First Time on Big O - Not the Last: Oosterdam Cruise Review by Okie1946

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First Time on Big O - Not the Last

Sail Date: April 2011
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: San Diego
While on this cruise I did a type of blog/daily report and had a lot to say - so I'll try to make this one shorter and more concise.

Boarding - We arrived a day early in San Diego and took our time decompressing. Wanted to be wide eyed and ready for the cruise. We booked through HAL directly and couldn't have been more happy with the entire process. Boarding was a piece of cake. Dropped of the bags, walked across the street, pulled out the boarding documents and started down the lines. The entire process from start to finish took possibly 20 minutes. The cabin were ready when we boarded - VF5136 - Closet space was very nice, bathroom was a little small but adequate for two people. We didn't plan on spending too much time in the Cabin anyway. One thing though - HAL's beds are amazing. You will always get a good night's sleep.

Dining - Where ever we ate we had excellent service and well prepared, excellent tasting food. We did not dine in the Vista this trip, we More opted out for the experience of dining in Canaletto's three nights. All three nights we had excellent service, wonderful food and a very nice dining atmosphere. After the first night, the servers remembered what wine we enjoyed as well as our after dinner preferences. I do recommend that everyone try this upscale Italian restuarant style at least once during their trip. Had room service 4 of the 7 mornings and have no complaints. Breakfast was delivered on time, the correct temperature and always what was ordered. In fact there was more food that what we could eat. Lunch was either the taco bar or the burger/hot dog stand on the Lido deck or a sandwich from the Lido Buffet. Dinner when not taken at Canalettos, was eaten a the Lido Buffet. Not once were we disappointed in our meals.

Entertainment - We went to one show in the main theater and saw the comedian. His comedy was more adult and recommend that you not bring the children, but he was very good. We spent most of our evenings in the Crow's Nest and enjoyed listening to David Oates and his music. A very talented entertainer who has a very wide repertoire. The library is well stocked and has an excellent selection of games and puzzles for those of you who enjoy quiet entertainment after dinner. The Explorations Cafe (coffee bar) is on the level of a small Starbucks and you can always get a very nice after dinner coffee or chai. The casino was hosting a "Club 21" event, so it was usually crowded, but a person interested in doing some gambling could have some fun. Particularlly like playing (and watching other play) the game that used quarters and raked them off of the various levels until they fell out. Still haven't figured that one out.

Activities - While on board, if a person was bored, that was their fault. There were many seminars (cooking, animal towel folding, flowers, health and well being, shopping and tour excursions) for you to attend and chose your own. Am including excursions in this section - Puerto Vallarta was a two day stop. My husband played golf the first day and really enjoyed the course. It is located near a bird sanctuary and he said it was beautiful. Granted the crocodiles were a little off putting but as long as you stayed away - you were safe. The Malecon is full of entertainment - from the the statues, stone sculpting, SAND ART and the pole flying. The second day in Puerto, we left the town and went off to the north to a tequila factory. Learned a great deal about the liquor and about the area around Puerto Vallarta that isn't as prosperous. When we dropped anchor in Cabo San Lucus - saw some of the most beautiful waters and rock formations jutting out into the sea. A great place for water activities and such. We took an excursion that took us out of Cabo to a small and very nice town called San Jose. Recommend it highly.

One side note - don't over pack. Bring enough for three days then take advantage of the laundry service. An excellent deal for your money. In before 9:00 AM back the same evening.

And now to the end - disembarkation was easy but did have some issues. Since the turn around on the cabin is so short - you are expected to get out of it long before you leave the ship. Public space is limited when everyone has baggage - suggest that if you can put it out the night before - do it. Then find a public area that is not as crowded - such as an elevator landing on 4th or 5th deck and then wait until your disembarkation number and color is called. That will make the process much easier and less frustrating. It isn't HAL's fault that the crowding occurs. It is the passengers who cause the problems.

Over all we enjoyed our trip, have booked another for 2012 (Panama Canal) and am looking forward to that one as well. Enjoy Less

Published 04/21/11

Cabin review: VA5136 Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom

VF 5136 - small bathroom, but adequate for two people, Great balcony with overhang - is protected from wind. Three closets with more than enough room for a weeks wardrobe. Excellent Bed!!!!!

Read All Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom (VA) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Had two days in Puerto Vallarta - granted we are sorry we missed Mazatalan, but did enjoy our time in PV. Our first day - the husband played golf at the Flamingo and he really enjoyed it. The course was beautiful and well maintained. It was built around a bird sanctuary and had a wide variety of flowers and wildlife (including crocodiles). I took a tour of the city with the Cathedral as a highlight, as well as a cooking class at a local restaurant and really enjoyed the experience. The Malecon is a great place to go and walk, take photos and take in some of the local color. The only thing that got irritating were the street vendors that could not take no for an answer. The second day we did not go into PV proper, but went in the other direction and visited a tequila factory. This was very informative and we really enjoyed it.

One thing - the city of PV is very poor when you get away from the main "tourist" drag. It is also a very dirty town, except on the area around the Malecon.

The other thing that disappointed me was that right next to the dock was WAL-MART/Sam's Club. The other was a taxi driver who got lost then tried to charge an inflated price over what was told to us originally. Be very careful when dealing with them.

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