13 Auckland Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

We picked this cruise because of the itinery and dates matched our local school holidays, In hind site it was a mistake, and we probably should have gone on another ship that was closer to our demographic. Most of the passengers on this ... Read More
We picked this cruise because of the itinery and dates matched our local school holidays, In hind site it was a mistake, and we probably should have gone on another ship that was closer to our demographic. Most of the passengers on this cruise were elderly, we are in our early 40's with two kids. Its hard to articulate my feelings on this cruise, the ship was nice, the food was nice, if a little bland, the ports were lovely, and the staff did their jobs well. The ship just had no atmosphere, there were small groups that were having fun and enjoying themselves, but mostly people were sitting around looking bored. Entertainment, really was geared towards to older passengers so there wasn't a lot for us to do, though we did enjoy the BB Kings lounge a few times, but there weren't a lot of people at the shows, so there was little interaction between the band and audience, I also never saw anyone in the nightclub. By 11pm most might, you would be lucky to get a drink as most of the bars were closed and the place was a ghost town. We had a large internal stateroom and it was comfortable and clean, the beds were very comfortable. Kids club was pretty disappointing, granted there weren't a lot of kids on board, but the staff treated the kids like a bit of an inconvenience, and really didnt put in a bit effort with the entertainment. We also had some bad weather that prevented us from going to Dunedin and Milford sound, but we got an extra day in Melbourne which we really enjoyed. I think we'll be going back to Royal Caribbean, its more suited to us, the atmosphere is a lot better, which to me, is more important than some of the other aspects that HAL boast. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Holland America by all accounts have dropped the service level and as we normally use Princess, this was our first encounter with Holland America The cruise companies continual pressure to sell, sell, sell, became very annoying, it ... Read More
Holland America by all accounts have dropped the service level and as we normally use Princess, this was our first encounter with Holland America The cruise companies continual pressure to sell, sell, sell, became very annoying, it happened at the bar, at the shops, at the unprofessional art auctions, and on the tours. The company is obviously hurting and the general view at our eight table dining was not to cruise with Holland America again for many and various reasons. Naturally many will think the cruise line a fine example and had some policies of Holland America been more subtle and less in your face then maybe our view might have been different. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Where to start. Embarkation - Pouring rain when we got to the port. No cover we were soaked through dropping our bags. Then watched our bags moved to the trollies which were also without cover, by the time we got them they were soaked ... Read More
Where to start. Embarkation - Pouring rain when we got to the port. No cover we were soaked through dropping our bags. Then watched our bags moved to the trollies which were also without cover, by the time we got them they were soaked as well. Great Start. HAL need to remember that not all their passengers are from the US. Everything on board was aimed at a US market. The quizzes, the food, the trivia, the talks and even the entertainment. The food was extremely poor. Three nights in a row we retreated to our room for a room service steak sandwich as we could find nothing edible (and believe me we are not the fussy type). The buffet was gazetted as closing at 8pm (early) however on 3 occasions we went to eat at 7.30 to find them already closed. You could eat reheated pizza or undercooked pasta whenever you liked. Coffee machines were out of order constantly or if they were working they were often out of water. The staff did the best they could and were friendly and helpful. Entertainment - With the exception of Paul McD in the Piano Lounge (He was brilliant) the other guests were poor. (If they were busking I would have kept my hand in my pocket and kept walking) The staff shows were good but why at 11pm. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was my first cruise with Holland America Line and must say a very disappointing experience in comparison to other companies. Oosterdam ship is aging, and unfortunately this is not balanced with the service which I would quote as very ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Holland America Line and must say a very disappointing experience in comparison to other companies. Oosterdam ship is aging, and unfortunately this is not balanced with the service which I would quote as very poor for a cruise experience. Thanksfully, you'll find some friendly staff onboard, but overall the level of service is poor. Staff reflect a low level of standards and worse tell you things but doesn't act as said! Curiously staff is using the same facilities than customers on their day off and you lost sense of who is the customer and who is the professional supposed to be in charge to make your cruise an enjoyable experience. Worse... as ship needs some refresh works, workers do execute those from early morning with short notice and refrain from ability to use the outside veranda. Food is ok, but once again below expectation for a ship cruise. It is hardly difficult to say a positive word on this cruise, but once again a few staff members are willing to offer a great experience, but these individual skills are not taken consistently through management not raising the bar and ensuring everyones fully dedicated to service. All in all poor service, aging boot, staff nor dediated to service and customer, ongoing works and lack of professionalism... NEVER BACK ON HOLLAND AMERICA LINE! Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
While I have read mixed reviews about the Oosterdam and this particular cruise in November in New Zealand and Australia, my wife and I can only say we enjoyed the trip. We flew from Sydney (our home) to Auckland the day before and enjoyed ... Read More
While I have read mixed reviews about the Oosterdam and this particular cruise in November in New Zealand and Australia, my wife and I can only say we enjoyed the trip. We flew from Sydney (our home) to Auckland the day before and enjoyed the city ahead of embarking on the 14 nights cruise on the Oosterdam. HAL offered us a paid upgrade to a Neptune Suite which we took to experience the larger cabin and additonal on board facilities. It is a great way to travel if you can and we did not regret the extra cost. The Neptune lounge is a great facility and the Neptune staff were excellent and were always there to assist with dinner and excursion bookings, and went out of their way to assist us when bad weather caused a change of itinerary during the cruise causing cancellations of shore bookings. However the ports of call were great in New Zealand and the extra day and night In Melbourne a bonus to those of us who love the city. While a number of pasengers complained about the change of itinerary due to bad weather, the Captain and crew made the correct call to alter the cross Tasman passage and reduce the discomfort due to heavy swells. On that issue the Oosterdam was impressive slicing through the swell with ease and was very smooth considering the 7 metre seas. The Oosterdam was in great shape during our cruise. Spotless and very pleaseant crew made the trip enjoyable. Having travelled with Holland America on several occassions this ship is of a high standard. Dining generally up to the usual good HAL standard. A couple of issues - embarkation procedure in Auckland was very poor and long delays caused irritation to some passengers and amusement to others as the ship was going nowehere until we all got aboard. The coffee at the Explorations Cafe was shocking. HAL still don't know how to make a good cappucino or expresso on their ships. More barista training please! A large number of passengers (including us) could not wait to get off the ship when in port to find a good coffee.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
This review is for the cruise from Auckland NZ to Sydney, embarking on November 7, 2014. First, the embarkation process was an organizational nightmare. Long lines (embarkation took over two hours) and long times standing in what can only ... Read More
This review is for the cruise from Auckland NZ to Sydney, embarking on November 7, 2014. First, the embarkation process was an organizational nightmare. Long lines (embarkation took over two hours) and long times standing in what can only be described as a dillapidated pier. Walking surface was uneven, which was a challenge for any passengers with mobility issues. We had booked a Neptune suite, which is supposed to include priority boarding, but that was not accommodated. Furthermore, my mother has problems walking and uses a walker, but there were no arrangements made for guests with these problems. Stateroom: As mentioned, we had booked a Neptune Suite. These suites are smaller than similar ones on other vessels. The size of the room was comparable to a standard veranda suite on Princess and Celebrity (both of which we have sailed recently). Our stateroom steward was nice enough, but it was the day AFTER sailing when we finally met him. On previous HAL voyages, our steward would introduce himself on the same day of embarkation. He was also difficult to locate if we needed anything. Neptune Lounge: The best part of the being in a suite. The ladies in the lounge were WONDERFUL and always willing to help out with any questions we had. They also tracked down our steward for us when we couldn't find him. I also love the fresh coffee in here. Wonderful espresso maker. Food: VIsta Dining Room - mediocre at best. Quality was upscale cafeteria and definitely not fine dining. Dishes lacked flavor, were often improperly cooked and the variety was limited. Seafood was often rubbery. Shrimp for shrimp cocktail (the simplest thing on the menu) tasted like it had been thawed and refrozen several times. Service was a comedy of errors with lost orders, delivering the wrong thing to the table, and never being able to find a server when you needed anything. Wine steward was never around and his knowledge of the wine list was severely lacking. Lido Buffet - Borderline inedible. Salads looked old. Fruit it was either too green to eat or too old. No in between. Pinnacle Grill - The first few days the service was a disaster. No cream for coffee, no servers around, and bringing the wrong items to the table. This improved after the first few days, but a few of the staff did always seem to be out of it. The coffee quality declined significantly after the first week on the ship. It was as if they ran out of the good stuff and started substituting Folgers. We also went to the Le Cirque dinner which was quite nice. Not 5 star, but still very good and the best dining experience on the ship. On Board Entertainment - Only went to a few of the shows and they were good. The band (HALCats) was good and fun to listen to. The guitar soloist in the Crows Nest was good too. Culinary at Sea: The cooking classes are a joke. Many of the recipe cards handed out had obvious errors and missing ingredients - the proceedure would tell you to use an ingredient that was not listed. HAL needs to double check these and standardize them. The mixology classes were good and fun. Casino: Good staff and some fun events. The casino hostess is very nice and helpful. All dealers were fun to lose money to. Final note: we had booked this cruise to visit Milford Sound and Hobart, both of which were excluded from the itinerary at the last minute. The reason given was rough seas. It is worth noting that on the cruise immediately prior to this one, they excluded these same destinations. Other ships on other lines were able to go and on the day we would have been going to Hobart, the ferry between Melboune and Tazmania was sailing w/o any problems. If you want to see the Fjords or go to Tazmania, I would recommend a different way to do so. Perhaps HAL should consider removing these two destinations from future published itineraries if it is common that they have to be excluded at the last minute. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
This is our 6th cruise with HAL and as always a wonderful experience. The quality of service on this cruise line is next to none. Stateroom attendants are in a class all by themselves always smiling, service oriented, quick and efficient. ... Read More
This is our 6th cruise with HAL and as always a wonderful experience. The quality of service on this cruise line is next to none. Stateroom attendants are in a class all by themselves always smiling, service oriented, quick and efficient. Many thanks to our attendants Suni and Kumar. Neptune lounge concierges Roxy and Kristin were a pleasure to travel with. Always helpful, efficient and professional. Stateroom big with tons of storage space, all areas of the ship clean and in good condition. I had read previous reviews that made it sound as though the ship was in need of upgrading but we did not find this. Yes it's true that some other cruise lines may have bigger and more outlandish decor but we like the style of HAL as you always feel you're on a ship rather than on a floating resort. Food was excellent as always but occasionally we found the breakfast fare in the dining rooms to be warm rather than hot (Pinnacle and MDR) - never ate at the Lido). The Cellar Master evening was OUTSTANDING and I would highly recommend this event even more than the Cirque night. No opinion on entertainment as we attended few but went to Karaoke once only as the equipment failed and this was therefore cancelled for the rest of the cruise. We did however have a better option which was to sing with the Halcats one evening and that was wonderful, even better than Karaoke. Hopefully they could do this activity on more sailings. All ports of call were excellent although we skipped Hobart and Milford Sound due to bad sea conditions. As a compensation we had 2 days in Melbourne instead of one. Many thanks to Captain Draper for making difficult decisions but keeping passengers safe and comfortable. Embarkation: somewhat painful in Auckland due to inadequate terminal. We were kept waiting in an u heated hangar on a somewhat chilly morning. Disembarkation: fast and efficient but would have appreciated if HAL had warned us that the Sydney terminal was under construction and we could not remain inside. We were immediately forced outside to wait for transport. Thankfully it was a hot sunny day. Excursion organization: my one irritant was that on this ship if you were on a ship excursion, you got your excursion sticker given as your excursion was called and as you exited the show lounge. In our 5 previous cruises, stickers were given as you entered so you had the option to disembark and wait outside. If you were unlucky enough to have a departure at 8:45 am and the ship was docked at 7:30 am you had to wait onboard the whole time. Passengers doing non-ship excursions had a better deal than those paying the premium price. Passengers with priority disembarkation were equally penalized.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
After overcoming computer problems when boarding and finally finding our way around the ship, we settled into our balcony stateroom which appeared larger on the internet but in reality, it was everything that we needed. The cabin staff ... Read More
After overcoming computer problems when boarding and finally finding our way around the ship, we settled into our balcony stateroom which appeared larger on the internet but in reality, it was everything that we needed. The cabin staff were excellent and our beds were made twice every day as we often had a 10 minute lie down after our port visits. The cleanliness of the ship was truly amazing. The deck around the pool was cleaned in total every second day. Half the chairs, tables etc were removed in the afternoon and the deck totally cleaned. Then the next day, the other half of the deck received the same treatment. The bar staff and the restaurant/buffet staff did a brilliant job and if you are lucky enough to have Ernie Limon (a beautiful Filipino barman with an amazing smile) on your cruise, you'll be well looked after. The food was good, although we didn't try the Pinnacle Grill or the Italian Restaurant. If we go again, we will try the Pinnacle Grill and also eat in the dining room more often than we did this time. After a while, the Buffet became a bit repetitive, although they always had some different selections, although the salads were very different to what we have in Australia! They also call their main meals, "entrees" and their desserts are "pastries". We did have a couple of problems with the office staff but everything worked out in the end.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Long slow moving lines on embarkation was just the start of a very disappointing cruise experience. On boarding the ship we weren't directed to our cabin or even welcomed aboard . We chose to dine on open seating dining which was ... Read More
Long slow moving lines on embarkation was just the start of a very disappointing cruise experience. On boarding the ship we weren't directed to our cabin or even welcomed aboard . We chose to dine on open seating dining which was not a good choice as every meal we had in the Vista dining room was cold,we never saw a maitre'd at our table and we had to wait on all occasions for a table to be free. we tried to book a couple of times but were only able to get very earl or very late dining. We felt like second class cruisers as no one wanted to take responsibility for our "dining experience". We made our feelings known at the front desk and they were very sympathetic and passed on the info to the dining room but still no improvement! The entertainment was very poor with the production shows being "Big" but the singers were very poor and the other entertainment was very much like a street busker or bad comedienne routines. The formal nights still saw shorts and T shirts in the public areas and not even the cruise director was wearing format attire . The cruise entertainment staff were no where to be seen on formal night and certainly no meet and greet for the shows or formal evenings. We have tried all the cruise lines over the years and have found Holland America in the past to be a cut above the other premium lines of 4 to 5 star rating but they certainly don't deserve the 5 star rating they are claiming! The cabin stewards and the waiting staff were the usual fantastic asset for HAL but unfortunately the rest of the experience was only 3 star. On disembarkation our cards were scanned and not even a "Travel safe" or thanks for sailing with us ! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We booked the cruise with our agent at home and everything was very well organized and handled professionally. We embarked the ship in Auckland and we were told not to go to the pier before 11am, because we had to checked out the hotel ... Read More
We booked the cruise with our agent at home and everything was very well organized and handled professionally. We embarked the ship in Auckland and we were told not to go to the pier before 11am, because we had to checked out the hotel at 10am which was quite closed to the pier, we went there before the said time anyway but found out that it was really not necessary to go early because we had to wait in line for almost an hour and once the gate opened, it was very smooth. We were in a balcony stateroom and our stewards Mat and his assistant were very friendly and helpful, especially Mat, he seemed to always "run into" us every day and checked whether everything was ok, and the housekeeping responded to any requests very quickly. Our Indonesian dinning room waiters were excellent throughout. It was a pleasant surprise that the food in Lido were as good as the dinning room. We tried all the specialty restaurants and concluded that the quality of food were not worth paying extra. We were disappointed by the poor entertainment on board and the reasons have been explained by some of the fellow members on the same ship and I don't need to go into details. I would like to point out that despite Oosterdam has a big group of singers and dancers, they only put on 2 1/2 show during the 14 day voyage. For the rest of nights, shows were organized poorly. There were no enrichment lectures, the short presentation on New Zealand by the travel guide Susan came after the ship left New Zealand! Some passengers think it was the result of cost cutting, I think it was due to poor management. I was shocked by the attitude of the further cruise consultant Joanne when I approached her wanting to book my next cruise. She seemed to have absolutely no interest to assist me for the booking. I can't help it but to think she didn't care to serve me because I am an Asian. I called to request for another staff to help me but I was told she was the only one. I don't know how she dealt with other passengers but I am sure she doesn't do any good for the company if she acts that way to anyone. It wasn't all bad though, all the Asian staff on board were very helpful. I'll cruise with HAL again in future but try to avoid Oosterdam if possible if no improvement are made. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My husband and I travelled on a 37 day repositioning cruise which began in Auckland on March 30 and ended in Seattle on May 5, 2013. Overall, I would give good marks for the cruise. We prefer to take long cruises (rather than a lot of ... Read More
My husband and I travelled on a 37 day repositioning cruise which began in Auckland on March 30 and ended in Seattle on May 5, 2013. Overall, I would give good marks for the cruise. We prefer to take long cruises (rather than a lot of short ones) because we get more for our money on repositioning cruises, which have a lot of sea days and tend to visit places that are not the usual cruise destinations. This was our third such cruise. Visiting many destinations in a short period of time was the reason we took the cruise rather than a land tour, and it worked very nicely--we visited 13 ports (Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Akaroa/Christchurch, Dundedin, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, then on to Noumea (New Caledonia), Suva and Dravuni Island (Fiji), Samoa and American Samoa, Kauai, Honolulu, and Vancouver). The characteristics of the passengers tended to match the type of cruise. Those on the lengthy itinerary tended to be retired, and there were few childen on board. The educational lectures were given almost daily on the Sydney to Vancouver leg, and they were uniformly informative and excellent. On the shorter 14 day itinerary (Auckland to Sydney), the passengers were livelier and louder, and it was difficult to find tables in the Lido for breakfast. On the one day cruise from Vancouver to Seattle, the crowd was boistrous, young, noisy and boozed up. The Vista Dining Room, which was a fairly sedate and quiet place to dine on the longer cruise, was one loud and raucous buzz during dinner time on that final night. The food was fine, but on some days, we had trouble identifying anything that appealed. Fortunately, they do have available alternatives, such as a strip steak or salmon, and my husband must have had the French onion soup at least 20 times. We ate dinner in the Lido on one occasion, and I would never go back. We also had dinner once in the Pinnacle Grill, which was excellent. It would easily cost $200 ashore, but we paid $37.50 (as 3 star Mariners). The 3-flavored creme brulee was to die for. Breakfast in the Vista Dining Room is very nice (compared to the mob scene in the Lido), but the menu is quite limited and there can be a long wait for the food. The ship is 10 years old, and to my knowledge, has never been renovated. Now would be a good time. Our cabin was ok, but there were obvious signs of wear and tear, from the fairly threadbare sofa to the gouges in the bathtub, to the balcony door that was hard to unlock. We also noticed that the number of stewards seemed to have decreased. In the past, we could count on our rooms being done after returning from breakfast, but on this trip, it was not unusual to have to wait until 1 pm before the room was cleaned, even when we set out a "service please" sign. Each steward has to clean about 16 rooms, which is too heavy a load. I think 800 staffers for a ship that holds 2,000 passengers is too tight a staff/service ratio, and it shows. HAL needs to reverse some of its cutbacks. The entertainment was below par. The HAL dancers and singers did something like 2 1/2 shows, and one of them (Garage Band) was performed 3 times. The stage is not sufficiently large (I don't think) to cover a large production show, so most of the entertainment consisted of solo acts (singers, comedians, magicians) who were backed up by an overworked group of very professional ship musicians. Fitness and spa personnel provided a lot of talks which gave the initial appearance of being educational, but which were really sales pitches aimed at getting attendees to fork out funds for questionable and expensive treatments. The one I found the most objectionable was on "detoxing", where they spoke about their detox program consisting of algae capsules at "only" $200 a month. How they were to "monitor" the customer once they got off the ship was never mentioned. The spa pitch included ionithermie, which, for only $155 a pop (plus tip) will take 1-8 inches off your stomach. What they don't tell you is that they measure 5 different places, and take the difference between the "before" and "after". The high pressure sales pitch for products is very annoying. HAL will say this spa (Greenhouse, which I visited long ago, when they didn't do this kind of treatment) is only a contractor, but their practices certainly don't place HAL in a favorable light. One thing that did happen (probably a good thing) is that I drank very little coffee on the ship. The coffee was just atrocious. The water, however, is very good. One final note -- I really appreciate that HAL (despite the criticisms) is that treats returning passengers well. We were invited to two Mariners brunches, where the meal was several cuts above what was normally served in the dining room. They also had a cocktail party with generous servings of wine and other drinks. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Oosterdam is out-dated with tacty decor. LOts of rust on balconies, pools need redone. Many problem was the food. Terrible. We have never been on a ship that served the same thing for all meals in both the Lido Cafe and the dining room. ... Read More
Oosterdam is out-dated with tacty decor. LOts of rust on balconies, pools need redone. Many problem was the food. Terrible. We have never been on a ship that served the same thing for all meals in both the Lido Cafe and the dining room. Dining room food faired better, but still noyt to par with other cruise ships we have been on. In the Cafe for all meals, the hot food was cold. We asked why and was told that the chef perferred it that way. It was cafeteria style with very little choices. Meat, chicken and fish very dry and tough, no vegetable choices. One choice per night Most were under cooked. Most meals were french fries only. We did have a cold baked potato for a BBQ and a couple of nights mash potatoes. Salads were spicy and oriental style. They dont know how to cook Italian, it was terrible and no parasan cheese. The lobster had no drawn butter and only chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream choice. We thought our Travel Club picked the food but asked several officers and staff if this is what they feed the older regular passengers and they said yes. The staff and officers were heard complaining too. Docked in Melbourne overnight the ship shook violently every two minutes which made it impossible to sleep. Will not be on another Holland American ship unless they improve them. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Overview: This was our first cruise with HAL, first time in the southern hemisphere, and first three week vacation. It was a specialty cruise where Atlantis Events chartered the entire ship for a primarily gay cruise starting in ... Read More
Overview: This was our first cruise with HAL, first time in the southern hemisphere, and first three week vacation. It was a specialty cruise where Atlantis Events chartered the entire ship for a primarily gay cruise starting in Auckland, New Zealand and ending in Sydney, Australia for the Mardi Gras parade and Mardigrasland party. This was our third cruise and second with Atlantis. On the whole we enjoyed the trip, found the ship comfortable, most of the crew polite and friendly, made new friends, enjoyed most of the meals, and had some nice adventures on the excursions. Our previous two cruises were with RCI and we are likely to return to a Royal Caribbean ship for future cruises. We found the HAL experience rated just a little lower than RCI in almost every category except for cabin size and comfort. The cabin on this cruise was large, comfortable, and everything worked perfectly. Air travel: On the whole we logged more than 20,000 miles in three weeks for this trip. That's a lot of flying. To break up the trip, we flew Southwest Airlines from the east coast to Los Angeles and stayed with friends for two nights. We booked Air New Zealand (ANZ) to Auckland with a 9 hour layover in Honolulu to further break up the trip. I learned two things I want to share. First, ANZ partners with other airlines such as United. Even though all of your reservation documentation may show a ANZ flight numbers, you may still need to board another carrier's aircraft and flight number. Fortunately we were using the FlightTrack app so we didn't have our driver drop us off at the ANZ terminal #2. The app showed the flight was originally scheduled to leave Delta terminal #6 but was updated to United terminal #7 during our drive to the airport. Neither Delta nor United personnel claimed they found us in their system. I had to call ANZ and speak with someone with a strong New Zealand accent to learn which carrier and flight number on which we were booked to Honolulu. With the United flight number we approached the United counter again and successfully checked into the flight. Once in Honolulu we were upgraded by Dollar to a new, convertible Mustang and enjoyed exploring the island for a six hours. The flight to Auckland was a real ANZ flight. Their flight crew is very friendly, the aircraft modern with lots of entertainment options, food is delicious, and the safety video is Lord of the Rings themed and entertaining. After the vacation flying ANZ back to the USA resulted in more confusion. They received a new computer system the day before and their terminal and staff were in chaos. Eventually we learned ANZ had again passed us off to United so we had to make our way to United and check in with them for our direct flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. I'll avoid ANZ and look to Qantas in the future. The second thing I learned was flying from the USA to AU/NZ you lose one day and gain it back on the return. Embarkation: While I didn't expect embarkation to be pleasant, our experience at the Prince's Wharf in Auckland was worse than expected. Atlantis pushed embarkation time later to allow VIPs to board early. This narrowed the window for everyone else to less than three hours and the VIPs arrived late anyway. The terminal was very warm and and didn't seem to have any air conditioning. We joined the line with a good attitude and were making progress through one of the two available lines. An Atlantis employee appeared and scolded everyone for arriving early, closed one of the lines without telling the people in the 2nd line where to go. Fortunately another Atlantis employee noticed the confusion and instructed the people in line two who were now cut off to merge in with our line. He indicated this was done to allow the VIPs to enter first and this added about an extra hour wait to the hour we had already waited in line in this very hot building. When we reached a HAL representative we were told there was a problem printing our room keys and we should wait at the far side of the building by the exit. At least there was some fresh air by the tent exit. After 20 minutes our room keys had not appeared. An Atlantis employee was no help and seemed annoyed while implying we were being impatient. He thought we were waiting at the right place and indicated a couple of other passengers had the same issue with their keys earlier. After another ten minutes I found another HAL employee and asked. She indicated we needed to board the ship and go to the front office for our keys. I did point out the HAL employee who had misinformed us and also let the Atlantis employee know the procedure in case this happened to others. We were exhausted and soaked with sweat by the time we boarded the ship. Ship: We found the Oosterdam to be in good condition and easy to navigate. From photos I expected the colors and decor to be gaudy, but on the whole the design was appealing and I enjoyed the nautical themed art throughout the ship. The only exceptions I found odd include the childish looking modern sculptures at the aft pool (an adults only pool -- no wonder others complain about children ending up there) and the odd center ceiling with flashing color lights in the main dining room. Okay, I thought the Pinnacle Grill pacific northwest themed decor was ugly too. Mechanically everything worked properly and the elevators were amazingly speedy. A trick I learned to quickly identify fore and aft directions is that the benches are always on the aft wall in the elevator lobbies. Cabin: Our cabin was the largest we have had and found it to have significant closet and storage space. It was located in the aft part of the ship on deck 5. Crew and Atlantis staff: We found most of the crew to be polite, friendly, and helpful. Our cabin stewards (we had two) never stopped by to introduce themselves so I wrote them a note to tell them our names and ask for theirs. In the note I included the types of fruit we liked, indicated we used a lot of ice, and asked for a laundry bag. For the rest of the cruise, they provided fruit and maintained two containers of ice for us. The first two towel animals were unidentifiable but they got better and better as the cruise progressed. We did leave extra tips for them when they surpassed our expectations. We did have a few bad experiences with bar staff. After ordering two rum and Coke's a bartender asked if I would prefer a "strong double." I responded no, and he proceeded to pour extremely weak drinks. I commented, "Wow, that's a very weak single." He nodded in affirmation. I turned away and was talking to someone in line when he tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and he showed me a cup almost full of alcohol and said, "This is a strong double." I was stunned and disappointed. The roving wait staff offering drinks were too aggressive with constant pressure to purchase drinks. They have an incentive to do this for the automatic 15% gratuity and it was a gay cruise to it's possible this occurred because additional staff were on board to serve alcohol. We received massages at the spa and were a little disappointed in the quality. We expected a relaxing experience and instead received deep tissue massages followed by a couple of days of sore muscles. Atlantis staff seemed less organized and friendly on this cruise. They also provide a 2nd cruise director in addition to the HAL one. The Atlantis cruise director is the same person we had on our Med cruise seven years ago. I heard a comment that this was his 104th Atlantis cruise. It shows. He didn't seem friendly or approachable and actually came off as cranky. With the exception of one Atlantis staff member who was on his first Atlantis cruise, they all seemed a bit cranky, unorganized, and unhelpful. I think it's time for new blood at Atlantis. Food: We found food on the Oosterdam to be good although some selections were tiny. I found myself trying to read between the lines of menu descriptions to decide if it would be a tiny morsel instead of a traditional course. Our specialty cruise was 100% open seating and at sea days a brunch was served in the MDR, which I don't think is normally done. With open seating it's often nice to meet and dine with new people but I do miss having the same waiters who learn your preferences. One night we were seated with a passenger who ordered one of every dessert. Even though I bore no responsibility, I was embarrassed and the time it took almost made us late for a show. We especially enjoyed dinner in the Pinnacle Grill and were served the best crab cakes I've ever had, delicious steak, and very showy, flaming baked Alaska desserts. Most nights had theme parties that ran into the early morning hours and HAL always had a very nice variety of good food in the Lido for hungry guests. Entertainment: Since this was a specialty cruise, entertainment duties were shared by HAL and Atlantis. We attended several of the shows by entertainers hired by Atlantis and enjoyed them although we didn't find them as good as our previous Atlantis cruise in the Mediterranean. The HAL shows we saw were okay, but again we didn't find them as enjoyable as entertainers on RCI cruises. Excursions: We booked a mixture of HAL and independent excursions. When scheduling allowed we booked small group, independent excursions through Viator. Even many of the HAL excursions were customized to include only passengers from our ship which resulted in smaller groups which enhanced the experience. Although we were sad to learn we would miss Christchurch because of the distance from Akaroa, NZ we really enjoyed the Duncan Barber Sheep Farm and later the two hour nature cruise in the port of Akaroa. We also really enjoyed lunch on the Colonial Tram in Melbourne. The food, service, and sightseeing was extraordinary. We found it a great way to tour Melbourne in comfort. Another highlight was a small group Blue Mountains day trip we booked in Sydney through Viator. We reached the Featherdale animal park just as they opened and were able to feed and pet animals including kangaroos and koala bears. The trip continued to uncrowded viewing location of the Blue Mountains, Olympic Park, and a cruise back to Circular Quay which avoided rush hour crowded highways. Our itinerary was adjusted for this specialty cruise and was shortened to 12 days. We had an overnight in Melbourne and an overnight in Sydney which required omitting a couple of the regular Oosterdam ports. One thing we would not do again is book the very expensive Glamstand Glambar for viewing the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. We were promised free gourmet food and an open bar served by waiters. In reality the bar had a long, slow line with a limited selection of pre-mixed, cocktails in aluminum cans. The food was good but sparse and there were zero chairs for patrons of the "Glambar." People who opted for lower priced Glamstand tickets had stadium seating. For most Oosterdam passengers this will not be an issue since this was part of our specialty cruise. Conclusion: We enjoyed our adventure Down Under and made some great friends. HAL staff and the Oosterdam made for an overall good experience. Atlantis Events did an okay job, but missed an opportunity to make the trip amazing. 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Sail Date February 2013
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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