My family of four (including two boys age 3.5 and 5.5) had a great time on the O! My older son was old enough for Club HAL (by himself) and had a blast everyday.
Our head steward in the Vista Dining Room and his supporting cast were very attentive and dealt with our son's food allergies and his very restrictive diet in a very personal, customized, off-the-menu kind of way. To be sure, we had to fill out an SRI form more than 60 days in advance of our cruise, but once they had all of his food allergies documented, HAL pre-purchased food for him for the entire cruise (food not normally available on the ship in large quantities).
Regarding Club HAL, it is said that all HAL ships will be re-configured to handle children as young as 3 years of age (to be left without a parent/guardian) by the year 2006. As for now on the Oosterdam, our 3-year-old was able to attend all Club HAL events but only with one of us present.
The nightly shows were great. We especially More
enjoyed 'The Mikes' (they did an encore show for us on the last sea day as well!) and Escape.
We bought a couple of pieces on the first day of the art auction and look forward to receiving those as the art work was definitely a good buy when there weren't bidding wars (compared to land prices).
My wife and I had a romantic dinner at The Pinnacle Grill (request a booth in the back room ahead of time, as they only have four) one evening (while the nightshift front desk supervisor babysat our 3-year-old and our older one was at Club HAL) and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the food, and the service. We highly recommend the restaurant as the $20/person surcharge is a pittance for the experience we enjoyed.
Initially, we were a little annoyed with all of the roaming photographers, but then we saw the quality of their work and bought several great pictures, including an 18"X24" photo on canvas of our family. We also highly recommend the cruise chronicle DVD ($34.95) as it covers many excursions and behind-the-scenes areas of the ship that one doesn't normally get to see.
By the way, we were very lucky playing Bingo for our first time in our lives, as my wife won a 7-day Caribbean cruise on HAL for two (inside stateroom which we can pay the difference to upgrade), and our certificate is good for up to 18 months! Any recommendations for when and which ship/itinerary to do (since neither my wife nor I have ever been to the Caribbean)? I'd love your expert advice out there.
Finally, we were blessed with good weather throughout the cruise. We dodged the rain at every port and in Seattle on both embarkation and disembarkation days--quite a rarity to string so many rain-free days together during this time of year. The locals in each port said that this had been an especially warm and sunny summer--the most so in 20 years.
Echoing others' comments, we never had to wait long for the tenders on and off the ship at Sitka. The boarding and disembarkation processes were smooth, and most events/shows started/ended on time.
That's it for now, but I would be happy to answer any questions about the Oosterdam or the particular itinerary we took. We had a great time and still feel the earth moving beneath our feet!