Oosterdam Cruise Review by Richard Hudson
- Sail Date: May 2004
- Destination: Alaska
** Embarkation was very smooth. We stood in line for a bit, but it takes a while to board 1,800 passengers. There seemed to be plenty of staff involved in the process, and they knew their jobs.
**We opted for a balcony for the first time, and, in the case of an Alaskan cruise, it is worth the difference. There is almost always scenery on this cruise. (Don't' expect a larger room, however; the extra square footage is the balcony.)
**The food was the best we have encountered, though no one will like every entrEe, of course. Contrary to what we had been reading, the dining room service was excellent. There are now four seatings, and that may have improved the situation. The upper level on the main dining room (Vista) was used for the first seating at 5:45 p.m., and the lower for the 6:15 seating. I assume a similar process was in place for the two later seatings.
**The crew of the ship (again contrary to some reviews) was extremely friendly.
**The casino was a congenial one and featured looser slots than those in most casinos.
**The show lounge is truly a show place and features $6M - $7M in the latest staging, lighting, and sound equipment.
**The ship's library is a special place. Don't overlook it.
**The ports are varied and, despite hosting as many as four ships in one or two locations, didn't seem crowded.
**The Glacier Bay stop was outstanding; the captain maneuvered the ship about as close to the glacier as was practical and safe.
**The four-glacier helicopter tour at Juneau is worth the money. We'll never forget landing and walking about on a glacier. We booked directly online with ERA Aviation and saved $44 per person compared to what the ship was charging for the same excursion.
**At Stika, the "Russian" dance performance is fun. If you buy tickets on your own in town, they are only $7 each at the civic auditorium.
**Disembarkation went very smooth for us. Only 20 minutes passed from the time we left our cabin until we were through the process and in a taxi.
**The entertainment was the weakest we have encountered. The guest magician and comedian were good, but the ship's troupe needs some work. Also, the selection of shows seemed odd given the destination and the average age of the audience. The loud, high-energy, production shows were more suited for a Carnival ship in the Caribbean
**The ship's Internet rate of 75 cents per minute is far too high. Find an Internet access facility in the ports and prices will range from 5 to 25 cents per minute.
**Last year, on a Princess ship, coffee was complimentary at every bar. On the Oosterdam, you either pay bar prices or make a journey to the Lido Deck every time you want a cup of coffee.
**The stop in Victoria was disappointing. I suppose geography necessitates the late hours (8 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.), but HAL should build in the price of the shuttle buses into town. Charging $5 just to get to the destination from the port on the edge of town is a bit tacky. There was no charge for similar shuttle service in Juneau when the ship had to dock 1.1 miles from city center.
If you are cruising to Alaska on the Oosterdam this year, you are in for a treat!
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