HAL not like it used to be: Oosterdam Cruise Review by Calpespain

Oosterdam 2
Member Since 2010
15 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

HAL not like it used to be

Sail Date: December 2013
Destination: South Pacific
Embarkation: Sydney (Australia)
Quick synopsis:

Old ship in need of total refurbishment to bring up to today’s standards.

Crew at times were surly and quite confrontational.

Food okay but not outstanding.

Entertainment mostly appalling

Ships senior offers not available or seen above the rank of a 1 bar. Scandalous!

Front desk, polite but useless.

Certain areas of ship need a good spotless clean.

Carpets on stairwells worn-out.

Ships crew seems to lack discipline and smartness of dress untidy.


It has been 8 years since our last HAL cruise, in this time there is a noticeable difference in the standard of service for which Holland and America were once renowned for. The Carnival Corporation has now worked its policies on this line to make it more affordable to everyone, so for those of you accustomed to the old more prestigious line or to travelling on Celebrity or Royal Caribbean out of Australia then More possibly the now old, bruised and battered Oosterdam will not be up to their high service levels in all departments.

Check in was pitifully slow with only 80% of the check in counters being manned. No priority line for mini suite guests. Once on board no staff to welcome you, find your own way, for an avid cruiser not a problem but for those new to cruising they found it more difficult to find their cabins. Our suite upon arrival was smelly, from body odours and not being sanitised thoroughly. The bathroom floor tiles had large areas of grout missing, clear evidence that both maintenance and supervisory attendance were lacking. No cabin steward in sight or one to introduce themselves to us until well after we were on our way to evening dinner.

We asked for the strong odour smells to be irradiated, no such luck. We persevered that night but the next day the smell was equally as prevalent, we asked for the cabin to be deep cleaned, which apparently it was, to no avail. So we left the cabin door open on the balcony which after 8 hours did the trick along with us spraying our deodorant over the fabrics. No more smells of past bodies. The bathroom was re-grouted too.

Unfortunately now the cabin stewards have to attend to 30 cabins on Hal, up from 19, so in all fairness they have little time to really spoil you and spruce up your cabin, past a very quick spit and polish if you are extremely lucky.

The bathroom toiletries consisted of a single bar of soap for basin and shower with a single small pot of body lotion. This was your luxury pack of toiletries. Our towels were constantly old and grey not white, fluffy and pristine. Occasionally when we were fortunate enough to find a relatively new towel it was a fight to see who showered first. Cabin overall was adequate but for a suite nothing too special to entice you back.

Lido, breakfast and lunch both offer a good range and selection, again not to RCI or Celebrity, quality wise but, good enough, if your first cruise you would not be disappointed.

Vista dining room, here too they now have 30 covers to serve, that's per steward, which again gives a lot of work for one person to cover. The quality of the food was again good but not outstanding. Not to the same level as Radiance, Rhapsody or Solstice, all three outshine the Oosterdam by a mile in all degrees of service level, quantity, quality and presentation. Whilst the waiting stewards were fairly joyous and happy, due to their volume of work they had little time to make your dining experience that extra bit special, as was the case previously.

I would go as far as to say that my experience on the Pacific Dawn was indeed superior to that of the Oosterdam, which was over 3 times the price to that paid for similar accommodation on the Dawn. Officers above 1 bar were never to be spotted on this ship, never, even if requested, you were not able to voice your concerns to a senior officer of this ship. It was as if you were prevented from asking a question that you may have been given a real answer to, instead this ship diversifies your real question and answers with a totally irrelevant one, which of course is extremely frustrating and irritating.

Entertainment was below par for what is perceived as a 5star cruise line. Only 3 cruise line production shows on this a 14 night cruise. No doubt they only now have 3 in their portfolio as most cruises out of the US are for 7 nights which would make show every other night but one would have thought that at Christmas a little bit of extra thought would have brought them up to speed and introduced extra shows for this over priced cruise, which all Christmas cruises are. No show or entertainment at all in the Vista lounge on the last night. The venue itself has many seats which have a pillow blocking the view of the performers, this spoils any enjoyment. The layout of the seating is particularly badly designed with the first 7 rows set out as if you were in a two bit club, tables and uncomfortable chairs, taking up where at least 12 full rows of theatre seating could have been installed. So many people could not be seated at the evening shows.

Brought into service in 1995 the ship is badly in need of a total refit, this is not a luxury liner of the 21st century, is this why it is brought to Australia for our summer. Why are all cruise lines guilty of bringing all of their old worn out ships to die in Australia? After all our rate per cabin per day is far higher charge than say one sailing the Caribbean route or for that matter the northern European routes.

Overall my experience on this Christmas and New Year cruise was very disappointing as it was for many that voiced their grievances to me. Many a comment was made about staffing levels and wait times for service from often quite surly crew. How times are changing.

New Years Eve: At times ships run like clockwork and at others they seem to be run by idiots. On New Years Eve, the dress code was casual, first time in my 17 years of cruising at Christmas and New Year. Most of the bars were closed at 10 pm to allow for everyone to attend the pool party on the open deck under the stars. (Make everyone attend no options) When we arrived at 9pm they were clearing away all of the tables and chairs. They removed every single one, apart for those where 6 people were already sitting. Hid them and locked them all away out of sight. Asked officer why, he replied “there are going to be 1500 people up here and we want to make enough room” I replied “so you want people to stand for 3 to 4 hours on a moving ship for all this time” he replied “yeah” pointing out the age demographics of the ship seemed not to draw his attention to that plight. We ourselves went to another cupboard and grabbed 4 chairs and a table for our drinks. Over the next hour or so, everyone who then arrived went to the rear pool area through the Lido and brought back a set of chairs and tables. By midnight the place was full of tables and chairs brought by the passengers either from their own cabins or from the rear pool, area. I ask these idiots’s as that is clearly what they were, what was the purpose or locking way all the chairs in a room and drawing the curtains/blinds to hide them and then allowing all the passengers to fetch their own chairs, stupidly or what! Unbelievable. Less

Published 01/07/14

Cabin review: 6077

Not really worth the extra for this type of suite. Carpets are black and cheap quality compared to other full suites and normal cabins. Bathrooms nothing to shout home about. Not worth the money!

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