Sail Date: May 2012
This being our second HAL cruise and reading the reviews of the ship, we travelled with somewhat lower expectations than our previous HAL cruise. Overall the cruise exceeded our expectations; however we were deeply disappointed on ... Read More
This being our second HAL cruise and reading the reviews of the ship, we travelled with somewhat lower expectations than our previous HAL cruise. Overall the cruise exceeded our expectations; however we were deeply disappointed on several counts but mainly by an incident regarding the final port of Victoria. HAL seem to be making cut backs and its starting to show. Seattle Found this a great place, very clean and friendly. Well worth a couple of days pre or post cruise. The highlight for us was a tour of the Boeing factory. Highly recommend this tour even for no aviation fans like us. Embarkation Things seemed a little hectic and messy but this was expected as this was the first cruise out of Seattle this season There was poor signage (towards the suite check in) and the checking of Non US ID took a bit longer as staff had to refresh their memories and check which nationals required VISAS. Not all the security screening points were operational. The line for the remainder of the cabins seemed long. Security check took around 20 Mins and the suite check in took around 15 mins after security. Boarding Nice and easy as always on HAL Ships. Cabin ready on arrival and baggage fast and ready on return form an excellent buffet in a very busy Lido. ( The Lido seemed very over crowded compared to normal, this put down to Roof open in pool area and weather fairly cool) Cabin and Ship Condition Many of the reports on this site mention the poor condition of the ship, we found no evidence of this other than a small amount of rust on a small number of pillars on our aft corner balcony. The balcony furniture was fine and the cabin well maintained and clean as always. The cabin team do a great job. Food Overall the Food was excellent as always. Lido Buffet Although food was excellent, some choices ran out early both at lunch and dinner. Late buffets seemed more to the benefit of the ships officers and ended too early. The Pinnical As always the food and service were second to none. Well worth the $25 surcharge for dinner and $10 for lunch. Breakfast for Suite guests also proved the upgrade in cabin well worth the additional costs. The Canneletto The only real food disappointment. Service was far to slow and waiters did not seem to know what was going on. The highlight of the meal was watching the Whale just off the ship. Main Dining Room Only ate here once (On disembarkation day), Open dining did not seem to work without a reservation. Had to wait in line for over 30 mins, but after that given a buzzer and about 15 mins later seated. Room Service Breakfast always delivered to room earlier than booked, could not fault the service otherwise. Would like to have Fries available with the main meals rather than just chips ( Crisps). Just be prepared to wait about 45 -- 60 mins, which is reasonable. Entertainment & Facilities Overall ok, but not much need for entertainment with the Scenery outside. Main Shows Only went to 2, but the ones we went to were the usual standard for cruise liners. Disappointingly they seemed to be the same as over 14 months ago on the New Amsterdam. Piano Bar Well worth the visit (and in our case the hangover the next day!) HAL Cats Again proved much more entertaining than the Main show Future Cruise Representative not very helpful ( probably as like others in the crew had throat infection). Inventory for next year not yet available other than Holiday season. Neptune Longe Great service as always Tour Organiser Very well informed and gave great talks. Shame the tour desk was not of the same standard ( when open!) Public Restrooms Sad to say HAL are letting themselves down. Either not working or very Smelly! Ports, Scenery and Tours Tracey Arm Fjord - Fantastic Scenery, great to get to the front of the ship. Shame the ship was unable to go the full distance, but must have been a very cautious captain! Watch for the amazing blue ice floating by and glaciers. Juneau -- An amazing place, make sure to visit Mendenhall Glacier and the Whale watching trip. Did the combination tour through HAL. The Glacier was a slight let down, you don't get up and close, just seem from the distance. Would have liked more time to walk the trails. This was more than compensated for by the excellent crew who took us out to watch the whales and other marine life. Sitka -- Not much around port, more on offer for the sporting type. Very scenic though. Ketchikan -- Love the old style and History of this port. Did a tram bus tour arranged off ship and well worth it to get more of the history and background of the town. Victoria -- Did not get to see, please see my big whinge further down the report! Disembarkation We made a big mistake by not booking the Airport transfers earlier! They had sold all space available half way through the 7 days! This has never happened to us before, luckily 3rd party shuttle busses available at pier, but again as first cruise of the season this was a bit chaotic and had to wait around for about an hour. The general disembarkation for guest well organised an fast. Sorry to say they did not offer early morning of departure pick up of luggage for suite guests as in the past. Finally the Big Issue! -- Only if the Crew had been open and honest with the passengers this would not have escalated into a major issue for us and our fellow passangers! I have contacted HAL and are awaiting a response on the below, but this really has left us regretting paying deposits for 2 future cruises with HAL. Having left Ketchikan on the cruise for the final port of call in Victoria, we were followed out of dock by a NCL cruise ship. On arriving over 3 hours late in Victoria the NCL cruise ship had already docked next to us. On disembarking the ship we asked the passengers of the NCL cruise ship as to what time they arrived. NCL had docked on schedule at 6PM. During the journey on the Friday nothing had been communicated to the passengers by the ship's crew. There was noticeably no update from the captain during that day on the progress of the journey. On Saturday afternoon there was eventualy an update on the cruise from the captain, during which he mentioned that as the ship was running behind schedule and would arrive late in Victoria. He mentioned that all the tours in Victoria would be cancelled and credited to the room accounts. We note this was not mentioned until after the disembarkation brief and the customer surveys had been completed. No mention was made to the reason for the delay. To add to our suspicions we had found is strange that in the Morning that the tours desk had been closed and that the Neptune lounge were very vague when we tried to book an excursion in Victoria in the morning for that afternoon / evening. Eventually on disembarkation in Victoria, there was dangerous overcrowding in the stairwells leading to the gang way to shore, as most of the ships passengers attempted to leave the ship quickly to make the most of the 2 hours we had remaining in Victoria. Speculation was rife amongst the masses of passengers. The most common theory amongst others was that the ship had failed to take on enough fuel prior to departure. On questioning the crew about the delay at this time the only answer given was "Only the Master Knows". Many passengers were asking if the ship would still be leaving on time and were disappointed with a very blunt "Yes" response. Later on returning to the ship and asking other crew members for the reason for the delay we were told it was due to "Operational Reasons". It is also worth noting that the ship did finally dock early on its return to Seattle. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Sunday -- Arrival After arriving at Seattle airport, we flagged down a HAL representative to ask where we would drop off our luggage since we had purchased airport to ship transfers. Of course it was way down on the end of baggage ... Read More
Sunday -- Arrival After arriving at Seattle airport, we flagged down a HAL representative to ask where we would drop off our luggage since we had purchased airport to ship transfers. Of course it was way down on the end of baggage claim concourse. The buses to take us the pier is on the opposite end, a nice hike for a healthy adult, not so good for some of the older folks. We got our ticket pass color to get on the next bus and off we went. Embarkation Since we are booked in the deluxe verandah suite, we had priority check-in when we arrived at the pier. So we had a special window to check us in when we arrived upstairs. We were assigned group 1 to first onboard. Timing is everything and it turns out the representative was just starting to put the lines together and we were the first couple to step onto the ship! We bypassed the photographers since we are only interested in the pictures from the upcoming formal nights. The ship is similar to the Carnival class ships since they are sister companies. We went to the cabin and loved the room with huge verandah. There is a Jacuzzi/shower and separate shower with double sinks. Lots of closet space and ample room to relax while we waited for our luggage to arrive. We decided to go to the Neptune Lounge which is an exclusive service for penthouse and deluxe verandah suite guests only. Introduced ourselves to the concierge and helped ourselves to some snacks. Also to redo our dinner reservation to an earlier time than what was assigned. Then time to explore the rest of the ship including the shops and of course the casino to get our pin code so we can use our cabin room card in the slot machines. Went up the Explorers Cafe towards the front of the boat to check out available square tables for our get together with a couple from Oregon later in the day hopefully. The mandatory muster drill was next so we reported to our stations while they call out each stateroom to check us off the list. The ship sets out of Seattle on time and we got ready for dinner after the late arrival of my bag while my hubby's got there fairly early. Since we receive free laundry service, hubby had shirts to get ironed for tomorrow's first formal night so we put them in the bag and had the concierge take care of it. We arranged a brief meeting with the couple from Oregon at 5:30. She wanted to learn about the live version of Mah Jong so I offered to a lesson. After some light conversation we excused ourselves to go to dinner. We got a table by the window and met a couple from Florida. It turns out we only see them twice as they were avid trivia fans so they would go that 6 pm session as often as they could. The food in the main dining room was good but nothing to brag about and the portions were a bit smaller than on Carnival. We decided to skip the old welcome aboard show and tried our luck at slots. The slot machines are open all the time while in international waters while the table games are open at 10 am. All the casinos games are closed while in port. We called it a night and went to bed. Monday -- We woke up early to receive our room service and then head over to Pinnacle Room for breakfast. Great service and the food ah so yummy. We met the gal from Oregon in the Explorer Cafe for Mah Jong lesson. The ship has hit some rough waters and it is rocking pretty good this morning. Her husband is a bit seasick so he is on the mends in their cabin. Glad I had taken Dramamine before starting the cruise. Visited the Neptune Lounge for more snacks and then to the casino for some slots while we waited to partake in the slot tournament. Alas both of us did not even make the first cut. Darn machines! Then visited the food carving demonstration in the Culinary Arts center. We went to dinner (formal night) and decided to see Barnaby in the showroom. He is a juggler, comedian and it was pretty good. The boy from the audience kind of stole the show. Clock change back an hour before going to bed. Tuesday -- The captain reported that there were too many icebergs still in Tracy Arms so we are going to Endicott Arms instead. It was very nice as we donned our coats and sat out on the verandah taking in the sights. Hubby spotted a golden brown bear with her cub out in the open meadow. Quite a sight. There were plenty of waterfalls as we headed towards the glacier. The glacier is pretty with its blue ice and then the ship did a 180 to sail back out. Stopped in at the Neptune Lounge to make reservations at the Italian restaurant for tomorrow night. We adjourned to the Ocean Bar to find the HALCats band playing with a pretty good female singer. We listened and was served appetizers with purchase of drinks. We went to dinner in the MDR and off to the casino to try our luck at the table games. The Broadway show is the same as prior cruises so we skipped it. Wednesday -- We arrived in Juneau and we have a full day of excursions booked. Off the docks and waited for the bus to take us to the whale watching boat. We went shopping for a unique whale pendent for my omega necklace. Stopped in several shops but then finally found what I was looking for. Bargained until I was comfortable with the price and headed back to the dock to board the "moose" bus as the identifier to take us to the boat. The catamaran took us out with a naturalist providing narration and answered questions about the sea life in the area. First stop was a buoy with seals and a bald eagle resting on top which at first looked fake but it did move. Then off to find humpback whales which took a while but we spotted a few. We were finally able film on and it is awesome. The boat took us to Orca Point Lodge for a salmon lunch and then back to the dock for the bus to take us to Mendenhall Glacier. We are allotted 1 hour to take pictures and see the movie at the visitor center. We were not impressed with this glacier in comparison with Endicott. It is just a tourist trap in our opinion. The bus dropped us off at the ship and we headed back to relax a bit before going to dinner at Canaletto Italian restaurant. The show with Joel Mason as Elton John was pretty good. Thursday -- Arrived in Sitka at 8 am. Another excursion to see the sea otters, bald eagles, and whales. We all gathered in the Vista lounge to get called for our tenders. As it turns out, we got directly on the excursion boat from the ship. We sailed out into fairly rough waters and a few passengers lost their breakfast but it was fun for us. First stop was the sea otters which we found a group off. They did not appear to be shy at all. Then we spotted a bald eagle in the trees and then came up on an actual nest. On the way back we spotted some more humpback whales. The boat dropped us off at Sitka pier area and we boarded the bus to visit the Raptor center where all the birds of prey that are found injured are rehabilitated at the facility and released back to the wild. They brought in a live bald eagle into the room while we asked questions. Afterwards we hopped back on the bus and went back to the pier to catch a tender to the ship. On our trip back to the ship, we hit a huge wave that gushed water into the first row of the boat, turning our tender into submarine for a few seconds! It was quite a sight on the driver of the tender. He slowed down a bit after that, as I am sure he was not looking forward to writing the incident report telling the captain how one of the cruise passengers ended up soaking wet from the knees down!! Hubby thought it was quite hilarious. (Too many hours on the water in his own boats.) The driver turned all shades from white to red after that. After dinner (2nd formal night) we went to see the comedian Julie Barr. She was ok, had a few funny lines but not overly consistent. Friday -- Arrived in Ketchikan around 7 am. We had an excursion to the Saxman village so we boarded the bus from the docks. The weather was a bit on the wet side as we were ushered into an auditorium at the village for slide presentation. Afterwards a bit of a hike to the village gathering hall for their native dancing demo. It was ok as it is another tourist made production. We visited the totem pool carving house for another demo. The smell of the cedar logs was nice and it kept us out of the rain. A short trek to the totem pole displays which we did not stay very long and then back to the bus. We were not overly impressed with this excursion. I had the notion that we were going to see actual village people doing crafts such as weaving, pottery making, etc. But it is what it is. We went down to the photo gallery upon returning to the ship to check out our pictures from the formal nights. We decided to buy their package which comes with the pictures on CD, 8 by 12, 5 by 7, and wallet size photos. Pricey but worth it. We went to dinner and skipped the production show. Saturday -- Sailed most of the day and arrived in Victoria B.C. late but some passengers still got off the ship for excursions. We decided to stay onboard as we had reservations at the Pinnacle room for our last dinner on board. We packed some of the clothes for tomorrow's disembarkation. Disembarkation -- We finished packing after our breakfast up in the Lido deck and waited for our time to depart. A very relaxing cruise and our hats off to the Concierge, Neptune Lounge, and laundry service. It is so nice to have clothes cleaned every day. We will certainly have this service on the next Holland America cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
My Husband and I are fairly new to cruising. We have been on three so far in the past 6 months and have many more booked for the next 6 months! We are having a blast! We chose HAL Oosterdam to visit Alaska on a 7 day cruise out of Seattle ... Read More
My Husband and I are fairly new to cruising. We have been on three so far in the past 6 months and have many more booked for the next 6 months! We are having a blast! We chose HAL Oosterdam to visit Alaska on a 7 day cruise out of Seattle May 27-June 3rd. We want to try all the lines, and had every intention of booking something new to try. In the end, I insisted on using HAL again for such an important cruise. I have waited my whole life to see Alaska. We live in Ga. so for us, the airfare makes this one expensive! Based on our first cruise with HAL on the Ryndam, (which was really HOT due to no A/C for most of a 7 day Caribbean cruise because of engine problems the entire time)which was pretty near PERFECT.We were hooked!!! The staff were amazing on both ships, the service impeccable on both, the accommodations wonderful on both (this time, we opted for a verandah instead of ocean view ) and we LOVED the peacefulness without the party types when we go without the kids.... The only complaint I have, (and to us, it was a BIGGIE) was the food in the main dining room. I had it in my head, it would be just as wonderful on every HAL ship. Boy, was I wrong! It was not even close..... The Oosterdam was a huge disappointment in the quality. We tried the first four days, hoping it would improve. It just didn't... We gave up and did not return after that.. The Ryndam really had it going on. The same food choices for the most part,but there really is a vast difference. To be honest, we are not sure what to think now about HAL , and are kinda leery of trying a third boat with them... Maybe, I will stick with what I know, and not venture out anymore when it comes to HAL's other ships. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
****LONG REVIEW***** We had a great time on HAL's MS Oosterdam. I was crazy enough..I mean cheap enough....to book me, my wife, my 17 year old daughter and my 70 year old uncle in a VC Verandah on the starboard bow. We wanted to ... Read More
****LONG REVIEW***** We had a great time on HAL's MS Oosterdam. I was crazy enough..I mean cheap enough....to book me, my wife, my 17 year old daughter and my 70 year old uncle in a VC Verandah on the starboard bow. We wanted to take advantage of the very discounted 3rd and 4th person discounts. I really thought we would be okay in our 174 square foot room, but we caught a huge break the Tuesday before the cruise. The world's greatest cruise consultant called me and emailed me and said that there was a cancellation in Suite 7065, a Deluxe Verandah (Balcony) Suite directly across from the Neptune Lounge that we could have for a total of $498.00 more. I did things right this time and told her immediately to book it. The reason I got the call is that I had received the same upsell offer 13 days before our cruise. The email came out at 12:01 p.m. and I was on the phone shortly after that. The consultant said there were three rooms available in the Deluxe Suite category.....all of the Superior Suites being offered at $198.00 extra were gone. I made the mistake of asking questions about the category and which room would be best. It took me about 2 minutes to get through my questions and I decided to book. Wouldn't you know it? During our conversation, the three rooms disappeared. I asked if any more upsells are typically offered and was told that one may come up if there is a cancellation, but the chances were somewhere between no way and no how. To anyone looking for an upsell, I was told I got the email because I had specifically called and asked to be notified of any upsell opportunities. This was the first time I had ever been offered such a deal, and we saved about $1,800.00 over booking the Suite directly. We were excited about the extra room, the bigger verandah and all the perks....especially the laundry. Our journey started in Texas. We flew into Seattle on Saturday night and stayed at the Hilton by the airport. This gave us a chance to try out the new light rail from the airport to downtown. A three minute walk from the hotel to the 176th Street Bridge and we were able to to get on the rail for $8.50 total and store our luggage with no problem. After a couple of hours in the Market, we took the $20.00 cab ride to Pier 91. We were taken to a special line and checked in immediately and given our stateroom cards. The ship opened for boarding at 11:45 a.m. and we were among the first on the ship. The embarkation looked like it was moving well for everyone and was very well organized. Our room was ready so we were able to go straight to level 7 and drop off the things we were carrying. We explored the ship and felt it was very fancy and very clean. It was the nicest ship we had ever been on. Like others, our expectations were low with the reviews talking about how worn the ship is, but we did not see any evidence of that whatsoever. I am not questioning the other reviewers, may be we just did not look hard enough. The public areas were well laid out and easy to get to. We went up to the Deck 9 Lido Buffet, which was really never quite like a buffet since we were served throughout the cruise. After 48 hours, the beverages became self serve and the desserts, pastries and fruits were self serve. Mostly, though, you need to stand in line at every station and wait for the crew member to plate your food and hand it to you. We also noticed the curious lack of trays. Some of the many, many elderly aboard the boat would use the sitting area of their walkers as trays.....which I thought was ingenious. The buffet was extremely crowded on sea days and part of the problem was that groups would anchor window tables for hours and play games and cards and look at the spectacular scenery why others were very anxiously looking for a place to sit and eat. HAL should have someone with authority gently move these folks along or consider opening the Vista Dining Room, the main dining room, for lunch. The Vista Dining Room hosted breakfast and dinner, but I never saw lunch. To avoid crowds, you may want to pay the $10.00 upcharge and go to the Pinnacle Grill for lunch on Deck 2. Overall, we thought the food was very good. However, it is our least favorite of the 3 lines we have sailed on. Norwegian's incredible variety makes NCL food our favorite and Carnival's food on our December 2011 cruise was excellent. Our theory....just a theory....is that the dishes on HAL are made less spicy and seasoned due to the average age of the consumer. Our guess was that 80% of our shipmates were over 60. It seems that HAL really caters to senior citizens, who are their bread and butter. The catering to seniors seems to show up in the entertainment, the activities, the music around the ship.....everywhere. Unlike Carnival and NCL, there was no 24 hour restaurant or pizza. Only room service was available after around 11:00 p.m. but there were no room service menus. It was a little disheartening to try and get the room service order taker to try and tell me the menu categories in a very thick accent that I just could not understand. Room service was about a one hour proposition, but the food did come warm. The nightly entertainment was much less ambitious than that of other cruise lines. Barnaby was really funny and edgy. Joel Mason as Elton John was a lot of fun. Joel Mason is really entertaining and funny, but his voice will never be confused with Elton John's. He is a fair singer at best, but he made the audience participate and everyone had fun. The ships best entertainment is in The Crow's Nest with the soothing crooning of Matt Murphy and in The Piano Bar with the incomparable Nathan Temby. Temby was in his second week on the ship and he can really belt out tunes from every genre. The drinks were very reasonably priced on the ship and the happy hour promotion of buy one get one for a dollar was extremely popular. The crew was outstanding. They work very, very hard and make you feel at home. Our room stewards were great and our wait staff was fun and full of energy. The auto tips per person are now $12.00 per day. We tipped the heck out of our concierges, waiters and room stewards.....the really deserved it. Be careful about booking your excursions too early.....the ship ran late to Juneau. Even though we were anchored just off shore, we were not ready to get off the ship until about 7:50 a.m., and we were supposed to meet our tour rep at 7:30 a.m. We did not get off the ship in Victoria until about 8:00 p.m......an hour later than the already delayed time. The Captain said it was the headwinds that delayed us, but the NCL Pearl left after we did and ended up in Victoria at 6:00 p.m. Three shore excursions were cancelled....all Butchart Gardens related. Hopefully, HAL will straighten this out. We sailed Endicott Arm instead of Tracey Arm due to ice. We got very close to the glacier and the wildlife was great. My wife and daughter went to the Pinnacle Grill Friday night for "An Evening at LeCirque". The charge was $39.00 per person. They reported an interesting dining experience, but not enough of an upgraded menu to make the $39.00 charge worth it. I scoured Cruise Critic for every detail about the Oosterdam and appreciated all the reviews and posts that helped prepare us for our cruise. I saved all of The Explorer daily guides and can tell you what you need to know about activities or scheduling. The vast majority of the passengers wear slacks to dinner, but you can get away with jeans. Monday and Thursday are the formal nights. Lobster is served on Thursday, along with with what they call a fillet of beef. The last thought I have is to pack carefully and watch your weights and measurements. We saw several folks at the airport having to check over sized carry ons and having to pay oversize checking fees. We would sail again on this ship anywhere and anytime. I hope you all enjoy your cruises on this great ship. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
First let me say that I did a lot of research on Alaska cruises prior to booking. My research included the individual cruise lines comparing pricing, accommodations, services and dining, as well as through sites like cruisecritic.com. We ... Read More
First let me say that I did a lot of research on Alaska cruises prior to booking. My research included the individual cruise lines comparing pricing, accommodations, services and dining, as well as through sites like cruisecritic.com. We ultimately booked through an independent agent through the Internet due to some booking incentives. After booking I started watching the blogs closely in anticipation to our cruise on the HAL Oosterdam leaving Seattle, WA on Sunday, May 13, 2012. We arrived a couple of days prior to the cruise and stayed in Seattle, arguably one of our favorite places in the US. We arrived at the port for embarkation early (about 10:30am) and met DW's sister and her DH. Porters were available everywhere and before we were able to put a foot on the ground one was there ready to take our bags. The awesome service had begun. We entered Terminal 91 and found it to be clean and very well marked. The brother-in-law had rented a powered scooter and it was ready and waiting for him when they arrived at the terminal (big plus). As we entered the terminal, it became clear that one hand didn't always know what the other hand was doing. We were ushered toward an elevator (because of the scooter) but my DW was in the bathroom. The nice man that had offered the elevator had stepped away and a not so pleasant woman, pointing toward the elevator said "GO OVER THERE". Mind you, I am just starting my long awaited vacation...RUDE was not what I was looking for. Just as I started to chime in, the nice man returned and got us on the elevator. Security screening was not horrible, but I did have too many carry-on's (not more than I could physically handle, but more than I wanted to handle) so I was getting a bit crabby standing in line that wasn't moving as quickly as I would have liked. As we reached the front of the line, we were ushered to a nice lady that had a total of 3 people standing behind her...helping her. Not only was she new, but they were learning a new booking system as well. She did the best she could with what she had to work with, and surprisingly enough, I let it roll off. We were inside the terminal with check-in completed and waiting to board by 11:10a Boarding began promptly at 11:30, and being in the front of the disabled line we were on board by 11:45. As we walked on, I asked if we could wait for our cabins in the Vista Dining Room - the response was "your cabins are ready". WOW! That has never happened on Carnival - we have always had to wait until at least 1pm. We were on and our vacation had begun. Now, all of the things that I had read in the blogs that I would like to comment on. CABINS: We booked a guaranteed SY category "Superior Suite". We were upgraded to an SS in cabin 8042. Upon entering the cabin we were definitely in love. Very large (for a cruise ship) bathroom with 2 sinks, tub with Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. There was lots of storage space, not only in the 4 closets but in drawers around. The sofa was a red leather color, but was very comfortable. I laid on it most every evening for movie night. There are 3 nice chairs and a footstool. The lighting could be better, especially in the entry hall. We had a slight problem with the in-room safe, but the staff came and took care of it. This cabin is shown as having a queen sized bed - we had a king. I had heard that the refrigerators were more like cooling boxes. I can tend to be very critical about things, but I must say, it worked much better than I expected. It was nice having it in the room. We brought on a 12-pack of soda and some bottled water and it was very drinkable. The veranda was spacious with 2 chairs and footstools, as well as a round table and 2 chairs. We were impressed by the cabin, and more so after looking at the other part of the family is 8027 veranda. It was quite a bit smaller and more cramped than ours. The upgrade was worth it for us. CREW: The reviews that I have read about the crew were pretty right on. The staff that we dealt with (excluding the front desk staff) were awesome and always willing to go the extra mile. Our room stewart ("Su") always had the room cleaned and turn down down while we were out. He tried once when we were on the balcony, and when we offered to vacate so he could work he apologized and said that he would come back. Awesome... The Vista Dining Room staff (Mafood and Gun) were great - could not have asked for better service. The front desk staff were not so great. I found it very difficult to communicate with them over the simplest of issues. Their English was not horrible, but the accent does tend to get in the way when you are frustrated and trying to deal with a problem. We had purchased a soda card ($25 for a $50 card) - it was a good deal, but it would not activate and I took it back. After about 10 minutes of explaining the problem about 4 times, she gave me a new card. I didn't look real close and we tried to use it at dinner and it didn't work because it had not been "activated", which is supposed to happen the 1st time you use it - it didn't. I took it back a 2nd time - frustration level climbing - only to find that they replaced the soda card with a $50 beverage card and charged me for both. After explaining the problem to someone else again...they were able to make it right, and charge all of our soda purchases that had not been covered on the card. FOOD: Let me start with our top pick. The Pinnacle Grill was amazing! It was definitely worth the additional money. We ate there once for dinner and once for lunch. Would highly recommend. The Vista Dining Room - as I said, the staff was excellent. I was really looking forward to the food after reading through the blogs and HAL's website. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the food was nothing special. The shrimp that they served had no taste, the steaks were less than prime and not very tasty. I could go on and on - but, it didn't ruin our cruise. If we had be left only to the Lido I would have jumped overboard - even in frigid waters. The only word to describe it is "gross". I had better food in boot camp. The oatmeal was paste, the scrambled eggs were powered, and everything I tried (outside of the hamburger, taco bar and the ice cream) didn't get finished. SHIP: I had heard differing comments about the condition of the ship. I found the ship to be very clean and in good condition. I did not notice the areas of disrepair that were mentioned - and I was looking for them. One thing that was not mentioned was the on-board photography. The sister-in-law found a package deal on HAL's website for $299 - all photo's taken on board included. We figured that we would look when we arrived and decide after that. Once on-board we found that the package had increased $50. If you like good photo's this is a good deal even at full price. We ended up with about 20 different seating's for photos, and came home with a ton of photo's. You can go to any of the places on ship where they are taking photos as much as you want, change cloths and go back if you like. If they are not busy, they will often do as much as you want, and as goofy as you like. DW took advantage of it and we go our monies worth. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the ... Read More
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the glass elevators on the outside of the ship that traveled between decks at midships. The pools are large and one could actually swim laps in them. The hot tubs were clean and generally warm but not really hot. The central pool deck covers when the weather is poor making it quite comfortable to sit at even when the weather doesn't cooperate. There were lots of nice nooks and crannies to sit and read in a sheltered area. The Lido deck has the different buffets: Entrees, Dessert, Drinks, Asian and Italian. This changes at the different meal times. We ate supper in the Vista Dining lounge and found the food to be excellent, and the service was doting. I felt it would have been nice to have a little more seafood such as lobster or crab but, nonetheless it was very tasty. The shows at night were entertaining, but not amazing. At least they try to entertain you so you have to give them some credit. I was not impressed by the activities because they seemed to be all about upselling you products rather than just giving you information or an activity to do. I was not please to find that they charged extra to use the steam rooms, hot pool and sauna- they wanted $100 for four days. This was included in the Carnival cruise. The port we stopped at was quite limited with very few activities unless you wanted to pay to do the usual whale watching, kayaking etc. Other than that we enjoyed ourselves. This would be a good cruise for just relaxing as long as you don't get bored to easily. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2012
I picked this cruise because of the itinerary and because it left and returned to Vancouver (our neck of the woods). My husband and I are in the 35-54 demographic so wondered if Holland America was the right cruise line for us but were ... Read More
I picked this cruise because of the itinerary and because it left and returned to Vancouver (our neck of the woods). My husband and I are in the 35-54 demographic so wondered if Holland America was the right cruise line for us but were certainly willing to give it a try. Turns out that there were only a few minor drawbacks to sailing on a line pretty much dedicated to not only seniors but the elderly. Yes, we saw a few children from time to time and a handful of couples under 40 but our general impression was that the average passenger was about 80. I believe that the same ease of transportation that attracted me to this itinerary was also a draw to many older seniors living on the lower mainland of BC and Vancouver Island. Staff on board made mention several times that they had never seen so many mobility impaired pax on a single cruise and that their wheelchair facilities were stretched to the max. Also there were a lot of Canadians. I didn't get the stats but we did run out of Clamato juice for Bloody Caesars so, yeah, lots of Canadians. Embarkation was quick and easy. We had paid a little extra for an upgrade to a Deluxe Verandah which was roomy enough with lots of storage space and a big verandah (compared to my only other balcony on Celebrity). The stewards were very good; one was a bit shy about using English but there was no communication problem and they were both very quick to keep us in extra ice and laundry request sheets. We choose the unlimited laundry and pressing option which for our 16 days was $119.00 and well worth it. There was also a $20.00/bag option but we're both XL-sized so wouldn't fit much in the bag. The first day out I sent my husband's dress shirts and two of my dresses for pressing so they looked pretty for dinner. The next day and every two days after that I sent socks, underwear and whatever else might need a wash so that when we got home there was only one small basket for me to tackle. I've read some recent reviews complaining that the Oosterdam's furnishing are old, dirty and tatty. I noticed a few very faded lounge chair pads and some scarring on furniture but only when I was looking with a critical eye - generally I was so busy running from one event to another or meals or schlepping back to the cabin for a nap I never saw the imperfections. The food was good to excellent. I was disappointed that the Chinese and Indonesian and Indian buffets were so mild but there was always Sriracha hot sauce or sweet chili sauce available to spice things up. There were so many food choices that even with devoted attention to five or six meals a day I didn't manage to get "a bit of everything". Breakfast choices include: fresh fruit, danish pastries, donuts, congee, oatmeal, made to order omelets, waffles with choice of toppings (mango!), french toast, blueberry or banana pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns made with white and sweet potatoes, beans on toast, fresh squeezed orange juice, twenty types of tea, Swiss muesli, eggs benedict station with choices like Scottish (gravlax), St. George (real crab meat), and Messina (mushrooms and cheese sauce) oh, and bacon, eggs fried to order or scrambled, sausage links or patties, also bagels, cream cheese, gravlax, cheese slices and a few cold cuts just in case. Early in the cruise they promoted a tour of the kitchens. There was one guy at the front of the line of passengers which stretched out as folks stopped to take pictures and look around. We didn't get to hear him at all but they did provide us with a map of our route and the stations we were passing. Some of the stations also put out samples. The pasta station had a nice display of ingredients (they use Barilla pasta) and plates of Italian sausage to taste. There were also big wheels of cheese with tastes, demos from staff making bread animals, fondant roses and ice carving, giant raw steaks that would be grilled up for dinner that night and a tray of warm cookies at the end. We had the "As you wish" dining option which turned out pretty well for us. Again, because of the clientele we discovered quickly that planning for the later show (10pm vs. 8pm) and dinner anytime after 7:15 allowed us to ask for a table for two and frequently get it as well as choice seating for the show. Many sea days our evening went something like: 5pm happy hour with free hot appys in the Crow's Nest listening to Matt Murphy (excellent). Change for dinner, win trivia at 7pm (we got some great lootz) then head to MDR for dinner. There was plenty to do on board. Trivia and karaoke seemed very popular on this sailing. Diane in the piano bar is fabulous and Matt the guitarist in the Crow's Nest knows almost as many songs as she does. Matt in particular likes to "adjust" the lyrics to the room and works the waitstaff into his act. The HALCats are great but I wasn't very keen on their vocalist. The Adagio Strings were also nice to listen to for awhile. The movies shown in the screening room during the day and twice instead of live entertainment on ports days included: The Help, War Horse, The Artist, Adventures of TinTin, Sherlock Holmes II, The Muppets, Mission Impossible IV, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (US). The screening room is too small for demand and we never arrived in time to get a seat but were able to sometimes catch the show we missed on the in-room TV the next day. No worries, there was always something to do even if it was time to lie in a lounger and read. Speaking of reading I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and size of the library. In addition to many, many choices of books there were also two jigsaw puzzles on the go, chess table, daily Sudoku and crossword, as well as many board and party games available to borrow. Also in the Explorations Cafe (library and internet spot) you can get specialty coffees for almost exactly the same price as on shore. I only had one and it was very Starbucky. The barrista also has a little cooler with tea sandwiches, cookies and pastries. He'll offer you some with your beverage but I did see at least one person walk up and just get some goodies without purchase. Happy hour (all of them) was always popular. 4-5 Ocean Bar, 5-6 Crow's Nest, 7-8 Ocean Bar, 9-10 Crow's Nest, 11-midnight Northern Lights. Second drink for $1 and a little dish with hot appys like mini crabcakes, chili rellenos, or siu mai. I used the gym a couple of times before I got too lazy. The movement of the ship on the second and third days out made standing exercise challenging so I worked out from a mat on the floor. Really enjoyed the Lido pool. It was never very busy. On the rougher sea days it was actually the best place to avoid sea-sickness since you're body is completely in sync with your senses. It was also a hoot playing in the waves created by the ship's movement. The Lido pool was covered for much of the trip to and from Hawaii and the dome opened when we were in port. Very convenient. The evening entertainment was also geared to what people think the older crowd likes. We found it mildly entertaining but somewhat cheesy and didn't even bother the last few nights. The two things that were really outstanding were the Travel Guide Kainoa and most of the cooking events in the Culinary Arts Center. Kainoa is a gentle giant of a Hawaiian man who knows something about anything you could care to ask him about the history, traditions, culture, natural environment and food of Hawaii. I thought he was brought on board specifically for the Hawaiian cruise but he's been working for Holland America for years and is equally adept at lectures about Alaska and Mexico - who knew? The events in the Culinary Arts Center were pretty much the on-ship highlight of this cruise. Young Daniel (a chef tournant, meaning he can work any station in the kitchen) from Vancouver and with the help of perky party planner a girl named Kyle entertained us every sea day with cooking demos of different foods made on board. Most demos ended with a tasting. Daniel also was the instructor for four hand-on cooking lessons ($29.00 each) where he had classes a large as 9 and as small as 4 put together several recipes into a meal which we then plated for ourselves and snuck into the back door of the Pinnacle Grill where we ate our creations with fancy table settings and wine service. I thought it was totally worth the money but now what do I do with 4 aprons... The only other "enrichment" event we attended was the Digital Workshop on Making Movies using Windows Live Movie Maker. Even though we consider ourselves tech savvy we hadn't used this program before and are now much more likely to. We even got along really well with the photographers on board who were very open to us using our own props (my husband brought his ukulele) and inventing our own poses to suit our personality. I strongly recommend if you want great pictures the photo staff would be delighted to do something different and have a chance to express their creativity. (Especially Daniel Gabor). Port reviews appear separately. We really enjoyed ourselves. The median age of the passengers didn't really bother us. We met nice people who just happened to be our parent's generation and they seemed to think we were cute, so it's all good. I will probably not pick Holland America for my next cruise but I certainly haven't written it off for the future. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large ... Read More
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large non-luxury ship for the first time. We chose HAL as non-of our preferred ships were scheduled for a Hawaii round trip at the time we wanted to go. This was also our first sea-intensive cruise. Pre-Cruise We have owned timeshares for more than twenty years and decided to use some of our points to stay in the San Diego area the week before the cruise. We chose the Lawrence Welk Resort in nearby Escondido and found it to be one of our best exchanges ever. For those of you who may be timeshare owners, I will post a review on Timeshare Users Group www.tug2.net. Embarkation One of the things that concerning us was how difficult embarkation might turn out to be having experienced curbside to glass of sparkling wine in the atrium in about 15 minutes while watching the mob scene at nearby ships. This cruise was surely the embarkation from hell, though not necessarily the fault of HAL. We turned in our rental car and were driven to the cruise port only to find a big electronic sign declaring "no passenger discharge" at the entrance and a very long line waiting to get into the building. Our driver ended up having to leave us and all our luggage literally in the middle of the street. I found out later that the Port Of San Diego had shut down the terminal right in the middle of the embarkation process and said, to inquiring ships officers, the reason was none of their business. Passengers who arrive before 11 AM got on with no problem and those arriving after 12 went right on, but we had a 90 minute ordeal. Things were not helped by sharing the port with another large ship, resulting in nearly 5,000 people going through the terminal. Cabin We had a VD/Veranda cabin in the aft area. We had expected to be unhappy with the size and layout but were pleasantly surprised that the cabin was large enough to be comfortable and we found enough storage between the two wardrobes and the drawers in the end tables and under the bed. The balcony was small but this type of cruise doesn't lend itself to sitting out there. The bed was comfy and the bathroom utilitarian. Crew I have to agree with HAL fans that this has to be the friendliest crew at sea. Everybody we dealt with was cheerful and eager. However, there was an issue with crew to passenger ratios. An example is our cabin attendant. He appeared to be very good but overextended. I observed that he appeared to have more than 30 cabins to service. This results in service that is more like a hotel than a cruise ship. Our earlier experiences were that, every time you left your cabin, the cabin attendant seemed to have a sixth sense and, when we returned, it was apparent someone had been there, if only to do minor things such as freshen the ice or neatly fold clothing that had been tossed on the bed. On this cruise, the pattern was for the cabin to be made up sometime before the end of lunch and turned down by bedtime. Small issues such as buckets of melting ice not being replaced came up. I know I could have called for service, but hated to bother the already overworked guy. Dining One of the most important reasons people cruise, especially when you're at sea for ten days, is to dine. I've seen everything from two star to five star reviews. I gave HAL dining three stars. For one thing, the food was not up to what we found on "luxury" lines, but that is to be expected. What was disappointing was the unevenness of the food. At one meal we would be saying the food was delicious and, at the next, would find our entrees to be inedible and improperly prepared. Some of our dining companions were long-time HAL cruisers and were lamenting the fact HAL no longer had "white glove service" in the dining rooms. As this was my first time, I can only go by what they say. I also understand sommeliers have been replaced with "wine stewards" and my impression was these people did not have a really professional knowledge of wine. I believe I saw at least one or two of them actually serving as cocktail waiters in other parts of the ship. One of the biggest knocks I have on the MDR is how every meal opened with a server coming to our table and trying really hard to get us to buy a carafe of "special" water, filtered seven times. Don't they realize how this kind of stuff cheapens the experience? I can live with someone asking if I would like a cocktail or wine with dinner, but a hard-sell on water? We had open seating and enjoyed meeting our fellow passengers. The Lido was quite good. There is nothing like that on the small ships and the variety of food stations was excellent. We had met a couple at the resort who had just got off the prior cruise and said they ate only in the Lido for three weeks. I couldn't figure out why someone would want buffet food rather than the MDR but realized, after a few days, they were serving much of the MDR menu, with a few exclusions, in the Lido. We attempted to eat in the Canaletto Italian restaurant, which is an area of the Lido at dinner, but couldn't get reservations when we wanted. I heard very mixed revues on the food from several people. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill and the food was fine, but did not interest us in paying for a second visit. We had room service for a few breakfasts and thought they were quite good. I know some posters have complained about cold food, but I guess it depends on how far from the kitchen you are on this big ship. Our cabin was off the elevator bank that was one floor above where room service came out of the kitchen, so we were only about five minutes away from where it was handed off to the server. Another frequent topic I see is coffee. I mail order beans from two different sources but am not a coffee "expert". I thought the coffee was fine. It wasn't necessary to pay for coffee in the Crow's Nest as I noticed it is made from the same bags as the other restaurants. Entertainment There were good performers in all the lounges. The production shows were surprisingly elaborate with an energetic cast. Outside entertainment brought on board included a comedian, harmonica player and ventriloquist. The biggest hit of the cruise was probably Jeff Trachta (Thorne of "The Bold And The Beautiful) who had an excellent Vegas show of singing, comedy and impressions. Both his shows were packed and I understand he had a big turnout when he did a sit-down interview in the Vista Lounge the following morning. The issue I have with the entertainment venues is sightline problems. I cannot believe a ship built as recently as this one has a showroom full of large pillars and overhanging balconies that make, probably, 25 percent of the seats have an obstructed view of the stage. I you were attending a popular performance , you had to get there early and hold down a seat for at least 45 minutes. Worse was the screening room with very comfy theater chairs and fairly current releases. The down side was, with only about 30 seats, you have to get there about an hour ahead of time to know you can get into a showing. Ports Due to rough seas, we got a day behind and missed Hilo. That was a big loss. We docked in Honolulu and roamed independently. In Nawiliwili we originally had no plans but, as our tour in Hilo was scrapped, did a ship's tour to the "grand canyon of the pacific" which was nice. On Maui we had our own private tour booked. Getting on and off the ship was a big issue with us, again, being used to much smaller ships. All the tour busses seemed to arrive back at the ship in Nawiliwili simultaneously resulting in hundreds of people in a line that crept toward the gangplank. We saw that mess and, immediately, accepted a ride to Walmart on their free shuttle. We used an hour to pick up some items, including some of the least expensive Hawaii tee shirts I had seen. By the time we were delivered back to the ship, there was no line. In Maui, tendering was a mess. We were told there were tenders departing about every ten minutes but, after nothing moved for 45 minutes and the crowd in the Queen's Lounge turned into a mob, we finally got moving and, after nearly two hours, arrived on shore, late for our tour. Coming back was another mess with arriving busses and really long lines. And what can I say about our Jones Act stop in Ensenada. The port is in the middle of nowhere and, unless you've booked the inexpensive tour to see dancers and mariachis, there's no reason to get off the ship. Fellow Cruisers I was told this would be an older crowd. Yep. Disembarkation Like butter. We had a flight to catch and were down for 9 AM and were called at 8. Our suitcases were stacked together so we didn't have to search. Customs and immigration had us hand them the forms as we walked by. Oh, if embarkation was anything like this. General impressions Some people love these big ships and some that are much larger. We were not happy spending two weeks with 2,000 of our closest friends. Our cabin was close to dining but a trip to the other public areas involved a walk close to the length of two football fields. It was often hard to find a seat for dinning in the Lido and we actually saw people standing and eating. I had always heard about chair hogs, but hadn't experienced it until my walks across the Lido deck seeing every lounger had either a fanny or towel on it. But, there were always plenty of chairs on the observation deck. I mentioned before how much time you have to waste getting to show venues early in order to be sure you have a decent seat. Getting on and off this ship in port is agony for those of us used to smaller ships where there is never a line. Again, I'm not a snob, but that is my total experience cruising. Finally, as HAL considers itself a premium cruise line, I was very surprised by the lack of attention to detail. The furniture in lounges and common area can be quite beat up. Other reviewers have pointed out the poor condition of some of the leather furniture and upholstered pieces with buttons missing. The metal table on our balcony was actually rusting and it really shocked me that it hadn't been noticed and taken care of. We have had considerable experience with fine dining and found it rather strange that the Pinnacle would go to the trouble of having Rosenthal Bvlgari china along with the very common flatware used in the rest of the ship (with the logo "hotel" emblazoned on the back). To Sum Up The trip wasn't all that bad. We didn't have high expectations and were pleasantly surprised at some of what we found. We spent the first week saying, "Never again" but, by the end of the trip, had decided we might try HAL again, but on a more port intensive cruise on one of the smaller ships. We also have to consider cost. We could do several HAL cruises rather than one luxury cruise for the same price. HAL is not all inclusive and, had we opted for a suite or other more expensive accommodation and drank a lot more than we did, the cost might have been closer. But we were pretty happy with what we got.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We are veteran cruisers but this was our first cruise on HAL. The cruise was ok--not our best cruise. HAL was ok-after reading many reviews by experienced HAL cruisers we feel that HALl is very over rated for the price they charge. We ... Read More
We are veteran cruisers but this was our first cruise on HAL. The cruise was ok--not our best cruise. HAL was ok-after reading many reviews by experienced HAL cruisers we feel that HALl is very over rated for the price they charge. We booked an SB wrap around aft suite and were disappointed with the suite and amenities when compared to suites that we usually book on NCL (more later). The biggest advantage for us on this cruise was not having to fly anywhere to cruise since we live in the San Diego area. Since there is a Hawaiian Ports board--this review contains no information on the ports we visited. Embarkation: smooth--as expected for a deluxe suite passenger. Debarkation: OK--customs check for foreign nationals delayed debarkation as expected--why does San Diego continue to operate like this??? Service was excellent. --Our dining room waiter after the second night was one of the best we have ever had. We had open seating--the first two nights service was 0k but table location was terrible--in real noisy area with a lot of foot traffic. I had used the concierge in the Neptune lounge to make these reservations and asked for quite table --but later was told the concierge can not guarantee tables so I had to speak with the MDR Head manager and once I did we had a 4 top for two every night in the same location with a nice window and a wonderful waiter. We are use to the concierge making sure the table is what is requested like on NCL. Neptune Lounge/concierge service: we found the service here to be excellent--the concierge arranged a wonderful cocktail party in Lahaina sail away on our extra large balcony which turned out to be a real success with about 30 people. The ship provided hot and cold appetizers including some special items we requested..to our surprise the Hotel Director attended. The one thing we missed was our own super coffee machine (with sxpresso, cappuccino, and tea} like what is available in NCL suites. Suite steward was excellent and met every request---the laundry loss some of our items--not a big deal the steward looked for the items for a week. Bar service and lido service was also excellent. Food: --MDR food was IMOP excellent well above NCL MDR food. The Lido buffet was also better than NCL and excellent for breakfast and lunch--we never had dinner there. Just a note the bread pudding is un-remarkable--for the life of me I do not know why all the hype over it-- Also the MDR had prime rib three times and it was really good with the normal au jus. Loved the eggs benedict station in the Lido--this is a great buffet item. The Hawaiian BBQ held on the aft lido deck during the Honolulu stop at night was IMOP one of the highlights of the cruise--the sunset was beautiful--the buffet with real sucking whole baby pigs, bbq chicken and ribs and everything else was great HAL gets five stars for this. Pinnacle Grill--a real disappointment--nowhere near the menu or quality as Cagenys on NCL. Service was very slow. We also tried the Pinnacle at breakfast on two occasions (the first two days) the service was very, very slow -2 hours on both days-- we never went there again for breakfast--I actually spoke with the Hotel Director about this. Our dinner at Pinnacle was very unremarkable--the surf and turf was not seasoned well and the lamp chops were very small and not well seasoned. Desserts were below average--our experience with the food and especially the service caused us to cancel the Le Critque dinner. Cannellto was unremarkable--barely average for an Italian eatery. Deserts on the ship were average --the Pinnacle Grill deserts were very unremarkable for an up sell restaurant. Entertainment: HAL needs some work here--the only show we thought was at the NCL level was the Joe Mason show--everything else supar---the lack of dance pop band was really apparent on the ship--there was really no dancing any where--the forward observation Lounge never had a dance band at night such as pop band or something, This was really bad for a 14 day cruise with a cross section of age groups--we are in our early sixties and still enjoy dancing, Basically by 10;30pm the ship was dead. So IMOP if you are looking for entertainment do not expect too much on HAL. Day time activities limited to cooking classes, trivia, Hawaiian culture/history lectures (very, very good), movies (theater very small--HAL needs to show the movies in the Show lounge--I am sure they could find the appropriate times ). Cabin: We were in a SB deluxe suite aft wrap around--we found the suite out dated- Furniture old and very outdated--suite was clean--one sink faucet was broken and need to be repaired--water flow in bathtub was very,very slow and was fixed upon request. The TV in the room are very small compared to TVs in NCL suites--no coffee machine---no drawers to store items --everything has shelves which you store items like socks etc.--not very well designed. No real flowers delivered to suite as advertised--asked the concierge several times about this. Slippers were delivered after request--so real amenities in bathroom like on NCL--no shower caps etc. IMOP suite was below the quality of NCL suites and suite amenities also way below NCL. Balcony furniture was in bad repair---table needed to sanded and stained--furniture pads ripped etc. Dress code: the formal dress code is way over stated on this board--we saw many slacks and shirts no ties on formal nights--no real gowns on women=---smart causal wAs just casual amd in many cases we thought some of the passengers where sloppy in their dress at all times-- we saw some things like bathrobes in the buffet--people picking therr teeth with their dinner forks in the MDR-- that made us laugh after reading some the threads on this board about how classy HAL is. Will we cruise on HAL again--probably--will we book a deluxe suite on HA maybe on a new ship or if they improve their amenities for suite guests. IMOP NCL still has the best suites and suite amenities in the cruise industry. Big Green Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Waited awhile to write this review as I wanted to be as objective as possible and let the little things float away and see what stuck in my memory. That said, we are long-time cruisers having traveled on ships of all shapes and sizes. ... Read More
Waited awhile to write this review as I wanted to be as objective as possible and let the little things float away and see what stuck in my memory. That said, we are long-time cruisers having traveled on ships of all shapes and sizes. Several HAL trips, including a previous voyage on the Oosterdam, make it possible for me to be somewhat objective as we pretty much knew what to expect when we booked and boarded. What we didn't expect was a cabin whose forward position made it nearly impossible to occupy when sailing into the wind...roaring, wailing, screaming winds whipped by our balcony door for days on end. No point complaining to staff as ship was full. We almost always book guarantees and have never been unhappy until this trip - I doubt the folks in Seattle who assign cabins have any idea that these forward cabins are so prone to these wind-related problems. As a result, we were seldom in the cabin and trying to find a quiet, peaceful place to just relax and enjoy the sea days (we actively seek out cruises with few port calls)turned into a challenge. There were just way too many activities for us to even consider and most of them entailed once quiet corners of the ship (Explorers Lounge, for instance) suddenly becoming the venue for a trivia/cooking/art/spa lecture/contest. The Crows Nest is a zoo - too much going on, trying to be something for everybody and succeeding in little except in the evenings when the solo guitarist, Chris Bartlett, appeared. He was one of the highlights of the trip - a very talented young man who has a wide ranging repetoir and an engaging style. Please seek him out on your next cruise and ask him to play "Hallelujah" for me (Jeff Buckley version). Food was good - ate about half our meals in the Pinnacle and a few in the Canaletto. Breakfasts and lunches were usually in the MDR. Too chaotic in the poorly designed Lido and too much hustle and bustle in the MDR for enjoyable evening meals (we never choose 'traditional' dining). Entertainment, in addition to Chris, was a mixed bag - a very unfunny comedian named Noodles, a wonderful ventriloquist, a great ELton John imitator, and so forth. Lecturers were good and varied. Having been to Hawaii several times we weren't too interested in the ports but did manage to have a few good lunches ashore - dim sum in Honolulu was a highlight. Car rental with Budget/Dollar in Hilo was a fiasco - spend more and get National or Hertz car. The staff was very good - always a smile and a real desire by 99% of the staff we encountered to make sure the passengers were happy and enjoying themselves. Overall, we'd give the trip a 7 out of 10 and doubt we'll ever travel on the Oosterdam again given its over-large (to us) size. We'll go back to one of the smaller ships like the Maasdam/Zaandam instead. Hope the foregoing helped. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space ... Read More
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space for 14 day cruise. Service was very good and timely. Entertainment: Production shows OK but music is getting stale. Would be better if newer music was introduced into productions. Movies were provided in the "Screening Room" daily which proved to be useless with only 30 seats available. Considering that this cruise occurred during the Holiday Season and to Hawaii was amazed at the lack of Christmas and Hawaiian music or Hawaiian themed activities. Thankfully HAL did have Kaimoa who represented the Hawaiian culture and provided a lot of good information on Hawaii. Without his presence there were few if any Hawaiian activities. Needed more activities on ocean days and more interaction from cruise director. Food: We had open seating and overall the food seemed better than we have had in the past. Pinnacle Grill excellent and well worth the extra charge. Should continue to offer flavored coffee in Lido. Ports: All very good, was surprised how crowed and cosmopolitan Waikiki had become. Would skip in future. Debarkation: Slow Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Embarkation: Took a shuttle down to San Diego and boarded the ship with no problems or delays at 12:00PM or so. Our cabin was already ready which was nice. Cabin: We were in Cabin VD 4167 which was an upgrade from a VH guarantee ... Read More
Embarkation: Took a shuttle down to San Diego and boarded the ship with no problems or delays at 12:00PM or so. Our cabin was already ready which was nice. Cabin: We were in Cabin VD 4167 which was an upgrade from a VH guarantee initial assignment. The cabin was clean and well kept through out the cruise. Plenty of storage space. Because of the cabin location on the ship (adjacent to employee stairway), it's balcony is double the size of a balcony for same cabin category. A definite plus!. Food: We had an open seating arrangement. The food at the dining room was fair but the service was at times lacking. Long waits for the food, miscommunication with the servers that seemed to be inexperience and very young. The food and service and the specialty restaurants (Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto) on the other hand, was very good. We hardly used the Lido/Buffet restaurant (crowded and not user friendly). The only place on the ship one can get a good cup of coffee was at the Exploration Cafe (Deck 10). It is unfortunate that it was located in the same area were the library and the computer room were. There was never a seating room available to enjoy the coffee, particularly on sea days. Entertainment: Both production shows and the individual performances were very good. Movies were shown in the "screen room" which had only 30 seats!!!. Although the movies were offered few times during the day, there was never a seating available.. particularly on sea days. Ports: There was plenty of information available on all the ports we were about to visit. We chose the HAL Pearl Harbor tour in Honolulu which was well organized and very interesting. . On the rest of the islands we travel independently. Disembarkation: Somewhat disorganized. Seemed like people left the ship at will, not necessarily per the disembarkation color codes that were provided. Summary: All in all a relaxing and timely cruise for us. The sea days going and coming back seemed "long". We were fortunate that the ocean was relatively calm. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
My husband (51) & I (47) have been on about 15 cruises and this is our 2nd HAL cruise - last being on the Zuiderdam when I turned 40. Our other cruises have been on CCL, Princess, RCI, NCL, etc. We have been to the Mexican Riviera ... Read More
My husband (51) & I (47) have been on about 15 cruises and this is our 2nd HAL cruise - last being on the Zuiderdam when I turned 40. Our other cruises have been on CCL, Princess, RCI, NCL, etc. We have been to the Mexican Riviera many times. We drove from Central Calif on Friday and stayed at the Holiday Inn Bayside about 3 miles from the ship pier. We got transfered to the pier about 1:15 and were onboard in about 30 minutes. Our VB balcony was a decent location near the aft and was a nice assignment from our VH guarantee booked just a couple of weeks before the cruise departed. The cabin was fairly clean with the exception of sand on the couch and stains on the carpet. Our room steward Rio was very nice and friendly and always remembered our names. We had towel animals most nights. I appreciated the large drawer under the bed and the two underneath the couch. We did rent two DVDs to watch and although everything in the booklet shows delivery we had to go to guest services to pick up and drop off because we were told it would be 1-2 hours and didn't want to wait. We attended the cruise critics meet & mingle on Sunday morning. We have never had open dining before and we decided to try it. The first four nights we had the SLOWEST service I have ever experienced on a cruise. These were all at different tables in different sections of the dining room. There were no smiles, no friendliness and the meals took well over 2 hours. Our tablemates complained to the maitre'd the first night and he put us all at a table by the window with a reservation the 2nd night with the same issues. We tried to get reservations at Canaletto's but couldn't until Friday night at 8pm. The 5th night we finally got a great waiter in AA from Bali and we enjoyed his fabulous service the last 3 nights when we requested his section with our reservations. Many people we spoke with had similar slow service in open seating. As we had been to these ports before we just walked around the Malecon. My husband did the hike on the first day and really enjoyed it but said it should have been rated a 4/4 in difficulty due to steepness. In Cabo we went to see the Dreams Resort as I have clients getting married there next summer. The weather was nice in both ports but a little cool in PV so we didn't go in the ocean. We enjoyed the 2 production shows and the Joel Mason Elton John show. There was a comedian one night in the smaller lounge that was very funny as was the Marriage Show. During the Marriage Show, the cruise director Michael, actually announced to the audience that he preferred men - not a surprise by the way. The other lounges played primarily music that catered to the majority over 60 crowd with the piano bar, string quartet, trio for dancing, etc. The nightclub was lightly attended but we did dance one night there when they had music from different decades from the 70's & 80's. The Explorations Cafe was nice but the books I wanted to read were considered "Reference books" and couldn't be removed from the library. We didn't use the spa or any of the cooking shows or computer classes so can't speak to those. Overall the experience was positive and I will definitely cruise HAL again but maybe in the Caribbean where the crowd will be a bit younger and maybe more lively entertainment options. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We really liked this cruise. We had a cabin with a balcony and hardly used it. The weather was bad at times so it was often wet. There was salt all over the balcony. If we went out there, we tracked gritty salt back to the floor of our ... Read More
We really liked this cruise. We had a cabin with a balcony and hardly used it. The weather was bad at times so it was often wet. There was salt all over the balcony. If we went out there, we tracked gritty salt back to the floor of our room. We had a balcony in Alaska without this problem because the sea is calm on the inside passage. The water is rougher across the sea and churns salt into the air. I'm not sure I'd book another balcony room. The food was great in the Lido cafe. Wide range of foods for all meals and everything was delicious. The dining room had a poor selection of main entree food and we hardly ate there. Plus, the service was very slow. The traditional Thanksgiving Day meal was anything but. I wondered if the turkey came out of a can. There were no mashed potatoes and no yams. The sweet potatoes were pale in color and consisted of 2-3 small thin slices. I don't think the chefs understand that Thanksgiving Day is a pig out for Americans. The servings were tiny and it is the first time I ever had only a spoonful of dressing. I will have to make up for it at Christmas time. :) Room service was great and food was hot. The Pinnacle Grill was absolutely the finest restaurant I've ever dined in. It will cost you $25 a person but it is worth it. We are wine snobs from Hades so we brought a case of our own fine wines. Thanks to Holland for allowing us to do that. The corkage fee of $18 was acceptable to us and we gladly paid it. But please don't increase the fee. A word about the coffee: I've been a coffee drinker since age 10. I could not drink the coffee on this ship. It gave me stomach ache. Waaaay, to strong for my taste buds. I even tried diluting it with hot water, It still gave me a stomach ache. I had to drink hot tea. I am just as fussy about my coffee as I am my wine. :) The cocktails served at the bars were wonderful and refreshing. Great job, bartenders. :) Our cabin beds were the best comfort you can get. As good as home. There was plenty of storage space for our clothes and we were quite comfortable there. We found the ship to be uncrowded. We did not experience the lines talked about in other posts. The ship is spotlessly clean. The staff works very hard at attacking germs and bacteria so that folks don't get sick. We really liked the Crow's Nest and spent lots of time in the library. The Internet service is pricey but works well. I bought a VIP pass to the hydro pool spa. It was great and I used it daily. When the sea was rough I would use the showers in the nearby lounge so that I didn't risk falling out of the bathtub in our cabin. The shore excursions were good. We liked going to the volcanoes and walking the lave tube on the Big Island. In my opinion, Holland should add Kona as a port and drop Honolulu. Who wants to travel that distance to go to a crowded place like Los Angeles with a beach? I could hardly wait to get back on the ship. Getting into see the 8:00 pm show was difficult. Finding a seat was next to impossible. Bingo was great fun. The photographers took great photos, pricey but worth it. The shopping on the boat was better than on the shore. The have good deals on watches and jewelry. I found shopping on shore to consist of a lot of overpriced cheap stuff and I bought very little. However, in Hilo, just off the boat ramp are local artists who make jewelry and crafts. They had some nice things so you may want to buy from them. I did not see stuff like theirs anywhere else. We purchased the unlimited laundry service for the cruise and did a load about every other day. This really cuts down on the amount of clothes you need to bring. I wish my laundry at home turned out as good as theirs. I don't know how they do it but their service is the greatest and well worth the $100. The staff is friendly and happy. They were a joy and we really liked them. Very responsive to our needs and always available to help. In other cruises we that we have taken, we have felt tipped to death. Besides the daily cabin charge and 15% drink tip they wanted extra tip money for everybody and everything. This cruise is NOT like that. We paid the daily room charge, drink tip (which is automatic) and that is it. However, we did leave some extra for our cabin guys because they worked so hard to make our trip delightful. It was our choice to do so and was not expected. Holland America does a good job this way. Of course, they have other pleasant ways to get you to part with your money. :) I had to use the Infirmary once for a minor problem and the MD and nurses were fantastic. They are attentive, knowledgeable and polite. The prices there are comparable to home so be prepared to pay that kind of fee if you have to use it. Embarkation was a breeze and well organized. Disembarkation less so. They need 5-6 staff members to manage the crowds, lines and bottle necks in disembarkation process. Overall, I recommend this cruise and I will certainly travel with Holland America again. In fact, I am already shopping for my next cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We had previously flown to visit all the islands in Hawaii but never attempted this many days at open sea to cruise to Hawaii. We brought along a transport chair for my husband in case he needed it but once on board, he did just fine ... Read More
We had previously flown to visit all the islands in Hawaii but never attempted this many days at open sea to cruise to Hawaii. We brought along a transport chair for my husband in case he needed it but once on board, he did just fine walking. In fact, with so many seniors on board with walkers, scooters and wheel chairs, it was so much faster to simply walk down the stairs to get to the Vista dining room. However we purposely choose a veranda room at the back of the ship for that reason. We started our cruise with a preplanned CRUISE CRITIC Meet and Greet. It was pleasant but I think it needed to be in a private room. The Cruise Director, Michael, was there but he never got around to our section and we did NOT hear any real suggestions or organization within the group. I don't believe the group ever meet again, it just slowly disbanded after an hour or so. Maybe we missed something - we are not sure. But other Meet & Greets we have attended on other cruises had more "structure" to the meetings, but I am not complaining. What people we did meet were very friendly. We found the Oosterdam comfortable and very clean. There were hand sanitizers everywhere! We had sailed on the Oosterdam 6 years ago and laughed when we saw the very same highly ornate (actually very very gawdy) benches and chairs throughout the ship. The style just did not appeal to us but ship was very clean and spotless. Our cabin was nice but we did find the cabin furniture old, dented and looking dated. The couch & toss pillows were badly worn. Jezzyebelle's review was right on - toss the toss pillows! Kudos to Holland America for having the best mattresses. Sealy Posture Pedic Euro top mattress was heaven to sleep on and every night we had the darling towel animals on our bed. I can't rave enough about having our own veranda as people HOG deck chairs and Room 5186's veranda was wind protected. Room service was wonderful and on time every time plus our breakfast always came HOT! With so many seniors on board, we found the early show very crowded each night plus seniors save seats and to be honest, it did take a bit of a patience on our part to deal with so many people demanding instant service and the endless saving of seats. Vacations are what you make of them, so I'll not let these minor things ruin our vacation. We came to relax and chill out, but we did overhear many people complain about the littlest things. Yes, there were constant lines for elevators and you had to be way early to get a seat for any on-board event. After a while we just dealt with it - but because there was so many lines we started to choose to NOT attend many events the last few days of our cruise. It began to be easier just to read a book. Oh yes - as a side note - I attended many FREE Tai Chi classes as I had an interest but the instructor and her pace was annoyingly SLOW. And I am disgusted that they charge extra for YOGA and Pilates. Tsk Tsk. Shame on them. The daily formal teas were lovely. All the food at all meals in general, was good and it is easy to simply overeat because it is there. However, we found most prepared desserts items to be lacking in taste - they were either all too light, moussy or boring. Simple ice cream was the best. One important note - LUCKILY we were prepared for rough seas. I am SO GLAD I read several reviews about traveling on OPEN SEAS. We had a prescribed patch to wear behind our ears, the sea bands for our wrists and Dramamine tablets and we used everything and we felt fine. But many others were sick and the main dining room was near empty the first night heading out of San Diego and the last few nights heading back. Coming back we were a rocking and rolling and just walking down the halls you had to hold onto the rails. HEY! Why do people hang out by Deck 1 and 2 on Disembarkation Day? Is it a senior thing? Disembarkation was a BREEZE except for trying to make our way thru the sea of people just sitting all over the place waiting to get off. We were all told we could wait in our staterooms until our number was called. That's what we did and enjoyed a glass of wine and laying on the bed watching TV until time to get off. By the way, Holland America has a wonderful policy about allowing wine to be brought on board and ok to drink in staterooms. It's a good policy and I hope they always keep it. The entertainment was good and there was certainly enough venues of music to listen to throughout the ship. We liked their free DVD rental policy and their selection was good. The library on deck 10 was very nice and cozy. I was able to read 3 novels on this cruise and really relax. Holland America offered some interesting seminars on computers and photos editing which were great - but once again, you had to get to the event way early to get a seat. The tech instructor was very FAIR - he insisted everyone leave the room after his event to wait in line for the next seminar. I so wish all events could be handled like this to avoid people CAMPING OUT on deck chairs, library spaces, LIDO Deck spaces, etc. We enjoyed all Hawaiian Islands and went on 2 tours. We toured the crater and lava tubes on the Big Island - very interesting. In Honolulu, the Pearl Harbor tour and the tour of the might MO battleship was fantastic. On Kauai, we simply took a free shuttle and shopped. On Maui, we took a free shuttle and went to the beach although the waves were rough. Latter, it felt good to have a lunch OFF the ship. On this trip I did not utilize any services in their SPA. So our recommendation on this cruise is favorable as long as you plan for potential sea sickness and plan to chill out. A couple of bottles of wine would not hurt either! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We decided on a family cruise to Alaska since it also give us a chance to visit relatives in Seattle. Based on experience with HA a number of years ago we picked them. Although we waited to get to the ship so that we would not wait in ... Read More
We decided on a family cruise to Alaska since it also give us a chance to visit relatives in Seattle. Based on experience with HA a number of years ago we picked them. Although we waited to get to the ship so that we would not wait in line, we still waited over 30 minutes to board the ship since baggage scanning equipment kept breaking down. Since we were in a deluxe suite, we were supposed to get priority boarding but that did not happen. The suite was great with plenty of room inside and out and the steward was totally helpful. There was plenty of storage space for 3 people including the wine and water we brought on-board. HA has great policy compared to most other lines since they allow unlimited quantities of wine. We bought mostly Washington state wines from wine tasting trip 2 days before the cruise. We paid the corkage when we had the wine at dinner. A good deal for all parties. Generally we had breakfast in the room but went to the Lido a few times since they had smoked salmon which was not on the room service menu. We alternated between the Lido and Vista for lunch. Although other reviewers were critical of the Lido, I generally found a good variety and the food was tasty. The Vista experience was less satisfying for lunch and dinner. For lunch the main courses and even the hamburgers were not tasty. Only one of the three dinners in the Vista was really good and it was the first night. We opted for the Pinnacle Grill 3 times and twice it was excellent and really a great meal. the third night was their special Le Cirque night where they have a special menu and a higher cover charge. The quality was poorer and certainly not worth the extra $$$. Skip it! The worse meal of the cruise was at Canelleto which is separate area off the Lido. The pasta was overcooked and the veal dish was like breaded cutlet. In addition to the food there was a noisy large group at the table next to us. The management refused to ask them to be lower the volume but was willing to move us. Upon seeing that happen, I got the impression that they raised the volume to compensate for the distance. DO NOT TRY THEIR FOOD. The Entertainment was ok and was a poor Las Vegas act. A couple of the food demonstrations were fine and gave us some recipes to try. The Casino was small and low key except for one issue. A family member was winning a reasonable amount of money at Blackjack and they asked her to leave the casino for a short break. The fitness center was small and the first few days it was crowded and you had to wait for access to the equipment even at 630 in the morning. By the end of the week, it was almost empty. The Spa was fine but it books up early. The excursions at several ports were interesting. In Juneau, I booked the tours directly with the tour company. It was about 25% cheaper than the ship price for the small tour. We also booked a few excursions on the ship and these were fine except that the excursion department booked one of the events twice at different times and called early in the morning(6 am) to see why we were not at the meeting point. We found our tickets and they said 8 am on them. Finally DO NOT go on an Alaska cruise that does not stop at Glacier Bay. It was the highlight of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
This was our first experience with Holland America and our second trip to Alaska. My wife and I have been on three other cruises, two with Princess and one with Carnival. I blame myself for the initial stress I experienced since I ... Read More
This was our first experience with Holland America and our second trip to Alaska. My wife and I have been on three other cruises, two with Princess and one with Carnival. I blame myself for the initial stress I experienced since I didn't realize my wife's passport had expired and I was concerned that a driver's license and birth certificate wouldn't be enough for her to fly and cruise with. After some phone calls and web research I was assured we would be fine since we were sailing round trip from Seattle but I couldn't relax until we were on the ship. As it turned out, everything went smooth as silk, even when entering Canada, and I was able to enjoy the trip. I booked my own plane tickets out of Detroit and opted out of the HA transfer to the pier hoping to save a little money. A little research after the fact showed that a cab ride was about six or eight bucks less and you had to handle your own bags at the pier. When we got to Seattle we went to the HA desk, bought transfers, handed them our luggage and got on the bus. Worked out just fine. Not only was it worth a few bucks more to forget about the bags until after we got on the boat, the HA people made sure you got to where you needed to be with minimal hassle. There was a HA and a Princess boat at the pier loading at the same time. There were a lot of people being moved through the pier but the lines moved quickly and efficiently and we were on the Oosterdam in no time. At 4pm we were on our way to Glacier Bay. The second day was a full day at sea. This was a great opportunity to get acquainted with the ship and research shore excursions since we didn't have an opportunity to do so before we left. Excursions were easily purchased at the excursions desk or at one of the automated touch screen kiosks around the ship. The Oosterdam is an attractive, nicely appointed vessel though, as others have commented, may be starting to show her age particularly along the waterline. The captain reminded us that the ship was due for dry-dock soon and I'm sure she'll be good as new in no time. The interior of the ship was very clean and well maintained. Being able to close the roof over the pool was a nice touch that kept the pool area usable the entire trip. They push the spa facilities pretty hard and the spa looked well equipped. We are not spa people so we never used it. My wife found it very handy to be able to use her "keycard" in the casino machines in addition to cash. Day three in Glacier Bay was as we remembered it from our last visit 15 years ago, spectacular! We had a beautiful sunny day and the mountain views and glaciers did not disappoint. Day four was another beautiful sunny day spent in Juneau. Like all the cities visited, downtown Juneau was the usual collection of shops selling overpriced jewelry and cheesy souvenirs. We purchased a shore excursion to go whale watching and visit Mendenhall Glacier. The whales were very active and put on a great show. Mendenhall Glacier was awesome though we wish we had a little more time there. Sitka was next. A drizzly, cloudy day but hey, it's Alaska. You've got to expect it. Weather never keeps things from happening though. The port doesn't accommodate cruise ships so we tendered to shore. A well organized, relatively quick process. Weather cleared nicely by the time we got to shore but Sitka was a bit of a disappointment for us. We didn't buy a shore excursion and the city attractions were mostly cultural and centered around a church in the middle of town, Zzzzzzz. Other than that was the usual souvenir shops selling the same stuff every other city has. We highly recommend a shore excursion here. I'm sure we would have benefited from one. Day six was spent in Ketchikan. Once again the weather cleared as we exited the ship. We remembered Ketchikan as a good place to see the salmon running but I guess we were a little too early in the season this time and there wasn't much to see in the way of fish this time around. There were four cruise ships docked so the city was really busy. We took in the lumberjack show which was quite entertaining. We had to be back on the boat by 12:30p in order to make Victoria, BC by the next day. Wouldn't have minded a little more time in Ketchikan though. Victoria was a little odd. Travelling at full steam from Ketchikan we didn't get to Victoria until 7pm the next day. Then it was all aboard by 11:30pm. Victoria was a big modern city and was worthy of a little more time to explore. The short amount of time spent there almost felt like an afterthought. I'm sure the schedule is based on port availability as there are many cruise ships making this run this time of year. There was almost always another ship visible from ours while at sea and every port but Sitka had at least three cruise ships at their docks. Still, it was a very pretty city and I would like to go back and stay a while some time. Between the flat rate, pre-billed tipping and the smooth, well organized disembarkation in Seattle, Holland America made the end of the trip easier to deal with than any previous cruise we had been on. When I was researching cruise lines one of the standout complaints about Holland America was the poor food quality. Unfortunately, I would have to agree. One of the standout memories from our two Princess cruises was the incredible food. Large portions and very high quality. We never felt that way with the meals on the Oosterdam. Although we never walked away from the main dining room hungry, we also never found ourselves saying, "that was a great meal!" Any of the meats served were tough and grizzly and didn't seem to be of very high quality. Perhaps the better cuts of meat were saved for the other, added cost, reservation only restaurants. Appetizers were bland and forgettable. Soups and salads were just OK. I'm not saying the food was bad, it just wasn't great. I wont even bother commenting on the buffet. Certainly nothing special but how special should a buffet be? It served its purpose as a handy, reliable source of tolerable sustenance. Price was the main decision maker in giving Holland America a try. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the trip we are going to think twice next time based strictly on the uninspiring food. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Just got home from 7-day cruise on the Oosterdam. Wish I was still on the ship. I have only had one experience cruising and it was on the Carnival Holiday about 12 years ago. That was a much smaller and older ship. The Oosterdam was much, ... Read More
Just got home from 7-day cruise on the Oosterdam. Wish I was still on the ship. I have only had one experience cruising and it was on the Carnival Holiday about 12 years ago. That was a much smaller and older ship. The Oosterdam was much, much better. Transportation to Pier 91: We took link light rail from airport and transferred to bus for about $5 each. Bus dropped us off on a bridge and we had to climb down a number of stairs with all the baggage, which was a challenge, but we were not sorry because we got to see some of the streets of Seattle and bus driver and light rail employees were friendly. On the return, we thought we would take taxi, but the organization of the taxi system at the pier was horrible. We finally decided to go with Shuttle Express back to the airport at $18 per person. We just went outside the ship terminal and they were very friendly. We originally thought we would go with taxi to the light rail, but there was a long line and taxis were picking up people that were way at the back of the line, as they just wanted to grab passengers and not wait on the line to do it in the order they arrived. Taxi to airport could be from $45 to beyond $60. The sign on the cabs say, "airport $32 from downtown", but Pier 90 is further away, so don't be fooled. Encountered two separate hostile taxi drivers and the way they were picking up people was not properly organized, unfair, and chaotic. Both the Oosterdam and Princess Sapphire unloaded passengers at the same time. Why, why, why? Why does the authority at the Pier 91 allow this? There really should be a difference of at least 2 hours between the disembarkation of cruise ship passengers. It had a ripple effect, as the security line at the airport was an absolute mess and very, very long and the competition of airfare made the airfare prices way higher than otherwise. On my next trip, I will surely check that my cruise ship doesn't return anywhere near the time of another cruise ship. Ship Very friendly service on the Oosterdam. Employees greeted us and smiled every time we passed. We enjoyed Rollis, a waiter in the Vista Lounge, and above all we were soooo happy to have met a gentleman employee in the Lido Deck dining area, whose name is Ngakan (pronounced "Knock-on"). One night, in the Vista Dining room, all the staff danced around the room on three occasions. The shops seems like a waste of space. I liked the Karaokee in the Queen's lounge. DJ Bret made sure to get the crowd to cheer on every volunteer singer and singers were backed up by a live band. There were some contests where they only gave out an Oosterdam pin if you won. There were Trivia contests where you were encouraged to team up with people, but then they gave the team (sometimes of strangers) one bottle of champagne to share. My guy doesn't drink, so it wasn't much incentive. The captain of the ship is actually a funny guy. Our cabin steward Daniel always greeted us in the hallway. I think the employees are under a tremendous strain of getting ready for the next bunch of passengers, so it was very unfortunate that some workers knocked on our door three times wanting to enter to change linens or check the stock in the fridge before our assigned departure window of time had come. It made the last half hour stressful, as I was doing my best to be sure that I had packed last minute items. There were cleaners out on the balconies cleaning at around 9:15am, so be forewarned to close curtains if you are changing outside the bathroom. I participated in Jackpot Bingo twice, but not third time, as I think that real numbered bingo balls, like in the old times, should be used instead of having the numbers called up on the computer. Ship had three bingo games with a chance to win $40K, $60K, and $100K if you got bingo on the entire card in under 46 calls. Each bingo card had identification numbers on them. It seems that a programmed computer can know what numbers NOT to call, which may be the very reason why no one has ever one. It was nice to have breakfast on the ship before disembarking. That was a treat and employees at the Lido Deck dining area were still pleasant right 'til the end. Shows Ventriloquist was fun, as was the magician. Some of the group dancing was good, but in between the dance routines were solos or duets (singing only), that were way too cheesy, and I left to do something else. So much more to write about! I would consider Holland America again, as they do try to keep prices lower than competitors, and I spoke to different cruisers who said that the friendliness of the staff is what stands out about the Oosterdam/Holland America. Juneau Took free tour of the capitol building. $1.50 city bus to 2 miles from Mendenhall Glacier. Walked a straight level sidewalk the rest of the way. (took around 1.5 hours) Took the $8 Glacier Express bus back (took less than 20 minutes. Ketchikan There was two guys at the port that offered us to ride the seaplane for $175/person, but we still didn't go ahead with it. Sitka Sweet town. Went to Raptor center. Victoria Took $7.50 RT/pp bus to Empress Hotel. May have done better with blue taxis that seemed to be picking up at lightning speed even though line was long. I think I heard that that was $14 for a careful, but don't quote me. Parliament building is lit up like Christmas at night. Cabin We booked a VH cabin guarantee and found out our room number 10 days before trip: we were given a VB cabin on deck 6 near elevator towards front of the ship. I was happy with cabin and location. Cabin appears larger in the photos online, but I would have been happy to live in the cabin. Nice hot water, great water pressure, shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel pumps in the shower. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
Bckground: We originally decided to do an Alaskan cruise when Disney announced they were heading to Vancouver. Then had to change our direction a bit after researching and realizing that Glacier Bay was going to be a must for our trip and ... Read More
Bckground: We originally decided to do an Alaskan cruise when Disney announced they were heading to Vancouver. Then had to change our direction a bit after researching and realizing that Glacier Bay was going to be a must for our trip and as Disney wasn't authorized, we had to look elsewhere. We also wanted a R/T itinerary and preferred Seattle for airfare budget purposes. Our options were NCL, Princess, and HAL. After mind numbing amts of research and review reading, we ended up choosing HAL. We booked our trip over a year in advance. We were also travelling with my sister in law (37) and my inlaws (upper 50's). As our only other cruise was Disney, it is my only point of comparison. Pros: 1) Embarkation/Debarkation were both fast and efficient. Thanks to CC I knew in advance to sign up for luggage direct, wonderful and worth every penny.Advantage HAL 2) Crows Nest and Explorations Cafe: Beautiful views, yummy coffee drinks, great games, books, magazines, and enjoyed Gaither on guitar. Advantage HAL 3) Our inside cabin: We thought it was very roomy and storage was amazing. We even had a pack n play set up the whole time. Our last cruise we had an ocean view and I was regretting the inside view choice until we got on board. I have never slept in such wonderful darkness. Our daughter turned 2 on board and she too slept great the entire trip, including her usual naps. 4) Service: We had a great room steward, Rio, all smiles, always handy if we needed anything, always called us by name. Our dining room server Djucko and wine steward Joseph were also good. Christian the assistant dining room manager was wonderful as well, we always saw him doing anything that was required to help in the dining areas. I have no idea when any of these people sleep, I'm pretty sure they don't. Also, noone bothered us to buy things, if we wanted a drink they were there if not they were gone. Advantage HAL 5) Laundry service: Another tip from CC. For $49, our entire cabin sent our laundry out and it was always delivered within 24hrs (although they say 48), clean and pressed. This is most helpful with children. 6) Leo Ward the illusionist: This was the only show we went to in the evening. From 11-59, we were entertained. Lots of laughs and "how'd he do that" Although I did not attend the show on Saturday afternoon, my 11 year old came back with several tricks and jokes, big thumbs up. 7) Adiago Strings: Usually playing after we came out from dinner, just delightful music, our 2 year old always wanted to swing by for a bit, no pun intended. 8) Glacier Bay and Ports: All were amazing, none disappointed. 9) Covered swimming pool that children can use: this is one of the reasons we chose the Oosterdam. This was a big hit with our son, although I thought it seemed closed alot without any communication as to why or how long. But overall, big plus! 10) Fellow cruisers: Although we really didn't meet anyone, this was a nice crowd with what seemed like alot of big groups (families, reunions, etc) travelling together. I never saw anyone out of hand or making a scene. People seemed pleasant and laid back overall. Advantage HAL 11) Cleanliness: This is big. I never went into a dirty bathroom or saw a bit of trash. Tables were cleaned quickly in public areas. I actually like the staff serving in the Lido the first 48hrs, it got much messier once the guests got involved:) 12) DVD lending library: Free and great choices 13) The beds, linens, and robes: super comfy, dreaded coming back to my own bed and pillows. 14) Drinks: Well mixed and reasonable prices, no more expensive then your local Applebee's or TGI Fridays Disappointments: 1) The Food: Overall, I would give it a C+. This was a huge disappointment for us. It wasn't terrible, just very mediocre. The Lido reminded us of a cafeteria, not so much a buffet, (a buffet with amazing views though). Is there really a request for Hungarian Goulash? We love food and food is a big part of our vacation. I was expecting amazing seafood considering this was an Alaskan cruise. What I had, 3 times (trying to give it a chance) were 3 different fish entrees, all very dry and very fishy tasting. Beef was mediocre as well. We ate at Pinnacle once, and I would say it was worth the charge but I wouldn't say it was amazing. It def did not compare, in our opinion, to Palo on the Disney Wonder. We ate 5 dinners in the MDR and really enjoyed the staff and the view from our table, but the food was the least impressive thing about the dining experience. Small things like serving cold food on cold plates, I do not want my entree salad in a warm bowl with warm lettuce and tomatoes, nor do I want ice cream in a warm dish. Shrimp or seafood cocktail was also warm a few times. 2) Kids club: Very small, space wise. Not alot of overly creative themes, topics. I know this is not a line known for catering to children but I also know they are trying to broaden the demographic they serve ($199 3rd and 4th passengers) so I think there is room for improvement in this area. Our boat had 200 children on board and I think there were 6 counselors, 2 for each age group. Our son went a few times and had fun when he went but he also often forgot it was even there. 3) The ship: I know she is heading to dry dock soon and I would say the timing is right. Just a bit worn out. Overall, inside and out, no comparison to the beauty of the Disney boats. 4) Movies: Great little theater but Kenny Chesney is the movie you show on our day at sea? I have nothing against him at all, but our group was really disappointed as we were really wanting to catch a big budget thriller or family comedy or something that day. 5) Fitness Center and it's equipment were pretty worn out So, 13 Pros and 5 whiny cons. This was an amazing trip and we had a great time. This cruise is all about the destination anyway. I think for future cruises we'd like to try some of the other fish in the sea, we'd def go back to HAL if they expand/improve their dining options and children's activities/options. We certainly loved the staff and clientele. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
We had a great trip don't get me wrong. Service was incredibly good. Staff was very friendly and very helpful but the Oosterdam is getting old. The decorating was bad. Tacky is a good word for it. You could see where they had updated ... Read More
We had a great trip don't get me wrong. Service was incredibly good. Staff was very friendly and very helpful but the Oosterdam is getting old. The decorating was bad. Tacky is a good word for it. You could see where they had updated parts but not other sections. Our room was sort of not so clean. I hate mildew in a shower or tub grout and there were mildew spots. I looked under the bed and it looked like it hadn't been vacuumed in weeks. We actually had a dirty blanket, yuk! Food was OK. I've had better on Princess. One of the shore excursions should have be canceled. We got in later into Victoria and we arrived at Butchart Gardens in the dark. How do you see gardens in the dark? You don't. Loved our cabin. We had a back corner which was great for Glacier Bay. Scenery was fabulous. We had a wonderful time and loved our room Stewart and table captain. Would do again only on a different ship. We bought a disembarkation package to the airport. Don't waste your money. You are better off getting your own town car to the airport. It was $30 per person and you get on a big bus and they dump you off in some remote spot in the airport. We had my 90 year old mother with and had no wheel car. We had to haul everything ourselves for what felt like miles. Total ripoff. Bad service. HAL needs to improve this badly. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
Our family had the opportunity to cruise on the Oosterdam out of Seattle for a large family outing. In total there were ten of us, including four kids. The ages of the kids were 17, 14 and two 12 year old boys. Two of our party were ... Read More
Our family had the opportunity to cruise on the Oosterdam out of Seattle for a large family outing. In total there were ten of us, including four kids. The ages of the kids were 17, 14 and two 12 year old boys. Two of our party were frequent HAL cruisers, my family had cruised Disney and RCCL (this was our 4th cruise) and one family had never cruised before. We sailed June 12-19, 2011. The ship made calls in Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria. We enjoyed the ports tremendously. Sitka was a tender port, so be prepared if you are not on a ship excursion you will need tickets to get off the ship. Pre-Cruise. Needless to say we were excited that our adventure was about to begin. We had waited over 18 months for this trip which was a celebration of a 50th wedding anniversary. We flew into Seattle the day prior and had an opportunity to check out Pike Market and stop at the original Starbuck's as well as enjoy some great seafood. We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel on 6th and Pike. The hotel was very nice with a pool on the 35th floor where you can see the sound and ships sailing by. The two families with children took the light rail from Sea-Tac and it was only $16 (three adults and one 12 & under) per family, a real bargain. Two of the family stayed with a family friend and would join us at the port the next day. We traveled with all carry ons, and had only one checked bag (a rolling garment bag). The light rail was easy to manage, and well-marked. We would have taken the light rail back at the end of the cruise, but a van had already been booked for the return trip. Our hotel was only two blocks from the last station on the light rail and we did not find it a problem to walk with our luggage. As we could not get a good flight on the Sunday of disembarkation we spent one more night in Seattle and this time stayed at the Monaco- our room had a goldfish to keep us company. It was also a nice hotel, right downtown. Now knowing how easy the light rail is I might consider staying out by the airport and taking the rail downtown to enjoy the day next time. If you enjoy fresh flowers in your stateroom you should make it a point to stop at the Market before boarding. The steward's will find you a vase and you can get lovely arrangements for as little as $5 to $10. We did this, and we enjoyed our fresh flowers for the entire week. We took a van from the hotel to Pier 91 for $10 per person. We booked the van for 10:00 through the hotel (no free shuttles) and he was right on time. We were at the Pier in about 15-20 minutes. Check in was a breeze, very easy. Our carry on bags were dropped at security and we proceeded upstairs to get our keys and wait for boarding. We boarded promptly at 11:30 and were excited to get started. Our two Mariners arrived at the pier shortly after we boarded and enjoyed their lunch in the dining room while the rest of us went to the lido. The staff served the food at the lido for the first 48 hours to help prevent Noro. This slowed moving through the Lido, but I am all for this precaution so that we could hopefully avoid the illness. After lunch we explored the ship and some went swimming. Of course we went to the sail-away to wave good-bye to Seattle! HAL now has rooms ready at 11:30, which is great if you are getting on the ship- but I think it puts a great stress on the staff. Our room was ready, and just as we had wanted by one room that was to have split beds for a brother and sister was made up as a queen bed (that took until 9:30 PM to get solved) and one room that was to be a queen bed was split. Our staterooms were on the main deck, just forward of mid-ships, with the adults in outside rooms and the children in insides across the hall. The insides were a great value, they were larger and had more storage than the adults rooms. They also had the advantage of being dark, and allowed the kids to sleep much better than their parents. I would have been very happy with the interior that they had. Please note on all Seattle itineraries, you will be sailing up to Alaska in the northern Pacific. Be prepared if you are prone to motion sickness at all. No one in our party of 10 became sea sick on our first day out, but plenty of people were ill. We were sailing in 10-12 foot seas. The worst we had of it was looking like we had too many Alaskan beers as we walked down the hall. The medical staff will give you free sea-sick pills if you need them. We enjoyed the ship, but as noted by others it is worn and in need of the upcoming dry-dock. A plus for HAL is fresh flowers in all of the public rooms and free popcorn at the movies. A downside, the pools and the hot tubs closed up early in comparison to other lines we have sailed on. This is a problem when you have young people looking for something to do and enjoy using the pools. Also the hot tubs are extremely small, two person tubs at the aft-pool. We really enjoyed the Crow's Nest located forward (not aft as a previous poster noted). It is on Deck 10 and only the forward elevators will get you right up into the area. It is an easy walk on the 10th deck outside however if you find yourself in the aft by mistake. From the Crow's Nest we watched whales almost every evening, and even saw Dahl Porpoises. We always had great attention from the bar staff, and when they would see us in other bars knew immediately what we usually ordered. Glacier Bay was the main reason we booked this cruise and it did not disappoint! We spent the entire day out on decks. It was a cool day for the folks from the southern part of the US, with the high temps that day no better than the low 50s but we were comfortable in turtle necks, fleeces and vests. I did wear a hat, but never did put on my mittens that I had brought. There were plenty of blankets for those who desired them. We were extremely lucky and did not have rain at all. The teens were spilt on the teen club. Never saw the 17 year old when we were on board, and the 14 year old did some of the activities. The 12 year old boys were extremely disappointed as they put 8-12 together and there were way too many 8 year olds for the 12 year olds. As one 12 year old was an experienced cruiser whom almost always has to be pulled out of the clubs he was disappointed. This led to large groups of 12 year old boys roaming the ship looking for something to do in the evenings (as the pools were closed). On RCCL the 12 and 13 year olds were grouped in the "teen" area, but with different activities. My 12 year old did do the Junior Ranger program on board because I encouraged him to do it, but that was the last time he participated in organized activities in the club. With over 200 kids 17 and under on board there was plenty of life on the ship. Overall, the service on the ship by the stewards and MDR staff was hit or miss. This was a disappointment to the two frequent HAL cruisers who also agreed that for some reason the service was not what they were used to. There were many new contracts on the ship, our room steward had just boarded that day. If there were many new in the dining room and kitchen this may have caused some of the issues in the MDR. Service was much slower than we have normally experienced. Not sure if that was due to us being a table of 10, or our request to be at a table of 10 which put us on the first level of the dining room with open seating. Food was fine, although the one major meat eater of the bunch was disappointed in the selection of beef (although he understood it would be heavy in seafood, he just didn't expect quite that much). The Lido is not set up as nice as either the Voyager or the Radiance of RCCL (think of a cafeteria and not a food court), and the selections not as nice either but it was adequate for a buffet. Soda needed to be ordered from the bar staff instead of walking up to the drink area and buying it there. The kids enjoyed the ice cream and pizza. Our family enjoyed the entertainment offered to varying degrees. The magician was very fun, and later in the week he offered a second show designed to give you a more up close view of magic. The singers and dancers put on nice shows as well. One night there was an adults only comedian and she was just ok, but what I found interesting was the number of people who seemed to be offended by her humor, even though they were told it was adults only. Karaoke was offered several nights and we enjoyed watching the other passengers perform as well. The night club "Northern Lights" never seemed to have anyone in it. The scenery was the best entertainment as we often spent the evenings watching the world go by as the sun didn't set until 10 or so. In the ports our family group of 10 each did our own thing. We booked and independent whale watching tour in Juneau with Dolphin Tours, while one family booked through HAL. Both had good experiences. In Sitka everyone did the town on their own, shopping, visiting museums and the national park. Ketchikan was the only port where we all did an excursion through HAL, the "Deadliest Catch" Bering Sea Fisherman's Tour. Yes, we were not in the Bering Sea but this tour was very informative on the fishing industry in Alaska, and if you are a fan of the show they candidly answer questions about the show as well. All agreed it was well worth it. For Victoria only two booked a tour, and that was to the Butchart Gardens which they enjoyed tremendously. The others took a bus for $7.50 per person downtown where we enjoyed street performers and walked around the inner harbor stopping by the Empress Hotel to visit the Tea Room and the gardens. We were back on the ship by 9:00 to finish our packing. Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. We chose to carry our own luggage off and we were off and through customs in no time at all. If we would do Alaska again and wanted to do Glacier Bay we would sail HAL again and perhaps choose one of their smaller ships. It is interesting even in our own group people differed on how busy the ship seemed. Those of us used to RCCL thought the lounges and shows were fun and that there was plenty to do if you wanted to without it being too much, the kids were looking for more to do (except the 17 year old!), and others thought the ship was "a bit of a party ship" and a little too big for their taste. We love to cruise, and pick the itinerary over the ship. The ports on our cruise were just what we were looking for. It would have been nice to have had more time in Ketchikan, but because of the time it took to get back to Seattle it was only a half day port on this journey and our tour that morning was three hours, giving us just about an hour to do a quick walk around. We hope someday to return to Alaska and maybe be able to do a land and sea tour. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
Firstly about us..I am 65 and my wife is 56 and we have taken previous cruises on RCI (3).This is our 1st on HAL and 1st to Alaska.We are not 3 and 4 times a year cruisers like some but as we cruise less often we indulge in suites when we ... Read More
Firstly about us..I am 65 and my wife is 56 and we have taken previous cruises on RCI (3).This is our 1st on HAL and 1st to Alaska.We are not 3 and 4 times a year cruisers like some but as we cruise less often we indulge in suites when we do as we like the "extra perks" involved with suite life. We decided to drive to Seattle as airfare for 2 was close to $1000 and we can drive it in 10-12 hours with one overnight stop and no hassle with airline baggage restrictions and airport transfers etc.We found an excellent parking deal thru Smith Cove Travel for $140.00 inc tax for the week including shuttle service to/from port at a secure lot. Having cruised on 3 different classes with RCI (Vision/Radiance/Voyager)we were anxious to compare the Oosterdam to our previous ships.We both commented that Oosterdam seemed much more confined and closed in than any of the 3 ships on RCI.Hallways seemed narrower and ceilings lower and without the large atrium/promenades we were used to on RCI there were times it felt a little claustrophobic. Our suite (deluxe verandah) would be comparable to a Grand suite on RCI but cannot compare to an owners suite.The closet/drawer space was very limited and if we were at sea any more than 7 days it would have caused issues.The one big plus was the balcony which was a huge wraparound at the aft starboard corner that is far superior to anything we have had on RCI.Overall I would rate the suites on RCI slightly superior to HAL. Ships staff were excellent and we would highly recommend all crew/staff on the Oosterdam. The CD who was JT Watters was first class as were all his staff. Entertainment was OK but nothing exceptional. Before commenting on the food I should mention that I worked in the Food & Beverage industry for over 35 years so try to look objectively at what is offered in the way of the total food department.Overall the Dining room food is superior to RCI (except for desserts,which are very disappointing).The Lido buffet is not as good as Windjammer in layout or offerings.Specialty restaurant Pinnacle grill is equal to Chops but Canaletto does not come close to Portofino on RCI.In summation the food on HAL is slightly better than RCI and the DR selections are far better. When you consider that the ship prepares over 11000 meals a day it is beyond me how anyone can complain about anything when it comes to onboard food. Ports of call were Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria BC. We took HAL tours in Juneau and Sitka and found both very good and fair value for money.In Ketchikan we simply walked around on our own and in Victoria we stayed on board as we are Canadians and have been there,done that,got the TShirt several times before.Had we known that on the last night (Victoria) the entire ship closed down at 6pm we would have gone ashore. They boarded up the casino,shops,library,not even a farewell stage show...nothing. Both embarkation and disembarkation were well run and went very smoothly,except for of course the usual suspects who decide to ignore all printed notices and P.A. announcements and clog the hallways,stairs and gangways well in advance of their scheduled departure times and then seem annoyed when told they must wait until their appointed time. In summation, this was an excellent cruise that we would recommend and we will return to HAL in the future and try a different class of ship.Not for a while though as next up is a transatlantic cruise on Oceania in March 2012. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
I had the opportunity to cruise direct from Seattle (I live nearby) on HA's 7-day Alaska itinerary, which included Glacier Bay cruising, port calls at Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. The first two-and-half days are spent on board ... Read More
I had the opportunity to cruise direct from Seattle (I live nearby) on HA's 7-day Alaska itinerary, which included Glacier Bay cruising, port calls at Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. The first two-and-half days are spent on board ship--after embarking at 4 pm, a nice cruise to the north through the Puget Sound and a day northbound in open ocean, then another day aboard ship seeing the magnificent scenery in Glacier Bay. This is a plus to those who wish to spend time unwinding and recreating in beautiful outside surroundings. But be warned--the ship is quite ordinary, both in decor and food. Meals both in the main dining room or in the Lido tended to be overcooked, lukewarm and either too bland or spiced inappropriately. There are several attractive bars, such as the Oceans Bar on the 3rd level, with tall windows and a string quartet in the afternoons. However, the Crow's Nest, which is on Deck 10, is difficult to access (you must find the elevator aft, then go through the spa area; no other elevator goes all the way to deck 10). This is also the library and internet area, leaving little space for enjoying the view and visiting with friends while enjoying a drink or two. Bar service was less attentive than in the other bars, and most of the area was closed one afternoon for a private function. Everyone already there had to relocate over to the internet area--very cramped. All in all, I give HA and the Oosterdam points for efficiency. Fewer points for layout, decor, and even fewer for their "cuisine." I rate it below Celebrity, RCCL and especially Oceania if you are looking for a pleasant buffet and outstanding dining room. I would cruise with them again at the right price and interesting ports-of-call, but would choose the other cruise lines mentioned when looking for an outstanding on-board experience. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Oosterdam ReviewAlaska, May 21st - 29th, 2011BackgroundWhile this was my 14th cruise, this was my first time sailing aboard Holland America (HAL). Previous cruises have been on Royal Caribbean (6), Disney (3), NCL (2), Princess (1), and ... Read More
Oosterdam ReviewAlaska, May 21st - 29th, 2011BackgroundWhile this was my 14th cruise, this was my first time sailing aboard Holland America (HAL). Previous cruises have been on Royal Caribbean (6), Disney (3), NCL (2), Princess (1), and Carnival (1). My most recent cruises have been on Disney in January of this year aboard the Wonder, the Magic the previous year, and NCL Norwegian Dawn in 2009. To further allow you to gauge this review, I will tell you that I am a college professor just shy of 40, and was travelling with my wife, son (4), brother—who has cruised with HAL twice previously, and mother.I will admit that I was excited to try HAL based on what I've read on Cruise Critic and because of interviews I've listened to from HAL personnel (e.g., captains, cruise directors, etc.) stating that HAL was a "five star" line. While I enjoyed the cruise, I personally did not feel that HAL delivered anything above and beyond what the lines I've sailed have delivered. That said, I did enjoy my cruise and will second what many others have said; the Oosterdam cruise is extremely friendly, always saying hello and going out of their way to engage guests in conversation. However, I felt that the crew on Disney was equally friendly.I was hoping to fall in love with HAL and make them my "new" cruise line of choice looking for something that was the next step up without the extreme costs of the premium lines. While this unfortunately did not happen, I will not count HAL out in the future. They provided a good product for the amount paid, had nice cabin accommodations, and have competitive third person rates. And as of yesterday, our next scheduled cruise will be aboard the Maasdam in May 2012 from Montreal to Boston for the Canada/New England itinerary. My wife liked the itinerary in a mailing we received from HAL, even though she isn't particularly fond of cruising overall.The remainder of this review will read as a daily travelogue. However, due to its length, I do provide a general overview at the end after the day-by-day travelogue for those who are not interested in this level of detail. As always, remember that these are just my opinions of this particular cruise given my age, expectations, background, previous cruises, etc. So please just take it as that and don't attack the messenger should you disagree with my opinions as they are just that . . . opinions!Saturday, 05/21/11, Pre-CruiseToday began with my mother and brother meeting at my house at approximately 7:45 a.m. so that we could take our dogs to my in-laws for the week. We then returned to my house to load the SUV with the luggage hoping that it would all fit and eliminate the need to take two cars to the airport. With some creative packing, we were able to fit our entire luggage in the cargo area and the five of us were off to the airport.Fortunately, Saturday is not a busy travel day at the San Diego Airport, so parking the car offsite and shuttling to the airport was uneventful other than the schlepping of luggage. Once at the airport, we quickly checked our bags and quickly made it through airport security. With the family settled, I went back out through security, got us breakfast and allowed my son to play before the flight.While we had a direct flight on Southwest Airlines, it was not a nonstop flight. That's Southwest language for a landing and takeoff mid-route without having to get off the plane. Thus, our air route took us from San Diego to Oakland and then from Oakland to Seattle. My son opted to sit with my mother and brother, so we had a peaceful first flight and he fell asleep during the second flight which made it that much more quite.Upon arrive at SeaTac, we collected our bags and called for a limo from the public information phones. In less than 10 minutes, we were met by STILA limo (actually a Tahoe in this case), loaded our bags, and were off to downtown all for $45. I highly recommend simply calling for a limo/town car when arriving at SeaTac rather than taking a taxi as the fare is about the same and you don't have to worry about paying for stopped traffic should there be any as the prices are fixed.Our precruise stay had us at the Red Lion on 5th Avenue. The hotel was quite nice and we got an excellent rate through Hotels.com that included parking (not needed), internet (not used), and breakfast (enjoyable). It appeared that the hotel had been recently refurbished, but was a bit modern for my liking (e.g., frosted class bathroom doors that only offered pseudo privacy). The only down sides were that bell service was extremely slow—half hour wait—and avoided on Sunday morning and they needed more elevators at peak times. Also, there are no waiting cabs, so you will need to have the front desk call one for you.Sunday, 05/22/11 - EmbarkationI awoke early in anticipation of boarding the Oosterdam. I also discovered that I didn't have enough shaving cream, so I ended up heading down to the local downtown grocery store to buy some, and then to Starbucks for coffee. Then after a little walk for some early morning exercise, I returned to the hotel to have breakfast with my family in the hotel restaurant as it was provided in our room rate. Breakfast was good (breads, cereals, scrambled eggs, breakfast meats, juice, etc.) and met our needs.While eating breakfast, my son asked if I had brought his goggles for the pool, which I hadn't, so we ended up going down to the CVS a couple of blocks away to buy some. After the short detour, we returned to our hotel, called for bell service, but were unwilling to wait a half hour. Thus, we hauled our own bags to the lobby, checked out, asked the front desk to call us two cabs, and went to the curb to wait.Because there were five of us, one cab wasn't large enough for our group given the amount of luggage that we had. Thus, we opted for two cabs, which was still cheaper than a town car. Fares ran $12 for my mother and brother and $13 for us as there is a surcharge when there are more than two passengers. I'd estimate that Pier 91 was approximately 10 minutes from downtown and given that it was Sunday traffic was light.Entering Pier 91 was easy and I was actually surprised that we didn't have to show ID or our cruise documents as we always have had to in the past. Once we were dropped off, we waited for porter service, but they were all going to the private vehicle drop-off areas rather than to the taxi drop-off areas; thus, we had to haul our own bags into the terminal as there is no bag drop outside for already tagged bags. Since the signage is inadequate, be advised that you have to enter the terminal, walk past the lines heading upstairs to check-in, drop off your checked bags, and then return to the check-in lines. Also, keep in mind that HAL checks everyone in on the right side of the terminal, while Princess uses the left side.Because we had a stroller and my mom has mild mobility issues, we were able to bypass the first floor lines and use the elevator. Once in line upstairs, everyone was asked to have their cruise documents and passports available for viewing before entering the x-ray and metal detector screening area. This was also the first time while passing through ship security that I had to remove my laptop from my carryon bag. While this is common at airports, I've never had to do this before while boarding a ship and didn't know I had to since there were no signs or people stating as much. Thus, if you have a laptop, remove it from your carryon luggage for x-ray screening.Check-in was fairly efficient although we later found out otherwise when we discovered that my brother did not receive his invitation for the Mariner's Lunch and that they banded my son with the wrong muster station number. Even though we arrived early, just before 11:00 a.m., we still received Boarding Number 5. We also received a letter discussing that some of the crew had been ill and that additional hygiene measures were being taken. I really think the letter was simply meant to forewarn of Code Orange during the first 48 hours of the cruise, which is a nuisance but makes a lot of sense in reality.By 11:30 a.m., they began boarding the ship. Unfortunately, the gangway had broken so everyone had to take stairs back down to port level and then board via a ramp leading to Deck 1. This also meant taking the elevator once again, but this time we had to be escorted by a port employee as we had already passed through the security screening.We immediately went to our cabins: a Category SY for my immediately family (6069) and a Category D (1033) for my mom and brother. The SY was a nice configuration with the best bathroom I have had in all of my cruises. However, for some reason the cabin didn't feel as big as it was in terms of square footage. I'm guessing this had something to do with the size of the bathroom and that it was more square than rectangular. Even so, it was plenty of room for the three of us, and didn't even feel crowded when all five of us were gathered there for Glacier Bay. In addition, it was nice having a wider hallway in the cabin than that which is in the standard cabins.Once all of our bags were in our rooms, we headed to the main dining room for lunch as my brother is a past passenger. Unfortunately, we were met by a very rude dining room manager who insisted that my brother needed an invitation. When I asked why, he couldn't answer other than stating that the luncheon was for past passengers. When I finally pressed and asked which level of Mariner one had to be to have lunch there, the dining room manager said it was for 4 Star Mariners only, which I found highly unlikely. My brother later complained to guest relations and they stated that he should have never been turned away, and that he should have received an invitation. Further, the in-room documentation for the Mariner Society states that an embarkation lunch is one of the benefits of all Mariners, not just 2, 3, or 4 star ones. The Assistant Guest Relations Manager, Mila, handled this superbly, sending both of us an apology note, chocolates, and providing us with lunch in the Pinnacle, which later turned into dinner due to a variety of other issues that occurred throughout the week.Denied lunch in the main dining room, we headed to the Lido, which was total chaos. While I understand why HAL implements Code Orange, it doesn't work well in the Lido. Further, it was inconsistent and in some places they kept the serving utensils accessible to guests, so they ended up serving themselves anyway. And if HAL was truly concerned about hygiene, one would think they'd at least enforce hand sanitizer usage. In my last four cruises (Disney and NCL), one couldn't even enter the buffet or the dining room without sanitizing his or her hands, yet on HAL there was no such enforcement.Once we had our food, finding a seat was another challenge. Staffing was poor, the few tables that became available were not bussed quickly, and when the dirty dishes were removed and the tables cleaned, utensils and napkins were rarely left on the tables. However, it was nice to finally have a place to sit and to eat, even if the food was mediocre at best and some of the dishes that might have been good and/or worth trying weren't worth the wait in line. While I don't recall what I had, the only thing that stood out was the peanut butter cookies. My wife raved about them and she's not actually a fan of peanut butter cookies; unfortunately, they were available all too infrequently which was a major disappointment.My son was eager to try out the pool, so we returned to our cabin as we had packed our swimsuits in our carryon luggage and I wanted to get the swim in before the muster drill. As was common throughout the week, we were the only ones in the pool, which was cool although not cold. This was also only one of two days that the roof was open, the other being the last day of the cruise. As we played, several passengers, many of whom were passing by on a ship's tour, stopped to ask me if the water was heated. We also were able to enjoy the music of the HAL Cats as they played poolside today.The muster drill was rather quick and this is the first time on a cruise that attendance had not been taken. While I like the fact that life vests are not needed anymore, my wife still believes that should be worn so that people know how to wear them. I did have some concern, however, because we were assigned Muster Station 7, although my son's bracelet had the number 5 on it. When we asked one of the crew, they said it was fine and I assumed that perhaps they "shared" bracelets. That is, children in assigned to stations 1 and 3, receive a 3, those in 5 and 7 receive a 5, and so on. Logically, this made sense to me as the stations were adjacent to one another and would be a time saving strategy in an emergency. We later discovered, however, that there were bracelets for each station and that my son had been given the wrong bracelet at check-in, which I think is a gross oversight and something that should have been known and verified by the muster personnel. I will say that the guest relations staff were not too pleased when they discovered this.During the muster drill, it was also announced that Lifeboat 14 was left in Seattle for repair, but the passengers were assured that there were enough lifeboats for everyone and that those assigned to Station 14 should not worry. While I do believe this, I'm not sure how confident I'd be if I showed up to a muster station only to discover that my lifeboat was not hanging overhead.Upon returning to our cabin, we discovered that our checked luggage had arrived and we were pleased that it was placed inside the room rather than in the hallway as has occurred on previous cruises. We did discover that we needed more hangers, and although I called and asked for them, they never arrived, so I had to then ask our cabin steward. We also requested a child's robe, which took a couple of days to receive, and a child's life vest that didn't arrive until day 5 of the cruise even though it was requested several times. It wasn't until I finally raised a concern with Guest Relations that we received the child life vest and even then it took an additional day before it arrived.While I realize that there are plenty of life vests onboard and at the muster stations, I still wanted a life vest in the cabin. I was also troubled that it took asking multiple times and that no action was taken on the issue even though multiple crew were asked. The matter was only resolved when my brother spoke to Guest Services, and then it still took a day for the life vest to arrive.Upon returning to the cabin after the muster drill, we called to order my son a movie, but were told that there was a 1 hour wait; instead, we opted to pick up the movie at Guest Services. As an aside, HAL advertised a movie snack pack that seems like a pretty good deal for $10. It includes four sodas or bottles of water, two bags of popcorn, mixed nuts, and a choice of candy bars.After picking up the movie from Guest Services, we headed to an advertised wine sampling. Unlike wine tastings, there was a $2 charge per glass and the choices were limited to a few house wines. Unfortunately, the event started late and the bar server was new, so it took way too long; otherwise, it was a good value. I also liked that they served the nuts small glass bottles that you needed to pour from so that you knew the nuts hadn't been touched by others.Dinner tonight was in Canaletto, which we had reserved through the telephone concierge upon reaching our cabin. We were seated promptly at a nice table for 8 that had bench seating on one side and chairs on the other. My wife, son, and I were seated on the bench and were fortunate enough to have a clear view to the windows, so we were able to enjoy the view through dinner as we sailed out of Puget Sound.Overall, Canaletto was our best overall dinner onboard in terms of consistency across all courses, level of service, taste, etc. While there were excellent items in the Pinnacle and the main dining room, the quality varied from course to course as did the service from night to night. If we had it to do over again, we would have eaten at Canaletto at least one more night.Dinner started with a selection from an antipasto tray that is brought to the table, which was excellent. We also found the soups to be good, including a seafood soup that I didn't think I'd be fond of. The cod dish that my wife had was excellent, and probably the best piece of fish we had during the entire cruise. I opted for the chicken marsala, which was very good. My brother had the pasta with vodka sauce, which he said was good to very good, and seemed to enjoy very much. Dessert at the table consisted of the tiramisu sampling and the gelato, both of which were excellent. I also found the coffee to be the better here than in the main dining room for some reason.While our dinner was excellent, we later discovered that we had missed out on Alaskan king crab legs in the main dining room and were told, when I asked, that that was the only night they were served. While we were disappointed by this, we had plans to eat at Tracy's King Crab Shack in Juneau, so we had that to look forward to.We spent the evening exploring the ship while my son played with grandma. The night included exploring the shops, liquor tasting, attending a raffle at the shops, and attending the production show. The show itself was very good and the seats were very comfortable. I was also impressed with the staging, and the small size of the cruise director's staff, which was excellent by the way. The only downside of the theater was that there were several seats that had poor sight lines.While I expected the cigarette smoke to be bad from the Cruise Critic postings on the HAL board, I wasn't particularly bothered by it even though I am sensitive to cigarette smoke. However, I could smell it in the corridors when passing a room where smoking was occurring as all stateroom doors had vents on them like you might find in laundry rooms.Reflecting on the first day and what I had read on Cruise Critic, I felt that the ship was dark overall. Many of the corridors did not have windows and the overall dark color scheme of the interior made it feel darker. I also wasn't a fan of the carpeting choices. In addition, there was some noticeable wear and tear, although I expected it given that the Oosterdam is scheduled for dry dock at the end of the Alaska season. Examples included the window frame of my mother and brother's cabin showing serious rust, and a shower curtain that was too short in our SY cabin that the door frame of the bath room's door was nearly rusted through as a result of continuous water exposure.Staff was friendly overall, with the exception of my brother being turned away at the Mariner's lunch. However, this was later rectified by Guest Services, who provided us with free meals at the Pinnacle.Monday, 05/23/11 - At SeaToday, it was obvious that we were in open waters as we could feel the motion of the ship once we had left the channel. Once we had rounded Vancouver Island in the early morning, the motion started.The first of perhaps two announcements today occurred at 9 a.m., which actually woke us. Upon waking, we ordered room service for a light breakfast, which took about 35-40 minutes to arrive. We then reviewed the daily program to see what activities we might be interested in attending today. We really liked the layout of the daily program as it was easy to follow and included a nice tear-off section, although I would have preferred an insert as to keep the program intact. My wife particularly liked the daily program after Disney as she thought their daily program was like the "TV guide from hell" with various grids outlining family activities, activities by age level, etc.Lunch today was in the main dining room with the entire family. Service was fairly efficient and we were seated quickly even though there was a line when we arrived. Overall, food and service was good, but not great. For example, the waiter forgot to bring the soup I ordered and the fries served with my burger were cold. Fortunately, the burger itself was very good and the cold pear soup was excellent. My wife had the teriyaki salmon, which was fair at best, while my son had the mac and cheese that was very good. I finished lunch with a blueberry sundae and a cappuccino which were good, while my wife opted for peanut butter cookies form the lido afterwards.We did note that the dining room on HAL was very similar to that of Disney. The only difference was that as you entered and exited the dining room, there were a bunch of parked electric scooters and walkers lining the wall rather than strollers.Like most afternoons, this one was spent in the pool, which was seriously underutilized on this cruise by others, making it a more enjoyable experience than on Disney as there was never a crowd. Fortunately, the dome was closed today, making it a bit warmer than yesterday. However, the movement of the ship was very noticeable in the pool with serious wave action as the pool sloshed back and forth.Prior to dinner, we had our photos taken in the main atrium. We then headed to dinner. Overall, I wasn't very impressed with the Captain's Gala menu and this might have been a better night for Canaletto. That said, there were some good items. At the table, we had Carpaccio (poor), seafood cake (good), beef wellington (good), mushroom risotto (good) and the always available steak (very good). The standout dish tonight, surprisingly, was the sweet and sour shrimp, which was excellent. The tempura shrimp alone make this the dish to order. Desserts were good to fair overall. The chocolate trio I ordered was not as described on the menu and was fair at best. My wife order a custom made sundae using the toppings from the baked Alaska, which she enjoyed. My brother had the always available fruit crisp with ice cream, which he stated was good to very good. The standout dessert, which my son ordered, was the watermelon sorbet pie with chocolate seeds. I wish I had taken a picture of it as it was very creative and actually looked like a wedge of watermelon. While I personally thought it was good as I had to try a sample, I wouldn't have order it again; however, my son wanted it nearly every night even though it wasn't available.After dinner, we attended the production show. I also liked the fact that the Captain's reception was held in the theater and drinks were handed out as you entered. This seemed more convenient and less chaotic than those on other cruises were it took place in the atrium. Overall, the show was fair, although the staging was excellent and included the use of hydraulic lifts, turntables, etc. The big turnoff for me, though, was a song/dance number that included a mock suicide, which caused us to leave the show early as I didn't want my son exposed to such imagery at his age.After the production show, we returned to the cabin where my son watched a ship-provided DVD while we watched some recorded TV programs brought from home. My son really enjoyed his movie as I stopped by the screening room and grabbed some popcorn on our way back to the cabin.We finished the night by enjoying our pillow chocolates—the best we've had on a ship—and turning our clocks back 1 hour. We also completed and hung the breakfast order form for the next morning.Tuesday, 05/24/11 - Glacier BayRoom service breakfast arrived today halfway through the selected time window. Unlike other cruise lines, however, there was no call prior to delivery, only a knock on the door. While I did tip, the server seemed quite surprised and I seriously believed that a tip was not expected. The order was nearly correct; however, I did not receive the hot chocolate I ordered although I did receive the carafe of hot water for it.We left the room for a little more than two hours this morning and were surprised to return to the cabin only to find that it had not been cleaned. This was problematic as we were expecting to host my brother and mother in the cabin while we cruised Glacier Bay. As a result, we had to call for service twice as we needed the extra bed turned back into a couch. While I would have attempted it myself, there was a sign stating otherwise and to call.We stopped briefly at the lido, but there were no seats available. As a result, we ended up taking the few items that we selected back to the cabin. My wife also visited the taco bar, but thought it was poorly laid out and not restocked timely. We supplemented the lido with room service and as expected, there was a 10 minute wait on hold and an hour wait for food. When the food arrived, it was good, not great, and not particularly hot.Having been on an Alaska cruise before, Glacier Bay was about what we expected and it was nice having a large balcony and a cabin to retreat to for warmth. In addition, this was my brother and mother's first time to Alaska, and they really enjoyed the scenery and long sail into and out of Glacier Bay. And although I was concerned about having a cabin on the starboard side based on what I had read on Cruise Critic, we actually ended up spending more time facing the glacier than the port side, which was good as my son fell asleep before we reached the glacier. Fortunately, though, he woke before we left and was able to see it and watch if calve. He just couldn't understand why we couldn't go ice skating on it—after all, it's made of ice—or why we couldn't stop along the shore to play in the snow.This afternoon, we received a plate of chocolates from Guest Services for being turned away at the Mariner's lunch and because of another minor issue. While we chose not to complain, the Guest Services person saw our reservation was linked with my brother's, so she sent a note and the chocolates as a result. Nice touch!Tonight's dinner menu wasn't very appealing, so we ended up in the lido for dinner. Food was okay and it would have been nice to have beverage service. In addition, my mother was told that they were out of some of the entrEes they had on display. Further, service was nearly nonexistent. I really expected more service in the lido based on experience on other cruise lines.The main show tonight was okay. The performer was an impressionist that was on one of the reality TV competition shows. What really surprised me, however, was his appeal at the end of the show to make comments on the guest survey. While I've come to expect this from the cabin steward, dining room team, etc., I've never seen a performer make such an appeal.After the production show, we attended the Love and Marriage game show, which was hilarious. We particularly liked the cruise director's personality and his ability to poke fun at the cruise line and its reputation for attracting seasoned adults.Wednesday, 05/25/11 - JuneauWe started the morning with room service breakfast as usual and as expected delivery occurred in the middle of the selected half hour time window. Today, however, the kitchen/server forgot to include spoons for our three bowls of cereal. Fortunately, we had the spoon from my coffee; otherwise, we would have been out of luck.Having been to Juneau before, we opted to take one of the blue shuttles to Mendenhall Glacier. Although we were planning on being on the first bus, our timing was a bit off so we headed out to the glacier on the second bus. Upon arrival, we headed to the view point and came across my mother, which was a nice surprise as we didn't expect to see her until lunch as she and my brother were on a HAL "Juneau Highlights" tour that they later reported liking.After visiting the view point and taking pictures of the lake and the glacier, we decided to head to the waterfall, approximately a ¾ mile walk each way according to the signage. Along the way, we were able to see pieces of the glacier that either came ashore or were pulled ashore by others. The only downside was that my son "ran out of energy" as he says on the way back, so I ended up carrying for about ½ a mile back to the bus.After spending about two hours at Mendenhall, we caught the bus back to the ship as we were meeting my brother and mother at the dock for lunch. Meeting up with them at Tracy's Crab Shack, I was excited to try the crab legs based on reviews and their menu online. Unfortunately, their prices were significantly higher than online, so we ate lightly and still spent just over $100 sharing three sample plates (1 crab leg, 2 mini crab cakes, and crab bisque).Overall, I felt that while Tracy's Crab Shack was good, it wasn't anything special and I would have been just as happy buying King Crab legs at Costco and cooking them myself. The legs were no more impressive nor better tasting. And the price, while very reasonable based on the menu that was posted online, was about one-third higher than I expected. That said, the crab bisque was amazing, so I would recommend trying it. It was fabulous, meeting, and the best bisque I have ever had; all four adults at the table were in agreement with this.Having split three meals across five people, we reboarded the ship to supplement our lunch and to regroup. We then headed to the tram up to Mt. Roberts. To expedite the trip up, we used the self-serve kiosk to buy our tickets; unfortunately, there was no definition of "child" on the kiosk or on the signage at the ticket desk, so I ended up buying a ticket for my son that I later discovered wasn't needed as children under six do not require their own ticket.The views from Mt. Roberts are fabulous and being able to see the rehabilitated eagle up there is a treat. However, our true purpose was for my son to experience snow and we weren't disappointed. Less than 50 yards from the main building at the top of the tram, we came across a trail that was completely covered in snow, giving my son ample opportunity to play.For those wishing to hike, there are hiking sticks as you exit the building, which we missed the first time. Although we didn't go far, we heard from others that the trails were very slippery, muddy, and snow covered. At one point, we saw someone nearly hip deep in the snow even at the end of May.As far as my son was concerned, the trip up to the mountain was a success and we were able to build a snowman, have a snowball fight, and the like over about a two hour period while my wife shopped for a large portion of the time. While she didn't buy anything, she thought the shop had a good selection and some nicer, higher end items that weren't available in town. And although my son wished for more snow to play in, this was the one and only opportunity he had to do so.Upon returning to the dock, we shopped a little bit before returning to the ship empty handed as we couldn't find anything that interested us. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing in the cabin and likely taking my son swimming, although I don't recall precisely. We were also excited as tonight was our night to try the Pinnacle Grill.After dropping my son off with my mother, we headed to the Pinnacle for dinner. Upon checking in, the host asked us where our little one was, which was a nice touch. When we told him it would just be the two of us, he showed us to a nice booth next to the window, which allowed us to watch the coastline as we sailed away during dinner. What I wasn't prepared for was to see that the dress code was not enforced and some dinners were wearing shorts while others were wearing t-shirts.Overall, we found the entrees to be excellent (bone-in rib eye steak and lobster tail), but were not impressed with the side dishes, except for the sautEed mushrooms. The scalloped potatoes had too much garlic in my opinion and the creamed spinach lacked flavor. As far as the appetizers went, they were good, but not great, with the exception of the seafood platter that included smoked fish. In addition, the waiter did deliver crab cakes that were not order, which were good and a nice touch for otherwise lackluster service.While I do believe the waiter tried to be efficient, he and his assistant just didn't deliver. Simple requests weren't responded too (e.g., a glass of ice requested by my wife) and water glasses went unfilled even when a request for more water was made. Finished plates were also left on the table for much too long and the waiter did not check on us during dinner to see how the meal was or to ask if anything was needed. Further, when we stated that we weren't fond of the soufflEs as they lacked flavor, he seemed insulted and then whispered something to his assistant at the bussing station who then looked back at us. We then waited too long for a replacement dessert and I was never asked if I wanted coffee, which I would have liked.Given the large portion sizes, I did ask to take the remainder of my steak back to the cabin, but I was told that I couldn't as it was against policy. Even so, he did wrap it in foil, but said "he didn't do it," if I was caught. This was extremely surprising since it was almost encouraged and Disney at the waiters there even insisted on making an entirely new plate to take back to the cabin. While I could understand this if it were a second entrEe, given that it was the only entrEe ordered, I just didn't understand why this was the case.Thursday, 05/26/11 - SitkaToday started like most days with room service breakfast delivered halfway through the desired delivery window. Unlike yesterday, though, the order was complete.As we had a ship's tour, we were scheduled to meet in the Vista Lounge at 8:45 for a 9:00 tour. As usual, though, we ended up waiting in the lounge until almost 9:30. And while CNN was playing on the big screen as a diversion, the news stories weren't always child friendly.When we were finally called, we boarded directly onto the Allen Marine vessel for the Sea Otter and Fortress of the Bear tour, which lasted about 3 hours and was excellent. During our time on the water, we saw hump back whales, bold eagles in their nests, sea otters, a harbor seal, a bear, and perhaps one or two other animals. I would, however, suggest bringing along a snack as what was served as the included snack was a cracker with some smoked salmon, although small scones, coffee, and hot chocolate were served earlier. There were other snacks that could be purchased onboard for those less prepared.The tour itself was excellent overall with a naturalist onboard providing audio commentary and cabin assistance to provide help to guests. In addition, a map was provided in addition to binoculars for those who didn't have them or didn't bring them. There were also bathroom facilities onboard for those who needed them. I'd also suggest the upper deck for the best viewing. While a bit colder, it is enclosed on three sides with a large open deck on the back half of the vessel for taking unobstructed photos.Upon arriving at the dock, we waited for a bit before boarding a bus to the Fortress of the Bear. While I really enjoyed our visit here and really appreciate what they are doing, I personally wouldn't go out of my way to go there. However, it was a good place to see bears up close and the commentary provided was excellent. Of course, my son was more interested in the petting zoo than the bears.On our way back to the dock, my son made friends with a girl who was on the bus and who also had the cabin next to ours. As they talked, they began comparing their past cruises and I think it was at this point that my son developed an interest in the kid's club because he knew his "new friend" would be there. We also discovered that my son had been given a wrist band with the wrong muster station based on the number the girl had on her wrist band, even though we had asked at the muster drill.Before returning to the ship via tender, we shopped a bit, picking up a couple of inexpensive t-shirts for my son. We also stopped at Del Sol as my son wanted another "free color changing ring," but none was offered at this location.After returning to the ship, we grabbed a bite to eat and were surprised to discover that my son's life vest had still not been delivered. After some time in the pool, we returned to the cabin to get ready for dinner.We arrived at the dining room at 7:00 p.m. only to be told that we'd have to wait until 7:45 p.m. as it was the Master Chef menu. Somehow, I didn't realize that anytime dining didn't apply tonight. Thus, we asked my son if he'd like to go to the Club Hal for a half hour, which he did, and then we headed to the lounge for a drink and visited with each other. Then shortly thereafter, I headed up to Club Hal and returned to the lounge with my son, who then decided that he'd rather go back to Club Hal than to dinner.After one more trip to Club Hal, we headed off to an adult only dinner. I must admit that I wasn't fond of the Master Chef menu or the "show." I'll admit that it was different, though. My wife also didn't like that they wanted to bring things to the table that weren't ordered, so she graciously informed the waiter that she only wanted what she ordered so that food wood not be wasted.The only item that I can say was very good to excellent was the Oxtail Soup en Croute; and although the shrimp were good, the sauce was terrible. Everything else was fair at best, including desserts. Service also suffered tremendously tonight.Feeling unsatisfied with dinner and not really having much dessert, we headed to Club Hal before hitting the Lido for dessert. However, to our surprise, our son was not there as they were on a Pirate Adventure. So, we headed to the Lido for ice cream, only to see my son and about six other kids come marching through looking for pirate clues. While I feared my son might want to leave upon seeing us, he was having a blast and simply said hello and goodbye before heading back to Club Hal as that is where the clue sent them. Once he returned there, he and the rest of the kids found the "pirate chest" and each were able to take two "treasures" from it.With Club Hal closing at 10 my son went to my mother's cabin so that we could see the main show with my brother. Tonight's show was magician Leo Ward. His show was fabulous and probably the best cruise show I have ever seen, including those on Disney.Upon picking up our son and returning to the cabin after the show, he asked if he could go back to Club Hal tomorrow. While it took awhile, it was nice that he had now taken to the club.Friday, 05/27/11 - KetchikanAs usually, we started today with breakfast from room service, but this time it was delivered at the beginning of the delivery window rather than halfway through as on the previous days. The server today was particularly efficient and verified that we didn't want coffee, stating that he could get us some if we wanted it; I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the offer even though it wasn't wanted. While I tipped a couple of dollars as usual, the server seemed surprised by the tip as did most of the servers. Thus, while I felt it wasn't expected it was generally appreciated. The only thing missing today was the jam for the bagel.Today we had a 9:00 a.m. Duck Tour scheduled with the whole family. My mom wasn't initially going to go, but we convinced her otherwise. The tour was longer than advertised and provided a good overview of Ketchikan and was better than the horse drawn trolley tour we did previously. My only disappointment is that we didn't get closer to town when on the water. Afterwards, my mom returned to the ship with my son as he wanted to go to Club Hal while we went off to shop.I noted a lot of seafood shacks along the pier and would have tried a couple if I had had more time. In addition, the crab was a lot cheaper than in Juneau and some of the shacks offered some of the biggest shrimp I have ever seen. We would have definitely tried one or more of them if we had time.Personally, I believe that Ketchikan deserves a longer port stop. There's a lot to see and some excellent shopping to be had here, and there simply isn't enough time to do much of either. I would have preferred a shorter stop in Sitka in favor of a longer stop here. And while it rained, it was more of a drizzle and I did fine without a jacket, although I would have worn if I hadn't given mine to my wife. I had another in my backpack, but it wasn't bad enough to take off to get another jacket.We enjoyed the emporium (Tongass Trading Company) right at the dock and purchased a number of items at an excellent price using the coupons we received in Seattle while checking in. They offered a number of freebies in addition to excellent prices on socks, t-shirts, etc. They also offered glow in the dark and color changing t-shirts, although the coupon ones were cheaply made and it was worth purchasing those that weren't on discount. They also offered six packs of soda and water at a very reasonable price with coupon for those interested. And while they have three stores, the largest is right there at the dock making it very convenient.Upon returning to the ship, which was more efficient than in Juneau thanks to two gangways, we met my mother, after she retrieved our son from Club Hal, and brother at the main dining room for lunch. We were given a table in the aft at a table next to the rear windows, which provided an excellent view during lunch and allowed us to see as we sailed away and the Celebrity Century move in to take our spot at the dock.Lunch today was enjoyable. My wife and I split the salmon and a white fish dish, which were both good although neither was excellent. The standout item of this meal was the whipped sweet potatoes. My mom had the honey glazed short ribs, which were good, and the buttermilk mashed potatoes, which were excellent. My brother had the chicken sandwich, which he said was good as well. The other standout item that my son loved was the cold grape and cranberry soup. Sadly, the desserts were only fair, lychee sundae and chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Overall, service was sluggish, which made us late for our Black Label photo shoot that we had reserved a few days earlier.While getting changed for the photo shoot, we received a phone call for the Assistant Hotel Manager asking if my son's life vest had been delivered and I informed her that it had not. It did arrive later today well into the cruise. While I wasn't worried about the life vest as they are plentiful at the muster stations, it was disappointing to see how slowly HAL responded to this issue.We had high hopes for the Black Label Photography session, but we found the experience underwhelming at best. The photographer seemed to lack experience with children and spoke to our 4 year old at a level well beyond his understanding. She kept telling him to "just relax," and I'm not sure any 4 year old really knows how to do this. In addition, he has a lot of experience with photographers and has been used by some in photo competitions because he's very cooperative and photogenic, so we were really surprised when there were only three or four shots that we really liked. And the price alone, $595, was really revolting given the limited amount of time that the photographer spent with us and the fact that the photographer didn't listen to what we really wanted from the photo shoot.After the photo shoot, we allowed my son to nap and then spent some time walking around the ship as my brother took our son swimming. We stuck mainly to the 9th and 10th decks as we wanted to be able to check on our son periodically and were surprised at how underutilized the pool was yet again. At no time during the entire week were there more than 3 or 4 people in the main pool.During our walk, I finally made it up to the Crow's Nest which was very popular at this time because of happy hour. All of the tables were full and everyone seemed to be having a good time. And although we weren't partaking, the service was excellent and we were immediately asked if we wanted something upon entering. If I had it to do over again, I would have made a point to visit the Crow's Nest more and would have planned on partaking in happy hour. Perhaps on the next HAL cruise.Upon returning to the pool, I was surprised to find that my son, brother, and an older gentleman were all playing catch with a small soft ball and they all seemed to be having fun. With some coaxing, I was able to get my son out of the pool so that we could get ready for dinner.On our way to dinner, we had a few pictures taken in the lobby by a younger American photographer we took a liking to. Afterwards, we took my son to Club Hal and later reported that he enjoyed the "unbirthday party" that they had there.Upon arrival at the main dining room, we had to wait approximately 15 minutes to be seated. However, when finally shown to a table, I was left wondering why we had to wait as there were a large number of empty tables, many of which remained empty throughout our dinner. However, given the quality of service we had tonight, it was probably a good thing that all of the tables were note occupied. While service wasn't bad, it was inconsistent with a couple of courses coming timely, and then long pauses between the main course, simple requests, and dessert.As for the actual meal, the escargot, which is a dish I order on every cruise when it is available, was very good and the most tender I have had on any cruise. It would have rated excellent had it had more garlic; even so, it's worth ordering again. While I had high hopes for the cream of four mushrooms soup, it was terrible and probably the worst soup of the entire trip. Tonight was also "lobster night" in the form of a surf and turf option. I order the surf and turf, which I thought was very good, but would order the sauce they serve with the lobster tail on the side next time. In addition, the filet mignon was the smallest I had ever seen, so take note if you're a huge beef fan. My wife ordered the same thing, but asked for the turf to be held. She was pleased when her plate arrived with an additional lobster tail in place of the steak.Although the service was inconsistent tonight, the server was very attentive otherwise. For example, when he removed my lobster tail from its shell, he noted how small it was and insisted that he get me another one without being asked. We finished off the meal with the brownie hot fudge sundae for dessert, which was excellent even though my sundae was missing the brownie.After dinner, we went to the "Liars Club" game show in the Queens Lounge. The cruise director, someone from marketing, and Leo Ward, the magician, were the contestants. The show itself was hilarious and I laughed throughout the entire show. I highly recommend attending, although I am sure that the quality of the show depends on the contestants.Just before 10 p.m., we picked up our son from Club Hal; this time, he didn't want to leave and we had to explain that they were closing. We ended up going to the production show, which was good, but we left about halfway through as we had seen enough.Tonight was also the "Dessert Extravaganza," so we headed up to the pool deck to check everything out. Personally, I thought the event was overstated as it is on most cruise lines. While the displays were pretty, many of the items lacked flavor. In addition, half of the items that they advertised would be served were nowhere to be found, including chocolate covered strawberries which are my son's favorite. Fortunately, I had ordered a couple of plates throughout the cruise, so he was satisfied there. In addition, the "ice cream" parlor that was advertised was no different than what was traditionally offered in the lido.Saturday, 05/28/11 - VictoriaWaking up earlier than planned, I tried to attend the disembarkation talk, but when I arrived the show lounge was packed and there was no way to get in. Have cruised before, I wasn't too worried and simply headed to the coffee bar instead, which offered good coffee at an extremely reasonable price.Today was also the Mariner's Brunch, which we attended. The menu was quite limited (2 appetizers, 3 entrees, and 1 dessert). Complimentary wine was also served. Among the table, we had the quiche (good) and the braised short ribs (very good). A cold pear and apple soup was also served, but in my opinion it tasted more like applesauce than a soup; even so, my son enjoyed it.With only one dessert choice, we decided to hit the Lido for dessert and ended up with the standby (ice cream and cookies). And while HAL makes the absolute best peanut butter cookies, which were extremely popular, they were rarely available—a big disappointment in the end.With our dessert cravings satisfied, we went to the shops to buy our nieces a gold-by-the-inch bracelet we had liked for their birthdays. What they don't tell you in the advertised price is that there is an additional $5 charge per bracelet for the clasp. I also made the mistake of suggesting that it was plated gold to my wife and ended up receiving a lecture from the clerk regarding the "golding" process and how it is better and guaranteed for life. In reality, I didn't care as it was a gift I thought my nieces (6 and 9) would enjoy and something I didn't want to invest too much in as the likelihood of them getting lost was high.With Club Hal reopened after lunch, we dropped our son off there before returning to the room to pack and complete our customer comment forms. Although I had anticipated questions about smoking from the Cruise Critic boards, none were asked probably because a decision regarding the smoking policy had already been made as announced after we returned. What was odd, though, is that the questionnaire asked about the ports of call, including Victoria, which we hadn't yet visited. While I understand why they want feedback, HAL wanted the forms returned by 6 p.m., which was the time we were scheduled to dock.Afternoon was spent in the pool then to dinner as soon as the opened so that we would be ready for our tour of Butchart Gardens. Dinner tonight was the first night that we ordered for my son off of the children's menu, which was a huge mistake and delayed service tremendously. While our waiter kept us posted, he explained that they only have one chef for "specialty meals," which includes the kid's menu and that he was inundated with orders; as a result, we had to wait. Given that it was spaghetti and meatballs, I didn't think it would be such a hassle especially since they could have sent someone up to the Lido in less time. I had the always available steak with mashed potatoes (both good) and my wife had the chicken and beef sautE, which she rated as fair. Unfortunately, by the time my wife got the sour cream for her baked potato, it was cold, although the waiter did offer to get her another baked potato.Seated near the window, it was nice to be able to see us sailing close to Vancouver Island. However, it was also obvious that we were running late as we finished dinner before we had even entered the harbor. While this was a blessing in terms of not being rushed, we knew it would impact our time at the gardens. Fortunately, we had been there previously and this was mainly a trip for my son to enjoy the gardens.After a brief stop to the cabin to grab my backpack and my son's stroller, we headed to the Vista Lounge to wait with everyone else. The staff there did keep us updated and quickly cleared us out of the lounge as soon as we were docked. From there, we went through the terminal building to a number of waiting busses. Unfortunately, because of our late arrival, we didn't reach the gardens until 8:30 and thus only had 90 minutes to enjoy the gardens, which is about 1/3 the amount of time that you need. Therefore, we only got through the "sunken gardens" and not through the other three or four that are there. If it weren't for my son, we would have stayed in the harbor area given the short amount of time in port. In fact, on our last Alaska cruise, we didn't even bother to get off the ship as it wasn't worth the hassle for such a short amount of time ashore.We were fortunate to have a very good bus driver who provided us with a tour and overview of Victoria on the return trip. Unfortunately, due to our late return, the only thing we had time for was the small souvenir shop at the terminal building that Princess and NCL were docked at as the HAL terminal was undergoing renovations. Finding nothing of interest, we reboarded the ship; however, the elevator situation was pretty bad given that they had locked down some of the elevators for luggage collection purposes.Hungry, we headed to the Lido to grab a bite to eat and were grateful that HAL had an fairly substantial offering at this late hour as in days past. I was concerned that they might close things up early because it was the last night onboard. While there was a bit of a wait for food, it wasn't terribly bad. However, there was no seating to be found, so we headed off to our cabin to eat and to put our bags out. We also needed to get our son to sleep.With a request for all luggage to be in the hallway by 1 a.m., we ate and then quickly finished up the limited packing that remained. I then put the bags in the hallway, where they were quickly collected. Then packing as much of our carry-ons for the next day, my wife discovered that she had not placed a jar of pickled kelp from Sitka in our checked bags. Not wanting to deal with it in the morning, I found our luggage in the elevator lobby and was able cut off the zip tie, repack the bag, and rezip tie the bag without ever being noticed, which was a bit concerning for me and why I like to secure my bags with zip ties so that I know if they've been tampered with.Finally ready for bed, we hung our breakfast order on the door for the morning and got a few hours of sleep.Sunday, 05/29/11 - DisembarkationDisembarkation was excellent overall. We had the 8:30-9:00 a.m. departure window and it was nice being able to stay in our cabin until called. There other plus was the ability to order room service breakfast. Overall, I would say HAL provides the best disembarkation experience of any cruise we've been on.Waiting until almost 9:00 a.m., we were able to simply walk off without any wait. The cruise director was also at the gangway to bid farewell to passengers, which I thought was very high class and a nice touch. Unfortunately, once we were off the ship, the port building was a bit of a mess with two ships disembarking at the same time; however, we were able to locate our luggage and eventually made our way through U.S. Customs and then waited for my mother and brother to make it off the ship.The lines for taxis and busses were incredibly long and we ended up taking a "gypsy" van to the airport for $10 per person. While the driver was part of a registered limousine service, he wasn't authorized to pick up at the port. In the end, it worked out and we arrived at the airport quickly.If you are flying out on disembarkation day, I highly recommend a flight no earlier than noon, and 1 p.m. for comfort as three ships disembark on Sundays. The lines to check luggage were incredibly long, particularly at Southwest Airlines, with a line wrapping around the entire check-in counter building. Despite the length of the line, we still were able to get our bags checked within an hour of getting in line, probably closer to 45 minutes. That said, there were several who were shocked at the length of the line and concerned about making their flights. The line at curbside check-in wasn't much better.Once we had checked our bags, we were lucky enough to find that Sea-Tac offered a family security check line that was relatively short. For those interested, the airport uses backscatter x-ray machines for the full-body scans. What was nice about the airport, though, is that they have a number of eateries and a child's play area, so we were able to enjoy lunch and allow my son to burn off some energy before boarding our flight, which was uneventful overall.General ThoughtsThe sea view elevators were a big hit with my son. I particularly liked that the doors were also made of glass, so they served as windows when the elevator car wasn't there.The ship is in need of dry dock. While the wear and tear did not take away from our vacation, it was obvious that some things needed to be attended to, particularly rust in our bathroom and around the window frame in my mother's cabin. In addition, some of the soft good, including our verandah furniture and couch pillows, needed to be redone. However, I purposely looked based on what has been stated on Cruise Critic, so it's possible such things might not be noticed by others and that other cabins are in better condition.I wasn't a huge fan of the ship's overall design. The general layout seemed darker and more crowded than other ships I've been on, many of which were of similar size. I believe this resulted from the dark color scheme of the interior, lack of a grand atrium with skylights, and mostly interior corridors as small lounges took up most of the windowed areas. That said, if you are someone who enjoys lounging in the public areas, this is the ship for you. However, I did like the design of the daily program as it was extremely easy to follow and to see what was being offered throughout the day.The Crow's Nest was a fabulous place. Definitely go there at least once and keep in mind that happy hour is from 4-5 p.m. The coffee bar is also located nearby and had very reasonable prices compared to land-based coffee shops and other cruise lines.The seating in the main theater is very comfortable; however, be careful when selecting seats as there are many seats that have obstructed sight lines.The lido is too small—at least in terms of seating capacity—for the size of the ship. However, the selection was very good overall and they served the best peanut butter cookies I have ever had and I'm not a particularly big fan of peanut butter cookies compared to other flavors. The pool grill was mediocre at best and never served a decent order of french fries all week and were typically served cold. Disney's pool grill wins hand down in terms of selection, quality, and freshness of items served.Room service was good and offered a decent variety of items particularly for breakfast. We were able to write in a few things on the breakfast order form and always received them. It was particularly nice to be able to enjoy room service on disembarkation morning. The downside is that there was usually a 45 minute wait when ordering off of the in-room menu. As for other food, the dining room was hit and miss with more fair to good items than very good to excellent items, although I realize the food is subjective. What surprised me, however, is how much we liked Canaletto, both in terms of food quality and service. We'll definitely be dining at Canaletto on future HAL cruises.While HAL does not offer an "unlimited" soda card like other cruise lines do, I actually liked the $50 for $25 better as service was always good. One of the complaints on other lines is that the servers are not motivated to serve soda as there is no tip in it for them. HAL's system eliminates this entirely as the waiter is receiving the traditional auto tip that he/she would receive otherwise.The crew seemed very friendly overall and went out of their way to say hello, carry on conversations, etc. However, I wouldn't say they were any friendly than Disney nor would I say they were less friendly. I also really liked the crews' uniforms. Service was mostly efficient in the main dining room even though we had anytime dining.While we never had a chance to watch an entire movie in the Screening Room, we did stop by. The seats were extremely comfortable, but the screen was much too small. The seating layout also seemed like a waste of space and only offered seating for about 30 people. I would say it was on par with what I've experienced on NCL and I won't make a comparison with Disney as Disney has a real movie theater onboard. Personally, I would have preferred different movies playing throughout the day rather than the same movie playing all day long.I wasn't thrilled with the security of the kid's club. Check-in and check-out consisted of simply signing on a roster and indicating where you might be. There were no pages are phones issued in case there was an emergency. In addition, the door to the club was not secured in any way making it possible for a child to leave unnoticed as there are blind spots when the adjacent room is used. That said, there were only about 8 kids in the club at any given time, so I'm sure it was easy to keep track of everyone. And whn ile we were supposed to give a password when picking up, it was never asked for. Surprisingly, however, I think HAL did a decent job with the limited space and staff that they had and I actually think my son preferred HAL's club over Disney's.I enjoyed having a DVD player in the room. The DVD lending library was an additional bonus. We only had this available to us once before and that was when we were staying in a suite on NCL. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
I had actually never heard of HAL before my sister suggested this cruise to us. We decided to give it a shot, we brought 2 of our kids (ages 6 & 9 at the time). I found the kids program to keep off hours, which was inconvenient to us. ... Read More
I had actually never heard of HAL before my sister suggested this cruise to us. We decided to give it a shot, we brought 2 of our kids (ages 6 & 9 at the time). I found the kids program to keep off hours, which was inconvenient to us. Whenever we found an activity that we were interested in, it seemed that the kids club closed during part (or all of it). I take this with a grain of salt because most people know that HAL is geared more towards the 50+crowd. The on-board entertainment wasn't great, again geared toward older crowd. The dining was awesome-my kids still remember our server Ketut 5 years later! I liked that we dined in the same table every night and had the same server. Dining was a little on the formal side, definitely would not show up in shorts and a T-shirt. We did our own excursion in Puerto Vallarta with Aquaventuras Park with the little water park and dolphin "adventure" which the kids enjoyed. For the price, it was a pretty decent cruise. Read Less
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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