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267 Holland America Australia & New Zealand Cruise Reviews

In 2013 we did two cruises on the Oosterdam. The first was in March to the Pacific Islands, the second was a round trip to New Zealand in December. We could not get over the difference between the two cruises. Our disappointments started ... Read More
In 2013 we did two cruises on the Oosterdam. The first was in March to the Pacific Islands, the second was a round trip to New Zealand in December. We could not get over the difference between the two cruises. Our disappointments started with the same dancing shows yes exactly the same on both cruises...surely we are not the only people who go on 2 cruises 9 months apart? We and other Mariners noticed cost cutting in areas that first time cruises would not be aware of such as, inferior quality toilet paper. We also got the impression that the aim was to "on-sell". The cabin stewards did a wonderful job as usual, but it was mentioned to us that that were now having an increase load to service more staterooms. On the NZ cruise there was a pathetic variety of activities and it appeared that bean toss each day was a lazy uncreative way to keep us entertained! The Captain, Travel Director and Cruise Director on our Pacific Islands cruise were absolutely brilliant and handled difficult people and juggling change in itinnery due cyclone so professionally. By the time we came to the New Zealand cruise we had new Captain and Directors, all who had smooth sailing and we hardly ever saw them "out and about" "around the ship". With our Pacific Cruise, The Travel Director would have a session in the theatre prior to each port and talk about what there was to see and how you could get around on your own. This was not so with the New Zealand Cruise Director. If you went to him at his desk he only tried to get you on an organise tour from the ship. The food was still at the excellent standard that one has come to expect. However the female activity team member and the female singers in the band were shabbily dressed and below our expected standard. The furniture, fittings are starting to look tired and the carpet was worn on the main staircase. There was a strong sewerage odour on deck 3 stern hallway and the ship smelt musty. We did hear that in the next two years the HAL fleet will be fully refurbished. I hope they can last that long! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Thoroughly enjoyable 2 weeks doing very little. There is a full program of activities and events always happening on the ship so one can either do nothing or find something to do. Open Dining was great - no need to worry about what time ... Read More
Thoroughly enjoyable 2 weeks doing very little. There is a full program of activities and events always happening on the ship so one can either do nothing or find something to do. Open Dining was great - no need to worry about what time we dined however the one night we did find some friends to dine with we perhaps should have made a reservation as we had to wait 15 minutes or so. Rooms with balcony were perfect size - plenty of time spent reading and enjoying the fresh air but perhaps because the weather was in our favour! Beds very comfortable. Found the Lido Pool deck area closed up a bit much - not sure what the policy is there but a couple of days people looking to lie in the sun but half the cover was still over the deck. Didn't do any HAL shore excursions - the islands we visited are generally fairly cheap to get around having been there before, so found the shore excursion prices on offer way over the top. Main show attractions not overly impressive - a couple of singers maybe couldn't get a job elsewhere??? Final razzle dazzle show though was fabulous. Showroom seemingly full every night and one needed to be early to get a seat - however sitting up the back meant you could sneak out early if not enjoying the show! Enjoyed the casino - it was under-patronised on this cruise but I learnt to play craps from a couple of others playing and the staff at the tables which they usually don't do so was pleasantly surprised they were happy to help. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our first cruise and Holland America had been recommended by my brother so we had a bit of background on what to expect. The first sighting of the ship on Sunday 8 December from our airport shuttle service coming down George ... Read More
This was our first cruise and Holland America had been recommended by my brother so we had a bit of background on what to expect. The first sighting of the ship on Sunday 8 December from our airport shuttle service coming down George Street Sydney was amazing with the ship moored at Circular Quay towering above the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. From that moment we were impressed with most aspects of the ship and life aboard the Oosterdam. Let me get the few negatives out of the way first. 1. The shore excursions were totally overpriced compared with similar options available dockside. 2. The continual sales pitch to extract extra dollars from passengers was a bit "tacky". (Photos/Artworks/Sidewalk Sales/Wine packages etc) 3. Wine was overpriced compared to beer, spirits and cocktails. 4. Coffee was very average and only tea bags - no leaf tea option was available. Thats all the "cons" I can think of as the "pros" far outweigh them and were numerous. Our cabin 5171 was excellent and could not be faulted. The cabin service was first class with friendly smiling faces each day and all special requests met promptly and efficiently. The food and service in the dining room for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner were excellent. The Lido provided a good range and quality of food and seating was always available. The entertainment was excellent with very talented singers, dancers and musicians. The officers and crew were friendly and helpfull at all times and the process for embarkation and dis embarkation were timely and very efficiently handled as was the tendering process to shore and back when required. The open dining was an excellent option for us as first time cruisers as we were able to meet a lot of very friedly people from all walks of life and from a range of countries. All in all a very pleasing first cruise experience and we will definitely have Holland America as our first choice option for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We are still recovering from our first cruise experience! We had a wonderful time aboard the Oosterdam and found that we really had two holidays in one. We understand now why so many people do countless cruises year after year...It is a ... Read More
We are still recovering from our first cruise experience! We had a wonderful time aboard the Oosterdam and found that we really had two holidays in one. We understand now why so many people do countless cruises year after year...It is a fun and economical way to travel. I travelled with my husband, we are both in our late twenties from Melbourne, Australia. Anyway, on with my (point form) review! EMBARKATION -We arrived in Sydney around 9.30am so had time to kill. Boarding commenced at 1pm and the queue at this time was massive! I was pleased that we could drop off our suitcases, allowing us to relax by the harbour sipping wine, admiring the ship until we were ready to embark. -customs was very easy, we embarked around 3pm and there was hardly anybody else getting on so it was quick. THE SHIP -looked majestic in Sydney Harbour, sailing out was definitely a highlight (shame we didn't disembark in Circular Quay on our return) -tastefully decorated, beautiful, very elegant decor, always clean and tidy, never found it to be particularly busy in one spot and rarely had to queue for long which surprised us given there were 1,900 guests on board, -it did take a little while to spot some younger travelers (no disrespect intended!) but frankly, we loved cruising with an older crowd because they were so much fun and easy going I always felt safe on board, could leave my purse on the table with no concern of it being stolen, there were no drunk troublemakers and we could just have a fun time doing things like bingo and line dancing without anybody judging us!! :) -Only a small group of kids on board and they seemed to be well taken care of by the kids club. Aside from often taking up the pool and hot tubs, the kids were fine and not too rowdy! ACTIVITIES -a very good range of activities every hour to choose from. Particularly liked the sail away BBQ's, bingo, trivia, game shows and karaoke competitions. -well organised, Jazzy (show host) and Michael (cruise director) were especially vibrant and entertaining. -even if there were no activities of interest on, there was always a band playing somewhere or a cocktail calling our name! -only used the Lido pool once, didn't go in the Sea View pool as the wind was always unpleasant on the decks! The one time we used the pool it was quite literally standing room only. Hot tubs were very powerful! -We used the Greenhouse spa, my husband had a full body massage on his birthday and said it was great. I used the hydrotherapy whirlpool thingy and the thermal suite which was very relaxing and a nice quiet space. The staff here were very helpful. SERVICE -Majority of the staff are from Indonesia and the Phillippines, very sweet natured, gentle and welcoming, always remembered our names and did a great job servicing our room. No complaints! PORTS/SHORE EXCURSIONS -I noticed that next year, HAL will no longer be tendering at Gisbourne and going to Picton instead. Wise choice as we were back on the ship within an hour in Gisbourne, not much to do here. Otherwise, happy with the ports of call although for first timers to NZ, I think a campervan type holiday would have been better to see inland and particularly more of the south island. -we did not book any excursions with the ship as found them very overpriced and not of interest to us. We pre-booked just 2 tours with private companies in Akaroa and Napier and also hired a car to drive around Rotorua/Hobbiton. Both tours were custom designed for cruise ship passengers, picking us up at the dock and getting us back with plenty of time to spare. -we were very impressed with how quickly the ship gets all the passengers on and off especially when tendered, communication was great and the ships shuttle buses were plentiful once in town. CABIN -verandah suite, very comfortable bed, quiet, spacious, shower temperature always perfect, balcony was great especially for cruising the Fjordland whilst enjoying our breakfast. -TV had basic channels, only news was CNN, sport and movie channels, movies very repetitive. Would have liked a channel with talk shows/sitcoms etc as we actually did spend a lot of time in our room. There was a catalogue of free DVDs to borrow but we didn't do this. -I found I would wake up most nights shivering and there were no spare blankets in the room, resorted to covering myself with the robe! DINING -we only visited the dining room once, had any time dining and didn't realise we would be sharing with others at a table. Specialty dining booked out very quickly so we had a combination of room service and lunch at the Terrace Grill, but had most of our meals at the Lido buffet. -a friend recently cruised with Carnival and said that room service was not complimentary and I know that with P&O, you have to pay for some food after 4pm. -Breakfast was always delicious and filling, loved the salad bar and pizza/pasta station. Very good quality food overall and room service was very good too! -We liked the convenience of grabbing a burger by the pool and the mexican buffet was really nice! -We had our fair share of cocktails on board, all reasonably priced compared to other lines and delicious! My favourites were Fashionista, Tropical Cable Car and Ultra Strawberry Lemonade. -Found ourselves at the Ocean Bar and Crows Nest most nights, having a drink and listening to great live music. -Only suggestion would be more drink service in the Lido buffet as we often struggled to find a waitress while we were eating. Service was abundant by the pools. Perhaps a soda fountain would be good too with free drinks just during dining hours?!? Hmm...not sure if that will ever happen! ENTERTAINMENT -Fantastic!!!! 10/10!!! Shows in the Vista lounge every night at 8pm and again at 10pm. Filled up very quickly so we would try to arrive at least 15 mins early to get a booth at the front. -The "HAL Cats" band was great, as I said earlier there was always some form of entertainment happening on the ship. The game shows, "Dancing with the Stars" competition and karaoke were thoroughly entertaining. -Only critique, I purchased a DVD of the entertainment expecting full length recordings of each show but was disappointed with a "highlights" compilation. If I'd known the shows weren't recorded, I would have done so myself! Would love to watch them all again :( -In regards to internet connection: it was very slow as expected, especially in our cabin. At every port, there were "Free WiFi" stickers everywhere so in hindsight, I wouldn't have purchased an internet plan on board. DISEMBARKATION -Again, very easy, well organised process. We were off the ship and in a taxi within 30 minutes. -Had to leave our suitcases outside our cabin by midnight the night before so had to think ahead regarding clothes and supplies for the next morning. -Was expecting to go through customs/metal detectors in the terminal but literally grabbed our cases, handed over our immigration card and walked out! SUMMARY -We absolutely loved our first cruising experience with HAL! Would definitely sail with them again, would love to try their other ships. -Beautiful ship, a bounty of activities and entertainment for every age group and service with a smile! -I think that cruise holidays are something you either love or hate. I did heaps of research before booking our trip, read A LOT of reviews/forums to find out if it was for us. My advice for first time cruisers is do your research and make sure you get the most for your money. -We were not disappointed with Holland America and the best thing for me personally was that I felt safe and relaxed surrounded by an older crowd. I hope you enjoyed my review and find it helpful! Thanks for reading :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My husband and I cruised to New Zealand on the Oosterdam for our 50th Wedding anv and to visit family and friends. We had a amazing time and really enjoyed all that was offered on board. My only comment is that if you have a problem with ... Read More
My husband and I cruised to New Zealand on the Oosterdam for our 50th Wedding anv and to visit family and friends. We had a amazing time and really enjoyed all that was offered on board. My only comment is that if you have a problem with walking, there really is a lot of it to do between Dining at one end of the ship and entertainment at the other end. Then again if you plan you time there are plenty of places to rest on the way. The food in the dining room was great, as much or as little as you want .Plate of Fresh vegetables available all you have to do is ask. Staff were so helpful and happy people. We did anytime dining and loved the fact of meeting lots of different folk. Our cabin was a partially obstructed view on the upper promenade, and very comfortable with king size bed and plenty of room to pack away our things. Cases fitted under the bed with no problems. Our bathroom was roomy for a cruise ship, included a full bath. WE enjoyed going to happy hour in the Crows Nest and Peter the waiter was always there ready and knew what we would order from day one. It is a great place to meet people. We had breakfast most days on the Lido deck and I loved being able to have a omelette made to exactly how I wanted it. The only complaint I have is the coffee leaves a lot to be desired....you could buy a reasonable coffee in the library. There is plenty to do on-board, cooking demo's dancing with the stars (which was great fun to watch) talks about all sorts of things. After talking to people about other cruises and hearing what they have to pay extra for.... I would just like to point out that the only things that you pay extra for are your drinks, coffee ect from coffee shop, Fine dining $25 for 7 courses (worth every dollar) and the Italian restaurant $12 (I think) Disembarking at ports was well organised and even getting on and off the tenders was ok. Thank you HAL for a wonderful trip and as a bonus I was able to catch up with family and friends at all ports cheers Margaret Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our third cruise with HAL, the others being Alaska and Mediterranean, which they offered to us at an attractive rate for being returning cruisers. ( Mariner's Society members ). We cruised a sector of the Australian ... Read More
This was our third cruise with HAL, the others being Alaska and Mediterranean, which they offered to us at an attractive rate for being returning cruisers. ( Mariner's Society members ). We cruised a sector of the Australian Circumnavigation cruise and found it a very pleasant way to get to Melbourne. The ship was sick with GI problems ( probably norovirus but this was not mentioned by name. ) and the crew handled this very well, making sure of hand sanitising, cleaning stair handrails, lifts, crew serving food in the buffet etc. The ship was beautifully clean all over. The food was fine. The ship was well furbished. Our stateroom was very nice - quite roomy as far as cruise accommodation goes - and kept well cleaned by our steward. We were in the lower portion of the ship and right in the middle so felt no rocking and rolling even in the Bight. Our major complaint was the cost of the shore excursions and the lack of or inaccuracy of information about the ports. The shore excursion guide was a lady with quite a strong accent and she was hard to understand at times. She seemed a bit unsure of herself, or the information she was giving. She seemed to say, " ... and things like that." a lot. What really made us furious ( and we were not the only ones ) was in Adelaide where we were docked, as is usual, at Outer Harbour which is quite a distance from the CBD. There was no shuttle. ( that's OK ) but HAL offered us a bus @ $AUS45 each for a return trip to the city. As we were there for 2 days, this added up to a cost of $AUS180 for the two of us. We decided to get a taxi and hope to share it with other passengers. Then we all noticed the train station 150m away from the dock. Hmmmm. We had asked about public transport and were told it was the bus or the taxi.Over the 2 days of our South Australian visit we shared that train with a large number of disgruntled HAL guests who shared our feelings. It cost us a total of $AUS15 for the weekend. My husband travelled at no charge on all forms of public transport as he is an Australian Senior. I bought an all-day travel pass for $AUS10 and also paid for a one way $AUS5 ticket on the first day. At Kangaroo Island it was worse. The cheapest shore excursion was a whopping $AUS200 pp and the most expensive was $AUS595 pp and this got you a seat in a Landcruiser ( and a meal ) for the day! We decided to go ashore , by tender, and have a little look and then go back to the ship for lunch. On shore, the locals had put on some markets which included a $AUS50 pp boat and bus excursion for 75 mins. It was the best thing we could have done and we had a ball. They were the best photos I took on the whole cruise. We saw seals, dolphins playing close to the boat, cormorants and learnt all about Kangaroo Island from a local. The tour operator was thrilled because they had a full day's work taking happy people out in their boat twelve ppl at a time. It was very personal. At Port Lincoln, a local tour operator cancelled a day's worth of work to accommodate HAL to be told the day before we were due that the excursions with him were cancelled as no-one had booked. No wonder HAL had hiked up the price so much. He was on the dock with a sign, trying to drum up business so he made at least some money that day. The cruise lines do tend to put the frighteners on guests about the local operators and saying things like "We guarantee the ship won't leave without you if you use our ship's approved tour" and "We have checked out these tour for safety, comfort and value for money." Fair enough. But give the guests a choice, not just an expensive option. We are not risk-takers and would not go quad biking and bungy jumping ! We have never had a problem with any independently booked tour or shared taxi, although we have been careful, and were disappointed in regard to the HAL Shore Excursions   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Embarkation and disembarkion were very efficient, cases were delivered quickly. Cabin: main deck 2666 outside in good position towards aft quiet. When opening cabin door were surprised how dull the decor appeared, quite tired looking, ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkion were very efficient, cases were delivered quickly. Cabin: main deck 2666 outside in good position towards aft quiet. When opening cabin door were surprised how dull the decor appeared, quite tired looking, the only colour's were in the 4 cushions, but was clean and tidy. The beds were very comfortable in twins giving a feeling of space. There is no fridge in cabin, and when reqested ice bucket did melt very quickly. Unfortunately a hot water pipe burst in hallway 7days into cruise, we had to move out at 5am due to water seeping into cabin just covering our toes. When opening cabin door found staff trying to suck water out with machines. We were not advised to take any action but thought it adviseable to evacuate cabin as did not know what was happening, so after advising the pursers desk, we went and sat out on deck to watch the sunrise. We did NOT receive any help or information from staff until we revisited purser desk at 2pm, when were told we had been provided with a temporary cabin until our cabin had been tried out. This took 3days to dry and the smell from the wet carpet was dreadful. We had no help with moving, we left most of our clothes in the cabin and just kept going back to check on the progress of the clearing up. We were not the only cabin affected, and a very small amount of compensation was paid. The food was OK, but the service in the dinning room was not up to the standard of a 5 star cruise. The only time this standard was met was when you paid for the speciality restaurants. Some passengers did not seem to dress up in the evenings as one would expect. The entertainment was very outdated generally, there were some exceptions, the piano bar was popular. But the cost of excursions were very expensive, and the experience did not always match the expectations. Although we did enjoy the cruise there were many things which were disappointing and many British passengers were complaining about the service they were receiving onboard   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We chose this cruise for its itinery:- Esperance, Port Lincoln, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island. We arrived in Perth 3 Days before Cruise, imagine our surprise when on a visit to Freemantle the day before the Volendam was due to dock, there she ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinery:- Esperance, Port Lincoln, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island. We arrived in Perth 3 Days before Cruise, imagine our surprise when on a visit to Freemantle the day before the Volendam was due to dock, there she was!!! We stayed at Miss Mauds in Perth- best food anywhere. Embarkation was a little slow, but fairly trouble free. Cabin was good size, with plenty storage, and it was nice to have a shower over the bath for a change. Delivery of luggage seemed disorganised. Paying $2.00US per day for a very small fridge seemed like overkill as it is a necessity in this part of the world in summer. BEWARE DVD rentals incur $30US if not returned. We rented a DVD on the 2nd night, and returned it next afternoon. there was no Fee on my account on the 2nd last afternoon, but miraculously a $30 fee appeared overnight. A quick trip to the Service desk had this removed, BUT other people there had the same problem, a bit convenient for the fee to be hidden among other costs on the account! We are 59 and 65, we lowered the average age, most people were in their 70s & 80s. The food on this cruise was the best quality I have had for years, some times the quantity was a bit small, but you do not need much on a cruise. Delivery time of food in Dining room was quite slow. Port information was woeful, the worst I have seen. One of the tour staff informed us that the cuddly Corella feed exclusivly on eucalyptus leaves which make them sleepy and they fall out of the trees. Entertainment was very ordinary. Like most cruise lines, the misinformation as to taxis, tours and public transport was terrible. And the ship tours and shuttles a RIP OFF. Some ports provided free shuttles that the ship charged $16 for! In short good cabin and food, service a bit ordinary, Entertainment Bad.(Except for Tanunda Brass Band) I would not think of doing a tour organised by the ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Pros: cabins, food and crews were great, loved being at sea. Experienced ships officers inspired confidence in ship handling. Plenty of things to do to keep busy. Entertainment was generally adequate. Enjoyed meeting fellow passengers. ... Read More
Pros: cabins, food and crews were great, loved being at sea. Experienced ships officers inspired confidence in ship handling. Plenty of things to do to keep busy. Entertainment was generally adequate. Enjoyed meeting fellow passengers. Mario was fabulous as compere of various activities. Relaxing way to travel. Professionally managed and efficient staff overall. Cabin was excellent, comfortable and sufficient room and storage. Very well serviced. Only one problem: We had to tape up three sides of the air conditioner vent due to cold, dry air dropping straight onto the bed and causing us breathing congestion the first night aboard. We could see traces of where thisnhad been done before by others. We did not appreciate the unhelpful Front Desk female staff who initially dismissed this problem and was stiffly reluctant to assist - when we asked to borrow gaffer tape, they made us sign a $40 deposit to ensure we returned it. The day after we returned tape, she rang to complain my husband had not responded to a phone message she left (he had given feedback to the desk staff direct) so clearly some inefficiency occurs at Front Desk. Cons: Totally inadequate seating in the cinema. Difficult getting a seat for theatre shows and computer lessons unless you turn up half an hour earlier. Not long enough time ashore (due to port fees?) and what possessed captain to bring ship through marvellous Sydney harbour heads when most passengers are still asleep! Frequent sales pitches for future cruises and tours are acceptable (though the tours are grossly overpriced) but we felt irritated that some of the seminars were disguised sales pitches for dubious and exorbitantly overpriced products and services. Before boarding I selected a spa offering, a one hour session for 'body composition' assessment and advice on nutrition and exercise to get me off to a good start on the ship - on arrival for my appointment at the gym I was asked what I wanted - when I said 'what the online advert offered' I was then told this session would be, in fact, three hours and a lot more expensive. After some confusion and poor management of the situation by the gym manager, I was given an hour as booked .... but the first 25 minutes turned out to be a sales pitch for their detox pills (see elsewhere on this site for negative reviews)! The body composition involved a bio electric impedance machine with no other physical or health status assessment other than brief questionnaire. (http://consensus.nih.gov/1994/1994bioelectricimpedancebodyta015html.htm). The rest of the hour involved a cursory run through gym equipment - at my request, as staff did not have a session structure as advertised online! Not good value and false advertising for this service. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
The agenda...14 days in Venuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji, followed by immersion for 14 days in New Zealand was great. The ports were wonderful, the activities available were plentiful and the agenda experience was outstanding. I wish I ... Read More
The agenda...14 days in Venuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji, followed by immersion for 14 days in New Zealand was great. The ports were wonderful, the activities available were plentiful and the agenda experience was outstanding. I wish I could say the same about our onboard time. Oosterdam operated like it didn't care if you were there or not. HAL, the once excellent cruiseline, has reduced itself to the lowest common denominator in the cruise industry. While their brochure promise Five-Star Luxury and treatment, they deliver 1-star performance. The company has decided that cost cutting comes before customer satisfaction. I really don't want to say anymore because I'll get in trouble with HAL defenders, but HAL needs to fire some folks and FIRE-UP their operations. They lack staff enthusiasm and it shows in the product they deliver, be it be the food or the service or the entertainment, Their "safety" drill...the one where you show up at your lifeboat station...is a joke. No one is paying attention and the staff we must rely (singers, dancers?) on appear to be incompetent and uninterested in the exercise. I can only imagine the panic in a real emergency! Our cabin was nice...about double the normal stateroom size. Finding storage space was not a problem. And it was comfy. The Neptune Lounge was nice, but hardly enough to justify the very expensive price of the suite. Some folks just love these suites, but I find it difficult to see the cost-value benefits. The staff doesn't seem to care if you're there or not. OK, no more on this. I'm already in big trouble with HAL fans. Go for the low price, but don't expect much except for what you can do for yourself. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
So, if you have been on Disney then you can't compare. The Oosterdam is old. Really old. Things work. This was pretty much a retirement people cruise. Only 1 family with two small kids. No teens and no other kids. Lots of old people ... Read More
So, if you have been on Disney then you can't compare. The Oosterdam is old. Really old. Things work. This was pretty much a retirement people cruise. Only 1 family with two small kids. No teens and no other kids. Lots of old people - like 75 and up. I think I was like the only 36 year old there. Oh yeah - really weird there was a dog - Chihuahua - on the boat. So you can bring a pet - I was told it was for medical reasons - really ? Shows are okay. Better than Carnival and Royal. But you just can't beat Disney. The only good one was the opera singer, but I guess people don't all enjoy that. I have to say they were creative since we were there for 28 days. The lounge performers are good. The standard bands. What was different was a classical violinist. Different from the traditional piano players and jazz bands you see on all the other cruises. Activities wise - the sea days are so boring - so we always booked a spa that day. Oh and you know the price always changes, but if you marked a good massage person you can get them to give you the same price for the who cruise. That is what we did. 2 hours for $89. Compare to Disney there is just way more to do and no down time. You just have some much to do on board that you don't even feel like it is a sea day. There was mass every day - like you want to go to church when you are on vacation every day - really? Oh the shops only open on sea days so if you come back early from the tour there was nothing to really do. There computer classes are great. Since they are free and usually a microsoft set of classes is like $400. The best part was that I found all my pictures and the techspet taught me on my own labtop. At least we got our money's worth for that. Look for the happy hour specials. We got 2 margaritas for $6 and that included the 15% service charge. But get those early. We found that when you get them early they give you more and in the big glasses, but people who came latter got them in smaller glasses. Cooking classes are definitely interesting and something different to do on the boat. Especially, since I'm a foodie. I love the tastings. The best part is that you get to ask the chefs questions - like hard ones at the end. We had creme brulee and I asked how to you add fruit flavors and able to compensate for the extra moisture in the creme. I learned a great trick that day. Truth be said there really is not much to do. The movie theater was nice and the lounge chairs are cool and you get popcorn. the only problem is that there is only like 20 seats. Get there early. we don't gamble and you know what every time we walked by there was like no one there - even on sea nights. Most people did not go to the pool, but quite a bit of people in the hot tub. the good thing is that they got 5. So plenty of room, not like on carnival. Dinning Room - this is the worst thing I have to say about the cruise. So Day 2, by the time I got to the end of my Caesar Salad there was a dead fly at the bottom of the plate. Day 4 in the Lido buffet at lunch a big fly landed on the chicken - They took that and threw it out. Day 5 the risotto was raw, but the grilled salmon was good. I kept having something wrong with my dinner from missing clams with the pasts, to no chocolate cake on the black forest cake - just cream and cherries, dinner taking 1/2 hour to come, sand in the muscles, gamey turkey - which if they just soak the bird in buttermilk - and the same with the lamb - took one bite and sent it back. So after 2 weeks of something wrong, the head waiter started coming to my table to check on my dinner and things got better. The best part of the cruise is the staff's service. So, compared to Disney - HAL staff is nicer. They remember your name and the staff always gets you drinks even if it is just coffee or tea. When my mom and I went to the Lido just to sit out and watch the wind servers would come and offer us tea or coffee, not alcohol. That is nice. They aren't trying to sell you something, but really serve you. This is what HAL is rated - really service and after cruising with so many other cruise lines the staff is the best. I also got sick on the cruise and the staff was great in taking care of all my needs and food expectations. So, find one or two staff and just keep going to them each time and they will remember you. You will get exceptional service rather than constantly changing and asking anyone. So you do get what you pay for. We paid $5000 for 28 days for 2. As compared with Disney, I used my Disney timeshare so it was cheap, but our friends paid $5000 for 5 days for 4. Disney you get the seafood in the buffet none on the Oosterdam. The dessert buffet is way better than the Oosterdam. More choices like crepes and really art that you can eat, not look. Over all it was okay. Oh if you get sea sick be prepared the Tasman sea is really bad. I had it bad. you can only eat so many green apples, but at least the patch and pill works to keep food down. Our friend didn't do as well and I had to give him a patch.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Never cruised with Holland America (HA) before so flying halfway around the world (from England) for a 4 week cruise a gamble but generally we were happy with the cruise. We would feed back direct to HA as they said they would send an ... Read More
Never cruised with Holland America (HA) before so flying halfway around the world (from England) for a 4 week cruise a gamble but generally we were happy with the cruise. We would feed back direct to HA as they said they would send an email for feedback on our return home rather than give us a paper one as they want to reduce the amount of paper they use. This is clearly a joke as every day we had mail to our cabin with special spa offers, deals in the on board shops which all went straight into the bin. The ship could do with some updating; some of the carpets on the stairways are very worn, some elevators did not work for the whole cruise; the sunbeds by the aft swimming pool all need replacement. Little things generally but gave a poor first impression. Everywhere very clean throughout the ship although we must say that when the bar staff remove empty glasses they should clean the tables - did not see this too often. Staff very friendly; like most cruise lines mainly Philippines and Indonesians but generally seemed very happy in their work and very pleasant. Shore time a little strange; when we were in bigger cities we had much less time on shore than when we were in smaller places with less to do. We realise that it probably costs HA more to dock in a big harbour than a small one but we had less time in Auckland and Wellington (NZ) than we felt reasonable especially as we had relatively short distances to travel for the next days port. Excursions and alcoholic drinks on HA seemed to be more expensive than other cruise lines we have used and some of the shore excursions were frankly almost robbery. A lot of the beers on the bar price lists were not stocked even when we left Sydney where presumably huge amounts of provisions were loaded. We were told they run out of Australian beers because there were so many Australians on board..... wow lots of Australians on board a ship where the cruise starts and finishes in Australia... what a surprise!! Surely which ever idiot orders provisions would realise this especially when the Ozzie beers sold were so much better than the American beers on offer. As ever (like other cruise ships) the coffee in the buffet and restaurant was weak and virtually tasteless but surprise... if you pay extra and go to the café on deck 10 you can get a much better coffee. Surely decent coffee should be included in the price? On board entertainment probably the best of any cruise we have been on with a number of entertainers flown in for a couple of days or so to do their acts. The in house entertainment staff much like other cruises; sequins and average. We would cruise with HA again and would recommend them over Princess cruises. Last comment really applies to (nearly) all cruises. When I stay in a hotel I never find a surcharge to my room to pay the people who work in the kitchen, laundry etc but HA add a nightly fee which they say 'forms an important part of the staff remuneration'. They should pay their staff a decent wage in the first place and not advertise the price of a cruise then add a nightly charge to pay their staff. It would never be tolerated in a hotel so why do people tolerate it on a cruise? The people in the kitchens, laundry etc probably work no harder than a hotel. I am not saying they don't work hard or don't deserve a decent wage but... PAY YOUR STAFF A DECENT WAGE AND STOP THE NIGHTLY SURCHARGES. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
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
Due to recent orthopaedic surgery I could not fly long distances so had to change our planned Alaska followed by Eastern Canada cruises to something closer to home. We were delighted to be able to embark at our home port. This is the first ... Read More
Due to recent orthopaedic surgery I could not fly long distances so had to change our planned Alaska followed by Eastern Canada cruises to something closer to home. We were delighted to be able to embark at our home port. This is the first time this has happened to our knowledge. A 1 Hour suburban train ride versus 14 hour flight! Unfortunately the Port staff were not familiar with HALs usual routines. We stood in the priority boarding queue but unfortunately none of the Port staff knew to serve us. Only after a complaint to a HAL officer was the problem rectified and I am sure it will not be a problem again. The ship was clean & well maintained and the fresh flowers were a delight. The night before we departed we received a second upgrade to a A balcony suite and as it was my birthday on departure day things started in fine form. The entertainment was great, this was the best group of HAL entertainers ever on a HAL ship. Not only the 4 leads could sing in perfect pitch but the remainder of the group as well. The Murder Mystery dinner was excellent. First time I have ever been offered this on any ship. A most entertaining evening with the best dessert ever. Dining was excellent in whichever venue we choose. Again we went Open Seating and never had a problem getting a seat at our requested time. We ate several times in Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto and in both places enjoyed the extra special service. As always all staff were cheerful and attentive, any request was dealt with quickly. The mature aged cruise director was one of the best we have come across. He managed to be efficient and entertaining with out too much of the "are we having fun" attitude. Our veranda suite was perfect for our needs and the bed, again one of the most comfortable at sea. We enjoyed using our balcony for a before dinner drink or occasional room service meals. After being disappointed that we couldn't make it to USA & Canada it was a pleasant surprise just how much we enjoyed cruising in our own backyard with a side trip to Indonesia. Yes, you can go more cheaply with other cruise lines but its worth the bit extra to go with an old friend who treats us so well. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Have been on a few Holland America ships and was the most disappointed one wasVolendam We did not get on in Sydney but Darwin. We found the staff quite unfriendly at the start and only into the trip did they warmed up and much nicer and ... Read More
Have been on a few Holland America ships and was the most disappointed one wasVolendam We did not get on in Sydney but Darwin. We found the staff quite unfriendly at the start and only into the trip did they warmed up and much nicer and smile. Out cabin staff were excellent. Cabin placement for us was terrible found we were not taken serious by the front desk they seem to say nothing wrong but finally they then agreeded with us that we were right but it took some time to get a vacant cabin.. Manager Dendi in Canaletto was excellent and thankyou to Oliver chef - sous in Lido as sometimes the food not hot and in Lido they always listened to what we had to say. They forgot we were Mariners and had to remind them on the front desk. Lido shut too early at 8.00pm we live in Queensland we do not eat that early and we dress casual we do not want to be made to dress up. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Oosterdam is a lovely ship. She is not one of those that caters to the thousands but has enough people so you can meet like minded folk and enough people so you can avoid those with whom you share little interest ( a polite way of ... Read More
Oosterdam is a lovely ship. She is not one of those that caters to the thousands but has enough people so you can meet like minded folk and enough people so you can avoid those with whom you share little interest ( a polite way of saying.....). For a long voyage she is excellent - you get to know the staff and your way around the ship so she really feels like home. I like Holland America as they take hygiene very seriously. We were very lucky too. We had first sitting for dinner (our preferred choice) and had wonderful table mates (thanks Cindy and Gary and Karen and David) and probably the best wait staff on the ship - Marihot, Rein and Anna. One down point was that the activities we enjoyed were all at the same time making choices difficult - we especially like our trivia - and that was on odd hours (one session during dinner times). Having said that the trivia was the best and fairest I have ever come across and the other teams were fabulous with a really fun spirit which was exceptional. Miss you " If We Only Had a Brain'' and "Better Than 12". For those who do not like sea days this trip may not be for you - you can always fly to Oz - if you like extended flight times. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Since the moment we stepped on the boat, we were treated like royalty. The stateroom attendants, waitstaff, bartenders and even managers knew us by name. Every step we took we had a welcoming smile, good day mam/sir, and may I assist you. ... Read More
Since the moment we stepped on the boat, we were treated like royalty. The stateroom attendants, waitstaff, bartenders and even managers knew us by name. Every step we took we had a welcoming smile, good day mam/sir, and may I assist you. We could not be more happy. The food was incredible. Lots of options for a variety of eaters (vegan/vegetarian/gluten free/ even low sodium). The staff kept us busy with activities daily. The shows were incredible! Comedian, magician, professional singers, dancers and musicians entertained every night. Again, we were extremely satisfied with the plethora of options on the boat. We had new movies running in the theatre daily and running on the tele in your room the next day. Our stateroom was an inside cabin 2691. We have been on several cruises before, and the size of this room was considerably larger than others. My husband and I agreed that the queen bed was more comfortable than expected too! We had a pull out coach that we never used, but it was nice to sit on and eat room service at the table. We found it difficult to live for 3 weeks without a fridge, but with talking to other passengers found that you can rent a fridge for $2 day. (not advertised) Just ask at main office. We did not have a tub either, but we wouldn't have used it if we did (too small). All port days we did our own thing. We were on a budget, so we did not book any excursions. We walked through the main port and hopped on a local bus. At Hilo, Hawaii there is the best travel company called Hoppa On, Hoppa Off. Well worth the money for what you get. Very friendly and affordable transportation that shows you the island. The rest of is;ands we took city buses for a dollar or 2 each way and had a great time. The snorkeling was the most memorable experience. TAKE YOUR OWN SCUBA MASK! We brought our own and so glad we did. The beaches would rent them for 15-20 dollars, but you can buy your own from walmart for $5-10 and be set the entire time. -Waikiki on Oahu Hawaii is beautiful- check out punchbowl cemetaary and the view. -Pago, Pago- take city bus for $2 and go to $2 dollar beach. Best place in the world! -Vanuatu- hideaway beach and underwater post office is amazing! -Fiji- take a tour to rainforest and waterfalls. Check out their local markets, huts and culture. Stay out of Suva! -New Caledonia- french speaking, so learn how to say "i'm sorry I do not speak french, do you speak english?" The locals will respond easier to that than "english?" You will get laughed at -Sydney- take the bridge walk. It's amazing!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
this cruise was nothing like we booked 12 months ago.Embarkation in Seattle was fine nice and smooth and first impressions of the ship were fine the cabin was good . how wrong can first impressions be. it was down hill from there on. the ... Read More
this cruise was nothing like we booked 12 months ago.Embarkation in Seattle was fine nice and smooth and first impressions of the ship were fine the cabin was good . how wrong can first impressions be. it was down hill from there on. the ship left Seattle one day late due to bad weather which we can fully understand as safety comes always first. but then it started they changed the port of Hilo for laihaini cut of a day in Honolulu changed the dates on Dravuni island and Suva in Fiji cutting of the evening visit in Suva. we have never been on a ship with so many changes happening to the itenerary as on this one never mind if you had private tours booked you lost your money.We have never seen so many unhappy people as on this ship. the food standard was very dissapointing in the main restaurant the food was bland a cold we send it back on a few occations and walked out. the dining room waiters were great they tried their upmost. food in the Lido was average apart from the Oriental and italian sections they were great. we feel the standards have dropped on this vessel from a 5 to a 3 we do hope that it was just this vessel as we have sailed before with HAL and were very happy.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Ingrid and I decided that we wanted to celebrate our retirement by taking a trip to Australia. And instead of flying the 25 plus hours one way we decided to take a slow boat down. We also decided that we would like to take one of the ... Read More
Ingrid and I decided that we wanted to celebrate our retirement by taking a trip to Australia. And instead of flying the 25 plus hours one way we decided to take a slow boat down. We also decided that we would like to take one of the re-positioning ships from the Alaska cruises. This meant a late September departure. We really only had 2 ships to choose from and both were from the Holland America Line. We were happy with that because we thoroughly enjoyed our previous Holland America trip. The decision now was which ship. We decided on the Oosterdam over the Veendam because it was going to more exotic islands and because their balconies offered us plexiglass instead of a solid wall...this might have changed but I couldn't find out that it had. Our trip started a little rough as we had to spend an extra night in Seattle to wait out the remnants of a Pacific storm. Fortunately we did because once we entered into the Pacific Ocean the next night we got into some rough seas. We then head down the coast to Los Angeles. This port was a necessary evil because we had to pick up roughly 700 additional passengers there who now have been waiting for an additional day. We ended up hiking around the port (San Pedro) on a beautiful sunny day. It was alright but the initial port was suppose to be Long Beach and we had arranged to do some biking there. Not sure why the location was changed but it happened several months prior so it wasn't as if we didn't get lots of notification. After LA we spent 5 days sailing to Hawaii...Pacific Ocean is a deep (5000 + metres average) and a very lonely place (not a ship or a whale or a dolphin to see just some flying fish). We arrived in Hawaii to a new port of call Lahaina, Maui. The other port (Hilo) had to be cancelled because we were running a day late. We ended up tendering into Lahaina. This was a very pretty port. The only complaint we had here was that a group that was with a private tour company got to tender in before the rest of us. This made for a long wait until we got into port. We spent the balance of morning walking around until our tour (through Holland America) was ready to go. This was a wonderful tour across the island to a walk in the rain forest and up to a couple of small waterfalls. We got to go for a couple of refreshing swims. Definitely high on my approval list. The next day we arrived in Honolulu. Our visit there was cut in half (down from 2 days originally) because of the late start. Honolulu is a pretty city if you like big cities. We don't but because of the missed day we missed our private tour into the countryside. (still trying to get my money back) Ingrid and I hiked to Waikiki Beach and the to Diamond Head. Both were very pretty and must see but both were extremely busy. The swim at Waikiki was refreshing but it took us forever to find a spot for our towels. Also, too many homeless people in Honolulu which made us extra cautious when we walked. They didn't bother us but just made us very aware of our surroundings. We then sailed for Samoa. This took us 5 days including crossing the equator and the international dateline. Pacific Ocean is a deep (5000 + metres average) and a very lonely place (not a ship or a whale or a dolphin to see just some flying fish). Samoa was a wonderful country. We set up our own private tour only to be forgotten about and left on the pier by our tour operator (lesson learned here is to contact them a couple of days before to ensure your not forgotten). Fortunately there were lots of operators to choose from. We managed to get one to do the exact same route around the island as I had initially planned. We circled the island and saw several beautiful waterfalls, lovely villages and friendly people. We snorkeled on the south side of the island. The snorkeling was okay but you could see that it suffered from a storm that hit the area in 2010. After Samoa we sailed for the Fijian Island of Dravuni. When we arrived the winds were high and I give kudos to the ships crew for still tendering us in. This was a small island beautiful island. Once we found the spot the snorkeling was fantastic. (if you are facing shore from the tender dock go right as far as you can - till the end of the beach). The hike up the hill is worth the view as well and is an easy hike. Next up was Suva, Fiji. This was an okay stop. Suva is a very busy city. We went on a Holland America organized hike into a nearby national park. Very much worth it. Saw a number of waterfalls and interesting vegetation. Fijians are very friendly. Watch out for some of the aggressive vendors near the port. Next up was Vanuatu. Beautiful island, wonderful people. We organized a private tour with Evergreen Tours to take us on an Around the Island tour. What a wonderful tour company and a wonderful trip. Ingrid suggested to them that we do the trip backwards. This was because the 1st stop was going to be at a beach for snorkeling. They agreed and thought it was a great idea because the rest of the organized tours were going that way. Off we went. We visited Melee Falls, a neat little World War 2 museum, had a great lunch, did some wonderful snorkeling and saw a it of the city. We even got back in time to shop at the market set up at the port. Just one word of caution. When landing be prepared to walk through a gallant of taxi drivers willing to take you anywhere. We then went to New Caledonia where we visited 3 islands. The 1st up was Lifou. This island had the best snorkeling of all. You go for a short walk across a little peninsula to the snorkeling location. There is no beach only a staircase to go down to the water. The locals recently fixed up the staircase and charge $10.00 American per person for the day to snorkel. This was very recent and caught us by surprise. Having said this the location was excellent, the money worth it and everything about it was well organized. To my disappointment there was a passenger that refused to pay and just walked past the locals and went down the staircase and went snorkeling. After snorkeling we hiked up to a pretty little church (must see) over looking the bay. The locals had a market set up at the tender port with food and lots of items for sail. Onto Noumea, New Caledonia. Here I arranged another private tour with Gateaway Tours to take us to the Blue River National Park. Again, what a wonderful tour. Alfred, the tour guide and owner did an excellent job. Blue River Park is a must see. It is as modern as any of our national parks. Alfred also put on an excellent spread for lunch including a couple of bottles of red and white wine. New Caledonia is as modern as you can get. France has spent a lot of money on this territory. Our last stop was Isle des Pins. Great snorkeling, great hiking (go for the hill just a couple of kilometres from the tender port. The climb is worth the view. This climb is not for everyone. You need relatively good shoes and a strong heart. The couple of Holland America tours offered was worth the money. One toured the island and another went to a small lagoon to snorkel. 27 days in these few words does not do the trip justice. Great trip, great ship, great crew, and met many wonderful people Read Less
Sail Date September 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
I have been reading a few of the reviews for this cruise and felt I needed to add my review. This is the longest cruise we have ever done and I was wondering what I would think about a longer cruise and I loved it. We are in our early ... Read More
I have been reading a few of the reviews for this cruise and felt I needed to add my review. This is the longest cruise we have ever done and I was wondering what I would think about a longer cruise and I loved it. We are in our early 60's, very active and have been on over 22 cruises, our 5th with HAL and second time on the Oosterdam. Embarkation was a breeze. We were traveling with friends who were in a suite and we were able to bypass lines because they had priority embarkation. We always book interior rooms and our room on this cruise was really nice, the biggest interior room on the ship, with an L shaped couch and a table and chair. The I category rooms are always a good option on HAL. We had one problem with our shower and it was fixed immediately when we reported it and they even called to make sure we were happy and gave us a plate of desserts with a note telling us how sorry they were for the trouble. Our room stewards were wonderful, Adi and Hamin. They took such good care of us the whole cruise. I like fresh fruit in the room and it was there every day for me. Adi always asked how we were doing and if we needed anything and he was always quick to honor any request. The entire staff we encountered on this cruise were excellent. I love the way HAL takes care of their passengers. Our dining room waiters were FANTASTIC. We had fixed early dining and Andri always made sure we were happy with our meals. He took the time to know our likes and dislikes and, even though I believe he was overextended sometimes (seems like he had a lot of tables to serve), he still was always smiling. The only thing that I found lacking on this cruise was the entertainment and activities. I thought the shows were average, at best, and think HAL could take a look at the Royal Caribbean production shows that I think are far superior. The entertainment that they brought in was mostly boring to me. The different lounge entertainment was mediocre, although we did love the piano bar. We like karaoke, but they only offered it in limited amounts. DJ Bruce was lots of fun and the highlight of all the evening entertainment offerings. If you are looking for a cruise where people party in the disco, this wasn't the cruise. We went in the disco a few times and were the only ones there, except one night where two ladies were dancing. The captain was entertaining and informative. The travel guide gave very good information about the ports and good cruising commentary when we went through Milford Sound. It was crowded in the Crow's nest during that time because the weather was cold and rainy and people probably didn't want to brave the cold. The cruise director was great. All in all, this was a fantastic cruise. I really have nothing to complain about. People who are complaining about this cruise in their reviews must have been on a different cruise than we were! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My husband and I are 4 Star Mariners. We did 3 HAL cruises last year (on the Westerdam, the Noordam and the Niew Amsterdam). This was our 12th HAL cruise and our 3rd time on the Oosterdam. We book HAL because we know that we can ... Read More
My husband and I are 4 Star Mariners. We did 3 HAL cruises last year (on the Westerdam, the Noordam and the Niew Amsterdam). This was our 12th HAL cruise and our 3rd time on the Oosterdam. We book HAL because we know that we can expect a certain level of service and amenities. This cruise did NOT live up to those expectations. I am not sure what is going on with HAL but if we experience the same types of things on our next HAL cruise that we have booked for June 1st, then we will start looking for a new cruise line. Here are some examples of why we were disappointed with this cruise. Room Stewards We always develop good relationships with our room stewards. On this trip they never came and introduced themselves to us and in fact it was several days before we even saw them. Not really sure they were even our room stewards. Often we left out the blue service card at 8:00 AM and at 11:00 AM the room had still not been cleaned. Dancing in the Ocean Bar We always eat at 8:00 pm and from 7:00 -- 8:00 we have a drink and dance in the Ocean Bar. The Ocean Bar always has its own band, separate from the in-house band the HAL Cats. On this trip the Ocean Bar did not have its own band, instead the HAL Cats tried to cover it. Also on most nights there was no music at all in the Ocean Bar from 7 -- 8. During the first 4-5 days I tried to adjust to what was available, however when the daily program showed dancing from 5-7, we showed up at 6 only to find the band was "on break". They then did not return until 6:40 and did not start playing until 6:45, then of course they quit at 7:00. This was the story of the trip "the band is on break" or no band tonight. Often when they were playing, it was their own music and not anything that you could dance to. After about 5 days of this we just gave up on hoping for dancing and music before dinner. The other issue was that on our prior trips when we went to the Ocean Bar we were always offered a small plate of hors d'oeuvres . On prior trips after about day 4, the Ocean Bar Staff knew us and knee our drinks. On this trip we had to work hard to flag down one of the few waiters to even get a drink and if we were very lucky, we might get some peanuts. Service in the Crows Nest Last November we did the Panama Canal on the Westerdam. Starting early on the morning that we entered the locks the Westerdam opened access to the front bow of the ship and on both the bow and in the Crows Nest, they served coffee, tea and had specially baked buns available. They made quite an event of it. On this trip, on the day we were scheduled to cruise the Fjords, there was nothing offered either on the bow or in the Crows Nest. Coffee was available for purchase at the Exploration Cafe, however they only had it staffed with one girl, so the lines were very long and she ran out of food by about 10:00 am. The Crows Nest started getting very busy by about 7:00 am. By 10:00 am the tables were covered with dirty dishes and dirty coffee cups. No one was doing any bussing of the tables. At 10:00 I went to the bar and mentioned that the tables needed to be bussed. They then sent someone over who cleared only my table, but at 11:30 when I left, the other tables were still covered with dirty dishes. The other incident at the Crows Nest was on March 21st, which was a sea day. At about 11:00 am I bought a coffee at the Explorers Cafe and then sat down in the Crows Nest to drink my coffee and work on a Sudoku puzzle. The Crows Nest was very crowded and I noticed a number of people making faces about the music that was playing, which was very loud RAP MUSIC. I went to the bartender and asked who chose this music and he said that the bridge picks it! I then asked him to notice that the room was full of primarily old people, doing puzzles and reading books. Did he really think that they were interested in hearing RAP! His response was "do you think I should change the music". Educational Speakers On all of our prior HAL cruises, on sea days they have always had an educations speaker and they have always been excellent. We always look forward to attending these presentations, which are on a variety of subjects. This cruise had no speaker! Just another example of cost cutting. Formal Nights I know that this is a very controversial subject, but this cruise gets the prize for the worst dressed passengers on formal night. My husband brought his tux, and we did dress up, but we felt that dressing up was a joke. Everywhere we went on the ship there we were in tux and formal wear with half of the other passengers in jeans and shorts. Even the cruise director did not have a tux on. I think that if HAL is not going to enforce the dress code, then they just need to abolish formal night completely. In summary, this cruise was not horrible; there were many things that were excellent, such as the entertainment, the service in the Lido, and dinner in Pinnacle Grill. But overall it did not live up to being a true HAL experience. We were not the only ones that felt this way. We had open seating and we found that many of the HAL frequent sailors were disappointed and that many people trying HAL for the first time had no reason to be impressed. I am not sure what is going on with HAL, but this cruise eliminated some of the things that made HAL special. I think that they need to examine the cutbacks they are making, or they are going to find themselves losing clients. The shore excursions on this trip alone were $2,200.00, so by the time I come up with the total cost of this trip, if I am disappointed by HAL, I may just be willing to pay the slightly (and only slightly) higher price for a line such as Regent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
On March 3, 2013, our day of departure, we arrived early at Barangaroo Wharf 5 in order to beat the crowds. Once there, we had an orderly check-in and then were asked to assemble with a group of about forty people. Apparently the ... Read More
On March 3, 2013, our day of departure, we arrived early at Barangaroo Wharf 5 in order to beat the crowds. Once there, we had an orderly check-in and then were asked to assemble with a group of about forty people. Apparently the passengers from the previous cruise were still disembarking, so HAL decided to treat us to a two-hour bus tour of Sydney while we were waiting. We had a nice tour around town and a stop-over at Bondi Beach. Once back at the Oosterdam, we were shown to our cabins without further ado. We were so pleasantly surprised by our stateroom; it was on the Navigation deck (8079), starboard center, with a gigantic verandah. The room itself was spacious and had ample luggage and storage room. Our two cabin stewards, Indra and Sutarno, were outstanding in every way. We got to know them quite well while on our twenty-seven day journey on the ocean waves. I would describe the Oosterdam as an elegant ship, neither dazzling nor garish. She was more cozy and comfy, with some nice artsy touches. Everything seemed to be spotless, which is, as they say, next to godliness. I noticed the profusion of hand-cleansing dispensers scattered around the ship. This gave me a clear impression that the management was dead serious about stopping the spread of bacteria and viruses through unwashed hands. Good for them! The food in the Lido Lounge was, um, average-to-slightly above-average most days. The best meals in the Lido, I think, were the breakfast omelets, Panini sandwiches, pasta bar, and dessert bar. The entrees could be hit or miss, depending on the day. There was also a little hamburger station at the Lido pool which served great burgers and hot dogs. A "Mexican" station was also set up by the Lido pool, and I hear the best item was the shrimp/guacamole/mandarin salad. We only dined in the Vista Lounge twice, and both times our steaks were as tough as a cadaver. With almost a month on board one gets a good feel for the ship's milieu. The Oosterdam was no exception, as we became settled into a routine on sea days. I know my husband complained a little about there not being much activity on board, and a slight insouciance by the athletic staff to organize sports activities during the day, especially table tennis. It would also be safe to say that there was very little activity for young children or teenagers onboard, as the Oosterdam is geared mostly for mature adults, although, ironically, the adults we spoke to all said that there should be more sports activities around the Lido pool area for adults. One of the more enjoyable aspects of the Oosterdam was the Crow's Nest, a lovely atrium-like area with great views and a nice little library and computer area. Each day the Cruise Director would host a Team Trivia game, and this proved to be a big hit. There was also Happy Hour at the Crow's Next bar and the Queen's Lounge, where passengers could buy their second drink for $1. I won't go into detail about ports visited, except to say that the process was very smooth indeed, even when we had to use the ship's tenders. One memorable occasion was when our tender was halfway between the ship and the Akaroa dock when the engine stopped. We floated for a good fifteen minutes and then, voila, the engines started up again. I'm glad they did, because Akaroa was a beautiful little town in a most picturesque and sheltered bay. There were many highlights of our cruise on the Oosterdam, not the least of which was our good fortune to meet some lovely people from Australia. These folks made our trip so memorable, along with the excellent Oosterdam Captain Arjen Van der Loo and his outstanding crew. All in all, it was a terrific experience and one I won't soon forget. 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
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
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