This was our 3rd HAL cruise and our 9th cruise overall. We enjoyed our cruise very much. The embarkation in San Diego was a breeze. We were through processing and on the ship at the Lido eating within 20 minutes of arrival on the pier. I commend HAL for there organizational skills here. Our group of 4, ranged age wise from late 30's to early 50's.
Once on the ship, we did find the Lido to be very packed (we arrived about Noon), not unexpected. The choice of food was very nice, from the salad bar, sandwich bar, Asian, etc. I think HAL does a good job with variety in the buffet on a daily basis, though we never ate there for dinner so cannot comment on that.
Our cabin was nice - with a balcony towards the front of the ship. Plenty of storage in the closets. A sofa, chair and coffee table. Flat screen TV with DVD player. The beds were very comfortable. The bathroom had a tub/shower combo. We had no complaints with any noise nor any vibrations. Our cabin steward was very efficient and kept the room very clean. He made the animal towels nightly, which we very cute.
Dining - we actually originally did the traditional (fixed) dining, but after 3 nights changed to the As You Wish new dining concept and found we actually enjoyed the flexibility. Sometimes we wanted to attend the early show, etc. The service at either dining was FANTASTIC. Our dining room waiters were terrific, attentive, made nice recommendations and were accommodating to giving us extra lobster tails and escargots during the 2nd Formal night. The wine stewards were good and we never noticed any lengthy wait to receive service. Overall, I believe we had better service on the Oosterdam than on our other 2 HAL cruises. Watch out for the vibration in the rear dining room level 2. One night they seated us in the direct back of the dining room and we had to ask to be moved.
The food in the dining room- it was very good and the variety offered excellent. Only one night did I find the entrees lacking in offering (the so called Dutch night) and when I asked for something off the menu, they were able to accommodate me without problem.
We ate several times in the formal dining room for breakfast and lunch and likewise found the food very good. We did not eat in the Pinnacle Grill - though have done so before on another cruise. I actually find the price (now $30 pp) to be expensive, when compared to what you get in the dining room for your cruise price. The atmosphere in the PG is very nice and if I received a free dinner there from my TA, I would eat there, but I do not see it as a must-do. They need to update their menu IMO.
We also enjoyed the taco bar/grill - very nice. The room service was also great, and on time. Only one afternoon did we experience a 40 minute wait for a pre-dinner snack and room service told us up front it would take that long.
Entertainment - I found this area to be lacking. We enjoyed one show very much - the Broadway musicals. The rest of the shows were so-so. Possibly one of the ships with the worst entertainment IMO. Also the construction of the Vista show lounge could be better - there are large posts that block views.
The daily activities were ok as well. Pretty much similar to other HAL cruises. We attended some of the "game" show type of activities - some better than others. The Karaoke contest was quite fun and had a good attendance. We also enjoyed the cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Center. Would have like some more dance lessons other than line dancing and the fox trot. The casino was fine. A good size for the ship. The spa was nice and the thermal spa worth it for one day. The gym was nice as well, though I would like a few more elliptical machines.
The ports of call were great as usually. Puerto Vallarta our favorite. The tendering was efficient and organized - perhaps the best we have seen on any cruise.
We received a $25pp ship board credit due to an azipod which is not fully functioning. This was a nice touch from HAL. Our port times were somewhat reduced (which was disappointing).
Average age on this ship was OLD! A lot of frail people on board! They apparently ran out of wheelchairs on embarkation! I think this contributed to the lack of nightlife and one of the reasons, we will probably consider another cruise line before returning to HAL. However, we had an excellent time due in part to the wonderful staff. I would recommend the Oosterdam and this itinerary.