Sail Date: September 2011
This was our very first cruise. Went to Alaska in September on the last cruise of the season. While the weather was cold and rainy, and seas were very stormy, we still enjoyed every minute of this trip. We chose HAL based on comments ... Read More
This was our very first cruise. Went to Alaska in September on the last cruise of the season. While the weather was cold and rainy, and seas were very stormy, we still enjoyed every minute of this trip. We chose HAL based on comments here on CC regarding their service and food and we were not disappointed. I wanted to clarify one subject. Previous posters have said the ship is worn out and run down. I have to disagree. This ship is NOT run down. Everything seems to be in good condition and extremely clean. Since the ship is exposed to the sea air and it serves almost 2,000 passengers per day, naturally, the ship will have some scratches, dents, and stains. But overall, this ship was excellent. Employees can be seen constantly cleaning and maintaining the ship. Embarkation / Disembarkation - sailed out of Seattle. All of the port personnel were very helpful and friendly. Check-in was a breeze and we were on the ship within a half hour. Once on the ship, our room was ready. Dropped off our carry on bags and ate at the Lido Buffet. We then toured the entire ship by ourselves. Luggage was on our bed well before the lifeboat drill. Disembarkation was even simpler. It was very quick and ahead of schedule. Room - we had an outside cabin with a partially obstructed view near the lifeboats. This was fine for us. There was still enough view to see the ocean and the weather each morning. The cabin was slightly larger than expected. Very clean and comfortable. Our steward always had our cabin cleaned while we were out. Room seemed very quiet. No problems with noise. Food - we were very pleased with the quality of food. Lido - good variety of food. Desserts were good, as well as a lot of salads and fruits. We also enjoyed their late night snacks that had a theme each night (Indonesian, Victorian, Chinese, etc.). There was pizza too. Lido can get crowded, but lines were never long and we were always able to find seats. Ship was at capacity so we expected long waits. MDR - excellent. We had open seating. Tried to go early since we wanted a table for 2. While it was busy, it was never packed to capacity and noticed most guests did not have long waits. We enjoyed the elegant MDR. Pinnacle Grill - ate here twice. Food and service were excellent. You must try this at least once. Steaks were excellent. Only negative was that I made one reservation for a non-formal night, but apparently it was a formal night. I was dressed in dress slacks, long sleeve dress shirt, and a tie. But upon checking in, was told a jacket was required. But the host said no problem and grabbed a jacket and seated us. He just draped the jacket on my chair and said that I didn't need to wear it. Thought that was a very nice classy touch. Saw other men with polo or dress shirts and they too had to 'carry' the house jacket and place it on their chair. While I respect those who want to dress formally, it doesn't make sense to require jackets when you are on vacation and with all the baggage fees nowadays. From what I saw, around 70% were in suits, while the rest were in acceptable country club attire. Did not see anyone in shorts, workout clothes, or swimsuits. Canaletto - another good restaraunt. Again, good food and service. We enjoyed this change of pace. Just remember to make reservations since it is fairly small. Terrace Grill - hamburgers, hot dogs, and tacos were available next to pool. These were very good to enjoy for lunch. Also, one night there was a 'dessert extrvaganza' which was very nice. Activities / Entertainment - we tried to attend all of the shows. While others have commented that these were not as good as Las Vegas, we enjoyed all the music, dancers, and magic/comedy. Thought that they did a great job. Also checked out the live disco band and game show in the Queen's lounge. A lot of fun. We also signed up for many activities such as cooking demos, bingo, computer classes, and wellness classes. Very well organized. My only complaint here is that the computer classes fill up quickly and is held in a very small area. Also, the instructor allowed the overflow crowd into one of the classes, but he did not allow questions from any of the overflow folks. He said that it would slow him down. Made use of the casino and fitness center which were both enjoyable. Also, checked out the gift shop and their sales near the pool. Not sure if this is because of the end of season or if they always have these sales? But we got some really good deals on shirts, jackets, and sweatshirts. The ship generally had an older crowd, but there were many 'younger' folks (30s, 40s, 50s). Everyone seemed to have fun but it was not a party ship full of young drunks. That was perfect for us. Tours - did not take any tours. We just walked around the city and shopped. Probably worked out since one port was cancelled and the entire schedule was changed due to the storms at sea. Enjoyed Ketchikan since there is a lot to see in very close proximity to the pier. Victoria is a very nice city. You need to catch a bus ($7 all day pass) to get to the middle of the city which is worth it. You can walk, but it might be a slightly long walk. Service - this is where HAL gets a 5+ from us. Every employee was very pleasant and helpful. No one was ever rude and all of the employees seemed very happy. We were told this was the strong point of HAL and we have to agree. Service was awesome! I must say a big thank you to our MDR servers (ASEP and YUDI both from Indonesia) and our LIDO server (NICKY from Indonesia). I wish I had asked for their email addresses to keep in tough. They treated us like family. All of them remembered our names and remembered what we needed with our food and drinks. Hope we run into them again sometime. We are so happy that we chose HAL and its Oosterdam. Although we have nothing to compare to since it was our first cruise, this was a dream trip for us that we will never forget. I highly recommend this cruise and line. We will return!!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Our family of six start our 7-day Alaska cruise on July 31. We live in Seattle, so it was very convenience to get to and from the pier. We checked in around 11A. It was a breeze. Unlike other cruise lines, our 3 verandah cabins were ready ... Read More
Our family of six start our 7-day Alaska cruise on July 31. We live in Seattle, so it was very convenience to get to and from the pier. We checked in around 11A. It was a breeze. Unlike other cruise lines, our 3 verandah cabins were ready by then. Learning from previous review, after checking our cabins and enjoying the views (Sapphire Princess was next to us), we went straight to the Vista Dining Room for our Mariner's lunch. By the way, this was not explained when we checked in; we learned about it from this forum (Thank you). I strongly disagreed with some reviewer who was disappointed about the food. We thought, we had one of the best cruise line food (I have been cruising more than 15 times with various cruise lines). Again, learning from previous review, I ordered sweet and sour shrimp in the Vista. It was excellent. We also tried Canaletto on the Lido deck. Not only the service was outstanding, the food was really good. No charge made it even better. We also tried the Pinnacle Grill one night. Again, we were not disappointed. There were so much food though with many yummy side dishes. On Thursday night, the Vista Dining room served Escargot, which is our favorites. It tasted really good. That's all my daughter ate that night. Three of us always had breakfast and lunches in the dining room since we didn't like too much crowd at the Lido. Service in the dining room was excellent and we got to know many of the crew. There were excellent and hard worker. Despite the grueling schedule, they were always happy, diligent, and eager to please. I've never seen them just hanging around with sour face like we sometimes noticed in other cruiselines we had been in. One thing about the ship. May reviewers indicated that the ship was old. In my view, the ship was elegant and maintained very well. Our cabins were always cleaned There were chips and cracks in certain places, but overall, the cabins were in good condition. we don't have any complains about the ships and our cabins. We've been in a newer ship where the toilet never worked properly. We did not enjoy much of the entertainment except Leo Ward, the magician. He is funny and entertaining. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We arrived in Seattle to meet 2 other couples, which were close family members. We met in the Airport Radisson. Lovely accommodations that were dated and slightly aged, but clean. We brought 4 pieces of luggage which were hard for us ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle to meet 2 other couples, which were close family members. We met in the Airport Radisson. Lovely accommodations that were dated and slightly aged, but clean. We brought 4 pieces of luggage which were hard for us seniors to negotiate to the airport shuttle area, but we did it! Our excitement was very high as 2 of the couple had never "cruised" before. We had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel (quite expensive and not worth it, IMO). The hotel shuttled us back to airport where we found our HAL group for the shuttle to Pier 91. We deposited our carry ons and we were off without a hitch. We could not believe the size of the ship at our first glimpse of it!! The trek into the terminal wasn't too forbidding and there was help all along the way for us "newbies". We checked in and had a little "wait" time but not too long. The embarkation pictures is what hinders the progress but it was one of our favorite of the cruise. They got all 6 of us in a very flattering pose and the quality of pictures are terrific....don't neglect to take the pictures. We went right to our cabins, took pictures, left our belongings and went to the Lido deck for lunch. It was a little crowded but we found seats together, ate our lunch and just enjoyed the fact that we were finally, after all the planning and excitement, on board!! After reading all the reviews of the Oosterdam, I was very intent on looking at all the furniture, carpeting, flooring, to check for wear and tear. I saw very little! It's soon to be dry docked for routine maintenance but really, it was in terrific shape, again IMHO. The cabin stewards introduced themselves after lunch and soon thereafter our luggage arrived. We put everything away and thanks to CC boards, I knew about the space underneath the bed for our empty luggage. There was plenty of storage space, in fact, we didn't even use it all. Unbelievable, because we really over packed, since we didn't really know what to expect. We meandered around the ship, looking it over and planned for our dinner that evening in the Main Dining Room. We were very impressed with the staff, waiters and ambiance in the MDR. The first time or two we had to show our cabin cards but after a day or two they remembered us and we were allowed to just walk in to our fixed seating table. Very lovely appointments at the tables, just like a nice, elegant restaurant. The food was generally very good, with a few exceptions. The quail was ordered one night, expecting a white meat type such as we have in the states, but it was a dark meated type that was not edible. The Lobster bisque was not tolerable either. With those few exceptions the quality was good, presented very nicely, small portions, but with the many courses you can hardly hold it all. Our menfolk ordered multiple entrees of things with no problem. We didn't go to many of the shows but the illusionist was good!!!! There were a few "off-color" innuendos that we didn't appreciate, but I'm sure we were in the minority. We left when the girls came in and began to show their "stuff". We ladies attended a cooking demonstration and flower arranging show. We also went to the illusionist's show to explain some of his "magic" tricks, and how they're done. That was interesting and fun. The ports were nice after so many days at sea. Juneau by far the best! We took an independent tour of the Mendenhall Glacier and a nature center and thoroughly enjoyed that excursion. The price was much better than the HAL offerings. We would have enjoyed Victoria for all day!! As it was, we enjoyed the Empress Hotel shopping and the flowers on the grounds. Amazing!! The embarkation show was informative, especially for our newbies and we followed the instructions and there was not a hitch at all. We were at the airport, got to check in curbside where the shuttle let us off and all without one problem for us! All in all, we had a terrific time. We celebrated our 50th anniversary and DH's 70th BD while on the ship. What a memorable time we had! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We recently enjoyed a week long cruise on the MS Oosterdam sailing from Seattle to Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria BC. Overall the itinerary was very good, although the arrival time of 6pm in Victoria BC was a little ... Read More
We recently enjoyed a week long cruise on the MS Oosterdam sailing from Seattle to Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria BC. Overall the itinerary was very good, although the arrival time of 6pm in Victoria BC was a little late to feel we could fully enjoy the port. Some context - this was our third cruise, having previously sailed a very similar route on the Norwegian Pearl around 5 years ago, plus a Mexican Riviera cruise with Carnival two years ago. This time our party consisted of my husband and I plus our three sons (16, 15, 11) and my husband's mother, brother and sister. The trip was a celebration of my mother in law's 80th birthday. The whole family had a fantastic time on the Oosterdam. One of the great joys of cruising a large ship such as this for us was that there are so many ecosystems on board that everyone was able to find their niche without feeling we were permanently compromising, but we also had many shared experiences to enjoy being together. Our biggest impression was that Holland America in general and the MS Oosterdam in particular are extremely well run. It really felt like this cruise line knew everything there was to know about how to run the ship as efficiently and effectively as possible. Other cruisers: Generally genteel and older (55+) with limited younger families and really very few children given the fact we were in the school holidays. However our sons didn't feel unwelcome or out of place. The crew: Easily the best part of the cruise. Great crew, super cheerful, eager to help and make your stay better, absolutely went the extra mile in all areas. Really, jobs on a cruise are not always the most pleasant, but the HAL crew rose above what must be very repetitive and hard work to make you feel special. Big thumbs up. The ship: Although a little older than other ships we have sailed in, the Oosterdam was extremely well maintained and exceptionally clean. Some of the decor felt a little dated to me, even for a cruise ship, and some of the room fixtures were showing a little sign of wear. However, overall the word 'immaculate' sprang to mind. When we did spot a few items that needed attention and mentioned them to the staff they were fixed immediately. There was limited pool space on the ship, which was fine for Alaska but I think would have been an issue on a hotter route. There was a limited size pool on the rear of the ship outside on deck 9, and another midship on 9 with a sliding roof which was nice touch. A third pool can be found in the Spa, but this was on a fee basis (except when in port) and was typically full of the much older cruisers and didn't really appeal to us. We all really enjoyed the Crow's Nest on deck 10. Great views at the front of the ship, excellent library of novels, periodicals, and non-fiction including large print. My sons enjoyed playing chess in this area, and older family members sat with coffee (fee based) whilst enjoying the wildlife. The Crow's Nest had a really nice atmosphere throughout the day, and there was a really good singer/guitar player who entertained in the evening. My teen sons went to 'The Loft' most days to meet up with their peers. The facilities were limited and the activities a bit lame (scavenger hunt - really it's time to rethink that one!) - but I think just the opportunity to find other kids their own age was good enough and they seemed ot enjoy the facility. The basketball court on deck 10 was also fun but a bit of a challenge in the sea winds. There are also shuffleboard areas on 10, and ping pong/giant chess available on Lido 9. We went to the gym pretty much everyday. I didn't particularly like the facility since it was quite small and also quite hot, however other family members thought it was fine. Location was a bit odd since you had to go through the spa area to access, but it was at the front of the ship with a great view. Promenade deck on 3 was a nice feature. It was very busy in the mornings but quite quiet later in the day. The only downside here was the maintenance crew were painting something down here all week so it was a bit smelly at times. There was a nice movie theater on deck 3 - we went there most evenings after dinner since the movie selection was quite good with high quality recent releases. The seats were super comfortable/recliners, and there was fresh popcorn which was a nice touch. However the layout wasn't great so in fact there were far fewer seats available than really could have been, and it was consistently cold. I particularly liked the outer glass elevators mid ship - nice to be able to still see wildlife and the outside. Cabin: We were in a balcony on deck 5. This was immediately above the lifeboats which initially put me off the view a bit, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Bed was v. comfy and big, bathroom large (even had a bath), lots of clothes storage space, room for cases under the bed. Only gripe was the desk area was a bit crowded. Nice that there were many in room DVD movies available although a limited selection for kids. Food: Overall very good. The restaurant food was far superior in my opinion to the Lido. Evening meals were generally good with a great choice although I think they overdid the adventurous soup route a bit too much. Great fun watching my 16 year old son's face crumple when he discovered what Gazpacho was though! In the Lido, salad and fresh fruit choice was good but I thought the hot meals both at lunch and in the evening led a lot to be desired. Room service food was very good. The coffee throughout the ship was awful. There was a chocolate buffet one evening which looked great and was visually appealing but taste and texture were both a bit lacking. Restaurants: Ambiance and service in the main dining room were very nice. The Lido was OK but really not big enough for peak times when it was a challenge to find somewhere to sit. We didn't use the fee based restaurants. Internet: Our one BIG gripe. This is 2011, the era of facebook and texting. HAL (or maybe it's all the cruise lines?) seem to be in denial over the internet. There was WiFi but it was a ridiculous rate and very slow so pretty much unusable. Get into the 21st century please - free wifi should be seen as necessary as electricity and water, and surely much more important than towel animals at bedtime? Who knows, we might even post our fab pictures of our fab vacation live while we have R&R time and give you some great PR and marketing? There's no option to review Glacier Bay as a port so I'll add our review here. I think this is the highlight of the itinerary, and wouldn't consider a cruise that didn't visit Glacier Bay. What a sight! We sailed in close to the Johns Hopkins glacier for a while, then back out and up to the Marjorie which was absolutely spectacular. Such a great day on the cruise, everyone out on the decks enjoying the gorgeous scenery, hot pea soup, tartan blankets to keep warm, hot cocoa. Local park rangers join the ship to give a great commentary. Even my cave dwelling teenagers came blinking wildly out of the depths of the teen club to soak in the grandeur. 5+++ stars. We had a great cruise for wildlife and scenery. On the first day at sea were treated to whales, dolphins, flying fish as we ate in the Lido. Lots of whales as we headed up to Glacier Bay, and again at Juneau and Sitka. Eagles everywhere. My eldest son even saw a momma bear and three baby bears wandering the streets on the edge of Juneau. Sea Otters, Puffins, Deer, Goats on the wildlife tour. And of course the spectacular blue/grey/white creaking grandeur of the glaciers. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We're a family of three, two adults and one 10 year old girl. This was our second cruise, the first being on The Disney Dream. We chose HAL for Alaska because they have permission to enter Glacier Bay and were recommended by a few ... Read More
We're a family of three, two adults and one 10 year old girl. This was our second cruise, the first being on The Disney Dream. We chose HAL for Alaska because they have permission to enter Glacier Bay and were recommended by a few trusted friends - people who've taken multiple cruises and know our family's preferences. It turns out the Oosterdam was a solid pick. Port Seattle's downtown area is perfectly situated right next to where the ships dock. We arrived in the evening, spent a day doing activities in Seattle, spent a second night at the hotel (We could see our ship come in from the Westin Seattle) and embarked the next day. If you have the time, here a few restaurant recommendations: Top Pot for Doughnuts, Pike Brewery for just about any meal, Belltown Pizza for casual late night dining and Oddfellows for lunch. We also enjoyed a meal and a Greek restaurant called Lola, not too far from The Westin. Embarkation The most pleasant embarkation to date! Port employees were genuinely friendly and helpful. Our photos were taken promptly and we were on our way to our room, which lo and behold was ready! This was a first. Cabin Loved it. Having read the editorial review, I worried we'd be cramped and lack storage. It was a non-issue. We felt we had as much living space as we did on The Dream and the overall design of the cabin was relaxing. Speaking of which, the beds were incredibly comfortable -- better than our bed at home and with nicer linens. I was also impressed with the bathroom. The spa line of toiletries had this great smell, the shower had excellent water pressure and the bath was a decent size. The balcony was also big enough to fit 2 chairs for an adult and a small child, so that worked out well for us. Note: Having cruised twice, I probably would not bother traveling without a verandah. Waking up to see a new landscape is priceless. We met our cabin steward (who did a great job, btw and made excellent towel animals) briefly then headed straight to the Lido for lunch. Food The Lido was a bit crowded on the first day, but we managed to find a seat by the large window and head over to the buffet. Compared to our other cruise, this food was just as good. I'd resigned myself to the idea that cruise food is not always going to be as good as what you'd get ashore, but HAL exceeded by expectations in many respects with the freshness of the produce, fruit and quality of the beef. I can't comment on the seafood as I don't eat it, but the other types of meat (including lamb) were all very tasty. The only thing I found disappointing was some turkey I had one day at lunch, but there was some really good ham that made up for it plus a lot of other things to choose from. There weren't a lot of ethnic choices - just an Asian station with mediocre sushi and the usual Americanized stir-fry dishes, but my husband enjoyed his stir-fry. Because there were so many other choices, I never even made it to the Asian station. So in terms of variety, I thought it was fine. Plus if you're observant, you will also notice they change up the salad selections every day, so if you like various whole grain salads with wheat berries and such, always take a pass by the salad station. Whales and Porpoises Saw quite a few throughout the cruise. If you spend a lot of time looking out the window, you're bound to see one and usually when there's on there are more. First you see the spouts, then you see the whales. Porpoises just kind of come out of nowhere and then start jumping alongside the ships. The three we saw did a little synchronized act alongside the ship. I think they like playing in the wake. Passengers I like babies and don't mind hearing them cry, but when kids get unruly it can be a stress for the parents therefore a ship full of babies can mean a ship full of harried parents. This was not the case on HAL. People seemed fairly mellow and happy. The crowd may have skewed a wee bit on the older side, but I find that a bonus as I tend to enjoy the company of people with more experience on this planet - especially healthy, happy, seasoned travelers. There were also happy young couples and plenty of middle aged parents with kids my daughter's age. It was a nice mix of people from different walks of life. I didn't feel that "I'm here to drop the kids off at the club and get toasted" vibe. Crew Having traveled only on a very large ship, it was nice being on a somewhat smaller ship and having access to the crew. I actually knew the cruise director's name and loved that he participated in game shows and ran trivia. His name was JT and while he was not the captain, he was kind of the voice (along with the captain) of the ship and seemed like someone you could trust to handle any problem that arose. The party planner and culinary host (Kirby) was delightful, the guy who led the tech classes was funny, the spa staff were always visible and friendly, and the captain was the best! He even participated in a culinary demonstration in which he made Dutch pancakes and answered questions about life as a captain. It was truly fascinating and if HAL offers that again, I recommend you go even if you don't have kids. By the end of the tour we felt like they were part of our family and it was kind of sad to leave. By the way, I realize how cheesy that sounds and I never thought I'd say that in a review, but the staff were just so warm and efficient and genuine. Which leads me to the dining room staff. We were supposed to be at a table of 8 but they gave us a table of 4 which meant the three of us weren't sharing a table with another family. It was actually kind of nice not having to make small talk every evening, but even better knowing we'd have the same waiter, Freddy, every night. He was kind to our daughter, remembered our preferences, and very professional at the same time. Okay, so that's enough about the great service. But let's get back to the food. Main dining room food was VERY good. We didn't go until the third night because we had our first dinner at Canaletto and second at Pinnacle, but the main dining room was a sideways step rather than a step down, in my opinion. Pinnacle was good and the steak at Pinnacle was a tiny bit better than the one I had on surf and turf night in the MDR, but the service on the upper level of the MDR was better and overall. That being said, I'd definitely have another evening at Pinnacle for the great steak and maybe a chance to try some other things. As for Canaletto, It was solid and we had excellent service. The food was good, but not quite in the same league as Disney's Palo. Then again, you have to pay extra for Palo. My chicken Marsala was tasty, but it was on par with Macaroni Grill (which I happen to like for casual dining, knowing full well it's not the utmost in cuisine). Okay, moving on. Whoops . Not moving on. Desserts! We loved the desserts on HAL. The cookies were okay, but not very imaginative. They had sugar, chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. Maybe they could throw in a more imaginative cookie? I suggest big ginger cookies for HAL. Seems like they wouldn't be too difficult. The cakes were excellent - moist and in varied flavors and the other desserts were quite inventive. I also loved eating different takes on Baked Alaska every night. The chefs would make it with different flavors of Ben & Jerry's and different sauces each evening. Good thing we could order as many desserts as we wanted. The sundaes, cakes and tarts were all great. There was a cheesecake which I didn't care for because it tasted more like icebox cake than real New York cheesecake, but it wasn't terrible like the gelatinous mess I'd had on the other ship. They also had sugar free desserts such as pudding, Jell-O, some sort of apple thing and chocolate mousse. The breads were all good too, though the muffins were a little heavy and not really my style. The wine by the glass list was rather limited and the bottled wines were all marked up. I never thought I'd say this, but it might be work taking your own wine on board and paying whatever corkage fees they charge. That, or just order wine by the glass. If you do order a bottle of wine, they cork it when you're done and bring it out the next meal. That was kind of nice, as we don't typically drink a bottle of wine every night. Activities We loved going to the daily trivia game, culinary demos, craft session and game shows. Bingo was a lot of fun too and there were plenty of kids in attendance, which is always a riot. We only did one Bingo game because you have to pay for it, but next time I'll budget for more bingo. When there weren't activities going on, we either swam or read books and played games in the Explorations lounge (more on that later.) Entertainment The singers and dancers were fine, but they could use some new material to work with. We still enjoyed watching them. The magician, Leo Ward, was fantastic. Our daughter couldn't stop talking about him. The whole family also liked the comedian who was funny without being raunchy. I'll also add that we went to all the 10:00 shows. That's way past the usual kid bed time, but on a cruise it didn't seem to matter and there were other well-behaved kids in attendance. Kid's Area It was small and homey with lots of planned activities games and I believe, X-boxes. Kids came and went. It never seemed over-crowded, but there were always enough people for our daughter to play with. She only went twice in 7 days, but the Kid's Club staff remembered her and wrote her a personal goodbye letter on the last day. Oh, and they kids did a talent show one day! They got to perform in the Queen's Lounge on a real stage and everyone on the ship was invited (though not everyone came, thank goodness). The staff were so encouraging and supportive of the kids' talents. Again, that was just another advantage of a small kid's club. Not having a toddler, I didn't pay any attention to policies on toddlers, but I really didn't see a lot of them on board anyway. Pool Always a nice place to swim and never too crowded. Hanging out by the pool was fun because it always smelled like hamburgers. There were lots of comfy chairs and of course, a nice view out of the windows. Because we were in a cold climate, it was covered, though the top of the deck as a big skylight type thing that they can open during nice weather. Explorer's Lounge/Crow's Nest Filled with periodicals, books, a paperback exchange (I traded two new good books for two new good books), puzzles and games, this little coffee lounge was our favorite room. It had really comfortable chairs (3 or 4 were Eames) and sofas and you could always find a place to sit back and enjoy your book without being secluded or truly alone because the Explorer's Lounge connected with a much larger lounge called Crow's nest which had a big wall of windows. It was pretty much the living room of the ship - always busy, but never over-crowded or unpleasant. Casino I've been known to throw money in the slots from time to time, but this room didn't appeal to me. It was dark and smoky. We always walked through it really quickly. The casino host seemed really nice, though. If you don't mind the smoke and like games, it seems like a fun place to learn some gaming lessons. I just can't sit very long in a room full of smoke, but I'm probably not the casino's target audience anyway. I'm not sure we'll ever see non-smoking casinos, sadly. Overall Opinion Our first cruise set the bar pretty high. This one was a completely different experience which had a completely different bar set at that same level just in a different spot. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We arrived in Seattle a few days early to spend some time with my son who is in grad school in Portland and a dear family friend who also lives in Washington. We had lots of fun and the weather was great in Seattle before we left on our ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle a few days early to spend some time with my son who is in grad school in Portland and a dear family friend who also lives in Washington. We had lots of fun and the weather was great in Seattle before we left on our cruise. Our hotel dropped us off at the dock. Even though we ended up toting our baggage to the building, it wasn't a big deal. This was nothing like the last cruise I went on via Houston, Texas, where it was wall to wall people and cars and pandemonium. We quickly went through security and dropped off our bags. Very easy! Then walked to the window and got our key cards. We waited for about 45 minutes (there were no chairs available but fortunately I found an extra chair by a wine tasting sign up area with a young couple going on their honeymoon. I hope they had a great time!) I really needed a chair. My knees and legs got inflamed when we got to the airport in Seattle and thought the light rail was close by. Be prepared for a long walk dragging your heavy bags if you decide to use this mode of transportation. It really messed my legs up which gave me mobility issues during the entire cruise and trip. Our group was called and we quickly entered the ship. We found our stateroom (no luggage yet) and then went to the Mariner's Lunch. My sister and brother in law, our cruising companions, had cruised on Carnival and so that entitled them to the Mariner's Lunch. It was no problem for us to join them. It was a lovely lunch and after walking (or me limping) around the deck, we went back to our rooms and our luggage had arrived. We booked the VH category which came with a balcony. Since we had rooms side by side, our steward opened the divider between the balconies so we could enjoy the scenery together. The room was very clean and the view of Seattle was spectacular. We very much loved the balconies. We ate in the MDR for dinner and met our server, Freddie. He was a great server and treated us very well. The food was all very good for the most part. I only had a couple of meals that I didn't care for. For the most part, our group thought the desserts were not that spectacular. Since we were on CST, I changed us to the late dinner seating. That was a big mistake because we couldn't go to any 8 p.m. shows due to the 7:45 dinner seating (and you can't go to the MDR at 5:45, they won't allow you to eat during that time if you have the 7:45 set time). And by 10 p.m., we were too tired to stay up that late. We did go watch Leo the magician's show after reading so many good reviews on CC. We ate the second night (at sea) at the Italian restaurant. My lasagna was dried out and I couldn't eat it. BUT everyone else in our group thought the food was good. We had rough seas that night and so it took me a while to feel back to normal the next day at Glacier Bay. We did go to the Crow's Nest which I had read about on CC, but the first time we went was super crowded. Hubby and I went a second time, enjoyed a happy hour drink special and listened to the guitarist. I regret that we didn't get to see more shows but the time change was a killer for us. Alaska time is an extra HOUR added on so we were three hours off our regular time. We did go watch the Dutton Family (from Branson and Mesa, AZ) who made a special appearance for a cruise group that had organized. That was in the afternoon and we enjoyed watching the very talented family perform. We had terrific weather for the cruise -- only that one rough day. The crew was very welcoming and made each person feel special. We ate in the Lido from time to time. I loved the Asian station. I think those noodles were my favorite. It is kind of pandemonium there and we got tired of it so we ended up eating the rest of our dinners in the MDR. We ordered room service every morning so that we could have coffee in our room. I don't think I would ever go cruising again without that balcony. I LOVED whale watching, dolphin watching, site seeing - everything was so much better being able to have my own balcony. With my mobility issues, it was great that I didn't have to go find a window to look out. Our stateroom bed was FANTASTIC! It was nice not having to bring shampoo, conditioner and soap. There is a blow dryer and we did have a fridge in our room. But nothing else was in there like cotton swabs. We had no issues with any mysterious charges on our bill. The small couch in our room was very uncomfortable as was the worn chair. Definitely needs to be replaced. But the rest of the ship was fine. I didn't see any wear and tear that was super noticeable. All in all it was a great cruise and I have no issues with the ship at all or HAL. I think some folks who post here are super critical or maybe I am just easy to please and happy to be on vacation! I would highly recommend this cruise. The trip to Glacier Bay was the HIGHLIGHT of our cruise. The weather was spectacular and we watched the glaciers calve several times. Bald eagles were flying around it. This is what makes this particular cruise/cruise line so awesome to be able to be up close and personal with a huge glacier! My one caveat is that if you truly want to experience the real Alaska, you won't on this cruise due to the time limitations of the ports. Now for those who do float plane trips, (I don't do little planes!) maybe they have a different opinion. I'll give a port by port review but each ship docks right in the heart of tourist traps. Many of the shops are even owned by the cruise lines and all have the same stuff. I kept asking the local bus driver in Sitka where do the locals go for lunch. She just brushed it off that they don't eat out. My next trip there (if I can walk!) would probably be by plane and then with a car so I could really see and experience the real Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Another great cruise on HAL, been on the Oosterdam several times and will be back on board in December for Hawaii...the ship, as many have stated here, does show some signs of wear, but give me a break folks, ships are used 24/7 by ... Read More
Another great cruise on HAL, been on the Oosterdam several times and will be back on board in December for Hawaii...the ship, as many have stated here, does show some signs of wear, but give me a break folks, ships are used 24/7 by thousands of passengers and just like your favorite hotels, they get refurbished periodically...last time for "O" was in 2009 and it will be done again this year, the last week in September. A few specifics...embarkation was a breeze as usual...have your boarding pass and passport in hand...grab your room key from the friendly shore staff and viola...you on the ship very fast!!! After more than forty cruises on different lines, HAL is our favorite, the food and service are always good...don't miss eating in the Pinnacle Grill at least once, it's well worth the extra money and do try Canaletto too!!! Our cabin and the stewards were fine as usual and for relaxation, we do highly recommend the thermal suite and spa, no better way to prepare for dinner. I feel that I must mention the Master of Oosterdam, Captain Van der loo, with whom we have sailed previously...he is first of all a gentleman, but also a very responsible professional that has a funny side that makes him very well liked by both the his passengers and his crew. Some captains are very aloof and out of touch with the passengers, but not this guy!!! Also, cruise director J T Watters on this voyage is probably one of the best and most fun CD's that we have had in a long time...he works extremely well with Captain Van der loo to enhance the whole cruise experience. Looking forward to Hawaii in December after the refurbishment in drydock!!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
My husband and I, early 40's, took our first Alaskan cruise without our children (but want to take them someday because they will love it!). This was our first HAL cruise, though we have cruised many times before. We have sailed NCL, ... Read More
My husband and I, early 40's, took our first Alaskan cruise without our children (but want to take them someday because they will love it!). This was our first HAL cruise, though we have cruised many times before. We have sailed NCL, RCCL, Carnival, and one Oceania. We have decided the HAL line is our favorite so far. We arrived the day of the cruise but did stay one day after the cruise to explore Seattle. We stayed at the Mayflower hotel. It was perfect in regards to location to Pike Market, downtown and the Lightrail, which was only $2.75 to get us to the airport the next morning. Very easy. Nice hotel. Would stay again for sure. This was our first time on any HAL ship. We sailed the Oosterdam. Things we loved about this ship that were different from all of the RCCL, NCL and Carnival ships we have cruised on: 1. The free Microsoft computer classes (mostly about downloading pics, making slide shows, editing pics but other topics as well). These classes were of excellent quality. My husband was blown away and learn a lot that will be very helpful to him. He owns his own business. The classes were not trying to sell you something like most classes do. They are for all levels. I can't say enough about them. I don't think people take full advantage of these classes because they do not realize how good they are. Get there about 15 min early because they fill up. 2. Loved the informational lectures about the ports you are going to, the history of the people that live there, info about the landscape, etc. This was such a welcome relief from the overkill of "hairy chest" contests, silly games, etc. on the other lines we have sailed. We are not stuffy people but sometimes all of that silly stuff gets old and is the same thing over and over again. It was great to have the background info about the places and people we were visiting. 3. They are not as pushy with sales of things like other ships we have been on. 4. Loved the open deck space on deck 3 that was never crowded. We spent the whole day there on Glacier Bay day. Loved the blankets and towels ready and waiting on the decks. 5. Loved the Explorers Cafe/Library. It was very large, big windows, and tons of books and magazines. This was the most well-maintained library I have ever seen. Don't bother lugging along books and magazines or travel books. They have many that you can check out. Negative - Internet is very slow (even when using your laptop), like most cruise ships we have been on. Food - The food was fine. It was somewhat limited in the buffet but the quality was better than other lines we have sailed. Port & Shore Excursions - We visited Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria, and Seattle. I wrote detailed info in the "ports" section of this review. Stateroom - We had an interior K. It was close to the elevator, which we loved. I would get an interior room again if traveling to Alaska because of the "light issue". The sun sets very late and rises about 4:00 AM in July. That would have really bothered me. We slept great in our dark room. Dining - We did open seating since it was just my husband and I. I wouldn't do for a large group but it worked well for us. Food and service was very good. Entertainment - Was below average but we didn't mind. We were too tired for the late night shows anyway. Disembarkation - Very easy, friendly staff Loved HAL and have already booked another cruise for next summer. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
I'm going to attempt to give a comprehensive review providing the details I was not able to find before our cruise. We sailed on the Oosterdam from July 17- July 24. We booked our cruise three weeks before sailing, and got a great ... Read More
I'm going to attempt to give a comprehensive review providing the details I was not able to find before our cruise. We sailed on the Oosterdam from July 17- July 24. We booked our cruise three weeks before sailing, and got a great deal. We were supposed to have an HH stateroom (lifeboat obstructed view) but pleaded with our travel agent to see if we could change. The ship was full, no such luck... until 2 days before sailing- she got us a verandah room! (I saw no benefit to a travel agent until this point, at which I was VERY happy! I firmly believe w/o this connection we would not have been upgraded) Seattle/Embarkation: We stayed in Seattle for 2 nights prior to the cruise at the Sheraton Seattle-very nice hotel. If you stay in Seattle on either end of your cruise, do NOT take the 'Downtown Airporter' shuttle. It advertises as $10 less than a taxi ride. (The Link is a deal at $2.50 but we arrived at 11:30 pm and had to walk downtown w/luggage- no thanks.) We waited for an HOUR before boarding our shuttle, our driver got lost (!) and thankfully I had a map, we directed him ourselves! For $10 more, the taxi would have been much better. (I called and got a full refund) We loved downtown, highly recommend the Duck Tour, Underground Tour, visit to the Pike Place Market. The Seattle Aquarium was way too crowded on a Saturday- very nice place but go on a weekday if possible. You can bring fruit on board; we bough fresh fruit at the market and put it in our stateroom minibar fridge. We arrived around 1:45 to embark, it was crowded but orderly. I think cruise info says you can arrive at 1, but we later learned you can come as early as 11. I doubt you can access your room that early, but you can have meals and tour the ship (many organized tours of places you'd otherwise not see behind the scenes if that interests you). They deliver the baggage to your room for you so arriving early wouldn't be a hassle, just keep the things with you that you might need. We took a taxi there (not sure of the price) but the convenience was worth it- dropped off right at the terminal. Don't take the bus there, it is a very long walk.Stateroom: No complaints. Here's a tip- we were port-side. I think this is the better side for this trip. We faced the port town in each call except Seattle (no big deal there.) We were on the side that lingered longer at the glaciers and faced them on the way in (on the way back, it is dinner time so you could just sit at the restaurant on the best side). Yes, the captain turns the boat around, but he spent nearly the entire time port side, maybe only 20 minutes starboard side before leaving Marjorie Glacier. For this reason alone, I would also recommend upgrading to a balcony room. The weather was gorgeous and we sat on our balcony the entire time at Glacier Bay. On the way back to Seattle, we faced the coast. Our particular room was right by the elevators. Our steward was wonderful, though we only met him once- our room always looked great. We are folks who like to sleep in, and if we placed the 'service please' sign outside our room, it was cleaned RIGHT away. There was wear and tear in the room but I'll address that later.Open or Assigned Seating: Unbeknownst to us, we were signed up for an assigned seat and time for dinner. At first we were upset, as we received a table by ourselves and looked forward to meeting people. But I have changed my tune and here is why: the lower level of Vista is open seating, and is available for all three meals. The upper level is only available at dinner and is assigned seating. We ate lunch in the lower level one time. The waiters down there had much poorer English and seemed confused by our ordering. That never happened, ever, upstairs. My theory is this: the best waiters are upstairs b/c they see the same people each day and develop a deeper relationship w/passengers. Our steward, Ajibon, was so great, as were the others that assisted him. The head waiter checked on us nightly. You have a better view of the mid-area platform for the crew night of dancing and singing. We had the 7:45 time and it was great. We sometimes arrived late, and they accommodated us, but they close the doors upstairs at 8, so you know. We would just walk right up to our table, with no hassle, each night.Dining/Food: I don't know what people are talking about when they complain about the food on this ship. I am a foodie, and I was so pleased. The only meal I was not very pleased with was the salmon on the first night; it was good, just nothing spectacular-I just think it is that dish's preparation. We had it all: salmon, lobster, crab, veal, lamb, beef, chicken, duck, (among many other options we did not choose.) So good! Every night I chose the chilled soup (various kinds) as part of my meal- delicious! The lamb, particularly, was wonderful. Each dish was presented nicely. We ate in the dining room every night except once in Pinnacle Grill. Pinnacle is totally worth the money, we loved it. It felt like a date night in the middle of an already relaxing vacation. I would advise dressing very nicely, as it seemed a totally different clientele in this restaurant- I suspect some people choose to dine here nightly just for the classy ambiance. I had no problems with food served cold or improperly heated plates, as mentioned in other reviews. We hardly ate in the Lido room. Their breakfast has many options, which were good. We had lunch in there a few times, always pizza; also good. We never tried Canaletto because I was so happy with our steward and the food at Vista. On room service: we utilized room service breakfast every day but 2. They were very good about delivering it on time. If I left a note about a tight time for a shore excursion, or to include something not on the breakfast menu, they accommodated us. We ordered room service the night before we sailed into Victoria. We were packing and I envisioned chaos in the dining rooms as everyone perhaps wanted to eat before leaving for Victoria. Not sure if that happened, but it was so nice to have dinner in our room and calmly pack before our last shore excursion. I also recommend breakfast in the room the day of disembarkation. No hectic lines for me.Bars/Beverages: The drinks on the ship are neither under- or over-priced. But boy, are they good! I loved trying the cocktails, and they were made to perfection. We loved the Ocean bar, it was mellow, never crowded, and had great seats- not too flashy, as some bars on the ship can be. One tip, though I don't know why- when we had drinks at the Ocean bar, we had appetizers brought to us as well- and they were good! Spanikopita, mixed nuts, and several other delicious items. I came to expect this, but in other bars, it did not happen. ?? Perhaps it is the time of day? We did not ever make it to happy hour- from 4-5 daily- because we were always napping then!! :) But we would go early for a drink before dinner, and loved this daily ritual. If you are a coffee person, the prices on the ship are great compared to any place on land- between $1-3. We did drink the soda in our room fridge, and it was never restocked- though if I had asked, I am sure it would have been.Entertainment: Okay, lots of people have complained about the singers/dancers. Yes, do not expect top-of-the-line shows. But, we went every night except the comedian. The poor singers and dancers are constricted by cheesy synthesizer tracks and overdone costumes and wigs. I am sure they are more talented than the shows allow. The singers were pretty good, but they had big cheese factor- esp. the main girl and her solo ballads. That said, if you are going to attend one of their three performances, go to 'Garage Band', midweek. It was way better than the other ones! I am sure many don't see it, as they assess earlier in the week that it isn't so great. But it was lively, well done, and fit generationally better w/the ages of the performers while retaining mass appeal. Less cheesy, more captivating. The magician was good, but not as good as people have raved. He was VERY funny though- I enjoyed the laughs more than the tricks. The Indonesian crew show on the last full day is very endearing but a little rough around the edges. By that time, though, you love the staff so much it's okay. But you could miss the show without missing much. Meanwhile, the musicians performing around the ship are very, very talented. In that regard, the entertainment exceeded my expectations.Ship condition: Many people talk about how worn the ship appears. It's not so bad in most places. But I do have a comment for any HAL employees who might read these reviews. It is perfectly understandable to have wear and tear on permanently fixed items such as bathroom floors, tables, walls, etc. However, the wear and tear that was very visible on easily replaceable items was unacceptable: fraying bath robes, stained shower curtains, worn menus, faded chair cushions on balconies and decks... these items should be kept updated, as these little things communicate the quality of the entire ship, and are visibly worn out. But, it really did not affect the overall experience. Many places had no wear at all. People who get so upset about these things are not looking outside enough- such beauty, or are noticing the incredible service. The quality of service more than makes up for the wear, and the ship heads to dry dock in 3 months.Glacier Bay: Wow. I am amazed. What a day. Bring your binoculars!Ports of Call/Shore excursions: I was never let down with the HAL excursions we booked! I am including port information in the port review section.Weather: We lucked out and had sunny weather every day but in Ketchikan and our day at sea. I would pack the gamut as I needed every article of clothing. There are fleece blankets in your room and I hear, blankets provided outside. We used these outside at Glacier Bay. Just in that one day, we went from all hats/gloves/sweaters/coats/blankets to my husband sitting in shorts with his shirt off! The sun makes a HUGE difference. Even when you go out in the ports, pack a few things to take on/off. You'll need it. We didn't have a problem with mosquitos but better to be safe than sorry.Photo package: It is pricey- $199 for 5 sheets (five of each: 8x10, 5x7, ten wallets each) and digital files. I say, pose for the many pictures they offer and then see what you get. We got outstanding photos and bought the package just because we are not often happy with formal pictures (me especially) But, if HAL fully digitized their photos so that they are not printing them all- and throwing MANY away at the end of the cruise, the cost would go way down, the labor would go way down, and it would be a much 'greener' endeavor. It's crazy to think just of our own photos that we did not take- easily about 30. Multiply the entire ship- what a waste of paper and ink, HAL. And of course that cost is passed onto us with such a hefty photo package price.Spa: We did not partake but I would do the thermal room/whirlpool option next time around. It is $199 per couple for the entire cruise- about $14 per person per day. It is a blissful adults only retreat. The Lido pool is enclosed and DOMINATED by children- don't imagine you'll get in the hot tub unless it is a really odd hour. The Aft pool is exposed and I don't know if anyone went there in Alaska. The spa package guarantees that you can have that hot tub blissful experience whenever you want- 8am-10pm. I really wanted it but then my husband bought me jewelry in Juneau, so there you have it! :) Maybe next time. Disembarkation: You are given a 15 min. window to disembark. It was so easy- we were completely done in 20 min. The crowds in the terminal are crazy, but move quickly. We had a prepaid transfer, and it was super duper easy. We walked out of the terminal, told a HAL employee which airline we were flying, and we walked to the corresponding coach. A pleasant surprise: commentary from the bus driver/tour guide the whole way to the airport. The quick boarding and commentary made it more than worth the price, which I think is less expensive than a taxi ride. Very seamless and highly recommended.Why HAL?: I've never cruised before, so I can't really remark. But we never had to wait in lines deeper than a few people, with the exception of getting on and off the ship in ports of call- no surprise. There were open seats everywhere. We never had to wait to be seated in any restaurant. We received service every time we asked for it. We were kept well informed. The food was wonderful. The ports did not disappoint. The excursions were outstanding. Once the Oosterdam is refurbished, nothing will detract.On a much sadder sidenote: A cruise passenger went missing on our cruise, between Sitka and Ketchikan. A 20-year-old, Blake Kepley, was traveling with extended family for a matriarch's 80th birthday (or something like that) and disappeared in the early morning hours. We were kept abreast of the situation with periodic updates from the captain. Sadly, I do not think this situation has a happy ending- as of writing this review, the Coast Guard has called off the search and he has not been found. But- we were able to witness the security procedures of the ship- we saw many employees conducting the search on board, and we also were well-informed by the staff. Many on board were talking about it, and the overall tone was one of worry. The ship did a good job maintaining 'business as usual' while appearing very respectful and concerned for the family. We are not privy to further details, and cannot comment on the overall responsiveness as info was rightfully kept minimal. But, with what we did observe, they seemed very responsive and respectful. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
To start, let me say that this was my first "real" cruise experience. I had previously been on a 2 day Celebration cruise as a trial to see if I was ok with being on a boat, but this cruise was my first lengthy cruise on a more ... Read More
To start, let me say that this was my first "real" cruise experience. I had previously been on a 2 day Celebration cruise as a trial to see if I was ok with being on a boat, but this cruise was my first lengthy cruise on a more upscale cruise line. SHIP INFO: The Oosterdam is an older ship that underwent a refurbishing in 2009. The layout works well, and there are ample activity spaces and common areas. The ship has a lively decor, but is not too over the top. In particular, I appreciated how many areas there were with exceptional views and comfy couches. There were plenty of nooks on the ship where one could sit peacefully. There are some parts of the ship that show some wear, in particular the pool deck. The floor does have significant chipping and lots of scuffs. However, it was always clean. Overall, although dated in a few spots, I found the ship to be nicely updated and quite pleasant overall. ACTIVITIES: All ages and interests can be accomodated by the activities on the ship. This cruise is definitely designed for those traveling without children, although the few I saw on board were having a great time. Specifically, I attended cooking classes, played Bingo, used the library, the fitness center, etc. The daily itinerary included many choices and there were often so many things that interested me, I had to pick and choose. With 7 days on the boat, and the first 2.5 at sea, I thought I would get bored or activities would feel repetitive, but that was never the case. SERVICE: One word: Exceptional. Every crew member I encountered greeted me with a smile and bent over backwards to assist me in any way possible. PORT and SHORE EXCURSIONS: I could write a book about how much I loved the excursions. First, regarding booking through HAL, I think it is by far the best choice. Every excursion was well planned and well executed. Shore representatives were highly visible, transportation used was clean and safe, and we were always returned to the port on time. The excursions themselves were so wonderful. In Juneau, we did the dog sledding on Mendenhall Glacier...very costly, but worth every penny. I am very well traveled and I can say with certainty that this was the best travel experience I have ever had, if not the best day of my life. The helicopter ride to the glacier was breathtaking, but the time spent with the dogs and musher at dog camp was indescribeable..quite simply amazing. We also took the tram in Juneau and walked around the hiking trails...lovely views. In Sitka, we did the Ultimate Adventure Combo, speed boat and 4x4 trip. We spent over 4 hours enjoying and absorbing nature at its finest. This excursion is quite rugged and adventurous...it is not for the fragile or timid...but if youre up for some adventure, you'll love it. We saw so much wildlife as well...otters, eagles, sea lions, deer...just awesome. In Ketchikan, we went ziplining (Bear Creek adventure) and we loved it. Neither of us had ziplined before, and were somewhat nervous, but the guides were great teachers. I felt 100% safe the entire time. In Victoria, we did our own thing...it was nice to just stroll aimlessly without a plan. STATEROOM: We opted for a Verandah room on the 8th deck, front of ship. The room was spacious (for a cruise), clean and comfortable. The bed and pillows were very comfortable and exceeded my expectations. Some of the furniture in the room was also a bit dated and showed its age; there was a cigarette burn hole on the chair on our balcony, and some furniture was a bit worn, but these things do not impact my overall trip. Could it use a few updates, yes; but the room and bathroom were clean and comfortable, the tv worked well, and the balcony provided great views. Overall, I was very pleased with our room. Also, the steward came twice per day and was also available if we needed anything. And the towel animalsnwere adorable. DINING: I loved the food on this cruise...LOVED the food. I have read reviews on this site where other travelers have called the food mediocre, tasteless and no better than cafeteria fare. With all due respect, those folks are quite incorrect. The variety of food, and quality and freshness of food was astounding. The crew prepares 13,000 meals per day on this ship....i dont know how they do it. Sure, everyone probably had a bowl of soup that could have been hotter or eggs that were slightly overcooked, but I choose not to let one minor instance impact my overall opinion. We dined in the Vista Lounge, The Lido, the Pinnacle Grill (twice), at the Le Cirque night, and also tried the speciality menus such as the dessert fest, the clam bake, the taco bar, and the sausage extravaganza...all were great. We thought the Pinnacle Grill was definitely worth the upcharge; order the Land and Sea entree. In 7 days, eating at least 3 meals a day (but usually 4 or 5), Neither I nor my husband ate a single thing that we did not like. ENTERTAINMENT: We tried to attend a variety of the entertainment offered. The comedian, Julie Barr, was hilarious. The illusionis, and ventriliquist were also good. The singers amd dancers were better dancers than singers...they were off key a lot, but the costumes and energy of the shows were great...i looked past the vocal flaws. The pianist in the piano bar was talented and there was a trio of string players that played daily. If you appreciate classical music, dont miss this trio. Other areas like the sports bar and dance club were fun too...DJ Brett is great! We went to a show of some type every night and enjoyed them all. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION Both were a breeze. When we boarded, folks sailing with Princess seemed to be in a line that would last an hour at least. We were checked in and on the ship within 20 minutes. For disembarkation, we followed the instructions and had no problems whatsoever. Within 20 minutes, we were on the airport shuttle, with all of our luggage. One note about the airport shuttle...some reviewers complained that passengers are dropped off in a remote part of the airport and forced to walk to the terminal. This is a gross exaggeration. The shuttle makes one stop, at one end of the terminal, which does result in a longer walk for those on certain airlines. The shuttle does not do airline specific drop offs like a taxi would. Those flying United and Continental have the shortest walk; those on Southwest and USAir have a moderate walk, and those on Delta and American have the longest walk. None of the distances were unreasonable, but those with lots of luggage or mobility issues may prefer to take a cab and be dropped off right in front of their airline. MISC/HELPFUL INFO 1. There are no irons in the rooms or on the ship...iron before you go and pack wrinkle free options. Pressing and steaming are available for a charge if you need it. 2. Internet access is sold by the minute. On boarding day, you can get 270 minutes for $100. a recent reviewer dedicated a lengthy paragraph to how poor the internet service was. ??????? IT IS A CRUISE SHIP!!!! The internet cannot possibly work asvwell as it does in your house. The ship cannot possibly guarantee connection speeds and useage rates....I brought my IPad and used my 3G connection in the port cities with no problem. If you have a smart phone, you can catch up on email and facebook in all 4 ports for no extra charge. If internet is a must, theybhave it, along with a well equipped internet cafe, but please realize you are on a boat in the middle of the ocean...you will not get a high speed connection. 3. Do your shopping off the ship. The items on board are nice, but the same or similar items can be found in each port for less money. In Juneau, every store sells nice fleece lined jackets for 19.99. If you think you need to purchase a jacket, do so in Juneau, not on the boat. 4. Drink prices were fair and drinks were strong. In the lounges, they had decent wines by the glass for 4.50 each; vodka drinks were 7.00, but strong. The drink prices were no higher than youd oay in a bar in any city. Also, there were multiple happy hoursbwhere drinks are buy one get one for $1. We got two glasses of wine and two vodka tonics for $15...not bad at all. 5. Buy the pass for the Thermal Suite and Pool. We paid $199 as a couple for access for the entire trip. Best purchase we made. We used the members only pool, thermal suite and steam rooms everyday. They were clean, semi-private, and very relaxing. 6. Laundry service is available on the boat for $20 per bag or $50 unlimited. Next time I will pack less and do laundry. 7. I was underwhelmed with the photography on board. The pictures werent that great, and they were way to expensive. Packages started at $100 and went up to $400. Spend that money on your own camera instead...I took over 500 pics, and am framing many of them. Much better use of funds. 8. There is a library on board with an excellent selection of books to check out. 9. Shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are in large dispensers in the shower, no need to pack those. BUT, the hairdryer in the room is very weak. It took me close to 20 minutes to dry my hair. If I went again, I would leave the shampoo at home and bring my own hairdryer. 10. Eat at the Pinnacle Grill....excellent food excellent service. The Land and Sea entree and the steaksbare the most impressive. Lobster tail and Lobster mac and cheese were underwhelming. But if you want a great steak and excellent service, book a night at Pinnacle SEATTLE: one quick restaurant recommendation for those adding a night in Seattle. 94Stewart on Stewart St, right by Pike Market, was excellent. OVERALL: I loved this cruise. All vacations have their flaws, but my trip wasnt ruined by a paint chip on the pool deck or slighly overcooked omlette. People who expect perfection shouldnt travel or leave their own homes. HAL provided exceptional service, wonderful food and amentities, fantastic excursion options, and an overall outstanding vacation. This was by far the best trip of my life!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Oosterdam Alaska from Seattle Review- July 17-24th 2011 This was a wonderful and relaxing trip. DH, 50; DD,16; and I, 49; had been on the Oosterdam to the Mexican Riviera a few years before and it was fun to notice a few changes but ... Read More
Oosterdam Alaska from Seattle Review- July 17-24th 2011 This was a wonderful and relaxing trip. DH, 50; DD,16; and I, 49; had been on the Oosterdam to the Mexican Riviera a few years before and it was fun to notice a few changes but was easy to feel at home. The noticeable change was the library/coffee/ internet area area was now in the crow's nest. I thought that was great. I am not a good writer and I will not get the ship terms correct but I have always flaked on doing a review so this time I'm doing one! We stayed At the Arctic Club Doubletree Seattle for three nights before embarkation. It was a very nice hotel but a bit pricey. The ship: This is the only time I have been on a ship twice and it was great to feel at home right away. I thought the ship was in great condition and was very clean. My husband noticed some more wear and tear and felt it wasn't kept as clean as last time. Our suite was kept immaculate though there was some grout in bathroom that had some mold in a few places - no big deal. Our room stewards did an excellent job keeping everything spotless. They told us they had 30 rooms. Wow. I did call for housekeeping service the first day when our rooms with sofa bed (couldn't use sofa) were still not made up by 11am, after that they came the minute we left our room. I thought the ship was well arranged and easy to get around. It was very easy to avoid smoking areas. Just made sure to take floor 3 to the showroom. This ship felt empty the whole week and we had bars and the promenade to ourselves many times. The Lido never had lines of more than 2 or 3 people - maybe we ate at odd hours??? Our Suite: we had room 7151 SB aft suite on the Rotterdam deck. It is definitely a little smaller than the SA's but the amazing deck was worth it. The deck was rather gritty but was swept about 5 days in. We had such nice weather this week, we were out there a lot. Being on the back of the ship the cool wind was blocked and it was quite cozy out there. People could look down on us if we were out by the railing. It was fun talking to those above and below us. I loved it so much! I expected some shuddering or vibration but there was none. The bed was perfect, bedding amazing. They give you 6 pillows of every variety, hubby likes medium, I like soft...perfect. We slept really well. Our 16 yr. old DD, said the sofa was very comfortable. The storage space is more than anyone could need. A solid wall of closets in the room and more closets in the changing area. The fridge was full of sodas and water but we still placed some of our items in there as well. We left valuables such as cameras, laptops and never felt they needed to be locked up. The safe works well with a four digit combo, we kept wallets and passports in there. We brought wipes and wiped down everything down first day and then knew the room was very clean. It stayed that way. The Flat screen TV blocks part of the desk and can't be moved but no big deal, just a weird placement. This room is VERY quiet since it is at the very end of a hallway - loved this. Also loved the daily laundry service. We used it every day, including embarkation (we had been travelling for a week already). Only the dry cleaning took 2 days (DH's tux and my formal outfit). Embarkation Seattle: We arrived by vehicle at 10:30am. It was a bit rainy. DH dropped DD and I off while he went to park the car. It was very difficult to find a porter. We finally got smart and sent DD to front of Bldg. to grab a porter. That worked and we finally got rid of our 6 bags (gave $10 tip). We waited out front on a bench for DH. He parked off sight and it took maybe 20 minutes for him to make it back. Suite check-in went very quickly. They basically just gave us our keys and sent us on our way. No info on where to go next or about Mariner lunch...oh well. We were group one which was supposed to embark at 11:30. There seemed to be some confusion on how we were to line up but finally about 11:45 we were going aboard! The Restaurants- We ate at the Canaletto, The Pinnacle Grill, LIDO, and MDR. The Canaletto - We made reservations thru the Neptune lounge right when we got on the ship. This has no additional cost. We ate there our first night. We had three servers and felt quite spoiled. Started with a delicious antipasto platter that they serve you from. I asked for one of everything and it was delicious. We had salad, minestrone, seafood soup, pasta and meatballs, veal scaloppini, linguini frutti de mar, and dessert of trio of tiramisu. We all enjoyed our meals tremendously. It was very empty, no idea where all the passengers were but we loved the great service, and food. My daughter LOVED the surprise (I won't ruin it for you) we received right before dessert; it brought big smiles to everyone's faces! A great experience and wonderful views as well. MDR - We enjoyed our meals here over 95% of the time. We had anytime dining! We did the embarkation lunch - they did not ask for an invitation (I asked at check in and they said I did not need one. I noticed that they did not announce that the MDR was available and we were not told about it at check in even though we are mariners. This was also empty with only 20 or so tables. Very nice lunch! The 4 dinners we ate here were very good. Twice we made reservations, twice just showed up with no waiting. We ate by ourselves once and with a group of three the other times. We were matched up with wonderful families each time and enjoyed them tremendously. My only food mishaps were extremely salty fish at the Mariners lunch and the Chile Rellenno sp? the last night (not spicy had a basic tomato sauce I wanted salsa!). Ahhh, the Master Chef's dinner; I had planned to skip this after reading about it but somehow we ended up there that night (Fri). As we introduced ourselves to our tablemates, I started looking for my napkin and thought maybe it had slipped from my lap, others at our table also doing the same. Then, the music started up and dancing servers twirling napkins arrived. Next, the Salad dance (actually pretty amusing) then later, a dessert dance. Everyone at our table decided to go with it and had a great time. I can imagine it could get a little old for frequent cruisers but for one night, pretty fun. We found our MDR experiences to be great. Of course it was nothing like the caliber of the Pinnacle Grill. Pinnacle Grill: We never had breakfast here...sorry. Heard it was great though! We ate here twice. The idea was that we would eat once by ourselves and once with our daughter. She ended eating with us both times! We had wonderful service. Our first time we were seated with a view of the atrium/stairs, the second time with a fabulous secluded table with a sea view. We commented on our better table and our server mentioned that the view tables go to those that asked. We just got lucky since I didn't think to ask for a view table! We loved every bite of what we had: (1st time)Tableside Caesar salads ( asked for extra anchovy - yum), shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, a lobster mousse palate refresher, lobster bisque, lamb chops, rib eye steaks cooked perfectly, sides - creamed spinach, onions, mushrooms, mashed potatoes, crème brulee, choc. SoufflE and cinnamon ice cream. We also had a bread basket, three kinds of butter and we brought our own wine ($18 corkage) and our glasses were kept filled. (2nd time) Better table. Besides what we had above, a few changes: Surf and Turf - cooked perfectly and huge prawns! And Chocolate lava cake and crème brulee trio for dessert. Another perfect meal - no complaints. LIDO - I loved the layout but then it seemed the ship was empty and never any big lines! We had breakfast here or Neptune lounge every day. I loved the eggs benedict station. They had it 5 different ways but I always asked for the regular way. It is made in front of you but only takes a minute - delicious. The fresh squeezed OJ was fantastic. Danishes, especially chocolate croissant -yum. I had a few omelets which are also made your way and only had one person in front of me each time. DD loved the waffles. DH loved fresh fruit and breakfast parfaits. Rarely had lunch but tried the pizza - just so-so but DD liked it. Salad bar good too! Usually made my lunch out of hordervous in Neptune lounge. Neptune Lounge: Love this perk. Never had to stand in long line at front desk. We made reservations, changed luggage tags, checked onboard account with concierge. Had Cappuccino daily - love that machine! It was a lonnnggg walk from our room or probably would have used it even more. They had fresh fruit, Danishes, parfaits in the morning and really yummy hordervous afternoon and evening. Sometimes hordervous would run out and they did not seem to be in a hurry to replace them. They also had water and juices all day. This is forward on Rotterdam deck. There are no views from here, so no point in hanging around! They do have a selection of magazines and internet here as well. The Gym - Enjoyed the gym. DH did all 3 spin classes thought they were good. Teen Program - DD loved the teen program and spent lots of time there. Back to the room at midnight each night. There were 90 teens on the ship. Maybe 30 used the teen program a lot. Others occasionally dropped by. They had one young woman on staff there. The Shows: We didn't participate in many of the activities - our balcony was way too awesome, but we did the 10pm show most nights. I enjoyed the dance shows quite a bit, but they aren't a Vegas caliber show but lots of fun just the same. By far my favorite was "Garage Band". The comic, Mike Robinson was an excellent ventriloquist and lots of fun. The best show was the Illusionist, Leo Ward. He was hilariously funny and the Illusions were excellent. Do not miss this show! Danced to Tina Lou and the Halcats once and had tons of fun, thought they sounded great. Also peeked in on the game show, the Liars Club. It was so funny. Wish I had gone to more game shows after seeing that! The Captain: I was very impressed with Captain Arjen Van Der Loo! He was so dynamic, funny and interesting to listen to. He spoke for a good twenty minutes at the first show and was very amusing. At the Mariner brunch, he also spoke quite a while. He told us lots of info on the Oosterdam. She will go into dry-dock (new carpets, cleaning, internal stuff) after Alaska itinerary in Victoria BC and then try a new itinerary to Hawaii /and old itinerary to Mexico. Later to New Zealand... Great guy! He also did a good job keeping us informed of the tragic event of our missing 20 year old passenger. He was not found. The Ports: Glacier Bay: I know, not a port but one of the most awesome days! DD and I did a 12 person cooking class at 11am ($29 fee) and I was worried about missing some sights but it turned out fine. This class was an awesome experience. Chef Pablo was wonderful and the food we cooked was terrific. Loved the apron we got to keep. We also got recipe cards. Wine included as well. A fun two hours. After the class, rushed out to sightsee. The fog and clouds were just lifting. It took another two hours, about 3pm for the first glaciers. The best glacier sightings were around 5pm - the Marjorie glacier where we stopped and turned for about an hour. It calved 3 times! Lots of cracking and beautiful sunshine. This was a sight I will never forget. Worth the price of the cruise all by itself! As we left, two whales made their appearance. Just fabulous. Juneau: No excursions planned so we took our time getting off the ship. We walked to the State Capitol building and took the free tour. This turned out to be wonderful. The young woman who gave the tour was very knowledgeable about all things Alaska and gave a very interesting tour. Next, DH and DD decided to do the 2 ½ mile hike up Mt Roberts while I took the Tram. Of course, even after a trip back to the ship, I beat them to the top and hiked some of the gorgeous trails at the top. It was sunny, warm, and I got some awesome pictures! We met up for lunch (tasty, not too expensive, but very slow service). DH says the trail is very muddy steep and treacherous. No way would they hike back down! Luckily, having lunch gave them a free pass to ride the $27 tram back down. Loved the long day here. We had more time so we took the shuttle ($8) to Mendenhall Glacier. Very nice visitor Center (another $3) and nice viewpoints for pictures. We weren't as close as to Marjorie Glacier but a great excursion. We also stopped by the Salmon run which was by the shuttle stop. Lots of bear warning signs there but no bears. Walked thru town. Terrific post office with cards and gifts as well. Sitka: We slept in and waited for the early tours to tender. By the time we got to the tenders (no need for suite guests to get a tender ticket) we got right on and were walking in town 15 minutes later. I loved this stop. This town is so cute and easy to get around. Another gorgeous sunny day. We decided to walk to the raptor center. On the way, we stopped at the Bishops House (Forest Service attraction free for 1st floor). This is a short worthwhile stop. Probably a good mile or more to the Raptor Center. Stopped at National Cemetery on the way. The Raptor Center is a very special place. Make sure you see the talk with the Eagle. The cost was $12. You get very close to lots of Bald Eagles. Next, we went across the street to the back entrance to the Totem Park. Beautiful in there. We hiked thru and headed back along the shore to town. Time for some souvenir shopping...Plenty of shops in town. Finished our day with an Alaskan Beer at a cafe near the tender stop. Another fabulous special day. Ketchikan: Had to be up very early for this port! Wish we were here longer. We did excursions here. DD and DH did a zip line which ended with a slide. They seemed to like it but weren't raving about it. I did Eagle Island Kayak. I loved it. Once again, we were very fortunate and the sun came out. Due to wind, the kayaking was a bit challenging but really fun. It was my first time kayaking and I can't wait to go again. Yes, we saw Eagles! No other wildlife though. Very nice place for an excursion and terrific guides. They also do Mt Biking and have a zip line there as well. We had to be back on the ship at 12:30pm so I had no time to check out the town...darn! Victoria: I definitely want to come back here someday (added to my Bucket list). I don't do crowds well, so we skipped the excursions. We arrived late into port. Think we finally got let off around 8pm and had to be back by 11:30. We paid the $8.50 for the shuttle into town waited with the crowds to get on a bus and made it to downtown. Next time we would just walk - it's not that far if you walk straight thru a neighborhood to downtown. Well, the town is really beautiful. There was some kind of fair going on and it was fun seeing the entertainment and the sights. We visited a cute Gelato shop- yum. Just walked around then back to the ship. Watched a seal feeding on small fish right by the ship, very cool. Later talked to many people who said the Fireworks and scenery at Buttchart were the best ever. BUT, the crowds fighting to leave afterwards was awful... I was pleasantly surprised by the prices in the ports. Postcards 20cents each, reasonable T-shirts, candy...of course plenty of very expensive items as well. No such thing as inexpensive crab by the way. More reasonable at Costco! Debarkation: Seattle Smooth and easy. A nice warm and sunny day. Whew! I can't say enough about Holland America. I am in my 40's but consider it a great fit. I love the elegance, the truly amazing service, the warmth of the staff, the ship ... all of it. This was an awesome cruise and I would recommend it to anyone. One very sad part, After Ketchikan we started hearing announcements for someone to contact front desk right away. After a couple of these announcements, the Captain made an announcement about a missing 20 year old young man and to please look at his picture and keep an eye out. At Debarkation he was still missing. I felt so bad for his family. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
This was a first time cruise for my husband and myself. I had no idea what to expect so I truly was overwhelmed at all that was offered through Holland America Lines. From the moment we left Seattle on July 3rd until we departed the ship ... Read More
This was a first time cruise for my husband and myself. I had no idea what to expect so I truly was overwhelmed at all that was offered through Holland America Lines. From the moment we left Seattle on July 3rd until we departed the ship on July 10th, we were impressed. One of the things I was most impressed with, and what I was most anxious about, was making connections, missing one or whatever. Our travel agent must have thought I was nuts as I kept stressing over details. But, every connection was met with ease and we had no problems at all. Holland has people moving down to a science I think. I just read a review from someone who obviously was on the same cruise and was a bit disappointed. Too bad, I thought everything was handled well,the food outstanding,the entertainment, superb and the 800 staff members, FANTASTIC! The only disappointment I had was that I couldn't get into the Pinnacle Grill for the Le Cirque dinner. I was on the "waiting to be called in case of a cancellation" list. That call did not come. Heavy Sigh! Oh well! Next time.....There are worse things to stress about. My heart goes out to the family who lost their loved one on Saturday morning in the wee early hours. So sorry for their loss. Anyway, old ship (??) or not, I loved my experience on the Oosterdam and would book on it in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
This was our second trip to Alaska -- the first being on Princess, so we were anxious to compare the two, as we enjoyed Princess very much. We were a bit worried because it seemed to have rained for a couple of weeks before our ... Read More
This was our second trip to Alaska -- the first being on Princess, so we were anxious to compare the two, as we enjoyed Princess very much. We were a bit worried because it seemed to have rained for a couple of weeks before our sail, but we ended up with beautiful weather at every single port, even Ketchikan, where not one drop of rain fell! We even wore short sleeves in Juneau so our helicopter ride over the glaciers was money well spent! Our cruise through Glacier Bay was one of the highlights of our trip. It was chilly, but we braved the chill and stood out on the bow for almost the entire time. The ship stopped in front of the glacier for a long time. We saw it calve two or three times. We returned to our room and sat on the balcony for the rest of the time, as our side of the ship faced the glacier. Perhaps it was the time of year, but we saw a lot of whales from the ship, including a whale that breached right in front of the rail where we were standing! The service was perfect. Every person working there who we interacted with was friendly and appeared to sincerely care that we were having a good time. Our room stewards were wonderful and a person who seemed to be the manager of the Lido never failed to stop by our table to ask how things were going. The only slight irritation was the food service (not the actual food -- which was very acceptable). Although it was said that the food in the Lido would not be self serve for the first 48 hours, in reality, the hot food was never self serve (you could serve your own salads, drinks, breads and desserts). I would not have had a problem with being served, but it slowed the lines down to almost a crawl. The servers couldn't hear what people were saying, you ended up trying to point at what you wanted, they didn't know how much to serve. At one point, it seemed the line for pasta never moved and I gave up. There were large sections of the restaurant that were closed or limited at what seemed to me to be busy times. That didn't seem to be a problem at breakfast which always ended up to be a very relaxing way to start the day. I've read reviews of how old and worn everything is. The ship did looked used, because it was, but I don't think anything looked so bad that it ruined the ambiance. I thought it was very pretty. Our room was always spotless, the bed was very comfortable (unlike Princess' beds which were very hard) and there was a lot of storage space in the three closets and under the bed. We did spend $35 on the cruise DVD because we so enjoyed the one from the Princess cruise, but I would say DON'T waste the money. Although we were led to believe it was from our cruise, only a very small portion was. Most of it seemed to be recorded from a Mexican cruise! It didn't capture the uniqueness of our cruise at all. It was disappointing and a waste of money. All in all, it was wonderful and we would certainly sail again on HAL! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
We just returned from the 7 day Alaskan Explorer Cruise. We have cruised several times and this is our second time to Alaska. We chose this particular cruise because it went to Sitka and we had not been there before. All of our port stops ... Read More
We just returned from the 7 day Alaskan Explorer Cruise. We have cruised several times and this is our second time to Alaska. We chose this particular cruise because it went to Sitka and we had not been there before. All of our port stops were wonderful and we were lucky to have good weather at each stop. In Juneau we went on a whale watching boat ride that was really nice and the whales were every where. It was very exciting. Our next stop was Sitka and we did our on walking tour. Sitka is very interesting and one of the prettiest ports I have seen. You can walk the entire town during the stop and see all of the very interesting historic sites. The Russian Orthodox church was of great interest to me for historic reasons as well as the beauty of the icons. They have carillon bells that are rung by hand and are beautiful. We spoke to the Priest and to a Deacon named Larry. Larry knows all the history and is fascinating to talk too. In Ketchikan we went on the Misty Fiord's Float Plane ride and it was breath taking and awesome beyond belief. Some words about the ship and service. The ship is very nice and convenient. the bathrooms were a better plan than some other cruise lines have and were appreciated. Our room was clean and our attendant was very efficient. He kept it clean all the towels and bedding fresh and any request we made were done promptly. Of course you have to love the towel animals. We chose the 5:30 dining time which worked very well for us. Our waiters were very good and lots of fun. The food was very good and varied and yes I gained the usual pound a day. We like the scheduled dining and picked the early time so that we were always ready for the entertainment in the lounge or where ever we were planning to be for the evening. We traveled with three other couples and one of the members of our party is handicapped. We were all very pleased and surprised that all of the staff on the ship took special care of our handicapped friend. Getting on and off the ship was always very well handled. Also all of our excursions here prepared and ready with the proper lifts and equipment so that our friend never was left our or felt a burden. Even the float plane was an enormous success because they accommodated her so wonderfully and were so friendly and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
This was our first Veranda, a last minute paid upgrade. I must say that we enjoyed it as we had amazing, sunny weather for the entire week. Our cabin 6040 was very similar to the Outside cabins we have had in the past, except for the ... Read More
This was our first Veranda, a last minute paid upgrade. I must say that we enjoyed it as we had amazing, sunny weather for the entire week. Our cabin 6040 was very similar to the Outside cabins we have had in the past, except for the balcony. The bathroom was comfortable and kept spotless by by our cabin steward. This was our first time on the Oosterdam, and we enjoyed the ship very much. The food in the Vista grill was great, although, be aware that dinner is a two hour affair. I had salmon and rack of lamb twice and my husband was very happy with his surf 'n turf and other beefy entrees. We were traveling with our 30-something niece and nephew and their two kids, 4 and 6. The dinners were a bit long for the kids, but they enjoyed the coloring kids menus and crayons. The kids loved Club Hal and were always begging to go there. They also loved the basketball court and outside spaces. on Glacier Bay day, the Park Rangers did a special presentation for the kids and gave them badges, of which they were very proud. Glacier Bay was amazing, the Captain got us very close to the Margerie Glacier, spun the ship around, and gave everyone a good view. We had no trouble finding an uncrowded family space on the promenade to "camp" in deck chairs to revel in the views. The traditional HAL hot pea soup was appreciated even in the warm weather. We only saw the two production shows which were excellent. The choreography, dancing and costumes were first-class. I saw a short bit of the magician, which I did not much like, and the comedian was telling the same tired Viagra jokes one comes to expect. We did not see the whole show, so he may have improved as the show progressed. It was a great family week with something for all ages. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Seeing the sites from our balcony gave us the feeling we were really there. Unbelievable views. Felt like we could touch the glacier in Glacier Bay. Nice views of everything throughout the trip. We saw fish jumping and pretty sure two ... Read More
Seeing the sites from our balcony gave us the feeling we were really there. Unbelievable views. Felt like we could touch the glacier in Glacier Bay. Nice views of everything throughout the trip. We saw fish jumping and pretty sure two dolphins swimming by. Four days of stops might mean there was a little less offered than on our previous trips on HAL. We luckily had fabulous weather as we were told it rains daily in our ports but the sun was shining everywhere. We did a lot of walking in Alaska. The Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka is a 15 minute walk from the ship and is more than worth the $4.00 entrance fee. Be sure and open the drawers. We did not do the extra excursions. We have visited Victoria and Seattle before and both are fabulous cities to visit. If you go to the Pike Market in Seattle, be sure and start at the top. HAL has the tips on the final bill, not to worry, the service was great!! Our room was always clean and all our servers in their various capacities were pleasant and helpful. Some of the ship does need refurbishing like the chairs in the Queen's Lounge and the seating in the Vista Lounge. We ate in the Vista dining, the Lido, on the patio, the Italian dining room, and the Pinnacle. Overall, I give the food a seven on a ten point scale. We had open seating and found it easy to choose the time as long as we called in early and booked several days ahead of time. And, of course, with so much food, we could eat aweigh. The comedian Ward was excellent. He is also an illusionist/magician and he performed a few times. The HAL singers and dancers were very entertaining. We would do HAL again just for the cruise if we could leave from our home area - San Diego. Leaving from our home port is at least a $500.00 savings. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Embarkation: Arrived pier 91 via private van with DW, MIL (in wheelchair) and six pieces of luggage. Porter was available in about 30 seconds and took tagged luggage away. HAL shore reps escorted us to the Deluxe Suite check. MILs keys ... Read More
Embarkation: Arrived pier 91 via private van with DW, MIL (in wheelchair) and six pieces of luggage. Porter was available in about 30 seconds and took tagged luggage away. HAL shore reps escorted us to the Deluxe Suite check. MILs keys for her VC cabin 5179 were ready but the keys to our SC suite 5190 were not and we had to wait 45 minutes for the ship's IT officer to come to the dock to fix the issue. Due the wait an HAL shore rep escorted us and allowed us to bypass all other boarding lines and go direct to the ship. Went to our SC aft ...where our keys did not work! A quick trip to the Neptune lounge and Joel had our keys redone; dinner reservations for the week booked, and signed me up for the "Behind the scenes" ship tour. Enjoyed the Mariner lunch in the VistaStateroom-Our SC aft suite 5190 was spacious with plenty of room for 3 people to lounge during the day (MIL retreated to her cabin next door for bedtime times and "private time". Plenty of closet and storage space including space for rollies and hang-up bags. Our steward, Fauzi, was spot on and handled all requests with just one mention. Took advantage of laundry service each day (only taking half as much clothes next trip! Balcony/veranda: I believe this suite has one of the largest verandas onboard. We had Fauzi open the partition between MIL's and ours to create a veranda with 58 running feet of rail length. Was the perfect place for Glacier Bay allowing us a 270 degree view and plenty of glacier viewing time since the Captain spun the ship at each glacier to give each side equal time facing the glacier (and allowing us to see the Marjorie glacier calve while sitting at our balcony table. This Veranda also allowed us to see the passing, spouting and breaching of to pods of whale as we sailed away from both Sitka and Ketchikan in the afternoons before dinner.Dining: Used all four dining venues. Had both lunch and dinner in the MDR and it met expectations. Both DW and MIL were impressed with the quality and selection of items in the Lido for lunch (the bread pudding in a "must not miss"!) Caneletto hit the target with both level of food and service and was the best location to enjoy dinner as we sailed away from Glacier Bay and sailing into Victoria Harbor. Room service always had breakfast to use between 6:00-6:05am each morning. We also ordered room service for lunch at Glacier Bay and dinner when we sailed away from Sitka (we did not want to do the MCD). I took our dinner order from the MDR menu to the Neptune Lounge and Raul made sure that we had it at 7pm on the veranda while we watched whales pouting in the distance.The one downside to dining was the Pinnacle. We were giving it a second chance after an underwhelming experience in 2010. Food was not on the "hyped" level and in some ways fell below the level of the MDR and Lido. Service was stiff and unaccommodating. The staff seemed more worried about our opinion on how they were performing. We will not be back.Nightlife: Since our days began at 6am we did not take advantage of a lot of after dinner activities. The one show we attended was on a "cruise ship" level. The "Neptunes" in the Ocean Bar were very good. Darlene of "Darlene and the HALcats" in the Queen's lounge was as Simon Cowell told the "American Idol" loser...you really belong on a cruise ship.Shore Excursions: We were limited in what we did due to MIL's mobility issues. We took an independent city/glacier tour in Juneau which was OK. The Russian Culture and Raptor tour in Stika was good due to the Raptor center. For the Russian culture part I would say...what Russian culture tour...not much there. The Ketchikan Duck Amphibian tour was great...they really presented the unique aspects of this town in a great way and our narrator, Erin, was one of the best I've seen.Disembarkation: Smooth as silk with "silent embarkation" and a suite departure window of between 8am-9:15am. Luggage and porter found within a minute and a straight walk to our waiting private van. Only issues was that when I checked my voicemail at our hotel there was a message that we had someone else's bag. Yes, my MIL had a black alligator rollie that had the same identical pink "Take me" spitting tag to someone else who had the same Lime 1 bag tag as hers. Well, Nick was still in Seattle, driving back to Oregon, so they came by our hotel to pick up their bag. IN the meantime, I after contact the Pier 91 team I cabbed back to the pier where the HAL team took me straight to their office where they were laughing at the odd of identical looking, identically tagged bags being next to each other. With correct bag in hand, return to the Fairmont Olympic.Overall, a great cruise. And we to advantage of on-board future booking to book SC 5190 on the Westerdam back to Alaska on May 12, 2012. Only 360 days to go! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
This was our first cruise with the Holland America Line and most definitely won't be our last. The service and attention to detail were extraordinary. Fresh flowers were present everywhere we went. The crew takes the time and effort ... Read More
This was our first cruise with the Holland America Line and most definitely won't be our last. The service and attention to detail were extraordinary. Fresh flowers were present everywhere we went. The crew takes the time and effort to ensure the ship is well maintained and clean. Our embarkation was extremely quick. Once on the ship, we went directly to our room where we were greeted by (surprisingly) our luggage, a basket of fruit, champagne and mineral water. Our room provided more than enough space for my husband, myself and our two children. I was surprised at the abundance of closet space and the large bathroom with two showers and jacuzzi tub. After unpacking, we toured the ship. Our first stop was the Neptune Lounge where we met Joel and Rual, the concierges. The Neptune Lounge proved to be one of our favorite areas during our cruise and I can't say enough good things about Joel and Rual and the service they provided. We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Oosterdam and found that the public areas never felt overcrowded or cramped. While we were impressed by the whole ship, there were a few areas that stood out. The Crow's Nest and the Explorations Cafe were great areas to find a quite spot to read or play a game of chess. The Culinary Arts Center provided passengers the opportunity to join master chefs for demonstrations and cooking classes. The Digital Workshop was a great area to learn new computer skills. Our family was amazed at how many activities there were on the ship. We registered our children for Club HAL and the Loft, but they never had the time to utilize either area. The Oosterdam has many differet dining options. Our favorite memories are the breakfasts we enjoyed in the Pinnacle Grill and the daily high teas in the Vista Dining Room. The entertainment on the Oosterdam was diverse and abundant. Our son, who is ten, enjoyed listening to the Adagio Strings in the Explorer's Lounge. We all enjoyed the Illusionist/Comedian, Leo Ward very much. Actually, Leo Ward is a must see while on the ship!! The Cruise Director, J.T. Watters does an amazing job of keeping everyone informed. As a Master of Ceremonies, he is humorous and keeps the show moving. The Crew Farewell, held on Day 7 was a nice touch, not to mention quite touching. The primary reason our family chose this particular cruise was the inclusion of the scenic tour of Glacier Bay. Let me say, we weren't disappointed! Several Glacier Bay National Park Rangers joined us on board. One narrated the journey (over the ships speakers and television channel) and the others set up a discovery area in the Crow's Nest. Our children thoroughly enjoyed talking to the Park Rangers about the wildlife and the glaciers. We saw quite a bit of calving on the journey and I can't say enough about the view of the bay from the ship. Access to the bow of the ship on deck 4 was opened so that those who wished to brave the cold could view the bay straight on. What an amazing experience!! Our itinerary included four ports: Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria. In Juneau, we took a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. This is a must see while in Juneau. The Visitor's Center is a good starting point. Hiking to the waterfall by the glacier is level with no elevation gain. After lunch on board the ship, we walked to the Alaska State Museum. We enjoyed the museum exhibits very much and the children liked the Children's Room and the Gold Mining Co.. Of all of the ports, Sitka was our favorite. We walked the Sitka National Historical Park on our way to the Alaska Raptor Center. The walk through the temperate rain forest was beautiful. In Ketchikan, we picked up a walking map from the T.I. office. Our first stop was the Southeast Alaska Visitor Center. This is a great place to begin your day. The exhibits at this museum are interesting and interactive. The rangers at this facility will answer all your questions about the area. Our next stop was Creek Street, which we enjoyed. The last port of the cruise is Victoria, B.C. We arrived at approximately 6:15 pm and left at 11:59 pm. We chose to walk to Beacon Hill Park where the flowers and fountains were quite beautiful. We ended up at the Empress Hotel and the inner harbor. We were glad we took advantage of the lovely weather and managed the time to explore Beacon Hill Park. It was worth the effort. In Summary, this was absolutely the best cruise we have ever experienced. The crew was amazing and the ports were unforgettable. The only downside of the journey was having to leave the ship in Seattle. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
My parents (ages 64 and 58) and I (age 28) were first-time cruisers on the Oosterdam to Alaska in May 2011. We booked the Oosterdam because of the Glacier Bay itinerary and because HAL was running a "third person free" promotion ... Read More
My parents (ages 64 and 58) and I (age 28) were first-time cruisers on the Oosterdam to Alaska in May 2011. We booked the Oosterdam because of the Glacier Bay itinerary and because HAL was running a "third person free" promotion that made it cheaper to book on HAL than on other cruise lines. We had an amazing time on the ship and in Alaska and would do it again in a heartbeat! Ship - I was a little apprehensive because I had read some posts on CC that the Oosterdam was looking outdated and worn, and because the Oosterdam interior pictures on HAL's website always struck me as gaudy with all the metallic finishes and Art Deco styling. However, in reality the Oosterdam is in terrific shape, and looks completely classy throughout. I didn't notice anything worn about the ship. It was very easy to get around and the ship is large enough that we never felt crowded and there were always relatively empty public spaces. Food - the food was uniformly excellent. We had breakfast in the Lido every day and lunch/dinner in the Vista MDR most days (and in the Lido a few times). We took full advantage of being able to order as much as we wanted in the MDR and never went hungry during the cruise. Sure, the MDR food wasn't perfect, but I thought it was comparable to decent restaurant food and was great value considering it was included in the cruise fare. We never felt the need to eat at the Pinnacle Grill given how good the Lido and MDR were. We did want to try eating at Cannaletto, but it was impossible to get reservations at a reasonable time, so we ended up not going. Service was excellent everywhere. Activities - entertainment was very good. We went to all the main evening shows and thought the comedian/magician, Leo Ward, was spectacular. I thought the resident dancers/singers were also good and their shows were of high production quality - not Broadway quality, of course, but still good considering they are based on a cruise ship! We also went to the "Liars Game" and "Marriage Game" shows in the Queen's Lounge, both of which were extremely funny. The only issue is that Leo Ward's humor definitely has an edge to it and I am not sure it is completely appropriate for children, but otherwise he is not to be missed. Cabin - we originally booked an oceanview cabin but were offered a paid upgrade to a very good balcony cabin for $198 total, which we took. The room was very nice but I am not sure we needed a balcony considering we spent most of our time in the public areas, even on Glacier Bay day (because the views were nicer and it was just more fun to be watching with other folks on the public decks). In retrospect, I think an oceanview cabin or even an inside would have been just fine. Itinerary - Glacier Bay was spectacular. We saw the Marjorie Glacier calve blocks of ice the size of houses, and as we heard someone else say, "that alone was worth the cost of the trip." Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka were also quite nice and we were very fortunate to get almost no rain the whole week (it was sunny in Ketchikan when we were there!). In Juneau, we rented a car from Rent a Wreck (they were great) and drove by ourselves to the Mendenhall Glacier and other sites. Sitka is quite walkable and we didn't feel like we needed a car to get around. In Ketchikan, a car would have been useful to get to the totem parks, but considering the short amount of time we were there, we just walked around the central area and had fun attending the lumberjack show. Overall, we had a fantastic first cruise experience on the Oosterdam to Alaska. I don't have other cruise experiences to compare it to, but if you are thinking of cruising to Alaska, I can't recommend HAL or the Oosterdam more highly. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
This was our first Alaskan cruise and our 2nd cruise on the Oosterdam this year. It previously sailed out of San Diego to the Mexican Rivera. The ship does not disappoint. We had the back, corner room with the wrap around veranda. This is ... Read More
This was our first Alaskan cruise and our 2nd cruise on the Oosterdam this year. It previously sailed out of San Diego to the Mexican Rivera. The ship does not disappoint. We had the back, corner room with the wrap around veranda. This is what we wanted so that was great. The only drawback to this room is there is some vibration from underneath and the seas were a little choppy the first full day at sea. Seasick bags were even put out in the public places. Fortunately we did fine and the seas subsided after that day. The staff on the Oosterdam is first-rate. There is not one person that didn't speak to us in passing. The casino crew were just great. Tons of fun the entire time. The performers were good, the food yummy, and the atmosphere just perfect. Every need was met.Now for the ports of call.....AWESOME! I would suggest sailing early in the season if you want to see the snow in the mountains. Don't be afraid to pack cold weather clothes if you're going in May-June! I had on my ski jacket, wind suit, ski gloves, cap, & rain coat in Glacier Bay! The glacier was beautiful and we had plenty of time to watch for calving. Juneau was spectacular. We were so blessed to have a 70 degree day. Lots of sunshine. The Mendenhahl Glacier was awesome and we did the Salmon Bake excursion. The salmon was GREAT and the setting for the bake was very nice with a waterfall and river running beside the camp. Sitka is such a quaint, beautiful town. St. Michael's is lovely and St. Lutheran's Church was selling popcorn on the street! Yummy!! We took the Sea Otter/Bear Fortress excursion. We saw multitudes of sea otters, harbor seals, and even found whales in action including a mother and her calf! The captain of the boat was so informative and pleasant. We only a few minutes at the bear fortress but it was worth the drive. Ketchikan was true to its word with its "liquid sunshine!" It's no problem if you go prepared. A rain jacket with a hood is sufficient! We had a delicious bowl of clam chowder at a little sidewalk hut called the Grizzly Grill. It is located just down from the ship. A little green hut, or maybe yellow, I believe! The Lumberjack Show was very entertaining and very enjoyable. Not much time in Ketchikan so you have to look and buy quick! Victoria is quite lovely. Be sure to stop at the "Cafe" restaurant right at the pier. There is a dive shop located on the bottom floor, the restaurant on the top. Clam chowder was divine!All in all the cruise was perfect. If you are prepared for the elements then there is nothing to worry about. Our cabin had a pair of binoculars for our use, but next time I will take an extra set so my husband and I can both have a pair to use. The Pinnacle Grill for dinner is a must, as is Canelleto Restaurant. Make your reservations for The Pinnacle online in order to get the time you wish. Reservations for the Canelleto should be made as soon as you board. We are looking forward to our next Holland America Cruise! We love this line and love the way they treat their guests! Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This cruise was so relaxing, a no-brainer. Embarkation---very smooth. Outside fence of pier it's a little confusing but they are helpful. The line moved fast. Get there early, if Holland has cleared the ship on time from the past ... Read More
This cruise was so relaxing, a no-brainer. Embarkation---very smooth. Outside fence of pier it's a little confusing but they are helpful. The line moved fast. Get there early, if Holland has cleared the ship on time from the past cruise, they board early. Took very little time to board. We did open dining so we went to make a reservation for the first night at Canaletto-Italian Restaurant. There was some confusion at our 8:00pm reservation time but we figured it was because of it being the first night. Service was very slow. But we spoke to others that said the service the second night was much faster. Made another reservation for the last night and the service was spot on. All the meals we had both nights were very good. Dessert surprise was delicious. The open dining was a little weird. They only seemed to have reservations available for 5:15 or 7:45. But we figured out there were never any lines so we just started going when we wanted. Sometimes they seat you downstairs with the open dining and sometimes they took us upstairs to eat with the 2nd seating people. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night---absolutely fabulous. One of the best meals that we have ever had, along with the best service. Worth the $20 pp.Shows---The singers and dancers were good. The magician, impressionist and comedian were good. Some complained about the comedian but we loved him.Bingo was good because they haven't gotten into the "machine" craze like the other cruise lines.The best thing on the ship?------SERVICE The Indonesian/Filipino crew were fantastic. Very helpful and really friendly. Always saying hello when they passed you.Cabins---quite roomy, closet space good. Drawers under beds and couch. Still space for the suitcases under the beds though. All in all a great cruise, really a good value for the price. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego ... Read More
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego and less expensive since we are not dealing with the flights to get us back east for a Caribbean cruise which is next on my list.Well I scoured several sights and found Holland America to be very reasonable with the pricing and it had some decent reviews so I figured I had nothing to lose right? Well my husband wanted Norwegian but we had already been on that ship 2x and Royal pulled out of the area so I convinced my husband about trying a new ship and what a great deal I was getting $$Where we disappointed? HECK NO! Where do I start?1. The kids resisted going to Club Hal first and of course Grandma did not want us to dump the kids, but I told her not to worry the kids would be ok and guess what? After that 1st night they were hooked and did not want to be with us! They wanted to be at the kids club and reluctantly joined us for lunch/dinner when the club closes.2. The buffet was tasty. Do you ever go on cruises were the food is ok and you are just counting down for the dining room to open? Well we don't have that concern on this ship. Sure there might be a few things left out from the buffet but we hardly noticed.3. Beverage Cards - One for alcohol and one for soft drinks..Bigger savings on the soft drinks and I was advised to buy only one for all of us to use. On other cruise ships, I have been advised to buy one for each member of our party (rip-off!!)4. FOOD, oh wait I already mentioned that one. The only thing I would not do again would be the cupcake tea time.5. Movie theater was comfortable and they had the popcorn bags out :)The cons:1. Casino, the way they handle the payouts is confusing. I felt liked I needed 101 classes on how to get the payouts and there wasn't much help.2. Deals on the pictures - too expensiveI'm definitely a fan of Holland America, they keep it classy and I'm glad that they avoid having the waiters sing and dance , well they did have them do it one night but it was just waiving the napkins. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was my first cruise with Holland America. I have previously traveled on RCL, Celebrity and Norwegian. I traveled with my boyfriend who was cruising for the first time. After reading the reviews on this website, we had low ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Holland America. I have previously traveled on RCL, Celebrity and Norwegian. I traveled with my boyfriend who was cruising for the first time. After reading the reviews on this website, we had low expectations, but were proven wrong. The embarkation process began earlier than expected, and it took less than 10 minutes to be processed onto the ship. The cabins were ready over an hour earlier than expected. Disembarkation was just as fast.The food was better than expected and the presentation was outstanding. Service in the dining room was prompt, although slightly slower during breakfast. We were impressed with the crews attention to the health of the passengers, including the provision of hand sanitizer at strategic locations throughout the ship. In addition, the crew served all food in the buffet for the first two days.We took part in the unlimited laundry service provided for the entire cruise for only $50. The items were picked up in the morning and were returned that evening, folded and/or hung on hangers.The best service, bar none, was provided by our cabin steward Gaga. It was even more impressive given that he took care of over thirty cabins on a daily basis. He paid attention to every detail and kept the room clean and stocked with all supplies. Overall this was an excellent cruise for the money and would not hesitate to cruise with Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was my second cruise, our first being the same location on Royal Caribbean 2 years ago. I was cruising with two girlfriends, we all left our families at home. Arriving at the terminal around 11:30 am we took the shuttle to the ship ... Read More
This was my second cruise, our first being the same location on Royal Caribbean 2 years ago. I was cruising with two girlfriends, we all left our families at home. Arriving at the terminal around 11:30 am we took the shuttle to the ship and had no wait and no problems embarking on the ship. We were able to go straight to our room, although I think we were one of the last to receive our luggage later in the day. Took time for lunch and to walk and explore the ship.Our room, what can I say??? We had been offered an upsell and our cabin was incredible. The balcony was great sized and plenty of room for the three of us. The room was large and for three women traveling, each with a separate suitcase for shoes (oops, way too many than we needed), the storage and closet space was great. The shower and tub and the counter space in the bathroom was so nice to get ready every day.We ate in the main dining room twice, in the Pinnacle Grill 3 times and used room service once. I am not an adventurous eater but am not very particular and I felt the food was great where ever we ate. My only complaint would be the wait for omelets in the morning.We were on the ship for relaxation so we did not leave and do anything in the ports so I cannot speak to those items. My overall impression of the Oosterdam is that it is an incredible ship with so many places to go and relax and stuff. If you are looking for huge entertainment, it might not be the right fit for you. We played Bingo, watched a movie, used the casino and took technology classes. Kept busy all the time, but at my pace not a crazy pace. I would recommend this ship to couples, but maybe not families. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Background: My DH, DS (17) and I have been on eleven cruises. We are not big drinkers or party people. DH and I both work really hard professionally and DS is always deluged with school work, so when we go on vacation, we just want to ... Read More
Background: My DH, DS (17) and I have been on eleven cruises. We are not big drinkers or party people. DH and I both work really hard professionally and DS is always deluged with school work, so when we go on vacation, we just want to relax and enjoy each other's company. We appreciate good food and good entertainment, prefer larger staterooms, like our spa treatments and don't care too much about excursions. DS is a shy guy and hasn't participated in a kids' program since he was about 12Embarkation: We stayed at the Residence Inn Downtown in San Diego. The property was within walking distance of the port and they had a free shuttle to the ship which was very helpful. We arrived a couple of hours after boarding had commenced, so it wasn't too crowded. The downside was that there weren't any available porters to meet the van, so DH had to carry our bags to the porter. After that, we had already done online check-in, so boarding was pretty efficient and we received our luggage in the stateroom in a timely fashion.Stateroom: We find the HAL superior verandah suites ideal for a family of 3. DS sleeps on the convertible bed, but he is getting a little tall for it and may need his own stateroom soon. The bathrooms are spacious and have both a stall shower and a combined jacuzzi tub/shower. The room was very clean and in good condition. Although it didn't come with concierge service, it had some nice perks such as the phone concierge, fresh fruit daily and delivery of DVDs from the front desk. Firdaus and David, our stewards, did an excellent job of keeping the stateroom spotless and delivering our favorite fruits. We also noticed that HAL has stopped giving little mini-size Elemis toiletries in favor of big pump containers installed in the bathtub and shower. I think this is an improvement because the stewards don't have to constantly replace these items.Dining: The food was fabulous and Arif, our server, outdid himself with remembering our favorite dishes and beverages every night. The blackened tuna with jalapeno creamed corn was especially delicious. The menu has a variety of choices and "spa cuisine" options every night. We chose to dine at the 7:45 p.m. seating every night. Other guests seemed happy with the "As you wish" dining, but we prefer the consistency of an assigned dining time.Entertainment: "The Marriage Game" was hysterical and it was never vulgar. "The Liars' Club" was also very, very funny. We enjoyed Randall Powell in the piano bar and Leo Ward's magic show. Kevin Jordan's stand-up act was also funny. We didn't see any of the production shows as they are not really our style. We played trivia several times and won the "Name That Tune" contest. Again, we are not looking for big parties or anything like that. The entertainment on HAL was perfect for our family trio to laugh and have a good time. The librarian, Amanda and the travel expert, Monique, were both delightful and helpful.Spa: We all had massages and they were excellent. DS and I used the thermal spa and it was very relaxing.Ports; We walked around the downtown of Puerto Vallarta and it was very nice, especially if you veered off the main drag and checked out the local crafts shops and the candy store. The sand sculptures along the beach are amazing. Los Palomas, one of the restaurants, made us wait forever for our meal and then when it came out, it was cold. I would avoid this restaurant. We never left the ship in Cabo because the view we had from our stateroom of the tip of Cabo and the arch was unbeatable.Overall: I would recommend the Oosterdam's voyage to the Mexican Riviera without hesitation. It is beautifully run ship and an interesting itinerary. Read Less
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
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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