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One main reason that we chose Holland America was the highly touted Culinary Arts program. We attended the first cooking demo and noted that the hostess, Nikki, did not mention or try to "sell" any of the for-purchase cooking classes. We signed up for the class on Wednesday, only to be notified the next day that the class was cancelled due to low registration. On Saturday we showed up for the cooking demo at 9:00 am. At 9:10 a staff person wandered in and told us that the class was cancelled because Nikki was sick. The recipe exchange at 10:00 was nothing more than a staff person laying recipes on a table for us to pick up. At 11:00, we showed up to attend a seafood demo with a wine reduction. The Indian chef came out and demoed lamb chops with a carrot dessert - not what we came to see. He did not even bring recipes to hand out. The whole approach to this program was very disappointing. It left us feeling like Holland America is not committed to its programs. Given that this is a big reason that we chose this cruise we would probably try another cruise line next time. We travelled with another couple and received a dinner each at the Pinnacle restaurant. Upon checkin, at 7:20 pm and without our luggage, we were told that our reservation was for 8:00 that night. We had been traveling for 11 hours from Denali . After speaking with the restaurant manager we were "wait listed" for our free dinner. An opening never materialized and all we were offered from the manager was an apology. He made no attempt at all to compensate us or accommodate us in any way. My overall impression of Holland America is that they advertise and oversell programs knowing that they cannot meet the demand. It is simply a sales pitch to get you to choose their cruise line over a competitors'.

Holland America - highly touted promotions a bust!

Oosterdam Cruise Review by Jplum

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2014
  • Destination: Alaska
One main reason that we chose Holland America was the highly touted Culinary Arts program. We attended the first cooking demo and noted that the hostess, Nikki, did not mention or try to "sell" any of the for-purchase cooking classes. We signed up for the class on Wednesday, only to be notified the next day that the class was cancelled due to low registration.
On Saturday we showed up for the cooking demo at 9:00 am. At 9:10 a staff person wandered in and told us that the class was cancelled because Nikki was sick. The recipe exchange at 10:00 was nothing more than a staff person laying recipes on a table for us to pick up. At 11:00, we showed up to attend a seafood demo with a wine reduction. The Indian chef came out and demoed lamb chops with a carrot dessert - not what we came to see. He did not even bring recipes to hand out.
The whole approach to this program was very disappointing. It left us feeling like Holland America is not committed to its programs. Given that this is a big reason that we chose this cruise we would probably try another cruise line next time.
We travelled with another couple and received a dinner each at the Pinnacle restaurant. Upon checkin, at 7:20 pm and without our luggage, we were told that our reservation was for 8:00 that night. We had been traveling for 11 hours from Denali . After speaking with the restaurant manager we were "wait listed" for our free dinner. An opening never materialized and all we were offered from the manager was an apology. He made no attempt at all to compensate us or accommodate us in any way.
My overall impression of Holland America is that they advertise and oversell programs knowing that they cannot meet the demand. It is simply a sales pitch to get you to choose their cruise line over a competitors'.
Jplum’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 16+
Service
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Cabin Review

Cabin 4037
Our room was kept very clean by Heri, our steward. There were three in the cabin - my husband, daughter and me. It is compact but, with creative nooks for storage, doable. We enjoyed the verandah and even spotted a few whales right on our own balcony.
  Oosterdam Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Bald Eagle Preserve
    This 6 mile raft trip down a bald eagle preserve was a highlight of our trip. Bryce, our guide, was very well informed and passionate about the wildlife, habitat and people of the Haines area. He was a very experienced rafting guide and taught us so much about everything that we saw. We probably saw 30-50 bald eagles. I highly recommend this trip if you are in the area.
    View All 10 Bald Eagle Preserve Reviews
  • Mendenhall Glacier
    Very informative and worthwhile 1-2 hours. Enjoyed the visitors center and video. The glacier was majestic - see it while you can as it is receding significantly each year. The short hike down to the waterfall was good, but dress warmly as it is 15-20 degrees cooler near the glacier.
    View All 889 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
  • Whale Watching
    We saw several small pods of whales , about 100 yards from out boat, and some sea lions on this 2 hour tour. The young crew was very enthusiastic and gave an informative narration. I would recommend this tour, but might look for a company that offers smaller boats, as we saw a couple of small boats that were able to get in closer to the whales.
    View All 841 Whale Watching Reviews