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Embarkation was smooth with only a handful of people in line for security and key cards. Arrived about 11:30 and were on board by 12:15 without special boarding privileges since we are still 3 star mariners. Lido food was good for buffet. Salad bar is excellent with Asian, Cobb or other themed options or DIY combo option with seared Ahi everyday. Carvery selection was nice varying between Leg of lamb, whole suckling pig, pork belly, prime rib and Tri-tip. Always a nice selection of cooked vegetables and premade salads. Can’t comment on the pizza or bread since I generally don’t eat those on a cruise. On the 3 port days there were 4 different types of ceviche with an array of minced onions jalapeño cilantro garlic to add in and make it exactly to your individual liking. The Retreat Cabana was worth every penny of the $399/ whole week. We had originally booked an interior room to save money and were offered an upgrade 4 days prior to sailing for $89pp to an aft balcony and gladly took that deal. We love the complete solitude (and absence of screaming children or people jockeying for a certain chair or lounge chair) of the cabana with an open expansive view and breeze, as well as service staff to bring us cocktails and even lunch if we wished. This is the second time we have booked one and will continue to do so since the price of a cabana is always significantly less than booking a veranda room and I enjoy the space so much more. The only issue is that the last sea day of each cruise we were not able to use it for part of the day due to high winds but that comes with the territory. We felt safe leaving our iPads and other personal items in the cabana while going to lunch since they were not even completely booked as well as there were no random people walking through the retreat area. We booked the aft facing open air cabana but will probably book a starboard or port facing one with the full glass window for our upcoming Pacific Coastal cruise. Cannaletto served a fabulous meal. The lamb chops were as good as we have had in the Pinnacle. The fish soup is excellent as well as the tiramisu. We were able to customize our meals as desired so I could get a double order of vegetables and no rice. The Pinnacle continues to be our favorite place to dine. We did Rudi’s on one evening, Two lunches and a dinner. Crab legs , steak tartare, candied bacon, crab cakes and Delmonico steak, lobster were all excellent. The cioppino at lunch was full of seafood with a lovely broth. MDR was better than I remember, with the service being tightened up significantly especially since we skipped dessert and had a table for 2 rather than being matched up with others at a 6 or 8 top. One evening we ordered off the MDR menu for room service and it was delivered within 20 minutes and was hot and delicious. After reading so many complaints about the decline in quality, I was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to be more efficient and extremely high quality for the price we paid. The service from the bar staff, explorations cafe coffee bar and room attendants was friendly and everyone knew our names after the first day. Mixology classes were entertaining and a good value unless you already had the beverage package. BB Kings is definitely my favorite music venue and form of entertainment on the ship. The two vocalists were absolute powerhouses belting out classic rhythm and blues as well as a few modern favorites. Every one of the musicians: keyboardist, drummer, trumpeter, saxophonist, bassist and guitarist were at the top of their game. We danced and listened to them every evening for their 3 sets except for the one evening they were dark. Lincoln stage artists were good, just not our thing. The dance shows were better than our previous HAL experiences most likely due to the additional lighting and theatrical effects. The Piano bar duo were the youngest we had seen on a HAL cruise and were entertaining but nowhere near as outstanding as the vocalists and musicians in BB Kings. The passing out of chocolate specialties each evening around 10pm in the bar areas was nice and so must less wasteful than the fanciful displays from the prior days of cruising. Our cruise was during Thanksgiving so there were around 400 kids on board so it was bit crazier than the typical HAL subdued older crowd, but we still could get in the hot tubs and rear pool when we wished. The Lido pool was overrun with kids so we stayed away. I do really like the free Wireless Navigation App for planning our days and the ability to send text messages without paying for a data plan.

Relaxing with Fabulous Food

Oosterdam Cruise Review by Greysandy

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2019
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Embarkation was smooth with only a handful of people in line for security and key cards. Arrived about 11:30 and were on board by 12:15 without special boarding privileges since we are still 3 star mariners.

Lido food was good for buffet. Salad bar is excellent with Asian, Cobb or other themed options or DIY combo option with seared Ahi everyday. Carvery selection was nice varying between Leg of lamb, whole suckling pig, pork belly, prime rib and Tri-tip. Always a nice selection of cooked vegetables and premade salads. Can’t comment on the pizza or bread since I generally don’t eat those on a cruise. On the 3 port days there were 4 different types of ceviche with an array of minced onions jalapeño cilantro garlic to add in and make it exactly to your individual liking.

The Retreat Cabana was worth every penny of the $399/ whole week. We had originally booked an interior room to save money and were offered an upgrade 4 days prior to sailing for $89pp to an aft balcony and gladly took that deal. We love the complete solitude (and absence of screaming children or people jockeying for a certain chair or lounge chair) of the cabana with an open expansive view and breeze, as well as service staff to bring us cocktails and even lunch if we wished. This is the second time we have booked one and will continue to do so since the price of a cabana is always significantly less than booking a veranda room and I enjoy the space so much more. The only issue is that the last sea day of each cruise we were not able to use it for part of the day due to high winds but that comes with the territory. We felt safe leaving our iPads and other personal items in the cabana while going to lunch since they were not even completely booked as well as there were no random people walking through the retreat area. We booked the aft facing open air cabana but will probably book a starboard or port facing one with the full glass window for our upcoming Pacific Coastal cruise.

Cannaletto served a fabulous meal. The lamb chops were as good as we have had in the Pinnacle. The fish soup is excellent as well as the tiramisu. We were able to customize our meals as desired so I could get a double order of vegetables and no rice.

The Pinnacle continues to be our favorite place to dine. We did Rudi’s on one evening, Two lunches and a dinner. Crab legs , steak tartare, candied bacon, crab cakes and Delmonico steak, lobster were all excellent. The cioppino at lunch was full of seafood with a lovely broth.

MDR was better than I remember, with the service being tightened up significantly especially since we skipped dessert and had a table for 2 rather than being matched up with others at a 6 or 8 top. One evening we ordered off the MDR menu for room service and it was delivered within 20 minutes and was hot and delicious. After reading so many complaints about the decline in quality, I was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to be more efficient and extremely high quality for the price we paid.

The service from the bar staff, explorations cafe coffee bar and room attendants was friendly and everyone knew our names after the first day.

Mixology classes were entertaining and a good value unless you already had the beverage package.

BB Kings is definitely my favorite music venue and form of entertainment on the ship. The two vocalists were absolute powerhouses belting out classic rhythm and blues as well as a few modern favorites. Every one of the musicians: keyboardist, drummer, trumpeter, saxophonist, bassist and guitarist were at the top of their game. We danced and listened to them every evening for their 3 sets except for the one evening they were dark.

Lincoln stage artists were good, just not our thing.

The dance shows were better than our previous HAL experiences most likely due to the additional lighting and theatrical effects.

The Piano bar duo were the youngest we had seen on a HAL cruise and were entertaining but nowhere near as outstanding as the vocalists and musicians in BB Kings.

The passing out of chocolate specialties each evening around 10pm in the bar areas was nice and so must less wasteful than the fanciful displays from the prior days of cruising.

Our cruise was during Thanksgiving so there were around 400 kids on board so it was bit crazier than the typical HAL subdued older crowd, but we still could get in the hot tubs and rear pool when we wished. The Lido pool was overrun with kids so we stayed away.

I do really like the free Wireless Navigation App for planning our days and the ability to send text messages without paying for a data plan.
Greysandy’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VF
We didn’t hear dining room noise but there was a bit of vibration noise from being in an aft balcony. It didn’t prevent me from sleeping but I noticed it occasionally. The balcony was large and comfortable.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Culinary Tour
    Actually quite good and reasonable for a ship tour. There were only 9 people in our group. We tasted a lot of Raicilla (agave spirit) alone and in craft cocktails and had a lovely lunch.
    View All 7 Culinary Tour Reviews