Sail Date: September 2005
Oosterdam Better Than Ever! Accommodations: The main reason one books an aft-corner suite on the Vista-Class is the wrap-around verandah. 4185 (Category S/SC) offers a nice balance of openness and privacy - if you wish to see the upper ... Read More
Oosterdam Better Than Ever! Accommodations: The main reason one books an aft-corner suite on the Vista-Class is the wrap-around verandah. 4185 (Category S/SC) offers a nice balance of openness and privacy - if you wish to see the upper decks, you can stand at the aft rail and look up & back, but just two steps in and you're in almost total privacy with little wind while underway. The deck on the side is also about a foot deeper than the verandahs above, but is more susceptible to the wind and some of the view is partially blocked by a piece of machinery whose function I never did figure out. The interior is a fair bit smaller than the Category S/SA Suites located on the side - think of an SS plus the dressing room, angled dry-bar, twin beds that make into a king and all the Deluxe Suite perks and you'll get the picture. The Neptune Lounge is a bit of a hike, but just lift the phone and the concierge team is not only friendly and efficient, but also eager to please and can take care of most needs over the phone. It would seem that no reasonable request is too big or too small for them to handle for the Deluxe Suite passenger (and sometimes their guests!) The best news about this location besides the panoramic view off the verandah, and the sight of the wake from your bed is that it's a short wander down one flight of stairs to the Vista Dining Room. The worst news is that while underway, the noise and vibration from the azipod propulsion units 5 decks below is somewhat more apparent when quietly lying in bed then when at table in the boisterous dining room just below. Food: Speaking of the Dining Room, the quality of food aboard Oosterdam in the Vista Dining Room is quite an improvement over what has come from the HAL kitchens in recent years. Although the presentation and ingredients used have always been quality, flavor has often been lacking. Well, no longer does one have to try to recall from past cruises what was good and what was bland - the menus have been updated and the flavors are top-drawer! Even the Baked Alaska is better! Of course, the Pinnacle Grill is exactly as good as it's always been - but now that the staff has been 'edited', the service is so much friendlier. One thing that is relatively new in Pinnacle is the luncheon service: 3 courses for $10, no reservations required. The luncheon menu is completely different from the dinner menu, but no less enjoyable. A new personal favorite is the Thai Beef Salad: petite filet medallions on mescalun w/ roasted peanuts, crispy fried cellophane noodles and fried lotus root topped w/ a slightly sweet Thai dressing. Room Service is much improved as well - butters, jams, cream for coffee and sugar for tea are all in place on the breakfast trays - no more calling back for little incidentals. Delivery is always prompt, and metal discs keep plates warm. Within 5 minutes of receiving a delivery, the phone rings to ensure that everything is all right. You can tell that efforts are being made to ensure that every room service order is perfect. Of course, the Lido Restaurant is as it's always been - all kinds of good food served practically round the clock. The Staff: We've never experienced a friendlier or more welcoming staff and crew than were assigned to Oosterdam for our week in Alaska. Captain Jeroen Van Donsselaar is the most engaging captain that I've had the pleasure to meet. He and Hotel Manager James Deering are incredibly gracious hosts - they will make a great team again when they transfer to Zuiderdam in mid-October. Cruise Director Steve Gayda clearly loves his job - he had a grin from ear-to-ear the entire week witnessing the ship's company enjoying themselves. The concierges in the Neptune Lounge, Lizzie (sic) and Marj are tireless in their efforts to take care of our little needs - even running to the back of the ship to deliver a pair of tuxedo pants to replace ones that were forgotten at home! Peter Allen, the Pinnacle Maitre d' never complained when I added guests to an already full dinner table. Our steward in the Vista Dining Room (Table 135) spent time chatting with us while his assistant performed goofy magic tricks for us (Hey, it's funny after a couple glasses of wine...) When wine steward Ferdinand delivered two cases of champagne on ice for a party to my suite, he asked if I needed someone to come back to serve on my verandah - He then proceeded to set up tables for hors d'oeuvres and glasses - then came back and stayed for over 2 hours serving and cleaning up afterwards! The next morning when he came in to check the mini-bar, he took one look at me in my hung-over state and asked if I'd like his cappuccino - he hadn't had any yet. When I responded that I couldn't take his coffee from him, his reply was "It looks like you need this a lot more than I do", and when I tried to give him a tip to pay for it, he brushed off my money saying "That's not necessary: This is how we take care of our guests." Even our cabin steward Fausi was tireless in running errands & getting our laundry done in record time. The Ship: Oosterdam is as beautiful as ever and well maintained. Everywhere, one could see freshly varnished teak furniture and railings, gleaming hardware and spotless glass - however one can also see signs of wear and tear such as frays at carpet joints in some elevator lobbies, scuffs on corridor walls at the 90-degree turns, slashes in some vinyl elevator door upholstery, wear on the backs of the wicker lounge chairs on our verandah and on the seats of the chairs in our suite. Hopefully when she goes in for her first drydock next year, she'll receive more wear-resistant materials in these areas. And unfortunately, the Smoking Room at the aft-end of the Explorers Lounge is now locked up and reserved for ship's photographers and their equipment for private photo sessions. The Olive Pit martini bar at the bottom of the atrium under the stairwell is a great use of that out-of -the-way space, and Edwin gets raves from everyone he serves! Sadly, over in the Explorer's Lounge there was only one steward assigned there after dinner, so he was having a difficult time trying to fulfill orders for après-dinner liqueurs - but that may have been because all the other available bar stewards were up in the more populated venues for this charter cruise. The Itinerary: This being my second time to Alaska, I knew to expect outstanding scenery, variable weather and rough seas. We got the first two - not bad at all! Juneau was rainy and chilly - a perfect day to stay in, but we went to Mendenhall and Buchert Gardens anyway. Thankfully, the folks at the visitor center tell us that Mendenhall had a better year and didn't recede half as much as last year. Buchert Gardens is a great place if you're into rocky trails, plants, little waterfalls and upside down trees... Hubbard Glacier & Disenchantment Bay is so much more impressive than Glacier Bay - the ice is bigger and bluer and we were witness to several calvings! This is why you get a corner verandah in Alaska! Haynes is the town that's named after your underwear (...or so the joke went aboard ship that week) I didn't go ashore, and from what I was told and from what I could see from deck, I didn't miss much except the cool vintage DeSoto's being used to give guided tours of this cute little town. Personally, I'd have rather gone into Sitka again. Ketchikan is just too much like San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf unless you can get away from the piers. Unfortunately, unless one purchases a pricey excursion such as floatplanes to the Misty Fjords, you'll probably end up just wandering the streets near the ships. We did go see the Lumberjack Show, which was great fun if somewhat kitschy - especially for the young kids who got to help keep score! One bothersome thing that happened was that passengers from the two Mega-Princess ships were incredibly rude, exiting en-masse halfway through the show! Did someone hear a chow-bell, 'cause the boats weren't leaving? Sailing to Victoria, we saw a great number of whales - it was amazing! Even as we were on deck getting some sun one afternoon (!) we could see spouts and hear the clap of Humpbacks fluking... Victoria: What's the point in getting off the ship? We hosted our traditional rowdy "Drink-the-last-of-the-wine-and-gift-champagne" dinner party in the half-empty Pinnacle and had a great time enjoying the company of our shipboard friends... Room for Improvement: One thing that doesn't make much sense is the big SOE hullabaloo about the new flat screen TVs. If they were flat TV's (LCD/Plasma) - that would be a great thing, but these are still great big tube televisions that take up as much space as the old ones and impinge on desk space, so they're no big deal. Another thing that disappoints slightly is the lack of input jacks in the TV & Stereo so that one can't plug in their own music/video from an iPod or camcorder, but I understand that most HAL guests aren't that up-to-date w tech. And am I the only one who thinks that the little faux-silk pillows on the leather sofas in suites are kinda cheesy? How 'bout some of that cool Batik from the spa? And the coffee tables in staterooms - they really ought to be adjustable in height so that one can enjoy room service indoors without being uncomfortably bent over. I also understand that the stateroom corridors on Noordam will receive some colors and artwork to brighten them up - I certainly hope that Oosterdam and her sisters will receive similar updates, as her corridors are tract-house drab in comparison to her lobbies, staircases and public rooms. Overall, I have to say that this, my 3rd HAL cruise, and my second aboard the beautiful Oosterdam has been my best cruise thus far. Many of her staff and crew are moving on to other ships, including the new Noordam, and I look forward to meeting them again on other ships of the Holland America fleet. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
This was our 5th cruise overall, 3rd one on HAL. My husband and I are in our mid 50s,married 38 years. My brother and wife the same age, married for 37 years. We drove to Port from Oregon. My brother and His wife flew NW from TN, with no ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise overall, 3rd one on HAL. My husband and I are in our mid 50s,married 38 years. My brother and wife the same age, married for 37 years. We drove to Port from Oregon. My brother and His wife flew NW from TN, with no problems. The cruise was 09/17 to 09/24, last cruise of the season. Have to congratulate the Oosterdam and her captain on a wonderful cruise, despite 24 hours of rough seas (25 to 35 foot seas) at the start of the cruise. The seas were so rough, that 7 TVs fell on the floor in the staterooms one night. There were a lot of people sea sick one day, I stayed fine on Bonine. We had rain the first day or two and then the skies were blue and sunny and the sea was calm for the rest of the cruise. Rain is usually the norm for Alaska in fall. The captain decided to forgo Hubbard glacier (and more rough seas), and instead visit Glacier National Park---- What a wonderful surprise !!! Words can not describe the beauty of seeing the glaciers for the first time. We visited Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC, and had 2 days of sea days. We are not party animals, but enjoy the relaxation of the sea and visiting new places. I am a semi-retired RN and my husband works full-time and has his own business. Sitka was our favorite, we saw whales, eagles and even 3 black bears. We did our own land tours. We just walked off the ship and booked with one of the local tours and had a great time. If you are into kayaks, Sitka looks like the place to do it. A cruise to Alaska is more expensive, but well worth it. There are ways to save expenses and still have a good time. Do your own tours, bring your own alcohol, avoid soda pop for a week and realize that Alaska scenery is there for free. Thanks again Captain for the wonderful and safe cruise. HAL is for you if you want a refined, beautiful ship, with large nice staterooms, a crew that are eager to please, and food that is great. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
My boyfriend and I saw an ad in the paper for a repositioning cruise package including stays in San Diego and Las Vegas for a very reasonable $900 CAD tax included!!! I had heard good things about Holland America from coworkers and travel ... Read More
My boyfriend and I saw an ad in the paper for a repositioning cruise package including stays in San Diego and Las Vegas for a very reasonable $900 CAD tax included!!! I had heard good things about Holland America from coworkers and travel agents. I had previously cruised with Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas and was very pleased with them. Embarkation was easy as we live in Vancouver, the starting port. We arrived around 1pm and were on board within the hour. We were greeted by staff on the ramp and saw a booth that was selling the all you can drink pop cards for $10 so I went for that deal. Our room was pretty spacious although we had to walk to the very end of the ship as it is located at the bow. Our room attendant was very friendly and helped us change the beds to a king. Throughout our cruise, everything was taken care of and very clean. There were 3 closets so plenty of room for our clothes. The bathroom also had a bathtub; definitely a plus for Holland America! The food was pretty good in the buffet; what you would expect for a ship buffet. The drill went well and it was pretty fun to walk around in the lifevests. The sail-away party was fun also as you got to meet the crew and cruise director and they were all very approachable throughout. We had the late seating for dinner and were seated with another older couple from Vancouver. The food was pretty good, though I found the food on Royal Caribbean better presented and more flavourful. We had a few breakfasts and lunches in the restaurant and we generally found the buffet crowded and difficult to find seating. The afternoon teas were also a bonus as the treats were very good! The production shows were pretty entertaining and worth the time. The Oosterdam Superstar contest was very good as it involved fellow cruisers competing in an American Idol type contest. The only thing missing is a large disco as the nightclub on the Oosterdam was located just off the side of the casino and was tiny. Movies were played everyday in the cinema and included recently released movies. Overall, our impression of the ship was good and the service was exceptional. However, we may have been one of a handful of people under 65 years old on this particular cruise (we're in our 20s) so if its the young crowd, then we suggest another cruise line. An agent told us that the average age for Holland America cruises is 45+. Also, the atrium was only 3 floors high so it didn't have that large open feeling. There was always juice, coffee/tea and ice cream available in the buffet so we really didn't need the pop card. I may have only used it 3 times so not worth it I guess. We did swim in the pool a few times and enjoyed the hot tubs. There is an adults only pool at the front of the ship as well and that was convenient although not many people swam on this cruise. There were plenty of deck chairs around. For what we paid for this trip, no complaints whatsoever. Great value! Great service! We've already booked for another repositioning cruise in 2006 on NCL because of the deal. Hope its as good. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
This was our first cruise! We had read some good reviews of HAL and were impressed with the descriptions and photos of the Oosterdam. It really is a nice, big ship. Our embarkation in Seattle went pretty well. The line looked long, but ... Read More
This was our first cruise! We had read some good reviews of HAL and were impressed with the descriptions and photos of the Oosterdam. It really is a nice, big ship. Our embarkation in Seattle went pretty well. The line looked long, but moved steadily and the staff was very professional and knowledgeable. We started exploring as soon as we boarded. All luggage had arrived by dinner (1 piece at a time). We enjoyed a nice sunny departure from Seattle as we were eating our first dinner! The food in the Vista dining room was great - it truly was the meal to look forward to each day - ever-changing menu and clever appetizers. We did not try the Pinnacle Grill - the food in the Vista room was special enough for us. All of the servers were attentive - granted they were not "in front" of you at every pace, but were available if needed. Finding available tables in the Lido Restaurant became tricky, we found ourselves walking around trying to find a table the first few times. After awhile, we found a nice nearly-always-empty area in the center, nicer rattan chairs also in this area (at first we thought it was a "reserved" section for handicapped travellers only!) We tried room service one morning - was not impressed - ordered cereal and no milk came with it (even though it was ordered) We received no "room service breakfast order form" after that day (but noticed that SOME rooms had them in their Mail Slots each night before!?)...interesting. Our room, Deluxe Veranda Stateroom (5158) was nice enough for 2 people, had plenty of storage, decent bathroom, and veranda was a nice bonus. We had excellent weather throughout our cruise - many of the ship's crew remarked that we were really "lucky" - the few cruises before ours had lots of rain and overcast skies. We did not sign up for any HAL shore excursions, found them to be pricey. However, when stopping in each port, we noticed many "kiosks", independent folks who do their own excursions to same areas as HAL. Only difference was there was no HAL bus waiting right at the curb, usually had to catch a shuttle, $2-$5 short distance to town. All of the towns (Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan) are easy walking distance. Our one DISAPPOINTMENT during the entire cruise came near the end. I had been concerned that the ship would arrive later in the day into Victoria, BC. We watched a beautiful sunset upon entering the harbor, but by the time we got off the ship (we weren't the last ones off) and onto the shuttle, it was 8:00pm and DARK. I really had no interest in seeing Butchart Gardens in the dark, even if they have lights on. PLUS, we had to be back on the ship by 11:00pm (the ship departs at 11:30pm) This is not much time ashore to do much of anything. I think the cruise line should either get there earlier or cut out the stop altogether. Perhaps Victoria is more enjoyable in the summer when the sunset is later, but it doesn't work for early September. The entertainment onboard was of great value I thought. The performers were all talented. The show lounge for the live acts was big enough, however the smaller Queens Lounge, although cozy, was NOT the place to show small screen movies. All the seats are the same height, so unless you are 7 feet tall and sitting in the back row (or lucky to get one of the maybe 10 seats in the very front row) all you will see is the back of someone's head. There was a lot of promotion of jewelry on our cruise - daily specials for the next day were with included with our printed itinerary each evening. The ship promotes jewelry shops at the various ports also - there is even an shopping orientation talk that will enhance your shopping skills required at the various ports (!) We did not partake in Bingo either - but there are MANY opportunities each day to play that. The disembarkation talk (given the day before arriving back in Seattle) was very informative and helpful. I suggest 1 person from each room go to this, however if you both go, you will enjoy a heart-rendering "farewell song" from as many of the crew staff they can fit on the stage - it nearly brought tears! The actual disembarkation went EXTREMELY well in Seattle. Our "group" was called and we were walking down the gangway at 8:35am, breezed through Customs, found our bags instantly in the proper designated area, and were out-the-door by 9:05am. We even had to call our transportation to pick us up earlier - we didn't think we would be off the ship before 11am! For those of you who are prone to motion sickness (like me, who gets nauseous in IMAX theaters!) not to worry. There was only 1 night that the ship was rocking a bit (during dinner) and they had sick-bags near the elevators. Bonine works very well, doesn't make you drowsy like Dramamine, and I think it was the only brand offered in the ship's store. Overall, a very pleasant experience. I would definitely cruise with HAL again. Happy Travels! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
The Oosterdam is about as large a ship as I'd want to get on. Even with "only" 1800 passengers, there are still crowds for popular activities such as meals, pool, deck, disembarkation at ports, etc. The cruise itself was ... Read More
The Oosterdam is about as large a ship as I'd want to get on. Even with "only" 1800 passengers, there are still crowds for popular activities such as meals, pool, deck, disembarkation at ports, etc. The cruise itself was very enjoyable despite windy weather and rough seas on the first and last nights of the trip. We discovered (by chance) the 50% off dining cover charge - $10/person at the Pinnacle Grill. HAL had somehow given our kids a different seating and time for dinner than us. Rather inexcusable, but they did make up for it quickly (just not in time for the first meal). At any rate, the Pinnacle was a great restaurant, and it was even better at half price. The Filet Mignon was steak size, and it was cooked to perfection. On big ships, you go for the amenities, and in this regard, the Oosterdam does not disappoint. Even our relatively small outside cabin had plenty of room. (We'll look into a suite next time, however, just for the extra roominess). In our case, the kids were in one room and we were in an adjoining room. The steward opened the privacy panel on the veranda, and we had plenty of back and forth access. The kids liked the independence of having their own place, and it was nice not to have to deal with 4 people and one bathroom. For the Alaska cruise, it's really not critical whether or not you book an even or odd numbered cabin, as both sides get equal "land treatment". We were in an aft cabin, and there was no engine noise on deck 7. One bit of advice would be to bring your own sodas (I'd say beer, too, but they won't let you do that). The drink card is OK, but most of the bartenders don't jump at the chance to serve you if they know you're just getting a Coke. In addition, drinks with meals are not easy to come by, and don't expect a refill. One attendant you'll want to meet is Emilio. If you travel the Oosterdam, you're bound to meet him. He exemplifies the positive attitude of most of the service crew. He'd go out of his way to bring drinks, be they beer, soda, whatever. Meals are served in both the Lido buffet and the Vista Dining Room. Those expecting some kind of culinary artistry will be disappointed, but the meals compared with most of the better places I've eaten on land. In either the buffet or the dining room, you can order as much or as little as you want. We never had problems ordering more than one entree (some nights it was just too hard to decide). One minor complaint we heard from a few other people, and noticed ourselves, was that the decision to go "regional" with the daily Salmon dishes made for fewer choices in other fish categories. They had cod one night and halibut another, but those were the only "other" fish choices. (We did have crab legs one night, and they were quite good). The scenery and shore excursions are the most outstanding part of this particular cruise. Even on our two bad weather sea days (luckily or unluckily, depending on who you asked), the scenery was astounding. After dinner, we headed for the aft hot tub as the ship left Juneau. The sun was out, most folks were still recovering from the day or getting ready for the late dinner, (one fringe benefit of a line that seems to attract the older folks). We'd been on the sled-dog adventure that day, and it just seemed like a fitting end to a perfect day. Emilio brought a bucket of beer, and we had the entire aft section of the ship and the Alaskan wilderness to ourselves. The Hubbard Glacier destination is a good one, quite possibly better than the Glacier Bay route. We were fortunate to have good weather, and no other ships in sight as we made our way up the bay to the glacier. I'd say we spent the better part of the morning and afternoon there. We got extremely close to the face of the glacier. The naturalist (who we could have done without - who needs constant commentary when you're experiencing something like that for yourself) said it was the closest she'd ever been on one of the cruise ships (yeah, right). Well, despite her intrusion on a pretty awesome event, the ship came to for about an hour, and then came about so the other side of the ship could view. In all, about an hour of straight on viewing at the bow (not counting the approach) an hour starboard viewing and an hour port viewing. This made veranda viewing quite popular. The aft deck filled up quite quickly that afternoon, since it was sunny. I headed for the hot tub, but they were full (they only hold about two people comfortably anyway) The day at the glacier is something you won't forget. Wanting to see some wildlife close up, we'd signed up for the Sea Otter Quest in Sitka. The boat took us right from the Oosterdam and after an eventful 3 hour trip, dropped us in town where they loaded us onto a bus for the Raptor Center. Though the center is worth seeing, the amount of time scheduled for this excursion was too short by about an hour. After being returned to Sitka, there was still the rest of the afternoon to sightsee and shop around. (however, in Sitka, that takes all of about an hour). The time in this port was way too long. (we could probably have booked another tour for the afternoon) So, know ahead of time that this port is a long stay and plan accordingly. In Ketchikan, we took the Orca Beach Adventure. By the time we were taken to the marina at Knudson Cove (about 1/2 an hour away) and then went on the Zodiac to the island for about a one hour hike, the morning was gone. The trip itself was worthwhile. You see all of these little islands along the way and wonder what they're like. This excursion answered that question. Most of the people we talked with who went on the myriad Misty Fjord excursion options were happy with their choices, too. Since the ship pulled out at 1:00, there was little or no time for other exploration. The itinerary would be improved by making Sitka a 1/2 day stop and Ketchikan a full day. We didn't sign up for anything in Victoria, since it was just a brief 4 hour stop to satisfy the international port of call requirement. We walked to town (about a mile or so) and saw the neighborhoods and the downtown area. There were lots of restaurants, so dinner on shore might be an option for some. One word of caution, however, the small customs house gets quickly overwhelmed, so be back on time. The nightlife on the ship was variable. The evening shows were OK, some people really liked them others didn't, and I was pretty neutral about them. It's not top-rate talent, but they entertain lots of the cruisers. The ship pretty much winds down about 10:00 or so. The casino and the Northern lights bar were always up and running at that time. Other places were open too, but not really doing any business. Many of the bars (along with the pools) close at 10:00. Not a big problem, however, as we were pretty beat most nights. Movies were OK, though the Queen's lounge is not the best venue for seeing a movie. (Many of the movies didn't start until about 10:00 PM). Popcorn was a nice touch. Service, as mentioned was a high point in the cruise. The staff is all very happy, and they seem to really enjoy being that way. Our servers in the Dining room were quite nice, funny, and as they got to know us, did little things that made a big difference. Our head waiter was quite adept at magic tricks and entertained all of his tables. Our kids weren't interested in the Club HAL offerings, and that was fine with us (they also cut off the wrist bands that they were given at embarkation - to show where their assembly station was located. All passengers 16 and under apparently get to wear these until they wise up and remove them). Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze compared to some other cruises we've been on. Being able to wait in your room until you're called to disembark is a nice touch. I'd say the entire ship was emptied by 10:30. It's amazing when you consider that the next group of cruisers is already beginning to queue up for an 11:30 embarkation. One sour note had nothing to do with the cruise. We were remiss in considering our exit strategies, and ended up at the airport 6 hours before our flight. Next time I'll forego the HAL reservation and make my own. We probably could've been off the boat and on a plane home before lunch. You might not want to cut it that close, but the way things went at disembarkation, we were completely out of the cruise terminal long before noon. You would definitely be safe in booking a flight yourself by 2:00, and probably safe to do one at 12:00 noon. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
This was my first cruise to Alaska and I can't wait to go back! Here is my opinion of what I experienced this trip. The Oosterdam was a great ship. She is showing her wear in some places but the ship was clean and well-kept. We had a ... Read More
This was my first cruise to Alaska and I can't wait to go back! Here is my opinion of what I experienced this trip. The Oosterdam was a great ship. She is showing her wear in some places but the ship was clean and well-kept. We had a balcony room which was great, especially in Alaska. Was my first cruise on HAL and I'll definitely cruise with them again. Staff was friendly, especially August and Carlos (bartenders at the Crows Nest). Embarkation in Seattle was painless compared to what I've experienced in other ports. We stayed an extra night in Seattle on each end of the cruise and highly recommend exploring Seattle while you're there. Stayed at the Sheraton and the Westin and both were excellent. We took the 3 hour city tour. Very informative and well worth $38. Ports of call were great and Hubbard Glacier was breathtaking. The size of the glacier wasn't apparent until we were leaving and there was another ship in front of it which put the size of the glacier into perspective. WOW! Food was good but found the Pinnacle Grill lacking in both service and quality compared to what I've experienced in the past in similar restaurants. The beef was excellent but found everything else to be average. Spa was pricey but service was good. Booked all our excursions thru HAL. Whale watching, Mendenhall Glacier and Salmon Bake in Juneau...worth the money!!! Wildlife Expedition in Sitka....good, but probably wouldn't do it again. Wish we could have gotten closer to the wildlife! Wilderness Crab Expedition and Feast in Ketchikan....very good but didn't think it was worth the price. Orca Watching by Night in Victoria...worth the money. I would definitely take this cruise again!! There is so much more to see and do than we had time for in each port. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2005
Oosterdam - Pacific Northwest Spring Cruise May 4 - May 7, 2005 This was my 16th cruise to date having sailed on Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess & Royal Caribbean previously. This was my first short 3 night cruise, ... Read More
Oosterdam - Pacific Northwest Spring Cruise May 4 - May 7, 2005 This was my 16th cruise to date having sailed on Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess & Royal Caribbean previously. This was my first short 3 night cruise, others were either 7 day Alaska cruises, or 10 or 11 day Caribbean, Mexican Riviera or Hawaii repositioning cruises. Previous cruising on Holland America Line includes an 18 night Vancouver to Hawaii and return to San Diego onboard the Statendam and two 7 night Alaska Inside Passage cruises on the Volendam. This particular itinerary left Vancouver on Weds May 4, sailed to Astoria, Oregon for Thurs May 5 (Day 2), Fri May 6 Victoria BC (Day 3) and disembarked in Seattle, Washington on Saturday May 7/05. I knew (or at least had a very good feeling) that this was going to be a great trip from the moment I found out that I'd had a visit from the "upgrade fairy" and had my cabin (booked a guaranteed outside "D" category) upgraded all the way to a VB Verandah category balcony cabin on the Upper Verandah deck - WOW, first time ever I lucked out, and a real nice upgrade at that!!! Thanks HAL ... Considering this is the very beginning of the Alaska cruising season from Vancouver, Canada Place and Holland America operations were functioning very smoothly indeed. I heard of very few computer terminals being temporarily down, and apparently it got quite crowded later in the afternoon, but when I went through it couldn't have been smoother sailing. I was dropped off at Canada Place at around noon. Being it was such a short cruise (and no formal wear nights) I packed very light and managed everything in a carry-on. Within moments I was through U.S. immigration and into the lineup to obtain room key. Holland America has greatly improved their check-in processes. No longer does one have to visit the front desk during the cruise to register their credit card, but it is done up front, beforehand while checking on, as it is on other cruise lines. This makes things run a lot smoother and makes good sense. As I mentioned last year in a different HAL review and others have said, DO fill out your immigration forms beforehand on the computer and take a printed out copy of the forms with you to your check-in pier. This WILL save everyone a lot of time and allows you to board the ship that much quicker than those who haven't done this very simple bit of preparation for their embarkation. Dining room seating is given out before boarding now as well, rather than finding out when you go to your room. Once on board one can go up directly to the Lido deck and enjoy a nice leisurely lunch buffet while waiting for their cabin to be ready. Also on the Lido Deck 9 is the outside Terrace Grill open serving hamburgers, hot dogs and tacos. Bags can be taken with you or dropped off in the Piano lounge for storage. An announcement was made shortly after 1:30 pm to the effect that the cabins were now ready for occupancy. As I wanted to check mine out and hang up my clothes all taken in carry-on, I went directly to mine first chance. The stateroom I had (#6118) port side was on the Upper Verandah deck on Oosterdam in Cat VB and was very nice and spacious indeed. Nothing was lacking --- all nice toiletries provided, hair dryer (not that I need it) in desk in living room, tub with shower. I was traveling alone on this trip and had tons of storage space, way more than I could ever use. I'd think it to be very sufficient for 2 traveling a week or more. Nice wicker type balcony furniture. The beds are simply wonderful, so comfortable and fabulous duvets on them as well. Fully stocked mini-bar, fruit in room, and did not even see my super efficient room steward even once! Contrary to what I'd read in another review, the TV sets DO have the yellow "VIDEO INPUT" plugs to view your digital camera pictures on the TV screen. Food --- I did not get to the Pinnacle Grill on this particular cruise, so I can't say for sure --- all I can say is it was the same menu as other Pinnacle's and I've eaten at them on Statendam and Volendam and they were scrumptious! I heard from other people on this cruise who did eat there that were very impressed. I can say that the food in both the dining room and the Lido deck was wonderful the whole trip --- everything I had, bar none. On other HAL trips I've stuck to mostly seafood as have felt they excelled there, but this trip I was very pleased with all the food (and excellent desserts!) consumed. Had room service one morning - excellent delivery, great food. I was far more impressed with the overall feel of this ship than with other HAL ship styles. From little touches like all the tables in the Lido having various shades of live beautiful orchids on them to the array of artwork throughout the ship, very special and unique rooms like the Library or the Oak room with lovely faux finishes all lent themselves to an earthy homey feel. The Oosterdam singers and dancers were great in their production show in the Vista Lounge. There are many different venues to relax or have fun in. Sports Bar, Piano Bar (nice room, did not care for this particular pianist however), Odyssey Bar (bar at the Pinnacle Grill), Northern Lights (disco, my favourite for late night activity - great DJ "Jazzy" )Explorer's Lounge, Ocean Bar, Sea View at the Aft Pool Lido Deck, Lido Bar at the Lido Pool and the Crow's Nest upstairs on Deck 10. A very nice room (I'm not a smoker myself but like that they try to accommodate everyone) has been added beside the Crow's Nest which is called the Oak Room and it is a smoking and Cigar Lounge with nice furniture and a fireplace in it. It also has doors to the outside which I imagine is how they keep it smelling fresh. Northern Lights: The Oosterdam has a specific set out Disco "Northern Lights" on the second floor next to the casino. I think it is quite an advantage over the older type HAL ships which try to combine the Crow's Nest and turn it into a disco later on at night. This allows the Crow's Nest to have one set of entertainment geared to an older crowd who prefers a softer, more romantic waltz type of dancing, while the disco can "pump up" the adrenaline for those who enjoy a little faster music to dance to. The Oosterdam staff are very pleasant with warm words and genuine smiles at all times. I heard so many first time cruisers also comment how nice they thought everything was and they'd be back. Shore Excursions: Astoria Oregon: Seaside & Cannon Beach - These are beautiful beachside towns on the Oregon Coast. During the summer one can't move in those towns due to so many tourists, but May being so early in the season yet everything was deserted. It was quite windy down at the ocean, so it was more a chance to shop at various boutiques and artsy shops. Very nice scenic tour. Victoria, BC: Whale Watching - Being that I live on the Mainland of BC in Vancouver and get over to the Island a few times a year, I decided to bypass the usual staid tours of Butchart Gardens , Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, High Tea at the Empress Hotel etc.... and go for a more adventurous and decidedly more aquatic tour. The tour company HAL used in Victoria for the whale watching was called Naturally Salty Excursions. There were only 12 of us from our ship taking this, so we luckily got to take a small 12 seat craft out for our discoveries. We were out in the choppy Straits for several hours and covered many miles however were unfortunate that afternoon and did not see any pods of whales at all. Many had been spotted closer to Vancouver and hadn't been sited at all that day near Vancouver Island on the various tours. We did however see some porpoises, seals and a couple of eagles and had a great informative day with our tour guide Ian Stothart. Definitely enjoyable. Seattle: Disembarkation went very smoothly. Orange and Black stripes had me off the ship by 9:10 and outside waiting for the tour bus. Being that my flight home to Vancouver wasn't until 3:30 pm, I took the Seattle Highlights/Pike Place Market Tour which also takes you to SeaTac airport afterwards. This is an enjoyable tour with over an hour at Pike Place Market. This cruise, although too short in number of days, was one of the nicest ever sailed. I will definitely cruise on a "Vista" vessel again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
My wife and I sailed on the Oosterdam on March 4th, 2005. We opted for this cruise only because we wanted to try something different than the Caribbean. This was our 14th cruise and 12 of them have been in the Caribbean. The other was last ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Oosterdam on March 4th, 2005. We opted for this cruise only because we wanted to try something different than the Caribbean. This was our 14th cruise and 12 of them have been in the Caribbean. The other was last summer on the Maasdam to Canada-New England. This was our 5th HAL cruise and they've all been very good. This was the first time we upgraded to an SS room. We loved the room, especially the extra space. Also neat to have both a separate shower and bathtub and the two sinks made getting ready for dinner very easy. The friends we travelled with noted that there was a Holiday Inn right across the street from the pier so we booked there. The hotel is very good and reasonable. On embarkation day we were able to walk across the street to the ship which made the whole experience incredibly easy. As usual getting on board was pretty simple. We were on the ship by noon and attacking our first of many meals shortly thereafter. We did try to get into our room, but they closed all of the doors to the rooms so you couldn't get into the area. However by 1:30 the rooms were ready and so were we. The first night at sea proved to be rather exciting. We were only about five hours out when one of the passengers aboard got very sick. So much so they couldn't provide the necessary medical attention and so the ship turned around and headed back toward San Diego, although at a very slow pace. This was to help Air Ambulance come out to get the passenger. The helicopter hovered above the ship as the patient and subsequently their loved ones got into a helicopter for much needed medical attention back in San Diego. We were never told how the patient fared, but it made for an interesting view to see the chopper hovering above the ship. I've been told on earlier cruises that they actually have a morgue on all the ships. Our first full day was a day at sea and it was nice to have this day to get one's sea legs. Our first stop was in Cabo. Here we booked a trip with one of the local boats for a trip to the amazing rock formations. Should note we never (rarely) book trips via the cruise ships because they tend to be very expensive and you can get your own cruise on shore much cheaper and often times get much better service. We went into town as well. Not much to see here, although we stopped at a bar called Cabo Wabo which is owned by the lead singer of Van Halen. Next day it was off to Mazatlan. This was the only stop where we docked, the other two stops required us to hop on a tender. Here we again hired a local guide and for a price of 20 dollars a head (five in our party) we had the driver to ourselves all day. He took us around town which was fun. Not much to see here, but it was still a very nice day. Our final stop was in Puerto Vallarta. Again we hired a driver who took us around to all of the neat parts of town. There's a large development called El Cid where you can find some very expensive homes. We walked into one under construction that the builder told us was worth around 10 million dollars. The workmanship was something to behold. It seems in Mexico they build everything with cement, in one case even the entire bed, save the mattress. In PV we also toured the town, went past the home Richard Burton bought Liz Taylor. Of the three stops on this trip, this was the most scenic. Having toured the Caribbean I'd say that the Caribbean has more going for it than the Mexican side. The water was quite cool and you never saw anyone in the ocean. The last two days of this cruise are on board the ship. It is a beautiful ship and the service is outstanding. Our waiter was pretty quiet. Some say that the service is not as good as it used to be when you actually tipped the waiters. They now have this policy of adding 10 dollars per day per person to your bill. So there's a feeling that the waiters etc., don't have to impress you as much anymore. This might be true in some cases, but our guys were pretty good. The couple we cruised with hadn't cruised since the early '70s when they were on the Mardi Gras. They were impressed with both the ship and the staff. We went to the Pinnacle Grill one night and as usual the food was amazing. Although the crab cakes were the size of a quarter and there were only two of them. But I guess the massive porterhouse steak made up for it. For the first time on this ship I had a facial. Now I'm a man and they tell me that about 20 percent of the clients getting facials these days are men. It was nice and relaxing and made me look about 20 years younger -- yeah right! The entertainment did leave something to be desired. I've seen better high school productions. They did have one good act there, a singer by the name of Bobby Bland (sp?). He had great range. Too bad they kept him till the last night. He had some cute lines as well such as, "How many people like Country Music" (applause) "OK today's country is Italy." Then he said, "In '93 and '94 I wrote some number one songs for Garth Brooks and one day when I get up the nerve, I'll send them to him." He's one guy worth seeing. The only downside to taking a cruise out of San Diego is getting there. We live in Ontario Canada and flights are not that easy to come by. So we got off the ship around 9:30 on Saturday and after a long delay in Las Vegas finally got home around 9:30 Sunday morning. Another reason we prefer the Caribbean. Overall though it was a great cruise, great people. Oh and did I tell you that three weeks prior to our cruise, the dock staff in in San Diego did something that has never happened in HAL's 143-year history ... they accidentally dumped a bin with luggage into the San Diego harbour. I understand that divers had to be called in to retrieve it. Many of the customers never got their clothes back, washed and pressed until a day before the end of their cruise. Glad it didn't happen on our cruise. If you're thinking of cruising, this ship deserves consideration. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
HAL's Oosterdam March 26, 2005 - Very Long! We departed from Chicago on the day of departure which is rare for us. We were fortunate though that our flight left and arrived on time as it snowed in Chicago the night before we left. ... Read More
HAL's Oosterdam March 26, 2005 - Very Long! We departed from Chicago on the day of departure which is rare for us. We were fortunate though that our flight left and arrived on time as it snowed in Chicago the night before we left. Once we left the 26 degrees that Saturday morning we had a beautiful flight to San Diego where it was in the 70's when we landed. San Diego is an incredibly beautiful city and I wished that we had gone in at least a day early to tour this city. Transfer to pier: The port is only about a mile or so from the airport and takes about 10 minutes or less to get there. DO NOT take the large vans to the pier unless you are traveling as a single. We were told at the airport that the van would only cost us about $20 but when we got there we were charged $60!! Our return cab rides (3 cabs) only cost us $33 total including tips. Embarkation: When we arrived at the pier we were already a bit ticked due to the van situation and the entry to the pier didn't make matters any better. First you have to get your luggage checked in with the pier porters who were standing where people were trying to get out from the ship and others were standing to get on the ship. My husband is disabled and was getting pushed farther back by people trying to get ahead of us checking in. When it was out turn to get through security just to get to the embarkation building no one would let my husband through to check in and one man had the nerve to tell me "tough" when I said we were all together. Not a good way to start the trip. Not Holland America's fault, just the fault of one ignorant person. Holland does need to work on a better way to get people off the ship while others are trying to get on though. We went into the building after that and were directed on what papers needed to be filled out before you could get into line (bravo HAL!) and given a number for boarding the ship. We had all our papers in order already so we were directed to a line to check in at. The person who checked us in must have been new, lucky us. It took a very long time for her to be able to process us and take our pictures. We had been the first of our group to check in and the last to finish. Because my husband is disabled they allowed the three of us (Husband, Son, and Me) to board immediately. We skipped the picture taking and unfortunately the kid's club registration as they wanted us on and their wheelchair back. When they scanned my husband's card we were told to immediately go to the main deck and have his picture taken again as it was blank. I know that she took his picture when we checked in but something happened from that point until we boarded. I had brought on 5 bottles of Champagne for sail off in our cabin and wanted to check our carry on bags with that bag as well, but when we got to where we were told to go (Queen's Lounge) no one was there to take anything. At this point I was getting too cranky and didn't want to let it all ruin my first impressions of this cruise so away we went straight to the Sea View Bar. Within a short time I was feeling much better and able to get my vacation mood going again. We parked our things at the tables by the pool and decided we'd take care of his picture later. The views were beautiful from this point and the weather was postcard perfect! A little bit of food from the Lido and a few drinks and we were having a great time. At 1:30 the announcement was made that our cabins were ready and away we went! Cabin #8081 Category SS cabin: Our cabin was great. The beds are the best that we've ever had on a cruise! Very glad that we chose this category as anything smaller for 3 people would have been way too cramped. As it was, our daughter was in a Cat VD cabin with my Mother and Aunt and they were VERY squeezed for space. We had 2 twins that made up to a large queen or small king, plenty of room - did I mention how comfy they were? We had a sofa bed that made up into a single bed the same size as the sofa. If you have anyone larger that 6' this will be too short for them. My nephew is 6' 3" and his feet were on the table at the end of the bed. There were also 2 desk areas, one with a large mirror and the other with a window out to the balcony. The bathroom has double sinks, a separate shower and a whirlpool bathtub. The closet has 2 areas for hanging clothes and one with selves and the safe. Both desks have drawers and the stool at the desk is hollow for storing items as well. The balcony has 2 chairs with ottomans and a table in between and then a round wood table with two chairs. We had side by side cabins with my Sister and Family (3 also) and we immediately had the cabin steward open the divider for us. We never felt crowded even when we had our sail away party. Our cabin steward was Hilman and he was wonderful! Always was able to accommodate our requests. We rate the cabins a 10! Muster drill: Muster was at 4:15 and was typical of most cruise lines. Put your life jacket on before leaving the room so that you don't trip on anything. Didn't take long maybe 15 minutes. Sail away: We had our party in the cabin prior to muster so we chose to go to the Lido Pool where the band was playing. There were the typical drinks and waiters walking around with tasty little bites. Space was limited so go early and get seats if you need them. Sailing out of San Diego was beautiful. As I have said earlier, it's a beautiful city. We went up a level to get some pictures and then back to our cabins to enjoy some peace and quiet as we left the bay area. As we were getting ready for dinner we were treated to a gorgeous sunset and then off to dinner. Dining Room: We had table 207 lower level at 6:15. Good location able to see a lot as it's elevated and center. We also had members of our group surrounding us for 4 tables total. The table for 2 was squeezed between the serving station and some sort of stone wall & storage area. They were moved to another location the next night. The food was great during this cruise but it seems the servers are covering too many tables. Good luck if you want refills on water or coffee. We had to ask for water refills each night and never got refills on coffee. Small point but irritating. Our last morning at sea we ate in the dining room for breakfast. We received our initial cup of coffee and I asked for refills 3 times and never got any. It was only once I got up and walked over to the serving station to pour a cup for myself did anyone pay attention. The best service that we got was the night we went to the Lido for dinner. We saw people wearing pretty much anything you want but no swimwear. We seemed over-dressed. You take a tray for the soup and appetizer and then place your order for the main course. Find yourself a table and they bring the main course to you. You can get up and get your own dessert and there was someone always near by for sodas, water, wine or beer. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed eating there - I'm a dining room person when it comes to dinner. As I said earlier, the food was very good on this cruise and I have no complaints with that, just the service in the dining room. I did however, LOVE the assistant Maitre d' Reineir (spelling?) who was always near to assist if needed during the meals. No matter when we ate or where we ate, he seemed to be there! Always seemed to know us and had time to ask how our day was. Unfortunately the rest of the dining room staff that we encountered were not like this. But do not take this as a reason not to sail on this ship. It may have been a fluke and we dealt with it just fine. Cabo San Lucas: I woke up early this day and was able to see us sailing into the harbour. Incredibly beautiful! We sailed down the coast and right past Los Arcos, which you can see from the ship as you anchor there. We took the Land's End & Scenic Tour which was worth the money. We took the tender to the pier and boarded a boat that took us out along the stretch of beaches out to Los Arcos, we stayed in that area while they played a recording from the Cousteau Society regarding this area which was nice to hear. We saw Sea Lion's and then went around the point as certain areas were pointed out. As we turned to go back around the point and back to the harbor we were suddenly surrounded by dolphins swimming and jumping out all around us. I was in heaven! I tried to get pictures but was laughing and shooting at the same time so that didn't work so well!! When we got back we were then taken by van to Giorgio's Restaurant which has an incredible view of the bay. Once we got back we went to the ship for a quick bite to eat and then took the kids back into town. Found my nephew coming back from their fishing trip with a 95 pound Marlin! What an experience for him! After that had to take my now legal daughter to Cabo Wabo Cantina for her first drink. Fun place, great atmosphere, and reasonable drinks. This was a great day for us! Mazatlan: WOW! This was the day for my son and me! We did Randi's Happy Horses and I have to say if you are thinking about riding anywhere in the Mexican Riviera, do it here with her! I have a whole description on http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=160408 That pretty well describes the trip which is well worth the $45 per person cost! When we went to the next port we were surprised to see the condition of the horses that they used. I'm very glad we went with Randi. After Randi's we went and sat in the little shopping square they have and had a few Margarita's and listened to the Mexican music and the Flamenco dancers. We hated to go back to the ship that day. I could have stayed there forever! Puerto Vallarta: We again tendered at this port and considering the steep steps at the pier I was concerned that my husband (with MS) would not be able to get off the tender. Not to worry, those HAL guys are so good, quick, and all without making a fuss or calling attention to his disability which is a wonderful thing! Our tour was Off The Beaten Track. We spent most of the time on the van traveling around PV. We did make stops at the Guadalupe Church, Gringo Gulch and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's homes when they were filming Night of the Iguana. These were in poor condition and we were a bit shocked that they were not maintained better. We also stopped for a bathroom and refreshment break and then back into town for a very quick shopping stop and then back to the ship. We were there for spring/Easter break and it was very crowded and due to all the noise bustle and rush, we enjoyed this port the least. Our last two days were spent at sea which we used to work on our tans and just relax. The weather was perfect all but the last day at sea. Disembarkation: No problem here either! They give you bag tags and numbers based on your departure time. You can wait in your cabins and order room service until your number is called. It didn’t take too long to get off the ship but I think they called too many numbers all at once, again minor but could use some improvement. Found our bags very easy and then out to get cabs and fly home. Can’t believe how quick that week went by again! All in all, this was a fantastic trip, ship, and people on board were wonderful. We have made a lot of new friends with other passengers and I hope that our paths cross again some day! I hope all our voyages go this smoothly in the future! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
This is my first attempt at writing a review and I feel obligated to do so because I've gained so much useful information from reading the reviews of others. First, some personal information: I am 60-years-old and my wife is, well, ... Read More
This is my first attempt at writing a review and I feel obligated to do so because I've gained so much useful information from reading the reviews of others. First, some personal information: I am 60-years-old and my wife is, well, younger. This is our fifth cruise, the second to the Mexican Riviera and the first on Holland America Lines. We loved it! The ship was not only beautiful but well maintained and the mostly-Indonesian crew was absolutely magnificent. From our room steward, Agus, to our head-waiter, Zaini, and his assistant, Jaswadi, the service we received from them and other Oosterdam crew members was uniformly wonderful. We would sail HAL again in a heartbeat and we would highly recommend HAL to others. The food in the main dining room was great and served in very generous portions but if we were still hungry we were always offered more. The jumbo shrimp cocktail appetizer was my favorite. The entertainment was also great. We had three rotating acts. The ship's singers/dancers performed two tributes, one to rock-and-roll and one to Broadway musicals. They were joined in the rotation by an extremely talented singer named Bobby Black and a fabulous comedian/juggler named Barnaby, a former college English literature professor who decided one day to take the road less traveled. Our itinerary was Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. The only tour we took was the combination Land's End and scenic drive in Cabo. In both Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta—which, by the way, is by far my favorite place in Mexico—we shopped and sampled the local beverages. There were a few bumps in the road. They were minor—some might even say petty—annoyances that in no way effected our enjoyment of the cruise. I mention them only because others may benefit from knowing about them. We had a mini-fridge in our cabin but it was crammed full of beer, hard liquor and water that HAL charged you for consuming. Bottom line, you had a fridge in your cabin that couldn't be used to keep anything of yours cold because there was no free space. Worse yet, HAL locked the fridge on the fourth day of the cruise. Disembarking was, for us, both good and bad. Customs cleared the first group of passengers at 8:30 and we were off the ship by 8:45. Pretty good! Unfortunately only one of our two bags was dockside. The missing bag problem, we found out, was caused by the color-coded luggage tag system used by many, if not all, of the cruise lines to identify the luggage of the various groups of departing passengers. We were given ivory-colored tags and one of our bags was inadvertently put with the yellow-colored tags. No big problem, except for the fact that US Customs hadn't cleared the yellow-tagged luggage and we had a plane to catch. We were lucky because the yellow-tagged luggage was cleared about 30 minutes after we got off the ship and we were able to find our other bag and get to the airport. One final thought: This was our first trip to San Diego and the little we saw of the city was beautiful. If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
Just got back two days ago from a week on the Oosterdam, and wanted to enter my impressions while it was still fresh. What a great week! My wife and I (mid-late 40's) traveled with another couple and our 2 teenage daughters (1 each). ... Read More
Just got back two days ago from a week on the Oosterdam, and wanted to enter my impressions while it was still fresh. What a great week! My wife and I (mid-late 40's) traveled with another couple and our 2 teenage daughters (1 each). We had been on the Norwegian Sun with them 2 years ago so knew they were compatible cruising companions. This is our 4th cruise overall, second on HAL. This ship is superbly appointed. I would love to have most of the furniture in my house. Lots of leather and classic though modern design, and uniformly comfortable. Truly a first-rate impression (with the possible exception of the atrium, which crossed the line into 21st century cruise ship/bordello, although not as much as some ships I've seen). Also appreciate the effort to make the exterior look like a ship, rather than a sideways office tower. On to category by category: Embarkation In a word, the best I've experienced. Was helped somewhat by staying immediately across the street in the Holiday Inn at the Bay--our room's balcony directly faced the bow of the ship while in port, not more than 500 yards away. Amazing. All we had to do was shoulder our bags and walk across the street into the terminal building--no cab or shuttle necessary. The only drawback was that this hotel was the noisiest I've ever been in. No wall insulation, apparently, and could hear every car go by on Harbor Drive below. That, combined with concrete beds, made the first night on the ship true nirvana (more on that later). Once in the terminal building (we were there about 11:30 am) we walked right up to the check-in counter (no lines at all--there were numerous stations) and were on the ship by 12 noon, in the cabin by 3:00. Which leads us to: Cabin--5087, standard Verandah stateroom The good: a) OUTSTANDING, larger-than-queen bed, superb linens. Slept better than I do at home; b) roomy bathroom, with a decently sized (i.e., non-mini) tub and shower, good water pressure, plenty of shelves and storage; c) average sized balcony, but full adult sized, comfortable chairs (unlike Norwegian); d) tasteful, upscale decor. The ok: Storage. There are more storage areas than you first think, but several were full of extra blankets and such that required consolidation before usefulness. The bad: a) Get the TV up off the desk. It's a nice, big 20 incher, but it takes up half the desk--attach it to the wall, please; b) because of the large main bed, the foldout sleeper is loveseat sized and so folds out lengthwise (rather than the full sofa sized sleeper on Norwegian that folded out one cushion wide and saved on floor space), making it almost impossible to get to the balcony or open the fridge with the bed out--literally only about 6 inches between the bed and the desk; c) a nit, but bugged me: the reading lights are built into the wall only about 6 inches off the bed, below pillow level--not the best location. Fitness and Recreation Outstanding spa--everything you could ask for. Comprehensive workout facility, peaceful and spacious massage rooms, amazing 10 by 10 stainless hydropool, ceramic heated lounges, nice looking salon. First class. Dining Our first night meal at the Pinnacle was, by consensus, one of the best meals we've ever had, anywhere, not just on a cruise ship (and we live in Chicago, with no shortage of great restaurants). Even the coffee was terrific. The main dining room was also quite nice, with a good variety (like the nightly "comfort food" option), and nice presentation. Waiter Yohannis was pleasant and very accommodating. Wasn't crazy about having to look at the serving stations (we were between two), but I suppose there's nothing to be done about that. Nice to have 4 dinner times (5:45, 6:15, 8:00 and 8:30) on the upper and lower levels--we had 8 pm upper. The Lido buffets were great for lunch--deli sandwiches, Italian, Asian, full lunch, burgers/brats, taco bar; and for breakfast--continental with lots of fresh fruit, muffins, cereals and danish, omelet stations, and full breakfast with french toast, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. You can also get a full dinner in the Lido if you don't want to dress up, with many of the main entree options the same as the dining room. Much better than average cruise food, in my opinion. Entertainment Have to agree with the other reviewers on this; not the best. The comedians were very entertaining, and singer Bobby Black had a fine, effortless voice that adapted to a variety of songs, but the ship's company of singers and dancers was of only average talent at best and the productions way too cheesy for my taste. The hit of the cruise, it appeared, was the Oosterdam Idol competition, which pitted the passengers against each other in sort of a grand karaoke format. The final packed the Vista showstage and was the talk of the ship, but the whole thing didn't do much for me, personally--I hate karaoke. Ports Cabo: Tendered in; short ride, very efficiently organized (unlike Norwegian). Very pretty area at first look, quaint and resorty. We had rented a van to drive between the two main towns that make up Los Cabos, but upon arrival at the Dollar rent a car counter in town we were told sorry senor, your car is at the airport and won't be here for an hour, would you care to wait? Which was the same line the people in front of us got, but as they were in town for 11 days it probably didn't matter to them. We however said adios and headed to the beach, which we got to by walking behind the facade of the town, through a grungy neighborhood, next to trash-strewn lots and a half-finished shopping mall. Once at the beach, which was quite nice, we spent several hours fending off the constant stream of roving junk-sellers, to the point that I wanted one of them to tattoo "No, gracias" on my chest. Welcome to Mexico. Mazatlan: My wife was sick as a result of eating a bad burrito in Cabo the previous day, so we stayed on board while the other couple and the girls went sightseeing. It was a great, restful day, and there were no interesting excursions in Mazatlan anyway. Puerto Vallarta: Tendered in again (the Carnival Pride was at the only dock) and did a great excursion, boat trip through Vallarta Adventures out to the Marietas islands for snorkeling, dolphin watching (didn't see any), and beach visiting. The crew was very energetic, funny and helpful, the boat comfortable, and the destinations fascinating, although the water was pretty cold for snorkeling. After a quick shower we went back into town for some sightseeing. As in Cabo, the main street is charming and scenic, with a lovely boardwalk along the water's edge right across from the stores, but go one or two streets back and it gets cruddy again. Overall The shipboard part of the trip was great; the shoreside part not so hot. The ports were interesting, but I was glad to be staying in a place that could leave there, and have no desire to back to any of them, unlike the Caribbean. Shipboard was restful (mostly hung out on the forward Observation deck, where there were numerous wonderful padded teak deck chairs), with few interruptions from roving bar waiters (unlike Norwegian) which was a welcome relief after the Cabo experience. Disembarkation was without drama; you could wait in your cabin until your group was called--a nice touch, no congregating in the common rooms. I would travel HAL again anytime--a truly great ship. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
HAL's Oosterdam March 26, 2005 - Very Long! We departed from Chicago on the day of departure which is rare for us. We were fortunate though that our flight left and arrived on time as it snowed in Chicago the night before we left. ... Read More
HAL's Oosterdam March 26, 2005 - Very Long! We departed from Chicago on the day of departure which is rare for us. We were fortunate though that our flight left and arrived on time as it snowed in Chicago the night before we left. Once we left the 26 degrees that Saturday morning we had a beautiful flight to San Diego where it was in the 70's when we landed. San Diego is an incredibly beautiful city and I wished that we had gone in at least a day early to tour this city. Transfer to pier: The port is only about a mile or so from the airport and takes about 10 minutes or less to get there. DO NOT take the large vans to the pier unless you are traveling as a single. We were told at the airport that the van would only cost us about $20 but when we got there we were charged $60!! Our return cab rides (3 cabs) only cost us $33 total including tips. Embarkation: When we arrived at the pier we were already a bit ticked due to the van situation and the entry to the pier didn't make matters any better. First you have to get your luggage checked in with the pier porters who were standing where people were trying to get out from the ship and others were standing to get on the ship. My husband is disabled and was getting pushed farther back by people trying to get ahead of us checking in. When it was out turn to get through security just to get to the embarkation building no one would let my husband through to check in and one man had the nerve to tell me "tough" when I said we were all together. Not a good way to start the trip. Not Holland America's fault, just the fault of one ignorant person. Holland does need to work on a better way to get people off the ship while others are trying to get on though. We went into the building after that and were directed on what papers needed to be filled out before you could get into line (bravo HAL!) and given a number for boarding the ship. We had all our papers in order already so we were directed to a line to check in at. The person who checked us in must have been new, lucky us. It took a very long time for her to be able to process us and take our pictures. We had been the first of our group to check in and the last to finish. Because my husband is disabled they allowed the three of us (Husband, Son, and Me) to board immediately. We skipped the picture taking and unfortunately the kid's club registration as they wanted us on and their wheelchair back. When they scanned my husband's card we were told to immediately go to the main deck and have his picture taken again as it was blank. I know that she took his picture when we checked in but something happened from that point until we boarded. I had brought on 5 bottles of Champagne for sail off in our cabin and wanted to check our carry on bags with that bag as well, but when we got to where we were told to go (Queen's Lounge) no one was there to take anything. At this point I was getting too cranky and didn't want to let it all ruin my first impressions of this cruise so away we went straight to the Sea View Bar. Within a short time I was feeling much better and able to get my vacation mood going again. We parked our things at the tables by the pool and decided we'd take care of his picture later. The views were beautiful from this point and the weather was postcard perfect! A little bit of food from the Lido and a few drinks and we were having a great time. At 1:30 the announcement was made that our cabins were ready and away we went! Cabin #8081 Category SS cabin: Our cabin was great. The beds are the best that we've ever had on a cruise! Very glad that we chose this category as anything smaller for 3 people would have been way too cramped. As it was, our daughter was in a Cat VD cabin with my Mother and Aunt and they were VERY squeezed for space. We had 2 twins that made up to a large queen or small king, plenty of room - did I mention how comfy they were? We had a sofa bed that made up into a single bed the same size as the sofa. If you have anyone larger that 6' this will be too short for them. My nephew is 6' 3" and his feet were on the table at the end of the bed. There were also 2 desk areas, one with a large mirror and the other with a window out to the balcony. The bathroom has double sinks, a separate shower and a whirlpool bathtub. The closet has 2 areas for hanging clothes and one with selves and the safe. Both desks have drawers and the stool at the desk is hollow for storing items as well. The balcony has 2 chairs with ottomans and a table in between and then a round wood table with two chairs. We had side by side cabins with my Sister and Family (3 also) and we immediately had the cabin steward open the divider for us. We never felt crowded even when we had our sail away party. Our cabin steward was Hilman and he was wonderful! Always was able to accommodate our requests. We rate the cabins a 10! Muster drill: Muster was at 4:15 and was typical of most cruise lines. Put your life jacket on before leaving the room so that you don't trip on anything. Didn't take long maybe 15 minutes. Sail away: We had our party in the cabin prior to muster so we chose to go to the Lido Pool where the band was playing. There were the typical drinks and waiters walking around with tasty little bites. Space was limited so go early and get seats if you need them. Sailing out of San Diego was beautiful. As I have said earlier, it's a beautiful city. We went up a level to get some pictures and then back to our cabins to enjoy some peace and quiet as we left the bay area. As we were getting ready for dinner we were treated to a gorgeous sunset and then off to dinner. Dining Room: We had table 207 lower level at 6:15. Good location able to see a lot as it's elevated and center. We also had members of our group surrounding us for 4 tables total. The table for 2 was squeezed between the serving station and some sort of stone wall & storage area. They were moved to another location the next night. The food was great during this cruise but it seems the servers are covering too many tables. Good luck if you want refills on water or coffee. We had to ask for water refills each night and never got refills on coffee. Small point but irritating. Our last morning at sea we ate in the dining room for breakfast. We received our initial cup of coffee and I asked for refills 3 times and never got any. It was only once I got up and walked over to the serving station to pour a cup for myself did anyone pay attention. The best service that we got was the night we went to the Lido for dinner. We saw people wearing pretty much anything you want but no swimwear. We seemed over-dressed. You take a tray for the soup and appetizer and then place your order for the main course. Find yourself a table and they bring the main course to you. You can get up and get your own dessert and there was someone always near by for sodas, water, wine or beer. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed eating there - I'm a dining room person when it comes to dinner. As I said earlier, the food was very good on this cruise and I have no complaints with that, just the service in the dining room. I did however, LOVE the assistant Maitre d' Reineir (spelling?) who was always near to assist if needed during the meals. No matter when we ate or where we ate, he seemed to be there! Always seemed to know us and had time to ask how our day was. Unfortunately the rest of the dining room staff that we encountered were not like this. But do not take this as a reason not to sail on this ship. It may have been a fluke and we dealt with it just fine. Cabo San Lucas: I woke up early this day and was able to see us sailing into the harbor. Incredibly beautiful! We sailed down the coast and right past Los Arcos, which you can see from the ship as you anchor there. We took the Land’s End & Scenic Tour which was worth the money. We took the tender to the pier and boarded a boat that took us out along the stretch of beaches out to Los Arcos, we stayed in that area while they played a recording from the Cousteau Society regarding this area which was nice to hear. We saw Sea Lion’s and then went around the point as certain areas were pointed out. As we turned to go back around the point and back to the harbor we were suddenly surrounded by dolphins swimming and jumping out all around us. I was in heaven! I tried to get pictures but was laughing and shooting at the same time so that didn’t work so well!! When we got back we were then taken by van to Giorgio’s Restaurant which has an incredible view of the bay. Once we got back we went to the ship for a quick bite to eat and then took the kids back into town. Found my nephew coming back from their fishing trip with a 95 pound Marlin! What an experience for him! After that had to take my now legal daughter to Cabo Wabo Cantina for her first drink. Fun place, great atmosphere, and reasonable drinks. This was a great day for us! Mazatlan: WOW! This was the day for my son and me! We did Randi’s Happy Horses and I have to say if you are thinking about riding anywhere in the Mexican Riviera, do it here with her! I have a whole description on http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=160408 That pretty well describes the trip which is well worth the $45 per person cost! When we went to the next port we were surprised to see the condition of the horses that they used. I’m very glad we went with Randi. After Randi’s we went and sat in the little shopping square they have and had a few Margarita’s and listened to the Mexican music and the Flamenco dancers. We hated to go back to the ship that day. I could have stayed there forever! Puerto Vallarta: We again tendered at this port and considering the steep steps at the pier I was concerned that my husband (with MS) would not be able to get off the tender. Not to worry, those HAL guys are so good, quick, and all without making a fuss or calling attention to his disability which is a wonderful thing! Our tour was Off The Beaten Track. We spent most of the time on the van traveling around PV. We did make stops at the Guadeloupe Church, Gringo Gulch and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s homes when they were filming Night of the Iguana. These were in poor condition and we were a bit shocked that they were not maintained better. We also stopped for a bathroom and refreshment break and then back into town for a very quick shopping stop and then back to the ship. We were there for spring/Easter break and it was very crowded and due to all the noise bustle and rush, we enjoyed this port the least. Our last two days were spent at sea which we used to work on our tans and just relax. The weather was perfect all but the last day at sea. Disembarkation: No problem here either! They give you bag tags and numbers based on your departure time. You can wait in your cabins and order room service until your number is called. It didn’t take too long to get off the ship but I think they called too many numbers all at once, again minor but could use some improvement. Found our bags very easy and then out to get cabs and fly home. Can’t believe how quick that week went by again! All in all, this was a fantastic trip, ship, and people on board were wonderful. We have made a lot of new friends with other passengers and I hope that our paths cross again some day! I hope all our voyages go this smoothly in the future! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
This is my second cruise with Holland America. My first cruise was on the smaller ship ms Zaandam. The Oosterdam is a much larger ship and sometimes a little confusing. However after the second day I was able to navigate the ship with ... Read More
This is my second cruise with Holland America. My first cruise was on the smaller ship ms Zaandam. The Oosterdam is a much larger ship and sometimes a little confusing. However after the second day I was able to navigate the ship with little difficulty. The staff and crew were pleasant and unobtrusive. The food and services were impeccable. I was a little thrown by the new $10/ per day per person gratuity that was automatically put on my ship board bill. I was also a little disenchanted with the constant offering of alcohol. (The alcohol, if accepted was also added to the ship board bill.) I am not a drinker and at times I felt pressured and besieged to buy the alcoholic beverages that seemed to be EVERYWHERE on board. After avoiding the Jello/vodka shooters, I had a wonderful time. The comedian, a woman named Janine, was not funny and her jokes had sexual content that was not appropriate for the the majority of the audience. I observed many people grimacing in embarrassment and looking decidedly uncomfortable rather than laughing. I was wondering if Holland America screens the acts for their floor shows. I large group of us found this comedian's humor to be in poor taste and racist/sexist in nature. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
Sailing on the Oosterdam was an exceptionally pleasant experience. Within the past year, I have also sailed with Celebrity and SilverSea, and the Oosterdam provided the most value for the dollar and the most comfortable, well designed ... Read More
Sailing on the Oosterdam was an exceptionally pleasant experience. Within the past year, I have also sailed with Celebrity and SilverSea, and the Oosterdam provided the most value for the dollar and the most comfortable, well designed stateroom of all. We booked a Deluxe Veranda Suite on Rotterdam Deck, and it was outstanding in every way...spotless, extremely comfortable beds, an expansive veranda with wonderful furniture, a spacious, well-designed bathroom with two enclosed medicine cabinets at either end of the double sink vanity, a dressing room which can be closed off from the main cabin using a drape, a wall of windows/doors which allow views of the sea, and excellent closets which contain shelves that can be "dropped" to provide shelf storage if you wish. The entry level suite on SilverSea is prettier, but does not function as well, and the veranda is useless as it is crowded with large furniture, which drops off the small teak deck area. On Celebrity, the veranda is large, but the furniture on the Galaxy was not particularly comfortable and had seen better days. (Note: Do not book a veranda stateroom beside the glass elevators, because passengers on the elevators can gaze right onto your veranda.) Service aboard the Oosterdam was outstanding. Without exception, the staff were welcoming and helpful, especially so in the Concierge Lounge on Rotterdam Deck, where food lovely food is available most of the day. Overall, the food is fine, but not outstanding. I do think that the buffet food is superior to Celebrity by far. One can always make a nice salad by visiting the various food stations throughout the Lido Buffet Restaurant. The Lido is open most of the day and also serves limited food quite late. The public rooms are varied in decor, with some rather glitzy and other understated. There are numerous lovely lounges throughout the ship. The real stars, however, are the outdoor, teak, wrap-around decks, which provide numerous areas to relax on lovely teak, padded, deck chairs. The decks which wrap all the way around the ship provide wonderful space for walking, and we saw many people taking advantage of them on the lovely evenings on board. Even though the ship was full, there was enough deck space for everyone. It never seemed crowded. The cruise director was the simply the best. Entertainment was also fine. It's not Las Vegas, but perfectly acceptable. Peter Daems, the cruise director, was a superlative host at the opening and closing of each show. My son, who is 28, enjoyed this ship more than any other he has experienced. We were surprised at how much we liked Holland America, and have booked another cruise on the Oosterdam for next year. We know we will be able to board at about 11:30AM and may remain in our stateroom the morning we disembark until our group is called. We will even have the option of ordering a hot room service breakfast the day we depart, and it will come hot, because heavy, metal heated servers will be positioned under the china plates. It will also be served on time by a courteous staff member. What a cruise line! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
Just returned from a wonderful time on the Oosterdam. This was my first cruise in over 35 years and we had a blast!! The ship was beautiful, so clean and well kept up. The crew was so nice, especially in the Vista -- Main Dining Room. The ... Read More
Just returned from a wonderful time on the Oosterdam. This was my first cruise in over 35 years and we had a blast!! The ship was beautiful, so clean and well kept up. The crew was so nice, especially in the Vista -- Main Dining Room. The food was delicious in all the areas of the ship. We enjoyed the special dinner in "The Pinnacle" which was an extra $20.00 per person but worth every penny. The daily program had enough to keep any age entertained all day long. Bingo, trivia contests, exercise classes, ping pong tournaments, shuffleboard tournaments, bridge, cards, art sales, dancing, etc. Our only complaint would be the evening showtime. The cast tried hard but overall they were not great. I would consider them "typical cruise" entertainment. We had three teenagers with our family and two 80+ year old women. Everyone had something to do all day long if they wanted to. We barely had time to rest and need a vacation from our vacation. The ports of call were ok. Cabo San Lucas had so many people hawking their cheap wares, with small children trying to get you to buy their junk. We enjoyed Puerto Vallarta the best. What a beautiful town. Try the jungle zip lines. The allow you to fly like a bird over the top of the trees in the jungle. What a blast!! We highly recommend the Oosterdam if you want a great vacation. Bon Voyage!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
It's easy to see why so many seniors sail with Holland America Line (HAL), it's the service. I saw several people in wheelchairs at check-in and they did not have to ask for assistance -- a crew member took each one through ... Read More
It's easy to see why so many seniors sail with Holland America Line (HAL), it's the service. I saw several people in wheelchairs at check-in and they did not have to ask for assistance -- a crew member took each one through check-in and onto the ship. Once aboard crew members are always looking for ways they can assist passengers. Also on this ship they have come to the aid of those with vision problems. Cabin numbers are also in Braille and the elevators are interesting again with Braille lettering for each deck and when you arrive at a deck a voice announces both the name and number of the deck. Holland America is the cruise line to take if you are challenged and might be in need of assistance. Check-in in San Diego was a breeze; we live near by so our granddaughter drove us. We arrived at 11 a.m., which seemed the perfect time. We drove in next to the ship, off loaded our luggage which porters took and went inside to the check-in. It is not necessary to tip the porters, they are paid well but do have their hand out. By 11:30 we were on the ship and ten minutes after that were having a nice lunch in the Lido Restaurant. If you are also driving but need to park there is always plenty of parking right across the street from the ship. There is also a Holiday Inn right there if you want to arrive early and see a bit of San Diego. There is plenty of public transport near by. We were well satisfied with our cabin 5001 category SS. It was a wheelchair accessible cabin which I wanted. Because I made my travel arrangements with an online agency, I was able to select my cabin on-line by number. The cabins are smaller than those on the Statendam/Ryndam ships which we have also sailed on. The inside cabins were the smallest I have seen in memory. A nice touch is that there are no paper napkins or styrofoam cups in any of the dining rooms, all china and all linens. They even have linen towels in the public restrooms, they are individually rolled up and you use a fresh one each time you dry your hands. I don't see how anyone could complain about the food, the selection is extraordinary. At lunch in the Lido you can get hot dogs, cheeseburgers, fries, Mexican food, salads, soups, several different main dishes and on and on. The dessert bar is something else, pies, cakes, puddings, custards, ice cream, yogurt and more, what a pig I made of myself. You have several selections of where to eat for dinner -- the Odyssey Restaurant, Main Dining room or the Lido which serves the same menu and more than the main dining room. Eating in the main dining room is much like eating in Europe where things are at a slower pace. You can expect to spend a relaxing one and one half hours at dinner. If you are traveling with children or just like to gulp your food then the Lido is a much faster alternative. If you like flowers you will love the Oosterdam, they are everywhere, and beautiful. This would be a wonderful ship to take to Alaska or the Panama Canal because there are so many places to sit and view what is going on and there are several forward decks that would be wonderful to use while watching the canal locks open before you. HAL has always been weak on the entertainment side of cruising; Princess does an excellent job in this area. There were only two stage shows that we thought were any good but we did enjoy music and dancing to tunes from the '40s & '50s both before and after dinner in the Ocean Bar. The only tour we took was whale watching in Cabo San Lucas, we have been visiting Mexico since 1959 so we have taken most tours one or more times. The whale watching was not exceptional, one could do as well off the California coast, but it was fun. I signed up for the tour on-line before leaving home and our tickets were in our cabin on arrival, nice! If you wish one of the smaller whale watching boats, they are about 20 ft and get much closer to the whales, you can get those for the asking when you get off the ship tender in port. The price is $20.00 per person minimum two people for two hours. Unfortunately, many passengers became ill. I had what seemed to be a cold which kept me in bed for a straight 18 hours days 4 & 5, and even now two days after getting off the ship I have still not fully recovered. My wife became ill on day 5 and I had to request assistance in getting her off the ship, she is still quite ill. We were not alone. On the return we had to make an unscheduled stop in Cabo San Lucas so a passenger could go by air ambulance back to the US. Then when we arrived in San Diego an ambulance arrived to take another passenger and then I heard many other stories of those who were not well. But don't let this stop you from going. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
MS Oosterdam 29 Jan 2005 Mexican Riviera While this was our first pleasure cruise, I am not new to sailing. I have made 19 Atlantic crossings, the last being first class on the QEII, so I write with some knowledge and time spent on the ... Read More
MS Oosterdam 29 Jan 2005 Mexican Riviera While this was our first pleasure cruise, I am not new to sailing. I have made 19 Atlantic crossings, the last being first class on the QEII, so I write with some knowledge and time spent on the sea. Holland America was selected for their reputation of service first, the itinerary second and the fact that it would probably have fewer young families on board at this time. We were right on all counts! Overall, it was a wonderful 7 days and we have already begun planning our next trip with Holland America. We embarked at noon in San Diego in a very smooth process where everything was done in a very professional manner. Since we had done our immigration forms online and had completed our credit card form prior to appearing at the pier it was easy to move through the line and be on board within 30 minutes. We proceeded to the Lido restaurant for a great lunch and views of the city and the bay. By 1:15 the announcement came that we could proceed to our cabin, a superior suite, #8040 port side. This was a great cabin with a full verandah, which we used extensively. Our requests for an earlier seating for dinner (needed for medical reason) had been approved (we had been wait listed); we unpacked and began to explore the ship. This ship is very well appointed and it is very easy to get around with postings near the elevators for directional purposes. Everyone on board tried to make this a great experience and they pretty much accomplished that feat. Here are my specific comments: Overall service: Excellent from all crew. We did experience some disappointing service in the Vista dinning room table 114. It was a table for 6 and while we were all seated and ordered at the same time the meals we participated in frequently were not served together. Someone was always forgotten. We found a similar problem with lunch in the Vista. The Vista is loud, hurried and typical mass dining. Our solution was to up the already reserved dinners (3) in the Pinnacle grill to 5 nights. Was it worth the extra $40 per night? ... You bet. The food was excellent. Presentation was delightful and the service fantastic. Maitre d' Mike makes you feel like it is old home week and runs a tight ship in the room. (Ask for one of the cozy booths to make it an extra special dining experience. This will be the highlight of your trip, if you enjoy fine dining!) Cabin 8040/a Superior suite grade. Our cabin steward, Tonio, was excellent. He seemed to know exactly what we wanted and when. He was great, kept us in order and yet was unobtrusive. The cabin was a delight. Very spacious with a couch that could serve as a pull out bed and a very comfortable queen bed converted from 2 singles. While directly under the Lido deck we had very little noise from above except when people were playing ping-pong in the late evening. Then we could hear the ball bounce on the floor when they hit it off the table. Just a note, not a real complaint. The decor is pretty and well maintained. Shows/Entertainment We don't really care for much of the activity that is offered on board, preferring to do our own thing. The magician, Mel, was pretty good and the Bobby Black show was good. The cast show while a good attempt was not what we enjoyed so we left after 20 minutes. It was way too loud. We missed the "adult" comedian but heard many good things about him. If you wish to meet the Captain for the photo shoot, go early. One of the assistant cruise directors forced everyone in line to another entrance after about 20 minutes because the Captain needed to get backstage. We were 4 couple away from him after standing in line for 20 minutes. We then waited 30 minutes for him to appear on stage. We stayed out of the casino, but it seemed popular. The Piano bar, Crow's Nest and Ocean bar all had very nice lounge entertainment in the evening with accomplished musicians. Our favorite was the piano bar ... a throwback to the great little piano bars so many hotels had in the '50s, '60s and '70s. Excursions: We prefer to do our own exploring. I heard both positive and negative comments from folks who did the excursions. We already knew Mazatlan, Cabo is pretty sparse and we did our own tour of PV. The shopping advisor on board is obviously a paid representative of just a few stores that are part of the cruise-shopping network. I would suggest you save your time and simply read the excellent flyer produced each day, which has the same information and maps he discusses during his presentation. Disembarkation: We requested an early disembarkation on our form presented to the office and were called at 8:45 and in a cab by 9:00 and at the airport by 9:15 in Delta's Crown room by 9:25. It was all very smooth. And I might add that a Carnival ship docked the same time we did, so it could have been a real mess on shore, but it wasn't. Would we do it again? Yes! Same ship? Yes! Same port? Yes! Same Itinerary? Probably not. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
I can say without hesitation that the service, accommodations and general ambiance of the Oosterdam far exceeded my expectations! We got to the San Diego port area about 12:30 p.m. They immediately took our luggage and it was nice to get ... Read More
I can say without hesitation that the service, accommodations and general ambiance of the Oosterdam far exceeded my expectations! We got to the San Diego port area about 12:30 p.m. They immediately took our luggage and it was nice to get it off our hands. Embarkation was a breeze, and within 30 minutes we were in the Lido, their casual restaurant with a wide assortment of all different kinds of foods. The food is REALLY good and you can have as much of it as you can possibly eat. About 1:00 p.m., they announced the cabins were ready. Our luggage was already there, and the cabin (what they call a superior veranda suite) was just wonderful. About 400 square feet including the veranda. Tons of closet space, a dressing area, a large TV and CD player, a desk area with internet connection, king sized bed, 7 foot leather couch, coffee table, chairs, servibar. The bed was extremely comfortable, high thread count sheets. The bathroom was very large with a whirlpool tub and double sinks. The veranda had a table and 4 comfortable lounge chairs. It was perfect and worth every penny! I get up early, but I'm not actually functional for about an hour and a pot of coffee. Room service is included in the price, and we'd order it the night before for 6 a.m. I'd brought instant coffee thinking room service might be unreliable, but every morning at the stroke of 6, there'd be a knock on the door and our breakfast would arrive. It was great! I can't tell you how sweet the Indonesian/Filipino cabin stewards and staff were! I swear, there must be a factory with extremely high quality control where they make these guys because they're all perfect! I kept thinking they'd get tired by the end of the week and service would slip, but it never did. This ship is only a few years old so it's in beautiful shape. Very large, but fewer passengers and more staff than other ships that size. There were 2 swimming pools, one which could be covered in bad weather. Hot tubs, full-service spa with an INCREDIBLE hot tub area, beautiful library, large internet center, tons of beautiful lounges stuck around all over the place. Lots of shops. Really, anything plus more that you'd expect to find in a really fine hotel. All over the boat, in lounges and theatres, there's live entertainment. Live performances every night. Dancing if you're into that. Games and movies and stuff. We did shore excursions at all three ports (Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta). It was fun getting off the boat and having all the arrangements taken care of. We did the early dinner seating and the food was wonderful. There were 2 formal nights, and it was fun dressing up, but we could have gone to the Lido if we hadn't wanted to do that. All in all, it was as perfect an experience as I ever expect to get in this life. I LOVE Holland America!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
My partner and I live in Ft. Lauderdale and were very happy to find a good value on this cruise immediately following the holidays. We frequently watch the ships sail away from Port Everglades and thought the Vista class HAL ships were ... Read More
My partner and I live in Ft. Lauderdale and were very happy to find a good value on this cruise immediately following the holidays. We frequently watch the ships sail away from Port Everglades and thought the Vista class HAL ships were particularly handsome. We had the privilege of being invited aboard the new Westerdam for brunch, ship tour and a show on December 5, 2004 and loved it, so we were particularly excited about this cruise. Embarkation: Sadly, our cruise was shortly after the Tsunami disaster. Our embarkation was understandably delayed because some Indonesian staff were disembarking to go home while replacements were coming aboard. They had to clear customs which caused the delay. Embarkation began about noon. We took about 10 minutes to get through security, then check-in was a breeze! Easiest of any cruise I have taken. We knew that cabins would not be ready, but they directed us to the Lido deck for buffet lunch. They also had the option of being able to leave your carry-on luggage in the piano bar(with a staff member protecting it) until cabins were ready. Nice touch. Cabins were promptly ready as advertised at 1:00 P.M. Cabin: We were in a Deluxe Verandah Outside Cabin #5090 on the Veranda Deck. We were very near the midships glass elevators and loved the ease of getting around the ship. The cabin was very comfortable(larger than cabins on Princess, equal in size to Carnival but much more appealing). The beds were very comfortable Sealy Eurotop Mattresses with high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets (also had plush Egyptian cotton bath towels and nice bathrobes). Large suitcases easily fit under the bed. Cabin had sitting area with loveseat, minifridge, combined bathtub and shower with a great massaging showerhead, and a spacious balcony with two wicker style chairs and an ottoman that could do double duty as a table. There were two cabinets above the loveseat if you need additional storage(we didn't need them) and three closets that have shelves that can easily be moved. We found the closet and shelf space very generous. We also each had a locking night table with two drawers. Small safe in closet used code of your choosing which we liked. Our cabin steward, Ecko, was extremely pleasant with a big smile on his face and always called us by name. We had probably been in our cabin for 15 minutes when he brought our luggage. Very nice. Bathroom had 3 shelf medicine cabinet, and a shelf underneath the sink for larger items. Ship: We thought this ship was the perfect size and well laid out with lots of amenities. The ship was beautiful (even though many of the interiors didn't photograph well). Three deck atrium had large Waterford Crystal globe as centerpiece and two bars, the front office, a coffee/pastry bar and the Pinnacle grill branched off the atrium. Ship had many very comfortable spaces. We loved the thick padded teak deck chairs on the fully wrapping promenade and by the Lido pool; attractive blue and white striped canvas lounge chairs around the aft pool; the beautiful high backed recliners facing forward from the top deck of the ship in the Crow's Nest; and the beautiful Explorer's Lounge. We have read too many reviews about the colors being over the top which we did not find. We thought 95% of the color scheme worked very well. The only rooms I found unattractive were the Queen's Lounge and the Piano Bar. We found the Pinnacle Grill, the Vista Dining Room and the Lido Restaurant all to be extremely attractive. Our favorite spot on the entire ship were the teak deck chairs one deck above the main pool on the Observation Deck. It was quiet and peaceful up there and a great place for sea days. We met a family from North Carolina traveling with their two daughters on college break and really enjoyed their company. Dining: We found the food on this ship to be extremely plentiful and good. We particularly enjoyed the Lido restaurant. Breakfast choices were great and food was always hot and well prepared. The many different stations made lines very minimal. My partner was particularly pleased with the scrambled eggs because they were cooked in a big wok right in front of you in small batches so they didn't sit on a steam table for any length of time. Bacon was really yummy. They had a made to order omelette station. I only wish they would have had that combined with a belgian waffle maker. Lunch also had a lot of choices with one station with about 3 entree choices and sides, a separate salad bar, a section with Asian dishes, an Italian station with pizza and choices of pasta, and a station making fresh deli sandwiches. Out by the Lido pool, there was also the option of a taco bar (I had terrific chicken nachos one day). They had great desserts here, better than in the dining room in my opinion. My partner seemed to always have a waffle cone from the ice cream station. They had both frozen yogurt and anywhere between 3 and 5 ice cream choices each day. We didn't eat here for dinner, but found it odd that they only opened for about two hours each night for dinner. Strange times like 5:45 p.m. - 7:30 P.M. We thought the times should have been longer. We dined at the Pinnacle Grill on the first night and had a terrific dinner. The appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts are all top notch. They need to work on their sides. Not sure how they can mess up creamed spinach (Green Giant's is even better), plus dried out baked potatoes. Otherwise, dinner was fantastic! I had wonderful chicken Thai soup (I wished I could have had this soup every night), a huge perfectly prepared Ribeye Steak and a Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano cake that was very good. My partner enjoyed a good clam chowder with lots of bacon, green salad with pears and walnut crusted blue cheese and a fantastic fresh Alaskan King Salmon grilled with sesame soy kalbi sauce. As much as I loved my Ribeye, the Salmon was even better! We ate all other dinners in the Vista Dining Room. We are both shy and not the best at leading conversations, but luckily we were seated with a couple from Connecticut who were great and a family from Jupiter, Florida with an 11 year old son. He was a great, intelligent kid and we really enjoyed his company. My partner tended to make better choices at dinner than I did. The number of appetizers and entrees were much larger than on my other cruises. I made a couple of bad entree choices (an unappealing duck entree and a snapper dish that was strangely paired with fennel and served over mashed sweet potatoes with a lot of cinnamon). Had no trouble sending them back and getting another entree. Salads with dinner were really good and I did have good entrees other than those above. One BIG disappointment of this cruise was the lack of music every night at dinner. Musicians played on two nights. Other nights they were absent and there was no recorded music playing either. We really had expected the musicians to play at dinner every night. The only other peave I had about dining options was that I was looking forward to a poolside barbecue, but they had it on a day when we were in St. Maarten until 11:00 p.m.. I guess they could save costs by having it when many people were still in port ( it was at 5:00 P.M). Felt a little cheated by this because we had already planned a rental car in St. Maarten and no way we were going to back onboard by 5:00 P.M. Entertainment: Blah! This is the only reason I can't give this ship 5 stars. Their were two production shows, one of which was passable while the other seemed to be more of an afterthought. The ship has a marvelous state of the art theater that wasn't utilized enough. There was a comedian, a magician and a lounge singer type show in the Vista Lounge on other nights. The house band that accompanied the singer were terrific. Would have like to have heard them in other venues. Magician did one show that we enjoyed mostly because our 11 year old tablemate went on stage and nearly stole the show from him. We had expected their to be good entertainment in the Queen's Lounge and the Crow's Nest. The Queen's Lounge only showed movies and had a lame "Oosterdam Superstar" American Idol wannabe show. We really wish they would have the singers and the house band perform cabaret in here. There was a band in the Crow's Nest called "Vision", but they only sang slow songs that made you want to go to sleep. We know HAL is trying to attract a younger passenger base which we fit. We don't want lots of participatory activities, but we do expect some entertainment in the evening. As this was the last 7 day Caribbean run of this ship before heading to Mexican Riviera, we hope the ship was just in transition and will have better entertainment on other sailings. I didn't enjoy cruising on Carnival overall, but I was entertained. I really enjoyed Princess which had great entertainment and a good experience, but everything on Holland America was better than Princess EXCEPT entertainment. Half Moon Cay: This was a beautiful island with the softest, silkiest sand I have ever felt! We rented a clamshell for $9 and really glad to be in the shade after a week in the sun. Crystal clear water and ample space for all passengers to relax. Still looks a bit hurricane ravaged in terms of foliage, but this is understandable. Plants and trees will need time to grow back. We know HAL wants families and have one suggestion. The new children's "water park" area seems a bit lame, plus they could really benefit by adding water trampolines. Kids (and big kids like me) love these at other places. In conclusion, I give this ship a B rating ONLY because of the entertainment aspect. Otherwise this would be an A, 5 star ship. One final note: Their was a very nice balance of age groups on this ship. Not many children, but much younger crowd than we had expected. We like a good balance of all age groups minus the children, so HAL seems to be succeeding. Hopefully they will work on the entertainment to make us in the younger crowd want to be repeat passengers. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
We stayed pre-cruise in Lauderdale by the Sea and arranged for a limo service to pick up four of us at 1 p.m., arriving at the pier after the short drive. There were no lines at all for embarkation, it may have taken 15 min at the most to ... Read More
We stayed pre-cruise in Lauderdale by the Sea and arranged for a limo service to pick up four of us at 1 p.m., arriving at the pier after the short drive. There were no lines at all for embarkation, it may have taken 15 min at the most to get on the ship, our rooms were ready when we boarded. The luggage started to arrive right away and all luggage was delivered within a half hour -- this ship was full with over 1800 passengers and we were amazed by how quickly we could get settled in. Our cabin was a bit smaller than on the Rotterdam, but it was comfortable and there was plenty of room to unpack for a 13 day cruise. The balcony was plenty big enough for two arm chairs, a footstool and a small table and we could open the partition between our cabin and our friend's. The bath is roomy and the beds are out of this world. My only complaint is that the desk is too small for the TV, wine bucket, ice bucket and such -- you have to put the ice stuff on the floor when you want to use the desk for primping. Our cabin steward Dana was super!! I have mixed feelings about the public spaces, they are bland, not classy but not offensive. The atrium is boring and inside there are a lot of weird corridors that gave me a closed in feeling -- there are no WOW look at that areas. Outside there are plenty of spaces for lounging both by the pools and on upper decks, on a full ship with lots of sea days you never had trouble finding a quiet place to sun. The Lido is well designed for traffic flow and the Crow's Nest feels like an old friend with spectacular views and great lounge chairs. The food is good, our waiters Made and Dalo were the best we have ever had -- PERIOD!! We took advantage of the first night bargain at the Pinnacle and the steak is to die for, it is worth the price of admission to smell the volcano cake, let alone eat it. I did think that the service we had from Made was better than the Pinnacle. This was a repositioning cruise so it was not a standard itinerary, but I feel that the shore excursion staff was uninformed about the port of Cartagena. I took a tour where I feel that 15 of us were put into a potentially dangerous situation. My friends took the city tour and were chased onto the bus by vendors and rumor was that people on the Rosario Island tour got their money back. I did ask for specifics of the tour before I took my chances and plunked my money down. For the other ports we took independent tours and fell in love with Mexico. The highlight was seeing whales in Cabo. The ship tour sold out well in advance of sailing but we were able to book a small boat on shore. If you need a big whale watching boat, book online as early as you can. This is a nice ship -- even when full it did not feel crowded. It is indeed the cleanest ship I have ever been on and I will say that overall this is the best crew we have ever seen, even on other HAL ships. I prefer the smaller ships but would not hesitate to sail on the Oosterdam again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2004
This was my first cruise with HAL. The other members on CC had me worried about cruising with HAL with lots of negative comments. HAL turned out to have many things that they did well, but also lacked a little in certain areas. Read ... Read More
This was my first cruise with HAL. The other members on CC had me worried about cruising with HAL with lots of negative comments. HAL turned out to have many things that they did well, but also lacked a little in certain areas. Read on...... EMBARKATION: Upon arriving at the port, the traffic was a bit hairy. Once you got out and got going it was ok, but the sign posted that said that tipping was not necessary was posted so that you would see it after the fact, but either way... The multiple cue lines were a decent idea, and the first cue line directing you to the appropriate station was all right, but kind of slowed down the flow of traffic. I found it amusing that the people who did web check in had to wait longer in line than those who didn't and they did web check in to save time. HA! We didn't have to wait long in line at all; 10 min tops. Then we were off and on our way to board. Because we arrived at 12 p.m. we were able to board directly without waiting for our number to be called. From the minute we made it through the metal detectors we experienced solicitor after solicitor. That was a bit much. On the other side of the doors from the metal detectors were spa people waiting for you, and then at the top of the escalator (mind you the spa people were at the bottom of the escalator) were wine stewards selling the wine packages and then next was the photographer taking pictures and selling the photo package. All of that made me think I was already on one of the islands. Once we made it across the gangway and had one foot on the ship someone was there asking my brother his age and giving him a CD holder with the daily programs for the week for CLUB HAL. This was a plus over Disney because their CD holder was of a nicer quality but was made incorrectly so you couldn't even use it. There was white glove service to the elevators upon entering the ship. Once in the Lido it was hard to find a seat, see the Ship Design section of my review for more info. Once again, as soon as we picked a table we were asked to buy a drink card. We did, we bought 3. As the day went by we were asked over and over again, even when just passing by the Olive Pit in the atrium. It was a bit much. Also funny, how they pushed them the first day, and then after that they didn't think it was so hot when you had one later on in the week. ROOMS: At about 1:30 p.m. there was an actual announcement that your room was ready for your enjoyment and to be checked out at your leisure. This was very nice, I have not experienced an actual announcement on other cruises, they just mentioned it as you got on that your room would be ready at a certain time. My room, because I was totally by myself, was just a Cat. N, so I was an inside stateroom, but it was a handicapped room so it was very spacious. The rest of my family had a Cat. SS suite on the corner aft of the ship where the ship widens. Their room was very nice and the verandah was unbelievable. Many of these positives come from the location of their room. Because of its location, both the room and the verandah were larger than a regular SS. My room, 1011, was way too large for just one person. The only complaint I have is that the doors did not have any weight to them (mostly so a handicapped person in a wheelchair wouldn't get caught by the door), but it caused them to not close unless actually pushed all the way shut. If the bathroom door was not closed it would swing back and forth, open and shut. Having the room furnished with a fresh basket of fruit was definitely a plus only HAL seems to provide, even at the Cat. N level. Also the HAL carry bag on the first night is great for the week and for identifying fellow passengers on land. I had friends in a regular verandah room, and that was extremely small. Also they had to put one night stand under the desk instead of putting the two in the middle. If they had put both nightstands between the beds one would have to crawl over the bed to get through the room. I had family in the fully obstructed view window rooms. The nice thing about these "windows" were that they were the size of sliding doors. The room was much more spacious than the verandah room my friends had. The set up of the verandah room was definitely lacking. FOOD/DINING: Ok....first the food itself. The consensus on the CC boards seemed to be that HAL really lacked in the food. My party of 14 found that this food was better than Carnival and even Disney. I thought their food was very good. I find on cruises that things look better than they taste, and I end up leaving half a plate of food because things didn't taste as planned. This was almost never the case. Very pleased. The dining room was all right. We are kind of sick of wasting 2 hours a night of our cruise sitting at dinner. We have had enough of it being such a drawn out process. Also we had a table of 8 and a table of 6 which makes it that much longer. Our waiter was very efficient and sweet. Our wine steward/drink waiter wasn't the brightest crayon in the box for sure. He had trouble getting our pops on a regular basis. I give them immense credit for the way they run Lido at night. We really enjoyed being able to go to the Lido and get the same food that is being served in the dining room, without having to wait 2 hours for it all to be served. ****Also the food was fresh in the Lido**** Rather than the food being made and sitting around waiting for waiters to come get it, the food was made right after you ordered it and brought to you, only a few feet away. I cannot even express how much we enjoyed their Lido dinner. We ended up there 3 nights. Another plus to the Lido was that you could see the food before you ordered it. This allowed you to mix and match parts of entrees. I would put the food as being one of HAL's strong suits. The dining room was definitely lacking.....again with the ships design....I did not like seeing people jogging and walking by and around the dining room on the Promenade deck. That was not so appetizing. ACTIVITIES: I'm used to having to choose between activities usually because there are so many. On HAL this was not the case. Not only were there very few activities throughout the day, but the activities that were going on were lacking. Their activities were limited to board games run by activities staff and Bingo. There weren't dancing lessons as many people talked about. There wasn't much of anything. ENTERTAINMENT: Carnival and Disney both have HAL beat single handedly. Their entertainment left something to be desired. Their cast was overly cheesy and not very entertaining and their comedians were funny, but like smirk at a joke funny, not laugh out loud until it hurts funny. I'm used to finding the latter on most ships. SPA: I did not have any spa treatments this trip. This is rare since I usually spend about $600 a trip in the spa. Maybe I just wasn't terribly inclined to be in their spa, unlike other ships. Also, see Ship Design review, you had to walk through part of the spa to get to the forward elevator on deck 9 and the gym was hard to locate because it was in the back of the spa. The hydrotherapy pool looked great though, never tried it. DEMOGRAPHICS: This seemed to be my key word on this ship. Yes, it was a much older group than I have ever seen before. This was good and bad. On the whole, the older crowd was very nice, if you got stuck behind them sometimes it was a bit rough. Because of this aging crowd HAL made some changes that were great. IE...Calling 92 to have your room service tray removed. IE....being able to stay in your room, or just leave your stuff in your room until you actually disembark. I must say that the latter was definitely a great perk. We had about 80 kids on our sailing, probably because it was so close to Christmas. There were probably about 30 singles on this cruise ranging from 18-35. Quite a few families were accompanying the 80 kids, but about 60% if not more of the ship was over the age of 55. This proved for an empty ship after 11 p.m. By 12 a.m. the casino was emptying out and the nightclub was not doing so great either. SHIP DESIGN: This I have mentioned, all in a negative manner, in all of my other posts. The CCers did get this right. The ship used up too much verandah space, making the public rooms very small. The layout definitely was lacking. The Lido had very limited seating and it was hard to find somewhere to sit on a regular basis unless you were there at an obscene time for the meal....like 2 p.m. for lunch. Also walking through the spa to get to the elevator on 9 forward and getting to the gym was a bit inconvenient. Having the gym in the spa is normal, yes, but it is usually much more visible. This was a bit of a maze to find it. Some say that HAL is trying to have a bigger ship but keep the smaller, cozy feel by using low ceilings and having rooms that you have to actually go in to see them. I found this to be a downfall. The atrium that was only 3 stories was sad. There isn't anything like having a 7+ story atrium and being able to see everything. That's just great, but instead of making the ship feel cozy it made it feel more like being in the mall, in a cramped store. The gift shop.....hahaha.....honestly worst layout for the gift shop ever. It had little nooks and crannies of stuff and it was like 5 stores that they built separately and then knocked down a wall in each of them to connect them and make them one. Very poor. Even worse was the gift shop staff, see STAFF for that review. The seating in the Vista Lounge was a bit annoying. A few chairs here and a bunch of couches everywhere. This provided for people to take up the room of 3 people by sitting in one seat. Also, since the couches curved on the ends the only person, if 3 were sitting on it, that was comfortable was the person in the middle. The people on the ends were sitting into a curve, very uncomfortable. The night club was designed so poorly that I noticed it from pictures I saw months before I went on the cruise. Right in the middle of the dance floor was a very large column. The casino was really tiny and when it got more than 30 people in it, it got very crowded. Same with the Northern Lights dance club. It didn't happen often, but when it did get more than 20 people on the floor, it was packed. Icing on the cake that sucked about this ship were the aft adult pool hot tubs. 3 adults, and I mean 3 adults that were skinny, couldn't even fit in the hot tub without being all over each other. The hot tubs in the Lido family pool were much larger, or at least one of them was. The family pool had 3 hot tubs, and the adult pool had 2. You were lucky to get 2 adults in the adult hot tubs. STAFF: The staff seemed to have an attitude that I have never experienced. Please note that there is staff and then there is crew. There is a difference. The staff acted like they were better than the guests and that we were on their turf. It was a bit of a shock to see the attitudes they had. CREW: The crew was great. Mostly Indonesian and mostly male they were all very sweet and genuine. The crew was always there to help the elderly or disabled to their destination whether it was the elevator, their room, their table. They were also always there to carry trays for the elderly or the young, like my brother. Their service was great and they were a very gracious group. Their crew show was a bit strange and brought a small crowd, but they tried their hearts out and meant well. I found it to be great, especially to do something like that after working the whole day long. DISEMBARKATION: HAL sure seemed to want to get rid of you. They did have a nice change in policy from other ships where you can stay in your room and leave your carry on stuff in the room until you actually disembark. That was nice, but they kept coming in your room to get it ready or check the mini bar so I know some people felt rushed. It seemed like they were ready to get rid of you. Even the TV stations weren't even working anymore. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
I would like to keep this ship a secret, but I can't. The Oosterdam is fantastic. Our room Steward, Imbang, was a joy and such a hard worker. All staff members, from deck swabbers to Captain Mercer (with one exception, the Guest ... Read More
I would like to keep this ship a secret, but I can't. The Oosterdam is fantastic. Our room Steward, Imbang, was a joy and such a hard worker. All staff members, from deck swabbers to Captain Mercer (with one exception, the Guest Relations Manager) were extremely friendly and helpful. Steve at the piano bar was a hoot! Anyone who can sing Eric Clapton is tops in my book! His humorous dialogue with the guests sitting around the piano made my day. The DJ (forget his name) in the Sportman's Bar Nightclub was extremely knowledgeable in music, and very accommodating. Knowing I liked a particular song, he would play it when he saw me come into the bar. Now that's service!!! My service dog and I danced the night away (and I suffered for it, but heck, it was a vacation!). The ship was clean, clean, clean. And the beds in the suites were so comfortable, I could have just stayed in the room. Breakfast on the veranda was a joy. Although we were not able to get off at Tortola due to not having a signed permit for my service dog (thanks to Hurricane Ivan) we were able to see St. Maarten and the Bahamas. Due to gale force winds and high seas it was unsafe to tender us to Half Moon Cay so that stop was cut out. But there was so much happening on the ship, if a person wanted to stay busy he/she could. I, however, chose to hang out in the casino where I came away a happy camper. I have been on the Zuiderdam, and I was so impressed with the staff and the ship of the Oosterdam, we are planning another cruise on this magnificent ship next year. I do think the cost of the Internet is too expensive, but you have to play with the cards you are dealt. If you want to email friends and family, expect to pay at least $10/session. Although my cabin mate and I chose to pay the $10/day gratuity, we still gave our room steward something extra. He worked quietly, efficiently and always with a smile. Yes this line caters to those of us over 39 (ok, way over 39) and what a joy not having youngsters/teens running amok. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
Fort Lauderdale: Before boarding the ship, we stayed two nights at The Pillars hotel. It is located on the Intercoastal and only a block from the beach. There were many nice restaurants nearby for lunch. This was THE most lovely & ... Read More
Fort Lauderdale: Before boarding the ship, we stayed two nights at The Pillars hotel. It is located on the Intercoastal and only a block from the beach. There were many nice restaurants nearby for lunch. This was THE most lovely & quiet hotel we have ever stayed at. We ate at The Capitol Grille and Blue Moon Fish Company for dinner, both were first rate restaurants with excellent food. While at the Blue Moon we watched the Winterfest Boat Parade, a little overrated, but we were glad that we saw it. Embarkation: A dream, it could not have gone any better! We arrived at the port (by taxi) just after 11 a.m., I thought for sure we were too early. However, once we walked in the terminal, we got right in line to go through security. We were in a suite, so we were able to use the suite line for embarkation. We were on board the ship and in the Neptune Lounge by 11:30 a.m. Our friends were not in a suite however, they arrived at about 1 p.m. & they said that it took about 1 1/2 hours. Cabin: We were in a Suite, #7048. I don't know if we'll ever be able to do it again...but if we can, we'll book it again in a heartbeat! It was pure luxury. Our cabin steward, Bach, was absolutely wonderful. He took wonderful care of us & our cabin. We had appetizers for us & our friends (4 people with no extra charge) in our cabin every night - the concierge, Beng, was very helpful in arranging this for us. We had a sewer smell in our room 1 night, but I turned up the plug-in deodorizer for awhile that I brought from home & that worked. Between the 2 of us we took 3 large suitcases of clothes, and we only used half of the storage space. We were next door to the Penthouse and they must have stereo speakers on their balcony, because in the morning & in the evening they would play music that we could hear (not very loud but you could hear it). Thank goodness they played opera, a lot of Andrea Bocelli, which we both like. It gave such a nice ambience when sitting on our balcony: watching the water flow by & listening to opera in the background. I know we got lucky on that one. Food: We ate in the Pinnacle Grill 2 nights. My husband had the Porterhouse one night, the best steak he has ever had (includes eating at Mortons, The Capitol Grille, & Ruth's Chris). The other nights we ate in the Dining Room. Between the 2 of us we only had 1 bad meal, but our dining steward got us something else. Our dining stewards, Beka & Andi, were special. Very attentive, friendly, & would take the time to talk with us. Overall...excellent food, far better than Norwegian's alternative restaurants that you had to pay extra for. Our favorite for lunch or for an afternoon snack was the pizza in the Lido - it was so gooood. Bars: Our favorite spot on the ship was a corner booth, port side, in the Crow's Nest. All the bar staff was extremely friendly. Half Moon Cay: We had booked the green cabana & were really looking forward to it. However, unfortunately we were unable to tender because of rough seas. We made the most of it though & had a great sea day. Tortola: We booked an all-day snorkeling trip with Patouche. The snorkeling was fantastic & sailing around all of the islands was a pleasure I'll never forget! Our friends took a taxi to Brewer's Bay (20 minute ride, they paid $18). On the way they got to see a lot of the island. They said that the beach was private & beautiful. St. Maarten: We spent time at Orient Bay (Bikini Beach). A little crowded (there were 5 cruise ships that day), but still nice. We rented 2 chairs & an umbrella for $15. We had lunch at Bikini Beach's restaurant...it was quite expensive. But if you go, you have to order the Mango Margarita...they were VERY good & well worth the price! Spa: I had a massage, from Dianne, out on my balcony. I highly recommend that over one in the spa, it was so relaxing listening to the water. She was very good. My husband had his massage in the spa and it cost $10 more than mine did for some reason. Entertainment: Disappointing! Our only complaint. We went every night, but would usually only stay about 5-10 minutes. We gave it a chance. The only one we stayed the whole time for was the comedian, Nick Arandes. He was okay, on a scale of 1-10, I'd give him a 5-6. He had some funny stuff, he just couldn't keep it going through the whole performance. This being said, this would not keep us from going on HAL again! Disembarkation: Again...a dream! This time though, it had nothing to do with us being in a suite. Disembarkation started a little after 8 a.m. We stayed in our cabin until we left at 8:55 a.m. We were outside waiting for our transportation at 9:05 a.m. From the time we walked out our cabin door until the time we were standing on the curb, it literally took us only 10 minutes. We were shocked because on Norwegian it took about 45 minutes. We had pre-arranged with "Limos of Miami" for transportation to the FLL airport. We used them last year from the Port of Miami. They were right on time & very friendly. The next time we leave from Port Everglades, we'll probably just hale a cab (there were many lined up & ready to go). Port Everglades is not near as hectic as the Port of Miami. Everything being said, we loved this cruise experience! We give it 4 out of 4 stars! I only hope our next cruise will live up to this one. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
About us: This cruise was our family Christmas celebration, December 19 - 26. My husband and I are 46 and 50, and sailed with our 17 year old son, my parents, 77 and 86, my brother 40, his wife 28 and my nephew 13 months. For the purpose ... Read More
About us: This cruise was our family Christmas celebration, December 19 - 26. My husband and I are 46 and 50, and sailed with our 17 year old son, my parents, 77 and 86, my brother 40, his wife 28 and my nephew 13 months. For the purpose of this review, "we" will mean myself, my husband and my son. Arrival and first impressions: We arrived at the port around 12:15, dropped off our luggage curbside (I did tip) and parked in the Midport garage. Embarkation went smoothly and took 30 minutes or so. Lido Restaurant was up and running, and we got lunch. By the time we were finished eating, they announced our rooms were ready. We went directly to the room and put up the Christmas decorations. Our cabin steward was great. We also liked the tub in the room. It was by far the roomiest bathroom of any line we've sailed on. Then, the muster drill, when we returned from that, all of our luggage had arrived. We went to the Seaview Bar where we met a couple from the Cruise Critic Roll Call board. We ordered drinks at the bar, the worst margarita I had ever tasted, and they made husbands cuba libre with spiced rum! So, we learned quickly that you have to specify the ingredients in your drinks! Didn't meet any others from the Cruise Critic board. The wind was a little cool outside, so we went to the Crow's Nest. Here, they made the drinks just right. The ship is beautiful and well designed, I thought. The crew had on Santa hats, and the holiday trees, lights, decorations, etc. were pretty. Food: Then, time for dinner on Deck 2 Vista Dining Room. We ate every night with the exception of one night in the main dining room. Food was very good. Service was good. A couple of times they were slow filling the wine glasses, but maybe we just drink fast! Breakfast and Lunch every day in the Lido Restaurant was always good, and only one time did we have trouble finding a table. There was always someone available to carry your tray and assist you if needed. We had at least coffee and juice delivered via room service every morning. Always on time, and coffee was hot and good. I had an espresso in the Windstar Cafe one afternoon and it was very good. The one night we did not eat in the dining room, we ate at the Poolside Barbecue Cookout and it was very good - big selection of food. Ports of Call and Shore Excursions: Our first port of call was Half Moon Cay which was cancelled due to the weather (very rough seas). I was really disappointed because I wanted to compare it to RCI and NCL's private islands. Our next stop was Tortola. I walked into town with my parents - not impressed. Then we took the ship's island tour with beach stop excursion. Now, I'm impressed. The views around the island and from Sky World are breathtaking. The next day was St. Maarten. We did a little shopping at the port stores early. That afternoon, my mother, sister-in-law, nephew and myself did the ship's Butterfly Farm excursion. We all enjoyed it. The AC on the bus wasn't working, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it was. After the Butterfly Farm, my sister-in-law and the baby got off the bus in Marigot at the shopping stop to board another bus to take them back to the ship because it was so hot. When our shopping time was up and my mother and I went back to our bus, they had a different bus with WORKING AC. Thank goodness for that, but I hated that the rest of our party had to leave early. My son and brother did the ship's kayak excursion that day and they both loved it. Husband walked to the beach you can see from the ship's dock and got some sun. Sea Days and Spa: We were scheduled for 3 full days at sea, but of course with the HMC cx. that made 4. Laid back and relaxed. Plenty of time to explore the ship, get a tan, shop (not impressed with this ship's on-board shops) and spa. The Thermo Suite and the Hydro Suite at $15.00 each per day are the best bargain on the ship! They were both very relaxing - I highly recommend. They also offer an unlimited pass for these. Mother had a massage in the spa which she described as "heavenly." Disembarkation and Final Thoughts: We said our farewells to the rest of the family, as they were flying and we drove down. Our number was called about 9:25 and we were on Eller Drive out of the port at 10:00. We had a wonderful cruise. There were lots of families - 3 generations like ours - sailing this week and lots of children, all ages. I'm not sure I would sail HAL again if it's not during a holiday week. I spoke to a couple of crew members and they did report that the number of young families, and children sailing this week was not the norm. I think they were glad to have the younger people aboard! I don't mean to be negative, I just think the atmosphere would be a lot different if not sailing during a holiday. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2004
Cruise Date: 07/11/04 - 14/11/04 Itinerary: Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- Nassau, Bahamas -- Philipsburg, St. Maarten -- Road Town, Tortola -- Half Moon Cay, Bahamas -- Ft. Lauderdale, FL Accommodations: Cabin: 1006, Main Deck, Cabin Category ... Read More
Cruise Date: 07/11/04 - 14/11/04 Itinerary: Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- Nassau, Bahamas -- Philipsburg, St. Maarten -- Road Town, Tortola -- Half Moon Cay, Bahamas -- Ft. Lauderdale, FL Accommodations: Cabin: 1006, Main Deck, Cabin Category DD Dining: Early Lower, Table M Overview: This cruise was my fifth on Holland America, my first on the new Vista Class of ships. I have to say that the Vista Class is too large a ship for my taste. The cruise was, on the whole, everything I expect of Holland America, from service to atmosphere onboard. It was a relaxing cruise and one I would consider taking again, though not on a Vista Class. Specifics: Cabin: I always book a standard outside cabin on the lowest passenger deck, port-side if possible. I book this particular cabin because I find it to be not as affected by ship motion and I love to awake to the noises when docking or anchoring. I have been upgraded to both a mini-suite and a suite and I still prefer the outside cabins low down and forward. I particularly like being able to open the curtains and peer out at the passing ocean overnight. I found this cabin was smaller than similar ones on the S-Class vessels. I did like the shower stall in the bathroom; the sides of the tubs too high for comfort and the tub overall too narrow for comfortable use. So the shower was a nice surprise, however it was lacking in enough space to hold shower supplies -- shampoo, conditioner, and soap, as well as washcloths and all the other sundries one needs for bathing. Space overall was limited in the cabin. Closet space was decent, though much less than on the S-Class. The third closet was narrower than the other two, to allow for the door to open into the cabin, resulting in a tight fit for hangers in that closet. I would have moved the safe to that one, leaving the two larger closets free for hanging. The cabin itself was narrow and it was a tight squeeze on the sides of the bed, no matter which configuration they used. I did not like the lack of a sheer curtain layer. I was used to having the sheers as well as the room darkening curtains, most often using only the sheers. The lack of sheers made the room dark when dressing in the mornings in port. Compounding that was the act that lighting in the cabin was poor I could not figure out why the room lights were arranged in a way to make it impossible to leave the entry area light on without also having lights on over the beds. The lighting at the desk area is woefully inadequate. I do not wear make-up so the addition of the make-up mirror is not at all worthwhile. I have yet to determine the purpose of the bronze-tinted mirror at the desk. My cabin-mate suggested that maybe it was to make you feel as though you had gotten an excellent tan while sleeping. The addition of a mini bar -- which I did not use -- did not make up for the loss of drawer space. However the under-desk cabinet did come in handy for getting shoes out of the middle of the floor. So on the whole, the cabin was adequate, but not up to HAL standards. I would be remiss without a word for my excellent cabin steward, Pudji. He expertly made up my room twice daily, despite the obstacle course created by drying dive gear and an always-in-the-way dive gear duffel bag. My only complaint was that Pudji refused to go against "cabin-steward" training to make up the room when my cabin-mate was sleeping -- my cabin mate can, and has, sleep through bombs going off, so the cabin steward would not have disturbed him in the least. I was disappointed, but not unexpectedly so, by the refusal to make up the cabin while it was occupied. Dining: The food in the dining room was excellent. Service was superb. The Vista Dining Room was what I expected on Holland America. After the third meal, my waiter had learned to announce his presence behind me, and had taken to beginning with the opposite side of the table so as to not surprise me. The Lido was equally up to HAL standards. I especially liked the addition of the pasta station. I found the food at the Wok station to be rather bland, edible and certainly not bad, but lacking in spice and flavor. The taco station was excellent and the fries from the Terrace Grill were some of the best I have ever had. Also, do not miss schnitzel when they have it in the Lido. It is one of the reasons I book HAL cruises! Service in the Lido was excellent as usual. Tables were often at a premium, but that did not affect the service; in fact, if anything, I think the busy-ness of the Lido made the service a bit better. I particularly liked the roving coffee and tea service during breakfast hours. The one thing I did not like was the casual dinner in the Lido. On previous cruises with this option, dinner service in the Lido had different choices than in the dining room. I often chose the Lido dinner service option because none of the dining room choices were appetizing. I was disappointed to find that on this cruise the dinner options in the Lido were exactly the same as the choices in the main dining room. I would have preferred other options. I know that is a struggle for the kitchen staff, but more often than not, my choice to eat in the Lido was precipitated by a menu choice and not a dislike of dressing according to the dress code for the day. My last complaint is the fact that deserts in the Lido are rather bland. The rice pudding was wonderful and the ice cream and cookies are not to be missed, but the remaining desserts are all rather tasteless. Dessert in the doing room, however, were superb. It was always a struggle to choose just one dessert. Ship: The Vista Class ships are too large. They carry too many passengers. And too much public space has been sacrificed for verandah cabin space. The ship is tastefully decorated and kept immaculate, as expected of any Holland America vessel, but the public rooms are too small, too awkwardly arranged and too chopped to be useful. The outside deck space is practically non-existent and what is there is filled to brimming over with deck chairs and tables, which passengers insist on moving in such a pattern as to make walking from one side of the ship to the other impossible. I have never spent so much time in my cabin as I have on this cruise. That was partly because the overwhelming number of passengers made finding space in public rooms difficult, but also because the two groups on board has many public rooms reserved for seminars. Discounting the seminars, I found the public rooms to be awkwardly arranged and the furniture singularly uncomfortable and not at all conducive to reading or relaxing. Even conversation was difficult at most times. Don't misunderstand: the ship is tastefully decorated and the public rooms are beautiful; it is simply not well laid out, making it neither comfortable nor welcoming. The onboard shops are awkward, and in the middle of busy forward to aft passageways. Some public rooms are nearly hidden and others are split by walkways. I found the bars narrow and awkward; but bar service was excellent. The atrium, a hallmark of beauty on the S-Class vessels, was dark and cold-feeling. The atrium stairs are practically unusable due to width and location. There is a completely pointless staircase in the middle of the forward elevator lobby between decks 2 and 3, causing this area to be unnecessarily congested. The flow of the ship, both forward to aft, and port to starboard is complicated and must have been laid out by drunken traffic control engineers. The hallway on deck 2 between the Windstar Cafe and the Vista Dining Room has to be called the Black Hole by the crew, it is so dark. That made walking incredibly difficult, even on the calm days -- I did not even attempt to negotiate that area during the 24 hours of extremely rough seas we experienced. On the whole, I find the Vista Class ships poorly laid out and designed solely to afford the maximum amount of space to Verandahs. If that was the goal, they should have cut public space totally and had only Verandah cabins. Another big disappointment with this ship was that I found a class division distinctly noticeable on this ship. The separation between the haves (the verandah cabins) and the have-nots (standard outside/inside cabins) was only and over-emphasized by the fact that public space was limited to the bottommost and topmost three decks. Everything in between was devoted to verandah cabins. This is not the feeling I get on most other HAL ships. On most ships, where your cabin is does not affect how you are treated. On the Ossterdam, the class difference was palpable. I felt it especially when using the mid-ship glass elevators. If the elevator happened to stop on one of the (many) exclusive verandah cabin floors, I could feel the snubs of the verandah-dwellers when they got on with me. It was almost as thought I had no business riding above deck 3. That said, I would like to point out that the Captain was excellent. The opportunity to sail with him again was one of the main reasons I booked this cruise. His ships are always having fun. The staff and crew always look happy and interested in the passengers. None of them are ever too busy to stop to chat, and they all seem so approachable for passenger questions and concerns. And the Captain's noon reports from the bridge are a highlight of any day, not just the days at sea. And I would be doing them a vast disservice not to mention the staff of the front office on this ship were the most helpful and most interested of any of my cruises. Normally I find the Front Office staff aloof and disturbed when I have questions or concerns, but that was not the case this time around -- much to my relieved surprise! Ports: Nassau is not worth the effort. I did not book a tour -- the ship was only in port for 4 hours. After hearing others' comments, I feel I didn't miss much. There was the ubiquitous Caribbean gems/jewelry shopping, as well as cheap t-shirt vendors and "get-the-same-thing-everywhere" kind of shops. The streets were crowded with tourists and locals; the weather was hot and steamy and on the whole it was just not worth going ashore. Next time I may book a tour of the Atlantis Resort, or perhaps a semi-submersible tour -- the fish don't seem to care if you throw money their way -- but more than likely if I ever go back I'll just stay on the ship, enjoying a book in the quiet. In Philipsburg, I took the Butterfly Farm and Marigot tour and enjoyed that immensely. The tour guide was wonderful and very informative. And the island was very nice. I got a very nice deal on some perfume/cologne for my mother and brother's Christmas presents. That alone made the stop worth it. Marigot was nice, if crowded. Three other ships were in port with us. That is the problem with most Caribbean ports of call. Too many people all wanting exactly the same things at exactly the same time. I often wonder why the arrival/departure times of cruise ships are not staggered at the busy Caribbean ports. The Caribbean is over-cruised and over-populated as far as I can tell. The sheer numbers of invaders daily give most islands, and St. Maarten/S. Martin is no different, a discarded, throw-away appearance -- as though the actual location does not matter; almost as though you could be docked at "Anywhere, Caribbean." I dislike that sameness to my ports. I am glad I went to St. Maarten, but I see no need to go back, especially since it is interchangeable with most other Caribbean ports. Road Town: This stop made the cruise. It was clean, picturesque and full of helpful and happy residents. I took the North Shore and Pusser's Landing Tour. The tour guide was adequate, but the scenery more than made up for any shortcomings in that area. It was a tropical island just out of a Hollywood portrayal. The morning began overcast, with a heavy cloud layer and misty rain -- a perfect beginning to a day as far as I am concerned. As the morning wore on and the tour came down the mountain, the temperature warmed up and the skies cleared. But the idyllic setting did not change a bit. Shopping on the island is limited, but that's not such a bad thing. So many other Caribbean islands specialize in separating all-too-willing tourists from their cash that there is no need for Road Town to do the same. The lack of shopping only made the stop more genuine and enticing. If I take this cruise again, this will be the only stop where I get off the ship. It was simply fantastic. On every cruise I have been on, there has been one port that far surpassed the others and made me want to go back to spend a long land vacation there. Road Town was that stop in this cruise. Do not miss the opportunity to go if you ever get it. Half Moon Cay: I am reserving judgment on this port. The island may not have had much structural damage from the recent hurricanes, but damage to vegetation was sorely evident. I had booked an Eco-Lagoon Kayak adventure, but it was just too hot to even consider. The island was hot and humid -- a standard sweltering tropical morning, as far as I can tell. Some people may like that kind of weather, but when you get it for 10 months out the year at home, it gets really old, really fast, and on vacation I prefer a change of climate to go with the change of scenery. There was not even any shade in sight for relief -- so much of the vegetation had been devastated by salt-water intrusion that Holland America's private island paradise was broaching on becoming a Caribbean desert. I stayed ashore long enough to buy two postcards and mail them from the island post office. All told I must have been on the island for less than half an hour, and given prevailing conditions, that was half an hour too long. I can say that the situation on the island was not improved by having two ships in port. (I did, however, get some excellent pictures of the MS Rotterdam sailing away). Two ships in port overwhelms the resources of the island and were I HAL, I would consider that a situation to be avoided at all costs. I will have to go back to make a final decision on this port. I know I did not see it at its best. Embarkation: The smoothest I have ever experienced. The shore-side passenger check-in process was smooth. The lines were long, but they moved quickly and I was through the process and in the upstairs lounge waiting to board in just under half an hour. It was a very nice surprise to be able to board the ship as soon as check in was complete. Disembarkation: Disembarkation was very smooth and organized ship-board; the usual chaos once off in the terminal building. That is the one area where improvement needs to be made. I do not know what to suggest, but there has to be a better way to get that many people off the ship, pick up their luggage and shuttled off to other destinations more quickly and more effectively. However, being able to remain in your cabin until your disembarkation number was called seems to have eliminated the crowding of the stairwells and gangway area. Final Thoughts: This was another good cruise. The disadvantages of the Vista class ships were sorely evident throughout the cruise. But overall it was a relaxing vacation and an enjoyable trip. So much so that I cannot wait for the next one -- an already-booked 15-day roundtrip Hawaii adventure aboard the ms Amsterdam in December 2005. Read Less
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.5 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.5 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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