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This sunny cruise onboard the Oosterdam made us completely forget it was February! Travel to Port, Background, Hotel: We left Chicago on Thursday 15 February, encountering a several hour flight delay due to the storms on the East coast. (We rationalize this several day ahead departure as cheap trip insurance.) Since all of the port area hotels/motels were completely booked, we had reserved a room at the La Jolla Estancia and rented a car to drive up there. It was a most pleasant interlude at a deluxe hotel. Saturday, 17 February, at 9:45 am, despite dire warnings about traffic (what traffic?), we left, drove the car to Budget and called a Yellow Cab for the trip to the pier. Hotel to airport-Budget to ship terminal took no more than one hour. We were at the dock at 10:45, showed our tickets and passports to the friendly security staff and went inside the waiting room. A small crowd had gathered, sandwiches and lemonade were being served, and we were in group 2 for boarding! We were onboard by 11:45. We went directly to the Lido, sat in the sunny pool area, and happily ate! (Or, a great suggestion from RandyandTina of CC, deposit your suitcases and head over to the Midway Museum, for a 3 hour self-guided tour of the aircraft carrier.) Ship: I like the Vista class ships because of the moderately priced balcony cabins and because of the hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite in the spa. Purell hand sanitizer is ubiquitous. Stateroom: The balcony is a real asset on this cruise so you can view the spouting whales and leaping dolphins. It was our second time on the O, and on this trip we finally discovered the seat can be removed from the ottoman for storage, and also found 2 drawers beneath the loveseat. The elemis shampoo, conditioner, gel, body lotion and soaps are very nice; I should have left all my products at home and saved a few pounds of checked baggage. Due to my booking mix-up, we ended up in 6150 instead of 6050—and 6150 only has a shower, rather than the combination. It is well located on the "food" end of the ship! Up to the Lido and down to the Vista Dining Room! We also received first towel animals ever in our 16 years of cruises. Dining: HAL seems to have really focused on dinner menus. Presentation was improved; we liked everything. Salads (one of the day plus Caesar) were more generous than we recall, rack of lamb, lamb chops were on the menus, escargot and tuna carpaccio were good, surf and turf a favorite…fewer vegetables…a flambe each night. The variety at breakfast (the raisin buns are still there-good with butter and marmalade) and lunch buffets seems to be limited in comparison to past trips, the stir-fry at poolside is gone. But more ice cream flavors are available, so HAL seems to be responding to its American customers. We ate in the dining room every night, as we prefer formal dining. The "leisure" dining is just a new moniker for traditional dining. Our table for 6 all arrived at 8—to scatter our arrival times between 8 and 9, as was suggested, would have thrown off the steward and presumably disturbed our tablemates. We had lunch in the dining room twice, during at sea days, had our own table for two once. The formal afternoon tea was quite nice, just like Christmastime at the Ritz! But, just stick to what is offered, please—tea, sweets and sandwiches, scones, whipped cream. The crowd came in asking for this and that and this is not the venue for that. Try to pretend you are at the Ritz paying $30 each for your teacup and treats and behave accordingly. We did not try the Pinnacle this trip; there are many steakhouses here in Chicago. We ordered room service breakfast on our early shore-excursion day. Again, the menu seems to have been limited from prior years, but we thrived! Nightly buffet is from 11 to 12, but since we were finishing dinner at 10 to 10:30, we only made it to the Thursday night Chocolate Dessert Extravaganza. We ate a few pieces of fruit dipped in the chocolate fountain…. Wine card worked well for my husband, offering 10 glasses at a discount. The card was purchased at the terminal, and then punched in the dining room. Since he was the only wine drinker, it worked better than the discounted bottle selection he purchases when the family travels. . Activities: I signed up for the spa pool and thermal suite for the week for $150, and then added on my husband for $100. We especially enjoyed this on the cooler days into and out of SD. On a port day, the stone massage was only $99, so I did that and it continues to be my favorite. I didn't have any sales pitches here. We tried for a mile on the decks daily, but it was very windy first and last days. I paid $11 for a pilates class, but I am so into my present routine, it was hard to adapt. I attended the two kitchen talks with Chef Krieger, emceed by CD Dan, in the new Culinary Center, Every seat was taken, good tips, lots of laughs, a chance to get questions answered, and an hour well spent. Kitchen tour also good time to see how ship prepares thousands of meals, Good selection of library books. These now require a $30 deposit, taken off the bill when book is returned. Backstage tour was a chance to meet the dancers. Animal towel folding class provided a handout, demo and a new skill for me! Entertainment: We thought CD Dan and his ACDs did a nice job this week. (Hello, Ashleigh!) Do attend the crew show at 11:30 pm. The Indonesian show was featured our week (it alternates with the Filipino show) and it was wonderful, lots of talent, lots of laughs too. Our week featured Janine Gardner, a female comedian; DV8, funny husband and wife magic act; Peter Fernandez, a wonderfully versatile vocalist (from I Love Lucy theme to Turandot); talented Jalynn and the Cats poolside and in the Crow’s Nest as well as the cast. Entertainment was probably the best assembled group we have seen onboard HAL. The CD did a good job auditioning the entertainment. We especially liked the 4 cast members presenting a cabaret style show in the Queen’s lounge one evening. The Ocean Breeze string quartet, performing nightly pre-dinner, was standing room only. Shore Excursions: Pirate Ship Whale-Watching in Cabo was good adventure on the high seas and yes, we spotted whales breaching and blowing. Binoculars helped. Ladies, be careful not to drink too much-the head is a backwards trip down the hatch! The most rugged shore excursion seemed to be the kayaking trip—those folks were really tested by the surf. Taste of Mexico in Puerto Vallerta with guide Rosy was a lot of walking on cobblestones-one couple returned to the bus-but for the rest of us it was sightseeing plus a stop in an open air restaurant to make our own tortillas, salsa, tostados and enchiladas. It was not a class in technique for the home chef, but it was fun and informal. We sat in pairs and ate what we made. We had been to Mazatlan before, so stayed onboard, but all of our tablemates took tours and enjoyed their stay and the sunny day. Service: Service did not falter and was excellent and gracious throughout the week. The ship was very organized. The Captain and the Officers were highly visible. Many smiles on board; the crew and staff worked very well together. Irman our waiter handled our table graciously, efficiently and professionally. Our cabin steward Andy was excellent and on his way home after a long contract. Disembark: As we turned our cell phones on Saturday am to find our return flight had been canceled, we spent breakfast trying to rebook and got Monday flights. We left the ship and pulled our bags across the street to the Holiday Inn, which had no vacancies. We sat in the lobby and on advice from our world-traveler tablemates, found a room at the Old Town Hacienda Best Western. Their van driver came to the pier and retrieved us, and that is the start of another happy story! Summary: Our experience on the Oosterdam was top-notch and provided us with a relaxing and delightful week. San Diego is a welcome change from the Florida ports since it is so accessible and passenger-friendly. The Mexican Riviera itinerary in February is also a nice change from the Caribbean ports at this time of year.

Oosterdam - Mexican Riviera

Oosterdam Cruise Review by INSIDERS CABIN

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2007
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
This sunny cruise onboard the Oosterdam made us completely forget it was February!
Travel to Port, Background, Hotel: We left Chicago on Thursday 15 February, encountering a several hour flight delay due to the storms on the East coast. (We rationalize this several day ahead departure as cheap trip insurance.) Since all of the port area hotels/motels were completely booked, we had reserved a room at the La Jolla Estancia and rented a car to drive up there. It was a most pleasant interlude at a deluxe hotel. Saturday, 17 February, at 9:45 am, despite dire warnings about traffic (what traffic?), we left, drove the car to Budget and called a Yellow Cab for the trip to the pier. Hotel to airport-Budget to ship terminal took no more than one hour. We were at the dock at 10:45, showed our tickets and passports to the friendly security staff and went inside the waiting room. A small crowd had gathered, sandwiches and lemonade were being served, and we were in group 2 for boarding! We were onboard by 11:45. We went directly to the Lido, sat in the sunny pool area, and happily ate! (Or, a great suggestion from RandyandTina of CC, deposit your suitcases and head over to the Midway Museum, for a 3 hour self-guided tour of the aircraft carrier.)
Ship: I like the Vista class ships because of the moderately priced balcony cabins and because of the hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite in the spa. Purell hand sanitizer is ubiquitous.
Stateroom: The balcony is a real asset on this cruise so you can view the spouting whales and leaping dolphins. It was our second time on the O, and on this trip we finally discovered the seat can be removed from the ottoman for storage, and also found 2 drawers beneath the loveseat. The elemis shampoo, conditioner, gel, body lotion and soaps are very nice; I should have left all my products at home and saved a few pounds of checked baggage. Due to my booking mix-up, we ended up in 6150 instead of 6050—and 6150 only has a shower, rather than the combination. It is well located on the "food" end of the ship! Up to the Lido and down to the Vista Dining Room! We also received first towel animals ever in our 16 years of cruises.
Dining: HAL seems to have really focused on dinner menus. Presentation was improved; we liked everything. Salads (one of the day plus Caesar) were more generous than we recall, rack of lamb, lamb chops were on the menus, escargot and tuna carpaccio were good, surf and turf a favorite…fewer vegetables…a flambe each night. The variety at breakfast (the raisin buns are still there-good with butter and marmalade) and lunch buffets seems to be limited in comparison to past trips, the stir-fry at poolside is gone. But more ice cream flavors are available, so HAL seems to be responding to its American customers. We ate in the dining room every night, as we prefer formal dining. The "leisure" dining is just a new moniker for traditional dining. Our table for 6 all arrived at 8—to scatter our arrival times between 8 and 9, as was suggested, would have thrown off the steward and presumably disturbed our tablemates. We had lunch in the dining room twice, during at sea days, had our own table for two once. The formal afternoon tea was quite nice, just like Christmastime at the Ritz! But, just stick to what is offered, please—tea, sweets and sandwiches, scones, whipped cream. The crowd came in asking for this and that and this is not the venue for that. Try to pretend you are at the Ritz paying $30 each for your teacup and treats and behave accordingly. We did not try the Pinnacle this trip; there are many steakhouses here in Chicago. We ordered room service breakfast on our early shore-excursion day. Again, the menu seems to have been limited from prior years, but we thrived! Nightly buffet is from 11 to 12, but since we were finishing dinner at 10 to 10:30, we only made it to the Thursday night Chocolate Dessert Extravaganza. We ate a few pieces of fruit dipped in the chocolate fountain…. Wine card worked well for my husband, offering 10 glasses at a discount. The card was purchased at the terminal, and then punched in the dining room. Since he was the only wine drinker, it worked better than the discounted bottle selection he purchases when the family travels. .
Activities: I signed up for the spa pool and thermal suite for the week for $150, and then added on my husband for $100. We especially enjoyed this on the cooler days into and out of SD. On a port day, the stone massage was only $99, so I did that and it continues to be my favorite. I didn't have any sales pitches here. We tried for a mile on the decks daily, but it was very windy first and last days. I paid $11 for a pilates class, but I am so into my present routine, it was hard to adapt. I attended the two kitchen talks with Chef Krieger, emceed by CD Dan, in the new Culinary Center, Every seat was taken, good tips, lots of laughs, a chance to get questions answered, and an hour well spent. Kitchen tour also good time to see how ship prepares thousands of meals, Good selection of library books. These now require a $30 deposit, taken off the bill when book is returned. Backstage tour was a chance to meet the dancers. Animal towel folding class provided a handout, demo and a new skill for me!
Entertainment: We thought CD Dan and his ACDs did a nice job this week. (Hello, Ashleigh!) Do attend the crew show at 11:30 pm. The Indonesian show was featured our week (it alternates with the Filipino show) and it was wonderful, lots of talent, lots of laughs too. Our week featured Janine Gardner, a female comedian; DV8, funny husband and wife magic act; Peter Fernandez, a wonderfully versatile vocalist (from I Love Lucy theme to Turandot); talented Jalynn and the Cats poolside and in the Crow’s Nest as well as the cast. Entertainment was probably the best assembled group we have seen onboard HAL. The CD did a good job auditioning the entertainment. We especially liked the 4 cast members presenting a cabaret style show in the Queen’s lounge one evening. The Ocean Breeze string quartet, performing nightly pre-dinner, was standing room only.
Shore Excursions: Pirate Ship Whale-Watching in Cabo was good adventure on the high seas and yes, we spotted whales breaching and blowing. Binoculars helped. Ladies, be careful not to drink too much-the head is a backwards trip down the hatch! The most rugged shore excursion seemed to be the kayaking trip—those folks were really tested by the surf. Taste of Mexico in Puerto Vallerta with guide Rosy was a lot of walking on cobblestones-one couple returned to the bus-but for the rest of us it was sightseeing plus a stop in an open air restaurant to make our own tortillas, salsa, tostados and enchiladas. It was not a class in technique for the home chef, but it was fun and informal. We sat in pairs and ate what we made. We had been to Mazatlan before, so stayed onboard, but all of our tablemates took tours and enjoyed their stay and the sunny day.
Service: Service did not falter and was excellent and gracious throughout the week. The ship was very organized. The Captain and the Officers were highly visible. Many smiles on board; the crew and staff worked very well together. Irman our waiter handled our table graciously, efficiently and professionally. Our cabin steward Andy was excellent and on his way home after a long contract.
Disembark: As we turned our cell phones on Saturday am to find our return flight had been canceled, we spent breakfast trying to rebook and got Monday flights. We left the ship and pulled our bags across the street to the Holiday Inn, which had no vacancies. We sat in the lobby and on advice from our world-traveler tablemates, found a room at the Old Town Hacienda Best Western. Their van driver came to the pier and retrieved us, and that is the start of another happy story!
Summary: Our experience on the Oosterdam was top-notch and provided us with a relaxing and delightful week. San Diego is a welcome change from the Florida ports since it is so accessible and passenger-friendly. The Mexican Riviera itinerary in February is also a nice change from the Caribbean ports at this time of year.
INSIDERS CABIN’s Full Rating Summary
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