Oosterdam Cruise Review by arckac
- Sail Date: August 2006
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Large Interior Stateroom
We have sailed the Zuiderdam Twice and are booked for a third on March 31, 2007. Both sailings to the caribbean were outstanding.
The pool roof closes and traveling to Seattle was less expensive than to Vancouver.
I traveled with my wife, 42 and my son, 9. I am 52 This was our 12th cruise. 3 HA, 5 RCCL, 2 Disney, 1 Celebrity (very disappointing), and one Carnival (yuk).
Having sailed on the Zuiderdam we are very knowledgeable of the ship and therefore did not have to spend any time getting trying to figure out where everything was.
We are from the east coast and my wife and son had never seen SF so we flew into SF on August 17 and spent two wonderful nights at the Nob Hill Motor in located about 1+ to the wharf. We did as much of the tourist things we could (Aquarium, SF Zoo and the night tour at Alcatraz) and had a 9 AM flight to Seattle from Oakland on August 19. The Seattle airport does not seem to have Taxi's at the arrival terminal. You had to lug your luggage to the other side of the parking lot to pick up a cab. We did use a Limo service which was a few dollars more. $35 as compared to $28 for a cab ride. (We did take a cab back)The cab back does drop you off at the departure terminal. (Go figure)
On to the cruise: Embarkation was a breeze. Its always good to do things on line. We always look warn from the travel and never stop for the customary take you embarkation photo. There should be one line for the photo and anther to bypass getting a photo. We also booked our excursions online prior to the cruise. Did not wish to miss out on doing the things we wanted to do.
The Lido is laid out very nice. Two stations for Sandwiches and two for the buffet. One for sushi and another for pasta and Pizza. We were able to go to the rooms as it was about 12:45 when we got on the ship. We put our carry on in the room. We carry Walkie Talkies to keep track of each other. Make sure you have a 3 watt+ radio as to penetrate all the walls on ships you need the extra power. Family radios just wont do it.
We had a balcony cabin which is very nice but more important to have on a caribbean cruise. It gets just to chilly at night or even day to be out there too long. Even when we got to Hubbard Glacier, we went to the front of the ship to mingle with others and took several photos of the glacier.
The service on this cruise was not up to the standard we were accustom to with the Zuiderdam. Our room stewart was very good however, the dining room staff was lacking. I'm still waiting to be greeted by the head waiter. As vets of HA cruise will know, the majority of the workers are from Indonesia. I do like the diversity you find with workers from all parts of the globe you find on other cruise lines. I believe the service is weaker when the workers pretty much get a standard tip each cruise. By HA adding the suggested to the onboard account most people do not bother to adjust the amount up or down.
Michelle was the Cruise director. Michelle along with the assistant cruise director (Everett) did a very nice job of keeping you entertainment and informed. As two of the three judges for their Superstar competition they played off one another very well. Everett played the part of Simon to as annoying level as possible. He did his job well as he was booed and hissed at continually. Comedians - was just OK. They were family shows and were under control. I wish they had had a late night comedy as we have seen twice on the Zuiderdam. Both times Julie Barr was wonderful. I really missed this on this cruise. The illusionist was terrific and put on several performances and the two production shows were typical cruise line shows. The daily entertainment was less than what we previously have experienced with HA. I suppose that has more to do with less outside activities due to the weather. However, the daily team trivia is always competitive. The evening had a couple of game show mania's. The one run by DJ Roy was far better than the one run by Everett. He made a poor mockery of the game whereas DJ Roy did a superb job running the game on the second night. Each contestant won the same prize for being up there. This was also run differently on the Zuiderdam as the winner received a little nicer of a gift. There was also TV tune trivia one night and music trivia on another. To my surprise DJ Roy let teams mark their own papers. Scores were much higher (I wonder why???)
The ports and excursions: Juneau We went to something called Sled Dog Summer Camp. It was completely Sled Dog abuse. I cannot believe this excursion cost $149PP to see the how poorly treated these dogs were. They were skin and bones and I wish I could of let them all go. They stood a better chance of survival if they would have been turned loose. They are tied for most hours of the day to a post in front of a green hut. They have very little interaction with one another due to the fact that they are not fixed. There was no vet on staff. When I asked about this one of the "kids" who worked there simply said "we are around the dogs so much we know what to do when they need treatment" (I bet we all know what that meant" Finally, they were tied to a sled on wheels once a day to run. We videoed this and will send it to animal planet for them to see how mistreated these animals are. The town was very nice and there were several ships in port at the same time. Including the Zuiderdam, the sister ship which we enjoy so much. We went over to it to see if we could visit some of the staff that we grew fond of on previous sailings. They both however were out on excursions themselves when we checked in with security.
Hubbard Glacier was an experience however we are not there long enough. You can hear more of the calving than you can see as it takes place in sections beyond your viewpoint. DONT FORGET BINOCULARS AS THEY RIP YOU OFF IF YOU TRY TO BY THEM ON THE SHIP.
Sitka a small town with not much to talk about. My wife did the 1/2 day Salmon fishing and caught two. She said that each person caught two.
Ketchikan was very nice. However, once again, we were not there past 1pm. We had a 9:30 excursion via seaplane to see the bears feasting on the salmon. The seaplane ride was about 25 mins and takes you to the middle of nowhere. You are picked up by a man who looks like the Stinky Pete character from the Toy Story II movie. He takes a one mile ride in a van and you go to an observation platform to view the bears. You have to walk about a 1/4 mile to get there and he carries a first aid kit and a 30 06 loaded rifle. You have to keep the children in the middle of the group as you walk to the deck. We saw three bears and we were there for about 90 or so mins. We arrived back to the ship as the last excursion to return so I never saw anything of town of Ketchikan. We usually enjoy walking the streets of wherever we go. Always go on ship excursions that leave the area. You never know.
Victoria: The mandatory stop. A city that was nothing more than lots of overpriced stores. You cannot pay with US dollars and expect US dollars in return. They give you Canadian money which is not too well accepted in the US. You will have to charge everything. BTW, Most shops did not appear to accept Discover. MC and Visa were the most accepted.
My son loves club HAL. the counselors give each child tremendous one on one attention. These people are the reason adults with children have the opportunity to enjoy the adult activities available to us onboard. My son stayed late night each evening and could not wait for the club to open each evening at 8PM. Thanks again for a terrific job HA in keeping the children entertained. The Vista Class Ships have done a very good job of attracting families.
The overall food level:
To tell the truth. We preferred the Dining experience in the Lido over the dining room. Service was better and the same food is available. The salad bar was very good also. We did not do the Pinnacle on this trip but in the past that was a very nice experience.
We had a 10:45 flight and HA had us off the ship at 8:20. We found our luggage in about 10 mins or so and we called the limo who took us but I kept receiving a voice message and thus we took a cab. Because we were first off the was a few mins wait. We were at the airport at 9:15 and checked in by 9:45. An hour later we were on our way back home.
Alaska needs to be seen more than once. I don't know when I will get back there again but I would like to go again. The weather ranged from about 48 to 62 F and it rained almost daily. Next time I would like to go from Vancouver and do more of the inside passage and also see Glacier Bay. The only way to go i believe is with HAL as they appear to have the best spots to dock. Where we were docked other ships had to tender. I suppose its because HA was one of the first to go to Alaska and get the best spots to dock. Experience counts.
Looking forward to my next cruise in March, 2007 on the Zuiderdam to The Caribbean followed by the Explorer of the Seas in August of 2007 from NY to the caribbean.
Thanks for staying with me this long and happy sailing to all.
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