167 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

We arrived in Seattle three nights before the cruise to do some sightseeing. We stayed at the Marriott Waterfront. Loved the views of the marina across the street. Saw Pikes Market, toured the Boeing Plant, visited some wineries and eat ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle three nights before the cruise to do some sightseeing. We stayed at the Marriott Waterfront. Loved the views of the marina across the street. Saw Pikes Market, toured the Boeing Plant, visited some wineries and eat great seafood. Embarkation was extremely smooth. HAL had people posted everywhere to answer any questions, direct you where to go....line moved very quickly. Fantastic surprise awaited us at the check-in counter where we found we'd been upgraded!! That's never happened to me before and it was wonderful! We were on the ship at 1 and our cabin was ready so we could put down our hand luggage...which was very heavy due to wine bottles...HAL permits guests to bring wine and champagne aboard with them. Had lunch in the Lido. Our personal impression is that the Lido Buffet isn't big enough for the number of guests. If I were sailing with HAL again I'll choose to eat in the formal dining room I guess, because the lines were very, very long to get anything at breakfast or lunch. The Vista Dining Room, however, was very nice and the service very good. Our cabin attendant, Agus, was very good also. The room was always serviced twice a day and he thoughtfully provided extra things that he could see we could use...like a second wine chilling bucket one night when we wanted to chill champagne in addition to our wine. The beds on HAL are really, really comfortable. I've cruised on ships where it felt you were sleeping on foam rubber atop plywood. (I've always been too scared to see what it really was...) The weather was great all through the trip. On a couple of days it was overcast and foggy in the morning but it always cleared by mid-morning. Juneau and Ketchikan are touristy places filled with t-shirt and jewelry shops. In Sitka we did an excursion with Captain Davy Lubin and it was the highlight of the trip!!! Saw whales, eagles, puffins, cormorants, otters, seals.... We had booked him independently after hearing a rave here on cruisecritic about him. We did a float plane ride to Misty Fjords in Ketchikan that was breathtakingly beautiful. The day we cruised the Hubbard Glacier stands out for the superb job the crew did of maneuvering the ship so that each side got a spectacular view of the glacier. On our balcony it felt that the whole show had been arranged to be seen just from our vantage point. We love Alaska and I'm already looking to go again next year! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
This was our first cruise out of San Diego, and our 5th cruise with Holland America. Firstly, it was an absolute pleasure to sail from San Diego. The pier is a quick 1.5 miles from the airport, and Hertz shuttled us over at no cost. San ... Read More
This was our first cruise out of San Diego, and our 5th cruise with Holland America. Firstly, it was an absolute pleasure to sail from San Diego. The pier is a quick 1.5 miles from the airport, and Hertz shuttled us over at no cost. San Diego is a great place to explore, and next time I will schedule more time, but for this trip it was in the night before the cruise. I will start this review by telling you that I am not particularly fond of Holland America because the crowd is generally too old for me. I am 41, and my mother is 64. We tend to cruise together since dad passed so we compromise on selection of cruises. Holland America is ALWAYS a compromise for me because of the elderly crowd which it attracts. That being said, I was very happy with the speed of check-in which started at about 11:30AM. The ship had 940 passengers out of a possible 1980 so there was another reason to be happy. Upon boarding, we were not met with the normal white-gloved escorts, but told that we can leave our carry-ons in the lounge and proceed to the Lido for a buffet lunch as cabins would not be available until 1:30PM. So there was everyone, with luggage, sitting around the Lido waiting like caged animals. After all, your carry-on usually has the important stuff like jewelry, medicine, or laptops so who wants to leave it unattended? Upon entering our cabin (1049 on the Main Deck), we were VERY happily surprised. If you look at the deck plans for the Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Zuiderdam (all sister ships), you will see that the insides along the corridor between the Purser's Desk and the forward elevators appear to be double the size of the outsides across the hall. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE! These are the cabins normally available to families, but they are regular J category so available to anyone! I highly recommend them. The steward told us they were 255 sq ft each. We immediately called an booked a spot at the Pinnacle Grille for the 3rd night of the cruise. Good thing we did because the service in the Vista Dining Room was HORRIBLE! DINING ROOM: As the ship was only half full, they decided to only use one level of the dining room and hold open seating for dinner from 6:00PM to 9:00PM. This was a HUGE mistake for a cruise line that advertises 5-star service. When you walked into the dining room, a Head Waiter with a laptop asked for your room number and then assigned you a table after he asked your preference- IE window, 2/4/6/8 seat table, etc. The problem was that they were seating people around the dining room in a haphazard manner. Therefore, when we were seated the first night, our waiter was serving dessert to the next table, mains to another, salads to a third while taking our order. It was completely confusing and out of sync to the waiters- and it showed in their service. It did not improve the entire cruise for lunch or dinner. After the first dinner, we spoke to the Head Waiter who apologized profusely, and promised us his best waiter the next night. The next afternoon, he sent a personal note an chocolate covered strawberries to the cabin. Nice touch, but service did not improve. Food was good but not extraordinary. Generally not hot in temperature and not seasoned all that well. Their fish dishes, however, were outstanding. On the last night, we ate in the Pinnacle Grille. We had done this on the Ryndam last May in Alaska and had a WONDERFUL time. The cover charge in May was $20pp and completely worth every penny. On the Oosterdam, the Pinnacle Grille was twice the size. Service was just as exceptional, but the Ribeye was chewy. When the check came, the cover charge was raised to $30pp. Given the meal quality, I was not as happy this time. In fact the Executive Chef was table hopping and I told him of my chewy steak, and he agreed that Holland America has not been receiving good Ribeyes from their supplier. So why serve them? He did nothing about the service charge for an uneaten steak, nor did they offer to replace it with something else. This experience was reflected on the survey at the end of the trip. Lido Dining on the first day was good, but we do not normally do buffets so I have no consistent experience. Entertainment was routine stuff- 2 reviews and one comedian. Disembarkation was horrible in Victoria, Canada. It was raining and the terminal is about the size of a 3 room house so the line extended about 300 feet out of the building in the rain. Bad planning, and the ship should have held people on until the line thinned, but they kept them coming off. Holland America bus transfer tot he airport was convenient, but we sat for 30 minutes waiting for the bus to fill up, but this happens at every port. Overall, we paid $172pp for a 3 night repositioning cruise, and I feel that I got good value, but was disappointed in the service level. While Holland America may not be MY first choice because of the older crowd, I do give them very high marks for service. Unfortunately, I did not see it on this cruise. As a point of interest, this ship was scheduled into a 2 week drydock at the end of our cruise to fix one of the Azipod engines and spruce up for the Alaska season. Would I take Holland America again? Sure. They sell service which I have definitely received in the past. The ship was very nice itself. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
Much has been written about the azipod problem with the Oosterdam, so that won't be dealt with here. Hopefully, this propulsion dilemma is a one-off and will be corrected once the ship is in dry dock. This was our first Holland ... Read More
Much has been written about the azipod problem with the Oosterdam, so that won't be dealt with here. Hopefully, this propulsion dilemma is a one-off and will be corrected once the ship is in dry dock. This was our first Holland America experience so we went into this cruise with open minds. Prepared to enjoy ourselves, the cruise was just adequate. Embarkation was lovely, so fast and easy. Disembarkation was exactly the same. The food was delicious, especially in the Pinnacle Grill. Although we had second seating for dinner, the Vista Dining Room was never enjoyed for dinner. The vibration and rolling of the ship where our table was located (right on the stern) was just too annoying. The clattering/clinking of the china made conversation almost impossible. Wanting to experience the Royal Dutch High Tea, the vibration and clatter was braved. Thankfully, our table was more towards the mid-section so the noise wasn't as bad. At least the table was nice as the service was lousy. We were three-quarters of the way through the meal before tea was offered...and that was after a waiter had been flagged some time before. Tea was then served, but it was another long wait for lemon/milk. Thankfully, the Lido Restaurant and Terrace Grill were pleasant. The wait staff was right on top of things and extremely helpful. Our cabin steward was tremendous. Our cabin was not. The bath mat was black from mold, the curtain between the balcony and the bed was broken, and the upper cabinet above the sofa was hanging by one hinge. That we had corrected as it was a definite safety problem. The items in the shops, which were marked 50% off, had been marked up to be marked down. The original $16.00 price was blacked out, with $20 written beside it. Unfortunately, the original asking price of $16.00 was still clearly showing. All the calls for cleanliness and sanitizing hands should have been employed by the staff, also. Noticed at the Sea View Bar (by the adult pool) was the bartender wiping the rim of a glass onto his bare palm and then filling the glass with a drink...which was then served to the customer who was pool-side. No shore excursions were done. Overall experience? Have had better cruises where all the 'niceties' have been covered. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
"The Luck of the Irish?" The day of our highly anticipated cruise had finally arrived (St. Patty's day)! Flashback to Fall of 2006 - During a Fall cruise of the New England States, we especially enjoyed the company of two ... Read More
"The Luck of the Irish?" The day of our highly anticipated cruise had finally arrived (St. Patty's day)! Flashback to Fall of 2006 - During a Fall cruise of the New England States, we especially enjoyed the company of two couples we met from San Diego (We are from the Chicagoland area). We decided to keep in touch by e-mail and try to cruise together sometime again. Early in 2007 the cruizin bug hit and we all planned this Mexican Riviera trip. I was the advocate for HAL, having enjoyed their Alaska trip five years ago. HAL and Celebrity ran neck and neck as my favorite cruise lines. We arrived in San Diego a day early, staying at the downtown Embassy Suites hotel (great beds, good service,nice breakfast and in close proximity to everything we wanted to do). We were planning on eating at Anthony's, but staff persuaded us to go to the Fish Market. We arrived shortly before 6:00, and with no reservations, it was a good thing! After a 15 min. wait, we were seated at a window table with nice view of the ocean and the setting sun! Food and service was great! What a super start! Next, we headed to the much hyped Gas Light district. I don't know if it was our age (early 50's) or the fact that being from a big city (Chicago) had jaded us, but we were somewhat disappointed in the scene. We then grabbed a cab and headed to Extraordinary Deserts. THIS IS A DON't MISS! (tip: portions are large, so you may want to split something). The next day I slept in and DH headed to USS MIDWAY ship museum and then RALPH'S to buy wine for the cruise. We embarked around 2:30 - the smoothest ever! Grabbed lunch with our friend's, then room was ready & luggage had arrived - all by 3:30! I can't say enough about how comfortable the beds are on HAL! Our room steward was also so efficient the entire week! As a matter of fact, all service the entire cruise was excellent - I did note that while efficient, most workers seemed subdued (celebrity workers have always seemed very happy to us). Comparing the dining experience to Celebrity, as well as the HAL trip 5 years ago,HAL has slipped. While the ambience and service were well above average, the selection and flavor of the meals have declined significantly in our opinion. Main seating for dinner worked well with our daytime events, but did interfere with evening entertainment we would have liked to attend. The stage shows weren't really our cup of tea, but the ones we did attend were filled with energy and professionalism. The one tender to shore was extremely efficient and well organized! This was the 1st cruise ever that we did not book ship excursions. We didn't want to be held to any timetables and felt we were able (thru research on cruisecritic) to navigate quite well on our own! As recommended here, we booked the massages at Krystal resort PV - THE BEST WE'VE EVER HAD!! And I get regular weekly massages. I feel this gives a fairly just overview of what one might expect on an HAL cruise. However, every individual's expectations, preferences and experiences are unique. On that note, I feel I must include two negative situations we experienced - One of the couples we traveled with had a 4th floor room with balcony. The ship had some type of sewage problem and the smell permeated their room. This was only their second cruise ever and it really wrecked the experience for them. When they reported it, HAL responded by sending a goodie basket to the room - the problem was never rectified!! Needless to say this was their first and last HAL cruise! Also at the last port, Puerta Vallarta, just after my marvelous massage, I was knocked over by a seven foot wave in the ocean and sprained my knee. There were two days left on the cruise, and HAL stated that they only rented wheel chairs by the week, and the fee would be $125.00 - full price - even though there was only two days left. I really resented this - so much for good will! I can tell you that this left me with a very negative feel when I think of HAL, and it will probably influence my future cruise line choicemaking. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
This is our 7th cruise. The first cruise with HAL. We drove from Palm Springs to San Diego and boarded at approximately 2 P.M. for a 5P.M. departure. The parking was across the street from the terminal and was $12/day. Handy as it only ... Read More
This is our 7th cruise. The first cruise with HAL. We drove from Palm Springs to San Diego and boarded at approximately 2 P.M. for a 5P.M. departure. The parking was across the street from the terminal and was $12/day. Handy as it only took a few minutes to park and start the boarding process. This went very smoothly and we were in our cabin within 15 minutes. Our first observation was the ship was looking a bit worn. (Passage walls scuffed up, the carpet in places slightly coming apart). The cabin, with a veranda, was adequate size and medium range in its finish. The bathroom had a tub with a shower; the weather was suburb with daytime temps in the 80's and lots of blue sky. We wonder sometimes why we leave the desert this time of year but the weather was better than at home. (Low 60's and overcast most the week). The first night we were camped into the Pinnacle room because of our platinum AMEX card. I had read various reviews of the Pinnacle and we were anxious to try it. The furnishing of the room was nice and I would say "funky" as the chairs were wrought iron and not really "elegant". The service was very good. I ordered the porterhouse as they really touted their beef. My wife had the scampi. The steak was cooked correctly but tough and not to tasty....I think we get better beef at Costco. The shrimp came with their shells on and after struggling a bit with the shells the waiter came to help my wife. He to struggled but finally torn the shells off and her verdict was, they were "O, K." not great. The appetizer were forgetful...we both forgot what we ordered. The best part was the desert, a chocolate soufflE like dish that was tasty. We made reservation for the last night in the Pinnacle after dinner. The next day I stopped to ask if we could have a table were we sat side by side as we hate yelling across the table and the Pinnacle is quite noisy. I was told first come first served. What is the point of a reservation? They only have one seating in reality. After thinking about the low quality of the previous dinner and thinking why send $40 for this a cancelled the next day. I think you are better to apply this at Ruth Crests and get a really good steak. We ate in the dining room the rest of the nights and had one good meal. Prime rib. The rest of the dinners were either poor choices on our part our nothing that great to order. My wife ordered veal one night and it was over cooked, tough and had no taste. The potatoes, vegetable etc. with the dinner was not to appealing, like it was prepared much earlier and was dried out or cold. They also had a number of standard items such as vichyssoise "style" which they were able to mess up quite handily by adding apple. Getting fancy didn't cut it. The Lido we used for breakfast most mornings and for lunch. I tried their sushi and found it to be unlike any I have ever had and hope never to have again. My wife being Asian refused to even try it after the first taste. The sandwiches they made were good because of really good bread. So that was our take on food. Our room steward Arty was the best! He was almost clairvoyant to our needs. Always smiling, cheerful and really a very nice person. If only we could take him on every cruise with us. The rest of the staff was friendly and we surely had no complaints about them. We did get a call from the office on the 6th day asking how everything was. I suggested they read my review at Cruise Critic. The other passengers were definitely the older crowd. (At 65 I consider myself not quite there.) Most were "snow birds" and seemed to enjoy the cruise. The entertainment was O.K. Their stage productions were somewhat weak but we were not on the cruise to go to the theater. A "beetles sound alike" group was good and a comic had a few great lines. A "Hollywood Idol" program was really quite good with ships Event Director being a great "Simon". The next night that had a "Newlywed, near newlywed and not so new newlywed" game. It was really a stitch! We laughed so hard we guessed some of the responses had to be rehearsed. The shore excursion were very good. Cabo San Lucas being the weakest. We went on a 40 minute boat ride that was O.K. and then to a hotel for a "great view". For the length of the ride the "view" was a let down. We have been to Cabo 4 times previously, the last in 1997 to marlin fish. The town is so overgrown and American with American prices it really has lost its charm. Next was Mazatlan. We did a tour with a great guide. Saw the cliff divers and then a Culture show that was really very good. Then a great buffet at a local hotel and an afternoon walking a very lovely beach. The next day Puerto Vallarta. Up at 6 A.M. to leave at 6:40 for a dune buggy adventure. What a kick, 3 1/2 hours of thick dust, muffler-less engines and a real ride over outback roads and a visit to a few small villages. My wife thinks she is Mario Andretti and really got to live her fantasy. We came back caked with dust and really happy campers. This made our trip. We took a bus into downtown Puerto Vallarta that afternoon and had a pleasant walk back. So assessing the whole thing we could only say we were somewhat disappointed in HAL as a cruise line. The food probably made the biggest difference and the upkeep and shape of a ship built in 2003 was a downside. Our last cruises on Celebrity (Constellation in the Baltic and the Expedition in Galapagos Islands) gave us some prospective in evaluating HAL. Would we use HAL again, possible for a short focused cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
We boarded the Oosterdam at San Diego on December 9th. As we live in San Diego, travel to the cruise terminal was no problem. We boarded about 12:30 PM and the process went rapidly. We were in our stateroom exactly one hour after we left ... Read More
We boarded the Oosterdam at San Diego on December 9th. As we live in San Diego, travel to the cruise terminal was no problem. We boarded about 12:30 PM and the process went rapidly. We were in our stateroom exactly one hour after we left home. Round trips out of San Diego are obviously great for us. This was our 4th cruise on Holland America and our third on Holland America to the Mexican Riviera. The ship was clean and well maintained. Our room steward took care of things expeditiously and the room was as expected. This was his first trip, so we did not get any towel monkey hanging from the ceiling, however I never had trouble finding my sunglasses. Interesting that there were no drawers in the stateroom. There was a closet of shelves which we used for the stuff we would usually stashed in the drawers. We went ashore at each port and we walked or used local cabs. Weather was excellent at all three ports and was not too warm. We revisited some of the sites and locations that we had been to previously on purchased shore tours. Our pace was relaxed. We had our customary Corona at the Giggling Marlin in Cabo. Holland America decided to test a new dining schedule for this trip. We were notified ahead of time, so it was no surprise. If you had early dining, you could arrive between 5:30 and 6:00. Late dining was between 8:00 and 9:00. You were still seated at your assigned table. The plan offered some additional flexibility, but most people still showed up shortly after the doors opened. Service in the dining room was very good and the selections were about the same as previous HAL cruises. In general, I was disappointed with the quality of the food. Eggs benedict for breakfast did not include the usual slice of Canadian bacon and was served on an un-toasted English muffin. I ordered various beef dishes four times at dinner and they were all overcooked and very dry. That included the "surf and turf" selection on formal night. The lobster tail was good. The rear of the dining room on deck #2 was subject to serious vibration as a result of operating one pod at 100%. We ate one breakfast in that area and avoided it thereafter. According to some previous reviews, the Azipod problem has been going on for some time, yet we were told they were "working on it" as if it had just occurred. Entertainment was excellent and there were two full-blown production shows during the seven nights. They had a great comedian on board for the entire trip and she did a full show one night and contributed to other shows. Music was very good, although a little loud for my taste. The magician and his wife put on a fabulous performance one night and were part of the joint effort on another. The cooling system went south in Puerto Vallarta and we spent the next two days and nights with very uncomfortable public areas, a very hot cabin and almost no sleep because of the excessive temperature. Not my idea of a fun cruises either. A memo from the captain said they were "working on it" and that was the last we heard. It got cooler on the way to San Diego because the outside temperature headed into the low 60's. Got some sleep the last night. Compared to prior experiences on the Statendam, Maazdam and Ryndam, this ship is not what we expected from Holland America. Management needs to look at some of the previous Cruise Critic reviews regarding food service, technical problems and employee attitude. We will probably not use Holland-America again unless future reviews indicate that they have made some serious changes, especially in the food quality area. The Oosterdam was a disappointment. They need to look after the little stuff as that is what makes great service. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
My wife I had booked the Mexican Rivera Cruise leaving from San Diego. Since it is our home, we decided that it would be nice for a change not to deal with airlines etc. Two days enroute to our first destination, Cabo, my wife became ... Read More
My wife I had booked the Mexican Rivera Cruise leaving from San Diego. Since it is our home, we decided that it would be nice for a change not to deal with airlines etc. Two days enroute to our first destination, Cabo, my wife became very ill 3 hours after dinner. Around 9am the next morning she spoke to the ship's infirmary regarding her condition. They advised that we would both be quarantined for a 24 hour period. They were very helpful. We believed it to be food poisoning due to the quick onset. Shortly thereafter a Captain's letter came in our stateroom mail box stating that he would be increasing health conditions by shutting down the spas, Lido buffet lines, and increase sanitization throughout the ship. Little did we know that more than 300 individuals as well as crewmembers had already contracted Norovirus. At any rate we applaud the Captain's immediate attention to curtail the widespread sickness. More so during our quarantine to our room while in Cabo, we learned just how some of the Holland America staff were not so "Customer Service oriented". We experienced some very poor behavior by food service members, retail ship's store personnel and front desk uniformed personnel. To put it bluntly, The service overall was Rude. We were very disappointed in the lack of Customer Service and in-attention to detail by many of the employees. Everyone can have a bad day. Unfortunately the negatives just outweighed the positives. With that said, this will be our last Holland America Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
We were on the Oosterdam for the November 18 - 25 Thanksgiving sailing. This was our sixth cruise and our first on HAL. We had a group of ten including my husband and two kids, my sister and brother-in-law, my parents, and two friends. ... Read More
We were on the Oosterdam for the November 18 - 25 Thanksgiving sailing. This was our sixth cruise and our first on HAL. We had a group of ten including my husband and two kids, my sister and brother-in-law, my parents, and two friends. Embarkation was very smooth. We live in San Diego but because of a commitment didn't get to the dock until after 2 pm. We parked our car across the street from the pier, which is very convenient. There were no lines at the check-in, but the computer systems were all down so they couldn't take our pictures our process our paperwork online. Minor inconvenience - we had to go stand in at the front desk the next day to get our picture taken - but since our keycards kept magically demagnetizing we spent a lot of time down there anyway. We made our way to our aft VA cabins. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the cabins. They look tiny in the pictures, but are actually very livable for two but I wouldn't want to put three in one cabin. We had two cabins next to each other for our immediate family so we had our room steward, Joe, open the verandah divider between the two cabins. This was great for us so we could go back and forth without going into the hallway. The verandahs (we were on deck 5) were very large. We had a lounge chair, wicker chair with ottoman, and two side chairs and a small table with lots of room to move around. The cabin has plenty of storage, was very clean, and the beds are very comfortable. I had seen pictures of the Oosterdam and wasn't sure I was going to like the decor, but in most cases it was actually very nice. We absolutely did not like the layout of the ship. In all of my cruises, even on ships of the same size (Celebrity Summit) this was the most crowded and cramped ship I have been on. The public spaces are tiny. Lots of little bars, but the Vista Lounge was so small, the casino was tiny, the front desk area on deck 2 is so small there was always a line that blocked traffic. I hated having to walk through the photo gallery to go from dinner on deck 3 to the Vista for the show. Traffic flow was a nightmare there. The shopping arcade is also laid out like an afterthought, and it seemed they devoted the most space on the ship for the stupid art auctions. Because this was a Thanksgiving cruise there were many large family groups and over 400 children on board. Club Hal was a real disappointment for my kids. I knew there would be a lot of kids, but I thought HAL would be able to handle the crowd. My kids were in the Tweens group and they had to meet in one of conference rooms on deck 3 with nothing but chairs and a table in the room. The staff was great, but there were no video games and it wasn't a kid-friendly space. The worst part about Club Hal is they force you to let your kids check themselves in and out. If you don't allow it, they will take your 8 - 13 year old and put them with the 7 and under group. My kids are very responsible, but it's not them I worry about when they are wandering around on the ship. The counselors didn't care where they went when they left. We made a deal that one of my kids (the other one decided the first day he didn't really want to participate) that he could check himself out at a specified time and come right to the cabin. One day he checked himself out early, went to the cabin and we weren't there, wandered around for an hour looking for us, then checked himself back in to the club. Meanwhile, we went to Club Hal looking for him and they didn't even know he had left. I think this is an accident waiting to happen and they need to figure out a better system. Needless to say that after that fiasco we came in person to drop him off and pick him up. If HAL is going to advertise itself as family-friendly, then they need to step up and provide the services the other cruise lines do. I found overall the service on the ship to be very bad. Our cabin steward was the only bright spot and he was fantastic. Our dining room staff was simply awful. First, there was a mixup on the early/late seating and table numbers. Six of our group wanted early seating and were waitlisted for three months. The two older couples with us wanted to eat late seating and were confirmed, but when we got onboard we all had early seating but at two different tables. My sister stood in line to straighten it out with the maitre d and he was extremely rude and said that maybe he would fix it the next day. By the time the cruise was over, my parents and their friends had been moved from early to late seating (on the third day) and at late seating were moved to three different tables. The maitre d was completely unapologetic. We were at the same table the whole time, but our service was terrible. They are obviously understaffed in dining room. It was the most impersonal service I have ever received on a cruise ship. Many nights the wine stewardess (who was great) would take bar and wine orders, but I would never get an iced tea or milk for my kids even if we asked a couple of times. The waiter would forget to bring some of the food we ordered or mix up who ordered what. They got a little friendlier as the week went on, but it didn't make up for the first night when my husband asked for a shrimp cocktail and was told it wasn't on the menu so he couldn't have it, or the night when my son wanted a steak and the waiter told us no and had to call over the head waiter to get approval so my son could get his steak and french fries. It became very obvious that the waiters didn't want to do anything outside of their normal routine and they seemed afraid to ask the kitchen for something special. The food in the Vista Dining was pretty good, but not as good as some of the other cruises we have been on. They have a problem with their beef and pork - it was not prepared well at all. No matter how you ordered it, it was always overcooked, dry and chewy. The fish was very good, the breads were excellent, and many of the appetizers were really nice. Overall, I didn't think the food was anything to brag about (and yes, I understand that it is basically banquet food and can't be compared to a good restaurant). We ate a lot of meals in the Lido (we ate breakfast and lunch one day in the dining room and service was, like at dinner, pretty indifferent). The Lido food was the best of any ship I have been on. Lots of variety and we loved the stations. The sushi was good but the same every day. The Asian food was not so good, but the pasta station was very good. We all enjoyed the excellent ice cream and desserts. The staff was pretty friendly in the Lido, but there was never silverware available when it was crowded (can't tell you how many times we had to search around for silverware), there was never any ice in the machines, the staff never took our trays, and they ran out of milk on Thursday, but it was scarce even before then. We did eat in the Pinnacle Grill our last night on the ship (compliments of our travel agent). So many people got that gift that by noon on Saturday all of the big tables were booked for the week and the only spot for a party of four was Friday at 6:30. If we had known our travel agent was giving the Pinnacle meal to us we would have booked in advance. I was not that impressed with the food. The decor in the room was beautiful, but the service was only fair. Our waiter was very nice, but he couldn't tell us the dessert special for the day. The wine steward charged my sister's wine to the wrong room and then argued with her that he hadn't made a mistake. The appetizers were very good, but the steak I ordered medium was well done (not pink at all) and while it may have been a good piece of meat at one time, it was so overcooked it was hard to tell. We had three porterhouses at our table, two medium and one medium rare, and they got the orders mixed up so the medium rare steak (actually cooked to medium) went to the wrong person. At that point, after a week of bad service, I opted to just eat it and not complain. The side dishes were unmemorable. I had a baked potato and mushroom caps that I could have cooked at home. My appetizer was the heirloom tomatoes that looked really pretty but were utterly tasteless. The creme brulee trio (plain, coffee, and chocolate) was tasty but nothing special. We had great weather the whole trip and had great days in all three ports. We booked the Baja Jeep Safari for Cabo and it was fantastic. I highly recommend it. We went from the desert to the beach with a stop in Candalaria, a tiny town in the desert. Our tour guide was great, but we had to cut the tour short because of the shortened port hours and the problem tendering in. In Mazatlan we just hired an open-air jeep taxi to drive us around the old downtown area. We went to the cathedral and the big mercado and saw a lot of the old city. We returned to the ship for lunch, then hired another taxi to go the El Cid hotel on the gold coast so we could use the beach and the pool. We bought drinks there and they didn't seem to care we weren't hotel guests. In Puerto Vallarta we had independently booked a dolphin-watching excursion in a zodiac boat (they also do whale watching but it's too early for whales). It was a great day and we got to see lots of dolphins close up. Our two guides were naturalists who work with marine life and were experts on the dolphins, turtles, sea snakes, fish and birds that we saw. We also got to snorkel at Los Arcos. This was a great excursion and I would do it again. The entertainment on the ship was mixed. The singers and dancers were very talented and the first show Roadhouse was entertaining. We walked out of the second show they did Escape since it was very amateurish. We never saw Julie Barr, the comedian. Joel Mason, the Elton John impersonator, was fantastic and I usually don't like shows like that. He was genuinely funny. The magic act, DV8, was pretty bad. They copied the jokes from Joel Mason the night before. I think Dwight is a good magician, but my son described the act as cheesy. Even my stepmother, who has been on a gazillion cruises (over 150 days on HAL alone) and likes any kind of entertainment, hated the magic act. We felt there were a lot of activities, but most of them were geared toward making money for HAL (like bingo and events in the casino). The trivia was run by a couple of cruise staff who were all business and not friendly. The library was nice but always crowded. The Lido pool was fun for the kids, but needless to say with 400 kids on board it was always crowded. My sister took the two culinary classes with the chef from the Pinnacle and really enjoyed them, although he got his recipes out of a magazine - they are not his original recipes. We didn't do anything in the spa, but heard good reports on the pilates and stretching classes. As we got off the ship today we discussed taking another HAL cruise and decided that unless the itinerary was fantastic and couldn't be duplicated by another line we probably would not go out of our way to book with HAL. We had fun on the cruise (like always) but the bad service really made a big impression on us. I didn't think it came close to the service and quality we had on Celebrity and although it was a little more sophisticated in feel than Royal Caribbean, I think we prefer those two lines to HAL. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
I have been on many cruises, and have always enjoyed them. This was the first time I took a cruise which left from San Diego. Since San Diego is my home, I didn't have to travel to get to the embarkation port. I thought this would ... Read More
I have been on many cruises, and have always enjoyed them. This was the first time I took a cruise which left from San Diego. Since San Diego is my home, I didn't have to travel to get to the embarkation port. I thought this would make everything easy, but that was not the case. I had a serious problem with a missing piece of luggage, which I will discuss later on in this review. The embarkation itself was OK, although it took a very long time. Our stateroom, which had a verandah, was quite pleasant. The only problem was that we hardly slept the first night because some pictures which were attached to the wall kept banging. We had them removed the next day, and all was well. The ship was nice. I especially liked the Promenade deck which was good for taking walks. I did not partake of any spa activities. Dinners were adequate, but not special. The Pinnacle Grill, for which you pay something extra, did provide an excellent dinner, and I would recommend that. (However, on previous cruises I have taken, the food in the dining room was excellent, without paying extra.) For our lunches, we went to the Lido buffet. Again, the food wasn't spectacular, but there was a lot of variety, and it was fine for a light lunch. For breakfast, we ordered room service using the card on the door at night. It generally came on time in the morning, and was OK. The shipboard activities were good. I particularly liked the demonstrations/discussions about the animal towel folding, ice carving, and digital cameras. The entertainment was pretty good. We especially liked the piano bar, the comedian, and the Elton John impersonator. We didn't go on any shore excursions. This was partly because the time in ports was considerably shorter than it was supposed to be because of the broken azipod which caused the ship to travel slower than it should. (This problem was described in an earlier review by someone else.) The service relative to the cabin was good. The room was always clean, and the fresh fruit was replenished. However, the service provided by guest relations regarding my missing suitcase was abominable. Here's what happened: My husband and I watched a porter (hired by a company which was hired by HA) put our 4 properly-labeled suitcases on a cart to be brought to the Oosterdam. By some fluke, one of my suitcases ended up on another ship! (This happened to at least one other person on the same cruise.) After many days, HA found out where my suitcase was, but they couldn't be sure when I'd get it back. The ship's administrators could only repeat We're sorry, and sounded arrogant and insincere. I had to buy some essential clothing items in Mazatlan. These same officials told me that they couldn't pay me back, but that Seattle headquarters had been contacted. They said that Seattle would decide about compensation on a case by case basis, and that it would depend on the number of days I was without my suitcase. After 4 days of aggravation, I got a letter from the manager of guest relations on the ship offering a small shipboard credit as a gesture of goodwill. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling much goodwill towards the staff. On day 5 (on a 7-day cruise) my case was returned, in a somewhat damaged condition, and with some items missing. On the last day of the trip, I was told that HA wouldn't pay anything to cover my financial outlay. (The total amount was only $300.) I have been fighting HA ever since, including sending a letter to the CEO of the company. It was just turned over to the original person who said that nothing would be done. I have only been able to speak to 2 subordinates. They told me that the goodwill credit I received was all that HA would pay for a suitcase whose misplacement they were responsible for. When I reminded them that the ship's management told me that the goodwill credit was separate from compensation for what I spent, they said that those people had made a mistake, and HA wasn't going to take responsibility for what they said, even though I have it in writing. This attitude is unconscionable. (Some people might say that the ship's management lied to me, as several other critics on this web site have noted.) It was bad enough that I was missing clothing I had carefully selected for the cruise, but what made it worse was the arrogant and uncaring attitude of the ship's management, and then the lack of courtesy of the Seattle administrators who didn't return phone messages or letters. The disembarkment went smoothly. I liked that you could relax in your cabin until your group was called. We were even able to find our suitcases relatively easily. The problem happened the night before. When we went back to our cabin to finish packing and then relax, we found that our card keys no longer worked. Repeated visits to the front desk to get the keys fixed didn't help. We ended up standing in the hallway for an hour until guest relations found someone who had an actual metal key which unlocked the door. In summary, even though I was particularly upset due to the lack of help from guest relations, other people I spoke with were also disappointed in this particular cruise. In general, things on this cruise were adequate, but not special. I will certainly never cruise on a Holland America ship again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
I'm not sure I sailed on the same Oosterdam as the other people. Mine was marginal, at best. Mexican Riviera, 10/21-10/28/06 As has been reported, one Azipod was inop. Without notice of this prior to boarding, we sailed from San ... Read More
I'm not sure I sailed on the same Oosterdam as the other people. Mine was marginal, at best. Mexican Riviera, 10/21-10/28/06 As has been reported, one Azipod was inop. Without notice of this prior to boarding, we sailed from San Diego into the projected path of Hurricane Paul!! With the Captain's assurances that passenger safety was his first priority. (??) It all worked out, but not before wandering around at sea in the vicinity of Cabo San Lucas for 36 hrs with a short last minute stop at Cabo primarily for crew disembarking, and skipping Mazatlan entirely. Finally Paul dissipated and we did make it to Puerta Vallarta on schedule. Us, the Rotterdam and two other cruise ships, all totaling about 10,000 people. As on the previous two HAL cruises we've taken, stateroom and dining room service were excellent. However, room service was a disaster, time after time. We had a Deluxe Verandah Suite and ordered coffee for delivery between 7:30-8:00 each morning. It was ALWAYS early. Knocking on the door usually began at 7:10 or so and was our wakeup call. And lunch one day with guests in our suite took 1:45 to arrive, in spite of repeated calls and being told it was ready and would be up soon. Numerous little things on the ship were broken, like elevator buttons, the phone messaging system, light bulbs out, our toilet leaking, etc. And most were not addressed during our cruise. They did fix the toilet though. But it all added up to an impression of uncaring maintenance. They could have at least removed the broken chair from the front row of the Crows Nest. The Deluxe Verandah Suite we purchased seemed to buy us nothing. We did get a special line at check in and use of the Neptune Lounge, where the poor ladies acting as concierge got to deal with our repeated calls. They really did try hard and were truly concerned, but resolutions to our problems were out their control. And in spite of buying HAL's airport transfer, we were among the last off the ship and dropped at the San Diego airport on a Saturday morning with 25 minutes to plane time. So much for suite privileges. It didn't help that, as we learned, there were 1200 travel industry persons aboard and HAL kept closing public areas such as bars, deck pools, Crows Nest, etc for their prime time private parties. And the ship's officers who were supposed to host functions for the suite customers only briefly showed up, if at all. Guess they were busy elsewhere. We weren't the only passengers who experienced our frustrations. Our dining room tablemates were also suite occupants and they had the same experiences and observations we did. It was an anniversary cruise for them and his first (and I think last) cruise. So now we'll cancel our deposit on the Westerdam for an Eastern Med. cruise next May and be looking at other lines for future cruising. We sure liked our previous HAL cruises but this just smacked of a big decline in attitude. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
We were aboard the Saturday, September 9, 2006 sailing of the Oosterdam out of Seattle to Alaska. We flew into Seattle the day of the cruise and used a local town car service instead of booking transfers. There were 4 in our party and this ... Read More
We were aboard the Saturday, September 9, 2006 sailing of the Oosterdam out of Seattle to Alaska. We flew into Seattle the day of the cruise and used a local town car service instead of booking transfers. There were 4 in our party and this was cheaper and more comfortable than the bus transfers. We arrived at port and turned in our luggage. I had arranged and confirmed a wheelchair to transport one member of our party aboard ship. It was not available. However, they did escort us to a quick check in and provided seating until a wheelchair was available. The rooms were not available when we boarded so we headed to Lido for lunch. It was crowded as is normal for the day of embarkation. Food was good and the wait staff was excellent. They carried your trays to your table and even got your drinks for you. After lunch we checked our cabins and they were available. We had rented a wheelchair from Care Vacations and it was ready and waiting in the cabin. The inside rooms in this category are extremely tiny. Don't know the square footage but, they are much smaller than the interior cabins on Carnival. However, the room was very nice and the cabin steward attended to our every need during the cruise. The bathroom was quite roomy compared to the cabin. HAL does provide a fruit basket in every room - Ha! - 2 apples, a pear and an orange in a tiny little bowl. Sailing out of Seattle was much rougher seas than we had experienced on our first Alaska cruise which sailed out of Vancouver. Seas were so rough on Sunday that the ship was literally empty. Most people were ill and stayed in their cabins. This first full day was the captain's party and the first formal night. We made it to the captain's party. You entered the lounge on the 2nd floor. We were directed to a spot in the back of the room for our wheelchair bound companion. People were seated in theatre style seating and just waiting. We never did see or meet the captain. Finally we just left. We went into the dining room and found that our table was the only one in the room not set for dinner. Dining is very nice on the Oosterdam with silver and Rosenthal china. I asked why our table was not set and the assistant waiter said 'table shake'. We were seated there anyway. I set my camera on the table and they brought us water glasses. About that time a sound somewhat like a blasting cap went off under our table and everything started to move. We really had to scramble to catch the water and the camera. This was repeated about every 2-3 minutes. I can't believe they chose to set us there knowing this was going on. We requested a different table and were given one. We did return to our regular table the next night when things were not quite as rough. The food for the cruise was very good. The food presentation was the prettiest I have seen on any cruise. Our wait staff was first class. This has been an extremely rainy year for Alaska. We were told on ship that they had seen a total of 10 sunny days between the first sailing in May and our Sept. 9th sailing. We expected the worst but, did not get it. Our first port of call was Juneau. It was overcast. Our dock was the furthest from town so there were shuttles at a cost of $2 each. This ticket was good for all day and they did have wheelchair lifts. We did not book an excursion choosing instead to just look around town on our own. This is a good time to shop Juneau as it is at the end of their season and many stores were 50% off. We bought several souvenir items. Our next stop was Hubbard Glacier. It was a bright and sunny day. Hubbard Glacier is incredible. We got so close it looked like you could just reach out and touch the glacier. The glacier does constant calving and the color is beautiful. Split Pea soup was served on deck. It was fine but, not my taste. Our next stop was Sitka. Another bright and sunny day. This is the only port where we had booked an excursion. Our ticket envelopes were at our cabins when we boarded ship and there was a note asking us to stop by the shore excursion desk. I did so and was told that the wheelchair lift bus for our excursion was broken and would not be repaired before our arrival. We were given the choice to get a refund on the excursion and we chose to do so. This is a tender port and we were pleased to find the Oosterdam has wheelchair lifts on their tenders. We took a cab to the Raptor Center and found it very interesting. Town is quaint but, shops are pricey. No sales and no bargains. Our next stop was Ketchikan. Another bright and sunny day. We docked at Tongass and had a short walk into town. No excursions booked. Just walked around and went over to creek street. There were a few live salmon still in the creek and many dead ones. The smell was terrible. There were 3 seals in the creek feeding on the salmon. They put on quite a show for our cameras. Several sales and good shopping. Our last port was Victoria, BC. We did not stop here until 6 pm but it was a clear night so we got off ship and just checked out the dock area. There were shuttle buses into town at a cost of $5 each. We did not go into town. Overall the cruise was nice. The ship is beautiful and the staff is very helpful. All of our previous cruises were on Carnival so we were anxious to see the differences. The Holland America ship seemed much smaller inside. The ceilings were lower, the hallways narrower, the atrium 3 stories instead of the 10-12 on Carnival. We did not feel the service (though excellent and we have no complaints) was any better than we were used to on Carnival. The casino on board was quite small and usually almost empty. Most of the tables never opened and those that did were rarely full. We went to the two large stage shows and they were very good. We also went to watch one singer - again very good - and a magician - also good. We did not check out any of the lounges or bars. The Crow's nest is famous on this ship. It is a wonderful viewing room at the top forward of the ship. It is beautiful and there are some great views. However, we found it full every time we went there and no one would give up space for a wheelchair. We did not try the SPA. I had wanted to book a massage but the only ones offered were very fancy and very costly (around $200 ea). We did find a few problems on ship. I kept finding holes in the floor under the carpet. The floor in one of the hallways on the 4th floor had ridges and holes in it. I tripped several times and wondered how many people actually fell. They do have many elderly guests and it is a wonder no one broke a hip. The hallway on the 2nd floor which leads to the dining room has quite low ceilings. One of the bars on that floor hung banners each day to advertise their drink of the day. I am 5'4" and my head brushed these banners. Taller people actually had to duck. We also found that when we exited the ship in Victoria one member of our party had the wrong photo pop up on the screen when her card was scanned. It was a woman at least 30 years older and looking nothing like the lady in our group. The security guard looked at the photo, at our companion and off she went. Just how secure are guests on this ship? She could have gotten off ship, handed the card to anyone she wished and they could have boarded the ship in her place. When we told the front desk they said we would have to retake the photos. My husband asked what for? we were leaving the ship the next morning! The photo shop was very limited. There were very few places to have photos taken on ship. Photos getting off at port were quite cute and quite good. 8x10 photos are $20.95. We purchased one of our formal pictures in an 8x10 and asked about having some 5x7 reprints made. We were told it would be the same cost - $20.95 per 5x7 print. Does that make sense? We had been told that one of the perks of Holland America is that you can stay in your cabin until your color tag in called at Debarkation. Since we had a member of our party needing a wheelchair this was not the case. We were sent to a very small and crowded lounge to await our call. It did not take long and we were off the ship. I have only Carnival with which to compare this Holland America cruise. I MUCH prefer Carnival. On Carnival rooms are much larger and brighter, the casino is much bigger and better, photos are much more selection and much better, food is as good or better, lido offers a much larger selection and service is every bit as good. Every evening my husband and I were actually bored on this trip. There is just no night life. By 10:00 pm most people had gone to bed. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
I was somewhat weary of taking a cruise over the Thanksgiving holiday, but wanted to take my mother away for the holiday. Holland America offered a very reasonable rate for two, single-occupancy, inside state rooms, so I booked them. I ... Read More
I was somewhat weary of taking a cruise over the Thanksgiving holiday, but wanted to take my mother away for the holiday. Holland America offered a very reasonable rate for two, single-occupancy, inside state rooms, so I booked them. I have been on two Holland America cruises in the past. The first on the Zaandam, which I thought was a magnificent ship perfectly suited to my needs. And another on the Maasdam, which while not as nice as the Zaandam, still suited me very well. I am a fairly young man (about to turn 40) but prefer quieter, more elegant cruises. I enjoy cruising with older folks, as I find that it makes for a much more relaxing experience. This is why I like Holland America, and it's this quieter, and more elegant style of cruising I had come to expect from this cruise line. I found the boarding procedures greatly improved from my previous Holland America cruises. We were able to drive up to the terminal, drop our bags, and then park the car; a great convenience when travelling with my 6X year old mother. We got into the terminal at about 2pm, and there were virtually no lines, and no wait to board. I had even forgotten my Tuxedo, had it overnighted to the ship, and it was waiting for me right inside the terminal's front door; very impressive! We immediately made our way to our rooms, which were clean and all ready for occupancy. My luggage had already been delivered, my mother's arrived about an hour later. The rooms were the first disappointment. They were by far the smallest of any cruise ship I have ever been on, including NCL. I was of course a bit disappointed that we hadn't gotten an upgrade. My Mother, however, rightly reminded me that we were the last people who would be upgraded from the smallest rooms, because we were two single-occupancy guests. Who was more perfect to put into these small rooms? I agreed, and quickly got over my disappointment. Just be fairly warned that these are not the standard inside and outside staterooms on HAL's older ships, they are much, much smaller and I really can't imagine a couple fitting comfortably in them. (I took lots of pictures of the rooms, which I will also post on this site.) Other than their size, the rooms are fairly well-appointed. However, the TVs are not flat panel, and there were no bathtubs in the bathroom. The new bedding program was very nice, and the beds were the most comfortable I've been on at sea. I had a problem with the room not being cool enough on the first night at sea. Admittedly, I like to keep my room very cold. Although I had the thermostat at its coolest, the room was still oo warm. I called the front desk and although they couldn't address the a/c immediately they did send me a huge floor fan (took up half the room) which was adequate for the first night. The next morning they had done something that made my room much much cooler...well done. The ship was not gaudy as some have described it. All of the Holland America ships incorporate different levels of creative and stylish design. I remember the Zaandam having beautifully designed chairs and lamps in their lounges. On the Oosterdam the color schemes have changed a bit, but the general aesthetic of high-style and quality furnishings and appointments hasn't slipped. I will say, however, that I think the new layout is quite hodgepodge compared with some of the older ships. The spaces seemed more open and inviting on the Zaandam and Maasdam. Here the space felt somewhat circuitous...like it was just one little room after the other. The flow was definitely adversely affected. My main complaint regarding the Oosterdam was the quality of the service. If there was ever an argument to be made against compulsory tipping my experience on Holland America is it. When I travelled on Zaandam and Maasdam, tipping was done voluntarily (or actually I should say that it was not expected.) However, when someone does a good job of serving you, it's natural to want to thank them with a tip. My cabin stewards and dining stewards on those two older ships were absolutely top notch, and they earned themselves very generous tips. Holland America's new compulsory tipping (it's added automatically to your stateroom bill) has had the very obvious effect of creating a generally indifferent service staff. Service in the dining room was awful. We'd order a soda, or glass of wine and would wait a 1/2 hour...no beverage. We'd ask someone else where our drink was....and they'd disappear. By the time it was brought to us, dinner was over. This happened almost every night. Our servers, while nice, were just not very good at their jobs. One of our dinner companions was diabetic. Every night she'd give clear instructions as to how she'd need her dinner served (no sauce, etc.) Every night she'd have to send back her meal, because her instructions were completely missed. These are things that dining room staffs need to be expected to handle with aplomb...they simply could not. My room steward, again while a very nice fellow, was simply poorly trained. Every day I asked for laundry bags, every day they were not left in the room. Lot's of little things were missed every day, which left me in the position of having to track him down and make special requests....it just shouldn't be that way. Holland America's service, which in my opinion was its strongest, differentiating characteristic has clearly slipped. My final complaint was about the programming. Again, while the cruise director's staff all seemed very nice, they seemed to forget what people come on a cruise for: namely peace and quiet. Why have cruises become another venue for overly loud music and compulsory participation? I enjoyed going to the shows, some of which were fairly good, but the music played before the shows was so inappropriate and loud it made it painful to sit through. -- Dear staff: every venue is not a New York City night club, improved only through the volume of the pounding thump of the bass -- Music -- at all times -- needs to be appropriate for the crowd, and played at a reasonable volume. The shows, while ok, were all over the map, and failed to really get anyone too excited. When will cruise ship show directors realize that bigger, flashier and louder productions won't necessarily get a crowd into their shows... I feel that Holland America is suffering from split personality disorder. It can't decide if it wants to be the classier, quieter, big cruise line, or go after the families and partiers. I'm sure it feels lured by the successes of RCCL, but how will it differentiate itself in the marketplace? I hope they realize that not all younger cruisers (is 39 still younger??) want to be blasted out of their seats with too loud music or be over-programmed. I go on cruises, because I long to get away, sit in a deck chair and read good books. It looks as if this will become more difficult on Holland America Line. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Let me start by saying that this is my 11th cruise so I have a good idea on what to expect on a cruise. I'm 45 and my wife is 40. We usually sail Princess, so expect comparisons and no I don't work for them nor does anyone I ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this is my 11th cruise so I have a good idea on what to expect on a cruise. I'm 45 and my wife is 40. We usually sail Princess, so expect comparisons and no I don't work for them nor does anyone I know. We have been on NCL and RCL. We usually do at least one cruise a year. We decided to try HAL, the Oosterdam to Mexico, to break away from Princess to see how the other half lives so to speak. We soon discovered how good we have it on Princess. We had heard some good things about HAL and knew that it was more sedate and an older crowd. That was ok as we were looking for a very relaxing time. We also knew that dinner times were set as opposed to Princess where you dine when you want, anytime between 5:30 and 10pm. Boarding: When we got on the ship around noon, all cabins were off limits until 1:30 pm. You could check your carry on bags at a room but it was soon overrun so we had to carry or bags for about 1.5 hrs. This was a hassle especially trying to eat lunch. On Princess, we have always been able to go right to our cabin and drop our bags. If princess can do this on a ship of 2500, why can't HAL manage it on a ship of 1800? When I did get to my cabin, the bottle of JD I had preordered to be in my cabin was not there. After two complaints to the front desk, 3 hours apart, the bottle showed up after dinner. By the way, that bottle of JD cost me $54. The last time on Princess it cost me $27. The thing that really ticked me off about HAL is that they tried to sell me the same bottle to take off the ship for $17.95. Talk about feeling gouged. Cabins: Our cabin, a superior verandah suite, was very nice and the bathroom was great. One complaint about the cabin is that they use the fridge as a mini bar so you can't store anything in it. Also, the water temp in the shower kept alternating hot and cold. Very irritating. We had a DVD player and a 25 inch TV that were great. We also had a big balcony. Breakfast Lunch and Dinner: Breakfast in the Lido buffet was the usual fare but less of a selection than on other lines. The food is good, not great but no complaints about quality. Breakfast in the dining room was good but the service uneven. Be warned, the lower dining room at the back of the ship when under power vibrates a lot. Once I ordered smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel, got the salmon but no bagel. The coffee always was just luke warm. Lunch on the Lido buffet was the same as breakfast but only served between 11:30 - 2pm. At 2pm they were closed and the only thing you could get at that point was a slice of pizza warming under a heat lamp. On Princess, they have a true Pizzeria that you can order what you want. Dinner was fine, we had no complaints except for the strict dining times which we knew going in. We had first sitting, upstairs. Be warned they have a policy that you have 15 minutes to show up for dinner and then the doors are closed. While we had no complaints about the food or service in the dining room, we did meet a couple who had stopped going as two nights in a row their food showed up cold. The said they were frustrated. One last note, our wine steward Ruby was exceptional. She was friendly, never let our glass get empty and was the first person to greet us at our table most nights. We never dined at the Pinnacle Grill, but it seemed underutilized from what we saw. Maybe most people don't want to pay the extra $20 per person. Staff: The staff was very friendly and helpful although we didn't see our cabin steward much although he kept our cabin spotless and well stocked with fresh towels etc. We had one odd experience where 3 days out, a bartender asked us how our cruise was going. We said ok and he replied that many people had complained to him that the service and the food was not as good as it used to be and they were not returning to HAL. Maybe it's the one year contract they have to agree to. I think on Princess it's 6 months. Entertainment: The shows and musicians were ok. Our featured entertainer was a singer named Bobby Black. He was introduced at the beginning of his act as, "Straight from Las Vegas". You later find out that he doesn't perform there, he lives there. According to him, he spends 40 weeks a year on cruise ships. It's obvious why. The production shows are so so. The Northern Lights disco is odd in that it's tiny. Ship: The layout of the ship was fine for its size and was for the most part comfortable. One major complaint that was a complaint of many was the restrooms. Why in heavens name you would close the main restrooms right outside the dining room for cleaning an hour into dinner is beyond comprehension. This happened more than once. They also did this same routine outside the main show lounge one night as the show was letting out. People were furious. One night at dinner my wife had to use the restroom. The room outside the dining room was closed for cleaning. she then had to go halfway through the ship only to find that restroom out of order. She had to go one deck down to find an operating restroom. She returned absolutely furious. Whoever is in charge of this aspect of the ship should be replaced, that is if anyone is in charge of this. I have never, ever had this happen on any other ship. Ports of Call: Cabo was great. Go to Cabo Wabo, Sammy's place and get the Lobster tacos. WOW!. Mazatlan was good, go to Senior Frogs, you won't be disappointed. Puerto Vallarta was also fine. If you want to call home, get a phone card for $5 at most small stores and they work in the public phones. Shopping wise, it's the same tourist stuff in every store in every port. Final Misc: HAL like many lines now offer an unlimited soda card. Unless you consume massive quantities don't buy it. Bring your soda on with you or buy it in the ports and bring it back on. The card with gratuity added brings it over $40 a person. By comparison, Princess charged $22.50 a person last cruise. HAL also plays a little game in that they only give you the soda in a small glass, making you work for it. Again by comparison, Princess will give you a giant glass if you ask for it and also gives you a large refillable insulated container for free when you buy the card. Overall it seemed the staff was not happy and relaxed. Don't get me wrong, they were very friendly and helpful when serving or helping you but other than that they didn't smile a lot. They also didn't joke a lot or interact on their own with the passengers very much. Maybe that's a symptom of their long contract. It also seemed to me that there was less supervision of the staff. Our very candid bartender also told us that it was almost impossible to suspend or fire someone for bad service as they were so tight on staff that they couldn't be replaced. The cruise staff seemed very young and inexperienced. One morning upon meeting in the Vista lounge for our shore excursion, everyone was just told to go in and sit down and wait for their turn to be called. We were then told to follow a crew member to the tender deck, who half way down said he forgot his pen and left us going down stairs on our own. When we got to the bottom we didn't know where to go. By comparison, sorry, Princess has the room marked with signed sections like a concert, and plenty of staff to direct you and answer questions. In our room, there was nobody. All in all, HAL was not as polished, organized or well managed as other cruises I've been on. In my opinion they charge excessively for most items, are not as flexible as they could be as in the dining times etc., and don't take into account passenger comfort and convenience when planning events and ship maintenance. The last thing I will relate is that not one couple or person we talked to said they would return to HAL again. Reading this you may think that I've been too picky and just complaining about the small stuff. Well, it may all be small stuff but it adds up. I get precious little vacation time and when I spend the time, money and effort to cruise, it doesn't have to be perfect but it should be close. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
This was our first cruise and we were very, very, very disappointed with it. The entertainment was below substandard and bordered on the offensively stupid at times. Just lousy! The coffee might as well have been poison, as it tasted so ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we were very, very, very disappointed with it. The entertainment was below substandard and bordered on the offensively stupid at times. Just lousy! The coffee might as well have been poison, as it tasted so bitter and horrible that it bore no resemblance to my favorite drink. It was absolutely the WORST coffee drink I've ever had. I had one latte and one regular cup o'joe and never had it again. As addicted to coffee as I am, I went without rather than subject myself to that assault on my tastebuds again. The food? Overrated by far. As a vegetarian, my options were extremely limited. We had the same tiny menu EVERY single day and it got boring fast. Internet was slllloooow and far too expensive. Everything is geared toward the over 60 crowd, which I wish I had known before climbing onboard. We're in our mid-twenties and there really wasn't much for us to do. They don't give you enough time at port, although perhaps this is because of their mostly senior clientele. There were a few bright spots, but they were few and far between. First, it must be said that the crew was absolutely fabulous. They worked very hard and treated us very, very well. Whatever they are paid, it isn't near enough. Our cabin steward was worth twice his weight in gold. The bartenders really know their cocktails, and the waitstaff went above and beyond, as well. The shore excursions we went on were worth the money (helicopter and snorkel Virgin Gorda). They obviously aren't prepared to change plans on a dime, because one of our ports was canceled due to rough seas/weather. They didn't bother giving us an updated program for several HOURS after they returned the ship to sea. There really was nothing for all of us to do. Everyone was getting crabby and manners were shelved in favor of rudeness. We already spent an entire day at sea and did all that there was to do! We ended up doing laps on the deck until the rain prevented us from even doing that. We were relieved when Sunday finally came and we stepped off the boat. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
Hi, I just returned from a Western Caribbean cruise on the Oosterdam. This was my first cruise but I must say that the whole event was somewhat disappointing. The cabins were nice and the balcony was a life saver. I really enjoyed ... Read More
Hi, I just returned from a Western Caribbean cruise on the Oosterdam. This was my first cruise but I must say that the whole event was somewhat disappointing. The cabins were nice and the balcony was a life saver. I really enjoyed ordering breakfast up every morning and eating it on the balcony. The room steward was by far the best and most thorough I have ever experienced anywhere in the World! He made service at the "W" look like the Holiday Inn. The Lido restaurant was little more than an upgraded Ponderosa. Service in it was terrible. I actually had to place a tray with dirty dishes on it on the floor before someone came by to take it away. It seems all the food staff are concerned with is selling you drinks. I was sick of the Lido by the second day. The Crow's Nest had some nice lounge chairs to sit and enjoy the view but the majority of them were broken and wouldn't sit upright. The band quit when it was dead (ie. just me and my wife) and the Mexican buffet that was supposed to run from 10-midnight shut down at 11. Going to watch a movie always required you having to first clean a table and sitting area, there was no staff around willing to do it. But then again, they're always there to sell you a drink! The food was not bad but it was basically the same as I would get at a Sandal's Resort. I've been told cruise ship food is out of this world so I did have high expectations and expected better. The most disappointing was the Chocolate Buffet. I love chocolate and therefore made a special trip to the Lido at 11 p.m. to enjoy the buffet. They had set up a beautiful stunning display of incredible looking chocolate cakes and pies. However, they were only for viewing and taking pictures of. When I wanted some for consumption I was told that I would have to eat from a different table which had the same humdrum desserts on it that were available every other night, only in greater quantities. Having summed it all up, I would cruise with HAL again as long as I was able to grab a special. The product they are offering is in no sense of the imagination worth full price. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
The nice thing about the Oosterdam is the layout is exactly like the Zuiderdam which makes getting about the ship easy. The decor is elegant. Service on the ship was good for the most part. Our cabin steward was efficient and not to be ... Read More
The nice thing about the Oosterdam is the layout is exactly like the Zuiderdam which makes getting about the ship easy. The decor is elegant. Service on the ship was good for the most part. Our cabin steward was efficient and not to be seen, just the way I like it. Unfortunately our waiter in the main dining room spoiled our trip the fifth night into the cruise. I was never able to find out why he was so hostile as he would not speak to me about the problem. When I complained to the dining room manager, I got a very cold response without the slightest apology. Service in the bar lounge was a disaster one night. We finally gave up on our drink order and went to dinner disappointed. Others in the lounge were having an equally bad time of it. The shows were spectacular - we looked forward to every show! Food was for the most part what one would expect on a cruise ship, palatable but for the most part not great. Portions were small for the appetizers, I therefore ordered two at each meal, which seemed to perturb the waiter. Boarding was a fiasco in San Diego. Apparently the computer system was down, so we had to fill the forms already filled on the internet before our cruise. We stood in the hot sun for half an hour before even getting into the cruise terminal, then an hour sitting in their terminal before being boarded. I knew the room would be a small inside cabin, but was shocked by how small it was when we arrived. But, due to its nice decor and design, I got used to it quickly and enjoyed the stay. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
This was our 1st cruise on Holland America. We had decided to try them for a more "formal" cruise experience. The ship is beautiful in a very understated way. While there are numerous lounges and bars, you have the feel of a ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise on Holland America. We had decided to try them for a more "formal" cruise experience. The ship is beautiful in a very understated way. While there are numerous lounges and bars, you have the feel of a much smaller ship. Decor is understated with little flash, but very comfortable. The recliners in the Crows Nest lounge were a great place to watch the water glide by while you enjoy your drink. Cabin size was excellent and having a stateroom with a balcony makes me feel that I'll never book a cruise again without one. Food quality in the Lido Deck "Food Court" was excellent for breakfast and lunch...we never made it to the Lido dining room. Good thing too....as others have said, the service in the dining room left much to be desired. Coffee cups and water glasses sat empty after numerous requests for refilling, entrees arrived lukewarm with side dishes missing until I reminded our servers again and again. However, the food quality and service in the Pinnacle Grill (the $20/pp cover charge alternative venue)was superb and well worth it. Pools are smallish, but never seemed overcrowded...but you can't say the same for the whirlpools...you could never get a seat. Poolside servers were sporadic...some great, some disappeared without ever fulfilling your order. The bands and vocalists were great, but the headline acts were mediocre with the notable exception of "The Mikes", an acapella group from Canada who were great. Bottom line...a very relaxing trip with so-so cuisine, an ok itinerary (St. Martin & Half Moon Cay were great, Nassau is Nassau (we never left the ship), but nothing...I repeat...NOTHING in Tortola). Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
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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