1,072 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

My wife and I, along with another couple from San Diego area, and a third couple from the Seattle area cruised on the Oosterdam from San Diego on Jan 27th , a 7-day Mexican Riviera trip. We are all experienced cruisers. My wife and I have ... Read More
My wife and I, along with another couple from San Diego area, and a third couple from the Seattle area cruised on the Oosterdam from San Diego on Jan 27th , a 7-day Mexican Riviera trip. We are all experienced cruisers. My wife and I have cruised on the Vista class ships of HAL before, including a 10 day Gems of the Baltic from Copenhagen on the Westerdam on June 30th, 2005. and on the Oosterdam this past Aug. to Hubbard Glacier with 67 classmates and friends. Our current group has cruised a total of 9 times previously with HAL on various ships, including an unforgettable journey on the Maasdam in the Caribbean on 9/11/2001. San Diego departures are the easiest we have encountered. Parking vouchers from HAL provided complimentary parking nearby with easy transfer to the pier. From time of arrival on the pier at 11:15am, pre-printed immigration information in hand, we waited no more than 15 minutes before boarding the ship. Then to the Lido for the buffet luncheon. Our cabins (SS8094, VA 8096, VC 5141) were ready by 1:15 and we had our bags by 2:30pm with plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular San Diego harbor scene. After the obligatory safety drill we departed on schedule toward Cabo San Lucas. The Oosterdam had received some upgrades since our sailing in August. Our stateroom, 8094) had new wall prints and flat screen TV and DVD player resulting in more desk space. This was the same cabin we had on the Alaskan cruise. I prefer the SS category staterooms with the larger decks, double sinks and a shower as well as a tub/shower combination. 8094 was our "meeting place" for this cruise. We were advised of the problem with the propulsion system and change in port call times. We all received a $25 per person ship board credit, as well as AAA credits of $25 each. I had read a number of critical reviews about this ship over the past couple of months, mainly about service and the slower cruising speed. Our group of cruisers will tell you that the service was wonderful in all aspects. We have two ladies with slight handicaps and they were never without an offer of assistance from staff, including letters advising them of the use of tenders and inquiring if they needed special assistance (they did not). On the issue of time in ports, we arrived on schedule and departed on schedule with the only shortened day being Puerta Vallarta. We departed at 6pm vs originally scheduled 11pm. The reason for this early departure was not "reduced cruising speed" but the fact we tendered to/from shore. The city had not completed the upgrade to the pier and only 1 ship could be in the harbor at a time, and that site goes to Carnival as they cruise there year around. Capt. Mercer obviously did not want to transfer guests to the ship in the dark from the tenders, and sunset occurred around 6pm. We arrived back in San Diego at 0530. Speed was not important. All shore excursions were well managed, and better than similar ones we had on a previous Mexican Riviera cruise 3 years before. Tour guides and were excellent. Dining: Thomas Krieger, executive chef, was on this ship during our Alaska cruise as well as on the Westerdam in the Baltic with us in 2005. In the dining room the variety of food and the quality on this cruise was outstanding, maybe the best we have had. We used the dining room for some breakfasts, a couple of lunches, and every dinner except one night at the Pinnacle Grill for a birthday celebration. The Lido breakfasts were adequate and fast and we all enjoyed the Terrace Grill for burgers and tacos on a couple of occasions. Room service in the morning and at lunch was on time and very good. I particularly enjoy the Wok in the Lido at lunch. The Pinnacle Grill was complimentary and a nice evenings experience. We all complimented both Thomas Krieger and Simon de Boer the Hotel Manager on the quality of the food, the outstanding service, and the overall cleanliness of the ship. As a retired infection control dental officer I can attest to the cleanliness of the ship and the attention to handwashing and sanitizing. Culinary Arts Center: a guest chef, Jason Wilson, presented two very entertaining and well done presentations. He is one of the "hot" new chefs in the Seattle area and spent some time training with Thomas Krieger in Singapore. Krieger assisted Jason in his presentations and their chemistry was wonderful. We plan to visit his restaurant "CRUSH" while in Seattle next month. This event was a great bonus on this cruise. Entertainment: The Oosterdam singers and dancers were in their last weeks of their contracts, and they were the same group we saw in August. Their dancing and singing was more polished than before, and overall very enjoyable. The other entertainers were fabulous: Derrick Easan, an HBO and Comedy Central comedian had both a general and an "adult" show and was very funny and engaging. Peter Fernandez, a Latin crooner was all energy with a wonderful ability to switch from English to Spanish in his music, and finished with classical songs. He was entertain us again anytime. And finally, Bob Cates, a comedian-juggler was unbelievable. The entertainment was not to be missed on this cruise. Staff: our dining room steward, Suparman (table 57) was very polished and attentive, and our cabin steward, Sugareta was a 10 year veteran. We did meet a few Lido and dining room staff from our August cruise and they remembered us this trip! Cruisers: Holland America caters to their Mariners, and this cruise found more than 900 of the 1800 passengers to be Mariners. Yes, they (we) are a little older group, and more so on this cruise than on the Alaska cruise when more families can get away in the Summer. Disembarking: our group specified leaving the ship at 9:30, and at 9:15 we heard our numbers called. We exited the ship, collected the bags, sent two guys for the cars, and were away from the pier by 10:15; and home by 11am. Next: A group of 8 couples head to Rome for a Sept. 25th 10 day cruise on the Westerdam to the eastern Mediterranean. We can't wait. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
Preface Although we have cruised quite often, this was our first cruise with Holland America. We had always heard so many wonderful things about HAL so that we decided to sail with them when we realized that HAL was one of the cruise ... Read More
Preface Although we have cruised quite often, this was our first cruise with Holland America. We had always heard so many wonderful things about HAL so that we decided to sail with them when we realized that HAL was one of the cruise lines sailing the ports of call we were interested in visiting. BUT due to a prevailing CLICHÉ about Holland America's demographics we were a bit worried that we would be surrounded by a sea of blue hair and a prevailing odor of moth balls FALSE,FALSE, FALSE! A diverse group of passengers, the greatest majority middle-age. There were also some teens and twenty-somethings, as well as a few teetering-tottering elderly passengers (my mother included) Due to scheduling conflicts, our friends, with whom we normally cruise could not join us therefore it was just me, my wife JoAnn and my mother. Since she can't vacation on her own due to mobility issues this was a nice way of getting her to go somewhere without her worrying about flights, transfers etc. Arrival & Boarding We flew into San Diego the day before the cruise on a non-stop flight from NYC on JetBlue. Kudos to JetBlue on every aspect of their flight. I would highly recommend this airline to anyone. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which was only 1 block further inland from the Holiday Inn by the cruise terminal. Very nice accommodations, and with the money saved by staying at the Hampton Inn instead of the Holiday Inn we had a very nice dinner at Seaport Village which was within walking distance of the hotel. In the morning the hotel offered complimentary breakfast (which was very good) as well as complimentary shuttle service to the pier. In the morning I got up bright and early to see the Oosterdam pull into port. NO SHIP IN SIGHT. I checked every 15 min. or so and still NO SHIP IN SIGHT. Reason being due to very bad weather the ship docked late, but considering their late arrival, and everyone wanting to board early, the cruise line did a very nice job of getting everyone off as quick as possible and everyone on again as soon as possible. Check in at the pier was very well organized and it wasn't long before we entered the ship and were whisked off to the buffet area since the cabins were not ready yet. After a delicious lunch it was announced that our cabins were ready and we made our way to our home away from home for the week. We had a partially obstructed ocean view cabin on deck 4  very nice accommodations, floor to ceiling window, with plenty of closet space and the bathroom had a tub. Beds were comfortable, flat screen TV, and at night we were greeted by a towel animal with chocolate. A little after 3 pm we went out on deck 4 for the web cam wave, but a friend of ours called and said there was a pole in the way, so we trudged off to the observation deck on deck 10 where she said she could see us. Our muster drill at 4:15 was no more than a photo-op for the ship's photo staff. More people were busy chatting and waving into the cameras and video cameras than paying attention to the directions. More of a social event than anything else. Our ship left San Diego on time, and we watched San Diego disappear in the distance. Impressions of the Oosterdam  I thought the Oosterdam was comparable to staying at a classy boutique-style hotel. There was no massive lobby, or grand sized lounges. Everything was cozy. It doesn't take long to figure out that the to do decks were 2 & 3 and the buffet/pool deck was on deck 9. A very nice first time experience for us were the ocean view elevators which did get quite a few Oohs and Aahs the first few days. At first everyone wanted to take those elevators, but by the third day ANY elevator was fine. Very nice art work, murals and tile work abounded, and the fresh floral arrangements all around were soothing to the eyes. Since we were not thrilled with Personal Choice Dining on our last cruise with Princess, we made sure to book Traditional Dining as we always had in the past. We had upper level dining at 8 pm but unfortunately the dining experience always lasted till 10 pm ( which in my book is TOO long to sit for a meal) even though we arrived punctually at 8. Our dining room steward/busboy as well as our wine steward were very pleasant. My wife was a bit disappointed that they did not offer more choices for wine by the glass in the dining room. She enjoys trying a different wine every evening with dinner, but they push the wine by the bottle on HAL. We were seated with wonderful dinner companions who really made our dining experience a pleasure. We did not eat at the Pinnacle Grill, but in passing never noticed many people there. I suppose most people found the dining room food to be good enough not to have to pay a surcharge for better food. I cannot, in all fairness, say that HAL's service throughout the ship is better than other cruise lines we have sailed in the past. We have always been happy with the service on all our cruises as was the case on this cruise. Lido Buffet Two thumbs up!! If I had three thumbs, all three would be up. The BEST buffet restaurant of any cruise line we've ever sailed so far. The choices were amazing and it all tasted GREAT! We're not much into gambling, or lounge acts, or shows/revues, but by looking a the daily program it was very similar to those venues offered by all the mainstream cruise lines. My wife, who works in a library, was very impressed by the selection of books offered in the library. Internet Center TOO EXPENSIVE!! The shops on this ship were not separate stores, rather one big store arranged by areas and they carried the usual array of things you wonder why you bought them once you arrive home Culinary Arts: My wife signed up for one of the hands-on cooking classes ($29) and enjoyed herself immensely. I am looking forward to seeing those dishes on the dinner table one of these years! On Deck for the Cure: What a nice thing HAL is doing to help fight Breast Cancer. My wife took part in what ended up being quite a nice turn out for the 5K walk on Promenade Deck (9 times around the ship) Cascade of the Bells: Bell ringer group from Portland Oregon offered 2 concerts during the week. A very well performed special treat for us. Power Outage: For about 5 minutes the ship lost all power...we were out on the Promenade Deck. All the cabins went dark, but lobbies, lounges etc. maintained lighting. It was eerily quiet with no mechanical noises and no engines. I told my wife that now she know what it's like to sail on a Windstar Cruise (which we could not afford) Cruise Critic Gathering: Thanks to lougee for making arrangements with HAL for our meeting with Hotel Director James Deering, as well as constructiondude for keeping track of who's who throughout the posts. It was wonderful to FINALLY meet everyone face to face after months of chatting online. Mr. Deering is a very distinguished well spoken gentleman, and when it came to answering some of the sticky questions posed by fellow CruiseCritics members in regards to dress code, demographics etc very diplomatic. Dress Code The whole dress code issue that is a constant prevailing battle-rouser on the message boards was one of our biggest worries when planning our packing strategies for this particular cruise. I suppose from reading the message boards I was under the impression that I would be attending a Cotillion Ball on Formal Night& and Informal Night would be just a step below& First off- there was NO Informal Night! After all of our planning on what should we pack, not pack, what's right, what's wrong all for nothing! There were 2 formal nights and 5 casual nights. Interesting: when they explained in the Daily Program what is appropriate or not appropriate dinner attire in the dining rooms they only mentioned for the men! For example: FORMAL NIGHT: Jacket and tie for the gentlemen - tuxedo suggested Hmmm, no guidelines for the women!? CASUAL NIGHT: no shorts, swimwear or workout attire permitted. P.S. The word JEANS was never mentioned in the daily program. How did everyone dress for dinner?.. EXACTLY LIKE THEY DO FOR ALL THE OTHER CRUISES WE'VE BEEN ON except  we saw no one with baseball caps on. For formal nights most men wore suits, quite a few with sports jackets and ties (some with open collars) as well as a handful of tuxedos but tuxedos was not the majority. For the ladies, there were some evening gowns, some with cocktail length black dresses, and quite a number of women with black pants and a fancier blouse. Ports of Call I won't spend much time explaining what we saw or didn't.. since everyone has their own wants and needs once off the ship Our ports of call included Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. I still remember hearing those ports of call mentioned on the original Love Boat series. Since we have been to Cozumel and Playa del Carmen we already had an idea of what to expect when we arrived at these ports of call. All in all our favorite was Puerto Vallarta. It was the only stop where both my wife and I agreed that we could spend a week here at an all-inclusive resort. Final thought A week passes by quickly but thank goodness for a good memory and a good digital camera we will spend much time reflecting on our wonderful cruise aboard the Oosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
Executive summary: Arrived a day early, stayed at Country Inn & Suites (fantastic hotel), met cruise critic friends at Anthony's, went on cruise had fantastic time, all areas of cruise was fantastic Except the weather, it was much ... Read More
Executive summary: Arrived a day early, stayed at Country Inn & Suites (fantastic hotel), met cruise critic friends at Anthony's, went on cruise had fantastic time, all areas of cruise was fantastic Except the weather, it was much colder than we expected. Embarkation was crowded, but moved along well (1.5 hours between arrival and in cabin), stateroom was great, got a balcony for first time ever, and people are right, once you've had one, I know I will never want to settle for anything less, food was great, service from crew was outstanding, vista dining room was beautiful, slots were loose all week till last sea day then they were tight as could be. Ports were good, first time in Mexican Riviera and we did whale watching in Cabo, horses with Randi in Mazatlan, and finally did Zip line in Puerto Vallarta. Enjoyed two sea days on way back, and finally disembarkation was a breeze a bit confusing we were in the Second group called to exit (after the self disembark, where you carry ALL of your luggage with you), and there were long lines of people carrying their luggage with them in front of us, once they cleared out it was a breeze. (time from being called to standing outside waiting on taxi ½ hour. Flew home that day no problems at airport. Book Portion: Jan 19: Left our Chesapeake Virginia house at 5:30 am, to rain and 35 degrees.  I hadn't packed my jacket, but decided to pack it at the last moment do to the cold outside, have no intention of wearing it after we get on the plane to Atlanta/San Diego. Arrived at airport 1 ½ hours before flight, plenty of time to breeze thru security. However, my Dear Wife, who doesn't travel a lot, and hasn't met a stranger yet, decides to start talking to security while they are opening up her bag, and says, be careful it might explode, I new instantly that was the wrong thing to say. She didn't even realize it till I started saying she meant it is packed very tightly. He didn't arrest her, or take us anywhere, but he did give her a bit of a lecture, and made sure she understood that certain words should not be used around security. Uneventful flight to Atlanta, Flight to San Diego was bumpy as we were passing over the ice storms affecting Texas. The captain kept the seat belt light on for most of the 4 hour flight, which made the passengers restless and several were complaining oh well no real problems.  landed in San Diego ½ hour late, got rental car (fox rent a car, 2007 mazda with 5 miles on it, for $25/day), immediately went to Old Towne and walked around and shopped till my wife's content. Went to Point Loma, drove around a bit, till we found the national park, and saw the sights from the top it was beautiful proceeded to Seaport Village, where once we walked around and shopped till my wife's content. (did go into the wyland gallery, and loved his paintings/prints!) Proceed to Anthony's Fish Grotto at 7:45pm, where we met up with some of the cruisecritic mates. Had a nice dinner, roughly 16 of us, and one travel agent, who proceeded to buy wine for the table. Very nice. After a nice dinner, and friendly atmosphere of getting to know each other, we left and went back to hotel (country Inn & Suites, mira mesa area, obtained thru priceline $61 total). Highly recommend Country Inn & Suites. Jan 20th: slept in, woke up well rested and ready to find the ship! however, we had to enjoy a quick breakfast at hotel, and make our obligatory stop at Wal-Mart first. (we can never go on a cruise without thinking of things we need and or can't do without this time side note: Very empty wal-mart, parked in 2nd row, no one in check out lines this at 10am things are very different in Chesapeake Virginia, always 6 to 9 people with carts in front of you, and parking is a success if you park in the front half of the parking lot. Drove by drop off pier, attempted to offload luggage then return car, but found a seemingly chaotic scene and decided to go ahead and haul luggage with us to rental car, and ask driver to drop us off at cruise terminal vice airport. He very willingly obliged us (rewarded him with $10 tip). There were Two Holland America ships in this morning (ours Oosterdam, and the Zaandam), so embarkation was quite crowded, but handled relatively efficiently, don't know what I would have done to speed things up, had all forms filled out ahead of time, and once we waited thru the lines, we were in our cabin by 1:30pm. We were NOT escorted to our cabin, like our previous cruise on the Maasdam. However, there were ample cabin stewards posted thru out ship to direct us to our first ever balcony cabin. Reserved a VF guarantee, and got upgraded to a VC. We were very happy with cabin, the cabin lights were different (multiple switches, and they came on in succession after each other so after you hit the button a minute later (ok maybe less) they would all come on. (I noted this because I work as a marine engineer and frequently deal with shipboard lights.) Made our way to Lido deck, noticed that we were definitely in the younger generation, but we enjoy the more laid back, relaxed cruise atmosphere vice that offered by carnival. Noticed that all food served on Lido deck was done by the workers, so we saw no one reaching in with their snot filled hands and infecting everyone. Actually, on this cruise they had the clear soap dispensers everywhere on the ship filled with disinfectant, and saw virtually everyone use them. (they must have heard about the noro virus too). The lido deck was usually full, but never seemed crowded to the excess, we were always able to find a seat (even if we had to look for a couple of minutes). Attempted to do the 3 o'clock wave, wandered around deck 3, 4, and finally 5 till we just stayed on deck 5 and went outside (even though there was a sign crew only). We waved, and waved, to no one in particular, there were I would guess 6-8 of use cruise critic types we could tell this was going to be a fun cruise! Went back to cabin, got our life jackets on, and proceed to drill, this was handled very efficiently, and with seriousness. We were on a different cruise line last summer, and we just went to the assigned lounges, actually being at the life boat, on deck lined up, gave the drill some reality. Went back to cabin, unpacked and got ready for dinner. Dinner was very nice, the waiter, TODOK was excellent!...and we found the Vista Dinning Room to be very eloquent and nicely decorated (although there were some weird things up on the ceiling, and when we asked the head waiter, he said they are decorations - you know Art. The room was a little bit dark, but we enjoyed this. Food/Variety/Presentation/and Taste were all excellent. After dinner the routine was to go to the casino and win a few dollars (till the last day, more on that later), then up to the room to watch a few more episodes of 24 season 1, which we brought with us on the nice Flat screen TV and associated DVD player. (yes, we went to bed every night very early, and did not see any shows). Jan 21th: breakfast in Lido (see above), toured ship, very nicely laid out, and I agree with previous posters who said it was a bit confusing, but I liked the layout, I never felt like I was on a huge ship. (except when I had to walk all the way from the stern to the bow). Met with the entire Cruise Critic gang up in the Oak Room where the ship supplied drinks, and cookies, and we all wore our beads (pre-arranged cruise critic thing). It was very nice putting faces to screen names.  we met the majority of the ship's officers..who are either excellent with names & faces or we made an impact on them, because everytime we saw Hans, Simon, or Roger they would directly acknowledge us! It was a very nice touch being a part of cruise critic and getting some special treatment. (more on that later). Ate lunch, on lido (see above wasn't that hungry but they have the best flat bread sandwiches so I guess being hungry doesn't matter that much when on a cruise) After lunch went down to windstar cafe to attempt to join a game of cards. (Bridge). I found a three-some that needed a fourth, and we played for the next 2 ½ hours had a great time, although we lost. I don't get to play very often, it seems that most people of my generation don't play, and I am not up to the caliber of duplicate yet. Went to dinner (see above). Had a very fast formal dinner, because we were anxious to see the last half of the Colts football game being shown in the sports bar. Needless to say, since I said the colts game, we were elated to see them beat the patriots their nemesis! Had a lively group, with several more patriots fans supporting their team..it was fun I lost my voice I was cheering so loud the whole last quarter!! I hope this weekend has equal results! then off to casino (next door), and did well (see above). Then off to cabin (24, see above). haven't mentioned the weather yet, it was chilly in San Diego as expected, but we did not expect it to be in the 50's on a sea day! so my wife and I intentionally found indoor activities. Jan 22: arrive in Cabo approx 10:30 went to queens lounge at 9:30am to pick up tender ticket, was told they were not distributing till 11am. Showed back up at 10:45 to find that I was able to get ticket number 10 went back to cabin, got my wife, and we were able to join group 10 just as they exited the lounge uneventful tender ride to shore, walked around tourist traps, made our way around the pier, crossed into downtown, made our way back to pier while shopping along side streets. Found some souvenirs and a couple T-shirts. Went back to tender drop off to get in line for our whale watching trip (booked thru ship approx $68/each?), attempted to book a whale watching tour online before leaving for cruise but they were all sold out, and with the shortened port times, I was unwilling to take the risk of a non-reimbursable deposit. Had a great time on tour, saw multiple whales (backs, tails, and fins, and several blows but no breaches). My wife got several pictures of the whales, and she thoroughly enjoyed the tour. We were surprised that the whales were so close to shore the only bad thing I can say was that it was cold. (I would guess upper 50's maybe into the 60's with strong winds). Back to ship dinner (see above), casino (see above), 24 (see above). Jan 22: arrived in Mazatlan to find the ship circling out in sea kept seeing same rock formations. Captain eventually informed us that because of strange weather pattern, and strong winds, he had made 3 attempts to try to get to port but had backed off each time and he would try one more time before 11 and if he didn't make it we would have a sea day instead. We went up to crows nest, and enjoyed the run into the port and it was kinda exciting not much room for error on either side of rock jettys. We were several hours late getting into port, and wandered if our pre-booked tour with Randi's Happy Horses had been canceled. Much to our delight, they were right where they said they would be holding their funky pink signs. The group of us (approx 10), made our way via a pick up truck converted to a taxi, a ride on a small boat across the waterway, and tractor ride (like a hayride) to the horses. We had a wonderful ride along miles of seashore&.we rode on the beach, and just over the sand dunes.  my horse wanted to gallop more than I wanted to.  since I am a beginner, so we lagged behind, but I think everyone had a great time. We then had lunch at Victor's garlic shrimp fantastic the only draw back was that there were several locals peddling their merchandise during our dinner on the beach.when we finished we headed back to the ship (via back of a tractor, and small boat ride &..the whole experience was different and extremely fun, and I highly recommend it for any adventurous types that are out there! ($45/each paid at end of ride). Back to ship, dinner (see above), casino (see above), 24 (see above). Jan 23: arrived in Puerto Vallarta, surprised to find us tendering again obtained tickets, went right to shore, took taxi to privately booked La Vista Canopy Tours ($68/ea) to their office. ($5 taxi ride). Found that we were about 45 minutes early, took another taxi back to port area and the Sams Club/Walmart. ($6 taxi ride). Wife needed to find some warmer clothes&found some then headed back out to grab same taxi to go back to tour office. ($6). Soon found another couple who found their way to the tour office from our ship by recommendation of a taxi driver, and the 4 of us departed for the mountains for our Zip line tour. After a 45 minute, bumpy free massage pick up truck ride to the mountain top, we enjoyed the spectacular views and were quickly given an introduction to Zip lining. We took 4 lines that were relatively close by the start point, so we could get introduced to zip lining&stopping, slowing down everything, then proceeded to the next approx 12 lines with varying heights, and lengths. On one of the steeper ones I came in a bit too fast, and needed the guides to help slow me down before I bowled them all over! (Ha). It was fun and enjoyable, and believe it or not, we actually got hot up there.  it was a clear sky, and in the upper 60's. However, I must confess, after every 2 or 3 lines there would be a hike back up to higher elevations and I did get tired of walking up the hills.  All in all, the guides were very friendly, and informative, there were 3 guides and 4 of us, extremely good ratio! Once we took the 45 minute bumpy ride back down to the cruise area we did more shopping and picked up more items to show for our first ever visit to the Mexican Riviera. Back on the ship we did weekly BBQ on the lido deck very good food. We were worn out from the day, but still found our way to the casino and were able to watch our two episodes of 24. Jan 24 Sea Day, slept in, did lido for breakfast (see above), read book in room till our lunch time date with the Pinnacle grill (provided as gift from TA). Very good, had the filet mignon. would not pay extra for this meal, but we both enjoyed the experience. Wife had digestive issues this day, so I represented our cabin for the cruisecritic cabin crawl!  Had fun going cabin to cabin.  Dinner (see above), casino (see above), 24 (see above). Jan 25th sea day, slept in, did Vista dining room for breakfast. Very enjoyable, different.  I would just assume go thru lido for breakfast and lunch. Packed then the story changes for the casino. Went down to the casino, proceeded to lose most all of our winnings all week. I would tell anyone, that the slots were loose all week, then this last day they tightened them as tight as they could! Anyway, we enjoyed our last day of cruising on the Oosterdam. Dinner (see above), casino (see above Yes we won again the last night), 24 see above. Put bags outside cabin, and lamented our last night was coming to a close. Jan 26. up by 7am, breakfast on Lido (see above), a bit more crowded, but still found a table. Found our cruisecritic friends and said goodbye to them waited for our number/color to be called we were first to be called after self assist however there were crowds of people stuck on stairway waiting for the self assist to debark I guess they were slower than expected&we were still in line, and they called another group and a loud BOO could be heard by all of us standing around waiting on the first group to completely exit. However, from the time our number was called till we were standing outside getting a taxi was only 30 minutes so it wasn't bad at all. Took taxi to airport ($12 with tip), breezed thru security (no comments this time), and awaited our flight home enjoyed California Pizza Kitchen's pizza for lunch there in the terminal at san diego, and had an uneventful flight home to Norfolk via Atlanta. (we watched the final 4 episodes of 24 on the way home and the time flew by!). To everyone who made it to the end I say thank you for taking the time to read my epic novel, and I apologize for all the grammatical and spelling errors, I R an engineer for a reason! (Ha). These are my views, and I want to reiterate how fantastic the crew was. We really enjoyed the cruise critic gang especially Kathy, Heather, Tim, and Dave. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
We recently returned from a 7 day Mexican Riviera Cruise on the Oosterdam. The overall experience for my wife and myself was excellent. We arrived in San Diego the night before the cruise. We stayed at the Residence Inn located about 4 ... Read More
We recently returned from a 7 day Mexican Riviera Cruise on the Oosterdam. The overall experience for my wife and myself was excellent. We arrived in San Diego the night before the cruise. We stayed at the Residence Inn located about 4 blocks from the Cruise Terminal. It was chilly in San Diego but it did not prevent us from walking along the pier to the terminal and having dinner at Ruth's Chris located across the street from the terminal. We spent a quiet night resting at the Residence and were up around 6:30am. After coffee and a light breakfast I strolled down to the pier. Once I rounded the corner past the City County building I saw the Oosterdam docked and looking beautiful. Pictures say a lot but seeing her in person is what does it for me. I walked back to the hotel anxious to get on board. We spent a leisurely morning at the Residence and at 11:30am headed for the Cruise Terminal. The Residence provides a free shuttle to anywhere within a 3 mile radius of the hotel. Upon arrival our bags were taken by a porter and we were directed into the terminal. We displayed our Identification to security and went through the detectors and around a corner where a staff person reviewed our documents and pre boarding material. She gave us a passing grade and directed us to the Suite window (we had a Deluxe Suite SA category cabin 7070). The process took no more than 10 minutes. We then were directed to the boarding area. Our picture was taken and up we went to the Main deck and were greeted by several ship personnel. We were directed to the elevators and were told our cabins would be ready at 1:30pm and that we could eat at the Lido and visit anywhere on the ship. The Lido was not crowded at all although there were still a number of people headed home and waiting for later flights and then of course those of us who could not wait to be on board. The Lido was to become our breakfast headquarters everyday except for one trip to the dining room for breakfast. We loved the Lido and all the choices for breakfast and lunch. Everything was fresh. My only criticism is that the coffee refill stewards are not around that much. Most often we just got up and went to the coffee machines and got our own. Can you imagine having to serve ourselves and actually get up and move (sad isn't it?). The coffee by the way is excellent. Lunch in the Lido is also great. The choices range from sushi to hamburgers and hot dogs. In between there is a variety of items to satisfy any palate. At 1:10pm it was announced that our cabin was ready. I was excited for my wife to see the cabin as we had never had a suite before and I really don't think she realized how nice it was. I directed us right to the cabin (I had every area of the ship memorized) and her response was worth the trip alone. The Suite (Deluxe) was over 500 Sq Ft and just very elegant. The King size bed, mirror along the bed wall, flat screen TV, DVD, leather sofa, two captains chairs, bathroom with a shower and a combo shower /tub, with the tub being a whirlpool was very nice. Bath robes were hanging up for each of us plus house shoes. The veranda is the biggest I have had (16 previous cruises). There was then a knock on the door and we were greeted by our room steward. He introduced himself as August ("not September" he said). He did a fabulous job the entire week. His towel animals on our bed every night was a pleasant ending to each day and on the last day his monkey looked like it should be fed a banana. We went to the Neptune Lounge as our luggage had not yet arrived. We met the concierge and made some changes to our dinner table and checked on an excursion I had booked. They were extremely courteous and helpful. The Neptune is a very comfortable area with treats throughout the day and fresh coffee, tea and a variety of juices. It also has a fairly large wide screen TV. We sat and watched the playoff games for a while then went back to our cabin. The bags had arrived and we unpacked finding we had ample closet and drawer space. The sailing was very smooth throughout the trip with the exception of one evening when we had some rough seas. The Oosterdam handles it very well and it was nothing that really bothered us. Each evening we slept like babies. The food was wonderful and the personnel were as friendly as any cruise I have been on. I have heard people critical of the food but I found it to be some of the best we have ever had. The presentation was a wonderful experience. Our one evening at the Pinnacle Grill was fabulous. We each had the filet. The brag about the Sterling Silver Beef and I was anxious to put it to the test. Well you will recall my saying we ate at Ruth's Chris the night before the cruise. Well I consider their steaks to be the best around. Pinnacle is better. The beef could have been cut with a fork. The service was perfect and it is everything it is advertised to be. The ship was extremely clean. The work that goes into keeping it clean was obvious throughout our cruise with crew members sweeping, polishing, dusting etc. They were replacing carpet in almost every area and they were at work each day in a different area. I did notice that the newer carpet is being put down with a better pad and feels much more plush. They were completing stairways while we were there. Throughout the cruise we sampled all the lounge areas and found them warm and inviting. Drink prices are reasonable however the wine prices are ludicrous. One bottle of wine in the dining room was priced at $39 a bottle. The same bottle at Sams is $9.95. This is the one area they need to get real. the other is the price of the many pictures they take. $10.95 for a picture. I guess they haven't noticed the many people with digital cameras. We took all our own this trip and already have them downloaded and some framed. AI think this process is going to become obsolete unless they get prices more in line. It is a beautiful cruise along the coast. Most relaxing although the weather was not at its best for us. I think Cabo is ok (I did love Cabo Wabo), I did not like Mazatlan, and I totally enjoyed Puerta V. Keep in mind due to the weather our plans for the beach were scrapped. That I am sure gave us a limited view of both Cabo and Mazatlan. Overall the week was wonderful and as always went too quickly. The day arrived for us to head home and we opened the cabin curtains to see the ship docked and the Vandaam alongside soon to be headed to Hawaii. We talked about sneaking on board but decided it was time to head home. The debarkation was as good as it gets. No more than ten minutes to get off. We found our bags immediately and walked another 25 yards and boarded our bus to the airport. During the flight home reality set in. Great trip 5 stars for Holland and the Oosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
This was our 3rd HAL cruise and our 9th cruise overall. We enjoyed our cruise very much. The embarkation in San Diego was a breeze. We were through processing and on the ship at the Lido eating within 20 minutes of arrival on the pier. I ... Read More
This was our 3rd HAL cruise and our 9th cruise overall. We enjoyed our cruise very much. The embarkation in San Diego was a breeze. We were through processing and on the ship at the Lido eating within 20 minutes of arrival on the pier. I commend HAL for there organizational skills here. Our group of 4, ranged age wise from late 30's to early 50's. Once on the ship, we did find the Lido to be very packed (we arrived about Noon), not unexpected. The choice of food was very nice, from the salad bar, sandwich bar, Asian, etc. I think HAL does a good job with variety in the buffet on a daily basis, though we never ate there for dinner so cannot comment on that. Our cabin was nice - with a balcony towards the front of the ship. Plenty of storage in the closets. A sofa, chair and coffee table. Flat screen TV with DVD player. The beds were very comfortable. The bathroom had a tub/shower combo. We had no complaints with any noise nor any vibrations. Our cabin steward was very efficient and kept the room very clean. He made the animal towels nightly, which we very cute. Dining - we actually originally did the traditional (fixed) dining, but after 3 nights changed to the As You Wish new dining concept and found we actually enjoyed the flexibility. Sometimes we wanted to attend the early show, etc. The service at either dining was FANTASTIC. Our dining room waiters were terrific, attentive, made nice recommendations and were accommodating to giving us extra lobster tails and escargots during the 2nd Formal night. The wine stewards were good and we never noticed any lengthy wait to receive service. Overall, I believe we had better service on the Oosterdam than on our other 2 HAL cruises. Watch out for the vibration in the rear dining room level 2. One night they seated us in the direct back of the dining room and we had to ask to be moved. The food in the dining room- it was very good and the variety offered excellent. Only one night did I find the entrees lacking in offering (the so called Dutch night) and when I asked for something off the menu, they were able to accommodate me without problem. We ate several times in the formal dining room for breakfast and lunch and likewise found the food very good. We did not eat in the Pinnacle Grill - though have done so before on another cruise. I actually find the price (now $30 pp) to be expensive, when compared to what you get in the dining room for your cruise price. The atmosphere in the PG is very nice and if I received a free dinner there from my TA, I would eat there, but I do not see it as a must-do. They need to update their menu IMO. We also enjoyed the taco bar/grill - very nice. The room service was also great, and on time. Only one afternoon did we experience a 40 minute wait for a pre-dinner snack and room service told us up front it would take that long. Entertainment - I found this area to be lacking. We enjoyed one show very much - the Broadway musicals. The rest of the shows were so-so. Possibly one of the ships with the worst entertainment IMO. Also the construction of the Vista show lounge could be better - there are large posts that block views. The daily activities were ok as well. Pretty much similar to other HAL cruises. We attended some of the "game" show type of activities - some better than others. The Karaoke contest was quite fun and had a good attendance. We also enjoyed the cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Center. Would have like some more dance lessons other than line dancing and the fox trot. The casino was fine. A good size for the ship. The spa was nice and the thermal spa worth it for one day. The gym was nice as well, though I would like a few more elliptical machines. The ports of call were great as usually. Puerto Vallarta our favorite. The tendering was efficient and organized - perhaps the best we have seen on any cruise. We received a $25pp ship board credit due to an azipod which is not fully functioning. This was a nice touch from HAL. Our port times were somewhat reduced (which was disappointing). Average age on this ship was OLD! A lot of frail people on board! They apparently ran out of wheelchairs on embarkation! I think this contributed to the lack of nightlife and one of the reasons, we will probably consider another cruise line before returning to HAL. However, we had an excellent time due in part to the wonderful staff. I would recommend the Oosterdam and this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
I've just returned from my first cruise and it was brilliant! I am a 62 year old single man and I went on the cruise by myself. I splurged and got myself a superior veranda suite and it was worth it. I could have spent all 7 days in ... Read More
I've just returned from my first cruise and it was brilliant! I am a 62 year old single man and I went on the cruise by myself. I splurged and got myself a superior veranda suite and it was worth it. I could have spent all 7 days in the cabin and I would have been very satisfied, but I didn't. I found this website about three months before my cruise and read the reviews over and over again so I would get the most information. Most people wrote about how wonderful the embarkation proceeded. Well, it wasn't that way for my cruise which departed on Dec. 2nd. It seems there was a G.I. outbreak on the previous cruise and they gave the ship a "deep" cleaning before we were allowed to board. Inside, the terminal reminded me of Ellis Island because all the passengers were just sitting and waiting for their boarding number to be called. I finally boarded the ship at 2:15 after arriving at the pier at 12 noon. Once on board the ship, I was in another world and stayed in that world for 7 days. CABIN My cabin was very spacious. A queen size bed, a couch, two side chairs and all the drawer and closet storage you could want. The bathroom was much larger than I expected. It had two sinks and a large jacuzzi bathtub. It also had a separate stall shower. The veranda was also very large. It had a table and two chairs on one side and two other larger chairs with ottomans on the other side. Because I had read a previous review, I ordered eggs benedict for breakfast in my cabin every morning. Eggs benedict is not on the menu, but I just wrote it, as the previous reviewer mentioned, and VIOLA! the most delicious and hot breakfast was served on my veranda every morning. Every evening before going to dine at 8pm, I would order a margarita and Atlantic salmon appetizer. The room steward was alright. Not as good as I had expected from the other reviewers but he did keep the room clean. MEALS I don't care for buffets, so I never ate in the Lido restaurant. However, the variety of food was terrific and it seemed never ending. There is an ice cream station in the Lido, and I did enjoy it. I usually had a light lunch from the Terrace Grill just outside the Lido restaurant. They prepared cheeseburgers, hot dogs, bratworst and breast of chicken and they have very good french fries too. The Vista dining room more than met my expectations I was seated at a table for 10 but there were just nine of us. We all got along very well. There were two couples, three single ladies and one other single lady traveling alone, like I was. I couldn't believe how extensive the selections were every evening. I never had trouble finding something that pleased me. I'll add that I usually ordered more than one entree but never could finish both. I also ate in the Pinnacle Grill one night. The food was good but no that different from the Vista Dining Room. I wouldn't eat there again, but I think everyone should try it for the experience. The service was not anything to rave about. On Thursday night, they had a chocolate decadence dessert buffet in the Lido restaurant. It started at 10pm and I went to see it around 11pm. The chocolate creations were really masterpieces. I am a chocoholic and it was really special to see all the different desserts but I was so full from dinner, I didn't eat one thing. ENTERTAINMENT I found out that a string quartet played classical music in the Explorer Lounge every evening and after dinner, usually around 10pm, I would go straight to listen to them play. They were fabulous. I'm not a show person, so I only went to one show because one of my dinner couples asked me to go with them. I went to the magic show and it was sensational. However, that was the only show I attended. PORTS I went to a very special resort in Los Cabos called Las Ventanas. It was recommended by my daughter since she had stayed there and she suggested that I might have lunch there, which I did. However, I had to make a reservation with their Los Angeles sales office in order to get onto the property. You can't just show up. It was fabulous! The hotel, the pool, the food and whole resort would be a wonderful place to spend a few days on my next trip. I never left the ship in Mazatlan and I was glad that I stayed on board. I treated myself to a facial in the spa and it was great. It also was my first facial. Since most of the passengers were ashore, the ship was very peaceful and I spent most of the day reading and sunbathing by the pool on the rear of the ship. I had arranged for the Taste of Mexico shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The tour guide was very knowledgeable about the city and we were able to walk around the downtown area before going to the restaurant for the cooking demonstration. It was lots of fun especially the tequila tasting at the end. Some people wanted to shop in the old part of the city. It was a beautiful part of the city since it wasn't a tourist area like the downtown area is. I went shopping there and to the downtown area before I took a taxi back to the pier to get a tender back to the ship. It had been over 30 years since I'd been to P.V. and of course, it has changed immensely. It was a good stop for me. OVERALL SERVICE The crew is very friendly and everyone makes sure to smile and say "hello". I also want to add that I felt very safe on and off the ship. The crew was very good about helping us board the tenders and being around the pier all day if we needed their assistance. I would also like to add that the cruise director, Michelle, was very friendly and encouraged participation in the ships events without being pushy. I was very happy with HAL and the Oosterdam. I was told that the broken azipod motor will be fixed in drydock in Victoria, BC in January. That will make a big difference since the time we were in a couple of the ports had to be shortened because the ship's speed was cut down to 17.5 knots. I've already booked my next cruise. It will be a 6 day, Pacific Coastal transition cruise on Princess Lines from Vancouver to Los Angeles in September, 07. I definitely would take another HAL cruise. One thing though. I never heard about the cruise critic meeting while I was on the ship and I'm sorry I missed it. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you find it helpful. David Phoenix, AZ Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Travelers: Myself 40's, my mother 70, and my son 8. My aunt and uncle as joined us (60's) they stayed in a VC 5168. We flew in from Seattle on Friday and stayed at the Hampton Inn. It worked out well as they have a van that ... Read More
Travelers: Myself 40's, my mother 70, and my son 8. My aunt and uncle as joined us (60's) they stayed in a VC 5168. We flew in from Seattle on Friday and stayed at the Hampton Inn. It worked out well as they have a van that picked us up at the airport at 12:30 pm and took us to the hotel. I requested rooms toward the front and we got them. One of the rooms wasn't ready but one was we put our luggage in one room and took off for lunch. When we returned the other room was ready so we settled in and meet up again about 6:30 for dinner which we walked to at Anthony's Fish Grotto it was wonderful walked right in and were sat right away. I was expecting a wait being Friday night. I think this is a perfect hotel if the Holiday Inn is booked or if you want to save $50.00 or $60.00 a room. The hotel shuttle took us and all our luggage to the terminal the next morning. Embarkation: Went very smooth, we got our carry-on luggage and went through security, and got right up to check-in. we arrived at 11:30 and there was already quite a few people there, but the wait was short. We waited about 5 minutes and our number was called to board. We were on the ship about 20 minutes after arriving at the pier. We got a table in the Lido and I went right away to get our Pinnacle reservations confirmed. We got called to our rooms about 1:30. No luggage until about 4:00 but didn't really need except jackets for muster as it was chilly. Stateroom: We were in SS8072 a superior suite. It was perfect for the 3 of us. The bathroom was spacious and plenty of closet space, the beds were super comfy, even the sofa bed for my son was comfy (not as great as the beds, but we didn't tell him as he was happy with his). Flat screen TVs and DVD players. Our cabin steward was Harjo he was super. We had things before we asked. He loved to visit because he said he liked to practice his English. My son loved seeing what towel animal would be there each night waiting on his bed. Dining: We had table 28 which is on Deck 3 portside aft windows in the middle of the aft. Our servers Mat and Alit were great. They made every dinner wonderful. We had main seating at 8 to 9 but we were always there not later than 8:15. I fed my son at the Lido every day as he didn't want to miss Club Hal at 8. This worked out well for me as I was able to enjoy the leisurely dinner for 1 ½ hours to 2 hours which he would never have been able to sit through. Our dinner at the Pinnacle was fabulous I had the tenderloin and everyone else had the rib steak. The service was attentive and after they brought dessert they brought my mom a whole chocolate mousse cake(the reason for the cruise was her 70th birthday). They also let my son get his entrEe very fast so he could go to Club Hal. Ports of call: We only did Swim with the Dolphins in PV and that was worth every dollar. In Cabo we just walked around, shopped and ate at Cabo Wabo. Mazatlan we shopped and took a ride to Golden Zone and then to el Centro. Would book with Mazatlan Frank if possible or stay on ship and take advantage of spa specials. Entertainment: Julie Barr and Joel Mason were great. Bought his DVD and am so glad I did. We enjoyed this cruise very much and would do it again. There were negatives but they weren't big enough to interfere with our fun. There was a lot of kids on board but other than the 1st day and the last day I didn't notice them with exception of the brat pack that were running through the ship non stop. I went to a CC get together and Mr. Deering showed up, what a wonderful man he is. He answered all the questions about the azipod. The shortened port times were not a problem either and the $25.00 per person credit was much appreciated, spent on pictures and soda card. Sorry this is so long, but I really felt the Oosterdam was getting a bad rap for things that aren't that big of a deal. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. Club Hal: My son had a great time, I was a leery about him checking himself in and out but after the 2nd day he was coming to the room and taking a nap so he could go back in the afternoon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Oosterdam Mexican Riviera Cruise 11-25-06 to 21-2-06 by AZjohn OK, this will be my first cruise review I have ever done. I hope to offer a brief overview of my wife and my experience onboard and a few shore excursions that we did which ... Read More
Oosterdam Mexican Riviera Cruise 11-25-06 to 21-2-06 by AZjohn OK, this will be my first cruise review I have ever done. I hope to offer a brief overview of my wife and my experience onboard and a few shore excursions that we did which maybe a little different than our fellow Cruse Critic members. By the way, we had the best Cruise Critic group, period!!!! Personal Background: We are a couple in our late 40's /early 50's who have cruised 4 times previously to this in the past 3 years (we became quickly addicted to cruising after our first experience in 2003). The previous cruises were on Carnival, NCL, Oceania, and HAL, with this cruise being our second time on HAL. We basically look for two different ways to enjoy a specific itinerary on a cruise. Either a port intensive exploration of towns or a simple R&R escape from a busy life. This particular cruise was deemed as totally R&R with no need for anything but nice weather and a comfortable lounge chair. The Ship: The Oosterdam was an inviting and gracious ship. Our stateroom was a VB veranda # 6112 on the port side. It was typical in size but got to say the bed was much larger than we ever experienced on any ship before. It felt close to a king size rather than a small queen size, which is a huge bonus for us both. We also enjoyed the view on the veranda through the glass and the bathtub is what the wife enjoys over any other cruise line. Our steward, Tony, was great and always took care of us in the standard HAL way. The flow of the inside public areas were kind of different than what we have experienced before. It seemed to kind of wonder or snake around from fore to aft with a lot of small secluded sitting/bar areas. I found it interesting to seem to find a new area of the ship most everyday. Our favorite spot for lounging in the sun was on deck 10 by a spiral staircase you can find by the lido pool. There wasn't much traffic up there or music playing, which was exactly what we enjoyed about it. Just the sound of the ocean and the sea breeze blowing across the deck, ahhhhh. We had the first dinning time in the main dinning room on deck 2 (lower). We had a great crew taking care of us there with a can do or will do attitude. We were seated at a table for 4 and the other couple was friends of ours. Now this really helped with the flex dinning time of between 5:30 and 6:00 because we were always either running early or late to dinner. It was great to ask the other couple what time we want to meet for dinner an hour before hand, so we never had to wait for each other before we ordered. I could imagine if it was another couple we didn't know who was sharing the same table, we would have problems if we showed up at 6:00 and they showed up at 5:30. We did have dinner one night in the Pinnacle Grill which was the only negative experience we had on the whole cruise. The overall condition of the ship I would rank as excellent. I finally got to meet James Deering at our CC party and I can tell he runs a great ship and he is a nice person. I thought it was very cool he took time out of his day to meet our group and talked very candidly about the ship. This leads me to the topic of the port side azipod. Other than showing up at noon in Cabo and leaving PV at 6:00 or 7:00, there wasn't anyway I could tell there was a problem with the azipod. Plans are to replace the azipod with a new one which will be shipped at the first of the year. When it will be replaced in dry dock is yet to be determined by the headquarter offices in Washington. Embarkation and Disembarkation was a breeze in San Diego. What a pleasure it is to show up at 10:30 and be on the ship at 11:30 having lunch. Our cabin was ready at 1:30 and Tony was there to greet us with a smile. The following Saturday (I will refer to as the saddest day of the cruise) we were able to order room service for breakfast and hang out in our room or lounge at my favorite spot on deck 10 until 9:45 when we were called to leave the ship. Took us only 15 minutes and we had our luggage and cab heading for the airport. Ports Of Call: Cabo was a short day due to arriving at noon. We took the Swimming with the Dolphins excursion through HAL. What an experience!!!! There were 5 groups of 6 people in each who got to go in the huge pool and play and swim with dolphins. I don't know how to describe this experience the way it should, but I will just say that everyone should try this once in their life, it's truly worth the cost. In Mazatlan we booked and 4 and a half hour massage at Aroma Spa (use to be called Royal Spa). I got to tell you that this was an awesome experience and the service was great. An American named Knute owns this and was great to deal with. We pre-purchased these massages on e-bay for about $70 each (what a deal). Now I got to warn you that if you are shy this may not be a massage you would enjoy because the therapist will massage every inch of your body with the exception of your private areas, but they came close to those&LOL. Just a small towel is used to cover those areas, but I personally enjoyed my buns massaged and am not usually shy or bashful. The spa is located about a mile or two from the pier but would recommend getting a taxi to take you there because it would have been impossible to find just by walking (a lot of one way streets to get there). PV was our favorite stop on the cruise. We walked directly to Krystal Resort from the ship (thanks to the CC members who gave directions). Now they do charge $20 to get into the resort but I just flashed them a copy of my e-mail conformation for our massage appointments and told the security guard we are here for a massage. They let us in with no problem without paying the $20 each. Once inside we headed for the beach part of the resort to find some lounge chairs on the beach. We found a guy dressed in a brown uniform that was in charge of assigning the beach lounge chairs and handed him $5 and asked for 2 chairs under a straw umbrella next to the shore line. He gave us the best he had, wiped off the chairs and got us a table and then called our waiter over for us. At noon we headed over to the massage area (can you see a pattern here?) and had another exceptional massage at the price of $35 for 75 minutes. The rest of our day was spent lounging on the beach, eating and drinking, and just enjoying life. Our bill at the end of the day for 2 lunches and 5 drinks was something like $20, so we gave the waiter a nice tip and called it a great day! Oh, and I tried parasailing there for the first time in my life and what another great experience! Summary: My wife and I had a very enjoyable and relaxing week vacation. Because we were just looking for kicking back and not having to be entertained or partying all the time, this cruise worked out perfect. We do enjoy HAL for many personal reasons but understand they may not be right for everyone. I don't think we will ever book a cruise on a larger ship than the Oosterdam and will probably stick with the Volendam size ship next time we book a HAL cruise. Not that there is anything wrong with the Oosterdam, she is a beautiful ship, but we both kind of have fond memories of our first cruise on the Volendam last summer in Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
Oosterdam Mexican Cruise 11/18/06  11/25/06 Embarkation  We arrived about 11:45 on Saturday the 18th. We dropped our bags at the terminal and then I parked the car in the lot across the street, very convenient. There were 4 of us and ... Read More
Oosterdam Mexican Cruise 11/18/06  11/25/06 Embarkation  We arrived about 11:45 on Saturday the 18th. We dropped our bags at the terminal and then I parked the car in the lot across the street, very convenient. There were 4 of us and our check-in went smoothly the computers were down so they could not take our pictures at check-in. (We had our pictures taken that night at the front desk took all of 5 minutes). We were given a number (17) and were asked to wait until it was called to board, we waited about 15 minutes and then were on to the ship. The 4 of us were escorted to the Lido deck after checking in our carry on baggage (this was nice as we did not have to lug our baggage around with us). At approximately 1:00 PM the call came that our cabins were ready picked up our carry on bags and preceded to the cabins. Cabin 5002 this is a handicap cabin at the front of the ship (I recently had knee surgery) the cabin was nicely laid out and the cabin steward (NaNang) was at our beck and call. We had minor problems with the toilet not flushing the first day and he got it fixed in a matter of hours. We also had an AC problem after some maintenance was done near our cabin and NaNang got it fixed right away. Great Steward and very friendly he always greeted us with a smile. This cabin has lots of storage we did not use all the shelves and drawers. The verandah is a great place to watch dolphins surfing in the wake of the ship and flying fish. Those going on this cruise in Jan  Mar 07 should be able to see whales from the verandah. Early Dining (5:30 - 6:00)  We had 3 different waiters (Guru, Iip, Artha) during the cruise  lucky for us the asst. waiter (Prince Rama) was with us every night. Here we had a little concern, this is the first time I have been on a cruise ship that almost every dish had onions in it, even chilled Mango soup. This is a problem as I am allergic to onions. After some discussions with the waiters and head waiter, I was allowed to see the next evening menu prior to leaving each night, this way I could order and they made sure no onions were served to me. As for selection on the menus it seemed that it was not as good as on the Maasdam, this could be for many reasons but I believe it is the chef's choice as to what is served or offered. Thanksgiving the menu options included a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner and a lot of people ordered that. Two of those at our table requested more gravy as not much was on the plate - messes up the presentation so the Asst. Waiter got them their own gravy boat full of gravy. Because the Thanksgiving the Surf and Turf usually scheduled for Formal Night was offered on Wednesday night. Lido - we ate most breakfasts and lunch in the Lido and found the service could have been better. It is a little hard to handle a tray of food with one hand while walking with a cane. Lucky for me after the 2nd day Iip (who worked the Lido for breakfast and Lunch) saw me and made sure someone assisted with the tray. The selection in the Lido was one of the best I have seen on any ship. The bread pudding was great however if you didn't get any by 2:00 pm each day they seemed to run out. The selection of sugar free/no sugar added desserts were ok. Pinnacle - we ate in the Pinnacle on Monday evening, gift from our TA, there were six of us and we each had something different. The service was good however probably would not pay the $30 per person to dine here. This is just my opinion. Lay out of the ship- Talked with Mr. Dearing the Hotel Manager about the choke points in the ship - Photo Gallery and Shopping Arcade - he stated that it was designed that way so you have to go through those areas. The designers thought it would help photo and shop sales, in my opinion I don't think it worked as we went on Deck and around those areas when it was crowded. Casino - We felt the casino was about the right size. We never had a problem finding a slot machine or a gaming table. One of the group actually got a blister on her finger from playing one of the games. However, I thought it was weird to have the Texas Hold'em table in the sports bar. Photographers - The photographers were not as insistent as on other cruises we have been on. This was a good thing, once we told them we were not interested they left you alone. Shopping Guide - Linda the shopping guide assisted our wives in getting some good prices on jewelry. She went out of her way and delayed going back to the ship to help our wives out. She was very knowledgeable on what a good price was and how far you could negotiate with the local dealers. Shows - The shows were the usual cruise faire except for Julie Barr the comedian, she gave two shows one was a family show and one was for Adults. Both of her shows were outstanding she gets the audience involved in the show and that was great. Mariner Party - The Mariner Party with the Captain was not well attended, approximately 200 out of 700 Mariners appeared at the party. We also attended a smaller party with the Captain and Officers in the Oak Room; we were able to actually speak with a number of officers, the Cruise Director and others about the ship and what we could expect during the cruise. This was a very informative and insightful gathering. Green House Spa - I had a rock massage and would not recommend it to anyone. After the massage I felt like my shoulders and back was still knotted up. I had the same massage on the Maasdam in February and felt great afterwards. Ports of Call: Cabo San Lucas - There were relatively high seas and since you tender in this port it took awhile to load the tenders and get ashore. HAL did hire extra tenders to help with the tendering process. We picked up our tender tickets (# 45) at about 12:30 and were not called to get on the tender until 1:40. As we are fisherman we just went to the pier and talked to the locals about the fishing, saw a lot of Marlin, and Dorado being brought in. We plan on coming back on a land vacation to do some fishing. Mazatlan - We tied up to the pier here and disembarkation went very smooth. We did not have a shore excursion planned here and ended up getting a local tour operator to take us around for $20 per person. He was knowledgeable, however we were put with a group of people who just wanted to see the local churches, and our wives wanted to shop so he had a hard time pleasing both groups. I believe next time we will take a taxi or a HAL shore excursion. Puerto Vallarta - This was another tender port, the seas were calm and tendering went fast. We took the Town and Country Tequila tour, it was well worth it, and our guide Jose (Pepe) was very knowledgeable and made the tour very interesting. Learning how Tequila was made was educational and the tasting wasn't bad either. We did have a couple that did not return to the Bus when we were downtown and Jose waited about a ½ hour for them and then left them in town. The way I look at it is if 20+ people can make it back on time then it was only their fault they got left in town. Sea Days - There was so much going on you could not physically do everything so you had to choose what you wanted to do or just relax by one of the pools. We had a great time just watching others have a good time. The Cruise Director and her staff did a good job getting people involved in the activities. Disembarkation - This went very smooth, being able to stay in your cabin until your number is called is great. However, there were still people who lined up in the passageways around the gangplank with their luggage to wait for their number to be called. Finding the our bags was easy, just asked the HAL rep were Orange 4 was and found our bags were all together in one area. First time we haven't had to hunt for our bags. Since we parked across the street I went and got the car and pulled up to the terminal and we were on our way back to LA before 10:00 AM. Miscellaneous - Everyone who was on this cruise has a different experience, we enjoyed ourselves and thought the crew went out of their way to accommodate us. The vibration from running on one Azipod was more noticeable in the aft part of the ship and when the ship was going at least 16 knots, the further forward we wend the less noticeable it was for us. However in some moderate seas 7 to 10 feet we felt the roll of the ship more in our cabin than our friends did in their Aft-ship cabin. Overall this was a great experience and we can't wait to go on the Volendam in January. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
Excellent ship. Service was terrific. Entertainment and "things to do" if you took part, covered your day. meals were so -so at times. Some of the dinner entrees and appetizers were dull. The Thanksgiving meal was terrible. ... Read More
Excellent ship. Service was terrific. Entertainment and "things to do" if you took part, covered your day. meals were so -so at times. Some of the dinner entrees and appetizers were dull. The Thanksgiving meal was terrible. Although i appreciated the sushi each deal at lunch it was very flat in taste and had no imagination. The was was in terrific shape being only 3 years old. However somewhere along the line they lost one of the Azipod engines and we had to run on only one. Couldn't notice the loss of the engine but it did require a shorter time in the ports as we couldn't make up the speed. As an fyi...the beds on this ship are terrific..big thick mattresses and excellent pillows. Balcony cabin was small Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
This was my thirty-third cruise overall and my sixth with HAL. It was also my second time on the MS Oosterdam; the first was Alaska Sept. 2004. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the pier (tent) at 11:00 AM and were onboard by ... Read More
This was my thirty-third cruise overall and my sixth with HAL. It was also my second time on the MS Oosterdam; the first was Alaska Sept. 2004. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the pier (tent) at 11:00 AM and were onboard by 11:30. I gave my bride a brief tour of the ship and she seemed genuinely pleased. The cabins were available by 1:30 PM and I have to say we were extremely impressed. We had requested a Deluxe Verandah Suite and ours' was located on the stern, port side, deck four. The balcony was huge. It wrapped around the stern and was large enough to have a party for twenty persons. It was just great! We also enjoyed the exclusiveness of the Neptune Lounge and the numerous functions hosted by the Captain and Hotel Manager The cabin was very spacious and my wife liked the separate dressing area very much. There was a complimentary bottle of champagne from the Captain and we saved that for my birthday which was one half way through the cruise. We met our cabin steward (Tokieman) and he proved to be outstanding throughout the cruise. We wanted to take him home. The ship had a different feel about it as opposed to the previous cruise on the Oosterdam. It took me a while to figure out what it was, but did soon enough. HAL has instituted a new program named "Signature of Excellence". It showed throughout the cruise. The ship had just left dry-dock and much of the carpet and furniture had been replaced. The entire ship was spotless, but the biggest improvement was the service and the food. Don't get me wrong, HAL has always had good food and the service has always been just great. But with this new program it was even better and it showed. The Oosterdam has lost the use of one Azipod during the previous cruise and it was announced that we would bet traveling with only one and therefore our speed would be reduced from 24 knots to 19 knots. To compensate the passengers for this slight inconvenience we were given an onboard credit of $ 25.00 per passenger and a complimentary bottle of wine with our Sunday evening dinner. I heard that this Azipod situation will be partially corrected within two weeks and completely replaced during the April haul out. Out itinerary included Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. The tendering process was painless and done well in both tendered ports. We opted not to use HAL shore excursions and went on our own in each port. I enjoyed Mazatlan the most but my wife liked Puerto Vallarta the best. Cabo was OK, but hot and not too much going on. It was still worth seeing though. Onboard we enjoyed the Crow's Nest, Ocean Bar, and Seaview Lounge the most. However they were all great. The casino took its usual toll from whoever went there and played. One night we went to the Pinnacle Restaurant and again it was superlative. The upgrade is now $30.00 but well worth it. If you get a chance do go and book quickly as reservation fill up quickly. We did not take in any shows but fellow passengers said they were OK. We also did not use the spa or gym. Disembarkation at the end was done just right and we were of the ship at 8:30 AM promptly as requested. Overall, I tip my hat to HAL. They are the best I've cruised with. I am happy the parent company Carnival has decided to let HAL operate to such a degree of excellence. Again I highly recommend HAL and it you can swing a Deluxe Verandah Suite, you should. What a treat! Peter Cunningham Fairhope, AL Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
Our October Pacific Coastal adventure started with an overnight stay at the beautiful Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver. Everything at this property met our expectations, including a very nice dinner at the Five Sails Restaurant. Upon ... Read More
Our October Pacific Coastal adventure started with an overnight stay at the beautiful Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver. Everything at this property met our expectations, including a very nice dinner at the Five Sails Restaurant. Upon checkout, our bags were sent directly from our room to the ship ( which was an unexpected perk )! We proceeded from our room to the elevator which dropped us off at the cruise embarkation area. Embarkation took us about 5 minutes at the most ( checked in about noon ). This was one of the best we have had in the many cruises we have taken. As the rooms were scheduled to be released about 1:30 p.m., we explored the ship and had a quick bite to eat at the buffet. The rooms were actually early and all rooms opened at 1:00, to the delight of those onboard. The ship reminded me of many years ago, being on a transatlantic ocean liner. This is certainly no great megaship, with malls and huge atriums, but did have a wonderful feel to the both of us. The ship had just finished a 10 day retrofit and it certainly showed. New carpets everywhere, fresh paint and very clean! Again, even though this is a large ship in it's class, most of the time we walked the ship, we had a feeling of being alone. Saw very few guests except at meal or showtime. It was wonderful for what we were looking for on this cruise. We were on our own this trip ( left our son with friends ) so we decided to get a deluxe veranda suite. This room was everything that we had wanted; from lots of space with couches and chairs, to DVD, to a large bathroom with whirlpool tub and separate shower! We had so much closet space, it felt like heaven. Our veranda was very comfortable ( and large ) so we spent a good amount of time on it instead of the pool area. We enjoyed our room so much, we stayed a bit more reclusive than we normally would. WE usually spend a lot of time at the pool area, but we enjoyed the tranquility and solitude so much in the room that it just worked for us. The bed was a bit harder than the new beds on Carnival and RCI, but was comfortable none the less. Our cabin steward was extremely friendly and non obtrusive and made sure our needs were taken care of at all times. Fresh fruit in the room made for a nice touch too. The nice part of the "Suite" life, was the Neptune Lounge. This is a small concierge type lounge that was only open to suite guests. Everyday we had a coffee, a few pastries or tea sandwiches in a very quiet and comfortable atmosphere. Another VERY NICE perk was the addition of being able to have an ala carte breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. Although we usually eat breakfast at the buffet, this was very nice as, again, it was not crowded ( usually about 10-12 persons only ) and made for a quiet, relaxing breakfast spot. The staff in this room every morning was superb and they made it a great experience for us each day. Dining on the ship came to us in a few ways. We tried a few meals in the buffet for lunch (nothing special Much better lay out and flow on the megaships. Each meal is served to you and plate covers are put over your food to try to keep it hot. Not sure this really works, as most of the food throughout the ship, was never really hot; lukewarm at best. The Dining Room food was good, but the friendliness of the servers is what really made this a nice experience. Although the staff was not overly polished in the ways of service, their smiles and attitude made up for any of that. Food again, okay, better on Carnival Legend, but better than RCI, who has slipped in their foodservice. A dinner meal in the Pinnacle grill was a very nice treat. I have to say that for the second time now, I have been served a great steak on board a ship ( Carnival Legend and now this ). Both RCI and Princess have steak houses on board, but serve low graded steaks that are not very good. Being in the F&B business, I was happy to pay a little extra to have the Sterling Beef ( which is a proprietary brand ...low prime, high choice meat product ). It was a very nice meal all the way through. Only interjection was that I had hoped the wine list in this restaurant would have been better. We normally take wines with us but, due to new airline restrictions, we don't now. All in all, a wonderful evening not to be missed. Again, part of Suite perks were special invites to captain's parties along with a very nice intimate buffet luncheon. The price value of a suite, combined with the extras, make this a wonderful deal that should not be missed, especially if you want some "alone time". Disembarkation in San Diego was a swift, seamless process. We stayed in our room until our group was called ( now THAT is a wonderful perk...not being herded into lounges )! We walked off the ship, grabbed our bags and were at the airport. This entire process from our room to the airport was less than twenty minutes! The entertainment was good, not great, but still enjoyable. I must say that if our son ( 16 years ) had been on the ship, he would probably been bored to death. Definitely not a ship for the young. As a young early 50's couple, who were looking for quiet and little stress, we loved our time on board. So, as a first timer to Holland America, we can only say that we enjoyed every minute of our ship time and look forward to another time with this line. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
We flew into Seattle the night before departure and stayed at the Andra Hotel downtown. I highly recommend both the hotel and its restaurant. This was our first cruise so we were a little anxious, but we were not disappointed. The ship ... Read More
We flew into Seattle the night before departure and stayed at the Andra Hotel downtown. I highly recommend both the hotel and its restaurant. This was our first cruise so we were a little anxious, but we were not disappointed. The ship was beautiful. Cabin: We had a superior suite in the bow of the ship. The balcony was worth the extra money. Our particular cabin had an aft window as well as the balcony on the port side. The aft window helped us to spot more than 20 whales while we were at sea. It was very roomy. Plenty of room to hang up clothes and store luggage. The bathroom was large. The bedding was very comfortable. Our cabin steward, Nanang, was very attentive - he knew our names on the first day! Dining: The dining room was very elegant - silver and china. Quite a few men wore tuxedos on formal nights. We received excellent service there as well. The Lido was a great informal alternative. They served most of the same dishes there that were being served in the dining room, in addition to other alternatives (pizza, pasta, etc). One note of caution, however; the Lido is open for extended hours, but not all of the dining choices are available all the time. That is something HAL should advertise better. We ordered room service for breakfast every morning, which was also very good. Crew: I was very impressed with the crew, beginning with the Captain. We met him in the Lido on the second night. He was very courteous and took the time to speak with my wife and I for a few minutes. We ran into him on a couple of other occasions. Each time, he took a moment to say "good evening" and ask if we were enjoying ourselves. One evening, we ran into a couple of Dutch officer cadets in the shopping arcade. My wife had a question about the meaning of a Dutch word. The two of them ended up talking to us, patiently answering questions about the ship, about Holland, and where were the best places to spot whales for more than an hour. For 17 and 18 year old boys, they were both very professional and courteous. The staff in the shopping arcade were very helpful. I have already mentioned the cabin and dining stewards. Journey: The first morning, seas were quite rough. Quite a few people were seasick (including my wife). After that the seas and the weather were beautiful. Juneau - we rented a cab who took us to the Mendenhall glacier, the Salmon River, and gave us a quick driving tour of Juneau. The Mendenhall glacier was impressive, but nothing compared to the Hubbard glacier we would see a few days later. Juneau is a good town for shopping and there were a lot of end-of-season deals. If I had it to do over again, I would probably either go on a whale watching excursion of just spend the day shopping. Sitka - Very nice, quaint town. Not the best place to shop. We walked to the Raptor Center and totem park. Both were worthwhile. Hubbard Glacier - Spectacular! The highlight of the trip. This is the reason for visiting Alaska by cruise ship at least once in your life. The weather was beautiful. The Captain got the ship very close. The glacier is an amazing color of blue, continuously calving, making sounds like thunder. Words cannot do this wonder justice. Ketchikan - great town for shopping. Creek street was interesting. The walk to the Totem Center and Salmon hatchery was very pretty, away from a lot of the people. I got a private tour of hatchery, as I was the only one there! There is a nice museum there as well. Victoria - This is a beautiful city, but there is really not enough time to enjoy it on this cruise, nor are the excursions offered by HAL very interesting. We have relatives there, which we spent a few hours visiting. Overall, this ship does not have much nightlife. That may be because most people are exhausted from all the excursions! There are also not a lot of children. We did meet a family with children who were very pleased with Club HAL. Their children received a lot of personal attention from the staff and they had a ball. Disembarkation: This was pretty painless. We signed up for the latest time available so we wouldn't be rushed. HAL stored our bags for us for a modest fee while we explored Seattle for several hours before heading for the airport. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
Oosterdam- Sept 2006 What a wonderful ship. It is only 3 yrs old and a Spotless ship. This was our first cruise. All that I had read about HA I wanted to be pampered and they are the company for that. We had a balcony room in the Aft. ... Read More
Oosterdam- Sept 2006 What a wonderful ship. It is only 3 yrs old and a Spotless ship. This was our first cruise. All that I had read about HA I wanted to be pampered and they are the company for that. We had a balcony room in the Aft. Great views, would not cruise without a balcony room it was worth the extra money. We spoke to some people that did not have a window or just small window. They did not have the same experience as waking up with the wonderful views, We did not have to leave our room for the glacier viewing! Beautiful sunsets and sun rises. Our room steward was great. Room always clean, would get you anything you needed.( and that was not much) HA sees to ALL your needs. Bed slept like a dream. Bathroom was very big tub and shower. plenty of outlets in room. Meals- All dinning was VERY good. We ate at all the dinning options! We did have a soda card provided by TA. We didn't just eat we grazed! HA has the ability to make you feel like they have know you for ever. EVERY staff member. Photos were great. 20.95 per picture first cruise get some no regrets. Get people. Spa experience as top line. The young ladies do try to sell some items but if you just tell you no or you need to think about it they understand. I was not pressured. Took 2 spa days. Thermo pool, scalp massage, just was treated very well. Not to crowed. Did take advantage of specials. Bingo always fun, shows and entertainment good. If you get board on this ship you are just a boring person. Ship is very clean and beautiful! Staff deserves praise. They work hard and it shows. I would tell you this ship made our trip. Now as far a HA being for OLD people. We had every age on this ship. HA, is no party ship but can provide entertainment for all ages. I did not see young people board out of their minds. Lots of "families" nice to see. Babies, children very well behaved. See you on another HA ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
My husband and I traveled with 10 other family members to Alaska. While this was our third cruise, it was the first cruise adventure for almost all the others. Our ages ranged from 6 years old to 87 years old. It was the first time we had ... Read More
My husband and I traveled with 10 other family members to Alaska. While this was our third cruise, it was the first cruise adventure for almost all the others. Our ages ranged from 6 years old to 87 years old. It was the first time we had all vacationed together and cruising was the perfect choice. Each person found plenty to interest them in and out of port and we didnt all have to be together every minute of every day. We enjoyed meeting up at meals to share experiences and visit. It was a great family vacation! Embarkation was a zoo. Some family members checked in early (11:30) and breezed right in. It took us at least an hour of standing in line before we got on board. But once aboard our rooms were ready and we were able to go straight to them. Then lunch was waiting for us in the Lido buffet and the food overdose officially began! Alaska is truly magnificent and beautiful and several of us vowed to go back again and explore it on our own someday. The cruise ship is lovely but the Alaskan wilderness is the real star of the show. I urge anyone going to Alaska on a cruise to get out and do as many shore excursions as possible. Its well worth the money and you will not be disappointed (if you choose wisely). I booked 2 excursions directly with the vendors (via the internet) versus booking them through the ship. We saved a ton of money this way. Juneau -- Our first port was Juneau and we went on a whale watching excursion which we booked through the ship. Whale watching can be somewhat boringyou search for hours only to see distant shapes in the water. Not this one. We saw 13 humpbacks bubble feeding. Twelve whales got in a giant circle while the thirteenth dove down deep and blew bubbles to drive fish to the surface. Then all the whales, all at once, burst to the surface with their mouths open to catch the fish. It was just amazing. We saw them do this 5 or 6 times before we had to head back in. The naturalist on board said that this behavior is not seen often but that it had been witnessed numerous times over the last few weeks. We felt very very lucky. For some of us it was the highlight of the entire trip and I was glad that my 87 year old mother was able to experience it. She couldnt believe what she was seeing. In conjunction with the whale watching we had also booked a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. Our bus was waiting for us once we got off the catamaran and we drove immediately to the glacier. This is not to be missed. You can only get to within a mile of the glacier but it is so huge that it looks like its only a block away. You can easily go into town and get a bus to the glacier on your own. I dont know what those are like, but we had a bus driver that was really informative and told us all kinds of things about the town, the glacier, wildlife and the local culture. I believe it was a Greyline bus tour. Even after all that we still had time to shop around in town before the ship left. The shopping was good. TIP: If you do a long excursion bring food from the ship. We were starving near the end of the whale watching trip and all they had on board the catamaran was microwaveable type food. Hubbard Glacier -- Awesome, awesome, awesome! We saw huge chunks of ice calving off the glacier. We were there for several hours and we didn't miss a minute of it. Sadly many people came out to look, stayed a few minutes and then went back inside! It was rainy but the ship offers plenty of places to get under cover for glacier viewing. You can see it from inside but you can't hear it. The sound the ice makes as it breaks off is like thunder...it gave me chills. Sitka -- Our second port was the little town of Sitka. Some of us went on a kayak trip in the morning. It was overcast and rainy but we still did it. I had booked this from home directly with Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures. They only required a $25 deposit for all 6 of us so we felt we could back out if the weather was really bad. I had heard good things about these guys but they weren't that great. They do not provide rain gear and we were soaked to the bone by the end. The guide was nice but rarely offered information. The safety instructions were minimal which concerned us because we had a teenager and an inexperienced person with us. The good part was that we were all alone on our little paddle. Not with tons of other folks from the cruise ships. We saw a few sea lions and bald eagles and the shore line was interesting. We did a 2 hour trip which was fine for our group. Experienced kayakers would want to take a 4 hour paddle where you would see much much more. If the weather was good it would be fantastic. As it was, the best thing was the hot shower back on the ship! After a shower and lunch on the ship we went back into town to look around and shop. Shopping was not very good and the town is really small. The ship was in port all day long.......too long in our opinion. We would have preferred more time in Ketchikan and less time in Sitka. Ketchikan -- I had booked a float plane trip to the Misty Fjords with SeaWind Aviation from home. We saved about $50 per person doing it this way versus booking through the ship. These guys were GREAT. Professional, informative, safe and interesting. If you can afford it, definitely take this trip. It was amazingly beautiful.....glacier carved landscape, waterfalls galore, alpine lakes, wildlife and forest that goes on forever. We even landed on one of the little lakes and got to walk around on shore. It was so beautiful and so quiet. My husband and I have been on helicopter excursions and another sea plane trip. This was the best. You just gotta do it! SeaWind said that they would not take you out if the weather was bad and would not charge you. I believe them. They were good folks and very trustworthy. My purse got to take a second trip to the Misty Fjords because I left it on the plane. I called them and they returned it to me (intact) as soon as the plane got back. Afterward we shopped around town until the ship left. This was the best shopping of the trip. We wished that we had more time in this port as there were other shore excursions that we wanted to take but didn't have time. Victoria -- The final port was Victoria. It was disappointing that we had to dock so far from the inner harbor. But a few of us walked the mile and a half into town while the others rode the bus. It's a nice walk through a neighborhood. This was the one port where we had not booked any excursions. Several of us had already been to Buchart Gardens and didn't want to go again. So we all just decided to walk around town and see the sights. The ship didn't dock until about 6:00 pm but all the shops were still open and there were lots of people in town. It was nice as we left the ship but got cold really fast. We walked around for a few hours and then headed back to the ship. We wished we would have gone to the gardens and seen it all lit up at night. If you have never been and you like gardens, it is a must-see. The Ship -- Overall the ship was wonderful. The service was outstanding in every aspect. Much better than the Carnival and Princess cruises we had taken in the past. It is a well appointed ship and everything feels luxurious. However, there is no real central atrium so it's hard to get oriented. By the time we had it all figured out, it was time to go home! Someone from our group was always lost. If going with a big group with kids, I would recommend walkie talkies. We spent too much time searching and waiting for family members. The cabins were very nice. Two of us had luxury suites next to each other. The balconies were huge and we spent lots of time out there watching the glacier and all the beautiful scenery drift by. This was our first suite and we will never again stay in a cabin without a balcony. It made the trip so great because it was a gathering spot for the whole family. It had a huge comfy king bed, large leather couch, side chairs, coffee table, desk/entertainment area and tons of closet space and hangers. Very posh and tastefully decorated. We LOVED it. The food was very good. We liked the alternative dining and the fact that we didn't have to eat in the dining room if we didn't want to. The food at the Pinnacle Grill was outstanding. I had the best ribeye of my life and my brother felt the same about his porterhouse. For only $20 extra per person it was well worth it. The Lido (buffet) had good food and lots of variety every day. Lots of people didn't want to dress up for formal nights so just went here instead. Even the room service food was good Entertainment -- This is the only thing we found disappointing on the ship. For the main show there were some good comedians but otherwise it was mediocre at best. There was always music playing in the various lounges and they always sounded very good. The disco was pretty small and not many people were there but there weren't many young adults on the ship. It was mostly families and middle aged couples or groups. The 6 year old loved Club Hal and wanted to go there every day. She made lots of friends and told us all that this was just her "first" cruise. Guess she's planning on many more! I think she had more fun than the rest of us. It was like one giant week-long sleep over. When you're 6 it doesn't get much better than that. Getting off the ship went very smoothly and fast. They let you wait in your room until your number is called and then you simply walk ashore. This is very different then it was in the old days where you waited in a crowded lounge for hours until it was your turn to leave. Our bags were waiting for us on the dock and we quickly got them and headed to our car. Very efficient process. Overall it was an excellent cruise and I would highly recommend it. It is a wonderful way for a family to travel. Whether you're 6 or 87.......it will be a truly memorable vacation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
BOOKING BLUES: We booked our Once in a lifetime cruise on HAL via an internet website. Everything was pretty neat and fast. I booked our Alaskan cruise on one of those DAM ships that started with a Z and we were quite excited to travel ... Read More
BOOKING BLUES: We booked our Once in a lifetime cruise on HAL via an internet website. Everything was pretty neat and fast. I booked our Alaskan cruise on one of those DAM ships that started with a Z and we were quite excited to travel on a pretty new HAL ship (2 years old). Our plans were made and the dates were confirmed in the early part of the year, about six months out. Then one day out of the blue I got the bad news from our travel agent, HAL booked a large group on the DAM Z ship, cancelled our reservations and we are now on the DAM O ship! I was so mad at the agent and HAL, we had travel plans, airline tickets already cut, time off of work and they cancel even though we had paid our deposit. The new cruise started one day later and had a slightly different itinerary. Well both the agent and HAL said to read the fine print. Well low and behold, the fine print states that they can do whatever they choose and we have no recourse. If this happens to you, dont bother calling HAL, they play pretty dumb and tell you they cant do much without talking to your travel agent. Of course they gave us and extra $100 on board credit which paid for our sodas, but other than that there was not much budging from HAL or the travel agent with compensation for a cancelled cruise. ROOM ASSIGNMENTS AND RESERVATIONS: So after a day or two of yelling and screaming, we still wanted to go on our cruise and ended up with the Oosterdam (3 years old ship). There were eight of us on the cruise all one family, grandma and grandpa, my bride and I of 25 years and our three adult children 18, 21 and 24 and our son-in-law. We booked four rooms. We paid for a VA and ended up with an aft room on the navigation level (8th floor). The other rooms were booked as inside cabin rooms. We chose to go with a guarantee room option and were not assigned rooms at the time of booking. Our travel agent told us we had a better chance of getting upgraded if we went with the guarantee room option. Being a little curious, we went ahead and played the waiting game with our room assignments. About a month out we received our room assignment on the 8th floor. Two weeks later the Grandparents received their room assignment an inside room on the 7th floor. A few days before the trip we found that our kids were assigned rooms on the 1st floor but they got upgraded to oceanview with a large porthole in their room. When we got to the pier, we found out that one of the rooms on the 1st floor was upgraded to a VA room on the 6th floor so we were quite pleased with the outcome. The biggest problem with the guarantee room option is that our four rooms were all over the ship. It really wasnt a problem and we got our needed private time because our room was so far away from everyone else. We were set to go, we booked our shore excursions online before the 10 day deadline and also filled out our immigration forms online. By the way, we found our room assignments on the HAL website while filing out our immigration forms. PRE-CRUISE TOUR: We made reservations to fly into Seattle a day early to visit some of the sites in the city but we ended up with an extra day because of the cancellation of our initial cruise. We stayed at the Loyal Best Western a few blocks from the Space Needle. It is not close to a four or five star hotel but was more than adequate for our needs. I think the room was about $89 a night which I found online. Free internet access, free parking and free breakfast and a very friendly front desk. Most hotels in the city run over $150- $250 a night. We rented a car from Alamo Rent-a-car from the airport. We really enjoyed our pre-cruise trip and enjoyed the Space Needle about $14.00 each to go to the top and toured many of the interactive attractions around the park. I was surprised how many hills were in the city and how large the Puget Sound is. EMBARKATION: The HAL pier was located on pier 30 which is on the far south side of the city close to the SAFECO baseball Field. They share a very large building with Princess Cruises, HAL on the south side of the building. Our hotel offered us a shuttle to the pier but it was on a first come first served basis so we decided to drop off the gang then return the car. We went to the Pier at 9:30 a.m. When we got there, there were lots of people all over the place. Mostly travelers heading out of the pier. However, there was a line up of early birds waiting to get their bags checked into the ship. I returned our Alamo car to the Seattle Hilton on 6th Ave and caught a cab back to the pier. There was no drop off charge to pick up an Alamo car at the airport and drop off in Seattle, however, be ready for a long line at the counter. The taxi bill was about $10.00 plus a tip. By 10:30 a.m. I was back and ready to join the rest of our group who were meeting us at pier 30. The embarkation process was a breeze. Our group had to wait for me before checking in the bags because I had all of the passports in my backpack. As soon as I got off the taxi, we walked all of our bags to the guy in the red coat, a fellow Hawaiian, and in a jiffy, we were in line to check in. Because we did our immigration forms online, we went to a counter with no line. We presented our health questionnaire (checking if you have a cough or are currently sick) got our pictures taken for their security system and we ready to go. We were issued cards that doubled as our ID as well as our key to our stateroom. While we were in line at about 11:15 a.m. the doors opened and everyone started to board the ship. We travel a lot and one thing I dont enjoy is stress, however, at this point I really did not experience any pre-trip stress as the process was simple, lots of friendly help in the building and everything went very smooth and fast. When we entered into the gate, there was a table with guys selling drinks and sodas for our on board use. We chose to purchase 4 cards of soda which was about 20 soda drinks per card for our seven days. That was a little too many sodas but it worked out much cheaper than buying sodas at the regular price. Once on board we were directed to the Lido deck for lunch. It was quite enjoyable and everyone was starting to get acquainted with the Lido deck and the buffet line. Time flew by and then it was time to pull off the dock. We went to the 10th level to watch the city of Seattle go by. Shortly after we took off we were invited to go to our rooms. We were quite happy to see that all of our bags made it into our room. There were tons of bags still in the halls so we were lucky to get our bags so early. It is amazing that the Oosterdam staff can take 2000 people off the ship and 2000 more back on the ship with just a few hours separating the two cruises, an amazing feat. THE OOSTERDAM: We were happy to meet our room steward, Inda, a very nice fellow from Indonesia. He was terrific and was very pleasant. The rest of our group eventually got their bags and we enjoyed the journey out of the Puget Sound. I know I get seasick when I go deep sea fishing or on roller coasters so I went to our doctor a few weeks before the cruise and requested the patch. I was told to put a patch behind my ear the night before the cruise. It worked very well and I never felt sick during the entire trip. Some in our group felt a little woozy but not much to keep any one out of commission of having fun. I was surprised how many other travelers had the patch on during the cruise. The Oosterdam was a great ship to be on. It is approximately 3 football fields long. Three times around the deck equals one mile to give you an idea how big the ship really is. We thought the ship was in very good condition, pretty clean, the beds were comfortable, pillows better than home and the giant fluffy white towels were great! We enjoyed messing up the bed at night, going to breakfast, coming back and having our beds are made, messing up our bed again, going to lunch, coming back before dinner and our beds are made again, then going out for entertainment and dinner and coming home to find our beds are turned down and all new fresh towels in the bathroom. Before leaving on our trip I read many reviews and the most helpful were found on cruisecritic.com. Some of the most helpful suggestions was purchasing the soda cards before going on board, taking a electrical power strip (cell phone charger, computer charger, video camera charger etc.), early boarding and having lunch in the Lido before the cruise. THE AFT ROOMS: I was concerned to be in the aft room but found it to be a very nice place to be. The lido buffet was one floor up and the Vista dining room was below us on the 2nd floor. Because we were on the 8th floor, our veranda was covered. It was a long walk to the Vista Lounge (showroom) but after eating dinner the walk was great! The aft room verandas are very large and spacious. he lower aft verandas are nice and has no covering. One problem is that everyone on the higher verandas can see you when you are out of your room. We didnt use our veranda very much because it was kind of cold most of the trip. Our room was basically a bed, small couch, TV and table. We had to take turns walking around the bed because it is very small walkway between the bed and the wall. At least the large mirrors made you think it was a little larger. Our bathroom was kind of tight but manageable but what do you expect on a cruise ship? It took awhile to get used to where we were on the ship and how to navigate around the 3 different banks of elevators. There was lots to see on several of the different levels of the ship. It took me two days to finally find the store and internet room. I wasnt really looking for it but I never went on the 3rd floor until I decided to look for the store. ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT: For entertainment we had a wide range of travelers, two in their mid 70's, two in their late 40's and four young adults. We took full advantage of all of the many onboard activities on the Oosterdam. The Cruise director and staff did an excellent job keeping us going with activities throughout the trip. Our two youngest played basketball on top of the ship, We participated in the Oosterdam Idol competition which was a total blast. Enjoyed the nighttime dancing and line dancing activities and singing in the piano lounge with the other guests. We also participated in some of the competitions like golf chipping, ping pong and scavenger hunt. We enjoyed the evening shows which were very exciting and professional. There were two comedians on our trip for the Vista show room. Both were totally 1st rate performers. The comedian/ventriloquist was one of the best ventriloquist I have ever seen. I really enjoyed the Oosterdam show. The dancing was great and the choreography was pretty moving as the dancers never stopped moving throughout the show. For on board entertainment we were quite pleased with the offerings on the Oosterdam. We played bingo a few times but the payouts were pretty low except for the final bingo day. The casino was fun but like normal, just fun depositing, but I must say, the staff in the casino was quite friendly. I think that our entire trip was just fun and exciting because we took full advantage of the entertainment and onboard activities. We never really had any bad experiences on board. There are bad seats in the Vista Show room with columns that block your view, but we found if we went early we could always find excellent seating. Every night we receive a notice for the next days activities. This became our entertainment guide book. At dinner the night before or at breakfast we would choose what activities we would participate in together. THE FOOD: The food at the Lido was great. Our #1 daughter thought the food was kind of bland, but the rest of us was doing what they told us at the orientation, IF YOU SEE IT, EAT IT! And eat we did, the selection of food was very good and adequate for breakfast and lunch. My wife especially enjoyed the freshly made waffles for breakfast. Finding a table for eight was a little challenging but after the first day we just sat at different tables which was just fine for all of us. The Vista Dining room was top notch. Our server was Beni, he was also from Indonesia. He had such as great personality and knew we enjoyed eating. I often had double entrees, a steak plus fish or lobster tail. You can order anything you want on the menu. On the lobster night I had two lobster tails plus a steak. It is better to order the extra items at the initial order to save time. The only draw back in the dining room was the length of time it took to finish our meal, average time was two hours. We had one dinner at the Pinnacle. We really enjoyed the steaks and seafood at the Pinnacle the service and baked Alaska was great. It was fun having all of the family dressed in formal attire in the Pinnacle. Best of all it was free, one of the perks from our travel agent (normally $20.00 each which would have been worth the money). Some of our relatives told us they didnt like HAL because of the formal nights. But we enjoyed dressing up for the two nights. TIPPING POLICY: HALs no tipping policy was okay for us. However, with eight people in our group, six of which I was paying for, the tips really added up. I think it is quite fair as long as the main people that helped us received the most of the money. According to our cruise director 100% of the money goes to the staff, 70% to the room attendants and dinner staff and 30% went to the behind the scene people. We still tipped our room attendant for his great service which was not required. PORTS OF CALLS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: Another element that made the trip so successful was great weather and once in a life time experiences at our ports of call and shore excursions. It was stress free to book our shore excursions online before the cruise. We never had to make decisions and we had guaranteed seats on our tours. We didnt do any real expensive tours because of the size of our group and shrinking pocket book. So we didnt walk on any glaciers or take a sea plane tour. JUNEAU: Our first port of call was in Juneau. We took the whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier tour. This was absolutely one of the high lights of the trip. Being from Hawaii, we see Humpback whales quite often, but what we experienced was a thrill for everyone on board. The humpback whales were bubble feeding and we got to witness not one but three different pods of humpback whales bubble feeding on our 2 hour tour. The bubble feeding was much more exciting than one whale breaching. Some of the pods had as many as 8 to 10 humpback whales all springing up out of the water at once to catch their lunch. Along with the humpback whales, seals, sea lions and Alaska scenery, it was totally worth the cost of the tour. Mendenhall glacier was a must see in Juneau. They have a very nice new visitors center which was very comfortable but very busy. There were four cruise ships in dock in Juneau at the same time. HUBBARD GLACIER: Our next visit was at the Hubbard Glacier. We came into the Yakutat bay then into Disenchantment Bay and drifted slowing though the ice and got very close to the glacier. The glacier is so large that your reference to distance is off so I really dont know how close we were to the glacier. It was very cold on deck especially when the wind picked up. With the large Hubbard Glacier in front of us, it was like being in a ice box with wind blowing. We saw the glacier caving many times as the ship made a few turns in the bay. The staff brought out pea soup but because we were on the 7th floor level viewing the glacier we only watched as those on the bow got to have the soup. For lunch I was able to have some pea soup which was interestingly green but of course very delicious. The pea soup people couldnt find us on the 7th floor deck but the ships photographer found us, go figure. SIKTA: We were excited for our next port of call in Sitka because we arranged for four of us to go salmon fishing. We chartered our own boat though www.sitkacharters.com. The owner Angela was very professional and it was easy to get our booking, fishing license and payments to her. Coming in and going out of Sitka is a very beautiful and peaceful experience. The little islands and volcano are just so scenic. Once off the tender in Sitka, a representative to met us at the dock and took us to our boat. Captain Mike was a terrific Fishing expert and knew where the fish were biting. We were out to find Sliver - Coho salmon and King salmon which were still running. It was a beautiful day with blue sky and hardly any wave action to speak of. Within an hour we were getting strikes and the excitement and trill catching large salmon was becoming a reality. We were fishing at depths at about 100 feet. We ended our four hour fishing trip with five Coho salmon and two kings which all total weighed 71 pounds. We had the fish processed and shipped home to Hawaii. It was pretty costly but if you want to create memories with your family, this was one worth every penny. The pictures we took is our evidence to our family at home that this was no fish story. The other members of our family went to the Russian dancers and Raptor Center. They got to see totem poles and were quite satisfied with their tour of Sitka. KETCHIKAN: Ketchikan was a short stop for the cruise so we decided to take a Duck tour. It is a large amphibious vehicle that can go on land and water. Well when we reached Ketchikan in the morning it was raining pretty hard. We got on our Duck tour but could not see much because it was raining. The best part was going form the parking lot into the water. It was kind of a boring tour until the Eagle showed up towards the end of the tour. Then everyone in the vehicle started to perk up again. Shopping in Ketchikan was lots of fun and we got most of our souvenirs from here. There are lots of jewelry shops in town. By the time the ship was leaving, the rain and clouds lifted and we had a beautiful view of the port, sea planes and city as we left. VICTORIA: Our final port of call was in Victoria, Canada. This was the only port of call where we didnt purchase a shore excursion. When we got to Victoria we all headed out to the waiting taxis and tour vans. We were told that there was a shuttle bus for $5.00 RT to the middle of town at the Empress Hotel. No one really wanted to see the gardens so we went to town and found a fun water front in Victoria. They have many Bear statues all over the city which were kind of interesting. Apparently they will auction off the bears later in the year and a charity will benefit from the sale of the bears. The water front was fun as was the shopping in the town area. The street performers were professional and fun. There was a wide range of entertainment on the streets, we were there on a Friday night so along with thousands of tourist, the locals were out and showing off their supped up cars along the streets. It was just quite a fun afternoon with a beautiful sunset. DISEMBARKATION: On our last night we were told to put our bags outside our doors before 1:00 a.m., we had to make sure we kept enough clothes, shoes and toiletries for the next morning as the bags were gone by the time you woke up the next morning. Our youngest, packed her IDs and HAL card in her bags and didnt discover that until she woke up the next morning. They still let her off the ship. We were to disembark at about 9:30 a.m., we were sad to end such a wonderful trip. Finding all of our bags was a trick but we eventually found our bags and were off back to the real world again. I took a taxi back to the Hilton and picked up a Alamo SUV for our post tour of Seattle. We visited relatives in the area and caught a baseball game at the Safeco field. It took a day or two to stop rocking while we were standing. It was a great experience. We are ready for our next HAL cruise! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
This was our first time cruise. I had expectations yes, but the Oosterdam blew them away. it was so amazing. The luggage program blew me away too. You just leave your luggage and the counter and by 6pm all of your luggage is in your room. ... Read More
This was our first time cruise. I had expectations yes, but the Oosterdam blew them away. it was so amazing. The luggage program blew me away too. You just leave your luggage and the counter and by 6pm all of your luggage is in your room. and when you get off they color code your luggage and number them so they are in sections by numbers when you want to collect your luggage after the cruise. The crew did everything they could to help make the cruise as smooth flowing as possible especially our dining steward (Sugi) and our room steward (Aep). I mentioned their names because they should be recognized for their amazing work that they did. I was astounded. The food was amazing! It's different and has a great variety. I left the dining room satisfied every night. The entertainment was great too. The off-shore excursions were a major bonus too. I haven't had that much fun since our trip to Hawaii a couple years previous. The trips were organized and planned to make the transition very smooth, and it was. when you got off the boat the bus was waiting there for you to take you to your destination and everyone was helpful and polite. To all of the people reading these reviews hoping to get some information on cruise ships to take I HIGHLY recommend the Oosterdam. You will never encounter a better vacation on seas. All of the reviews about the food being bad or crew not doing what they're supposed to is just people being way too fussy and arrogant. They don't understand that the crew work on the boat 12 months a year straight and most of their wage is from tips and they sleep in small cots, yet they get up and go to work every day with a smile. The Oosterdam is honestly the greatest cruise ship ever and you're making a mistake to go somewhere else. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
This was my 10th cruise, my 3rd on HAL, and my 2nd time on the Oosterdam. I was still impressed as I was the first time (when we went to Mexico) but I had higher expectations then last time on the things that I didn't like. The ship ... Read More
This was my 10th cruise, my 3rd on HAL, and my 2nd time on the Oosterdam. I was still impressed as I was the first time (when we went to Mexico) but I had higher expectations then last time on the things that I didn't like. The ship itself is gorgeous inside, and out. They have many comfortable places to sit and relax and the ship is rather quiet. I (being 13) enjoyed the music of today that they played publicly because it wasn't too loud and you could get away from it very easily. EMBARKATION: We arrived in the port of Seattle and were happy that there were no lines. I was traveling with my dad (50), great aunt (84) and grandmother (81). One tip for future HAL traveling, fill out your immigration form online or before you get to the port because you DO have to fill it out before you go up to the desk. (Something we did not do). We got there at about 11:15 and they were actually not allowing people to get on yet. There weren't a lot of people there anyway (maybe 70?) and they said the wait wouldn't be much longer. SHIP INFO: The ship--even with being 900 ft. long and with 1800 people--seems rather small when you are on it. The Promenade and Upper Promenade deck can get very confusing but you can find your way easily. The elevators were very slow on our ship and I usually ended up running up 8 flights of stairs instead. The ship has 2 pools, one is really an "adult only" pool but I still saw kids in it. The pool with the closing roof really helped especially in Alaska where it was raining everywhere except for Ketchikan. DINING: The Vista Dining room is a very lovely atmosphere and the lower ceilings made it seem like a smaller room. We were in the very back on the first floor, and we had a window looking out at the stern of the ship. Gorgeous place to eat meals. The Lido Restaurant has anything and everything and the crew working there is very friendly. The morning breakfast rush could get congested but once you found your table and started eating, it died down. I have eaten in the Pinnacle Grill once before, not on this ship (though my family did) and they enjoyed it extremely. It's a very nice restaurant with good, fast service and great food. ACTIVITIES: I will confess, I'm a Bingo dork. I've won 5 times on 4 different cruises so I've had my share of luck. But I always love to play. The Bingo with Everett (senior assistant cruise director) and Stephanie (cruise activities staff) was VERY enjoyable and fun. (Sadly, I didn't win anything). The daily program did really have choices for anyone and I was never bored without something to do. The cruise activities staff were all very nice and lovely to talk too. SERVICE: I've been on a lot of high-end cruise ships where the service was a little more then outstanding. Like where the waiter will carry your tray every single step of the way during the buffet...I love that but sometimes you just want to do it yourself. The men who worked in the Lido would help you if you needed it and that is just enough for me. The room steward that we had was exceptional and did his work very fast. Our dining room waiter was very nice at recommending and making exceptions. All of the Filipino/Indonesian crew were always smiling and they would always want to please you. Service was very good. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We did not take any shore excursions on this cruise but I will tell you about the ports of call. First was Juneau...rainy Juneau...I'd been there before and it didn't blow me away. It had some very nice shops and of course we went to the Red Dog Saloon. It was still a very nice town. After Juneau, we cruised by Hubbard Glacier. That was absolutely gorgeous...we got 3/4 of a mile away from it (which sounds like a lot but it really isn't) and saw eagles, otters, and bears all from the ship. They opened all of the forward decks of the cabins (which are usually closed) so you could see it from about everywhere. Next was Sitka. I had never been their before but it was really boring. There were 3 other cruise ships that day but it still wasn't very crowded. Very cold, very wet, and nothing exciting. After Sitka was Ketchikan. I was there 3 years ago on 4th of July during a parade which stole a little of the atmosphere of the town. It was probably the best port that we went to in Alaska, only because it was a clean town, good shops, and nice people. We left Ketchikan early and so we had a long day at sea for the rest of that day and the next night ( 6 PM) we arrived in Victoria, B.C. We didn't have time, energy, or mood to do really anything so we went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant in an alley, about a 7 minute cab ride from the Empress hotel. (The ship provided shuttles to the hotel so that you were more in town). STATEROOM: My mom was our travel agent and guaranteed us a verandah room. Little did we know until we had arrived at the embarkation counter, that she had upgraded us to a suite! It was very exciting and the extra room really helped. (I shared a room with my dad). The balcony was large and the bathroom space was a lot better. We had a separate shower and bath, something you wouldn't get in a verandah cabin. There wasn't a lot of closet space however, but that didn't matter too much. CHILDREN'S CLUB: Kids/Tweens: I knew there were many kids onboard but I didn't see too many of them running around like mad. The kids counselors did a GREAT job keeping them entertained and having fun. Teens: The last time I was on the Oosterdam (in April, to Mexico) I went with my best friend. We went to the information meeting the first night but she wanted to leave, so I went with her. I never went back so I was hoping at this cruise that I would make some friends and go to it a lot. I was wrong. The group of kids weren't extremely welcoming and the counselor wasn't good at getting the group to do something. ENTERTAINMENT: I'm a theatre buff so I always enjoy the Broadway shows. They were the same ones I had seen in April but i still LOVED them. "Rockin' Road" is a different type of show but "Escape" is by far my favorite show. I love the music in it. It's like a tropical show in Margaritaville. Very, very good. The stage is very cool as it has many different elavations and the lighting was great...as were the costumes. The first night they had a comedian and he was very funny but the second night, were these 2 guys who were jugglers/comedians. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. They had amazing talent and were very funny. The next night was a Neil Diamond fan who did his tribute and I heard nothing about it. (I didn't go but I stood outside listening...I wasn't that impressed.) They also had a ventriloquist who was apparently exceptional but I didn't go to that either. Oosterdam Superstar (Karaoke competition) was one of my favorite things from the last cruise. They made it very, very funny and enjoyable. The Newlywed-Not-So-Newlywed Game was a big hit as it was last time. They picked 3 couples and asked them questions (just like the TV show) and the outcome was hilarious. The whole entertainment crew were amazing. The cast was delightful to talk to as you would run into them in the elevators or public rooms. The cruise activities staff was still exceptional and the cruise director, Jimmy Lynett was sensational. He did so much and made the cruise so much more fun just with his personality. DISEMBARKATION: This process went very smoothly and started at about 8:00 AM I believe. A nice thing was them allowing us to stay in our rooms until we had to leave. We got off at about 10:30 as they wanted everyone off by 11:00. OVERALL: My second time on this ship was still an amazing experience. I defiantly would like to go back on this ship again as it met my expectations on just about everything. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
My wife and I took two of our grandsons on the July 8, 2006 Holland America Oosterdam Alaska cruise. My wife has wanted to visit Alaska all her life, and we give each grandchild a special trip on their eighth birthday so we combined the ... Read More
My wife and I took two of our grandsons on the July 8, 2006 Holland America Oosterdam Alaska cruise. My wife has wanted to visit Alaska all her life, and we give each grandchild a special trip on their eighth birthday so we combined the events into our first cruise. One grandson was ten, the other turned eight during our cruise. Boarding: Boarding in Seattle was the first of many good impressions. Holland America has this down to a well-oiled procedure and this left a good taste in our mouths. Theres lots to do on boarding but we felt things went well. We were welcomed on the ship with: Welcome to the experience of a lifetime! While thats an overstatement, it was part of the ship boarding process that got our cruise off to a good start. First Impressions: The shipped seemed massive, Im sure they all do. Everything was clean and well lit, there was art everywhere. This is a level of vacation experience weve never experienced and it set the tone for a great week. There were two pools, one amidships on the ninth floor, one of the aft deck outside. Both were a pool-within-a-pool, designed to handle the inevitable sloshing that characterizes a pool at sea. That is why you wont find pool tables on cruise ships  no way to keep them level while underway. The boys loved the pools and went swimming every day. That was important for them. I was struck by the emphasis on hygiene. There were dispensers of cleaning lotion everywhere, and when you went to the Vista restaurant, there was a steward who gave you a spritz on your hands. It was both comforting and a reminder that many folks get sick on cruises. But we were fine and there was no outbreak on this cruise. Our Stateroom: Our room seemed small by comparison to hotel rooms but I understand the need to pack us in. Increase the room size by 20% and increase the fare a corresponding amount and we probably couldnt have taken this trip. The room was sparkling clean, well maintained by our cheery young steward from Indonesia. Every hotel room Ive stayed in had maid service; all the staterooms had steward service (I believe) and they all were from Indonesia or the Philippines. Every day our steward did a new towel sculpture. With only the addition of two half-moon black eyes, he carved a new animal with a towel. Very imaginative, very cute. They train them to do this and he did it well. The room seem almost brand new, with two comfortable single beds made together. They had a bunk that pulled out of the ceiling for one grandson, and our steward made the sofa into a bunk for the second so we were all right. It was cozy, but clean. The TV was good to provide some diversion for the boys and me, and Ellen and I appreciated being able to view where we had gone and where we were going. Our Cabin Steward was from Indonesia and was exceptionally nice; Mr. Joe is what he called me. I felt totally comfortable with him as our room steward. He kept things clean and did the daily towel sculptures. We learned that Holland America steward schools in Indonesia and the Philippines. Many of the cabin and food stewards are men with families. They sign a contract for a year and work on a cruise ship to make money for their families. Dui has a wife and daughter, one of our food stewards has two small children. Im glad for this opportunity for them, but its hard to be away from their families. Meals: The meals were fabulous. Most of the dishes were top notch and we enjoyed  make that over enjoyed each meal. Each meal came in courses, including breakfast. I should explain the eating options. You can eat all three meals in the Vista restaurant; dinner was at an assigned table, breakfast and lunch were wherever they sat you. There were two levels in the Vista restaurant, and in the curving stairway separating them three men played pleasant dinner music on stringed instruments and a piano. We had 11-piece silverware settings (including a dessert setting), white cloth tablecloths, white cloth napkins, doilies aplenty etc. Everything was splendid, a level of luxury we never experience. It was slow  one and one half to two hours per meal, but you get used to it. The Lido restaurant never closed, although there was more food available at mealtimes than other times. Service was faster than the Vista restaurant, with a nice variety of food. We are several meals there. Lastly are the specialty restaurants, which you paid extra for, so we never went. But we heard that they were beyond fabulous. The Vista restaurant was wonderful for us and we do not regret skipping the other restaurants. You also could eat at different parts of the ship. One day we had Indonesian and Mexican food served poolside. Although we over ate while on the cruise, the food was good enough that we were able to get a good mix of fruits and vegetables, so we felt good. Yes, this was one of the best parts of the cruise. Entertainment: Every night there was something in the three-story Vista lounge. There were several Broadway-style performances. The highlight for us was a magic show from Las Vegas. Drew and Angela are a husband-and-wife team, hes the magician, shes the assistant and they make a very fine couple. The show plays on the husband-and-wife theme nicely without overdoing it. Drews magic is professional and convincing. Yes, weve seen most of it before and it continues to dazzle. The boys absolutely loved it, as did I. The singing and dance shows were good, something we rarely go to so I dont know how they sized up against other performances. There was lots to see and do aboard ship and if we had not had our grandchildren, we could have seen and done more. Stops: The Juneau stop was wonderful, as the weather was warm and clear. We have a friend in Juneau who drove us around so we were not left to our own devices. The Mendenhall glacier was nice. The Hubbard Glacier stop was fabulous, at it was a perfect day and the captain took us to ¾ of a mile from the glacier. Calving was infrequent but if you watched long enough, you could see it take place. Sitka was okay, maybe better than okay. But we had to be tendered to shore and that five-minute ride was rocky, I didnt enjoy it. The family loved the Raptor Center where injured bald eagles are rehabilitated. Ketchikan was basically a shopping stop. Victoria was okay but too short. En Route: My wife had widely selected an inner cabin on the lowest passenger level, deck 1. I recall the first night at sea as we both made a bathroom break in the middle of the night. Were rocking and rolling now, was her comment. (We were glad we brought a night light, one of the few items you need to bring.) But due to our location, we experienced no hard rocking and, fortunately, no illness. We heard of one man who wound up on the floor one night and I spoke to several folks with shipmates who were ill but we were fine. It was nice to have a TV image from the front and back of the ship always available in our room. Disembarking: As with boarding, this was a smooth process. Unlike other cruise ships, this one allowed us to remain in our rooms until our color was called, then we exited without rubbing shoulders with hundreds of people. Customs was quick too. We heard from other passengers that other ships require you to meet in some large central area before departing but we waited in our room until our color was called. Worked so well that we had to call our pickup to come and get us earlier. General Thoughts: Dont expect perfection on a cruise and you wont be disappointed. In a crew of 800 people, theres bound to be some who dont quite measure up. Weather varies, as do the seas. Its vital to remember that sea travel is subject to lots more variables than air travel and nothing is guaranteed. Dont schedule your airplane departure after the cruise in such a way that a delay in docking makes you miss your flight. I dont want to overstate these things but people who expect clockwork schedules and smooth sailing and not being realistic about what cruising can be like. Our cruise experience was great with no problems and many are. But dont count on it with every cruise. Overall: We paid full price for the four of us for this cruise, and we feel we got our moneys worth. The entertainment was good, the food was great. Cruising is a luxury for us, not a vacation option so were not sure when well be able to do this again. We have a very good feeling about Holland America based on our experience, but just as you dont limit yourself to a wonderful restaurant, well likely try other cruise lines if we cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Let me say at the beginning that this was an excellent cruise. I had been on Holland America (HAL) about 15 years ago on the Westerdam in the Caribbean. At that time HAL attracted an older crowd and was at the high end of the mass market ... Read More
Let me say at the beginning that this was an excellent cruise. I had been on Holland America (HAL) about 15 years ago on the Westerdam in the Caribbean. At that time HAL attracted an older crowd and was at the high end of the mass market (as opposed to luxury lines). I believe that HAL has maintained the same standard of excellence while attracting more diverse passengers. I will say more later. Four of us were going on the cruise. All of us checked into the Executive Inn in Louisville the night before departure for Seattle. We prefer to leave our car at the airport motel and use their shuttle service. It proves to be very economical considering the current cost of airport parking. It also helps with early departure times. Our trip to Seattle was a disaster. Our Northwest 7:00 AM flight to Minneapolis had mechanical problems resulting in a 5 hour delay. We were rescheduled with a 4 hour layover in Minneapolis and an additional connection in Portland. We arrived in Seattle at 11:30 PM, 12 hours late! We were very fortunate to have planned our travel the day before our cruise. We stayed at the Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle. The hotel was older but very nice and the rooms were small but comfortable. The hotel was located just a few blocks from Pike's Market and the downtown end of the shuttle that goes to the Space Needle. We didn't have time to tour Seattle but went to Pike's Market on Saturday morning before departing for the ship. I believe we made a good choice of places to see as the flowers, fishmongers and various stores make this a "must see". We headed to Pier 30 around noon on Saturday. Our cab ride was $15.00 and took around 10 minutes. We had to stand in line for approximately an hour even though we were pre-registered. Pre-registration just saved you some time when you actually got to an agent. We were assigned an SS category suite on Deck 8. Our cabin was spacious (~390 sq. ft. including a large verandah) and very well appointed. We had a large bed, a sleeper sofa, three chairs and a coffee table in the main cabin. Closet and drawer space was abundant. Two telephones, a large TV and DVD player complemented the furnishings. The balcony had four chairs, two foot rests and a table. The bathroom had double sinks, a whirlpool tub and a separate shower. A hair dryer was provided in the main cabin. Light switches were everywhere and somewhat of a learning experience. A verandah cabin may not seem necessary for Alaska, but we found it to be a real plus for sightseeing as the scenery is beautiful. The Oosterdam is one of HAL's Vista class ships. At 85,000 tons the passenger capacity is 1850 with a crew of 800. I would characterize the demeanor of the ship as subdued compared to the bling-bling of competitor's ships. The ship is about 5 years old and in excellent shape, a direct reflection of the Captain and crew. The crew was mostly Indonesian and Philippine, very efficient and cheerful. There was an earthquake in the Philippines on our first night at sea and our cabin steward Widi told us that he had lost his home but his family was all right. Even though you could sense his concern it did not affect his dedication to cheerful service. Dining was excellent. The first night we opted for the Pinnacle Grill, a specialty restaurant with a $20.00 per person surcharge. Everyone's meals were outstanding. I had the best halibut steak I have ever tasted in my life! Dining room food was also above normal compared to other ships of this size. Breakfast and lunch are open-seating. Dinner seating was at an assigned table but a window was established for early and late seating. For late seating you could show up in the dining room any time between 8 and 9 PM. As long as you and your table mates arrived at the same time it wasn't any different from the established fixed seating fixed time arrangement. Buffet food is a real plus for HAL as this was way above average. To minimize congestion serving areas are segregated according to the type of food; e.g. salad bar, Italian (pizza and pasta), sandwich station, deserts, Terrace Grill (hamburgers, brats, chicken), Taco Bar and drinks (coffee, tea). A soda card was purchased at embarkation at $18.00 for 20 soft drinks. Our ports were Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria. A word of advice -- Alaska is no place to skimp on shore excursions. They're expensive, but they're worth it! Hubbard Glacier was the highlight of the trip for us. The sun, tides and temperature were perfect for calving. We would hear the shotgun sound and rumble of the giant blocks of future icebergs falling every five minutes. The ship was less than 750 feet from the face of the glacier for close to two hours. Having visited Glacier Bay on a previous cruise I preferred Hubbard Glacier, but it may have been the timing. Our traveling companions went on the helicopter-dog sled tour in Juneau. Even though it is very expensive it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. An Iditarod competitor was their tour guide for the sledding. They said the helicopter ride above the mountains and glaciers was beautiful. We walked around the city and rode the Mt. Roberts tram to a scenic overlook. In Sitka we did the "Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest". In addition to the tours' namesake we saw whales, sea lions and numerous bald eagles. We walked around the city after the tours. Sitka was the only port in which we had to tender. We walked around Ketchikan. It was raining but we managed to visit Creek Street and some shops. In Victoria we went on the Butchart Gardens tour. This tour was also excellent and I would highly recommend it, especially to weekend gardeners. Ship activities were not as plentiful or rowdy as some of the other lines, but there was always something going on. The 7 days went way too fast. The weather was good by Alaskan standards, 50-60's during the day. Even though it rained and there was considerable fog while we were at sea, we only encountered rain in Ketchikan while we were in port. In summary, I would recommend Holland America, especially the Oosterdam, and this itinerary. The passenger make-up covered all age groups, from young children to the wheelchair crowd. I would think the younger crowd would prefer one of the other party lines, but HAL is perfect for the middle age and up experienced cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Let me be the first to post regarding the Alaska season with HAL. Terrific! We booked the cruise directly on the HAL web page again and it was flawless, and when we finalized everything 5 months prior to sailing we received an very fair ... Read More
Let me be the first to post regarding the Alaska season with HAL. Terrific! We booked the cruise directly on the HAL web page again and it was flawless, and when we finalized everything 5 months prior to sailing we received an very fair discount as having sailed previously on HAL. This was our first experience sailing to Alaska (having cruised 7 times with HAL and RCL) and I heatedly recommend sailing RT out of Seattle as this cruise itinerary gives you a good first look at Alaska without the grueling inland tours or flying home from Anchorage. Seattle is also a great place to spend a few days before and after. The Oosterdam is a wonderful mid-sized ship in the Vista class size, and you won't get lost aboard. HAL is also a great brand to sail with if you want to be in charge of your schedule, have quiet time aboard, sleep wonderfully on new beds, and dine with more than adequate food quality and quantity-I hardily suggest the Mueslix for breakfast. Do not use HAL if you want a party...the average age was around 55 and we all got along great. The few children seemed out of place. The ship handled one choppy night very well, and most of the time if you didn't see the ocean move past the rail you wouldn't know you were moving. The stateroom was very comfortable with an efficient steward (Suri) who was almost never seen keeping our cabin spotless, a delightful Jacuzzi tube, and the previously mentioned sleeper beds. We heard no noise from adjacent cabins, although with the air temp at 42 degrees very few were on their verandahs. Hint-bring a clock radio and power strip; and the laundry and dry cleaning prices are fair. Dining areas were as expected, food quality again was well above average; and if you can't decide on which entree to eat, order another. Pinnacle Grill on last night was best meal of the week and worth the surcharge. Ports were interesting, with a visit to Juneau, Hubbard Glacier tour, Sitka and Otter/Whale trip (great), Mendenhall Glacier (too spectacular for words and the power in the silence as we sat dead calm 100 yards from the cracking ice), and Ketchikan (too little time here). There are Bald Eagles almost everywhere, and the Alaskans are most friendly and cordial, especially as we were the first ship since September. We did not go ashore in Victoria due to a short time in port, but hear it is worth a separate visit. We also did not see any shows in the Vista lounge as I have seen too many jugglers and comedians and the small and cozy casino worked for us just fine. Even the movie theatre on board showed decent movies. We are going again to Alaska, next time from Vancouver with 3 other couples and in September-the leaves should be beautiful. HAL and Oosterdam are worth a trip and you may come well rested. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Review (LONG): Oosterdam, Alaska, May 27, 2006 Well, I hope this is better late than never. So, who wouldnt want to see the beauty of Alaska? Recently I felt a little more sense of urgency since many Glaciers are receding globally. This ... Read More
Review (LONG): Oosterdam, Alaska, May 27, 2006 Well, I hope this is better late than never. So, who wouldnt want to see the beauty of Alaska? Recently I felt a little more sense of urgency since many Glaciers are receding globally. This itinerary: SeattleSea dayJuneau Hubbard Glacier SitkaKetchikanVictoria Seattle gave a good snapshot of Alaska. Since it was roundtrip Seattle, it was more economical. Our group was all family. A well traveled bunch with ages ranging from myself at 49 yrs., up to 83 yrs.. I left Austin Tx. with the preconception that the little ports of Alaska would likely be overrun with passengers. However, this was minimized by the fact that the Oosterdam was usually first in port. Our captain was known for this, and this opportunity gave us a definite advantage. I was also pleased to find that you didnt have to go very far outside the port city, just a few blocks actually, to get away from us tourists. Lastly, I discovered that the port cities had some pretty cool things to see and do. Pre-cruise: We purchased air, transfers and tours on our own. The cruise was booked through an agent in Houston. She just plain spoiled us and really put the finishing touches on our cruise; which was much appreciated. We all rendezvoused in Seattle at the Comfort Suites SeaTac a day before embarkation. This was a satisfactory hotel which offered an airport shuttle plus limited restaurant shuttle service. There was an expanded continental breakfast buffet. Nothing fancy but nice, seemed clean and the front desk provided me with toothbrush and paste which I managed to forget. There are 2 buildings at this hotel. One of our rooms was in the farther building and it seemed to take forever navigating to different levels to and from the lobby. The closer building would be a wise choice here. Rooms were approx. $90. through AAA. Embarkation: Before flying out to Seattle we had reserved shuttle service pick up to the port with the Seattle Express at 10:30 am for $10.00pp. They were prompt and made one additional stop for some Princess cruisers then dropped us off right in front of the Holland check-in building. Princess check-in was on the opposite side of the same building. We grabbed a porter and by the time we were processed HAL had opened up the entrance way to the ship, around 11:15. There was a separate check-in area adjacent to the main line with seating available for persons needing physical assistance. There was a table set up for purchasing wine packages. The staff said it would not be offered again during the cruise, so it would be a good idea to think about it before you arrive. There were a couple of people in the HAL check-in with gorgeous bouquets of flowers they had purchased at Pikes market, we were jealous. We were having lunch around 11:45 while waiting for our cabins -- which were ready around 1:30 or 2:00.. Ship Impressions: Beautifully elegant would sum up my description. Ships I have been on to compare are Norwegian Sun, Carnival Destiny and the Jubilee; RCCL Rhapsody of the Seas; American Queen and Celebrity Galaxy. The artwork and dEcor is somewhat eclectic and interesting but still refined. Gorgeous use of colors and highly textured fabrics in some of the lounges like the Explorers lounge. Even the elevator doors were beautifully sculpted. The ship looked clean and well kept. There were several hand sanitizing units throughout, of coarse one positioned at the spot where you are fumbling to retrieve your card key when boarding. Staff encountered was friendly and courteous. This included the front desk when we had a minor issue; there was not only resolution but follow-up. The first night on-board we met up with a fun group from Cruise Critic. The hotel manager, James Deering hosted us up in the crows nest. We really enjoyed our conversation immensely with Mr. Deering. He is a very engaging individual and both he and the captain were quite visible throughout the cruise. I regret that I came down with a cold and did not attend a reception he and the captain hosted. ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES: This is not a party vessel. The mood was very relaxed. One night my sisters and I headed up to check out the disco but there were only a handful of people scattered here and there. We ended up in a small alcove off the lobby called the Ocean bar where a Filipino band was playing, good music and people watching. I did not bring my teens along this trip and only saw a handful of children so I cannot report on the childrens facilities/activities. We somehow missed many of the activities despite looking over the Daily program. We were frustrated more than once because we would miss something in the program. A big surprise to me was the shows. Although the singing was a little weak, the choreography was phenomenal. There were many dance routines that were complicated with frequent costume and stage changes. This ship by far had the best shows I have seen ship board. There was a comedic ventriloquist that was hilarious; an Elton John impersonator that we enjoyed; good crew show; and the usual magic show called DV8 Magic which was a little weak. The Queens lounge doubled as a movie theatre, one movie was King Kong. We attended a class on Digital photography there also that gave some good photo tips. The gym was nice with plenty of treadmills. Exercise classes such as aerobics, pilates, cycling and yoga usually had a fee except there was occasionally an 8:00 am class with no fee. There was a walk a mile (non-hosted) group Promenade Deck usually at 0730. I once saw a game show going on in the Queens lounge with electronic podium scoring systems and all that looked fun. There was the usual Karaoke & Superstar contests, ship & kitchen tours, ice carving; bingo; sail away festivities, dancing. ... Overall reminded me of about the level of activity youd find on Celebrity and RCCL. It was plenty for us but we were there to relax. There were also the revenue producing venues going on such as the shore excursion talks; Art shows; the Greenhouse Spa services with thermal pool; wine/martini tasting promotions; bingo and casino gaming. Staterooms: At check-in we got news that one of our cabin locations had been changed. Oh no, I said -- We had strategically picked our three cabins all together so this was a little shock at first. I was insisting to be given the reason behind this. I was very insistent and no one could explain why. I finally shut up when I asked whether it was an upgrade. I have rarely heard of such an extreme upgrade as this was. My sister looked on a deck plan and low and behold -- one of our little Inside staterooms had been changed to an 8th floor balcony! Originally we were booked for 2 inside cabins #5177 and #5173 and 1 aft balcony #5183. The upgraded Cabin #8121 was lovely, although the weather on the balcony was a little too cool about half of the time on this itinerary. This was not the case however with the Aft balcony for #5183. This aft balcony had very little cover, which allowed the sun to warm us and the wind was blocked due to the aft location. It was a much larger balcony than I expected; almost what Id expect for a suite. All six of us could sit comfortably, it was a dream. Yes, people could enviously look down on us from an aft upper deck but this was not a problem for us. The inside #5177 had a different layout than the typical cabin.. The use of square footage did not appeal to me because of this. As you enter in the center, a small table and chair are immediately at the doorway. The beds to the right, then B.R./closet hall to the left. If someone is using the chair, they have to make room for you to enter the cabin. The Inside cabin had shower, others had shower with bath tub. Plenty of storage in all; nice drawer under foot of bed. Phones had voice mail. There was mini a bar fridge. and blow dryer. No clocks.FOOD: We chose the early seating and glad we did because there was a two hour time difference from Texas then another hour back after we set sail. We had an aft lower level table in the Vista dining room. There was a pretty significant vibration/hum but we got used to it. I think there was music but we could not hear it. Our table servers were efficient. The decor was nice and didnt seem over crowded. Some of our dinners were excellent and some just ok. Overall we enjoyed the food and I am pretty picky. Desserts though as a whole were a real disappointment. The desert extravaganza was beautiful and fun but had no taste. The ice cream was good at least, and one night we ordered a great chocolate coated ice cream ball called the Cappuccino Bomb!. We quickly spoke with our waiter about saving some for us and we enjoyed them again another night. A few dishes that stood out for me were: the escargot, prime rib, Alaskan Halibut and rack of lamb. The lobster was another stand out which was actually not overcooked! I ordered 2 tails on my Surf and Turf which was a good thing since the beef filet was not good. The fish in general was prepared well but our beef other than the prime rib was not very flavorful and dry. Shrimp were very small unless stated on the menu otherwise. King crab legs were not good. I am sure all the above vary from cruise to cruise. We did not bring wine on-board. We had several gift bottles of champagne and wine but we would always forget to chill them. As a courtesy, the wine steward would simply exchange it for a cold one if on the Oosterdam wine list without the corkage fee. We heard others had simply asked their cabin steward to supply a wine bucket with ice, then took the chilled bottle with them to dinner. The wine and cocktail prices were typical for a cruise. Prices ranged around $4.50-$6.00 for cocktails, and seemed a little on the weak side, then wine starting at about $25.00 on up per bottle. You can bring your own wine for a corkage fee at dinner. I brought some liquor for the room in my checked baggage without a problem. We enjoyed the Pinnacle restaurant one night. We had a complimentary card; normally it is a $20pp fee. I would recommend going at least one night. The food was overall excellent. Particularly the beef, the marbling was perfect. I had read a lot about the crab cakes. They were good but not the best since the meat is blended rather than lump crab and tasted more like snow crab. The deserts were much better here, the crème Brulee had not separated like in the Vista dining room. The Pinnacles china was beautiful and the lighting in the restaurant was whimsically pretty. The ceiling decor had pods of floral shaped jelly fish like lights that would flare and then dim. As far as the service, they treated us very very well. The room service menu was also pretty good and it was always delivered a little earlier than expected; appropriate temperature. The buffet was hit and miss with quality, overall good for a cruise ship. I appreciated all the different food type stations which helped with the passenger flow. You had to work a little to get a table sometimes but we just began the routine of &ok, you scout for tables while we get in line sort of thing. Occasionally spotted crew assisting with trays. Buffet closed around 2:00pm after lunch, then around 10:00pm. The buffet extended the hours for the Victoria port stop since we did not dock until after 6:00pm. There was an outdoor grill with burgers, dogs, pizza and fries which were average to good. Small bits and pieces: A few memories of small details I appreciated on the Oosterdam were: cloth hand towels in the public restrooms; the dining rooms after dinner mint/ginger station; nice dinner china esp. in the Pinnacle restaurant; hot chocolate at the Oosterdam dock in Sitka; the Explorers lounge luscious trays of Gourmet chocolates in the evening; unique towel animals; nice complimentary toiletries; exotic tapestry covering placed at foot of bed. Ports: You will most likely have some rain at some point in Alaska so just be prepared. When the weather breaks it is spectacular, and can change your view of a town in an instant. Juneau: We were docked at a pier and took a cheap city shuttle ride to town. We did a whale watching tour through Orca Enterprises that we reserved about 1 week before the cruise. They were very courteous and knowledgeable. Captain Larry was a very colorful individual and really worked hard for us to see whales in one of his speedy and comfortable boats. We saw many humpbacks, even showing us some tail several times. This was supposedly not the best time of year for Orca though and did not see any. Our Naturalist also pointed out two Glaciers; it was a beautiful tour. They provided some refreshments about mid-way. We would highly recommend this outfit. We still had time to do a little tourist shopping in town. I found a drug store near a McDonalds and bought some cold meds and a clock for our cabin. Since I am a fan of Alaskan Amber ale and enjoy local bars, Captain Larry suggested The Alaskan Hotel and Bar, but I ran out of steam. Other cruisers enjoyed the view from the Roberts Tram. Others raved about a salmon bake. Although I am sure the salmon would be great on this tour, take note that the Vista dining menu included salmon dishes every evening. Hubbard Glacier: Our captain nosed us right up to the face of the Hubbard Glacier, very impressive. Thunderous cracks were loud and clear, followed by lots of caving. We seemed to be the only ship this close. We lucked out with beautiful weather but we were still freezing cold standing outside. Be prepared for this as you dont want to miss gazing at this magnificent glaciers beauty. Its a show stopper! Sitka: This was a tender port. The tender took us to a pier a little farther from the one stated in our Daily Program. This was my favorite port but I may have been influenced by the nice weather. Have good walking shoes even though the distances are not very far. The only transportation I saw was a van that dropped you off at their jewelry store and we werent sure how far off the beaten path it would be. We saw no other transportation and my mother aggravated her heal spur here for the rest of the trip because of her shoes. We saw St. Michaels Cathedral which was kind of over hyped but nice since the clergy was making himself available and seemed pleased to have visitors. We walked about 20+ min from the center to the Sitka National park. We watched a historical film in the Visitors center mostly about the Tlingit Indians, very interesting; observed one of the locals carving a totem in a studio; viewed various exhibits; then wandered through the totem park on their Totem Loop which was enjoyably easy. Ranger led talks and walks are available. There were nice restrooms and a book store. Very enjoyable and good photo ops..When we headed back towards town on Lincoln Street we stopped at a small hands on aquarium/store on the water side, across the street from a college. Worth a visit if you have time, fee was donation only. My sisters stopped for tea at the Lime Curd Tea shop and enjoyed. Back at the shuttle pier the Oosterdam was providing hot chocolate. The shuttle crew gave me some 3rd degree questioning there since I only brought my sail card and forgot identification. They eventually found me on a roster and quizzed me a little to make sure who I said I was. Ketchikan: I admit part of the reason this town was not as enjoyable to me was because of the constant rain. The town is nice and quaint actually with Creek street and there was some pretty good tourist shopping to be had right where the ship docks. We picked a flop of a tour though by choosing to go on the DUCK Tour for around $35.pp. The tour guide on this Duck tour was a real quack and actually gave inaccurate information at times which really got on my nerves after a while. The weather did not help since the windows were fogged up with the rain. We were treated however to seeing many bald eagles during our tour. The eagles were hanging around the rocky shore line right in town! The Duck tour in Seattle is however a do not miss! Hilarious and informative. Victoria: We only arrived in port at around 6:00pm because of some docking issue. There was a cheap double decker shuttle bus ride provided right at the dock which drops you off in front of the Empress hotel. We ruled out going to Buchart Gardens thinking we would not have enough light to see, since it is maybe a 45 min. drive to get there. Later we heard other cruisers actually did have enough time and light and highly recommend it. We took a horse drawn carriage tour which was a little pricey but fun and informative. The waterfront is very scenic with the Empress Hotel front and center and then at night when the government building nearby lights up with strings of white lights. There was some pretty good shopping heading away from the Empress and government building. We topped off the evening with an Alaskan Amber ale at the Empress hotel. We found a nice bar in the lower level below the lobby level, very enjoyable. There were a few shops and a public restroom on this level of the hotel. Disembarkation: What a pleasant way HAL handles things. We enjoyed a leisurely morning with room service. You can stay in your room until your color is called. We found our luggage in the terminal, customs asked the usual did you enjoy your cruise? while giving you the visual once over. Then we were headed to Seattle in one of the many taxis available. Post cruise: Our hotel in Seattle this time was the Comfort Suites Downtown Seattle Center for around $145.00 through AAA. We could walk about 3 blocks and we were at the Space Needle. We also had a view of the Needle from our room. It was a good value considering the location. Parking is a premium in the area so to being able to park free in a gated covered garage and walk, was a cost saver. They had a nice courtyard and expanded continental breakfast. There is a Duck tour next to the Needle that is great for around $23.pp. Across the street a McDonalds for an ice cream and restroom stop. Go up the needle and watch the Oosterdam sail out again. I was shocked they would leave without us! Sure enough an NCL ship was trying to catch up with her to no avail.. We also went to the Science fiction exhibit at the wild shaped Music Experience building at the base of the needle. Viewing it from the needle, the roof resembles a smashed guitar. I enjoy sci-fi but this was a big disappointment for the money, maybe if youre a Trekkie or similar you might enjoy. We heard the music exhibit there is good though. In Seattle we enjoyed dinner at a water front restaurant called Elliots. We sat at an outside table and watched a ferry go back and forth to an island nearby. We missed seeing the valet parking; we found a parking garage across the street and the restaurant kindly validated our ticket but there were some restrictions on this, call ahead to ask. Overall this was a fantastic cruise which I would love repeating with the family. It was refreshing to see so much rugged beauty still left in our world. Happy Travels. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE Oosterdam by Dick Stein Alaska Inside Passage May 13, 2006 This was our 7th Holland America Cruise, our 3rd Alaska Cruise with this line, we also have two previous Alaska cruises with each Princess and Celebrity. I ... Read More
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE Oosterdam by Dick Stein Alaska Inside Passage May 13, 2006 This was our 7th Holland America Cruise, our 3rd Alaska Cruise with this line, we also have two previous Alaska cruises with each Princess and Celebrity. I got my red pin (50 days) on this cruise. I got a upgrade to an SS suite due to the fact that they were selling suites 30 days out for what I paid for a balcony and both me and my agent complained. This is just a caution to those who might book an early May Alaska cruise. I did my own travel arrangements arriving a day early and stayed at the Hampton Inn airport the day before. Took my bags to the Seattle airport at 10:30 AM, bought a travel voucher at the HAL desk and I was on a bus to the dock within an hour after arrival at the airport. Embarkation: Arrived at dock, lines were short and we were on the ship at 11:30 AM. Went to the Lido for lunch with our carry on bags as they said the cabins would be ready at 1 PM. Lunch in the lido was fine. The cabin was ready at 12:30 when I checked. Cabins: The cabin 8061 (cat. SS) was attractively decorated and good sized for the price. The balcony offered privacy and had wood tables and chairs which we used frequently. We had a good size shower and a separate bath/shower with a double sink. The shower had a hose and wand arrangement like Celebrity offers. Cabin service was efficient and unobtrusive. We had them clean out the mini bar and used fridge to keep drinks cold. The wife liked the bed, make up mirror and the suite in general. There was plenty of closet and drawer space. Only complaint was the toilet paper. A letter to the Hotel Manger with a sample netted me better toilet paper after Juneau. Public Areas: The public areas are nice and never feel crowded. The ship doesn't feel crowded. Enjoyed the small intimate bars. They had good shows on board and the singers, dancers and comedians were great. The bars had a buy 5, pay for four Heineken special in a ice bucket at the Lido bars that I got all cruise long. I missed some shows that were early due to being in second seating. There was plenty of activities to keep you busy all day. They had church services for all which I do not see on all lines. Dining: I requested 2nd seating dining when I booked and I got four real good tablemates and a good waiter too. We ate all our meals here except when we were in port and the main restaurant was closed for lunch. We went to the open seating for breakfast and lunch in the Dining room every day when not on tour. The attendance in the main dining rooms was far less that capacity due to number eating in Lido. The food in the main dining room was excellent, very close in quality to Celebrity and we enjoyed all the meals. We had pizza, and hot dogs several times for a snack. The food in the Lido was also good including an Indonesian and German lunch they had near the lido pool. Tours: We did tours in Juneau and Ketchikan. In Juneau we did the whale watching tour and saw whale three time, seal lion once and a eagles nest. In Ketchikan we took the tour to Misty Fjords and enjoyed it also. We saw killer whale and harbor seals on this tour also. We did not do a tour in Sitka as we had been there before and it rained all day so we stayed on the ship. We stayed on the ship in Victoria also as we were there the week before in the Vision of the Sea and did our tours then. All tours we took were good. Disembarkation: This was smooth. We were off the ship at 10 AM, and at the airport checking in where the bus stopped. I was on United and they took our bags and gave us boarding passes there. We then took our time walking through security, to the gate and had lunch at Burger King prior to board the plane. The flight home was pleasant as I made arrangements. There was only a short walk between gates at the transfer in Denver. Overall, I was satisfied and will consider this line again as they give you good value for your money. My only complaints were the toilet paper and lack of benefits for repeaters that I enjoy with my elite status on Princess and Celebrity and Diamond status on RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We have cruised on 7 previous occasions, all with Holland America Line (HAL). We have enjoyed every one so much we have not managed to leave HAL for someone else, yet. However, after a cruise in the Caribbean last year we did think about ... Read More
We have cruised on 7 previous occasions, all with Holland America Line (HAL). We have enjoyed every one so much we have not managed to leave HAL for someone else, yet. However, after a cruise in the Caribbean last year we did think about it as we found the process of flying to the East coast of USA and then having to deal with the rude and unhelpful people we encountered there something we did not want to do again. Please note we are not saying that everyone who lives on the East coast is that way just the ones we met in the process of going on a cruise. Anyway, a deal came up for a back to back from San Diego to the Mexican Rivera and then on to Vancouver. We flew to San Diego and stayed in the Holiday Inn at the Bay the night before we were due to depart. The hotel is, literally, across the street from the dock and we could see the Amsterdam from our window on the day we arrived and the Oosterdam the following morning. As we were a day early we spent the afternoon walking around the centre o f the town and we very pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. The people we encountered were friendly and courteous, the architecture was delightful and worth seeing and it was very quiet. I have never been in a city which was so quiet. We visited the Maritime Museum which was educational and generally most enjoyable. Well worth a visit. The following morning we did not need a shuttle as we could walk to the dock. We were able to progress from the gate to the luggage drop off to the check in desk in under 10 minutes. We did have to wait for over one hour to board the ship but that was as a result of some problem with US Customs. Security was swift and efficient and we were on the ship. As we have cruised with HAL before and have sailed on the Vista class ships we do not feel that they are in any way unusual so we do not experience the sense of unfamiliarity which one might. That said we do feel the excitement of the experience every time we board. We were met by the Indonesian crew who will escort you to the lifts and direct you to the Lido until your room is ready. We heard a great deal of complaining about staterooms not being ready for the new passengers and, perhaps, understanding how and why this happens will help new cruisers relax. Most of the ships dock at the terminus at about 7am. Disembarkation begins at about 8am and embarkation begins at about 11am, roughly. As HAL do not turn you out of your cabin at some ungodly hour, the cabins are not all available to the cabin staff for cleaning and remaking. This means that they have to turn around all 924 cabins in about 3hours. This simple is not possible, so they ask the embarking passengers to wait in the Lido until the job is done properly. This is nary a hardship as there is food a plenty and it is quite safe wander off and explore the ship. You can be fairly sure that when you are told that your cabin is ready it will have been prepared for you to the highest standard. As we were sailing on a Vista ship we booked a Balcony room and we were on the Upper Promenade deck. The balcony was not private as we were overlooked from one side and above, due to those balconies being set at angles, and on the other side were the life boats which seemed to require a steady stream of maintained people. They would suddenly appear from no where on the walkway by our balcony. However, the facility of being able to sit on ones own balcony is appreciated. The Vista class ships are a fairly recent addition to the HAL fleet and they are larger than the previous classes. We feel, having sailed on a number of the ships, that the general feel of the Vista class ships is not one we like as much as the smaller ships. I feel that the Vistas lack the personal touch which one would find on the Volendam or even Statendam class. Due to the large number of passengers the crew do not have the time to spend with each passenger and so, I feel, the service suffers, however, not to the extent that it no longer exists. HAL prided itself on the quality of service and the Indonesian crew certainly do provide service with a smile. I think that the Vistas are better suited for families and those who are happier in a larger crowd. During our cruise HAL had their top chef aboard the Oosterdam and we felt that the food was better then usual, although we think the food is pretty good at the best of times. We really like the varied selection for lunch in the Lido and find the Wok provides some tasty and lower fat options. The last time we sailed on a Vista class ship they were trying out a new idea of buying, in advance, one glass of wine per night with dinner. We thought it was a wonderful idea as we do not want a bottle every night. That didnt take on it seems. This time they were trying out a more varied seating arrangement for dinner. If your table was for 5:45 or 6:15 you could arrive at the dining room any time from 5:45 until 6:30 and if you were booked for the later seatings you could turn up from 7:30 until 9pm. The advantage was that you had a little more flexibility but the disadvantage was that you may not be sitting at YOUR table. In order to accommodate everyone they often had to make up table parties as they went along. All the HAL ships have plenty to do and the two pools, spa, gym and casino are soon all in operation. We called at the ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta on consecutive days. We have visited Cabo before and did not really care for it. It seemed to us to be a small village ravaged by commerce but with no real improvements to the village itself. We knew where to go to get internet access and where to use a phone to call home so we set off to walk about the town and attend to these things. It was hot and humid on the day we were there. Mazatlan was a complete surprise to us. I have a friend who owns a resort there and she told me that Mazatlan was a dreadful place, so we were expecting to take a quick peek and return to the ship. We rarely book tours as they are so expensive and spending the day on a bus with heaps of other people is not our idea of a good day out. We prefer to walk and see the places in which we are docked for ourselves. Of course, this is not always possible or advisable but when we can we do. We walked around the Old Town of Mazatlan, for over 4 hours in 93º heat and were charmed by all that we saw. I am sure there were other areas which were less attractive but the Old Town was full of character and well worth walking around. It was also quite safe. The third of our port days saw us in Puerto Vallarta which, again, we expected to be very commercialised and modern. We shared a taxi, from the dock to the Hard Rock Cafe, with people from a Princess ship and then walked all over the Old Town. The street right on the front was just one long shop. Everything your heart could wish to buy was there and the bay was on the other side of the street. If shopping is all you cruise for then Puerto Vallarta would send you in to raptures as you can have some pleasing scenery and the shops all at once. However, if you want to see something of Mexico you only have to go one street back and you have architecture and quaintness that may as well have been under a rock for all some people saw of it. With each street back that you venture it gets more beautiful. Again we spent over 4 hours in the heat walking up and down hills and sets of stairs being drawn into the old town and never going near a shop. In the evening we met people who were horrified at the amount of walking we did and that we did not buy anything. They, they said, had had a wonderful day buying all sorts of stuff and hardly had to walk anywhere. I am glad they enjoyed their day but I also think How sad. After our three ports in a row we had a day at sea to relax. I love the sea days but I can never relax as I find there is so much to see. I am not interested in the casino or the bingo or anything else they organise I just love to people watch and to view the scenery from the decks. Simply being at sea is, for me, a thrill. For those who hate the days at sea because there is nothing to do the companies keep activities going day and night, so really there is no excuse for having time you can not fill, should you so wish. Our last port of call on the 1st leg was San Diego. We have so much enjoyed our first visit there a week earlier that we were looking forward to returning. We decided to spend part of the day walking (yes, we walked again) around the town centre and the other part of the day aboard the retired aircraft carrier Midway I found it interesting, my husband found it fascinating. Not being Americans we found the hype rather too much, but being aboard the ship, seeing how it operated was worthwhile. I spent some time in the Royal Naval Cadets and being on the Midway certainly brought back memories. It was quite an amazing thing to view the Midway from the dock and think how enormous it is and then to see the Oosterdam from the Midway and experience the sudden shrinkage of the Midway. The Midways displacement is nearly 60,000 tones and the Oosterdam is nearly 82,000. Of course, the shape is different but the over all size of the Oosterdam in comparison was remarkable. Sailing out of San Diego we felt like old hands as we viewed the city from the water for the second time. The only stop on our four day 2nd leg was San Francisco. We were told that we would sail under the Golden Gate Bridge in the early hours of the morning and that it would be strung with lights. My husband and I decided that we would sleep through this and see it in the daylight instead. As it so happened I awoke and looked out of our cabin window as we were just beginning our passage under the bridge. I woke my husband who leaped out of bed and was on the veranda before he knew why he was there. The view was rather disappointing from the strung with lights point of view and we thought that it was a sight, certainly, but not really greater than the Lions Gate in Vancouver. This opinion was reaffirmed later in the day when we sailed out of the bay in day light and totally shattered when we sailed into Vancouver 3 days later. It is astounding the tricks ones mind can play and how difficult it is to retain certain information, such as colour and size, accurately. We still love sailing under the Lions Gate Bridge but we have to concede that the Golden Gate Bridge is considerably the larger and more impressive. You will never guess what we did in San Francisco! No, we walked. We walked along the water front visited Fishermans Wharf where we caught a cable car to China town. From there we walked around the streets looking at the shops, it reminded us of Victorias china town, which like San Franciscos was the largest in its country at one point in history. Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill afforded us a wonderful view of the bay and the murals were worth seeing even if the outside view had not been available. In Cheimanus on Vancouver Island there are murals on many of the buildings, but here they were all inside on the walls. They depict the life of the working man of the 1930s and are completely fee to view, although one must pay to climb to the top of the tower. We viewed Lombardi Street from both ends (I though it would have been longer) and we strained our necks looking up at the wonderful Art Deco buildings. Do remember to look up in San Francisco. The time we had to see San Francisco was all too short as we only had a half day but we will certainly return. The weather had been hot and sunny but as we began to prepare for the sail away it was getting windy. The wind increased in strength as we sailed out of the bay and we were concerned that it may get quite choppy before the day was out. Captain Mercer told us that is was necessary, in order to arrive in Vancouver on time, to maintain full speed from here on and that we were due in Vancouver at 7 am the day after tomorrow. The following day Captain Mercer informed us that for our comfort and safety he had reduced speed to half and that we would now be arriving in Vancouver at 4pm. For those interested in such things we had been, were currently and would be for some time to come, sailing in a force 11 Gale. For those not au fait with the Beauford Scale a force 11 is described as a violent storm Winds can reach between 62 and 74 miles per hour and ships can be lost to sight in the waves for a time. The next level up, which is, incidentally, the last, is Hurricane force (12) where winds are measured at between 73 and 83 miles per hour. The Beauford Scale has been used by mariners since 1805 and is regarded to be as accurate to day as it was then. Captain Mercers decision, along with the design of the Oosterdam which made her remarkable stable in such conditions, saved many from misery and harm, but to hear the complaints you would have thought that it was a force 1 and that he was being unreasonable. Naturally people missed flights and were in need of rearranged travel arrangements. HAL, like all the other major lines are not exactly stupid, they knew this and their staff, on board and in Seattle worked tirelessly to re-arrange flights and buses for everyone who needed them. What they could not do was rearrange the lives of passengers who had foolishly regarded a cruise as a boating trip on the local pond. A word to the wise here. DO NOT arrange the most important business meeting of your career for the day after you are due home form a cruise. DO NOT assume that if Granny is looking after your kids that she can go home the day you are due to return. Make arrangements to extend your holiday by one day to cover this kind of eventuality. If Captain Mercer had held full speed we may have made it to Vancouver on time, I do not know, but, having been in a force 12 in the Bay of Biscay I can tell you, there would have been many sick and injured on board by the time we did reach port. What is it in the American psyche that causes so many to find fault at all times? The captain deserved praise and gratitude not attack. For us the added advantage of being late (along with the comfort factor) was that we got to sail through the Straits of Jan de Fuca and Georgia in daylight. The scenery as we rounded the tip of Washington and passed through the channel between that State and Vancouver Island, the Strait of Jan De Fuca, was wonderful. We saw Victoria from the sea and watched Mount Baker loom from the dark into view and appear to move from directly ahead to our starboard side. The later arrival was, for us, a real bonus and we would like to see more cruises through this stunning area in day light hours. We actually arrived at about 2pm and we swiftly processed to disembark. As always the service was professional and the terminal staff must be some of the best in the world for their courtesy and efficiency. Before we really knew it we were once more aboard a ship for the final journey home. We sailed from Tsawwassen to Duke Point on the slow ferry as the sun was setting in the Howe Sound. What a day for scenery! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
This was our 20th cruise and 5th on HAL. The prior two cruises were on two of Celebrity's Millennium class ships and we were anxious to compare the two. We were on the maiden voyage of the QM2 and it ranks just above Princess at the ... Read More
This was our 20th cruise and 5th on HAL. The prior two cruises were on two of Celebrity's Millennium class ships and we were anxious to compare the two. We were on the maiden voyage of the QM2 and it ranks just above Princess at the bottom of our list. First I must say that the ship is beautifully decorated. We were taking pictures everywhere we went. HAL beats Celebrity on this one. Although we had a Deluxe Verandah Suite, it was in the back on the corner of deck six and in my opinion was nowhere near the advertised 510 sq. ft. The verandah was huge but privacy was certainly an issue. We had a Sky Suite on both the Infinity and the Millennium, both of which came with a Butler, so Celebrity gets the edge here. The Neptune Lounge is a non issue. Food. We ate every night at The Pinnacle speciality restaurant but we got the dining room dinner menus in our stateroom every night and quite honestly, I was not impressed. Celebrity definitely wins here. As for The Pinnacle, very limited menu with a Northwest US theme. The food was for the most part excellent as was the service. However, in all honesty, the variety and the individual service was better in the Celebrity speciality restaurants. Unfortunately, the decor in Celebrity's speciality restaurants couldn't touch HAL. Crystal is as good as it gets on this benchmark. The Lido on the Oosterdam was a zoo. Lots of really cool choices but just try to find a table after you have gotten your food. Staff. The captain was English and very friendly. The ship's staff was overall not half bad. I left Jose in the Crow's Nest a $100 tip which I have never done before. Embarkation and disembarkation were relatively easy. Would we go on the Oosterdam again? You bet we would. But I'm anxious to try the Constellation and the Noordam as well. Kudos to both HAL and Celebrity for providing us with a cruise experience that caters to our tastes and is reasonably priced. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
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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