This was my second experience on the Oosterdam and my husband's first. The Oosterdam is a well maintained ship and the Indonesian service crew appear to work very hard to keep it that way. I will talk about the positives before ... Read More
This was my second experience on the Oosterdam and my husband's first. The Oosterdam is a well maintained ship and the Indonesian service crew appear to work very hard to keep it that way. I will talk about the positives before getting to the negatives. First dining, the food was exceptional, even more so than on my previous trip 4 years ago. I could not fault it in any way. The Chef and kitchen have raised the bar VERY HIGH, and I could not imagine it being any better anywhere! It was fabulous. I give them a 5+ here! The food was excellent in the main dining room, and also very good in the Lido. We had any time dining and since we like to dine early, we made reservations in the Vista and never had to wait. Generally, we sat at a table for two, close enough to chat to adjoining tables if we wished, but not close enough that one had to carry on a conversation if one didn't want to.(Tables 104,106 108) The dining staff was all very good from the dining steward to the assistant to the wine steward (Buche, Andrew & Jel). Really, in this area Oosterdam absolutely shone! - The other positive was that the generally Indonesian service staff, room, vista and lido staff, were all extremely friendly and nice, always greeted us in passing in the hall whether they knew us or not. These were the highlights. The negatives, and they are pretty important 1) lack of DAY activities,they had 3 people planning the activities that I could tell and perhaps more,the party planner, the dj, and the cruise director. Considering the activities they managed to come up with, I think it shouldn't have taken more than one person working part-time to plan the activities that were presented to us. A highlight of one of the few activities on the last sea day, was: are you ready?...... towel folding. A number of activities were at an extra fee, activities that were free on princess for example (mixology). As for their digital workshop, well what a disappointment that was. Holland America advertises this as one of their services in describing their cruises, well it appears the person who runs the digital workshop classes did not show up, missed the boat, (I only found this out when enquiring from a crew member) and Holland America did not replace this person, nor they did not join the ship on our first port of call, they simply kept the digital workshop very quietly locked up for the week with no explanation or apology. I guess they figured no one would notice. Nor did they fill this missing activity with new activaties, adding to the scarcity of day activities that already existed. They did have a couple of cooking demonstrations with the chef that were interesting, though on one of them, the party planner seemed to be trying to one-up the chef in her cooking knowledge, that part really didnt come across well. .
One evening they had a game planned for the queen's lounge, and because there was a private function in the queens lounge that "ran over time" they did not change the venue they simply cancelled at the very last second, with no other substitutions offered, and rebooked on a different night -talk about poor planning. When I sailed Oosterdam the first time in 2006 they had an Oosterdam (Karaoke) idol competition, that was very well advertised, well run, tons of fun, and the queen's lounge was filled to overflowing every night. They tried the same here, but it was poorly advertised, poorly run, and placed in odd time slots. This was very disappointing and so unnecessary. No reason it couldn't have been run as well as the one in 2006.(I will note that the evening production shows of which there were three plus the magician and comedian were all very good and I am not speaking of them here nor including them ,in my overal negative rating of entertainment and enrichment as a 2. I give it a 2 for the reasons mentioned above. Finally, 2) disembarkation, a complete disaster if you were on expedited or disembarking early. This was the final straw, and the reason we will not sail with Holland America next time. Coming back into the port of San Diego all non us-citizens have to present themselves at he Vista lounge at 630 am sharp! with their passports green cards , etc. to be seen by US customs.( Well I remember doing this in 2006 on my first trip and although it was early it was done promptly,leaving time for breakfastand we then disembarked with little difficulty. My how things have changed! We arrived at 630 to be explicitly directed by a staff member (Irvan)to our specific seating in 2 sections in the vista lounge, we were at the top of section one, then they filled up section 2 completely, and even a few in section 3. US customs did not arrive until 7:10 and did not start seeing passengers until 7:15 at the earliest. At that time the staff member (Irvan) who sat everyone, started allowing people out of rows to go through customs, and NOT in the order in which he sat them! People who arrived well after us were being seen first, and our section was in fact the last to be seen. I did complain to him about it while it was going on as did a number of others. Only excuses were given, and no action taken by him to correct this. i.e. "I can't stop people from going in this order". Really?!, he never even tried! -yet he firmly directed people on where to sit when they were arriving. Meanwhile when I complained to the other crew officer (Dew) about being unimpressed with how things had transpired here . Her response " I don't blame you"(totally unhelpful and indifferent) Anyway, we were there for over an hour and a half, which meant when we finally returned to our room at 8:05, there was only time left to close the case and leave for our expedited departure at 8:15 (forget breakfast!). Well we arrive down near the gangway to see that ¾ of the ships passengers must be also down there, lining up both sides of the ship almost all the way to the vista lounge on one side and vista dining room on the other. Just a mess. Expedited passengers mixed with passengers leaving at different times. ZERO crew members to be found, just security staff who were absolutely useless -and that's being kind. Their comment was they must keep the gangway area clear, well there was nobody in that area anyway, and the cruise director came over the PA (from some distant location in the ship -probably his bed ), advising us twice to keep the gangway clear, and that was it for announcements.( The gangway was always clear! -so dont know the point of his announcement) SO when it finally came time to disembark everybody disembarked higgly piggly altogether, expedited and non expedited, security staff didn't check, as it didn't matter to them (I think the only reason they have an "expedited" class is so you handle your own luggage and their staff don't have to do it during the previous night-because you certainly don't leave any earlier) regular early middle etc disembarkation all getting off at the same time. No one checking when they scanned your cruise card to see if it was the right time for you. The impression left was now that HA Oosterdam had your money, the cruise was over and they simply did not care. Too bad there is no rating for disembarkation (from 630am on) I would give it a minus 10! It left an extremely bad finishing note to a cruise that had activities run in a mediocre fashion to start with. It's too bad, because the food and the Indonesian service crew were truly exceptional. Read Less