Oosterdam Cruise Review by Mike Cole
- Sail Date: November 2006
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
The embarkation process went pretty smooth considering the Holland America reservation computers were down. We boarded the ship by 12:40 and proceeded to the Lido deck for lunch. At 1:00 they announced we could go to our rooms.
We had booked a Deluxe Verandah Outside room (5125 on the Verandah deck). Since we were a group of 3, I would say the room was a little small. I think if it were just my wife and I the room would have been fine. The balcony was small with a door that opened out. Also with the couch made into a bed you couldn't easily access the balcony. But it had a nice sized bathroom with a tub. Also I will say that the bed was by far the most comfortable of any of the cruises we've been on.
We ate most of our meals in the Lido buffet, but did have one meal in the Vista dining room. We did not eat in the Pinnacle Grill. The food I thought was very good to excellent. The variety of food was good. Typically for dinner you ordered your meal and it was plated and brought to you by the wait staff. I miss having the Muesli for breakfast.
The experience on the ship was different from our other cruises. We've sailed on 2 of the Princess Grand class ships, and a Royal Caribbeans Radiance class ship. The Oosterdam isn't as big as either class of ship. The ship public areas seem small. This gives the ship an intimate feel. The atrium was small and not as impressive as on other ships. Getting around in the public areas on decks 1, 2, and 3 sometimes seemed like a maze. But the ship had a lot of elevators and stairs that made getting to the different decks easy. With the exception of the Lido buffet, during meals, the public areas were never crowded. The housekeeping crew kept the ship immaculately clean! One thing that was interesting compared to our other cruises was the room steward. Our steward never came up and introduced himself. Likewise you never had the big housekeeping cart sitting out in the hallway all day long. Unfortunately one of the ships azipods was not working which reduced the amount of time we had in each port. Likewise there was a pronounced vibration on the back of the ship. I don't know if this was because we were running on one pod and it had to work harder.
The crew all seemed very nice and helpful. As I mentioned we didn't get to know the room steward but he did a good job of taking care of us. The wait staff in the dining room were very courteous, and efficient. We were part of a Cruise Critic meet and greet forum. The cruise line helped one of the members arrange a meet and greet, and we met the cruise director. The photography staff didn't seem as pushy as with other cruise lines, which was appreciated.
This was our first cruise down the west side of Mexico. I had wanted to do this itinerary for a while. As I mentioned the ship was running on only one engine, which reduced the amount of time we had in each port. Our first stop was Cabo San Lucas. Due to the engine troubles we were limited to about 5 hours in port. We arrived at noon, and they started issuing tender passes about 12:30. This is a tender port, and the winds kicked up the waves a little. The ship enlisted additional port tenders from the city, and thank goodness they did. The ships tenders had problem getting into position to load people. More than once I saw one of the ships tenders hit the side of the ship. It seemed to take 3 times longer for the ship tenders to get into position to load passengers. The port tenders would pull up and dock with no problems, and probably made twice as many trips as the ship tenders. Needless to say it took almost 2 hours for them to get to our pass number. We got to port about 2:45. With the little time left about all we could do was wander through town and shop. We did receive a twenty-five dollar per person credit for the reduce time we had in port. Cabo San Lucas looks like a really nice place. The street vendors were very aggressive!
The next port was Mazatlan! We didn't preplan any excursions through the cruise line, but had planned to see what we could arrange in port. We found a group that offered all day tours of the city and would drop you off in the resort area for a few hours before taking you back to the port. The tour was really interesting and we were able to see a good cross section of the town and population. We arrived at the resort area and the driver recommended a restaurant on the beach. We enjoyed the meal, particularly the margaritas. The beach was really nice. After eating we went to a small shopping area where we bought some souvenirs, and then returned to the ship.
The last port was Puerto Vallarta. Again we arranged a tour at the port. The guide was excellent, taking us through a good portion of town and south down the coast to several points of interest and places to take pictures. Last we ended up in a small village where they had a Tequila factory. We did a tasting and roamed around the village. It was fascinating and we bought some more souvenirs. Later we returned to the port, where my son returned to the ship. My wife and I ate lunch in port and did some more shopping, finally moving to the beach and wading in the ocean. We tendered back to the ship and cleaned up and relaxed. Later on they had a cook out and mariachi band in the Lido Deck pool area. The city and port are beautiful, and I really enjoyed Puerto Vallarta.
The last two days (including Thanksgiving) were spent at sea heading back to San Diego. We had a traditional dinner on Thanksgiving. The sea days were nice with lots of activities on the ship to keep you busy. We visited the casino a couple time, and I actually won a little money (which is really unusual for me). I also spent quite a bit of time on the balcony reading and relaxing. We bought an Internet access package, and used out laptop and wireless network card in certain parts of the ship (usually the Crows Nest lounge). Access wasn't particularly fast but it wasn't dial up slow.
Finally the cruise came to an end. On Friday we received our disembarkation packet. We packed and placed our bags outside our door prior to going to bed. Upon arrival in San Diego we enjoyed our breakfast, and returned to our room and waited to be called to disembark. We were called about 10:00 and we proceeded to the gangway and were checked off the ship. We presented our immigration documents in the terminal and our customs sheet. Then to the baggage area to pick up our luggage! I must say that this was by far the easiest and most convenient disembarkation process I've ever had. I wish all of the cruise lines would be this easy. We caught a taxi to the airport to drop off our luggage and then returned to town to look around some more. Finally we returned to the airport to catch our 3:00 pm flight home.
This was a wonderful trip! I do wish that we had been able to enjoy all of the time advertised in each port. But the ship was very nice as was the ships staff. I wouldn't mind doing this itinerary again.
250,000+ people have entered their email