7 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to Alaska

We are back, mostly unpacked and exhausted. We have been on cruises to Alaska 4 other times, 3 of them on HAL. We picked this one since it docked in Sitka where most others do not, preferring Skagway. It was well worth it. Embarkation ... Read More
We are back, mostly unpacked and exhausted. We have been on cruises to Alaska 4 other times, 3 of them on HAL. We picked this one since it docked in Sitka where most others do not, preferring Skagway. It was well worth it. Embarkation was the easiest we have ever experienced. It all went smoothly and we were on the ship much earlier than the time we had been assigned (since we transferred from a hotel). We went right to our cabin where we found the scooter and oxygen concentrator I had ordered already in the cabin. There was more than enough room for the rented scooter, my own scooter and walking around. The Lido beckoned and lunch was good. Then, there was one hitch...the drink card I had ordered was nowhere to be found. Down to Guest Services where I was promised it would be delivered in 9-10 minutes. It wasn't. It took 2 more contacts with Guest Services before they printed it for me at the desk. The only other problem was, one evening while trying to watch a movie in the cabin, there was a pop and the electricity on one side of the room was out. There was a maintenance man at the cabin in 15 minutes and it was fixed. Probably a breaker needed to be thrown. We ate in the dining room most of the time since my husband has trouble walking and the Lido is hard on him. I found, however, that the selection was not as good as on past cruises. The food was good, just the selection was poor. The main dining room was very good although, here as well, the selection wasn't up to previous cruises. The table staff and hosts were wonderful. Adi (host) and Von (wine steward) were especially wonderful. We had open seating and had the same table every evening with different companions, all fantastic people. We are not night people and only attended one show. The ports were wonderful. We only did one excursion (since we'd done this so many times before) and it was good. There was some confusion as to an ADA bus, but that got cleared up pretty quickly. The rest of the time we just wandered around...exactly what I wanted to do. There was one particular shop on Creek Street in Ketchikan (Perfect Partners) that I wanted to visit and it had just opened. I was thrilled. Disembarkation was as smooth as glass. We were on the bus before the time we were scheduled to leave the ship. Then there was the airport..... This may be our last cruise due to medical reasons. It was a wonderful week. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
In August 2017 my wife suffered a fully-detached retina. If you don't know, rehab from surgery requires no change in air pressure for at least 90 days. Well, that meant no flying and our Mediterranean Cruise in September 2017 had to ... Read More
In August 2017 my wife suffered a fully-detached retina. If you don't know, rehab from surgery requires no change in air pressure for at least 90 days. Well, that meant no flying and our Mediterranean Cruise in September 2017 had to be cancelled. Thankfully we had trip insurance so all non-refundable expenses were reimbursed. Six weeks later, we were in the doctor's office for another check-up. Since the eye was healing on schedule, we asked, "Can we take a vacation on a ship?" We live in Seattle so the doctor said, "Absolutely, yes"". A quick call to our AAA travel agent and, 9 days later, we left on a 7 day round-trip to Alaska on HA's Oosterdam. We selected this cruise because we'd previously been to Skagway and the Oosterdam's itinerary included Sitka (instead of Skagway) plus Hubbard Glacier (instead of Tracy Arm). We were so happy with our substitute cruise...while it wasn't Venice and the Adriatic, we had a wonderful time on the Oosterdam, with its emphasis on European Art and Holland America's partnerhsip with America's Test Kitchen. Sitka is a great city to visit...so much Russian and Native Northwest Indian history; we'd love to go back for a few days! If you every get to book a cruise that visits Hubbard Glacier, you'll be very impressed with the immensity of this glacier. Sailing up Tracy Arm provides spectacular scenary but Hubbard Glacier is so huge. Our ship's naturalist said our sunny, 45 degree day was the best weather of the entire 2017 cruising season to Alaska. What's not to love about that? We'd heard a few stories that HA caters to an older cruise clientele. From our first experience, this is probably true, at least compared to our other cruise experiences with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. There were families with small kids and grandparents with grandchildren, just not as many as on other cruise lines. (Our cruise was in late September, well after the school year started, so that was probably a contributing factor.) We're nearly 70 and had a great time. We really loved the emphasis on classical art and music. Once again, the best part was meeting interesting travelers, which is true on every cruise anywhere. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Average cruise, smaller rooms than most cruises, good service, okay food, great entertainment, big outdoor pool (deep), smaller indoor pool (shallow), kind staff. Our TV circuit kept popping, so we did not have TV for the first 2 days, our ... Read More
Average cruise, smaller rooms than most cruises, good service, okay food, great entertainment, big outdoor pool (deep), smaller indoor pool (shallow), kind staff. Our TV circuit kept popping, so we did not have TV for the first 2 days, our sink would not turn off (plumber had to come and fix it), shower/tub would not drain. I traveled with my husband, my daughter (14), and my mother-in-law. Food to your room takes a bit of time...faster just to get food from the buffet and bring it down to your room. Overall, average cruise, not a lot for kids to do, and not a lot of time spent in the ports. Other cruise ships had arrived before us and we left before they did. Nice, but not luxurious or fancy. My daughter loved the outdoor pool and the basketball court. Not many activities for kids her age. Wish we had more time in the ports. I would choose a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Having set sails with RCCL, NCL, and Celebrity, I tried not to set my standard too high because I know that HAL is going to be different and more traditional. After spending a week on Oosterdam, I can break it down and say things that I ... Read More
Having set sails with RCCL, NCL, and Celebrity, I tried not to set my standard too high because I know that HAL is going to be different and more traditional. After spending a week on Oosterdam, I can break it down and say things that I like and dislike. Things I like, 1. the relaxing nature of this cruise. It's very laid back and be as lazy as I wanted. 2. Food quality was superb. I like that I didn't notice anything artificial like food coloring. 3. A lot of healthy food options; from no sugar added items to seafood. 4. Drink pricing was reasonable. For example, Cappuccino was $2.25. 5. Everyone seems friendly and very efficient in their own area. 6. Educational events and shows, especially with BBC 7. Elevators were fast and efficient. i particularly loved the scenic elevators with glass panels facing out of the ship. 8. Refurbishment could be seen and easily noticed, especially at the Lido Market. 9. Lot of movies playing, especially in cabin. 10. Getting on and off the ship was super easy. Things I dislike 1. The relaxing nature of this cruise. It gets boring at some point on a week long cruise. 2. Crew members were friendly but restrained. I felt like they were trained to say so much and that's it. 3. The use of public areas could be improved. I ran out of things to explore. 4. The lack of energy. There wasn't much going on at all. Bars were dead and filled with people taking a nap or knitting. 5. Shows were educational and informative. Not exciting and energetic at all. 6. Comedies were good but PG-13 7. The ship could use more seating area, especially at the Lido Market. 8. The lack of food venues to help breaking up the crowd. 9. Duration at ports could have been better. Ketchikan 7am-1pm was silly. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Background: We have never cruised with HAL, but had been on 2 Princess, 2 Carnival and 1 RC. We are 40 something's on a cruise with some good friends. We had been to Alaska before, back in 1997 on Princess. We flew in the day ... Read More
Background: We have never cruised with HAL, but had been on 2 Princess, 2 Carnival and 1 RC. We are 40 something's on a cruise with some good friends. We had been to Alaska before, back in 1997 on Princess. We flew in the day before, stayed at one of the hotels near the port and took their shuttle to the pier on day of departure. We were traveling together as 2 couples. We picked up my husbands scooter at the terminal. They had it ready for him. This was the first time it was not delivered to the cruise ship stateroom. As we proceeded through to embark, hubby and I were able to breeze through, but our friends had to go through as usual. I do not remember an embarkation taking so long as this one. We waited for them to get through the line and I believe we waited close to 2 hours. The line curved on forever. They did not have enough help to check people in. This was literally the worst thing on the entire cruise. Once they got through, we boarded and let the fun begin. Services: I enjoy going to the spa when on a cruise and this time was no exception. I really enjoyed the massage. I went on a port day and had no trouble getting into the time slot I wanted. The pool was very nice. Sat by that and caught some rays. A waiter was readily available should I need anything. Art Auction: My husband and I like going to the art auctions, but for some reason, this gallery and staff turned us off. One of the male auctioneers gave me the impression that he was too busy to stop and talk with me. Too bad for him, as we have purchased art before from other cruises. It is usually our reminder of the cruise and the good time we had. Instead, this trip I bought a Phillip Stein watch. Food: We ate in the main dining room at the anytime dining. We really enjoy that. 5 of the 7 nights we ate with our friends at a table for four. Food was excellent. In fact this is the best food we have had in a long time on a cruise. Only draw back was they kept seating us way in the back when my husband had his scooter. It was OK when we would go in because tables were empty going back, but when we would come out, the restaurant was packed and people had to get up and move their chairs in so he could get by. We suggested they seat us up front, but they always said no no no, it is no problem. We just nodded and said OK. Activities: Went to the Newlywed game- it was a blast. We haven't laughed that much in a long time. It was fun because the crowd was really into it also. We spent time up in the Crow's nest Lounge. We would play cards up there, have some cocktails and play trivia. Always a great way to spend a day at sea - great views!! Casino: Very nice Casino! Not too smoky. Huibby had a good time playing blackjack and even won a little. Casino staff very helpful. We enjoyed the slot tournaments they had. Disembarkation; Went very smooth. Much better than getting on. Little wait time. We were sad to be getting off. Wanted to stay another 7 days! Summary: We went to Alaska before with Princess Cruises in 1997. It was a different time and cruising was different. Food quality was so much better and this was our very first cruise and I think you always remember your first cruise. Having said that, I feel HAL was an excellent cruse to Alaska and I think the ports have improved since we were there. For seeing glaciers and the scenic shoreline, HAL was better! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our second HAL cruise. It may be our last. We had taken this cruise five years ago on the Norwegian Pearl, but this time we wanted to try HAL as a previous repositioning cruise with HAL was very nice. We thought the food and ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise. It may be our last. We had taken this cruise five years ago on the Norwegian Pearl, but this time we wanted to try HAL as a previous repositioning cruise with HAL was very nice. We thought the food and service might be better than on the Pearl. We were right about that. It was what we didn't know that would have caused us to choose the Pearl again. DEPARTURE HOTEL We always fly in a day before the cruise and out the day after a cruise primarily because my wife does not have a lot of stamina as a result of a medical condition. This time we chose the Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle and loved it. We took the train from the airport to the hotel, which has the advantage of being both very inexpensive and ending in the mall next door to the hotel. Fortunately the ride was on a Saturday afternoon and the train was not crowded - there is really no place to store Pepto and Bismal, our very large, very "findable" hot pink suitcases. (This was their first trip with us and they provided many a laugh while never being hard to spot in the sea of suitcases!) The hotel is about 5 blocks from Pike's Place Market. Being Mother's Day weekend the market was more awash in flowers than usual. We love street vendors, and we found a wonderful leather bag to replace one we'd bought 18 years ago in St. Thomas. EMBARKATION The Mayflower's van vendor is wonderful, and they delivered us to the ship at about 11:15 a.m. We were in our room by 11:45, and eating lunch by 12:15. STATEROOM We stayed in 6175, which is a handicapped aft suite. It was a wonderful room, with more room than the three of us needed. I have never seen so much storage! It was nicely appointed with excellent craftsmanship (I'm a woodworker, so I notice such things). The bed was excellent. The window was quite big with a wonderful desk in front of it and sash big enough to sit in. The balcony was very large with a table, 5 chairs and a chaise lounge. Previous reviews I'd read had warned that there is virtually no overhang over the balconies on deck 6 aft and that proved to be a handicap on the few times it rained during the cruise. I would have loved to have had the corner suite next door so I could have seen "around the corner" on the wrap-around balcony, but the very nice folk that stayed in it had booked before I. We had never sailed in an aft cabin. Though I don't care to not being able to see where we were headed, the advantage of very little wind as the ship moved through chilly air was nice indeed. The biggest disadvantage, at least on the Oosterdam, was at Tracy Arm. The captain got us there just fine, but once there he kept the ship pointed forward for a short time, then turned it around and promptly left. We only had moments to see the glacier and the harbor seals on the ice. Had I known that's what he was going to do I would have fought the crowds and gone forward for a while. Our room stewards Joe and Tree were just exceptional, astoundingly wonderful, beyond words, etc. DINING The food in the main dining room was excellent - almost every dish was as good as one could get anywhere. The service was mostly good except at lunch a couple of times. The Pinnacle was mediocre, crowded, with inadequate seating, and it always closed before the posted closing time. We always had our "first breakfast" via room service ordered for 6 a.m., and it always arrived at 5:30 a.m. It was quite tasteless. We were thankful for the order forms we filled out the night before and hung on the door, as room service did not answer the phone one single time on our cruise. As a result, we consider HAL's claim that food is available 24 hours a day just so much hot air. If you are hungry after about 8:30 at night, your menu choices are pizza and ice cream, at least until about 11. After that, forget it. We learned quickly to buy food in port, or get extra yogurt at breakfast for those late night snacks. What became amusing, but nice, was that later in the cruise coffee that we didn't order started showing up about an hour after breakfast was delivered. ACTIVITIES AND SHIP SHOPPING The "activities" were a source of derision, especially to our 20 year old daughter. It reminded me of the days I have visited folks in adult daycares. But, I don't go on cruises for ship activities, so that might explain why I thought they were so funny. My girls are professional shoppers and it didn't take them long to explore, then dismiss shopping on board - they forgot swimsuits and were out of luck as there were none. For me - no bandaids or (few) toiletries or socks or underwear? Wow. I've gotten on ships before with little or no extra clothing - on purpose - to just buy it there without having to bring a big bag, and it's a good thing I did not try that on Oosterdam! ENTERTAINMENT The one show we went to was ok; the female lead singer was very good, and some of the dancers were excellent. The routines were a mixed bag from mediocre to quite good. The comedian, Julie Barr, was quite funny. PORTS We love any port in Alaska and either shop or just walk around town visiting with locals. When shopping we avoid the cruise line's in-pocket shops and seek out locally owned places. Sitka is wonderful, as there are only about 3 places affiliated with the cruise lines. We found an amazing piece of whale bone art at Sitka Rose Gallery, and I could have maxed out a credit card or two there. (The piece beat us home to Oklahoma too!) The walk to, and around the national park in Sitka is stunning and not to be missed. I loved Sitka so much that I am going back in August for a week just to fish and hang out. There was a native art place in Ketchikan back from the harbor near the Creek Street shops that had an amazing piece of marble bear and seal (I can't remember the name of the shop), but ma wouldn't let me spend $4,000 on a rock! Darn. I'm still thinking about tracking the place down and calling them to get it. The State Museum at Juneau is small, but fun. One of the displays was a spoof and I felt rather silly after saying "Oh, give me a break" several times, then seeing the explanation outside the room only upon leaving it. We love shopping in Victoria, but unfortunately our favorite shop closed down/changed its inventory "because the younger generation does not care for fine woolens" drats. However, as I've detailed below (and noted that cruise reviews for the week before ours say the same thing), don't count on anything happening in Victoria as there is not time there- a pox on HAL! If you do get a little time in Victoria the taxis are half the cost of ship-provided transportation, and there was absolutely no waiting for one either to get to town or back to the ship. THE "YUCKIES" This ship had some mechanical issues. The toilet seemed to have a mind of its own re: flushing. Some of the time flushing occurred successfully upon pushing the button. Other times it might flush five minutes after pushing the button. Many other times it would flush an hour later. And at least 6 times it would not flush at all and we had to call maintenance. On one visit the tech actually admitted that they were having system problems all over the ship and whole sections would become inoperable because of "air locks". I asked a few of our neighbors if they were having problems, and all said "Oh, yes." I found it odd that most of the propulsion came out of the port side propeller. I even asked the captain himself about it and he gave me some nonsensical mumbo jumbo; I didn't care until it became obvious that the ship was running slow everywhere it went. We sat for four hours outside the Sitka harbor while they repaired "a problem with the anchor." Apparently it wouldn't come aboard. They only managed to make up 2.5 of the hours, so we were late getting into Ketchikan and lost that hour and a half in that port. As other Oosterdam cruisers have reported, we left Ketchikan half an hour ahead of the Norwegian Pearl, but the Pearl passed us late afternoon. We got into Victoria an hour and a half late and saw the Pearl already docked and unloaded on time. We ran into a local who claimed his brother was a harbor pilot, who explained that Oosterdam had a history of running late; that the pilots thought it was because the captain wanted to collect his fuel savings bonus, and that none of the cruise lines wanted to stop in Victoria anyway but were required by law to do so. Who knows if this is true or hogwash, but at any rate, the whole is not a positive. The end result, whether because of ship issues or captain's motives, we lost a lot of time in port. So, if I ever go HAL again, I will assume that the itinerary is probably baloney. DISEMBARKATION Walked right off at 9 a.m., found our suitcases immediately, and were outside in the van back to the Mayflower by 9:30. SUMMARY The food was worthy, the cabin extremely nice, and most of the service was outstanding. However, if we do a third Alaska cruise, we will go on the Pearl again, or try some other line. Toilets are things one only notices when they don't work, and dishonored itineraries left me feeling less than comfortable about trying this one again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
First let me say that I did a lot of research on Alaska cruises prior to booking. My research included the individual cruise lines comparing pricing, accommodations, services and dining, as well as through sites like cruisecritic.com. We ... Read More
First let me say that I did a lot of research on Alaska cruises prior to booking. My research included the individual cruise lines comparing pricing, accommodations, services and dining, as well as through sites like cruisecritic.com. We ultimately booked through an independent agent through the Internet due to some booking incentives. After booking I started watching the blogs closely in anticipation to our cruise on the HAL Oosterdam leaving Seattle, WA on Sunday, May 13, 2012. We arrived a couple of days prior to the cruise and stayed in Seattle, arguably one of our favorite places in the US. We arrived at the port for embarkation early (about 10:30am) and met DW's sister and her DH. Porters were available everywhere and before we were able to put a foot on the ground one was there ready to take our bags. The awesome service had begun. We entered Terminal 91 and found it to be clean and very well marked. The brother-in-law had rented a powered scooter and it was ready and waiting for him when they arrived at the terminal (big plus). As we entered the terminal, it became clear that one hand didn't always know what the other hand was doing. We were ushered toward an elevator (because of the scooter) but my DW was in the bathroom. The nice man that had offered the elevator had stepped away and a not so pleasant woman, pointing toward the elevator said "GO OVER THERE". Mind you, I am just starting my long awaited vacation...RUDE was not what I was looking for. Just as I started to chime in, the nice man returned and got us on the elevator. Security screening was not horrible, but I did have too many carry-on's (not more than I could physically handle, but more than I wanted to handle) so I was getting a bit crabby standing in line that wasn't moving as quickly as I would have liked. As we reached the front of the line, we were ushered to a nice lady that had a total of 3 people standing behind her...helping her. Not only was she new, but they were learning a new booking system as well. She did the best she could with what she had to work with, and surprisingly enough, I let it roll off. We were inside the terminal with check-in completed and waiting to board by 11:10a Boarding began promptly at 11:30, and being in the front of the disabled line we were on board by 11:45. As we walked on, I asked if we could wait for our cabins in the Vista Dining Room - the response was "your cabins are ready". WOW! That has never happened on Carnival - we have always had to wait until at least 1pm. We were on and our vacation had begun. Now, all of the things that I had read in the blogs that I would like to comment on. CABINS: We booked a guaranteed SY category "Superior Suite". We were upgraded to an SS in cabin 8042. Upon entering the cabin we were definitely in love. Very large (for a cruise ship) bathroom with 2 sinks, tub with Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. There was lots of storage space, not only in the 4 closets but in drawers around. The sofa was a red leather color, but was very comfortable. I laid on it most every evening for movie night. There are 3 nice chairs and a footstool. The lighting could be better, especially in the entry hall. We had a slight problem with the in-room safe, but the staff came and took care of it. This cabin is shown as having a queen sized bed - we had a king. I had heard that the refrigerators were more like cooling boxes. I can tend to be very critical about things, but I must say, it worked much better than I expected. It was nice having it in the room. We brought on a 12-pack of soda and some bottled water and it was very drinkable. The veranda was spacious with 2 chairs and footstools, as well as a round table and 2 chairs. We were impressed by the cabin, and more so after looking at the other part of the family is 8027 veranda. It was quite a bit smaller and more cramped than ours. The upgrade was worth it for us. CREW: The reviews that I have read about the crew were pretty right on. The staff that we dealt with (excluding the front desk staff) were awesome and always willing to go the extra mile. Our room stewart ("Su") always had the room cleaned and turn down down while we were out. He tried once when we were on the balcony, and when we offered to vacate so he could work he apologized and said that he would come back. Awesome... The Vista Dining Room staff (Mafood and Gun) were great - could not have asked for better service. The front desk staff were not so great. I found it very difficult to communicate with them over the simplest of issues. Their English was not horrible, but the accent does tend to get in the way when you are frustrated and trying to deal with a problem. We had purchased a soda card ($25 for a $50 card) - it was a good deal, but it would not activate and I took it back. After about 10 minutes of explaining the problem about 4 times, she gave me a new card. I didn't look real close and we tried to use it at dinner and it didn't work because it had not been "activated", which is supposed to happen the 1st time you use it - it didn't. I took it back a 2nd time - frustration level climbing - only to find that they replaced the soda card with a $50 beverage card and charged me for both. After explaining the problem to someone else again...they were able to make it right, and charge all of our soda purchases that had not been covered on the card. FOOD: Let me start with our top pick. The Pinnacle Grill was amazing! It was definitely worth the additional money. We ate there once for dinner and once for lunch. Would highly recommend. The Vista Dining Room - as I said, the staff was excellent. I was really looking forward to the food after reading through the blogs and HAL's website. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the food was nothing special. The shrimp that they served had no taste, the steaks were less than prime and not very tasty. I could go on and on - but, it didn't ruin our cruise. If we had be left only to the Lido I would have jumped overboard - even in frigid waters. The only word to describe it is "gross". I had better food in boot camp. The oatmeal was paste, the scrambled eggs were powered, and everything I tried (outside of the hamburger, taco bar and the ice cream) didn't get finished. SHIP: I had heard differing comments about the condition of the ship. I found the ship to be very clean and in good condition. I did not notice the areas of disrepair that were mentioned - and I was looking for them. One thing that was not mentioned was the on-board photography. The sister-in-law found a package deal on HAL's website for $299 - all photo's taken on board included. We figured that we would look when we arrived and decide after that. Once on-board we found that the package had increased $50. If you like good photo's this is a good deal even at full price. We ended up with about 20 different seating's for photos, and came home with a ton of photo's. You can go to any of the places on ship where they are taking photos as much as you want, change cloths and go back if you like. If they are not busy, they will often do as much as you want, and as goofy as you like. DW took advantage of it and we go our monies worth. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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