On paper Oosterdam's accommodation scheme seems like a cruiser's dream come true. Six hundred thirty-nine (66.7 percent) of the total complement of cabins have balconies (79.5 percent of outsides). The least expensive of these cabins (Deluxe Verandah Outside) measures a seemingly spacious 254 square feet (the balcony accounting for 54 square feet).
If space is important, at the upper end are the two top-of-the-line Penthouse Verandah Suites (measuring 1,000 square feet plus 318-square-foot balconies). Deluxe and Superior Verandah Suites range from 398 square feet to 700 square feet, balcony footage included. All suites have dressing rooms, sofa beds, whirlpool tubs, separate shower stalls and dual vanities. The balconies are equipped with a table that's suitable for dining.
Suite passengers have access to the private Neptune Lounge, though, ironically, with a capacity of only 25, the lounge will accommodate less than 8 percent of the double occupancy capacity of the suite-level staterooms. Though there is a concierge in the Neptune Lounge, there are no butlers for passengers residing in these accommodations.
At the other end of the spectrum are 154 Standard Inside cabins (measuring from 170 - 200 square feet) and 165 Standard Outsides (measuring a slim 185 square feet). Twenty-eight cabins are designated wheelchair accessible.
All classes of stateroom benefit from the line's "Signature of Excellence" campaign, most notably the exceedingly comfy "Euro-top" beds, high thread-count linens and Egyptian cotton towels. Other cabin amenities include waffle/terry-cloth robes, flat-panel TVs, DVD players, makeup mirrors, hair dryers, direct dial phones with voicemail (inoperative on our cruise), minibars (tended to manually by cabin stewards) and programmable safes. DVDs can be checked out from the Explorations Library. Bathroom amenities -- provided by Steiner offshoot, Elemis -- include two types of soap, bath and shower gel, conditioner, and shampoo. All non-suite staterooms except inside cabins have tub/shower combinations, a Holland America tradition that gets a big thumbs-up from us.
We don't look quite so kindly on some of the other attributes of our Deluxe Verandah Outside stateroom. Holland America championed spacious accommodations back in the days when the mantra was: "Who needs a big cabin? You only go there to sleep, shower and change clothes." Now, all the other players in the Premium category seem to have jumped on the spaciousness bandwagon and, in fact, many have leapt ahead.
Our accommodations felt more crowded than we would have expected out of a 200-square-foot interior. The room felt narrow, and portions of it were difficult for two people to navigate simultaneously. Likewise, storage space was limited, especially drawer space, although a couple of days into the cruise, we found a hidden set of deep drawers under the bed (though one of the two drawers was appropriated by the cabin steward for bedspread and extra blanket). The desk was virtually unusable, except, perhaps, for putting on makeup. Switching out the old CRT TV for the new flat-screen, wall-mounted set during the 2009 dry dock helped a bit, but the TV's position in the farthest corner of the narrow room made viewing in bed awkward. And the desk had barely enough room for a small laptop.
The most serious problem with the in-cabin television, however, was software rather than hardware. Unlike those of most modern ships, Oosterdam's TV system totally lacked interactivity -- no ability to access one's onboard account, book restaurant reservations or shore excursions, order from room service, or view dining room menus. And non-interactive programming was limited as well, offering only a handful of cable channels (CNN, ESPN, TNT and the Cartoon Network on our cruise), plus a closed-circuit movie channel and "ship commercial" channels for shore excursions, onboard shopping and "official" off-ship shopping.
Lastly, our balcony was sufficiently large enough to accommodate more than the plastic faux rattan verandah furniture -- a chair, hassock and tiny table too small for any serious usage.
Next: Oosterdam Dining
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