We have been on about 20 cruises, mostly Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, 2 Carnival, 1 NCL and one MSC. I must say that I loved Holland American cruise line, and especially the Oosterdam. I rate this just about tied with Celebrity as far as ship, atmosphere, food, service and activities.
Embarkation: Very simple, very well organized and fast. Our grandson drove us to the pier, a porter took our bags, we went into the terminal and showed some ID and paperwork, and off we went onto the ship.
Food: Very nicely presented, good choices and excellent service. We ate in the dining room for early seating fixed dinner. Rest of the time we ate in the buffet. We had absolutely no problems. It does get crowded in the buffet around 8:30am-9:00, and 12:00 to 1:00 pm. So we always went earlier, and I also like that there is not one long line for everything; rather, there are different stations i.e., salads, sweets, Italian, etc. Very much better than standing in line when all you want is a salad.
Crew: extremely pleasant and courteous. I never carried my tray, someone was always right there and offered to carry it for me. Smiles everywhere.
Cabin: really large oceanview. plenty of room. Lots of storage. Big closet space. Hint: when you open the closets, it looks like it's all shelves. Merely take out one of the shelves (it comes right out) and then you have lots of room to hang stuff.
Entertainment: The usual variety shows, juggler, comedian, etc. We also had a Nat King Cole impersonator. Lots of room in the theater.
Activities: Here is where Royal Caribbean is better. There were activities but mostly everything was at one time, for instance 10 am there were 6 different things to do, while at 11 am there was nothing.
Culinary Institute: This was great. It's a separate lounge with a complete kitchen setup. There were demonstrations every day. But we really loved the private cooking school.. We signed up for a French dinner class. It cost $25 per person but it was very well worth it. Limited to 12 persons. We cooked and then ate our dinner with wine, and they let us keep our aprons. Very nice.
Shore Excursions: We took one tour, Mazatlan City with Divers. That we enjoyed. The other places we just went off the ship and walked around a little.
Talent Show: My husband always enters the talent shows when we go on a cruise. Holland American does it a lot better than the other lines. This was like American Idol, they had one night of auditions, one night of 5 finalists, and then the big night to choose the Oosterdam Superstar. All nights were very well attended. My husband was a finalist and received almost as much acclaim as the girl they chose! PS He sounds just like Frank Sinatra.
All in all: I very much recommend Holland American for your next cruise.