Sail Date: March 2011
My husband and I researched the Oosterdam thoroughly in preparation for our trip over spring break, and read such a strong pull of opinions on either side (good or bad), that we realized we just wouldn't truly know until we took the ... Read More
My husband and I researched the Oosterdam thoroughly in preparation for our trip over spring break, and read such a strong pull of opinions on either side (good or bad), that we realized we just wouldn't truly know until we took the trip ourselves.Because of such mixed reviews and not knowing who to believe, I am hoping to do you a favor by providing you with the complete details of the Oosterdam ship that will hopefully benefit your travel preparation! I have traveled on three different ships (Carnival, Disney and HAL), so I think I have a pretty good background to compare this trip to. Embarkation procedues:We waited about 45 minutes between arriving at the cruise terminal in San Diego, and getting to our room. There were people standing around the lobby areas to direct people to their rooms, but approach people-- just sort of stood and waited. I'm 26, and it took me about 5 nights to finally remember how to get to my room! I think the signage on the ship could be better. While we waited to leave, the Lido was open for lunch buffet, and I liked the fact that for 72 hours, HAL staff served foods. During the end of flu season, I saw people sneezing into their hands, and was glad they weren't helping themselves. :) They also have hand sanitizining stations everywhere-- so to the best of my knowledge, there were zero stomach bug outbreaks! Hooray!Rooms:The rooms were surprisingly clean. I was surprised how many different things in the room the staff sanitizes between guests (I saw them doing it)-- telephone, room magazines, remote controls, door handles, etc. Plus, our steward cleaned our rooms twice a day and changed our bedding every day! I was really pleased with how clean everything was-- bathroom and everything. The only thing I didn't like was how we had a concrete verandah so we couldn't see the ocean sitting down. I will definitely research that one more thoroughly next time. Food:This was the downside. The only excellent meal we had on the ship was in the Pinnacle Grill. The rest of the food was just decent. It definitely bore the feeling of being prepared in a hurry and without any thought put into it. Eating for pleasure didn't happen for us on the ship-- we just ate to fill a hunger pang. The Lido was actually better than Vista in our opinion, because the food was prepared fresh right in front of you. The Vista chefs just seemed really overloaded and overwhelmed. Fruit was soggy, entrees were bland, etc. I would recommend booking at least two nights at Pinnacle if you can-- it was literally one of the best meals we had ever! Expect dinners at Vista and Pinnacle to last a minimum of two hours. We had open seating and really enjoyed not only being able to eat when we felt like it, but meeting new people because we'd all sit together. We made a ton of friends this way! Unless you're traveling with a big party, I think you should definitely sign up for the open seating option. Also- HAL's biggest disappointment was how terrible their room service was. Every time we ordered breakfast it was cold and almost inedible, and when we ordered lunch or a snack, we would receive it about 1 - 1 /2 hours late-- again, cold and inedible. Their room service needs total improvement- don't order unless you are ordering the cookies or something. Entertainment:We loved the magician we saw, but the productions were really hokey and honestly not entertaining. We liked doing karaoke and bingo (of course didn't win), and also somewhat enjoyed the comedian. There was tons of raunchiness amongst the entertainment folks on this ship, which is unfortunate given their average guest is 65 years old. People didn't seem to think all of the sexual jokes were that funny. If you're bringing kids, I'd recommend only bringing them to the musical and the magic show. We only went to three performances out of seven because they just weren't great. We'd go somewhere and listen to live jazz or piano and have a glass of wine instead. If you're 35 or below, they have a great dance club that opens at 10:00pm. My husband and I had fun dancing and then just walking back to our room a couple of times. Overall we didn't really feel like entertainment options were lacking on this ship-- they just weren't things we really enjoyed doing. Ports of Call:Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas were awesome. The only excursion we did was visiting Las Caletas, and we had an amazing time. I highly, highly recommend going there, even over Rhythms of the Night. We had some friends who did both, and enjoyed the day at Las Caletas much more. We just walked around town the second day and relaxed. When we went to Cabo San Lucas, we had an incredible time swimming at a nearby resort (Sirena Del Mar). Unless you are passionate about visiting Cabo Wabo and being ripped off by the local merchants, head to a hotel for the day. It's the right way to experience Cabo!Also, don't go to Diamonds International or Tanzanite International. The ship has a huge kickback program with them, but the diamonds they tried selling me were so much more expensive than back home, and they were damaged by so many fingers trying them on then putting them back- yuck. I visited three to price shop, and was incredibly unimpressed and disappointed with Holland America for trying to dupe their passengers so much. You'll see what I mean when you attend the shopping meeting. :)Overall, for $600 pp, this ship was a great experience. You get what you pay for. If I were paying $1500 pp, I would have been sorely disappointed. I don't recommend paying more than $800pp-- you can get much more for your money with Disney or Princess if you are going to pay over $1000! HAL is budget travel at best- and if anything, a great way to see Mexico! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
DATE: March 19-26, 2011 7 dayDESTINATION: San Diego, PV, Cabo. Mazatlan is cancelled due to reported violenceCRUISE LINE: Holland America Line OosterdamWHO: mom, me and a couple--2 cabinsBackground:My mom and I have cruised before. ... Read More
DATE: March 19-26, 2011 7 dayDESTINATION: San Diego, PV, Cabo. Mazatlan is cancelled due to reported violenceCRUISE LINE: Holland America Line OosterdamWHO: mom, me and a couple--2 cabinsBackground:My mom and I have cruised before. Our friends are first timers.My mom and I take an annual trip. This year, we decided on a cruise. This itinerary was selected because my mom and our friends have never been to Mexico, and San Diego is closer than Florida.If I travel with my husband, our Cruise selection is based mostly on itinerary and dates. In this case with my mom and the 2 friends, it is mostly about convenience, the ship and its service on board.I had been to PV, Cabo with my husband. The only city I haven't been is Mazatlan. I was disappointed when the port was cancelled. However this itinerary still works since Mexico is new to my mom and our friends.I organized the whole trip. I found this itinerary and the dates fit our schedule. A special price for suite came up when I was researching. The price that is normally for a balcony. It was SZ, guaranteed. Which means we won't have the cabin # until we are closer to sailing date. Flight from a US city is usually cheaper than flying out of a Canadian city, especially there are 4 of us, the savings add up. I found Virgin America air flying out of Seattle, transfer in San Francisco, and to San Diego. 4 of us drove down to Seattle 2 nights before sailing date. We stayed in Holiday Inn near SeaTac airport, with parking, was $169 per night. Compliment shuttle was another service we appreciate. However, I am not sure if we would stay there again. The next morning, we found out the flight out of Seattle to San Francisco is delayed 1 hour. We got to the airport around 9am, for our scheduled 11am flight. The storm and fog in San Francisco delayed all morning flights. I assume San Fran is better connecting airport than LAX. Now, I learned San Fran weather is a constant recurring reason for delayed or cancelled flights. All morning, we waited nervously, hoping not to miss our connecting flight. We finally got on the flight around 3:30pm. The connecting flight decided to wait for us passengers in San Fran airport. I learned that we should always connect with the same airline, if possible. A different airline would not be able to wait for us. We arrived in San Diego around 7pm. I used Hotwire.com (first time) to reserve a hotel close by. I lucked out, the hotel was Sheraton! It is located near the airport and the cruiseship terminal. Sheraton is a 4 star accommodation, and the $99 + tax price we paid was great value!!After a long day of anxiety and waiting, we welcomed our sleep in Sheraton. Next morning, with renewed energy, we went downtown shopping! Around 1pm, we headed toward our ship, the main attraction of our trip!Embarkation Upon arrival at the terminal, there was no wait whatsoever. I was told the rush was just over. Right after we got on the ship, we were told our cabins were ready! We were able to head to our cabins right away! And our luggage was also brought in. I was pleasantly surprised! Normally, we would have to wait until 2 pm, and then much later for our suitcases.Our cabin We did get our cabin number 2 weeks prior to our embarkation. We were upgraded to SS from SZ. Because the cabin was under Lido deck, I was concerned about possible noise. With our TA, I had requested a change. I was told the ship was full, and no change could be made. However, My friends and we have connecting cabins: 8091, 8093, which was very convenient for us. After 7 nights, I have to say:noise—did it bother us? No. Did it affect our sleeping? No. My mom and I had been on Oosterdam 5 yrs ago to Alaska, at the end of September. At that time, we had an ocean view. That was not a pleasant cruise. The Sea was especially choppy, and our cabin seemed to rock and bounce much more than other cabins. Also, the dEcor was a bit dated. This time, our suite was very spacious! a 3 seater sofa, a desk by the window, and a make- up vanity near the bathroom. The bathroom has a tub AND a shower! Double sinks, with plenty of storage. Storage / closet space was plenty for just the 2 of us, for 7 days. And our luggage fit under our beds with ease! Love the balcony deck! Compared to what we had on Paul Gauguin in January, this was at lease double the size! Comfortable seating for 4 people, with table and side table! I have often wondered whether a balcony is worth the extra $. My opinion is this: if it is used and enjoyed, it is definitely worth it. With this itinerary, the weather beckoned us to utilize the balcony: great place to enjoy company, cold Corona, snacks, and sun! Even by herself on the balcony, my mom enjoyed the sun, the sight and the city. This was a great place for recording my daily journal. We did encounter a plumbing problem. Drains in both the bath tub and the shower did not drain. I reported it, and the problem was solved promptly. The tub was nice, but we did not use. Could not bear to waste water! ServiceWe have experienced fairly good service. The majority of the crew was courteous, friendly, and ready to help. Here are my likes:I was particularly impressed with people answering the phone—"At your service". Whenever I called, whoever answered the phone was always very pleasant, solution-oriented, and patient, with great listening skills. I was always able to get questions answered, or problem solved.I also like the room service. I ordered coffee, grapefruit, yogurt, and V8 every morning. My request was delivered right on the time I specified. My friends, my mom and I enjoyed our breakfasts every morning in Lido. The crew there were cheerful, joking around, chatting with us,... started our day on a high note. We could always find tables, and the line to get to the food was never too long. Coffee was always brought to us. Cannotelli (?sp)--its intimate atmosphere, its food and the service of the director, and the crew. Because we are "As You Wish" Dining selection, we always make reservation ahead of time. We do not like waiting in line. And we like to have dinner early. The first night, the only time we could get in the main dining room was either too early or too late. The customer service suggested we try Canotelli (?sp?) a small Italian "restaurant" by Lido restaurant. And there is no charge extra. We loved it: the food, the service, the pacing were just right for us. In fact, we tried to go back again, and could not get in until the last night. I suggest you reserve at least 2 or 3 nights during your 7 day cruise. The last night, the maitre'd, the director, and the waiters really went out of their way to accommodate us. They ensured we have the most memorable dinner last night of the cruise. And it did end with this great meal and caring service at Cannotelli!Dislikes: "As You Wish dining" and inconsistent service in dining room. The ambience, the service and the experience of fine dining in the main dining room, I think, are as important as the food presentation. Every night, we look forward to our dinner; it signified a celebratory gathering of good company and ending of a wonderful day. This is my first "As You Wish Dining" experience: I admit I did not like it. I understand the allure of the "Anytime Dining" or in HAL, "As You Wish Dining": For port-intense cruise, (such as Mediterranean), rushing back to a 6pm dinner may not be feasible or desirable. For this 2-port itinerary, time was not much a concern. Our past cruises, my husband and I have really enjoyed the set dining schedules: friends and waiters. We were fortunate that our fellow dining partners became friends mainly because we had dinner together every night, with the same waiter or steward. our waiters always made a positive impression on us. (I can remember almost all the waiters that we have had.) In my opinion, they are important part of our dining experience! A few years ago, we had a family get together with Oosterdam. Even though my family did not enjoy Alaska cruise that much, they would tell you that they would not forget the waiter and his service in the dining room! This trip, "As You Wish Dining" did not work for me because:1) our nightly different table locations had been less than desirable: crowded, tight, elbowing with next table and or the waiters' table. We did manage to have a table beside a window one night (after I expressed that we do not like to dine in the main dining room for the remaining of the cruise.) 2) The pace between the courses was inconsistent. 3) We have felt the waiters were stressed and rushed. I can understand why. I remembered back a few years where a waiter always has an assistant. During this cruise, we had one person serving a few tables; that is: he was responsible for explaining the menus, pouring water, taking order, clearing plates, bringing on new courses. With tight schedule, any request out of ordinary will strain their schedule even more. We were sympathetic, and we tried to not ask anything that is out of ordinary, and also not to linger too long during dinner. However, being more concerned about the waiter every dinner night compromise our dining enjoyment! To us, sharing a wonderful dinner with my mom and friends is a highlight at the end of a wonderful day! I also like to mention2 incidents that were not of normal HAL service standard:1) My mom had purchased a bucket of 5 beers, and told the beverage crew that she would like to bring the bucket back to her cabin, and would like a bucket with handles, easier for her to carry.Instead of changing the bucket, the crew suggested to my mom to carry with her arm instead. My mom pointed out to him that he at 20 something, can carry any way he likes. She, at 68, will need to carry the handles with both hands. She did get the bucket changed to one with handles.After she got back to the cabin with the bucket, she realized the beer bottles were not twist tops! I called for the room service for a bottle opener. We waited for about half an hour (beer was getting warm!), and no one came. Not like them.My mom thought she would get it faster if she physically goes to get one from the bar. Surprisingly, the crews refused to give it to her! They wanted her to call room service. I got mad, and called the room service to return the bucket. Have them to pick up the bucket; it has been almost an hour, and who wants to drink warm beer? Miraculously, within 5 minutes, an attendant showed up, with a bottle opener!I did bring this incident up to the front desk. And a day later, we received an "apology" card and a plate of chocolate desert. I am glad Oosterdam did acknowledge that. I know it is the thought that counts; However, both my mom and I are not too much into dessert. 2) After I expressed that we really did not enjoy dining in the dining room to the reservation attendant, he tried to make it right for us. He reserved a nice table, by the window for us. We were so excited and were determined to ENJOY at least ONE dinner in the main dining room! The excitement was short-lived. Our waiter was stressed and annoyed. And he did not hide it. I sympathize, but I did not appreciate his snarky remarks and rude behaviour. I tried to lighten the mood: I joked that we all ordered the same menu items to make it easier for him. His comeback? "not really, you ordered so much!" because we order soup AND salad? WOW! His attitude and behaviour demonstrated that we were a bother to him. We were an interruption to his already tight schedule. Even though we are the polite Canadians, but if we had said nothing, he would never know the impact he was making on us passengers! Finally, I asked him if we had done something wrong? Why he was hostile to us? He tried to defend and realized he had no legit reasons. He did change his tone after, better but not much. I ordered a latte after dinner. He said the machine was broken. Not sure if it was true. We also waited a long time to get wine steward to notice us. The wine is extra $ for them, should they not try to sell when there is demand? We finally got her attention by getting in front of her. (Our waiter was no help. All he said was she will come.)I did not file a complaint. I think this is a single person issue, it is a bigger issue. I am not sure if there are more passengers who had similar dislikes or I am the odd person. I trust that the ship will tailor their service and change to the market it serves. And maybe I am no longer in the market HAL try to attract?FOOD TASTE AND QUALITYLiving in Vancouver, we are spoiled with fresh ingredients, plenty of seafood, and the variety selection. It is easy for us Vancouverites to become food critics in our own minds. Our feedback on the food may be more critical and subjective. Please take that into consideration. As mentioned above, we enjoyed Cannotelli, the Italian fare on Lido deck. The kitchen was right there, the food brought to us was always hot. The main dining room, I assume it is the logistic of the layout, the food journey further to get to our table. In the main dining room, the steak was not as tender as what we like. Even though seafood and fish were a welcome item, fresh fish was difficult to do in mass production. Similar to chicken. dry and tough. The Alaska king crab legs were fabulous! We also tried Pinnacle Grill. The steak, I was told by my friend, was much better than in the dining room. The lobster I had was excellent. though the sides were a bit rich for me.One area I like to see improving: more fruit selection. I assumed with the abundance of fruits in California, Mexico, the ship would offer the same. And yet, every day, we have the same water melon, melon, honey dew, strawberry. Sometimes pine apple, and rarely Papaya. Not sure if it is because the demand is not there? FITNESS & WELLBEING Did not use the gym, but did walk around the Deck 3. Also noticed classes on the outside deck. ITINERARYAs everyone knows by now, Mazatlan was cancelled. I was disappointed because it was the only port in this itinerary that I have not been. I did know it was cancelled before we sailed. Currency—we did get some Peso for our trip; however, we find we really did not need peso to get by. Everyone we had come in contact accepts US $. Puerto Vallarta—I personally had been there a few times. For my mom and our friends, Puerto Vallarta city center was new, and not too attractive. I went on the private Canopy tour, booked online. The bus driver, and the tour assistants were funny and enthusiastic. They tried hard. I did have a blast! One of my friend chickened out. My mom and she waited at the restaurant, having some munchies and beer. Not cheap! One recommendation I have for those who attract mosquito, cover up or use repellent. I did not, and my legs were covered with bites! Even though I enjoyed the service, the expectation of tips can be exhausting. I find the business of tips / gratuities a bit too much. What is normal service and what is service deserving extra gratitude? Cabo San LucasCabo San Lucas was the more desirable port of the 2. We chartered a tour boat out to the Lover's beach in the morning. Even though there were 2 ships in, the tour boats were not busy. We were happy with paying $6 US per person? For the 4 of us, we had the whole boat to ourselves, and the "captain." We took some amazing pictures. We did not stay at the beautiful beach because we were not prepared.The town itself was full of little shops selling same merchandise. Even though bargaining is the norm, the Mexicans were not eager to part with their ware at our price.Mainly to use up our pesos, we had lunch at The Shrimp Factory, beside the Diamond International. The restaurant was not busy. The food, according to our friends, was not something they would write home about. We did enjoy Corona & Pacifica and tortilla chips in a restaurant just outside the terminal. The place was hopping. The waiter was efficient, and yes, you guess it, expected a good tip.DISEMBARKATIONThe process for disembarkation was a bit different my past experience. All non-US citizens had to wait in the Lounge and go through the US customs before disembarkation can begin. The US custom officers did not have the same urgency as us passengers trying to get off and catch a flight home.The line moved quickly and orderly once the custom officers got into the rhythm. The crew kept us organized, PLUS we passengers behaved well.Our flight was at 1pm. We flew home without a hitch. And then I start to look for my next cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
We have been busy cruising in the last 12 months. We have sailed on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and now HAL. I have previously sailed on HAL, but it has been about 12 years. We booked this cruise for a cheap getaway (no airfare) ... Read More
We have been busy cruising in the last 12 months. We have sailed on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and now HAL. I have previously sailed on HAL, but it has been about 12 years. We booked this cruise for a cheap getaway (no airfare) and to unwind, relax, and not think about work for a week. While we did manage thoughts of Coronas, sun, and cerviche instead of computers and customers, HAL turned out to be a somewhat disappointing experience. What we loved... In general, just about everything we ate we enjoyed. Desserts were very good. We dined at Pinnacle Grill on 2 nights and had enjoyed it immensely. Dining room food was all very good. Loved the Make to order items in the Buffet during the day and the waffles and omelets were worth having every day. I did have a few issues with the overcooking of fish, but all in all a fine dining experience. We booked an SZ guarantee and were upgraded to SY (6102). The room was spacious, balcony large and a great deal for the price we paid. We spent a lot of time in our room due to how comfortable it was. The weather was perfect... which is odd for this itinerary. It was sunny and warm all but Day 7. Our days in Cabo and PV. With nothing at all planned we were able to just walk until we found something that interested us. What we liked... We liked the lack of announcements and the fact that the captain came on hourly on Friday to update the ship of potential tsunami. While many were aware of the safety, the entourage of calls I received on Saturday let me know that many did not. The DVD players in every room and huge variety of movies you can borrow. The Piano bar and Randall were entertaining. Plus there are 2 for 1 drinks in there at night. The price of alcohol was the least expensive we have seen on board a ship. You are able to bring on board your favorite wines for in room and dining room consumption. There was a large number of GLBT on this cruise and the crew was very friendly to us. What we did not like... The formal nights and the plethora of costumes. Men are forced to wear jackets, but let in passengers with jeans. The temperature in the dining room makes this whole evening very uncomfortable. If there are so many restrictions on what men can wear, why can women get away with short dresses, flip flops, etc. They need to either be all in or all out on the formal discussion. The long lines in the Lido buffet. As much as we enjoyed the make to order items, they certainly caused longer lines. In general, the whole area is poorly designed. It did not help that they were serving us food for 4 days due to the 48 hour rule in place on HAL and then a heightened number of GI issues after those 48 hours. While I appreciate HAL taking precautions, they really need to teach their staff a little lesson on cross contamination when they are wearing gloves and how they should changing them when making contact with another person. The better idea is to have someone stationed outside dining areas requiring people to use the sanitation OR people should be responsible enough to just wash their hands. The ship design and dEcor. The interiors are so dark and the lighting so poor throughout that I always felt so enclosed that I never wanted to be in the area. Also, with the sliding roof over the Lido pool taking up much of the deck above it, much of the open deck space is wasted. We did like the open aft pool area and its views. We also like the Crow's nest, though it was always very busy. The vegetarian options on the main menu were not labeled vegetarian. It is pretty standard to have a V or some sort of recognition for those that choose to be a vegetarian. What was appalling... Service in general was a huge disappointment. Our room steward did the bare necessities of daily cleaning. He acted more as someone who turns down beds and replaces towels. We ordered room service late one evening, were told that it would be an hour. It never came. In the Piano bar during "happy hour" Jimmi had ordered a drink and it was made with the wrong alcohol (whiskey instead of Captain Morgan). When he told the server about this he assured Jimmi that it was made with the right alcohol and walked away. It was obvious that the server had accidentally mixed up the drinks, but never took ownership of his mistake. The constant reminder to give high scores on the survey at the end of the cruise is annoying. Simple fact is that if you provide a level of service that is a 9, you will receive a 9. If you do not, you will not. Suggesting what score I should give you after giving me poor service will not change this fact. The general condition of the ship - The Oosterdam looked aged. There were a lot of ripped cushions, broken tiles, torn lounge chairs, etc. Having been on a Princess ship roughly the same age less than a year ago, you can really tell the difference. Not sure when the last dry dock was, but she could use it again. That HAL continued stopping at Mazatlan as long as they did. Our decision was made easy to stay on the ship as we watched the Federali helicopter circling and 25 hummer type armed and manned with 4-5 men lined up across the street from the port. It is a shame that there is so much violence here, it was just astonishing to me that HAL took their chances. I am happy that changes were made to upcoming cruises. I guess you can judge my final opinion of HAL on the fact that I did not buy a future cruise credit as I do on almost every cruise. While I would consider them for another cruise, we are much better suited on Celebrity, Princess or Royal Caribbean. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
arrived in san diego from australia stayed overnight at the doubletree hotel very comfortable but next time will stay at the holiday inn at the port for convenience.embarkation was well organised and quick. went to the mariners lunch which ... Read More
arrived in san diego from australia stayed overnight at the doubletree hotel very comfortable but next time will stay at the holiday inn at the port for convenience.embarkation was well organised and quick. went to the mariners lunch which was excellent but also found out it was open to everyone including first time cruisers so why bother saying it is a special lunch for repeat travellers.cabin was very good and the bed comfortable our room steward simon was greatand very efficient no complaints there.captains cocktail party was non existant virtually one glass as you walked into the vista lounge and that was it not the usual savouries etc and waiters offering another drink.in the 43 cruises i have done this was the worst reception i have ever had.entertainment was very good but unfortunately a lot of things started at 9pm and as we were on late dinner at 7.45pm and the service was slow we had a choice of leaving before the end of dinner to see a show or to enter the show half way throughformal night again was a disappointment,there has always been a dress code for formal night and i have always liked to travel with holland america for that reason as it is always nice to get dressed up on holiday for a special evening, but not in this case people were coming to dinner in jeans etc no jacket or tie it may sound snobbish but if there is a dress code then surely it should be enforced.all in all i feel the standard of holland america has slipped and the line has lost the class it used to have. i doubt it will be my next choise for cruising Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2011
The Oosterdam is a pleasant enough ship, but not one to WOW. Our room was up to par. The food was average...certainly nothing to get excited about. The ship itself is quite nice, but not out of the ordinary. The staff were friendly and ... Read More
The Oosterdam is a pleasant enough ship, but not one to WOW. Our room was up to par. The food was average...certainly nothing to get excited about. The ship itself is quite nice, but not out of the ordinary. The staff were friendly and helpful. We did not like the fact that with a party of ten we had to eat at either 5:15 or 8:30. They could not accommodate us at any other time. Anytime dining would be better if it was actually anytime dining. The ports of call, Peurto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas are all easy to navigate. On one of the shore excursions we were told, emphatically, that there would be a toilet on the bus. After getting up early and tendering in to Cabo and walking to the bus, we were told that there was no toilet on the bus. This meant that I could not take the tour. I was quite angry, as we had specifically gone down to the shore excursion office on the ship to double check that there would be a toilet on the bus. But in their favour they refunded my tour and my husband's tour (even though he did take the tour) and the woman who had given me the wrong information came to my cabin and apologized personally. The onboard singers were above par. The magician was average, but Joel Mason, the Elton John impersonator was fantastic. We have seen him on a previous cruise and were thrilled we got to see him again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it ... Read More
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it a chance as the timing was during a week the schools were out so we thought more families would be on board. We were right. According to the "HALs club" staff, there were nearly 300 kids on board. They mentioned that this was a high number due to the break and that next week's cruise would also be high. However, the number would drop to about 30 for the first few weeks in March before increasing during spring break. So, one will get a very different opinion of this line depending on the week traveling. Our children were not excited about the "childcare" upon boarding, but buy the end of the cruise they were begging to go to the HALs club as they became enamored by the programs. The staff there did a wonderful job. The cabin was a Verandah suite and was a bit cramped for the four of us. There were two twins that made a "queen" when pushed together. The third bed was a pull out sofa and the fourth was a bed the folded down above the "queen." There was no room to move around when all the beds were open. However, the room stewards were fantastic. - two room sweeps a day - and kept the room looking nice. The kids always wanted to see what "towel animal" was sitting on the bed after dinner and looked forward to the nightly chocolates. We enjoyed the verandah with the exception of certain times when a neighbor's smoke drifted into it. The suite furniture and bathroom floor were starting to show some wear, but was not a negative. The shows were liked by all. The favorites were the magician and the "Elton John" impersonator. We did not attend most of the programs during the day so I cannot comment on them. The kids when not in the Club HAL spent the time swimming in the Lido pool. The Lido deck would get a little messy by the end of the day, although was cleaned quickly once the rush was gone. We had one day at the spa and had a couples massage. It was excellent! My wife commented that she had not had a massage that good in years. The food was overall good - with a different variety each day. I liked it better than my wife, but she is very particular about her food. There were a few glitches in service. The main dining room's service on the first night was not good. It was very slow, water glasses were not filled, the coffee did not come with the dessert, but well after I had finished it, etc. The coffee in the evening dining rooms was consistently not served hot and the vegetables I had at the Pinnacle Grill one night were lukewarm. My wife said the sushi one night was made with the smoked salmon from breakfast. But, other than what I have mentioned, overall it was good. The children loved the pasta, cheeseburgers and the chicken noodle soup. If you are a wine drinker, take advantage of bringing your wine on board. HAL allows as much brought on as you want. We also a bottle of rum from the line and used it to spike our virgin drinks. At three dollars extra a pop for the "leaded version", it did save money. You can also bring on all the soda and water you want. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We landed in San Diego about 12:30 on Saturday. We had booked the HAL transfer, but opted for a cab. We were planning to stop and get some wine and sodas for the cruise. Cab driver would not stop at store despite my requests. There was an ... Read More
We landed in San Diego about 12:30 on Saturday. We had booked the HAL transfer, but opted for a cab. We were planning to stop and get some wine and sodas for the cruise. Cab driver would not stop at store despite my requests. There was an airshow going on, so traffic was heavy. We arrived at the ship dock about 1:30. We were pleasantly surprised that the embarkation process was very fast. We went through screening and signed in without any wait. We were onboard and in our room by 2:00! Much better than our previous experiences on other cruises. We had an aft cabin with a nice sized balcony. Balcony had two loungers and two chairs. We really liked the aft balcony as we were well protected from the wind. Many times it was windy on the lido deck, but very comfortable on our balcony! We chose the "any time" dining option and went to dinner several nights. We were seated very quickly without reservations. I thought dinner was very good on all nights. Food was better than I remember from previous cruises on other lines. We joined Mike and Jane from CC in the banner wave. Door on the 5th floor was locked, so we had to sneak out onto the 4th floor bow. Despite some consternation from the crew, we managed to get the banner out! Saturday night, DW won some money at the casino on the blackjack table. Note-she gave it back and more on subsequent nights. Sunday we both hit the gym in the morning and then met with the CC group in the afternoon. Monday was another sea day, but it started with a slow cruise through Bahia Magdalena. This was a beautiful 1 hour excursion. There were dozens of whales that were spouting and breaching. A little excitement Monday afternoon, as a dancer was injured and the ship had to motor quickly to Cabo San Lucas to take the victim to medical help. (Reports are that the injured dancer was recovering nicely). For us on the ship, we got to stop and view Cabo for an hour or so. A prelude to our visit on Thursday. Tuesday we stopped in Puerto Vallarta. We did not book an excursion, but took a cab to the malecon. Visited some shops where we sampled and bought some tequila. We stopped at a couple restaurants, including the Cheeky Monkey that had been recommended on CC. Cheeky Monkey did not disappoint. It is across the street from the beach and provided an excellent view, along with cheap ($1) beers. After that we ventured down the beach and to another restaurant (I can't remember the name). Met several cruisers from other cruise lines that were also in port. Had some tasty shrimp tacos and Mexican beers. Before getting back on the ship, we found an internet cafe that offered one hour online access for $1. We also stopped at the Walmart directly across from the pier for some waters and sodas. Wednesday was Mazatlan. We were not impressed with Mazatlan. The open air taxi had no seat belts and the driver was very erratic. DW was very frightened on the ride to the Golden zone. Golden zone had lots of pushy vendors and a few restaurants. The beach was nice, but overall, we were not impressed. If in Mazatlan again, we will book some excursion, because the Golden zone was not very interesting. Thursday was Cabo. DW and I had been to Cabo once before (about 12 years ago), but had been told that it had changed a lot. It has. We ventured to several spots that we had visited in 1999, including Slim's Elbow Bar, the Giggling Marlin and of course, the Office. We were happy to see all of those places. The lunch at the Office was very good---shrimp tacos and ceviche. Cabo San Lucas is like two separate and distinct areas---there is the Americanized marina area and the town. The marina is a little overwhelming, but the town is still very friendly. This was our favorite port by far. Back on the ship, we had a sea day on Friday, and then back to San Diego. The last night at sea was quite rough and a thunderstorm kept us rocking and rolling, but the rest of the week was quite calm. For disembarking on Saturday morning, once again Holland America did a great job getting us through customs and on our way. The bus to the airport was a little slow (I would not book the transfer in San Diego---it is a short taxi ride and much cheaper than the $17 per person each way for the bus). Overall, I was very satisfied with the trip. Food was better than expected. Weather in Mexico was warm and mostly sunny. Holland America staff was very attentive and friendly. The Cruise Critic members that we met were great: Don and Linda, Rebeccah and Ishi, Mike and Jane and Greg and Bertie. Hope to see them all again on a future cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We arrived in San Diego on Friday night before our cruise and checked into the Courtyard Marriott on Landing Road near the airport on the recommendation of my sister who lives in San Diego. The hotel provided a free shuttle from the ... Read More
We arrived in San Diego on Friday night before our cruise and checked into the Courtyard Marriott on Landing Road near the airport on the recommendation of my sister who lives in San Diego. The hotel provided a free shuttle from the airport and this Courtyard is new and very nice. The breakfast buffet the next morning was delicious and well worth the cost. My sister dropped us off at the terminal about 1:30 PM and we only waited 5-10 minutes in line to get checked in. Holland America allows you to take wine on board and we took 5 bottles, including champagne, and went straight to our room, which was ready. We had booked a superior veranda suite which was roomy and had a huge balcony with a table and 2 regular chairs and 2 more comfortable padded chairs. We liked our room and were pleased with the stewards, even though we rarely saw them. One morning we ordered breakfast room service and it was delivered early and hot. The Oosterdam is a nice ship, but is showing some wear and tear. We ate primarily in the main dining room and all meals were good. The menu selections were numerous, but the service was spotty. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night and it was a nice atmosphere, but the food was about the same caliber of the main dining room. We enjoyed the Elton John impersonator the best of the shows we attended. My wife went to several technology workshops and was very impressed with the instructor and what she learned about her computer and camera. Only one sea day was warm enough to be outside and we enjoyed the adult pool deck. However, it was crowded and only one small hot tub was working. Christina did an excellent job discussing the various ports and was available each day to answer individual questions. She was very helpful and researched the location of a spa that I asked her about. We really enjoyed all of the ports and I will review them individually in the port review section. Disembarkation was a breeze and the luggage handling went without a hitch and we took at taxi to the airport which was cheaper than the shuttles. In summary, the Oosterdam is a good ship and an excellent value for the money. It is not as nice as Celebrity Solstice, but then again, it is not as costly. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Embarkment was a mix, one person telling to go here another telling to go there I have a mobility issue and I don't think they could make up their mind. We waited with rest of people. Rest of embarkment went ok. We usually travel ... Read More
Embarkment was a mix, one person telling to go here another telling to go there I have a mobility issue and I don't think they could make up their mind. We waited with rest of people. Rest of embarkment went ok. We usually travel Celebrity, they offer you a drink and escort you to your room ,missed this on Holland. Room and cabin staff were excellent. Balcony was fab, best ever. Food was very good. But As you Wish Dining wasn't what we expected. The waiters seem to be rushed, went 4 nights, took 1 1/2 hours plus each time. Time between courses was long. When questioned they just shrugged it off. Lido buffet with an elderly couple was better choice. Breakfast room service was the best, always on time and hot (had to wait for the eggs to cool down one morning). I'm going to miss it Biggest complaint was with the hydrotherapy pool, $199.00 to use it, on Celebrity Free. Main swimming pool with 4 working hot tubs was made into kids pool. Adult pool(small)was at back of ship with 1 working tub. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Overall, this was a relaxing cruise and we enjoyed ourselves. We had only cruised on Princess prior to this, but decided to give HA a try. However, we are not sure if HA is our "style" and overall prefer Princess. Hits ... Read More
Overall, this was a relaxing cruise and we enjoyed ourselves. We had only cruised on Princess prior to this, but decided to give HA a try. However, we are not sure if HA is our "style" and overall prefer Princess. Hits Once inside the terminal building, embarkation was quick and efficient. Disembarkation was orderly. Evening entertainment was good. We especially liked the HAL singers and dancers who showed a lot of professionalism, and the quality of the choreography was very good. Food in the dining room for the most part was excellent, and service very good. Food was cooked well, nice presentation, and good variety. Loved the library and internet facilities. Dining room and cabin staff were warm and friendly. We had no difficulty getting lounge chairs in the sun, perhaps since most of the ship's activities are held in the interior of the ship. Misses Embarkation baggage. On the dock, we were not advised that we were responsible for throwing our bags ourselves into the tubs going to the ship, resulting in a large crowd milling around unsure of what to do. On board, the elevator lobby areas were scenes of chaos as the room stewards tried to sort through piles of luggage to deliver them to cabins. Lido dining room. This was a huge source of frustration. The Lido reminded us of a shopping mall food court with all the stations clustered back to back in the middle. At breakfast you might join the throngs, walk around the entire area to check out each station to see what appeals to you. (Since they don't change the menu, you only need to do this for a couple of days) You decide on eggs, toast, fruit and coffee. You stand in line for fruit, then search out a table. Since you don't have a tray, leave the fruit on the table while you go for the next course. Stand in line for toast, then stand in the eggs line, take your food back to the table. Then stand in line for coffee and juice. Back you go to your table, only to discover that either your food is now cold, or they've cleared the table thinking you had abandoned your food. Yes, you can eat in the Vista dining room, but we tried that once and waited almost an hour for a simple lukewarm breakfast to be served in an almost empty dining room. Perhaps room service is the best option. Having been on Princess a couple of times, we have to say we strongly prefer the Princess delivery of buffet food which serves in a more accessible area, with serving staff providing coffee and juice. The buffet food on both is good, but not outstanding. No self laundry or ironing facilities. I'll think twice about booking on a ship without self laundry and the ability to do a quick press of the formal gear. Location of the closets in the cabin. The closets are in the hallway right inside the door, across from the bathroom. You can't enter the cabin, go in and out of the bathroom, or have more than one person in the closet area. Princess locates the closet at right angles to the hallway which makes it much more accessible. The ship has many small intimate lounges which can be nice. However, the downside is that the interior space felt cramped and crowded, and at times we felt like cattle being herded down the shoots. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2011
Embarkation couldn't have been easier. Less than 10 minutes from parking lot to room. Room was spacious enough with a large window. We had an issue with the bathroom that took too long to fix. Once management was involved they ... Read More
Embarkation couldn't have been easier. Less than 10 minutes from parking lot to room. Room was spacious enough with a large window. We had an issue with the bathroom that took too long to fix. Once management was involved they rectified and handled it appropriately. Being close to casinos and lounge was a concern but we did not hear noise at all from either. Worst noise were the kids that were on board. Presidents week so more than usual. Not an annoyance as we are grandparents and understand. I felt the mix of young and old was fine. Food was better than other cruises I have been on. I would like to see them spice it up a bit more. We missed making reservations the last night and had to buffet it. One of the best meals we had. Go figure! I read in a previous review that the crew seemed a bit detached. I tend to agree. Alcohol policy good and prices on board were better than others. In summary I would use Holland again depending on itinerary and price. Less days at sea the better. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
I booked our cruise in November 2010 when Holland was advertising a low rate. I reviewed all the offers online and decided to call Holland directly to book. We paid less for the 7 day Mexico cruise than any other cruise we have ever taken ... Read More
I booked our cruise in November 2010 when Holland was advertising a low rate. I reviewed all the offers online and decided to call Holland directly to book. We paid less for the 7 day Mexico cruise than any other cruise we have ever taken and the reservation clerk was helpful and the experience pleasant. I paid for the least expensive room and one week prior to sailing received an offer to upgrade to a better room. We took the upgrade and felt the total amount paid extremely reasonable. Our arrival in San Diego was uneventful (we booked our own air) and the shuttle to the port side Sheraton was provided by a Sheraton Shuttle. There isn't much to do at this Sheraton but it was very convenient to the ship. The dining was limited and somewhat expensive but the quick shuttle to the ship was a plus. Directly across the street from the dock is a Holiday Inn which is within walking distance for any person who is able to do any easy walk. So if you need a hotel prior to sailing I would suggest either the Sheraton or the Holiday Inn for convenience. The boarding was somewhat slow. We waited about an hour to get on board and we managed to duck out of the photo taking which also slows up the boarding process. I wish the cruise lines would stop pushing those picture taking "moments". Anyway, as repeat guests on Holland America we went immediately to the Vista Dining Room for a Mariner's lunch. It was a nice touch and a good way to begin the cruise while we waited for our cabin to be made available. Our room was adequate although this ship is not as new as some we have cruised on -- our bathtub drain was clogged and never fixed (I called the first day for a fix) and the rug in this room needs a good cleaning. The furniture is worn and the sheets and towels have been laundered so many times that they are quite thin. It's time for Holland to refurb the Oosterdam. At the top of this post I mentioned how happy we were with the price of the cruise -- well the thin towels and worn linen is probably the result of offering one too many good "deals" to passengers. It is a trade off that's for sure. The food was good. We had no complaints and most of the passengers seemed to enjoy their dining experience as well. Kudos to Holland America for having very fresh salads and good veggies at dinner time. Lastly, our itinerary was changed by Holland due to continued gang violence in Mexico. We felt safe in the ports but it might be a concern for some. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Administration seems to be missing or in need of a tune up in handling some of the most basic elements on a cruise ship. Only one, two person hot tub at the adult only pool was functioning. It remained that way from the beginning to the ... Read More
Administration seems to be missing or in need of a tune up in handling some of the most basic elements on a cruise ship. Only one, two person hot tub at the adult only pool was functioning. It remained that way from the beginning to the end of the cruise. Most any of the very capable crew could have repaired the problem, by getting a part at the next port of call in the event administration did not see to it that there were spare parts on board. Think about it, eight days on a cruise ship off Mexico with one Two person hot tub. Oh it gets better........the kiddies pool had three functioning hot tubs including one much larger one. What sense does that make when the use by children is cautionary and most of the clientele are adults? We get into a nice deep sleep only to be awoken at 4 am to the smell of cooking in our cabin! We sit up in bed thinking one of us has left something in the oven overnight; problem being we are not at home and nothing appears to be burning in the cabin. We inform the cabin steward but he does not seem to be too surprised. Someone must have then closed a hatch etc., as it ceased. There were some exceptionally well behaved wonderful children on the ship. There were also too many that weren't. GRANDMA, take your kids on Carnival brand, NCL or Disney, where they won't be bored or restless running around the ship bothering everyone but you! HAL's attempt to reinvent itself into a kid friendly cruise conflicts with expectations of it's traditional passenger marketing. HAL has successfully created a relaxing holiday atmosphere for adults seeking a travel experience for ADULTS OF ALL AGES. I would encourage HAL to maintain it's past standards or lose to RCL, who would gladly take advantage of this large niche Holland America needs more tables for two. Evey time we came into the dinning room people were asking and it seemed to be a problem. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
My wife and I took our sixth HA cruise, our first onboard the MS Oosterdam (7 day Mexican Riviera). From the San Diego airport, it is about a $10 cab ride to the ship. I asked a Holland America rep, at the airport, how much HA charges ... Read More
My wife and I took our sixth HA cruise, our first onboard the MS Oosterdam (7 day Mexican Riviera). From the San Diego airport, it is about a $10 cab ride to the ship. I asked a Holland America rep, at the airport, how much HA charges and was told $17 per person (and advised to use a taxi - thanks HA). Our embarkation was quick and fairly efficient. We shuffled quickly past the photographers (this is the first cruise that we had no pictures taken - thanks again, HA) and queued up to board. It is amazing how many people pack away their boarding passes before they get onboard the ship. This causes lengthy queues. Having "Mariner's Status", we were invited to a special lunch in the Vista dining room. We walked left from the entrance and queued up for a table. The table service was good to a certain point and then disappeared. I had a burger which was cold. I would like to have said something, at the time (and hoped to get some water) but no one came by. Cabin Our incredibly quiet room (4032) was ready at around 1:30. (Our room picked up all the evening entertainment music but was otherwise dead quiet.) The room was a fairly standard size, also had a balcony (which was about three feet deeper than the verandas above). Unfortunately there appeared to be almost no drawer space. Four days into the voyage, we found two more good sized drawers, under the sofa! Too little, too late (for this cruise) but if you get a similar room, have a look. There were the basic three closets (adjustable shelving/hanger rod), two small bed size tables and a tiny storage area beside the mini bar. By the way, our shower was fantastic! The adjustable head was high enough for my six foot height. The pressure would make most hotels and new homes jealous. There was bottled water above the mini bar. However, no price list existed (so, was it free?). We called and had a price list delivered (it wasn't free). We met our room steward. He was a nice young man who had been on the ship about three months. I asked him if we could get some ice and in no time at all he was at the door with an ice bucket full (but no tongs). Later that evening, we called several times to have more ice delivered. It finally came after an hour and a half. Our room was cleaned up, when we had gone for dinner but there were still used glasses on the desk and garbage in the room basket. The next morning it was about five hours before the room was made up. We found that leaving the "Service" card in the lock expedited things. Also, the toilet started being temperamental. It, for most attempts, would not flush. We reported this but for the rest of the cruise, it was still acting up. Dining For the first time ever, we had open seating. On our first night we had reservations for 7:15 (note - make these three days in advance, or you could be disappointed with your allotted times) and were seated at a table for two. The waiter came back to reconfirm my entrEe order. When he returned with our orders, one was hot and one wasn't (food was cold for most of the seven days). We ate in the Vista dining room, all but one dinner and most breakfasts and lunches. The menu selection was second to none (in our 15 or so, cruises). The presentation and imagination of the food, was wonderful. The service was friendly but could be more efficient. For whatever reason, there seemed to be a lack of wine stewards. The Pinnacle Grill was a nice change from the Vista dining room. The service was attentive and friendly. I love not having to pour my own wine. When I am paying 15%, I expect it to be poured for me and it was, in the Pinnacle. The food was well presented. The entrEe portions of steaks could feed a family of six. However, as was the case everywhere on this ship, the food can be cold. (Our feeling is that they put hot food on cold plates. However, I heard that the salads in the Lido, were served on hot plates. So, go figure.) Having sent four of our six side dishes back (by the way, our waiter was shocked that they were cold), we were pleased to have them reheated and served at a proper temperature. The deserts were a nice size and excellent. The Pinnacle is a step back to how Holland America (and other lines) ran all their dining rooms, in the eighties (when we first went on a cruise). We ate two lunches (as the Vista was closed) in the Lido Restaurant. The food could be a bit more imaginative. We generally were not pleased. Pizza was not good, which helped keep my weight down. Lounges and entertainment Early Happy Hour is from 4:30 until 5:30 (in two lunges). This is way too early for late sitting (or open sitting). The Crow's nest is a nice lounge (needs some furniture repairs). Before our first dinner, we enjoyed a drink and a few appetizers here. The Explorer's lounge was a great before and after dinner stop off. The Adagio Strings (three violins and a cello) were wonderful. Very professional and very talented. On this note, the HAL cats were pretty good (some didn't like the lead singer). Gerard (guitar soloist) was worth avoiding at any cost. His talent obviously lies in another field. The Piano Bar's Eric, was not very entertaining (although much better than Gerard) and needs voice lessons. People Most cruisers that we met were interesting, fun and expanded our knowledge of people, in general. What a real cross section of people and dress. We have never been on a cruise were "Formal Night" is simply, just a suggestion. Except for the Pinnacle, no one would be turned away for wearing shorts and/or t-shirts to the Vista dining room. Informal nights meant anything goes (and it did). Perhaps we are just getting old. Speaking of which, it was our 30th anniversary during this cruise. We let HA know about this in advance (what the heck, it only happens once). It was nice to be recognized the day after, with a letter talking about this special occasion on our Alaskan Cruise (we were in Mexico). We also received a generic card from the Captain, wishing us a generic "best on this special occasion". Ship, in general How a ship is decorated is not really that important to us. However, we are really confused at the who, what and why of the interior decor. To say the least (and this is all I will state), it is the most bizarre interior of any ship that we have been on (sort of J. Garcia, psychedelic, disco, meets 1970's business office). It seems to change intention every few metres. The interior elevators' outside doors, are a work of art (the inside, a work of something else that I don't understand). The glass elevators are great and fast (although they don't reach the top). If you start on the lower decks, you get a view of the fishes. The lifts are not used very much. I suppose that some people don't like to see the ocean disappearing below. The third floor promenade is excellent for walking off meals (three laps equals 1.6 kms or one mile). It has plenty of water fountains. It also has many benches to rest on, if needed. With continuously changing views, walking (or jogging) is a pleasure. It is however, perpetually full of puddles (most from the overhead life boats). I am not sure why they don't address this as a safety concern (it is perhaps why they give free shoe shines, which is also a nice touch). In the past, we had spent time in all the ports. Therefore, we were not too keyed up about getting off at any. Overall, this was a pretty good cruise on a nice ship. If HA could figure out how to get hot food to the tables, we would say that it was one of our nicer cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
The crew and staff of the Oosterdam did an excellent job for 99% of the trip , what spoilt it all was the total lack of control over the 3 hours of misery to see the us custom officers, people standing and stuck in the corridors for two ... Read More
The crew and staff of the Oosterdam did an excellent job for 99% of the trip , what spoilt it all was the total lack of control over the 3 hours of misery to see the us custom officers, people standing and stuck in the corridors for two hours , two people fainted to my knowledge , why not a system to cope with the known amount of people??? Then the chaos that ensued with practically every one claiming "EXPEDITE" tickets to shore and luggage ( now there an oxymoron if there ever was one) the de-boarding process. I am sure it was not planned , I am a 3 star almost 4 member of HAL cruising and will continue but beware fellow cruisers if you see a large amount of non residents and you are entering San Diego !!! Loved the ship, the food and the lads and lasses that staff her, the officers were low key and did not show up too often, in fact I only saw the captain once. Good ports of call and the tender crews were on top form able to handle the usual people who ignore the obvious, group of "Not " !! suitable for people who are not mobile! or are in need of walkers and wheel chair etc , in a tossing tender its hard to see how the crew stays so patient with those who should stay and use pier and dock facilities. A good greet and meet and thanks to the lady who provided the badges ,, a great idea Looking forward to the next trip, Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
The wife and I have been on 5 cruises and this was not the best but it was very good. Boarding in Seattle: This was easy. Very small lines. We quickly go on board. One complaint, there was nobody to help me out with our luggage. First ... Read More
The wife and I have been on 5 cruises and this was not the best but it was very good. Boarding in Seattle: This was easy. Very small lines. We quickly go on board. One complaint, there was nobody to help me out with our luggage. First impressions: The ship was nice but showing wear. The help was friendly and helpful. The welcome aboard lunch was not good. We hoped this was a fluke and not the norm. The Cabin: The cabin was good but not great. bed was comfortable. The cabin steward was outstanding. The cabin always was clean and filled out request for another pillow and blanket immediately. closet space was laid out in a inefficient way. The bath tub was nice. The cabin was showing wear, the carpet was clean but had some stains. The Food in the main dinning room: Very good sometimes excellent. Lots to choose from. wait staff anticipated our needs and made sure that our needs were met. My wife had wine with dinner. It was overpriced but the wine steward was good at making suggestions. We dinned at the 8pm dinner service. This presented some scheduling conflicts with after dinner activities. Food in the Lido buffet: Spotty some times good sometimes bad never excellent. The food was displayed well and the lines were short. Pools and such: This is were holland America fell short. the pools were nice but the closed early and there were kids in the adult pool. they closed after 9 PM. Drinks: The drinks were not to expensive. There is happy hour at different times in the bars. This makes the drinks very reasonable. Standouts: Randall Powel in the piano bar was great. We had great fun. Cigar smoking on the fan tail Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
My family and I just returned from a 7 day Alaskan cruise on the Oosterdam. As 1st time cruisers we had a wonderful time. The scenery of Alaska can not be matched. We flew into Seattle, WA on Saturday and stayed one night at the Fairmont ... Read More
My family and I just returned from a 7 day Alaskan cruise on the Oosterdam. As 1st time cruisers we had a wonderful time. The scenery of Alaska can not be matched. We flew into Seattle, WA on Saturday and stayed one night at the Fairmont Olympic in downtown Seattle. On Sunday we meet the Holland America representative at 9 a.m. Sunday morning in the lobby. The porter brought down our luggage to the Holland America area and it was transported directly to the ship. No muss no fuss. We took a charter bus at noon and arrived at about 12:30 p.m. We entered the cruise ship terminal and lined up for the MV Oosterdam. There were a lot of people at the terminal as two ships were loading that Sunday, the above mentioned Oosterdam and the Sapphire Princess. We wound our way through the lines and eventually walked aboard. We entered the ship on the 3rd deck and were directed to the Lido deck on the 10th deck for a lunch buffet. During lunch it was announced that we could go to our cabins at 1:30 p.m. We went to our starboard cabin finding it set up with a king bed (as ordered) and the sofa converted into a bed for our child. Flowers were placed on the coffee table as well as a iced bottle of Champagne. A bowl of fruit was delivered the next day. We were on the Navigation Deck (9th deck) just below the Lido deck and the pool area. We had a large balcony with 2 chaise lounges, 2 chairs and a table. The luggage arrived by 4:00 p.m. embarkation. We cruised into the Pacific at about 8:00 p.m. passing Port Angeles, WA. For the first night we had dinner in the Vista Dining room, although the ship had a fourth of July BBQ near the Lido deck pool. On the first night's dinner we shared a table with 3 others and got to meet some interesting fellow passengers. The table was set with white linen table cloth, fine china and silverware. The waiter and busboy were great, attentive but not to oppressive in the service. Although we were tired from getting to the ship we did not go to sleep right away as the sun did not go down until after 10:00 p.m. When we returned to our stateroom we found that the beds had been turned down and chocolates had been placed on the pillows. Monday was a full cruise day as we headed for Glacier Bay. Our child went to Club HAL that morning and every day thereafter and had a great time. We toured the ship and my wife learned about the cooking demonstrations/lessons in the Queen's Theater but found out that the class was full. It had been booked by fellow passengers to capacity before sailing! (A lesson learned for our next cruise) Tuesday we arrived at Glacier Bay. The ship slowed went by the glaciers and the captain turned to allow starboard and port side passengers to view. On Wednesday we made out first Port of Call to Juneau, AK. We booked shore excursions through the ship and had a great time visiting the Mendenhall Glacier. On Thursday we stopped at Sitka. Earlier the movie theater had shown The Proposal which was allegedly set in Sitka. The shots of what they called Sitka was not Sitka. I latter learned that Rockport, MA was used as a stand in. On Friday we stopped in Ketchikan, the Salmon Capital of United States. We toured the Totem Bight State Park and had a fascinating lecture about the totem poles. On Saturday we arrived in Victoria, B.C. knowing that the trip was soon to end. The ship left at 11:30 p.m. and we arrived back in Seattle at about 6:00 a.m. Two nights of the cruise were designated as "formal" nights. On one night we made reservations at the Pinnacle Grill and had a wonderful dinner. In the Pinnacle Grill you pay a surcharge of $20 per adult for a meal equal to Ruth's Chris or Morton's. Every morning we went to the Gym and used the treadmills. After all we had to get some exercise with all that great food available. The Gym was very full most mornings. I guess other passengers were thinking along the same lines. Of note, we signed up for luggage direct, which for a fee of $19 per passenger Holland America would confirm our flight home and print the boarding pass. They also gave us luggage tags for all our baggage. Once in Seattle we were allowed to disembark early but no later than 8:30 a.m. We joined 18 others on the chartered bus to SeaTac airport. What was real cool was that we were taken to a special area in the air cargo area of the airport which had it own TSA center. It took less than five minutes to clear TSA security versus the 25 minutes it took for others. A airport shuttle took us to the main terminal before 10:00 a.m. and we made our flight with time to spare. You must sign up for the luggage direct program by Thursday. I am very happy we did sign up and found it very convenient to be directed to a special security check in area. As we are no longer newbie's cruisers, we are really looking forward to our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
I like breaking my review into sections rather than day-by-day so that you can peruse what is most interesting/relevant for your research. Overall: We had a great trip and loved HAL, Alaska, and all of the people we met on board or on ... Read More
I like breaking my review into sections rather than day-by-day so that you can peruse what is most interesting/relevant for your research. Overall: We had a great trip and loved HAL, Alaska, and all of the people we met on board or on excursions. I entitled my review (and included) lessons learned not to complain, but to help others in their research. While I was researching Alaska, I had a lot of this advice available to me (and listened to most of it) but made choices based on our entire group and what I thought was right for us based on our travel preferences and history. There were SEVERAL things I would have done differently if I had it to do over. But overall I would say that this was a fantastic trip and I would HIGHLY recommend Alaska, HAL, and the Oosterdam to all! Thanks to all of the Cruise Critic family for your help in planning our trip! About Us: A family group ranging from 20s to 80s. First Time for HAL and Alaska! We set sail on the Oosterdam out of Seattle on June 13th, 2010. Ports of Call were Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, B.C. - with a day of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park. Some first time cruisers, most of us have a couple of cruises under our belts on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We are from Colorado and Wyoming. Comparisons of HAL with CCL & RCI: This was a topic I was very interested in myself. As usual there are more similarities than differences, but HAL shone in several areas above the previous cruise lines. Food a. MDR: HAL definitely won out in the main dinning room and the lido buffet over other lines, but especially in the seafood area (salmon, shrimp, lobster tails), as these were plentiful in selection and reliably good to great. Beef was very similar to Carnival and below par to RCI, which we feel, is RCI's food strong suit. The hours for MDR for breakfast and lunch are miniscule so plan ahead to eat here. We had anytime dining and this worked well for our Alaska schedule but I missed having the same waiter. We never had anyone fantastic enough to warrant a special request for his or her section. It was also difficult to remember everyone when it came to give extra tips at the end. Lesson: If you are anytime dining - tip a small amount extra in cash on the table each night that way no one misses out. b. The Pinnacle Grill (we ate here twice for dinner) was very good but only slightly better than the Main Dinning Room for seafood (lobster tail, shrimp, and salmon) while the beef was worth the $20 surcharge. Of the filet minon, ribeye, and ny strip steak, the ribeye was the standout. The Golden Fleece Super Club on Carnival is much better in terms of both service and food quality - however, it is a $35 surcharge - so that may not be a fair comparison. Lesson: Eat Beef here for your money's worth. Drinks a. Compared to CCL and RCL the drinks here are MUCH better - stronger, hand mixed, better selection (can you say Mojito!) and the cocktail card, which was given to us by our travel agent, worked really well for us (especially since it was complimentary). We would not get a cocktail card usually though, because the drink prices are just so darn reasonable. There was only one cocktail waitress (who shall remain nameless) in the Queen's lounge who was extremely rude about the cocktail card and always forgot our drinks and gave us constants scowls and eye rolls. The only negative to this was that we loved the Queen's lounge and were there a lot and as she was so rude to my Grandma we were all reluctant to order drinks here. However she was an absolute exception to all of the other drink servers who were fantastic! Service We had heard a lot about the quality of service on HAL surpassing other lines. This is absolutely true. The staff was all soooo friendly and engaging and helpful. This is a definite stand out for HAL and as we were doing a family trip with many different age groups and abilities - this was the absolute right choice for us. I swear my Grandma had a smile plastered on her face 95% of the time (see Queen's lounge waitress above). You will be spoiled all week by smiling and cheerful faces. Live Music The quality and availability of live music on board was excellent! We absolutely loved this! We thought that Jenny and the HALcats were a blast. We loved the Neptunes and the Adagio Strings. The piano bar was also fun but needed to have less trivia and more sing along time. There was definitely something for everyone here. Ports of Call/Excursions: 1. Cruising Glacier Bay National Park: We definitely endured extra costs and scheduling constraints to make this a part of our cruise, as there are limited permits into this area. WORTH IT!!!! Although I have not been to Tracy Arm or Hubbard - this may have been one of my favorite days. We saw 4 Glaciers (several calving events), probably about 20 whales, seals and eagles on icebergs, Dahl porpoises and beautiful scenery. I would rate this as a 10 out of 10 - it far exceeded my expectations (I thought it would be boring). Lesson: Hold out for Glacier Bay on your itinerary. 2. Juneau: As we had a 13-hour call here, our plan for Juneau was to go fly-fishing all day with Luke of Sea Runner Guide service that operates out of the Juneau Fly fishing shop. My husband loves to fly fish and he has always wanted to go in Alaska. We knew that July was a better month for this, but with a family trip and his brother's wedding in mid July we thought we would give it a try anyway. Even though salmon aren't in the streams in June this is prime time for Dolley Varden and since it is catch and release we were just looking forward to having some fun fly-fishing in scenic Alaska. Luke was on time at our meeting place and took us to Auke Bay to get the boat - we saw lots of humpbacks and eagles en route to the site. As we got closer, the water became extremely rough and he said that there was a storm coming in and we would have to turn back or we might get stuck. He said that because of the time of year that there were really no other options for places to go for fishing. He took us back to the fly shop. We were out with him about 2 ½ - 3 hours total. The fly shop refunded our entire fee and apologized. We were not unhappy with them but severely disappointed, as this was our expensive big ticket Alaska item. We had backup plans of course, but were soooo disappointed that we went back the ship and ate lunch to regroup and find a plan B, such as the shuttle to Mendenhall or taxi to the Brewery. We ate and couldn't rally so we went to the spa for massages (great package) and to hang out in the Thermal Suite. It was nice and relaxing with great scenery - especially because we were both SO depressed. Others in our group did the Grand Tour of Juneau through the ship (Glacier, Gardens, Salmon Hatchery) and loved it - they thought the Glacier and Gardens were spectacular where the hatchery was so-so. Lesson: If we could do it over again we would have booked a tour that did a Glacier walk or at least stop at the visitors center and combine with a whale watch - for the cost of fishing we could have done these two things which are much more reliable, recommended on these boards, and representative of things you can see in Alaska and not in Colorado/Wyoming. I should have realized this, but I hope it will help future cruisers. I would rather know that we are going to get to do something fun than take the chance that if everything falls into place we might have a fantastic experience. We loved Juneau and would consider this as a week long stop for a future trip. We are also hoping in the future to do a fly fishing trip to a more northern part of Alaska. 3. Sitka We walked around town in the morning and saw the Russian Bishop's House, St. Michael's Cathedral, and shopped. In hindsight, I would have gone to the Park first (we ran out of time and could not go) and then if we had time visited these two stops. I despise shopping in port and only did this to accommodate the shoppers in our group ;). I do not want to spend time in Alaska in a store. In the afternoon we took a three-hour marine wildlife watching tour with Captain Davey. This was fantastic - we wish that we could have booked the four-hour tour but it was taken over 8 months in advance, so book as early as you can for this one. Because of the three-hour tour we had to pick between puffins and whales - be upfront with Davey and let him know your preference - we went with puffins as we had already seen a bunch of whales in Juneau and Glacier Bay, but it would have been nice to do both. I cannot say enough about Davey - he made it really special and my Grandma and Mom had the best time - he was really good at questions and such a knowledgeable and passionate guy. One of the reasons we chose this sailing was the opportunity to stop at Sitka - which turned out to be the most authentic of any of our calls. Lesson: Book popular independent tours AS SOON AS you know your date. Even an 8-hour call is short enough that you need to plan your time very carefully. If others in your group refuse to do so - make your own plans without them! 4. Ketchikan Hubby, MIL, and I booked with Ken of Northern Lights as our trip was in Primetime King Salmon season. Ken picked us up right at the pier and we went out on his boat, which was parked right next to the ship. He took us out to see an eagle, which would catch fish that he threw in the air. He warned us that the Orcas had been in the bay three days before and that the Salmon were being a little weird the day before and he only caught 1 King, 1 Halibut, and 1 Rockfish. We went out several places and were excited to see the king salmon jumping out of the water everywhere the whole time we were out. Ken and his buddies kept in contact all day and basically no one was having any luck including us. Hubby got one bite, which dropped the hook. That was the only action we saw. Ken worked so hard for us to get a fish and we could tell that he felt so bad that we did not have any better luck. He said that it was incredibly rare for him to not get a fish at this time in the season and that he wished we would have not gone out. He also said that he would tell the people tomorrow that maybe they should go hiking or to Saxman instead. As this was a very short call (6 hours) by the time we got back we just had time to make a loop around the shops and get back on board. No fish the entire trip - what a let down! See Lesson from Juneau. If we could do it over again we would have gone to Saxman. 5. Victoria, B.C. Another short (6 hour) call. To add to that we were about an hour late getting into port (but at least we didn't get in at 9pm like last week). Knowing the common complications of this port we booked the ship's tour to Butchart Gardens all together, mainly so that Grandma could see it (I thought it would be boring!). Getting off the ship was a cluster**** and took almost an hour (excuse me but there is nothing else strong enough to describe it). By the time we got to the Gardens we only had 1 hour and 30 minutes to see it. That was kind of a let down because this place was AMAZING!!!!! I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT! Totally worth it! I could easily spend all day here. We had to rush but I would highly recommend it! Lesson: Booking the ships tour was worth it for this short and often shortened port of call. Entertainment: Shows were pretty similar quality to other ships, but I thought the themes were a lot more interesting (movies, Broadway, ballroom dancing) and relevant to pop culture than other ships I have been on. We also sometimes opted for the Spa or Live Music at night - a mix of these was perfect for us. The Ventriloquist and Magician were just fantastic - best shows I have seen at sea - hands down! Oosterdam: Great ship, all of our cruises have been on ships of this general size and we really like it - enough going on not to get bored, but small enough to get the layout down quickly and have quaint, relaxing areas to gaze at the sea. Until 11pm there was lots to do, after wards, really only the casino and northern lights, but for us that was plenty! Equipment: We bought Nikon Trailblazers ($125) and Bushnell Perma Focus ($50) binocs - both 10x 50 both Fog free/waterproof and were glad to have them. The Monarchs are of noticeably better quality but for the difference in price and how often we use binoculars this was a good choice for us. As for cameras we have a nice Panasonic with a 12x optical zoom with interchangeable lens and filters and a small Canon. We bought a few filters and such for this trip, but I regret that we did not take the plunge and buy the SLR camera we have been drooling over. We brought lots of cards, extra batteries, and our Dell mini to unload the cards frequently and we used everything we brought. Lesson: If you are considering upgrading your camera before this trip - DO IT. Also: keep your binocs (everyone should have their own) and camera on you all the time - it's worth lugging them around - trust me! Pre/Post Cruise Seattle: Port Choice: We chose this itinerary for several reasons - we wanted Glacier Bay, Sitka, and Victoria. Also we wanted to be able to fly nonstop from Denver due to one in our group being wheelchair bound and having extreme difficulty flying and especially transferring planes (we almost always miss our connection or have a terrible experience with the aisle chair). Port of Seattle: No HAL porters! Grandma had to haul her luggage all the way - Princess porters were everywhere. BOO to HAL for this! The Trade off: The first day at sea was the worst I have ever experienced - strong motion for about 24 hours straight - it's a good thing there are handrails in the shower! We knew that this was a possibility and took Bonine a couple of days before and were lucky enough not to get seasick. Others in our group did NOT take this precaution (or used Dramamine) and were sea sick for about a day and a half. The rest of the trip was smooth sailing. Lesson: Prepare your self by taking seasick meds ahead of time! Flights: We flew direct from Denver on Alaskan Airlines for $180 each RT with taxes - Great Value. Great airline! Some in our group flew Delta from Wyoming and had to connect - their connection was canceled and their flight delayed - glad we flew in a day early or they would have missed the ship. Delta also lost their bags on the way home. Lesson: Fly in the day ahead ESPECIALLY if you have a connecting flight. Hotel: We price lined a 4 star in down town and won the Grand Hyatt on Pine Street for $95/room. LOVED this hotel! Close to Pikes Place and beautiful accommodations. They even let us check in early at 11am! Great service and great location! Luxurious rooms! Lesson: Priceline and Downtown are good choices for Pre Cruise Seattle. Transportation: Used a mix of cabs and town car services. Nothing fantastic and cabs were pricey! Lesson: We did not plan ahead and wished we had prearranged the same town car service (and preferably a better one) for all of our transportation. Sights: Pike Place, Etta's, Space Needle, Hiram Chittenden Locks. All fun - could have spent the whole time at the Market and would definitely do a food tour next time! Did not have enough time to ride the ferry system or do the wineries, but will make time next time! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
I was on the Oosterdam the week , May 16 - 23rd. Embarkation: We took the train from Portland that morning and arrived at the pier around 12:30, embarkation had been going on for a while, so we only had about a 10 minute wait at the ... Read More
I was on the Oosterdam the week , May 16 - 23rd. Embarkation: We took the train from Portland that morning and arrived at the pier around 12:30, embarkation had been going on for a while, so we only had about a 10 minute wait at the escalators before security. Security only took about 15 minutes. Because we were staying in a suite our check in was so easy, we walked right up had our picture taken and we were on the ship in no time. I have to say I had some issues with our cruise. Our room was clean, I have no complaints there, but I was disappointed in the service we received from our stewards. I also realized about 1/2 way through the cruise how many rooms they had to clean. We were on the 6th deck in a deluxe suite. There are only 6 suites on this floor and we were 2 back from the forward elevators. I appears they start at the ends of the ship and move their way in. So, in light of that our room wasn't cleaned until 2:00 in the afternoon 3 times that week, and twice they came in for turn down at 10:00 pm after we had come back to our cabin. We also waited for our breakfast tray to be removed one day for over 6 hours, I had made 2 calls and the steward had even been in to clean and they just moved it to the desk to get it out of the way. I got to the point where I felt I was putting the stewards out if I asked for ice both in the morning and evening. I don't like feeling that way when you spend that kind of money on a vacation. This week was unfortunate for us as my husband pulled his back a few days before the cruise and he wasn't able to walk very far before he had to sit down, so we spent a fair amount of time in our room. Thank goodness for the suite and balcony, watching those glaciers was fabulous. And we did get a lot of rest. My husband is a chef so he wasn't as impressed with some of the food as I was. We did go to the Pinnacle and the food was absolutely fabulous as was the service. We went to the dining room only once and the service was so bad we never went back. My husband asked for a drink and never got it. Our server only came to our table 3 times total, once to ask about drinks, to take our order and deliver our order. He never once asked how we liked our meal or even came back to ask if we wanted anything else. We finally left frustrated. After that we would just order the nights dining room meal and eat it on our balcony. Some friends we made asked how long we had to wait for dinner, and we told them it was about 45 minutes to an hour and they said they waited that long in the dining room. The lido wasn't bad, the duck we had one night was fabulous. Room service was exceptional, breakfast was delivered usually within 15 minutes of our desired time. Except for 1 morning the food was warm (not hot). I ordered eggs Benedict twice and it was fabulous. The Neptune lounge was wonderful. My husband and I loved the coffee and appetizers. Nette the concierge was amazing and was so helpful and would follow up on anything we asked for. I took the mixology class, it was so much fun, we had Nick as our bartender and he is so funny. He was very free with the drinks and made it a blast. I would do that again in a heartbeat. The people that took the class also were very fun and friendly. Debarkation was a little chaotic, we had the first time slot, but because we had a couple of people failed to show in the morning when their names had been called (3 times). We were about a half hour late in starting the disembarkation process and everyone who had priority and the first time slot, plus whoever else decided they wanted to get off early showed up. It was quite interesting to see people who thought they had priority over others and would jump in the line where ever, but I have to say it went pretty fast for a line that stretched almost to the back of the ship. We got off the ship and our luggage was sitting there and we were in a cab in less than 10 minutes on our way to the train station. My overall impression was pretty good, I am not sure if the lack of service we got was our ship, our stewards or HAL in general. I would like to know if others had the same issues on the Oosterdam this year. I would sail with HAL again, but my second time I would be more vocal about my issues. I can't thank all of you on Cruise Critic, I spent so much time on the boards before I left that I really didn't have any surprises. You guys are all great. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
We are just back from 10 day Mexico sailing out of San Diego. We have cruised about 4 different cruise lines with this one being our first with HAL (others Carnival, Celebrity, Princess). We booked a verandah cabin, purchased two extra ... Read More
We are just back from 10 day Mexico sailing out of San Diego. We have cruised about 4 different cruise lines with this one being our first with HAL (others Carnival, Celebrity, Princess). We booked a verandah cabin, purchased two extra packages "just the 2 of us" and "suite amenities." Embarkation: We drove to San Diego from the SF Bay Area the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn SD Bay directly across the stree from the cruise ship terminal. Very impressed with our Bay view room and purchased the cruise parking package that allowed us to keep our car in covered parking for the length of the cruise - highly recommend this as it was both a nice and clean hotel convenient to boarding the ship and close covered parking. We arrived at the embarkation area for HAL around 1130AM. Walked right into the luggage area with 2 people ahead of us - suitcases were taken, we were directed to the checkin area which was set up beyond the security check point (which I though was a great idea). Checkin with no waiting very smooth and courteous process. We were given a group number and waited for about 15 minues to board the ship. Cabin: We had a veranda cabin on deck 6 - we could not get to our cabin until 1:30 but had a nice lunch in Lido Lounge and enjoyed the SD weather until at the appointed time the cruise director announce rooms were available. We found our room and balcony to be very roomy and clean. Out cabin attendants were very nice but I think overworked as they told us they had 28 cabins assigned to them. Dining: We had early assigned seating and as part of the "just for the 2 of us" package had a very nice table for 2. Meals and service very good. Pinnacle Grill: This was one of the areas we had problems. Each of the 2 extra packages we purchased included dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. When we used the first reservation we were seated next to a couple dressed inappropriately (in my opinion) for the venue. She had what looked like a bathing suit bottom (very short) and a "cover up" - He had on no socks and flip flops off his feet and under the table. Our server was very slow to attend to us and once food arrived he didnt come back to offer the pepper for salad, etc. I had to ask for refill on water twice. Although we didnt especially enoy that experience we had the other "coupon" so I tried to make a reservatin for one of the last 2 sea days and was told the restuarant had no space available. As we strolled by the restaurant during these times later the restaurant wasnt even 50% full so I dont know why we couldnt get a table (and no I didnt complain about anything the first time so I dont think I was "black balled" I had on my big boy pants we didnt say anything about the first time) Extra Packages: For the most part we received all items advertised for the "Just for the 2 of Us" package - roses in cabin, table for 2 in dining room, photo ops etc. The monogramed bathrobes werent availabe as they werent delivered to the ship on time - after I went to the front office (first of many trips) they wound up crediting our acct for that amt which was fine. The "suite amenities package" was more problematic. We had 2 spa treatments that were part of that package which we got charged for again, we did not get the priority disembarkation treatment which was also supposed to be part of the package. Same "no bathrobe" situation as before. After I complained many times about these items we did wind up getting credits applied to our acct. My advice is to make a checklit of items you pay for with these packages and followup as you dont everything up front - Im not sure its worth it as every problem has to be addressed at the "front desk" (purser) and it gets very frustrating and "adjustments" cant be done immediately they say the night auditor needs to do that so that means another trip the next day to check on your acct yet again. Ports: We did the normal Mexico Riviera ports with 3 additional Baja Calif ports - had to skip La Paz due to "winds" which was disappointing. Disembarkation: What a fiasco! since our itinerary took the ship from San Diego up to Vancouver - many folks were staying on board for that final leg of the trip. Reviewing all non-USA, non-bebarking gues at San Diego was required before anyone could leave the ship. This process took HOURS. We did not get off the ship until 11AM. Many people had lined up to get off the ship and didnt care what their "tag colors" were anylonger which created huge lines along all corridors. Once debarkation was allowed, they still called the groups by tag colors and people had to climb over/around others, and deal with the folks who just wanted off the ship at that point and were clogging up the exit arguing with the ships personnel. Overall: Cruise and ship very nice. Personnel as helpful (overall) as they could be. Pinnacle Grill quite disapointing. Extra Packages purchased many items not available and I had to do the work to point out what was missing and get things straigtened out. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
We sailed April 10 on the Oosterdam, mom, two kids, grandma/grandpa, sister-in-law & infant. Three rooms on the first deck. All the women were very fearful of seasickness but on the Main Deck where we "lived", we had few ... Read More
We sailed April 10 on the Oosterdam, mom, two kids, grandma/grandpa, sister-in-law & infant. Three rooms on the first deck. All the women were very fearful of seasickness but on the Main Deck where we "lived", we had few problems. the Club Hal for kids was great to have, but the evening programs for the kids age 3-7 started much too late (7 pm or 8 pm and lasted til 10 pm). The kids were exhausted! The spa and gym were fabulous, and the "Thermal Suite" pass is the way to go -$150 to use the private hydrapool, aromatherapy showers, and the heated tile lounge chairs in the serentiy suite all week. Well worth the price. Food was outstanding and abundant. Kids loved the almost all-day ice cream bar. Easy to eat healthy and nutritiously with all the fresh fruit, grilled fish, salad bar, vegetarian choices, etc. GREAT that no sodas were included, but it would have been nice if there was latte & cappucino from the coffee machine and not just plain coffee. Shows were fun & not too long. Activities like Name that Tune and Trivia Night in the Queens Lounge were really fun. The Piano Bar was dynamite and never crowded. Drinks were really reasonably priced in the bars/lounges. The movie theater was stunning, but with only 27 seats, you had to arrive at least 30 minutes before showtime to get a seat. The in-room DVD delivery service was great - 1000 titles, free! Kids loved shuffleboard, ping pong, and the basketball court up on the 10th deck. "On Deck for the Cure" 5K walk on the last day for Breast Cancer was a nice activity, too. More babysitters needed - there seemed to be only one or two available during the whole cruise, but the one we had was very very nice and always on-time. Embarkation was long and tedious - over one hour! Disembarkation was a total breeze and couldn't have been easier. My only complaint was that there were too many people scheduled each 15 minutes - there should have been wider time-bands so things didn't get congested.... The best part about cruising is that you have absolutely NO WORK to do - all your activities, all your meals, your "home" are all taken care of for you with the utmost of care and service. Just fabulous for a busy mom! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
This was our 15th cruise, and our third on Holland America. The Oosterdam looked familiar, since we had sailed on the maiden voyage of its sister ship, the Westerdam in 2004. We chose this cruise for its itinerary, having taken a similar ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise, and our third on Holland America. The Oosterdam looked familiar, since we had sailed on the maiden voyage of its sister ship, the Westerdam in 2004. We chose this cruise for its itinerary, having taken a similar cruise to the Sea of Cortez on HAL's Statendam in 2003. We had enjoyed seeing the small towns in Baja California and were ready for another visit. Since we have generally sailed on Princess ships rather than HAL, I've made some comparisons between the two cruise lines in my remarks. We flew from Portland, Oregon to San Diego the day prior to embarkation. This gave us a chance to see some of the center of this beautiful city and we slept better knowing that it would only be a short taxi ride to the pier from our hotel, the Westin Gaslamp Quarter, located right next to the Horton Plaza mall. With our head start, we arrived at the pier at 11:30 a.m., and were checked in, on the ship and in our stateroom by noon. We had a friendly greeting in the ship's atrium and were invited to go up to the Lido for lunch. We spotted a reservations desk for the "as you wish" dining that we had selected for this cruise and quickly made a reservation for the first night's dinner at the "Canaletto" restaurant which adjoins the Lido buffet. At 1:30 p.m. there was an announcement that all cabins were ready and we headed for our verandah stateroom on Deck 4, No. 4035, on the starboard side just beyond the forward elevators and steps. This proved to be a good location as it was a quick elevator ride down to the Vista Lounge and casino or up to the Crows' Nest Lounge. In general we did not have rough seas, but I think being down low helped mitigate any motion of the ship. Our cabin was pleasant, about the same size as similar Princess staterooms. Ample storage shelves, and luggage could be stored beneath the bed. There was a small couch which probably made into a single bed. The desk/vanity area seemed more cramped than on previous Princess ships—really very little desk space, since the ice water and glasses took up a good bit of the surface. There was a hair dryer in the desk that worked fine—once I learned that I had to push very hard on the 220v plug to insert it. The refrigerator was smaller than on the Princess ships we've been on recently and was filled with high-cost items—soft drinks, bottled water, juices. We asked the steward to remove them, and he did so very promptly. However, the refrigerator never worked well. Beer cans, water and fruit we kept in the refrigerator were at best "cool" never cold. We asked them to check the refrigerator, but it never got colder. The bed was comfortable, and with four pillows we had plenty to choose from. One of our main complaints about the cabin was the insufficient lighting at the head of the bed. This cabin had the worst bed reading lights I've ever seen! They are below pillow level and are a dim fluorescent "bar" lamp that pretty much just casts a cold "glow" over the nightstand, but is worthless to read a book by. Princess usually has spotlights, strategically placed over the head of the bed. Our veranda seemed quite ample. And it had nice furniture: a comfy "rattan" arm chair with footstool, plus another arm chair and a small table for drinks. Both chairs had a removable pad. Our veranda jutted out a bit so we had an area open to the sky, but also an area protected from sun or rain. The verandas on the decks above were all flush with the side of the ship and I suspected they were smaller. But the Front Desk assured me they are not. Some might not like the open area, but we did. Princess' verandas seem about the same size. The bathroom: Pretty much the same as on the Princess ships. Both have hand-held showers which are great. The tiny bathtub we had on this ship was pretty much a joke, and just something we had to climb over. A walk-in shower would have been much easier to use. The toiletries were very nice with a scent that was neither too "feminine" or "masculine." They also provided shower caps which I don't think Princess did. The stewards quickly replaced any toiletries that we used. The TV: We had a smallish flat-screen TV with a little DVD player attached underneath. We never found a printed guide to the stations, of which there were ample: Turner Classic Movies, TNT, CNN International (with a decided British bias), sports, ship information (map of our route, etc), excursions info PLUS a nice channel that re-broadcasts the talks given by a person who actually tells you about the ship's destinations--not just the best place to buy Tanzanite ashore. Movies that have been shown in the ship's theater are replayed on the TV the next day, but again, we had no schedule of just when that would happen. Princess had several in-house TV channels that played movies 24 hours a day and they provided a nice printed schedule listing all of them. We DID have information about the complimentary DVD's that could be ordered, by phone, for delivery to your stateroom. We intended to try that out, but never got around to it. It seems like a very nice feature and since so many of the ship's amenities had an extra charge, it was a nice surprise to find that the DVD's were free to use. They had a list of the available DVD's, organized by category, and it was impressive. We made frequent use of Room Service, especially for breakfast. It was always delivered reasonably promptly. We also often ordered a cheese plate and crackers to go with our beer or wine in the late afternoon. HAL allows wine to be brought on board—this was a pleasant surprise. Princess allowed no alcoholic beverages or sodas to be brought on to the ship for use during the cruise. The Oosterdam's version of "as you wish" dining simply divides the main dining room into two sections. The upper section was for traditional dining at a specific time and table. The lower level was used for the flexible dining. You could reserve for a specific time and table size, or just walk in. They also had added the "Canaletto" Italian restaurant which did not have a surcharge, but did require advance reservations. While it was really part of the Lido buffet area, it was quiet and very pleasant. Great service and a nice Italian menu which did not change during the cruise. An oddity was that at the end of the meal, the diners received a plate covered with pink cotton candy! The "as you wish" dining worked just fine for us. We ate in the "Canaletto" and in the Lido buffet twice each for dinner (my husband said the Prime Rib in the Lido was the best ever). The rest of our dinners were in the lower level of the Vista Dining Room. We did make advance reservations and never had a problem being seated promptly. The food was satisfactory and we were usually seated at the size table we requested. The room was a bit noisy, but overall the flexible dining worked very well for us. We still prefer Princess for "as you wish" dining as they have created separate dining rooms that feel more intimate. The quality of the food on both lines seems very similar. Not true gourmet, but quite acceptable to us. The Vista Lounge was the ship's only show room—some Princess ships have two and repeat a show in the smaller lounge the next night. The chairs and couches in the Vista Lounge were MUCH more comfortable than the theater-style seating on some Princess ships. The "Crow's Nest" observation lounge at the bow of the ship is one of the best features of the Vista class ships and far better than the minimal bow lounges on the Princess ships. There were lots of comfy seats for watching the waves plus a combination library, Internet Cafe and coffee bar area. In spite of sharing the Oosterdam with 1,996 of our nearest and dearest friends, it never felt crowded. On our previous cruise on the Westerdam we had discovered that there are two "secret" bow decks on Levels 5 and 6 of the Vista class ships which provide great views with no tinted glass wind shields to interfere with your photography. They have no chairs and at times were closed because of high winds. The casino was a disappointment to us. A poor assortment of penny slot machines; most of the casino was devoted to the older, more traditional slots. They had increased the minimum bet one could make on the penny slots so that basically they were all at least twenty or twenty-five cent machines. The casino had done away with coins—bills go in, and anything remaining when you left the machine had to be recorded on your ship I.D. card. It was a rather complicated and tedious procedure to access your "account" and not that easy to set up your "PIN" and tap in your code numbers. We enjoyed the excursions that we had selected online long before sailing. HAL charges your credit card as soon as you select an excursion and invokes a ten per cent cancellation charge even if you cancel within the required advance time. Princess lets you make online excursion advance reservations, but your credit card is not charged until you are on board. I don't recall any cancellation charges either. At Cabo San Lucas, we chose to stay on the ship and enjoy our ship's close-up location to the beautiful "Arch Rocks." At Loreto, we did our own walking tour. Everyone's favorite town! Due to high winds at Pichilingue, our day at LaPaz was cancelled. We took the "Bay, Birds and Dolphins" cruise at Topolobampo and the guide delivered all the birds and dolphins, as promised. Saw some unusual birds, including the Roseate Spoonbill and Blue-footed Booby on "Bird Island" as our boat circled this refuge in the middle of the bay. The dolphins were everywhere—near our ship and also seen up close on the boat trip. Our second excursion was at Mazatlan, the "Sierra Madre, Concordia and Copala" tour. This took us about 50 miles east of the port, and gave us a good look at the scenery away from the coast. There were stops to see bricks being made by hand, and furniture created in small open-air shops. We had ample time in the two old Spanish settlements of Concordia and Copala to walk around. The age of these little towns is hard to believe—both were settled only a few years after Cortez landed in Mexico! Copala was a delight, even if the cobblestone streets required careful walking. Lunch was at "Daniel's" which is apparently built on top of one of the old Spanish gold mines. The meal was o.k., but the dessert, Banana Cream Pie, was wonderful! Our last excursion, at Puerto Vallarta, was "Town, Country and Tequila." Again, the bus ride out to a "hacienda" in the valley east of the city gave us some glimpses of rural life. The "Tequila" portion of the tour, at the hacienda was mostly tasting—no actual brewing of tequila going on. But, they were generous with the tastings and informative about making tequila. The time in "town" was sufficient to visit the picturesque church, and have a quick stroll along the seaside Malecon with its impressive sculptures. This was a good "highlight" tour with little walking—our speed now. We have sailed enough on Princess to be entitled to a generous amount of free Internet access. But apparently even if you lived year-round on HAL ships, you are never going to get the perk of free Internet access. At 75 cents a minute, plus an "initiation fee" of four dollars, we boycotted the ship's Internet access. It was not easy to find an Internet cafe in the ports, except at Topolobampo where they had a tent right on the pier, full of Internet computers available at two dollars for an hour of access. You could also bring your own laptop and connect to their Internet modem for the same price. One last negative comment: There is no self-service laundry. What was HAL thinking when they designed these "Vista-class" ships? Put 2000 passengers on a ship for a 10-day or longer voyage and expect them all to use the expensive ship's laundry? We used the laundry service on the Westerdam and when our clothes were returned, the elastic in all the underwear had been fried! This trip we did the old hand-washing in the bathroom sink routine, but we missed the nice Laundromats on the Princess ships. Bottom line, we think this Sea of Cortez itinerary is great, and appreciate that HAL offers it several times a year. But where the two cruise lines sail the same routes, we think Princess gives us more for our money. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
I took a spring break cruise in March with my three teenagers. They are experienced cruisers; I am not. I listened to their feedback on room size and location and tried to match their requirements with my needs. We got a deal on a veranda ... Read More
I took a spring break cruise in March with my three teenagers. They are experienced cruisers; I am not. I listened to their feedback on room size and location and tried to match their requirements with my needs. We got a deal on a veranda suite room. The proximity to the Neptune lounge was a plus. Stateroom and Staff: clean, spacious room with enough room for all of us and our "stuff". Loved the veranda, and being able to have private space to get away to. Room stewards were outstanding. We followed the suggestion of a cruise ship friend/employee, and brought along a bag of chocolate candy. We placed a handful of candies on our pillows in the morning, along with a note of thanks for the room stewards. They were thrilled with their suprises. It was an inexpensive way to show appreciation for keeping the ice bucket filled, and extra towels in the bathroom. We had a chance to meet the Captain a couple of times, and enjoyed his sense of humor. I didn't expect him to be so young. His reply " Not all ship Captains look like Father Christmas!". JT our Cruise Director was a true professional. We wondered if he ever had "down" time? Food: great eats in the Neptune lounge and at the Pinnacle grill. The cappucino/latte machine in the lounge made my day. We had early dining each day, which gave us the evening free to be with friends or see the show. Lido grill was always crowded, and lines were everywhere at mealtime. Kid activities: We were at the beginning of the spring break time, with only 100 kids under 18 on board. The activities for the teenagers over 13 were good. I didn't worry about where they were in the evening, and they didn't seem to get bored. They had a prom one evening, counted the number of stairs in the staircases leading to the Loft, etc. Entertainment: The biggest surprise was the Indonesian crew review. It gave all of us an opportunity to take in some of their culture and customs. We loved it.Negatives: The spa is expensive, even with discounted pricing towards the end of the week. I didn't appreciate the follow up phone calls, urging me to sign up for more treatments. Our waiter called us the evening before the customer satisfaction survey was to be turned in, and asked us to grade his service as a "9". Awkward. Disembarcation took forever. Non-compliant passengers who had not settled their accounts or tried to avoid Immigration slowed things down. The lines to get off the ship seems to go on forever. Not a great way to end our vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
This was my children's first cruise. They had a good time, but we had some issues as well. Embarkation: It was raining outside and it would have been nice to have more porters outside to help with our luggage. Once inside ... Read More
This was my children's first cruise. They had a good time, but we had some issues as well. Embarkation: It was raining outside and it would have been nice to have more porters outside to help with our luggage. Once inside everything was smooth. We boarded about 11:30 and headed to the Lido. It was easy to get a table. Our rooms were ready about 12:30. The room stewards need more time to clean between cruises. Our steward had 29 rooms to clean and it was quite evident in our room. There were fingerprints from a little person on the door to the balcony and closet glass. The wall next to the balcony had crayon drawings on it. We found items from the last cruise in the closet. The fingerprints were never gone even when we asked our room steward directly. We had a problem with our toilet. It did not flush. We had this issue for 5 of the 7 days. It would work 2 or 3 times and then stop. It surprised our room steward one day by flushing while he was making the beds. It had a mind of its own. We got used to it by about day 3. They finally got the problem fixed 2 days before the cruise was done. We ordered room service each morning so the kids could eat while we were getting ready. On the 5th day I went to hand my son juice and the entire top ring of the glass about a 1/2 inch down was covered with some kind of brown slime that looked like it was dried on. I showed it to the front desk and they were appalled just as I was. At dinner we had the dining room supervisor come to our table to talk about it. Needless to say after that we did not order room service. We had two of the same type of glasses in the Lido the next day. I think they had a dishwasher program. Other than the toilet, the cleanliness of our room and the dirty glasses we had a good time. Our dining room waiter was superb. He paid every attention to detail and was great with my boys. We ate in the main dining room 6 of the 7 nights. Our wine steward even showed my boys a few magic tricks. We took the kids on a tour of the ship, which was nice to know where everything was as this was my first cruise on HAL. Both my boys enjoyed the kids program. My 5 year old even choose to go to the kids program over going swimming one afternoon. Club HAL staff were professional, but had a great time working with the kids. Make sure if you are traveling with children choose the early dinner as the kids program runs from 9-11:30 am, 1-4 pm and 7-10pm while you are at sea and 9am to 4pm and 7-10pm when you are at port. They did different things each night such as a camp out, scavenger hunt, and pirate party in the kids program and in the tween program they did survivor one night, detective hunts, dance parties and more. They always wanted to go to the evening programs which gave you time to do some things on your own. The afternoons were great on the Lido pool, but it was hard to find a clean table. The staff did not clean off the tables and it was hard to find someone to clean them for you. I usually just took the dishes and put them on another dirty table. The Mexican food that they served by the pool was very good. The magic show is a must see and I wished my 10 year old would have come to the show. However, the kids program that night appealed more to him. They did do a matinee show but the night one was by far better. I could have taken both of my children to all the shows. The singers are good but they need to expand and not play the same beat at each show. Make sure to take advantage of the Windows programs they offer. They had great camera classes and ones that taught you editing and making movies using free windows software. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
I really appreciate reading reviews of other people and figured it was my turn to give back. I hope this helps someone else as they are deciding to have reasonable expectations and thus a good experience. We had semi-high hopes when we ... Read More
I really appreciate reading reviews of other people and figured it was my turn to give back. I hope this helps someone else as they are deciding to have reasonable expectations and thus a good experience. We had semi-high hopes when we read that Holland America is considered "luxury cruising", so this review is an attempt to see if they lived up to that billing. We sailed from San Diego to the traditional Mexican Riviera on Jan 9, '10. Embarkation was fairly quick and an easy process. I don't think the ship was full. We were pleased with the lunch buffet when we first arrived on board. We purchased a "guaranteed veranda" and the HA agent promised we would be "upgraded". I'd hate to see what we would have gotten if we did not have that promise! The room was pretty small but it was not as small as other ships we have been on of the same category. The bathroom was a good size with a very nice shower set up. There was plenty of creative storage for 7 days. All around it would have been good except for one issue...our room was terribly dirty, grimy with smudges and diry finger prints everywhere. The bathroom floor was even dirty! Knowing how busy the first day can be, I took a wash cloth with some hand sanitizer and spent 20 minutes wiping everything down, including the bathroom floor. I could not believe the amount of dirt that I was able to clean up with just some wiping. Everything cleaned up fairly easily so it was not just that the cabin was "old", which it is! It was just plain dirty. Later, I heard another person say they actually called to have their room cleaned before they settled in. We went down later that day to tell the first desk how we found the room and she mentioned that others had complained about our area too. But it didn't seem to make any difference throughout the cruise! The cleaning of the room, the timelyness, the mirrors and floor was the worst job I have every seen, except for some old cheap motels I used to stay in while in college! :( Then to top it off, we did not get our room made up the first a.m. until I finally called to request it at about 1:00pm. The 2nd day I had to call again, this time at 11am. Throughout the week we had streaks on the mirrors and the windows never did get cleaned on the inside! We never did actually mneet our cabin staff & it was the first time I wanted to withhold a tip but my husband is too nice to do that! Instead I wrote a detailed report to turn in on the questionnaire, which I had to go ask for twice because it was never delivered, as it was supposed to be the last day. Now to the rest of the cruise...The entertainment was OK. The singer-dancers were satisfactory but there were several other programs that were very good such as magic and comedy acts. The schedule was full with lots of things to do, such as short classes. The food was decent for 7 days but I would have tired of it for anything more than a week. There was a lot of variety on the buffet and the dining service was OK. (Our waiter spilled a dish on one of the guests the first night and the 2nd night mixed up our dishes!) The staff was a mixed level of friendliness. Some were great, pleasant, smiling, chatty. Some did not make eye contact and turned away at times they could have been helpful & engaging. One thing I really appreciated... they did not push drinks, shore excursions, shopping, etc. There was an area "expert" and those talks were helpful to us! There were two walking paths and lots of walkers. The pools were too cool to swim and the thermal pool was way too expensive for most people. I saw only two people using that pool ever! The steam sauna was broken with no promise as to when it would be repaired. The gym was modern and well equipped. They had a nice movie theater with very comfortable chairs but it was small and filled quickly. The afternoon tea was nice, although not well advertised. This is an old ship that needs refurbishing. There are a few small areas that have been redone and they are lovely, such as the computer classroom area. I took one class and it was very good. But in general the ship, especially the cabins need to be rehabbed. If you want a quick (7 day) relaxing trip, this is probably a good options but go with expectations of "luxury cruising" at a very low level and you will probably be satisfied! 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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