MS Oosterdam (again)
Last time on Oosterdam was on a Mexico cruise. We had been on other HAL ships, but there was something about the Oosterdam...it felt like coming home. I wondered this time -- before we boarded on January 14, 2012 -- "Would it feel again, like 'home'?" particularly, since we were cruising in an interior stateroom for the first time ever; previous cruises had all been done in veranda suites.
Frankly, when we stepped aboard I could not find a single familiar physical detail. Though I knew to a certainty we had been on the Oosterdam before, the physical surroundings had simply homogenized into a total HAL experience. But, when we heard "The Voice from the Bridge" Captain Arjen C. Van Der Loo, and Eric the Cruise Director, our previous experiences on the Oosterdam came back into focus.
I don't know how HAL assigns crew and staff to a ship; maybe Captain Van Der Loo and others get to choose their staff. I do know that the "people" of the Oosterdam make it my most More
memorable ship. The Captain, the Cruise Director, Subi and Trish (our cabin stewards), Erza the entree server and cook on the starboard side of the Lido, the wonderful man at the podium of the Vista Dining Room...who valiantly tried every night to try to meet our needs though we walked in without notice or reservations...there is a spirit among the people of the Oosterdam that can only result from fair, disciplined, and constant leadership.
Our next cruise will be this September...the 75-day "voyage" to Asia and Australia on the Amsterdam. I already know the ship and its people will be more than satisfactory...I've never had a bad HAL cruise...but I hope the Amsterdam will feel like we're "coming home" -- just like our two cruises on the Oosterdam. Less
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Cabin review: Oosterdam
Good size; great bed; shower, no tub; plenty of closet space. Eating a full meal in-room requires some forethought since there is no couch...just one chair, a small table, and a vanity stool. No clock, and no window to see daylight means you have to wake up on purpose.
Port and Shore Excursions
Another great place...though I personally give Kauai the slight edge. The cruise-ship dock is a short distance away from town, out by the airport, and the Coast Guard dock. We hired a local, independent cab driver (David at Ali'i Taxi) to show us "his" island...my favorite way to see the local world. David represents the mix of ethnic heritage and cultures that makes Hawaii the mixing pot the Western Pacific.
I love this port...busy, noisy, active with something to watch if not photograph almost all the time.
I love Hotel Street and Chinatown...the lines of little school kids holding hands and moving from here to there for God knows what reasons. The fresh fruit and vegatables, seedy characters, and the absolute lack of San Francisco's Grant Street slickness. Honolulu's is a Chinatown for its people, and the tourists get to be there.
We traveled to Waikiki from Chinatown by public transit, which requires exact change, for $1 each...I assume because we were among the venerated oldsters. I was struck by the courtesy and consideration of the riders for those people of age and inability who boarded...was the Mainland ever that way?
Lunch at the Royal Hawaiian, out on the beach-side patio under the signature pink umbrellas is just unforgettable. The food is good, the service even better, and you should plan on being "forced" to sample food you didn't order, but should have in the opinion of your friendly server. Don't plan to walk far or fast after lunch...frankly I recommend a nap on the nearby beach.
What can I say? If there is a Creator, Kauai is his or her final, perfect work where all the hard earned lessons came to fruition.
Greg from 635-Taxi, Kauai drove us around for two hours and showed us his island, and home for the past 12-years. He knew the history, culture, myths, plants, and fauna of his chosen homeland.
Lahaina, Maui requires tendering ashore. The port is archaic, and unimproved since whaling days, its one-way entrance and intervening small craft traffic, making even the short distance from ship to dock a longish experience.
Lahaina Town has its attractions...the Banyon park, the old original buildings, the local cultural food and dance, but the main street is very pedestrian, touristy, and as much a cliche as you would find in the International Marketplace at Waikiki...still it was warm on the sunny-side of the street...and the haole food servers at Bubba Gump's tried to remain attentive, though mostly failed.
In fairness, this was the 4th time on Maui so perhaps we're jaded.