the all you can drink pop cards for $10 so I went for that deal.
Our room was pretty spacious although we had to walk to the very end of the ship as it is located at the bow. Our room attendant was very friendly and helped us change the beds to a king. Throughout our cruise, everything was taken care of and very clean. There were 3 closets so plenty of room for our clothes. The bathroom also had a bathtub; definitely a plus for Holland America!
The food was pretty good in the buffet; what you would expect for a ship buffet. The drill went well and it was pretty fun to walk around in the lifevests. The sail-away party was fun also as you got to meet the crew and cruise director and they were all very approachable throughout.
We had the late seating for dinner and were seated with another older couple from Vancouver. The food was pretty good, though I found the food on Royal Caribbean better presented and more flavourful. We had a few breakfasts and lunches in the restaurant and we generally found the buffet crowded and difficult to find seating. The afternoon teas were also a bonus as the treats were very good!
The production shows were pretty entertaining and worth the time. The Oosterdam Superstar contest was very good as it involved fellow cruisers competing in an American Idol type contest. The only thing missing is a large disco as the nightclub on the Oosterdam was located just off the side of the casino and was tiny. Movies were played everyday in the cinema and included recently released movies.
Overall, our impression of the ship was good and the service was exceptional. However, we may have been one of a handful of people under 65 years old on this particular cruise (we're in our 20s) so if its the young crowd, then we suggest another cruise line. An agent told us that the average age for Holland America cruises is 45+. Also, the atrium was only 3 floors high so it didn't have that large open feeling.
There was always juice, coffee/tea and ice cream available in the buffet so we really didn't need the pop card. I may have only used it 3 times so not worth it I guess.
We did swim in the pool a few times and enjoyed the hot tubs. There is an adults only pool at the front of the ship as well and that was convenient although not many people swam on this cruise. There were plenty of deck chairs around.
For what we paid for this trip, no complaints whatsoever. Great value! Great service! We've already booked for another repositioning cruise in 2006 on NCL because of the deal. Hope its as good.