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The Oosterdam is one of the older Holland America ships but is attractive, well maintained, and comfortable and has probably the best service, certainly the friendliest service, of any of the Holland America ships that we have sailed on. The officers, too, are unusually cordial and went out of their way to greet and chat with guests. What I liked best about this 17-day Panama Canal transit cruise, though, was the location of our veranda stateroom, high on deck 10 adjacent to the Crow's Nest Lounge and the Observation Deck. For viewing the Panama Canal, the cabin couldn't have been better situated--and I loved being able to just walk out the door in the early morning for an espresso in the Crow's Nest and a quick check of the shelves of the briskly traded paperbacks at the entrance. (Why, oh why, has Holland America done away with a real library?!!!!) The Oosterdam veranda cabins have less storage space than the newer ships, but it seemed adequate, and the balcony space, at least on the 10th deck, is more narrow; there was not enough room for lounge chairs there. The bathtub showers, despite grab bars, are a little hazardous for old folk but I got used to being careful. Entertainment isn't usually the strong suit for Holland America, but this cruise had not only two performances by the stellar Step One Dance Company, but two crowd-pleasing performances by the handsome male-diva group calling themselves The Dutch Tenors, who were the stars of the ship. They not only received standing ovations but found themselves applauded when they entered the dining room. Everyone loved them. The BB King Blues Band on board the Oosterdam never seemed to play music really intended for dancing, so that was a letdown; we usually love dancing to 60's and 70's music and the BB King groups have been in the past a big part of why we chose Holland America. An expert on the Panama Canal came on board on transit day and gave nearly day-long commentary. (And to make the occasion even more special, trays of delicious Panama Buns stuffed with lemon-flavored custard were served with free morning coffee in all the lounges.) There were also two excellent lecturers on sea days--one on Costa Rica (birds, amphibians especially) and one on Mexican history and culture--but I missed the America's Test Kitchen lectures and demonstrations that have in the past been a big part of why I liked Holland America. Have these been phased out? Or was the Oosterdam just not equipped for a demonstration kitchen? All Holland America ships have tried to cut costs in recent years, especially in the dining room, so the food was good but not spectacular. Soups were inevitably a disappointment and I tasted few desserts that were worth their calories. A gala and expensive Valentine's Night dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was more ambitious than delicious, though it was beautifully presented and served (and the red rose for each female guest was a lovely gesture). There's no Tamarind Restaurant on the Oosterdam, which is usually my favorite Holland America specialty restaurant, so the Canaletto is probably the best bet for a surcharge meal. The Lido was better for breakfast than the dining room--there was a truly skillful eggs Benedict maker--and I enjoyed the array of fresh fruit, yogurts, and variety of nuts and seeds and toppings. And for lunch, good Lido salads and Asian foods--and those amazing french fries at the Dive-In are worth taking a Holland America cruise for. Completely addictive. We loved the Mangrove Swamp tour in Costa Rica where we saw crocodiles and exotic birds galore with a truly wonderful guide. The other tours were only so-so and the destinations in some cases a long, long way from the port. Going to Leon, Nicaragua, for example, especially in 99 degree heat, was exhausting, despite an art museum with a surprisingly good collection. There is little else to see in Leon. As always, I recommend Holland America ships for their smallish size, interesting itineraries, the plentiful and relaxing sea days, and the laid-back atmosphere. We enjoyed this cruise on the Oosterdam but were aware that not everyone would.

Panama Canal Transit Complete with Panama Buns

Oosterdam Cruise Review by Gail MG

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Trip Details
The Oosterdam is one of the older Holland America ships but is attractive, well maintained, and comfortable and has probably the best service, certainly the friendliest service, of any of the Holland America ships that we have sailed on. The officers, too, are unusually cordial and went out of their way to greet and chat with guests. What I liked best about this 17-day Panama Canal transit cruise, though, was the location of our veranda stateroom, high on deck 10 adjacent to the Crow's Nest Lounge and the Observation Deck. For viewing the Panama Canal, the cabin couldn't have been better situated--and I loved being able to just walk out the door in the early morning for an espresso in the Crow's Nest and a quick check of the shelves of the briskly traded paperbacks at the entrance. (Why, oh why, has Holland America done away with a real library?!!!!)

The Oosterdam veranda cabins have less storage space than the newer ships, but it seemed adequate, and the balcony space, at least on the 10th deck, is more narrow; there was not enough room for lounge chairs there. The bathtub showers, despite grab bars, are a little hazardous for old folk but I got used to being careful.

Entertainment isn't usually the strong suit for Holland America, but this cruise had not only two performances by the stellar Step One Dance Company, but two crowd-pleasing performances by the handsome male-diva group calling themselves The Dutch Tenors, who were the stars of the ship. They not only received standing ovations but found themselves applauded when they entered the dining room. Everyone loved them. The BB King Blues Band on board the Oosterdam never seemed to play music really intended for dancing, so that was a letdown; we usually love dancing to 60's and 70's music and the BB King groups have been in the past a big part of why we chose Holland America.

An expert on the Panama Canal came on board on transit day and gave nearly day-long commentary. (And to make the occasion even more special, trays of delicious Panama Buns stuffed with lemon-flavored custard were served with free morning coffee in all the lounges.) There were also two excellent lecturers on sea days--one on Costa Rica (birds, amphibians especially) and one on Mexican history and culture--but I missed the America's Test Kitchen lectures and demonstrations that have in the past been a big part of why I liked Holland America. Have these been phased out? Or was the Oosterdam just not equipped for a demonstration kitchen?

All Holland America ships have tried to cut costs in recent years, especially in the dining room, so the food was good but not spectacular. Soups were inevitably a disappointment and I tasted few desserts that were worth their calories. A gala and expensive Valentine's Night dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was more ambitious than delicious, though it was beautifully presented and served (and the red rose for each female guest was a lovely gesture). There's no Tamarind Restaurant on the Oosterdam, which is usually my favorite Holland America specialty restaurant, so the Canaletto is probably the best bet for a surcharge meal. The Lido was better for breakfast than the dining room--there was a truly skillful eggs Benedict maker--and I enjoyed the array of fresh fruit, yogurts, and variety of nuts and seeds and toppings. And for lunch, good Lido salads and Asian foods--and those amazing french fries at the Dive-In are worth taking a Holland America cruise for. Completely addictive.

We loved the Mangrove Swamp tour in Costa Rica where we saw crocodiles and exotic birds galore with a truly wonderful guide. The other tours were only so-so and the destinations in some cases a long, long way from the port. Going to Leon, Nicaragua, for example, especially in 99 degree heat, was exhausting, despite an art museum with a surprisingly good collection. There is little else to see in Leon.

As always, I recommend Holland America ships for their smallish size, interesting itineraries, the plentiful and relaxing sea days, and the laid-back atmosphere. We enjoyed this cruise on the Oosterdam but were aware that not everyone would.
Gail MG’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VB
Loved, absolutely loved, the high 10th deck location of our cabin. The balcony was smaller than usual, though, and there wasn't as much storage as on the newer Holland America ships.
Observation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews