7 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Alaska

My cousins had never cruised, so we picked an itinerary they were excited about. Thus, we had the chance to see this cruise through the eyes of our cousins who came with us. We found many areas in need of improvement, especially ... Read More
My cousins had never cruised, so we picked an itinerary they were excited about. Thus, we had the chance to see this cruise through the eyes of our cousins who came with us. We found many areas in need of improvement, especially communication. There was no apparent mechanism for hearing most announcements in the room. My cousin is hard of hearing and so felt he missed a lot of information. We were unsure if we needed to be wearing life vests for the safety drill, until the very last minute when they instructed us to proceed to the muster stations. We’ve cruised a lot and have always seen this information in the instructions or heard it on the video. No guest laundry on board the Oosterdam. I told the cousins they should expect a laundry special during the week but there never was. Nor were there any internet specials, even last-minute specials to check boarding passes, etc. Stayed at HIE SEATAC which had a shuttle to the port. This service worked very well. Embarkation: Arrival around 1045 at port, and getting through all the checkpoints was a breeze. We had a 45 min or so wait but the area was pleasant enough. Lido deck was open for lunch but apparently so was a formal dining area. We were informed about only the Lido deck. Although we normally prefer the formal lunches, our travel companions had never cruised before and so having lunch on the Lido was a good introduction to the buffet. The area is nicely designed and was much quieter and less crowded than I expected, although it was starting to get crowded by the time we left. Food options were varied, interesting, and of good quality. Somehow we missed the opportunity to meet the naturalist, but we did make the sail-away party. While the venue was a bit too noisy and crowded for our companions, they enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery, and meeting other people. Day 1, embarkation: Dinner: we managed to get a 6 pm dining slot. Service is slow. Food was quite good. I had the seafood chowder and rockfish. I could take or leave the chowder but the fish was nice. Day 2: Sea Day. Quite a few options at breakfast. Sit-down lunch was nice with a variety of options, but slow service. Since we also enjoyed high tea a short time later, we ended up skipping formal night dinner as we had early reservations and were still too full. Day 3. Juneau Breakfast. Arrived when the doors opened, asked for window so we got the table at the very rear. Apparently the wait staff find this territory dangerous. Sometime after 8:30 I asked if we could get pastries and several minutes later my oatmeal and the pastries arrived. Sometime after 9 the hot meals arrived. As for service, my oatmeal arrived on one plate, accompanied by a plate with milk and raisins on it, and a separate one with sliced banana. Finding no space to put all these plates, the waiter set them on the edge and shoved the existing plate further in. I hurriedly tried to move plates so the milk didn’t topple. Just not the way food should be served. Day 4 at sea, view of glaciers Bundle up! It’s going to be cold outside, but you’ll want to be outside for the best view. The naturalist was speaking on deck 4 but the PA system seemed to cut out frequently so we stopped trying to make out what she was saying. Just look, and be awed. Day 5. Sitka Sea Otter and Wildlife tour was amazing. We had time for this tour, a very quick bite of lunch in town at the Highliner Coffee Shop, and a little walking around before rushing back to the ship. Most restaurants are sit-down, table service places which take time, according to the Visitors’ Center staff. We wanted time for looking around. So keep in mind how limited your time is here. The ship was docked some distance from town. There is a shuttle station at the town port with free shuttle service to the ship. Although they said it ran every 20 minutes it seemed to be more frequent. Just don’t expect to end a tour in town (as most seemed to do), grab the shuttle back to the ship for lunch and make it back to town to do much of anything. The town library is about a block from the shuttle stop, and has free wi-fi. Day 6 Ketchikan A very short day, with arrival at 7:30 and departure at 12:30. We had time to walk around a little. Bars and restaurants might have free wi-fi if you make a purchase, but otherwise, don’t expect free wi-fi anywhere. We have Google Fi which has worked in some pretty obscure places in the world but not here, at least not for data. Phone worked fine. Day 7 Vancouver Arrival at 6:30 pm and time to be back on board 11:30 pm. Very odd hours, difficult to work around if you didn’t go on a tour. We ate an early dinner and decided to walk around. Disembarkation was chaotic, with the gangway stairs roped off, and most elevators not going to deck A. We got off the elevator on deck 1 to find people milling around and the cordon being removed from the stairwell, but we were there after 7, so the stairwell should have been open. There were no instructions in the Where and When as to what documents we needed to get back aboard. Turns out, just the ship’s card. Arrival in Seattle No information on breakfast hours provided the day before. We had to call and ask. 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
We have sailed many times with Holland America,and enjoyed the cruises very much. This last trip to alaska was disappointing in that we saw a big downgrading in the vista shows,the movie rooms screen is very old and should be replaced with ... Read More
We have sailed many times with Holland America,and enjoyed the cruises very much. This last trip to alaska was disappointing in that we saw a big downgrading in the vista shows,the movie rooms screen is very old and should be replaced with a bigger and new movie screen,the casino needs a big renovation and the dining rooms menu isn't as good as before because of menu selection and presentation. The service was excellent as usual,and adan our waiter in the dining room was superb. We hope Holland America will address these areas, so we may cruise with them again. Our cabin overall was nice except it needs a new tv. The attendants again were excellent. Our cabin was 5028. The ship itself is very classy and the crew very professional. They have a great cultural theme in regard to art auctions, and a trio playing classical music. Side courses on cooking and windows 8 computer educational courses,along with karoke and night club entertainment. The swimming pools are nice,along with the spas. In conclusion the oosterdam has a great atmosphere and people,it just needs some updates. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
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
This was a great trip overall the port selection is perfect & everyone should go on this venture - just maybe with another cruiseline. Glacier Bay Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan & and very brief stop in Victoria. Oosterdam was just OK ... Read More
This was a great trip overall the port selection is perfect & everyone should go on this venture - just maybe with another cruiseline. Glacier Bay Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan & and very brief stop in Victoria. Oosterdam was just OK - Checkin and departure - very very fast and organized. Food service and dining a major let down - so we ate off ship a good amount of the time. The rooms (5139) was very nice and a good size for two people, both closets are good size and we are over packers. First the good things clean, gym huge, walking desks and outdoor time perfect. Pool choices & lounges are many and fun & there was not the "saved" lounges we see so much - plenty of space. Casino was fun as well. So off to the bad & I am not one that spends lots of time on the dining but this just never worked for us. We had the open seating which was either full or changed for that night, we tried the extra fee "grill" and it was 1 hour to get salads started and 3 hours to finish dinner - got our $20.00 per person refunded, the buffet never seemed to be in full service - one area here and there were open (could have been our timing) but only two hot entrees at 7:30 to pick from - a bit weird. Enjoyed the Canneloni (sp?) reservation but no $$ dining very small and enjoyable. The shopping was terrible on board including the art shows (I guess I just love Princess & how they organize this) The gym and spa was very nice & they ran some great specials all days - wait until day 3 to book the spa - better deals.Arrived in Seattle a day early to explore (very fun) stayed at the Marriott Waterfront AAA rates were $205.00 - very easy for getting around the city (pikes market 5 min, space needle 30 min walk) and also a $7.00 shuttle to the ship which is out on Pier 91 - nice treat again.Overall we will do this again within 2 years just will move back to Princess or NCL. Do not miss this experience in Alaska Read Less
Sail Date June 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
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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