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Ratings Guide: A - Awesome B - Good C - Adequate D - Should not happen F - OMG! Awful Factors reviewed (comments below): 1. Embarkation/Disembarkation - Embarkation - F - 2-ship effect - F - San Diego Port - F - Luggage Damage - F - Disembarkation - A (see why below) 2. Ship - C 3. Cabin: - Availability - A - Cleanliness - B - Size - B - Storage - B - Bathroom - B 4. Food: - Main Dining Room - D - Lido market - C - Canaletto - A - Pinnacle Grill - B - Exploration Café - A 5. Entertainment: - Singers/Dancers - C - BB King - A - Billboard Onboard - B - Productions - D - Xmas Celebration - D - Main Stage Design - D 6. Staff: - Cabin Stewards - A - Guest Services - A - Wait Staff - A - Luggage Damage Handling - A - Captain Involvement - A - All ship staff - A Group Ratings: 1. Embarkation - F 2. Ship - C 3. Cabin - B 4. Food - C 5. Entertainment - C 6. Staff - A Overall Cruise Rating - C Comments Some background - I believe that all reviews should be placed in proper perspective so that the reader can better understand the comments. My wife and I are mid-60s. We are not drinkers (sorry, no reviews of bars) and we are not heavy party folks. We do not mind kids or enjoyment going on around us so that is not a factor in these evaluations. We have cruised before on NCL, Royal Caribbean, Princess. The general age of folks on this cruise trended more toward seniors rather than youngsters. 1. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkation, in a word, was a NIGHTMARE. There is no other way to describe the situation. We were unlucky enough to experience the dreaded "2-ship" effect. Every HAL employee we encountered in the process was very quick to blame the whole thing on that. The 2-ship effect - basically, the Oosterdam & the Amsterdam (both HAL ships, in case you don't get it) scheduled to depart from the same small port at EXACTLY the same time on the same day. Really!!! The narrow pier between the 2 ships was a sea of passengers, luggage, shuttle buses, tour buses etc.. There were no HAL employees in sight to direct the passengers to the correct luggage drop off line - which, by the way, was endless in both directions. The luggage handlers were rough. From the long luggage line, we went to the longer security line. More on the 2-ship effect - the Amsterdam was on a 15-day Panama Canal Holiday sailing. The 2 ships sailed together for 2 days, reached Cabo San Lucas at the same time. Passengers tendered off the 2-ships at the same time and the nightmare continued. I do not think that the San Diego port is meant to handle this kind of traffic. One hopes that HAL addresses this situation instead of continuing to schedule to, what one assumes, is their convenience. Our luggage was delivered ripped apart. However, in fairness, HAL did rectify the problem - more on that later in the Staff comments. Disembarkation was a breeze because we elected to carry our own luggage off the ship. That is not optimum for 2 seniors but, hey, it was infinitely preferable to what may have been. 2. Ship - the Oosterdam is a dated ship. It is not horrible by a long shot. It is a decent ship but it does not sparkle. My wife and I were comfortable enough. But, if you are looking for a dazzling, new ship experience, obviously, you need to look elsewhere. 3. Cabin: We were very pleased with the cabin - clean, good size, good storage, cabin safe for valuables, good size bathroom, excellent shower. It was available when we boarded - and that was quite a few hours before departure. Cabin 6001 is at the very front of the ship looking to the front. That was a unique experience for us and we enjoyed it. 4. Food Generally, food was a disappointment. Without a doubt, it was less enjoyable than any of the other dozen or so cruises we have taken on NCL, RCCL, Princess. It was not so much that it was consistently bad but that it was INCONSISTENT - some times, quite enjoyable, and then pretty bad. Main Dining Room - was the main culprit of the inconsistency. It is telling that, later in the cruise, we were more apt to go for the mediocre buffet food in the Lido than go for this promised "5-course gourmet dining experience" in the main dining room. The Lido Market - as mentioned, not brilliant food but not bad. Great range of choices and, for the most part, well prepared. The ice cream station, the Dive-n burger joint, the taco bar are welcome additions. It is very busy so finding seating was problematic. Canaletto - a "specialty" Italian restaurant. You pay $15/person. This could be one of the best, if not the best, restaurant we have dined in. Absolutely superb! Food excellent. our waitress was beyond compare. Her knowledge of the offerings, her service, her personality were top-notch. Truly enjoyable experience. Pinnacle Grill - another "specialty" steak restaurant. You pay $25/person. It is worth it. The steak & the dessert were stupendous. The rest was so-so. The seating was atrocious. In an empty restaurant with proper tables available, we were seated in this side room with low sofa-style seating. I was not quick enough to recognize the situation when we went in but, if I had seen the regular seating, I would have demanded a table. The Exploration Café - of course, you pay but the setting is very, very nice. Overall, you will not go hungry, of course, but the food left us clamoring for more. In the interest of full disclosure, we dined with another couple and they enjoyed the food. So, take my comments with a pinch of salt - which (the salt I mean) would have helped some of the preparation. :) Just kidding. 5. Entertainment - a disappointment. The Oosterdam singers/dancers group was enjoyable in one show, disappointing in another. The B B King group was excellent as were the pianist duo at the Billboard Onboard venue. The main stage productions simply cannot compare to what we have seen on other lines. For a "Christmas" cruise, the Christmas celebration was distinctly understated. And, I cannot believe the main stage design on this ship. Multiple pillars throughout the theatre totally block the line of sight from quite a few seats. 6. Staff - by far, the best strength of HAL. We were very impressed with the courtesy, friendliness, effectiveness of EVERYONE on the ship's staff. Well done, HAL! The Captain, Rens van Eerten, is very personable. He was visible and he stays involved with the passengers. Our cabin stewards were excellent. The wait staff in the dining venues is well trained. The Guest Services desk was very courteous and effective. They arranged for our damaged luggage to be stitched back into shape. Really, all HAL employees whom we came in contact with were impressive. A beef - the "communication" (Internet/Wi-Fi) costs are exorbitant - but, then, every line is the same. It just leaves an unnecessary bad taste in the mouth. Finishing up - overall, the experience was okay but nothing extraordinary. Would I do it again? Yes, one more on HAL but JUST out of fairness. Perhaps, this was not a typical HAL experience. It certainly was the most disappointing of all of the cruises we have done.

So-so

Oosterdam Cruise Review by dastoor76

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2017
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Ratings Guide:

A - Awesome

B - Good

C - Adequate

D - Should not happen

F - OMG! Awful

Factors reviewed (comments below):

1. Embarkation/Disembarkation

- Embarkation - F

- 2-ship effect - F

- San Diego Port - F

- Luggage Damage - F

- Disembarkation - A (see why below)

2. Ship - C

3. Cabin:

- Availability - A

- Cleanliness - B

- Size - B

- Storage - B

- Bathroom - B

4. Food:

- Main Dining Room - D

- Lido market - C

- Canaletto - A

- Pinnacle Grill - B

- Exploration Café - A

5. Entertainment:

- Singers/Dancers - C

- BB King - A

- Billboard Onboard - B

- Productions - D

- Xmas Celebration - D

- Main Stage Design - D

6. Staff:

- Cabin Stewards - A

- Guest Services - A

- Wait Staff - A

- Luggage Damage Handling - A

- Captain Involvement - A

- All ship staff - A

Group Ratings:

1. Embarkation - F

2. Ship - C

3. Cabin - B

4. Food - C

5. Entertainment - C

6. Staff - A

Overall Cruise Rating - C

Comments

Some background - I believe that all reviews should be placed in proper perspective so that the reader can better understand the comments. My wife and I are mid-60s. We are not drinkers (sorry, no reviews of bars) and we are not heavy party folks. We do not mind kids or enjoyment going on around us so that is not a factor in these evaluations. We have cruised before on NCL, Royal Caribbean, Princess.

The general age of folks on this cruise trended more toward seniors rather than youngsters.

1. Embarkation/Disembarkation:

Embarkation, in a word, was a NIGHTMARE. There is no other way to describe the situation. We were unlucky enough to experience the dreaded "2-ship" effect. Every HAL employee we encountered in the process was very quick to blame the whole thing on that.

The 2-ship effect - basically, the Oosterdam & the Amsterdam (both HAL ships, in case you don't get it) scheduled to depart from the same small port at EXACTLY the same time on the same day. Really!!! The narrow pier between the 2 ships was a sea of passengers, luggage, shuttle buses, tour buses etc.. There were no HAL employees in sight to direct the passengers to the correct luggage drop off line - which, by the way, was endless in both directions. The luggage handlers were rough. From the long luggage line, we went to the longer security line.

More on the 2-ship effect - the Amsterdam was on a 15-day Panama Canal Holiday sailing. The 2 ships sailed together for 2 days, reached Cabo San Lucas at the same time. Passengers tendered off the 2-ships at the same time and the nightmare continued.

I do not think that the San Diego port is meant to handle this kind of traffic. One hopes that HAL addresses this situation instead of continuing to schedule to, what one assumes, is their convenience.

Our luggage was delivered ripped apart. However, in fairness, HAL did rectify the problem - more on that later in the Staff comments.

Disembarkation was a breeze because we elected to carry our own luggage off the ship. That is not optimum for 2 seniors but, hey, it was infinitely preferable to what may have been.

2. Ship - the Oosterdam is a dated ship. It is not horrible by a long shot. It is a decent ship but it does not sparkle. My wife and I were comfortable enough. But, if you are looking for a dazzling, new ship experience, obviously, you need to look elsewhere.

3. Cabin:

We were very pleased with the cabin - clean, good size, good storage, cabin safe for valuables, good size bathroom, excellent shower. It was available when we boarded - and that was quite a few hours before departure. Cabin 6001 is at the very front of the ship looking to the front. That was a unique experience for us and we enjoyed it.

4. Food

Generally, food was a disappointment. Without a doubt, it was less enjoyable than any of the other dozen or so cruises we have taken on NCL, RCCL, Princess. It was not so much that it was consistently bad but that it was INCONSISTENT - some times, quite enjoyable, and then pretty bad.

Main Dining Room - was the main culprit of the inconsistency. It is telling that, later in the cruise, we were more apt to go for the mediocre buffet food in the Lido than go for this promised "5-course gourmet dining experience" in the main dining room.

The Lido Market - as mentioned, not brilliant food but not bad. Great range of choices and, for the most part, well prepared. The ice cream station, the Dive-n burger joint, the taco bar are welcome additions. It is very busy so finding seating was problematic.

Canaletto - a "specialty" Italian restaurant. You pay $15/person. This could be one of the best, if not the best, restaurant we have dined in. Absolutely superb! Food excellent. our waitress was beyond compare. Her knowledge of the offerings, her service, her personality were top-notch. Truly enjoyable experience.

Pinnacle Grill - another "specialty" steak restaurant. You pay $25/person. It is worth it. The steak & the dessert were stupendous. The rest was so-so. The seating was atrocious. In an empty restaurant with proper tables available, we were seated in this side room with low sofa-style seating. I was not quick enough to recognize the situation when we went in but, if I had seen the regular seating, I would have demanded a table.

The Exploration Café - of course, you pay but the setting is very, very nice.

Overall, you will not go hungry, of course, but the food left us clamoring for more. In the interest of full disclosure, we dined with another couple and they enjoyed the food. So, take my comments with a pinch of salt - which (the salt I mean) would have helped some of the preparation. :) Just kidding.

5. Entertainment - a disappointment.

The Oosterdam singers/dancers group was enjoyable in one show, disappointing in another. The B B King group was excellent as were the pianist duo at the Billboard Onboard venue. The main stage productions simply cannot compare to what we have seen on other lines. For a "Christmas" cruise, the Christmas celebration was distinctly understated. And, I cannot believe the main stage design on this ship. Multiple pillars throughout the theatre totally block the line of sight from quite a few seats.

6. Staff - by far, the best strength of HAL. We were very impressed with the courtesy, friendliness, effectiveness of EVERYONE on the ship's staff. Well done, HAL!

The Captain, Rens van Eerten, is very personable. He was visible and he stays involved with the passengers. Our cabin stewards were excellent. The wait staff in the dining venues is well trained. The Guest Services desk was very courteous and effective. They arranged for our damaged luggage to be stitched back into shape. Really, all HAL employees whom we came in contact with were impressive.

A beef - the "communication" (Internet/Wi-Fi) costs are exorbitant - but, then, every line is the same. It just leaves an unnecessary bad taste in the mouth.

Finishing up - overall, the experience was okay but nothing extraordinary. Would I do it again? Yes, one more on HAL but JUST out of fairness. Perhaps, this was not a typical HAL experience. It certainly was the most disappointing of all of the cruises we have done.
dastoor76’s Full Rating Summary
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