Oosterdam Cruise Review by firstforty2012
- Sail Date: January 2018
- Destination: Hawaii
This last cruise was the 18 day San Diego - Hawaii departing in January 2018.
Overall this cruise was a major disappointment and joined the unenviable list of the other (1) cruise when i could not wait to exit the gangway and go home. Only our 3 week trip on the QEII (2006) was worse taken the year before it was decommissioned and Cunard's maintenance had stopped completely and the crew was ready to split.
Overall headlines of my review
- HAL manages to the dollar not to customer satisfaction. Every aspect of the cruise had been subject to clear value engineering to provide the minimum possible
- While most visible areas (save one) were well maintained, cabin decks showed serious neglect and were shabby and under-maintained.
- Staff were courteous but had minimal training and management
- Chef clearly had no interest in how food tasted
The ship info claimed that it had been refit in 2016. Its clear that that is meant to mean "some areas". Main areas looked fairly fresh and some very fresh, but it was also easy to find ripped carpets on stairs, major dings, scrapes and significant and visible defacement in elevators. My sleeping deck was dingy, had marred up walls and stained carpets. Major odors were present and attendants continually spayed deodorizer.
The ship was full and apparently with the additions of more cabins always felt crowded.
The most obvious and in your face issue was the condition of the exterior deck chairs. Decrepit, stained, torn and broken..... any Hotel Manager or Ship Captain who saw this should have been ashamed. Ratty, torn, broken dirty. No self respecting Holiday Inn would have put these out. So dirty we had to cover them with towels. Disgusting.
Our cabin 1007 was on the Main deck. The room was satisfactory. Bedding was of good quality and we slept well, room was quiet. Entertainment system featured many very good moves (free) and was well past expectation (a blessing on this cruise). Walls were dirty in some places and appeared to need heavy scrubbing. Water in sink would often run only hot (scalding) from the COLD water side? Metal baseboard trip near bed was missing and sharp edge cut my wife's foot.
Lido and main dining room food was 75% tasteless and ranged from horrible to good (on occasion). Lido lunch was repetitive and tasteless. Pizza was below the level of frozen from the Safeway. Highlights were fresh made omelettes were great and Dive in burgers were very good. Dining room served me a piece of prime (?) rib that was perhaps the worst piece of meat I had ever encountered. It was not cut-able and looked like something that should have become hamburger. Any food service professional should have deemed this best for the trash can.
Highlight was dinner at the extra cost Italian restaurant where the food was very good to terrific. It is well worth the modest fee of $15 (discounted for loyalty classes). Really good and competitive with more expensive cruise lines. We did not try Pinnacle as the $35 surcharge was too high for my expectations of value.
Mixed drinks were measured to the drop and I judged them as a poor value. Beers at about $7 ++ are over priced. We found that their supply of keg beer was never delivered at the onset of the cruise (hard to believe) so advertised draft been was unavailable. Likewise 20% of the wine choices in the mid-level wine package were unavailable even at the onset.
Main stage was fine, but had many seats with impaired visibility (posts). Only some seats had a table if you buy a drink or bring one. Dance shows were very good quality and I applaud HAL for not doing yet another "salute to Broadway". Very enjoyable. Other entertainment was bad to good. Comedian doing simplistic and worn fat cruise ship jokes and grade school puns got me heading out the door. Another asking "have you ever seen someone make a dog out of balloon" left me also running for the door. Variety pianist was talented and entertaining as was the Sax player.
Enrichment speaker was presenting a standard presentation and was not an expert. She simply learned a presentation.
Highlights were the Lincoln Center stings which put on superb classical and popular concerts curated for HAL. This was terrific quality. however the room was uncomfortable and always crowded. Passengers sometimes came in an hour early and slept in the chairs to hold seats. Chairs were uncomfortable at best. It seemed at odds with all the minimal things HAL put forward on this ship to see something of such over the top quality. Kudos to HAL for getting something very, very right.
Cruise Director was amateur level and added no value.
HAL's people displayed good attitudes and were always friendly. Find a good waiter in the DR and you will get good service for a cruise at this price point, but quality varies greatly. Maitre D's were very good, learned our names and tried to get us to the waiter we preferred.
Generally though service staff for meals had minimal skills and training. Dishes often not collected, had to beg for coffee and many times we would see them chatting with their peers and not working.
On more than one occasion I was given morning OJ that had clearly set out for a very long time and was room temperature. What are they thinking?
Ports and Shore excursions
Hawaiian ports were routine. Major problems occurred at Lahaina on Maui where the re boarding of the ship via tender took nearly 1 1/2 hours. We heard via rumor that it was due to the local Harbor Master but the ship never explained nor did they take the opportunity to set any expectation before we boarded the tenders to go ashore that the re-boading was going to be problematic due to local procedures.
HAL is not a premium or luxury line and had no expectations that it was. But the obvious cost cutting, deferred maintenance and fair service were below their advertised value proposition. This will be my last cruise on Holland America. You can get more for the money from Celebrity and probably several others. This is the last HAL for me.
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