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First, allow me to say that my wife and I have been huge fans of HAL and the Oosterdam since our first cruise in 2006 with HAL! This cruise started with a three night land portion to Denali National Park! It was overall excellent beginning with our one night in Anchorage at the beautiful Hotel Captain Cook! The next day we were transported by bus to the McKinley Explorer Train (owned by HAL), had a beautiful escorted train trip to Denali with great service and hosts onboard. Even the food on the train was great for a tourist attraction. our luggage was picked up at the hotel by truck arriving at the Princess Denali Lodge and in our room before we were. Our keys and directions were all given to us aboard the train! I was surprised how well coordinated it was. the Lodge and grounds were very pretty and well maintained. both nights we chose to dine in the Hard Tack Lounge. Our server, Tyler from Ct. by way of Denver, was excellent and friendly. The food was good and priced as you would expect in a resort in Alaska. The tundra tour was very good, and we saw moose, caribou and eagles! We also did a tour of Jeff King's Alaskan Huffy Kennels and training facility. He has won the Iditarod five times! On the very nice motor coach trip to Seward, we had several photo stops with spectacular views of Mt McKinley, apparently a rare treat for only about 30% of the visitors to the region. The lunch stop a sandwich/salad buffet was very nice in a beautiful area of Wasilla. From the arrival in Seward to disembarkation in Vancouver the following Sunday, things went downhill! This was our fourth Oosterdam cruise since 2006! The Seward cruise port building is a steel warehouse building! Check in was like a rat's maze with several busses arriving in close proximity. There were probably 800 to 1,000 people trying to get checked in and to board after 5pm! It was a real "cluster", poorly managed and all boarding the Oosterdam.!!! From this point forward the sales pitches started from photography, wine, shore excursions, art work, etc.! Our baggage had all arrived in our cabin by an hour after boarding. The biggest changes were in the quality of food and service in the Lido buffet, the Main Dining Room and the Pinnacle Grill. Breakfasts in the Lido were as always crowded, but the rudeness of line servers and the quality and selection was the worst. Scrambled eggs looked like slop; bacon was almost raw and the lines were usually closed early and were running out of some items! never before seen on HAL. At our table #69 in the MDR, the service was okay, but the girl wine steward was not knowledgeable about all the wines and only interested in hurrying to sell more bottles. Dinners in the MDR were more often disappointing because of the selection, quality or quantity in some items. My escargot were overcooked and only offered once! On the final night, the usual and fun parade of servers with baked Alaska was deleted! There was no more "chocolate extravaganza" around the pool as usual before one evening. The Pinnacle Grill cover charge formerly $20is now $29/person. That nearly 30% increase would be okay, but they eliminated lobster tails from the entrée choices and put an additional $20/person upcharge for King Crab legs! I ordered a 10oz filet mignon, medium rare, and it arrived well done. Reorder came medium well but ate it anyway! The manager seemed to make reservations difficult, but there were always a few empty tables! The singers and dancers were live and good especially Angela, the light haired male singer and the piano player, Mario in the Halcats band. the magician was mediocre and not friendly to guests off the stage and around the ship with his four dogs, child and wife. the comedian, Julie Barr was funny and entertaining. Our cabin stewards did a good job except when our fruit was ripe and ready to eat, they removed it and left not so ripe. Finally, disembarkation was another "cluster" and absolutely horrible regardless of what you had put on your form regarding post cruise travel arrangements, etc. We were supposed to disembark between 8:15 and 8:30am, but it ended up being about 9:15am? If these issues are not fleet wide, they may be related to the new Captain Bos since such problems run downhill! In conclusion, if we don't hear anything positive from HAL and not token, this will be our last HAL cruise! One final comment regarding ports on this cruise concerns the port of Haines! It is very disappointing, and must be free of any port charges to HAL. Only one shuttle bus was running to town because the other had broken down a few days before! Skip Haines and do Skagway! In summation, enjoy Alaska and Denali; but don't sail the Oosterdam, and maybe choose another cruise line!

What Has Happened to HAL and Oosterdam????

Oosterdam Cruise Review by furnrep

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2014
  • Destination: Alaska
First, allow me to say that my wife and I have been huge fans of HAL and the Oosterdam since our first cruise in 2006 with HAL!
This cruise started with a three night land portion to Denali National Park! It was overall excellent beginning with our one night in Anchorage at the beautiful Hotel Captain Cook! The next day we were transported by bus to the McKinley Explorer Train (owned by HAL), had a beautiful escorted train trip to Denali with great service and hosts onboard. Even the food on the train was great for a tourist attraction. our luggage was picked up at the hotel by truck arriving at the Princess Denali Lodge and in our room before we were. Our keys and directions were all given to us aboard the train! I was surprised how well coordinated it was. the Lodge and grounds were very pretty and well maintained. both nights we chose to dine in the Hard Tack Lounge. Our server, Tyler from Ct. by way of Denver, was excellent and friendly. The food was good and priced as you would expect in a resort in Alaska. The tundra tour was very good, and we saw moose, caribou and eagles! We also did a tour of Jeff King's Alaskan Huffy Kennels and training facility. He has won the Iditarod five times! On the very nice motor coach trip to Seward, we had several photo stops with spectacular views of Mt McKinley, apparently a rare treat for only about 30% of the visitors to the region. The lunch stop a sandwich/salad buffet was very nice in a beautiful area of Wasilla.
From the arrival in Seward to disembarkation in Vancouver the following Sunday, things went downhill! This was our fourth Oosterdam cruise since 2006!
The Seward cruise port building is a steel warehouse building! Check in was like a rat's maze with several busses arriving in close proximity. There were probably 800 to 1,000 people trying to get checked in and to board after 5pm! It was a real "cluster", poorly managed and all boarding the Oosterdam.!!! From this point forward the sales pitches started from photography, wine, shore excursions, art work, etc.! Our baggage had all arrived in our cabin by an hour after boarding. The biggest changes were in the quality of food and service in the Lido buffet, the Main Dining Room and the Pinnacle Grill. Breakfasts in the Lido were as always crowded, but the rudeness of line servers and the quality and selection was the worst. Scrambled eggs looked like slop; bacon was almost raw and the lines were usually closed early and were running out of some items! never before seen on HAL. At our table #69 in the MDR, the service was okay, but the girl wine steward was not knowledgeable about all the wines and only interested in hurrying to sell more bottles. Dinners in the MDR were more often disappointing because of the selection, quality or quantity in some items. My escargot were overcooked and only offered once! On the final night, the usual and fun parade of servers with baked Alaska was deleted! There was no more "chocolate extravaganza" around the pool as usual before one evening. The Pinnacle Grill cover charge formerly $20is now $29/person. That nearly 30% increase would be okay, but they eliminated lobster tails from the entrée choices and put an additional $20/person upcharge for King Crab legs! I ordered a 10oz filet mignon, medium rare, and it arrived well done. Reorder came medium well but ate it anyway! The manager seemed to make reservations difficult, but there were always a few empty tables!
The singers and dancers were live and good especially Angela, the light haired male singer and the piano player, Mario in the Halcats band. the magician was mediocre and not friendly to guests off the stage and around the ship with his four dogs, child and wife. the comedian, Julie Barr was funny and entertaining.
Our cabin stewards did a good job except when our fruit was ripe and ready to eat, they removed it and left not so ripe.
Finally, disembarkation was another "cluster" and absolutely horrible regardless of what you had put on your form regarding post cruise travel arrangements, etc. We were supposed to disembark between 8:15 and 8:30am, but it ended up being about 9:15am? If these issues are not fleet wide, they may be related to the new Captain Bos since such problems run downhill!
In conclusion, if we don't hear anything positive from HAL and not token, this will be our last HAL cruise! One final comment regarding ports on this cruise concerns the port of Haines! It is very disappointing, and must be free of any port charges to HAL. Only one shuttle bus was running to town because the other had broken down a few days before! Skip Haines and do Skagway!
In summation, enjoy Alaska and Denali; but don't sail the Oosterdam, and maybe choose another cruise line!
furnrep’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 7143
The cabin was starboard side with good storage for clothes, but the upholstered pieces and carpeting are stained and worn. Cabin stewards, Ketut and Endra, generally did a very good job of making up cabin in morning and keeping ice bucket full. Early morning room service orders placed night before for coffee, tea and Danish were always complete and on time.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Haines
    Haines is a little town with little to see other than the "hammer museum"? HAL must pay little or no portage fees here! The town shuttle bus was slow because they only had one running. the other broke down recently! Skagway is a better more interesting port we did on our previous HAL cruise three years ago.
    View All 84 Haines Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Haines Cruise Port Review
  • Gardens/Hatchery
    Hatchery is disgusting and smelly!
    View All 61 Gardens/Hatchery Reviews
  • Mendenhall Glacier
    very interesting but crowded.
    View All 889 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
  • Mendenhall Glacier
    We took this same tour three years ago. Mendenhall glacier is very beautiful and the paths are well marked and easily accessible, but it is always crowded with other tours. The salmon hatchery is disgusting and could be skipped. Containers of dead salmon, blood and all, are quite visible. They remove the eggs and sperm an, d dispose of the rest. The hatchery guide talked so fast no one could understand her! The salmon bake is good and a nice surrounding, but once was enough. The town is fun to shop and visit the Red Dog Saloon.
    View All 889 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
  • Ketchikan
    Ketchikan is a fun town to walk around in, and they have some nice tours here as well. On our prior visit we toured the Totem Pole Park and museum. There are lots of shops and places to grab a bite if needed. Some merchants here were willing to negotiate prices.
    View All 1,786 Ketchikan Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Ketchikan Cruise Port Review