My partner and myself had wanted to do the North Atlantic to Northern Europe but when this deal came along, we couldn't resist. Unfortunately my partner lost his passport on day of sailing and missed the departure. Big Hint here: First thing to do is to call Holland America and advise them. They will then try to help you get to next port and will do everything necessary to help you avoid large extra charges. My friend didn't do this and wound up with big expenses that a call to the cruise line would have been the much better way to go.
My review is based on my being in a corner Neptune suite with a wrap around balcony and dining almost completely in the Pinnacle Grill. While this suite balcony might be great on a Carribbean cruise, on the Atlantic Ocean, totally unnecessary. Plus the side balcony cuts into the cabin size and isn't as big as mid ship suites. Plus, being in the back, I had less visits to the Neptune Lounge and I missed that very much. Of course I had 2 brilliant room stewards. Raymond and Yoman. I like getting up early and having my room done first. No problem for these guys. Thank you very much guys.
Having the Lounge is a huge plus. You get the services of 2 fabulous concierges. Mine were Hazel and Anika. Thank you ladies for your great help with my friends' woes and for all you do for the passengers in the lounge. A wonderful place to rest and meet your fellow cruisers. Get a cappuccino or a bite to eat. Work on their computer and watch some TV.
Since I was waiting for my friend to make it back from the Miami Passport agency, I didn't arrive on board until about 345PM. Needless to say he didn't make it back on time. So my embarkation.was veery speedy. My cabin was ready and the amount of closet space was very generous. The bathroom was very big with twin sinks. They now have nightlights but I think they're too bright. I bring my own but impossible to turn theirs off. You don't need to be blinded if you need to use the rest room during the middle of the night. The Oosterdam was just in dry dock and had all of her dry goods replaced. That meant I got to be first to use the new beds and linens. Delicious bed. I really wish they could figure out a way of making the twins feel more like a single bed and not 2 beds slid together. I also like having all the goodies that they bring to your suite.
Dining: As I mentioned before, I had almost all of my meals in the Pinnacle Grill. Being in the top suites has one perk that I really love and that's a full breakfast in the "Grill". Thanks to Arlen, Ida, Anna and Lesley and all the others that made my days so enjoyable. Dinners were probably the best in my many times on other ships in their Grill rooms. Bravo. So good, I did lunch there a few times. As I'm a 4 star Mariner, I get 50% discount on all meals in the Pinnacle. That includes the pop up "Rudy's Sal De Mer". BTW, I did hear good remarks from the people that ate in main dining room. The Grill chef made my and from my observations of others, great temperature meats and fish and general great dining.
Since I was rather bummed out about my missing friend, I didn't get to see many of the shows but did give the casino some action. I broke even, pretty good actually. I also met on board some previous cruiser friends and joined them quite a bit. They too ate mostly in the Pinnacle and our times were very close, so we joined each other a few times. Thanks to Candice Karin and Randy and Steve.
The ports were excellent for this crossing. Funchal was our first port and my friend was supposed to meet us there. Alas, they wouldn't let his flight land due to heavy winds, and we didn't meet up until we got to Lisbon. Yikes! He has a crazier story than I do. The other ports were quite good and Joseph and I did a "Taste of Malaga" tour through the group, "We Love Malaga", with tour group owner, Victor. I totally recommend him to anyone. For the other ports we took in the shuttles and walked around on our own.
Service on board the ship was almost perfect. I did have a bit of a problem with trying to set up space for our Mah Jong players and it took too many visits to straighten this out but in the end they did find a compromise for our group. Not that I was too happy about it, but not worth getting too upset.
Holland America is one of my favorite cruise lines and this was my 24th crossing altogether, so I have experience and know what to expect. We had a very big storm on our journey but the Oosterdam held up beautifully. I heartily recommend this ship and this line. I love sea days.
A little smaller than mid-ship Neptune suites but the wrap around balcony was super.
Ft. Lauderdale is my home city and it couldn't be easier to get in and out of.
I have been here many times and my many crossing and a nicer and easier city to get around would be hard to find
We did a Taste of Malaga with a local group. Quite excellent
Found one of the best restaurant for a wonderful luncheon
Great small town and only 2 or 3 things to see. Do it on your own.