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13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
I'd sailed happily on the Westerdam last year 5 times to Mexico, but its sister ship was disappointing. The crew seems to be dispirited and bored, more interested in chatting with their fellow Filipinos or Indonesians instead of with ... Read More
I'd sailed happily on the Westerdam last year 5 times to Mexico, but its sister ship was disappointing. The crew seems to be dispirited and bored, more interested in chatting with their fellow Filipinos or Indonesians instead of with passengers. The Explorations Cafe barista is downright surly, with never a smile or a thank you, something I've never seen on Holland before. After 3 cruises on Carnival in the past month, greeted in the dining room by charming hostesses from 5 different countries, it was disappointing to see nothing but male Indonesians on Holland. My image of the dining room went to zero when I went to use the restroom next to the dining room one morning, only to be chased away by security, who had a table set up stacked with urine sample bottles. There was also a line-up of miserable-looking crew waiting to be drug tested. Has anyone ever seen drug testing done in a public area of a hotel, restaurant, or any other business? Would you continue patronizing a restaurant that would display to patrons urine jars at its entrance? Well, I'm not, I cancelled the 3 other Holland cruises I had scheduled this Spring. The second big fail was having surly contractors close off sections of the promenade outside deck for the entire cruise, from 8-6, so nobody could do laps, run, or relax, without having to turn around and go the other way. Several days they closed off sections on both sides, including 10 minutes before the charity walk they do on the last sea day. There was apparently no oversight of these contractors and no attempt to balance desires of the passengers to enjoy unimpeded access to the promenade versus their maintenance needs--on other ships they saved major maintenance work for port days. Everyone on the ship acted and sounded bored, from the lifeless cruise director on down. The same singers and dancers were doing the same dull, plotless shows I saw 6 months ago on an Alaska cruise (why can't cruise lines do like Norwegian and Vegas and put on 1-hour versions of Broadway shows?) As usual on Holland, the only people who were truly friendly were the Lido servers and the room stewards, along with the jolly captain, bragging about the beautiful, elegant Oosterdam (well, other than the bottles of pee outside the dining room). It's definitely a shock going back to Holland after Carnival. Mobility carts everywhere, older couples bickering like George Costanza's parents everywhere. Despite the tattoos and trashiness of Carnival, I think I had more fun there, the crew seemed to enjoy life more, there was music everywhere (not the corporatized piano duo and classical quartet playing the same programs on every cruise), and Carnival fulfills what it promises, whereas Holland just seems to project faux elegance to gloss over its money-grabbing and upselling. The lack of crew diversity and gender equality is disappointing (if you're not a male Indonesian you can't work as a dining room server or room steward). With every activity on Holland now tied to some corporate partnership, everything is now standardized, so I'll see the same piano and classical programs, the same cooking demonstrations and Oprah/BBC lectures on every Holland cruise, so there's nothing new or original. More and more Lido and outside deck space is being closed off by cabanas that I've never seen anyone use (even the airlines aren't stupid enough to try to raise money by putting a tent cover over a seat--at least not yet). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
Four of us sailed from San Diego on January 3, 2018 on the upgraded Oosterdam. Having sailed on her years ago, I was, with one exception, pleasantly surprised. HAL has always had good service, and on this cruise the dining room staff was ... Read More
Four of us sailed from San Diego on January 3, 2018 on the upgraded Oosterdam. Having sailed on her years ago, I was, with one exception, pleasantly surprised. HAL has always had good service, and on this cruise the dining room staff was extremely understaffed. They soldiered on but it was the slowest service I have had in 28 cruises. One of the staff told me that part of the problem was that the Oosterdam was going in to dry dock and that some of the employees had ben assigned elsewhere in anticipation. Now for the good stuff: the parts of the ship they have remodeled are just beautiful, particularly the Atrium ( don't miss happy hour by the piano,) the dining room, and the buffet area. 10 years ago the ship looked like it was decorated by a clown with garish orange, purple and red primary colors. Also, we sprung for a signature suite and it was outstanding, particularly with the large tv and on demand movies. I used to bring my own coffee and French press on board but there is no longer that need; the new coffee is quite good. The food as a whole was better than the other 5 HAL cruises I have enjoyed. A highlight was Lincoln Center at sea, where a piano quintet played a couple of times per day; the five ladies were so very talented, and the concerts were quite well attended. Also, the new Billboard on Board was terrific for those of us who love piano bars. Unlike in the old days, everyone who wanted to could find a seat; one nit is that the casino is next-door and way too loud, annoying those of us enjoying the musicians. The BBC Earth focused game shows were fun, and the MainStage video of the Arctic poles, with accompanying live music was a highlight. The ships shows were mediocre otherwise. Every morning I would take coffee up to the Crows Nest, which is so comfortable and do the NY Times crossword puzzle. It was so civilized. In summary, if the Oosterdam gets back to standard HAL service, it is a wonderful ship, and HAL should be commended for fixing most of the problems, and enhancing the experience for those of us who drifted to Celebrity and Princess simply because the old ships were ugly. I look forward to trying the other Vista Class ships once they are upgraded like the Oosterdam and Westerdam have been. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I've been on a lot of cruises and this was my first Holland America cruise. I had heard such great things that I was really expecting an amazing experience. I was seriously disappointed. Our cabin staff and a few other staff members were ... Read More
I've been on a lot of cruises and this was my first Holland America cruise. I had heard such great things that I was really expecting an amazing experience. I was seriously disappointed. Our cabin staff and a few other staff members were very nice but we also encountered a lot of rude employees. Every other cruise I've taken I've always been so surprised at how kind everyone is. People make an effort to get to know you and what you like. I can honestly say no one made that effort on this ship. I even had a few members roll their eyes at me after making simple requests. I ordered a drink and got the wrong one. I wasn't mad, it was a simple mistake and when I tried to kindly tell him I had gotten the wrong drink he was really rude to me. Taylor the cruise director was THE WORST! I spoke to several other people on the ship and no one had anything good to say about him. He's rude and very bossy. He took his games very seriously and often scolded people for talking while he was talking. One time people went up front to get papers to play a game and he scolded them for being late and told them to sit down and listen to the rules. I was shocked. I honestly couldn't believe this guy has a job. The assistant cruise directors were much kinder. Overall service was really subpar. It took us over 45 minutes to get burgers at the drive-in. The shows were just ok. The comedy show was HORRIBLE. We walked out, as did many others. The ship seemed like it needed some updating. The carpets were tearing on the stairs. There were a lot of areas that just seemed dated. The club with DJ was open only for 30 minutes every night, what's the point of that? Some positives: The food was amazing, I really enjoyed dinner every night. I also like learning dances from the Mexican Ambassadors, they were great. The cooking shows were fun too. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Ratings Guide: A - Awesome B - Good C - Adequate D - Should not happen F - OMG! Awful Factors reviewed (comments below): 1. Embarkation/Disembarkation - Embarkation - F - 2-ship effect - F - San Diego Port - ... Read More
Ratings Guide: A - Awesome B - Good C - Adequate D - Should not happen F - OMG! Awful Factors reviewed (comments below): 1. Embarkation/Disembarkation - Embarkation - F - 2-ship effect - F - San Diego Port - F - Luggage Damage - F - Disembarkation - A (see why below) 2. Ship - C 3. Cabin: - Availability - A - Cleanliness - B - Size - B - Storage - B - Bathroom - B 4. Food: - Main Dining Room - D - Lido market - C - Canaletto - A - Pinnacle Grill - B - Exploration Café - A 5. Entertainment: - Singers/Dancers - C - BB King - A - Billboard Onboard - B - Productions - D - Xmas Celebration - D - Main Stage Design - D 6. Staff: - Cabin Stewards - A - Guest Services - A - Wait Staff - A - Luggage Damage Handling - A - Captain Involvement - A - All ship staff - A Group Ratings: 1. Embarkation - F 2. Ship - C 3. Cabin - B 4. Food - C 5. Entertainment - C 6. Staff - A Overall Cruise Rating - C Comments Some background - I believe that all reviews should be placed in proper perspective so that the reader can better understand the comments. My wife and I are mid-60s. We are not drinkers (sorry, no reviews of bars) and we are not heavy party folks. We do not mind kids or enjoyment going on around us so that is not a factor in these evaluations. We have cruised before on NCL, Royal Caribbean, Princess. The general age of folks on this cruise trended more toward seniors rather than youngsters. 1. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkation, in a word, was a NIGHTMARE. There is no other way to describe the situation. We were unlucky enough to experience the dreaded "2-ship" effect. Every HAL employee we encountered in the process was very quick to blame the whole thing on that. The 2-ship effect - basically, the Oosterdam & the Amsterdam (both HAL ships, in case you don't get it) scheduled to depart from the same small port at EXACTLY the same time on the same day. Really!!! The narrow pier between the 2 ships was a sea of passengers, luggage, shuttle buses, tour buses etc.. There were no HAL employees in sight to direct the passengers to the correct luggage drop off line - which, by the way, was endless in both directions. The luggage handlers were rough. From the long luggage line, we went to the longer security line. More on the 2-ship effect - the Amsterdam was on a 15-day Panama Canal Holiday sailing. The 2 ships sailed together for 2 days, reached Cabo San Lucas at the same time. Passengers tendered off the 2-ships at the same time and the nightmare continued. I do not think that the San Diego port is meant to handle this kind of traffic. One hopes that HAL addresses this situation instead of continuing to schedule to, what one assumes, is their convenience. Our luggage was delivered ripped apart. However, in fairness, HAL did rectify the problem - more on that later in the Staff comments. Disembarkation was a breeze because we elected to carry our own luggage off the ship. That is not optimum for 2 seniors but, hey, it was infinitely preferable to what may have been. 2. Ship - the Oosterdam is a dated ship. It is not horrible by a long shot. It is a decent ship but it does not sparkle. My wife and I were comfortable enough. But, if you are looking for a dazzling, new ship experience, obviously, you need to look elsewhere. 3. Cabin: We were very pleased with the cabin - clean, good size, good storage, cabin safe for valuables, good size bathroom, excellent shower. It was available when we boarded - and that was quite a few hours before departure. Cabin 6001 is at the very front of the ship looking to the front. That was a unique experience for us and we enjoyed it. 4. Food Generally, food was a disappointment. Without a doubt, it was less enjoyable than any of the other dozen or so cruises we have taken on NCL, RCCL, Princess. It was not so much that it was consistently bad but that it was INCONSISTENT - some times, quite enjoyable, and then pretty bad. Main Dining Room - was the main culprit of the inconsistency. It is telling that, later in the cruise, we were more apt to go for the mediocre buffet food in the Lido than go for this promised "5-course gourmet dining experience" in the main dining room. The Lido Market - as mentioned, not brilliant food but not bad. Great range of choices and, for the most part, well prepared. The ice cream station, the Dive-n burger joint, the taco bar are welcome additions. It is very busy so finding seating was problematic. Canaletto - a "specialty" Italian restaurant. You pay $15/person. This could be one of the best, if not the best, restaurant we have dined in. Absolutely superb! Food excellent. our waitress was beyond compare. Her knowledge of the offerings, her service, her personality were top-notch. Truly enjoyable experience. Pinnacle Grill - another "specialty" steak restaurant. You pay $25/person. It is worth it. The steak & the dessert were stupendous. The rest was so-so. The seating was atrocious. In an empty restaurant with proper tables available, we were seated in this side room with low sofa-style seating. I was not quick enough to recognize the situation when we went in but, if I had seen the regular seating, I would have demanded a table. The Exploration Café - of course, you pay but the setting is very, very nice. Overall, you will not go hungry, of course, but the food left us clamoring for more. In the interest of full disclosure, we dined with another couple and they enjoyed the food. So, take my comments with a pinch of salt - which (the salt I mean) would have helped some of the preparation. :) Just kidding. 5. Entertainment - a disappointment. The Oosterdam singers/dancers group was enjoyable in one show, disappointing in another. The B B King group was excellent as were the pianist duo at the Billboard Onboard venue. The main stage productions simply cannot compare to what we have seen on other lines. For a "Christmas" cruise, the Christmas celebration was distinctly understated. And, I cannot believe the main stage design on this ship. Multiple pillars throughout the theatre totally block the line of sight from quite a few seats. 6. Staff - by far, the best strength of HAL. We were very impressed with the courtesy, friendliness, effectiveness of EVERYONE on the ship's staff. Well done, HAL! The Captain, Rens van Eerten, is very personable. He was visible and he stays involved with the passengers. Our cabin stewards were excellent. The wait staff in the dining venues is well trained. The Guest Services desk was very courteous and effective. They arranged for our damaged luggage to be stitched back into shape. Really, all HAL employees whom we came in contact with were impressive. A beef - the "communication" (Internet/Wi-Fi) costs are exorbitant - but, then, every line is the same. It just leaves an unnecessary bad taste in the mouth. Finishing up - overall, the experience was okay but nothing extraordinary. Would I do it again? Yes, one more on HAL but JUST out of fairness. Perhaps, this was not a typical HAL experience. It certainly was the most disappointing of all of the cruises we have done. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise mainly because it embarked from San Diego on a slightly smaller ship than we usually use. It's the first time that we have departed from a western cruise port and were curious about the recent refurbishment on the ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly because it embarked from San Diego on a slightly smaller ship than we usually use. It's the first time that we have departed from a western cruise port and were curious about the recent refurbishment on the Westerdam. Embarkation was very impressive and surprising laid back compared to the process from Florida ports. It was well organized, quick and seemless. The ship was in great condition and most of the changes from the refurbishment were nicely done. The public areas were finely appointed and always clean. We had reserved an aft veranda cabin (5184). Refer to the cabin review below. A great addition is the illuminated panels at all of the elevator doors that show what floor everything is located on. That was a huge help. Elevators were quick to respond except when shut down to accommodate luggage transfer. (To be expected, of course.) Having the day posted on the floor carpeting inside the elevators is also a nice touch. We dined in the Vista Dining Room on 5 of the 7 nights with conflicting results. The food was very good although with somewhat limited menu choices on a few of the nights What was disappointing was the lack of service on certain occasions. On the first formal evening, our table attendant cleared the main course dishes and never returned with dessert menus or coffee. That was a first for us on Holland America. Another evening he did serve coffee with the dessert but did not return with a refill offer. It seemed to me that they wanted us in and out as quickly as they could , with as little interaction as possible. We had all of our breakfasts in the dining room and enjoyed those experiences very much. The other two nights were done in the Pinnacle Grille and those suppers were outstanding in every respect. The lido area was not used except to pick up the odd coffee or tea. We were the only couple to rent a Cabana for the entire week and it was a major disappointment compared to the other ship cabanas that we have rented. The excessive noise from the fans was very annoying. The sideboards in the cabana were useless to us and the inside seating was not comfortable at all. The wall clock was operational but was not set to the correct time. The entertainment on board was refreshingly better than any other Holland America ship, This edition of the All Star band at the BB King Blues club was the best of all the cruises so far. The Piano Bar was also very good and the classical musicians all through the ship were exceptional. The comedian and magician were well worth seeing as well. We did not partake in any excursions, either private or through the ship offers. We walked around the ports and were constantly badgered by vendors hawking various merchandise or boating excursions. Puerto Vallarta was the nicest port in our opinion. Disembarkation was fantastic. We elected to carry our luggage from the ship ourselves which simplified and expedited the process greatly. If you have read this far, it must seem that this review is full of complaints and that it was a dreadful cruise, but I assure you that the good heavily outweighed the not so good and we have already booked 2 more cruises through Holland America. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We had never been to San Diego-- arrived 2 days pre cruise and stayed at the Republic Hotel on State and B. Easy walking distances to Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter. Loved restaurant Ironsides--- delicious and great service. ... Read More
We had never been to San Diego-- arrived 2 days pre cruise and stayed at the Republic Hotel on State and B. Easy walking distances to Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter. Loved restaurant Ironsides--- delicious and great service. Enjoyed Seaport Village---- and walking along the waterfront Spend day at the San Diego Zoo--- thoroughly enjoyed it. We stayed in an aft cabin - 5184 with a huge balcony. Wish they would put loungers back there to enjoy instead of upright chairs. Quiet location. We also booked a cabana for the duration of the cruise--- enjoy not having to deal with crowds and looking for table to eat at. on Lido We love the service--- lunch, drinks and a dedicated space to come to. Walked around Cabo- but tired of all the pestering ......... reminds me of Nassau. We did not get off in Mazatlán. We travelled in P.V. to Old Vallarta. Have a friend who owns Galleria Dante- on Basillo Badillo. We truly enjoyed visiting her gallery and the surrounding area. Would go back there in a heartbeat. Dining- enjoyed 2 dinners in the Pinnacle Grille-- delicious as always. Service in the dining room was unpredictable -- did not always get after dinner coffee. Seemed to be disorganized. Had a lovely table for 2 overlooking the 2nd floor railing We enjoyed the renovated area on forward deck 10------- combined bar and coffee service area. We enjoyed sitting up there to read or play cards. Large interactive screens Enjoyed the smaller number of cruise passengers--- and the easy embarkation and disembarkation from San Diego----- Much less stress than Florida ports. We would definitely cruise from San Diego and on Westerdam again if given the opportunity Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We came to San Diego for a Thanksgiving cruise and stayed at the Grand Horton Hotel for a great price. Nice historic hotel in Gas lamp district. Valet parking is $42. a night though. Glad a great dinner at Fleming's Steak House a short ... Read More
We came to San Diego for a Thanksgiving cruise and stayed at the Grand Horton Hotel for a great price. Nice historic hotel in Gas lamp district. Valet parking is $42. a night though. Glad a great dinner at Fleming's Steak House a short walk away. We have been on 18 cruises with Princess and about 12 on other lines but had never been on Holland America. We parked at Wyndham Bayside and walked across the street to the ship. This is a midsized ship. There were short lines and embarked in about 15 minutes. Debarking was even shorter and about 10 minutes in customs!! The entire ship looks refurbished. Our room had new bed linens, curtains, carpeting, sofa, sofa pillows etc in a nice blue color. We had a balcony room. This room is a bit smaller than we were used to but in great condition. Loved the on demand movies. Customer service was excellent on the entire ship. Food was great in main dining room and LOVED Caneletto's Italian and ate there twice. Also loved Pinacle Grill for great steak dinner. Really good room service and had the buffet a couple of times. They have great entertainment choices. We loved Billboard for the dueling pianos with a lot of variety. BB King was very good and Lincoln Center had classical music. Shows at the main stage were average or better. Most people dressed up for formal (Gala) nights - 2. Had a fun tour in Mazatlan - Shrimp Fest. Beautiful grounds, live music, pool to get into, margaritas and great food. Hardly any one at champagne art auction. Usually there are 200 - 300 people at these. Only about 25 people. Between us and our friends we won 3 bottle of good champagne!! All in all a great cruise that we will take again!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
We had no family to spend Thanksgiving with so we left the day after; we had gotten a great deal on this cruise AND the next one, so did both; great price on a Signature Suite. Loved the food; our newly remodeled room, always enjoy the ... Read More
We had no family to spend Thanksgiving with so we left the day after; we had gotten a great deal on this cruise AND the next one, so did both; great price on a Signature Suite. Loved the food; our newly remodeled room, always enjoy the ports and handy having Wifi reasonable 24 hours a day to keep in touch with the world. We are 4 Star Mariners so have a few advantages from that but loved having a few meals in the Cantelleto and the Steak House on 2. Entertainment was good; a magician we had seen before was very good; a so so Comedian. Weather was perfect this time of year in ports. Love Holland America This ship is just the right size for us; holds 2000 guests and the walk from stem to stern is easily done with plenty of room for nice shops, the Lincoln Center Entertainment and the Casino and Piano bar we just loved. Holland America has gone to twin Pianos and these two just played together and entertained Very well; really added to the evening. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
First cruise with Holland America. Previously I have cruised with Carnival, Royal Carribbean and Princess. To be honest, I wasn't super impressed with the cruise or the ship. Doesn't mean I didn't have fun and enjoy myself ( I always do !) ... Read More
First cruise with Holland America. Previously I have cruised with Carnival, Royal Carribbean and Princess. To be honest, I wasn't super impressed with the cruise or the ship. Doesn't mean I didn't have fun and enjoy myself ( I always do !) but compared to other ships and cruise lines. The food was OK. Selection in the buffet was poor. Other ships I have been on had so many choices to choose from. Food was never very hot or tasty. Dining room food was fairly good. Didn't always like the choices, but always found something. We had a balcony room which was nice. It was clean and had a fair amount of storage. Bed was fairly comfortable but pillow were lumpy. Room stewards did a good job cleaning room and supplying us ice. Casino was tiny and machines tight. Entertainment was ok. Miss entertainment during the day at the pools. The magician was kinda pathetic, comedian was fairly funny. Ship itself was small. I knew how many passengers but didn't realize there's basically no shopping onboard. Last ship I was on was the Oasis of the Seas so not really fair to compare. After being on this cruise I realize I really prefer the big boats. Everything is bigger :) Definitely love the Mexican Riveria but would probably go with Carnival next time for that itinerary. Read Less
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