This was our first cruise on the Holland America Line, the MS Oosterdam. We have cruised the last few years on several Princess Ships, we were expecting a similar cruise to Princess and were not expecting any large differences.
We booked through a Internet travel agency and the price we paid was very good value.
As always we spend 1 or 2 days in the embarkation port and is always a separate a arrangement. San Diego is a great city, with the airport and terminal close to downtown and major hotels.
Embarkation was smooth, we arrived at the terminal at 2pm. The check-in staff were very pleasant and after our bags were screened we went to our stateroom, it was very roomy with a good sized balcony and quite private from adjoining balconies, this was different to Princess. The bathroom had 2 wash basins, a spa bath with shower and a separate shower recess.
The chairs were a bit tardy but not anything to be a worry about, after exploring the room we went out to explore the ship. The thing we noticed about the Oosterdam was the bold colours in its lounges and public areas we both knew that we were on a different cruise line.
We were on the back pool area and quickly found out children were not allowed to use this pool, which is a good idea. There were quite a few children and young adults on this cruise and they were very well behaved and at times hardly noticed.
As with all cruises people are wary on the first night and day, though we met 3 other passengers and enjoyed a refreshing drink while we sailed out of San Diego Harbour.
Our dining option was anytime and we dined on the first night at the Italian restaurant Canaletto it does not charge a supplement it was very quiet with only 10 diners there at 8pm. The rest of the cruise except 1 night we dined in the Vista Dining room by ourselves or with cruise friends we had just met.
We had pre booked the Le Cirque evening, this is based at the Pinnacle Grill. If you are expecting a true Le Cirque experience go to New York or Las Vegas, we both felt the food was not that different from the other dining areas.
The soda card is very good value, $25 for a $50 credit and are served in cans not post mix we struggled to use up 50% of the card. There are no laundromats on this ship and we took advantage of the unlimited laundry and unlimited pressing for around $80.
During shipboard activities at times there were drinks at 2 for 1, a very good marketing excersise and many passengers took advantage of it.
As we had done the Mexican Riviera before and not done any tours, we did the same thing again. Its a shame we were the last ship to visit Mazatlan is no longer on the Oosterdam itinerary this season.
We both enjoyed the Oosterdam, made many on-board friendships. I would sail on HAL again but would have to do a longer cruise to make a true comparasion to Princess. With what both cruise lines offer and the price for a cruise we would choose either line.
If you want real 5 star treatment you may be disappointed, we only travel by ourselves and always hope to find shipboard friendships in all our cruises this has always happened.