Sail Date: February 2006
This was my first (and last) cruise. It's my own fault, I suppose, that I was ill-prepared for the experience. Somehow I imagined the salt spray in my face, the smell of the sea and so on. We stayed overnight in San Diego the night ... Read More
This was my first (and last) cruise. It's my own fault, I suppose, that I was ill-prepared for the experience. Somehow I imagined the salt spray in my face, the smell of the sea and so on. We stayed overnight in San Diego the night before embarkation to ensure an early arrival. By 11:30 a.m. we were being quickly moved through an enormous room, credit card info and photos taken and my first glimpse of cruise life, being "nickel-and-dimed" to death. Before even boarding we were induced to spend $20 to buy a "soft drink card". I had not expected to be charged for sodas, bottled water and so on, being used to Club Med type inclusive vacations. We sprang for a veranda room at the very back of the ship. This was about the only fresh air available, (or would have been if every gentleman in all the surrounding staterooms had not been on Their verandas day and night puffing on Cuban cigars.) This is not Holland America's fault, of course. What WAS their fault was having our verandah soaked with filthy water being hosed down from the Lido deck three times in 6 days; the first time at 3:00 a.m., the second time as we stepped outside in our formal diner attire at 7 pm, and the third time 12 hours later, at 7:00 a.m. Yes, we complained each time and were given a plate of chocolate covered strawberries in recompense. Of course, each time it happened, the steward had to come in, remove all the soaking furniture cushions, mop down the verandah and replace wet towels (we stopped leaving books and swimsuits outside). The ship is beautiful, the service is perfect. But if you haven't cruised before, and thought a trip to the Mexican Riviera would in any way resemble being on the Mexican Riviera, think again. A cruise ship is a hermetically-sealed 10 story floating hotel. Every hallway is packed with people, standing sideways to let others pass. The Lido deck's sliding roof is usually closed, making it hot and stuffy. The adults only pool outside is so windy I hardly ever saw anyone in it. Unless you enjoy casinos, dressing up for dinner, cheesy entertainment and being herded like pampered cattle from one excursion bus to the next, you probably won't enjoy being on a cruise. The only thing that lets you know you are on the ocean was the neverending rolling from side to side. We finally stopped being nauseated about 4 days into the trip. Also, it was disconcerting to find out that many of the employees earn no salary, but rely on tips for their income, and on "Perfect" guest evaluations for a day off. All in all, I'll pick a resort by the sea under a palm tree for my next Mexico vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
Having read numerous reviews about the Oosterdam it was clear that half were positive and half were negative. While I was hoping to be in the positive half suffice to say that it did not meet up with my expectations. We have cruised with ... Read More
Having read numerous reviews about the Oosterdam it was clear that half were positive and half were negative. While I was hoping to be in the positive half suffice to say that it did not meet up with my expectations. We have cruised with both Princess and Celebrity and Holland America does not come near to either of these with regards to service or value. I will try and give a detailed review in hopes that others are prepared in advance as we were. The check in was surprisingly a positive given we did not have a suite. It was rather smooth with the only negative the long line to pass through the security check after you did finish registering in. Many reviews had the same complaint regarding the Lido buffet and I have to agree. HAL made a major error here as there is not enough seating to accommodate the demand and I highly recommend that you obtain a table before you get your food. In fact during the sea days they even set up additional folding tables by the pool and this still did not satisfy the demand. The way the buffet is handled with the separate stations is good for controlling lines but the full benefit is not realized as almost every item is served to you rather than serve yourself which slows down the process. Our ports of call Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan were all magnificent. The shore excursions are grossly overpriced and I would recommend going off the ship as you can obtain most of the same excursions for 30-40% less than what they cost onboard. We had one breakfast in the dining room, to alleviate the crowds at the buffet, and the service was outright awful. They were rude and inconsiderate and we even spoke to the maitre d' after it and got the feeling he could care less. The service at dinner started off a bit rocky but turned around (after our complaint) and was acceptable. I believe, as others do, that the automatic tipping policy is counter productive to providing good service as there is no incentive. We did adjust it at the end and tipped the few who did provide excellent service like our cabin steward who was phenomenal. I found the decor and the ship to really not have that "wow" factor as I have found on two Princes ships. In fact I walked past the atrium three times looking for what I expected to find in an atrium and came to find out I was already in it. It was small and nowhere near what we have seen on the Princess lines. While most cruise lines nickel and dime for everything this one was even greater. For example the internet access required that you "establish an account" that cost $3.95. Then unless you purchase a plan the charge was .79 per minute which is higher than what I paid on Princess. The account is a joke as all you do is enter your name and cabin number. On Princess all you did was swipe your card and away you went. The entertainment was very good with good shows and the times being 8:15 and 10:15 worked out well with our early dinner seating. They only have one alternative dining restaurant, the Pinnacle Grill, which I highly recommend. If you book it the first night the service charge is 1/2 off $10.00 instead of $20.00 per person. The other cruise lines had numerous alternative dining options available. The food on the buffet was OK typical buffet food. The deserts were mediocre and the food in the dining room was a bit boring. They also were limited in optional choices that were available every night again unlike Princess. We had four in our cabin which while tight at times was bearable. The one down side was that the fourth bunk folded down from the ceiling over the main bed and only left 10" of room between your head and the bottom of the bunk when you were laying in the bed. Needless to say the first two days you woke up a bit sore having bumped your head getting up at night and forgetting it was there. Princess has theirs fold down over the pull out sofa which is a much better set up. Make sure you get a balcony as the views are spectacular especially the Hubbard Glacier which the ship did get very close to. Needless to say we were quite disappointed and given a choice would not sail on HAL again. Our future cruises will be confined to Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
My wife and I have cruised a few times already - some starter cruises out of LA and a week-long cruise to Alaska. We have been on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Embarkation: This was relatively effortless. We live in San Diego, ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised a few times already - some starter cruises out of LA and a week-long cruise to Alaska. We have been on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Embarkation: This was relatively effortless. We live in San Diego, so my brother dropped us off at the dock. There were plenty of staff there to help us figure out where to go. The line moved relatively quickly, and we were on the ship in short order. Unfortunately, with rare exception this was the last decent service we received until we returned to San Diego. See "Service" for complete details. Dining: The food was excellent, better than on past cruises. Of special note was Pinnacle, which was a top-notch experience in every aspect. Public Rooms: The rooms were OK, nothing special. There were quite a few small hallways that became quite clogged before/after meals, but the seats were all comfortable. Entertainment: In the main room, generally a dud. Only one of the four primary singers were decent, and there was only one good showgirl - and we learned that both were leaving when their contract was up a few weeks later. The alternate musicians were all pretty good, except for Larry the piano man's singing - stick to the piano. Cabin: The appointments were very nice. The bed was heavenly, and it was nice to have a tub. There wasn't much room for our own toiletries and the shower was dark because of the design of the curtain track. We did get some noise from when they were testing the mechanisms of the life boats (right outside our window), but it's good to make sure they work. :) Otherwise not much noise. Our room was categorized "partially obstructed view" because of the boats, but it was good enough for us - we could see the ocean and ports in the center third of the window. Fitness & Recreation (Optional): We each got a massage, and we found the staff to be professional. I also took advantage of the Thermal Suite and Thalassotherapy Pool for our first day at sea - I spent all day there and it was awesome. Service: I will start with our dining room service. Cruise Ships should all have top-notch service. Their ratings are generally from four stars to six stars, indicating top levels of everything. We have eaten in some of the finest restaurants in Europe, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas - we know the appropriate level of service. There were several key elements that raise service up to the expected heights of refinement that were missing - service was slow and inattentive, silverware was not cleared when appropriate, our napkins were not placed when we arrived at the table, our drinks were not refilled (we even had to refill our own wine glasses), service was not delivered and cleared from the proper side, and servers reached over other diners to deliver or clear place settings. These types of items seem like minor details, and many cruisers (especially first timers) would not even notice them, but they are key elements that make the difference between Coco's and Morton's of Chicago. Of much greater concern were the dining room service elements that would raise alarm even in a restaurant such as Coco's. We had food and drink orders that were forgotten, so we had to request them two or three times before they were delivered. The dirty plates were left on the table even as the next courses were being served. We did not receive food we ordered, and we received food that we did not ask for (the wrong meat dish, the wrong soup, the wrong starch side). Once I asked for skim milk and got whole milk mixed with water (yes, I can tell the difference). One time they neglected to take my order altogether. A final key difference between other ships was the friendliness. On other ships, the dining stewards were extremely outgoing and friendly. They were always talking and joking with us. The Oosterdam dining stewards were all very quiet and stoic, their smiles seemed forced and they were unenthusiastic about anything they were doing. However, I do not believe this was an isolated incident related to our individual wait staff. We experienced similar issues when we sat at other tables (with different servers) for the lunches at sea. This leads me to believe that the issues I encountered are across the entire dining room staff. Also, there was clearly not enough staff in the dining room. The 2nd Maitre D' who was responsible for our area came over every night to say hello, and ended up personally taking care of some element of our service that had been skipped - clearing dirty dishes, getting a plate of food that had not been delivered, repouring the wine. The staff in this dining room had too many responsibilities besides taking care of the guests, and the service suffered as a result. From talking to the staff, I believe that there were many emotional problems that were distracting them and keeping their minds off away from executing on the level of service we were expecting. Considering how many of the dining room stewards are from Indonesia, this does not surprise me. I fully understand that they have all signed contracts to work for a specific period of time, but Holland America's management should have taken better care of their mental health. It is the humane thing to make sure your employees are happy, or to release their contracts in extraordinary cases. Unfortunately, we encountered multiple other issues with the staff & crew of the Oosterdam, which leads us to believe that there is a systemic problem in training and/or motivation. The issues I can remember included: • Many employees were taking their breaks, still in uniform, in public areas of the ship. These chairs and lounges should be reserved for the paying customers, since I know (from speaking with current and past cruise ship employees) that the crew have their own lounges. • The crew doors were left open. I do not mean briefly when loading supplies from the holding area to the bar (and even that should not occur, the porter should close the door immediately after passing through). I mean extended time, when I'm walking up the hallway along the Queen's lounge or the Explorer's bar and the door is wide open with nobody around. • Employees were using the public elevators. There were times when they were carting around supplies in the main elevators, to the point that no guests were able to get on. I know there are dumb waiters and elevators inside the crew area, because I was able to see them through all the open crew doors. • We were still in the showroom when the crew turned on the house lights, opened the curtains, and began to take down the set. My wife and I have both worked in theater - you should NEVER take down the set with audience members still present. Also, it was very distracting to see members of the theater crew sitting in the light/sound booth, dancing the hula along with the dance troupe. • We also had some problems with our room steward. First off, his English did not pass muster. We were not able to understand just about anything he said to us, and I don't think he ever understood anything we asked him to do. He also left dirty towels on the floor of the bathroom when he turned down the sheets. In general, he seemed to be trained to follow a very short list of actions for each room, without any idea or desire to improve upon it. Here also, the personality falls short of what we have had on past cruises - no friendly discussions, no cute little decorative touches. Just make the bed and clean the bathroom in the morning, then turn down the bed and leave the paperwork and chocolate at night. • The final and possibly most disappointing aspect was the cruise director staff. Melissa was the only decent one of the bunch, including Jason the head cruise director. She was enthusiastic and personable. The rest seemed to have a severe attitude problem - they behaved like the cool kids in school, who disdained having to deal with most of the people most of the time. Jason's humor was a sarcastic type that did not go over well with the audience. He was insulting and disinterested, clearly not the correct demeanor for the ship's Cruise Director. He behaved as if he was interacting with people only because it was his job - he wasn't having any fun with it, and didn't seem to care to connect. We saw the same list of humorous questions people ask on other cruise lines, but the audience thought it was funnier the other times - probably because Jason presented it as derogatory rather than silly. There were a few activities the cruise staff did not show up for (such as name that tune), and a few others where they needed an attitude adjustment. For instance, we were playing Taboo and a group of us just wanted to play for fun, taking turns giving clues, when one of the assistants insisted we make teams and keep score against our wishes. Some events were cancelled without warning (like the scavenger hunt) or moved to an inappropriate venue without proper notice or consideration (moving bridge from a quite card room to a noisy central lounge). Others seemed to be planned without any consideration for location and timing - a blackjack tournament during one of the dinner seatings, alternating large events between deck 9 and deck 2, etc. My wife went to one of the movie showings, and there was not enough popcorn. When she enquired about getting more, they told her that they had already turned off the machine so no more would be made. Finally, Jason showed up visibly drunk to some of the activities, most notably the Oosterdam Superstar competitions - someone needs to tell him that it's still part of his job, and he needs to maintain the same (higher than present) level of decorum throughout the day, from the moment he steps out of his stateroom until after the last minute of the last show. Unfortunately, the service was SO BAD on this cruise that it outweighs all the good aspects of the ship itself. It really is about the people, and the people on this ship failed us. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2005
We are resubmitting this review because the previous submission on January 2005, after our trip, did not get posted. We are regular travelers and are in our sixties. We usually take a couple of trips a year either on land tours and/or ... Read More
We are resubmitting this review because the previous submission on January 2005, after our trip, did not get posted. We are regular travelers and are in our sixties. We usually take a couple of trips a year either on land tours and/or cruises (20 cruises to date from the Princess to the Crystal cruise line). This is our first time with HAL and this is probably our last time with HAL based on the experiences we had on this 13-days Panama Canal cruise on the Oosterdam. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The layout of the ship is difficult to comprehend. Maybe this is such a large ship and HAL's idea to give the ship a cozy and intimate feel, is to chop up the public rooms, ie the bars and the lounges were divided into myriads of different compartments and tucked into corners and corridors. The atrium and the lobby were so small and uninviting. It is not a place one would like to linger to share a drink and enjoy visiting unless you had business with the front/excursion desks. The hallways were dark and narrow, like going through dark tunnels to no where. If you wanted to go from the front of the ship to the back of the ship or vice versa, you had to navigate your way through the casino, and/ or the gift shops with merchandise arranged half hazardly blocking your way. The dinning room is like a large cafeteria with tables back-to-back barely having enough room for the waiters to walk behind the table to serve the food. The music pit is in the middle of the dinning room and was so dark that the musicians were like playing music under a darkened mushroom canopy. FOOD: the quality of the food in the Lido is typical cafeteria food. There were a lot of choices, but the quality and taste needed much improvement. The best was the Pasta Station and the worst was the Asian food station. The rice was not cooked properly and the so called Asian menu of Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino food were comparable to the worst of any Asian cafeteria in San Francisco. The food in the Vista dinning room is uneven. You have both good and bad meals. Steaks and beef dishes were good, chicken were so-so and the seafood dishes were not fresh. The lobster was slimy and had a rotten taste. The shrimp and the shrimp cocktails were not that much better. The salads were occasionally brown and wilted. The Pinnacle Grill is definitely not worth a visit. We had a free dinner compliments from our travel agent, but still I have to say that the Pinnacle Grills is over-rated. The steaks were dry and burnt. The scampi was dry, tough, and without any sauce and taste. ENTERTAINMENT: The dance music on this ship is not for dancing. The dance music was to put the passengers to sleep early. The music from all the bands and groups had no rhythm, beat, and energy. This was a Panama Canal, Mexico cruise, you would think the music would be lively and reflect the rhythm of the ports, ie, some mariachi, salsa, folkloric, Latin music. The production shows were second rate. The singers and dancers had a lot of energy, but unfortunately the sets and costumes did not give them justice for their efforts. On most 12 days cruises we have been on, there were at least 3 production shows with great sets and complements of talented magicians and comedians. There were only two shows on this long cruise and the singers and comedians were amateurish. SERVICE; service on this ship was not something to brag about either (to my great surprise based on HAL's advertisement of outstanding service). The waiters and assistant waiters in the main dinning room provided adequate service, but when they rotated up to the Lido deck they somehow turned into a different mindset when servicing the guests. For example, when one of the guest on our table asked for tea, the waiter pointed to the tea station and indicated for her to serve herself. Another waiter proudly told us that he liked rough seas because the guests would get seasick and not come to dinner and therefore save them a lot of work. Very seldom did I observe a waiter helping a guest with his/her tray, they generally congregated in small groups and chatted with each other. The servers behind the Lido counters were rude and had little patience in serving the food, they tended to just slop the food on the plate and pass the plate to the guest. HAL Oosterdam's Food and Beverage dept. is definitely not up to the standard of a premium cruise line. Since there were no laundromats on board, you had to send your laundry out to wash every few days. The laundry service was always late in returning your clothes (supposed to be returned within 48 hrs). ORGANIZATION: the ship's management is not well organized. The first day after embarkation we waited for more than an hour to see the dinning room head waiter to ensure that we had the correct table and dinner time. The waiting line was so long that it caused frustration amongst the guests, who started to push each other around to try to get closer to the front of the line. The could be prevented if HAL were more organized and attuned to the guests' needs. Likewise, on the first tour day to Cartegena, the waiting line for the city tour was so long, that the guests had to wait for close to an hour just to get a bus ticket/assignment. These incidences were not necessary and could have been avoided by better planning on HAL's part. The ship's crew were also constantly trying to sell spa and related services. Every time you turned around there were crew members, especially spa staff, trying to sell spa packages, soft drinks packages and seminars on board. One of the purposes of taking a vacation is to have temporary reprieve from constant solicitations and hustling. HAL is overdoing their selling products efforts. Based on our experiences during this cruise (mainly the food, the entertainment, the services and organization of the ship and its management), we found this ship was overrated and overpriced for a very mediocre, undistinguishable cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2005
My wife and I are very regular travelers. We are in our sixties. We usually take a couple of trips a year either on land tours and/or cruises. We have been on approx. 20 cruises to date from the Princess to the Crystal cruise line. This is ... Read More
My wife and I are very regular travelers. We are in our sixties. We usually take a couple of trips a year either on land tours and/or cruises. We have been on approx. 20 cruises to date from the Princess to the Crystal cruise line. This is our first time with HAL and this is probably our last time with HAL based on the experiences we had on this 13-days Panama Canal cruise on the Oosterdam. To begin, let us at least say a few positive words about the cruise and the ship. FIRST, our cabin was on 8th deck, one of the SS suite. The cabin was very spacious, with plenty of cabinets and drawer space for clothes and miscellaneous. The cabin steward was nice and quite attentive to our needs. The veranda was large and well-partitioned for privacy. SECOND, the front office staff, especially the pursers, were very friendly and they tried diligently to answer questions and solve problems to the best of their abilities. THIRD, the Pasta Station in the Lido deck made one of the best pasta (cooked to order) better than most cruise ships including the Crystal Harmony and Serenity. FOURTH, embarkation and disembarkation were orderly and swift. We were aboard the ship in less than 1/2 hour after we checked in. Likewise, we were able to get off the ship quickly and early enough to catch an earlier flight home. PRECRUISE: Since we are from the West Coast and bought our own plane tickets, we needed to travel to Ft. Lauderdale one day early to avoid any uncontrollable delays and therefore miss the ship. We took the pre-cruise hotel package from HAL, staying in the Hyatt Regency in Ft. Lauderdale. The hotel staff, from the bellman to the coffee shop waitress, were rude, unfriendly, and incompetent. The room was dirty and had stains all over the carpet. The bellman walked off with our luggage without indicating where he was headed towards. The waitress presented us with the wrong check, and when we questioned her, she refused to make any changes until we talked to the coffee shop manager. We realize that HAL has no direct control over the service and room conditions of the hotel, but since this is a pre-cruise hotel package and part of the cruising experience, we paid HAL for arranging the pre-cruise package. Therefore, HAL should shoulder the responsibility for their choice of offered hotel in their pre and post cruise packages. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The layout of the ship is difficult to comprehend. Maybe this is such a large ship and HAL's idea to give the ship and cozy and intimate feel, is to chop up the public rooms, ie the bars and the lounges were divided into myriads of different compartments and tucked into corners and corridors. The atrium and the lobby were so small and uninviting. It is not a place one would like to linger to share a drink and enjoy visiting unless you had business with the front/excursion desks. The hallways were dark and narrow, like going through dark tunnels to no where, ie out of no where there is a stairwell or a lounge or an elevator or a wall blocking your passage. If you wanted to go from the front of the ship to the back of the ship or vice versa, you had to navigate your way through the casino, and or the gift shops with merchandise arranged half hazardly blocking your way. The dinning room is like a large cafeteria with tables back-to-back barely having enough room for the waiters to walk behind the table to serve the food. The music pit is in the middle of the dinning room and was so dark that the musicians were like playing music under a darkened mushroom canopy. FOOD: the quality of the food in the Lido is typical cafeteria food. There were a lot of choices, but the quality and taste needed much improvement. The best was the Pasta Station and the worst was the Asian food station. The rice was not cooked properly and the so called asian menu of Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino food were comparable to the worst of any asian cafeteria in San Francisco. The food in the Vista dinning room is uneven. You have both good and bad meals. Steaks and beef dishes were good, chicken dishes were so-so and the seafood dishes were not fresh. The couple of times that we had lobster dinners, the lobster was slimy and had a rotten taste. The shrimp and the shrimp cocktails were not that much better. The salads were occasionally brown and wilted. The Pinnacle Grill is definitely not worth a visit. We had a free dinner from our nice travel agent, but still I have to say that the Pinnacle Grill is over-rated. The steaks were dry and burnt. The scampi was dry, tough and without any sauce and taste. ENTERTAINMENT: the dance music on this ship is not for dancing. The dance music was to put the passenger to sleep early. The music from all the bands and groups had no rhythm, beat, and energy. This was a Panama Canal, Mexico cruise, you would think the music would be lively and reflect the rhythm of the ports, ie, some mariachi, salsa, folkloric, latin music. The production shows were second rate. The singers and dancers had a lot of energy, but unfortunately the sets and costumes did not give them justice for their efforts. On most 12 days cruises we have been on, there were at least 3 production shows with great sets and complements of talented magicians and comedians. There were only two shows on this long cruise and the singers and comedians were amateurish. SERVICE: service on this ship was not something to brag about either (to my great surprise based on HAL's advertisement of outstanding service). The waiters and assistant waiters in the main dinning room provided adequate service, but when they rotated up to the Lido deck they somehow turned into a different mindset when servicing the guests . For example, when one of the guests on our table asked for tea, the waiter pointed to the tea station and indicated for her to serve herself. Another waiter proudly told us (and I hope he was in jest) that he liked rough seas because the guests would get seasick and not come to dinner and therefore save them a lot of work. Very seldom did I observe a waiter helping a guest with his/her tray, they generally congregated in small groups and chatted with each other. The servers behind the Lido counters were rude and had little patience in serving the food, they tended to just slop the food on the plate and pass the plate to the guest. HAL Oosterdam's Food and Beverage dept. is definitely not up to the standard of a premium cruise line. LAUNDRY SERVICE: Since there were no laundromats on board, you had to send your laundry out to wash every few days. The laundry service was always late in returning your clothes, (supposed to be returned within 48 hrs.). ORGANIZATION: the ship's management is not well organized. The first day after embarkation we waited for more than an hour to see the dinning room head waiter to ensure that we had the correct table and dinner time. The waiting line was so long that it caused frustration amongst the guests, who started to push each other around to try to get closer to the front of the line. This could be prevented if HAL were more organized and attuned to the guests' needs. Likewise, on the first tour day to Cartegena, the waiting line for the city tour was so long, that the guests had to wait for close to an hour just to get a bus ticket/assignment. These incidences were not necessary and could have been avoided by better planning on HAL's part. The ship's crew were also constantly trying to sell spa and related services. Every time you turned around their were crew members, especially spa staff, trying to sell spa packages, soft drinks packages and seminars on board. One of the purpose of taking a vacation is to have temporary reprieve from constant solicitations and hustling. HAL is overdoing their selling products efforts. Based on our experiences during this cruise,( mainly the food, the entertainment, the services and the organization of the ship and its management), we found this cruise was overrated and overpriced for a very mediocre, undistinguishable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
I was 52 and my wife 37 while our son was 22 months when we sailed the week after Thanksgiving. The Oosterdam is not a ship for parents traveling with toddlers. One example sums it up - the gift shop sells diapers for incontinent adults ... Read More
I was 52 and my wife 37 while our son was 22 months when we sailed the week after Thanksgiving. The Oosterdam is not a ship for parents traveling with toddlers. One example sums it up - the gift shop sells diapers for incontinent adults but none for children. HAL charges fees for children but provides little for it. Waiting 30 minutes in the Lido casual restaurant while they sent someone seven decks below to look for a highchair in a week when they only had 17 children onboard is another example of how HAL has not recognized that they must provide services for children if they are going to solicit families to travel with them. EMBARKATION : The boarding process was smooth, efficient and a model for other cruiselines to emulate. Unfortunately, once onboard, we had to wait until 1:45 pm to gain access to our stateroom. In the interim, we were crowded into the Lido casual restaurant where there were not enough seats because passengers used them for carry-on luggage rather than checking it. The HAL staff did nothing to help. CABIN : Our cabin was an oversized suite of almost 400 square feet. The bathroom had a tub and shower as well as lots of storage. The stateroom itself was well organized. The balcony, at almost 70 square feet was perfect. Unfortunately, our steward was a disaster who substantially detracted from our experience during our cruise. Only one champagne glass at sailing despite the presence of two champagne bottles on ice that had been delivered by HAL staff. It took a visit to the front desk and several reminders to the steward before this situation was remedied. The steward also failed to make the sofa bed on two of the seven nights despite knowing that there were three people in the room and having been requested to make the bed. He also failed to deliver breakfast room service order forms on several says. It also took several attempts to get laundry bags and order forms. In addition, we were one deck below the casual restaurant and were awakened at ^:#) am every morning by the sounds of crew members dropping off glassware at serving station. He was so bad that we spoke with the hotel manager on the third day and conditions did not materially improve with the steward. RESTAURANTS: The Pinnacle Grill is worth the surcharge - we dined there twice during the cruise. Excellent food and wonderful service. The beef entrees and the seafood appetizers were best in our opinion. We had babysitters with our son on both nights which gave us some valued time together. The main dining room was good at breakfast but less so at dinner. Despite requesting a large table of eight, we were isolated from other guests at a table for four. We had to wave to get served. The wine steward was excellent. The waitstaff less so. After we met with the hotel manager, the dining room service improved significantly. ENTERTAINMENT: The energy and skill of the entertainment staff was excellent. Every show was well performed with wonderful use of the space and scenery. SPA SERVICES: My wife really loved the Swedish massage , facial and Frangipani Scalp Massage at the spa. The personnel were very friendly and capable. As a young mother at home with a child, she really deserved some private time and pampering that is not available as often as deserved at. The Steiner spa service did not disappoint. GIFT SHOPS: The staff was very helpful and we purchased about $700 in gold jewelry onboard. The selection of merchandise was very good, although some items disappeared from view from day to day. PORTS: We were very disappointed that they dropped Key West from the itinerary without prior notice to us or our travel agent. In fairness, Grand Cayman had been the scheduled port prior to the hurricane damage, burt that was not the case when we booked about a month prior to the cruise. Grand Cayman had five ships that day and was overwhelmed by the number of tenders. It took over 20 minutes to get ashore after we boarded the tenders for what should have been a five minute journey of a few hundred yards. It was also overwhelmed ashore. Ocho Rios was very enjoyable - we had been to Jamaica previously and enjoyed returning to an island that welcomes tourists with warm hearts and open hands. A garden tour, some shopping in town and wonderful jerk chicken and pork at an open air restaurant filled our day nicely. Cozumel was a delight. My wife and I had met in Mexico and it was a nostalgic return. The lunch at Pancho's Backyard in town ( not the one at the port) provided great Margaritas and authentic, freshly prepared food with the accompaniment of three musician/singers. HAL's private island - Half Moon Cay was also very pleasant for a day at the beach. DISEMBARKATION: Allowing guests to remain in their cabins until time to disembark was very convenient and enjoyable. If they had not destroyed one piece of luggage, it would have been a success. Unfortunately, there was no one present to settle the claim on the spot. Ultimately, HAL paid me for the bag less their calculation of depreciation. POST-CRUISE and HAL: Given our dissatisfaction with the steward and dining room staff , we requested HAL to refund part of our fare. HAL steadfastly refused to do so even though both the hotel manager and HAL acknowledged that they had not lived up to their own customer standards. Not even an offer of a credit toward a future cruise. We will try many other cruiselines before returning to HAL. They year before, our experience aboard Royal Caribbean's Adventurer of the Seas was far better - even with our then even younger infant along for the ride. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
Let me start out by saying this was our ninth cruise...first time on Holland America, and it will be our last time on Holland America. We took the bus from Cruise Connections from Jacksonville which was 45 minutes late picking us up. (The ... Read More
Let me start out by saying this was our ninth cruise...first time on Holland America, and it will be our last time on Holland America. We took the bus from Cruise Connections from Jacksonville which was 45 minutes late picking us up. (The excuse for being late was he was tied up in traffic, but I can't imagine heavy traffic at 5:30 on a Sunday morning). We arrived at 12:30 and the embarkation was a nightmare. The line was so long and slow moving, it took us until 2:00 to board (that was suppose to be the fast line because we filled out our immigration papers online). We went to our suite, which was very nice, but the toilet seat was broken, and it took until 7:00 that night to have it replaced. We had requested an 8:00 dinner with a table for 8-10. When we got there, our dinner time was 8:30, and it was a table for two. Service in the dining room was extremely slow. We sat for 20 minutes with dirty dishes in front of us. We were celebrating our 10th anniversary, and our travel agent must have informed them. That night, after our meal, a man came over with a small cake with a candle. He asked if we were the Adams', and set the cake on the table and walked off. We sat there for 20 minutes, but no one ever came back, so we left. The next night, our waiter asked why we left. Every other cruise we have been on, the waiters entertained with singing & dancing each night. The only time there was anything like that, was one night the waiters walked through carrying baked Alaska with music playing. After shopping in St. Marteen, we returned to the ship to find we had no air conditioning in our room. It was out all afternoon. Around 6:30 the air came back on for about a minute then the lights, air, and water went out. We couldn't even get ready for dinner, so we ate at the buffet. When we got back to the room around 9:00, everything was working. There was also a pipe dripping on our balcony, and the water was running on our balcony and the balcony next door. We called and reported it. When the service man got there, he said that was normal and left. I really don't think having a wet balcony floor the entire cruise is normal. The entertainment consisted of a juggler (who spent a lot of time picking up objects he dropped) and a below average magician. Then one night, for the main entertainment, they had some of the Filipino crew in tee shirts and jeans do some kind of dance. We got up and left. The only enjoyable entertainment was a singer named Bobby Black and the ships singers & dancers. Also, I have never been on a ship that rocked side to side so much. All the passengers were complaining about it. I have never been seasick before, but on this cruise, I had to take Dramamine twice. One lady I talked to said her room-mate was in the bed seasick. People were reeling from one side to the other in the hallways when trying to walk. The seas didn't seem that rough to cause all this rocking. I was on the Carnival Glory last year, and went through a tropical depression. That ship didn't rock at all. I would like to compliment our steward and room service. Our steward took great care of us, and room service was very prompt. Also, the ship was beautiful and we were extremely pleased with our room. We disembarked around 9:45, ready to get home. Our bus was not there, and we had to stand outside and wait until 12:00 for the bus to arrive. We were the last ones waiting...all other busses had been gone. Again, we were told our bus was in traffic. There was no toilet paper or hand cleaner in the bathroom on the bus. Every other cruise we've been on we wished it was longer, but on this cruise, we were glad to get off the ship and go home. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
This was our 17th HAL cruise, the first time on the Oosterdam. Very disappointing. The ship is absolutely beautiful. However, the ship's staff and service leave something to be desired. They seemed very disorganized and unable to ... Read More
This was our 17th HAL cruise, the first time on the Oosterdam. Very disappointing. The ship is absolutely beautiful. However, the ship's staff and service leave something to be desired. They seemed very disorganized and unable to provide the typical excellent service that we have come to know from Holland America. While there was no one major problem, there was a consistent series of things throughout the seven days that indicated to us that they are not equipped or organized to handle 1800 plus guests. Some items that we considered unsatisfactory include: 1) No clean cloth hand towels every evening in the public restrooms (men's and women's) by the main dining room on both decks before and after second seating. 2) Slow response to refill food items in the Lido lines when they were empty. Breakfast on the last morning brought no orange juice because, we were told, that they had no clean glasses. Some clean ones finally arrived. 3) On at least two nights at dinner in the main dining room, about half of our table for eight had missing silverware (butter knives, forks, etc). We had to ask for them. Very few refills on coffee without asking. I also felt that the quality and quantity of food was poor. A chilled soup one night had the consistency of Jello. The 1/2 of the lobster tail that was served with the petite round steak was delicious, it's a shame that the other half was not there. 4 )Most (sea) days by the inside pool area there were 3 to 4 people hustling bar drinks and 1 person picking up dirty dishes and cleaning tables. On the plus side our cabin was very nice and the entertainment was good. This ship needs to get its act together. I'm not sure if it is under staffed or if the staff is mis-allocated. Regardless of the reason, it needs to step up to the fact that they are providing services to 1800 passengers and not the normal 1200/1300. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
12/21/03 HAL Oosterdam Cruise Since there is a dire lack of reviews for this new ship. ...here's mine. Overall it was a good cruise, but not to be rated at 4.5-5.0 as HAL's ships often achieve. While this ship had some hits, it ... Read More
12/21/03 HAL Oosterdam Cruise Since there is a dire lack of reviews for this new ship. ...here's mine. Overall it was a good cruise, but not to be rated at 4.5-5.0 as HAL's ships often achieve. While this ship had some hits, it had many misses. This was our first HAL cruise. As I make my commentary I am comparing it to the other cruises we have taken in the last 3 years: Costa Atlantica (Xmas 2000); RC's Radiance of the Seas ( Xmas 2001), Norwegian Sun (8/2002), Carnival Spirit ( Xmas 2002), Carnival Legend ( 4/2003) ... all very new ships, on which we booked a balcony (verandah) room. The Good: Room: HAL's verandah room @ 244 sq. ft (back of ship room # 5184) was the largest ( both the room and the verandah) we have had yet. Room was at least 18" wider and almost two feet longer than those on the other ships. Bathroom had a full size tub. While it had the standard 3 closets, it desperately lacked drawer space. Service: Superb! All wait staff are either Indonesian or Philippino ( all are males). Very well trained, very willing, very friendly. Our cabin attendant "Hari" was terrific. Our dining room waiters ( Table # 36) "Andi" and "Alit" also provided very good service. Here HAL has a distinct advantage. Note this table was on the third floor .... Off to the side and had most of its view blocked due to ridiculous permanent lamp on the ledge above it. If at all possible, request a table on the second floor, views are much better. What we were surprised at: Cruisers: This cruise was populated by the "very mature". ( PS this writer and her hubby are in their mid 50's and early 60's). Many are "well-healed" patrons. On the two formal nights, most men were attired in TUXES and the ladies in gowns. For an XMAS cruise it had few children (214). Many patrons are repeat ( and only) HAL customers - large loyalty base. Many of these patrons with whom we spoke during the week, found the larger size ( 82,000 tons) ship a bit much to navigate. They said they preferred the older, smaller ships in HAL's line. Since we have always traveled on the larger ships, it was just fine with us. Ship's Decoration: This was a surprise. This ship lacked the opulent decorations of many of the other 2000-2003 vintage ships. I can't say it's a pretty or beautiful ship. It's rather dark, with low ceilings in the common areas of deck 2 & 3. The Vista Dining room was attractive, but lack the pizzaz of other ships' dining rooms. The is no soaring atrium on this ship as there were in other ships. The Vista Lounge ( main theatre) is 3- storied. Here again not as attractively decorated as that of other ships. Staterooms are very similar to others, except the cabinetry is a lighter wood. Food: Here is the biggest surprise of all. Our expectations were that HAL provided very upscale food. Not so. It pales by comparison to the newer Carnival Ships, Costa and Norwegian Sun. The lido deck 9 food was average with the following exceptions. It had wonderful Pizza ( 7 varieties) available and freshly cooked about 10 hours a day). In the same area you could get custom made pasta such as carbonara with real parma ham. The Lido was less appealing in fresh fruit and salad selections. Much of the fruit was not ripe enough. Also had a nice variety ( changing daily) of ice creams, sorbets, frozen yogurt. Waffles cones available every day as well as variety of self-serve toppings. On the pool deck, there was a burger/hot dog grill section ( all prepared) as well as mini buffet of tacos. The main dining room was the biggest disappointment of all. Daily selections were light on seafood and fish, heavy on meats. We also felt that the meats ( steaks) were not the best quality and were mostly tenderized. The long awaited lobster night came on Xmas day. It was one small tail from which two strips of lobster were cut out and presented as medallions, outside the shell ... with one small strip left in the tail. This tail, was no more than 4 -5 0z. Overall, portions were downsized ... as the standard diner plate was really a "luncheon-sized plate. In retrospect, this may not be a bad idea to control portions and food waste. Baked Desserts: While you will find a huge selection of desserts showcased in the Lido, the quality was not there. Synthetic tasting ( little or no butter used). Dining room desserts were no better. We quickly learned that ice cream or sorbet was the best bet. Gratis beverages are iced tea ( very small glasses and water) during the day and juices at breakfast only. A can of coca cola will set you back $1.95. We had breakfast and lunch in the main dining room a few times. Breakfast was standard fare. But served lunches were greatly disappointing. Soggy sandwiches, nothing notable or memorable. As I said, it was a shock to us that the food was not as good as Carnival or other lines. Alternative dining: The Pinnacle dining room is the alternative dining for which you pay a $20 pp charge ( no tip added). Noteworthy: crab cakes appetizer ... two tiny balls that were superb. I ordered the rib-eye ... although flavorful, it was tough and somewhat fatty. Hubby ordered the filet. This too was not as tender as it should be. Curious that there were no lobster tails or stone crabs on the menu as there is on other ships. Halibut did make it on the menu. But who wants to pay extra for Halibut? Nothing else about the meal was memorable except the room itself. Highly decorated, definitely a showstopper with pewter-wrought chairs, lovely linens and great lighting. Shows: Here again, HAL drops back behind other lines. Two major productions were good, but lacked that pow. On other lines we have seen "broadway" quality shows. On the O, the female cast seemed much more mature, better dancers and singers than their male counterparts who came across as very youthful and somewhat immature. The lead female singer did a great job belting out Celine Dion's and other divas songs. The pianist Paul Pappas who appeared twice did a great job of playing a wide rendition of tunes. There was also a magician and comic as well as an acapello group. But we couldn't help thinking we saw more and better on other ships. Bingo: This ship gets kudos for not trying to gauge its cruisers with computerized machines etc. and get them to cough up mega bucks on each game. They also gave away one heck of a "snowball jackpot" the last night .... $5,100+ won by an 11 year old boy. They also had a raffle for a free cruise the last night. This one was strange. They had been selling tickets all week long at every bar on the ship, the front desk and at each daily bingo game. However on the last night there were very few tickets in the drawing bin. It made you wonder what happened to the tickets that had been sold all week long? Ports of Call: This was a major letdown. There were only 3 ports Vera Cruz (VC), Cozumel and Key West. This was the maiden voyage to VC. It was a major disappointment. There is virtually little to see, with dismal shopping .. just cheap, low-end souvenirs. Nobody speaks English either. We walked around for a few hours looked the "spanish" architecture of some of the older buildings and were back on the ship in just a few short hours. Irony ... Hal allowed 7 am to 7pm in port. Probably to accommodate tours to the to ruins, etc. Cozumel: We were told that we would not be docking in San Miguel but at Playa Maya, outside of town and had to take a taxi to town. So where do we dock? .... In Playa Langousta in San Miguel. No announcement of the switch was made. For those people who had never been to Cozumel .... They were trying to catch a cab to go to San Miguel when they were already there! The shopping is pretty much the same in Cozumel as it was a year ago ... except that the jewelry is much more upscale and expensive. Went to Carlos and Charlie's, which is right opposite where the ship is docked. Fun place, loud and yes, some got up on the tables. $7.95 Margaritas are potent!. You get your money's worth. As usual it rained in buckets and we got wet again. Key West: What happened here is a shame! It was the best port of call in which passengers got the least amount of time. So many of us ( who were first timers to this site) were looking forward to this port. We were told that we would be docked at Mallory Square ( steps away from Duval street and the main areas). However, we were" bumped" by the Maasdam, which came in after us and took our position. So we docked at the military base. This required everyone to have to be shuttled down to Mallory Square by the Trolley or Conch train. There weren't a lot of these shuttle since these are the major form of touring for visitors to Key West. When we finally got off the ship, we waited in line for 40 minutes to catch the shuttle! Unfortunately there was much delay in even getting off the ship in Key West .... where we had to clear Immigration. All (1,800+) passengers had to go to a room to hand in their documentation and have their passports reviewed. Unfortunately many passengers didn't show. It took an extra hour to get the ship cleared so passengers could get off. Although we landed in KW by 10 am, no one could get off until 1:00 pm ( we docked just before 10 am). By that time most decided to eat lunch and many got off closer to 1:30 - 2:00 pm, only to be faced with large delays getting downtown. It gave us only 3.5-4.0 hours to tour Key West. This was a shame .... What a great place! If you haven't been there, use the Conch Train .. tours can be purchased at their depot in Mallory Square which are $20 per adult for 90 minutes. PS the ship sells a 60 minute version for $24. The tour was wonderful. Note: The seats of the ( alternative tour method) " Trolley " are wooden and not as comfortable. We took the Trolley as our shuttle going back to the ship. We were glad we chose the Conch train for the actual tour. Overall, we gave the HAL O's shore excursions staff a very low rating. The few times I visited their desk, they could not answer my questions, nor did they get back to me. Ports and information was not as explained. On this ship, the shore excursions office does not generate the visitors maps nor ports description. It's the shopping consultant ( Jim Laery) who has that responsibility and he does not have an office. You had to hope that the port map got delivered to your room ... which it didn't in our case ... maybe because we were in the back of the boat??? There were also cancellations of a number of tours due to a lack of sign-up. We had planned to do the Ft. Lauderdale boat and land excursion when we got off the ship to kill the long wait we had for our return flight home ( 5:00 pm). We notified only a day and a half before we landed back in FLL that it was cancelled. When I ask for the name of the tour director ( on land ) to see if I could book my own, they declined to give that information. It left us with a large (ship's) credit which we had planned to us for the tour .... And only the last day board to use it ... or else forfeit it. The last day I heard another passenger request the name of the tour company for the same tour and she was declined that information. Again, the Shore Excursion staff is a weak point of this ship! Gym: The Gym is much smaller than other ship's gyms with very little weight training equipment, but overloaded with stair steppers and tread mills. The low end Cybex equipment was a disappointment for people who like to work out. Absolutely no abs machinery of any type. Broken equipment had signs that said to be repaired. Not during the week we were there! Ventilation: We read about the ventilation problems with the sister-ship Zuiderdam, specifically the smell of sewerage. Twice during our trip there was an overwhelming smell of sewerage, Once on the lido ( pool) deck on a sea day and once in our room. The smells did dissipate in a few minutes. Also noted: Our floor was two levels above the main dining room. Each night we noticed strong smells of food in the fifth floor lobby by the elevator. Putting the two together, we were left with the thought that there may be something going on with the ship's ventilation. Perhaps due to the same design with Zuiderdam Arrivals/Departure: One plus, HAL has an early arrivals program for embarking passengers. If you get there at 11:00 - 11:30 am, you can get checked in fairly quickly. You can't get into your room until 1:30 pm but you can dine in the Lido dining area. For us however, a great deal of confusion ( curb-side ) for the early arrivals as to where to bring bags and where to go to check in. We were told to go several different locations for both ( by HAL check-in staff). Check-in was ok except HAL's credit card readers were not working. Half-way through the cruise, anyone who used a credit card was summoned to the front office to have it rescanned. Departures were fairly smooth. Called by a number that you were given with your departures documents along with luggage tickets. However, once you got outside it was a zoo! Many different lines for various forms of transportation. Be aware the FLL airport is just a 5 minute ride from the pier. And that a cab ride including a tip is $12 for two people. HAL charges $12 pp if you didn't buy the whole transportation package from them. I think we got to the airport a whole lot quicker than the HAL bus. Front-end: We booked and paid for our cruise in October. However, HAL did not send our tickets to us until four days before we left. The tour Company that we booked with and I called HAL many times and each time we called we got a different (Airborne) delivery date. This was poorly handled by the Cruise line and frustrating for us. Overall, this was the least enjoyed cruise we have taken in the past three years. Surprising to us who have generally read the superior reviews for older HAL ships. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
I have to agree 100% with Melinda Hopp on her EXTRAORDINARY review of HAL's OOSTERDAM. This was our 2nd cruise with HAL. The first, to the Baltic, was one of our finest cruise ever. Having taken more than 20 cruises in all major ... Read More
I have to agree 100% with Melinda Hopp on her EXTRAORDINARY review of HAL's OOSTERDAM. This was our 2nd cruise with HAL. The first, to the Baltic, was one of our finest cruise ever. Having taken more than 20 cruises in all major cruise lines (from Royal Caribbean, Princess, Renaissance to Silver Sea & Radisson ), for my birthday, we booked this cruise with great expectations. We figured that a bigger, brand new ship had to be much better. Big, huge mistake.It had nice things, but the negative ones outnumbered the good ones. The first impression of the ship was one of mixed feelings,it's not a beautiful ship, doesn't have an impressive atrium, just a mid size gold staircase with a hanging world globe as the centerpiece. There were art collections around the ship, along with Indonesian & Filipino wood benches and gorgeous metal art covering completely the main door elevators. Fresh flower arrangements with orchids and cala lilies were displayed all over the ship, and they gave the dark, low ceilings a touch of beautiful color. Our room was a large room with a balcony with a simple decoration, a full size tub, 3 closet doors that lacked drawer space, a vanity chest with the TV on top leaving no space to put the cosmetics.The room was not neatly clean, the life jackets were under the bed (had to go to the drill without them), the toilet got stucked 3 times, problem with the ventilation system, specifically the smell of sewerage, one night there was no running cold water, only hot..hot water. Yes, after we complained everything was fixed, but indeed all those small details is what makes a cruise to be a memorable one. Regarding service, also mixed feelings. Overall the Indonesian & Filipino crew were friendly, attentive and well trained. As HAL's policy of no "tips required", their service was truly genuine. We got bad luck.The room stewardess, the dining room waiter, his assistant & the head waiter were the worst ever. The entertainment was mediocre, only "pianist extraordinaire" Paul Pappas, with two performances did a great job. The gym was O.K. The fitness coordinator Johan did a great job with my husband, with private exercise classes. The Spa was great, the Hot Stones massages were superb. For $250 per person we got unlimited access to the talasotherapy pool, the sauna & the hot tile seats with its spectacular view. I know all this treats cost $$$, but it's your vacation, so you deserve to be pampered. My biggest disappointment was the food. After having caviar, fresh strawberries & flambee desserts every single day on my previous HAL cruise, nothing was compared to that. The only dinner that deserves a mention was the Farewell dinner, that served caviar & lobster tails. Their signature "bread pudding with hot vanilla sauce" was sinful. But the most absurd thing of this cruise was that(according to my head waiter) HAL's new policy is to make flambee desserts (cherries jubilee, banana flambee, crepes suzette or peach melba) in a different venue than in the main dining room. My husband loves this types of desserts, so every night after dinner we had to go to the Explorers Lounge, order the dessert,listen to a terrible music, have a coffee and an after dinner Port wine or Sambuca. On one occasion the dining room waiter brought us the dessert to our table. Why not every night? I think that with that policy, they only make 30 or 40 flambee desserts. If done at the main dining room, they must do 200 or more. Overall it was the least enjoyed cruise I had have,& I think this cruise ship should not be rated 4.5 -5.0 as HAL's ship often gets. Maybe this mega ship is new for HAL, accustomed to smaller ships. If asked to travel with HAL again, I doubt it. There are numerous options out there. I hope this review will help anyone who has the OOSTERDAM ship on their plans. Sincerely, Doris Garcia 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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