Oosterdam Cruise Review by Jammu2
- Sail Date: May 2019
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Standard Interior Stateroom
For us, we cruise to spend time with our family. We enjoy the food, the destinations, shore excursions, and to be at sea. We do not care for drinking, partying, and childrens entertainments. For us, HAL is a good choice.
This review is of the Oosterdam May 5 Alaskan Explorer cruise from Seattle.
The Oosterdam was in good shape, though I wish the last refit had kept more of the old Dutch Masters feel. The public areas were spacious and well appointed (I think the HAL Vista class ships have the highest area per passenger rating of all the majors). I like a full promenade deck, and it was the place to be during the cruise down the inside passage from Ketchikan. The card room(s) were well used by groups playing all kinds of games together. One plus of the Vista Class of ships is the retractable dome over the Lido Pool area. This is very helpful in Alaska as it can rain at any moment, and can be quite chilly at times. The Exploration Cafe was my favorite public area. The gym was well used and I thought the class instructors were quite good. I did two yoga classes on the 7 day cruise and worked out daily.
I was especially impressed with the Lido Market (buffet) which we used for breakfast and lunch. There were special selections from around the world daily, and all manner of offerings for every taste. Some of our party really enjoyed the Dive In for burgers and fries. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night ($35 surcharge but ours was a gift from the travel agency). The food there was very good. Not quite as good as Ruth's Chris or something like that, but better than Outback for sure. The main dining room was pretty good for the MDR on a major cruise line. Some of the menu selections weren't that great and so it was hit or miss if you picked the right thing. One night I chose a fish (not great) and my spouse chose the deconstructed pot roast (good). Service started out a bit shaky, but I learned many of the staff had just joined the ship as our cruise was the first cruise of the Alaska season. They got better as the week progressed.
Juneau, Sitka, Hubbard Glacier, Ketchikan, Victoria. We were on a Coral Princess Southbound cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver a few years ago. We chose that cruise because it went to Glacier Bay. On this cruise we were looking for value, as we were cruising with relatives and cost was a concern. If I was only going on one Alaska cruise in my life, I would want to do Glacier Bay. And I would cruise later in the season. That said, Hubbard Glacier was worthwhile. Despite the rain and lots of ice in the water our captain was able to get us a pretty good view of the glacier face. It was a fun day, and a lot of us went out to the bow to take photos. I spent some time on the promenade as well. And a secret spot - Deck 9 Forward in front of the Gym was a good and mostly empty spot for viewing, though you are further up from the water.
Good excursions overall. We did the Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau as we had been to Mendenhall previously. It is worthwhile. We were not in Juneau long or else we would have probably gone up to Mendenhall again. We did Birds, Bears, and Barnacles in Sitka. Fun excursion. The bear place is still under renovation. We went to see the Totem Poles in Ketchikan. I would like to spend more time in Ketchikan someday. We were only in Victoria for 5 hours so we didn't do much. We have been there several times in the past. It was evening so options were limited. I would like to see Bouchard Gardens in the spring, though.
I like the feeling of being at sea. I am not looking for the floating hotel experience. I think a lot of the newer ships (ahem Royal) are very inward focused. The Oosterdam is very much in the vein of a classic cruise ship. I like hanging out outside, playing cards with family, enjoying good food, relaxing. Passengers were a good mix. HAL has a reputation of being the cruise line of choice for elders. I have not found this to be true. Though there were few children, most age groups were well represented, with a diversity of passengers from mostly North America and Asia.
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