Oosterdam Cruise Review by Kent Fletcher
- Sail Date: March 2007
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
- Cabin Type: Signature Superior Verandah Suite
We included transport to and from airport with our booking, and HAL was very efficient. We were on the ship 30 minutes after landing at San Diego, and at the airport 30 minutes after disembarking the ship. We had all forms filled in that were either available on line or mailed to us, and that greatly decreased the check in time.
The ship was built in 2003, and over all is very clean and well kept. Holds around 1900 passengers and 800 crew. Wait staff and room stewards are Indonesian, bar staff Filipino.
We booked a Veranda Suite - SY 6059 - and it was a nice sized room, around 390 square feet including balcony. Had a whirlpool bath/shower combo and a stand alone shower, two sinks in the bathroom, plenty of closet and drawer space, two desks, bath robes, flat screen TV, veranda had 4 chairs and a table - we were very pleased with the room.
Most mornings ordered a room service light breakfast, and it was delivered within 20 minutes. If you know when you will be up, they provide forms so that you can order room service the night before, if you desire. Also provided a slip to fill out indicating the type of fruit you will like restocked in your room each day. Ate two or three breakfasts and all lunches in the Lido dining room (buffet style) and it offered lots of selections - very easy to eat a healthy meal, if you so elected.
HAL has just recently liberalized its evening dining policy. Rather than having to show up at a specific time, you now show up within a window - if assigned to early dining you show up between 6 and 6:30, if late, you show up between 8 and 9 - we requested late dining in order to avoid conflict with excursions and liked the system. All of our dinners were in the Vista dining room except one night at the Pinnacle Grill. Our wait staff was excellent, really enjoyed talking to Rudi and Freddy, our stewards, about their Indonesian homeland, and the meals were good with a good variety each night. Pinnacle Grill was also very good, but not worth the extra $30/person "nominal fee" and its portions were too large, in my opinion.
We weren't interested in many of the traditional cruise activities, like bingo, shopping seminars, jewelry shopping, art auctions and towel folding lessons, so did not participate in those. I did go on a tour of the kitchens, and it was very interesting to see how they put together thousands of meals a day. The show productions were somewhat disappointing - the singers and dancers were talented and energetic, but the music in the shows was dated - mostly 70s stuff - and just not that interesting. A couple of comedians were ok, some guy they call a humorist - playing a ukulele and telling old jokes - was horrible. The highlight of the entertainment was an American Idol type Karaoke competition that ran all week with the finals on Friday. We were fortunate to have some very talented folks on board, so it was fun to watch and filled up the main showroom for the finale.
The entertainment around the ship - pianist in the Piano Bar, string quartet in another bar, the band and its lead singer that played in different venues - all were talented and entertaining.
Excursions were typical tourist oriented stuff - in Cabo, took a boat tour out to El Arco - lands end - and it was pretty dramatic. Also went to a restaurant for refreshments high above Cabo overlooking the bay and visited Cabo Wabo, Sammy Hagar's bar noted for its smooth tequila. Met friends in Mazatlan, so no excursion. In Puerto Vallarta, went on a whale watching, snorkeling and beach boat trip with Vallarta Adventures - kind of hokey with crew dancing and putting on skits, but did see whales and enjoyed the beach. Snorkeling doesn't compare with Caribbean. Also visited the Cuban bar downtown (can't remember the name) but it is a neat place with signatures all over the walls and pictures of celebrities - famous for its Mojitos (they are good). Would like to eat there if we ever return.
Exercise facilities are adequate and the walk around the promenade is a great way to start the day - 3 laps equal a mile. All kinds are out there every morning, the strollers usually carrying a book, cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette, the power walkers with arms flailing and the joggers - I swear one little Japanese lady cut through at midship just so she could lap me a few extra times.
Biggest disappointment was the lack of decent sports coverage. There is a sports bar on the ship, but its only feed was an international ESPN that only seemed to cover rally racing and European basketball. They did obtain a bizarre feed of the NCAA basketball tournament - it was a raw feed with no cut aways for commercials, highlights from other games, halftime reports. On NCL they had very good sports coverage.
Another strange development was that our port times were changed after booking apparently because of problems with one of the engines - the ship couldn't travel as fast - so our port times were cut down. Everyone was given a $25 credit to make up for the problem.
HAL has a reputation for having an older clientele. Perhaps because it was spring break time, there were a large number of 16-25 year olds on board, all traveling with their families and all appearing to have a good time. HAL seems trapped by its reputation, and needs to update some of its entertainment to appeal to folks younger than 60.
Overall, we had a great time, the service was outstanding, the facilities were nice, the food was good, really enjoyed visiting with fellow passengers and most folks seemed to enjoy their trip. Most importantly, my 19 year old son also had a great time.
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