I do not write many reviews but I feel compelled to add my comments about our recent cruise on the Oosterdam from Sydney to Seattle. I am going to make it short and to the point. I am not a complainer and for the most part the cruise was just great. I'm just making my comments known in the hopes that someone at HAL reads this stuff and takes note.
Food was for the most part good although often times in the Vista dining room the food was served cold. In the vista dining room there were far fewer waiters than usual. They also appeared to have many more tables to serve than observed on previous cruises. On larger tables, food was often delivered in stages, so that some folks had to wait several minutes to eat, until the rest of the table was eventually served. Getting bar drinks was also a challenge as the waiters were so busy. Really enjoyed the anytime dining and had no problems getting a table at whatever time we chose to eat. Buffet food in the Lido was for the most part good.
Entertainment was usual array of jugglers, comedians, song and dance acts, and production shows. Nothing really notable and mostly enjoyable, other than a couple of acts where the audience basically walked out -- one was a dance duo that had videos playing that were out of sync with their performance. They asked the audience to stand and try a dance step, and at that point half of the audience left. The second was a comedian, named Cash something or other, that totally fell flat with the Australian / Canadian audience. No jokes, just kept picking on audience members in the hopes that he could find something funny. What was funny was the audience comments being yelled to the comedian on stage.
Our general feeling was that there were far fewer staff on the ship. On previous cruises you would always be dodging the cabin stewards in the hallways. On this cruise we hardly ever ran across any of them. In fact after 22 days of cruising we couldn't even identify our stateroom person. The cabin was nicely serviced twice a day so no complaints there.
A major highlight of this cruise was having two good lecturers on board. A fast talking Canadian lady, Beth Fagan, discussing famous people connected to the places we visited, and a really wonderful Geologist, by the name of Helena Aves, who we had previously met on another cruise over a year ago. Her lectures were really interesting and she delivered them to packed audiences in the Vista theater/lounge. In discussing her lectures with other passengers, they all commended Helena on her mastery of the subjects discussed, and her excellent way of delivering complex subjects, in a short amount of time, to a non technical audience. All concerned wished that HAL would have more such stimulating lecturers on their cruises.
HAL sold the Vancouver to Seattle leg as a one night cruise. What a wake up call that was to the sleepy seniors that had been on Oosterdam since Sydney, or even Auckland. Suddenly the ship was transformed into a loud "booze cruise". The average passenger age dropped from 79 to 39 instantly. These one niters were loud and obnoxious and mostly drunk.
The Oosterdam is a nice ship. The only criticism we have is that the Library is part and parcel of the Crowsnest lounge, the noisiest venue on the ship. How can one read with trivia, happy hour, internet cafe, and various other activities all going on simultaneously. We did manage to find a nice quiet place called the explorers lounge on deck two. However, on a few occasions, there was piped in pop music just to annoy those trying to read.