Oosterdam Cruise Review by JP Giehm
- Sail Date: February 2006
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
- Cabin Type: Signature Superior Verandah Suite
The check in and boarding was a snap although I might add that we arrived at the pier early, 10:30 a.m. long before the transfer buses from the airport began to appear. There were ample porters and enough staffers to eliminate the long lines however, as usual; there were some individuals who had neglected to complete the pre boarding paperwork prior approaching the agent. As many correspondents have written, this slows the process to a crawl for those just arriving.
Our boarding number was called within 5 minutes and we made our way up the gangway greeted by a young Indonesian in a bell hop suit from the 50s. He directed towards the elevator and we made our way to the Lido Deck for a buffet. It wasnt too long before the crowds began to muster and there was a noticeable lack of children and an even more noticeable proliferation of wheel chairs and walkers. The jury is still out as to which is the most difficult to deal with in a buffet line, I tend to opt for the children rather than to watch my youth disappear as I wait behind our most elder statesmen as they load their plates with prunes and oatmeal. (I am not being cruel here, as I am approaching my later years at breakneck speed, I am only commenting that a buffet may not be the answer for them). Our cabin was a mini suite with a very large veranda. Everything was nicely appointed right down to the teak lounge chairs on the balcony. The room had a large whirlpool tub with absolutely no instructions on how to operate (I think it was Italian) and a large stall shower as well. Overall the ship was very clean, not spotless. It showed signs of quick turn around back and fourth to Mexico and I noted from our room that new carpeting was being loaded into the holds along with the baggage and foodstuffs. I gather that they had carpet layers working overnight which, on Holland America is very quiet. By 10 p.m. you could shoot off cannons and not hit a soul! As long as I am on carpeting, as a frequent user of the stairs, they a carpeted in deep blue and all of the landings with a contrasting color making things somewhat difficult with regard to depth perceptions as to the exact location of those last couple of steps&.on the way down!
At 4 a.m. on the first night out of San Diego we were all, I mean all, with a fire alarm followed by several announcements from Captain Van Whatshisname and the Cruise Director. Seems they had a bit of a fire somewhere where they incinerate garbage and the fire brigade put it out but not before the computer systems woke everybody onboard. During the following days the ship began to smell a bit like a Hong Kong Dumpster, I trust that the situation was remedied on our return to San Diego.
The cuisine in the restaurant was good, certainly not great. One does have to consider than when cooking for 1000 plus individuals at the same time, it is difficult sometimes to conjure up that medium rare steak. The service people were all very good to excellent and were mostly Indonesian with a smattering of Filipinos running the pubs and liquor. The Lido buffet is very good however be prepared for the very slow lines. The room service menu is superb something that I believe goes un-noticed by many patrons on Holland America.
The entertainment on the other hand is somewhere between very poor to non existent. Its a must to sit near the door on a Holland America Cruise while attending the show in order to make a quick escape. The Indonesian Crew Show is the only one I would consider sitting through again and I have seen that same one twice.
Others have commented on the ports of call and being that we have done similar cruises before; we elected not to participate in the shore excursion programs. We always went ashore and hired a taxi to take us to our favorite digs.
Disembarkation was nearly as easy as the departure phase. The night before arrival in San Diego everyone receives a color code to attach to their baggage and then simply wait in your cabin until your color is called&..that is, if you are up for that! I had notified the pursers office on day 1 that I had a commitment in Los Angeles the afternoon after our arrival and when my color was not called in the first three groups, I simply discharged myself and was pleasantly surprised that my baggage color code area was void of other passengers&&I was gone with bag in hand and no crowds.
Overall the cruise was a satisfactory experience. I must add that Holland America is changing and that change may not be welcomed by the loyal customers from years gone by. I noticed a marked change in the overall quality from a cruise taken on HA just three years ago although that may be due in part to the relative size of this newer ship
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