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Oosterdam Review

4.0 / 5.0
1,069 reviews

Antarctica was spectacular, but the cruise was far from perfect.

Review for Antarctica Cruise on Oosterdam
10+ Cruises • Age 70s

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Sail Date: Feb 2023
Cabin: Signature Superior Verandah Suite

I agree with what so many others have posted about the recent South America cruises on the Oosterdam that I almost decided not to post a review. However, for what it is worth, here are my “2 cents” from our cruise February 2-24 from Buenos Aires to Santiago (Valparaiso).

What was good about this cruise was very, very good, and what was bad was truly horrible.

I have previously sailed on the Oosterdam’s 3 sister ships – Noordam, Westerdam, and Zuiderdam – so the ship itself held few surprises for me. I like the size of the Vista Class ships and there is plenty to do on board without being overwhelming. The staff and service were all to a very high level, but I simply expect that from Holland America. The ship was kept immaculate, as was our cabin. We chose a Signature Suite (6102) and had ample space and storage for three weeks; having two desk areas and two sinks and showers in the bathroom was a bonus. I highly recommend this type of cabin for cruises longer than two weeks. However, the ship is 20 years old and, while still gracious and elegant, would benefit from a stem to stern cosmetic remodel; Holland America would be well advised to make that investment.

Cabin Review

Signature Superior Verandah Suite

As previously stated, we booked a Signature Suite (6102) and had ample space and storage for three weeks. the cabin has two desk areas and there are two sinks, a bathtub and shower combination and a separate stall shower in the bathroom. The stewards were excellent and our cabin was always immaculately clean. I highly recommend this type of cabin for cruises longer than two weeks.

Port Reviews

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a big, big city. We booked the pre-cruise package through Holland America, so all transfers and tours wee handled. The hotel (Sofitel) was perfectly acceptable. Many parts of Buenos Aires harken back to the 1800s, and are beautiful and graceful in a European way. Others are graffiti covered hovels, while still others are chrome and glass modern structures. All can exist in the space of a city block. Our tours included an all-day “gaucho experience” on a ranch, complete with a huge barbeque and tango show, a city tour, a tour of the Recoleta cemetery and a tasting at a local wine bar. It is best not to wander the city on your own and, if you do, lock up jewelry, money and other valuables in the hotel or cabin safe.

Punta Madryn, an interesting seaside town that was originally settled by Welsh immigrants. There is even a version of the Argentine flag with the Welsh red dragon replacing the sun in the center and the study of the Welsh language is on the upswing. From our balcony, we had a view of a beautiful bay and beach. We booked a tour to the Valdes Peninsula and Estancia San Lorenzo, a very remote ranch and local park with a huge colony of Magellanic penguins. The four-hour roundtrip, half of which was on dirt roads in a small, poorly air-conditioned van, made for a LONG, HOT, dusty, tiring day, but the penguins were worth it. Lunch was at a sheep farm and it was a very rustic experience.


Montevideo is often called "little Buenos Aires," and there are many similarities. We booked a city tour of Montevideo followed by a wine tasting, lunch, and a tango show, all of which was every bit as good as what we had in Argentina. Our guide was very knowledgeable and spoke excellent English.

Punta Arenas

The city itself is not much, but it has some interesting history and a fascinating cemetery.

Next up was Puerto Chacabuco, a town so small it is not even listed on the weather channels. It was one of the most pleasant surprises of the cruise. The ship drops anchor in a beautiful fjord ending and the cruise terminal onshore is new and fairly nice. However, the town itself has little, so it is essential to book a tour that takes you elsewhere. We were lucky enough (had to be waitlisted for several months) to get on an excursion that took us on a beautiful drive (long, and on an un-air-conditioned bus, but fortunately it was not hot) through the Andes to Coyhaique City, close to the Argentine border. The town is quaint, with a lovely square, though beware the stray dogs, of which there are many all over Chile. We drove out of town to a nice restaurant with incredible views of a huge mountain (don’t know the name of it) and the surrounding river and valley for empanadas and other refreshments. On the way back to port, we spent some time at the Simpson River National Reserve (Colorado type scenery) and drove through Port Aysen, which boasts a suspension bridge that is a smaller replica of the Golden Gate bridge.

Puerto Montt

What was good about this port was not the port itself, but our tour called a “Symphony of Lakes and Volcanos.” Our bus first drove alongside Llanquihue Lake, the second largest lake in Chile, (it is huge) to Petrohue Falls, a chute-type waterfall in the upper reach of Petrohué River situated in a nice park. From there, we had a long drive up Mount Osorno, an active volcano which is generally considered to mark the northern boundary of the Patagonia region of South America. We spent some time walking around on the lava sand/rock, enjoying incredible views. Then we came down the volcano (a nerve-wracking experience in a big bus!) and drove to the town of Puerto Varas, which was founded by German immigrants in the mid-1800s. The German influence is plain, with lots of gable roofs on the buildings, plenty of flowers, especially roses, and lots of bakeries with German style cakes and pastries. The main cathedral in town looks like it came straight out of Bavaria. Varas is a big tourist destination and it was easy to see why. After lunch of some very good salmon (Chile is the second only to Norway in the production of farmed salmon), we had a little free time (not enough) before returning to the ship.

The Chilean fjords lack the height and majesty of Norway, but that is not to say that they are not beautiful. We had days of cruising the fjords, which was very nice.

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