My wife and I, both in our mid (or later) seventies, had nothing except fond memories of HAL from our trip on the Rotterdam's final crossing before becoming the Rembrandt in 1998. In booking the Oosterdam for our 53rd anniversary, we imagined we would recapture these memories. We were mistaken. Holland America is supposed to cater to the elderly traveller, of whom we certainly are, so when people like us are bored, that takes doing. This was our 15th cruise. We booked a balcony cabin on guarantee so were given a better spot on the Upper Promenade deck than the one we had selected. The embarkation was remarkably smooth and we had plenty of time to explore the ship and have lunch before being allowed to get into our cabin, which was spacious and clean. So far, so good. The problems began with the meals. HAL advertises "open seating," but it is not to be confused with Norwegian Cruise Lines, where you arrive, look around and choose a seat. On HAL, you must request a particular table arrangement and, if none are available, take what they give you, We got a table for two on one night and tables for four on the others. The food quality in the main dining room could best be called mediocre and, at worst, tasteless or overly salty. As a result, we dined one evening in the Pinnacles Grill ($20 surcharge per person) and were rewarded with one of the best steaks we have even had, superb service and a thoroughly pleasant dining experience. Going back to the humdrum eating of the main dining room and the casual Lido Grill was a huge comedown. The service level on the ship was also mediocre. Aside from the Main Desk, which was staffed by a quartet of attractive, intelligent and efficient young people, the mainly Indonesian crew seemed highly stressed and insufficiently trained in "people skills" like saying "excuse me" when they bumped into you, etc. They seemed like they were under constant pressure and didn't have enough time to get everything done. The entertainment, from what we saw, fit into the mediocre category. We went to one show, which was as unimaginative as any I've seen at sea and could honestly say that nothing I heard from any of the groups or individual musicians could be considered above any other ship's offerings. The disembarkation was as good, or better, than the embarkation. HAL has the procedure down to a science. Perhaps they should, considering their long history in the business. However, they've slid a long way from the Rotterdam, perhaps as the result of becoming part of the Carnival empire. We saw a lot of merchandise touting the "Dam Ships." HAL might not be pleased, but my wife and I second the motion. We probably won't be taking any more "dam" cruises.
Adequate space, Lots of closets, bathtub. Nice balcony. Quiet trip.