We had previously flown to visit all the islands in Hawaii but never attempted this many days at open sea to cruise to Hawaii. We brought along a transport chair for my husband in case he needed it but once on board, he did just fine walking. In fact, with so many seniors on board with walkers, scooters and wheel chairs, it was so much faster to simply walk down the stairs to get to the Vista dining room. However we purposely choose a veranda room at the back of the ship for that reason.
We started our cruise with a preplanned CRUISE CRITIC Meet and Greet. It was pleasant but I think it needed to be in a private room. The Cruise Director, Michael, was there but he never got around to our section and we did NOT hear any real suggestions or organization within the group. I don't believe the group ever meet again, it just slowly disbanded after an hour or so. Maybe we missed something - we are not sure. But other Meet & Greets we have attended on other cruises had more "structure" to the meetings, but I am not complaining. What people we did meet were very friendly.
We found the Oosterdam comfortable and very clean. There were hand sanitizers everywhere! We had sailed on the Oosterdam 6 years ago and laughed when we saw the very same highly ornate (actually very very gawdy) benches and chairs throughout the ship. The style just did not appeal to us but ship was very clean and spotless. Our cabin was nice but we did find the cabin furniture old, dented and looking dated. The couch & toss pillows were badly worn. Jezzyebelle's review was right on - toss the toss pillows! Kudos to Holland America for having the best mattresses. Sealy Posture Pedic Euro top mattress was heaven to sleep on and every night we had the darling towel animals on our bed.
I can't rave enough about having our own veranda as people HOG deck chairs and Room 5186's veranda was wind protected. Room service was wonderful and on time every time plus our breakfast always came HOT!
With so many seniors on board, we found the early show very crowded each night plus seniors save seats and to be honest, it did take a bit of a patience on our part to deal with so many people demanding instant service and the endless saving of seats. Vacations are what you make of them, so I'll not let these minor things ruin our vacation. We came to relax and chill out, but we did overhear many people complain about the littlest things. Yes, there were constant lines for elevators and you had to be way early to get a seat for any on-board event. After a while we just dealt with it - but because there was so many lines we started to choose to NOT attend many events the last few days of our cruise. It began to be easier just to read a book.
Oh yes - as a side note - I attended many FREE Tai Chi classes as I had an interest but the instructor and her pace was annoyingly SLOW. And I am disgusted that they charge extra for YOGA and Pilates. Tsk Tsk. Shame on them.
The daily formal teas were lovely. All the food at all meals in general, was good and it is easy to simply overeat because it is there. However, we found most prepared desserts items to be lacking in taste - they were either all too light, moussy or boring. Simple ice cream was the best.
One important note - LUCKILY we were prepared for rough seas. I am SO GLAD I read several reviews about traveling on OPEN SEAS. We had a prescribed patch to wear behind our ears, the sea bands for our wrists and Dramamine tablets and we used everything and we felt fine. But many others were sick and the main dining room was near empty the first night heading out of San Diego and the last few nights heading back. Coming back we were a rocking and rolling and just walking down the halls you had to hold onto the rails.
HEY! Why do people hang out by Deck 1 and 2 on Disembarkation Day? Is it a senior thing? Disembarkation was a BREEZE except for trying to make our way thru the sea of people just sitting all over the place waiting to get off. We were all told we could wait in our staterooms until our number was called. That's what we did and enjoyed a glass of wine and laying on the bed watching TV until time to get off.
By the way, Holland America has a wonderful policy about allowing wine to be brought on board and ok to drink in staterooms. It's a good policy and I hope they always keep it.
The entertainment was good and there was certainly enough venues of music to listen to throughout the ship. We liked their free DVD rental policy and their selection was good. The library on deck 10 was very nice and cozy. I was able to read 3 novels on this cruise and really relax. Holland America offered some interesting seminars on computers and photos editing which were great - but once again, you had to get to the event way early to get a seat. The tech instructor was very FAIR - he insisted everyone leave the room after his event to wait in line for the next seminar. I so wish all events could be handled like this to avoid people CAMPING OUT on deck chairs, library spaces, LIDO Deck spaces, etc.
We enjoyed all Hawaiian Islands and went on 2 tours. We toured the crater and lava tubes on the Big Island - very interesting.
In Honolulu, the Pearl Harbor tour and the tour of the might MO battleship was fantastic.
On Kauai, we simply took a free shuttle and shopped.
On Maui, we took a free shuttle and went to the beach although the waves were rough. Latter, it felt good to have a lunch OFF the ship.
On this trip I did not utilize any services in their SPA.
So our recommendation on this cruise is favorable as long as you plan for potential sea sickness and plan to chill out. A couple of bottles of wine would not hurt either!