We boarded the Oosterdam at San Diego on December 9th. As we live in San Diego, travel to the cruise terminal was no problem. We boarded about 12:30 PM and the process went rapidly. We were in our stateroom exactly one hour after we left home. Round trips out of San Diego are obviously great for us. This was our 4th cruise on Holland America and our third on Holland America to the Mexican Riviera.
The ship was clean and well maintained. Our room steward took care of things expeditiously and the room was as expected. This was his first trip, so we did not get any towel monkey hanging from the ceiling, however I never had trouble finding my sunglasses. Interesting that there were no drawers in the stateroom. There was a closet of shelves which we used for the stuff we would usually stashed in the drawers.
We went ashore at each port and we walked or used local cabs. Weather was excellent at all three ports and was not too warm. We revisited some of the sites and locations that we had been to previously on purchased shore tours. Our pace was relaxed. We had our customary Corona at the Giggling Marlin in Cabo.
Holland America decided to test a new dining schedule for this trip. We were notified ahead of time, so it was no surprise. If you had early dining, you could arrive between 5:30 and 6:00. Late dining was between 8:00 and 9:00. You were still seated at your assigned table. The plan offered some additional flexibility, but most people still showed up shortly after the doors opened.
Service in the dining room was very good and the selections were about the same as previous HAL cruises. In general, I was disappointed with the quality of the food. Eggs benedict for breakfast did not include the usual slice of Canadian bacon and was served on an un-toasted English muffin. I ordered various beef dishes four times at dinner and they were all overcooked and very dry. That included the "surf and turf" selection on formal night. The lobster tail was good.
The rear of the dining room on deck #2 was subject to serious vibration as a result of operating one pod at 100%. We ate one breakfast in that area and avoided it thereafter. According to some previous reviews, the Azipod problem has been going on for some time, yet we were told they were "working on it" as if it had just occurred.
Entertainment was excellent and there were two full-blown production shows during the seven nights. They had a great comedian on board for the entire trip and she did a full show one night and contributed to other shows. Music was very good, although a little loud for my taste. The magician and his wife put on a fabulous performance one night and were part of the joint effort on another.
The cooling system went south in Puerto Vallarta and we spent the next two days and nights with very uncomfortable public areas, a very hot cabin and almost no sleep because of the excessive temperature. Not my idea of a fun cruises either. A memo from the captain said they were "working on it" and that was the last we heard. It got cooler on the way to San Diego because the outside temperature headed into the low 60's. Got some sleep the last night.
Compared to prior experiences on the Statendam, Maazdam and Ryndam, this ship is not what we expected from Holland America. Management needs to look at some of the previous Cruise Critic reviews regarding food service, technical problems and employee attitude.
We will probably not use Holland-America again unless future reviews indicate that they have made some serious changes, especially in the food quality area. The Oosterdam was a disappointment. They need to look after the little stuff as that is what makes great service.