Sail Date: January 2006
Oosterdam  Mexican Riviera This was the 3rd time I sailed with Holland America so I though it would all be predictable but I came across a few surprises. I was traveling with three friends and we flew in the day before to ensure we ... Read More
Oosterdam  Mexican Riviera This was the 3rd time I sailed with Holland America so I though it would all be predictable but I came across a few surprises. I was traveling with three friends and we flew in the day before to ensure we would not miss our cruise because of storms cancellations or flight delays. I checked into the Hyatt and had a fantastic view of the Navy and cruise ships in the bay. It was only about a 20-minute walk to the cruise ship the next day but we took a taxi to the port and avoided hauling the luggage by foot. The check in process took 45 minutes from when we dropped off our luggage to the time we walked onto the ship. The lady that checked us in was consistently sarcastic and confrontational stating that we should have provided out mariner ID # when we made our reservation and next time I should put a string around my finger. My last name was completely wrong and she blamed it on my travel agent. Finally we boarded, the line kept moving pretty fast. Once on board we had lunch at in the Lido and went to our rooms. I had a Superior Veranda Suite #6100, it was roomy, big balcony, nice bedding, Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. I had the Mini Bar manager inventory the fridge and lock it so he would not need to knock on our door everyday chanting mini bar mini bar to see if we drank anything. Our stops were Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, & Puerto Vallarta. We all were excited to register for the Canopy tour however it was sold out before everyone even came on board so my friends and I were pretty bummed out. They gave up trying and I checked the tour KIOSK every few hours and when someone cancelled their Canopy Tour and their ticket was for sale again I snatched it up. In Cabo San Lukas we did the Kayak and Snorkel adventure, we kayaked for about ½ mile and came right up to the sea lions&they were very cool and did not mind our curiosity, we then kayaked to lovers beach and rested. At lovers beach there are two sides, the calm side where you can snorkel and the Pacific side that you can look at but stay out of unless you want to be like a ant being washed out to sea & the waves on the Pacific Side were about 20 feet tall and very dangerous, my instincts told me to keep a healthy distance. Snorkeling in the calm side was very cold and uneventful as there were few fish. The Canopy tour in Puerto Vallarta was fantastic, we took a bus from the pier to a boat and then the boat took us to their office. Once at the office we took a truck to the canopy tour location. For about 14 separate (Zip Lines) we were flying sky high from tree to tree&Im afraid of heights but sometimes its good to face your fears&I loved it. At the end we rappelled back to the forest bottom, walked 20 minutes back to camp for the 1hour truck ride back to the pier leaving plenty of time to hit the city for shopping. Mazatlan was interesting, I grabbed a taxi and he took me to town &.there was a market place that was absolutely huge, bustling with the local residence shopping for this & that. There was pork for sale with the pigs head on top of the slabs of meat to let you know it was pork? (I was a vegetarian for a few days after that). Everything was for sale out of tents, on the sidewalk, and indoor warehouse shops. I walked around Mazatlan for about 6 hours breathing in the Diesel fumes and distinct odor of sewage before my headache said its time to go home. I know it may be strange to some people but I wanted to experience Mexico¬ just the shirt & sunglass shop at the end of the pier. The prices for CDs and DVDs were about 1 or 2 dollars. The prices for goods and services near the touristy hotels and the pier are about 2 or 3 times what people pay in the US however if you go where the locals go and can haggle& you can find good buys on everything from a fantastic 75 minute massage or that cool wood carving or porcelain dish you just have to have. Remember your taxi drivers at the pier usually speaks English and can take you to where ever you want just let them know exactly what you want, then haggle and agree over the price of the ride BEFORE you get in and off you go! Back at the ship I took a nap, shook off the headache, and grabbed a bite to eat. The employees on Holland Americas Oosterdam (Filipino and Indonesian) are friendly, helpful, professional, and hard working. The shows were so so and the Filipino Crew Show is always is a hit! The food is fantastic and I soon learned to avoid the long lines, crowding, and searching for a table on the LIDO deck, it was always more pleasant, & relaxing to have a site down meal (Breakfast & Lunch) in the dinning rooms - dressed casual. Dinner in the Vista Dining Room was outstanding, Charlie was our head waiter and he was great. Things are a changing for evening fine dinning&&..The surf and turf are now surf OR turf, & the sirloin strip steak, baked potato, shrimp cocktail, and chicken options at the bottom of the menu have been removed, & the cost of beer and cocktails have really gone up in a very short time. The 10 free minutes of internet access coupon comes with a hidden $4.00 activation fee and you need to negotiate the coupon with the internet manager, if you can find the internet manager that is&&.I say just save yourself the headache and ****throw the coupon away!**** I attended the Cruise Critic meeting and the hotel manager was there to answer any questions, instead of being defensive or making excuses for any faults that the cruise critic members brought up he simply agreed and explained in granular detail why things were the way they were and also gave us info on what cruises will be like in the future. I was shocked and very pleased with his integrity, frankness, and positive attitude. In conclusion, Holland Americas Oosterdam is a fine ship with a fine crew however it is owned by Carnival and is struggling to find its own unique identify. I was informed by a few Holland America employees that they are pressed with budget cuts, its a constant struggle to squeeze bigger and bigger profits out of its passengers with out being seen as just another generic run of the mill cruise line that nickels and dimes its passengers at every turn. Will Holland America maintain its premium status or will Holland Americas fleet be the same as Carnivals ships with a different paint job on the outside? I do not know the answer to this however the one consistent value I see that sets Holland America apart from the other major cruise lines is the noticeable lack of children (God Bless Them!) running around, undisciplined, screaming, unsupervised, and there is also a more mature passenger manifest that replaces the spring break students (God bless them all!) that come with their unique party hearty ambitions. If you're looking for a great value, peace, tranquility, boredom, then Holland America may be just the thing to get you relaxed and ready to take on the world! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
Our cruise started in Seattle, overcast and humid not what we are used to coming from Phoenix. Transport from the airport to the ship was a very long confused wait. Once we got to the embarkation point things went quite smoothly. This was ... Read More
Our cruise started in Seattle, overcast and humid not what we are used to coming from Phoenix. Transport from the airport to the ship was a very long confused wait. Once we got to the embarkation point things went quite smoothly. This was my first cruise on a vista class ship, our party consisted of my mother, my daughter and her husband (his first cruise ever). I was awoken early the first morning by being rocked about in my bed, I opened the curtains and looked out and the first thing I thought of was the opening credits from the TV program of the 60's "Victory at Sea". It was rough, a double dramamine morning, breakfast forget it. Toward afternoon the captain announced we were altering our course and taking the inside passage which would add about 3 hours more to our sailing time but would be much smother, you could hear the cheer from the passengers, and the rest of the cruise was smooth sailing. We had requested the early seating at dinner but got the LATE seating, I found out you have a better chance of getting a private meeting with the pope then getting your seating changed. Due to the fact that there were 4 of us I was surprised to find we were sharing a table with another couple. Very nice couple from Minnesota taking a cruise for their 20th anniversary. Probably because we had the late seating service was quite slow and often inattentive. The food was quite good not 5 star french but this is a cruise ship not a 5 star french restaurant, though sometimes they were out of some items usually a desert that was popular with the earlier seating. I do have a complaint about being nickeled and dimed, in 1998 and 2001 we cruised with Hollandamerica and the Cappuccino and hot chocolate and muffins were free now you have to pay for them, it was not starbucks prices but come on, I could get the same muffins on the lido deck for free and the Cappuccino at dinner for free. The activities on the ship were good, you actually could not do all of them in a day there were so many. I really liked the culinary arts center. The tours were very good though the lack of wild life disappointed me, it appears you must take the 14 day cruise and tour through the national park to see more then 4 eagles and the tail of a whale as it swam away. With the exception of trying to get our plane in Seattle after the cruise (4 cruise ships disembarking at the same time) made it a nightmare! Over all the cruise was quite enjoyable. My son-in-law is sold on cruising, he packed on about 20 extra pounds. BUT the one thing I find unacceptable with the new vista class ships is there is NO self serve launderette. When I was on the Rotterdam in 1998 for 16 days with 3 children, wife and mother-in-law the launderette was invaluable. I was on a cruise with NCL around Hawaii in 2002, I was on the lido deck one day and over heard a couple who were aghast at the cost to send their and their 2 children's cloths to the ship laundry. Now that I am retired when I look for a cruise of more than 7 days (like the 12 day one I took in 2007 to the Baltic on the Rotterdam), if the Hollandamerica ship does not have a self serve launderette I look for another cruise line that does. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
Background Information: Gay Male couple 40 and 50, professional and executive. 50th birthday celebration-- 2nd sailing on Holland America 4 cruises in 18 months. We enjoy cruising very much and found that Holland America is typically a ... Read More
Background Information: Gay Male couple 40 and 50, professional and executive. 50th birthday celebration-- 2nd sailing on Holland America 4 cruises in 18 months. We enjoy cruising very much and found that Holland America is typically a good value for the price point. If you're looking for 5-star accommodations, food and entertainment, you'll have to pay for it. This is an affordable enjoyable line with a very friendly and efficient staff who try to do their best. Travel To Port of Embarkation: Dallas Fort Worth International to San Diego Stateroom: 8095- We typically sail in this category or the one just below it. The cabins for the most part are comfortable and spacious for a ship and the verandas on this ship are fairly large for the cabin size. That's where the positive ends. This is the "Bacon/Sauerkraut" cabin. It has a direct vent to the kitchen and many times the air flow is such that when you wake up in the morning you think that breakfast has been set in front of you-- but at 4 a. m. when they begin preparing it. Remember what I said previously-- this ship is staffed with very friendly and efficient staff that will do everything to appease you if they can. Unfortunately-- we arrived home with luggage, clothes and ourselves wreaking of food odors. They were unable to abate the problem. Their idea of compensation however, was to offer us dinner at the Pinnacle Grill their upscale dining room. Did I mention that we already smelled like food--? Ship Info: The ship is in okay condition-- Unfortunately, on the larger ships when they are on short turnarounds things break down. The Oosterdam is a relatively young Vista Class ship and the thermos spa was in disrepair and minor things like that. Overall the ship is not as "Glitzy" as a Celebrity cruise Millennium class but it still has all of the same amenities. The ship is kept impeccably clean any time of the day or night there is someone cleaning something. We don't think we found a place that wasn't kept immaculate at any hour of the day. Dining: It is always miraculous how many meals can be served without insult or injury. If you're looking for an exotic menu-- this isn't the ship for you. The cuisine is average catering hall fare with a nice presentation. What makes it more acceptable is the fact that the staff serves it with pride and makes you feel as one of these 6,000 plates was especially made for you. If you're looking for lobster shooters with caviar and vodka-- this is NOT the line for you. We typically enjoy the food on this line. Gone are the days of ordering "off" the menu though-- so if there's nothing on the menu that you want-- you can call room service and get something else or try to get into the Pinnacle. Activities: Unlike many of the onboard revenue schemes that are on most lines Holland America does a good job keeping it contained so that you don't feel like you're being nickeled and dimed for everything once on-board. Many of the activities are free and those that aren't are very affordable and make sense to pay for. Service: The staff on the Oosterdam and the Westerdam we find to be more friendly then their counterparts on Celebrity-- Our ideal cruise line would take the food and the ships of Celebrity and the staff from Holland America. The staff are not intrusive and do their best to assist you any way that they can. Often times they are bound by the corporate office in what capacity they can assist. In our case their offer of compensation was to put us in a lesser room and comp a meal. I am typically very brand loyal and will avoid a company if I feel that I've been slighted. American Airlines has now lost over 149,000 in revenue from me not flying their airline for the last decade-- and this is their hub. I will do anything to avoid them. Do they care? Probably not. But, I spend my dollars where I'm treated fairly and with dignity. Entertainment: If you cruise regularly-- the entertainment is what it is. If you're used to Broadway or Vegas type entertainment this is it's cheapest cousin Minnie Pearl! The shows on Holland America run typically from 3 to 5 years before they're changed and so what's on one ocean-liner is the same on all of them with in the line. They have a group of young talent who typically do the best with what they've got. They often hang out at the disco off of the casino and are great to talk to after the show. Again if you're looking for Broadway or Vegas-- Go there-- if not then enjoy. It's amazing to see what they're able to produce on probably a community theatre's budget and amusement park talent. They do okay. If you're looking for the next Streisand-- not gonna happen. Shore Excursions: Like all cruise lines these are designed mostly for the over 60 set or the 9-11 set. However, Holland America does have some gems mixed in there that are well worth the money to take. Swimming with the Dolphins-- although it says "it's a life changing experience" it's more of a memory with pictures that no one should be without. It was great fun and one of the more active excursions. We like to take the Kayak tour and the mountain biking tours. These are made for weekend warriors like ourselves and we find them just enough exertion to make us feel like we've earned the prime rib we're about to eat for dinner. If you get to Cast Away Cay-- GO! It's a beach that only the Walt Disney Company could replicate. Great service, white sand, and swimming with horses! Great fun. Disembarkation: Easy and unrushed. Holland America triumphs over Celebrity in people moving. This is an art form and Holland America could use a little polishing here-- but when you think of the number of passengers-- This is well orchestrated. Summary: If you're looking for top of the line marble bathrooms, and white glove service-- this isn't the line for you. Cruising has become more relaxed-- and as far as bad puns go-- that ship has sailed. If you're looking for an affordable, relaxing vacation with a wide range of middle class folks from the US-- this is your cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
This being my 32nd cruise and 4th with HAL. The Oosterdam is a family oriented ship and what it does it does well. We traveled the week of Spring Break and the ship was packed - 2100 passengers, it seemed like they were all well-behaved ... Read More
This being my 32nd cruise and 4th with HAL. The Oosterdam is a family oriented ship and what it does it does well. We traveled the week of Spring Break and the ship was packed - 2100 passengers, it seemed like they were all well-behaved children. I didn't mind all the children as HAL has an excellent program for the younger crowd. The ship did not have that "overcrowded" feel. This is a 4-star (out of six stars) ship. That doesn't mean you can't have a 6-star vacation! It is a cruise ship fit for your family and not about luxury. HAL has tried to position itself as a premier line, but for the "middle class" Celebrity Cruises just does it better. Instead of writing about the destinations and such I'll just put my own views of the pros and cons of the ship. There are a great many well-done reviews of Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Pros: Food - better than all of the other middle class cruise lines Lido - Fine choices, but some of the Oriental dishes (?) I have never had before and I am Oriental. As an example - Miso soup without Miso and tastes like mushroom soup Crow's Nest - nicely appointed, comfortable setting San Diego Embarkation Port - allows a full day in Cabo San Lucas vs. a half day out of Los Angeles Bands - Cruise Control and Take Five are excellent Windstar Lounge - coffee! Decent, but slow service Casino - You can play for awhile and lose slower than on most other cruise lines Cruise Director and staff - young and good Clean - can be repeated again and again. Clean is good Staff - friendly, but overworked Elevators - glass outdoor ones! Short skirts are fine if you are not shy Cons: Service - Just calling it light is a compliment. Wait in line, get your own coffee in Lido. Lack of assistant waiters making some meals agonizingly long. Really I can't believe that HAL can get away with such light staffing. I felt the same way on the Rhyndam two years previously. Head waiters need a bit more seasoning (nuff said). Tender waits - overly long, longer, time to take a nap Entertainment - no orchestra/big band, shows not worth seeing. Indonesian staff show!? Embarrassing. I don't want to comment on this poorly done, but sometimes ok show. Cheap labor! Cheap! Okay - low cost. Disco - small dance floor with a huge column in the center of the floor. Unbelievable bad design. Spa - pay $15 a day to use the service. A first! Ambiance - Carnival plus Internet - I don't mind paying for quality, but paying by the minute when speeds are slower than dial-up is just bad business. Drink prices - smuggle your own Decor - Carnival plus Captain's Party - boring!!!!! Band? No big band! Dance on a postage stamp floor - so you don't dance. Photo prices - bring your own camera, better yet - bring your own cameraperson. Conclusion: Fine family vacation. Fine ship. As always could be better. Solidly 4-star. Put it this way, Crystal, Radisson, Cunard are 5-6 star ships. How can HAL be higher? Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Oosterdam 5/29-6/5 We arrived late Friday night in Seattle and just crashed at the airport Holiday Inn. Quick and easy shuttle transfer and a very nice buffet breakfast included. For some reason it took 20 minutes to get a taxi to the ... Read More
Oosterdam 5/29-6/5 We arrived late Friday night in Seattle and just crashed at the airport Holiday Inn. Quick and easy shuttle transfer and a very nice buffet breakfast included. For some reason it took 20 minutes to get a taxi to the hotel, but then it was a quick and scenic trip to the pier. It really is too bad that HAL and Princess have decided to use the new pier 30 facility. It's in the middle of the cargo area, not at all attractive and not convenient to the Seattle waterfront or downtown. Check-in for suite passengers was quick and efficient, with essentially no line. Filling out the embarkation forms online is definitely the way to go. Embarkation itself was a bit like running a gauntlet of crew members trying to get you to go to this or that raffle. They were more of a hassle than helpful. We embarked around 12:30 and were taken to our suite which was not quite ready. We opted for lunch in the Lido. While the Lido has potential, it is more often a confusing and fractured dining experience, especially when eating with several people. Also, finding a seat was next to impossible most times as it was a popular place to enjoy the scenery and instead of chair hogs by the pool, the Lido suffered from chair hogs in the dining room. Also, I found the Lido hours to be quite limited with several times during the cruise when one could not find food anywhere. The food was decent but several notches down from previous experience and the service was poor. Our suite (7132) was outstanding. We had the aft port suite on the 7th deck. While the suite itself was a bit smaller than the typical S suite, it was still larger than an SS suite and most important of all it had a HUGE wraparound balcony. In fact I would venture to say that the balcony is larger than many of the cabins. The balcony on the side was covered and the size of 2 A category cabin balconies, the rear balcony was at least 10 feet deep. It only had a 3 foot overhang, not enough to protect from rain, but enough that if sitting by the wall, you could not be viewed from above. We rarely saw anyone looking down on us from the Lido deck and likewise we rarely saw anyone on the balconies below us. Furniture on the balcony included a dining table with 4 chairs, 2 lounge chairs, 2 padded chairs with ottomans and a small cocktail table. We only experienced soot on the balcony one day toward the end of the trip. In the suite was a (true) king size bed with a wonderful firm mattress, fantastic linens, a down duvet and 6 pillows. It was by far one of the most comfortable beds I've slept on. The couch was turned into a twin bed each evening by our steward. Additionally there were 3 leather chairs and a coffee table. The TV was a flat screen with an excellent picture quality. Beneath it were a CD player and a DVD player. We had brought our own music CDs and DVDs were available from the Neptune lounge. A granite minibar topped by a silver ice bucket and fruit bowl (with bananas, grapes apples and pears) finished out the main room. Next to the bathroom was a dressing room with 3 closets, all with full mirrors on the front. The lighting in here was not great. The bathroom had 2 sinks, a jetted tub with handheld shower head and separate shower stall with a handheld shower head. The shower stall was a bit tight, but not bad. The first day the towels had the HAL logo on them, afterwards they were very plush oversize plain white towels. Bathroom amenities included shampoo/conditioner (which was not at all conditioning, I'd advise bringing your own), lotion, a sewing kit and shower cap. Other suite amenities included two terry cloth robes, an umbrella, binoculars (Bushnell, good quality) and a hair dryer (not very powerful, and I have thin, easy to dry hair). When we arrived a bottle of champagne was chilling compliments of the captain. We also received personalized stationery and an invitation to the suite reception that evening. I had pre-ordered some wine and gin which were also in the room. Our room steward did a very good job making up the room twice a day. A daily program was delivered to the suite each evening along with what I felt to be quite a bit of "junk mail". Turn down service included a chocolate on the pillow. Each morning the dinner menu for the day was delivered. I really enjoyed that little bit of information. The Pinnacle Grill menu was in the leather suite information folder along with the rather limited room service menu. We received a corsage and boutonniere for the first Formal night (each a white carnation). Room service was not good. They continually refilled the mini bar with soda water when we used the tonic water. Getting through to room service was a challenge, several times we had to contact the concierge to have her contact room service. We never used room service for food, just tonic and ice. I ended up enjoying the Neptune lounge much more than I had anticipated. The cappuccino machine is fantastic!! The continental breakfast and snacks were high quality and frequently replenished. Many magazines were available. The concierge was friendly and tried hard but wasn't really of all that much help. I must have stopped in 3-4 times a day for coffee or snacks. Did I mention how much I loved the cappuccino machine? Other perks of the suite included free laundry which we used once during the week. They were very prompt, did a nice job and delivered the clean clothes to the cabin in a basket wrapped in tissue paper. Nice classy touch. We also had priority tendering privileges, we ended up not utilizing them as we only tendered in one port and by the time we went ashore, the tenders no longer required tickets. We were invited to a reception mid-week (not sure if this was a suite reception or exactly why we were invited) and to the suite lunch on the last day. The suite lunch was buffet held in the crow's nest, included drinks and was high quality food similar to that in the Pinnacle grill with an Indonesian twist. We also attended the Mariner reception held at 11:45 AM on the last day. The decor of the Vista class ships has been debated and discussed in some depth so I won't dwell on it here. I will say that it does seem like a departure form that of the older ships (especially the Niew Amsterdam I sailed on in 1992) While I really liked some of it ( the elevators are beautiful) other aspects I found strange. A weird mix of classic and contemporary, beautiful high quality art and "junk". The flow through the ship is not good especially on the promenade deck. The photo gallery impedes traffic badly outside the dining room and the shops are laid out in such a strange manner. Another comment on the shops; most of what they sell is tacky junk, they are laid out poorly and the selection changes daily. Not at all what I remember from previous cruises. The atrium is pretty but seems small and dark for a ship of this size. It is definitely not the focal point it could have been. There is an occasional sewage smell detectable on the 2nd and 3rd decks, primarily forward. I also smelled it once on the observation deck towards the front. It's not awful, but it's there. As for vibration, I felt none in the Vista dining room and only occasionally in our suite, especially when the seas were a bit rough. The ship did seem to move about more than I expected for a ship of this size and more than other ships I've been on. The midship pool is covered by a retractable roof, is heated and is freshwater. This is the family pool. The aft pool is also heated and freshwater but is not covered. It is designated adults only. I did not use the spa, but the facilities looked nice. The Gym was well equipped. The Crow's nest is a very pleasant lounge. There were drink specials every day and wine packages are available ($125 for 6 bottles). Hot appetizers are served in the lounges in the evenings. Service on the ship was highly variable. Our cabin steward was excellent, our waiter was erratic, the wine steward was often late getting to our table and there was none of the remembering of your name or preferences that I so vividly remember from my other HAL cruise. Lounge service was impersonal at best. Elsewhere on the ship we were often greeted by smiles but the level of service has dropped in my opinion. Perhaps they are just overwhelmed. Service in the Pinnacle Grill was very good with the exception of when the waiter made me walk back to my room to get the card indicating that I had pre-paid for my reservations even though the information was in the computer and I had confirmed it both with the concierge and maitre 'd. The Club HAL staff were pleasant and did a good job with the kids. They had a fairly full program which was broken into 4 age groups. The Kid's Club facility is rather small, but adequate. Food is always a personal matter, but I really feel the quality has slipped in the main dining room. Not that it is poor quality or tastes bad, but it really comes across as mass produced banquet food. No attention to detail, none of the beautiful garnishes I remember. Some of the best dishes are the Indonesian ones. The appetizers tended to be better than the entrees. The soups were good, the salads variable. Desserts were often a disappointment. The food in the Lido can be quite good but the arrangement of the room makes it awkward for several people to eat together and I felt as if I was running all over the place to get my meal together. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room were very good, however the hours were very limited. The food in the Pinnacle Grill is excellent. One of the best steaks I've had, and the chocolate volcano cake truly is "to die for". Lobster is available every night in addition to the regular menu items. It is well worth the $20 surcharge. The itinerary itself was not quite what I had hoped for. We spent much more time in the open ocean with it's rougher water and lack of scenery that I imagined we would. Relatively little time was spent in the inside passage, which I feel is what makes an Alaskan cruise so special. We did arrive early at every port, which was very nice. We arrived in Juneau 2 hours early and in Victoria almost 2 hours early. Still too late and too little time in Victoria I'm afraid but it is quite a distance from Ketchikan and we did leave Ketchikan fairly early as well (1 PM). In Juneau we docked at the farthest pier from town. They did provide a shuttle to the base of the tramway but during the afternoon it inexplicably stopped running, leaving many passengers rather stranded with no choice but to walk back to the ship. At Hubbard glacier we had a prime viewing time from around 10 AM until 4 PM. There was quite a bit of ice in the water and the Captain did a fantastic job of picking his way through to get us as close as possible. The bow of the ship was accessible to passengers during this time and was a prime viewing spot. In Sitka we tendered into port, but as I recall, tender tickets were not needed after around 9 AM. In Ketchikan we docked right in town. In Victoria we docked about ½ mile from the inner harbour but no shuttle was provided. Shore excursions are easy to pre-book and our tickets were waiting in our suite when we arrived. We went sea kayaking in Juneau, which was strenuous but spectacular. We took the semi-submersible tour in Sitka which was fascinating. There is an immense amount of sealife in the Alaskan waters and seeing it up close was wonderful. My sister did the snorkeling tour in Ketchikan and gave it rave reviews as well. We went to the Lumberjack show in Ketchikan and thoroughly enjoyed it. Debarkation in Seattle was done well, very organized. We took a taxi to our hotel and were able to check in at 9 AM. I chose the Hotel Monaco because it seemed interesting, I got a good rate and it was centrally located. I'm glad I made the choice. It is a unique hotel with funky decor, goldfish "companions" in the rooms, leopard print bathrobes and a nightly wine tasting. Not your average hotel. To put this review in perspective, this was my 10th cruise and 2nd Alaska cruise. I've sailed with HAL once before, Princess twice, Celebrity once, Crystal once, Radisson Seven Seas twice, Windstar once and Disney once. I'm in my late 30's and was traveling with my husband, 5 year old daughter and my sister and her husband. I very much enjoyed this trip and think the Vista class ships, while not for everyone, are a good option. I do feel that HAL has made some improvements, especially regarding facilities but food and service have slipped. I'd put HAL up with Celebrity (and surprisingly, Disney) for overall quality. I would sail with them again, especially if I could have an aft suite! Read Less
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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