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Having sailed before on Admiral, Carnival, Princess, Costa, RCCL, NCL (3) we had some expectations. Most were met and exceeded. Here's the low-down. Let me start by saying that I really think that not every cruise line is suited to every individual. We are neither low key or overly rambunctious folks in our late 40's - early 50's. We enjoy meeting people, cocktails, playing cards in the casino, going to some shows, laying by the pool and participating in few shipboard activities. We don't attend religious services, port talks, shopping talks, bingo. We have, in the past paid for dining outside the main dining rooms. With that said....... We loved the Oosterdam. We arrived late due to a late flight and an offsite parking lot that made us wait for a ride. We opted not to buy the transfers as we were meeting family. Nearly the last to board at approx. 3:30 or 4:00 - there were virtually no lines. I (the seasoned cruiser) forgot to PRINT my embarkation documents after filling them out online. So we had to stand there and fill it all out again, by hand, on two separate documents. Upon boarding there were the usual photo ops but no one to greet us at the door and welcome us on board or direct us to the cabin. No big deal. We can read signs and we finally got someone to point us in the right direction. (How hard could it be... our cabin was AFT ... as in totally in the back with a balcony facing the wake of the boat!) Our cabin was FABULOUS. I shouldn't let out the secret. GET AN AFT CABIN if you can. It was great. The balcony is larger and the walls dividing the cabins on the aft balcony shielded nearly all wind and even though the weather wasn't as warm as we liked it - we could lay out and feel the warmth of the sun. Especially going northbound. Take note. On level 4 we could lay out in the buff without being noticed from above. We could tell that if you were on 5 or up you probably couldn't do that. Also the corner mini suites had less privacy from above. We spent more time on our balcony this time than previously. You could eat out there, sun bathe, read the mornings news with breakfast served in the cabin. Our steward was pleasant and efficient, but not worth mentioning. We had to ask for shampoo. He didn't understand what a feather pillow was. And he didn't clean up the ash off the balcony each day that accumulates from the smoke stacks. By the way ... that is one of the drawbacks, but it is hardly a problem. I wouldn't wear white clothes out there - We never saw it fall but it was always there in the morning. Nuff said. I will always get an aft balcony whenever possible. We strolled through most of the public rooms. Had cocktails just about everywhere. We were less than thrilled with the ambience music in various bars. Many folks were really enjoying a chamber quartet a few nights and as I passed by I thought ... I might enjoy it too if I could slow down for a minute. Next time. We were not bored at the shows but they didn't measure up to NCL's on board performers (The Jean Ann Ryan Company). The Comedienne Julie Barr was very funny and interactive with the audience. The headliner who I never heard of was a Vegas type entertainer who sang for some big names and did his own tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. He had a very high energy entertaining show and encore presentation on the last night. We skipped the former Olympic gymnast Lance ___? but saw a few minutes of him on encore night. Not our cup of tea. As for the HAL singers and dancers. One good lead singer, the rest were so so. The men in our party were enjoying "Barbie" ... need I say more? They had an on board talent competition which lasted 3 nights like American Idol. Complete with judging by the comedienne Julie Barr, Jazzy (the right hand of the cruise director) and someone whose name I can't remember. That seemed to be the hit show of the cruise. We never sat down to watch it entirely but caught the finale on Friday afternoon. I am a sucker for amateur talent (and lack thereof!) Dining is the thing worth boasting about on HAL. We really missed regular dining after our last two NCL cruises and that "whatever" dining. We enjoy the familiarity of our regular waiter, busboy and wine steward. Gustavi at table 162 was great. Always attentive, always remembering our personal tastes. Once I ordered a capuccino after dinner (NO CHARGE by the way) and the busboy asked me each night after that. Capuccino? I love that. You can't get that with open dining. Oosterdams food was extraordinary (we thought) at dinner. So much so that we canceled our dinner reservations for the 2nd formal night at the Pinnacle dining room. 1st of all.. why pay $60 for a dinner when you can have a perfect meal included in your cruise cost? We always chose to try other restaurants on NCL because their food isn't so hot. HAL on the other hand had a very good chef. We wish we could remember the name of the corporate chef we met (who lived down the hall from us) - he is responsible for it all ... him and hundreds of others all doing a good job. To me, every night seemed like GALA night on the menu. All except one. Which was not bad, it was just odd. Items I never heard of... or read about... or ever want again! I had entrees of Prime Rib, Cojo Salmon, Pepper encrusted NY steak, Sirloin and Lobster tails (2 tails). I ordered some items like it were my last meal. "I'll have this.. AND ...that". What gluttons. We ate last. 2nd late seating. Wish we had opted for 1st late. It was a bit too late. We never finished before 10:00 pm after arriving at 8:30 (ish). Our adorable wine steward Jenalyn .... we hope gets promoted to cruise director. We told her so and she insisted we erred. She wanted to be Captain! She was so pleasant, we looked for her every night. She remembered us and found us by day at the Lido restaurant, always stopping by to share a slice of her life with us. >>> Those are the people who make cruising so fabulous. We took no tours from the ship (against our religion) and they were sold out of everything we wanted before we got on board! BOOK EARLY if that is how you like to travel. In Cabo we rented jet skis for $80 an hour after haggling. We ran out of gas 1/2 way through and got a refund for 1/2 the hour from the portion of the rental which actually went to the owner of the jet ski. We took a cab tour of Cabo.. again.. got slightly ripped off. I did this before and got lucky. This time our guide didn't speak enough English and took us to a closed hotel for a drink! These are small $55 mistakes that you LAUGH about later. In Mazatlan we walked to Old Town, had beers and guac in the plaza, shopped for an hour and then went to the Joes Oyster Bar in the Zona Dorada beach area for 1 hr of sun before heading back to the ship. In Vallarta we scattered. I used to live there so we met a friend in town for Chillaquiles at Las Palomas Restaurant and then walked through town to Los Muerto Beach and had too many margaritas at La Palapa Restaurant. A dozen RAW oysters on the beach and I am still alive to tell you about it. Live Large! We did our tequila shopping at Wal Mart next to the pier in Vallarta. Such a deal. Back to the ship review. We paid our tips on our daily bill, $10 per day per person. No shore excursions, 1 photo for $14.95 which they messed up on while cropping out the unsightly parts of my legs... $30 in souvenirs, $100 at the casino, -$100 on board credit, $118 worth of 3 bottles of wine... $150 for the spa. I signed up for a week of the thermal suites... WAY TOO much money for that. I didn't even use it on the port days. Next time I will do it day by day when I know I will use it. It should be free and with reserved times of use .. very very nice feature but overpriced. The tile beds are so nice to read on in the morning. The steam and sauna and cold rooms are fresh and rejuvenating. The hydro-pool is hype. We had one on NCL .. free... outside. (but it was salty.. on HAL it was fresh) By the way, the pools and hot tubs are all fresh water. The hot tubs are approx 100 degrees...... (we keep our tub at home at 103...so we had a "feeling" for the temp) - better than some shipboard tubs kept at 98. Never used the pool. Also first time with a slider canopy over the Lido deck. Nice feature for colder windy days. Disembarkation .. sad but efficient. We put our things out the night before and whoosh... there it goes. Our only complaint about disembarkation is that we were told we could stay onboard until 10:00 am. We had a late flight and didn't had anything to do. But our cabin steward came into the room while we were still there trying to make up the room with us sitting there. It was uncomfortable. Only other complaint was the gal who books future cruises. We were ready to lay down $100 per person for a future cruise within 4 years but she set an appointment for us and then didn't attend to us when we arrived on time. She let another couple slide in who were supposed to be "just asking a quick question"... 45 minutes later she attended to us. Needless to say she didn't win our return business. But that doesn't mean we won't be returning. I can't wait to book a new cruise and it will definitely be on HAL. Try and AFT cabin. You will love it. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

1st time on HAL. Definately not the last.

Oosterdam Cruise Review by 509ers

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2007
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Having sailed before on Admiral, Carnival, Princess, Costa, RCCL, NCL (3) we had some expectations. Most were met and exceeded. Here's the low-down. Let me start by saying that I really think that not every cruise line is suited to every individual. We are neither low key or overly rambunctious folks in our late 40's - early 50's. We enjoy meeting people, cocktails, playing cards in the casino, going to some shows, laying by the pool and participating in few shipboard activities. We don't attend religious services, port talks, shopping talks, bingo. We have, in the past paid for dining outside the main dining rooms. With that said.......
We loved the Oosterdam. We arrived late due to a late flight and an offsite parking lot that made us wait for a ride. We opted not to buy the transfers as we were meeting family. Nearly the last to board at approx. 3:30 or 4:00 - there were virtually no lines. I (the seasoned cruiser) forgot to PRINT my embarkation documents after filling them out online. So we had to stand there and fill it all out again, by hand, on two separate documents. Upon boarding there were the usual photo ops but no one to greet us at the door and welcome us on board or direct us to the cabin. No big deal. We can read signs and we finally got someone to point us in the right direction. (How hard could it be... our cabin was AFT ... as in totally in the back with a balcony facing the wake of the boat!)
Our cabin was FABULOUS. I shouldn't let out the secret. GET AN AFT CABIN if you can. It was great. The balcony is larger and the walls dividing the cabins on the aft balcony shielded nearly all wind and even though the weather wasn't as warm as we liked it - we could lay out and feel the warmth of the sun. Especially going northbound. Take note. On level 4 we could lay out in the buff without being noticed from above. We could tell that if you were on 5 or up you probably couldn't do that. Also the corner mini suites had less privacy from above. We spent more time on our balcony this time than previously. You could eat out there, sun bathe, read the mornings news with breakfast served in the cabin.
Our steward was pleasant and efficient, but not worth mentioning. We had to ask for shampoo. He didn't understand what a feather pillow was. And he didn't clean up the ash off the balcony each day that accumulates from the smoke stacks. By the way ... that is one of the drawbacks, but it is hardly a problem. I wouldn't wear white clothes out there - We never saw it fall but it was always there in the morning. Nuff said. I will always get an aft balcony whenever possible.
We strolled through most of the public rooms. Had cocktails just about everywhere. We were less than thrilled with the ambience music in various bars. Many folks were really enjoying a chamber quartet a few nights and as I passed by I thought ... I might enjoy it too if I could slow down for a minute. Next time.
We were not bored at the shows but they didn't measure up to NCL's on board performers (The Jean Ann Ryan Company). The Comedienne Julie Barr was very funny and interactive with the audience. The headliner who I never heard of was a Vegas type entertainer who sang for some big names and did his own tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. He had a very high energy entertaining show and encore presentation on the last night. We skipped the former Olympic gymnast Lance ___? but saw a few minutes of him on encore night. Not our cup of tea. As for the HAL singers and dancers. One good lead singer, the rest were so so. The men in our party were enjoying "Barbie" ... need I say more? They had an on board talent competition which lasted 3 nights like American Idol. Complete with judging by the comedienne Julie Barr, Jazzy (the right hand of the cruise director) and someone whose name I can't remember. That seemed to be the hit show of the cruise. We never sat down to watch it entirely but caught the finale on Friday afternoon. I am a sucker for amateur talent (and lack thereof!)
Dining is the thing worth boasting about on HAL. We really missed regular dining after our last two NCL cruises and that "whatever" dining. We enjoy the familiarity of our regular waiter, busboy and wine steward. Gustavi at table 162 was great. Always attentive, always remembering our personal tastes. Once I ordered a capuccino after dinner (NO CHARGE by the way) and the busboy asked me each night after that. Capuccino? I love that. You can't get that with open dining.
Oosterdams food was extraordinary (we thought) at dinner. So much so that we canceled our dinner reservations for the 2nd formal night at the Pinnacle dining room. 1st of all.. why pay $60 for a dinner when you can have a perfect meal included in your cruise cost? We always chose to try other restaurants on NCL because their food isn't so hot. HAL on the other hand had a very good chef. We wish we could remember the name of the corporate chef we met (who lived down the hall from us) - he is responsible for it all ... him and hundreds of others all doing a good job. To me, every night seemed like GALA night on the menu. All except one. Which was not bad, it was just odd. Items I never heard of... or read about... or ever want again! I had entrees of Prime Rib, Cojo Salmon, Pepper encrusted NY steak, Sirloin and Lobster tails (2 tails). I ordered some items like it were my last meal. "I'll have this.. AND ...that". What gluttons. We ate last. 2nd late seating. Wish we had opted for 1st late. It was a bit too late. We never finished before 10:00 pm after arriving at 8:30 (ish).
Our adorable wine steward Jenalyn .... we hope gets promoted to cruise director. We told her so and she insisted we erred. She wanted to be Captain! She was so pleasant, we looked for her every night. She remembered us and found us by day at the Lido restaurant, always stopping by to share a slice of her life with us. >>> Those are the people who make cruising so fabulous.
We took no tours from the ship (against our religion) and they were sold out of everything we wanted before we got on board! BOOK EARLY if that is how you like to travel.
In Cabo we rented jet skis for $80 an hour after haggling. We ran out of gas 1/2 way through and got a refund for 1/2 the hour from the portion of the rental which actually went to the owner of the jet ski. We took a cab tour of Cabo.. again.. got slightly ripped off. I did this before and got lucky. This time our guide didn't speak enough English and took us to a closed hotel for a drink! These are small $55 mistakes that you LAUGH about later.
In Mazatlan we walked to Old Town, had beers and guac in the plaza, shopped for an hour and then went to the Joes Oyster Bar in the Zona Dorada beach area for 1 hr of sun before heading back to the ship.
In Vallarta we scattered. I used to live there so we met a friend in town for Chillaquiles at Las Palomas Restaurant and then walked through town to Los Muerto Beach and had too many margaritas at La Palapa Restaurant. A dozen RAW oysters on the beach and I am still alive to tell you about it. Live Large! We did our tequila shopping at Wal Mart next to the pier in Vallarta. Such a deal.
Back to the ship review.
We paid our tips on our daily bill, $10 per day per person. No shore excursions, 1 photo for $14.95 which they messed up on while cropping out the unsightly parts of my legs... $30 in souvenirs, $100 at the casino, -$100 on board credit, $118 worth of 3 bottles of wine... $150 for the spa. I signed up for a week of the thermal suites... WAY TOO much money for that. I didn't even use it on the port days. Next time I will do it day by day when I know I will use it. It should be free and with reserved times of use .. very very nice feature but overpriced. The tile beds are so nice to read on in the morning. The steam and sauna and cold rooms are fresh and rejuvenating. The hydro-pool is hype. We had one on NCL .. free... outside. (but it was salty.. on HAL it was fresh)
By the way, the pools and hot tubs are all fresh water. The hot tubs are approx 100 degrees...... (we keep our tub at home at 103...so we had a "feeling" for the temp) - better than some shipboard tubs kept at 98. Never used the pool.
Also first time with a slider canopy over the Lido deck. Nice feature for colder windy days.
Disembarkation .. sad but efficient. We put our things out the night before and whoosh... there it goes. Our only complaint about disembarkation is that we were told we could stay onboard until 10:00 am. We had a late flight and didn't had anything to do. But our cabin steward came into the room while we were still there trying to make up the room with us sitting there. It was uncomfortable.
Only other complaint was the gal who books future cruises. We were ready to lay down $100 per person for a future cruise within 4 years but she set an appointment for us and then didn't attend to us when we arrived on time. She let another couple slide in who were supposed to be "just asking a quick question"... 45 minutes later she attended to us. Needless to say she didn't win our return business.
But that doesn't mean we won't be returning. I can't wait to book a new cruise and it will definitely be on HAL.
Try and AFT cabin. You will love it.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me.
509ers’s Full Rating Summary
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