58 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Alaska

Seeing the sites from our balcony gave us the feeling we were really there. Unbelievable views. Felt like we could touch the glacier in Glacier Bay. Nice views of everything throughout the trip. We saw fish jumping and pretty sure two ... Read More
Seeing the sites from our balcony gave us the feeling we were really there. Unbelievable views. Felt like we could touch the glacier in Glacier Bay. Nice views of everything throughout the trip. We saw fish jumping and pretty sure two dolphins swimming by. Four days of stops might mean there was a little less offered than on our previous trips on HAL. We luckily had fabulous weather as we were told it rains daily in our ports but the sun was shining everywhere. We did a lot of walking in Alaska. The Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka is a 15 minute walk from the ship and is more than worth the $4.00 entrance fee. Be sure and open the drawers. We did not do the extra excursions. We have visited Victoria and Seattle before and both are fabulous cities to visit. If you go to the Pike Market in Seattle, be sure and start at the top. HAL has the tips on the final bill, not to worry, the service was great!! Our room was always clean and all our servers in their various capacities were pleasant and helpful. Some of the ship does need refurbishing like the chairs in the Queen's Lounge and the seating in the Vista Lounge. We ate in the Vista dining, the Lido, on the patio, the Italian dining room, and the Pinnacle. Overall, I give the food a seven on a ten point scale. We had open seating and found it easy to choose the time as long as we called in early and booked several days ahead of time. And, of course, with so much food, we could eat aweigh. The comedian Ward was excellent. He is also an illusionist/magician and he performed a few times. The HAL singers and dancers were very entertaining. We would do HAL again just for the cruise if we could leave from our home area - San Diego. Leaving from our home port is at least a $500.00 savings. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was our first Veranda, a last minute paid upgrade. I must say that we enjoyed it as we had amazing, sunny weather for the entire week. Our cabin 6040 was very similar to the Outside cabins we have had in the past, except for the ... Read More
This was our first Veranda, a last minute paid upgrade. I must say that we enjoyed it as we had amazing, sunny weather for the entire week. Our cabin 6040 was very similar to the Outside cabins we have had in the past, except for the balcony. The bathroom was comfortable and kept spotless by by our cabin steward. This was our first time on the Oosterdam, and we enjoyed the ship very much. The food in the Vista grill was great, although, be aware that dinner is a two hour affair. I had salmon and rack of lamb twice and my husband was very happy with his surf 'n turf and other beefy entrees. We were traveling with our 30-something niece and nephew and their two kids, 4 and 6. The dinners were a bit long for the kids, but they enjoyed the coloring kids menus and crayons. The kids loved Club Hal and were always begging to go there. They also loved the basketball court and outside spaces. on Glacier Bay day, the Park Rangers did a special presentation for the kids and gave them badges, of which they were very proud. Glacier Bay was amazing, the Captain got us very close to the Margerie Glacier, spun the ship around, and gave everyone a good view. We had no trouble finding an uncrowded family space on the promenade to "camp" in deck chairs to revel in the views. The traditional HAL hot pea soup was appreciated even in the warm weather. We only saw the two production shows which were excellent. The choreography, dancing and costumes were first-class. I saw a short bit of the magician, which I did not much like, and the comedian was telling the same tired Viagra jokes one comes to expect. We did not see the whole show, so he may have improved as the show progressed. It was a great family week with something for all ages. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My parents (ages 64 and 58) and I (age 28) were first-time cruisers on the Oosterdam to Alaska in May 2011. We booked the Oosterdam because of the Glacier Bay itinerary and because HAL was running a "third person free" promotion ... Read More
My parents (ages 64 and 58) and I (age 28) were first-time cruisers on the Oosterdam to Alaska in May 2011. We booked the Oosterdam because of the Glacier Bay itinerary and because HAL was running a "third person free" promotion that made it cheaper to book on HAL than on other cruise lines. We had an amazing time on the ship and in Alaska and would do it again in a heartbeat! Ship - I was a little apprehensive because I had read some posts on CC that the Oosterdam was looking outdated and worn, and because the Oosterdam interior pictures on HAL's website always struck me as gaudy with all the metallic finishes and Art Deco styling. However, in reality the Oosterdam is in terrific shape, and looks completely classy throughout. I didn't notice anything worn about the ship. It was very easy to get around and the ship is large enough that we never felt crowded and there were always relatively empty public spaces. Food - the food was uniformly excellent. We had breakfast in the Lido every day and lunch/dinner in the Vista MDR most days (and in the Lido a few times). We took full advantage of being able to order as much as we wanted in the MDR and never went hungry during the cruise. Sure, the MDR food wasn't perfect, but I thought it was comparable to decent restaurant food and was great value considering it was included in the cruise fare. We never felt the need to eat at the Pinnacle Grill given how good the Lido and MDR were. We did want to try eating at Cannaletto, but it was impossible to get reservations at a reasonable time, so we ended up not going. Service was excellent everywhere. Activities - entertainment was very good. We went to all the main evening shows and thought the comedian/magician, Leo Ward, was spectacular. I thought the resident dancers/singers were also good and their shows were of high production quality - not Broadway quality, of course, but still good considering they are based on a cruise ship! We also went to the "Liars Game" and "Marriage Game" shows in the Queen's Lounge, both of which were extremely funny. The only issue is that Leo Ward's humor definitely has an edge to it and I am not sure it is completely appropriate for children, but otherwise he is not to be missed. Cabin - we originally booked an oceanview cabin but were offered a paid upgrade to a very good balcony cabin for $198 total, which we took. The room was very nice but I am not sure we needed a balcony considering we spent most of our time in the public areas, even on Glacier Bay day (because the views were nicer and it was just more fun to be watching with other folks on the public decks). In retrospect, I think an oceanview cabin or even an inside would have been just fine. Itinerary - Glacier Bay was spectacular. We saw the Marjorie Glacier calve blocks of ice the size of houses, and as we heard someone else say, "that alone was worth the cost of the trip." Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka were also quite nice and we were very fortunate to get almost no rain the whole week (it was sunny in Ketchikan when we were there!). In Juneau, we rented a car from Rent a Wreck (they were great) and drove by ourselves to the Mendenhall Glacier and other sites. Sitka is quite walkable and we didn't feel like we needed a car to get around. In Ketchikan, a car would have been useful to get to the totem parks, but considering the short amount of time we were there, we just walked around the central area and had fun attending the lumberjack show. Overall, we had a fantastic first cruise experience on the Oosterdam to Alaska. I don't have other cruise experiences to compare it to, but if you are thinking of cruising to Alaska, I can't recommend HAL or the Oosterdam more highly. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
First time on Holland America, most cruises were on Princess. We had a deluxe verandah room. The room was very nice, set up well. The bathrooms have showers in bathtubs which I could have done without the bathtub, it was more of a trip ... Read More
First time on Holland America, most cruises were on Princess. We had a deluxe verandah room. The room was very nice, set up well. The bathrooms have showers in bathtubs which I could have done without the bathtub, it was more of a trip hazard getting in and out. The room was at the very back of the ship, it was wonderful. We sat out on the balcony and it wasn't windy or cold, even though it was September. The view was wonderful and really paid off when we visited the John Hopkins Glacier during scenic cruising. The buffet was set up nice and contained different kind of ethnic food. Favorite was the sandwiches and the make your own pasta. The theater was really nice though there are only 33 seats so you have to get there early. They had some free digital computer classes and that was great. The rest of the ship I didn't care for so much. On Princess you have a wide open area with a grand staircase, piano player, and see the shops. Holland America felt very closed in, the ceilings were low and I didn't care for it at all. We had the 8:30 seating, but the food was not that good. I never ate much there, had high hopes something would be good, but it wasn't. If you are interested in the art and auctions, this would not have been a good ship for you. The art gallery was very small and there never was a true auction. On Princess there is one set price and you can have all the soda's you can drink. I got a card for $25 and you got 20 GLASSES of soda, small glasses, no refills. Love the $30 with Princess and drink what you want. Casino was very small, not very many tables. One cruise on Holland America is enough for me. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
I like breaking my review into sections rather than day-by-day so that you can peruse what is most interesting/relevant for your research. Overall: We had a great trip and loved HAL, Alaska, and all of the people we met on board or on ... Read More
I like breaking my review into sections rather than day-by-day so that you can peruse what is most interesting/relevant for your research. Overall: We had a great trip and loved HAL, Alaska, and all of the people we met on board or on excursions. I entitled my review (and included) lessons learned not to complain, but to help others in their research. While I was researching Alaska, I had a lot of this advice available to me (and listened to most of it) but made choices based on our entire group and what I thought was right for us based on our travel preferences and history. There were SEVERAL things I would have done differently if I had it to do over. But overall I would say that this was a fantastic trip and I would HIGHLY recommend Alaska, HAL, and the Oosterdam to all! Thanks to all of the Cruise Critic family for your help in planning our trip! About Us: A family group ranging from 20s to 80s. First Time for HAL and Alaska! We set sail on the Oosterdam out of Seattle on June 13th, 2010. Ports of Call were Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, B.C. - with a day of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park. Some first time cruisers, most of us have a couple of cruises under our belts on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We are from Colorado and Wyoming. Comparisons of HAL with CCL & RCI: This was a topic I was very interested in myself. As usual there are more similarities than differences, but HAL shone in several areas above the previous cruise lines. Food a. MDR: HAL definitely won out in the main dinning room and the lido buffet over other lines, but especially in the seafood area (salmon, shrimp, lobster tails), as these were plentiful in selection and reliably good to great. Beef was very similar to Carnival and below par to RCI, which we feel, is RCI's food strong suit. The hours for MDR for breakfast and lunch are miniscule so plan ahead to eat here. We had anytime dining and this worked well for our Alaska schedule but I missed having the same waiter. We never had anyone fantastic enough to warrant a special request for his or her section. It was also difficult to remember everyone when it came to give extra tips at the end. Lesson: If you are anytime dining - tip a small amount extra in cash on the table each night that way no one misses out. b. The Pinnacle Grill (we ate here twice for dinner) was very good but only slightly better than the Main Dinning Room for seafood (lobster tail, shrimp, and salmon) while the beef was worth the $20 surcharge. Of the filet minon, ribeye, and ny strip steak, the ribeye was the standout. The Golden Fleece Super Club on Carnival is much better in terms of both service and food quality - however, it is a $35 surcharge - so that may not be a fair comparison. Lesson: Eat Beef here for your money's worth. Drinks a. Compared to CCL and RCL the drinks here are MUCH better - stronger, hand mixed, better selection (can you say Mojito!) and the cocktail card, which was given to us by our travel agent, worked really well for us (especially since it was complimentary). We would not get a cocktail card usually though, because the drink prices are just so darn reasonable. There was only one cocktail waitress (who shall remain nameless) in the Queen's lounge who was extremely rude about the cocktail card and always forgot our drinks and gave us constants scowls and eye rolls. The only negative to this was that we loved the Queen's lounge and were there a lot and as she was so rude to my Grandma we were all reluctant to order drinks here. However she was an absolute exception to all of the other drink servers who were fantastic! Service We had heard a lot about the quality of service on HAL surpassing other lines. This is absolutely true. The staff was all soooo friendly and engaging and helpful. This is a definite stand out for HAL and as we were doing a family trip with many different age groups and abilities - this was the absolute right choice for us. I swear my Grandma had a smile plastered on her face 95% of the time (see Queen's lounge waitress above). You will be spoiled all week by smiling and cheerful faces. Live Music The quality and availability of live music on board was excellent! We absolutely loved this! We thought that Jenny and the HALcats were a blast. We loved the Neptunes and the Adagio Strings. The piano bar was also fun but needed to have less trivia and more sing along time. There was definitely something for everyone here. Ports of Call/Excursions: 1. Cruising Glacier Bay National Park: We definitely endured extra costs and scheduling constraints to make this a part of our cruise, as there are limited permits into this area. WORTH IT!!!! Although I have not been to Tracy Arm or Hubbard - this may have been one of my favorite days. We saw 4 Glaciers (several calving events), probably about 20 whales, seals and eagles on icebergs, Dahl porpoises and beautiful scenery. I would rate this as a 10 out of 10 - it far exceeded my expectations (I thought it would be boring). Lesson: Hold out for Glacier Bay on your itinerary. 2. Juneau: As we had a 13-hour call here, our plan for Juneau was to go fly-fishing all day with Luke of Sea Runner Guide service that operates out of the Juneau Fly fishing shop. My husband loves to fly fish and he has always wanted to go in Alaska. We knew that July was a better month for this, but with a family trip and his brother's wedding in mid July we thought we would give it a try anyway. Even though salmon aren't in the streams in June this is prime time for Dolley Varden and since it is catch and release we were just looking forward to having some fun fly-fishing in scenic Alaska. Luke was on time at our meeting place and took us to Auke Bay to get the boat - we saw lots of humpbacks and eagles en route to the site. As we got closer, the water became extremely rough and he said that there was a storm coming in and we would have to turn back or we might get stuck. He said that because of the time of year that there were really no other options for places to go for fishing. He took us back to the fly shop. We were out with him about 2 ½ - 3 hours total. The fly shop refunded our entire fee and apologized. We were not unhappy with them but severely disappointed, as this was our expensive big ticket Alaska item. We had backup plans of course, but were soooo disappointed that we went back the ship and ate lunch to regroup and find a plan B, such as the shuttle to Mendenhall or taxi to the Brewery. We ate and couldn't rally so we went to the spa for massages (great package) and to hang out in the Thermal Suite. It was nice and relaxing with great scenery - especially because we were both SO depressed. Others in our group did the Grand Tour of Juneau through the ship (Glacier, Gardens, Salmon Hatchery) and loved it - they thought the Glacier and Gardens were spectacular where the hatchery was so-so. Lesson: If we could do it over again we would have booked a tour that did a Glacier walk or at least stop at the visitors center and combine with a whale watch - for the cost of fishing we could have done these two things which are much more reliable, recommended on these boards, and representative of things you can see in Alaska and not in Colorado/Wyoming. I should have realized this, but I hope it will help future cruisers. I would rather know that we are going to get to do something fun than take the chance that if everything falls into place we might have a fantastic experience. We loved Juneau and would consider this as a week long stop for a future trip. We are also hoping in the future to do a fly fishing trip to a more northern part of Alaska. 3. Sitka We walked around town in the morning and saw the Russian Bishop's House, St. Michael's Cathedral, and shopped. In hindsight, I would have gone to the Park first (we ran out of time and could not go) and then if we had time visited these two stops. I despise shopping in port and only did this to accommodate the shoppers in our group ;). I do not want to spend time in Alaska in a store. In the afternoon we took a three-hour marine wildlife watching tour with Captain Davey. This was fantastic - we wish that we could have booked the four-hour tour but it was taken over 8 months in advance, so book as early as you can for this one. Because of the three-hour tour we had to pick between puffins and whales - be upfront with Davey and let him know your preference - we went with puffins as we had already seen a bunch of whales in Juneau and Glacier Bay, but it would have been nice to do both. I cannot say enough about Davey - he made it really special and my Grandma and Mom had the best time - he was really good at questions and such a knowledgeable and passionate guy. One of the reasons we chose this sailing was the opportunity to stop at Sitka - which turned out to be the most authentic of any of our calls. Lesson: Book popular independent tours AS SOON AS you know your date. Even an 8-hour call is short enough that you need to plan your time very carefully. If others in your group refuse to do so - make your own plans without them! 4. Ketchikan Hubby, MIL, and I booked with Ken of Northern Lights as our trip was in Primetime King Salmon season. Ken picked us up right at the pier and we went out on his boat, which was parked right next to the ship. He took us out to see an eagle, which would catch fish that he threw in the air. He warned us that the Orcas had been in the bay three days before and that the Salmon were being a little weird the day before and he only caught 1 King, 1 Halibut, and 1 Rockfish. We went out several places and were excited to see the king salmon jumping out of the water everywhere the whole time we were out. Ken and his buddies kept in contact all day and basically no one was having any luck including us. Hubby got one bite, which dropped the hook. That was the only action we saw. Ken worked so hard for us to get a fish and we could tell that he felt so bad that we did not have any better luck. He said that it was incredibly rare for him to not get a fish at this time in the season and that he wished we would have not gone out. He also said that he would tell the people tomorrow that maybe they should go hiking or to Saxman instead. As this was a very short call (6 hours) by the time we got back we just had time to make a loop around the shops and get back on board. No fish the entire trip - what a let down! See Lesson from Juneau. If we could do it over again we would have gone to Saxman. 5. Victoria, B.C. Another short (6 hour) call. To add to that we were about an hour late getting into port (but at least we didn't get in at 9pm like last week). Knowing the common complications of this port we booked the ship's tour to Butchart Gardens all together, mainly so that Grandma could see it (I thought it would be boring!). Getting off the ship was a cluster**** and took almost an hour (excuse me but there is nothing else strong enough to describe it). By the time we got to the Gardens we only had 1 hour and 30 minutes to see it. That was kind of a let down because this place was AMAZING!!!!! I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT! Totally worth it! I could easily spend all day here. We had to rush but I would highly recommend it! Lesson: Booking the ships tour was worth it for this short and often shortened port of call. Entertainment: Shows were pretty similar quality to other ships, but I thought the themes were a lot more interesting (movies, Broadway, ballroom dancing) and relevant to pop culture than other ships I have been on. We also sometimes opted for the Spa or Live Music at night - a mix of these was perfect for us. The Ventriloquist and Magician were just fantastic - best shows I have seen at sea - hands down! Oosterdam: Great ship, all of our cruises have been on ships of this general size and we really like it - enough going on not to get bored, but small enough to get the layout down quickly and have quaint, relaxing areas to gaze at the sea. Until 11pm there was lots to do, after wards, really only the casino and northern lights, but for us that was plenty! Equipment: We bought Nikon Trailblazers ($125) and Bushnell Perma Focus ($50) binocs - both 10x 50 both Fog free/waterproof and were glad to have them. The Monarchs are of noticeably better quality but for the difference in price and how often we use binoculars this was a good choice for us. As for cameras we have a nice Panasonic with a 12x optical zoom with interchangeable lens and filters and a small Canon. We bought a few filters and such for this trip, but I regret that we did not take the plunge and buy the SLR camera we have been drooling over. We brought lots of cards, extra batteries, and our Dell mini to unload the cards frequently and we used everything we brought. Lesson: If you are considering upgrading your camera before this trip - DO IT. Also: keep your binocs (everyone should have their own) and camera on you all the time - it's worth lugging them around - trust me! Pre/Post Cruise Seattle: Port Choice: We chose this itinerary for several reasons - we wanted Glacier Bay, Sitka, and Victoria. Also we wanted to be able to fly nonstop from Denver due to one in our group being wheelchair bound and having extreme difficulty flying and especially transferring planes (we almost always miss our connection or have a terrible experience with the aisle chair). Port of Seattle: No HAL porters! Grandma had to haul her luggage all the way - Princess porters were everywhere. BOO to HAL for this! The Trade off: The first day at sea was the worst I have ever experienced - strong motion for about 24 hours straight - it's a good thing there are handrails in the shower! We knew that this was a possibility and took Bonine a couple of days before and were lucky enough not to get seasick. Others in our group did NOT take this precaution (or used Dramamine) and were sea sick for about a day and a half. The rest of the trip was smooth sailing. Lesson: Prepare your self by taking seasick meds ahead of time! Flights: We flew direct from Denver on Alaskan Airlines for $180 each RT with taxes - Great Value. Great airline! Some in our group flew Delta from Wyoming and had to connect - their connection was canceled and their flight delayed - glad we flew in a day early or they would have missed the ship. Delta also lost their bags on the way home. Lesson: Fly in the day ahead ESPECIALLY if you have a connecting flight. Hotel: We price lined a 4 star in down town and won the Grand Hyatt on Pine Street for $95/room. LOVED this hotel! Close to Pikes Place and beautiful accommodations. They even let us check in early at 11am! Great service and great location! Luxurious rooms! Lesson: Priceline and Downtown are good choices for Pre Cruise Seattle. Transportation: Used a mix of cabs and town car services. Nothing fantastic and cabs were pricey! Lesson: We did not plan ahead and wished we had prearranged the same town car service (and preferably a better one) for all of our transportation. Sights: Pike Place, Etta's, Space Needle, Hiram Chittenden Locks. All fun - could have spent the whole time at the Market and would definitely do a food tour next time! Did not have enough time to ride the ferry system or do the wineries, but will make time next time! Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
I normally wouldn't take the time to write a review like this, but there were so few reviews written by moms/dads traveling with their kids, that I thought it might be helpful. We traveled with my mom, and our 3 girls - 7 yo, 4yo and ... Read More
I normally wouldn't take the time to write a review like this, but there were so few reviews written by moms/dads traveling with their kids, that I thought it might be helpful. We traveled with my mom, and our 3 girls - 7 yo, 4yo and 21 months. Since we live in the Pacific NW, we didn't include Seattle sightseeing in this trip. We drove up the morning up the cruise to Seattle. My husband dropped all of us off at the pier with the luggage, and then went and parked the car. A porter took the luggage, and it was only a short 15 min before he returned on the shuttle. The embarkation process was very smooth. We went through an expedited line because we had a suite. The whole thing took 10 minutes, and we were on board! The first evening and then the next full day at sea were a little "bumpy". Nothing we needed to take anything for, and the kids didn't seem to be bothered, but there were motion sickness bags by all the elevators, and we saw some people not feeling so well. My only experience with cruising is on the smooth waters of Mexico. I had read that we shouldn't experience any rough water, so this was a little surprising. By the morning of the second day, it was fine. We were in a deluxe verandah suite (7048). (My mom was in an inside cabin down the hall with one of the girls.) As I had read, it was definitely worth the extra cost. We needed the room with a play pen and all of us in there using the balcony. It was quite spacious. The balcony was great, the room location was very quiet, and just a few doors down from the Neptune Lounge (the exclusive lounge for suite/penthouse guests). There was tons of closet and drawer space. The bathroom had a tub and separate shower. There were double sinks. There was also a separate vanity area. The couch, which pulled out into a bed, was not comfortable. It was very deep and the cushions did not fit into it well, which meant that they kind of sloped down. It was difficult to sit on. The throw pillows need to be thrown! There are several amenities that come with staying in the suites, too many to list. Besides the space, the use of the Neptune Lounge and personal concierge were the most important. We dealt with one person for all our needs. Whether it was milk for the baby, movie rentals, or general questions, Nette took care of it all. Dining. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido. There were lots of choices, and it was fine. We had the early assigned dining time of 5:45 in the Vista Dining room. The food was better than I thought it would be. The first couple of nights, meat was overcooked, but it was quickly fixed. The first couple of nights were also a bit slow, but that seemed to improve as well. We are foodies. My expectations of the food going into it were very low! I was pleasantly surprised. We ate 2 times at the Pinnacle Grill. It was clearly different than the dining room (we wondered if the food really all came from the same place?) It didn't! It really was excellent - and worth the $20 surcharge. (There was no charge for the kids.) We did bring 6 bottles of wine on board. There is an $18 corkage fee - worth it for us! Formal nights. I have 3 girls. We love to dress up! We went all out! My husband actually rented a tuxedo from the on board program. We thought it would be easier than packing his suit. The quality of the tux was poor. He wouldn't do that again. I didn't pay super close attention to the dress, but from what I did notice, people did follow the guidelines. We enjoyed formal nights. We would go to the bar before dinner and get the girls a shirley temple. They thought this was pretty fun! Service. The service was very good! Our room steward was very attentive - but not overbearing. The Neptune Lounge service was exceptional! The main dining room steward made a point of learning the kids' names the first night. Every night he greeted them by name and had their place mat with crayons ready in their "regular" seat. He always had fruit and extra bread for the kids ready, and he brought their meals out early if ours were taking longer. He was very apologetic when things were a bit slow the first couple nights (wasn't his fault!) The crew moving around the ship were very friendly, and even more so with the kids. ClubHal. The 7 and 4 year old went to Club Hal the first evening for the "welcome aboard" activities. The staff were very friendly. But - the girls were not impressed after we left, and thus didn't want to go back. We did try one other activity, but when my husband took them up there, he said everything was very chaotic, kids were running all over, it was really loud, and our kids didn't want to stay. I'm not sure they gave it a fair shot, but that was our experience. There was a list of activities that came out every evening for the next day. There seemed to be lots of fun things. It is broken up by ages. We heard that the "teen" group was having a blast. Spa/Gym. I didn't do any spa services on this trip. We did use the gym 4 days. The first 2 were busy of course, the last few, not so much. The cardio equipment looks out to sea through big picture windows. The first day especially was tough to run because of the rough water! My only complaint here is that a fair number of machines (treadmills, stairclimbers, eliptical, bikes) were out of order. With as busy as it was, this was unacceptable in my opinion. Entertainment. We have seen lots of "shows" in our traveling. As a whole, these were definitely the best! There wasn't a huge amount of variety, but they were good, so it didn't matter. The dancers were very talented, with several women on point. There was an illusion show which was pretty impressive. The show times were at 7 and 9pm. This was great for the kids! We usually finished up with dinner at 7:05 and were there just a few minutes late. Usually the shows start so late, this was a big plus for us, because the kids really enjoyed the shows. Disembarkation. We had a late disembarkation time of 9:30. That way we didn't have to wake the kids up super early. We had breakfast and were able to have a fairly leisurely morning. Getting off was fine. The luggage situation was fairly well organized. At the advise of the porter, my husband went by himself to get the car, and we waited with the luggage. Mistake!! The traffic flow was horrible, the car lines were long to pick up passengers, the people directing traffic didn't care if the cars were by the people/luggage they needed to get. This system needs to be improved. (This is a port issue and has nothing to do with Holland America though.) Packing. The hardest thing about packing for Alaska is the weather. It was 65 in Glacier Bay, 50 and raining in Juneau, and 65 coming into Victoria. We definitely packed with the "layering" idea in mind. It was just a whole lot of stuff for a family of 5. Just a few things: I had fleeces and water/wind proof lightweight jackets for the kids (no heavy coats). We also had long underwear - which they used a couple of times. Jeans were the mainstay during the day. We tended to dress up a little more in the evening, even for the smart casual nights - just because we like to. I had to pack diapers, wipes, some crafty things to do when the baby was sleeping, etc. It all adds up. A few tips that I had gotten from another review that were really helpful: We tied bright colored ribbons on both the room doors. The girls (and us!) could easily spot our room in the long hallways. So many people commented that it was a great idea! We also tied a red balloon on our balcony. The kids could see our room when we were in port. I also brought a over the door shoe holder. They pack so easily at the bottom of the suitcase, and were great for all the "little things" - shoes, hair things, gloves, etc - that tend to pile up on the counter space. There was enough closet/drawer space in the suite that this wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was still nice. I also brought a pop-up hamper. That helped with organizing the dirty clothes. I put them all in one suitcase, and packed all the leftover clean clothes in another suitcase. This was helpful for unpacking. Traveling with kids. If you are reading this, you probably are used to traveling with your kids, or maybe considering it. I had heard that there wouldn't be many kids on the ship, that Holland America tends to cater to an "older" group that may not be as tolerable of kids. We did not feel like a minority. There were a fair number of families on the ship, and a large handful with kids our ages. (There were only 1 or 2 other kids under 2). Our kids are used to traveling and to eating out. There was an 18 month old close to us that wasn't the happiest little guy at dinner time. They were asked to take him out of the dining room. There had been several complaints. I think it was reasonable. Disney cruises would probably be more tolerable of this kind of stuff, but in a formal dining room, a crying baby through all of dinner should be taken out! (IMHO) When our 21 month old got squirmy, we took turns getting up and walking with her - just like we would anywhere else! Summary. We would definitely do another cruise with the kids. Probably not back to Alaska (there are so many places in the world to see!) We were very happy with the service, food and Holland America in general. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We recently cruised to Alaska aboard the Oosterdam. This was our first cruise with Holland America, and our daughter and her boyfriends' first cruise ever. We took her for her 21st birthday. Embarkation in Seattle was very smooth, we ... Read More
We recently cruised to Alaska aboard the Oosterdam. This was our first cruise with Holland America, and our daughter and her boyfriends' first cruise ever. We took her for her 21st birthday. Embarkation in Seattle was very smooth, we were on the ship and eating lunch in about 20 minutes. We had a balcony room for all 4 of us. Let me just say I would never do 4 adults in a room again. It was very cozy. We LOVED having the balcony, the scenery in Alaska is incredible. We were most impressed with the crew. Everyone was wonderful. We had open seating for dinner, so when we got the same waiter two nights in a row, we were shocked and pleased that he remembered everything we liked! The food in the dining room and the buffet was very good. Room service was good also. Loved having coffee first thing in the morning. One of the highlights of the cruise was the mixology class. We learned how to mix drinks, learned a lot of history of different drinks, and actually won free drinks by answering questions correctly. The bartender, Nic, was so funny!!! My biggest gripe on the cruise were the other passengers. One lady who was standing behind us at the mixology class, (She didn't pay the $12 that we did) actually tried to take one of my daughter's drinks off of the bar!! After the class her son came up and took all of the drinks that were left over, but had been drank out of!!!!!!!!! I was also upset with people constantly talking through lectures, comedy shows, movies, etc... The dress on this cruise was very casual. Everyone wore jeans to dinner, except on formal night. I packed way too many nice clothes and not enough casual. The ports were wonderful. Juneau and Ketchikan were favorites. The Buchart Gardens in Victoria are a MUST SEE. All in all, a wonderful cruise I would do again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
First of all, this was my 29th cruise overall, but only my third on HAL first since 1997. In the last 5 years, I have cruised exclusively with Carnival. We traveled with a group of 11 on this cruise. Five of us are in our mid-20's, ... Read More
First of all, this was my 29th cruise overall, but only my third on HAL first since 1997. In the last 5 years, I have cruised exclusively with Carnival. We traveled with a group of 11 on this cruise. Five of us are in our mid-20's, with our parents and a couple seniors. All in all, it was a great trip... the ship was great, service excellent, and Alaska was breathtaking. Embarkation: A breeze we arrived to the Pier in Seattle around 11:35, and were on board in 15 minutes. Service: Excellent in general. Room stewards were great. Bar servers were extremely personal and went out of their way to learn your name. We found dining room service to be very average, and wine service in the Vista Dining Room to be poor. However, our two nights in the Pinnacle Grill provided EXCEPTIONAL service. Entertainment: Solid all around. Was not expecting shows up to Carnival or RCCL's caliber in the show room, but they were still pretty good. The magician was phenomenal one of the best I've ever seen. Comedian was great too. The Cruise Director (forgot his name) and the cruise staff were great, and made sure that there were activities to be had for people of all ages. There was MUCH more to do aboard than I anticipated. Nightlife: Again, LOTS more than we thought. The casino was of adequate size with friendly dealers. The Piano Bar was a BLAST. Sports bar was okay; poker room was a HIT. Northern Lights was hit and miss more of a crowd on formal nights, though it seemed teens took it over at times. Food: I'll break the food up in three categories, because they deserve to be recognized individually. Vista Dining Room: A MAJOR part of our cruise is meeting every night for dinner in the main dining room. We were traveling with friends we haven't seen in years, and our family does not get to get together that much. We realized we would not have one table for 11, but thought we would be next to each other. Unfortunately, there ended up being a couple tables in between. We tried to change to no avail, so we had to live with it. Fine, we'll accept it. Unfortunately, we found the food in the Vista Dining Room to be marginal at BEST. All courses were wildly inconsistent, and entrees tasted like they had been sitting out for a while. Normally a highlight of the cruise, we found the dining room food to be very disappointing. We ate in the Vista the first and second nights. We ate in Juneau on land, and returned to the Vista after Hubbard Glacier night. Another sub-par dinner made Tuesday our last trip to the Vista for the week. We spent the rest of the week either at the Pinnacle Grill or eating on shore. I don't think I had unreasonable expectations for this dining room food we just found it to be WELL below the quality of the main dining room food on the last DOZEN cruises we have taken (mainly on Carnival). Pinnacle Grill: In my opinion, this restaurant really MADE the cruise for us. We had made reservations for 11 for Sitka night before the cruise. Our waiters (Jay and another couple servers) were OUTSTANDING. Everyones meals were phenomenal and cooked perfectly. We all were able to sit at one table, and had a great time. We tried to book again for Thursday, but were told that it was sold out. Thursday afternoon, we went by to check if there were any cancellations, and we were in luck! They were able to squeeze our party of 11 in again, and we all enjoyed another near perfect meal. This place is WELL worth the $20 cover. Our experience here was superior to our experiences in Carnival's Supper Clubs (which are also fantastic). Lido: I ate all my breakfasts and most lunches in the Lido. The breakfast selection was great. I really enjoyed the eggs benedict station and the belgian waffle section sooo good. Lunch also had a wonderful selection, and I usually opted for the Asian food. Debarkation: Painless. We were off the ship by 9am after a leisurely breakfast in Lido. Miscellaneous: I'm not going to cover the ports too much, as those can be researched separately. I will say that the tendering process in Sitka was pretty poor if you didn't book an excursion. I did not have a problem, but many in our party had to wait almost 2 hours in order to be called to shore. - The ship was clean and laid out generally well. I really appreciated all the nightlife activities being together on deck 2. I didn't really like the setup of the gym, but it was adequate for the crowd on board. For the size of the ship, I prefer the layout of Carnival's Spirit-class. In conclusion... this was a very good cruise. We LOVED Alaska, and especially enjoyed spending time with family and friends. Our sub par experience in the Vista Dining Room did actually detract from our enjoyment of the cruise because it is such a large aspect of OUR cruise experience. However, other than that, it was a good time, and everything else was generally good to excellent as we expected. Would I sail HAL again? Sure... for the right itinerary and right price. Would I go out of my way to sail HAL? Not at all. Being in my mid-20s, I did not at all feel out of place, or feel like there wasn't enough for me to do. This actually surprised me, and I would not at all mind sailing with them again. Other than some big improvement to make in the kitchen, the Oosterdam was a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
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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