We sailed Jan 15-22,2011...our fourth with HAL, and 18th overall.
We flew into San Diego the night before and stayed at the Bay Club Hotel & Marina. We chose it mainly because it had comp. air & cruise shuttles, however the airport shuttle stops at 11pm so we missed it by 5 min. The breakfast buffet was included and very nice, and they did take us personally to the cruise terminal the next morning.
We arrived at B St. pier at 10:40am and gave our luggage directly to the porters. The pier staff were very helpful and friendly, and it was suggested we check in right away as there was absolutely no line up. So we got our cruise cards and headed out to enjoy a little of San Diego before we boarded. An easy walk next to the ship is the Maritime Museum which we thoroughly enjoyed. We picked up some wine then boarded about 1:45pm, again no lineup at all.
We went directly to our stateroom, superior veranda suite, beautiful mid-ship location and easy walk to elevators etc. Nice big veranda with a table,two chairs, and two wicker lounge chairs with a foot rest to share. Everything was in great shape and loads of storage for three people.
The double sinks in the bathroom and separate shower/jetted tub were a nice treat and the Elemis bath products. The wine and beer we had ordered online was waiting for us, however there was no bottle opener and it took several days of asking everyone possible to get one. So if you want to enjoy your wine on your balcony, remember your bottle opener! Our wonderful cabin steward ended up loaning us his own personal one. You would think HAL would have a case load of dollar store cork screws for guests who order wine from them? Just a heads up for you there folks...the one and only hiccup we experienced.
We found the ship had many small, intimate lounges which made it not feel so big. The staff was always smiling and friendly. The food was awesome in the main dining room which made us not so impressed by the Pinnacle Grill the one night we ate there. We enjoyed the Canaletto which seemed like one of the best kept secrets on board, you have to try it at least once! I liked the set up at the Lido restaurant with the different stations, line ups never got very long at all, pizza was good and the taco bar by the pool. The pool at the back of the ship is adult only and never got too full, fresh towels were always available but did notice a lot of used towels lying around on the chairs etc.
We went to several shows in the main show lounge. The singers and dancers were just your generic song & dance shows,not too thrilling. The guitarist/Eagles impressionist was very good.
We were happy with all the ports, Mazatlan and Cabo were our favorites. Puerto Vallarta seemed very busy with traffic/pollution etc. We were so happy that HAL has got their tender boat process down to an art, we didn't have to wait even 10 minutes to tender to shore in Cabo. Some ships we've been on have been over 2.5 hour wait to catch a tender boat, so hats off to the Oosterdam there! In Mazatlan we took a taxi to the Hotel Playa Mazatlan for the day, $20 per person to use their facilities and it goes towards your food & drink.Our daughter enjoyed the ceramics and we found it so clean and friendly! In Cabo we took a whale watching boat tour with Pez Gato out past the arches etc. which was really fun, and we saw three whales pretty close.
Overall, we had a very relaxing, enjoyable cruise, wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone, nice variety of ages on board too. Loved our balcony breakfasts, one morning we were scenic cruising at Bahia Magdalena, when four dolphins skipped past us and whales were spouting along the shore...one of those unforgettable moments!
Will definitely sail with Holland America again! Had a great time meeting everyone at our Cruise Critic meeting!