10 Barcelona to Mediterranean Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

We have sailed with Holland America lots of times. Excellent Company, Staff Excellent, Service Excellent. In fact everything was excellent. We had to leave the ship a day early to attend our Grandson's Funeral. A beautiful vase of ... Read More
We have sailed with Holland America lots of times. Excellent Company, Staff Excellent, Service Excellent. In fact everything was excellent. We had to leave the ship a day early to attend our Grandson's Funeral. A beautiful vase of Flowers appeared in our Suite on the second day along with a beautiful letter. Our flight was not until 10pm and officially we had to leave the ship at 2pm. However, the wonderful staff especially Mila (Guest Services Manager helped us to stay on board until 6pm and then personally and with other staff escorted us from the ship, carried all our luggage and even called a taxi to the Airport. There are no words to express how well we were looked after the whole of the cruise and we shall we returning to the Oosterdam next year for an Alaska Cruise. We are looking forward to meeting Mila and all her staff again. Thank you so much we will never forget the care and kindness. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We had an absolutely amazing cruise on Holland America Oosterdam on September 9th – the 12-night Mediterranean Tapestry We loved the service on the ship, the size of the ship and our fellow passengers. Everyone was so nice! The ... Read More
We had an absolutely amazing cruise on Holland America Oosterdam on September 9th – the 12-night Mediterranean Tapestry We loved the service on the ship, the size of the ship and our fellow passengers. Everyone was so nice! The cruise director was front and center throughout the cruise and we felt there were many activities offered although this was a very port-heavy cruise and our priority was being in port and experiencing everything that Europe has to offer. I know many people on Cruise Critic choose to take their own shore excursions, but I do have to say that EXC Tours absolutely MADE our time in port AMAZING! EXC tours were absolutely wonderful. Our tour guides were experts in each port. All of them full of enthusiasm. We were taken to the best places to see highlights of each port and, for the tours that included meals – we loved each restaurant and the food and wine offered. We were extremely happy that we booked through EXC tours because we did not have to stress about making it back to the ship on time – we could relax, enjoy and focus learning as much as we could about each port offered. We also enjoyed the ports where we just walked around and explored and sat at a café and had cappuccino that turned into cocktails and a relaxing fun day. I do agree that the ship is a bit older, but thankfully, we were there to enjoy ourselves and let little things put a damper on a fabulous European tour. I’ve read many complaints that the ship is in horrible condition and was very worried before we went, but once the cruise was underway, I had an unforgettable time and it didn’t matter! I would ignore the naysayers and form your own opinion and just ENJOY yourselves. We were very happy that we booked a Veranda cabin – we loved going on the Veranda every morning and sail away. Definitely worth the extra money! We did not purchase a beverage package. We brought two bottles of wine on board, attended a shore excursion to a winery in Nice where we were able bring on another bottle of wine onboard without the corkage fee and attended the happy hours. At happy hour, we would order a bucket of corona for around $29 plus gratuity and the next bucket was $10 plus gratuity. We also had wine at lunch with many of our shore excursions. Our bar bill at the end of a 12-day cruise was only around $200. Definitely glad we did not purchase the $1200 signature beverage package. I will say that, because this was such a port heavy cruise, heavy drinking was not a priority but we still drank and enjoyed ourselves. Who wants to be hungover when you are touring Rome? We did enjoy many glasses of wine with lunch in Rome but did not start out the day hung over from the night before bc we were trying to get our money’s worth from our beverage package, if that makes sense. The crew was very hospitable and the captain ran a very efficient and safe ship. I also appreciated the use of hand sanitizer before each embarkation. We experienced no illnesses whatsoever on the ship. We loved being waiting on in the main dining room – a highlight for my husband. Just choosing each meal and taking our time over dessert with coffee. It was such an amazing experience! I LOVE the direction of Holland America – outstanding service, port emersions, amazing EXC tours, a place for foodies and music lovers! Already booked our next cruise! As my husband said, this wasn’t a vacation – this was a TRIP! Thank you, Holland America, for the best trip of our lives!!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
As a seasoned traveler, I was always under the impression that Holland America was a cut above other mid-tier cruise lines like NCL and Carnival, justifying HAL's higher fares. Based on my experience on the Oosterdam Mediterranean ... Read More
As a seasoned traveler, I was always under the impression that Holland America was a cut above other mid-tier cruise lines like NCL and Carnival, justifying HAL's higher fares. Based on my experience on the Oosterdam Mediterranean cruise July 23-Aug 4, I would have to say that this assumption is totally incorrect. My major complaint? I was in a balcony cabin, 8134, that had a completely inadequate air conditioning system. During the day, there was virtually no air coming through the vent but at 2-3am frigid air would begin to pour out. My complaint to customer services on the very first day brought a response of "keep your drapes closed." Service technicians tinkered with it but there was absolutely no improvement. When I continued to complain they brought me a box fan!!! Really? I paid a premium for a balcony cabin and I'm expected to keep the drapes closed and use a 1960s era box fan to keep cool? Outrageous. To add insult to injury, there were disgusting black particles being released out of the air conditioning vent all over the bed. The first few days I came down with a bronchial infection and hacking cough that I still have to this day. If you read through Oosterdam's reviews on this site, you'll see that air conditioning issues are mentioned quite frequently. HAL must know that this ship has air conditioning problems but they are so unconcerned with their customers' health and comfort they refuse to spend the money to repair or replace the system. Shame on you, HAL. They gave me a whopping $400 credit as compensation for my discomfort, inconvenience and compromised health. This amount was completely inadequate given that I did not have a decent night's sleep in 12 days and, in effect, the entire $5000 cruise was ruined. Here are some of my other observations: -Embarcation in Barcelona was easy and efficient. The Barcelona cruiseport is lovely- spacious, well lit and plenty of seating. We arrived at 11:30am and were in the cabin by 12:15. Disembarcation also was efficient with a time slot assigned for departure that allowed you to stay in your cabin until the designated time. -The ship is on the small side but none of the public venues seemed crowded (except the Lido on sea days.) In fact, the Mainstage theatre and smaller music venues were never even close to capacity. - We took 3 HAL excursions. One was very good and two were all right. All were VERY expensive. The EXC staff conduct interesting port talks before each port but they are at inconvenient times. It's beyond me why HAL doesn't videotape them and make them available on TV in the cabins. -The cabin is strangely configured with the closets jutting out into the hallway across from the bathroom creating a very narrow, dark passageway into the room. Balcony was a decent size with room for two lounge chairs and a small table. Balcony furniture was old and dirty. -The ship is showing its age with ugly, patched, mismatched carpet throughout. -The pool on the Lido deck is tiny and was always occupied by large groups of unsupervised youngsters. -Food generally was mediocre and some of it inedible (e.g., a tenderloin steak that was so tough it couldn't be cut into.) Service in both the Lido and main dining room was fine. - As I mentioned above, excursions are very expensive as is the alcohol beverage package. Some of the excursions were cancelled due to lack of participants. I'm sure if HAL priced their excursions more reasonably, they could sell a lot more of them. -The ship docked in some very inconvenient locations requiring either a tender or an expensive shuttle bus into town. I guess they dock so far out to save port fees. Again, HAL prioritizes profit above their customers' convenience. -Entertainment was generally very good. The musicians in BB King lounge, Lincoln Center and Mainstage were all outstanding as were the guest performers. But not so much the shrieky, out of key male and female singers/piano players in Billboard on Board. There isn't a lot of room for dancing in any of the music venues. Overall, I will never cruise with HAL again. They charge premium prices but, in my opinion, did not deliver a premium experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Since our first cruise was over 25 years ago, and we won it in a raffle, so had no part in the where or when, or even how, I consider us to be first time cruisers for all intents and purposes. We chose Holland America’s 12 night ... Read More
Since our first cruise was over 25 years ago, and we won it in a raffle, so had no part in the where or when, or even how, I consider us to be first time cruisers for all intents and purposes. We chose Holland America’s 12 night Mediterranean Tapestry on the Oosterdam primarily for the itinerary. It was filled with ports that we had not previously visited, and was at the right time of year for our travel mates (one of whom is a teacher). We booked over a year in advance and spent that year planning for the “trip of a lifetime”. About us: We are around 60 years old and live in Southern California, we own our own business, so are not often able to get away. This trip was a first in many ways. First time we had traveled for that length of time together, first time we traveled without any of our children with us, first time we had traveled with friends, and I could go on, but you get the idea. Now, the actual review, I have tried to break it up into sections, so that you can take what you want from it, and skip those items that do not interest you. Feel free to ask questions if you want more information on anything I mention. Embarkation in Barcelona- A breeze! We arrived at about 1:00 pm; showed our boarding docs and were directed to the suites line. In actuality, there were not really any lines at that point. Our friends were not in a suite, but when we mentioned we were all together, they let us stay together for check in. Check in was quick, and then we were escorted to the ship and introduced to one of the Neptune Lounge concierges, who then took us right to our room. There was not a “wine table”, so we strolled on with 12 bottles of wine in our wine suitcase. They quickly went over the suite and its features, introduced us to our steward, and invited us to come by the lounge, once we were settled. Stateroom: 7046 Pinnacle Suite (yes I know, first time cruisers and we booked the pinnacle suite; I did mention that we considered this the “trip of a lifetime”.) More information in the cabin review section. HAL was very nice to offer us and our guests a “behind the scenes” tour of the ship. It was all set, but that was before they knew the Croatian Coast Guard would decide to do a routine inspection that day. The Neptune Lounge concierge contacted us, letting us know the tour was postponed, then canceled, then all of a sudden back on again. We had to scramble to get our guests back on board. We all loved the behind the tour. There were just ten of us (both of the Pinnacle Suite’s passengers and their guests). We saw the kitchens, warehousing/food storage, laundry and the bridge. At each stop, crew members or officers were available to answer any questions and just give a general overview. We never felt rushed, and the tour probably lasted about 2 hours total. Entertainment-We went to two of the musical shows and they were fine. Nothing spectacular, but enjoyable to watch. Plenty of seats, the theater was never full when we were there. Because we were in the suite and had plenty of room, we spent a fair amount of time hanging out there with our friends. So we did not take advantage of a lot of the activities that were offered, so I have no comment on the enrichment activities, gym, or the public rooms in general. We also did not hang out at the pool other than when the DH went to have a cigar at the only smoking area on the ship (which was next to a pool. The other negative (besides the bathtub controls) was on the last night of the cruise. We needed to get packed and have our suitcases out in the hallway by a certain time ( I don’t remember what time that was, I just know I missed it), it was a sauna in the suite. I am not kidding, our perfectly lovely rooms became a nightmare to be in, let alone work at packing everything up and getting it set out for the porters. Now the good part, I called the concierge when I realized I would not make the suitcase cut-off, and she assured me that they would make a second sweep later that night, and just to set them out when I had them ready. I was very late, and would not have blamed HAL if they had made me carry my own suitcases off the ship. Disembarkation in Venice- This is really in two parts; first getting off the ship. If you are in the Pinnacle Suite, they ask you when you would like to disembark, meet you at your room and escort you and your carry on luggage off the ship, have porters to retrieve your checked luggage, and walk you and said luggage right up to the front of the line and out through customs. The entire process took less than 10 minutes and that included walking from our stateroom to the shore. They were so quick; we ended up having to wait for our hotel greeter, because I had scheduled her for half an hour after I had planned on disembarking. If you are planning on staying in Venice and your hotel offers a “meet and greet”, and it is within your budget, take it. We stayed at the Hilton Molina Stuckey, the greeter met us at the exit point for our ship, got a trolley for all of luggage (an embarrassing amount to be honest), then guided us over to where the water taxi line was. Ah, but did we wait in line? No, she had already called a taxi, and when ours arrived after just a few minutes, we went straight on, our luggage right behind us. We enjoyed the Hilton, and it was nice to have the free shuttle back and forth to St. Mark’s Square. Not sure if I would stay there again. Dining Main Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill, Rudi’s Sel de Mer, Canaletto, Lido Buffet, Dive In and Gala Nights; we did them all. Just a note: we are not only food lovers, but in the restaurant business. Main Dining Room- We had any time dining, but the very first thing the Neptune Lounge Concierge did for us was to make our dinner reservations for the entire cruise. She reserved us a table for four every night at whatever time we wanted and for any of the restaurants we desired. This was a great perk. We had the same lovely window table on the port side of the ship each time we dined in the main dining room. The food was decent, not great. We rarely found something we would not eat, but we did find things we would not order again. The presentation was very good and our service was excellent. We brought our own wine, choosing to pay the corkage rather than order from the wine list. This is a nice “perk” to traveling on Holland America Lines, you can bring as much wine as you want, you just pay corkage if you enjoy it in one of the restaurants. Our wine stewards in the main dining room were also very good. Pinnacle Grill- We ate dinner here once during the voyage, and enjoyed our meal and service. The food was definitely a cut above. (my husband had the lamb, and said it was excellent!) Rudi’s Sel de Mer- Best thing about this meal was the plates, they were adorable. That is not a great review, and I am having a hard time deciding if we did not enjoy it as much because our service was really sub-par this evening or if the food was really that bad. I had the soufflé, I do not recommend it, I did not eat mine. Probably should have ordered one of the fish entrees, but was not in the mood for fish that night. The escargot was better than in the main dining room according to our friend who ordered it, but still not fabulous. Canaletto- Our favorite Specialty restaurant, we enjoyed this meal and thought it was a great way to spend the evening. We were concerned about being in a section of the buffet seating, but we didn’t even notice it once we were seated. Our servers did a great job, and we had a really nice relaxed meal. We liked the “family style” service and got to enjoy so many different items this way. I recommend you give it a try. Lido Buffet-We only ate at the buffet a few times each for breakfast and lunch. It was very nice and plenty of options. We never had to wait too long for anything, although finding a table at breakfast time was a bit of a chore. Dive In- Not impressed. Gala Nights-We had ordered a tuxedo rental for my husband, and he wore it both gala nights. While it is true, we were among the few who were “dressed to the nines”, we were not alone, and we did not mind what the other guests chose to do. Meals on Gala Nights were again decent, not fabulous. Sorry about the long winded review- I did mention we are in the restaurant business. If people make the difference, and I believe they do, Holland America’s dining staff was all around fabulous. The ship-We found the Oosterdam to be a lovely ship, I did not notice any problems and there seemed to be enough of everything for the amount of people on board. We were able to find chairs when and where we wanted them in any public area we chose to go. We never waited long for an elevator, and were able to get around fairly quickly; this despite the ship being fully booked. We did not enjoy the tenders much, but only used them for three of the ports. Truthfully, it was only really bad once, we were among the first on, and then sat in the heat while it everyone else got on, and the ride was a little choppy. But overall, we would still choose to go ashore, even knowing what it might be like in the tender. Excursions- I did mention that we booked this cruise a year ahead, and began our planning right away. Well, it paid off! We were able to investigate our ports, and decide ahead of time what we wanted out of each stop. We did not book any excursions through Holland America, but made all arrangements ourselves in advance online. Barcelona- We arrived Friday Evening with a Monday departure. We attended the Signature Event put on by Holland America for their suite guests, but did not take advantage of the hotel or transfers. I will do a separate review of our signature event, but will say that it was very nice and one of the highlights of our stay in Barcelona. Since we had time, we saw the city at our own pace. We hired a driver for six hours one day, and then walked around on our own the next. We saved La Sagrada Familia for Monday morning, and had pre-purchased tickets. This is a city we would love to return to. We stayed at the Hotel Arts down by the beach, and really liked the hotel. We had our first meal in a Michelin starred Restaurant at the Enotica by Paco Perez inside the Hotel Arts. Now that is fabulous food. The included breakfast buffet was top notch! Marseille-(Outside Excursion with Provence Private Tours) We had a private guide/driver for the four of us, deciding to take in the market at Aix-en-Provence, Cassis and Marseille. The total cost was 472 Euro plus tip. Our guide picked us up right outside the ship, and we were off. We arrived in Aix-en-Provence ahead of the buses, and were able to see the market before the crowds descended on the small town. We enjoyed browsing through the market, even purchased a few small items and some food on the go, and then wandered the back streets for a bit. Then back in the van and off to Cassis, where we had a wonderful seaside lunch. Our last stop was the Basilica of Marseille. We truly enjoyed our day. So much to see, and our guide was very knowledgeable and very helpful in assisting us in what sights to take in within the allotted time. Monaco- (On our own) We did Monaco on our own. We took the tender to the shore (this was the least pleasant part of the day), and decided to gawk at the yachts in the harbor for a while. Truthfully, my husband probably would have been okay with just that. But we kept walking, finally arriving at the Casino, after taking a very scenic, but circuitous route. After a drink and a bit of gambling, we moved on in search of a passport stamp. Sure enough, Rick Steves knows what he is talking about. On the other side of the gardens, away from the Casino is a Tourist Information Center where they will stamp your passport. It was quick and fun for me. Note on Monaco, Taxis seem rather scarce. We saw a taxi stand near the casino with a line and in the half hour we watched, not one taxi came. Luckily, it was a short walk back to the dock. Livorno (Florence) We had hired a private driver (very specifically, not a guide according to the company’s website) for this port. While they say their drivers are not guides; they are. They just cannot accompany you inside the museums. Our driver, Simona, was fabulous. We had early tickets to the Academia to see The David, and she not only got us right there, but made sure we knew exactly how and where to exchange our vouchers for the tickets, and where we would enter (a small roped off area without a line). After the museum, we met up with Simona, and did an absolutely fabulous walking tour of Florence. Since we had time, we made a stop in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, and get a gelato. I am so glad we did. I don’t care how many pictures you have seen of The David and the Leaning Tower, IT IS NOT THE SAME. We used Rome in Limo, and requested an upgrade to a van, even though there was only four of us, we did not want to be split up in a sedan (total cost 550 Euros). Civitavecchia (Rome) We had booked a private tour with Rome in Limo, and could not have been happier. Franco was the best! He was funny, thoughtful, and full of information. We had early reservations at the Colosseum, and he spent the drive in giving a history of the Colosseum, and explaining its layout. We had a list of pre-chosen sites we wanted to see, and not only did we get to every one of them, but Franco managed a few more we had not even known about. We did not try and see the Vatican on this day, deciding it would take more time than we wanted to give up. My DH and I went back to Rome after our cruise ended, and gave our visit to the Vatican the time it deserved. Naples- We decided that we really wanted to see the Blue Grotto, so we hired a private boat with Captain from Capri Boats. If this is something you decide to do, I highly recommend Capri Boats. They have a good selection of boats, and they took excellent care of us. The Blue Grotto is a once in a lifetime experience. By that I mean you really need to do it, but probably only once. It is as gorgeous as it looks in pictures, and the boats and oarsmen are a site to behold. Once we had done that, we cruised around the island, getting to see the other tourist sites along the way. Our captain was friendly and knowledgeable. We stopped for lunch near the docks. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, because it was very good. It had seating right on the water, and everyone in our group loved their chosen items. We cruised along the Amalfi Coast on our way back to port. A lovely, relaxing day! Toarmina- We decided to do this on our own, and as it turns out, it was not our best day. We were too hot, the ride in the tender was miserable, and we did not really have a good plan. If I had it to do over, I would make the trek to Taormina, either with a pre-arranged driver or a taxi. Not much to see or do in Messina. We ended up heading back to the ship early to relax. Corfu- We had once again decided on hiring a private boat for the day. This one included lunch cooked right on the swim step. Nautilus Daily Tours was our choice, and I would recommend them to anyone who would like a real taste of Greece while enjoying the shore. Our boat hugged the shore stopping often at hidden beaches, where we were free to get out and swim around. The water is not very salty near the shore as there are several fresh water springs, which let out into the ocean. The food was excellent Greek Village food and there was more than enough for everyone. We pre-ordered our entrées from a choice of fish, chicken or pork. All were delicious! This was probably my favorite day, mostly because it was so different from every other day (Even our day in Naples). Okay, it was really because we are of Greek descent, were in Greece, we all knew the language, and we felt like we were home (although, all but one of us have never lived in Greece). Dubrovnik- We had a long day in Dubrovnik, and our goal was really just to get out early and walk the walls all the way around. Unfortunately, our behind the scenes tour was this morning, and as I mentioned, it was postponed, and then once it did start, lasted about two hours. Not a big deal since we were going to be in port until Midnight. We all enjoyed Dubrovnik, and toured the churches, streets and just in general had a nice leisurely stroll around town. We did make it up to the wall, and all but one of us (okay, it was me) made it all the way around on the walls. This city is totally doable on your own. It was beautiful, and fun to just explore. Kotor- We heard several people say Kotor was not that fabulous, that the real treat was the sail in/sail out through the mountains. I disagree. While the sail in was too early for us, the sail out was gorgeous, and we thoroughly enjoyed it from our balcony; the city was just lovely. We separated from our friends for the day, and each couple explored on their own. We had a nice lunch at a small café, spent time at the farmer’s market, explored the city walls, and just had a wonderful time. This was a short day (7 am-2pm) and that is probably the right amount of time. But please don’t stay on the ship and miss this beautiful city. Venice- Our final stop. We stayed overnight and disembarked here. Our small group chose to stay one extra night in Venice, so that we would have more time. Since we arrived around 1:00 on a Friday, but would need to disembark the next morning, had we been leaving directly from the ship to the airport, we would have had very little time in the beautiful city. We did not do tours, but rather read extensively before visiting, and had a plan and a checklist of things to see and do. The first day we took the jam packed water taxi to St. Mark’s Square. We began our journey there and just walked around seeing the sites. We ended up walking almost all the way back to where our ship, along with four others, was docked. I really wanted to take a trip down the Grand Canal, but did not want to get back on an overcrowded water bus. We finally decided to spend the money on private water taxi to take us down the Grand Canal and back to St. Mark’s square. This was one of the highlights of the day. While there is a surcharge to go down the Grand Canal, our driver made it worth the 90 Euros it cost. He went slowly, pointed out interesting sites, and answered all our questions. It was definitely an adventure I will treasure. We were staying another day, so we saved the necessary Gondola ride for the next night, and just enjoyed the city. I can’t imagine not having that extra day; we really needed it to see Venice properly. After all that, I am still not sure whether cruising is for us, I guess we will just have to take another one. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose this cruise for two reasons: price and port intinerary. We were not disappointed! We went on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise with only 1 sea day. This was a cruise to be active and see many European cities. Here are some thoughts ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two reasons: price and port intinerary. We were not disappointed! We went on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise with only 1 sea day. This was a cruise to be active and see many European cities. Here are some thoughts on the cruise: -Food was amazing (all of it) I’ve only cruised on Disney before and Holland food is better. -Stateroom was very nice with a great balcony and new TV with great on demand options. -All shore excursions through Holland were very well organized and enjoyable. -Main stage shows were terrible. I tried to watch 3 shows during our cruise and had to walk out each time. -We loved Lincoln Center stage piano quintet, the B.B. Kings blues lounge and the piano duo. High quality musicians on this ship. - The service was phenomenal. - The ship is old and a bit out dated. It kind of looks like a cheap Vegas casino. However, the superb food quality, great ports, fabulous service and very nice stateroom made up for the old ship. -spa was very luxurious. We purchased the spa pass and enjoyed using the giant hot tub and stone loungers. -age of passengers was mostly 65+ We only saw 1 other couple on the ship in their 20s. Overall we loved this cruise! The Oosterdam is great ship if you care about getting off the ship and exploring the ports. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My wife and I chose to cruise with HAL based on the excellent itinerary offered from Barcelona to Venice and all the amazing ports in between. We have taken 28 cruises prior to this cruise on June 5, 2018 with HAL. Most of our cruising ... Read More
My wife and I chose to cruise with HAL based on the excellent itinerary offered from Barcelona to Venice and all the amazing ports in between. We have taken 28 cruises prior to this cruise on June 5, 2018 with HAL. Most of our cruising has been in the Caribbean. The boarding process on the HAL Oosterdam at the Port of Barcelona was amazing and the best we have ever experienced. There were many agents available to process the passengers and this portion of the cruise was a breeze. Once onboard the Oosterdam, it just got better. The Lido Market food service for breakfast, lunch and dinner was outstanding. There were several days that we did not return to the ship until late. Some of the days we ate in the Main Dining, which was excellent as well, but the Lido Market was a great alternate for dinner. There were so many choices at all servings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was delicious in all areas. The stateroom staff were awesome. The food staff were awesome. Our experience was nothing but amazing with the entire staff. Always greeted with a smile and "Hello!" The entertainment in the Main Stage theater was outstanding as well as the B.B. King and Billboard areas of the ship. Super! Super! Super! The Oosterdam just came out of dry dock in April. The ship both internal and external was beautiful! HAL has earned a new customer on future sailings. Bob & Christi Houston, TX Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was our first cruise, after friends had told us about their own experiences. We chose Holland America because of their reputation as a well-established line, and we really appreciated the relaxed and professional service. The food was ... Read More
This was our first cruise, after friends had told us about their own experiences. We chose Holland America because of their reputation as a well-established line, and we really appreciated the relaxed and professional service. The food was excellent and the entertainment met all our needs. The ports were great (though we didn't use any of the pre-planned excursions) and getting on and off the ship presented no problem at all for us in our advancing years! We booked an interior cabin, and had wondered about whether or not we would feel rather confined, but nothing was further from the truth - in fact, it was great to sleep through till breakfast time, without light filtering through any windows! Although there were nearly 2,000 guests on board, we didn't feel crowded at all, and there were plenty of open public areas to relax in and read. All in all, the best holiday we have experienced ... and we are now 'cruiseaholics'! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Our third cruise, but the first with Holland America Line. Boarding as the usual stressful super heated mayhem. I wish cruise lines could learn something from Middle Eastern air carriers such as Emirates in that respect. The ship was clean ... Read More
Our third cruise, but the first with Holland America Line. Boarding as the usual stressful super heated mayhem. I wish cruise lines could learn something from Middle Eastern air carriers such as Emirates in that respect. The ship was clean and well managed. That it was a Dutch boat showed by the fact that they had LGBT single parties. We (traditional married couple) booked a suite and our 'butlers' were great. Overall staff appeared to be happy and well taken care of. That's not the impression we had on a MSC ship. Ok, the good: - Entertainment (TV) system was airline style and great. - Super nice staff - Well maintained ship - Airline style PAs by the captain - Beautiful stateroom The not so good: - Complexity of beverage packages and their price. - A ton of flyers promoting extra cost stuff in your cabin every day. - The thermal suite package (not worth it) - The food was big corporation canteen style at best. We gave up on it and had great meals in every port. Still, overall happy and would book the same cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This cruise review is done by RicksClan 2 but we only have 1 CC account because we have to have different emails. :} RicksClan 1 used to be Pioneer Scion but we just changed it....I am more wordy and write most reviews. Bucket list: ... Read More
This cruise review is done by RicksClan 2 but we only have 1 CC account because we have to have different emails. :} RicksClan 1 used to be Pioneer Scion but we just changed it....I am more wordy and write most reviews. Bucket list: Barcelona and Rome with a Sept 4, 2016 cruise in the middle. This was perfect. We saw lots of places that would have been difficult to get to on our own. We took the initiative and booked our own tours, or just ventured out on our own whenever possible. Cruise Critic was great for helping to organize others to go with us. This was fun because many of us were on the same day tours in different ports. I highly recommend joining the tours after doing your own research. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Getting on at the beginning (taxi from B&B) and off at the end was a breeze. During shore visits getting on and off was very fast and easy as well. We were going to take the distant train to Rome, but joined with others for a van and were glad we did. We were drenched just walking to the nearby van in the downpour. Shore Excursions: Always did our own thing on cruises. Itinerary: Note: we always use Rick Steves for planning then take him along on our trips. :} We sure were glad we opted to end at Rome. For those going on, the departure was moved earlier and was cut too short to really see much because Rome is so far from the cruise port. Turkey was also cut out at the last. We stayed 5 days in Barcelona and 5 days in Rome on either end. Some of the land tours were headed by 1 person but a local guide took over at certain locations. What we enjoyed very much were the small tour groups we were with and the opportunity to mix in with the locals when we did our own thing away from tourists. We met lots of really nice helpful people and hubby had some very interesting conversations in Spain. Barcelona outings: Gaudi buildings (Sagrada Familia is a must), Montserrat...too far, too many people in very long line all at once. Not worth it. We got tired of crowds so ventured to Sitges, a decent beach town but we stumbled onto the nudist beach. Oops. Jazzsi club for a Flamenco show we loved. Authentic, tiny local venue, open seating anyplace you fit, affordable small bites. Non touristy but the show we saw was amazing. I didn't really know what real flamenco was till then. Girona/Pals/Palafrugell: Viator tours. Worst tour we have ever been on beginning to end. Too much too fast. No information the entire ride. Some simple ‘this is where Game of Thrones was filmed"….and very basic history. She knew very little. No mention of the cathedral or Girona stone. We were pickpocketed (and caught them) in Girona so there was no time to see anything because we spent it all looking for a police station which was locked. Be very careful. Guide wouldn't let us tell the rest of the group so they could check their belongings. Pals was fast in and out. In Palafrugel we were left on our own to eat and swim for about 2 hours. Swim didn't happen...no time, or place to change. Because we didn’t have reservations for any restaurants, they wouldn’t let any of us in to the places the guide recommended. One place took pity on us and squeezed us in. The entire time we sat there the empty tables at the other places remained empty. Reserved. That should never have happened on a tour Maybe we were just in a bad mood…..but others weren't happy either. Cadiz: we took the train to Seville on our own. Very hot! Take water from room and buy water when you get off train. The ship sells water as you get off but it is often more money. We had plenty of time to get to Seville and back. Gibraltar: No free transportation from ship to 'town' so we walked from ship to tram. There were lots of taxis along the way offering services up to top, but hubby knew they were more expensive than taking the tram. If you can't walk far, take the taxi because it is a long way. We took the tram up and walked up even higher and then walked back down to town. We don’t recommend this if you are not in good shape. We skipped the main monkey event but saw enough… a pink souvenir stuffed monkey stolen, a bag of oranges stolen, tug of war with old lady over her bag while onlookers watched and took pics (we were up above wondering why nobody helped) and a man's glasses stolen. I don't find that cute. St. Michaels cave is just another cave BUT there is an amazing cross-section of a huge broken off stalagtite. The view from top is amazing if you venture up. Walking down is long and dangerous the closer you get to the bottom. We had plenty of time but it was 8 hours of walking. We added another hour in town before returning to the ship. Malaga: Spain Day Tours trip to Granada/Alhambra very nice with Debbie. Great guide Maria at the beautiful alcazar. Alicante: Shuttle from Ship to edge of public area. We opted to take Rick Steves' advice for the easy to do L1 or L3 metro away from the tourist/cruise ship beach to San Juan Beach. I have seen many beautiful beaches and this one is one of the tops. It was huge, not crowded in September, and beautiful. When we returned to the ship we looked at the nearby beach - overpacked with people and not very pretty. On returning to the pickup point for the shuttle to the ship, some of us were lectured about being late. We had the paper that said what times the bus ran and we had plenty of time. The driver disagreed and was put off. On another note, if the ship head count showed everyone was back on the ship, it would leave port early, if possible. Palma- This port disembarkation process was confusing. We were told there was a bus for 5E each r/t to take us to town center or we could walk the 1 mile to town center. I was miffed that they charged. We paid for the bus which took us all the way to the cathedral area, not the 1 mile, several miles. Then again one could have probably caught the on/off bus and taken it to the cathedral, but I don't know. Cruise director said there was a tourist office at the end. (of what? we never found one where the bus took us). This was our 'funeral' day. My 96 year old father-in-law had died unexpectedly the evening of our arrival to Barcelona. We opted to not return home (7 other kids were there) and it was decided this would be the best day for the funeral and for is to listen in from shore as we couldn’t from the ship. We hung around town, visited the market, took the hop on/off bus the full loop. The castle Believer was pretty from a distance but not worth a separate trip except for the great views. The Cathedral was a lovely place to sit and meditate. Toulon: Tour to Marseille and Aix en Provence. Marseille was better than we expected. Aix was pretty but we ran thru it very fast and didn’t really get to see much. I wish we had more time there. We had a great group bathroom experience there. :) Very expensive waterfront restaurant with things most Americans don't eat and none of us were very hungry. There went my little French bistro experience… Calvi: We wanted to take the little train in town but the disembarkation guide from Calvi told us there wasn’t one. When we said there was and asked were was the stop she said to not go, just stay in town because that is where we should stay. Well, we did. We toured the fortress, saw a little tribute to the American pilots, took a walk up top to a cemetery and view, walked the boardwalk past the never ending stretch of rented beach chairs to a place in the sand for free. Water was too shallow to swim. Not much there. We should have taken the train. Monte Carlo: Italy tours Monte Carlo, Nice, Eze. It was a rainy, overcast day but we enjoyed the tour in spite of no great scenery pictures. Eze is pretty much a beautiful old town on a hilltop but it is all tourist shops. No need for a long stay if you are not a shopper. Tour included a stop at the perfume factory. which was a waste. Nothing was working. Their day off? I couldn’t understand a word the young factory guide said. She showed us the basics of scents and what may be a working demo on another day, and then led us into the store to shop. Nobody in our group bought anything. We were anxious to leave. However, Monte Carlo was beautiful and we really liked Nice. Livorno: ItalyTours. One of our better tours (but not best). We enjoyed the beautiful rainy drive to Florence (crowded). Most memorable was our Florence and Museum guide. She had a true love of the statue of David and her detail in educating us was remarkable. We came away with a greater appreciation than we would have had if we had gone on our own. We were dropped off to wander Pisa and take photos. Thats all. We loved the beautiful and interesting tower. Sadly there was a long line to get tickets to go up in the tower so we just wandered outside and took pictures. Rome: Viator trip to Vesuvius and Pompeii was our favorite tour of the entire trip. We had 2 amazing guides Becky and Sarah and their information at the end of our tour would have been very useful a week sooner! We should have done this trip on arrival to Rome. It seems we had an experienced bus driver, compared to the one ahead of us. The bus will leave you if you are late...and it did leave two people that didn't return when guide told all of us it was turn back time. Take water and rent the walking stick! Good Pompeii guide. Pizza afterwards went smoothly although I can’t say I came away loving italian pizza. Vatican- MUST get advance tickets! Even with them we didn’t know where to go. We found a guard that said ‘stand there’ and eventually he let us in the line. 40 years ago things were much different. Too many people this time. We had a hard time keeping up with our guide and I lost her a few times with all the pushing and shoving. Stark contrast to the feelings one is supposed to get. No photos. Look, step, look, step, look, step…and eventually you are out of the chapel. Half our postcards we mailed from the Vatican Post Office didn't make it. Coliseum- we still haven't received our refund for the rained out lower level tour ticket. That lower level tour would be hard to do on a shore excursion. The Coliseum is a must do even with headphone tour. We went to the San Calisto catacombes via foot, metro, bus, foot…great day away from crowds on Sunday. I have to make a note that I am an avid geocacher. That, combined with the fact that I typically prefer to not use past paced tours and go at our own speed, where we choose, my opinions are a bit colored. We were not allowed time to 'see' as much as we wanted but it gave us a taste of where we would go back to. About the ship: Cold, cold, cold. We were in ideal Mediterranean climate. Outside was perfect. Cabins were perfect. Interior of the ship was a refrigerator. Many of us were wearing coats. The Queens Lounge where many of the events are held was a refrigerator. So we rarely went there. MainStage was only slightly better but we went every night. Only once did I feel comfortable inside and that was a window seat at pinnacle grill. It took us awhile to find our way around, which is normal, but this time it was longer. I had no deck plan map. The other cruises we had done gave us a ship map. When I asked for one I was told there aren't any because the plans are in transition. We had to rely on the maps at the elevators. We were glad our room was by an elevator so we didn't walk the wrong direction all the time, and hubby has a far better memory than I do. A printed map from home is highly recommended. I appreciated the hand sanitary stations all over the ship and as we returned. In spite of that, hubby caught a cold from others we had been on tours with, which possibly spread to others we interacted with before he knew. Unlike our last cruise, there was actually room to sit around the pool. After 2 visits I discovered there were 2 pools. :} (Amazing how long it takes to orient to the ships). There were always available tables and chairs when we went. Food: Because we were doing so many long shore excursions and traveling alone, we opted for the open seating which we thoroughly enjoyed. We were seated almost immediately and we met many wonderful people each night. When we walked thru the lower dining room we were able to greet many from previous dinners, or tours. This is a relatively small ship so you see lots of familiar faces each day- especially with the CC group. (btw, the meet and greet is worth going to) We learned that if you are seated at a large table (10 or so) that service is very slow. You wait for the table to fill before ordering. You wait for all to eat each course before the next. You skip dessert or take it with you so you can get to the show. You can also request a window table if you smile pretty. :} The food was good. I appreciate that the portions are smaller than we have had on previous cruises. I don’t have restraint so less is good. I felt free to order two healthy starters. Sometime about the 5th day I happened to ask the waiter (all of them are wonderful) if there was any way to get vegetables. I was craving veggies because those on the menu are mostly for decoration. a few slivers of something. He asked me if I wanted steamed, roasted, boiled…? Oh, JOY! he brought us a platter of mixed steamed veggies. Hubby and I downed those before our meal. We continued to order veggies thru the trip. Many items on the menu had alcohol, lessening our options to choose from.. Lots of seafood, which was good for me, maybe not for others. Menu got repetitive when limited. We also discovered a diabetic menu with yummy options. Too late. Tap water every night for us by our choice. At the end of the cruise I discovered herb tea hidden at the check in desk in the DR. One later reviewer mentioned there was fruit juice. I would have killed for it if I had known. Night snacking...we went to bed before the 'good stuff' came out, as we discovered one later night. Pinnacle was better than Canaletto, BUT we had complimentary tickets with our cruise purchase. I wouldn't pay extra for it. Service was very good. We chose to do them (reservation) on our sea days. For the first time ever, at the beginning of the cruise, we ordered our breakfast in due to an early start. It was there, it was good, I wanted to do it again. Hubby didn’t want to. I think he feels guilty. I now know after booking our next cruise on NCL that room service isn’t free anymore. WHAT? We then ate breakfast in the Lido cafeteria area many times when we had excursions and no time to wait in DR. It was impossible to find a table so we just started joining (butting in politely) with other diners that had empty spaces. Often there were tables with dirty dishes but we didn’t know if they were taken. The service was still very good and they tried hard to help us. Hubby loved the ‘egg lady’ and how she made omelets. It wasn’t until the last 2 days or so I saw someone at the pool with a HUGE chef salad and I was so craving a salad. The hunt was on. You can tell when you have been deprived. :} Another reviewer posted the staff will cook you something you request. I didn’t know they would alter the nightly menu because I did ask if alcohol could be left out and was told no. Activities/entertainment: Mediocre to great. Our favorite nightly was the mini orchestra group. I forgot their name, in the Lincoln center. Always crowded but it was nice to sit in the back and listen to the end of the program after dinner. On mainstage, the best was possibly Julian Gargiulo, pianist. The worst was the night of Flamenco dancers. We usually had a long lull after the mainstage show, wandering around looking for something to do before retiring. Nothing much to do. I didn’t go for the lively music in the freezing queens lounge. Not because of the music, it was good, just the discomfort. I would have loved to have had the Lincoln center open during that time so we could relax before going to bed. I found the show at Billboard not really worthy of my time but there were always people there with drink in hand. TV. Unlike other cruises, we finally have a very nice assortment of movies to choose from. Those shown in the theater were of no interest. Several days into the cruise we found the game lounge which had some nice options. For the most part, there wasn’t really much to do on the ship if you don’t want to listen to other people. No real outside activities. Some organized games we weren’t interested in. We just enjoyed the ride with fresh air from our balcony. Staff: I found the cruise director kind of annoying. Sorry. The Shore Excursion specialist Linda was pretty useless most of the time and I think we knew more than she did because of our research and planning. For example at a meeting about Gibraltar. Do the Taxis go all the way to the top? Does the tram? Can you walk up to the top from the tram? She beat around the bush and didn’t give an answer. Several of us wanted to know. She said she hadn’t been so didn’t know. That is her job. She had to be new to the route? When it came to departure for excursions, we never knew where we were supposed to go. The announcement said to look for a sign at the elevator. On the last excursion day I saw a 8x11 paper inside 1 elevator stating which floor to go to. I had been looking outside the elevators. Silly me. We often went in circles. Major props go out to the front desk staff. As mentioned earlier, my father-in-law had died and we had a remote funeral to attend. Elisabeth,from Munich, bent over backwards to help us with our needs. Unfortunately the staff was not ‘able’ to help us with our need to deal with a funeral. We paid just like everyone else for bad wifi to email out (make a copy before you send in case it doesn’t go thru) a tribute hubby spent our first sea day writing. Our room team Agung and Aries were amazing. Dining room staff -amazing. All in all, we would love to sail HAL again. I just post negatives and tips so others are aware, just as I hope to read in other reviews. I am a big trip advisor reviewer and don’t put much weight on a ‘perfect’ with no comment review. :} There were LOTS of very negative ‘never again’ reviews. Like a previous reviewer stated…’Were we on the same ship?”. I agree completely. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
The cruise was chosen as a good value option with interesting ports. It delivered in some areas, not so good in others. The brilliant - 1 service was faultless both in dining and staterooms 2 the stateroom was roomy, clean and ... Read More
The cruise was chosen as a good value option with interesting ports. It delivered in some areas, not so good in others. The brilliant - 1 service was faultless both in dining and staterooms 2 the stateroom was roomy, clean and light 3 embarkation & disembarkation left Celebrity for dead The average - 1 the entertainment ranged from very good to don't bother 2 the choice of ports was unimaginative. Spain and Greece were overdone, and opportunities to visit North Africa, Malta and Sicily missed 3 excursions were expensive The worse than average - 1 as mentioned in another review, staff weren't especially helpful to passengers doing their own thing in a port. Also, the written info provided was average. For example, in Katakolon, the map provided failed to show the railway station! There are only 3 streets in the town. 2 the tv entertainment in staterooms, as regards news, was poor. Like Celebrity, HAL must take the cheapest feed. Consequently BBC was forever giving us updates on South American weather, and the scope of news coverage was poor. 3 the coffee in the buffet was worse than airline coffee. Thank God for tea bags Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
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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