As this was my very first cruise, I was very excited and looking forward to cruising on the Osterdam. However, my excitement was squashed when I showed up and discovered that the regular paying passengers were going to be outnumbered by a southern gospel group that would take over the ship, and create a second class status for those who weren't part of the group. I knew things were going to be bad when on Sunday, the elevator door opened and a woman thrusted a bible in my face. At one breakfast, a gentleman asked me what religion I was and when I told hin I was Catholic, he implied that I was going to hell. Many activities were canceled for the regular passengers and the only time for shows was 930pm. A veteran's group meeting was canceled due to this religious group occupying the meeting room and over extending their time. Several times the Crow's Nest and other venues were closed to regular paying passengers. Yet, it was strongly enforced that passengers who were not members of the group were not welcomed at any of their events. Nighttime was dead and the ship was a ghost town after 900pm since all the holy rollers went to bed!!! Instead of showing previews of the cruise's trip DVD, they showed previews of the gospel group activities.
This is very much ashame as the ship and crew were fabulous. It was a very speedy check-in that took less than 20 minutes from taxi to opening the door of my room. Looking over at the Princess line that looked like hours long, I was very thankful for this. There were two lines for embarkation photos, one for the regular passengers with a blah background, and one for the gospel group with a fancier background. The food in the dining room was excellent. The lido deck buffet was so-so. The entertainment, although abbreviated because of the gospel group, was superb with fantastic broadway style shows. I especially liked the Movie theme night and the Garage show. Because of the holy rollers, all the dance floors were DEAD. There were a few in the piano bar. My biggest disappointment was the late night buffet. It was served from 1030pm until 1130pm. The food wasn't all that great. There was never any ice sculptures and no chocolate fountin night. My room was the best part!! I was upgraded to an obstructed view . The room wa very big and tastefuly done. This is a wonderful ship and very elegant. The glass elevators were the iceing on the cake!! The ship was always spotless. The Indonesian crews, whether it be the cabin stewards or the waiters in the dining room, worked tirelessly and always with a smile. It's aashame that Corporate HAL had to be decitful and greedy. They should have booked the entire ship for the gospel group (like they did the following week for the gay cruise) or innformed all passengers so they could reschedule. Most of the regular paying passengers that I spoke with are very upset and said they'll never sail HAL again. If I had been warned in advance, I would have changed my travel date to a different cruise. It's ashame because the ship and frontline emplyees were topshelf. HAL Corporate turned what could have been a A+++ first time cruise to a C-. Feeling cheated and scammed by HAL, next time I will travel Princess!!!!