Sail Date: November 2018
We picked this cruise because it was very inexpensive and wanted to try out Holland America. We were a bit disappointed about 1-2 weeks prior to our cruise. We received an invite to upgrade to a suite for a very decent price. However, ... Read More
We picked this cruise because it was very inexpensive and wanted to try out Holland America. We were a bit disappointed about 1-2 weeks prior to our cruise. We received an invite to upgrade to a suite for a very decent price. However, within a short time, our travel agent called in, all suites were gone. The ship itself is a bit rundown and could use some updates. It was not "state of the art" and the ambiance is a little conservative. Service was really good. I felt at times that staff were "correcting" me when I wasn't doing things exactly as they would prefer. For example, on my last day, I went to the coffee bar at 6 AM and the person there snapped at me, informing me that they wouldn't be open until 6:30. Food was great, especially the vegetarian menu. Although you have to ask for the vegetarian menu, the selections art outstanding! The entertainment was amazing, especially the Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard On Board! We went to at least 7-8 "recitals" and saw the Billboard On Board most nights before dinner. Our excursions were outstanding. We went to go see the rainforest in Puerto Rico and took tours of almost every other port except for Grand Turk. Our last day at Half Moon Cay (Holland America's private island it shares with Carnival) was outstanding. We had such a good time on a tour and then a barbecue that was free to guests. All in all, it's pretty decent for the amount we paid (approx $950 per person) for a balcony. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
2018_11 Holland America Oosterdam Caribbean cruise Our first cruise and we were excited in the weeks before but once we boarded, we were awed way beyond expectations by the ship and our cabin. Everything was fantastic ! I think our ... Read More
2018_11 Holland America Oosterdam Caribbean cruise Our first cruise and we were excited in the weeks before but once we boarded, we were awed way beyond expectations by the ship and our cabin. Everything was fantastic ! I think our Signature Suite 8055, which was way larger than we expected, was largely responsible. There was *nothing* wrong with this cabin - wonderful air conditioning around the clock, the most comfortable beds ever, 3 lockers, a shower and jet tub in the bathroom, and a generous balcony - it was fantastic and we loved every minute of it. I guess the one issue was - we were under the pool deck (I think) and there was a lot of sound from lounge chairs being setup in the morning - but it did not bother us - and I am someone who is sensitive to sound. The fitness center was fantastic - large with lots of machines and great views over the bow. I stuck to dumbbells and the Precor upright bikes which offered lots of resistance. The $20 "fill a bag" laundry service was fantastic - I thought they would just wash and fold - but they pressed - and well! Pinnacle Grill was great - beautiful decor and great food although my steak was a wee bit overcooked. Lovely service. Cannaletto - the other premium restaurant - seemed like it was just a money grab. It's merely a carved out section of the Lido Market - not a separate restaurant - and TBH I think they're serving the same food you'd get in the Market. Get a salad and a build-your-own-pasta from Lido Grill instead - there I just saved you $15. Speaking of Lido Market - we thought it was pretty good generally but there were some real misses such as the filet mignon which was quite a disappointment, and the soups which never were that good. The salad bar was great, the "build your own pasta" was great, the asian section was great. Here's the thing tho - HAL mentions "legendary service" on their website. When it comes to the eating and drinking areas, I'd call it "questionable service". We were served water/tea only about 30% of the time in the Lido Grill. The bartenders were noticeably not pleasant - not angry or anything - just sort of procedural. In the 'fancy' dining room, I watched waiters traverse back and forth by our table for 15 minutes before I raised my arms to get one to stop for a bread refill. (Apart from that, we did enjoy The Dining Room on 3 different nights including Thanksgiving dinner which was quite good). Our cabin stewards were delightful and never failed to greet us by name from the moment we boarded. If all of the mandatory daily tip went to them, I would be ok with that. We didn't attend much on-board entertainment - we were too tired by 9pm! The trivia games were fun, and the casino, tho small, was enjoyable. The lounges / bars / common areas were mostly gorgeous. The Lincoln Center venue was good, tho small, and there were only brief performances here and there. The Digital presentations were pretty good - good instructor. The "Onshore Shopping" presentation was merely a diamond sales pitch, I'm willing to bet by employees of the diamon sellers. The shops were meh. The pool areas always seemed to have chairs and pool space available. I thought they would be chock-full but they weren't. We bought the thermal suite 7-day pass for $219/couple (we paid $250 in advance but they reversed the charge to $219 altho as I think about it they may have double-charged us - need to check). Thermal pool is great but wish it was a degree or two hotter. Never crowded. We enjoyed the Thermal Suite altho we used it only 4 or 5 times so next time, maybe just pay the daily fee. Couple gripes I have with their Navigator smartphone app. Missing/Incorrect information is a pet peeve of mine, especially when it is so easy to get it right, to everyone's benefit. - it says there are no ATMs onboard. This is wrong. There is one adjacent to customer service. Which I learned after waiting in line at customer service. BTW customer service charges 3% for cash advance, the ATM is flat $6. - I had to go to Infirmary one day. Navigator says *nothing* about infirmary. Turns out, it is open only certain hours, and you have to go to the *front* of the ship to get there. Navigator offers all sorts of ways to buy dining and excursions, but zero about a possible necessity like the infirmary. Disembarkation was annoying (is it ever not?) - the printed instructions were not clear - and we did not appreciate seeing a HAL employee bark at everyone, roll his eyes and shake his head at guests (who were paying his salary), when they failed to follow the routine, quite likely due to the poor/incomplete printed instructions. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Had a great time on this our fifth Holland cruise. Very slow paced which is what we wanted. They actually cancelled Cap Cana because the waves were just too high to tender in. We ended up going to Samana and we took a cab to Playa ... Read More
Had a great time on this our fifth Holland cruise. Very slow paced which is what we wanted. They actually cancelled Cap Cana because the waves were just too high to tender in. We ended up going to Samana and we took a cab to Playa Rincon beach which was beautiful. We figured we may never go there again so we took the nearly hour long each way drive. HAL refunded the Cap Cana charges and did not charge for Samana. Nice touch! We have had five cruises on HAL so just a few bullet points on this one: Lido choices seem to be lessening but the food was still awesome! Bathroom in Stateroom has a nice small night light in the ceiling. I thought this was a good idea Many electrical outlets in the room. Several USB's as well. BBC Earth with Lincoln Center on Mainstage was pretty cool. Pinnacle and Canaletto were both very good. I heard alot of complaints about the Crows Nest changes prior to going on this cruise. I found they eliminated the old outdated chairs and loungers where people were mostly sleeping. The problem is they got rid of one problem and created another. The EXC was empty most of the time so it was kind of a waste of space. BB King band was outstanding........as usual. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask away! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
This was my 3rd HAL cruise and I noticed a huge upgrade in the food offerings. The salad bar is a welcome addition to the Lido Deck. The coffee was improved too - I think that was due to the creamer (rather than milk) being offered. The ... Read More
This was my 3rd HAL cruise and I noticed a huge upgrade in the food offerings. The salad bar is a welcome addition to the Lido Deck. The coffee was improved too - I think that was due to the creamer (rather than milk) being offered. The staff is delightful and so hardworking. I didn’t participate in many activities but enjoyed some of the entertainment on board. I adored the day at Half Moon Cay. We rented a clam shell (and were able to shove a 3rd lounge chair inside!) and 3 float mats. (One mat would have been sufficient in retrospect) The beach is perfection. I spent at least 1/2 the day in the water. I could have stayed there forever! I enjoyed Turks & Caicos - we explored the island on our own and enjoyed ourselves. I wish we’d done the trolley in Key West. I think we would have seen a lot more if we had. We enjoyed Key West and definitely want to go back. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Itinerary was great. 12 days was my longest cruise thus far but the best way to see a good number of the Greek islands and tick off Rome Athens and Venice as well. Shore excursions were generally expensive and I would recommend you pre ... Read More
Itinerary was great. 12 days was my longest cruise thus far but the best way to see a good number of the Greek islands and tick off Rome Athens and Venice as well. Shore excursions were generally expensive and I would recommend you pre book online directly as they generally weren’t value for money. Be prepared to be a little bit adventurous here otherwise you will get caught up with the organised crowds and waste time queuing rather than actually seeing things. We were a couple in our 50’s however soon realised this cruise was an over 60’s with the average age probably at 70. Very few younger than us and only saw 4 children. Great if you wanted a quiet relaxed ship with everything closed by midnight. A bit sedate for my liking. Very little variety in entertainment. Narrow choice of music and dancing. Couldn’t fault the service. Food was average to good. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
Our group booked this cruise because of the great Ports of Call. This was our second cruise departing from Venice, so we arrived ready to explore Murano, Burano & Tarcello and the Doges Palace which were must sees for this trip. Our ... Read More
Our group booked this cruise because of the great Ports of Call. This was our second cruise departing from Venice, so we arrived ready to explore Murano, Burano & Tarcello and the Doges Palace which were must sees for this trip. Our hotel ordered a water taxis to take us to the pier and embarkation was fast and easy. On our first night aboard we had a magnificent dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, a highlight of the cruise. We have sailed with Holland in the past and were disappointed with the lack of activities, especially on the sea day. Lincoln Center Stage was a daily treat before dinner. This was the first cruise that we booked shore excursions on our own, thank you Cruise Critic for giving us the great tips. We used Via Tour, Shore Fox and Luca Zoppo for Naples, Sorrento and Pompeii. We did our research and found shore excursions that included sites we were interested in. Disembarkation ran smoothly with a transfer to the airport. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We are a couple in our early fifties and this was our third cruise our first on Holland and America. We have previously cruised once with Celebrity and once with Oceania and probably the similarities were more than the differences . The ... Read More
We are a couple in our early fifties and this was our third cruise our first on Holland and America. We have previously cruised once with Celebrity and once with Oceania and probably the similarities were more than the differences . The Ship- The Oosterdam was a lovely Ship . The public spaces were always spotlessly clean . There were usually sun beds available although sometimes it was necessary to move them into the shade. We didn’t experience any chair hogging only once seeing sun beds saved with clips and not used. The pool was very busy with children in the late afternoon but the rest of the time the pool wasn’t usually busy. The crows nest was a great place to watch the sea when there was no shade on the balcony and was only busy during the sale away from Kotor and sale into Venice. Our favourite bar was the Ocean bar which was rarely busy. The ship in general although full rarely seemed busy save for on gala nights in the dining room and on arrival at Santorini when everyone on the ship appeared to be going in the same direction either to queue for tender tickets or go to the theatre for a tour. The crew were always friendly and smiling . The service was invariably good everywhere although maybe a bit frantic in the Lido. Cabin was a signature suite 6074 really spacious and more storage than we could use.Balcony chairs which reclined with footstools. I thought the bed was comfortable. My husband found it firm .It was not as good as the bed on our previous cruises but was more than adequate. Our Steward kept the room immaculately and was the best we have experienced. The bathroom was lovely with a bath ,shower and two sinks.The only issue we had was the air con .The room was just too hot especially at night when it was impossible to sleep with more than a sheet. This was our only disappointment with the cruise .My husband mentioned it to Guest Servces day 2 and nothing was done.He mentioned it again on the mid cruise survey and someone did come a day or two later and test the flow which was insufficient and made an adjustment but it was close to the end of the cruise by then and the difference was marginal. Dining. The lido good choice of food ,often busy but always possible to get a seat . We ate there for breakfast most days and the choice was good. Lunch choices were diverse and it was easy to make a healthy choice as the salad bar was excellent and hygienic as the staff served the food. We only dined there once in the evening but found it a little frantic for an evening meal although again there was lots of choice and it was nice to have a simple pasta dish.The MDR We breakfasted there twice good choice ,food nice but appeared a little disorganised. In the evening we loved the MDR we always had a table for two,never made a reservation dined at variable times the earliest 6.45 the latest 8 .15 and except on the second gala night never waited more than a couple of minutes for a table. The night we waited it was about 20 minutes but not a problem as we were given a bleeper and we were on a cruise ship with loads of nice places to wait. The food was mostly good with a few misses and a few particularly good dishes. We didn’t find the gala night food better than the other nights and in fact the first gala night was easily the most disappointing meal.The beef was generally excellent the fish a little disappointing.The bread was particularly good with a bread basket containing 3 different breads each night . The meal took between an hour and an hour and a half generally. Entertainment We loved Lincoln Centre. They were excellent and very talented. BB kings we went once and enjoyed it. Billboard very very cheesy and male singer not as good as female. I quite liked it but my husband hated it and I had to agree with him that although I enjoyed singing along the quality wasn’t great. Main stage the singers were excellent the dancers not so good . One cast show we attended was great the other we left.We left during the magician and the comedian neither of whom were to our taste and didn’t attend any other shows. We didn’t attend any activities .This was a port intensive cruise anyway but the computer classes didn’t interest us and the only Cooking demo we might have attended clashed with the sale out of Kotor which we preferred to watch. The ship does have a good choice of films although we only found time to watch a couple. Our preference when not off the ship is to use the pool or sit on the balcony. Embarkation. We didnt arrive until three as our flight delayed . No queue straight on the ship .Disembarkation also a breeze. Ports. Naples.We have had land based holidays in this area so have already visited Pompey,Capri etc.We decided to stay in Naples and walked to the archeological museum and the catacombs. Very easy and no need to book in advance Santorini tender port as we had expected another ship in port we booked a ships tour Oia on your own .It was worth it as it meant we were tendered off quickly .Tender then bus to Oia .Beautiful and enough time then bus to Fira and provided with tickets for the cable car. We didn’t use them as we decided to walk down the steps for the views. Easy enough provided you have proper shoes . Rhodes, we did on our own easy to do as ship docks close to old town .Beaches ,museums restaurants etc all in walking distance. No need to book anything in advance, Crete.We did ships tour to Knossos .We did this because thought would be a quick way to get there before too hot .It was a good tour and guides have own shorter queue for tickets . Knossos was excellent but was long queue for throne room . Iraklion itself bit grubby. Athens Had a great day in Athens This was highlight of the trip booked a private taxi tour in advance with George’s Taxis.Demetrius (hope I spelt it correctly)was the driver and he couldn’t have been better. He was waiting for us when we got off the boat at 8.15 and took us straight to the Acropolis . I had read this was a demanding walk up but unless you have mobility problems it’s fine .This was amazing ,no queue for tickets just walked up to the kiosk and although we obviously weren’t the only people there it was really quiet . We were up there over an hour and the difference when we were leaving was incredible .There was a mass of people in front of the Parthenon and hundreds of people coming up the stairs. This included several groups from our cruise ship. The trip to the acropolis alone and being the there early made the private taxi tour worth it. Demetrius also gave great advice about buying a combined ticket. Demetrius gave us loads of information on the trip there and in the taxi in the car park and that together with a guide book made a professional guide unnecessary. We then went to the original modern Olympic stadium and Demetrius again gave excellent advice about getting great views without buying a ticket. He dropped us right outside as he did either temple of Zeus which was close by (and included in the combined ticket).He was excellent at knowing how long we would need at each attraction. He also took us to the changing of the guard dropping us off at exactly the right spot at exactly the right time. We the went to the ancient Agrora (again included in the combined ticket ) and he judged just the right time for us to see it and have lunch. We lunched where he recommended delicious and extremely good value . After lunch he asked what we wanted to do and as we have zero interest in shopping recommended the acropolis museum a great choice particularly as by then it was really hot and the museum is both impressive and air conditioned. Throughout the day Demetrius was interesting and engaging and incredibly knowledgeable . He also drove and talked brilliantly We would rate this one of the best day trips ever and cannot recommend George’s taxis and Demetrius in particular enough. Naphlio Tender port we did a ships tout to Mycenae and Palamidi Castle good tour price not unreasonable . Guide went on a bit so we tended to wander off so could see more as she tended to provide loads of information in one place..At Mycenae could still hear her. Whispa system excellent .At Palamidi had to sacrifice information to have sufficient time to climb to the top of the castle .Both sites worthy of more time but probably better to see the best of ieach rather than miss one. Argostoli Beautful port. Just got off walked around had lunch on seafront . Fed bread to the fishes sounds strange but fun,Saw the giant sea turtles. It was a nice change after all the culture. Corfu I had holidayed on Corfu some years before booked ships tour best of Corfu tour as appeared to go to places not seen . This tour although not an absolute disaster was a mistake .It started ok first photo stop beautiful beach ,second basically snack bar and shops. The monastery was really just a small church we didn’t see anything else. The palace was interesting but was too crowded and slow with a tour and we ended up wandering off so that we had time to see it all. The next stop was lunch in a modern hotel with a view of the airport! Lunch was a buffet with very few Greek specialties. The trip then finished in Corfu town which would have been a much better lunch venue .Corfu town was lovely and two hours there and get your own lunch would have been much better. I could not recommend this tour. Kotor. We have been before and just walked round the old town. Well worth doing unfortunately we got soaked in a thunderstorm but from our previous visit unless you have a long port day walking around 5he town and walking tfhe walls will fill your time. Venice we took the Alilaguna direct to St Marks 8 euros just walk off the boat and you can pick it up .We visited St Marks basilica free don’t bother with the audio guide I did waste of 5 euros..we tthe walked back to the ship stopping for lunch wandering the streets and visiting another Basillica and square top tens in our guide book .We the took the people mover 1.5 euros from piazza Roma to the cruise port. We have visited Venice before and highley recommend taking the ACTV down the grand canal and also visiting the Doges Palace (book online ) .in my view there is no need to book ships tours unless you want to or you are on a very tight time scale as it is easy to do by yourself and Alilaguna offer trips to the Lido,Murano etc cheaper than the ship Overall it was a great cruise . One thing must mentioned is unlimited laundry and pressing 108 dollars for the whole cruise .This was amazing . Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Since our first cruise was over 25 years ago, and we won it in a raffle, so had no part in the where or when, or even how, I consider us to be first time cruisers for all intents and purposes. We chose Holland America’s 12 night ... Read More
Since our first cruise was over 25 years ago, and we won it in a raffle, so had no part in the where or when, or even how, I consider us to be first time cruisers for all intents and purposes. We chose Holland America’s 12 night Mediterranean Tapestry on the Oosterdam primarily for the itinerary. It was filled with ports that we had not previously visited, and was at the right time of year for our travel mates (one of whom is a teacher). We booked over a year in advance and spent that year planning for the “trip of a lifetime”. About us: We are around 60 years old and live in Southern California, we own our own business, so are not often able to get away. This trip was a first in many ways. First time we had traveled for that length of time together, first time we traveled without any of our children with us, first time we had traveled with friends, and I could go on, but you get the idea. Now, the actual review, I have tried to break it up into sections, so that you can take what you want from it, and skip those items that do not interest you. Feel free to ask questions if you want more information on anything I mention. Embarkation in Barcelona- A breeze! We arrived at about 1:00 pm; showed our boarding docs and were directed to the suites line. In actuality, there were not really any lines at that point. Our friends were not in a suite, but when we mentioned we were all together, they let us stay together for check in. Check in was quick, and then we were escorted to the ship and introduced to one of the Neptune Lounge concierges, who then took us right to our room. There was not a “wine table”, so we strolled on with 12 bottles of wine in our wine suitcase. They quickly went over the suite and its features, introduced us to our steward, and invited us to come by the lounge, once we were settled. Stateroom: 7046 Pinnacle Suite (yes I know, first time cruisers and we booked the pinnacle suite; I did mention that we considered this the “trip of a lifetime”.) More information in the cabin review section. HAL was very nice to offer us and our guests a “behind the scenes” tour of the ship. It was all set, but that was before they knew the Croatian Coast Guard would decide to do a routine inspection that day. The Neptune Lounge concierge contacted us, letting us know the tour was postponed, then canceled, then all of a sudden back on again. We had to scramble to get our guests back on board. We all loved the behind the tour. There were just ten of us (both of the Pinnacle Suite’s passengers and their guests). We saw the kitchens, warehousing/food storage, laundry and the bridge. At each stop, crew members or officers were available to answer any questions and just give a general overview. We never felt rushed, and the tour probably lasted about 2 hours total. Entertainment-We went to two of the musical shows and they were fine. Nothing spectacular, but enjoyable to watch. Plenty of seats, the theater was never full when we were there. Because we were in the suite and had plenty of room, we spent a fair amount of time hanging out there with our friends. So we did not take advantage of a lot of the activities that were offered, so I have no comment on the enrichment activities, gym, or the public rooms in general. We also did not hang out at the pool other than when the DH went to have a cigar at the only smoking area on the ship (which was next to a pool. The other negative (besides the bathtub controls) was on the last night of the cruise. We needed to get packed and have our suitcases out in the hallway by a certain time ( I don’t remember what time that was, I just know I missed it), it was a sauna in the suite. I am not kidding, our perfectly lovely rooms became a nightmare to be in, let alone work at packing everything up and getting it set out for the porters. Now the good part, I called the concierge when I realized I would not make the suitcase cut-off, and she assured me that they would make a second sweep later that night, and just to set them out when I had them ready. I was very late, and would not have blamed HAL if they had made me carry my own suitcases off the ship. Disembarkation in Venice- This is really in two parts; first getting off the ship. If you are in the Pinnacle Suite, they ask you when you would like to disembark, meet you at your room and escort you and your carry on luggage off the ship, have porters to retrieve your checked luggage, and walk you and said luggage right up to the front of the line and out through customs. The entire process took less than 10 minutes and that included walking from our stateroom to the shore. They were so quick; we ended up having to wait for our hotel greeter, because I had scheduled her for half an hour after I had planned on disembarking. If you are planning on staying in Venice and your hotel offers a “meet and greet”, and it is within your budget, take it. We stayed at the Hilton Molina Stuckey, the greeter met us at the exit point for our ship, got a trolley for all of luggage (an embarrassing amount to be honest), then guided us over to where the water taxi line was. Ah, but did we wait in line? No, she had already called a taxi, and when ours arrived after just a few minutes, we went straight on, our luggage right behind us. We enjoyed the Hilton, and it was nice to have the free shuttle back and forth to St. Mark’s Square. Not sure if I would stay there again. Dining Main Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill, Rudi’s Sel de Mer, Canaletto, Lido Buffet, Dive In and Gala Nights; we did them all. Just a note: we are not only food lovers, but in the restaurant business. Main Dining Room- We had any time dining, but the very first thing the Neptune Lounge Concierge did for us was to make our dinner reservations for the entire cruise. She reserved us a table for four every night at whatever time we wanted and for any of the restaurants we desired. This was a great perk. We had the same lovely window table on the port side of the ship each time we dined in the main dining room. The food was decent, not great. We rarely found something we would not eat, but we did find things we would not order again. The presentation was very good and our service was excellent. We brought our own wine, choosing to pay the corkage rather than order from the wine list. This is a nice “perk” to traveling on Holland America Lines, you can bring as much wine as you want, you just pay corkage if you enjoy it in one of the restaurants. Our wine stewards in the main dining room were also very good. Pinnacle Grill- We ate dinner here once during the voyage, and enjoyed our meal and service. The food was definitely a cut above. (my husband had the lamb, and said it was excellent!) Rudi’s Sel de Mer- Best thing about this meal was the plates, they were adorable. That is not a great review, and I am having a hard time deciding if we did not enjoy it as much because our service was really sub-par this evening or if the food was really that bad. I had the soufflé, I do not recommend it, I did not eat mine. Probably should have ordered one of the fish entrees, but was not in the mood for fish that night. The escargot was better than in the main dining room according to our friend who ordered it, but still not fabulous. Canaletto- Our favorite Specialty restaurant, we enjoyed this meal and thought it was a great way to spend the evening. We were concerned about being in a section of the buffet seating, but we didn’t even notice it once we were seated. Our servers did a great job, and we had a really nice relaxed meal. We liked the “family style” service and got to enjoy so many different items this way. I recommend you give it a try. Lido Buffet-We only ate at the buffet a few times each for breakfast and lunch. It was very nice and plenty of options. We never had to wait too long for anything, although finding a table at breakfast time was a bit of a chore. Dive In- Not impressed. Gala Nights-We had ordered a tuxedo rental for my husband, and he wore it both gala nights. While it is true, we were among the few who were “dressed to the nines”, we were not alone, and we did not mind what the other guests chose to do. Meals on Gala Nights were again decent, not fabulous. Sorry about the long winded review- I did mention we are in the restaurant business. If people make the difference, and I believe they do, Holland America’s dining staff was all around fabulous. The ship-We found the Oosterdam to be a lovely ship, I did not notice any problems and there seemed to be enough of everything for the amount of people on board. We were able to find chairs when and where we wanted them in any public area we chose to go. We never waited long for an elevator, and were able to get around fairly quickly; this despite the ship being fully booked. We did not enjoy the tenders much, but only used them for three of the ports. Truthfully, it was only really bad once, we were among the first on, and then sat in the heat while it everyone else got on, and the ride was a little choppy. But overall, we would still choose to go ashore, even knowing what it might be like in the tender. Excursions- I did mention that we booked this cruise a year ahead, and began our planning right away. Well, it paid off! We were able to investigate our ports, and decide ahead of time what we wanted out of each stop. We did not book any excursions through Holland America, but made all arrangements ourselves in advance online. Barcelona- We arrived Friday Evening with a Monday departure. We attended the Signature Event put on by Holland America for their suite guests, but did not take advantage of the hotel or transfers. I will do a separate review of our signature event, but will say that it was very nice and one of the highlights of our stay in Barcelona. Since we had time, we saw the city at our own pace. We hired a driver for six hours one day, and then walked around on our own the next. We saved La Sagrada Familia for Monday morning, and had pre-purchased tickets. This is a city we would love to return to. We stayed at the Hotel Arts down by the beach, and really liked the hotel. We had our first meal in a Michelin starred Restaurant at the Enotica by Paco Perez inside the Hotel Arts. Now that is fabulous food. The included breakfast buffet was top notch! Marseille-(Outside Excursion with Provence Private Tours) We had a private guide/driver for the four of us, deciding to take in the market at Aix-en-Provence, Cassis and Marseille. The total cost was 472 Euro plus tip. Our guide picked us up right outside the ship, and we were off. We arrived in Aix-en-Provence ahead of the buses, and were able to see the market before the crowds descended on the small town. We enjoyed browsing through the market, even purchased a few small items and some food on the go, and then wandered the back streets for a bit. Then back in the van and off to Cassis, where we had a wonderful seaside lunch. Our last stop was the Basilica of Marseille. We truly enjoyed our day. So much to see, and our guide was very knowledgeable and very helpful in assisting us in what sights to take in within the allotted time. Monaco- (On our own) We did Monaco on our own. We took the tender to the shore (this was the least pleasant part of the day), and decided to gawk at the yachts in the harbor for a while. Truthfully, my husband probably would have been okay with just that. But we kept walking, finally arriving at the Casino, after taking a very scenic, but circuitous route. After a drink and a bit of gambling, we moved on in search of a passport stamp. Sure enough, Rick Steves knows what he is talking about. On the other side of the gardens, away from the Casino is a Tourist Information Center where they will stamp your passport. It was quick and fun for me. Note on Monaco, Taxis seem rather scarce. We saw a taxi stand near the casino with a line and in the half hour we watched, not one taxi came. Luckily, it was a short walk back to the dock. Livorno (Florence) We had hired a private driver (very specifically, not a guide according to the company’s website) for this port. While they say their drivers are not guides; they are. They just cannot accompany you inside the museums. Our driver, Simona, was fabulous. We had early tickets to the Academia to see The David, and she not only got us right there, but made sure we knew exactly how and where to exchange our vouchers for the tickets, and where we would enter (a small roped off area without a line). After the museum, we met up with Simona, and did an absolutely fabulous walking tour of Florence. Since we had time, we made a stop in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, and get a gelato. I am so glad we did. I don’t care how many pictures you have seen of The David and the Leaning Tower, IT IS NOT THE SAME. We used Rome in Limo, and requested an upgrade to a van, even though there was only four of us, we did not want to be split up in a sedan (total cost 550 Euros). Civitavecchia (Rome) We had booked a private tour with Rome in Limo, and could not have been happier. Franco was the best! He was funny, thoughtful, and full of information. We had early reservations at the Colosseum, and he spent the drive in giving a history of the Colosseum, and explaining its layout. We had a list of pre-chosen sites we wanted to see, and not only did we get to every one of them, but Franco managed a few more we had not even known about. We did not try and see the Vatican on this day, deciding it would take more time than we wanted to give up. My DH and I went back to Rome after our cruise ended, and gave our visit to the Vatican the time it deserved. Naples- We decided that we really wanted to see the Blue Grotto, so we hired a private boat with Captain from Capri Boats. If this is something you decide to do, I highly recommend Capri Boats. They have a good selection of boats, and they took excellent care of us. The Blue Grotto is a once in a lifetime experience. By that I mean you really need to do it, but probably only once. It is as gorgeous as it looks in pictures, and the boats and oarsmen are a site to behold. Once we had done that, we cruised around the island, getting to see the other tourist sites along the way. Our captain was friendly and knowledgeable. We stopped for lunch near the docks. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, because it was very good. It had seating right on the water, and everyone in our group loved their chosen items. We cruised along the Amalfi Coast on our way back to port. A lovely, relaxing day! Toarmina- We decided to do this on our own, and as it turns out, it was not our best day. We were too hot, the ride in the tender was miserable, and we did not really have a good plan. If I had it to do over, I would make the trek to Taormina, either with a pre-arranged driver or a taxi. Not much to see or do in Messina. We ended up heading back to the ship early to relax. Corfu- We had once again decided on hiring a private boat for the day. This one included lunch cooked right on the swim step. Nautilus Daily Tours was our choice, and I would recommend them to anyone who would like a real taste of Greece while enjoying the shore. Our boat hugged the shore stopping often at hidden beaches, where we were free to get out and swim around. The water is not very salty near the shore as there are several fresh water springs, which let out into the ocean. The food was excellent Greek Village food and there was more than enough for everyone. We pre-ordered our entrées from a choice of fish, chicken or pork. All were delicious! This was probably my favorite day, mostly because it was so different from every other day (Even our day in Naples). Okay, it was really because we are of Greek descent, were in Greece, we all knew the language, and we felt like we were home (although, all but one of us have never lived in Greece). Dubrovnik- We had a long day in Dubrovnik, and our goal was really just to get out early and walk the walls all the way around. Unfortunately, our behind the scenes tour was this morning, and as I mentioned, it was postponed, and then once it did start, lasted about two hours. Not a big deal since we were going to be in port until Midnight. We all enjoyed Dubrovnik, and toured the churches, streets and just in general had a nice leisurely stroll around town. We did make it up to the wall, and all but one of us (okay, it was me) made it all the way around on the walls. This city is totally doable on your own. It was beautiful, and fun to just explore. Kotor- We heard several people say Kotor was not that fabulous, that the real treat was the sail in/sail out through the mountains. I disagree. While the sail in was too early for us, the sail out was gorgeous, and we thoroughly enjoyed it from our balcony; the city was just lovely. We separated from our friends for the day, and each couple explored on their own. We had a nice lunch at a small café, spent time at the farmer’s market, explored the city walls, and just had a wonderful time. This was a short day (7 am-2pm) and that is probably the right amount of time. But please don’t stay on the ship and miss this beautiful city. Venice- Our final stop. We stayed overnight and disembarked here. Our small group chose to stay one extra night in Venice, so that we would have more time. Since we arrived around 1:00 on a Friday, but would need to disembark the next morning, had we been leaving directly from the ship to the airport, we would have had very little time in the beautiful city. We did not do tours, but rather read extensively before visiting, and had a plan and a checklist of things to see and do. The first day we took the jam packed water taxi to St. Mark’s Square. We began our journey there and just walked around seeing the sites. We ended up walking almost all the way back to where our ship, along with four others, was docked. I really wanted to take a trip down the Grand Canal, but did not want to get back on an overcrowded water bus. We finally decided to spend the money on private water taxi to take us down the Grand Canal and back to St. Mark’s square. This was one of the highlights of the day. While there is a surcharge to go down the Grand Canal, our driver made it worth the 90 Euros it cost. He went slowly, pointed out interesting sites, and answered all our questions. It was definitely an adventure I will treasure. We were staying another day, so we saved the necessary Gondola ride for the next night, and just enjoyed the city. I can’t imagine not having that extra day; we really needed it to see Venice properly. After all that, I am still not sure whether cruising is for us, I guess we will just have to take another one. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This was my 15th or 16th cruise and 2nd on HAL. Flying into Venice was amazing, It was like a picture coming to life. The ship picked up a group from the airport and loaded us on to a bus and took us to the ship. Embarkation was very ... Read More
This was my 15th or 16th cruise and 2nd on HAL. Flying into Venice was amazing, It was like a picture coming to life. The ship picked up a group from the airport and loaded us on to a bus and took us to the ship. Embarkation was very easy! The rooms were ready when we arrived (approx. 11 am) and the room and bathroom were fantastic. A full bathroom inc. a bath! And this was for a regular cabin!! Immediately headed into Venice to explore and go shopping. The Water Bus (not the water taxi as that's a lot more money!) was easy to get to and dropped you off right in front of St Marks Square. about 15 Euros for a round trip. Lots of shops and tourists so venture out a bit throughout the alleys and explore! Back to the boat for the life drill and then back into the city via the People mover (3-4 Euros round trip.) - The people mover drops you off on the other side of the island and it's a long but fascinating walk to St Marks Square - make sure you look for hidden churches and beautiful sculptured windows and door knockers/doors. You'll see many famous bridges by taking the people mover but will do a lot more walking!! Summer is VERY hot and humid too, so be prepared!!! Croatia - took the shuttle (16 E) to town and did the fort tour (again, lots of walking up steps!) for an amazing view. Lots to see in Dubrovnik! Albania - walked along the "beach" which was mostly pebbles - and down a couple of streets - we heard the tours were fascinating esp the Blue Eye lagoon. Katakalon/Olympia Greece - amazing ruins - we opted for the 3D tour but I would not do that again as the pad you carry around does not match up with the direction you are facing so it's a bit annoying - very hot so dress accordingly and the area is bumpy so wheelchairs had a difficult time. However, its someplace everyone should visit at least once. Amazing!! Then on to a store where many items were made with olive oil. The Baklava is the best ever !!! very crowded as all the buses tend to stop there at the same time!! lots of stuff to buy!!! teft lhen on to another little shopping area nearby. We got left behind so make sure you ALWAYS understand what time the bus is leaving. After several of us on different tours got left behind, they started giving us phone numbers of who to contact in case that occurred again. (Ship was awesome, reimbursed us for the cab back to the port and for part of the excursion, even tho apparently it was our fault.) Then 3 days in Italy - Pompeii is a must but again, very hot! so interesting and awesome!! Sorrento was gorgeous. I heard the pizza in Napoli (Naples) was great but we were too hot after our excursion to go back into the city. Etruscan Necropolis was interesting and the drive through the Italian countryside was beautiful. Cinque Terra was lovely to see also. Monaco - friend did the 4 mile walking tour of the Formula 1 Race path and loved it. I did the Hop On Hop Off which showed much of the country and was perfect. France - did the Hyeres tour, that was a lot of walking and hot, but fascinating and lovely. Toulon has a little train shuttle to show you the city which is nice if you are too tired to do a tour Barcelona- amazing city. If you love Antoni Gaudi make sure you schedule reservations for Park Guell and la Sagrada Familia if you wish to go there. In the summer the tours are crazy and it will take hours to get in. We did the Hop On Hop Off and went to La Pedrera/Casa Mila and Montjuic which was very interesting. You can see much of the city on the HoHo so take advantage of it. We stayed an extra 2 days. The cab drivers went on strike while we were there but they have buses that go directly to the airport. Ship - it was a lovely ship and the food was delicious but compared to other ships, this one did not have a lot of activities to do during the day. 2 small pools worked for the amount of people but there were minimal exercise classes except for the morning stretch...no dance classes, painting classes, etc. A couple of demos from America's Test Kitchen cooking show but no samples for the audience. A few times I was bored which has never happened before!! Fun entertainment at night. I wish there were more things to do on board esp for sea days. Food - very good, try the fries at the Dive-In - YUMMY! (and don't forget their special sauce!) -- great desserts and the meals In the dining room were very good. Great omelets and the pasta bar was delicious!! great burgers and handmade salads!! and you can grab a sandwich for the next day if you want! Cabins- worked well for us, large for 2 people and the cabin stewards Heri and Hilman were awesome!!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose the Rome to Venice Twelve day itinerary for the ports of call in Greece. Boarding and departure were handled very well with lots of directions and assistance. Food was very good but the main dining room was dark, chilly and quite ... Read More
We chose the Rome to Venice Twelve day itinerary for the ports of call in Greece. Boarding and departure were handled very well with lots of directions and assistance. Food was very good but the main dining room was dark, chilly and quite noisy. We preferred the buffet on the Lido deck with lovely views from the window tables or the after deck open air tables. The servers here were very helpful and down to earth friendly. Our Upper Veranda Deck cabin was not as clean as we would have liked and we got house keeping in to redo. Major dissatisfaction with ship sponsored Exc Tours. Not enough information available shipboard and very limited access to staff. Much more information on each port and tour could be provided on the room’s TV. If you take these tours, do your research in depth ahead of time. Which leads to the second major problem, shipboard WiFi. No where in their sales information do they disclose the ridiculous slow speeds that can be expected AND they sell this to you by the amount of time connected, not by the amount of data downloaded. I measured download speeds throughout the ship and it averaged about 1.6 mps. That’s worse than your crowded coffee shop. Unless you also have enough money to shovel over the side, don’t bother with ship’s WiFi. Get a roaming package for your cell and do your surfing when linked to shore towers. Shipboard main stage entertainment was pretty sketchy. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
Pre cruise/departure city we enjoyed 3 days in Venice on our own. We wanted to cruise over our wedding anniversary - so a mid June sail date; itinerary we loved, and sailing on a different HAL ship. Cut backs at time noticeable but the ... Read More
Pre cruise/departure city we enjoyed 3 days in Venice on our own. We wanted to cruise over our wedding anniversary - so a mid June sail date; itinerary we loved, and sailing on a different HAL ship. Cut backs at time noticeable but the staff continue to show their warmth, friendliness and aim to please. We had the Elite drink package and while early in the cruise one of our favorite wines was no longer available beverage staff offered a good substitute. The Beverage team also managed to move the wine to the bars we most frequented. People's taste in music and entertainment vary so I won't address that. We would like more dance venues then the BB King's. Do not like what is apparently a fleet wide change to the Crows Nest. Dined at the Pinnacle Grill once super meal, attentive and knowledgable wait staff. Suggest to HAL to expand wine list - too many Washington State wines and many do not go well with the menu there. The Oosterdam Singers and dancers very good (especially the dancers) orchestra good not great. We did just one shore excursion and it was excellent. Did not attend enrichment activities. Did go to most of the entertainment (some very good guest entertainers). We did the 12 day segment of this cruise. While we would not do this same cruise again I would recommend it and have already to friends. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this cruise for two reasons: price and port intinerary. We were not disappointed! We went on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise with only 1 sea day. This was a cruise to be active and see many European cities. Here are some thoughts ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two reasons: price and port intinerary. We were not disappointed! We went on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise with only 1 sea day. This was a cruise to be active and see many European cities. Here are some thoughts on the cruise: -Food was amazing (all of it) I’ve only cruised on Disney before and Holland food is better. -Stateroom was very nice with a great balcony and new TV with great on demand options. -All shore excursions through Holland were very well organized and enjoyable. -Main stage shows were terrible. I tried to watch 3 shows during our cruise and had to walk out each time. -We loved Lincoln Center stage piano quintet, the B.B. Kings blues lounge and the piano duo. High quality musicians on this ship. - The service was phenomenal. - The ship is old and a bit out dated. It kind of looks like a cheap Vegas casino. However, the superb food quality, great ports, fabulous service and very nice stateroom made up for the old ship. -spa was very luxurious. We purchased the spa pass and enjoyed using the giant hot tub and stone loungers. -age of passengers was mostly 65+ We only saw 1 other couple on the ship in their 20s. Overall we loved this cruise! The Oosterdam is great ship if you care about getting off the ship and exploring the ports. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
We love this ship. We did the Panama Canal on this ship in November and booked the same room for this trip (Venice to Barcelona). In between trips, they did a dry dock and destroyed the Crow's Nest! On the Panama trip, the ... Read More
We love this ship. We did the Panama Canal on this ship in November and booked the same room for this trip (Venice to Barcelona). In between trips, they did a dry dock and destroyed the Crow's Nest! On the Panama trip, the Crow's Nest was THE place to be, especially for Happy Hour. Now, it is just a coffee bar, and the Shore Excursion staff have taken over most of the space. What a waste of great views! Most of the rest of the ship was great, as we remembered. Noticed some of the upgrades - new carpets and other modifications. Not sure why the removed the stairs in the atrium. Loved the BB King group! Dining was great in the Pinnacle Grill, OK in the dining room and Lido, Fair in Canaletto, Good in DiveIn. In suite breakfast with Mimosas was a good way to start the day. Excursions were a mixed bag. Wine tasting in Dubrovnik was fun. Rome was disappointing. Florence had a lot of walking just to do some shopping. Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was a highlight! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We choose this cruise for its itinerary which began in Venice where we arrived 5 days early for a Venice experience. Cruise is 12 days with 9 additional ports and extra night aboard ship in Barcelona. We stayed an extra 4 nights in ... Read More
We choose this cruise for its itinerary which began in Venice where we arrived 5 days early for a Venice experience. Cruise is 12 days with 9 additional ports and extra night aboard ship in Barcelona. We stayed an extra 4 nights in Barcelona on Las Ramblas to explore and experience Barcelona. During our cruise, we took 2 excursions through the ship, 2 through Smart Cruise Tours and, otherwise, went on self guided adventures. HAL Oosterdam was the right size for us and we enjoyed the many amenities provided. Staff is wonderful. Dining rooms are lovely and serve great quality food and drink, including the Lido buffet. Ship has a variety of very talented entertainers and brings on one night specialty acts. We took advantage of the Digital Workshops and learned some cooking tips at America's Test Kitchen. There is a nice selection of in room movies and TV viewing that is available on demand. We would relive every minute of this adventure in a heartbeat. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We decided to sail on Holland America for a second time after a cruise from Montreal to Boston a couple of years ago. In between we sailed Oceania through the Baltic, Russia and Scandinavia, which we also enjoyed. The same cruise from ... Read More
We decided to sail on Holland America for a second time after a cruise from Montreal to Boston a couple of years ago. In between we sailed Oceania through the Baltic, Russia and Scandinavia, which we also enjoyed. The same cruise from Venice to Barcelona was significantly more expensive on Oceana; so we opted for HA. I had read a review of our ship, the Oosterdam, which led me to have doubts about the ship's and cabin's condition, but the reviewer was misleading: the ship was great. We booked a Veranda on Deck 7, and it was quiet with a great view on the balcony. For the 10-day voyage, we were quite busy with only a single day 'At Sea.' Departing from Venice we stopped in Croatia, Albania, and Greece, then sailed around the boot of Italy and through the Straits of Messina to Naples. There we took the HA tour of Pompeii and then to Rome with a panoramic tour there, and on up to Livorno with a tour to Florence. The final two ports before terminating in Barcelona were Monaco and Toulon. We toured Monaco and went to Nice. At Toulon, we just stayed on the ship for some R&R. The debarkation in Barcelona was easy and well-organized. We booked three tours with a non-HA tour company, Shore Excursions Group, because they had better tours for what we wanted. The HA tours were longer and generally took all day, with the exception of the Pompeii one which we booked. The SEG tours were shorter and we were better able to see just what we wanted. We got a free HA tour of Monaco / Nice because an exhausted passenger and his wife were at the end of their tether and gave us their tickets. My wife and I walked 5k a day for months prior to the cruise so that we would be able to keep up with the excursions (and for good health), and I would recommend getting in 'cruise excursion' shape for anyone taking this cruise. We didn't do much in Albania or Greece, but they were nice to have a relaxing day. (I also had a cold that kicked in on departing Venice; so I didn't want to overdo.) Others who took excursions reported having great times. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
12-day cruise from Venice to Barcelona. Although the ship was supposedly upgraded, we noticed immediately that almost all of the interior elevators had torn, peeling, scratched, damaged wallpaper. Service in Main DR and by cabin stewards ... Read More
12-day cruise from Venice to Barcelona. Although the ship was supposedly upgraded, we noticed immediately that almost all of the interior elevators had torn, peeling, scratched, damaged wallpaper. Service in Main DR and by cabin stewards excellent as always. Lido deck stewards a little slow, and the Taco bar was frequently out of items. We had reserved a second seating, table for 8, but were seated at a table for 8 with only one other couple, of a significantly different age group. Not conducive to making conversation. Pinnacle was excellent; hot stone massage was great. Cruise director and assistant were fun and engaging. Dealers in the casino, on the other hand, were flat and mechanical, as were the pianists in the piano bar- flat and mechanical. BB King group was phenomenal. BBC Live show was also fantastic. Pianist Chris Hamilton wonderful. Embarkation and Disembark were quick and efficient ( we left the ship at 7 AM, and had our luggage checked in at the airport in Barcelona by 7:45). Pre-cruise package in Venice was nice, except that the hotel had no air conditioning the first night, and the windows were not to be opened because of insects in Venice. As usual, HAL excursions were overpriced, and they don't filter out guests by activity tolerance- we went on a walking tour in Dubrovnik (Old City Walls) and they allowed guests with walkers and 2 crutches- this significantly slowed us down and limited what we could see (this was a listed as a strenuous activity). We used Tours by locals in Naples and Florence, and a private guide in Rome. Similar costs, but only 2 people, no bus (Mercedes minivan transport). Very nice cruise, great ports (although Sarande could have been skipped). This was our1 2the cruise, #8 with HAL. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Holland America’s greatest flaw is not providing enough accurate information. This is not a new problem. We have observed this on all our HAL cruises. Celebrity does a much better job. There are so many ways that the information services ... Read More
Holland America’s greatest flaw is not providing enough accurate information. This is not a new problem. We have observed this on all our HAL cruises. Celebrity does a much better job. There are so many ways that the information services could be improved. For example: •Put the port talks on the TV like you used to. We can’t always attend in person. •If you list port information on the TV, give real information and not just photos. And show all the ports, not just a few. •If an excursion is only for back-to-back cruisers, say so in the description. Don’t make me go to the desk and stand in line to find that out. •The maps in the brochure and the interactive maps didn’t always agree! Good grief. •There should be a way to hear the announcements in the room. It is very hard to hear them otherwise. We have to run to the door and open it when we think we hear an announcement, and we often miss it. Other cruise lines have a switch with an option to hear in the room or not. •There are others.... can’t list them all. The food on the ship was OK, but I only had one meal that I thought was excellent. On the positive side, the bed in our cabin was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in! The cabin attendants and waiters were superb. And I love the soap and shampoo with their nice fragrance and tingle. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
We choose this cruise for the itinerary of several Greek islands and the Med, and also the 24 day duration, and Venice as the start/finish point. We liked the port-intensive trip. Holland America service feels quite welcoming and helpful. ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary of several Greek islands and the Med, and also the 24 day duration, and Venice as the start/finish point. We liked the port-intensive trip. Holland America service feels quite welcoming and helpful. The food was good, but menus were a bit too complicated in the dining room for my taste. If you were a picky or ‘simple’ eater it would be hard to find something plain especially for this many nights. Meal size was unpredictable, so it was not safe to order a half portion every night and waiters were not helpful in this regard. Vegetables were a bit scarce. The entertainment varied from mediocre to awful for the most part, saved only by local folkloric dancers, BBKings Blues Club, and some of the classical music. No great vocalists, no group activities, and poorly timed talks/enrichment activities. Lots of cards /board games / jigsaws for the elderly and sedentary, but not what I would consider ‘entertainment’ worthy. It felt like the entertainment budget had been scalped. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
My partner and myself had wanted to do the North Atlantic to Northern Europe but when this deal came along, we couldn't resist. Unfortunately my partner lost his passport on day of sailing and missed the departure. Big Hint here: ... Read More
My partner and myself had wanted to do the North Atlantic to Northern Europe but when this deal came along, we couldn't resist. Unfortunately my partner lost his passport on day of sailing and missed the departure. Big Hint here: First thing to do is to call Holland America and advise them. They will then try to help you get to next port and will do everything necessary to help you avoid large extra charges. My friend didn't do this and wound up with big expenses that a call to the cruise line would have been the much better way to go. My review is based on my being in a corner Neptune suite with a wrap around balcony and dining almost completely in the Pinnacle Grill. While this suite balcony might be great on a Carribbean cruise, on the Atlantic Ocean, totally unnecessary. Plus the side balcony cuts into the cabin size and isn't as big as mid ship suites. Plus, being in the back, I had less visits to the Neptune Lounge and I missed that very much. Of course I had 2 brilliant room stewards. Raymond and Yoman. I like getting up early and having my room done first. No problem for these guys. Thank you very much guys. Having the Lounge is a huge plus. You get the services of 2 fabulous concierges. Mine were Hazel and Anika. Thank you ladies for your great help with my friends' woes and for all you do for the passengers in the lounge. A wonderful place to rest and meet your fellow cruisers. Get a cappuccino or a bite to eat. Work on their computer and watch some TV. Since I was waiting for my friend to make it back from the Miami Passport agency, I didn't arrive on board until about 345PM. Needless to say he didn't make it back on time. So my embarkation.was veery speedy. My cabin was ready and the amount of closet space was very generous. The bathroom was very big with twin sinks. They now have nightlights but I think they're too bright. I bring my own but impossible to turn theirs off. You don't need to be blinded if you need to use the rest room during the middle of the night. The Oosterdam was just in dry dock and had all of her dry goods replaced. That meant I got to be first to use the new beds and linens. Delicious bed. I really wish they could figure out a way of making the twins feel more like a single bed and not 2 beds slid together. I also like having all the goodies that they bring to your suite. Dining: As I mentioned before, I had almost all of my meals in the Pinnacle Grill. Being in the top suites has one perk that I really love and that's a full breakfast in the "Grill". Thanks to Arlen, Ida, Anna and Lesley and all the others that made my days so enjoyable. Dinners were probably the best in my many times on other ships in their Grill rooms. Bravo. So good, I did lunch there a few times. As I'm a 4 star Mariner, I get 50% discount on all meals in the Pinnacle. That includes the pop up "Rudy's Sal De Mer". BTW, I did hear good remarks from the people that ate in main dining room. The Grill chef made my and from my observations of others, great temperature meats and fish and general great dining. Since I was rather bummed out about my missing friend, I didn't get to see many of the shows but did give the casino some action. I broke even, pretty good actually. I also met on board some previous cruiser friends and joined them quite a bit. They too ate mostly in the Pinnacle and our times were very close, so we joined each other a few times. Thanks to Candice Karin and Randy and Steve. The ports were excellent for this crossing. Funchal was our first port and my friend was supposed to meet us there. Alas, they wouldn't let his flight land due to heavy winds, and we didn't meet up until we got to Lisbon. Yikes! He has a crazier story than I do. The other ports were quite good and Joseph and I did a "Taste of Malaga" tour through the group, "We Love Malaga", with tour group owner, Victor. I totally recommend him to anyone. For the other ports we took in the shuttles and walked around on our own. Service on board the ship was almost perfect. I did have a bit of a problem with trying to set up space for our Mah Jong players and it took too many visits to straighten this out but in the end they did find a compromise for our group. Not that I was too happy about it, but not worth getting too upset. Holland America is one of my favorite cruise lines and this was my 24th crossing altogether, so I have experience and know what to expect. We had a very big storm on our journey but the Oosterdam held up beautifully. I heartily recommend this ship and this line. I love sea days. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
This was our 3rd Winter in a row to sail the Oosterdam for our COLD weather get away. We weren't disappointed. Having never sailed from San Diego, we didn't know what to expect. We stayed the night before at Springhill Suites, ... Read More
This was our 3rd Winter in a row to sail the Oosterdam for our COLD weather get away. We weren't disappointed. Having never sailed from San Diego, we didn't know what to expect. We stayed the night before at Springhill Suites, right across the street from the pier. We easily walked across the street about 1045 the morning of the cruise. There was a long line in the terminal, but it moved quickly. We are 4 star mariners, so we got through the priority check in and were seated in the priority boarding area within 20 minutes. They started boarding by 1130 and we were quickly to our room. Our signature suite was remodeled a few years ago, but it was in great shape. Our cabin steward came to check our room right after we arrived. Both stewards were very friendly and efficient. Any requests we made were taken care of with a smile. The ship had a few more bangs and worn edges than it did last year, but it was still in good shape. It was going in for a 2 week dry dock after our cruise, so I imagine some carpet and upholstery will be changed. The crows nest, library area, and Explorations Coffee cafe upstairs was still nice. I understand that's all going to get the new "remodeling " to change it to the EXC area. We always ask for fixed main dining, table for 6. That's what we got and we enjoyed our evening meal. The dining room certainly wasn't full on any night. Our stewards were always happy and very attentive to our wants. We found the selections to be very good most nights and the food was very tasty except for 1 dry chicken dish. We thought 1 bad entree out of 16 night's chioices was pretty good. The lobster, shrimp, and fish dishes were all very tasty. We ate all breakfasts and lunches in the lido. There were plenty of choices and ( except for the final morning) the workers were always quick with clearing tables and offering you drinks. We favor the Asian or salad bar for lunch most days. There was an occasional Dive burger. The evening entertainment met our wants. We don't really care for the production shows, but really enjoyed the comedians and impressionist singer. Each evening we attended the Billboard piano entertainment. We really enjoy the sing along ( although some may not enjoy OUR sing along). We took 2 ship tours which were very enjoyable and they were as stated in the brochure. Our ports were Puerta Vallarta, Hutalco, Guatemala, Nicauragua, Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal, Aruba, and Half Moon Cay. All of these had a quality of their own and were enjoyed. Half Moon was shared with Koningsdam, so it got VERY CROWDED by noon. We chose Luggage Direct, so disembarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was very quick. We were the second group called off, so we left our cabin about 7:35 and were through and to a cab by 8:05. The crew, seas, weather, and ports were all better that we had hoped for. ALL of this made for a WONDERFUL 16 days on the oosterdam. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
For those that are very critical about everything, quit cruising. You will always be disappointed. This was our 164th Voyage. 10th on HAL. We took our kids and 9 month old granddaughter. Staff and Crew were very friendly and never ... Read More
For those that are very critical about everything, quit cruising. You will always be disappointed. This was our 164th Voyage. 10th on HAL. We took our kids and 9 month old granddaughter. Staff and Crew were very friendly and never did we see any one unhappy. We saw many unhappy and crabby passengers who complained about everything. We got glares from so many passengers when we were with our granddaughter. Yes, things were not perfect. But, never are. Ship needs to be updated, but clean and very nice. We had adjoining balcony cabins and were adequate. Embarkation took 10 minutes and disembarking took 20 minutes. Very well organized and quick. Thank you for all of the very negative reviews. It really made this cruise much better than expected. Lido was lacking, but tasty. Food was the usual cruise food. Some great, some so so. But, that was what we expected. Watch out for " Cruise Critic" taking the critical part way to seriously. Treat staff and crew the way you want to be treated. They work to make your cruise special and work many hours. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We enjoy San Diego and had not done the Mexican Riviera before. We enjoyed the cruise but would likely not choose to do this particular one again - once was sufficient. We only did one excursion, choosing otherwise just to explore on our ... Read More
We enjoy San Diego and had not done the Mexican Riviera before. We enjoyed the cruise but would likely not choose to do this particular one again - once was sufficient. We only did one excursion, choosing otherwise just to explore on our own. Of the 3 ports visited Puerto Vallarta was our favorite. Cabo was just too touristy, and we didn't really get a chance to see the place as we did an excursion there so there was no time to see the city. We are now rather spoiled and always choose a Neptune Suite when possible for the roominess and perks that go with them. I would say that the food is consistently good, and the portions are a sensible size. (You can always order more if you like.) We like the fixed seating option so you get to know some new friends and the wait staff get to know you. However, fixed seating seems to be becoming less and less popular. This time we requested a table for 6 (our usual choice) but there were only 4 at the table, and more often than not there were just the 2 of us there. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This 7 day HAL cruise from San Diego seemed a great way to get some sunshine and warmer weather. We enjoyed all three ports. As we had visited and taken tours on a past cruise, this trip we opted for taxis and trips to the beach which ... Read More
This 7 day HAL cruise from San Diego seemed a great way to get some sunshine and warmer weather. We enjoyed all three ports. As we had visited and taken tours on a past cruise, this trip we opted for taxis and trips to the beach which worked out well and cost a lot less. The service on the ship was excellent but that’s what we have come to expect from HAL. We enjoyed the food in the Lido and main dining room and had great service with one exception where the waiter mixed up and forgot some orders. Oh well, 6/7 is pretty good. We had open dining this cruise and chose to sit at larger tables where we met a variety of interesting people. The entertainment was great and we really enjoyed the cooking shows in America’s Test Kitchen. The Oosterdam is an older ship and could do with some refurbishment but our ocean view cabin was in pretty good shape, tub and tv looked new and our cabin steward was very efficient. We were very happy with our trip and paid a deposit on a future cruise as we are definitely sailing with HAL again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We altus loved Holland American Cruises and continued to take them because we felt they were worth the money for a wonderful7 day cruise. The Oosterdam needs updating. The outside chairs on the Promenade deck were all soiled and not ... Read More
We altus loved Holland American Cruises and continued to take them because we felt they were worth the money for a wonderful7 day cruise. The Oosterdam needs updating. The outside chairs on the Promenade deck were all soiled and not appealing to sit on. Our cabin was awful. The crew was great, the food was good and the entertainment was top notch. Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was special and the service was excellent. We took the spa package which was worth the money and enjoyed. Having a cabin that was not in good shape for a week where we slept and got changed our clothes ruined our taste for Holland America for future cruising. We have taken this same cruise 7 times on Princess, Celebrity and Holland America and preferred Holland America until we took the Oosterdam. I have notified Holland America guest services and sent a copy to Orlando Ashford, the President of Holland America, expressing my opinion about our cruise. It will be interesting to see their reply. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Booking - Direct with HAL. Price similar to other agents. Boarding – We boarded in San Diego. Nowadays, the detail work is done online from home so the process was quick. About an hour after arriving at the terminal we were in our ... Read More
Booking - Direct with HAL. Price similar to other agents. Boarding – We boarded in San Diego. Nowadays, the detail work is done online from home so the process was quick. About an hour after arriving at the terminal we were in our stateroom. Gone was the typical crowding into the upper deck cafeteria while awaiting stateroom to be prepped. The ship – Oosterdam is showing its age despite a 2016 refurb. The passageways were full of scratches and dents from luggage. I saw places where the walls had drip marks at the bottom, like someone sprayed surface cleaner and allowed it to run. Ten minutes out of San Diego, the ship began a steady rocking motion which intensified through the night. The next morning I expected to see white caps but the sea was calm. This is my tenth cruise (not counting two years on an aircraft carrier) and I've never been bounced around this much. Many veteran cruisers agreed. The Lido deck has two pools separated by the casual dining area. One has a retractable cover. Only 46 lounge chairs surround the main pool; around them are perhaps 60 or so 4-seat tables. Initially, I thought this to be insufficient but was proved wrong. Of the 8-10 I came to the pool, I always found an available lounger. Stateroom - Our cabin was a typical veranda class. It mirrored the wear & tear of the ship in general. Rather than a typical shower, there's a 4' tub. Gouges in the sink & tub were through the melamine surface exposing the base material. I sat on a wooden chair at the desk and it cracked and broke. I admit to being overweight but 250# shouldn't have done that. Cabin staff was helpful and attentive. Cabin staff was excellent. Any requests were met quickly and cheerfully. Dining - The food was quite good. We enjoyed a good selection of well prepared dishes. There were half a dozen varied entrees each night plus the standard fare (NY strip, grilled salmon or chicken) The breakfast choices were especially diverse. I never knew there were three varieties of Eggs Benedict. If anything, the food might have been a bit too chic. I couldn't pronounce 30% of the menu items. By the end of the cruise, I was ready for a trip to Cracker Barrel. The Lido deck cafeteria was a pleasant surprise with a nice variety that often mirrored the dining room menu. The tables were all set up with place-mats, napkins and flatware. Bus boys bring you iced tea, water or lemonade. Forgot to get ketchup or tartar sauce? Just ask. The dining arrangements were a different story. I had “Open seating” so I called to make a 6pm reservation. No go. They don't take Open Seating reservations for anytime between 5:30 – 7:30 but I could come down w/o a reservation and wait in line. Turns out the wait can be up to 30 min. The next day I called for a 5:30 seating. They told me that the only thing available was after 7:30 and that would be the case for the next several days. Something seemed amiss. Eventually I spoke with the senior waiter. He was very nice and seemed genuinely embarrassed to confess that a computer glitch had jumbled many seating times and table numbers. This poor fellow was forced to do hundreds of seating changes by hand. He quickly resolved my issue and sent a complementary plate of chocolate covered strawberries to our stateroom. A poolside hot dog & burger bar also offers taco fixin's. The food was very good, the fries were outstanding. There are three specialty restaurants with premiums of $15 to $49. I did not visit any of them. Entertainment – Less than stellar. The few evening shows we attended were pretty Ho-Hum. I’ve seen much better talent on Celebrity. About the third day however, we discovered a neat little gem. One of the lounges featured a concert pianist and string quartet. They were amazing. You needed to get there 30 min early to get a seat. Farther forward was a lounge that featured a couple guys playing twin pianos. They were outstanding. Every night 80 – 100 people would crowd in to watch them. It was next to the casino and people would turn chairs from the slot machines to watch the show. I’ve gotta believe the casino manager wasn't thrilled by this. Excursions – Like most cruise lines, these were expensive. We’ve found it’s often cheaper to book your own trips from the non-affiliated companies at the end of the pier. Disembarkation – Very well coordinated and easy. Everybody gets luggage tags and a time slot. We had relatives picking us up so there was no need to rush. We waited in our cabin until 9:30am then spend 20 min in a lounge. When they called our number, the crowd was gone and our luggage was easy to find. Summary – HAL is an attractive choice for older folks. I doubt there were even a dozen school-age passengers. I’d estimate the median age at 70. If you’re in this age group or if you’re comfortable being around older folks, HAL is a good bet. Things are quiet and refined. If you prefer a younger crowd, try Princess or RCCL. If you want a floating fraternity house, consider Carnival. Read Less
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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