Sail Date: February 2004
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7069. We sailed on the ms Zuiderdam's 13th voyage last February and although there were some issues that caused us some ... Read More
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7069. We sailed on the ms Zuiderdam's 13th voyage last February and although there were some issues that caused us some concern, it was a totally enjoyable cruise. The mean spirited reviews I've read of her are totally and completely exaggerated and unfair. A good time was had by all of us in spite of a few minor glitches the crew had getting used to their new ship. Our cruise last week on her sister, the ms Oosterdam was by far the best cruise experience we've had. Where do I begin? We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 for 2 nights to relax before our cruise and we highly recommend you do this. The hotel is great with rooms with marina views and a lovely pool. You can purchase this Pre Cruise package via HAL and is well worth the money in order to get yourself nice and relaxed for the cruise. Transportation from the airport and from the hotel to the ship was included. Since we had a Deluxe Veranda Suite, Embarkation was a breeze. We had our own area to check in, no line, no waiting. We simply walked up to the counter, provided the agent with our documents, received our boarding cards, went through security and were on the ship within 15 minutes. This was our second cruise with HAL's Deluxe Veranda Suite and it is truly a treat. Very spacious, nicely decorated, a changing area, and large bathroom with whirlpool tub and shower stall. Cannot say enough about how much we loved sitting on the veranda, which was huge, as we enjoyed our morning coffee. We will never book any other type of cabin and it is money well spent. All guests in Suites enjoy the compliments of the Neptune lounge. A wonderful perk which included coffee/tea service all day, drinks, snacks, finger sandwiches, etc. Arlene who works there is a sweet, lovely person who will help you with anything you need. As a matter of fact, Arlene remembered us from when we were on the Zuiderdam last year and was happy to see us again. Rudy, our cabin steward, was fantastic and he couldn't do enough for us. The ship is beautiful and the dEcor is noticeably toned down from that of the Zuiderdam. The decks/halls are easy to maneuver and well lit. Comments of halls being dark and uneasy to find your way around is nonsense. The food on the Lido was delicious and the service was terrific. The choices were well varied and the desserts were yummy. We were 2nd seating on deck 3 of the Vista dining room, table 59, right along the windows directly on the stern. If you read negative comments about people moaning about vibrations, think to yourself for just one-minute...you're sitting above the massive engines, and you wonder why the room might vibrate for a moment or two? Give me a break! There was little or no vibrations, certainly not enough to notice, let along ruin a truly wonderful dining experience every evening. Our waiter Mahrub and our busboy, Yudi, were EXCEPTIONAL. The food was excellent and the portions were in perfect amounts. Some appetizers/meals were so good; we had second portions that were delivered immediately. The ports of call were fun but since everyone can differ on them, I'll only speak of the lovely, fantastic, wonderful, beautiful, dreamy, Half Moon Cay. Instead of being in the cold snow and ice of Connecticut on Valentines Day, we were on one of the most beautiful beaches we've ever seen with soft white sand, in the warm sun, swimming in crystal clear water. This port of call is the one reason why we wouldn't sail with anyone else but HAL and if you haven't sailed HAL, you should consider it so you can visit this private island paradise. This was our 2nd visit there and cannot wait until the 3rd, and the 4th and the....you get the picture. The nit picky, moaning, whiny reviews I've read of HAL ships are so unfair and it bothers me that some people can be so mean. HAL is an excellent cruise line and after the fabulous time we had on the Oosterdam was not in our imaginations. Yes, the average age of the passengers was around 65, (our group of 6 ranged from 20 something to 50 something) but we met sincerely nice, friendly people who were there for the same reason we were, to have fun, relax, and have a good time, and guess what? WE HAD AN AWESOME TIME!! This ms geritol stuff is nonsense and totally uncalled for. If you want to go on vacation on a "party" ship with hundreds of drunken slobs, then maybe HAL isn't the line for you. When we were in St.Marten, there were 5 other cruise ships in port. When we were walking back to the "O dam" we were stopped by many passengers from other ships to ask us how we liked HAL and the Oosterdam............of course we told them it was fantastic and you know what they told us about their ships? Lets just say that they were very jealous of us as we walked up the gangway of the "O dam" and onto such a beautiful ship. Anyone who has booked this ship will have a terrific time and if you don't we can only say that it would be your own fault. We will definitely be booking our next cruise with HAL and will sail with no one else. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
RSVP Oosterdam Feb 22-29, 2004 We arrived on the Friday evening before sailing on Sunday - this is an excellent way to begin a cruise vacation. Already rested and relaxed before ever seeing the ship! Boarding: Very well handled - ... Read More
RSVP Oosterdam Feb 22-29, 2004 We arrived on the Friday evening before sailing on Sunday - this is an excellent way to begin a cruise vacation. Already rested and relaxed before ever seeing the ship! Boarding: Very well handled - arrived at the terminal about 1.15-30. We were shown to the express-check-in line for passengers who had filled out their immigration forms online, and met some of the other passengers - most everyone very excited and relaxed. Very friendly staff - many older/retired types doing the check-in and apparently enjoying themselves. I chatted w/ Elizabeth and some of the others in the check-in area and asked if I could get one of their gold-tone 'Oosterdam 2003' pins - one of the ladies checked for me and said that she didn't have any but she had some buttons instead - I thanked her and she gave me two Mariners Pins! Had our pics taken and were aboard by 2pm, shown to the glass elevators straight up to our suite on Navigation Deck. Superior Verandah Suite 8086: This is a VERY comfortable home away from home - lots of drawer and shelf space although it could use more hanging space. Well stocked Mini-Bar, although a bit low-brow for my tastes - would prefer more Premium champagnes, beers and spirits. Two desks - one could have been made into additional storage. One wonders how folks in the smaller staterooms manage, especially on longer cruises! Big bathroom w/ two sinks, shower and separate Jacuzzi tub (which we used more than I expected!) Faucets in tub and shower are European and a bit confusing, but once you get the hang of it, they work well. Especially thoughtful are the twin medicine cabinets and the shelf below the sink for your little extra things. We have towels w/ the blue embroidery - very elegant looking, but not very soft (especially on sunburnt skin) unlike the pool towels (Royal Blue) and shore towels (Dutch Blue). Very much enjoy the location - midway between the middle and aft stair towers so little passing traffic, yet close to the activities on the Aft Lido and dinner in the Vista Dining Room. Very well insulated from noise - never heard our neighbors to either side unless we and they were on our verandahs & never heard anything from the Lido Restaurant above. Arrived to gifts of Red wine, two bottles of Champagne (one opened in a silver champagne bucket filled w/ ice) and a silver tray of Chocolate-covered Strawberries. Tasteful little cards tell you who sent what. Our steward, Gunawan, was very nice and unobtrusive. When we arrived our beds were made up as twins although I had requested they be made as a queen when booking back in April. He was very nice about taking care of it - he arrived while we were dressing for dinner on the first night, and he apologized for coming while we were in, but I invited him to stay to take care of his work - didn't bother me that he was there as long as it didn't bother him. Also requested extra towels which he kept us stocked up with for the entire trip. Learned from him that he has no family back in Indonesia, but is working to save enough so that he can go back home to marry and have a family. He is 38 years old has been working for HAL for the past 15 years. From what he tells me, they do not get days off when aboard ship - they work 8-9 months solid, then return home to Indonesia for their 3-4 month vacation. No problems with luggage - most arrived within an hour of boarding and the remaining pieces arrived well before it was time to dress for our dinner reservations at 8.30. Food: I think we spoiled ourselves by dining in the Pinnacle Grill first night - the food and the service from Zoltan and Paul were fantastic - equal to the dining experiences that we are accustomed to at top restaurants in San Francisco. This was the first thing we booked upon boarding the ship - good thing as most evenings were full by the time we made it to the head of the line. We booked both first and last nights - first night was not well attended in the Pinnacle even though it was half price, although every night thereafter was packed. I had heard that there was a waiting list for tables for the remaining nights, so we were quite fortunate. We had booked tables for two, but we later decided to host a dinner party on the last night for some of our new friends that we had met on-board, yet when I walked down Friday night to expand our reservation from two to six - there was absolutely no problem, and the service was just as outstanding as it had been the first night! The Vista Dining Room experience was somewhat less of a culinary experience - definitely in the league of banquet-style food. Although the service was nearly as good as the service in the Pinnacle, I definitely noticed the lack of certain touches, such as sweeping breadcrumbs from the table after taking the dinner plates. We made a point to dine in the Lower Vista aft right up against the windows - we loved watching the wake from our table and heard only the slightest rumble from the engines. Felt only a slight rocking in heavy seas. Definitely not the clattering-dishes experience that others have reported from Zuiderdam. Began to make a point of ordering two appetizers and entrees - especially on the night that they served both caviar and escargot appetizers just in case there were items that were not up to par. Also learned to avoid dishes with rice or pilaf as it would invariably be overcooked - they do much better with vegetable purees. Desserts were OK, but was disappointed by the crème-Brule (it was really a Flan - they should have called it that) and the cookie in the ice-cream - I expected a cookie like we had during the kitchen tour (yummy chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies) but received a thin flat wafer - similar in flavor and texture to a cheap ice cream cone. Also - if you want Flaming Baked Alaska, go to the Pinnacle (yum!) as the only flames you'll see in the Vista come from the sparklers in the Baked Alaska parade. Of course we always looked forward to the Yum-Yum Man - delicious mints, dates & candied ginger! Ate in the Lido Grill only twice - once for lunch on a sea-day I walked down and collected both tacos and some yummy beef and veggie stir-fry from the Wok and brought them back up to the fantail above the aft lido pool to eat. Later in the trip we had a poolside barbecue for dinner which was fairly good - although the quality of the coleslaw, potato salad and three-bean salad were no better than what one would expect from the Safeway Deli. Most days, we ordered breakfast to be delivered to the suite - such a treat to be awakened with hot tea, coffee, fruit, etc. from a prompt happy steward! We had him set our tray on the verandah most mornings and it was so nice to wrap up in our robes and survey the scene while waking and breakfasting. Having become accustomed to the American way of super-sizing everything, I made the mistake of ordering a single croissant the first morning expecting something 4-6 inches long instead of the lonely little two-bite size that arrived - although it was still good. Also began to note that as the week went on that the quality of the fruit salad was waning, so we started ordering sliced bananas and stewed prunes which were quite delicious! Spa: Not my favorite experience, as I appeared for my massage appointment 15 minutes early and was told to change and wait in the relaxation room. Was not directed to fill out the client profile form and was never greeted by staff thereafter. I waited and asked another staff-person who came through when my masseuse would come to get me, and was told that someone would come shortly. After chatting w/ some friends who happened to be there at the same time, one asked for the time and after hearing the answer I realized that I had been left waiting for an hour! I walked to the front desk and asked what had happened and was told that my therapist had apparently "forgotten" me, and would I care to re-book? They were quite booked for this cruise and I was given a couple of choices - both occurring during my scheduled shore excursions. I changed and marched off - forgetting my room key, so I walked down to the front desk and got another one as I was in no mood to deal with these people. My travel partner gave me his appointment for later in the week, and I must say that it was not the best massage - just not enough power in her hands for the type of body-work that I prefer. At least I wasn't subjected to a sales pitch. Never was I offered compensation or free services for the inconvenience of my first appointment. On the last day, the spa offered 20% off spa services for that day so my travel partner scheduled a facial. They called twice to postpone his appointment, then when completed, they tried to sell him over $300 worth of skin-care products - and ended up selling him a tube of exfoliating creme that I could have bought for him stateside for $12. He also watched an angry husband (another new acquaintance of ours) return hundreds of dollars worth of skincare products that were pushed on his partner - the type who is too meek/polite to say "No". When I sail HAL again, I will not bother with the Steiner spa services. Ship's Ambiance and Condition: Such a beautiful luxury liner! If I were to design a ship myself, it would be very much like this one! I particularly like being able to stand in the center of the ship in a midship corridor and be able to see out through the glass elevator doors to the ocean on either side. There are innumerable beautiful touches aboard - yet there were numerous glitches that stood out for me: I could see worn finishes on many railings from my verandah. The small side table on my verandah was beautifully oiled and polished, yet the dining table with the same teakwood top on my verandah was in dire need of the same care. There was a piece of loose chrome trim on the Pursers Desk in the Atrium Lobby. The leather inside door panels of one if the interior elevators had been vandalized on a prior cruise by someone and had yet to be repaired. Interior wall panels where corridors zigzagged were banged up by luggage and service trolleys. The windows on the Vista Dining Room had fingerprints on the glass panels and smudges on the brass trim all week long. There were a few pieces of chipped china and glassware in the Vista Dining Room, the Lido and delivered w/ room-service. The many port plaques (Oosterdam received three on this cruise!) are mounted in the Tender Lobby below Main Deck on either side of the inside elevators rather than in an area that one would linger to view and enjoy them such as in one of the bars or smaller public rooms, a main corridor such as the one alongside the Queen's Room or the lobby of the Vista Lounge. The structural columns in the Vista Lounge (Why!?!?!) and the pattern of the Vista Lounge hard-wall covering that strangely appears to be so many boot prints. The Crow's Nest is a gorgeous room but not well planned for cabaret entertainment, as waiters and guests are constantly crossing in front of the performers, the recliners take up far too much space and guests have to sit on top of the backs of the window banquettes to see over the recliners and other seated guests to the stage - the Queen's Room would have been a much better venue for cabaret. Ships Staff: I can't say enough about the HAL staff - so professional and friendly. There was never a room steward or a waiter who would avoid saying hello or doing everything they could for you. The wait staff on deck and in the lounges were plentiful - you never lacked for someone to bring you a cocktail (were these folks on commission?!?) Be sure to say hello to Teresa in the Giftshop - she had been a first mate on cargo vessels for 25 years! Very friendly, nice to chat with and helpful as well! The RSVP Staff were the best! It was such a surprise to see Father Tim aboard - I knew him in SF when he was still a Brother! The parties were fantastic and the entertainment was very good. We especially enjoyed Amy Armstrong - we hope she will be back for the Alaska Cruise! The only thing I would suggest is that Amy be allowed to play in the Queen's Room rather than the Crow's Nest (per above) You definitely get what you pay for on an RSVP cruise! Ports: Costa Maya - All water based excursions were cancelled due to rough water so we stayed at the port resort. The food at the cabana was un-special - had better Mexican food in San Francisco. Chips and salsa cost extra and weren't even fresh. Some shops were very nice and others were just too pushy - the appearance of the shop will tell you everything about the standard of service. Spend your money where you feel comfortable - but if they start out selling you on price, stay as quiet as possible to get your best price. Santo Tomas de Castillo - If you wanna see anything of Guatemala you must leave the port on an excursion because the port town is not for tourists - it's purely an industrial port. We did the Quiriuga Ruins and Rio Dulce tour which was long and hot - but a great tour overall. Our guide, Manuel, was very informative and easy to understand. The scenery and the abundance of wildlife was amazing! One of the best things was arriving by boat at the end of a long day at the port right in front of Oosterdam! Roatan - This is what a Caribbean port town looked like before the demand from hundreds of thousands of cruise passengers made them into tropical malls. Its dirty, chaotic and poor - I loved it! Be sure to take the Catamaran Sail and Snorkel tour - I've never done this before but they took the time to make me feel comfortable, there are guides in the water with you snorkeling and paddling in kayaks for your safety - it's amazing - like swimming around in an aquarium at PetSmart! Key West: Nice, but much too touristy for my tastes - way too much like Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 in San Francisco. Immigration and Disembarkation: Immigration was handled at Key West - we were fortunate to be on the Navigation Deck, as they call passengers by deck from lowest to highest to go through immigration, so we were able to get out of bed late before being called down. It was a short, fast moving line and we were done in no time! We were also the last number to be called to leave the ship as we were staying overnight. We were allowed to stay in our suite which was much better than glomming around in a lounge for hours. All we had to do was leave the TV on so we could hear the announcements, or leave the door open. In retrospect, I'm glad that we were off last as it allowed us to shower late, wander around to view the penthouse suites and once we were off the ship (@10.30) there were far fewer bags to search through to find our pieces. Once we collected our pile of luggage, a porter carried our bags and promptly commandeered a taxi for us - no waiting! We were off the ship and heading for the hotel in less than 15 minutes. Be sure to have your next cruise booked and take your anti-depressants before you disembark - you'll need 'em after you step off the Oosterdam... Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
A simple review. As I get a little older I think that I have lowered some of my expectations and consequently increased my satisfaction in life. It strikes me that some of the reviews focus on minor issues; cruising is not about ... Read More
A simple review. As I get a little older I think that I have lowered some of my expectations and consequently increased my satisfaction in life. It strikes me that some of the reviews focus on minor issues; cruising is not about perfection but about relaxation and reasonable expectations. Now on to the review of the Oosterdam. Our first cruise and the only previous one on Holland America was full of fond memories but the old Nieuw Amsterdam wasn't anything like this new ship. The Oosterdam is a handsome ship, easy to navigate with the nicest staterooms and dining rooms that I have encountered. The extensive use of leather in these areas was most welcome as cloth wears so poorly. My only comment would be the closed feeing in the connecting hallways on deck 2 & 3. As opposed to Celebrity Millennium class ships which are more open and more pleasing to the eye. My only real complaint on Celebrity Constellation was the cabin materials; orange and green cloth. The food was comparable to Celebrity, beautiful presentation but a little less French. The attempt to provide freshly prepared food through out the Lido was admirable and once you realized that you were getting fresh vs. steam table food you soon became more patient. Service was solid and pleasant everywhere. The cloth hand towels were abundant and a pleasant perk not seen on other ships I must say that HAL has done something right with their new ships in terms of soliciting a more diverse age group on their new ships. A half day in Nassau was a waste of time but that the other ports were fine. The Private Cay had the most pristine beach I have ever encountered. While lacking enough shade for everyone and despite a somewhat engineered feeling it was a pleasant afternoon. The comedian Bernie McGrenahan was very good as well as the Illusionist/ comedian. The choreography and show was excellent and a enjoyable departure from "Las Vegas" style shows. I would love to here from others regarding HAL's tipping policy. I believe that tipping is appropriate and if everyone knew what the crew is paid, how they often work eight months with few days off and are on duty 16 hours a day: you would think differently. A lot of passengers don't tip and the front office is not allowed to offer any assistance to those that would like to tip. Perhaps some of the complaints regarding service are born out of the lack of ability to control the situation by withholding the gratuity, just a thought. Only time will tell if HAL is making the right moves toward a more balanced age group but I for one enjoyed the experience. I am not getting any younger but I enjoyed meeting a more diverse group of people than usual on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7069 We sailed on the ms Zuiderdam's 13th voyage last February and although there were some issues that caused us some ... Read More
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7069 We sailed on the ms Zuiderdam's 13th voyage last February and although there were some issues that caused us some concern, it was a totally enjoyable cruise. The mean spirited reviews I've read of her are totally and completely exaggerated and unfair. A good time was had by all of us in spite of a few minor glitches the crew had getting used to their new ship. Our cruise last week on her sister, the ms Oosterdam was by far the best cruise experience we've had. Where do I begin? We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 for 2 nights to relax before our cruise and we highly recommend you do this. The hotel is great with rooms with marina views and a lovely pool. The hotel is only minutes from Port Everglades and you can purchase this Pre Cruise package via HAL. It is well the worth the money in order to get yourself nice and relaxed for the cruise. Transportation from the airport and from the hotel to the ship was included. Since we had a Deluxe Veranda Suite, Embarkation was a breeze. We had our own area to check in, no line, no waiting. We simply walked up to the counter, provided the agent with our documents, received our boarding cards, went through security and were on the ship within 15 minutes. This was our second cruise with HAL's Deluxe Veranda Suite and it is truly a treat. Very spacious, nicely decorated, a changing area, and large bathroom with whirlpool tub and shower stall. Cannot say enough about how much we loved sitting on the veranda, which was huge, as we enjoyed our morning coffee. We will never book any other type of cabin and it is money well spent. All guests in Suites enjoy the compliments of the Neptune lounge. A wonderful perk which included coffee/tea service all day, drinks, snacks, finger sandwiches, etc. Arlene who works there is a sweet, lovely person who will help you with anything you need. As a matter of fact, Arlene remembered us from when we were on the Zuiderdam last year and was happy to see us again. Rudy, our cabin steward, was fantastic and he couldn't do enough for us. The ship is beautiful and the dEcor is noticeably toned down from that of the Zuiderdam. The decks/halls are easy to maneuver and well lit. Comments of halls being dark and uneasy to find your way around is nonsense. The food on the Lido was delicious and the service was terrific. The choices were well varied and the desserts were yummy. We were 2nd seating on deck 3 of the Vista dining room, table 59, right along the windows directly on the stern. If you read negative comments about people moaning about vibrations, think to yourself for just one-minute................you're sitting above the massive engines, and you wonder why the room might vibrate for a moment or two? Give me a break! There was little or no vibrations, certainly not enough to notice, let alone ruin a truly wonderful dining experience every evening. Our waiter Mahrub and our busboy,Yudi, were EXCEPTIONAL. The food was excellent and the portions were in perfect amounts. Some appetizers/meals were so good; we had second portions that were delivered immediately. The ports of call were fun but since everyone can differ on them, I'll only speak of the lovely, fantastic, wonderful, beautiful, dreamy, Half Moon Cay. Instead of being in the cold snow and ice of Connecticut on Valentine's Day, we were on one of the most beautiful beaches we've ever seen with soft white sand, in the warm sun, swimming in crystal clear water. This port of call is the one reason why we wouldn't sail with anyone else but HAL and if you haven't sailed HAL, you should consider it so you can visit this private island paradise. This was our 2nd visit there and cannot wait until the 3rd, and the 4th and the.............you get the picture. The nit picky, moaning, whiny reviews I've read of HAL ships are so unfair and it bothers me that some people can be so mean. HAL is an excellent cruise line and the fabulous time we had on the Oosterdam was not in our imaginations. Yes, the average age of the passengers was around 60, (our group of 6 ranged from 20 something to 50 something) but we met sincerely nice, friendly people who were there for the same reason we were..... to have fun, relax, and have a good time, and guess what? WE HAD AN AWESOME TIME!! This ms geritol stuff is nonsense and totally uncalled for. If you want to go on vacation on a "party" ship with hundreds of drunken slobs, then maybe HAL isn't the line for you. When we were in St. Marten, there were 5 other cruise ships in port. When we were walking back to the "O dam" we were stopped by many passengers from other ships to ask us how we liked HAL and the Oosterdam............of course we told them it was fantastic and you know what they told us about their ships? Lets just say that they were very jealous of us as we walked up the gangway of the "O dam" and onto such a beautiful ship. Anyone who has booked this ship will have a terrific time and if you don't we can only say that it would be your own fault. We will definitely be booking our next cruise with HAL and will sail with no other cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Eastern Caribbean (Jan 4-11/2004). We have had five past cruises on HAL, and while this was a good cruise, it was "off" from past experiences with HAL on other ships. We particularly didn't like the "nickel & ... Read More
Eastern Caribbean (Jan 4-11/2004). We have had five past cruises on HAL, and while this was a good cruise, it was "off" from past experiences with HAL on other ships. We particularly didn't like the "nickel & diming" that occurred that had not been part of past HAL experiences (i.e. wine tasting price was up from $5 to $7.50, but you couldn't apply that fee to a bottle of wine as on past cruises; $.75/min for internet usage which hardly anyone took advantage of; soliciting of drinks in the Lido Restaurant; etc). Pluses included: a nice B cabin with large bathroom (though the balcony was small), Lido food was very good, good service by the staff generally (some cruise staff for activities were a bit testy), embarkation was handled smoothly and we got on the ship by noon; the Sport's Bar was a nice addition; pre-selecting shore excursion on HAL's web site. The ship layout seemed cramped in the public areas, though the casino and Crow's Nest lounge were large. The Vista Lounge had columns that hindered views of the stage. The shows were typical, but the HAL lead singers were too full of themselves which was iratating. The Queen's Lounge was used for movies, but the chairs in the front were higher than the back lounges so sight lines were difficult. Meals in the main dining room (Vista Dining Room) were fairly ordinary and the portions (particularly vegetables) were small, though the presentation of food was excellent. Food quality seemed to improve during the week. Passengers could also ask for more and it was provided with no problem. Tables were fine as long as you weren't at an oval table that had 6 people and should have had 4. We take issue with charging for "Espresso coffee" in the Windstar Cafe and the new exclusive dining room for an extra $20/person. The onboard activities were good and offered a variety of choices for the passengers. The library had a small selection of books and games and again, there was a charge (though refundable) to check out books. The decor was "interesting" and adjusted to the "wild" colors by the third day. The Piano Bar was a bit weird for such a venue, in grays and black. All the pianos on the ship were electronic (except the piano never played in the Lido Restaurant), and particularly in the Piano Bar there should be a "real" piano. In discussion with other past HAL passengers, it was felt by everyone we talked with that this ship was a "little less" than they had experienced on other HAL cruises. We hope that HAL will raise the level of this ship to what we have experienced before and certainly hope that they have not regressed backwards on all their ships. We have been so satisfied/loyal in the past to HAL that we have been afraid to switch and not receive the same cruise vacation, but we think that for our next cruise we will try another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
PLANNING After considering several lines for our 16th anniversary celebration, my partner Philip and I decided that we would give HAL a try and booked for this cruise. We were both looking forward to the sailing since neither of us had ... Read More
PLANNING After considering several lines for our 16th anniversary celebration, my partner Philip and I decided that we would give HAL a try and booked for this cruise. We were both looking forward to the sailing since neither of us had sampled HAL and felt it would be a good fit for our lifestyle. Even though we live in Houston and had had a wonderful cruise on RCI's Rhapsody of the Seas (out of Galveston) earlier in 2003, we wanted to try a different line and hopefully find one to call home. We had a great experience with our travel agent (I will be happy to send the name and URL to anyone who'd like to have it) and were pleased with the price we paid. We found the agency after doing some reading on the boards and I noticed several posts concerning this particular agency. I went to their website and was amazed at how much lower their prices were than HAL and several other sites. Even though there was a discrepancy from the posted itinerary on some of the online sites we had previously researched (they had shown an extra sea day on this sailing) we decided to stick with the ship and date since it dovetailed nicely with our holiday plans and available travel window. I would advise all readers and less experienced (and even some more experienced) travelers to pay close attention to this caveat: the itinerary information is apparently incorrect with some regularity at one of the major online booking sites. Plan well but always double check information that is critical to your success quotient. Fortunately, the extra stop was only a half day and didn't ruin the plan for us. PRE-CRUISE: Because I have been in the travel business (airline) for most of my post-adolescent life, I tend towards planning for the unexpected. That said, we opted to fly down to Ft. Lauderdale one day early just to be able to relax and not have the stresses and possibilities of real upset with a missed cruise. Once again, information on CC was helpful to us in making our plans. Several posters and responders had talked about possibilities for best combination of amenities, location and price for the Port Everglades area and the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 came up often enough for us to want to try that. After getting some good advice from BurBunny and other posters about using Priceline to bid for a lower rate than the $249 per night the hotel wanted through standard booking procedures, we were able to drastically reduce that with a successful bid of $80.00 for our stay. The hotel was fine, the location convenient and it worked well for us. It is a good idea to remember that not all Hyatt Hotels are created equal. Hyatt House, Hyatt Regency and Grand Hyatt can be as different as day and night. I had only stayed at Grand Hyatt locations before so initially the hotel was a bit of a letdown. But, at the end of the day, the price and satisfaction ratio worked well and the staff were all very accommodating. CRUISE DAY - EMBARKATION: We woke up early on Sunday and had a light breakfast at the hotel. We had planned to take a taxi to the ship but when we got to the front of the hotel, there were none to be had. The Bell Captain arranged quickly for us to be driven over in the hotel van. Unfortunately, our drive had some missteps along the way and even did some drive through at the RCI pier to troll for passengers which consumed a lot of our time. Nonetheless, we did make it to pier at 11:30 and got in line to enter the terminal. This was our first experience in Ft. Lauderdale so we had no expectations. Apparently Pier 29 is not the best place to deal with check-in and embarkation. Crowd control was a mess. Upon entering there were two Passenger Service Reps in red coats who were misdirecting passengers with gusto! In hindsight it's funny. At the time, it was a little maddening. At 11:30 the lines had already snaked through this gymnasium-like structure and to the front door. Fortunately, we were able to ferret out a line for the Suites and proceeded to step into it. We were only about 6 or 7 deep in that line. We thought it would only take 10-15 minutes at most. It took almost a full hour just to get to the check-in agent. She was a doll and very capable. Because we had everything completed, out and ready, we were through with her in two shakes and on our way to the ship. Also, since there has been some question about old vs. new - the credit card registration and all of that is handled right at check-in along with the security picture. The single card was complete and valid as a license to board, bed and buy. We politely bypassed the "welcome aboard" photo and made our way to the ship. They did give us a gold sticker that meant absolutely nothing to anyone. Ever. I still don't know what that was supposed to do other than make us look like spelling-bee winners! ONBOARD: I suppose I should have known better, but I really did want to be "wowed" as soon as we boarded. Unfortunately, there is no white-gloved steward to welcome and escort. There was a very sullen person pointing in the general direction of the elevator. We took the hint and hightailed it into the first sliding door we came to and pushed 9 to begin our exploration and visit the Lido to await the "cabin ready" announcement. The Lido was packed with people and belongings. It was extremely uncomfortable from just about every perspective. Philip took the opportunity to go the Neptune Lounge and sign us up for a cabana at Half Moon Cay. We managed to make our way to a serving station for iced tea and tried to find a quiet space near the pool area to wait. Afterwards, we had the good fortune to meet a very nice couple from San Francisco there and we chatted until we were able to go to our respective cabins. We went back the way we came to go to the elevator and down to 5, Verandah Deck. Lo and behold, when the elevator stopped and the door opened, there was indeed a white-gloved steward.... walking quickly away from the elevators. I had to laugh ... but clearly we could find our way without assistance. After all, being welcomed aboard by a gracious steward is only a "nice to have" after all. For those of you who have not had a cabin at the extreme rear of the ship it is a long walk. With no scenery to break up the monotony, the hallways seem incredibly long. But it was great for building up the anticipation! CABIN: We had wanted to try the suite experience since it looked like the best way to get a nice oversized balcony and the kind of privacy we both appreciate. We opted for the Aft Suite - 5168 on Verandah deck and were pleased as punch when we walked inside. The welcoming bottle of champagne, the bowl of fruit, flowers and an additional bottle of wine that was sent by our travel agent were all there to welcome us in to a temporary home. Who needs white-gloved stewards? The Aft Suites have had a lot of comment (including my own questions) and here's my $.02: While the literal square footage is indeed about 30 square feet smaller than the side S cabins, the HUGE (really - over 300 sq. feet) balcony far outweighed that loss of indoor maneuvering room. For those who are really wanting to compare, the Verandah Deck Aft Suites do have the most interior square footage of the Aft Suites. 365sf vs. 393 in the side suites. Other Aft Suites range (according to deck) down to about 320sf I believe. You will find divergent views about the Aft Suites. I think some of that stems from the location of the occupant and the relative space comparison. You can find out the actual dimensions for each of these from the HAL site or by doing a quick pseudo-booking on Expedia. The layout was great for us with plenty of closet space. More drawers would be a plus but there was plenty of space overall. There are also two drawers at the foot of the bed (we had ours already assembled into a King) for extra bedding or whatever you might need to stow there. There are sufficient light switches strategically placed so that you can manage your cabin's ambience fairly easily from just about any point in the room. Oddly, the lamp nearest the TV can only be turned off at that location. Oh, and the TV/DVD/CD/RADIO set-up is easy to operate. The complete movie library is in the black notebook. DVD check-out is easy to arrange and there is a HUGE selection! I checked out the bathroom and found it to be eminently functional. It is boring beyond belief. It has absolutely no snap. That's only an opinion and from a person who has a house filled with deep chocolate, brocaded walls, etc - so take it for what it's worth. I do think it's a little odd though that RCI manages to increase the posh quotient considerably once you hit the lower level suite categories - even their B/GS manages to have a nice wood-based, marble-topped sink and vanity area. But it was functional and roomy. The shower is not huge but does work well and although we did not make use of the whirlpool tub, it is there and seems reasonably large. One good laugh was the hair dryer placement in the make-up/vanity area leading to the bathroom. HINT: Open the drawer halfway, reach in and pull up and twist to get the thing out. You will not be able to open the drawer and take the dryer out normally otherwise. Oh .. And the toilet might be in a delay cycle. Be patient .. The tanks do some refill action and then the flushing action will work shortly. So push the button and don't worry. I believe that during the cruise some folks along the back had a little more difficulty than we did with that process but ours was fine. In all other respects, the cabin was quite comfortable. It was not luxurious in any way but it was very comfortable and perfectly suited for restful days at sea. I do believe if I had not seen some pictures prior to this cruise, I would have felt a bit down-market in terms of the choices of appointments. This is the highest category of suite before Penthouse and, personally, I think it could have been a little better dressed. I do realize that this is entirely subjective and probably most folks would simply call it "understated". But everything worked well and was in good order. I especially like having the service bar area stocked with extra champagne and wine glasses, salt and peppers, etc. They all came in handy. The balcony was the highpoint for us. There were two full length teak deck chairs, an additional two largish wicker chairs with ottomans and a teak table with four chairs. And then there was the dance floor! On the side portion of the balcony, there was another 20+ foot run, almost 6' deep. This was far and away the highlight of my cruise. We did have guests in cabin several times during the cruise and the balcony easily handled the needs of social interaction, serving of goodies and still with plenty of room to sit, visit or just lean on the railings. Truly an outstanding piece of floating real estate! After we had some time to get acquainted with our cabin, our room steward, Hari, came to introduce himself and send greetings from the prior guests! That was great fun! Unfortunately, he had to leave us in St. Maartin due to terrible family emergency. It turns out that while he was on this assignment, he became a father to a son. His son died before he ever got to meet him. That was terribly sad. What is amazing is that we did not know this until another crewmember happened to share the story. He had continued to do his work with great grace without ever hinting at the extent of his own personal tragedy. NOISE, VIBRATION and HARSHNESS Nope. Not an issue. On our long leg down from Nassau to Sint Maartin we had some seas that were apparently classified as "rough" with waves of +/- 12'. Not even a wiggle back there for us. In fact, the only time Philip got queasy (okay sick) was when we were more mid-ship and he returned to the cabin to stabilize! It may be that someone else would interpret ambient noise as difficult (I did after all spend some of my airline years working inside jets), but even Philip said that he didn't find it excessive in any way. I hope this might take some apprehension down a notch for folks who might be concerned. DINING We opted for the Odyssey on our first night out. I'm glad that we did experience it for ourselves but I would not do it again. Our waiter and his assistant did a perfectly acceptable job. The food was prepared well enough. Nothing was wrong. But somehow for us there was no "sparkle" to really make this more special. Rather than pick it apart I will leave it where it was for us - utterly adequate. I'm sure other people may have a different experience. I do not have a negative thing to say about it so please, gentle reader, do not interpret this as a slam. But the Lido is another story. We had thought that the boarding chaos was just that - peculiar to boarding. Unfortunately, we found it to be chaotic at all but the leanest times and consequently never had more than a passing snack there during extreme off hours. The layout should, in theory, work well. But there is simply not enough room for the number of people who show up at meal times. From the aggressively pushy (physically - and I'm not exaggerating) to the downright surly service personnel and the inability to move around with any sense of comfort, the place was just a disaster for us. We could find no reason whatsoever to endure that experience and took advantage of room service for breakfast nearly every day. The Vista Dining Room is lovely with the lights not on bright (as they are on casual nights). We had table 77 upstairs on the starboard rail. We were served by Hari and Januar and we had some jolly good laughs at the table. We were frequently visited by Asep, a head steward and a Henricus who served as Maitre d'. One night Henricus brought a lovely bottle of wine to our table with his compliments. That was very thoughtful. Also, on the last night of the cruise, he discovered while were talking that I was looking forward to my second cruise if, for no other reason, to get one of the tiles. He went away and returned with 3 of them (in two different designs) wrapped for us to take with us. We thought that was very kind! We had a very nice discussion with Henricus also about the service flow in the dining room. I asked him specifically if he felt they had made good planning decisions in the layout of the dining facilities as it related to their service requirements. He related to me the methods on the other ships vs. the Vista class and, unfortunately, it is not nearly as easy for the staff. The workload is made more difficult (which is how this translates into service irregularities) by the placement and utilization of the serving stations and number of assigned assistant waiters. With everything said about meals on the boards I expected to be disappointed. Instead I was surprised at how much I enjoyed most every aspect of the meal service. I'm sure part of that was the fun we had with people near us at other tables (families, other couples, etc.) and our service staff. I especially enjoyed Dutch night and it was the one meal I looked forward to least! We truly enjoyed all of our meals (including some of the Jeanne Jones choices) in the Vista Dining room and enjoyed seeing that most passengers did indeed respect the suggested dress for the evenings. It added some sparkle and a feeling of not being "run of the mill". THE NEPTUNE LOUNGE After the wondrous verandah ... (yes, we liked it that much!) .. My next favorite thing on the ship was the availability and staff of the Neptune Lounge. Gary and Michelle (sp?) were on staff throughout the cruise and could not have been kinder or more accommodating. Sail7Seas, Peaches and others have not exaggerated when they say that essentially all of your needs can be handled in this one place. And it is also a mid-ship respite from the day ... a nice place to visit for a morning muffin, lattE and a chat or a little nosh in the late afternoon. Quiet, serene and beautifully functional. Really an outstanding attribute of the Suite life on board! MY THIRD FAVORITE LOCATION? : THE CASINO! If anyone spent anytime at all in the casino the heard the dulcet tones of the jackpot bells going off with great regularity! This casino was MUCH more generous overall than that of our RCI ship. Several times EVERY day there were winners of significant jackpots! I even had the good fortune to win a few of the smaller ones. And the casino highlight for me was winning a consolation prize T-Shirt in the slot tournament! FYI: The nickel machines are HOT HOT HOT! But you might consider the "max bet" button to get the most benefit! THE REST OF THE SHIP SO now that you know what we did do, you might see clearly what we didn't do ... dining and miscellaneous night life are not as critical to Philip and I as some of the other nighttime and relaxation areas. Except for brief visits to see them we did not use the pools, hot tubs, etc. Nor did we spend any appreciable time in the other lounges. Philip enjoyed dancing a bit in the Northern Lights disco. If you like meeting crew, this is a good place for it late at night. PORTS Nassau: crowded and hot. Since I had never been and Philip didn't care for it, we only shopped a bit and strolled around. I imagine it might have some level of enchantment if we could have stayed longer and ventured further. It was interesting to see how much like a mystical place the Atlantis looks from the vantage point of the balcony on leaving port! St. Maartin: We took a can directly to Orient Beach and spent some time on a lounger in the sun and played in the surf. It was crowded but very pleasant. Afterwards, we visited Front Street in Philipsburg to make some money in the Diamond Casino (kind of dark and dank but it paid well!) and then strolled the jewelry shops. We bought two rings that we were VERY happy with and returned to the ship. I don't do well with large crowds in general so we tend to want to get back to peace and quiet fairly quickly. Tortola: Did we go there? I slept through most of it. Philip was able to go with some very nice folks from CC on their charter and he absolutely LOVED Virgin Gorda and Peter Island. Clearly this is a place best used as a launching point for water-based activities. I had no expectations and no disappointments. Half Moon Cay: What a lovely place! I would have been just as happy to have had this as my only port and the rest of time on the ocean. We took advantage of the cabaña option and enjoyed the "pink" one immensely. Because wait staff were on hand to bring food to us and the cabaña came stocked with cold beverages and various kinds of munchies, we never had to venture far. This was by far the best port activity to me!!! I can see why people rave about HMC so much. The water was clear and perfect, the sun just right and the company splendid! TIPS We tipped. A lot. And we were quite happy to do it. As suggested we did have a lot of singles to use for the bar staff and had pre-planned others with the minimum suggested (according to this and other boards) by stuffing personal cards to write our "thank you" on before we left home. Then we added amounts and people as the cruise went along in relation to our interaction. This was the first time we have ever tipped the Maitre' D but it was also the first time we have so much as a "how do you do" from one. Tipping in this cruise was a real pleasure. I highly recommend it! DISEMBARKATION If our embarkation was Dante's ninth ring of hell, then surely our disembarkation was its polar opposite! We had the letter S for disembarkation. We woke, went to the Vista Dining Room for breakfast and then returned to our cabin to wait for our letter to be called. We were the first group called. From the time we left the cabin until we were at the curb in a cab was less than 20 minutes - inclusive of immigration and baggage recovery! We were at the airport at 9:30 AM. I tend to be one of those folks that recognizes when the party's over, it's time to go home so I was glad that it was not a long and miserable experience. The S letter was very helpful so that is yet another reason to only book a suite for the future! FINAL NOTES For those who wanted more details about ports and certain other areas of the ship, my apologies. This is how we spent our cruise vacation. It worked well for us and we loved it. Would we cruise HAL again? Yep. Would we cruise HAL in less than a suite? Almost certainly not. We are fond of the quiet areas, the spacious balconies, the Neptune Lounge services and some of the things that go with the suite life. So much so that the cruise vacation for us is typified by that far more than the pools or the ports or the bars and lounges. I would definitely give the experience an 8.5 and a solid 9 if the embarkation had not been so hard to overcome. That's it for my summary. I know that other people have different viewpoints and I hope that this one was helpful in some way. My thanks to the many people who take the time to post their experiences so that we can learn. This is my version of giving some back to the boards. Happy Cruising to all! Cheers, Steve in Houston. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
I would like to start my review by making you aware that I actually cruised on the Oosterdam in December 2003, not 2005, I wasn't given the option of going back that far. Previous to this cruise I was only on one other which was a ... Read More
I would like to start my review by making you aware that I actually cruised on the Oosterdam in December 2003, not 2005, I wasn't given the option of going back that far. Previous to this cruise I was only on one other which was a Carnival cruise. Although I enjoyed the carnival cruise, I didn't know cruising could get as good as the HAL Oosterdam made it! Before I start my review I would like to correct a very common misconception that Holland America is for seniors. This is simply not true! It may be for their older ships (which I have not sailed on) but any age group will enjoy cruising on their Vista Class ships! You will not be bored for a single moment! Embarkation was a little on the long side but went smoothly and easy. Embarkation procedures have improved since as I have experienced on the Noordam in 2007. It made it all worth while when we boarded the ship and the crew not only were eager to assist you to your room, they wanted to know your name and a little about you. This will shock you, the rest of the trip, they remembered it! They remembered your preferences, where you were from, what entertained you, simply remarkable! There is a certain warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you board a HAL ship that you don't get with another line and that feeling comes from the crew who are warm, humble and happy to please! Cabins were of average size. My fiance (now my wife) and I were young and in college at the time and could only afford an inside cabin which actually seemed spacious enough and was equipped with everything we needed. It was also very very clean! My wife and I are foodies, and the most important thing about a cruise to us is the food. Let me tell you the food was outstanding 5 star dining every meal in the dining room! So much variety, so much flavor, so well prepared and presented! That week alone was the best dining experience of my life. I love the variety in HAL's menu. I always tried something new and 90% of the time I loved it, if I wasn't into the dish, I would ask them to return it and bring me another dish I did prefer and they would do it without hesitation. If a steak was accidentally cooked wrong, they would replace it with a steak that was cooked right. They are very eager to please. Something I really enjoyed about dining in the dining room is that the menu for every meal changed daily. I never had to eat the same thing twice. This applies even to breakfast and lunch which some cruise lines do not change the menus for. Breakfast may have a consistent menu every day but they had 3-4 features that were new so you could try something new or stick with what you thought was a good reliable breakfast. The buffet was great however we only ate there a few times. If you will notice above we prefer to eat in the dining room as much as possible. We are not fans of buffets. As far as buffets go, this was a 5 out of 5 but simply because it is a buffet I would give it a 4 out of 5. Some people often wonder why I hate buffets so much and below are my reasons. 1) You have to get in line and serve yourself 2) Although the food looks fresh it could have been sitting in a warming tray for a while losing heat or going soggy. Keep in mind some of the food is prepared fresh for you like pasta's sandwiches, pizza. 3) It is often hard to find a seat during standard meal times 4) For the amount of money you pay you might as well get served something hot and fresh and much better tasting in the dining room. We did not eat at the Pinnacle Grill however We sailed on the Noordam a few years after this cruise and had an excellent experience and I am assuming the Oosterdam Pinnacle Grill offers the same quality food and service. Service is the second most important thing on a cruise for us. I cannot express how good the service is on Holland America. It is so good that they make you feel like a loved family member. At their final show you will shed a tear because you know you are going to miss the crew that made a difference in your trip. Something you need to know about Holland America crew is that they want to know you, your preferences, and what entertains you. They want your trip to feel special and customized and they do that everywhere! They are not only focused on their main job but also very focused on doing the little things most don't realize makes the trip that much more special! Entertainment, WOW. Unlike other cruise lines, you can tell Holland America carefully selects who they pick as entertainers! Nothing was short of spectacular. All shows were very entertaining and usually had a comedic twist which pleased all ages. Also in the entertainment category, live music. It was almost always going on in the populated areas of the ship! This is also great because it once again makes the trip seem more personal. The bands take requests, interact with the crowd, play a good variety, and make the trip that much more special. I would definitely cruise on the Oosterdam again! I would definitely cruise with Holland America again! I did a cruise on the Noordam in 2007 and had a very similar experience however between the 2 ships I would choose the Oosterdam for one very good reason. I believe the Noordam can fit about 200 more passengers but the crew size is not increased according. And although the service is still spectacular, it is noticeably a little better on the Oosterdam. Way to go HAL, I can't wait until my next cruise with you! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
I sailed on the Oosterdam on October 2, 2003 for a 12 night Western Med cruise. I had only been on one cruise before, which was Carnival, and Holland America had come highly recommended to me by friends, who were with us on the cruise. ... Read More
I sailed on the Oosterdam on October 2, 2003 for a 12 night Western Med cruise. I had only been on one cruise before, which was Carnival, and Holland America had come highly recommended to me by friends, who were with us on the cruise. Embarkation The cruise did not get off to a good start as we were held on the transfer from the airport for over an hour in warm temperatures waiting our turn to be let into the terminal for check-in. We found the terminal to be very crowded with not even enough seating to accommodate everyone. They took the wrong picture on my sign and sail card which was not discovered until the first port of call. Once on-board the ship, Holland America's excellence in service started to show. Immediately upon boarding the ship, we were greeted by a uniformed crew member who warmly greeted us with a smile, took our documents, and escorted us to our suite. At the suite, he took time to show us around and how things worked and what to do if we needed assistance. We found beautiful robes in the suite and a stocked refrigerator (added to account)plus the "Heavenly Beds"...which were heavenly! There was one reservations only restaurant on board ship and it was well worth the extra charge to eat there. The quality of the food was extremely superior. They brought our steaks out raw prior to the meal, explained what the cuts of meat were, and had us select what we wanted for them to take and custom cook to order for us. The food in the restaurant was the best any of us had ever had. The food in the dining room was also exceptional but clearly not as good as the reservations only restaurant. The food for the 1000 seat dining room had been pre-cooked and plated to the set menu, and brought out as we made our selections. One thing we all noticed in the dining room was the portion sizes, clearly reduced since any of us had sailed last. Not a good impression when they bring you a large plate with a small, so small to be noticeable, portion on it. However, the waiters quickly brought us second servings whenever we asked. All of the breads and rolls on the ship are baked fresh daily and they were delicious. The pizza was also fresh baked and very good, although it seemed out of place with so many elderly people on board that pizza may not appeal to. The buffet was always fresh with much variety. There were waiters at the end of the buffet line who carried our trays to the tables for us and there were fresh flowers on every table. Entertainment on the ship was very good and enjoyable. One night there was a deck party along with many other activities that were fun for us to join in on. What really stood out to us was the crew. They were wonderful to us and provided exceptional service. They called us by name, which we wondered how they would remember! They were Indonesian and Filipino and one night they even put on a show in the showroom!! The service on board this ship was superior. The crew really seemed to care and make sure we had a great cruise. The only thing that was disappointing to me was the clearly lopsided age of the passengers. It was an "80's and beyond" cruise with many elderly people on board. Being 39, I felt out of place on such an "old" cruise. There was only one child on the cruise of 1600 passengers and that was the child of a crew member. Holland America is an excellent choice for a cruise if you have any type of disability or need assistance of any kind for being physically challenged, they go out of there way to assist those who need help. However, young to middle age couples and/or families with children may want to think twice before booking on Holland America. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2003
First, I have noticed some reviews for the Oosterdam dating back to the Spring of 2003 here on Cruise Critic. The Oosterdam's maiden voyage was in August/September 2003, so either these people sailed on another ship or they got their ... Read More
First, I have noticed some reviews for the Oosterdam dating back to the Spring of 2003 here on Cruise Critic. The Oosterdam's maiden voyage was in August/September 2003, so either these people sailed on another ship or they got their dates wrong. Anyway, we were on one of the very first sailings of the Oosterdam (Rome, Monte Carlo, Marseilles, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Malta, Loutraki, Corfu, Dubrovnik, and Venice) on October 26, 2003, and we had a wonderful time. There is so little to complain about and so much to gush about. We are even sailing again on the Oosterdam in October 2004! This was my third cruise and my husband's first. It had been a long time since my first 2 cruises (10+ years), so I guess we were really both new to cruising. We loved the HAL demographic--older--even though we are late 30s (me) and early 40s (husband). There were maybe 6 kids on the cruise and they were all younger than school age. The food was divine. Of the 12 dinners we had on the ship (we ate in the main dining room--late seating), just one was less than spectacular. The service was great--our wine steward Rod was particularly good. We had two dinners in the Pinnacle Grill and loved that place too. The crab cakes are great and it is worth the $20 per person surcharge. We didn't do the casino, but spent significant time in just about every other venue. The disco was a favorite, as was the Oak Room (my husband is a cigar smoker). We caught most, if not all, the shows and really found the entertainment first rate. Our cabin was a partially obstructed view, which was fine for us. I don't think the weather would have allowed us to use the balcony much anyway. The cabin was on the smaller side, but perfectly fine for two people. We had a full bathtub too, not just a shower stall. Most impressive was HAL's embarkation and debarkation procedures--it worked great, with little wait and no hassle. Also, we were totally blown away by how organized and efficient HAL was at the ports. With just one exception (Venice), they had tour buses waiting for us at the port that took us into the heart of town, free of charge. It was great and saved everyone significant taxi fares. We took a few shore excursions (in Loutraki and Marseilles) and they too were very well run--no complaints at all. As I recall, there were only 2 negatives that we put on our review sheet at the end of the cruise: (1) the smell of sewage on the Observation Deck (aft). I don't think I ever smelt it down in the Aft Pool area, which is right below, but we didn't spend much time there either because of the weather. This wasn't such an issue for us because sailing to Europe in late fall, you really didn't want to hang out on the deck for long. But, on a Caribbean cruise, this smell could be a big issue. I have read that others noticed this too, so I am not sure what the problem is and why HAL hasn't fixed it. (2) being awakened by announcements in our cabin that were not worth being awoken for (meaning not life or death). Most annoying was a port lecture on Venice that was broadcast on the promenade deck just below us and it went on and on and on. This hadn't happened for other ports and we got no good explanation why it happened for Venice. We called to complain as it was happening and the front desk said that it wasn't being broadcast on the promenade deck, which it clearly was! Well, if those were the only two "issues" then you know we had a pretty good cruise! Really, the service, accommodations, food, ambiance, etc. and so on, were well above our expectations. We had a great time and can't wait to sail on the O-dam again on October 31, 2004!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2003
We just got back from sailing on the Oosterdam. This was our first cruise and we were very impressed. The service was excellent in every category. The meals were delicious! ...and it shows because we ate too much and now have to lose those ... Read More
We just got back from sailing on the Oosterdam. This was our first cruise and we were very impressed. The service was excellent in every category. The meals were delicious! ...and it shows because we ate too much and now have to lose those extra pounds! Yes, there were a few items we didn't care for but there was a large enough selection that if you didn't like what you ordered, you tried something else. The decor on the ship is different but nice. Yes, the carpeting seemed a little worn in places but my carpeting in my house that is a year old also looks a little worn. By no means does it look bad! I thought HAL accommodated the children very well. We especially liked the way they broke down the kids by age. Our 16 year old daughter was very skeptical about going on this "old persons" cruiseline but was pleasantly surprised. They invited all of the 15-17 year olds to attend a "get to know you" the first night and we saw very little of her the rest of the week. She met quite a few kids that she became good friends with and she plans to keep in contact with. The shows were excellent, and there was always something to do whether you were 5yrs. old or 50 yrs. old. We enjoyed the Liar's Club, and Newlywed game and our daughter enjoyed the discos and contests. Overall, I would recommend this cruiseline to ANYone. Yes, there were a few "glitches" because HAL is not accustomed to 400 children on board but I thought they handled it very well. We will gladly sail HAL again! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2003
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7058. We sailed on the Ms Oosterdam and returned on the 15th. It was a totally enjoyable cruise. The mean spirited reviews ... Read More
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7058. We sailed on the Ms Oosterdam and returned on the 15th. It was a totally enjoyable cruise. The mean spirited reviews We've read of her and of her sister Vista Class ship are totally and completely exaggerated and unfair. Our cruise last week on , the Ms Oosterdam was by far the best cruise experience we've had, this cruise has raised the Bar and probably spoiled us for ever. Where do We begin? Since we live in South Florida, we had a short drive to Port Everglades. Baggage drop-off was quick and friendly and the Port has excellent parking facilities just across from the HAL terminal. Since we had a Deluxe Veranda Suite, Embarkation was a breeze. We had our own area to check in, no line, no waiting. We simply walked up to the counter, provided the agent with our documents, had our picture taken, received our boarding cards, went through security and were on the ship within 15 minutes. We took advantage of HAL's 11:30 early boarding and were promptly escorted to the Neptune Lounge. We were greeted by two very charming young ladies, Arlene and Julie who welcomed us to the Oosterdam Family. Captain Mercer and HAL's management team should take pride in these two employees. Over the next seven days they made sure our every wish was taken care of. Arlene & Julie took care of our shore excursions, our private cabana on Half Moon Cay (well worth the extra charges), our dinner reservations, and even the complimentary laundry and dry cleaning. All guests in (S) Deluxe Verandah Suites enjoy the amenities of the Neptune lounge and its staff. A wonderful perk which included coffee/tea service all day, drinks, snacks, finger sandwiches, etc. Arlene and Julie who staff the lounge are a sweet, lovely and caring young ladies who will help you with anything you need. This was our first cruise with HAL's Deluxe Veranda Suite and we are spoiled. The stateroom suites are very spacious, nicely decorated, a changing area, and large bathroom with whirlpool tub and shower stall. Our room steward Si took pride in servicing the cabin and always made sure are room was clean, neat and well stocked. On days in Port Si could be found washing the Verandahs and making sure the cabin was always in tip top shape. The veranda is quite large and includes a small dining table, four chairs and 2 lounge chairs and ottomans. We enjoyed sitting on the veranda, as we enjoyed our morning room service. Room service was efficient and our food was delivered hot. The "S" cabin is well worth the few extra dollars you will spend if you like being treated like Queens & Kings. The ship is beautiful and the dEcor is timeless. The ship is easy to maneuver and well lit. The layout of this ship is well thought out. The food on the Lido was delicious and the service was terrific. Sammy one of the servers was often seen carrying trays for many of the older cruisers. The food choices were well varied and the desserts and ice cream were delicious. We were 2nd seating on deck 3 of the Vista dining room, right along the staircase railing. It is true that the room did vibrate for a moment or two and the ship did "rock and roll" However the winds were gale force and the waves were quite high, if Captain Mercer could control the weather he would have. We had the opportunity to meet Captain Mercer at both the Private Suite Cocktail Party and the Private Suite Brunch in the Crows Nest. Both events are additional special treats for guests in the Deluxe Verandah Suite. The food in the Vista Dining Room was fantastic, however the Captain and his crew made sure the food at the Suite Brunch was even better. We received exceptional service from our Head Waiter Freddy, our waiter Mohab, our assistant waiter, Heri, and our Wine Steward Ricardo. The food was excellent and the portions were in perfect amounts. Some appetizers/entrees/desserts were so good; we had second portions that were delivered immediately. We also had breakfast and lunch in the Vista, and although the servers were different due to the open seating we were always treated like royalty. We visited the alternative dining venue - The Pinnacle Grill. It's name says it all, the food was Fantastic!. Our server Atilo was superb (the $20/pp cover charge was well worth it). Pools are small, but never seemed overcrowded. However one of the few negatives on this ship was poolside service.. Poolside servers were sporadic, deck attendants were non existent. The ports of call Nassau, St. Martin and Tortola were great, and the ship's excursion staff made sure the excursions came off without a hitch. Half Moon Cay was our last port of call and HAL left the best for last. Half Moon is lovely, fantastic, wonderful, beautiful, dreamy, and the addition of the Private Cabana, made Half Moon Cay our little piece of paradise. Our last day was spent on one of the most beautiful beaches we've ever seen with soft white sand, in the warm sun, swimming in crystal clear aqua blue water. Along with the rental of the cabana comes the pampering staff of JoJo and Oliver who made sure we had plenty of food and drink. This port of call is the one reason why we wouldn't sail with anyone else but HAL or its parent Carnival who share this island. HAL and its Vista Class of Ships are truly the top of the Contemporary Cruise Lines. We have read many nit picky, moaning, whiny reviews and wonder why certain people are so critical. HAL is clearly not the equivalent of Crystal or Radisson however it is at the top of the Contemporary Lines along with Celebrity. HAL attracts a special group of passengers who are nice, friendly and yes the average age on the ship is sixty something. What we did not miss were hundred of cruisers who might have had a little too much too drink, HAL is a happy classy ship but not the party ship. The new cruise director Dane, the Senior Assistant Cruise Direct Jason along with Elizabeth, Cameron and DJ Mark did an excellent job making sure everything from BINGO to KARAOKE were enjoyable. It's too bad we did not win the $5,000 Bingo Jackpot!! The Oosterdam Singer and Dancers were fantastic, the headline acts were great and "The Mikes", were a special treat. If you like being spoiled on vacation book HAL and the Oosterdam. Bon Voyage. Read Less
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.5 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.5 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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