We selected this itinerary because of the many stops on the Spanish coast. In that regard, it did not disappoint. Malaga / Granada was amazing.... Alicante was also a delightful port. Calvi turned out to be quaint and charming. ... Read More
We selected this itinerary because of the many stops on the Spanish coast. In that regard, it did not disappoint. Malaga / Granada was amazing.... Alicante was also a delightful port. Calvi turned out to be quaint and charming. Likewise, Monaco and Nice were wonderful. The only port that was a complete waste of time was Gibraltar. 15 hours to look at a ROCK..... think about it. If you're given the option, don't bother. 9 ports of call in 12 days is too aggressive, in retrospect. Too much running and not enough relaxing.
This was our first Holland America cruise, and we looked forward to it with great anticipation, having heard so many praises of the line over the years. Our post-cruise impressions are mixed. The Oosterdam is a beautiful ship, and impeccably maintained. Our Neptune suite was comfortable and spacious - the recent refurbishment made our cabin look elegant and modern. Having the concierge service in the Neptune Lounge was a very nice perk. Happy, helpful people always there to tend to your every need.
The service on the ship - in every venue - was excellent. From the cabin stewards, to the bar staff, restaurant workers... everyone delivered top-notch, friendly service.
Where Holland America and the Oosterdam fell down - and fell down badly - was with the food. We're not trough diners... having food slopped onto a plate - no matter how elegant the surroundings - is not something we seek out in our everyday life, so it's not something we seek out on vacation, either. We took one meal there, and it was palatable. We like that HAL has its workers serve the food, rather than every guest slopping rations for themselves.
Sometimes, the food in the dining room was wonderful. And other nights, it was simply awful - practically inedible. The unevenness of the food quality made every night a crap shoot, as far as what we could expect. The presentation was always nice, but that which you were being served was often mediocre-to-out-and-out-nasty. Rubber lobster tail and soggy shrimp were among the more memorable failures. Likewise, one night's first course offering described a "potato and roasted kale soup with chicken sausage"....what was delivered to me was clear broth with a few potato cubes, one small kale leaf and CHICKEN HOT DOG SLICES in the bowl. In fairness, there was some delicious salmon, beef tenderloin and a frozen Gran Marnier souffle...all of which were wonderful.
We dined once at the Pinnacle Grill and it deserves every kudo it receives. The cedar planked halibut, as well as the Filet Mignon were both amazing. However, it seems to me, that when you're paying $550-plus per day for 2, you shouldn't have to shell out an additional $70 per day just to guarantee a good dinner.
Another night, we tried Canaletto.... they do a good job with frosted glass to try and isolate you from the fact that you're surrounded by the trough. The appetizers were very tasty. However, our pork loin was 90% fat...easily. When the hostess stopped by our table to check on how we liked our meal, the minute she saw the disappointment in our faces, she immediately said "oh, I guess it was too much food!" In other words, unless you love it, she doesn't want to know about it.
The BB King lounge was great - we spent several evenings there and enjoyed it much. The only mainstage performance we attended was a British comedian, and he was excellent.
The "formal", "semi-formal" and "casual" which we were used to have been replaced by "smart casual" and "gala". And, of 12 nights, only 2 were designated "gala". I would venture a guess that about 50% of the guests took the dress suggestion to heart. 25% did not differentiate between smart casual and gala...and the other 25% seemed to take joy in being complete slobs. This would have been more tolerable, had the Maitre'd simply grown a pair, and had politely directed people dressed in t-shirts to the trough. But no....everyone, no matter how disgustingly they were dressed - were escorted into and seated in the dining room.
I get that they are paying customers, too. But part of the cruise experience is following protocol. If you want to be as big a slob at sea as you are at home, my question is "why leave home?" Very, very disappointing. I didn't expect more from the public at large, but I did expect more from Holland America.
Between the frequently lousy food and the pandering to the lowest common denominator, the Carnival influence on the cruise line was painfully evident. This was our first, and also our last Holland America cruise.
We will cruise again, but I realized after this trip that we need to be more discerning and also reach more deeply into our wallets. Read Less