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Having read numerous reviews about the Oosterdam it was clear that half were positive and half were negative. While I was hoping to be in the positive half suffice to say that it did not meet up with my expectations. We have cruised with both Princess and Celebrity and Holland America does not come near to either of these with regards to service or value. I will try and give a detailed review in hopes that others are prepared in advance as we were. The check in was surprisingly a positive given we did not have a suite. It was rather smooth with the only negative the long line to pass through the security check after you did finish registering in. Many reviews had the same complaint regarding the Lido buffet and I have to agree. HAL made a major error here as there is not enough seating to accommodate the demand and I highly recommend that you obtain a table before you get your food. In fact during the sea days they even set up additional folding tables by the pool and this still did not satisfy the demand. The way the buffet is handled with the separate stations is good for controlling lines but the full benefit is not realized as almost every item is served to you rather than serve yourself which slows down the process. Our ports of call Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan were all magnificent. The shore excursions are grossly overpriced and I would recommend going off the ship as you can obtain most of the same excursions for 30-40% less than what they cost onboard. We had one breakfast in the dining room, to alleviate the crowds at the buffet, and the service was outright awful. They were rude and inconsiderate and we even spoke to the maitre d' after it and got the feeling he could care less. The service at dinner started off a bit rocky but turned around (after our complaint) and was acceptable. I believe, as others do, that the automatic tipping policy is counter productive to providing good service as there is no incentive. We did adjust it at the end and tipped the few who did provide excellent service like our cabin steward who was phenomenal. I found the decor and the ship to really not have that "wow" factor as I have found on two Princes ships. In fact I walked past the atrium three times looking for what I expected to find in an atrium and came to find out I was already in it. It was small and nowhere near what we have seen on the Princess lines. While most cruise lines nickel and dime for everything this one was even greater. For example the internet access required that you "establish an account" that cost $3.95. Then unless you purchase a plan the charge was .79 per minute which is higher than what I paid on Princess. The account is a joke as all you do is enter your name and cabin number. On Princess all you did was swipe your card and away you went. The entertainment was very good with good shows and the times being 8:15 and 10:15 worked out well with our early dinner seating. They only have one alternative dining restaurant, the Pinnacle Grill, which I highly recommend. If you book it the first night the service charge is 1/2 off $10.00 instead of $20.00 per person. The other cruise lines had numerous alternative dining options available. The food on the buffet was OK typical buffet food. The deserts were mediocre and the food in the dining room was a bit boring. They also were limited in optional choices that were available every night again unlike Princess. We had four in our cabin which while tight at times was bearable. The one down side was that the fourth bunk folded down from the ceiling over the main bed and only left 10" of room between your head and the bottom of the bunk when you were laying in the bed. Needless to say the first two days you woke up a bit sore having bumped your head getting up at night and forgetting it was there. Princess has theirs fold down over the pull out sofa which is a much better set up. Make sure you get a balcony as the views are spectacular especially the Hubbard Glacier which the ship did get very close to. Needless to say we were quite disappointed and given a choice would not sail on HAL again. Our future cruises will be confined to Princess.

Oosterdam - Alaska

Oosterdam Cruise Review by William Grygus

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2005
  • Destination: Alaska
Having read numerous reviews about the Oosterdam it was clear that half were positive and half were negative. While I was hoping to be in the positive half suffice to say that it did not meet up with my expectations. We have cruised with both Princess and Celebrity and Holland America does not come near to either of these with regards to service or value. I will try and give a detailed review in hopes that others are prepared in advance as we were.
The check in was surprisingly a positive given we did not have a suite. It was rather smooth with the only negative the long line to pass through the security check after you did finish registering in.
Many reviews had the same complaint regarding the Lido buffet and I have to agree. HAL made a major error here as there is not enough seating to accommodate the demand and I highly recommend that you obtain a table before you get your food. In fact during the sea days they even set up additional folding tables by the pool and this still did not satisfy the demand. The way the buffet is handled with the separate stations is good for controlling lines but the full benefit is not realized as almost every item is served to you rather than serve yourself which slows down the process.
Our ports of call Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan were all magnificent. The shore excursions are grossly overpriced and I would recommend going off the ship as you can obtain most of the same excursions for 30-40% less than what they cost onboard.
We had one breakfast in the dining room, to alleviate the crowds at the buffet, and the service was outright awful. They were rude and inconsiderate and we even spoke to the maitre d' after it and got the feeling he could care less. The service at dinner started off a bit rocky but turned around (after our complaint) and was acceptable. I believe, as others do, that the automatic tipping policy is counter productive to providing good service as there is no incentive. We did adjust it at the end and tipped the few who did provide excellent service like our cabin steward who was phenomenal.
I found the decor and the ship to really not have that "wow" factor as I have found on two Princes ships. In fact I walked past the atrium three times looking for what I expected to find in an atrium and came to find out I was already in it. It was small and nowhere near what we have seen on the Princess lines.
While most cruise lines nickel and dime for everything this one was even greater. For example the internet access required that you "establish an account" that cost $3.95. Then unless you purchase a plan the charge was .79 per minute which is higher than what I paid on Princess. The account is a joke as all you do is enter your name and cabin number. On Princess all you did was swipe your card and away you went.
The entertainment was very good with good shows and the times being 8:15 and 10:15 worked out well with our early dinner seating. They only have one alternative dining restaurant, the Pinnacle Grill, which I highly recommend. If you book it the first night the service charge is 1/2 off $10.00 instead of $20.00 per person. The other cruise lines had numerous alternative dining options available.
The food on the buffet was OK typical buffet food. The deserts were mediocre and the food in the dining room was a bit boring. They also were limited in optional choices that were available every night again unlike Princess.
We had four in our cabin which while tight at times was bearable. The one down side was that the fourth bunk folded down from the ceiling over the main bed and only left 10" of room between your head and the bottom of the bunk when you were laying in the bed. Needless to say the first two days you woke up a bit sore having bumped your head getting up at night and forgetting it was there. Princess has theirs fold down over the pull out sofa which is a much better set up. Make sure you get a balcony as the views are spectacular especially the Hubbard Glacier which the ship did get very close to.
Needless to say we were quite disappointed and given a choice would not sail on HAL again. Our future cruises will be confined to Princess.
William Grygus’s Full Rating Summary
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