Sail Date: June 2011
I'll first start with the negatives. (Note: there *are* positives too!)This ship is not for non-smokers or folks with allergies/asthma. Apparently HAL has decided that their real money-makers are bars and casinos, centrally located ... Read More
I'll first start with the negatives. (Note: there *are* positives too!)This ship is not for non-smokers or folks with allergies/asthma. Apparently HAL has decided that their real money-makers are bars and casinos, centrally located and smoker-friendly. In fact, it's rather difficult to access some areas without walking past these or the nearby atrium which allows smoke to freely rise to the next level. By the time we arrived for our first dinner -- a late seating, we all smelled like ashtrays. Combine this with the lack of compartmentalizing smoking/non-smoking rooms and the unkempt nature of these rooms, and you may well suffer horrid allergies/asthma on your vacation. Our verandah was above and behind a pair of chain-smokers, so sitting outside did nothing to alleviate our suffering, and made enjoying our verandah difficult on nice days. Our cabin was also a little tired looking.I am not well-off by any means and must save-up for a special vacation. I don't want to sound conceited, but while I paid full-price, I gather that this cruise sells many hugely discounted rates based on the riff-raff on board. I will try to attribute some of the staff's attitudes to this fact. But I also wonder if HAL uses these shorter passages to train some rather green staff as several did not live up to the reputation of Holland America.The front desk staff did not seem to know how best to handle concerns in general, nor how to reassure a customer that a concern would be addressed. While I suspect it was a language barrier, one of my first experience with the front desk was when one of their staff (presumably having learned it meant "relax, and all will work out") told me to "chill" after I calmly told her of a concern. Among other things, we had SNAFU's with reservations at the Pinnacle (twice!) and room service which never arrived -- neither the morning of a very strenuous, early kayak outing, nor the morning of departure. One excursion was not as advertised, and the staff's poor handling of it left me with my final bad taste. (Staff deferred addressing it until the last day when none of the excursions staff were on board. They did allow me to speak with someone on a cell phone with lousy reception, but her attitude was one of not-their-problem though it was the late arrival of the ship at port that messed up the excursion.) They also didn't honor some of the perks due to a four-star Mariner traveling in our party, which we didn't learn until recieving our final billing shortly before disembarking. Generally, the front desk dropped the ball on these issues.Aside from the above, I should say that the rest of the cruise was very pleasant. Most of the excursions were wonderful. The food in the Vista was good and that of the Pinnacle Grill was exceptional. (The buffet-style foods on the Lido clearly cannot be compared to these.) Another party traveling with us had much better room service experience, as well as finding the front desk pleasant when she needed to contact them about a leak from her sink. The embarkation and disembarking were not as awful as most. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Second time to Alaska, first cruise on HALEmbarkation was quick. The safety drill went very quickly as they did not have us put on or bring our life jackets to deck.First, the BADI was given cabin 1026. I didn't have high ... Read More
Second time to Alaska, first cruise on HALEmbarkation was quick. The safety drill went very quickly as they did not have us put on or bring our life jackets to deck.First, the BADI was given cabin 1026. I didn't have high expectations because i had sailed prev line in the cheapest interior cabin - prefer to use my money other ways. Had also had a balcony on last trip to Alaska and never used it so didn't want to pay for that again. In this cabin, the floor was blackened, as if there had been a fire and burned ash had been scoured into the floor. Was told they knew about the floor and can't get it clean, that it will be replaced when ship is in dry dock next. Said they didn't know what it was. I decided to overlook it and have a nice cruise. The cabin was huge with the 2 beds together, large closets, a half-circle couch (with 2 cigarette burn holes) and a nice counter space. Small flat screen TV and DVD player. The next morning i noticed flakes of black on my white hand towels and a fine powder of black on the toilet seat. Again i complained and was told there was no other cabin and the ship was full. By now after sleeping all night in the cabin i had pulled out an inhaler i had brought along even tho i normally never need it. A few hours later before dinner i returned to find more flakes that i now realized were ash and a fine powder again on the toilet seat. This time i wouldn't be put off as i was needing the inhaler every 2 hrs because of the air in the cabin. Went again to front desk and talked to about the 4th different person altho they said they knew my problem. Took her to the cabin and showed her that the ash was coming out of the intake vent in the bathroom, which was also blackened. They suddenly had cabin 1116 available and assisted my move into it. Same size and style, fresh air.The entire ship is quite worn looking, including mismatched paint patching walls, fraying upholstery, torn carpets, dirty windows. Unattractive colors that don't match.At late seating dinner, i was given the larger table seating i had asked for, with wonderful folks - one American couple and their mother, and one Australian couple. Every night we were all at the table and it was a great time. Dinner service was slow and i guess i would describe it as grumpy overall except the wine steward and the assistant dining manager. But my iced tea was waiting every night, and my cappuccino was at my elbow with dessert. The food was very good in the dining room all three meals but i thought poor in the Lido buffet. Taco nacho bar outside was very good and made nice snacks to take into happy hour. Best place on the ship is the Crow's Nest bar on the top level. View is wonderful at all times. Happy hour is 4-5 pm with buy a drink and get the second for $1. The cost of the drinks is reasonable - $4.95 and up, and the drink of the day is $6.95 and included in happy hour prices. Peanuts were always served and often little plates of snacks. We took our own nachos in.It was very crowded and seats fill up fast because the library/internet/coffee counter almost blend right into the bar. The little theater was fun - get there early for a seat and popcorn. The last night the movie was shown in the large show theater. The free DVD rentals are a nice amenity also but are not very new titles.The live shows in the large theater were very amateurish except for the magician.The adult pool and 2 hot tubs on the top deck were almost empty all the time and the hot tubs were very warm. It was not warm enough to swim on top but the pool inside was not crowded most of the time. There were very few children on this cruise. Just a few infants and toddlers. In Juneau took a morning 4-hr hike that is a great experience but is strenuous where there are log steps not meant for short legs. Nice guide with good explanations of history and flora. In afternoon took the tram up the mountain which is always a fun trip and a great gift shop at top. There is a movie to watch on history, and a rescued eagle viewed at certain times of day.In Sitka took a 3 hr hike that was long but not many log steps and more flat areas - much variety in area hiked - great guide and "sweeper" - also went to see Russian native dancers and did go up on stage where one of the women put her cape on me to move with the dancers. St Michael's Cathedral should not be missed and the raptor center was great. In Ketchikan took a trip to the totem pole park but was disappointed in that we were just kind of dumped there for a little while and then taken back. Creek Street was lots of fun to explore on foot. The shopping in Ketchikan is a huge variety, not just jewelry, and very good prices. In Glacier Bay the glaciers had not lost their coating of snow yet so were not actually calving, but shedding snow which was still impressive. The beautiful blue color would finally show thru when a waterfall of snow cascaded off the surface. There was almost no ice floating. Because i travel solo, i pay more than most to cruise but realize that isn't probably going to change soon and try not to base my expectations on that. I also like assigned dinner seating which is going away on many lines and will limit my options. However, i expect every cruise to be quality and none to be shabby. If HAL can't deliver quality on Oosterdam, i wouldn't trust any of their cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was quick and efficient...I had a walker so was directed to another entrance since the elevator was not working and was disappointed that we missed out on the boarding picture.The cabin ... Read More
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was quick and efficient...I had a walker so was directed to another entrance since the elevator was not working and was disappointed that we missed out on the boarding picture.The cabin was nice and spacious and the steward was very accommodating but disappointed that our room had a fully obstructed view. Unable to switch room due to the fact that the ship was at full capacity. The Lido menu was the same day after day. The glasses for tea and drinks small (4 ounces?) The food quality and presentation were lack luster and boring. The staff were very attentive & helpful. Enjoyed our evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Room...the food was delicious and the service superb. Met Marco the owner of Le Cirque and he was a gracious host. Entertainment was great...the comedian and Peter Peterkin were outstanding. Most of the venues & poolside were over crowded and had a hard time finding a seat. Tried several nights to attend Karaoke...but never was able to get in the door.We feel the ship needs some TLC...carpet & seats torn in several areas...ship feels claustrophobic at times..low ceilings and dark colors. We have been on Royal Caribbean and Carnival,so comparing them, we would say the Oosterdam is the Motel 6 of cruises. We don't think we will go another HAL cruise again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
I was very particular about booking our second cruise and did lots of research and this is what I came up with after cruising on the HAL for the last 7 days:HAL terminated the port to Mazatlan..good thingTold us 2 days in Cabo but ended up ... Read More
I was very particular about booking our second cruise and did lots of research and this is what I came up with after cruising on the HAL for the last 7 days:HAL terminated the port to Mazatlan..good thingTold us 2 days in Cabo but ended up 2 days in Puerto Vallarte. Was disappointed in the change in itinerary since did not like Puerto Vallarte as much as Cabo. Many military and police around but we always felt safe on the ports. We did not do any of the excursions but went to downtown in PV and then did jet skiing in Cabo,the teens enjoyed both. Very many vendors in town and on beach, crowded with spring breakers as well but festive.On the HAL itself, excellent cruise for the family or over 50 crowd. The teens were a bit bored, very limited teen program. The pool was a real disappointment as they only had one for the kids and was no larger than a motel 6 pool. The other pool was for adults only. The spa can not be accessed unless over 18 or part of teen spa program. The SS8048 Cabin we were in was spacious but very noisy. I asked our TA if being uder pool we would hear noise, they said no. This is untrue, you can hear everything, you can hear chairs moving, kids running, drinks clinking, all hours of the day. Do not stay below pool area, I will be writing Expedia Travel to let them know of my dismay regarding this suite. But the best thing on the HAL by far is the service, bar none, the staff is excellent, attentive and warm. The food is also very good but limited. Only three restaraunts inclusive, the Lido Terrace has limited food service times or rotate the same type of food all day, pizza, ice cream, burger etc. No sodas but plenty of Juice. The entertainment was good but sometimes advisable to let families know some of the humor was a bit adult or inappropriate. The casino was fine, a casino. The movie theater was small, only 30 people could fit in the theater. There were cute programs like name that tune or family BINGO, but I felt they could expand on the daily programs since we were at sea 4 out of the 7 days. The standouts in service are Andi (Undeee)pronounced in his language, a waiter in the Vista Dining Room and Erwin the chef in the Lido Terrace. They were wonderful and made the cruise a wonderful experience. I think the HAL is great for an older demographic and is clean, well attended and great food, but we will most likely choose a Carnival or Disney Cruise to spend that kind of money next time. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was poor...no porters at taxis, and lackluster efforts.The embarkation line is long and slow. Our party boarded via wheelchair and even that was a bit slow.The cabin was good and spacious ... Read More
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was poor...no porters at taxis, and lackluster efforts.The embarkation line is long and slow. Our party boarded via wheelchair and even that was a bit slow.The cabin was good and spacious and the steward was very accommodating (though shampooing carpet underway is a bit much!)The Lido menu was the same day after day. The glasses for tea and drinks small (4 ounces?) The food was good, just the same each time.Worst part? No real info on the cruise each day, just a very generic bulletin with too many ads and little useful info. We were scheduled for PV, Mazatlan and Cabo....Mazatlan was canceled, yet we were never informed at all...anywhere! Had we arranged any business, reunion, meeting folks in Mazatlan, the4 trip would have been a disaster and waste of money. For that reason alone, I would not recommend HAL! I expected three ports and got two....not good! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We arrived at the terminal at about 3:00 after driving from the Phoenix area. Except for a minor problem with the new to us car, it was an uneventful trip across IS 8. Since most of the passengers were on board embarkation was quick and ... Read More
We arrived at the terminal at about 3:00 after driving from the Phoenix area. Except for a minor problem with the new to us car, it was an uneventful trip across IS 8. Since most of the passengers were on board embarkation was quick and easy. The first intimation that HAL was losing it's class was the lack of a reception party to give directions to our cabin. Having more than twenty cruises under our belt, this gave us no problem, but one can imagine the confusion for the first timer. Since we were late, our cabin was ready for us. We dropped our carry-ons and proceeded to the Lido for something to eat. The ship was operating under high sanitation procedures so all buffet food had to be served by the staff. Chaos is the best description one can give it. We immediately found that many of our travel "companions" had little concept of manners or respect. Crowding and line jumping were rampant. Too make matters worse, the food was basically inedible. The meat was tough, the vegetables were cold, the drink dispensers were slow, and there was insufficient table space. We avoided the buffet as much as possible for the rest of the cruise. All-in-all, a bad start.Back at the cabin we found our luggage had been delivered. This was pleasant surprise given our late arrival. We found the cabin to be clean and in good condition, but a trifle smaller than we expected. Storage and closet space were very good. Quite surprisingly, we did not see our steward on the first day or for the rest of the cruise, except for the last day as we were leaving the cabin. He did, however, do a good job of keeping the room and bathroom clean and tidy.Back to the food issues. Meals in the main dining room tended to be mediocre and uninspired. Service for breakfast and lunch tended to be slow and erratic. This was a far cry from our previous experience on this ship five years previous. We ate two meals in the Pinnacle room where we found the food and service to be very good, however the Le Cirque experience was somewhat overpriced. Our meal in the Canaletto did little to inspire us since we could have obtained the same food in the buffet. Service was good, but not great.The only entertainment we attended was the Adagio Strings in the Explorer Lounge. This group of talented musicians from Romania provided a pleasant diversion. We did not attend any of the shows.Since we have been in both of the ports we visited, we spent little time ashore and took no excursions. The stop scheduled for Mazatlan was cancelled due to dangerous conditions there. In addition, one day of cruising was shortened to allow our ship to hurry to Puerto Vallarta to assist another ship there with engine problems.FYI. The casino is rather small for a ship of this size. We spent little time there since smoking is allowed. Note that you can now use your cruise card to play the machines (and the table games I surmise) This looks like a great way for the unwary to get into a lot of trouble. We did not see a lot of activity in this area.Make-up of the passengers seemed to be evenly spread from young families to senior couples. The timing of spring break, the relatively low cost, and the itinerary seems to have attracted significant numbers of passengers unaccustomed to cruising and social exposure. Rude behavior in the buffet, loud and inappropriate conversations, failure to make even the most perfunctory acknowledgment of dress "codes" all served to make activity in the public areas less than pleasant. As with all mass cruise lines, HAL is attempting to offset low initial cruise cost with nickel and diming on every thing from specialty coffees to overpriced photos. Disembarkation was well done and seemed to be one of the best organized activities of the week. I seriously doubt any future cruises on HAL for us. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We arrived at the dock at approx. 12:00 to find a line around the entire pier. Come to find out the ship had arrived 2 hours late. The taxi driver took us to the front of the line. The cruise personnel directed to the back of the line so ... Read More
We arrived at the dock at approx. 12:00 to find a line around the entire pier. Come to find out the ship had arrived 2 hours late. The taxi driver took us to the front of the line. The cruise personnel directed to the back of the line so we drug our bags all the way to the rear of the line. 2 hours later as we slowly moved forward we saw other taxi's dropping people off at the front of the line and the people went right on to drop their luggage and on into the building for check in, NOT GOOD! We had pre-printed our luggage tags as requested to do so on the online check-in. We were instructed to staple the tags on our bags but never got a chance to do that before hand. As the line was moving we asked the personnel available if they had a stapler and they instructed us that they would have have one when we dropped our luggage off ahead. When we reach this point and asked the baggage attendant for a stapler he said and I quote "I ain't got no stapler, if I had one it would've never got back to me anyway".... So he then instructed us to fill out bag tags manually and attach them to our bags, we did so and left our bags with the attendant and continued to move ahead with the rest of the cattle. AT this point we were only about 1/2 way there, ugh. The lines continued on and we finally got on-board about 2:30 pm and the ship was set to sail at 5 pm. We made our way to our stateroom then decided to check out the Lido Buffet. What a mistake that was. There were excessive lines, and they were running out of food at every station. My fiancee waited in the Asian food line to only be asked if he would like white or brown rice as that was all they had available when he got to the front of the line. Also, having been on several cruises by 4 cruise lines we have never seen the buffet food being served by the staff in small individual portions. After a couple of days they loosened up and let us serve ourselves but that was really strange. After that fiasco we went back to our room to find that our luggage had not been delivered yet. We went down to the front desk to inquire and after finding yet another lengthy line and waiting our turn we were taken to a room to see if our luggage was in there as unidentified. We did find one of our bags with identification attached, they then changed the story and said they were holding it for security purposes. They stated that they had found a knife in our bag. When we told them there was no knife in it they released the bag to us but we didn't want to haul it up to our room without knowing where our other bag was and they couldn't seem to produce it. After trying to get them to call our room steward to see if our other bag was in our room they kept saying we needed to go up to our room to check for ourselves. We finally took our bag and went to our room and found our other bag there. During all of this the ship set sail and we missed the chance to see the ship leave port and all off the festivities. That is how the first 5 hours of this cruise went. We will just try to give you the pros and cons from here on in. PROS: Entertainment was somewhat enjoyable. The food in the Vista Dining Room at dinner was good and the choices were many. The Pinnacle Grill was AWESOME to say the least. Well worth the extra 20 bucks each. The room steward was punctual and entertaining and the room was very well kept. The towel animals were always interesting. CONS: Entertainment shows were not timed so the people at the late dinner could get there and get a seat before the shows started and the theatre is very small. The portions in the Vista Dining Room were the smallest we have ever seen on any cruise we have been on. The server didn't seem to ever ask you if you wanted anything to drink. The Lido Buffet variety was slim and the quality of the food was poor. It was very difficult to find a beverage person to bring you a soda, etc. The hours that the Lido was open was not conducive to most passengers needs. So make sure to check their schedules before you head down there because you might not be able to get anything to eat at all. We ordered room service twice and they got the order wrong both times. We ordered from the 24 hr room service once and they were out of one item and then wouldn't allow us to use our drink card for room service when they delivered the food. We asked the room steward to keep our ice bucket filled and that was very hit and miss. One night they had a so called "Chocolate Extravaganza" and it was anything but that. The chocolate in the chocolate fountain was like water and the deserts we really nothing special. Also, it took place on the Lido deck by the pool and there was NO lighting there. They brought out portable flood lights so you could hardly see what you were eating. Again there was a scheduling issue with this event. The evening show was still going on when the extravaganza started. Very poor event scheduling. In the room the TV is very small and has a horrible picture. Even in the Screening room the quality of the picture was not up to standard. Should at least HD. The Superbowl was shown in the Vista Lounge where all the evening shows take place and the quality of the picture for that major event was poor and not HD either. That ends our Pros and Cons section. As far as disembarkation went, it was pretty smooth but we didn't turn in our luggage after our earlier experience and carrying them out ourselves was no problem. After all the cruises we have been on we have never ran into a more confused, uninformed and inconsiderate group of passengers. The ship is staffed by mostly Indonesians so the cultural issues are very prominent lead to what we would perceive as inefficiency. Holland America's attraction is price but the money you save isn't necessarily worth it. When we cruise again we will select another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We normally cruise with princess or royal. We decided to try HAL because of the great price. Everyone brags on HAL service and food. The stateroom and common areas are very dated and worn. The cabin itself has some good points though. ... Read More
We normally cruise with princess or royal. We decided to try HAL because of the great price. Everyone brags on HAL service and food. The stateroom and common areas are very dated and worn. The cabin itself has some good points though. We had cabin 4044. The balcony was huge and lots of storage. The bathroom came with a roomier tub/shower combination. The room stewards were wonderful. Overall service was very good and comparable to royal and princess. The Lido buffet needed more healthy options. I liked the fact that the crew served the food rather than being self service. All drinks are served in glassware everywhere on the ship, including in the buffet and pools. The dining room was very lacking. I felt like the lower cost of the cruise was made up for by cutting the food budget. Serving size and quality was not comparable. Example was the shrimp cocktails consisted of 5 mini shrimps. A crispy scallop main dish consisted of one quarter size scallop with a soggy coating. overall service in the dining room was great. The gym, and entertainment was better than comparable. Great music talent! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
I'll try to keep it simple by listing all the significant positives and negatives of HAL. Hits: - excellent service from the room stewards. They are amazing. - Barnaby, the comedian Kevin Jordan and the magician Joseph ... Read More
I'll try to keep it simple by listing all the significant positives and negatives of HAL. Hits: - excellent service from the room stewards. They are amazing. - Barnaby, the comedian Kevin Jordan and the magician Joseph Tran were all great to watch, with a special mention to Barnaby for being very, very entertaining - great selection of food in the lido and the main dining room - very good enrichment programs in the form of culinary demonstrations, computer skills classes, and lifestyle classes - good selection of movies that can be delivered straight to your room for free Misses: - the dancers/swingers were painful to watch. The shows were much too repetitive, lacking storylines and they made up the bulk of the showtime entertainment unfortunately. - strange rotten egg smell in random parts of the ship at random times - the ship creaked relentlessly. Not very confidence inspiring. Also, it was a smaller ship so the swaying was quite uncomfortable for a while. - one of two hot tub pools in the adult pool area didn't function the entire cruise. The three hot tubs in the family pool area worked and were frequently occupied by kids splashing water at each other. Fun. - movies sometimes took too long to be delivered. - movie screening room was too small. It was often full 15 minutes before the movie started. - food was horrible. Bland and soft describes it all. The lobster was mush. All the steak were way too soft and bland. Ugh. Lido food wasn't bad. - food servers in the lido don't listen to you. You can ask for 1 strip of bacon and consistently get 4 on your plate instead. - ping pong tables were in disrepair by the end of the cruise. I blame the kids. They were also set up on the outside deck for half the cruise, making playing actually impossible due to wind. They smartened up and put two near the lido pool later. - some scheduled activities were cancelled unexpectedly without announcement either. No ice sculpting or adult pool games. Thanks for the headsup JT. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
My husband and I embarked on our 7th cruise, second with Holland America. Got a great deal, via an email offer and liked the itinerary, so said, let's do it!! 12 days from Vancouver Canada down to the Mexican Riviera. Our ... Read More
My husband and I embarked on our 7th cruise, second with Holland America. Got a great deal, via an email offer and liked the itinerary, so said, let's do it!! 12 days from Vancouver Canada down to the Mexican Riviera. Our cruise was to sail on a Monday from Canada Place so since we are from the east coast we decided to make the cross country trip worth it and arrived on Saturday for 2 days in Vancouver prior to sailing. Stayed at the Pan Pacific right where the ships dock.Loved Vancouver and the hotel. On Monday, the day of our departure, the bellman took our bags directly to the ship so we had a few extra hours to explore the city. Embarkation went smoothly. We arrived at about 1 PM, were quickly processed and on the ship within a half an hour. We tried to get to our room, but our section of the ship was not ready, Navigation Deck, Floor 8, Aft. So, we went to the Lido buffet (we had an invitation to join the "Captain" in the Vista dining room for lunch since we were a returning Mariner, but never opened the invitation until later that evening). Chaos!! in the buffet. HAL has a program to not let passengers touch anything in the buffet line until after 48 hours to avoid spread of any virus, so everyone had to wait for everything including a glass of water. We gave up and went to the bar at the back of the ship. After a cocktail and the mandatory life saving drill, we were able to get into our rooms, had a bit more of a wait for our luggage. When they arrived, we unpacked and got ready for dinner. We had requested a table for 2 at the 8:00 seating.Which our travel agent told us we had. We were escorted to our table, which was a table for 4, but thought perhaps we would be alone at the table. We were not. Another couple joined us. This was very disappointing for us. We were looking forward to a romantic 12 day cruise and wanted to have dinners alone. I don't mind breakfast and lunch partners, but we wanted to eat dinner alone and if HAL could not provide that, they should have told us at the time of booking and we would not have booked this cruise. 12 days talking to 2 strangers was not our idea of romance. The other couple was lovely, older than we are, but it is difficult to make small talk for 12 days with 2 people you have never seen before and will never see again. I would rather sit at a table for 6 or 8, more opportunity for new conversations. I would rate the food in the dining room as fair to poor.I am not a picky eater, but there were several evenings when nothing on the menu appealed to me and other evenings when the food was close to inedible. I had turkey one evening which seemed like an easy choice. 2 scrawny piece of white meat and 2 fatty pieces of dark. If we had been at a table for 2, I would have sent it back, but did not want to inconvenience the other couple's dinner and delay things. Another evening the pork was so fatty it never should have been put on a plate and served. The land and sea on another evening (steak and shrimp) the steak was about 2" square. The desserts were good except for the night with creme brule, no crust on that custard!! I do like the free cappuccino with dinner. Eating in the buffet is always a challenge on HAL due to the maturity of the passengers.There are canes, walkers and wheel chairs to navigate around.We have room service for breakfast 2 days to avoid the "no touching" days. It was good, hot and served at the time we specified. Our room steward was EXCELLENT, thank you Budi. We asked for robes when we first got into our rooms and they appeared instantly. He refilled the fruit basket if anything had been eaten. The room was made up it seemed as soon as we left. No complaints there!! I will briefly describe the ports here since most of them do not seem to be listed below. Astoria, Oregon : lovely. Take the city tour locals narrate he trip and it is well worth it. Catalina Island, CA : no formal trip, just a stroll around the town, charming. San Diego, CA. City tour was great, we will return to that city. Mazatlan, Mexico : docked in an industrial dock, did not get off of the ship. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico : we have been here several times before, just strolled the straw market and visited the mall across the street. Cabo, Mexico: stayed on the ship, had to tender and it was very hot. Debarkation, total disaster!! Our flight was at 11:35. They gave us a time of 10:15, I don't think so. We changed it to Expedited where you carry your own luggage. We were told we would probably get off at 8:30-9:00. Non US citizens had to report to immigration at 6:45. We got in line at 8:30 (there were about 100 people in front on us) the announcement that we could start leaving the ship for EXPEDITED came at 10:15!! We were told we would have to be able to handle our own luggage, etc, no help, no porter. There were people there with walkers and in wheel chairs!! I think I have gone on long enough. It was our second trip with HAL and our last. The offer we received was great, but the food was terrible, we did not get a table for 2 as promised and you must be aware that the passengers are very, very mature. We are in our early 60s and in good health.Many of the passengers on this line need a lot of assistance.We do not require a lot of activity to keep us happy, but we do like to be able to walk the aisles and halls at a normal pace. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
First time on Holland America, most cruises were on Princess. We had a deluxe verandah room. The room was very nice, set up well. The bathrooms have showers in bathtubs which I could have done without the bathtub, it was more of a trip ... Read More
First time on Holland America, most cruises were on Princess. We had a deluxe verandah room. The room was very nice, set up well. The bathrooms have showers in bathtubs which I could have done without the bathtub, it was more of a trip hazard getting in and out. The room was at the very back of the ship, it was wonderful. We sat out on the balcony and it wasn't windy or cold, even though it was September. The view was wonderful and really paid off when we visited the John Hopkins Glacier during scenic cruising. The buffet was set up nice and contained different kind of ethnic food. Favorite was the sandwiches and the make your own pasta. The theater was really nice though there are only 33 seats so you have to get there early. They had some free digital computer classes and that was great. The rest of the ship I didn't care for so much. On Princess you have a wide open area with a grand staircase, piano player, and see the shops. Holland America felt very closed in, the ceilings were low and I didn't care for it at all. We had the 8:30 seating, but the food was not that good. I never ate much there, had high hopes something would be good, but it wasn't. If you are interested in the art and auctions, this would not have been a good ship for you. The art gallery was very small and there never was a true auction. On Princess there is one set price and you can have all the soda's you can drink. I got a card for $25 and you got 20 GLASSES of soda, small glasses, no refills. Love the $30 with Princess and drink what you want. Casino was very small, not very many tables. One cruise on Holland America is enough for me. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
Pacific Coastal - 5 days on the Oosterdam Embarkation: Took a taxi to Canada Place - delivered right to where we needed to check in! Arrived at 10:45 - process was painless and we were on the ship 45 minutes later. Made our way to the ... Read More
Pacific Coastal - 5 days on the Oosterdam Embarkation: Took a taxi to Canada Place - delivered right to where we needed to check in! Arrived at 10:45 - process was painless and we were on the ship 45 minutes later. Made our way to the Lido and found a table for 4 - all the tables for 2 were taken. Shared with two nice ladies from Canada. Cabin. We were able to go to the cabin at 1:30pm. We booked a VF guarantee - that was all that was available in the balcony class - and we were assigned a VF on Deck 4 - one with a steel railing. We actually liked the steel railing as it seemed more private and we had more space on the balcony itself. Cabin itself: when we arrived the safe wouldn't work, the connecting door to the cabin next to us wasn't locked (we were QUITE surprised when our next door neighbor poked his head in!), no bathrobes, no wire fruit basket. We called the front desk immediately about the safe and the unlocked connecting door - said they would send someone - but neither were fixed until 8pm and 4 phone calls later. Didn't see our room steward at all that first day. We ate dinner the first day in the Vista MDR - anytime seating. Asked for a table for two and got it - except it literally was 8 inches from a table for 4. A bit noisy and not very private. Dinner was fine, except the serving of ling cod that was about 2 inches by 2 inches square - not really enough for an entrEe, so ordered the coho salmon in addition. Let me digress for a moment to the attire of the passengers. Attire. One of the concerns I had was the "Smart Casual" requirement - as I prefer to live in jeans I realized that I would have to forego them. Black dress pants seemed to fit the "Smart Casual" rules. I needn't have bothered. Jeans, even the shredded knee ones, seemed to be acceptable. T-shirts were not out of the norm. My favorite was the woman wearing a hot pink halter top in the MDR, which was nicely co-ordinated with a matching bra and with straps the world could see, and gray jersey leggings. Second place went to the three girls wearing bathing suits and wrapped in wet towels in the Lido at lunch. Third place went to the overweight men who wore their bathrobes (and nothing else) to the Lido at lunch, too. I'm sorry I paid attention to the dress code and left my jeans at home. Breakfast in the MDR on Day 2. Table for 2. Slow service. Bacon was undercooked; chocolate croissant tasted rancid, the French toast was crisp on the outside was soggy and raw eggish on the inside - like it had soaked too long? We decided on the Lido for breakfast after that meal. Robes mysteriously arrived while we were at breakfast. Spent the day in Astoria. Cute little town. Interesting watching the docking process from our balcony. Made a dinner reservation in the MDR for 5:30pm that day. Received a confirming card in our mailbox. Left for dinner. Room still not made up; still no fruit basket. At the MDR gave the maitre'd our confirmation card. He told staff to take us to table XXX; when we got there we saw it was a table for 6! We told the staff we had a reservation for a table to 2. We went back to the maitre'd - he had kept our card but it was nowhere to be found. He said we did not have a reservation for a table for 2 and that there were no tables for 2 available. As we were leaving to go to the Lido he magically found one. Off in a corner behind a pillar. At least it was private! Dinner was OK - not overwhelming. Service was slow. The baked Alaska dessert was strange - it really didn't seem like meringue on the outside - more like that marshmallow goo that comes in a jar? I'm pretty sure meringue doesn't get that way even when soggy. Back to the cabin. Finally made up. Wire basket for fruit, but no fruit in it. We really enjoyed listening to the musician playing on the dock from our balcony, and the casting off process. Found 2 wine glasses and enjoyed some of the wine we brought on board. Decided to try room service since I was still hungry. Ordered a BLT, two bananas and cheese plate. One hour later it arrived - the cheese plate was amusing - 4 very small pieces of cheese, a few crackers and a berry in the middle of the plate. Seriously, each piece of cheese was 1 inch by 1 inch! My BLT had processed cheddar cheese on it - it tasted OK once I removed the cheese. Decided further room service was not in the cards! Ate at the Lido for breakfast and lunch the rest of the cruise. It was fine, but tough finding a table for two. Made a reservation at Canaletto for dinner the third night - highly recommend it! Food was excellent as was the service. Loved the lemoncello dessert. Tried to make reservations for the last two nights we would be on the ship but it was booked solid. Dinner was at the Lido the last two nights. Kept checking the MDR menu to see if lobster was on it; as that was the only reason I would even consider going back. No lobster the entire cruise. Oh, well. I had heard great things about HAL room stewards. Ours wasn't. Even though we were out of the cabin for chunks of time, it was only made up early in the day once. And the last two days it wasn't made up at all. No garbage emptied, no clean towels, no new toiletries. Our wine glasses disappeared on day 3 and never returned - but we made do with the water glasses for our wine on the balcony. Disembarkation was a breeze in San Diego. Had time for breakfast in the Lido, went back to our cabin - which was partially made up for the next passengers! Off the ship at 9am. And very unlikely to be back. While we have traveled extensively - on our own to rather remote parts of the world, and we're pretty friendly people, I didn't like the "forced socialization". At 6:30am - when I'm enjoying a cup of tea and watching the sea I'm not interested in the "I'm from......where are you from." And I found the level of chatter in the MDR and Lido to be very loud. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was my second experience on the Oosterdam and my husband's first. The Oosterdam is a well maintained ship and the Indonesian service crew appear to work very hard to keep it that way. I will talk about the positives before ... Read More
This was my second experience on the Oosterdam and my husband's first. The Oosterdam is a well maintained ship and the Indonesian service crew appear to work very hard to keep it that way. I will talk about the positives before getting to the negatives. First dining, the food was exceptional, even more so than on my previous trip 4 years ago. I could not fault it in any way. The Chef and kitchen have raised the bar VERY HIGH, and I could not imagine it being any better anywhere! It was fabulous. I give them a 5+ here! The food was excellent in the main dining room, and also very good in the Lido. We had any time dining and since we like to dine early, we made reservations in the Vista and never had to wait. Generally, we sat at a table for two, close enough to chat to adjoining tables if we wished, but not close enough that one had to carry on a conversation if one didn't want to.(Tables 104,106 108) The dining staff was all very good from the dining steward to the assistant to the wine steward (Buche, Andrew & Jel). Really, in this area Oosterdam absolutely shone! - The other positive was that the generally Indonesian service staff, room, vista and lido staff, were all extremely friendly and nice, always greeted us in passing in the hall whether they knew us or not. These were the highlights. The negatives, and they are pretty important 1) lack of DAY activities,they had 3 people planning the activities that I could tell and perhaps more,the party planner, the dj, and the cruise director. Considering the activities they managed to come up with, I think it shouldn't have taken more than one person working part-time to plan the activities that were presented to us. A highlight of one of the few activities on the last sea day, was: are you ready?...... towel folding. A number of activities were at an extra fee, activities that were free on princess for example (mixology). As for their digital workshop, well what a disappointment that was. Holland America advertises this as one of their services in describing their cruises, well it appears the person who runs the digital workshop classes did not show up, missed the boat, (I only found this out when enquiring from a crew member) and Holland America did not replace this person, nor they did not join the ship on our first port of call, they simply kept the digital workshop very quietly locked up for the week with no explanation or apology. I guess they figured no one would notice. Nor did they fill this missing activity with new activaties, adding to the scarcity of day activities that already existed. They did have a couple of cooking demonstrations with the chef that were interesting, though on one of them, the party planner seemed to be trying to one-up the chef in her cooking knowledge, that part really didnt come across well. . One evening they had a game planned for the queen's lounge, and because there was a private function in the queens lounge that "ran over time" they did not change the venue they simply cancelled at the very last second, with no other substitutions offered, and rebooked on a different night -talk about poor planning. When I sailed Oosterdam the first time in 2006 they had an Oosterdam (Karaoke) idol competition, that was very well advertised, well run, tons of fun, and the queen's lounge was filled to overflowing every night. They tried the same here, but it was poorly advertised, poorly run, and placed in odd time slots. This was very disappointing and so unnecessary. No reason it couldn't have been run as well as the one in 2006.(I will note that the evening production shows of which there were three plus the magician and comedian were all very good and I am not speaking of them here nor including them ,in my overal negative rating of entertainment and enrichment as a 2. I give it a 2 for the reasons mentioned above. Finally, 2) disembarkation, a complete disaster if you were on expedited or disembarking early. This was the final straw, and the reason we will not sail with Holland America next time. Coming back into the port of San Diego all non us-citizens have to present themselves at he Vista lounge at 630 am sharp! with their passports green cards , etc. to be seen by US customs.( Well I remember doing this in 2006 on my first trip and although it was early it was done promptly,leaving time for breakfastand we then disembarked with little difficulty. My how things have changed! We arrived at 630 to be explicitly directed by a staff member (Irvan)to our specific seating in 2 sections in the vista lounge, we were at the top of section one, then they filled up section 2 completely, and even a few in section 3. US customs did not arrive until 7:10 and did not start seeing passengers until 7:15 at the earliest. At that time the staff member (Irvan) who sat everyone, started allowing people out of rows to go through customs, and NOT in the order in which he sat them! People who arrived well after us were being seen first, and our section was in fact the last to be seen. I did complain to him about it while it was going on as did a number of others. Only excuses were given, and no action taken by him to correct this. i.e. "I can't stop people from going in this order". Really?!, he never even tried! -yet he firmly directed people on where to sit when they were arriving. Meanwhile when I complained to the other crew officer (Dew) about being unimpressed with how things had transpired here . Her response " I don't blame you"(totally unhelpful and indifferent) Anyway, we were there for over an hour and a half, which meant when we finally returned to our room at 8:05, there was only time left to close the case and leave for our expedited departure at 8:15 (forget breakfast!). Well we arrive down near the gangway to see that ¾ of the ships passengers must be also down there, lining up both sides of the ship almost all the way to the vista lounge on one side and vista dining room on the other. Just a mess. Expedited passengers mixed with passengers leaving at different times. ZERO crew members to be found, just security staff who were absolutely useless -and that's being kind. Their comment was they must keep the gangway area clear, well there was nobody in that area anyway, and the cruise director came over the PA (from some distant location in the ship -probably his bed ), advising us twice to keep the gangway clear, and that was it for announcements.( The gangway was always clear! -so dont know the point of his announcement) SO when it finally came time to disembark everybody disembarked higgly piggly altogether, expedited and non expedited, security staff didn't check, as it didn't matter to them (I think the only reason they have an "expedited" class is so you handle your own luggage and their staff don't have to do it during the previous night-because you certainly don't leave any earlier) regular early middle etc disembarkation all getting off at the same time. No one checking when they scanned your cruise card to see if it was the right time for you. The impression left was now that HA Oosterdam had your money, the cruise was over and they simply did not care. Too bad there is no rating for disembarkation (from 630am on) I would give it a minus 10! It left an extremely bad finishing note to a cruise that had activities run in a mediocre fashion to start with. It's too bad, because the food and the Indonesian service crew were truly exceptional. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We went on this cruise as a part of a group that my mom put together and being native to San Diego it was easy for us to fit into our schedule. We took a shuttle to the terminal instead of parking and it was well worth it. The shuttle ... Read More
We went on this cruise as a part of a group that my mom put together and being native to San Diego it was easy for us to fit into our schedule. We took a shuttle to the terminal instead of parking and it was well worth it. The shuttle takes you directly to the terminal doors and a porter was waiting to take our luggage; we didn't see our luggage again until we got to the room. Getting on the ship took all of 20 minutes. We got to the lido deck for lunch and that was a bit of a nightmare since there were so many people rushing to the food as though it was about to disappear. Around 1:00 the announcement came that we could go to our cabins and we arrived about 5 minutes before our luggage which made it easy for me to snap a few pics of a clean & tidy cabin. We sailed away around 5:30 and it was beautiful to see downtown San Diego lit up in the dusk...something I don't get to see very often. It reminded me of why I live in this great city! We stayed in cabin #5058 which was on the veranda deck towards the front of the ship very close to the elevators. When we first walked in we thought it was really small, but once we unpacked and found how much of our stuff fit into the cabinets we were pleased. The closets had plenty of hanging space and could convert into shelving if needed. There was a safe in one of the closets too. The veranda had a good view but I would have chosen to be about 5 cabins further back because we were right next to a portion of the ship that jutted out and blocked our view. We spent a lot of our time in the Crow's Nest Lounge & library which was directly above our cabin so it was quite convenient to go between the two with our laptop and books. The only drawback to this cabin was that the shower drained very slow and our feet were in about 4 inches of water at all times.Overall, the ship was nice and service was what we expected; it didn't seem to matter what time of day it was, but I always saw someone polishing a stair bannister. We thought the food was mediocre no matter where we ate and we got really tired of eating after about the third day. Even in the dining room, we felt that the food was comparable to any regular buffet so we felt a bit let down. Much of the food came out of giant cans and even the juices were often times watered down (FYI...tea, juice, coffee & milk are the only free drinks on the ship; you have to pay for soda). Afternoon tea and cakes was served everyday in the dining room, but once again it was mediocre; however it was nice to take a few minutes out of the day and have a bit of sophistication ... even if it was in our flip-flops. One night there was a party on the lido deck with chocolate fountains and fruit for dipping and that was very nice. The nightly entertainment was sub-par overall and unfortunately you couldn't get away from it. In the evening there was a musical group playing in every corner of the ship and it was never good. The shows were also excessively cheesy. There was one musician, a classical and acoustic guitarist named Taylor Brown, who was excellent and played often throughout the day; we made sure to catch one of his performances daily. We knew going in to this that we would be in a small demographic of "young" people and in general there wasn't a whole lot for us to do. There were ping-pong tables but they always seemed to be put away or missing the paddles. There was shuffle board, but there were only a few pucks so only one game could occur at a time. The gym was nice but you had to pay extra if you wanted to do any of the classes like yoga, pilates or spin...I was disappointed to have to pay extra for something that I expected to have been part of my booking costs. The explorations cafe was "activity central" with daily sudokus/crosswords and several puzzles for people to be occupied by. We learned on our last day that there was a closet full of board games that you could check out. We spent quite a bit of our time in here since our weather was quite chilly & windy...we enjoyed this portion of the ship. This is also where there were numerous computers and a fairly large library. There were two pools and 5 hot tubs but they were all covered up by 9pm everynight. With so much to do during the day we always seemed to have time to hit the hot tubs by about 10pm so it was disappointing to not be able to benefit from the tubs. Overall, we were somewhat let down by the cruise, but we still were able to relax. I don't think we'll be cruising on Holland America again until we're in their demographic which will be in about 30-40 years. This ship and or cruise line really caters to senior citizens and though we weren't looking for a party cruise, we wanted a tad bit more energy. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
OK, I have never written a review for anything, but felt so strongly to write about our cruise on the Oosterdam. We just got home last night from a 7 day Mexican Riviera Cruise. I have always heard such great things about Holland America ... Read More
OK, I have never written a review for anything, but felt so strongly to write about our cruise on the Oosterdam. We just got home last night from a 7 day Mexican Riviera Cruise. I have always heard such great things about Holland America and have never sailed this line. I expected wonderful service, but not on this ship! We booked a suite, since the price was so good. The room was great. We really enjoyed the large bathroom with a jacuzzi tub and the large veranda, but that is about all. Once aboard, we met our room steward and also a room with leftover food from the last passengers. Not a great way to start. Our room was never cleaned before 2:00pm every day of the cruise. The day the cruise started was also our son's 16th birthday. We wanted to celebrate at dinner with a cake. Well, we told the maitre de and the waiter and we never got a cake. The food was slow in coming and the waiters didn't seem to care about you at all. The second night was a formal night, so we all got dressed for dinner. We were in open seating because no other seating was available at the time we booked the cruise. We arrived at the dining room to a long line and after an hour wait to be seated, we almost left. As we went through the dining room, we noticed several open tables. The people we were seated with had cruised Holland America before, even on the same ship and were outraged at how we were all being treated at the dining room. If they are going to have open seating, they need to figure out a way to accommodate everyone somehow. No drinks or appetizers were offered to anyone while we waited. Again, we told the waiter about our son's birthday and after reminding him twice, we did receive a birthday cake. Not much fun! From then on until the last night, we ate on the Lido deck. The food was just as good and the lines were much shorter. I also decided to try my luck at the casino. I didn't really understand the way that you have to use your room card to put money on it and how to transfer it, etc. I just pulled out my card from the machine and thought the money was just automatically put on your card, but it is not. The next person that used the machine I was on, received my money to play with. I asked the Casino manager and he said that there was nothing they could do even though they track everything through your card. I went and spoke to the front desk and they tried to help, but the casino is a separate part of the ship. On the last night of the cruise, I was passing through the casino and they flagged me down to give me my money back. They said they had called me, but I never received any message. The way they treated me was not right even though I received my money back. I could keep going on and on about different things that happened on the ship, but I would be writing for a long time. Many of the people on the ship were first time cruisers and I am sorry that their experience was not better. Holland America needs to check into all these problems and do something about it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Embarkation did not go very well. People were jammed all over the terminal waiting. Why? Holland did not allow enough time with the ms Oosterdam returning from Europe and having to have the crew go through Customs and Immigration on ... Read More
Embarkation did not go very well. People were jammed all over the terminal waiting. Why? Holland did not allow enough time with the ms Oosterdam returning from Europe and having to have the crew go through Customs and Immigration on arrival at Ft. Lauderdale, and still have the ship prepared for embarkation at the time Holland stated. If you have ever embarked on a Carnival cruise from Long Beach you will understand how bad it was. We elected to try a guaranteed cabin for the first, and now our last time. We informed Holland that we are non-smokers, so Holland assigned us a smoking cabin that the previous cruisers had smoked heavily in. It was so bad that even the cabin stewards were embarrassed and had an ozone machine in the room when we arrived after 1400, to try and make it more bearable. My wife went to the pursers desk to see if there was anything that they could do to assist us. We already knew that the ship was full from cruise critic chats, so we knew that there would be no upgrade available, but maybe some help in ridding the room of the smoke smell. They told my wife that there was nothing that they could do and went on to the next customer. Thankfully our cabin stewards, Yon and Abdul, were great and realized the problem and spent extra time attempting to make the cabin more bearable for our first night. My wife woke up the next morning hardly able to breathe as she was so congested from the smoke residue. She was very happy to take the tender to Half Moon Cay and get out of the cabin. The cabin stewards then shampooed the carpet while we were gone to try and help us. The next day they had to wash all of the curtains too as the smoke smell was still so strong. There were also many people who complained of not receiving their luggage until well after dinner, once again due to the crew Custom and Immigration check. Food in the dining room, first seating, was very good with a varied choice each night. Food On the Lido deck was also very good, even though some people did not like the fact that Holland does not have trays anymore. I thought that it worked very well myself. The ms Oosterdam is not in as good a shape as her sister ship the ms Norddam. There were rust spots along areas of the Promenade deck and the carpet is getting a bit worn. Some deck chairs were broken, were they could not be moved from the up-right position, and a few did not have a cushion. One day the crew water sprayed the Promenade deck and then proceeded to chip and scrape paint off above the deck so the paint chips fell all over the deck. They did not close off that section of the deck so that as people walked over the chips paint was all over the place. Poor planning on the part of the crew. Disembarkation was very good, the only complaint being one could not always hear what they were announcing. The Panama Canal was the highlight of the cruise and is worth the time and effort to go through it. Great lectures from Mr. McCLelland on the area. The port of Fuerte Amador ( Panama City ) is not listed in the port reviews section so here it is. We did the El Valle tour and it was very good. Our guide was very informative and helpful. Some of the dining table mates went to Panama City and enjoyed it Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. Once again there isn't much at the port itself, as it is a container dock port. There was a good band playing while were docked and there is shopping in the building at the dock also. We found some very good things there at a very good price. The people were very friendly and helpful. We took the mangrove tour from the ship and we were able to see some of the country side that way also. Our guide and driver were one of the best that we have ever had. The guide would point to a flower on the road side and start to talk about it and the driver would stop and go out and take a cutting from it so that we could touch and smell it. This happened a quite a few times and was a very nice touch to the tour. The tour was on a pontoon boat and there was enough of a breeze most of the time to make it very enjoyable. Our guide from the motor coach came along and with the guide from the boat tour we were kept very entertained. We managed to see blue herons, caymans, iguanas and macaws. There was a light brunch after the boat ride with plenty of fresh fruit, beer and bottled water. There were also very clean bathrooms. They also had items for sale there too. We did find out after the fact that the shops at the dock are about half of the price of those at the boat tour. So do your shopping at the dock. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala We did the tour to the old capital of Antigua. The coach ride took about an hour or so. The city is lovely and well worth the trip to see it. When you get off the coach at the Jade factory, the tour guide will tell you the coach number and the time to be back for departure. There are good bathrooms at the Jade Factory to use before you start to wander the city. The driver or guide will also give you a bottle of water when you get off the coach. We wandered around the city and enjoyed our time there. The main plaza is wonderful and there are many places to look at and places to buy items. We ventured to the market area and found some great gifts. The street vendors can be a bit much some times but if you bargain with them you will get some really great deals. My wife still wishes she would have bought more while she was there. There was plenty of shopping near the dock also but we were shopped out by that time. Puerto Chiapas, Mexico The Mexican Government has spent a lot of money to try and get tourists to this area. There is a brand new dock and and shopping building next to it. There is also a restaurant with a kiddies swimming pool and lots of grass to just lay on and relax. We took the shuttle into town, it is $10 dollars pp/rt in a supposedly air conditioned coach. Ours didn't have any AC so everyone was hot and sweaty after sitting in the coach for the 20 minute ride into town. Once in town, you are let off at the center of town, there is a tourist info booth right there and they were extremely helpful. One problem is that there are very few people in the area who speak English so shopping downtown is an adventure. We went with another couple and once we arrived downtown the ladies informed us that we were not going to ride that coach back to the ship. So we talked to the young lady at the tourist info booth about getting a tour to the Iztapa ruins and the Chocolate city and she went and talked to the cab drivers and got us one to do that for $40 for the four of us. The cab wasn't in the best of shape and didn't have AC but the driver drove fast enough that we had a good time and it wasn't too hot either. The ruins aren't much yet as only about 2% of them have been uncovered so far. It was still a nice way to spend part of the day. We then went to the Chocolate city and watched a demo on how they work with the bean to make the cocoa powder and they had samples of the paste and drink to try. We bought some of the paste as the price was so good and it tasted lovely. Then the drive took us back to the ship so the ladies didn't have to use the shuttle coach. Hualtulco, Mexico Another port with a new dock. The port area has some of shopping and walking area, but there were signs that the economy has hit hard there too, or it is just too new to be established yet. There are nine bays in the area. It is a beautiful place and we were told that it is one of the new "in" places to vacation at or buy a home. It is very nice there. We walked around the port area and talked to a man about a boat tour to some of the bays. Once again there were four of us. We managed to have a really nice guy, Louis, take us out to five of the bays with a stop at the most popular swimming beach for an hour. The fee for this was $20 pp. Louis was very informative and helpful. We had a very, very good time doing this. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Holland America Line ** Oosterdam ** Panama Canal Cruise ** 02 - 21 Nov 2009 What was right? The transfer from Miami airport to the Marriott North, Ft Lauderdale was efficient and without too much delay. The hotel itself was of a far ... Read More
Holland America Line ** Oosterdam ** Panama Canal Cruise ** 02 - 21 Nov 2009 What was right? The transfer from Miami airport to the Marriott North, Ft Lauderdale was efficient and without too much delay. The hotel itself was of a far higher standard than expected. The transfer and cruise check-in ran smoothly, especially given the volume of passengers. The cabin (stateroom) could not be faulted. We had the SS grade on Deck 8: a large verandah with table, chairs, 2 deep wicker chairs and foot stools; the bathroom had a full size whirlpool bath, separate shower and 2 wash basins; the main room was spacious with generous wardrobe space, king-size bed with 3 pillows for each person (very comfortable), 2 armchairs, settee, fridge, flat-screen TV, dressing-table and desk, bathrobes were also provided. The 2 cabin stewards worked efficiently, discreetly and quickly. Everything was very clean. The ship itself is a handsome vessel with a well-planned arrangement of lounges, restaurants, pools and sundecks. Easy to find your way around. Plenty of elevators too with rarely a wait for one to arrive. Reassuring to see plenty of hand-sanitisers around the ship - but why didn't more people use them??! The Panama Canal transit was an amazing and unforgettable experience enhanced by the very informative onboard commentary which ran for the duration - 5 stars for that!! On the last morning of the cruise guests were allowed the use of their stateroom right up until the time of disembarkation in San Diego. It was the first time I had experienced this - usually cabins have to be vacated at the crack of dawn and the crew can't wait to see the back of you(!) - it made the whole procedure of leaving the ship far less stressful. And what wasn't ..... At the time of booking, only the late-sitting dining time was available. At 8pm that's a little late for us so, after 3 nights, we switched to "open seating" meaning we could eat any time between 5.15 and 9pm. This was a much more convenient option. Unfortunately, in both dining rooms, the service was very slow, the food often arrived barely warm on cold plates, vegetables were under-cooked, orders were muddled, waiters clearly under pressure. I know the Pinnacle Grill offers an alternative dining opportunity at an additional $20 a head but one shouldn't have to pay extra just to get an acceptable meal. At the Lido Deck Buffet it's only "help-yourself" for certain dishes (eg Continental breakfast, salads and desserts) for everything else one has to queue up and wait to be served. Once again the food was often not hot enough - although of unquestionably good quality - and served on cold plates. Ironically, plates and dishes for fruit, salads and dessert were invariably hot! There was often a long wait for omelets and cooked breakfast and one wondered if there was sufficient crew on duty. Pasta dishes were fantastic - but often not hot enough. The Asian food at lunch time was also wonderful - but only if you we lucky enough to get it straight from the wok. There always seemed to be a queue for tea and coffee with dispensers not working or breaking-down. Towards the end of the cruise it even looked as if there was a teabag shortage! Generally the attitude of the dining stewards was indifferent. The final straw was the evening I found a piece of hard plastic in my salad! I reported it to one of the dining stewards, giving my room number, but I heard nothing more. Photographs at $39.95 a sheet were very over-priced. Why did the Captain's Champagne Welcome last less than 10 mins? We blinked and missed it. Room Service seemed to be non-existent - on 2 mornings we waited more than 30 mins for tea and coffee and gave up after that. All drinks from the bar are subject to a 15% service charge - in common with all other cruise companies, as far as I know. Compared to, for example, the Queen Mary 2, we found the cost of drinks to be far higher on the Oosterdam and as a result, consumed very little alcohol during the 19 day cruise. It may have benefited our health and our pockets but I can't help feeling this was a missed opportunity for Holland America Line - if their bar prices were a little lower, people would surely be encouraged to enjoy the very fine wine list. On the first day of the cruise we ordered a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne (reasonably priced on QM2), not only did the waiter pour it incorrectly so that half a glass was wasted as it overflowed the glass, but the final bill of $115 made it even harder to swallow! As it was, we saw very few people drink anything other than water at meal times and virtually nobody drinking in the bars and lounges. Don't bother getting off the ship at Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, unless you book a shore excursion because there's absolutely nothing there! When is a formal evening not a formal evening? It was difficult to tell what the dress code was meant to be. There were 4 "Formal Evenings" on this cruise requiring at least a jacket and tie for men and any kind of dress (short or long) or trouser suit for the ladies - the rest of the evenings were termed "Smart Casual" when one could wear just about anything apart from shorts and tee-shirts. The boundaries were so blurred that it was sometimes impossible to tell what kind of evening it was. Personally I feel the dress standard for "formal" should be set a bit higher - at least a dinner jacket/tuxedo for men and full-length dress or evening trouser suit for women. Perhaps I'm old-fashioned but when you've carefully packed and transported your posh evening gear across the Atlantic to join what sounds a very sophisticated cruise it makes you wonder why you made the effort. This was our first experience of Holland America Line. Having read all the brochures, publicity, website etc I must say I was expecting something a bit more classy than this. There was a certain "feel" to HAL's marketing that led me to think I was going to experience something much better than MSC or Princess Cruises. Silly me! I obviously formed the wrong impression. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
We booked our Oosterdam cruise over a year ago after our return on the same ship in August of 2008 in Alaska. Our Alaska cruise had been so fabulous that we were excited to book the same ship in Europe! A place that was sure to excite ... Read More
We booked our Oosterdam cruise over a year ago after our return on the same ship in August of 2008 in Alaska. Our Alaska cruise had been so fabulous that we were excited to book the same ship in Europe! A place that was sure to excite the whole family! We asked for main dining over a year ago and was never granted our wish. I will say however that even tho it was a pain to call every morning for dinner reservations, the reservations guy was so nice to get us the same table and waiter every night for the 12 night cruise. Part of our enjoyment of cruising is having fixed dining every night. Our waiter, Arun was the highlight of our cruise! He was absolutely a wonderful person and dedicated hard worker! We decided to go to Barcelona 2 days early since we were travelling with our children (13 and 11) and my parents (both in their 80s). We arrived in Barcelona only to be ripped off in the taxicabs and dumped in front of our hotel on Las Ramblas. While my parents watched the luggage that my husband and i were transporting into the hotel, my husband's computer was stolen right from under my mother's nose. The hotel manager just shrugged his shoulders and said, "it happens". We spent the first night in Spain, in the police station. While we decided to try to have a good time, since we were embarking on our cruise, we took another taxi (that again, totally ripped us off by traveling to the ship which was about 10 mins away and they charged us $90) we deposited our luggage with the holland america staff and proceeded on our journey. We entered our large cabin (we had actually asked not to be upgraded as we had one of the largest inside cabins that you can have and with a family of four, that was important) around 130pm which was very nice and received 6 of our 7 bags all in the matter of about 2hours. We inquired about the 7th bag and they told us that sometimes larger bags get separated and not to worry it would come by 9pm. Off to dinner we went and by 1030pm still no bag. After already having been robbed, we were not pleased. We stood in the enormous line at the front desk and inquired about our bag. I was getting very irritated and demanded that it come that evening. Finally we received the bag with some excuse that we had written the wrong room number on it and it was delivered to the wrong state room which we knew was not true. If it was delivered to the wrong stateroom, just tell me and i'm fine with the truth! We stayed overnight in Spain and the next day finally set sail for 9 ports. It was a very exhausting and grueling trip especially since you feel compelled to tour around all the ports since you may never get back to these places again. It was very difficult on my 82 year old father and he finally stopped getting off because there was so much walking involved! Everyday it was between 95 and 100 degrees fahrenheit with complete sun. Not that i'm complaining but it was brutally hot every single day. One of the reasons that we cruise is that there is always something for everyone and with children that is important. Our daughter turned 13 and was very excited to be finally joining the teen group. I had my reservations since I feel there is a big difference between a 13 year old and a 17 year old and I expressed that to the staff. They assured me that everything would be fine. Everynight was a battle with her since the "teens" had a planned program that started at 1130pm in the disco and ended at 1am. My husband and I felt that that was too late for a 13year especially since we were taking port excursions leaving around 8 am most mornings. So everynight we battled with our child over this disco. Each night begrudgingly she came in at 1130 but was unhappy to attend the disco. In general the children could have cared less about the ports and more about the "friends" that they had made on the ship. Our particular date had the most children that HAL has ever had in their history over their entire fleet of ships....200. Needless to say that presented additional challenges. The ports were lovely but hot, the food was very good, the service in the Vista dining by Arun was suberb, our wine steward, Arnold was outstanding so things were going ok. By the second week we were eating dinner and our daughter and her friend came to our dinner table to inform us that our son (11years old) had been hurt, was crying and that the children's program staff had left us a message in our stateroom. He had been attacked by a 14year boy, chased 10 flights of stairs, choked and drug back up the stairs to the club HAL crying and barely breathing. This all happened on the first floor in front of the front desk and no one did anything. We called security and confronted the single mother who was aboard ship with her two other children. She seemed clueless and definitely had no idea how to control her children. The security officer warned the child who proceeded to stalk my son and his other little friends to point that he had to sleep with us at night and we had to follow him around at all times with the phone close by at all times in order to call security. The boys were walk the perimeter of the pool intimidating the little boys and then sit at the bar and stare at my husband and i. It was hard to imagine that we had a "gang" on our ship but we did. We got to the point that we couldn't wait for this expensive vacation to end and all we wanted to do was go home. When we got off the ship, the people on the ground were rude and very unhelpful. The briefing that we received to disembark never once mentioned that you needed to take a bus to the luggage terminal. After retrieving the luggage, we had to sit in the Venice airport for 10 hours waiting for our return flight home. We had had hopes of walking around Venice before the flight took off, which we did do alittle of but it cost $60+ dollars to "store" your luggage at the airport. When we finally got to the time we could check in, Aer Lingus wasn't going to allow us the luggage that we were allowed on the way over so that was a fight for about 30mins. We finally boarded the late flight and flew to Dublin where we had a layover til the next morning. We went from 104 degrees in Venice to 40 degrees in Dublin and stood in a 40+min taxi line to just go to the hotel at the airport that we had booked ahead of time. We did have a very nice room and very nice people that eventually helped us and the taxi drivers weren't rude or didn't try to rip us off. When we finally boarded our USAIR flight to Philadelphia, my seat was broken and the stewardesses were rude and unhelpful. I wasn't going to sit forward for 7.5 hours and they were just plain rude. We had two bathrooms in our section of the plane. One bathroom was broken before we left and consequently the whole plane smelled like urine. They squirted some cinnamon spray inside and just wrote a note, "out of order". This left only one bathroom for most of the plane to use for almost 8 hours. Needless to say it wasn't pretty. The best part of the trip was arriving HOME! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2009
This is the second time the my wife and I have taken a cruise on the Oosterdam. The first cruise being 2 years ago on the Mexican Rivera. Second time around was not a charm. There are almost as many bad things to write about the cruise as ... Read More
This is the second time the my wife and I have taken a cruise on the Oosterdam. The first cruise being 2 years ago on the Mexican Rivera. Second time around was not a charm. There are almost as many bad things to write about the cruise as there are good things. So I will start with the good things and for those who don't want to find out about the bad I'll warn you in advance before I start writing. First thing- it not often that you can go on a 12 day cruise and see Spain, Italy, France, Monaco, Greece, and Croatia. Such a whirlwind ! My favorites were Venice and Rome. My wife has her favorites of Venice, Rome, and Dubrovnik (in Croatia). We decided to do something different while we were in Corfu, Greece and rented a car for the first time overseas. Talk about freedom to meet the locals. Our room attendants (Sri and Henri) were top notch. Same can be said for our table attendants (Made and Efendi).  Being on a 12 day cruise is awesome because the first couple of days your unwinding and you still have 10 days of cruising to go. On a shorter cruise- you barely start to unwind and half the cruise is over with. Now for the BAD.....We went to the Pinnacle Grill for my wife's birthday. Service was extremely slow. It took 1 1/2 hours just to get to the main course. There were 3 unauthorized charges that were put on our account and it took 5 trips to the front desk to finally get them removed. The Oosterdam is not being maintained as well as she should be. Frayed carpets everywhere. Our toilet broke for 1 day. The Cappuccino machine broken for several days of the cruise. This is not what you expect from a ship that just came out of drydock. As much as we loved seeing so many different locations; it was an itinerary not designed for most of the clientele that sail on Holland America (I.E senior citizens). By the end of the cruise there were several people sporting crutches and arm slings.  It is to much to expect people in their 60s and 70s to be able to go on a 9 hour tour one day then turn around and go on a 11 hour tour the next day. There was only 1 sea day out of the 12. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
The cabins in the Oosterdam are dated and tired. The ship needs revamping. Perhaps, in doing that they will also clean up the virus they can't seem to shake. After our cruise returned to San Diego, the ship claimed they would ... Read More
The cabins in the Oosterdam are dated and tired. The ship needs revamping. Perhaps, in doing that they will also clean up the virus they can't seem to shake. After our cruise returned to San Diego, the ship claimed they would disinfect everything. Guess what? The ship left port again, 250 people came down with GIS and the ship returned to port. On our trip, 100 people were sick. The nurse who saw me was flown in because they were so busy in the medical office. The letter I received in response to my request for some compensation for a 'lost vacation' stated "on every sailing we anticipate the possibility of gastrointestinal illness, and we monitor illness as closely as possible." I guess they need better monitors 'cause it ain't working! We have cruised many times on other lines. We found the staff on the Oosterdam to be a bit distanced from the passengers. There was a language problem. Of course, there were those who went the extra mile, but on a whole they were aloof and appeared inexperienced. We found the activities to be very mundane. Other cruise lines have interesting events and lectures on 'at sea' days. HAL did not. They also charged an 'arm and a leg' for using the internet facilities. We found the food to be good. Unfortunately, I was unable to have much of it. The entertainment was just so-so. We have had a much easier embarkation with other cruise lines. The port at San Diego leads to long lines and the feeling of being 'herded'. Would definitely suggest you look at other lines and avoid this ship in particular. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Its been five years since my last cruise experience - also on Holland America. During that time, I became what one would call "partially disabled" due to repeated leg surgeries. I've learned to see the world from a different ... Read More
Its been five years since my last cruise experience - also on Holland America. During that time, I became what one would call "partially disabled" due to repeated leg surgeries. I've learned to see the world from a different perspective and consider myself fortunate in that I can still walk, though I require assistance. However, I did require a room with handicapped capabilities (toilet, shower, etc. and a peculiar issue with my infirmity is that it limits the types of chairs I can sit on to those with arms. All in all, when my partner and I booked this short cruise as a kind of test to see if I could handle the challenges, we didn't foresee too many issues. The first thing I need to say about the Oosterdam is that I have the unusual perspective of having sailed on the ship shortly after she went into service and now 5 years later. I have not travelled by vessel in between. The ship has not aged well. HOA needs to freshen the look, change most of the carpeting, polish the brass in the elevators and update some of the public spaces. I understand that may take it out of service for a week, but 5 years without time in the beauty shop shows! Back to the original topic at hand, however. We had some expectations for the cabin that were evidently completely incorrect. When we travelled in past years on some NCL ships, we noticed that their handicapped rooms were substantially larger than other rooms in the same class. Not so for HOA! There was clearly space for a wheelchair to maneuver, but that extra space was taken away from the already sparse storage. Additionally, while HOA is known for their roomy bathrooms with tubs (I couldn't step over a tub to take a shower), their handicapped bathrooms are claustrophobic with the space for only a small flat shower. The toilet might work for most - it is high and rails help with leverage, but the architecture made all the pins and screws in my leg dig into my flesh as soon as I tried to make use of the - well, you get the picture. Strangely enough, the public handicapped facilities are not raised, so those of us who cannot raise or lower ourselves without difficulty are in trouble. Seating in the various showrooms is another issue. The Vista Lounge has a row designated as "handicapped". However, on inspection, all the seats are sloped downward so anyone who tries to use them will likely fall to the floor or be unable to raise themselves. For strange disabilities like mine that make me dependent on only chairs with arms, there are groups of those chairs in front that can be accessed without using the stairs (another problem in raked houses), but you have to get to the room at least a half hour early to claim the seat. Saving the best - or most distressing indignity for last is the issue of off-ship encounters at ports of call. This problem, I'm sure, is not limited to HOA - and they acknowledge it up front. But the inability to use the tenders or most if not all of the shore excursions because their physical limitations conflict with my physical limitations was certainly distressing and clearly limited enjoying the full benefits of the cruise. I've heard that some ships now have wheelchair accessible tenders which is certainly a step in the right direction. I also acknowledge the fact that HOA and other cruise lines are dealing with countries and infrastructure often not responsive to people with physical limitations, but no effort seems to be made to remediate this issue and it certainly put a big damper on my enjoyment of the first in five year trip. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
I am 35 and took this cruise with some family members (12 of us in all). We live in LA and drove to San Diego the night before the cruise and stayed at the US Grant - lovely hotel! We arrived for embarkation at around 12:30. The staff at ... Read More
I am 35 and took this cruise with some family members (12 of us in all). We live in LA and drove to San Diego the night before the cruise and stayed at the US Grant - lovely hotel! We arrived for embarkation at around 12:30. The staff at check in were incredibly rude and abrupt and acted like they were being tortured by working there. Between the 12 of us we checked in with 4 separate people and we all had the same experience - not a very good welcome to your cruise! It was about 1:15 by the time we were on board and we were completely aggravated and frustrated by the way we were treated. The ship is nice but nothing special - I am used to Princess and the atrium, etc. When we walked on board it was anti-climactic. The 3-story atrium is ho-hum and small with low ceilings. I felt that the ship is very chopped up - lots of small spaces everywhere - it didn't seem open and free-flowing. We had an inside cabin which was by far the most spacious of any inside cabin I've ever seen - and lots of room for 3 people to unpack and put away all out stuff. The highlights of the cruise were: 1. The cabin size and layout 2. The food - the food in the Lido was the best buffet food I've ever had on a cruise ship (although 4 out of 7 mornings I could not find a table and had to take my food back to my room). Dining room food was excellent as well. 3. The staff in the dining room. We had fixed late seating and Ario, our server, and RJ, our wine steward made every dinner special. They had all 12 of our names memorized by night #2. Incredible service! 4. Joel Mason, the Elton John impersonator - great entertainer and very funny! 5. Thermal Suite. If it wasn't for my buying this package I would have lost my mind due to boredom on the ship (all 3 sea days were cold). I highly recommend purchasing this package - it was AMAZING and so nice to be able to go there twice or more each day and chill. Other than that we were less than impressed. For us the biggest problem was lack of activities. HAL schedules their shows to be seen before dinner instead of after. I have never experienced this before on a ship. I choose late seating because I don't want to have to get cleaned up and ready to go by 7 PM - its too early for me. Every night we would finish dinner at around 9:30 and we would go from bar to bar, show room to show room, looking for something to do. There was rarely anything going on. 2 nights they did have karaoke which was fun. Other than that you had to hang out and occupy yourself until 11 PM when the Northern Lights Dance club opens. By then you'd be out of the party mood. And the times we did finally make it to Northern Lights we were the only ones in there dancing (other than the second to last night, when it was busy). Several nights I was in bed, lights out before 11 PM because there was nothing to do (a first for me on a cruise!) Overall service on board was so-so other than our dining room staff. I had an 80 minute massage that was good but not great. However, the staff in the Spa was very friendly and warm every single day. PORTS: This is my 4th time doing the Mexican Riviera so I went for the ship, not the ports so much. In Cabo we took a water taxi to Medano Beach - very relaxing and easy!! In Mazatlan we went into town and shopped and hung out at the beach in front of the hotel Flora. Mazatlan is just so-so and every time I go I wonder why I got off the ship. In Puerto Vallarta we went to Las Caletas for the 3rd time and it never disappoints - one of my favorite places on earth! I HIGHLY recommend this excursion! In my opinion if you're under 55 and you like to have any kind of fun after dinner, HAL is not for you. If you're looking to vegetate and hang out in a nice stateroom and eat great food then HAL is for you. One last comment - they allow smoking in many of their bars, and a couple of their main bars are right off the casino and smoke is wafting in rather strongly. NOT GOOD. I had asthma problems more than once. Smoking should not be allowed anywhere other than the casino. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed about almost EVERY aspect of this cruise. I would like to invite others who may think that I am just a complainer, to read my travel reviews on cruise critic and tripadvisor.com (same name: drjentile). I ... Read More
Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed about almost EVERY aspect of this cruise. I would like to invite others who may think that I am just a complainer, to read my travel reviews on cruise critic and tripadvisor.com (same name: drjentile). I believe this will help to validate my complaints. I have never had a BAD travel experience (other than an unfortunate stay at the Motel 6 in San Marcos Texas). While I enjoyed my vacation (it is what you make of it) I would like to share my thoughts about the HAL experience... Embarkation: Well I began to get fired up as soon as we were called to the desk to check in. The lady (if you want to call her that) called my mother and I up to the desk so we quickly shuffled over there. As soon as we set our bags down she rolled her eyes in the most dramatic fashion and let out a large grunt at us. Not sure why this happened, but I said "is there some sort of problem?" and she stiffened up and proceeded to be overly gracious. What a welcome! After boarding we headed to the lido restaurant (without being given direction as to where that is...unlike Carnival). We were pleased that the all clear announcement was given precisely at 1pm to indicate that our cabins were ready. Our Cabin: We got to our cabin to find out that the stationary and our steward's list indicated a different set of occupants...a Harold Veltree or something of that nature. Then we received his luggage at the cabin and the room stewards did not seem to understand that we were not Howard Veltree after several attempts to explain. He finally got it though :) We went to the purser's office to alert them to the mistake...the woman at the desk indicated that there was no problem. Then when we went to the muster drill they were asking us again if we were Harold Veltree (or something of that nature) and we were trying to indicate that there was a mix up. They did not take our names down and I was fearful that if the ship went down we would have gone unaccounted for. We booked a Superior Suite. The room was large enough but the fixtures in the bathroom reminded me of the Motel 6. The verandah was wonderful!!! It had a table with two chairs, and two chairs with ottomans. We loved it! The beds were hard and the linens left something to be desired. The blankets were those old polyester ones you see at Motel 6. Mine had holes in it. I looked under the bed to find the old linens from the previous guest, stuffed under there...sheets, pillow cases, blankets, everything...and hair!!!!! It took over 5 polite request, one more sharp request, and 7 hours to actually get the used linens removed and replaced. Also when we arrived in the room, the waste bins still had rubbish in them and the programs from the previous cruisers were left on the couch. We were skipped several times for turn down service. Our water was never replaced from the first day. I placed my wine bottle by the ice bucket, and we did not receive ice for it until day 6. We got only three towel animals (weren't sure what they were..couldn't find them in the book). Sometimes our towels were replaced...etc, etc, etc. Dining: The choice of food in the Lido for breakfast and lunch was outstanding! The pizza/pasta station was delicious. The deserts were fantastic. The taco bar was amazing!!! I even saw sushi at the buffet! There was also a nice station where you could slice your own cheeses (including brie, gouda, etc). I do not remember our lead dining steward's name (and we just disembarked yesterday)...he was outshined ten-fold by the assistant dining steward Wizz. Wizz was fantastic and very attentive. Our wine steward Romeo was excellent too. He always anticipated my needs which was very nice! The dining stewards at the other surrounding tables were helpful as well...always there to pull out a chair or offer a menu. I am a vegetarian and I was satisfied with the veg fare. There was a veg choice nightly and a completely separate menu that was all vegetarian!!! This was so wonderful. The dining stewards brought me the next night's menu and the veg menu nightly so I could choose what I wanted in advance :) I do however have to indicate thought hat the veg fare on Carnival was much better. This veg fare was often of Asian or Indian influence, which I don't enjoy as much. Unfortunately the main course was always cold when it arrived, without exception. The soups and appetizers were warm though. The teas and goodies provided at the afternoon tea were scrumptious, and I will surely miss this portion of my day. There was no chocolate extravaganza which I had read about on other posts. Beverage Service: The beverage staff were wonderful! Best crew on the ship. Although I am a very very light drinker, you wouldn't know it b/c in every common area or bar there was a beverage staff member who knew my name, anticipated my needs, and was quick to serve. They were all very friendly as well. Entertainment: The female dancers were largely unfortunate. The male dancers were excellent. The singers were good. Joel Mason (the Elton John tribute) was excellent. Even if you don't enjoy Elton John you will likely just enjoy the show he puts on. Derrick Cameron the comedian was outstanding! The magician was incredible as well, and his whole family got involved. The Filipino crew show was wonderful. The scheduling of the evening entertainment did not lead to a smooth evening. This should be considered by HAL. Unfortunately there was a huge lack of on-board activities...unless you wanted to pay for them. Also it seemed like the best activities were scheduled while we were in port and on sea days there was nothing going on! We did participate in both wine tastings (for a nominal fee) and they were excellent. Georgi the Cellar Master was fantastic...very informative and just wonderful all around. Ports: Tendering in Cabo was a breeze. Out of I believe 4 ships we were "parked" in the best location...right next to "land's end" and lover's beach. This provided great photo opps. There were an inordinate amount of individual's selling items on the beach...more so than I have ever seen in Mexico. We went to Playa Madera which was lovely, though the food and drinks were just as expensive as in San Diego...in other ports there is a substantial savings, but not in Cabo. Mazatlan was wonderful. When we walked off the boat, we booked a tour with someone that was selling tours in the market area. It took us to Stone Island and was all inclusive with drinks, food, and activities for $30 pp. Thanks to Jorge and Gabriel with Playa Sur/Mazatlan tours!!!! I was underwhelmed with the beaches in Puerto Vallarta but the town itself is beautiful. Disembarkation day: Okay so when we woke up on Saturday morning it was like a switch had been turned off. All of a sudden there were no more warm greetings and only salty looks and a lack of any sort of service for breakfast. We were made to feel very uncomfortable, and could not wait to get off of the ship! This was delayed though as the computer system was down. Overall I was very underwhelmed with my experience on HAL. I will not sail with HAL in the future. It is not a luxury experience like you are lead to believe by the website. The ports and our table-mates for dinner were what made the cruise for me. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
This was our 3rd time on the big O in a year. Two times to Mexico, one trip to repositioning in Canada. We went on this cruise, KNOWING, we would have excellent service as we did in the past. Living in So. Cal. and going out of San ... Read More
This was our 3rd time on the big O in a year. Two times to Mexico, one trip to repositioning in Canada. We went on this cruise, KNOWING, we would have excellent service as we did in the past. Living in So. Cal. and going out of San Diego is a no brainer. Drive down, hop on, easy check in and relax. Unfortunately, something has happened with HAL. The staff seems so overworked. The 'details' that made it so nice were missing. Some others were downright irritating. Here's my list and you decide for yourselves. 1) Coffee machines were only working half the time in Lido. Had to track down the full ones. This may not be a biggy for some of you, but for coffee addicts or morning people, we expect full coffee pots most of the time, not some of the time. 2) Internet Lounge. Went into the internet lounge because we had an internet snafu in one of the ports. We travel all the time, use internet for work. The internet guy was giggling into his computer, chatting away. When I told him the problem, he handed me a piece of paper with instructions and continued chatting and smirking. He's a contract guy, not a HAL employee. Downright rude & smug. Note to Hal: Lose the contract workers. They don't appreciate the great job they have...and they don't deserve it. 3) Spa - another contract worker. We bought the week spa package. Don't bother. No ice water, tea, fresh fruit which is typical in the spa experience. On previous cruises, we just bought a daily pass when we needed it. We got those perks, but not for the week. Spa pool, changing rooms need a real cleaning. Half the bathrooms worked half the time. One of of my spa days, someone grabbed my robe & key by accident while i was in the shower. The robe was hanging right outside the shower. When I went to the front desk, the gal was incredulous. "You need to keep an eye on your belongings." Well, I was in the shower and the robe was right next to me. Then a guy came up, looking really apologetic saying he grabbed the wrong robe. He & I laughed about it. I turned to the spa gal and asked how often it happens. "NEVER!" Oh, sorry. Maybe she should go back to Australia and get an attitude adjustments. The Aussies I know are some of the nicest and fun people on the planet. She must have missed the boat on that one. 4) Dining room. Sat there for an entire meal with 2 other couples and NEVER once did we get water. Nor did a wine steward come around. But one waiter plopped ice tea on our table and said "who's is it?" We all looked and said that none of us had ordered it. He took the tea, said he'd be back for drink orders but never came. I finally flagged down one guy and got a soda with my dessert. 5) Lido Restaurant. We went to grab a quick bite the last night. Both sides of the restaurant were still open. But it was freezing in there. All the temps on the ship that last day were so so cold. Anyway, grabbed a plate and sat in a far corner. Seemed warmer. It was so quiet and things had settled down. Had some great prime rib and so I went back for seconds. But by that time, our side had shut down for food and so I went over to the other side. They had a system I had never seen on that ship. And I was just on it in April. They took your "order" in the buffet line and asked your table number. Heck I didn't know. It's the Lido. Then the Manager asked where I was sitting. So I pointed to the other side. He proceeded to chew me out because I was sitting in the dining room that was closed for Officers. Well, I explained it wasn't closed when we sat down. (They have signs all over the place that clearly mark the officers areas.) He continued to tell me that we can't eat or sit over there, that it's for the officers, yadda yadda yadda. So I just cancelled my order and went back to the seat in the far corner. I could see the officers enjoying their dinners in the area roped very specifically with signs. So I got up, went to the Lido Manager and asked him to follow me over to the table I was sitting at and showed him that we were not eating with officers. His remark to me? "You don't have table cloths. THis area's closed." I guess he doesn't understand that changing tables in the middle of dinner is not on my list of priorities. 6) Disembarkation. While packing this morning, we had our drape open to enjoy the great view of the SD harbor. All of a sudden a man opens the verandah gate and proceeds to hose down our deck. So I closed the drape. A few minutes later, as I'm getting dressed, a cabin steward opened the door after one quick knock. It was about 8:15. Our disembarkation was 9am. I told him that we'll let him know when we leave... Note: We had dinner with another couple one night that had cruised on the same ship 3 times within about a 2 year period. We all agreed that something significant has happened. The gentleman at dinner attributed it to the fact hat they had cut the staff in half but had the same hours. That made sense because the morale on the ship was dismal. And rightfully so. The ones with the best attitude were by far the ones that didn't have the cushy jobs. Yet, they managed a smile. We were invited to a Captain's brunch to receive a "tile" as a member of the "Mariners Society." My husband was so fed up, he said he'd go to Home Depot and buy a cheap imitation. I've cruised about 15 times over the past few years. On several different lines. HAL has great sized rooms but this last cruise cancels it all out when you get that kind of service. And I find the condescending service of the young 'contract' workers to be annoying. I feel very fortunate to be able to travel as much as we have. But I work hard and am willing to pay for those extras. But clean facilities, working bathrooms, full coffee pots and friendly service or heck, any service for that matter, should never be considered "extras." Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
Overall - we had a good time on our vacation. Nothing terrible happened to us - no huge issues. That said, nothing spectacular happened to us either. We have had our expectations set for us by cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and ... Read More
Overall - we had a good time on our vacation. Nothing terrible happened to us - no huge issues. That said, nothing spectacular happened to us either. We have had our expectations set for us by cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Disney. First time on a Holland America ship. Overall I would say HAL not as strong as those lines. I will say I think the boat is kept extremely clean and there was no time when we felt anything - from towels to food to toiletries - were out of stock. One exception: there was a giant ball of human hair floating around in the pool. The next day, it was still there - one of my kids dove down to the bottom of the pool with a plastic glass and retrieved it and handed it to a horrified steward. We got the feeling the pools were not checked for cleanliness on a daily basis. Service through Neptune lounge was very responsive - my husband forgot long pants at home and we needed our rental tuxedo earlier than usual because of it - Neptune lounge staff responded immediately. Anything we asked for, they were very attentive. We much appreciated the benefits of having that lounge (which is accessible only to those passengers on deck 7) including easy access to coffee, special presentations of the port information, DVD rentals. We did find however that most of the staff in the Neptune lounge did not know enough to help us and we had to wait for the 1-2 staff members who could - even simple things like where to leave forms, what phone number to call for laundry pickup, very basic things that you would think anyone having sailed a couple weeks on the boat would automatically know. There seemed to be a lot of staff appropriated to keeping the coffee station clean and not enough that could answer a simple question. Sometimes this meant waiting quite a long time to talk to a staff member about something simple - waiting till someone was able to arrange a complex dinner party at Pinnacle/10 minutes, so that I could ask where to leave my completed form/2 seconds. Also, the people whom we spoke to at Holland America corporate for pre and post cruise help were extremely outgoing and helpful! They and the Neptune lounge staff appear cut from the same cloth. Smoking was a daily issue for us. Both our suite neighbors were smokers and therefore we could not use our veranda without experiencing smoke as well. It would have been easier if the smokers were segregated to 1 side of the boat or some simple, non judgmental arrangement. Fine that they allow smoking on the ship but not fine to not have some sort of organization of it so that we don't ALL have to enjoy it. We found that we had to arrange for things that we thought we could take for granted - such as arranging turndown service during our dining time so that we were not interrupted otherwise - we had a fixed dining time so it would have been easy for the ship to know when we'd be gone for dinner and arrange turndown automatically. These kinds of moments that could be magical for a guest, were not present. Though we were in a high priced suite, we were put in a table in the dining room that was in a very poor location - #24, near an exit, behind a service station, sliver of window, pretty boring. One night during a formal dinner, the promenade deck was being scrubbed by service personnel - hardly what we wanted to be looking at during dinner - and something we assume could have been cared for when dinner was not in session. The timing of dinner and entertainment really seemed off for 1st seating passengers. For 2nd seating, the show started at 6:45 and being that the shows were about an hour in duration, it was then perfect timing to use the facilities, take a photo, and then be on time for an 8 p.m. dinner seating. But for 1st seating guests, dinner started at 5:45 p.m. and concluded around 7:30, leaving 1.5 hours between dinner and the show. Being that we had kids, this means we missed the show most nights because there was really nothing to engage them in until 9 p.m. But on the reverse, you can't wait till 8 p.m. to feed children, so this left us in a bind to coordinate both dinner and entertainment. I would say about half the service personnel we spoke to onboard had a very shaky command of English and we had to use hand gestures and repeat ourselves several different ways to get what we needed - or just find someone else to ask. For example, when asked for an extra plate, a buffet attendant said "Yes!" and then just stood there. When we asked again, he handed us another set of silver. Had to eventually just reach over and take the plate. In general there seemed to be things that worked on a schedule or a set of rules, but none of the staff seemed to know what they are. A good example is the roof over the middle Lido pool; on our very hot day in Cabo, the roof did not open till 11. We asked when it would open earlier in the morning, and the steward said he'd ask someone to open it. After that didn't happen, another staff member told us it opened at a scheduled time, but he didn't know what time that was. Seems like it opened pretty much at 11 every day but nobody could give us a straight answer! This is a very small thing and not even worth noting except by example of some of the things aboard ship that the crew was relatively clueless about. In terms of staff - few of them had an open and gregarious personality. All were very hard working and meticulous. But few really created that festive atmosphere. Debarkation procedures were smooth except that it was alarming that we were left to sift through our bags unattended. If we had been unethical, it would have been easy to walk away with someone's golf bag, or entire set of luggage! Seems like it would be a relatively easy thing to ask people to label their bag tags with their cabin number and then check their bag tags and cruise card one last time on the way out of the luggage tent for security purposes. Kids did not want to take part in the kids program because so many of the other kids on board complained they had and it was terribly boring. Older kids said they ended up having to watch preschool movies. Halloween, ostensibly a kids holiday, was celebrated on the wrong day and at night - 10:30 at night is not a time when a kid can attend a costume party, and that's what they really wanted to do. Overall our age group (40s with kids) was not a group that felt particularly at home on this ship - lots of elderly, and some single/group partiers. I suppose I feel that if you are going to have programs specific to families with kids, make them good or just don't have them. The cruise line can check off the box that says "kids programs" on the comparison charts on the Internet - but that's about all. We didn't choose this cruise from a whole lot of others - we're from San Diego, this is the week we could take our vacation, and Oosterdam was the ship sailing out of our port. That said, we did pay a premium to be in one of the better cabins. I'm not sure it was worthwhile or that our experience would lead us to choose HAL if we had a choice between lines next time. In reading my own comments, I think the line suffers from a lack of forethought about the customer experience and how it could unfold in a more effortless, anticipatory, and celebratory way. 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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