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Our family had the opportunity to cruise on the Oosterdam out of Seattle for a large family outing. In total there were ten of us, including four kids. The ages of the kids were 17, 14 and two 12 year old boys. Two of our party were frequent HAL cruisers, my family had cruised Disney and RCCL (this was our 4th cruise) and one family had never cruised before. We sailed June 12-19, 2011. The ship made calls in Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria. We enjoyed the ports tremendously. Sitka was a tender port, so be prepared if you are not on a ship excursion you will need tickets to get off the ship. Pre-Cruise. Needless to say we were excited that our adventure was about to begin. We had waited over 18 months for this trip which was a celebration of a 50th wedding anniversary. We flew into Seattle the day prior and had an opportunity to check out Pike Market and stop at the original Starbuck's as well as enjoy some great seafood. We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel on 6th and Pike. The hotel was very nice with a pool on the 35th floor where you can see the sound and ships sailing by. The two families with children took the light rail from Sea-Tac and it was only $16 (three adults and one 12 & under) per family, a real bargain. Two of the family stayed with a family friend and would join us at the port the next day. We traveled with all carry ons, and had only one checked bag (a rolling garment bag). The light rail was easy to manage, and well-marked. We would have taken the light rail back at the end of the cruise, but a van had already been booked for the return trip. Our hotel was only two blocks from the last station on the light rail and we did not find it a problem to walk with our luggage. As we could not get a good flight on the Sunday of disembarkation we spent one more night in Seattle and this time stayed at the Monaco- our room had a goldfish to keep us company. It was also a nice hotel, right downtown. Now knowing how easy the light rail is I might consider staying out by the airport and taking the rail downtown to enjoy the day next time. If you enjoy fresh flowers in your stateroom you should make it a point to stop at the Market before boarding. The steward's will find you a vase and you can get lovely arrangements for as little as $5 to $10. We did this, and we enjoyed our fresh flowers for the entire week. We took a van from the hotel to Pier 91 for $10 per person. We booked the van for 10:00 through the hotel (no free shuttles) and he was right on time. We were at the Pier in about 15-20 minutes. Check in was a breeze, very easy. Our carry on bags were dropped at security and we proceeded upstairs to get our keys and wait for boarding. We boarded promptly at 11:30 and were excited to get started. Our two Mariners arrived at the pier shortly after we boarded and enjoyed their lunch in the dining room while the rest of us went to the lido. The staff served the food at the lido for the first 48 hours to help prevent Noro. This slowed moving through the Lido, but I am all for this precaution so that we could hopefully avoid the illness. After lunch we explored the ship and some went swimming. Of course we went to the sail-away to wave good-bye to Seattle! HAL now has rooms ready at 11:30, which is great if you are getting on the ship- but I think it puts a great stress on the staff. Our room was ready, and just as we had wanted by one room that was to have split beds for a brother and sister was made up as a queen bed (that took until 9:30 PM to get solved) and one room that was to be a queen bed was split. Our staterooms were on the main deck, just forward of mid-ships, with the adults in outside rooms and the children in insides across the hall. The insides were a great value, they were larger and had more storage than the adults rooms. They also had the advantage of being dark, and allowed the kids to sleep much better than their parents. I would have been very happy with the interior that they had. Please note on all Seattle itineraries, you will be sailing up to Alaska in the northern Pacific. Be prepared if you are prone to motion sickness at all. No one in our party of 10 became sea sick on our first day out, but plenty of people were ill. We were sailing in 10-12 foot seas. The worst we had of it was looking like we had too many Alaskan beers as we walked down the hall. The medical staff will give you free sea-sick pills if you need them. We enjoyed the ship, but as noted by others it is worn and in need of the upcoming dry-dock. A plus for HAL is fresh flowers in all of the public rooms and free popcorn at the movies. A downside, the pools and the hot tubs closed up early in comparison to other lines we have sailed on. This is a problem when you have young people looking for something to do and enjoy using the pools. Also the hot tubs are extremely small, two person tubs at the aft-pool. We really enjoyed the Crow's Nest located forward (not aft as a previous poster noted). It is on Deck 10 and only the forward elevators will get you right up into the area. It is an easy walk on the 10th deck outside however if you find yourself in the aft by mistake. From the Crow's Nest we watched whales almost every evening, and even saw Dahl Porpoises. We always had great attention from the bar staff, and when they would see us in other bars knew immediately what we usually ordered. Glacier Bay was the main reason we booked this cruise and it did not disappoint! We spent the entire day out on decks. It was a cool day for the folks from the southern part of the US, with the high temps that day no better than the low 50s but we were comfortable in turtle necks, fleeces and vests. I did wear a hat, but never did put on my mittens that I had brought. There were plenty of blankets for those who desired them. We were extremely lucky and did not have rain at all. The teens were spilt on the teen club. Never saw the 17 year old when we were on board, and the 14 year old did some of the activities. The 12 year old boys were extremely disappointed as they put 8-12 together and there were way too many 8 year olds for the 12 year olds. As one 12 year old was an experienced cruiser whom almost always has to be pulled out of the clubs he was disappointed. This led to large groups of 12 year old boys roaming the ship looking for something to do in the evenings (as the pools were closed). On RCCL the 12 and 13 year olds were grouped in the "teen" area, but with different activities. My 12 year old did do the Junior Ranger program on board because I encouraged him to do it, but that was the last time he participated in organized activities in the club. With over 200 kids 17 and under on board there was plenty of life on the ship. Overall, the service on the ship by the stewards and MDR staff was hit or miss. This was a disappointment to the two frequent HAL cruisers who also agreed that for some reason the service was not what they were used to. There were many new contracts on the ship, our room steward had just boarded that day. If there were many new in the dining room and kitchen this may have caused some of the issues in the MDR. Service was much slower than we have normally experienced. Not sure if that was due to us being a table of 10, or our request to be at a table of 10 which put us on the first level of the dining room with open seating. Food was fine, although the one major meat eater of the bunch was disappointed in the selection of beef (although he understood it would be heavy in seafood, he just didn't expect quite that much). The Lido is not set up as nice as either the Voyager or the Radiance of RCCL (think of a cafeteria and not a food court), and the selections not as nice either but it was adequate for a buffet. Soda needed to be ordered from the bar staff instead of walking up to the drink area and buying it there. The kids enjoyed the ice cream and pizza. Our family enjoyed the entertainment offered to varying degrees. The magician was very fun, and later in the week he offered a second show designed to give you a more up close view of magic. The singers and dancers put on nice shows as well. One night there was an adults only comedian and she was just ok, but what I found interesting was the number of people who seemed to be offended by her humor, even though they were told it was adults only. Karaoke was offered several nights and we enjoyed watching the other passengers perform as well. The night club "Northern Lights" never seemed to have anyone in it. The scenery was the best entertainment as we often spent the evenings watching the world go by as the sun didn't set until 10 or so. In the ports our family group of 10 each did our own thing. We booked and independent whale watching tour in Juneau with Dolphin Tours, while one family booked through HAL. Both had good experiences. In Sitka everyone did the town on their own, shopping, visiting museums and the national park. Ketchikan was the only port where we all did an excursion through HAL, the "Deadliest Catch" Bering Sea Fisherman's Tour. Yes, we were not in the Bering Sea but this tour was very informative on the fishing industry in Alaska, and if you are a fan of the show they candidly answer questions about the show as well. All agreed it was well worth it. For Victoria only two booked a tour, and that was to the Butchart Gardens which they enjoyed tremendously. The others took a bus for $7.50 per person downtown where we enjoyed street performers and walked around the inner harbor stopping by the Empress Hotel to visit the Tea Room and the gardens. We were back on the ship by 9:00 to finish our packing. Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. We chose to carry our own luggage off and we were off and through customs in no time at all. If we would do Alaska again and wanted to do Glacier Bay we would sail HAL again and perhaps choose one of their smaller ships. It is interesting even in our own group people differed on how busy the ship seemed. Those of us used to RCCL thought the lounges and shows were fun and that there was plenty to do if you wanted to without it being too much, the kids were looking for more to do (except the 17 year old!), and others thought the ship was "a bit of a party ship" and a little too big for their taste. We love to cruise, and pick the itinerary over the ship. The ports on our cruise were just what we were looking for. It would have been nice to have had more time in Ketchikan, but because of the time it took to get back to Seattle it was only a half day port on this journey and our tour that morning was three hours, giving us just about an hour to do a quick walk around. We hope someday to return to Alaska and maybe be able to do a land and sea tour.

North to Alaska- A Memory Making Trip

Oosterdam Cruise Review by WisconsinFan

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2011
  • Destination: Alaska
Our family had the opportunity to cruise on the Oosterdam out of Seattle for a large family outing. In total there were ten of us, including four kids. The ages of the kids were 17, 14 and two 12 year old boys. Two of our party were frequent HAL cruisers, my family had cruised Disney and RCCL (this was our 4th cruise) and one family had never cruised before. We sailed June 12-19, 2011.



The ship made calls in Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria. We enjoyed the ports tremendously. Sitka was a tender port, so be prepared if you are not on a ship excursion you will need tickets to get off the ship.



Pre-Cruise. Needless to say we were excited that our adventure was about to begin. We had waited over 18 months for this trip which was a celebration of a 50th wedding anniversary. We flew into Seattle the day prior and had an opportunity to check out Pike Market and stop at the original Starbuck's as well as enjoy some great seafood.



We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel on 6th and Pike. The hotel was very nice with a pool on the 35th floor where you can see the sound and ships sailing by. The two families with children took the light rail from Sea-Tac and it was only $16 (three adults and one 12 & under) per family, a real bargain. Two of the family stayed with a family friend and would join us at the port the next day. We traveled with all carry ons, and had only one checked bag (a rolling garment bag). The light rail was easy to manage, and well-marked. We would have taken the light rail back at the end of the cruise, but a van had already been booked for the return trip. Our hotel was only two blocks from the last station on the light rail and we did not find it a problem to walk with our luggage. As we could not get a good flight on the Sunday of disembarkation we spent one more night in Seattle and this time stayed at the Monaco- our room had a goldfish to keep us company. It was also a nice hotel, right downtown. Now knowing how easy the light rail is I might consider staying out by the airport and taking the rail downtown to enjoy the day next time.



If you enjoy fresh flowers in your stateroom you should make it a point to stop at the Market before boarding. The steward's will find you a vase and you can get lovely arrangements for as little as $5 to $10. We did this, and we enjoyed our fresh flowers for the entire week.



We took a van from the hotel to Pier 91 for $10 per person. We booked the van for 10:00 through the hotel (no free shuttles) and he was right on time. We were at the Pier in about 15-20 minutes. Check in was a breeze, very easy. Our carry on bags were dropped at security and we proceeded upstairs to get our keys and wait for boarding. We boarded promptly at 11:30 and were excited to get started. Our two Mariners arrived at the pier shortly after we boarded and enjoyed their lunch in the dining room while the rest of us went to the lido. The staff served the food at the lido for the first 48 hours to help prevent Noro. This slowed moving through the Lido, but I am all for this precaution so that we could hopefully avoid the illness. After lunch we explored the ship and some went swimming. Of course we went to the sail-away to wave good-bye to Seattle!



HAL now has rooms ready at 11:30, which is great if you are getting on the ship- but I think it puts a great stress on the staff. Our room was ready, and just as we had wanted by one room that was to have split beds for a brother and sister was made up as a queen bed (that took until 9:30 PM to get solved) and one room that was to be a queen bed was split. Our staterooms were on the main deck, just forward of mid-ships, with the adults in outside rooms and the children in insides across the hall. The insides were a great value, they were larger and had more storage than the adults rooms. They also had the advantage of being dark, and allowed the kids to sleep much better than their parents. I would have been very happy with the interior that they had.



Please note on all Seattle itineraries, you will be sailing up to Alaska in the northern Pacific. Be prepared if you are prone to motion sickness at all. No one in our party of 10 became sea sick on our first day out, but plenty of people were ill. We were sailing in 10-12 foot seas. The worst we had of it was looking like we had too many Alaskan beers as we walked down the hall. The medical staff will give you free sea-sick pills if you need them.



We enjoyed the ship, but as noted by others it is worn and in need of the upcoming dry-dock. A plus for HAL is fresh flowers in all of the public rooms and free popcorn at the movies. A downside, the pools and the hot tubs closed up early in comparison to other lines we have sailed on. This is a problem when you have young people looking for something to do and enjoy using the pools. Also the hot tubs are extremely small, two person tubs at the aft-pool.



We really enjoyed the Crow's Nest located forward (not aft as a previous poster noted). It is on Deck 10 and only the forward elevators will get you right up into the area. It is an easy walk on the 10th deck outside however if you find yourself in the aft by mistake. From the Crow's Nest we watched whales almost every evening, and even saw Dahl Porpoises. We always had great attention from the bar staff, and when they would see us in other bars knew immediately what we usually ordered.



Glacier Bay was the main reason we booked this cruise and it did not disappoint! We spent the entire day out on decks. It was a cool day for the folks from the southern part of the US, with the high temps that day no better than the low 50s but we were comfortable in turtle necks, fleeces and vests. I did wear a hat, but never did put on my mittens that I had brought. There were plenty of blankets for those who desired them. We were extremely lucky and did not have rain at all.



The teens were spilt on the teen club. Never saw the 17 year old when we were on board, and the 14 year old did some of the activities. The 12 year old boys were extremely disappointed as they put 8-12 together and there were way too many 8 year olds for the 12 year olds. As one 12 year old was an experienced cruiser whom almost always has to be pulled out of the clubs he was disappointed. This led to large groups of 12 year old boys roaming the ship looking for something to do in the evenings (as the pools were closed). On RCCL the 12 and 13 year olds were grouped in the "teen" area, but with different activities. My 12 year old did do the Junior Ranger program on board because I encouraged him to do it, but that was the last time he participated in organized activities in the club. With over 200 kids 17 and under on board there was plenty of life on the ship.



Overall, the service on the ship by the stewards and MDR staff was hit or miss. This was a disappointment to the two frequent HAL cruisers who also agreed that for some reason the service was not what they were used to. There were many new contracts on the ship, our room steward had just boarded that day. If there were many new in the dining room and kitchen this may have caused some of the issues in the MDR. Service was much slower than we have normally experienced. Not sure if that was due to us being a table of 10, or our request to be at a table of 10 which put us on the first level of the dining room with open seating. Food was fine, although the one major meat eater of the bunch was disappointed in the selection of beef (although he understood it would be heavy in seafood, he just didn't expect quite that much). The Lido is not set up as nice as either the Voyager or the Radiance of RCCL (think of a cafeteria and not a food court), and the selections not as nice either but it was adequate for a buffet. Soda needed to be ordered from the bar staff instead of walking up to the drink area and buying it there. The kids enjoyed the ice cream and pizza.



Our family enjoyed the entertainment offered to varying degrees. The magician was very fun, and later in the week he offered a second show designed to give you a more up close view of magic. The singers and dancers put on nice shows as well. One night there was an adults only comedian and she was just ok, but what I found interesting was the number of people who seemed to be offended by her humor, even though they were told it was adults only. Karaoke was offered several nights and we enjoyed watching the other passengers perform as well. The night club "Northern Lights" never seemed to have anyone in it. The scenery was the best entertainment as we often spent the evenings watching the world go by as the sun didn't set until 10 or so.



In the ports our family group of 10 each did our own thing. We booked and independent whale watching tour in Juneau with Dolphin Tours, while one family booked through HAL. Both had good experiences. In Sitka everyone did the town on their own, shopping, visiting museums and the national park. Ketchikan was the only port where we all did an excursion through HAL, the "Deadliest Catch" Bering Sea Fisherman's Tour. Yes, we were not in the Bering Sea but this tour was very informative on the fishing industry in Alaska, and if you are a fan of the show they candidly answer questions about the show as well. All agreed it was well worth it. For Victoria only two booked a tour, and that was to the Butchart Gardens which they enjoyed tremendously. The others took a bus for $7.50 per person downtown where we enjoyed street performers and walked around the inner harbor stopping by the Empress Hotel to visit the Tea Room and the gardens. We were back on the ship by 9:00 to finish our packing.



Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. We chose to carry our own luggage off and we were off and through customs in no time at all. If we would do Alaska again and wanted to do Glacier Bay we would sail HAL again and perhaps choose one of their smaller ships. It is interesting even in our own group people differed on how busy the ship seemed. Those of us used to RCCL thought the lounges and shows were fun and that there was plenty to do if you wanted to without it being too much, the kids were looking for more to do (except the 17 year old!), and others thought the ship was "a bit of a party ship" and a little too big for their taste. We love to cruise, and pick the itinerary over the ship. The ports on our cruise were just what we were looking for. It would have been nice to have had more time in Ketchikan, but because of the time it took to get back to Seattle it was only a half day port on this journey and our tour that morning was three hours, giving us just about an hour to do a quick walk around. We hope someday to return to Alaska and maybe be able to do a land and sea tour.
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