1,072 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

First time to sail Holland America, although I have sailed on RCL, Princess, Celebrity. I really liked this ship as it was smaller and easier to navigate. Two hour delay in Charlotte airport so it was good we had planned to spend the ... Read More
First time to sail Holland America, although I have sailed on RCL, Princess, Celebrity. I really liked this ship as it was smaller and easier to navigate. Two hour delay in Charlotte airport so it was good we had planned to spend the night in San Diego. Holiday Inn was booked, and there was a shuttle to take us to the Inn. We walked to Sea Point Village and had dinner. Boarded the ship before lunch Only a walk across the street and easy checkin with a very helpful man. To our room which was ready and then lunch. Our room stewards were excellent and such nice young men from Indonesia. My daughter and I took the guided tour of the ship which was a good way to get orientated immediately. Food on the Lido buffet as well as meals in the Vista dining room were very good. The prime rib first night for me was a delicious choice. My favorite desserts were the souffles. My son was always the ice cream eater. He was especially happy to find there was lemonade to drink which meant he did not need a soda card. One thing I specially liked at breakfast was the helpful waiters-always ready to get anything you needed. Another thing I liked was the silver on the table. I cannot understand how people complain about the food as there are always so many choices. We chose Anytime dining which worked well for us. You meet so many people this way. We never had to wait as we were always willing to take whatever table was available. Entertainment was always good. The young singers and dancers were excellent. John Denver Songs by Jim Curry A magic show with dogs, the audience, and the magician's wife definitely held the audience's attention. My son and I liked the piano bar with Jim Fischer-especially the Elton John performance. The culinary center was definitely a hit with my daughter and myself. We went most days. There are many learning activities as well as fun activities on the ship. We attended some of the basic Spanish classes. A trivia contest which our group won and received T shirts. Also the bingo but no winner this time. Game contest. I especially liked the gym. My activity was the bike and the weights. I attended one of the classes on health. I commend the company for the Susan Korman walk for breast cancer which I wish I could have done. The Ports: Having never been to any of these Mexican ports we were going to explore each of them. Puerta Vallarta we did the ship tour of the overview. It was well explained and guided by a Mexican History teacher. My daughter definitely had to go to the Walmart across the street from the cruise port. Mazatlan we took a golf port to the cathedral and then walked to the waterfront seeing the divers. Then to the "Shrimp Bucket" for lunch where Mazatlan definitely has some of the best shrimp in the world. Taxi back to the ship. My son and daughter went back to the dock for some shopping and hair braiding for my daughter. Cabo San Lucas is a beautiful sight with its rock formations coming in. We were tendered and the astonishing thing was seeing all the pelicans on boats, docks, etc. There are many vendors along the streets. We really wanted to do a whale watching tour from here,but the tours from the cruise ship were sold out. Later someone told me they took a boat for $10.00 from the dock and were able to see them We did see some of the spouting of the whales from the ship, and I missed a pod of them when I was in the gym. The spa: Excellent hot stone massage. My son won a facial which he gave to me. Worship Service on Sunday led by a lay man from Vancouver singing the old hymns and Bible ready. Not Catholic,but I did attend the Catholic Mass as I met the priest on the elevator on the way to mass. Another activity I always enjoy on cruise ships is the tea. An opportunity to meet people and share stories. One thing I learned is to take warmer long sleeve clothes than I took. It was chilly on the ship in the public areas. You can regulate the temperature in your cabin. It only warmed up as we got down into Mexican waters. I would not hesitate to sail Holland America again. It is always such a joy to be with your children. Very impressed. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
My DH and I are in the mid 40's-50's and as a Christmas present to each other decided to take this cruise because for the first time in years we didn't have any relatives coming to our house for the holidays. We arrived in ... Read More
My DH and I are in the mid 40's-50's and as a Christmas present to each other decided to take this cruise because for the first time in years we didn't have any relatives coming to our house for the holidays. We arrived in San Diego after a huge freak snowstorm nearly stranded us in the desert! San Diego was sunny but a bit chilly. We used the Park and Go lot which wasn't right at the dock but they had good shuttles and for only 10 bucks a day was well worth it for those who drive to SD. Embarkation was very fast and orderly. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits. We had a nice lunch in the Lido and were in our cabin by 1:30. Well, we had a great view of the LIFEBOAT. When they say fully obstructed view I guess you have to take them seriously. I could see a bit of the promenade deck. Hubby (who is 6'1") said he could see just fine but I think he was just rubbing it in because I am short. During the lifeboat drill, as we were chatting a nice lady said to my husband, "Are you Lapidary Lady?" "Um, no but I think that is my wife's screen name on Cruise Critic," he replied. We had run into RuthandJohn who were absolutely WONDERFUL companions to us throughout the cruise! (Not to mention they are top-drawer trivia players!) It was fun to run into other people from the Rollcall right away, and then again when we had a meet and greet up in the Crow's Nest on the second day. We hadn't been paying attention to our dining and ended up with the As You Wish dining. It was okay. You had the option of dining by yourselves at a table for two, or with others if a large table was being seated. We met some nice people, but didn't develop any good friendships as it was all very transitory. We ended up the second half of the cruise eating with RuthandJohn at the eary sitting. Big thanks to the manager of the Vista Dining room for accommodating us! The ship had beautiful decorations, including a whole gingerbread town that smelled wonderful each time we walked by it. It was constructed in the Explorations Cafe by the pastry chefs...it even had a train! Our cruise director Cory was nice but seemed kind of, well, inexperienced. Maybe he is new, but he seemed a bit stilted and flustered at times. Whomever he had "announcing" Santa's arrival needs to take some serious lessons in how to sound convincing. There were probably at least 100 retired school teachers on board who could have done a more enthusiastic job. The crew and stewards really did their best to be friendly and helpful....A++ for their efforts. We had a nice whale watching cruise with free drinks, chips and salsa for our Cabo San Lucas excursion.(and actually SAW some whales!Not just a tiny spout far off in the distance.) Cabo seems very new and a happy place to visit. The tenders over were a grown-up version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, ( Or would that be Senor Frog's?) They were very rough, and we kept bashing into the platform while waiting to load more passengers. We eventually got away and things improved....it was a picture perfect beautiful day. Saw some interesting sights, like a huge green iguana wearing a Santa hat that was available for pictures, (for a price) and heavily armed policia walking around with automatic rifles, (whom I doubt would be available for posing for pictures, but then again, I didn't ask.) The "Bargains" weren't that much of a bargain. T-shirts were $11.00,(almost Free said the sign,)the vanilla extract I bought was rather pricey and the eelskin leather belt was right up there in price with what I would have paid for the same thing in the mall back home. Mazatlan was hot and humid. They did have a shopping trolly to safely transport shoppers from the dock to the shops. There was huge mariachi statues with a real life sized mariachi band serenading us as we disembarked, but as it got hotter everyone seemed to disappear. My hubby enjoyed the sea kayaking but they were done in a few hours, and spent the rest of the time (another 2 hours)standing around fending off rather aggressive street vendors instead of being allowed to return to the ship. The next day was Puerto Vallarta. Hubby had a blast doing the zipline throughout the jungle. He highly recommends this excursion! I stayed onboard and enjoyed the ambiance of the ship (...and the airconditioning). There was a lady on the dock with a beautiful Macaw to pose for pictures with, and a Walmart and a Sam's Club right across the street for those people who interested in seeing the same stuff offered for sale at home in a foreign land! (Actually, people getting gifts said they had better prices on the same touristy stuff than the street vendors did.) The two sea days home were nicesaw lots of dolphins and whales when we passed by Cabo again. The last night we had some rough seas...had to excuse myself from the Mariner's brunch rather hastily when I unfortunately caught sight of the horizon doing wild things. The lady at the medical dispensary gave me some Bonine tablets that fixed me up but soon we saw wooden trays holding seasick bags conveniently placed near the elevators so I knew I wasn't the only one. I recovered so quickly I was able to enjoy the Chef's Dinner with the Baked Alaska that night. We got really cute little glowsticks to wave around during the show. We were really sad to say goodbye at the end of the cruise especially to our new dear friends. We became such good friends they decided to book the 15 day Hawaiian cruise with us for next year! This was truly a wonderful cruise and a great way to spend Christmas Thank You HAL!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
I do NOT agree with a few of the previous posters. We (we are both 58) have been on this itinerary several times and this was by far the best trip to the Mexican Rivera we have had. We have cruised about 13 times so have some experience ... Read More
I do NOT agree with a few of the previous posters. We (we are both 58) have been on this itinerary several times and this was by far the best trip to the Mexican Rivera we have had. We have cruised about 13 times so have some experience in cruising. Numerous factors weighed in this decision. One being getting the opportunity to unexpectedly stay in an SA category suite (provided by the upgrade fairy) was absolutely wonderful. The suite was so large and comfortable. Our room steward, Soli. and his assistant made sure everything was taken care of and yes, we did have little chocolates every night and a towel animal also. They make for such a delightful surprise when coming back to our room in the evening. They were outstanding in handling all of our needs. I cannot say enough good things about the service in the Neptune Lounge and especially the concierges, Elli and Essie. They arranged for anything and took care of a shirt (and was ready in just 4 hours) that needed to be laundered to be worn to a funeral the day we disembarked in San Diego. They were outstanding. They were great at taking care of our requests and making sure our breakfast party was all handled. Yes, getting to stay in an SA suite was absolutely great and an opportunity I probably won't get again but even with that set aside it was still a great cruise cause of the outstanding quality of the food and service. Yes, as I have previously read on the boards and other places the Oosterdam lacks the "WOW" factor, but it more than makes up for it in other things. There isn't any gorgeous middle centrum, but there is great food and service. We found the service and the food to both be excellent. There were 9 of us travelling together all in different rooms and everyone had great room stewards except one couple that was in a VA category. We had room service for breakfast several times and it was the best we have ever experienced on any ship. The food was delivered correct and hot. I also got the best omelette from room service. The Lido breakfast buffet offered numerous selections of eggs benedict and we were also able to get eggs benedict from room service. You could write in anything you wanted on the room service hanger that you wanted and you got it. The food in the dining room was very good also. I didn't like that it was hard to get a reservation. They only wanted to give reservations at 5:00, 5:30 or 7:45 either too early or too late. So we had to try and arrive each night at 6:30 and we requested the same table with the same servers and we got it. Got the maitre 'd to remember we wanted table 101 or 139 every night cause they both accommodated our large group of 9 and we could get the servers we liked. The first night in open seating we were at a different table with poor servers so from the second night on board on we kept trying for table 101 or 139 after finding out what good servers were assigned to those tables. We enjoyed all of the entertainment but who stood out as truly outstanding and enjoyable was Johnny Jones at the piano bar. What enjoyable evenings we had listening to him sing and watch his fingers just dance across those keys. Yes, the much talked about Joel Mason was good but Johnny Jones was OUTSTANDING and we all felt he should be given a bigger venue in which to play, but then again the intimacy of sitting around the piano would probably be lost. The only negative was the location of the piano bar. One of its entry doors opened from the casino which smoke would drift from the casino into the piano bar. No smoking was allowed in the piano bar but enough came in from the casino which wasn't so good. The only other BIG negative was the location of the Northern Lights lounge. It also opened off of the casino. My husband loves to dance and they were playing good music in there and I just couldn't stay very long due to how bad the smoke was coming from the surrounding bar and casino. More emphasis should be put on dancing being put maybe up in the Crow's Nest. It was a much larger area but not focused on for dancing. The Lido Buffet was very good for breakfast with a large variety such as those 6 - 9 different egg benedicts to choose from. Also, a good omelette and waffle station. We loved that you could get ice cream anytime you wanted it and it didn't cost extra like on some other cruise lines. There was also toppings for ice cream and waffle cones. There was also a good sandwich bar which made made-to-order grilled sandwiches. We enjoyed the thermal suite package also only I highly recommend that if you purchase it that you make sure you know what the hours are for the hydro spa pool. Loved that pool but it closed early on our last night and we weren't aware of that. We thought, ho-hum about the itinerary cause we had been-there, done-that so we thought. We were just going on this cruise cause we like cruising and living only 3 hours from San Diego found it advantageous to us and we didn't have to book airfare so that was definitely a plus. We had all been wanting to try HAL. We had only been on HAL once in 2001 and had a good experience and the rest of our party were new to HAL. So when it came to picking a Mexican cruise we all decided to try HAL for a new experience and we really enjoyed it and will try it again. Cabo San Lucas - We got a water taxi with the glass bottom and sailed out past the arch and Lover's Beach and then over to Medrano Beach and had some great food and just enjoyed the view and watched the action on the beach. We took a water taxi back to the marina and then the tender to the boat. Really enjoyed the boat ride out past the rock formations as we had never done that before. It was a great day! Mazatlan - We got a driver with a van for our group who we told that we just wanted to shop for a couple certain things for an hour and he waited and then took us to a group Mexican restaurant on the beach past the Golden Zone. Really irritates me that I can't remember the name of the restaurant cause it was so good. Then we stopped briefly cause I wanted to check out the El Cid Hotel to see if we would like to try it for a day excursion maybe the next time and it definitely looked very nice and worth a try. Puerto Vallarta - Just took a taxi to town to shop a little, went back to the ship for lunch and rest before our shore excursion which left at 3:30 to Las Caletas' Rhythm of the Nights. That is truly worth doing. A little pricey at $99.00 per person but we truly enjoyed it. It took about 1 hour and 15 minutes each way by boat, you saw a show complete with fire throwers, etc. It seemed a little like a mexican outdoor circus soleil show mixed in with thing you might see in Hawaii. Was very enjoyable and then they take you to the delicious buffet of meats, bbq chicken,fish, salads, potatoes and all the drinks you want. Drinks were also plentiful on the boat going and coming to Las Caletas. The crew on the boat were also very entertaining coming and going. The place has no electricity and they cook everything there. Food was very good and if you were a party of 2 you got to sit at a private table right on the beach in the waters edge. Very Romantic! This was really an outstanding excursion and like everyone else I highly recommend it. However, I would not recommend it for anyone that cannot walk well or is in a wheelchair. I saw staff pushing someone in a wheelchair and was wondering how they were going to get the man over all of the dirt paths. Also, ladies don't wear heels. We would definitely use the Oosterdam again and HAL. Remember, a day on a cruise is always better than a day at work. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We live in San Diego and we are 58 and 69 and decided to try HAL for the first time. First Impressions: The crowd was a little older for the most part than Carnival. The staff were happier than Carnivals... We Arrived at Port at 10:00 AM ... Read More
We live in San Diego and we are 58 and 69 and decided to try HAL for the first time. First Impressions: The crowd was a little older for the most part than Carnival. The staff were happier than Carnivals... We Arrived at Port at 10:00 AM and could not go on pier since two ships were debarking, so my daughter dropped us off and we hired a pedi-cap. He loaded all our bags and us and peddled us about 50 feet, took our baggage in and we gave him $10.00. We checked in without a hassle around 11:00 and were eating lunch in the Lido around 11:30 By 12:00 we were meeting and drinking with "new friends" in the AFT Bar. CABIN 8068: We booked an SZ guarantee and received an SS. We got lots of wrong info on this room so here are the facts. It was lovely, although wheelchair accessible, it had two showers one in tub and one where the toilet is. The counter space is limited due to handicap features but was totally adequate for us. It was right next to the the glass outside elevators which was not an issue, no noise, in fact was lots of fun to people watch. Yes it is above the Lido restaurant but only a small portion and their was no noise, a room farther down may have been an issue but not ours. The beds were fantastic as were the pillows. Our room was always clean and our ice chest was always full. Thank you to our wonderful cabin attendant D.B! This was our first time in a suite and the extra room was very nice, most of all the (dining height)table on the balcony with two chairs, that would have been enough for us, as we did not use the chaise chairs. We loved the Elemis shampoo and lotions and received new ones daily! FOOD: We are casual diners and only went to main dining one time so the following depicts the Lido I have never seen so many "happy, friendly employees" Hot food was hot and cold was cold, The waffle bar was amazing! I was worried that HAL would not be casual enough for me, not to worry, everybody does their own thing and even tho nice, it was as casual as you want to make it.HAL knows exactly what they are doing. The emphasis I felt was on quality and not quantity and everything was served by friendly professional "servers" at the counters.I particularly enjoyed the roast turkey, roast pork, rotisserie chicken. The Prime Rib was wonderful..The salad bar was fresh and had tons of offerings. HAL Lido is very elegant compared to Carnival, it is carpeted , has candles, piped in music and real flowers! ENTERTAINMENT AND STUFF TO DO: I thought Joel Mason was very talented and put on one heck of a good show. However, in my humble opinion, I feel he benefits from depicting/impersonating Elton John a highly respected member of the gay community...yet when I asked him if he raises money or awareness of AIDS his answer was that he does not subscribe to "that" life style and the subject is too controversial for a cruise ship. HELLO...ok next thing we enjoyed was team trivia, and lost in desert and lost at sea quiz's. I enjoy the Casino and won $1,000.00.on the quarter slots (you must play 3 quarters to win big) I did not come home with that but was fun and I came out ahead. STAFF: Thank you to you all! All the staff we met were fluent in English and had wonderful tales to tell of their various home lands, family and ship board life. Wait til you meet Mr. Boozey! ROOM SERVICE: Quick and wonderful first cruise I did not worry about getting my first cup of coffee, it always arrived within 10 minutes. SUMMARY: I love HAL... I would book them again, but I also would book Carnival as well. I guess I believe "whats not to love about a cruise?" Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We enjoyed ourselves on this cruise and thought it might be helpful to share our experiences with everyone. My wife and I are both in our late thirties and we have two young children (3 and 5). We decided to bring the kids with us for this ... Read More
We enjoyed ourselves on this cruise and thought it might be helpful to share our experiences with everyone. My wife and I are both in our late thirties and we have two young children (3 and 5). We decided to bring the kids with us for this cruise as well as my mother and her husband. We have been on a total of 10 cruises, and this was our second on HAL. We have sailed on RCCL, X, and NCL. Though we have enjoyed all our cruises, we would put HAL and X in a higher category then the others. Two years ago we sailed on the Westerdam to the Caribbean, and we really enjoyed it! We figured that since this was a holiday week (Thanksgiving) it would be a good time to bring the family, so off we went. I can say that we were very at home on the Oosterdam because it is very similar to the Westerdam! Embarkation from San Diego was simple and we were on the ship in around 20 minutes. Things were well organized and even with a second ship docked in San Diego, it was very painless. We went right to the Lido for lunch and waited for our room to be ready at 1:30. Our room was a Category I large inside stateroom (#6079) that was a quad. Because we were a group of four we had little choice, but we were very pleased with this room. It was mid-ship, with more then ample space! Our bed was a king, another bed folded out from the ceiling above ours, and another bed was made out of the sofa. There was plenty of storage and closet space and we all were really comfortable. The bathroom was the standard cruise ship variety. The room was clean and everything was in good working order. Like the Westerdam, the Oosterdam was really beautiful. From the moment we walked on board, we felt that this was a classy looking and feeling ship. The carpets are dark rich colors and the common areas have great artwork that features HAL's cruising traditions. The ship was exceptionally clean and well maintained. Though this ship is a good size vessel, it never really felt like a large ship because of the unique layout. The Food is always a tough subject to review because everyone has such a different palate. The Lido Buffet is probably the nicest buffet I have seen on a cruise ship. It is well maintained and looks very nice. The only thing I can say is that the food was of much better quality then I have seen on other buffets on any other brand of ship. As many have mentioned, trays no longer are present at the Lido! I didn't even notice them missing until after the cruise when it was mentioned on CC. I still sometimes question the functionality of the Lido stations as it can be a hassle to get your meal from three or four different stations! Breakfast usually seemed to be the most crowded. The dining room experience on this trip was top notch! We were originally assigned open seating, but we really wanted to be assigned to a table, so we met the Maitre D and we were able to get a table for six at early seating in the corner of the dining room by a window! This was a prime location for us and we had an excellent waiting staff! The food seemed to be much better on this trip then our past experience on Westerdam! The menu was more varied and the food was delivered hot and tasty. My two boys (ages 3 and 5) were well taken care of and everyone in the dining room treated them like little kings! The only negative thing about the dining was the signature chef's dinner! Though it was fun seeing and hearing the waiters perform, the menu was limited and the food was not very good that night. My wife and I had dinner one night at the Pinnacle without the kids and it was really an enjoyable experience, great food and service with a much more quiet and refined atmosphere. Overall we really enjoyed the food and service in the dining areas! I really do not get too excited about the shows or entertainment, but my wife really did enjoy what they offered. They did however have a guy by the name of Joel Mason who is an Elton John impersonator and singer. He was really quite good and his show was worth the time. He also highlighted the farewell show and really showcased his talents in all aspects. He can sing, play the piano, play the guitar, and joke around with the best of them! The casino was small but more then willing to take my money and so it did! The kid's club was great and my five year old had the time of his life. They were really good to him and he was thrilled with all the great activities they offered The ports were good! We have been on the Mexican Riviera Cruise three times and though we like Cabo, PV, and Mazatlan, we only hang out at the local resorts and do the beach/pool thing. Disembarkation was quite easy until you get your luggage and attempt to leave the cruise ship terminal in San Diego! What a Zoo! With two ships in port, San Diego is just not able to service the onslaught of passengers leaving two vessels at once! What a goat rodeo! Certainly not HAL's fault but still annoying! Overall we really like HAL and will continue to cruise with them. The O is a great ship and I will continue to always consider HAL when booking any cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This is our third cruise within the last four years and I have to say that the ship was probably the best that we have been on. My partner and I intentionally selected this cruise as it catered to adults (without children) who had traveled ... Read More
This is our third cruise within the last four years and I have to say that the ship was probably the best that we have been on. My partner and I intentionally selected this cruise as it catered to adults (without children) who had traveled before. There were some children on board but the ship was arranged such that adults had a private swimming and tanning area towards the front of the ship while the children remained in the back section. From the moment that we boarded, the staff and crew did everything they could to make this a memorable vacation. Boarding was relatively straight-forward and took maybe 30 minutes. Would suggest that you check-in on-line (passport, credit card number, etc) to further expedite the process. Our cabin was on the 7th floor and it was beautiful -superior verandah with a balcony. This is the same floor that the suits and penthouses are located - a couple from our table were staying in a suite - exceptionally beautiful in terms of space but would not recommend this unless you plan to spend alot of time in your cabin. We chose the 8:00 pm dining and were blessed with sitting next to two other couples who truly made our vacation spectacular. One couple was from northern Ca and the other was from Australia (HI DEB AND DAVE - we miss you)!!!! Dinners were excellent with a great variety served every night. The wait staff worked so hard and memorized your name by the 2nd night (how awesome is that). TIP - we opted for the Navigator wine package (7 bottles of wine) -nice value and great selection!!! We also booked on night in the Pinnacle Grill - I still have dreams of the 22 ounce steak that I tried to consume - if you enjoy extremely elegant dining with gold flatware, fine china, crystal water goblets, and wait staff in tuxedos then book one night at the Pinnacle - they fill up quickly especially during sea days so I would recommend that you reserve your spot online before the ship departs. We also enjoyed a few visits to the spa (mini-facials, manicures, and pedicures) - great service and very nice staff and again would recommend this on the sailing days. The excursions were nice but not the mainstay of our vacation. Our 1st stop was at Cabo San Lucas was fun - did a catamaran with snorkeling. If you like water sports mixed with some relaxation (i.e. drinks on the way back) then sign up for this excursion. The town was nothing to write home about - alot of tourist trinkets, depressed buildings with graffiti; would suggest that you get a table and have a few beers and chips. The 2nd stop was at Mazatlan (regrets for my poor spelling) - we did a walking tour which was nice and then hit the town for beers and chips again - downtown was not notable. Our 3rd stop was in Puerta Vallarta (bad spelling I know) and we took a pirate ship out to a private island where we did some snorkeling and kayaking - this was alot of fun and is especially appealing to kids. Would recommend this as the crew worked very hard to make sure you enjoyed the ride. Another nice ship touch - upon reboarding the ship after your excursions, the crew handed out cool towels - this may sound insignificant but these little touches add up to a great experience. Evenings aboard the ship included a string quartet playing classical music (definitely saw me there every night), piano bar, and a mini-American Idol in which my partner made it to the finals (GO DAN!!!). For those that enjoy smoking and gambling, there is a casino but a few minutes in this area and you begin to wreak of cigarettes. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
BACKGROUND This is our 4th cruise and our first on HAL. We chose this cruise because we live in San Diego and thought there could be nothing better than just driving a half hour down to the harbor. HAL even offered a free parking deal. We ... Read More
BACKGROUND This is our 4th cruise and our first on HAL. We chose this cruise because we live in San Diego and thought there could be nothing better than just driving a half hour down to the harbor. HAL even offered a free parking deal. We felt we got a good deal all around. Passengers were myself and my husband , both in out late 50's. We arrived at the SanPark lot on Sassafras Street about 1:30 and got a shuttle to the pier immediately. It is about a 10 minute drive.Embarkation was very quick and easy - I would say about 20 minutes altogether. Another ship, the Staatendam, was embarking at the same time, so the port was very busy. It was a little hard to get a porter, I did not thnk the port was very well signed. CABIN. We booked through the ship after research on the internet - and Cruise Critic! - and had been offered an SY suite that was designated handicapped. I knew that they tend to be bigger, so thought we would chance it. It was absolutely great. The nicest cabin we have had. It was the lowest suite level - SY - it was huge, very nicely laid out. Three big closets, a balcony, a bathtub. Because of the handicapped element, it was almost as large as two cabins combined. It was at the very front of the ship, so we had a second window on the front deck - we could see out but it was filmed so that no one could see in. Very light, spacious and airy. The only negative was that because we were so far front, the balcony was extremely windy. I still think overall it was a great cabin. The Oosterdam has three banks of elevators, unlike some RCCL ships with only two, so we were not that far from the elevators. It was very quiet and private - I did not mind the occasional visitor on the front deck because I knew they could not see us. Besides, they were few and far between. I note that the remodel due in April 2009 that you can see on the HAL website will remove this second window - that is a shame. SERVICE. We found the service to be fine. Our cabin steward was Suwaip, very friendly cordial and helpful. We got whatever we asked for; we needed a minor repair on the first day, very prompt to respond. I felt the level of service overall on the ship was very high. Smiling, polite, and helpful. SHORE EXCURSIONS. The ports of call were Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerta Vallarta. I was surprised how much I enjoyed them, since my overall impression previously had been basically spring break locations with a lot of bars and tourist traps.We did shore excursions at each port and they were terrific. Thanks to other posters on Cruise Critic, we booked privately, using the Sandra and Johann companies in Cabo and in Mazatlan. My husband likes snorkeling, but the shore excursions offered via the ship were pretty limited and short. We were very satisfied in Cabo. We took the Santa Maria and Chileno Bay combined excursion. the subcontractor was Eagle Divers - it was about a block walk from the pier(I did get lost but it was no big deal). The boat was a simple one, not a big booze cruise model, but it was shaded and it was fine with us. You travel about 30 minutes from the pier on a boat along the coastline - the captain was very helpful polite and patient. We went to two locations to snorkel - Chileno Bay then Santa Maria Cove, both well know snorkeling sites. It was outstanding. There were two other couples and us, so it was a small friendly group. They provided everything. You could snorkel, or relax on the beach. The fish were beautiful and plentiful and friendly - we have great underwater photos - the ocean was gentle - just a great experience. We are not real athletic or experienced at this - I wore a life jacket - i encourage anyone to try this - it was so rewarding - you do not have to be young and strong to enjoy this kind of fun. Then the captain gave us an added thrill of a swing by Lover's Beach and the famous rocks to see the seals and the view. We had the same kind of day in Mazatlan - a snorkeling trip to Deer Island. We met at the Aqua Sport Center by the Posada Freeman Hotel in the Zona Dorada - we took a cab - 20 minutes - $15. This was not quite so well organized. We waited a bit - then were taken across the bay to Deer Island for two hours of snorkeling. The vehicle was a beat up looking amphibious tank named El Tiburon - but it moved more like a walrus or manatee than a shark. It was fun. For some reason, I could not use the breathing apparatus very well - as I said I am not that experienced - not sure if it was me or the equipment - but I just decided to enjoy the beautiful day, paddling by the shore and relaxing on the beach with other tourists. We then returned to the beach. One perk of booking with Sandra and Johann was the use of the lovely Hotel Posada Freeman - it is right on the beach with a charming open air shaded bar and patio, and a nice pool with a waterfall, the perfect tropical spot for relaxation. My husband enjoyed himself there with a cool Corona while I went parasailing for the first time - great fun beautiful peaceful not scary - I felt very secure. We kicked back at the bar and had a no hassle taxi ride back to the ship. At Puerta Vallarta we booked through HAL and went ziplining through the jungle. This was so much fun, and so beautiful -I recommend it. An hour ride to the location - you go through the city, then the rural outskirts past little farms with goats and chickens and horses, then you are in the jungle. The Vallarta Adventure staff is young friendly enthusiastic, speaks excellent English - they will make your adventure so memorable. ACTIVITIES. We found the Oosterdam to be a little light on activities. Our previous RCCL experiences were on bigger ships, so maybe that is the difference, but they definitely had more going on. I enjoyed playing trivia, watching pool games, typical ship activities. The Cruise Director Erik, was friendly, high energy - very competent and professional. One thing we did not have were the movies mentioned by those the week ahead of us - I don't know why we did not have any "Movie Nights". Somehow in all the rush of getting ready to leave, I did not sign up for the Cruise Critic get-together - I happened to walk by while you were all together on Sunday afternoon - it looked so enjoyable- I am so sorry I just did not get it done - no doubt it would have made the trip even better. DINING. We chose the traditional fixed early seating. Sat with a lovely family - a mother and two grown daughters. We had excellent personal service - our waiter was Aigong.The food was the best I have had an a cruise ship. I especially enjoyed the Indonesian specialty entree - Bami Gorang. I did not feel rushed, although I did notice we were one of the last tables to finish each night. We were always there to hear the chimes! The Lido food was also outstanding. I missed the soft serve self serve that RCCL has - but the ice cream man was there from morning to night to make you an ice cream cone. We had room service breakfast every morning - we love to have our coffee on the balcony - the perfect cruise experience. It was on time and correct every morning, plus it helps you get up and out if you have a morning excursion. On the first morning we saw dozens of flying fish from our balcony - just wonderful. ENTERTAINMENT It was standard - I love having somewhere to go at night. My husband is not a big fan of the somewhat corny ship shows, but I can go on my own in a safe environment with other friendly people around. The theater was pleasant, the troupe so so - Elton John impersonator was fun - magician was really good. I enjoyed the "American Idol" Oosterdam version. The Philippine-themed crew show was poor, in my opinion. What I did find very disappointing was the level of night life - basically nonexistent. I know that HAL has a reputation of catering to a little older crowd - I thought the actual demographics were pretty mixed, but I think the ship attracts people who just are not wanting a lot of night life. The bars were deserted at night. One cruise guide I use, Frommer's Cruises and Ports of Call, describes HAL this way -if you want to party, you will be alone with the crew. That is just the way it was. Even the piano bar, usually a reliable venue, was empty - at least the couple of times I tried it. DISEMBARKATION. This was a mess. I think it might be again because another ship was also disembarking. The parking voucher came back to bite us. The San Park lot did not have enough shuttles, so there were hundreds of mad, hot, tired people waiting for the free bus. My husband and I finally bailed and took a taxi - it was only $10, so it was a good solution. SUMMARY. Overall, a beautiful beautiful ship with excellent service, fun ports and great food. It leaves from the port in my home town, so the ease and savings of no airfare and no hotel means a lot. We will definitely keep HAL in mind for the next cruise, as long as it it using San Diego's port. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We were fortunate to be taken on this cruise by my parents to celebrate significant birthdays and happy times within the family. Traveling with us were our two sons, ages 8 and 12, my parents, my sister and her boyfriend. Travel and ... Read More
We were fortunate to be taken on this cruise by my parents to celebrate significant birthdays and happy times within the family. Traveling with us were our two sons, ages 8 and 12, my parents, my sister and her boyfriend. Travel and Embarkation: We flew from Portland to San Diego on the sailing day and had no problem getting from the airport to the pier. The cab ride cost $14 with tip, and our luggage was instantly whisked away as we got out of the cab. While the embarkation lines were long, they were well-organized and moved very quickly. Everyone was in a great mood, which helped a lot. We were eight people traveling in three groups, and we all got checked through, cabin keys in hand (the cabins were ready!!), within half an hour. We stopped for our green-screened embarkation photo and boarded the Oosterdam easily. After stopping by the cabin to drop off our carry-ons, we went up to the Lido for a quick bite. Thanks to the CC Roll Call, we met up with our online friends for the banner wave on the bow, followed a little later by a great sail-away party (thanks Cathy!). Our luggage arrived by 3:00 p.m., and we were completely unpacked by Muster Drill time. I got some great packing tips from CC, including ironing everything ahead of time and then packing clothes between layers of plastic. Everything came out as fresh as can be. Stateroom: We had three Deluxe Verandah Cabins in a row on Deck 6, forward starboard side. Our cabin was a quad, to sleep four. In addition to the king-sized bed (very comfy!) the small sofa opened to a sleeper, and a bunk came down from the ceiling over our heads. It was certainly cozy at night, and getting out of bed to go to the bathroom without bumping our heads was interesting, but it all just added to the fun of the adventure. Between the closets, bathroom shelves and medicine cabinet, nightstands, under-bed drawers, desk and upper cabinets, there was plenty of storage space. Even the desk stool opened up and was a great place to stash toys! Our suitcases fit easily under the bed and weren't seen again until we had to pack on Friday. The cabin was immaculately clean and always made up promptly, plus our ice bucket was refilled daily. Usually we'd leave a note about when would be a good time for turndown service, since the kids were in the room many evenings, and it was hard for the room stewards to work with them there. Of course the towel animals were a hit, and we came away from the cruise with the official HAL guidebook to folding our own. Having the verandah was nice, and we chose to open the connecting door between ours and my parents', which gave us more room and a nice place for happy hour, but I think on future cruises we'd probably opt to save the money and take a regular stateroom. Dining: We'd been told the food on HAL was wonderful, and it was! We had open seating and chose to eat later (7:30 or 7:45 p.m.) most nights. Once we got it through our heads that we could order whatever we wanted - and in any quantity - we stopped worrying and enjoyed ourselves. One night my dinner was made up exclusively of Tuna Tartare appetizers! For the first couple of mornings we had in-room coffee, cereal and croissants, but after that we would just go to the Lido for breakfast and eat by the pool. The highlight of the daily breakfast was definitely the Eggs Benedict bar. Who knew there were so many ways to dress up a poached egg on English muffin?! The kids were delighted with room service and the Lido Grill and only came to the Vista on the second formal night and for the Master Chef dinner and show on the final night. Most evenings we'd take the kids to the Lido and nibble on hors d'Oeuvres (the same there as in the Vista!) while the kids ate. Then they'd go off to Club HAL and later to the movies, and we'd have dinner at the Vista. We were fortunate that our table the first night was all the way aft and over the fan tail; what a view! We were able to request it for the rest of the trip. We did treat my parents to the Pinnacle one evening, and it was a lovely dining experience - very worth the $20 per person surcharge! The rib eyes were some of the best we've ever tasted, and the entire meal was enhanced by the elegant surroundings and gracious service of the staff. Ports and Excursions: We'd only booked one excursion, and that was the Pirate Cruise in Puerto Vallarta. I highly recommend it! There were all ages onboard, from infant to grandparents, and everyone had a great time. The pirate crew worked their tails off entertaining us with a show and fantastic sword fights during the hour and a half trip to the beach, and then they plied us with drinks and activities (boogie boarding, kayaking, banana boat rides, treasure hunts, arm wrestling…) while we hung out on the sand. Chairs and umbrellas were provided, and the "Mexican Water" (beer!) relaxed the adults to the point of not caring about how sandy and wet we were getting. Back on board the Marigalante (a replica of the Santa Maria), everyone was a fed a surprisingly good lunch, considering they were working in a tiny galley and had to feed over 150 people in a short amount of time. The voyage back into PV was filled with Name That Tune and other fun games. If you go, be sure to TIP YOUR PIRATE!! The other ports were Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan. In Cabo we had to tender ashore, and there were delays due to choppy water. Here's a tip: after 12:00 noon you don't need tender tickets. Had we known that, we would have spent extra time on the Lido Deck instead of huddling like refugees outside the Queen's Lounge waiting for our numbers to be called! Cabo itself was very pretty but HOT. We ran the gauntlet of vendors and settled into a waterfront restaurant for a couple of beers before heading back to the ship. Mazatlan held our attention even less. It was rainy and humid, and the ship was docked alongside a freight yard some distance from downtown. Trams take passengers to a clearing house where excursion hawkers, van drivers and vendors descend upon you in a cacophony of waving signs and noise. We looked at each other, decided to quickly get our limited souvenir shopping done and reboard the ship. We spent a lovely day by the pool instead. Club HAL: This was the only disappointment of the entire cruise, and I think it had less to do with the program itself than with the number of children onboard. Our boys were classed as Tweens (age 8-12), and they were among a handful of kids in that range. The majority of kids in Club HAL were much younger, and so the programming and counselors' attention were geared towards them and their needs. Our kids went to Club HAL for the first couple of days and then decided to hang with us or be on their own instead. The Loft, for teenagers, wasn't even running during the cruise, since there were few - if any - teenagers on board. We knew we were cruising when most kids were in school, and that had an effect on what was open to children. I'd be curious to see what the Club HAL/Loft programming would be with more kids onboard. Onboard Life: We adapted quickly and easily to cruising. Days were spent by the Lido Pool, playing cards, chatting with Ping-Ping players and hitting events like Team Trivia. There were many, many bars to be explored, and many drink stewards to talk to. The casino was pretty good to us in the evenings, and the nightly movies in Queen's Lounge were great for the kids. There was the added bonus that those movies were then shown all the next day on the in-room TV. We'd brought along some DVDs of our own, too. We had Cobra Walkie-Talkies that worked great onboard. The kids could be off on their own and check in with us regularly. The Crew: EVERYONE was wonderful. We enjoyed speaking with a lot of the crew, and they were always cheerful and helpful. Of special note were Cruise Director Eric Holland and his event staff. They were constantly running to keep the shows, demonstrations, games and programs on time and interesting, and they were working without a party planner! Together they managed everything beautifully; I'm not sure they ever slept. By far our favorite entertainer was Johnny Jones in the Piano Bar. We had the opportunity to speak with him outside of his shows, and he is not only an incredibly talented musician but also a wonderfully nice guy. Disembarking: the saddest day of all! But even with our low spirits, everything went smoothly. The instructions and information we'd received ahead of time were all very clear and accurate. Our bags were taken from the hallways during the night, we had a nice breakfast on the Lido Deck in the morning and walked off the ship right on schedule. Finding our luggage was easy, and the cab ride back to the airport was the same $14 it had been a week before. Having never cruised before we weren't sure what to expect. Now that we'd had a taste of HAL, it'll be hard to get us on any other line. Anyone up for the 130 day World Voyage? I dare someone to sponsor me for it!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
EMBARKATION Embarkation was time-consuming because there was insufficient staff to handle the 2000 passengers. The personnel available did an efficient job but were overwhelmed during the time we checked in (around noon). SHIP ... Read More
EMBARKATION Embarkation was time-consuming because there was insufficient staff to handle the 2000 passengers. The personnel available did an efficient job but were overwhelmed during the time we checked in (around noon). SHIP CONDITION The Oosterdam is a very well maintained ship. It is clean and the brassware is shiny. Ship's personnel were constantly visible cleaning and polishing. The public areas were in excellent condition as were the cabins. FOOD Food service in both the Lido restaurant and Vista dining room was excellent. The deli sandwiches were especially tasty. As with all Holland America ships, the service was friendly and efficient in the Lido. We elected the open dining option for dinner and would have preferred an assigned table and time. With open seating, the waiters never got to know us, and service ranged from excellent to average. We died appreciate the hand sanitizers that were ever present in all public areas. CABIN We upgraded to a suite and found the accommodations to be more than we expected: plenty of storage, a great king-size bed, and a wonderful veranda. We were on the eighth deck and, considering that the pool area was directly above us, the cabin was surprisingly quiet. The bathroom featured a bathtub as well as a shower. Our room steward was excellent. We were provided with fresh fruit each day and ice twice a day. ENTERTAINMENT The shows in the Vista Theater were average. The Elton John impersonator was very good but otherwise the entertainment was unremarkable. The piano bar featured Johnny who was excellent. He was a little loud for my taste but guests filled his venue each and every night. The Adagio Strings were very good and offered a relaxing alternative to the louder band. FITNESS CENTER The fitness center was well equipped except for cross trainers (only two machines). The facility was well supervised and there was ample disinfectant towel lets to wipe the equipment. ENRICHMENT The Oostersdam offered a variety of enrichment programs from cooking classes to port lectures. There was plenty of activities during the sea days. The cruise director, Eric, was dynamic and ever present. GUEST SERVICES The guest services desk was the most helpful of any we have experienced in twelve cruises. They were always friendly and courteous. Not only did they solve problems quickly, but followed up with guests to ensure that issues were satisfactorily resolved. PORTS We visited Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. All were nice but tendering at Cabo was not a good experience. It took an inordinate amount of time to get passengers to and from the town. OVERALL ASSESSMENT The cruise was most enjoyable. Holland America offers great value for its cruises. This is our fourth cruise on HAL and the first on the Oosterdam. We will certainly be sailing on Holland in the future. We have never been disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We decided to fly into Seattle a day early because I get really nervous flying in the same day as the cruise. It turns out that our flight was delayed so when we arrived that evening we just went straight to our hotel in downtown, The ... Read More
We decided to fly into Seattle a day early because I get really nervous flying in the same day as the cruise. It turns out that our flight was delayed so when we arrived that evening we just went straight to our hotel in downtown, The Alexis, and grabbed a bite to eat in their pub. It has a limited menu but let me tell you, the food was fabulous! The chef came out and visited with us and even gave us a free dessert. I loved the place immediately! And then there was our room. It was funky and fabulous with eclectic dEcor, a wonderfully comfortable bed with luxury linens and excellent toiletries. The next day they let us check out late so my husband could continue watching the Ryder Cup on TV. I would highly recommend The Alexis! We took a limo from the hotel to the pier for only about $5 more than a taxi. The driver was quite pleasant and gave us his card for when we returned. The porter met us at the curb, took our luggage and pointed us in the proper direction. We went straight through the check in procedure and were on the ship in nothing flat. We were able to go right to our cabin. The cabin was quite comfortable and roomy with plenty of storage, good lighting, a spacious balcony, a roomy bathroom with two sinks, a jetted bathtub plus a separate shower and a gloriously comfortable king size bed. We sat on our balcony and enjoyed the bottle of Champaign that had been left in our room by HAL as we sailed out of port. Lovely! Before dinner we had a reception to meet some of the other passengers. That was quite nice because we met several people who we hung out with for the rest of the cruise. At the reception we were quite delighted to find out that our cruise director was Eric Holland who had been the CD on our last cruise. He's one of the best and a good CD can really make a difference! His whole staff reflected his personality and that was great. For dinner we had been assigned open seating. I was apprehensive but we decided to try it. Since one of my favorite aspects of cruising is getting to know other people I thought this might be a way to meet more people. We were seated at a table for 6 with two other couples. It was remarkably uncomfortable. My husband and I are both extremely outgoing people but keeping the conversation going was too much like work especially when we were fairly certain we would never see either couple again. And I hate to be stuffy but we're old school type people (even though we're not that old!) - we don't go out to dinner at home in blue jeans and T-shirts. After dinner our waiter pulled us aside and told us that even though the next night was a formal night we could wear whatever we pleased. Well, what we please is evening gowns and tuxedos! So the next night we went with a couple we had met at the reception to the 8 o'clock assigned seating and explained our situation to Gilroy, the assistant maitre d', who took care of getting an assigned table for us. Much better! We truly enjoyed our dining room experience from then on. I like having the same companions, the same wait staff and the same wine steward. For me it makes the experience much more pleasant and memorable! The first evening after dinner and the showroom show we went to the Piano Bar. Oh my goodness! The entertainer was John Jones and we have never encountered a better one! The Piano Bar on this ship is the biggest I've seen at sea and John had it packed every night. It was a fabulous atmosphere with a fun crowd and as a plus it was non-smoking. We closed it down every night. It was probably the hi-light of a really great trip. If you're going on the "O" anytime soon be sure to stop in and see John. You'll be glad you did! I know a lot of people say they never go to the shows on a cruise and I just don't understand that. We love the shows. Sure, some are better than others but we never miss a show. And if you get a chance, talk to the entertainers when you see them around the ship. They're just people who are sometimes are traveling alone and are usually glad for the company. My only negative comment would be in regards to the Lido Restaurant. It was quite often so crowded you could not find a place to sit and the tables were not bussed in a timely manner so that worsened the situation. And the staff, both in the room itself and behind the counters were aloof to the point of rudeness. I have never experienced this on a HAL ship before and it came as quite a shock. As a result we avoided the Lido whenever possible. As for the ports of call I must say our hours in port were rather unusual but we knew that before booking the cruise. It just made things a bit difficult in a couple places. In Juneau we took the bus to town and walked down to The Hangar restaurant on the waterfront by where the seaplanes land. We seemed to be the only tourists in this very busy restaurant, a fact that surprised me. The service and the food were both excellent. We then took a bus out to Mendenhall Glacier where we headed away from the glacier since we had already seen it before. We hiked along the river and while we never saw any people we were quite excited to see some wildlife along the way including a porcupine, squirrels, eagles, spawning salmon and a bear! Very exciting! Hubbard Glacier was spectacular! The sun was out and the weather was pleasant so the experience was glorious! We had a full day in Sitka so we rented a car from North Star Rent-a-Car and drove out to Stargavan and hiked in solitude again. Again it was a bright sunny day the likes of which locals say they hadn't seen in months. It was perhaps my favorite day of the cruise. We only had a few hours in Ketchikan so we just walked along Creek Street to the salmon ladder that was very active. A lot of locals were out looking at it because the weather was so pleasant. We followed the creek further up the mountain and saw lots more spawning activity. The final day was mostly a sea day since we didn't arrive at Victoria until 6 PM. But it was a busy day with lots of special events the best of which was the finale of the Oosterdam Superstar contest. Of course, I could be prejudiced because my husband, Bob, won the title. But, honestly, this is a big deal on the Oosterdam. It's a weeklong competition that was great entertainment and loads of fun for the whole ship. Victoria was lovely at night. The Parliament building is all lit up and it reflects on the harbor. Since the dining doom cancelled the 8 o'clock dinner seating that night our gang of new friends walked to Chinatown and had a lovely family-style Chinese dinner. There were street entertainers along the way so the walk was fun even though just about everything was closed. Saturday morning the debarkation was very smooth. We slept until we heard Eric's voice on the speaker telling us to get up. We went and got some coffee and a light breakfast before heading back to our cabin until we heard the final notice for all ashore. Everything went smoothly at the terminal and with the limo driver who had given us his card the week before. We were able to get our boarding passes from the computer room onboard so that was taken care of. At the airport people kept coming up to Bob and calling him "Su-per-star!" Too much fun! When can we go again!?!? Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
After the flight from hell on American Airlines on Friday night (8 hours) we wound down at the Hampton Inn in Seattle. We left at 10:00 am for Pier 30 where we deposited our luggage at the drop off point. Check in was quick and easy and ... Read More
After the flight from hell on American Airlines on Friday night (8 hours) we wound down at the Hampton Inn in Seattle. We left at 10:00 am for Pier 30 where we deposited our luggage at the drop off point. Check in was quick and easy and we were among the first passengers to board. We went right up to the Lido as I had learned on Cruise Critics and were able to score a window table overlooking Safeco Field. I cannot say enough about the wait staff as they made our cruise wonderful. They asked our names and never forgot them. It's nice to be called by name and to be remembered. We had secured 3 thermal suite/hydro pool weekly passes and thoroughly enjoyed them. The pool was heated mineral water with hot tub-like bubbles throughout. At one end were piles you could sit on and let the bubbles hit your back. Afterwards it was a short walk to the thermal lounge chairs in front of large floor to ceiling windows overlooking the water. After relaxing in the chairs we didn't want to get up but we did to take an aromatherapy shower. There was also a steam room and sauna if we felt like it. Although our cabin did not seem to be as large as depicted in pictures it was roomy enough for the 3 of us and we spent lots of time on our balcony, especially during Hubbard Glacier viewing with glasses of wine. Our steward was mostly stealth but when we requested something it was done immediately. He made the cutest towel animals for my daughter every evening. Even though we had open dining the experience was very positive. We had made friends with a waiter in the Lido and he told us his table numbers in the dining room. Therefore, every morning we'd make a reservation for the same table for the time we'd like to eat that evening. Our waiter friend, his assistant and our wine steward were top notch. The assistant made something for my daughter every evening, such as a flower, an animal, etc. The wine steward had our wine poured as soon as we sat down and our waiter always greeted us by name. He knew my husband loved to eat and therefore on surf and turf night brought him 3 lobster tails. My only complaint would have been the wine stewards. I had bought wine cards before time and knew we'd find them in our cabin. When we embarked the stewards kept asking if we wanted to purchase wine or a card. It was constant..like every 5 minutes. Once we got our cards it seems like there was not a wine steward to be found. I felt that they'd rather make the cash deal rather than the card. But that was changed when we met our dining wine steward. He took very good care of us. He even bought us a drink on formal night. The Lido staff was exceptional too. The ones that took their time to learn our name would always help us find each other when we'd separate searching for food or a table. All of the waiters would help carry your tray, find you a table, or serve you coffee, iced tea or juice, etc. We even had waiters ask if they could get us something from the food stand. We loved that pampered feeling. The workers in the Lido definitely made us feel it. As far as entertainment, being from the East Coast we had a small problem with the time difference and found it hard to stay up late. My daughter and I did make a couple of shows, team trivia and bingo. We especially enjoyed the magician, James Cielen, who also did a question and answer hour later in the week. Albeit he sold his magic set during the session but he did answer questions and show us a magic trick. We especially enjoyed Bingo with DJ Matt who happens to be very entertaining. You always left smiling even if you lost. Later in the week my daughter and I had facials. I did not like the fact that services like that open the door to the spa personnel to try and sell you the lotions and stuff used in that service. After spending so much on the cruise, charging lots of stuff to my credit card on board, why would I want to spend $100 on a small tube of lotion. We went on several excursions. We saw whales in Juneau, went on the dog mushers excursion and my husband went game salmon fishing in Sitka. We also went on the Deadliest Catch Boat (Aleutian Ballad) which was a very informative tour if you like the TV show. The crew was very likeable and the experience was hands on. We saw so many whales in Juneau that we were able to point out some enroute to Victoria, from the Lido deck, to the delight of other passengers. The experience was delightful to us. We felt very sad saying goodbye to the staff as we were leaving. I am ready to book another cruise for next year thanks to the Oosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We traveled on the Oosterdam for its last cruise to Alaska in September 2008. This was our 3rd cruise and our 3rd cruise line. It was a wonderful experience, and I would not hesitate to book another trip on this ship. We ... Read More
We traveled on the Oosterdam for its last cruise to Alaska in September 2008. This was our 3rd cruise and our 3rd cruise line. It was a wonderful experience, and I would not hesitate to book another trip on this ship. We arrived at Dock 30 in Seattle at 11:00 AM. We pre-registered online earlier in the week, which made the embarkation process simple and quick. Luggage porters welcomed us as soon as our taxi pulled up (in the rain) and helped to quickly move our luggage from the taxi to a covered walkway and into the embarkation building. We were on the ship within 15 minutes and were directed to the Lido deck for lunch and a relaxing view of the Seattle as the ship gathered its passengers. Ship maps were abundant at every elevator, and it was easy to find the rooms and activities we were looking for. We had an interior stateroom that was a bargain at $750 per person (2 of us), and our room steward treated us like we were in a much more expensive suite. He unobtrusively checked our room about 3 times a day and replaced towels and tidied the area whenever we were out for a while. We signed up for the early dining time of 5:45 and had asked for a table for 2 when we made reservations. Holland America arranged for both. The dining steward was helpful and cheerful, his assistant remembered our likes and dislikes, and the wine steward was friendly and quick to offer choices when we asked for them. We could have used the new open dining plan, but we liked getting to know the dining attendants that were in charge of our table. The shore excursions were great parts of the trip. We took a helicopter ride over Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, landed on the glacier to explore it, and were treated to a ride through Tongass National Park. The pilot narrated the trip with informative details. In Sitka, we went on a (separate) boat ride around the Sitka Bay and saw otters playing, a brown bear foraging for salmon, humpback whales too numerous to count, and several bald eagles. The boat pilot explained that the sunny day at the end of September was unusually wonderful, and the animals were easy to see on the clear day. Ketchikan's shore excursion was a horse-drawn trolley ride around the town. Since we were near the end of the salmon season, the stops at the local streams to see the salmon were most interesting. We got a good picture of life in Ketchikan with those tour guides. Victoria was our last stop, and i wish we had more time there. We went on a tour of the town, but we arrived at 6:00 PM and only stayed until 11:00 PM, so time was limited. We returned to the ship at dark, but the tour guides were friendly and helpful. Holland America planned for disembarkation better than any cruise line we have been on. The day before the end of the cruise, we were given a letter with our disembarkation time. We could stay in our rooms until that time or enjoy breakfast on the Lido Deck, while we waited to disembark. Once we disembarked (exactly at the time listed on our letter), our luggage was easy to find and taxis were immediately ready to take us to our hotel, since we could not fly home until the next day. I appreciated the 9:30 AM disembarkation time. Since the ship knew we were staying in Seattle for an extra day, they did not hurry us off the ship as other cruise lines do. Our Seattle hotel, the Westin, had our room ready when we arrived about 10 AM on Saturday after leaving the Oosterdam. Often hotel rooms are not ready until nearly 3 PM, but the Westin was ready for the folks from the cruises disembarking from the ships. My only negative, which wasn't a big complaint, was the spa services. I paid top dollar for nail "fills," and the nails began to chip soon afterwards. I am not sure if it was the nail products the nail tech was using or her technique. I was disappointed in that minor experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We scheduled our cruise in June. We used an internet agency and booked a VH guarantee room. This was our 25th anniversary and it was a special occasion for us. We booked the Pinnacle Grill for our anniversary night dinner. About 2 ... Read More
We scheduled our cruise in June. We used an internet agency and booked a VH guarantee room. This was our 25th anniversary and it was a special occasion for us. We booked the Pinnacle Grill for our anniversary night dinner. About 2 weeks before our cruise we received our documents and found that we were booked into a VA cabin! We were thrilled and then later I was told that the 7th deck has the best cabin stewards. We started our holiday by spending 2 nights in Seattle in order to see the area. We stayed at the Inn at the Market, which was perfect for us. We arrived to the ship on Saturday at about noon. We had a very easy embarkation. This was our first cruise and I envisioned 2,000 passengers all weary eyed trying to find their way onto the ship. I envisioned an Ellis Island experience. Boy, was I wrong. Everything was perfectly scheduled and choreographed. We went through check in very quickly and were directed to the ship and into the Lido deck. We got a small lunch as we were determined to not gain a lot of weight. We were invited to join a woman at a large table and enjoyed the visit. At about 1:30 an announcement was made that staterooms were ready. We went to our room and found a very comfortable room with fantastic deck. Two chairs, footrest and table were on the deck. TIP: We brought on several bottles of wine and champagne that we enjoy which saved us a ton of money! We purchased this at Cost Plus at great prices. Our bed was very comfortable and the bathroom very adequate. Plenty of storage. Our steward, Yudianto, was great. He kept ice on hand. Brought us wine glasses, and anything we could desire before we asked. We had 8pm main dining and enjoyed the service by Bagus and company. They took excellent care of us. We bought the week long spa facility use which we enjoyed. We ordered breakfast in our room daily in order to avoid the buffet temptation. We ordered fruit, cottage cheese, yogurt which we mixed together. Also asked for 2 pots of coffee, which was perfect for us coffee hounds. We worked out daily in the work out facility which was small but adequate for us. We skipped lunch almost every day, but enjoyed crackers and cheese with wine in our room...usually on our deck in the late afternoon. We did have tea delivered to our room twice, which was nice. I snitched a couple of cookies from the buffet line to help the tea go down easily. We did enjoy high tea on one day, which was nicely done. The shows were fine...we are not big show goers...but did enjoy a couple of them and most of the guests seemed to like it. The dinners were fabulous in the dining room. I liked the formal nights. Many were in tuxes and gowns, all but very few were dressed very nicely, at least coat/tie and cocktail dresses. This was great fun. We had drinks in the Crows nest and did a few spins on the dance floor on a few occasions. The Crow's Nest staff were great fun, especially one staff member "Booser". The life of the party. He remembered our names after the first night and most guests would arrive and great him with "BOOSE, BOOSE, BOOSE" We enjoyed our ports of call. Our favorites were Sitka and Ketchikan. We did a tour of Raptor Center in Sitka, which I found interesting. We did a Zip Line excursion in Ketchikan, which we LOVED! It was a little frightening as far as heights, one woman chickened out after the first short trial line. All in all it was a great deal of fun and we would do it again in a heart beat. Well worth the money. We sadly arrived back to Seattle and found the disembarkation amazingly organized. We were told our times were between 8-8:15am. We arrived at 8:05, our luggage was easy to locate, and out and in a cab by 8:30. The whole trip was wonderful and we will definitely cruise with Holland America again...soon I hope. By the way, despite all our efforts to not gain a bunch of weight, I still gained 4 pounds! All the desserts I guess! My husband gained just a couple. We will be back in good form in a few days...well worth it! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We flew into Seattle 3 days prior to our cruise to see the city and had a wonderful time. Seattle is a beautiful city, very clean and friendly. We stayed at the Alexis Hotel right in downtown. The hotel is beautiful and the staff is ... Read More
We flew into Seattle 3 days prior to our cruise to see the city and had a wonderful time. Seattle is a beautiful city, very clean and friendly. We stayed at the Alexis Hotel right in downtown. The hotel is beautiful and the staff is exceptional. We took the ferry out to Bainbridge Island for the afternoon, the Argosy Lock Cruise, and the Seattle City Tours waterfall and wine tour. All of our experiences were great. The driver for the hotel, Abebe, picked us up at the airport when we arrived ($50), took us to the cruise ship on Sat.($20), and went back to the hotel and picked up my husband's jacket he left in the room (priceless). Embarkation was effortless as always with HAL. We did on line registration so it took less than 10 minutes. We arrived about 11:45, then had to wait for the jacket so we got onboard around 12:15 and went straight to the Vista dining room for a lovely lunch. We usually try to eat in the dining room for lunch and dinner, and use room service for breakfast. We had initially booked a cabin on the back of the ship (VA) but upgraded to the SS suite. I don't know if I will ever be satisfied with a deluxe verandah again! We had more than enough room, plenty of storage, large balcony, a desk with a window, makeup vanity, large sofa, 2 club chairs, a chair for the desk, full size whirlpool tub and separate shower .The cabin was immaculately clean thanks to our wonderful room steward, Ismial. He took great care of us, keeping everything spotless, and the ice bucket full. The "O" - I loved the ship. It was decorated beautifully with sculpture and art work as are all HAL ships. It is easy to find your way around. The two story Vista dining room is beautiful. One thing I really enjoy is the beautiful fresh flowers everywhere and in the Lido Buffet there are orchids on all the tables. Dining - We had scheduled late dinner at 8PM and had requested a table with 6 people. We had a lovely table by the window for 8 but there were only 4 of us. The food was wonderful, a great variety, and our dining steward (Aesep), the assistant (Erwin), and the wine steward (Romeo) took wonderful care of us. Our food was always hot, cooked just right, and our special requests were handled with a smile. We couldn't have asked for more. I ordered a wine card and a coke card on line prior to the cruise and it was waiting for us in the cabin when we arrived. It works out to being about $4 a glass of wine and a $1 a coke which saves a lot. The house wines are very good. Shore Excursions - In Juneau we did the whale watching we booked through HAL and had a wonderful time. We saw humpbacks, the transient orcas, stellar sea lions, and eagles. This is our second time on this boat and I will do it again if I get the chance. In Ketchikan we walked around town and did some shopping. In Sitka we went on the photography tour and it was raining like there was no tomorrow!! We were soaked to the skin but had a good time, saw some beautiful sights and took some great pictures. We didn't get off the ship in Victoria. If I had it to do again, I would book more excursions. In General - We only saw the Philipino Show (BOOZE BOOZE BOOZE), part of the illusionist, the talent show once. We went to the piano bar almost every night after dinner and had a great time. I absolutely can not think of one thing to complain about. We had a very special CC meet and greet with very nice refreshments (champagne). It was great to see people all week that you recognized.. Disembarkation- We did the express transfer to the airport. They printed our boarding passes, picked up our luggage at our door and we didn't see it again until we arrived at Atlanta airport for !6 each, so worth it!! In closing I must say we have sailed with HAL 4 times and I don't see any reason to go with anyone else because each cruise has been a wonderful experience and I trust them to take good care of me. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We arrived @ the pier @ 10:30 & were on board by 11:05 - it was beautifully orchestrated. We dropped our bags in a secure area on the Lido deck and took a walking tour of the ship until our room was ready. We had a large breakfast in ... Read More
We arrived @ the pier @ 10:30 & were on board by 11:05 - it was beautifully orchestrated. We dropped our bags in a secure area on the Lido deck and took a walking tour of the ship until our room was ready. We had a large breakfast in Seattle - so food was the last thing on our mind - being cruise "virgins" - we had no expectations except that we were going to have a wonderful time! Seattle was sunny & brisk - but having done our homework, we knew we would be facing rain much of the cruise. We live in the PacNW - so we are familiar w/ "liquid sunshine" We entered our SS verandah suite at 1:15 & were delighted. Last year we did a river cruise on the Rhine- so this was all we expected & more. We never saw our room attendant but the service was seamless & our room was spotless. We chose the Oosterdam because of the size and the fact that it is moving into the Mediterranean in 2009 after a "facelift" - we have every intention on being on the Venice to Barcelona cruise next Sept. The Lido just did not do it for us - although there was nothing wrong w/ the food & ate there occasionally when the Vista room wasn't available. We had open seating - never had a glitch - called each morning and made our reservations - we had an aft window seat every night except one. We are quite used to dining w/ "strangers" from our travels in Europe. We ate at 7:45 although if we arrived at 7:30, we were always seated immediately. The food and choices were excellent to include the presentation. Our wine steward was superb & no one raised an eye when I went to breakfast w/ my latte from the Windstar lounge. HAL could work on that coffee.... This was a casual cruise dress wise although we did see a few gowns and tux. We enjoyed the casino (actually even won some $$), the magic shows - James Cielen is amazing - the piano bar was a fun place to go & drew huge crowds. On board is what you make it - something for everyone's taste but I didn't get the feeling that HAL just wanted my money - if I wanted to participate - there was no hard sell. Most of all, we loved the people who served us, laughed w/ us and had that uncanny ability to remember our names. I applaud HAL's approach to customer satisfaction - from the moment we boarded until we disembarked we had great information & superior service. The Oosterdam could use a little face lift which is upcoming but we aren't "cruise critics" unless you need some info on an "unnamed riverboat that plies the Rhine" - The hydro pkg at the spa was fabulous - unfortunately, after my 3rd day, I got some SLIGHT redness - I have very sensitive skin but when I went up to discuss it, they issued a credit for the three days I couldn't use & encouraged me to use the hydro pool, steam, etc. Our excursion In Juneau was cancelled - float plane to Taku - fog & rain. Sitka - the rain capital - we actually had some sunshine. I thoroughly enjoyed the Cultural Tour & my husband did the Photography Tour - Ketchikan was rain plus a short stay. The Hubbard Glacier was awesome but pouring down rain - so we watched it as we ate lunch. Alaska is not a shopping mecca - but the ship's shop had great sales since it was the end of the season - Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Holland America is noted for classy cruising for the older set. I am a frequent cruiser, almost 70 and just returned from a wonderful week of cruising with my 40 year old daughter on the Oosterdam. The Vista Class has a broader appeal for ... Read More
Holland America is noted for classy cruising for the older set. I am a frequent cruiser, almost 70 and just returned from a wonderful week of cruising with my 40 year old daughter on the Oosterdam. The Vista Class has a broader appeal for the younger cruiser. We flew into Seattle early on embarkation day and taxied to Pier 30. Taxi fares are a reasonable $30 +/- for a trip of 30 minutes maximum. We were whisked through the boarding process, with pre-filled online forms in less than 15 minutes. We ate a leisurely lunch on the sunny aft pool deck and just as we finished we heard the announcement that cabins were ready for occupancy. Our luggage had already been delivered when we found our conveniently located outside cabin on Deck Four. We had booked the 'best available outside' for a very reasonable price but were a little disappointed not to receive an upgrade since we knew there were balcony staterooms available and it was my 15th HAL cruise. In fact we were offered but declined an upgrade for $200 each after we had unpacked and settled in. We were pleased with our cabin except for the tender outside our floor to ceiling windows. The tender came with a working crew the majority of the trip. An especially conscientious fellow was there every time we checked. The window is supposedly non-see-through but we kept our drapes closed most of the time just to be safe. Alaska Cruising is enjoyable from May to the end of September but I would recommend the earlier cruises of the season due to less fog and heavy weather. For first time visitors the chances of cancelled shore excursions multiply as the season goes on. It might be colder in May but at least you can see the glaciers. The Oosterdam is one of four Vista class ships on Holland America. It is medium sized ship with lots of options for all ages. The decor is not as gaudy as the Westerdam and it has the usual HAL crew, the most eager to please bunch of folks in the world of cruising. They really want to make your trip special. We enjoyed the entertainment and the option of two shows nightly. The shore excursions are expensive but worth it if you want to experience Alaska. Being on a budget trip, we opted for self guided tours in Juneau and Sitka. We highly recommend the Russian Archangel dancers show and the gift shop featuring local artists in Sitka. The lumberjack show in Ketchikan was great fun with one of the actors presenting me with a very large round of freshly chopped wood. The art shows and auctions on board were informative and did not push purchases. The casino and library were also favorite spots for us on the ship. High Tea was as special as always. Speaking of food; we ordered coffee and juice every morning in our cabin. It was delivered on time with a smile. Following a mile or two of deck walking we went to the Lido for a wonderful breakfast. Sometimes it was hard to find a clean table but a simple request for assistance from the dining room staff always found us a good spot. Lunch in the Lido or on the deck is great with a huge selection for all ages. Dinner was a pleasure every night because HAL has finally gotten the "Dine As You Wish" act together. We didn't even make reservations except for the Pinnacle Dinner. We were seated promptly and with interesting dining companions every night. The food was very good with portions down sized from landside restaurants. The Pinnacle continues to impeccably serve lovely meals and make special memories. Lunch in the Pinnacle is a bargain for those cruisers really watching their dollars. Disembarkation Day always arrives too soon but on this cruise it was painless. We received instructions on the television and in printed forms delivered to our cabin. We had breakfast in the Lido and returned to our cabin to wait for the call to leave. Our luggage was right where it was supposed to be, we cleared customs and headed for the cab stand. Our flight home was on time and we were back on the East coast before the end of the day. Another wonderful trip with Holland America, the best value in the cruising industry today. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Background--We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary on this cruise. We decided 7 yrs ago, on our first and only other cruise, that we wanted to sail to Alaska again with HAL for our 25th anniversary. This time we went out of Seattle ... Read More
Background--We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary on this cruise. We decided 7 yrs ago, on our first and only other cruise, that we wanted to sail to Alaska again with HAL for our 25th anniversary. This time we went out of Seattle instead of VanCouver because we wanted to go to Sitka. (That, and the flights were cheaper to Seattle.) Embarkation--Upon recommendations from this board, we flew into Seattle a day early, even though we live on the West Coast. Very glad we did. We had a quick 10 minute cab ride to the port, and arrived around 10:30 a.m. We had already done the online check-in, so check-in was a breeze. Also on recommendation from these boards, I asked about an upgrade/upsell at the time of check-in, but they told us that we would need to check with the front desk once after everyone boarded to see if there had been any no-shows. (We did check--no such luck.) One thing that caught us off guard was the porter. He took our luggage from the cab and told us what line to get in. We didn't realize that we wouldn't be seeing him again, so he missed out on a tip. Also, we didn't keep any carry-ons, except the camera bag. That made the first couple of hours really nice, not having to drag around luggage. (I know there's a risk of no luggage arriving at the room in time for dinner, and then you're stuck with the clothes you're wearing, but it was worth the risk to not have baggage with us at the lido.) We had our picture taken (which I was disappointed with because it was crooked, and we were going to splurge and buy a bunch of pictures since this was our anniversary cruise), and were eating lunch in the lido before 12:00 p.m. Being one of the first ones to board, the lido was not crowded at all. Also, due to food allergies, I had been instructed to meet with the dining room manager upon embarkation. We did that before going to the lido, his name was Gilroy, and he was very helpful in getting us situated for dinner. (We ended up with early dining, which worked out well.) The Ship--We toured the ship on our own before most people had even boarded. FYI, this is a good time to take pictures around the ship as there are not very many people loitering around. The Oosterdam was beautiful--especially the glass globe. Stateroom--The announcement came around 1:00 p.m. that the rooms were ready. We had a balcony room at the very back of the ship. I picked that out after reading so many positive comments about the balcony over the wake. Although we didn't get to use the balcony as much as we would have liked (it rained most of the time), we absolutely loved the stateroom, and balcony, and would ask for that room again next time. (We were coveting the SC suite next to us--not for the Neptune Lounge, but for the wrap-around balcony, and the extra room space. However, we didn't think it was worth twice the price.) For two of us the cabin space was quite sufficient. Also, people complain about having to walk too much with a cabin at the back--we loved that too. We always used the stairs, and figured the extra walking helped balance out the extra food. Plus, the dining room and lido are at the back of the ship. After reading and seeing pictures on the boards, I decided to decorate the outside of our door, and our cabin, for our anniversary. I was under the impression that lots of people do that. Wrong. We were the only cabin door we saw decorated--but we didn't care. Lots of people wished us Happy Anniversary. Service--We made sure to meet our cabin steward, Heri, right away. (He actually came to our cabin.) He was wonderful. He was always around with a smile, and if we needed anything we could just call out "Oh Heri, where are you?" and we'd see his little head pop out of someone's cabin. We loved saying good morning to him and asking about his day. I think the staff really appreciates when the guests genuinely care about them, too. Greenhouse Spa--One of the first places we toured after settling in our room was the Greenhouse Spa. After reading these boards, I wanted my husband to see the Thermal Suites. They do quite a sales job, showing you the hydrotherapy pool first, and then taking you to the thermal suite with the ceramic chairs, mist showers, and aromatherapy steam rooms. As soon as my husband layed on the heated ceramic chair, he turned to me and said, "we're doing this." So we signed-up for the couples week-long pass, and used it every single day--sometimes more than once. We had early seating for dinner, so we used the hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite pretty much every evening after dinner. We also used the showers in the locker room more than we used the shower in our cabin. I highly recommend the thermal suite package for anyone who wants a relaxing cruise. Activities--The only activities we really did on the ship, besides eating, were the Sports of Call activities. These are various "sporting" events, like ping-pong, football toss, darts, etc., where you can earn dam dollars just for participating, and then turn them in for dam prizes like water bottles, t-shirts, etc. Dining Room--We wanted anytime dining, but when we were given our boarding passes, we were assigned to second seating. However, upon discussions with the assistant dining room manager, our assigned seating was changed to a table for two at early seating. That worked out best with my food allergies. Our waiter was very friendly, always smiling, but the service was pretty slow. We enjoyed eating in the formal setting, but we're kind of the eat-and-get-out type people, so the lengthy dinner seatings got a little frustrating at times. We did go to both formal dinners, and enjoyed seeing everyone dressed nicely. The Master Chef's dinner is corny, but cute. The food was okay--except the chilled fruit soups, which are wonderful. Lido--We ate in the Lido for most breakfasts and lunches. At times it was pretty crowded and we had to really look for a table--but that was generally at the peak eating times, so we expected that. There were plenty of choices, and the food was very good. We often had a cookie or ice cream snack in the afternoon, and then another snack after we went to the thermal suite at night. My husband said for our next cruise he would just prefer to eat in the Lido and not have to take extra clothes for dining room attire. Also, the terrace grill was very good. Dessert Extravaganza--Excellent. Beautiful. What more is there to say--it's dessert. (I will comment, however, that throughout the entire week, we were less-than-impressed with the cakes. They were always dry.) Entertainment--The only show we went to was the magician, who was very good. We spent the other evenings in the thermal suite. Ports-- Juneau--We've been to Juneau twice on cruises, and still haven't seen the town, other than to drive through. We went on the fly out fly fishing excursion with Bear Creek Outfitters. (It can only be booked through the cruise ship.) Excellent, excellent, excellent. There were 6 of us and 2 guides. The flew us in float planes to Admiralty Island. They taught us to fly fish--I had three on but only landed one. They provide all the waders, fishing equipment, and raingear. You don't have to know how to fish to do this. The most exciting part was encountering 8 grizzly bear. First was a mama and her 3 cubs. She actually charged us and came to within 20 yrds of us. A bit frightening, but a totally awesome experience. (The guide carries a shotgun, so I wasn't too scared.) Next a single male came down the river toward us. And then a mama and 2 cubs came up the river--but she didn't really care that we were there. We got to watch her fish for her cubs. But at that point the guides decided since we were surrounded by bear, we really needed to hike out of that area. It was the most wonderful Alaskan experience, and we will definitely do that one again. Sitka--We did the 4X4 wilderness excursion--in the pouring rain. It was a lot of fun, and the rain made driving through the holes that much more fun, with water and mud splashing everywhere. Although I would definitely recommend the excursion, it isn't one I would necessarily do again. The van driver dropped us at the raptor center so we were able to see a little of that, and then walk back through the park and view some totem poles. We went to a couple shops in town, and bought some salmonberry jelly, kelp pickles, and Russian dolls & ornaments. We would have liked to have more time to spend looking around the town. Ketchikan--Since we were in this town a short time, we didn't plan any excursions this time. Instead we hoped to hike to Eagle lookout--but we got lost in the pouring rain, had a miserable hike, and never did see any bald eagles here. We quickly went through Creek St. and bought some ornaments from local artists. Then we did the cheapy souvenir shopping with the coupons, which is kind of like going on a scavenger hunt. I know lots of people rail against buying from the cheapy stores, but for cheapy things like t-shirts, socks, and bibs, you can't beat it. Hubbard Glacier--Absolutely astounding. We dressed plenty warmly, as we had learned our lesson after freezing 7 yrs ago in Glacier Bay. (People looked at us weird as we were walking to the bow of the ship totally bundled up, but they weren't laughing after they had been outside for a few minutes.) We stood at the bow on deck 5 the entire time we were heading toward the glacier. (It was much less crowded than deck 4--and you really need to experience the glacier outside.) Then when the captain turned the ship to head out, we hustled to our own balcony to enjoy the glacier in private--sort of. Between Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay, we were more impressed with Hubbard Glacier. Miscellaneous--We had two very rough sea days--going into Sitka and leaving Sitka. We wore seabands, took bonine and ginger, and were fine. We loved being rocked to sleep in our cabin at the back. Disembarkation--Very easy. We did not purchase the HAL transfer. Our flight was scheduled for 12:30. We requested the 9:00-9:15 disembarkation. We ordered room service for breakfast, and stayed in our cabin until 9:00. We were off the ship and in a cab by 9:20. We were through check-in and security, sitting at our departure gate by 10:30. This cruise was everything, and more, that we dreamed it would be. Did everything go perfect? No. But does anything in life ever go perfectly? No. We love cruising, and we are very impressed with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Just back from 8/16-8/23 Oosterdam trip to Alaska. Always use CC to plan our cruises but rarely post. Felt obligated to add a review this time. We are a family of 4 (45 yr old parents, 16yr old son & 12 yr old daughter). This is our ... Read More
Just back from 8/16-8/23 Oosterdam trip to Alaska. Always use CC to plan our cruises but rarely post. Felt obligated to add a review this time. We are a family of 4 (45 yr old parents, 16yr old son & 12 yr old daughter). This is our 10th cruise (3rd time on HAL, 2nd time on Oosterdam) which we can compare to RCL, Costa, NCL, Carnival & Princess. We usually book a suite for the 4 of us rather than 2 balconies. Since we came from the East Coast, we flew in the night before without incident. Stayed at the Marriott Courtyard Sea-Tac using the Cruise package (free shuttle from airport, breakfast for 2, towncar transportation to port). Good value, but glad we had receipt showing package items because front desk staff, although pleasant, were ill informed about our entitlements. Courteous porter took our bags for embarkation around noon & we were on the ship in < 10 min. Very smooth, but this time we did not advance through the small line to the special suite check in line. It was 1st come 1st served. Instead of going to the Lido, we were directed to the Vista Dining Room for lunch. We sat down, looked at the full lunch menu & got up & left because it was too much food for our group. Roamed the ship & went to the Neptune Lounge to introduce ourselves to the concierge staff & then the room was available. Our suite was exactly as expected (this was our 3rd time in a suite on a Vista ship). Love the large balcony, 2 sinks, shower + Jacuzzi/shower for our family & access to the Lounge. There was plenty of storage for all. Ship looked great and staff really tried to please with 1 exception (I'll get to this later). Room Steward, Erwin, was efficient & unobtrusive. Dinner was Main Seating, table 5 with Asep & Erwin, plus Pamela, the Wine Steward (Admiral's Wine package was a good value). All of these individuals added to our vacation. Unfortunately we were at a table for 8 in spite of asking for a table for 4 (HAL has always accommodated us before). There was a large group from Farmers Insurance on this cruise so I believe that's why HAL wasn't as flexible. Our tablemates changed throughout the cruise (1 night with 1 family, 2 nights with another family and the rest of the time just us). Show times just didn't work for us on this cruise. Main Seating was at 8PM which meant you were to go to the early show at 7PM (those that did this were late to dinner) and the late show was at 9pm when we were still eating. Gym was crowded so you learned to exercise at off times (during lunch or before dinner). Saw tons of whales from the balcony & porpoises, sea lions & seals on icebergs. Fantastic! 16 yr. old enjoyed hanging out with us but 12 yr old got antsy. We loved the Hubbard Glacier but the 12 yr old was ready for something new after 10 minutes. We encouraged her to go to Kids Club (8-12 yr old group) but Club HAL frequently combined with the younger group (3-7) & that did not appeal to her. Went on Orca Enterprise whale watch in Juneau & really enjoyed Capt. Larry. Did lots of walking in Sitka and saw salmon swim upstream. Next went to the Raptor Center & skipped stones in the creek along a nature trail. Saw the totem poles in the National Park then explored the tide pools. We went fishing with Capt. Ken, of Northern Lights, in Ketchikan. He's a retired middle school teacher who got along famously with our daughter. Caught our 24 limit of pinks & had a great time. We'll be eating salmon at home for a long time. We arrived late in Victoria due to a current so didn't get off the ship until 7PM. Many of the shops already closed. We would have liked more time here earlier in the day. Dinner that night was open seating from 5-8:30PM. We rushed back from Victoria for dinner & went to the 2nd floor Vista Dining Room rather than our usual 3rd floor in the interest of time. We arrived at exactly 8:31PM (1 minute late) and were turned away by the Maitre D! The buffet did not open until 9:30 so we wrote our cruise reviews during that time. Not the best service in my opinion nor the wisest time to annoy passengers. All in all, it was a wonderful week with glorious scenery, a wonderful room & delicious food. Disembarkation was a breeze. Stayed at the Westin in Seattle (purchased on Hotwire) and took in the sites before flying back east the next day. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Last summer's experience on the Maasdam was so fine, that my wife and I booked a family vacation for 8/08 on the Oosterdam, planning to take our kids and celebrate my son's graduation from Law Scholl. By January, our group of ... Read More
Last summer's experience on the Maasdam was so fine, that my wife and I booked a family vacation for 8/08 on the Oosterdam, planning to take our kids and celebrate my son's graduation from Law Scholl. By January, our group of four expanded to include my son's fiance and her parents. All in all, seven people, two suites, two balcony cabins on the same deck. Then a friend of my son's and his girlfriend bought a cabin, as well. And I couldn't imagine a better way to get to know the future in - laws. We flew into Seattle two days pre-cruise, since we've never toured the city. We stayed at the Fairmont Olympic (a great hotel) and Friday morning had a personalized city tour, ending up at Pike's Market for lunch. Saturday's transfer to the boat and embarkation were smooth with HAL using one side of the building and Princess the other. With the suite came concierge and butler service, at a much higher level than I've found on other similar vessels. This became obvious as the boat left the pier, and we had an impromptu bon voyage party on our balcony, arraigned with less than two hours notice. We also kept the concierge busy making dinner arrangements since we had flexible seating. For dinner we usually ate in the main dining room, but we did try the Pinnacle Grill (extra cost) once. Well worth it, but not really necessary, either. We usually had the buffets for lunch, and had room service for breakfast particularly in Ketchikan where six of us went fishing as soon as we docked. The key point in Alaska is the shore excursions, and one was better than the next. In Juneau, the oldsters toured the city while the kids did the helicopter glacier walk; followed by whale watching for all seven of us. Sitka was otters (the weather was too rough to make it to the bird sanctuary) and in Ketchikan we went out for salmon, and came home with several fish each. Victoria Island was beautiful, and I wish we had time for a whole day there. Oh well, there's always next time. Disembarkation was again very smooth. HAL has a service which ships your luggage from the cabin to the plane, and the entire process was quite rapid All in all, a fine trip Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Embarkation: A breeze, we showed up around noon and there was no one in line. We had maybe a 5 minute wait at security (which was shared with Princes) but it was cake. Once onboard we took an immediate left and headed for the Vista ... Read More
Embarkation: A breeze, we showed up around noon and there was no one in line. We had maybe a 5 minute wait at security (which was shared with Princes) but it was cake. Once onboard we took an immediate left and headed for the Vista dining room for lunch. Staff was directing most to the Lido upstairs but we wanted to sit and be served!! :) Ship: I remember seeing the ship from the pier and thinking wow, she is absolutely gorgeous. And then i walked onboard. I'm sorry but the color scheme used in many places onboard is loud and obnoxious for my taste. Maybe they will be updating this during dry dock next year? Some colors aside, the ship is nice to walk around and view the myriad of artwork around. There is a big elephant right outside the casino which i fell in love with. I heard there is an ipod walking tour of the art but i never had a chance to check that out. While the Oosterdam holds 1800+ pax i feel it has a great usage of space and we only felt the volume of passengers a few times. First time was muster, the entire ship was on deck 3 so obviously it was a bit of a traffic jam there. Second, getting a table in the lido at lunchtime was a huge pain. Most of the time we didn't even bother and just met up at the pool deck to find a table. Service: I thought the service in most areas was great. Our cabin steward was always attentive and smiling. I saw him often in the hallways while we were transitioning through activities but he was never in our way or burdensome. Likewise all of our table steward and bartenders were great and made us feel pampered. The only thing i feel HAL failed on was the availability of the wine stewards in the main dining room. It was rare that we saw our wine steward before we already had our appetizer. I dunno if this had to do with our having open seating or just not enough staffing. In any event i would recommend going to a bar, buying your drink and walking into the dining room yourself if you want a drinky with dinner. My lady got a hot stone massage from the bars and while expensive she said it was one of the best she has ever gotten. Food: I thought the food was quite good, especially the soups!! The only complaint i could even have is the first night i ordered a med-rare steak and i got a parched piece of jerky. No biggie, it happens. We had open seating on this sailing and i am still not sure if i liked it or not. We never made a reservation, the one night i tried to they said the only times were at 5:15 and 8pm and we wanted to eat at 7pm to make the evening show. That night we showed up at 7pm and were immediately given a table at the aft window (our best seats the whole time!) In general though we were always seated by a wait station, and i mean right beside it which was ok once but annoying the 4th time. Also, the first night we showed up at 8pm and got seated upstairs with the "traditional" seating guests. This was fine except we bought a bottle of wine which got "lost" when trying to be found the next night when we were back downstairs in the typical Open seating section. While i understand problems are bound to happen, it was slightly annoying to receive our wine while halfway finished with our entree!! Those few instances aside though, i was extremely happy with the food. The lido was set up with various "stations" that changed by the meal period: sandwich, pasta/pizza, hot entrees, omelettes, eggs bene, desserts/ice cream, asian and a grill out by the pool. I found the selection to always be great here and the food quick good as well. They also had some special stations set up by the pool on certain days. These were an indian curry buffet, a thai/korean buffet and a pool grill with bbq and sausages. I think i liked this setup better than the more ryans style of buffet lines Entertainment: The nightly entertainment was passable i guess. I wasn't a big fan of the HAL production shows. The illusionist and the comedian were better though. Onboard activities i thought were well balanced. There seemed to be plenty to do both on sea and port days. The Sports of Call program started off nicely but had few activities on the last 3 days of the cruise - not to mention the dude wasn't even there for the redemption - anyone need a handful of damdollars? There were some interesting shows in the culinary arts center too plus a nightly movie, though the movie times usually conflicted with either my dinner time or show. I think they had 2 sessions of trivia each day which i thought was great. Bingo was ever present as well and, at least for the win a cruise game, was quite well attended - thus lessoning your chances of winning. The controversial art auctions, at least for me, were quietly subdued. Other than receiving their flyers every day i never came into contact with any of the auctions. This was a sharp contrast to my last cruise where they were always either setting up or conducting an auction in an area of the ship that i had to walk through. Ports: Flew into Seattle a day early to visit. The Underground tour in Pioneer Square was fabulous!! Very interesting to learn some of the early history of Seattle and actually go into the historic depths of the neighborhood. The morning before sailing i walked down to Pikes market, grabbed a bundle of flowers for $5 and enjoyed them in our stateroom the entire week, highly recommended!! Juneau was great, we took the "glacier express" bus to Mendenhall Glacier ($7 from the stands on the pier), walked around there for awhile then went with Harv and Marv on our whale watching excursion. Absolutely dismal weather but it was still fun and we had a great time. Hubbard Glacier - i'm not even sure how to describe this. Just simply one of the most remarkable things i have ever witnessed. I went onto the bow and partook in the dutch pea soup and just enjoyed the scenery. We had some great calving action and the captain did a great job of getting us close to the face. Sitka - loved this city, so cute and charming. walked around the downtown area on our own. The old Russian graveyard was quite interesting. The national park with the totems was a nice peaceful stroll. Seeing all those salmon in the creek was quite a site. Ketchikan - unfortunate that we had such limited time in this port but we made the best of it. Went on the Bering Sea crab tour. Without a doubt one of the best tours i have ever been on. it was so much more than just, here is a crab and this is a pot, etc. The guides were so amazing and shared their truly personal stories of life as sea fisherman. I'm not sure there was anyone on the tour that wasn't crying by the time we pulled back into Ketchikan. Victoria - what a cute little city!! we did the High Tea at the empress that also gave us a bus tour. Annoying that we couldn't stop at some of the spots on the tour. I thought the tea itself was only soso but the finger sandwiches were quite yum. General info: We stayed at the Westin which turned out to be a great central location to the city. The city buses are free in the downtown area too!! Cab fare from the Westin to Pier 30 was $9.75 on the meter. We left our stateroom for the last time at 9am, took a cab ($32 metered) to SEATAC and were through security by 1030am. A lot is talked about the rough seas coming out of Seattle but honestly our roughest seas were going to/from Hubbard Glacier. We had some pretty good chop then and the bags where deployed throughout the ship. We were assigned to a balcony and while the slightly larger room was nice i dunno that i would say a balcony is required. It was so cold and rainy the entire week i barely stepped foot outside. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We cruised the Oosterdam from July 19, 2008 thru July 26. we went from Seattle, Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Sitka, and Victoria, B.C, to Seattle. It was an excellent trip and a perfect length for us. The price was also right. ... Read More
We cruised the Oosterdam from July 19, 2008 thru July 26. we went from Seattle, Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Sitka, and Victoria, B.C, to Seattle. It was an excellent trip and a perfect length for us. The price was also right. I've enjoyed the Cruise Critic Reviews and feel a responsibility to write a review. This was cruise #18 for us. We started with the now defunct Windjammer (many cruises), and have been on Princess, RSSC, Oceania, and Renaissance. Our main motivation is the itinerary. DEMOGRAPHICS I'm 80 and my wife is 77. We are blessed with good health. We don't block the elevators with canes, or walkers or wheel chairs In fact we usually use the stairs unless my wife is wearing shoes that would present a hazard on the stairs. Consequently, I do not gain any weight on a cruise, and my wife will admit to a couple of pounds. We did like the way the staff takes care of the handicapped who need it. There were many extended family groups (3 generations) and good number of senior citizens. With a few exceptions, the children were well behaved. That statement also applies to all the other age groups. PRE CRUISE We flew into Seattle two days early and stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott which is very close to Lake Union. On the full day on Friday, we took a taxi to the 1962 Worlds Fair grounds and paid $19 each to ride the Hop-On-Off tour bus. We sat on the bus for the hour long round trip, and used that time to decide which stops to favor later. Pike Market was a highlight, but wall to wall people. A native friend said it's always crowded. EMBARKATION We arrived at Pier 30 about 1230 and the porter steered us to a desk to get a cabin assignment(we had a guaranteed balcony) and wrote our cabin number on our already attached Oosterdam luggage tags. The check in formalities were painless. We had already checked in online and were walking up the gangway less than 10 minutes after reaching the pier which included the almost obligatory picture. When walked onto the ship, we were herded into an elevator that was under the control of a staff member. We zoomed non stop to deck 9 and were deposited outside the Lido buffet. This procedure very slickly keeps most of the passengers from disrupting the cabin cleaning process by trying to drop off their carry-ons in the cabin. The Lido was jammed, but we were able to find a table for two, and before we finished our meal, it was announced the cabins were available. The Lido had good selection of food available. SAFETY DRILL The safety drill was somewhat disorganized and marred by very low loudspeaker volume. Consequently, passengers started social conversations and that made the loudspeaker even more difficult to hear. The Captain later apologized for the "technical glitch." We've experienced much better safety drills and also markedly poorer drills. This one falls about in the middle. DINING When we checked in at the pier we were changed from early to late assigned seating. Our real preference was Any-Time dining, so for the first night we showed up for late seating and requested to be changed to anytime for future nights. The Maitre De seemed reluctant but did make the change. Breakfast in the dining room was OK but coffee refills seemed hard to get and the coffee cooled quickly because of the light cup weight. Breakfast in the Lido was good, the waiters came by frequently with fresh coffee refills, the cups were sturdier, so on balance I would recommend the Lido. The lunch menu in the dining room seemed limited and the dining staff pushed to seat as many as possible at tables for six. We split our luncheons between the Lido and the Main Dining room. The Lido had more choices and self select options for seating. Dinner in the main dining room, Anytime Dining was OK but the service was slow. The dining room was usually very full. We were seated very quickly provided we would accept a table for six or more. CABIN We had a standard Veranda Cabin #6140. The only noise intrusion came from the hall and that was not often. The cabin had plenty of storage space for us. Our steward did a good job of keeping it clean and even provided many towel animals that we enjoyed. The air conditioning in the cabin worked perfectly. I carry a small digital thermometer and the temperature never varied from our requested setting. All the plumbing worked perfectly. ENTERTAINMENT The magician was excellent, the comedian was very good. The two Las Vegas Style shows were the best we've experienced. The orchestral music was taped, but the four lead singers all had very good voices. If they were lip syncing to a vocal recording, they fooled me. I believe the singing was live. SHORE EXCURSIONS We booked a whale watching tour in Juneau. We saw about seven episodes of "bubble feeding" by a group of humpback whales. The sightings included one juvenile that was still nursing. The on board naturalist stated that it was very rare to see as many feeding incidents. In Victoria, we booked a trip to the Butchart (Sp?) Gardens. They were spectacular. The only minus was that the tour time was dusk to night. Bright sunlight would have been even better. SERVICE The staff was always pleasant. We particularly enjoyed talking to Victor who works the Crow's nest bar at the top and front of the ship. CAPTAINS TALK We heard about a 45 minute Q & A session with the Captain. He is obviously an honor graduate of the Holland America Charm School Training for Captains. He adroitly fielded: Who's driving the Boat?, How much money do you make? Are you Married, Single, or Homosexual?, When can I introduce you to my unmarriageable daughter? Why did we have such a short time Ketchikan?, Why are you so insistent on passengers being back on board on time?. I would relish the opportunity to answer all of the rudest questions more explicitly, but my final Holland America Paycheck would be presented upon arrival at Seattle, or maybe sooner. A shipboard comedian could have a fun act posing as the harried Captain giving real answers to those questions. DEBARKATION This was very smooth. We did not purchase transfers and were given the option of selecting our debarkation time. We selected the latest one 0915-0930. After breakfast we gathered our carry-ons from our cabin and then went to a relatively uncrowded bar until 0915. There were both verbal and written notices that if one departed before one's requested time, your luggage that had been left outside the cabin the previous night would not arrive until the appropriate time. At about 0920, we went to an uncrowded elevator bank, walked off the ship. Down the gangway, over to the building containing our luggage. Before entering the building we gave our custom's form to an official, sort of almost just waved our passports at immigration and quickly found our luggage in a large warehouse, another staff member retrieved a porter and we followed him to the taxi stand. THIS WAS VERY WELL DONE. On many previous cruises, on the last day, I've had the feeling the attitude was: "Your cruise is over, we've got to really hustle to be ready for the new arrivals, so move it." . Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
My significant other and 14 year old son were very excited to be cruising the inside passage on the Oosterdam. We had sailed twice before with Carnival which I refer to as the Walmart of the Seas. We had shied away from HAL because of ... Read More
My significant other and 14 year old son were very excited to be cruising the inside passage on the Oosterdam. We had sailed twice before with Carnival which I refer to as the Walmart of the Seas. We had shied away from HAL because of its reputation for catering to seniors but was certainly not the case on the Oosterdam. There was a nice mix of age groups and lots of well behaved teens as well as younger children. No yelling, running wild or screaming kids anywhere! We loved the ship,comfortable beds, sparkling clean ship, great service everywhere. The Indonesian staff was awesome..friendly, polite, entertaining, and very hard working. I was disappointed to find the infamous Hunky Dory was not aboard this trip but his protege John Wayne was and sure enough remembered our names 3 days after meeting us just once! Hunky Dory has a talent for knowing the names of every passenger onboard by the end of each cruise! We chose an outside stateroom with an obstructed view which I scammed for the same price as an inside cabin...we were on a tight budget. The room was tastefully decorated, flat screen tv, dvd, lots of storage, shower with tub, very nice toiletries, great towels. Our room came with a sofa which made into full sized bed. The downside was it was located between the bathroom and the queen bed and when it was unfolded it completely blocked the walkway to the bathroom! We never pulled the bed out...son Tyler slept on the sofa which was really too small. HAL really needs to put the sofa bed at the other end of the room! The only other complaints we had about our room was the lighting...too dim in the closet and vanity area and too bright in the bathroom! The halogen light in the bathroom was worse than any dressing room lights I ever saw. On the upside,the sight of cellulite each morning controlled my appetite at breakfast! None of us gained an ounce! Rough seas the first day also helped with that. I was surprised and upset to find that the oosterdam was sailing into the the Gulf of Alaska to reach out first port of Juneau. I thought it would be the inside passage on the way up...wrong! The seas were so rough I was in bed all day DAY 1. After taking the free medication offered I felt better and dressed for the first formal night. The dining room is beautiful but located in the back of the ship and the motion was worse. One look at my shrimp cocktail send me running to the bathroom. I returned to my stateroom while the others finished their meals. Next time I will take the medication at the first sign of trouble! Back to the room...sheets were high quality but pillows very small. The ice bucket was small too and we often needed more ice. We brought 3 liter boxes of wine on board (allowed by HAL) and asked the steward Hasan (who was great) for wine glasses. This saved us a fortune at the bar. We ordered an inexpensive bottle with dinner two nights which was very good for $22 plus tip of course! We splurged and tried the Pinnacle one night just for kicks...we didn't find the food THAT much better than the dining room. I don't think its worth an extra $20 per person. The food was good but not great. The highlights were the ice cream and the fresh baked breads including whole grains...nice! The lido is often crowded and we always found a table before getting food to avoid walking around in circles with a tray. The staff are amazing at bussing the dirty dishes...its almost a covert operation. No piles of dirty plates and noisy clanking anywhere unlike Carnival. Everything about this cruise including the passengers was up several notches from Carnival. HAL has cruising down to a science...what an operation! Very organized!!!! We enjoyed the hot tubs but the pools although they are heated are really not warm. Tyler did the polar bear swim in the uncovered aft pool and got a certificate which he is proud of! The pools are all fresh water too..nice touch. We enjoyed the buffets on the lido too....each day different cuisine. One night the put on a Dutch Chocolate buffet which son said was fabulous! No midnight buffet extravaganza like carnival but who needs it anyway. The cruise director was a hoot. The lead singer of the band is very weak....the band is ok but we didn't enjoy them because of her. The magician and the comedian were great. Singing and dancing shows were ok...not as good as Carnival but not bad at all. We didn't partake in many activities but the ten activities kept Tyler busy all the time. He loved being able to come and go as he pleases and always has something to do. He made a ton of friends and had a ball. Kudos to HAL for putting Americans in charge of the kids programs...last year Carnival had an oriental girl who barely spoke English and couldn't answer one on my many questions! HAL's program for teens is much better overall than Carnival. We did use the casino and although small was adequate. We did well playing the video poker machines (our favorites) and surfed the slots with a roll of quarters to win a little. One day is smoke free as is 4-8pm each day....hurray! The best poker machine is on the inside row next to the stupid falling quarter machine. I hit 4 aces 3 times in one session and witnesses the progressive jackpot hit the day before! We played all week for about $50 each I think...not bad for a shipboard casino! The weather was awful for most of the trip...cold and wet. 39' and sleeting at Hubbard Glacier. Bring a warm waterproof coat, gloves, hat, and scarf just in case! We rents cars in Juneau and Sitka and did things on out own. We never book shore trips with the cruise line...you can usually do better online on your own. We went to Mendenhall Glacier and the Shrine of ST. Terese at the north edge of town in Juneau. We had a quick beer in the Red Dog saloon (expensive!) and hit a few shops owned by locals pointed out by the rental car gal Reggie. Word of advice...ask if you can drop the car off at a lot downtown to extend the time you keep the car...the place closes at 5:30 and we needed a ride back to the ship...cut our time in port down by 3 hours. We ate in a dive on the corner of the street where we picked up the rental from RENT A WRECK. The halibut sandwich had a large piece of fish and fries for $10...thought that was pricey until we saw the prices in the touristy area! In Sitka we did Whale Park...not much too see and 400 stairs to climb if you want to get to the waters edge! We walked in National Park there to see the totems and hit the Raptor Center which was worth the $12 admission fee to see bald eagles up close. The highlight of the trip was driving to the Starrgavin (trails)area and watching an 800lb grizzly with twin cubs from a viewing deck 200yds away! We saved the shopping for Ketchikan which was sunny and 60' at last! We used our coupon books (get at embarkation) at the 3 Tongass Trading Stores...same basic souvenirs the other stores have at better prices. Some really good deals with the coupons. The best thing was the $10 flat shipping they offer anywhere in the states...we got our stuff the day after we got home! We hit Creek Street and loved Dollies House...$5 to get in...worth it. There were people on the dock hawking shore trips at good prices but were happy to just stroll around and have lunch on the ship. Victoria was pretty but not much to do. We didn't want to wait in ,line for a bus so we grabbed a cab for $8 each way and went downtown....lots of street performers and artists set up. Saw the Empress hotel and Parliament buildings...very nice. We would have preferred more time in Ketchikan and eliminating Victoria altogether. We would cruise with HAL again for sure. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
My wife and I drove from Colorado to Seattle through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington. A beautiful trip. Embarkation: We parked our car no more than 250 feet from the Terminal 30. Of our six cruises, this was the by far the ... Read More
My wife and I drove from Colorado to Seattle through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington. A beautiful trip. Embarkation: We parked our car no more than 250 feet from the Terminal 30. Of our six cruises, this was the by far the smoothest embarkation and disembarkation we have experienced. HAL does a supper job. Ship: The Oosterdam is a beautiful Lady throughout. She is probably the best riding ship we have sailed on. She was clean and easily navigated. Cabin: We had a inside cabin that was plenty big enough for the two of us. The bed was very comfortable. Food: Excellent in every venue. We dined in the Pinnacle Grill one night and it was superb. The staff in each dining venue was cheerful and more than willing to serve. Itinerary: We stopped at Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, B. C. We participated in three Shore excursions and enjoyed each one. Butchart Gardens in Victoria must be seen to be believed. Entertainment: Very talented group of young singers and dancers. They put on some lively performances. The magician and the ventriloquist were also outstanding. Staff: From the captain to our room steward we were impressed with their professionalism and their attitude toward the passengers. Disembarkation: Smoothest ever. Hard to believe after some previous experiences. Recommendation: If you have never been to Alaska or sailed with Holland America, you should. And if you have, give the Oosterdam a try. You will be pleased I'm sure Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
I traveled with Holland America to Alaska the last week of May, and it was one of the best weeks I ever had. I have been on two other cruise lines, Norwegian and Carnival, they were both great but Holland America was by far the best. The ... Read More
I traveled with Holland America to Alaska the last week of May, and it was one of the best weeks I ever had. I have been on two other cruise lines, Norwegian and Carnival, they were both great but Holland America was by far the best. The group I traveled with was from ages 12 to 50 (I was born in 1988) and everyone had a great time. Embarkation- We embarked in Seattle, Washington and boy was it easy. We pulled our truck up and there were people right there to help us with our luggage (very nice too by the way). It only took us about 25 minutes for a group of 6 to get on the ship. The Ship- The Oosterdam was absolutely beautiful from the moment you walk in. The ship's interior has a lot of red hues that give it a very grand and elegant yet fun and energetic look. Throughout the ship there are numerous places to sit and relax and enjoy the fabulous view. There is also a lot of fine artwork throughout the ship, anywhere from the seats waiting for the elevators to the dining room. Every place that I went was beautiful and very clean. As a matter of fact, the cleanliness of this ship really stood out to me; it was so clean that you could probably eat off the floor (not that I would though). Activities- When going on a cruise you must get involved in the activities, otherwise its going to be very boring. The activities on the Oosterdam were a lot of fun. There was golf chipping, team trivia, the game "Name That Tune" (really fun), boat building, bingo, and a whole lot more. Participating in the activities is also a great way to get to know other passengers and the crew. I had a blast playing team trivia, I learned a bunch of things that I will probably never need to know in life, but hey when someone asks me what brand of underwear Marty wore in Back to the Future, then I will have the answer for them! Also there is dancing every night in the night club that is so much fun. Service- Incredible! The crew was so amazing, everywhere I looked there were smiling faces and helpful hands. Anytime I asked a crew member for something they were always more than happy to help. I had the pleasure of meeting the infamous Hunky Dory; this guy remembered everyone's names. I met him for a total of 3 seconds and 4 nights later he is saying HI to me in the dining room and asking how my sister Amanda was. I also saw him on the Lido Deck addressing everyone down the buffet line by their names and asking how 'Aunt Betty' was or where your husband 'Mark' was; it was amazing how he remembered everyone like that. Also four people that deserve recognition are the members of the Event Staff, Eric, Lee, Jen, and the DJ Matt. Those people were so much fun to hang out with and talk to. If you go on this cruise then definably try line dancing because Matt is a fantastic teacher and does a great job with the music in the Northern Lights Night Club (Lee, Eric, and Jen are fun to dance with). Shore Excursions- The weather was perfect every day of the cruise which made the activities on land much more enjoyable. I did the River Float in Juneau and I had a great time and I fully recommend it. In Ketchikan we did the Lumberjack show which was a lot of fun. In Sitka and Victoria my group and I enjoyed just walking around and going to the various shops. I heard the garden in Victoria was beautiful and I wish I would have done that. Stateroom- Out of all the staterooms of the cruises I have been on, I think I like this one the most. I don't know if the room was bigger or if it was just the lay out, but either way there was enough room for all four of us staying in one room to live in comfortably. We had a deck which was so worth the extra money because me and my family really enjoyed sitting out there and watching the ship sail into the numerous ports, not to mention the sunrises were to die for. Dining- I thought overall the food was good. I had open seating dining which was nice because I didn't have to plan my whole evening around dinner, my group and I could just go as we pleased and not have to worry about being late. The food sometimes was a bit cold and the meat sometimes overcooked, but other than that everything was great. Entertainment- The singers and dancers did a very good job and were a joy to watch. The Marriage Game was also a lot of fun to watch, I had tears in my eyes from laughing so much. There was also a show where you had to choose which of the three crew members was telling the truth about the definition of a word, which the definitions they gave made it quite hard to determine who was telling the truth. But as strange as the game sounds it was a ton of fun (if you go on this cruise I suggest looking up the word callipygian). Disembarkation- It was quick and easy, simple as that. We put our luggage out with an assigned tag of a letter and color that made it easy to find our luggage on shore. So we got off at our assigned time and once we got off we asked where purple A was and they pointed to a group of suitcases and ours were right there ready to go. Very simple process. A week aboard the ms Oosterdam was definably worth every penny I paid for it. If all Holland America ships are like this then I don't think I will be sailing with any other cruise line any time soon. But one thing I suggest to anyone who goes on any cruise is to get involved with the activities on the ship; don't spend the sea days in your cabin watching re-runs of Law and Order (they have that show playing 24/7 on the Oosterdam if thats what you really want to do). So thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy review, I hope it helps, and I hope you chose to cruise with Holland America because they truly are a Signature of Excellence. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was my first cruise and I went as a solo. I got to Seattle a couple of days early to enjoy the city and not be rushed for the cruise. I took the Grayline Airporter to my hotel, the Warwick, and it worked out very nicely. On the ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I went as a solo. I got to Seattle a couple of days early to enjoy the city and not be rushed for the cruise. I took the Grayline Airporter to my hotel, the Warwick, and it worked out very nicely. On the Saturday the ship left, I checked out at noon and there was no trouble getting a cab to the terminal. It cost a little over $10 plus tip. Embarkment took no time, checked my bags, went to the counter, and was heading up the gangway in minutes. Had lunch in the Vista Dining Room, they had a small selection but it was nice to just sit and take it all in. Rooms were ready a little after one, and my room was everything I could have wanted. I met the room steward, Darsono, immediately and he was helpful from the first moment we met. Luggage was delivered by 3. I had traditional late seating. I was seated at a table at the aft windows with a couple and another couple and their adult daughter. Our waiter and his assistant, Hip and Ali, were great. The food was usually very good. HAL has decided that late diners should go to the early shows, and in theory this might be a good idea but the only time the show finished on time to get to dinner on time was when the comedian performed. The variety shows went on so long that many had to leave early or be late for dinner. Plus, the early seating people ended up trickling in too. This really didn't work well. Excursions: the weather was wonderful the whole trip so the helicopter ride in Juneau was magical, we saw so much and then landed on the Taku Glacier. In the evening I went on the whale watch and we saw Orcas and Humpbacks. In Sitka I did the sea otter trip and not only saw Mommy sea otters with their pups but saw humpbacks and harbor seals and even a bear on the shore. In Ketchikan I did the floatplane ride over Misty Fjords with a landing on the water. Only three of us got out on the pontoon, scariest thing I did but I'm glad I did it. In Victoria I did the highlights and Castle tour, not bad but I wish I'd done the Orca boat ride instead. We couldn't get real close to Hubbard Glacier because of ice, but it was so warm we had a BBQ and lots of people were on the Aft deck eating outside in just sweatshirts and light jackets. I also got a Hydropool/thermal suite pass for the week, this gave access all week to the loungers, hydropool, sauna and steamrooms. They also had a rain mist shower that was nice after the sauna or steamroom to just cool you off without soaking you. Well worth the $150 for the pass. I couldn't do the Express Baggage thing because my plane left at 12:40 am Sunday morning, and the cutoff is 11:59pm (start time is 11:30am). But I had asked the Warwick before I left if I could bring my luggage back to store and they were fine with that. My disembarkment time was 8:45, and we are allowed to stay in the room till we leave the ship. I was at the Warwick by 9, having no trouble finding my bags and getting a cab. All in all this trip was everything I hoped it would be and more, because I sure didn't think the weather would be as great as it was. The ship is lovely, the food is good, and the crew is wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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