257 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

Stayed in aft cabin 4176 on a surprise for DW's 60th. Had only cruised with Celebrity before this, but this cruise worked out best timing wise. I want to make a disclaimer with an overarching point: If you can't be happy and ... Read More
Stayed in aft cabin 4176 on a surprise for DW's 60th. Had only cruised with Celebrity before this, but this cruise worked out best timing wise. I want to make a disclaimer with an overarching point: If you can't be happy and enjoy yourself on a cruise, you just ain't trying. This is an awesome way to travel and a privilege to be able to do so. I really appreciate all the planing and work that went into making a cruise like this possible. The criticisms that make their way into my points below are just quibbles. I get it that I have just been treated very well and am very blessed. ALASKA. A+ It is huge and vast, the largest US state by far, yet only about 1% is privately owned land, so it is the least densely populated US state. Of all the actual countries in the world, only 18 are larger than this US state. It is the northernmost point in US, westernmost point in US, and even the easternmost point in US (the Aleutian islands cross the international date line). There are a double digit number of mountains taller than the highest point in the lower 48. It is bold, raw, and a place of extremes and simplicity mixed together. Many places people were people live here are inaccessible by roads, including the capital city of Juneau. One can see the planet actively being shaped and recently having been shaped. Seeing all this made me feel small and humble and yet also elevated by having been made to feel so. Even now in early sumner, the weather varied a lot. We were lucky to have had sunny days permitting far away views, and mostly warm temperatures (60s and 70s), sometimes enough that I was sweaty with just a t shirt. But we had fog and rain too and at one point we had chills enough that I needed several layers with my winter hat and earmuffs and gloves. Most of the time the sun set well after 9 PM and often after 10 PM , usually light starting outside well before 5 AM. Alaska for a cruise was very beautiful. Having grown up Oregon, the types of trees and some of the terrain reminded me a lot of home in some ways, especially Vancouver BC to Ketchikan. The Inside Passage had always sounded underwhelming to me compared to the "real" Alaska interior to the north. That was a wrong perception. There is nothing minimalist about the Inside Passage. It is easy to see and there is so much nature, culture, and diversity in terms of how to see it. While excursions offer profound experiences, one could also see a lot by the sailing itself and then do stuff on your own in each town, easily rewarding a car rental and/or some advance planing, and a willingness to seek out small town life. A bonus in the Inside Passage is just sailing from place to place. The water journey itself is almost constantly exposed to scenery so there is almost no time you are not seeing good stuff. And although we had profoundly lucky sunny and warm weather most of the time, the times we had rain and fog and cold did not change any of the above. I do think that this means the Vancouver departures/arrivals have an advantage because the part between Vancouver BC and southern Alaska is mostly nonstop scenery whereas Seattle has a day at sea between it and southern Alaska (tempered, sometimes, by a stop in Victoria, but even then the sailing route is mostly just open sea). I would consider Seattle though because the cost would be less both for the cruise and the airfare from the US 48. Still want a way to come in the winter to see northern lights (obviously a cruise would not be the way to get here in December or January!). I really loved it here and hope to return often, like a song you can enjoy over. HAL VS. CELEBRITY wait for it ... SEATTLE - VANCOUVER HAL SHUTTLE B Worked well, it was easy, and I'd do it again. But a bus ride is a bus ride so this can only get so good. I must say I would have liked to spend some time in Vancouver so next time might just go there first. I liked that the coach was arranged with HAL so if there had been a snafu, the ship would have waited and would have taken care of us. Made me feel less stress as soon as I got on the bus, and kinda felt like the cruise had started. EMBARKATION (VANCOUVER) B- Took under an hour, fairly efficient, but again, how "good" can something like this be? Also, would have liked a more dramatic place to step onto the ship with, a grand foyer or something to feel that "not in Kansas anymore feeling." Quibbling points to be sure. DISEMBARKATION (SEWARD) C+ A bit chaotic. Long cues, not clear where to go at times. All worked out in the end. The coach arranged for us through HAL was a bit too close in time to the fight arranged for us through HAL, but, again, all worked out in the end, and we were at our gate and waiting in a very nice Anchorage airport terminal by 10:30 AM for our 11:35 departure. AFT CABIN LOCATION A+ We had cabin 4176. Maybe best thing about this cruise, other than Alaska itself. I had read complaints that the engine would be too loud or the vibrations too much. Not so (though could hear and feel it sometimes). Remember that the dining room is in this area too, and lower and closer to the engine that the cabins are, and the dining room is OK with respect to these issues. Some feel that this end of the ship rocks too much. Though I have a tendency to sea sickness (and carry scopolamine patches with me for this reason), I felt fine compared to walking around rest of ship (and never needed my patches). I had read that soot gets on balcony. Yeah, some, but not enough to matter. The view of the wake and the 270 degree view of both port and starboard were super. And, the sound and changing waves of the wake was like sitting on a beach and experiencing the changing sight and sound of waves; became mesmerizing, sitting before a log fire. Sitting on our veranda with same view the historic sea captains of old would have had from their quarters gave the feeling that the cruise was somehow privately here for us. In fact, a channel on the in room TV gave exactly this view 24/7. I'm totally hooked. (and, ruined -- these are hard to get!) CABIN ITSELF A- Comfortable beds and big comfortable pillows. Lots of space and appreciate several things about layout. The metallic walls allowed magnets to hang things up. Art on the walls was a nice touch. Layout of lighting was good and effective and liked having switches by bed. Extra chair and fold out couch gave good sitting room. Small desk was adequate. TV worked, few channels to choose from, and did not care. Veranda had two comfortable chairs one with stool, a small table, and a recliner. Storage was abundant and very well conceived. My wife and I are one bag each travelers so we did not need a lot, but nice to have had it. Even the stool for the desk is hollow with a top that lifts to use the inside space for storage. Can store several bags under bed. Three standing closets, one with lots of shelves and a locking safe, and the others for hanging clothes each have larger shelves that can fold down or not as you wish. One even had a rack for belts and ties. Several shelves in bathroom too, for toiletries. Shower with good water pressure, massage head, and was a tub-shower mix. Clothes line for drying clothes over tub. Cannisters of self serve shampoo, conditioner, soap in shower worked well. Room decor and materials a bit dated and worn, but everything very clean and working well. FOOD B Not the high point, which saddened me, but some was outstanding, especially Le Cirque, and I would pay for that again. Most food at MDR was good to very good. Pinnacle grill was very good but not the first rate special meal I was expecting and do not think I'd pay for the experience again. I found buffet sometimes disappointing in both variety and quality, but choosing wisely allowed me to stay with options that were good. I'd more or less skip the buffet next time if I could. Room service was efficient though missed items were not rare. Still it became our preferred mode for daily breakfast and was a great option for us, always on time after ordering in advance the night before. Also, room service for dinner one night was a great experience, ordered off the MDR menu (though in part it was a great experience because of our veranda and the view that night)). On the whole, the entire food experience was decidedly above average, but not best most special category, and so a solid and appreciated "B." ENTERTAINMENT A Went to one show which was illusionist and fine. But really enjoyed classical music every night, a pianist and violinist duo self named "Adagio," played several hours each night, in Explorer's Lounge. Became popular and packed. Though this is highly subjective, that one venue and these performers made evenings a real joy each day for us. Stayed till they finished at 10 each night (usually still light out, because .... it's Alaska!). There did not seem to be a lot going on when we returned to our room after that but really was not looking. I do not know if others would have found as many options as they might have wanted. For me, though, this was excellent. Some of the other offerings good too, such as the live cooking demos, but missed most of these because we were out seeing Alaska! PUBLIC SPACES A- The ship goes to dry dock next year and I assume it will have a face lift. The vessel looks older than the super duper new sips coming out in recent years, well used but clean, in good repair, and just fine. It looks used and loved, not used and abused. But, it looks used, and used hard in some places, with some fabrics and furnishings worn, some styles dated. The spaces are very well attended to, and clean. I like the deep blue or warm earth tone colors that felt calm and welcoming. The ship has many pleasant public spaces to spend time. I especially liked the flow from one space to another, and in particular the use of curved and rounded passages and rooms, giving the illusion of more space and not one rectilinear box overall. I especially liked the look of the dining room which felt more like a nice restaurant than a cafeteria. INSIDE PASSAGE, VANCOUVER --> KETCHIKAN A Captain chose a more inland route and the wall of forested greenery on either side of ship was sublime. Sat out on deck all day. Felt like time had stopped. KETCHIKAN, WILD WOLF TOURS EXCURSION A- Competent though unspectacular private tour made better by excellent guide Tracy, whose personal stories of growing up here and her native family heritage made this much more special. Enjoyed spending time in town, especially lunch and view from Cape Fox Lodge. JUNEAU, TRACY ARM FJORD HAL EXCURSION A+ A town with a bit of size has some more to offer. Enjoyed walking into town and meeting people. Some very good food near the pier. HAL excursion from here into Tracy Arm fjord was best of trip and a huge life long remembrance. I think this is the best port of the trip with the most options. If you re going to splurge on n excursion, here is the place to do it. SKAGWAY, FRONTIER ADVENTURES YUKONER EXCURSION A Deceptively substantial town for its very small size, walkable with some good food, a few nice excursions possible. Would rent a car next time and go up into Yukon. GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK A Stunning commanding beauty. Another world feeling. History and geology and scenery conjoin. Liked having the forest rangers' input and that of the Tinglit native -- gave it a very special feel. Glaciers were not as impressive as the small boat experience at Tracy Arm but still very imressive. SERVICE, STAFF A- Very well trained. I appreciated their uniformly hard work. Friendly, but in a politely restrained way. Even if formulaic, everyone said and did all the right things. The theme seemed to be to make me feel warmly welcomed and taken care of when I asked, else not intruded upon. The result was a nice balance. Very little of the more intrusive effort to sell drinks, photos, etc such as on Celebrity. To some the style might seem so laid back as to give a sedate and hands off feel, but I felt this was instead a contentment to let me have a good time but still remain open and ready to serve me. A tough balance. Smiles and friendliness whenever I passed ANYONE. Often saw workers carefully cleaning public areas each day. Stateroom cleaned and resupplied daily and reliably. I would summarize the theme as hospitality rather than sophistication, and it makes for a serene and relaxing feeling that marks the experience better than any one single other element. HAL vs. CELEBRITY I have liked Celebrity a lot, and did not intend to consider other mass market lines before this. My initial feeling on this ship was a bit disappointed, seemed less luxurious, less exciting, food less good. While I think those impressions were true to some degree, I warmed to HAL each day, and I would now temper my initial feelings. The HAL experience is more like going to a hotel in the US National Register of Historic Places than a modern glass and shiny new hotel. I appreciated the feeling created on ship. I would sail HAL again if I can. I will still like Celebrity too. Much has been written about the smoking policy. I did smell smoke from cigarettes and some pipe / cigar on our deck from time to time. I would have preferred that it were not so. I prefer Celebrity's more restrictive policy. That said, this was not a major theme of the trip. Which line is better? I think the question is unanswerable. While I can see some people having a clear preference, I think it's more correct to say that they are both good in somewhat different ways. Just as an apple and an orange are good foods, or New York and Chicago are good cities to visit, I don't think one can say one is objectively better than the other. There are so that hate apples or Chicago, most would find plenty of merit in all these choices. Celebrity I think had better food, and feels more shiny, splashy, and HAL feels nice, calm, relaxing, warm, contented. I'm glad to have extended to be in the HAL family now. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We will keep this brief! We are a couple in our mid to late 50's with a number of cruises behind us. Oosterdam was in great shape, extremely well maintained. The stateroom (signature suite) was well designed and incredibly spacious. ... Read More
We will keep this brief! We are a couple in our mid to late 50's with a number of cruises behind us. Oosterdam was in great shape, extremely well maintained. The stateroom (signature suite) was well designed and incredibly spacious. Mega large balcony, great storage. Food in the dining room was above average...but there was limited opportunity for specialty dining (one and a half restaurants). Our only complaint...social activities were non existent. Ship "went to bed" at 11 pm. A few good shows, excellent band in the bb king lounge, but when they laid down their instruments..it was over...as in,,,dead. HAL needs to put some effort into after hours cruise activities...take a lesson from celebrity on this one. Good itinerary... Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our 9th cruise to date, all on Holland America. The weather was very nice, the ports were lovely & all in all we had a great time. We had a Signature Suite stateroom, on the starboard side of the ship. It was lovely and we ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise to date, all on Holland America. The weather was very nice, the ports were lovely & all in all we had a great time. We had a Signature Suite stateroom, on the starboard side of the ship. It was lovely and we were very happy with it. I'll start with the positives: - excellent service, from our stateroom stewards and from the staff in the dining room. A special "shout out" to Havat, our dining room steward, who was very helpful & made us feel like honored guests. - overall service on the ship was very good. - lovely stateroom - despite comments in earlier reviews, we found our stateroom in an excellent state of repair - BB King Blues lounge - this was our 1st Holland cruise where the ship had a BB King Blues lounge. We went several times & enjoyed it very much. - nice, quiet lunches in the Pinnacle. - on one occasion where many people were coming back late from activities, the ship staff kept the LIDO open so people could still have a late lunch But there were several negatives: - most importantly for us, the overall quality of the food in the main dining room (MDR) was ordinary at best. One of the members of our party used the term "cafeteria style". Holland used to promote its culinary program, with links to several celebrity chefs. These chefs would not be "happy campers" with the food served. On one of the formal nights the main course that we each ordered was inedible & one person returned it to the kitchen for something else. which was also disappointing. That has never happened to us before on previous cruises. This is a big issue for us. We used to look forward on every cruise to our dinners in the MDR. Not so much any more... - even food in the Pinnacle was good, but not excellent as we had found in the past - we rated it as 8/10 on this cruise as opposed to 10/10 on previous cruises - additional charges - don't get me going on this! We are already paying for lattes & cappucino's. It is really an insult to now charge a 2nd amount for "premium Arabica coffee beans". We also saw, for the 1st time, certain items on the Pinnacle menu for which you have to pay a supplement, over & above the amount you pay to go to the Pinnacle in the 1st place. - price of Holland excursions was too high & non-competitive. On past cruises we have virtually always taken Holland excursions. On this cruise we only took one (in Hobart). We booked all other excursions on our own. We found that the Holland excursions were terribly expensive & not good value-for-money. Example - in the Marlborough region, the Holland excursion to wine country included a stop in 2 wineries for tastings & in 1 garden. Excursion was 4 hours long & cost about US $150. We booked a whole day, small group wine tour with stops for tastings in 5 different wineries and other interesting stops during the day. Total cost was about 1/2 the cost of the Holland excursion. - on At Sea days, there was a lack of interesting educational activities and many activities either were tied to things that Holland was selling or cost something. The only thing of value for us was the port talks. - there were several At Sea days at the beginning of our cruise. It was really difficult to get a table in the MDR or Lido for breakfast & lunch on At Sea days at "normal" meal times. Either there is insufficient capacity or Holland should offer more options. - tender process - we only had to tender in 1 port (Akaroa). But the tender process was long & poorly organized. In that we weren't on a Holland excursion, we had to line up & get tickets. We arrived 15 minutes before the announced time & still only managed to get a tender off the ship about 1 hour after the tender process began. As a result we were late for our planned activity. - we only had one minor plumbing problem during the trip & that was quickly resolved. However our friends, who had a suite similar to ours on the port side of the same deck, had multiple problems. That is unacceptable. - for breakfast we like having a quiet table for 2 - just want our coffee & not engage in major discussions. In 2 cases the maitre d'hotel in the MDR requested that we sit at a table for 4, in 1 instance even though the MDR was almost empty. Clearly that is for their benefit, not the benefit of the guests. We enjoyed this cruise a lot but given the various issues we weren't altogether satisfied with Holland. As a result, when we take our next cruise, we will look at different, perhaps more upscale &/or all-inclusive alternatives. We had always been happy with the quality of Holland cruises in the past, including our previous cruise in the Fall, but on this cruise we were not as happy with things. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
An amazing experience, given that Pam and Nathan were in the vicinity. We were very fortunate to have a great captain (Capt. Peter Bos), who kept us all informed of the risks and dangers of Cyclone Pam. We had to abandon one port, (Port ... Read More
An amazing experience, given that Pam and Nathan were in the vicinity. We were very fortunate to have a great captain (Capt. Peter Bos), who kept us all informed of the risks and dangers of Cyclone Pam. We had to abandon one port, (Port Vila), pick up another (Isle des Pins), and were not able to access another, due to cyclone's wave damage to a pier. Our stateroom was always very clean and tidy, and nothing was too much trouble for our room stewards. We were still able to participate in shipboard activities, shopping, presentations, shows etc., given that we gained an extra sea day due to the Cyclone. The greater majority of staff who served us in the various dining rooms were very courteous and helpful. There were also some staff who 'stood out' from the others due to their passion and expertise in service, wine service and menu knowledge etc. We arranged a mixture of HAL and private tours, and found we saved money by arranging them onshore. The range, quality and experience of both invited and HAL entertainment staff was impressive, diverse, and enjoyable overall. Our disembarkation was smooth and went like clockwork. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This review is for the Oosterdam Ship of Holland America, for our August 2014 cruise. A couple of things to note while reading my review. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare it to. I'm 28 years old, easily one of ... Read More
This review is for the Oosterdam Ship of Holland America, for our August 2014 cruise. A couple of things to note while reading my review. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare it to. I'm 28 years old, easily one of the youngest people on board the cruise ship. Overall, we had a very nice time on the cruise. The room was a decent size, with a surprisingly "large" bathroom. We did select a room on the port side (4014), so we had a balcony that had a solid color rail that we could not see through. We honestly didn't see any reason to select port side vs. starboard. The captain turned the boat around in Glacier Bay so that you could see from both sides. Most of the other rooms have a glass balcony that you can see through. I shared the room with my parents, so I had the "luxury" of sleeping on the pull out sofa. It was super uncomfortable and was definitely a bit broken because it never folded completely down. We LOVED the food in the Vista Dining Room each night. It was prepared to order and was also hot and delicious. I'm also a vegetarian and they have a separate menu you can order off of each night, or they have at least two vegetarian options on the menu each night. We also loved our dining room servers. Now the Lido is a completely different story. I hated the Lido. There were never enough seats in the Lido - you had to push through people to find a table and to get food. The good quality was definitely less than I would have liked as well. I would recommend staying as far from the Lido as you can get. This cruise was old. Meaning that the average age on the ship was around 75. I knew that typically these cruises were an older crowd, but I thought there would be a good mix of younger people too. I was wrong. There were maybe 20 people in my general age bracket. Therefore, I didn't meet a whole lot of people while on the trip. The entertainment was pretty weak. I wasn't expecting greatness, but the cruise's performers were lacking. We did enjoy the comedian, magician and the violinist/pianist at one of the bars. Otherwise, don't expect much. The one thing that I did not enjoy either, was that I always felt like I was being sold something, even during the magician's routine! People were constantly hassling me to buy wine, buy photographs or merchandise from the gift shop. I want to relax and not be bothered while I'm travelling. If I want to buy something, then I will let you know. I thought that embarking/disembarking was actually quite easy. We didn't experience any issues with it. I would recommend that if you take this cruise, that you plan a trip before/after the cruise to see the real Alaska. My family and I got to Anchorage before our cruise and rented a car for 9 days. We stayed in Anchorage, Seward, Talkeetna and Denali on our own. We got to see so much more of Alaska then we ever would have had the opportunity to do so on the cruise. The cruise was relaxing and we wouldn't have been able to see Glacier Bay, Haines, Juneau and Ketchican without it, but you don't get enough time in the Ports to really get to get a feel for Alaska. Even if you add on what the cruise ship offers, it is better than nothing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
4th time cruising but first HAC cruise. 3 others were Carnival. I've always heard Carnival is the worst cruise line but I have never had any complaints. Currently on Day 5 of the Oosterdam, 7 Day Alaskan Cruise and I have a long list ... Read More
4th time cruising but first HAC cruise. 3 others were Carnival. I've always heard Carnival is the worst cruise line but I have never had any complaints. Currently on Day 5 of the Oosterdam, 7 Day Alaskan Cruise and I have a long list of complaints. Going to start with the positive: -Check-in in Vancouver was much easier than past experience, quick easy and friendly -Alaska is beautiful, once ported and on land our experience has been wonderful -The excursions so far are unbeatable. (Ziplining in Ketchikan, Taku Lodge Seaplane in Juneau) -Our room host is friendly, and stays out of the way mostly -Room is standard with balcony, nice size for a ship, clean... just as expected This has been such a wonderful experience seeing Alaska for the first time, I just wish we had chosen a different way to do it. We are a family group of 12, ranging 3 generations ages 18-78, so spending time with our family of course has been great. We have cruised before as a family and the ship/staff was very accommodating because we were a large, fun group. We almost feel unwelcome here and an inconvenience to most staff members. On the first night we went into dinner in our matching "family" shirts, and some of the young adult in nice shorts, one of three wearing shorts got sent away from the dining room to change, although dress code is "smart casual". Smart casual is not defined clearly I guess. Our servers at dinner are not friendly and are very slow. Slow is fine we understand the logistics are difficult, but an attempt at friendliness would be nice. Food is not good, no flavor. We did eat at one of the other restaurants, food was better, but dinner service took 3 hours and orders were mixed up. We laugh about it, but at a restaurant other than the main dining room we expect better service I guess. Staying on the topic of food, the Lido deck buffet for breakfast and lunch is horrendous. Food is disgusting, even the "regulars" like pizza and tacos are gross. Not sure what they are doing different from the Carnival ships I've been on, but it's bad. I will only eat dinner on the ship (because we have to) for the remaining time. They also don't have the late night food options like most cruises, everything but a select few room service items are pretty much shut down by 9:30-10:00pm. Late night room service also takes an hour minimum... so be prepared to wait. They also make you feel like you are inconveniencing them by ordering from the 24 hour room service menu. Speaking of shutting down, everything is empty by like 10:00pm. Mostly due to the age of the majority of the guests on the boat we assume. That's fine, maybe our fault for choosing this cruise line, but there is a definite stigma against young adults. We ended up in the casino every night so far, mostly because that is the only activity to do. We have heard the shows are bad, comedies are not funny, other activities are just trying to sell you stuff you don't want. The casino is fine, most staff is friendly, but we also feel like they don't want to be there, as the night gets later they just want to shut down and we are again, inconveniencing the staff. Casino is done by midnight or earlier each night. Last night they didn't even open the craps table due to "lack of staff". This is so much different than previous cruises where they wanted us to stay in the casino longer than we wanted to stay. We do appreciate the friendliness of the casino staff. Once the casino shuts down there are no options, bars/clubs that claim to be open til 2am on the information sheet are closed by 10:00-11:00pm. Lastly, currently in Skagway our excursion got cancelled due to an incident the previous day. Totally understandable, obviously not the cruise lines fault. We received a notice to call by 10:00am to receive our money back for the excursion. We called at 9:30am and she gave us a hard time even though we have a paper that says call by 10:00am. This issue was resolved quickly, but still, just be friendly!! There were some other little things that I would feel bad bringing up because after all we are on a cruise ship in Alaska and we are so appreciative of that. I just feel overall, we feel like an inconvenience to the staff and that they don't want to be here. There is a negativity on the ship that is very hard to ignore. We paid a lot of money for this trip and just expect good service. We were jealous when we met another couple on the Princess Cruise Line in Juneau raving about the service and staff. Next time, yes to Alaska, and a big no to the Oosterdam and HAC.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This is not so much a detailed review as it is some notes and observations of my trip to Alaska on the Holland America's MS Oosterdam. We did the 11-day Denali, with the sea portion first, and the land portion second. - Arrived in ... Read More
This is not so much a detailed review as it is some notes and observations of my trip to Alaska on the Holland America's MS Oosterdam. We did the 11-day Denali, with the sea portion first, and the land portion second. - Arrived in Vancouver to find that Delta tore open my checked piece of luggage forcing me to buy a new suitcase in the very expensive downtown area. Fortunately I found one on sale at a Bay Harbor store near my hotel. - On-board staff was from Indonesia/Philippines. Nearly everyone worked hard, wore a smile, and was very patient and professional. There were a few exceptions though. Biggest complaint was that the language barrier could be an annoying problem. HAL really needs to make sure that crew members working in contact with customers have at least an average command of english. - overall, the ship was clean and appeared well maintained. - Room stewards were great and the towel animals were a nice touch. we gave them a pretty good tip at the end of the cruise for being on top of things and getting us some extra hangers, and extra sets of the daily schedule, keeping the fruit bowl filled, etc.. Again though, there were a few difficulties communicating due to our stewards having low english skills. - On-board activities were pretty lame, at least for me, and I rarely saw anything on the daily ships itinerary to get excited about. I did the main shows in the Vista Lounge almost every night and they were fairly professionally done; but overall there was very few on-board activities that I was interested in, or even did… spending most of my on-board time on the decks or on my verandah, reading or watching the scenery. Nearly every event or activity seemed to be trying to sell you something. I don't gamble so the casino and bingo were out for me. The drinks were too expensive to hang out at the bars (which were empty half the time anyway). The art gallery was fun to look at only once and I was not there to buy art. The stores were pretty lame (unless you are a big jewelry shopper). I never once used their internet cafe or library. I went to one cooking demonstration just to do something but otherwise could care less about the "culinary arts program'. Would have loved to use the spa and get a message, but it was way too expensive. I did do a game of music trivia in the piano bar one evening that was OK. I never even found the fitness center. If it hadn't been for the shore excursions I would have been bored to tears. - Food: I stuck with only the included meals. Either the Vista Dining Room or Lido Deck. I never used the Pinnacle grill or any other pay restaurants. The food on the Lido was average; though lots of choices. Breakfast opened a bit late for early risers. The scrambled eggs were absolutely disgusting - wet and sloppy! Food in the Vista dining room was generally good, however portion sizes were really small on most items (they were clearly going for that 'gourmet' vibe). The NY Strip was good and a decent sized portion. I needed to order two of the surf and turf entrees on the final formal night because the steak and lobster portions were tiny. Service was average (sometimes slow) and often drinks and plates were mixed up. My Dad bought the three bottle of wine deal for the family, but at the end of the cruise it ended up on my charge account. I just left it there and paid for it. Soda cards kept getting mixed up also. - I bought the soda card, but ended up not drinking enough soda to make it really worth while. There was no easy way to get a soda on the lido deck to have with your meal unless you walked to the forward or aft bars. - Photo gallery prices were ridiculous and I never bought any photos. Not to mention, the blue background they used was gaudy imo. It was also annoying having the photographer coming around during dinner and snapping pics. - Embarking and disembarking for excursions went fairly smoothly overall, though what deck was being used was not always communicated well. My father got poor treatment from one of the indonesian security guards. My Dad is not the quickest to understand things all the time, and the guard lost his patience with him because he was forgetting items in his pockets and ended up patted him down in a rude, impatient manner. - There is no self-serve Laundry on this ship. They had a $20.00 all you could fit per bag service but you need to use their bag, and it's REALLY small!!! About the size of a plastic grocery bag. It also takes 48 hours to get the laundry back which is really unacceptable. I washed some things in the sink and hung them on the line in the shower - but they took FOREVER to dry, even rung out really well. I'm assuming it was because of the damp air. - The whole land portion felt rushed and as though we never had the chance to relax. So much travel and in-and-out of hotels that it created an disturbing feeling. more exhausting than relaxing. All the hotel rooms needed better black-out curtains to help keep out the 'midnight sun'. The waitress at the Anchorage Hilton who served me in the sports bar overcharged me. It appears she must have given herself a bigger tip because it does not match my receipt. --- Overall, I was fairly disappointed with the ship-life part of the cruise, but not the cruise itself. There was virtually nothing on the ships daily itinerary that interested me. If it weren't for the shore excursions, and the Alaskan towns and scenery, I would have been severely disappointed. Not sure if I will ever book HAL again.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Just got back from a 12-day HAL Denali-plus-Oosterdam trip (Seward-Vancouver cruise) and here are my thoughts. I’ve read all the comments on this board and I’m an intense observer once on the ship. There were six of us who went on the ... Read More
Just got back from a 12-day HAL Denali-plus-Oosterdam trip (Seward-Vancouver cruise) and here are my thoughts. I’ve read all the comments on this board and I’m an intense observer once on the ship. There were six of us who went on the trip together. Overall – Best cruise I have been on in six years covering 6 cruises on three different cruise lines. Well run ship. But HAL still has some dining staff issues to address. Oosterdam Appearance – I had read a bunch of negative comments on this board about the condition of the ship being shabby. I really saw none of that – in fact, the ship looked 99% great to the point I went “wow.” I would assume they pulled it out of service and/or really worked on it this past month because much of the carpeting looked brand new, furniture mostly in good shape, and paint looked fine. It looked so good, in fact, it put an extra spring in my step! Our interior room was fine -- clean, well kept. Oosterdam Staff -- The non-dining room staff was energetic, smiling and focused on getting work done. Cabin steward fine. Front desk staff and general management fine. But the staff in the Lido area and in the dining room was sub-par in my estimation – waiters and cooks. In the Lido, even though I pointed out the Hollandaise sauce was borderline cold, let alone lukewarm, nothing changed during the week. In the main dining room, service was sluggish – one night I had to get the supervisor’s attention to get our meals delivered to our table – they had forgotten about us! Pinnacle restaurant staff was mediocre, too – not up to snuff for a five star meal presentation, and downright clumsy at some points. HAL does a great job in many areas, but for some reason they continue to let food areas staff -- Lido, Pinnacle and main dining room -- to be their cruise Achilles heel and prevent them from being very good. I don’t get it. HAL needs to get the message across to its restaurant staff that they, and their company are in competition with others; and people do make cruise decisions based on dining staff effectiveness as well as the food! Another issue – the infirmary. My wife was diagnosed with no more than a cold but she really had a sinus infection which now has lasted a miserable two weeks! Mis-diagnosis for the $105 doctor visit fee! Not happy. Food – Lido food has decent variety, but is very bland. I loved the salad bar. The pizza wasn’t too bad! They serve you the soft serve ice cream, which is an OK process. Ice cream was usually sugar-free and good. In the main dining room, the overall quality of the food and variety on the menu was superior to the last two cruises I was on – Carnival and RCL – but overall the quality of food on cruise ships ain’t what it used to be. At least the lobster deal was decent – our table asked for seconds. I found the meat and veal to be average, but acceptable. The ladies rated the desserts as decent, but not spectacular tasting. Pinnacle Restaurant – All six of us had a great, great meal. The halibut with shrimp was amazing. One of our team said the salmon was the best she had ever eaten, and she eats it all the time. Steaks were done right. But the fantastic food was offset by the non-enthusiastic service of the wait staff. We had a couple celebrating their honeymoon and the wait staff managed to partially bungle the presentation of the cake dessert and didn’t have the staff sing to them, as they told me they would do. Entertainment – HAL seems to get a lot of criticism for on-board entertainment, but I thought the singers and dancers on this cruise were good. Also enjoyed the HAL Cats pop group and Adagio, the violinist and pianist, although I think the Moscow-based Adagio duo on this cruise could do more to interact with the audience. Larry the piano bar man was fine. Although some said his choice of music should be more upbeat. We had a very active cruise director – more so than recent cruises. Ports of Call – Glacier Bay was amazing. Attend the ranger presentation – very informative. For Glacier Bay, sit in the Crow’s Nest or go out on deck where they keep warm blowers on and it’s not as cold as you think it will be. Good job, HAL with the on-deck blowers! Haines is pretty, but pretty much a waste as a stop. Juneau has so much to offer – great whale-watching tours and the tram to Mt. Roberts and subsequent movie, show and hiking trails activity atop the mountain were fantastic, a trip highlight. The Alaska String Company family folk group is an absolute gem, a must see. I was stunned how good they are and learned they travel internationally and have a PBS special. Scenery – Amazing views coming down the passage on the water, especially the last day before hitting port in Vancouver. Sitting in the Crow’s Nest with my binoculars, I saw five humpback whales put on quite a show for us. We also had dolphins and seals around us. Overall, didn’t see as much wildlife as I expected. Sit in the Crow’s Nest your last day and enjoy the views. Play bridge or watch sports when you get home! Embarkation and Debarkation – Very smooth, well done HAL. Denali Land Tour Before the Cruise – The sites in Denali are amazing, but HAL needs to re-work the logistics for passengers from the time they arrive by plane in Anchorage till they depart Denali by bus for Seward. What a mess. We had pre-paid a ride on a HAL secured bus to the hotel in Anchorage and the whole process was a mess. Much easier with a taxi. Passengers had many problems understanding luggage instructions – what goes to Seward what to take to Denali. The baggage handling instructions we got before the trip did not match what we saw on the ground in Anchorage and at Denali. Poor communication by HAL that luggage wouldn’t reach many McKinley Chalet rooms until 8. People fretted for several hours till they got their luggage, spoiling their initial evening at Denali. The train trip to the McKinley Chalet in Denali was very good and the food was even better. I strongly suggest the crab salad/sandwich for lunch. At McKinley Chalet, we were placed in a cabin way back from the main cabin and didn’t have WiFi access from there or access to ice and soda machines. Poor. I thoroughly enjoyed the Wilderness Tundra trip that comes free with the Denali HAL package as we went 62 miles into the park. Some harrowing, twisting roads but incredible vistas in this rugged country. Tour guides/drivers reall yearn their pay, believe me. But the “snack” they included was totally inadequate . We learned about the minimalist “snack” prior to the trip, and many of us were angered we had to expend the time to stand in line and buy our own box lunch to have a sandwich for this 8 hour trip. Poor on HAL’s part not to include a nice box lunch – just add on $10 to the trip cost for heaven’s sake! Saw some wildlife, including a close encounter with a grizzly, but all in all didn’t see anywhere near the quantity of wildlife we hoped to see. But the whole Denali landscape is worth seeing. Be prepared for chilly weather like we experienced in mid-June -- it may not be cold when you go but you ,may regret not taking warm layers of clothing. You will see Mt. McKinley in its glory about 30% of the time. It’s hidden majority of the time. Bus trip from Denali to Seward was long, but went faster than expected thanks to our great driver/guide.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time we've sailed with HAL, and second time on the Oosterdam. The train from Anchorage to Seward was spectacular, with good food and comfortable seating. We missed the track wash-out by one day, thankfully. The ship is very pretty and well designed in her layout with an incredible amount of intriguing art. We never had a problem getting around and found all public spaces quite easily. The demographics onboard this particular sailing veered towards the over-70 crowd. There were very few young people and virtually no small children sailing this third week of June. We were a bit surprised by this as we typically have seen more families on cruise ships in Alaska. Surprisingly there were only two cruise directors onboard and a very limited number of activities day and night. There were daily trivia games, two karaoke hours for the week, some dancing, one hour of disco each night, a few production shows, and a VERY old and tired out piano bar set-up. We were (jokingly) asked to leave when we requested something a bit more rock-and-roll. We did leave. This ship tidied up and shut down by 10:30 or 11pm each evening. Oh, the magician and comedian were both excellent. If you're looking for night life... you won't find it here. That being said - the food was absolutely delicious, the service in the MDR was gracious, and our cabin steward was phenomenal. One food regret for me was the Pinnacle Grill. I had so looked forward to this and my steak was chalky and dry. Yuck. The chocolate dessert was an oily bowl of soup with no consistency. Very out of character. I also had a bit of trouble in Explorations Cafe. They just couldn't get the hot chocolate right and told me they were out of chocolate syrup. We found staff for the most part to be accommodating, friendly, and vivacious in most areas. Check out the Pinnacle Bar and Ocean Bar for some light-hearted fun with the bar staff. We didn't shop or use the computer at all so I can't comment to those areas. The spa was gloriously serene and the Thermal Suite/Therapy Pool areas were pure bliss. Passenger services were on top of the few issues we had and Captain Boss kept us well informed throughout the voyage. The aft balcony cabins we booked were amazing with very little jiggle.  We had four aft cabins on Deck 7 and loved them. The balcony doors were opened the entire time so we could visit and relax together. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of room with a smallish sofa, table, and extra storage seat. Our verandah had two wicker sitting chairs and one chaise lounge. There was plenty of hanging closet space and storage for everything we brought. We could easily have stored a few weeks' worth of clothes, shoes, etc. in this cabin. You may think there'd be noise in the back, but inside the cabin it was silent. The sound of the ocean and ship's wake were only heard on the balcony. Loved the bathtub/shower combination too - you won't find that on many other cruise lines in a lower category balcony cabin. Weather at this time of year was a bit rainy out of Anchorage, but the sun came out most every afternoon. Passing through Seymour Narrows at midnight was very cool. Would I book HAL again? Maybe for the food and service, but if I wanted to have a little more fun in the evenings, I might check out one of my other favorite cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I'm not at all a cruise person. I generally travel with no plan and float from place to place. I only went on one because I was the companion of my elderly grandfather. There were times I felt a bit too much like I was part of a ... Read More
I'm not at all a cruise person. I generally travel with no plan and float from place to place. I only went on one because I was the companion of my elderly grandfather. There were times I felt a bit too much like I was part of a cattle heard. I also wish I'd gotten to see more of the less commercial parts of Alaska. Despite the above though there were parts I liked. The staff were all, with few exceptions, really great people who seemed to care that the passengers were having a good experience (or at least faked it convincingly). As odd as it might sound some of the best parts of my experience came due to starting off with an injured back. I went to an acupuncture consult with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised to find the professional working there, Justus Verre, was incredibly skilled, in addition to being personable and dedicated to helping his clients. I did 5 sessions with him, which included learning stretches and exercises for home. I felt they were worth every penny. My only regret is that I won't be able to continue seeing him for treatment off ship. He recommended I use the thermal spa and I did daily. It has a mineral soak, steam room, and heated ceramic lounge chairs (with great views). It both helped my back and turned into my favorite place to relax. Another thing I found particularly enjoyable was the art gallery and events. I wasn't a collector when I went on and honestly attended the first event for free champagne. I stayed because the auctioneer, (I think her name was Heather) and her assistants were welcoming and made learning about art fun. While I didn't purchase on board, I am seriously considering starting to collect and will remember my first experience with Park West as positive thanks to them. The photographers also did a great job, were friendly and fun. One of the best pictures I have with my grandfather is from the ship. I'm a bit of a foodie and my grandfather preferred the more casual dining option. I found the meals good but not exceptional. Our one meal at the lido was also good. The service everywhere was GREAT! I took a fun mixology class, but was disappointed that there weren't more people there. Our steward, Riyadi was also wonderful. My grandfather infrequently left the cabin and wasn't the easiest to deal with but Riyadi worked hard to make sure he stayed happy. He also taught me to make a towel monkey!! The entertainment was good but I found it a bit corny at times... I don't think it was aimed at my demographic. I particularly enjoyed the guitarist in the crow's nest. The nature programs were very good and Kelly (?) who did excursions really seemed to know her stuff (I'm jealous of her life/range of experiences). I also used the library often and appreciated the place where you could take/leave paperbacks. We did multiple excursions which all met our expectations. Downsides included feeling like many of the activities were either at an additional cost or seemed designed to sell you something. The front desk staff must have a very challenging job but I found them the least friendly and least helpful. We had an issue with the drain in our cabin the first night. Our steward looked at it and tried to fix it and couldn't. He said he'd call maintenance. I followed up twice with the desk before they sent someone to look at it (14 hours later). When I went to let them know about it, I felt like my bringing up the problem was an inconvenience for them. I don't recall them ever saying they were sorry for the inconvenience to us. Traveling with my grandfather who has lower mobility, I was surprised at how little was done for accommodating those with challenges. It was particularly an issue during the life boat drill when he couldn't get positioned where he could hear or read lips. We also weren't able to locate an option for him to both see and hear the presentation at Glacier Bay (which was a particular disappointment). They did have servers who helped him get and bring his meal back to the table though which was great. Overall it was the best options for the two of us to see multiple destinations in Alaska. Were I traveling with him again I might do something similar, it isn't what I'd pick on my own.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I have been on 60++ cruises to include many on Holland America so frankly I have semi "been there, done that". This 28 day cruise from Sydney to Seattle gets pretty high marks from me. But once again I will point out some areas ... Read More
I have been on 60++ cruises to include many on Holland America so frankly I have semi "been there, done that". This 28 day cruise from Sydney to Seattle gets pretty high marks from me. But once again I will point out some areas of disappointment with the SLIM hope that someone at Holland might actually read these reviews and might actually realize that there are areas that could use some improvement. Sydney: Great city to fly in a few days early which is what I did. Sydney is an expensive city but there are also many things that can be done cheaply like visiting Manly on the ferry or just walking around the opera house and the adjoining oceanfront parks. The rocks area is full of great old pubs that are certainly worth a visit. Embarkation was typical for a 1900 passenger ships with some standing in line but overall it was well organized and just fine. Once onboard I found the Oosterdam to be a pleasant well maintained ship. LAYOUT: There are several "layout' issues that caused me to scratch my head and wonder what the designers were thinking. The worst of these to me was the decision to combine the crows nest with the library and coffee for sale area which seem to me to be really a BAD decision. The library is actually smaller on this large ship than on smaller Holland ships. There are chairs placed right in front of the book stacks in a few spots meaning if you are trying to look for a book you are unfortunately looking right over the people trying to sit and read a book. The overall selection of books seemed to me to be a fraction of what is available on the Volendam. Add to the poor layout the fact that the coffee for sale area is also pretty much right in the middle of the library with people standing in line and you have a very congested area with not nearly enough seating or room or QUIET to enjoy the library. By combining the library with the crows nest they have managed to lessen the attractiveness of both. There are many functions in the crows nest every day to include trivia etc and there never seemed to be adequate seating for those who wanted to participate and of course those poor souls who thought they could sit in peace and quiet in the library found nearly constant talking/music/etc disturbing them. Holland should really separate the two areas like on other ships and increase the space of both the crows nest and the library as they are two of the most heavily used spaces onboard. The screening room where movies are shown has only about 30 seats? Really Holland? 30 seats for a ship that holds 1900 passengers? Not well thought out at all. If you wanted a seat you had to get there a good 30 mins prior to start time. I saw people turned away day after day due to no seats. Meantime there are several other areas of the ship where you rarely see anyone...and of course there is plenty of room for endless art auctions and attempts to sell you something. The outside walking deck is also poorly designed with way too many obstructions and places where it becomes so narrow that two people can barely pass. THE FOOD: I have to say that I found the food to be the BEST I have ever had on a Holland Cruise. Naturally in 28 days there were a few minor issues but overall for me it was excellent. Still a bit of a mystery as to how they seat the dine as you wish people as often would be seated at some crappy table all crowded together all the while notice much better tables that were empty when I arrived and still empty when I left. THE SERVICE: Always to me the area where Holland stands out best is the service from the Indonesian and Filipino staff. These kids work their butts off day after day and take a lot of ABUSE from some very demanding and ignorant passengers and yet keep smiling throughout. It is obvious that Carnival has cut staff and increased workloads on the room stewards and dining staff. Unfortunately the bean counters in Miami seem to think bringing a few more pennies to the bottom line by cutting expenses is ALWAYS the correct business decision...HINT: It's not always true. Happy satisfied customers and staff are your very best walking talking advertisements that will bring you more business than your entire sales force and ad campaigns. Unhappy customers also will tell everyone they know in person and online which will no doubt cost you future bookings. THE ENTERTAINMENT Overall this cruise was much better than usual with a decent variety of entertainers. Nobody is likely to enjoy every single entertainer but overall there is enough variety to have something worth seeing. In my opinion the worst of the entertainment was a lecturer who was on for about two weeks and gave many lectures on the south pacific etc. While he no doubt knew a lot about his subject and had credentials he had NO CLUE how to add in a bit of entertainment...he mostly stood and READ in a boring monotone from a written text. He reminded me of some of the worst most boring college professors ever. I mean come on Holland can you at least vet the lecturers to see if they have any presentation skills? On the flip side another lecturer was Bill Harris who did several lectures on Hollywood with tons of pics/videos and told interesting tidbits/jokes/stories to keep everyone totally entertained while educating at the same time. Once again Holland obviously made little or no effort to bring on any local entertainers except in one port. WHY? Surely surely the local port agent could call a local school and easily arrange for a group of kids to come aboard and do a simple show highlighting their local songs/dances/cultures. The cost to Holland would be peanuts and I suspect the passengers would LOVE it. Make a small donation to the school, give the kids a ship tour and let them go through the buffet line. For a lot of the kids it would be a lifelong memory and source of pride. It's called giving back HOLLAND. Please try it and I will bet that it will be some of your most popular shows. THE NEWSLETTER: Once again on yet another Holland cruise I find the same old crappy newsletter. I do not know who writes this but it is obvious that the quality continues to decline year after year. This is a shame as the daily newsletter should be the single best way for the ship to communicate and PROMOTE various events to the passengers. But day after day reading the newsletter is as boring as watching paint dry. Most times only the NAME of the movie is given with not so much as a two line guide as to who is in it or what it's about. A big outdoor BBQ by the pool was listed ONLY in the fine print rather than being highlighted in a box. The showroom entertainers are described in one or two sentences with not much else to make one think "gee I'd like to see that". There are often misspelled words and other errors that makes one wonder if anyone bothers to proofread it? Meantime of course you get a daily bombardment of printed materials hyping the spa and shopping. I have suggested before that Holland could create a win/win by having one crew member highlighted daily in the newsletter. A picture, plus a bit of bio of where they are from, their family, their job, their hobbies, etc. I have no doubt that the passengers would LOVE to learn a bit more about some of the fantastic staff that serves them and I would also bet it would be a source of pride to the employee highlighted. THE PORTS: Overall I personally loved the ports. Some very isolated islands that most people don't even know exist. I found the local people to be exceptionally friendly and welcoming especially in Fiji. Most of the ports had easy to find/use local transport if you wanted a ride around the island or to a beach or didn't want to spend a small fortune on a Holland shore excursion. It was also nice that we stopped at Port Angeles the day before Seattle as it was a very scenic stop. As usual Holland's port maps and information is truly AWFUL which no doubt is done on purpose to try and sell more of their tours. THE PASSENGERS: This cruise wasn't completely full. I would guess maybe 92% or so occupancy. The majority of passengers seemed to be from Australia with a good mix of kiwis, brits, Canadians, Americans, and a few others thrown in. Aussies tend to be a pretty happy and relatively easy to please bunch which I thought made for a pleasant cruise. So that's my two cents worth. Who knows maybe one day I will get on a Holland cruise and find that they have fixed a few of the things that they can read about from their customers as to how to improve the overall experience. Holland cruises are still very good in my opinion compared to most other lines but they are NOT as good as they once were. This should be a cause for concern even to the CCL bean counters and execs who perhaps are a bit more concerned with their stock options than their customers.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
A cruise to New Zealand was something my wife and I had wanted to do for a very long time, and having recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, what better time to do it. We chose HAL for their 'signature of excellence' ... Read More
A cruise to New Zealand was something my wife and I had wanted to do for a very long time, and having recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, what better time to do it. We chose HAL for their 'signature of excellence' logo, but should have perhaps taken a little more notice of the reviews. However, with our friends, we had a great cruise, where our expectations were met, and in some cases, exceeded. Waiters, food and general ambiance aboard this grand old ship, were excellent. We loved the rich and lavish way in which the ship is fitted out and the way we were treated. However, 5 star cabin? No way, more like 3 star. Musty smelling, grey sheets welcomed us to our stateroom, along with a bath that had a 4" inch crack along the top and a generally tired and in need of refurbishment overall appearance throughout. The sheets were changed, but still grey and not what one would expect from a 'signature of excellence'. Whilst this did not spoil our cruise, it is something to take into account when advertising their product as 'excellent' means everything spot on. Time for Oosterdam to have some TLC - tender loving care methinks! The ports of call for very good and gave us a flavor of this lovely country. If you are fit and able, most ports of call allow you to make your own arrangements to sight see. Transfer, by both tender and shuttle bus, were very good. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Sailed away to the South Pacific for Christmas and New Year on the Oosterdam. It was my third cruise, previously sailed on Pride of America and the Westerdam to Alaska. Wasn't expecting too much from the itinerary, especially the ... Read More
Sailed away to the South Pacific for Christmas and New Year on the Oosterdam. It was my third cruise, previously sailed on Pride of America and the Westerdam to Alaska. Wasn't expecting too much from the itinerary, especially the number of sea days but found the overall experience to be way better than expected as I really love to snorkel. We also booked our first inside cabin. The service was excellent, cannot fault the cabin stewards or the dining room staff. The food was great quality, lots of variety. We ate again in the pinnacle grill and canelletto. I love the piña coladas. The ship looked in good shape, well maintained, lots of cleaning and most areas looked well maintained. Some threadbare carpets here and there. There were a lot of "selling" events - art auctions and lido deck jewelry stuff but not as intense as the craziness that was Alaska. There were just over 2000 people on board but you could always find plenty of private areas to relax. The pools and spas were overrun with children, but that didn't worry me until the 6th day with no change of pool water, day 7 - I saw the mid pool emptied and felt I could bring myself to go in. (Perhaps they were also cleaned earlier but I didn't notice). The last day prior to disembarking I couldn't bring myself to use the aft pool as it was looking murkier and murkier (mid pool was closed due to swell). The entertainment was reasonably good - stuff I didn't do - cookery demos, craft classes, cards, bingo, dance classes, art auctions. I did attend a lot of live shows which I thought were really good- comedians/magicians/musical and dance numbers etc. There was a screening room with recent movies. There was a decent New Years party with free champagne on board. Ports were pretty good - 3 islands where you could just laze on a beach and go for a snorkel. I've done a lot of diving and snorkeling off cairns so I wasn't expecting much but I was really impressed. Lautoka was a disappointment, we should have organized a tour. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Never cruised with Holland America (HA) before so flying halfway around the world (from England) for a 4 week cruise a gamble but generally we were happy with the cruise. We would feed back direct to HA as they said they would send an ... Read More
Never cruised with Holland America (HA) before so flying halfway around the world (from England) for a 4 week cruise a gamble but generally we were happy with the cruise. We would feed back direct to HA as they said they would send an email for feedback on our return home rather than give us a paper one as they want to reduce the amount of paper they use. This is clearly a joke as every day we had mail to our cabin with special spa offers, deals in the on board shops which all went straight into the bin. The ship could do with some updating; some of the carpets on the stairways are very worn, some elevators did not work for the whole cruise; the sunbeds by the aft swimming pool all need replacement. Little things generally but gave a poor first impression. Everywhere very clean throughout the ship although we must say that when the bar staff remove empty glasses they should clean the tables - did not see this too often. Staff very friendly; like most cruise lines mainly Philippines and Indonesians but generally seemed very happy in their work and very pleasant. Shore time a little strange; when we were in bigger cities we had much less time on shore than when we were in smaller places with less to do. We realise that it probably costs HA more to dock in a big harbour than a small one but we had less time in Auckland and Wellington (NZ) than we felt reasonable especially as we had relatively short distances to travel for the next days port. Excursions and alcoholic drinks on HA seemed to be more expensive than other cruise lines we have used and some of the shore excursions were frankly almost robbery. A lot of the beers on the bar price lists were not stocked even when we left Sydney where presumably huge amounts of provisions were loaded. We were told they run out of Australian beers because there were so many Australians on board..... wow lots of Australians on board a ship where the cruise starts and finishes in Australia... what a surprise!! Surely which ever idiot orders provisions would realise this especially when the Ozzie beers sold were so much better than the American beers on offer. As ever (like other cruise ships) the coffee in the buffet and restaurant was weak and virtually tasteless but surprise... if you pay extra and go to the café on deck 10 you can get a much better coffee. Surely decent coffee should be included in the price? On board entertainment probably the best of any cruise we have been on with a number of entertainers flown in for a couple of days or so to do their acts. The in house entertainment staff much like other cruises; sequins and average. We would cruise with HA again and would recommend them over Princess cruises. Last comment really applies to (nearly) all cruises. When I stay in a hotel I never find a surcharge to my room to pay the people who work in the kitchen, laundry etc but HA add a nightly fee which they say 'forms an important part of the staff remuneration'. They should pay their staff a decent wage in the first place and not advertise the price of a cruise then add a nightly charge to pay their staff. It would never be tolerated in a hotel so why do people tolerate it on a cruise? The people in the kitchens, laundry etc probably work no harder than a hotel. I am not saying they don't work hard or don't deserve a decent wage but... PAY YOUR STAFF A DECENT WAGE AND STOP THE NIGHTLY SURCHARGES. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Pros: cabins, food and crews were great, loved being at sea. Experienced ships officers inspired confidence in ship handling. Plenty of things to do to keep busy. Entertainment was generally adequate. Enjoyed meeting fellow passengers. ... Read More
Pros: cabins, food and crews were great, loved being at sea. Experienced ships officers inspired confidence in ship handling. Plenty of things to do to keep busy. Entertainment was generally adequate. Enjoyed meeting fellow passengers. Mario was fabulous as compere of various activities. Relaxing way to travel. Professionally managed and efficient staff overall. Cabin was excellent, comfortable and sufficient room and storage. Very well serviced. Only one problem: We had to tape up three sides of the air conditioner vent due to cold, dry air dropping straight onto the bed and causing us breathing congestion the first night aboard. We could see traces of where thisnhad been done before by others. We did not appreciate the unhelpful Front Desk female staff who initially dismissed this problem and was stiffly reluctant to assist - when we asked to borrow gaffer tape, they made us sign a $40 deposit to ensure we returned it. The day after we returned tape, she rang to complain my husband had not responded to a phone message she left (he had given feedback to the desk staff direct) so clearly some inefficiency occurs at Front Desk. Cons: Totally inadequate seating in the cinema. Difficult getting a seat for theatre shows and computer lessons unless you turn up half an hour earlier. Not long enough time ashore (due to port fees?) and what possessed captain to bring ship through marvellous Sydney harbour heads when most passengers are still asleep! Frequent sales pitches for future cruises and tours are acceptable (though the tours are grossly overpriced) but we felt irritated that some of the seminars were disguised sales pitches for dubious and exorbitantly overpriced products and services. Before boarding I selected a spa offering, a one hour session for 'body composition' assessment and advice on nutrition and exercise to get me off to a good start on the ship - on arrival for my appointment at the gym I was asked what I wanted - when I said 'what the online advert offered' I was then told this session would be, in fact, three hours and a lot more expensive. After some confusion and poor management of the situation by the gym manager, I was given an hour as booked .... but the first 25 minutes turned out to be a sales pitch for their detox pills (see elsewhere on this site for negative reviews)! The body composition involved a bio electric impedance machine with no other physical or health status assessment other than brief questionnaire. (http://consensus.nih.gov/1994/1994bioelectricimpedancebodyta015html.htm). The rest of the hour involved a cursory run through gym equipment - at my request, as staff did not have a session structure as advertised online! Not good value and false advertising for this service. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Holland America Oosterdam 7 Day Alaska Cruise 07/14/13 This was my 13th and my husbands 6th cruise. This was our third time to Alaska, but first time to Tracy Arm. Overall Holland America did an excellent job and the ship was impeccably ... Read More
Holland America Oosterdam 7 Day Alaska Cruise 07/14/13 This was my 13th and my husbands 6th cruise. This was our third time to Alaska, but first time to Tracy Arm. Overall Holland America did an excellent job and the ship was impeccably kept. EMBARKATION: We arrived at 1130, and were onboard in about 20 minutes and our cabin was ready. We dropped out bags and went to the Mariner Luncheon in the dining room. Much more relaxing that going to the Lido. Then everyone set off to make their spa, specialty dining reservations, as these get booked up quickly for the best times. DINNER RESERVATIONS. (WHAT A MESS): I attempted to fix our dinner reservations, as we were a group of 10 and been told they could do this once I was onboard. We were sent back and forth between the dining room and the gangway and in the end contrary to what we were told when we booked, they would NOT accommodate us for a guaranteed reservation at 630 or 7pm for the 10 of us every evening even if we were willing to have 2 tables. They said we should just show up and they will seat us as soon as they could. (I know there are only 2-4 tables for 10 in the dining room so we may be waiting for an hour!) So much for open dining, so much for being able to make reservations only confirmation we could get was early or late so we took 530pm. This issue affected our entire cruise, as we had to rush to get to dinner nightly. I have never had this issue with my other cruises for my family reunion groups. Usually a small group of up to 10 can get a confirmed reservation in open dining at the same time nightly and I have done so on Carnival, Princess, NCL, and HAL in the past. Perhaps it was because they had a very large private group of 800 onboard, I dont know. STATEROOM: We booked VD Balcony and ended up in 4052 a handicap stateroom, which had a lot more room than a standard balcony. The location in the forward of the ship was convenient for the getting to shows, spa, crows nest, explorations caf and lido. It was of course a bit of walk to the dining room, but we liked it. The location was very quiet even though we were around the corner from the elevators. The cabin was very large with a lot of storage space. Due to this being a handicap cabin, we didnt have a bathtub, but instead a roll-in shower, large bathroom with plenty of space. The room had also a roll out balcony with no lip, but a slight ramp to go out and come back in. Our balcony was larger than most, and to the left we looked down on lifeboats, and to the right we were obstructed view by the ship jutting out. The TV was far away from the bed and it was very small, but ok. Our room was clean and well kept. The lighting as usual leaves a lot to be desired. Bed was comfortable but the middle seam from joining them caused a valley so we asked for an egg crate and it was then fine. I also asked them to put a top sheet between the fitted and the covers and bring extra pillow (now 6!). While the rooms are clean and well kept, if you have been on newer ship builds, they are lacking the interactive TV for reservations, checking your shipboard account, and other features similar to what is standard in most ships today. With all ship staterooms the storage space is limited, but we could put all our 3 bags of clothes in the closet, ask for extra hangers! The 2 drawers under the bed came in handy for non-hanging items, and our empty suit cases slid under the bed for storage. I still recommend everyone bring a hanging bathroom bag, so you have more space for your items in the bath. Hanging organizers such as for shoes are also handy in the closet for small items, if you dont want to bend over to get to those lower drawers and shelves. Magnets are handy for posting up the daily programs and notes to your room steward or spouse of reminders. The room steward was awesome, and I just left written instructions for what I wanted and he performed everything wonderfully. However, his assistant didnt seem to understand as much English and was more difficult to communicate with. We always want a ton of ice, fresh towels, and clean glasses. Which he always seem to do, but we had to tell him, that we wanted an additional ice bucket for ice, as ours was tiny. We take the ice and fill out glasses and when it melts it makes good drinking water, ice our warm drinks, chill our wine, etc. One annoying thing, was the mini bar staff. We removed items from our mini bar to make room for our stuff and they kept bringing us the items we removed. Which was ok, but the way they did it, was to knock on the door, shove a water bottle or can of soda at us, without any explanation. One time they even just walked in on us weird. I finally had a chance to tell him not to refill our refrigerator or drop off any things, unless we request them I had to put my hand on his sleeve when he attempted to hand me my warm diet coke to put in the refrigerator. Because if I took what he handed me, he was quickly gone and I am then standing there with items I am billed for and do not want! DINING: Lido: Holland America has a policy of not allowing passengers to serve themselves at the lido buffet for the first 48 hours onboard to limit the spread of viruses. While this does clog up the lines a bit, I really appreciate it. Most passengers go straight from terminal right to the Lido buffet, think of how many hands and surfaces theyve come in contact with? At the entry to all the restaurants there is an attendant with hand sanitizer and they offer this to you. So I felt very safe eating at this facility and all others on the ship. The restaurant had stations setup with various offerings, and usually repeated the ones in high demand on both sides of the buffet. Drink station of ice tea, lemonade, juice, coffee, water. Breakfast had a wide variety of make to order omelet station, eggs, potatoes, bacon, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, fresh fruit juice. Pastries, Bagels, Smoked Salmon, etc. Lunch included sandwiches, salad stations, fresh fruit, and breads. Hamburgers, Chicken Tenders, Hot Dogs, Pizza/Pasta station, Entries for fish, beef, pork, etc. They also featured nightly a cuisine from several different cultures Indonesian, Philippines, Asian, German, etc. In addition to the normal fare, they setup special buffets by the pool on certain days that were themed. Such as during the Tracey Arm day, they did a seafood extravaganza. Canaletto: Canaletto, a tiny (54-seat) Italian eatery, has been carved out of a corner of the Lido Restaurant and is open for dinner with reservations for a fee of $10. They serve Italian family style to share. They offer a series of Three courses  il primo, il secondo, and il dolci  are offered, carefully selected to focus on fresh, authentic regional Italian cuisine. Basically an antipasto offered by the chefs choice, an appetizer, entries, and dessert. On our visit with 8 the service was good, but I didnt find much of the Italian food any better than the main dining room. In fact the fare was very light, so order more than you think you would share. The opinion from my diners was it was not worth the up charge. Although I could see how many, who really like Italian food and dont want to wait for their favorites to appear on the main dining rooms menu, may opt to just make their reservations here. I was with that group. Some items were only as good as that on the Lido, like spaghetti with meatballs. Others were very good as youd expect at a fine Italian restaurant, such as the seafood, clams, veal. I would definitely do this if I liked what was on the menu. I would be interested to know if this venue varies in its reviews so much by ship or by the menu? Pinnacle Grill: Excellent, Awesome, totally worth the $25 up charge and more. We got a table reserved for our family of 10 on our Tracey Arm day. When we arrived, they had us down for 8, but immediately assured us they would fix it. Hint: make your reservations ahead of the sailing, or this venue does book up completely for the cruise. I had the halibut, it was to die for. Lamb kabobs, Steaks, Fish, Chops, everyone just raved. Even our pickiest eaters. The only quirk was for coffee. One of our diners wanted coffee with his dinner, but they kept telling him to wait until dessert? The request was made 3 times with the answer the same. Finally I found the head waiter and he said they only serve coffee with dessert. I said we didnt want a fancy one, just a plain cup of coffee and could he accommodate that? Yes of course. Gee Whiz.This turned a perfectly fabulous dining experience into a coma for the poor gentlemen falling asleep at dinner, waiting 1.5 hrs for coffee. Explorations Cafe: This top spot for coffee seemingly has it all. Now included on all of Holland America's ships as part of the Signature of Excellence enhancement program, this seagoing bistro offers reasonably priced coffee drinks (try the caramel-flavored Carmelo Latte), complimentary pastries and snacks, an extensive library, condensed international newspapers, Internet terminals (including some free sites) and Wi-Fi, desks, cool tables with reusable wipe-off NYT crossword puzzles and lots of plush chairs and sofas, many with great views. With so much going on, Explorations Cafe has set the standard for top coffee spots at sea. This is also where you can always get your soda when other venues are closed if you need your morning jolt from that. Our family used this location as our go to spot to sit and talk, relax, play chess, etc. The snacks are free whether you buy a drink or not. By the way the coffee drinkers in my group said the Lido and MDR coffee was quiet good and free. Now they are also charging in the MDR for espresso and other specialty coffees. Vista Dining Room: We had the 530pm seating, a table for 10. We had wonderful waiters. Our family didnt always arrive all on time, and they accommodated those that were tardy by speeding things up for them. They lived up to the quiet and unobtrusive service allowing our family to catch up with each other. I cannot think of any of the food I didnt find as excellent. One night I had ordered the salmon and it was a bit overdone, and they immediately brought me lobster instead. I ordered multiple appetizers, and/or soup and salads, and they didnt blink an eye. Our wine steward was not that good (seems to be a trend with me, Am I wrong, but at regular restaurants you get a drink very quickly with a smile!) He had difficulty with getting us setup with our drinks, a couple of us had the all inclusive beverage cards, and some had soda cards. He seems to be inconvenienced by this. He took and incredibly long-time to come by and get our drink orders nightly, and a long time to bring them. Our waiters pitched in and took up his slack with a smile. PORTS: Juneau: Beautiful and unseasonable hot 80 degrees. Could have worn shorts, and by the end of the day wish I would have. Having been to this port twice before, we did not book any ship excursions, because I knew there would be booths for most of these excursions right off the ship, and at  the price. Unless youre doing something that has limited availability and space, this lets you set your own schedule. Took one of the $8 shuttle buses to Mendenhall Glacier. Hiked to Nugget Falls about 30 minutes, took the scenic trails hike looked for bears and found none. The Nugget Falls hike is really more of a walk now that have improved the pathway and blasted a path thru the boulders you used to have to actual climb/hobble thru. The buses loop every 30 minutes, so once we had our fill of the scenery and hiking, we just waited for the next bus at the bus stop. The drive up and back was very beautiful and along the highway the inlet had salmon just jumping like mad out of the water, and there were several eagles hunting them along the Gastineau Channel. We saw eagles everywhere like pigeons. We asked to be dropped downtown. Weve done the Mount Roberts Tram here and decided to skip it this time, it is beautiful up there. Went by Red Dog which was packed, instead opted to get a cool drink at the Alaskan Hotel and Bar that is very historic. Grabbed lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack (great as usual, but packed) and then just walked around town, headed back after picking up some wine, beer and souvenirs back to the ship, Sitka: Took a private tour with Sitka Tours. Our guide Caroline was excellent. My group originally had said they wanted to do their Russian Historical Tour, but changed their mind and wanted to see the Fortress of the Bear, Raptor Center and Sitka National Park she smiled and immediately agreed to change it up! We got a lovely shuttle coach that sat 20 people for just the 10 of us! Wow. She met as soon as we got off the tenders and away we went. She narrated the route and told us some interesting facts about Sitka and also about each of the stops we visited. I would highly recommend them. The Fortress of the Bear was a lovely drive and we ran into a section where there was road construction, and while we waited she entertained us. The Bears were awesome. We went in the morning about 10am before lunch so the Bears were very frisky. They had 5 there divided into two family groups. The founder setup some treats in a ball that the bears had to jump up and swat to get them to come out. The bears swam in the water, the other bears were a bit younger and they played and romped. Two of bears were kissing. One was making a sign to us for more the naturalist told us. I adored Toby the female red bear. She reminded me of a sweet dog. They have restrooms, a shop to buy water/snacks. They also have turkeys, goats, ducks, and huskies. The Alaskan Raptor Center was a great stop, they have an indoor space for injured birds you can see up close, and then they do a presentation and bring in a live Bald Eagle to see up close. Next you can view all the raptors in their outdoor habitats. We saw eagles, owls, and hawks, and a wealth of information about raptors and has a walking trail connected to its bird viewing area. The trail was very beautiful easy hike thru the forest. The Sitka National Park has a beautiful collection of totem poles, art and historical information on the culture of the Tlingit natives and history. Surrounding the park are several easy walking trails, one goes along the ocean and one goes to the salmon stream. From here we walked back into town, stopping off for some of the best spicy clam chowder, and then stopped at the Sheldon Jackson Aquarium. My son (18) and nephew (13) had to be pried out of the aquarium some 25 minutes later. The few closed tanks with small local fish and anemones were okay but the big attraction were five touch tanks filled with bright anemones, starfish in shades ranging from red/orange to purple (some huge), also found in local waters, and which here you could pick up and examine. They were slimy (and some sticky) to the touch, especially the anemones which actually shoot off little drops of poison not harmful to humans. Outside was a hatchery with baby king salmon. Stopped by the Bishop house and several other sites on the walking tour map. Gathered gifts and of course stopped for items at the local drug/liquor store in town. http://www.sitka.org/includes/media/docs/sitkaTownMap2007.pdf Ketchikan: I booked a salmon fishing trip with experienceone.com fishing charters. It was great! We walked right off the ship and Captain Johnny and JR we holding a sign waiting for our group. We took a 5 minute walk down the pier to his beautiful boat. We got an overview on the way out of the fishing process and filled out our fishing licenses and paid for them. Captain Johnny had a nice clean big boat that was stocked with iced sodas, smoked salmon, crackers, cheese, grapes and yummy cookies baked by his wife. He immediately got to his spot within 10 minutes and started rigging up his 6 poles to put in the water. By the time he got the 3rd one setup we already had salmon hitting. There were 6 of us that day, and it was incredible day for fishing, we caught so many pink salmon it filled the entire cooler, my nephew caught a rare ling cod. It was interesting looking monster with lots of sharp teeth. We also caught rock fish and silvers. The fish only gave us a couple lulls in our 7am-12pm fishing trip. The captain said the rock fish were no good and he said, Let me catch you and eagle. He threw the fish up into the air, and on cue a bald eagle swoops down, he misses and has to come back 3 times to pluck the floating fish out of the water. Amazing. I accused him of doing this every time, but he denied he had that eagle trained. Once our time was near, we packed up the poles and speed back to the dock. On this route we filled out our forms to have our fish processed and shipped back to us. At the dock, we gushed at the Capt and JR and thanked them so much! When I called to check on our fish, I was informed just our 2/3 was 5 We then walked to the grocery/liquor store for supplies and got in a huge line at noon with the whole ship to get aboard. Victoria: It started out raining and lightning but then cleared. We just walked around toured the Empress, Government Street, China Town, the waterfront, the open air market. Took the 8 dollar shuttle bus out and back. Got Toffee and Maple cream cookies for the kids. Almost all the other tours were starting at 7 or closed at night. So either get on a tour immediately, or everything else is closed. The BC museum was open to 10pm with an excellent Dinosaur display but we didn't want to miss walking and checking out all the historic buildings the city was filled with. ENTERTAINMENT: The Spa: Signed up for the use of the Thallasotherapy Pool for the week. Enjoyed the private womens/mens locker rooms with robe, shoes and towels. They had showers and nice lighting for putting on your makeup (unlike my stateroom). Got a wonderful facial, afterwards they right down what products they used and ask if you would like to purchase any of them. Not very pushy, just said Id think about it. Gym: Very nice, a lot of equipment well maintained. We used the bicycles and weight machines. During one of our stays there was a free lecture. Shows: This sailing only had a 930 show time for the main theatre. We saw a few of the productions, and thought they were as good as any others, but nothing special. We enjoyed the magician and the ventriloquist. We also saw the Dancing with the Stars At Sea, which was really fun. Music: Most of the clubs seem to be empty at night, probably due to the Gospel group onboard going to their own activities. The musicians did a good job, but nothing special or outstanding. The Piano bar was always packed and very funny and entertaining. Movies: They played a lot of newer movies in the small movie theatre (Identity Thief, etc), and also played them on the TV in your stateroom. In addition, you could borrow movies from the front office to watch in your room. Naturalist: Our naturalist onboard did a great job throughout the voyage, and she was also broadcast on the intercom for the Glacier Viewing of the Tracey Arm. Fellow PASSENGERS: We were mostly among older folks onboard this trip. Probably due to the demographics of the large Gospel group. The Gospel group was polite and well behaved. However there was a definite lack of children and young families on this particular sailing. My sons who were older 18 & 23 were hard pressed to find companions their age, The 18 year old is too old for the teen club, but too young for any of the over 21 activities. My 23 year old didnt see many college aged counterparts onboard. My niece and nephew (16, 13) found kids in the clubs to hang out with. While there may have been less children in the Club Hals this sailing, there were still enough for them to meet some new friends and they had a great time. I would say out of my 3 Alaska cruises this cruise had the fewest children and young families I have seen. It wasnt a HAL thing, I think it was due to the Gospel being a majority, and most them travelling were older and without children/grandchildren. CONS/IMPROVEMENTS: The cruise was excellent, it is not their fault that the demographics were older, that just happens sometimes. I would say overall I would like to see the following: Open seating reservations. Allow reservations to be made at least 24 hrs in advance for 6, 6:30 or 7pm for all parties dont limit it to early up to 545pm or late after 745pm. Improve your beverage services in the dining room and other venues get the drink order quickly with a smile, regardless of cards, etc. Improve the menu in Canaletto or make it complimentary or maybe $5.00. Pinnacle; please serve coffee before dessert if requested. Room service has definitely needs to be more consistent and accurate as to delivery times. Lido offer more grilled chicken/turkey options, without everything being in a sauce. SUMMARY: Overall ms Oosterdam delivered a consistent low-key relaxed experience with friendly service everywhere on the ship. This ship is excellent for family reunion groups, families, retirees and couples. This ship may not be the right fit for those that are looking for a younger college or twenty something crowd, extensive sports activities, water parks, and a lively night life. The ship is older and does not have some of the newer and more modern accommodations and baths, but it is impeccably kept and a romantic classic. The ship is medium sized making it easy to get around and find others in your group. TIPS: 1. Weather in Alaska is un-predictable; it can be sunny and 80 degrees, or rainy and windy 50 degrees. Plan to wear layers so you can add and remove throughout the cruise and the day ashore. Most of our trip was unseasonable warm and sunny, we could have easily wore shorts, except for early mornings. 2. Luggage Direct is a great way to end your cruise. Send your bags ahead to your home airport and use your time to take a tour before you have to catch your flight home. 3. Sitka has a lot to see and do, and if you are in good shape you can just take the walking map and tour on your own. If youre not taking a tour with Sitka Tours, they are wonderful and can customize the trip to meet your needs. 4. Juneau is the easiest port to just walk off the ship and find a tour at the line of vendors. Mendenhall Glacier and Mount Roberts are definitely easy to do right off the ship. If its the excursion that only takes a limited amount of people, book this ahead of your trip. Fishing here is a bit of a drive and longer out than other ports. 5. Ketchikan has great self tours with the free local bus, ask the visitor's center, but if you've done that I would highly recommend fishing here, we didn't have to go very far to fish, and it is the salmon capital of the world. The fishing for salmon here is best mid July. We used Experience One Charters and Captain Johnny is awesome! 6. Victoria. You can walk into to town, its about 10 to 20 minutes, but you arent here long, and many attractions close by evening, so youre better off to take a tour. Tours that pick you up at the pier are Hop on Hop off Bus, Gray line, Horse Drawn Carriages, Ghost Walk, and it's faster than waiting for the shuttle buses to fill up. 7. Avoid the Lido the day of disembarkation and either order room service or go to the dining room (before 8am). 8. Collect your photos daily and ask the Photo center to hold them until the day youre at Victoria and then finalize before 11pm. 9. Use your webmail not your outlook for email or retrieving boarding passes, remember everyone else will be doing so at about the same time ... so it will be slow.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
As this was my very first cruise, I was very excited and looking forward to cruising on the Osterdam. However, my excitement was squashed when I showed up and discovered that the regular paying passengers were going to be outnumbered by a ... Read More
As this was my very first cruise, I was very excited and looking forward to cruising on the Osterdam. However, my excitement was squashed when I showed up and discovered that the regular paying passengers were going to be outnumbered by a southern gospel group that would take over the ship, and create a second class status for those who weren't part of the group. I knew things were going to be bad when on Sunday, the elevator door opened and a woman thrusted a bible in my face. At one breakfast, a gentleman asked me what religion I was and when I told hin I was Catholic, he implied that I was going to hell. Many activities were canceled for the regular passengers and the only time for shows was 930pm. A veteran's group meeting was canceled due to this religious group occupying the meeting room and over extending their time. Several times the Crow's Nest and other venues were closed to regular paying passengers. Yet, it was strongly enforced that passengers who were not members of the group were not welcomed at any of their events. Nighttime was dead and the ship was a ghost town after 900pm since all the holy rollers went to bed!!! Instead of showing previews of the cruise's trip DVD, they showed previews of the gospel group activities. This is very much ashame as the ship and crew were fabulous. It was a very speedy check-in that took less than 20 minutes from taxi to opening the door of my room. Looking over at the Princess line that looked like hours long, I was very thankful for this. There were two lines for embarkation photos, one for the regular passengers with a blah background, and one for the gospel group with a fancier background. The food in the dining room was excellent. The lido deck buffet was so-so. The entertainment, although abbreviated because of the gospel group, was superb with fantastic broadway style shows. I especially liked the Movie theme night and the Garage show. Because of the holy rollers, all the dance floors were DEAD. There were a few in the piano bar. My biggest disappointment was the late night buffet. It was served from 1030pm until 1130pm. The food wasn't all that great. There was never any ice sculptures and no chocolate fountin night. My room was the best part!! I was upgraded to an obstructed view . The room wa very big and tastefuly done. This is a wonderful ship and very elegant. The glass elevators were the iceing on the cake!! The ship was always spotless. The Indonesian crews, whether it be the cabin stewards or the waiters in the dining room, worked tirelessly and always with a smile. It's aashame that Corporate HAL had to be decitful and greedy. They should have booked the entire ship for the gospel group (like they did the following week for the gay cruise) or innformed all passengers so they could reschedule. Most of the regular paying passengers that I spoke with are very upset and said they'll never sail HAL again. If I had been warned in advance, I would have changed my travel date to a different cruise. It's ashame because the ship and frontline emplyees were topshelf. HAL Corporate turned what could have been a A+++ first time cruise to a C-. Feeling cheated and scammed by HAL, next time I will travel Princess!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Embarkation: Was a breeze. We were on the ship and our suite was ready within about 20 minutes arrival to the terminal. Room: We paid a premium and booked an SA Category Deluxe Veranda Suite. A very nice size room (no separate bedroom), ... Read More
Embarkation: Was a breeze. We were on the ship and our suite was ready within about 20 minutes arrival to the terminal. Room: We paid a premium and booked an SA Category Deluxe Veranda Suite. A very nice size room (no separate bedroom), with a very large veranda. Room has a California King size bed (very nice). More than enough storage and closet space. Bathroom has a tub with a shower and a separate individual shower, dual sinks, and plenty of storage here also. Suites come with access to the Neptune Lounge which is open from about 7am until about 8pm. Very nice place to get online if you need to stay "connected", via separate internet package. I was disappointed that individual rooms do not have wifi access, you must go to the Neptune Lounge or other public area's of the ship. Neptune Lounge also has snacks and drinks always available. Also a personal concierge there for restaurant bookings or shore excursions. Ship: Overall was clean and nice. I didn't find it tacky as other reviews have mentioned. Staff: Seemed readily available. We rarely saw our room steward but room was always cleaned in the late morning and turned down during dinner time. Towel animals were on the bed every night. Casino: Friendly dealers, and generally machines were open. I even won the slot tournament. Champaign, glasses, and a HAL robe were the prize. Restaurants: Were generally good, but nothing special. Vista (main) dining room was generally good. No complaints. Pinnacle Grill (which everyone seems to rave about), seemed very average to us. Very nice setting, but we all found the food just OK and nothing that special. Service was just average here also. Ordered iced tea when sitting down and waited about 15 minutes to see that iced tea. We complained to the waiter twice about waiting so long for a tea. We also tried Canaletto (Italian restaurant). This was good. It's basically "large tapas" style dining. Family style if you will. Food here seemed better than Pinnacle Grill. Very large portions to share. The Lido Buffet was also good, but nothing real special here. Entertainment: We were on a private charter which brought on their own entertainment. The piano players in the lounge were good and always had a nice crowd. Spa & HydroPool: As expected, very expensive services, but nice to do on a cruise. HydroPool was nice, but wish they would change out that water more often. Main pool area is great and they usually keep it covered so its warm and can lay out at the pool in your swim suit or sit around in shorts and t-shirt and watch Alaska go bye. Alaska: Juneau was nice and typical port shopping. Sitka was very interesting with it's Russian heritage and history. Ketchikan was our favorite, but very short port time. Arrived at 7-8am and departed at noon. Was our favorite stop but so short, there was no time to do anything. Victoria was very nice. Overall: Tracy Arm Glacier was just beautiful. We saw whales, eagles, sea otters, etc. I would LOVE to return to Alaska but would probably change routes and do Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, etc. HAL was good, nothing to complain about to much, but nothing that overwhelmed us either. I would recommend HAL and the Oosterdam based on a price point. I think if you can afford the extra cost that a Celebrity Cruise would be a step-up in quality. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Just back from a cruise (May 12 to May 19) and this is my 1st time with Holland America. I have been on other cruise line and their ship is huge so cannot compare them. I cannot said this ship or this company is bad but not outstanding ... Read More
Just back from a cruise (May 12 to May 19) and this is my 1st time with Holland America. I have been on other cruise line and their ship is huge so cannot compare them. I cannot said this ship or this company is bad but not outstanding either. What they do good is Cleaningness. Oh my god, everytime we go somewhere, we see people cleaning. They keep everywhere as clean as possible. The decoration is not outstanding but nice too. they like to put many Antique decoration thing on the ship. Staff is friendly. the cabin that i had is very good as it is huge. We are 3 people in the room and don't find a problem...... What I do like is their food. It is not bad and on average. However the seafood for me is below average which make me feel very bad !! as you go to Alaska cruise, you expect good seafood.......the choice is not much. what i mean is type of food. Their menu has many options but all the same thing.....shrimps everyday, beef everyday, salmon everyday......so you just eat different cooking way of salmon only......no other fish.....shrimp is always cocktail style...... the enterainment show is on average. compare to other ship, the show that i had on this cruise is very boring......only sining....magic is not super good....just so so..... Activities kind of boring too, don't it is because the ship is full of senior or what.....no fun thing to do......i kind find it boring for me when I take this cruise compare to other cruise vacation...... I take this line is because big cabin; otherwise, i might go to pricess cruise line...... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Emabarkation Late embarkation due to previous cruise being a charter but as we arrived early we were on board before it got too busy. Leaving from temporary terminal at Barangaroo was not perfect but did the job. Our Cabin Our verandah ... Read More
Emabarkation Late embarkation due to previous cruise being a charter but as we arrived early we were on board before it got too busy. Leaving from temporary terminal at Barangaroo was not perfect but did the job. Our Cabin Our verandah was one of the smaller ones and did overlook the lifeboats if you looked straight down but this did not worry us. The room was comfortable, clean, tidy, plenty of storage space and in reasonably good condition considering they are occupied 365 days of the year. Suitcases arrived within a couple of hours of boarding. One of our Stewards, Ibrahim introduced himself and along with our other Steward, Yadi, were fantastic throughout our cruise, always friendly and eager to assist and kept our room in tip top shape. The Ship We don't have any other cruise to compare but we really liked the ship. We were not after the glitzy, resort style ship holding 3,000 + passengers, we wanted a more intimate shipboard feel and the Oosterdam delivered this. Yes in some spots the carpet was a little worn and some of the furniture looked as if it had been well used but overall she was in good condition and had a relaxed atmosphere. I really liked the ambience and style of the ship but occasionally you would look at a bit of art work or a piece of furniture and ask yourself 'what were they thinking', however this quirkiness only added to the whole experience. Dining Good to very good food keeping in mind the quantities required. No trouble getting a table for 2 in the MDR but personally preferred lunch in the MDR and dinner in the LIDO when it was much quieter. Breakfast was excellent, however very busy unless you were up early, but we never had problems finding a table. Service was good to excellent and always friendly. No problems getting service anywhere on the ship. Coffee For our next cruise we are already working out a way to take coffee bags on board and just using the hot water. Even in the Explorations Cafe my DH needed a triple shot latte to get something approximating a cup of coffee that was strong enough for our Australian coffee culture taste, but I think this is a cruise ship problem that is not restricted to HAL. Crew Lovely friendly people, never experienced a grumpy moment and I have to commend them, some of the passengers were AWFUL. The women (and men) at the front desk especially need commendation for their patience -- I would not have been so understanding. The Captain and staff were all around the ship. I commend the Captain for being approachable when it was found we had to miss our last port and race the cyclone, he kept us up to date and even held a Q&A in the Vista Lounge and took the hard questions from the people that were very unhappy (putting it mildly) at missing ports. However the majority of passengers present at the briefing IMO endorsed the Captain's decision to put safety before anything else. Ports Isle of Pines -- A beautiful spot, we basically disembarked went to the area for snorkelling and swam for most of the day. The beaches and island are truly lovely. Easau Lifou --We had to miss this port due to high winds. It is in a conservation area and they have a small patch in which to anchor next to a reef and if the winds are too high the Oosterdam could run aground on the reef and damage it. It was a beach stop which would have been nice. Port Vila, Vanuatu -- Very lush island and friendly people. This is a nation that struggles with poverty and as such welcomes cruise ships and tourism to assist with their economy. We took the ship sponsored round the island tour and it was a jam packed day. Suva -- Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and a lot of the town was closed, I am sure if you had organised a tour outside the township you would have been fine. Dravuni Island -- This is a lovely slice of Paradise; the island only has 200 residents and lovely long beaches. You could walk around the pathways or sit on the beach and swim in the lovely clear waters (we chose the latter). We had arrived early but also had to depart early as the Captain had to leave at a certain time to start our run away from Cyclone Sandra. It was a lovely day. Sydney -- Our unexpected port due to arriving early ahead of the cyclone, we did not get off the ship as we wanted to enjoy our last day aboard but looking from all the ship vantage points over the lovely harbour of Sydney was a treat. For dinner that night we took our meal out onto the back pool deck as it was a balmy temperature and had the best seat in the house, the view was superb. Entertainment We are not party animals but noticed when we finished watching the late show in the Vista Lounge that there were still plenty of people wandering around. Overall we found the entertainment excellent; Shelly White the pianist was very entertaining. We saw most of the shows and the Oosterdam singers and dancers did a good job, a little cheesy at times but a lot of fun. The lead male singer especially had a great voice. Vivienne and the Hal Cats did an excellent job around the ship, I never heard them being too loud or screechy. Didn't have a chance to listen to Adagio but when we passed them by several times the area they were in was always full. Never went to the Piano Bar but that was because when we peeked in it was packed and no room for more, so he must have been okay. Passengers Mostly Australians and New Zealanders with a good sprinkling of Americans and Canadians. Quite a big group of Japanese and some from Europe. On the whole a friendly laid back lot, mainly mid 50's and up but still a good representation from the younger age groups who seemed to be enjoying themselves. Beverages (other than coffee) We found the ability to take on board as much wine as we liked fantastic. We had an excellent selection of what we like and in some cases drank it in our cabin or paid the $18 corkage, either way it was the best way for us to do our wine. Cocktails and beer were very well priced by Australian standards and I enjoyed my daily cocktail. The drinks waiters were all very friendly and always on hand if needed. Debarkation We opted for the later debarkation, relatively easy and quick. Went downstairs at our assigned time, small line up, checked off the ship and through customs in about 15 minutes. Overall Experience Loved it, one of the best holidays we have had, certainly the most relaxing even when running ahead of a cyclone. Have already booked on the Oosterdam again in October for the New Zealand trip. As we have only done one cruise we are not faithful to any one cruise line yet and looked at Celebrity and Princess for this trip, but the Oosterdam's itinerary is what sold us on going on her again and after enjoying this trip we have no problem with repeating our shipboard experience.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My husband and I are 4 Star Mariners. We did 3 HAL cruises last year (on the Westerdam, the Noordam and the Niew Amsterdam). This was our 12th HAL cruise and our 3rd time on the Oosterdam. We book HAL because we know that we can ... Read More
My husband and I are 4 Star Mariners. We did 3 HAL cruises last year (on the Westerdam, the Noordam and the Niew Amsterdam). This was our 12th HAL cruise and our 3rd time on the Oosterdam. We book HAL because we know that we can expect a certain level of service and amenities. This cruise did NOT live up to those expectations. I am not sure what is going on with HAL but if we experience the same types of things on our next HAL cruise that we have booked for June 1st, then we will start looking for a new cruise line. Here are some examples of why we were disappointed with this cruise. Room Stewards We always develop good relationships with our room stewards. On this trip they never came and introduced themselves to us and in fact it was several days before we even saw them. Not really sure they were even our room stewards. Often we left out the blue service card at 8:00 AM and at 11:00 AM the room had still not been cleaned. Dancing in the Ocean Bar We always eat at 8:00 pm and from 7:00 -- 8:00 we have a drink and dance in the Ocean Bar. The Ocean Bar always has its own band, separate from the in-house band the HAL Cats. On this trip the Ocean Bar did not have its own band, instead the HAL Cats tried to cover it. Also on most nights there was no music at all in the Ocean Bar from 7 -- 8. During the first 4-5 days I tried to adjust to what was available, however when the daily program showed dancing from 5-7, we showed up at 6 only to find the band was "on break". They then did not return until 6:40 and did not start playing until 6:45, then of course they quit at 7:00. This was the story of the trip "the band is on break" or no band tonight. Often when they were playing, it was their own music and not anything that you could dance to. After about 5 days of this we just gave up on hoping for dancing and music before dinner. The other issue was that on our prior trips when we went to the Ocean Bar we were always offered a small plate of hors d'oeuvres . On prior trips after about day 4, the Ocean Bar Staff knew us and knee our drinks. On this trip we had to work hard to flag down one of the few waiters to even get a drink and if we were very lucky, we might get some peanuts. Service in the Crows Nest Last November we did the Panama Canal on the Westerdam. Starting early on the morning that we entered the locks the Westerdam opened access to the front bow of the ship and on both the bow and in the Crows Nest, they served coffee, tea and had specially baked buns available. They made quite an event of it. On this trip, on the day we were scheduled to cruise the Fjords, there was nothing offered either on the bow or in the Crows Nest. Coffee was available for purchase at the Exploration Cafe, however they only had it staffed with one girl, so the lines were very long and she ran out of food by about 10:00 am. The Crows Nest started getting very busy by about 7:00 am. By 10:00 am the tables were covered with dirty dishes and dirty coffee cups. No one was doing any bussing of the tables. At 10:00 I went to the bar and mentioned that the tables needed to be bussed. They then sent someone over who cleared only my table, but at 11:30 when I left, the other tables were still covered with dirty dishes. The other incident at the Crows Nest was on March 21st, which was a sea day. At about 11:00 am I bought a coffee at the Explorers Cafe and then sat down in the Crows Nest to drink my coffee and work on a Sudoku puzzle. The Crows Nest was very crowded and I noticed a number of people making faces about the music that was playing, which was very loud RAP MUSIC. I went to the bartender and asked who chose this music and he said that the bridge picks it! I then asked him to notice that the room was full of primarily old people, doing puzzles and reading books. Did he really think that they were interested in hearing RAP! His response was "do you think I should change the music". Educational Speakers On all of our prior HAL cruises, on sea days they have always had an educations speaker and they have always been excellent. We always look forward to attending these presentations, which are on a variety of subjects. This cruise had no speaker! Just another example of cost cutting. Formal Nights I know that this is a very controversial subject, but this cruise gets the prize for the worst dressed passengers on formal night. My husband brought his tux, and we did dress up, but we felt that dressing up was a joke. Everywhere we went on the ship there we were in tux and formal wear with half of the other passengers in jeans and shorts. Even the cruise director did not have a tux on. I think that if HAL is not going to enforce the dress code, then they just need to abolish formal night completely. In summary, this cruise was not horrible; there were many things that were excellent, such as the entertainment, the service in the Lido, and dinner in Pinnacle Grill. But overall it did not live up to being a true HAL experience. We were not the only ones that felt this way. We had open seating and we found that many of the HAL frequent sailors were disappointed and that many people trying HAL for the first time had no reason to be impressed. I am not sure what is going on with HAL, but this cruise eliminated some of the things that made HAL special. I think that they need to examine the cutbacks they are making, or they are going to find themselves losing clients. The shore excursions on this trip alone were $2,200.00, so by the time I come up with the total cost of this trip, if I am disappointed by HAL, I may just be willing to pay the slightly (and only slightly) higher price for a line such as Regent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Overview: This was our first cruise with HAL, first time in the southern hemisphere, and first three week vacation. It was a specialty cruise where Atlantis Events chartered the entire ship for a primarily gay cruise starting in ... Read More
Overview: This was our first cruise with HAL, first time in the southern hemisphere, and first three week vacation. It was a specialty cruise where Atlantis Events chartered the entire ship for a primarily gay cruise starting in Auckland, New Zealand and ending in Sydney, Australia for the Mardi Gras parade and Mardigrasland party. This was our third cruise and second with Atlantis. On the whole we enjoyed the trip, found the ship comfortable, most of the crew polite and friendly, made new friends, enjoyed most of the meals, and had some nice adventures on the excursions. Our previous two cruises were with RCI and we are likely to return to a Royal Caribbean ship for future cruises. We found the HAL experience rated just a little lower than RCI in almost every category except for cabin size and comfort. The cabin on this cruise was large, comfortable, and everything worked perfectly. Air travel: On the whole we logged more than 20,000 miles in three weeks for this trip. That's a lot of flying. To break up the trip, we flew Southwest Airlines from the east coast to Los Angeles and stayed with friends for two nights. We booked Air New Zealand (ANZ) to Auckland with a 9 hour layover in Honolulu to further break up the trip. I learned two things I want to share. First, ANZ partners with other airlines such as United. Even though all of your reservation documentation may show a ANZ flight numbers, you may still need to board another carrier's aircraft and flight number. Fortunately we were using the FlightTrack app so we didn't have our driver drop us off at the ANZ terminal #2. The app showed the flight was originally scheduled to leave Delta terminal #6 but was updated to United terminal #7 during our drive to the airport. Neither Delta nor United personnel claimed they found us in their system. I had to call ANZ and speak with someone with a strong New Zealand accent to learn which carrier and flight number on which we were booked to Honolulu. With the United flight number we approached the United counter again and successfully checked into the flight. Once in Honolulu we were upgraded by Dollar to a new, convertible Mustang and enjoyed exploring the island for a six hours. The flight to Auckland was a real ANZ flight. Their flight crew is very friendly, the aircraft modern with lots of entertainment options, food is delicious, and the safety video is Lord of the Rings themed and entertaining. After the vacation flying ANZ back to the USA resulted in more confusion. They received a new computer system the day before and their terminal and staff were in chaos. Eventually we learned ANZ had again passed us off to United so we had to make our way to United and check in with them for our direct flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. I'll avoid ANZ and look to Qantas in the future. The second thing I learned was flying from the USA to AU/NZ you lose one day and gain it back on the return. Embarkation: While I didn't expect embarkation to be pleasant, our experience at the Prince's Wharf in Auckland was worse than expected. Atlantis pushed embarkation time later to allow VIPs to board early. This narrowed the window for everyone else to less than three hours and the VIPs arrived late anyway. The terminal was very warm and and didn't seem to have any air conditioning. We joined the line with a good attitude and were making progress through one of the two available lines. An Atlantis employee appeared and scolded everyone for arriving early, closed one of the lines without telling the people in the 2nd line where to go. Fortunately another Atlantis employee noticed the confusion and instructed the people in line two who were now cut off to merge in with our line. He indicated this was done to allow the VIPs to enter first and this added about an extra hour wait to the hour we had already waited in line in this very hot building. When we reached a HAL representative we were told there was a problem printing our room keys and we should wait at the far side of the building by the exit. At least there was some fresh air by the tent exit. After 20 minutes our room keys had not appeared. An Atlantis employee was no help and seemed annoyed while implying we were being impatient. He thought we were waiting at the right place and indicated a couple of other passengers had the same issue with their keys earlier. After another ten minutes I found another HAL employee and asked. She indicated we needed to board the ship and go to the front office for our keys. I did point out the HAL employee who had misinformed us and also let the Atlantis employee know the procedure in case this happened to others. We were exhausted and soaked with sweat by the time we boarded the ship. Ship: We found the Oosterdam to be in good condition and easy to navigate. From photos I expected the colors and decor to be gaudy, but on the whole the design was appealing and I enjoyed the nautical themed art throughout the ship. The only exceptions I found odd include the childish looking modern sculptures at the aft pool (an adults only pool -- no wonder others complain about children ending up there) and the odd center ceiling with flashing color lights in the main dining room. Okay, I thought the Pinnacle Grill pacific northwest themed decor was ugly too. Mechanically everything worked properly and the elevators were amazingly speedy. A trick I learned to quickly identify fore and aft directions is that the benches are always on the aft wall in the elevator lobbies. Cabin: Our cabin was the largest we have had and found it to have significant closet and storage space. It was located in the aft part of the ship on deck 5. Crew and Atlantis staff: We found most of the crew to be polite, friendly, and helpful. Our cabin stewards (we had two) never stopped by to introduce themselves so I wrote them a note to tell them our names and ask for theirs. In the note I included the types of fruit we liked, indicated we used a lot of ice, and asked for a laundry bag. For the rest of the cruise, they provided fruit and maintained two containers of ice for us. The first two towel animals were unidentifiable but they got better and better as the cruise progressed. We did leave extra tips for them when they surpassed our expectations. We did have a few bad experiences with bar staff. After ordering two rum and Coke's a bartender asked if I would prefer a "strong double." I responded no, and he proceeded to pour extremely weak drinks. I commented, "Wow, that's a very weak single." He nodded in affirmation. I turned away and was talking to someone in line when he tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and he showed me a cup almost full of alcohol and said, "This is a strong double." I was stunned and disappointed. The roving wait staff offering drinks were too aggressive with constant pressure to purchase drinks. They have an incentive to do this for the automatic 15% gratuity and it was a gay cruise to it's possible this occurred because additional staff were on board to serve alcohol. We received massages at the spa and were a little disappointed in the quality. We expected a relaxing experience and instead received deep tissue massages followed by a couple of days of sore muscles. Atlantis staff seemed less organized and friendly on this cruise. They also provide a 2nd cruise director in addition to the HAL one. The Atlantis cruise director is the same person we had on our Med cruise seven years ago. I heard a comment that this was his 104th Atlantis cruise. It shows. He didn't seem friendly or approachable and actually came off as cranky. With the exception of one Atlantis staff member who was on his first Atlantis cruise, they all seemed a bit cranky, unorganized, and unhelpful. I think it's time for new blood at Atlantis. Food: We found food on the Oosterdam to be good although some selections were tiny. I found myself trying to read between the lines of menu descriptions to decide if it would be a tiny morsel instead of a traditional course. Our specialty cruise was 100% open seating and at sea days a brunch was served in the MDR, which I don't think is normally done. With open seating it's often nice to meet and dine with new people but I do miss having the same waiters who learn your preferences. One night we were seated with a passenger who ordered one of every dessert. Even though I bore no responsibility, I was embarrassed and the time it took almost made us late for a show. We especially enjoyed dinner in the Pinnacle Grill and were served the best crab cakes I've ever had, delicious steak, and very showy, flaming baked Alaska desserts. Most nights had theme parties that ran into the early morning hours and HAL always had a very nice variety of good food in the Lido for hungry guests. Entertainment: Since this was a specialty cruise, entertainment duties were shared by HAL and Atlantis. We attended several of the shows by entertainers hired by Atlantis and enjoyed them although we didn't find them as good as our previous Atlantis cruise in the Mediterranean. The HAL shows we saw were okay, but again we didn't find them as enjoyable as entertainers on RCI cruises. Excursions: We booked a mixture of HAL and independent excursions. When scheduling allowed we booked small group, independent excursions through Viator. Even many of the HAL excursions were customized to include only passengers from our ship which resulted in smaller groups which enhanced the experience. Although we were sad to learn we would miss Christchurch because of the distance from Akaroa, NZ we really enjoyed the Duncan Barber Sheep Farm and later the two hour nature cruise in the port of Akaroa. We also really enjoyed lunch on the Colonial Tram in Melbourne. The food, service, and sightseeing was extraordinary. We found it a great way to tour Melbourne in comfort. Another highlight was a small group Blue Mountains day trip we booked in Sydney through Viator. We reached the Featherdale animal park just as they opened and were able to feed and pet animals including kangaroos and koala bears. The trip continued to uncrowded viewing location of the Blue Mountains, Olympic Park, and a cruise back to Circular Quay which avoided rush hour crowded highways. Our itinerary was adjusted for this specialty cruise and was shortened to 12 days. We had an overnight in Melbourne and an overnight in Sydney which required omitting a couple of the regular Oosterdam ports. One thing we would not do again is book the very expensive Glamstand Glambar for viewing the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. We were promised free gourmet food and an open bar served by waiters. In reality the bar had a long, slow line with a limited selection of pre-mixed, cocktails in aluminum cans. The food was good but sparse and there were zero chairs for patrons of the "Glambar." People who opted for lower priced Glamstand tickets had stadium seating. For most Oosterdam passengers this will not be an issue since this was part of our specialty cruise. Conclusion: We enjoyed our adventure Down Under and made some great friends. HAL staff and the Oosterdam made for an overall good experience. Atlantis Events did an okay job, but missed an opportunity to make the trip amazing. 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Sail Date February 2013
We sailed on the Oosterdam out of Sydney to Auckland from Feb. 6 through Feb. 20th. We left from Barangaroo Wharf and not the OPT. A large white tent was the site of the staging area for the embarkation. Although everything went fine, ... Read More
We sailed on the Oosterdam out of Sydney to Auckland from Feb. 6 through Feb. 20th. We left from Barangaroo Wharf and not the OPT. A large white tent was the site of the staging area for the embarkation. Although everything went fine, there seemed to be a little conflict of information that was being told to us by all different staff as to what time we could check in and what time we would board. We were there early enough to grab a table and sit and play cards as we waited for boarding to begin at 12:30. Once on board, I immediately went to the Front Desk to sign up for the 2 cooking classes that were scheduled. I was surprised that there were only 2 as we had 6 sea days. Nevertheless, we were signed up. We also made our PG reservations for Valentine's Day dinner. We were good to go! We had an SS stateroom on Deck 8 centrally located and were very happy with our choice. The room was typical of others that we had stayed in on other HAL cruises -- no surprises for us. Although we had been told that during the drydock Deck 8 had been refurbished, we didn't notice it. We also didn't notice the need for it although from a decorating point of view it needed it. Our room stewards came to greet us and I had requested a second bathroom since there was only one in our room. It took 2 days to fulfill that request. We found that we had ample room in our SS category stateroom, more room that we needed. I will say that several of us found that the hairdryers that HAL provided seemed to overheat quickly and turn themselves off. I used one for a few minutes, put it down (which means that it is not on since you aren't pushing in that little button) and I could not turn it back on again for about 15 minutes. Happened a second time as well. I quickly learned not to take my finger off that button. Another person in our roll call had the same problems. We utilized the bag for unlimited laundry for $20 per bag but after we did it once, we were never given another bag. We were a little surprised that early dining was early -- 5:30 PM. We knew the first night that we would not be going to the MDR as we wanted to listen to Travel Expert Susan's commentary as we sailed out of Sydney Harbor. Many of us were in the Crow's Nest as she read her script as we viewed the scenery. We had wished (and this would be a common theme) that she could have put some personal words or thoughts into her commentary rather than just script. Provided to her. We left the Crow's Nest around 7:30 to go to the Lido pool deck area for the Sail Away BBQ. By the time we got there, they closed one of the two lines for food. Not too much was left for us who had chosen to listen to the commentary and my 8:00, it was closed down (the hours were published, we just didn't see it). Since we were still hungry, we went into Lido and all that was there was pasta and pizza station and the ice cream station. We went to Vista Lounge for the introductory show which you know is very short. An announcement was made that if you made private tour arrangements in Tauranga, let the front desk know as the captain was considering skipping that port. That seemed so strange as we couldn't understand why he would consider it almost 2 weeks out. Nevertheless, the next day I went down with my list of those who had booked with our Roll Call. A woman in line behind me thought it might have something to do with the smoking volcano between Auckland and Tauranga though another person said that it had been smoking for months. If the volcano or weather two weeks out were going to be a problem then would it really matter how many people booked private excursions? Safety is safety. Our M&G was set up for our second day which was the first sea day, at 10:00 AM in the Crows Nest. We were excitedly expecting about 70-80 people. Unfortunately, HAL let us down. They did not begin setting it up till about 9:50-9:55 while most of the people were there. Margo, the Events Coordinator for HAL came down briefly to explain that since her email was not working, no officers would be attending. She did not offer to say a few words to our Roll Call and hightailed it out of the area as quickly as she could. A perfect opportunity missed by HAL I actually think that Margo did nothing and that the HAL officers on board knew nothing about it. Both Diane, who organized the M&G and myself, who organized the RC, wrote comment cards almost immediately. We had received several telephone calls from the Front Desk to see if we had heard from Margo , and we hadn't. When I went to the Front Desk about another matter, they again asked if we had heard from her and that they all knew about the problem (she also had big problems with the M&G for the cruise before ours as that coordinator was on a B2B and told us about it). A pipe had burst in the ceiling on the port side of the 8th deck and several cabins got very wet including a new friend of mine. She reported lots of yelling and noise beginning at 2 AM when it was found and it continued with the noises of the dehumidifiers outside of her room. Her compensation - they gave her a bottle of champagne and strawberries. She brought them right down to the front desk and said that didn't cover having a wet floor for several days and sleepless night. They eventually gave her a shipboard OBC I did notice a few of the public toilets were always not working and that maintenance would be seen trying to repair them. We had no problem of clogged toilet. We did have a problem of scalding hot water coming out of our tap and shower. We could never get cool or cold water. Plumbers did come to adjust it. Our first port talk covered the first three ports -- Melbourne, Hobart and Dunedin. Unfortunately it was held in the Queen's Lounge and that would not accommodate the number of people who wanted to listen and learn. People were sitting on the stairs, in the hallway trying their best to listen. This should have been held in the Vista Lounge so more people could listen. Susan, our travel expert, always seemed to read from a script and she also appeared many times with the Shore Excursion people helping to push their tours. For us, it would have been nicer if she had remained more independent and truly a travel guide. Many times we would ask questions and she would either tell us to go to the I Center in town (information center) or she would give us partially incorrect answers (will it be easy to find a taxi when we embark at this port). She was also not up to date on things that were or would be happening when we were in port. She knew nothing about the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart with 600 wooden boats and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere though our Roll Call knew about it months earlier. Future port talks were held in the Vista Lounge. Many times Travel Expert Susan would co-present talks with the excursion specialist which was too bad. I think fewer people did the HAL excursions on this cruise than any other cruise I have been on. We didn't see that many buses parked at the docks for excursions though the Taieri Gorge Railroad came right u to the dock. As much as I enjoy trivia on board the boat, they seemed to have it all the time. Team Trivia, in the past for me, when it was on a sea day was generally held at 4:00 so we would be there during Happy Hour. On this cruise, it was at 1:00. Other trivias during the day were Culinary Trivia, Pub Trivia, Name that Tune Trivia (in Northern Lights) as well as the nights we had Name That Tune trivia in the Piano Bar. Games around the pool included Roll the Hula Hoop around the bucket of beer with CD Michael. Lifestylist Louise did a great job with Tai Chi classes -- well attended and she appeared to know what she was doing. I didn't take the class though my husband did. I did observe her teaching them around the pool several days as well as the water aerobics class. The casino was one of the smallest I have seen on a HAL ship and it never seemed full or fun. Didn't hear any yelling or excitement coming from that area. There were only a few fun machines for pennies and the quarter machines were one line only, not the 5 lines that I had seen on other ships. Many times were not open or operating due to cutbacks in personnel in the casino. Not much was happening around the pool deck, particularly on the night we had a late departure at 11:00 PM. When there is a late departure there are no shows and no casino and generally the line has something going on like a pool party. This night there was nothing! It would have been a great night perhaps to have someone familiar with the southern constellations give a talk as we viewed the skies, or to have a barbeque party with music and dancing and games. There was nothing! Crossing the Tasman Sea was fine. Although not smooth as glass, it was just a little rocky and didn't seem to affect most people. The morning that we entered Milford Sound was overcast with light sprinkling of rain and very cool. We were able to go out on the bow and unlike our bow experience through the Panama Canal, we found this not crowded at all. HAL missed a great opportunity to have waiters there selling Irish Coffee or any of the hot drinks. Passengers disembarked in the Sound for their Overland Trip to Queenstown (they would reboard in Dunedin). The second sound I viewed from the Crows Nest and you could see that weather was coming in. The ship was rocking and rolling as well as pitching. To me it was fun. As we were heading toward the next Sound the captain came on and announced that we would not be visiting the third Sound due to the high winds (42 mph) and the wave action (about 20 foot swells). The wind was coming from Antarctica and was hitting the broad side of the ship. He thought if we went into the Sound, then the storm would be worse with higher winds and larger swells. He wanted us to get around the bottom of New Zealand and then we would be going with the wind. By 10:00 that night, things had definitely calmed down. I did use the duct tape I brought to keep the safe door in our closet from swinging open and shut. Arriving in New Zealand we found that we were not allowed to bring any food or non bottled water off the ship. There was a sniffer dog at almost all the ports and we had to lower our backpacks and bags so he could sniff. A couple a few in front of me tried to smuggle off some bananas and the dog found them. There can be stiff fines so do not try it. Several ports we went to our departure was changed at the last minute to one that was later. Although many people appreciated it, it would have been helpful to know of this a little earlier so we could make other arrangements with our tours. We wondered why we were scheduled to leave Napier so early -- 2:00 particularly when the Art Deco festival was in its final day and there was so much going on in town. As we were on the ship waiting to leave, bi-wing planes were flying overhead as well as 4 jets doing aerials. I guess I would liken it to our Blue Angels. A great treat for all of us. New Zealand customs were also on our ship and over the course of two mornings we had to go to the Queens Lounge and bring any items that we had purchased in Australia as well as our declaration form. They will give you a list of materials that your items would have been made of. We had dairy products we were eating in our room (don't take them off the ship) as well as wooden items like our boomerangs and didgeridoo. They inspected it and did not quarantine anything. You cannot bring honey into NZ and they are adamant about that. Be honest and help them protect their island nation. My cooking class was fine although it was scheduled during the day we would be in the Sounds. I actually left lunch early so I could view the second Sound. It always seems to me that some people just take over and don't take turns with others. We enjoyed our lunch with wine in PG while my husband's class on Aussie Favorites ate in the Queens Lounge on tables. The singers and dancers appeared once, on the second night and we never saw them again. They were schedule to perform the last night but their performance was cancelled due to circumstances beyond their control. Something fishy was going on and no one would talk about it. Have you ever seen them dance only one night? The PG chef left the ship during the second week -- not sure what was happening there. We did go to the PG on Valentine's Day and was surprised there was nothing special to celebrate the day. No flowers for us, no hearts, etc. Also nothing on the ship for Mardi Gras although our RC brought lots of beads that we wore and we were the hit of the ship that day. Everyone wondered where we got the beads. There seemed to be an active card players group although there was no formal bridge classes/lessons. Most of the people that showed up for cards did play bridge. I think that this is one of the first cruises that did not have a bridge expert on the ship to run the classes and games. The library and computer area was just as great as it always is although they were having some difficult at times with internet connections. Piano Bar with Glenn-Michael was great. He played half the time on the piano and the other half on his keyboard. Every night was a theme (Broadway, TV themes) and twice he had Name that Tune. Because this was a 14 night cruise, he did begin repeating himself and the themes nevertheless , it was always crowded and fun. Other piano bars that I have been in began at 9:00 after the first show but since the first show was at 7:00, Piano Bar began around 8:00. The Dessert Extravaganza that is generally held poolside was held in the Atrium on the first floor. Not much room for the desserts, the workers or the passengers who came by -- another poor idea and an under utilized pool deck. I did not attend any of the computer classes but from what I heard and what I saw, they were a great success and people would begin lining up for the classes 40 minutes prior to class so they could get a seat and a computer. The afternoon teas were very nice and I enjoyed the food at them. The temperature in the ship seemed to vary. The MDR was fine to me, the Vista Lounge cool, the Explorers Bar was cold. Party Planner Kat told me that because the cruise before ours had been in the warm waters of the South Pacific the AC was cranked up but because we were not in cooler waters it takes a while for the ship to adjust. Didn't really make sense to me so I either threw a sweater on or took one off! Spa prices seemed higher than other ships I have been on. One of the "specials" toward the end of the cruise was a 75 minute special for $129. Last year I had a 90 special on Celebrity for $99. Never saw man people in the hydro pool. There was never any Lido pool music except for the last day which was a sea day. Our second sea day (and a good weather day) we could not lay around the Lido pool because HAL brought in banquet tables that were set up all around the pool to sell their overpriced trinkets. That was from 9 AM till noon-ish. I've seen it before when it has been done at the far end of the pool but this was all around the pool. Another surprise we had is when we returned to the ship after an excursion, there were not cool towels or lemonade/water waiting for us. I missed that. All and all we had a great time but it just seemed as if there was something off in this cruise. Not enough things to do that weren't continual repeats, no guest speakers, not many cooking demonstrations, not enough cooking lessons, many scheduled events that was listed in the Compass had a fee (Greenhouse Spa, drinking, mixology, wine sampling etc), too early for early fixed dining and the show times didn't work. With 5:30 dining it meant you missed the first 10-15 minutes of the 7:00 show and those who had the 8:00 dining always missed the end of the 7:00 show. I did meet some wonderful people on this cruise and some that I know that we'll meet again on another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We were on the 14 Day Solar Eclipse Cruise from Sydney -- November 7 -- 21. This report is later than I wished due to an extended case of mal de debarquement. Very disorientating. Most reports so far have focussed on the Solar Eclipse and ... Read More
We were on the 14 Day Solar Eclipse Cruise from Sydney -- November 7 -- 21. This report is later than I wished due to an extended case of mal de debarquement. Very disorientating. Most reports so far have focussed on the Solar Eclipse and whether the experience lived up to what HAL had advertised. For us it did -- we are not eclipse chasers and there was excitement and pleasure in the event for us. The Oosterdam was a new ship and we enjoyed exploring it. It is s bit longer than we like for cruising local waters but aren't they all? It is a ship where you know you are at sea baecase it is visible from bars and other public areas, you can walk around the deck and there is an aft deck open to all for enjoying the sunset and the wake of the ship. Embarkation We boarded shortly before noon and the process took less than 30 minutes. We did have priority boarding and although there was no queue outside at that time there was a crowd packed into the processing area upstairs at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. No seating of course -- this is the fault of the terminal design and there was some frustration, but the processing was efficient and fast. Do not worry if you arrive later or decide to defer boarding to explore. Lunch hours are extended until 4pm in the Lido on embarkation day and food service is effectively non stop somewhere on the ship all day. The Safety Briefing (aka Boat Drill) is at 5:30. If you or someone in your party has problems standing for any length of time identify this to the Front Office as there is no seating on the promenade deck -- they are removed to provide space. It also can get rather chilly standing around if you are on the windward side so take a jacket or wrap with you. We resorted to pool towels kindly lent by a fellow member of boat station 10. Before dinner check out the Adagio duo in the Explorer's Lounge and if Paul McD , the pianist is still on board head for the Piano Bar after dinner if you prefer small and intimate to the three tiered Vista Lounge for the Welcome Aboard Show. Dining We tried everything once and had chosen Open Seating in the Vista Dining Room. For us Open Seating worked well. We met the director of seating at the lifeboat drill on the first day. He is a small dapper man with the imperious gestures of an Italian traffic policeman, when directing passengers to their boat drill stations and a twinkle when in charge of table allocation. Each evening he seated us within a few minutes, usually at the same table for 8 or 10 where we had excellent servers. On one formal night service (at a different table) was chaotic but otherwise was excellent and well-timed allowing us to make the late show at the Vista Lounge. Cannaletto was good and I can recommend the Cod Putanesca. We were not so keen on the Le Circe Experience in the Pinnacle Grill -- too heavy on large servings of meat but we did enjoy lunch there, with a lighter meal. The Lido was not at all like a cafeteria. No lines past a selection of offerings in bain maries or large open spaces with masses of tables. There is a central servery section with different stations -- Asian, Salads, Entrees, Pastries etc. Tables are set up around the side in clusters , many with sea views and tables are cleared quickly. The Asian, Salad and sweets/pastries stations were good and they do an excellent fish and chips cooked freshly in small batches. Food in the MDR / Vista was varied. The soups were good as usual on cruise ships as were the salads -- remember to ask for anchovies on your Caesar Salad!. We found the fish (apart from shellfish) and poultry better than the meat dishes and learned to avoid heavily sauced dishes which tended to be on the sweet side for our taste. In general the food was on the unadventurous side with no bitter, sour or contrasting flavours. Room service for breakfast was always on time and only once delivered less than piping hot. If you order tea ask for extra tea bags and double the order so you get enough hot water -- no it will not be boiling. Bar prices are on par with other cruise lines -- even a little cheaper due partly to the strength of the Aussie dollar even with the 15% surcharge/gratuity. There were some reasonably priced wines on offer -- less so in the Pinnacle Grill and Vista Dining Room than n the Lido. They did not run out of the cheaper wines before the end of the cruise. Few Australian or New Zealand wines, except at the premium end of the wine list. Australian wine lovers had brought wine on board and drank it, paying the $18 cover charge and said they were still in pocket. Getting around the ship. Our cabin was mid ships and we used the outside glass elevators -- which were usually less crowded and quicker, since some people were uncomfortable with them. Trekking from the dining room to the show lounge could be a bore but on deck 3 you can slip outside and walk along the wide wrap around promenade deck. No broken down lifts! Public Areas Our favourite in the daytime and at sunset was the aft pool area, for swimming, sunbaking and casual dining at lunchtime. There were few children on board so the "adults only" status of this pool was not tested. The water was heated! and the weather fine enough for enjoying the sun, with shaded tables if you preferred. The midships pool has a retractable roof and was very popular -- more for lolling around reading and sunbaking and casual dining and drinking than for swimming. This area is also used for spot sales, ice carving, barbecues and other events so would only be attractive to more serious swimmer (IMO) in cool or wet weather. Perfect for a New Zealand cruise! Indoors the Crows Nest with wrap around windows at the bow of the ship attracted people all day for Trivia, the excellent library, computer access, the Explorations cafe for speciality coffees and free nibbles and just for reading and sea gazing. There is also a good bar and lots of varied seating from loll about to "sit up and concentrate we are going to win trivia". . In the evening there are numerous bars tucked in along the sides of the lower promenade deck and two around the rather small atrium. They mostly have windows looking directly out to sea and are also popular as informal meeting places and for indoor relaxation during the day, when several of these bars are closed. The three most popular bars were the Piano Bar for the entertainment, the Ocean Bar on the upper promenade deck for the Happy Hour -- a bit early for us at 4pm and the Explorer's Lounge where the Adagio duo (piano and violin) provided light classical and show tune music before and after dinner. The Explorer's Lounge is not a good choice if you are in a talkative group -- you will be sternly shushed while the duo is playing. The Vista Lounge (the main show and lecture theatre) is all red plush and has rather intrusive columns holding up the balcony level. Not my favourite on board theatre set up. I recommend you head to Deck 1 via the forward lifts and try for the comfortable chairs and tables on that level or opt for the balcony level on Deck 3 if you like to overlook the stage. The computer room, culinary arts centre and other meeting/seminar rooms are well set up and a good size. This reduces the pressure on the other public areas when there are groups on board wanting meeting rooms as there were on our cruise. The Culinary Centre (aka The Queens Lounge) doubles as a dancing, Karaoke and game show venue in the evening. Going ashore and tendering All four tenders were working and the process was efficient. There is a "back of house" lift to the tender platform if you are not happy with stairs -- ask for access when you collect your tender tickets. There were some delays first thing in the morning for tender tickets but no long lines. Returning to the ship and transfer ashore was quick without waiting time if you went ashore after 9:30 am. We were disappointed that the tender policy for scooter users proved to be more conservative than on Princess or P&O. Our small scooter was refused boarding for the tender and we needed to hire a wheelchair to get ashore at Hamilton Island and Isle of Pines. Expensive as there are no single day hires possible. We have been ashore three times on Isle of Pines with the scooter but... the decision is non-negotiable in these matters. In Brisbane and Noumea, where we docked at the commercial port, there were free shuttles with a quick turnaround and the queues were not long except first thing in the morning. The only disappointing port was Hamilton Island due to poor timing. It was a very busy weekend due to the annual Hamilton Island Triathlon so no independent tour operators were free, the shuttle around the Island had a queue at every stop and there were no buggies for hire at the Marina and those on the other side of the island were already spoken for. As a result the active legged it across to the beach and the less active mooched around the waterfront. Good oysters at the waterfront fish and chips cafe -- and they sell wine! Entertainment The lectures and special events during sea days were excellent and worth booking when this is required(E.g. Culinary Sessions) or lining up early if it is turn up and wait. (E.g. Computer sessions). Offerings on our cruise concentrated on the Solar Eclipse, Explorations and Captain Cook and the Southern Night Sky. Trivia was popular and well run. There was a bit of a lull mid afternoon but I guess that allows for the odd nana nap, sun baking or tucking into afternoon tea. The production shows in the Vista Theatre are not in the P&O class but they are enthusiastic and cheerful. One act -- a juggler was amusing if you had an ear for his accent and could follow the American references. The best act in the evening for us was the pianist in the Piano Bar. There were Karaoke evenings and dancing in the Queens Lounge and in the Northern Lights night club. Shopping on Board A very limited range of liquor except for high end spirits with prices no better than on line for more common items. Definitely not as good as Vila. The same is true for cosmetics and skin care -- you will find a better range and prices on line or from cut price chemists. There were some reasonably priced items in clothing in a wide range of sizes if you get caught out by weather changes. Some of the jewellery was well priced -- apart from the drop your jaw high end precious stones and watches. They had reef shoes for sale but the general store for things like Band-Aids and nibbles was very limited and tucked into a corner. Stock up well before you cruise or while ashore!. The general store on Hamilton Island did a roaring trade! The Deluxe Veranda Suite Experience. We took advantage of an upsell and splurged. It was a good choice for us. The Neptune Lounge provided an excellent continental breakfast, delectable take out goodies to enjoy as a light lunch on our balcony with the wine we had brought on board and the concierges did sort out bookings, bill errors and other requests sensibly and quickly. The Laundry Service was excellent. I wish I had taken a photograph of Harry's socks, which I had included by mistake, as they were returned by the laundry - wrapped in tissue paper and in a wicker basket. My only gripe about the cabin was the door onto the balcony. Getting it open required a lot of strength, think opening an airlock, and holding it open required placing items of balcony furniture in just the right combination. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We just got back from the Sept 2-9, 2012 Oosterdam Alaska sailing from Seattle. It was the first 7-day cruise we had done in 10 years and seemed to have a much younger average passenger age than the 14-21 day cruises we've been doing ... Read More
We just got back from the Sept 2-9, 2012 Oosterdam Alaska sailing from Seattle. It was the first 7-day cruise we had done in 10 years and seemed to have a much younger average passenger age than the 14-21 day cruises we've been doing and lots of West Coasters that booked last-minute like us. We last sailed the O-dam in late October 2011 on a 21-day Hawaii/Mexican Riviera Collector's cruise. Captain Van der Loo and Deejay Brett were on that cruise and this one as well. I have very high regard for this captain as he made some critical decisions last year with a triple medical evac on the Hawaii cruise. Brett is highly energetic and lots of fun. He remembered us from last year and we enjoyed sailing with him again. I was happy to see the condition of the ship was better than last year, even though it had just emerged from dry-dock at that time, which you couldn't tell. While we were sailing then, much of the public areas got new carpet and our cabin carpet was cleaned on the cruise this year. I didn't notice shabby/dirty upholstery on this cruise, but the cocktail tables throughout the ship (particularly in the Crow's Nest) need to be replaced. We were satisfied with our cabin. We were in a nice quiet spot in the aft on deck 6 and had been upgraded several categories. The beds and bedding are still awesome - I always sleep so well on a cruise. It also seemed that the heating/cooling system in our room worked better than normal. Cabin stewards did a great job and kept everything stocked. No issues there. Food was a little uneven. My favorite lunch was a Salad Nicoise with salmon that had the best balsamic/olive oil dressing in the MDR. I also enjoyed the sushi in the Lido and soups were wonderful as always. I didn't eat any bread, but DH said it was good. The cupcakes at the Cupcake Tea were dry and tasted like they had been frozen, which was also the case last year on O-dam. My cheeseburger the first lunch in the MDR was charred beyond recognition and the bun was as hard as a rock. I will say the coffee seemed better than last year. I didn't mind it and the cappuchinos at dinner were good as well. I didn't have salmon at the salmon bake by the pool this time, although I ate a lot of salmon and seafood at dinner. Several people mentioned that the salmon at the bake was bland, but very fresh. Entertainment was only fair. We have seen all the production shows several times before, so didn't bother to attend those. They had two comedians - a very funny guy with a dummy (mannequin-american as he called it) and Julie Barr (did 2 G-rated & an X-rated comedy show). She reminded me of Lisa Lampenelli and was entertaining. Only had the "Marriage Game" & "Liar's Club" shows in the Queen's Lounge. Saw one movie in the theatre - "This Means War", which was enjoyable. They also showed "The Lorax", "Hunger Games" and several others. We are big trivia players and there was one main trivia game per day in the Crow's Nest, along with a music/movie trivia game at 6:00 pm in the Queen's Lounge most days. The Alaska weather was beautiful. Tracy Arm/Sawyer Glacier was overcast but not raining and we got pretty darn close to the glacier. It was so late in the season there wasn't much ice and didn't see a single seal. Last summer on the Amsterdam, we saw countless seals there on the ice (some even having babies). We saw some bald eagles and quite a few whales and dolphin enroute. Juneau was partly sunny and very mild. Enjoyed walking around the harbor and doing some shopping. DH went to Mendenhall Glacier and really it enjoyed it and the waterfall there. He also got to touch a live bald eagle some guy had in town - he loved that. Ketchekan was perfectly clear (blue skies!) and fascinating to see the salmon running. I had never seen that before and it was great! Only downside was the rotten fish smell that permeated the whole town from all the dead ones. Sitka was its usual scenic self and clear as well. We walked around town and up into some neighborhoods and did more shopping. Victoria was a bust. We got in late and only had a couple of hours in late evening to explore. There were shuttles to take people downtown in the dark, but we chose to stay on the ship. It is a real shame not to get a whole day in Victoria - it is a beautiful city with a gorgeous harbor and lots to do. Overall, I would rate this cruise a B+. It wasn't my favorite cruise (out of 13 so far), but it wasn't the worst either. For what we paid for it last-minute, I felt we got our money's worth and enjoyed a pleasant week's vacation. Still like Holland America as much as ever! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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