28 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Alaska

This was the best cruise ever! The staff was friendly and very helpful as well as cheerful. The food was delicious and plentiful.Every evening it was arranged with care and lovely.Our dining staff was wonderful, especially our wine girl ... Read More
This was the best cruise ever! The staff was friendly and very helpful as well as cheerful. The food was delicious and plentiful.Every evening it was arranged with care and lovely.Our dining staff was wonderful, especially our wine girl (Miraki(Sp?)-from Japan but living in Manilla). Our room was beautiful and the gentlemen that serviced it were quick and efficient. The ship was clean and everything was top notch. The entertainment was great! I can't rave about it enough. The spa package was awesome. Seaweed wrap a must. The girls in the spa were lovely and informative. Mary our morning dining room person was so nice and helpful. She helped us start our day with JOY! The BBKing review was great. We enjoyed the special music provided by WayFM every night. The wine tastings we attended were very informative. Everyone was fabulous! A TRIP FOR THE MEMORIES!!! I am recommending Holland-America to everyone I tell about our trip and I will book again.*** Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Our son and our nephew both graduated from high school this year. We wanted to get my husband's whole family together, and since several of them live out west, Seattle was a good meeting point. Our family (we don't live out ... Read More
Our son and our nephew both graduated from high school this year. We wanted to get my husband's whole family together, and since several of them live out west, Seattle was a good meeting point. Our family (we don't live out west) flew in one day before the cruise. It was a good thing because our flight was delayed. I would suggest, if you are coming from a long distance, fly in a couple of days ahead and explore Seattle. Uber rides from the airport only take 15-20 minutes to where our hotel was. We stayed in the Sheraton Four Points due to its great location. It is walking distance to the Space Needle. We got an Uber to the port and it was a very quick ride from the hotel. We got onto the ship pretty quickly. We had a bit of a wait before checking in but were on the ship by 12:30. And, our room was ready when we got on. Things were smooth for embarking. The ship itself was clean and easy to navigate. It is an average-sized ship, I would say. We liked walking around the deck on a daily basis, although at times, it got rainy or chilly. The public spaces were nice and comfortable. We especially liked the crow's nest area. It was just down the hallway from our room and was a perfect meeting spot for family members. This ship is very similar to other HAL ships we have been on. Our son works out a lot. He was not impressed with the fitness area. And, the lady who works in that area was rather rude to him. So, he didn't spend much time in there. The pools and hot tubs were nice. The pools never were crowded. And, you could get into a hot tub if you wanted, although they were very small. They closed very early in the evenings, perhaps because of the weather, I'm not sure. Smoking was allowed in an area by the aft pool. We don't smoke, so we avoided that area. No smoking was in the casino. The casino got fairly crowded, depending on what was going on there. Our son discovered that he is a good poker player on this trip; that was exciting for him. I didn't participate in many ship activities. There wasn't a huge amount of entertainment. The music was good that was performed. It was very loud and crowded in the Blues Club; I don't think that the space is large enough for the people who want to hear the music there. The comedian was pretty funny, and he was clean, so the kids were able to join us. Our nieces went to the children's activities and seemed to really like them. There were a good number of teenagers; between two of our families, there were 6. The teens met several others on the ship, and they seemed like nice kids. I don't know how much they had provided as far as organized activities for the teens, but our teens did have a wonderful time. Service on the ship was very good. Our stewards did a consistent job of tidying our room, although we keep a clean room. And, the dining room service was nice, as well. Our waiters were friendly and did an excellent job each night. We dined in the main dining room every evening. Even our teenage kids wanted to dine in there each night. It was a fun experience for them. We had a couple of nights where all 21 of us ate in there together. Although we had late dining, because the sun barely sets at that time of year in Alaska, it wasn't a bad time, really. Lunch meals were nice in the dining room, too. The menu was varied, and the food was of good quality. I especially liked the main courses. The Lido often got busy and it could be hard to find a seat sometimes. They have some nice stations in there at lunch time, so the days the MDR was closed, I would walk around and see what was available before getting food so I didn't overeat. Dive Inn is a good place for sandwiches and fries; I just ordered from there one time and shared my food with a daughter. Our cabin was on the tenth floor. It was a balcony but might have been a little smaller than some of the balcony rooms. It had a tub, a real plus on a cruise ship. This had less storage than other balcony rooms I have stayed in, but there were four of us. We had two beds together (king), a pull-down bunk above, and a pull-out loveseat. Beds were comfortable with nice linens. The balcony itself was pretty narrow, I think due to the location on the ship. The pull-down bed actually rattled a lot, until I finally stuck a rolled-up towel into part of it. We had the wall between our balcony and the ones beside us opened up because there were three family rooms beside each other. I would recommend closing them back at night because they can make some noise. One night, there was a huge amount of fog, and the foghorn was going off all night. At first, I thought someone had fallen overboard. Once I realized it was the fog, I fell asleep. it is nice having the balcony when going to the glacier and also when in port. But, it gets cold and windy when traveling. And being on the tenth floor is close to the Crow's Nest, which is a nice spot. Each port was good. Seattle is a lovely city. We enjoyed the Seattle center with the Space needle, fountain, museums. Just a great place to walk and see the sights. And, the mountain views are gorgeous as you leave port. We booked a last-minute whale watching tour in Juneau. The kids LOVED it. It was fun and we saw a lot of sea creatures. We booked it when we got off the ship and so we got a nice discount. I recommend NOT booking on the ship for these if you can avoid it. Better deals for the same thing onshore. Hubbard Glacier was incredible. One couple in our group had booked a suite, and they had a wraparound balcony, so we spent a good bit of time there during our Hubbard Glacier stop. We got close to the glacier, saw some calving and had great weather. The port for Sitka is 6 miles from town, but the shuttle gets guests back and forth quite well. It was about 12 minutes to get there, and the wait for the shuttle was just a few minutes. If you get a Sitka map online, you can just follow that and walk around town. Our group enjoyed the sea walk and spent a lot of time out along the sand in the sound area. We saw starfish, eels, crabs - the kids LOVED it. There were seals swimming in the sound, too. There are pretty green spaces and flowers on the walk, as well. We walked to Sitka National Historical Park's Totem Trail. We walked to the river; it's a very pretty, but also fairly easy walk. You can get nice views of St. Michael Cathedral along Lincoln Street. And panoramic views can be seen from Baranof Castle Hill. You will take several flights of stairs to get up, but it's worth it. At the end of town is the Pioneer Home, some type of retirement home. It sits on a big square with a giant totem pole and is a good photo spot. our time in Ketchikan was short - only five hours. I suggest getting up very early so you can see it all. It's not a big town. The waterfront promenade is nice, and there is an interesting tunnel that is good for photos. We got some nice street views right beside the tunnel...after walking up several dozen steps. Creek Street is fun to check out. There was an eagle down by the creek eating fish, and we saw cute little marmots. Married Man's Trail was pretty; my son and up took the stairs up to the Civic Center. It was a pretty walk. We also took a walk along Park Avenue, by the creek. After crossing the bridge, we found a paved path among the trees. We then found a spot where we could walk down to the creek banks; my kids loved that area. The waterfront shops are good places to buy souveniers. Victora was really lovely. We walked quite a ways and just got lots of pictures. We were there in the early evening. I would love to have been there during the day. But, we all had a great time at each stop, so I cannot really complain. Disembarkation was pretty quick. Really, if you need to change your time, they will work with you. It was easy finding our suitcases. You have to walk a little way to get to the Uber area, but once you get there, booking a driver is very simple. We loved this cruise. The stops were great. Our time with family was delightful. Typically, HAL cruises have a huge number of senior citizens. This cruise had a wide array of ages. There were many, many family groups, and it was a festive enjoyable feel overall. Our son (18) wasn't crazy about the onboard experience and would probably like RCI a little more, or Carnival, with its party atmosphere. But our three kids did have a fabulous time with family and this cruise allowed us to all gather together and that was what was so special about it. We have gone out of Whittier before, and getting to Alaska by plane is exhausting. Going to Seattle was a little tiring, but much easier than all the way up to Alaska for the departure. Yes, I would go again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Introduction: We are frequent cruisers with Platinum Plus status on NCL and Black Card status on MSC. NCL was our go to company for N.A.cruises and MSC was our go to company for everywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, both companies ... Read More
Introduction: We are frequent cruisers with Platinum Plus status on NCL and Black Card status on MSC. NCL was our go to company for N.A.cruises and MSC was our go to company for everywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, both companies have adopted strategies of bigger and bigger ships and more fees beyond the cruise fare. After our last cruise on the 5,700 passenger MSC Meravigilia, we decided bigger is not necessarily better. This led to our selection of a smaller ship with a new company for us: Holland America's Oosterdam to Alaska. Cabin: We selected a Neptune cabin, because we were travelling as a family of four. The cabin is spacious with a king bed, sofa bed for two and large balcony. The cabin had a large screen 55" T.V. and a bathroom with an independent shower and independent shower/tub combo. Overall a very nice cabin, and the balcony is excellent for Alaska sightseeing. Dining: We dined at the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, the Lido market for lunch and the MDR for dinner. All meals were excellent, and better than similar offerings in NCL and MSC's buffet and MDR. Embarkation: Embarking was smooth. We arrived at 11 a.m. and walked on the ship after check-in. Disembarkation was a bit more crowded, but we were off the ship in about twenty minutes. Entertainment: We saw the comedian Tim Kaminsky twice. Very funny shows. We also went to the dance company show. Fairly typical dance fare. We missed the magician because dinner ran late one night. Overall, Kaminsky was the star of the show. Fitness Center: I used the fitness center several times. A bit smaller than the larger ships, but had similar amenities to those ships. The center was crowded in the early a.m., but wide open in the p.m. Onboard Experience: The onboard experience was where you notice the difference between big and small ships. It was much easier to get around the ship, elevators, dining room, etc. No waves of people even after shows. Definitely easier to move around the ship compared to the 4,000 to 6,000 passenger mega ships Service: Service was excellent. Our room steward figured out early in the cruise when we went to breakfast and dinner. The room was made up and turned down during those times. The ship, although older, is in excellent shape and the crew keeps it spotless. Shore Excursions: We did our own excursions. Easy to do in Alaska. We drove to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. We took the Raptor/Bear shuttle in Sitka. We walked the Downtown area in Ketchikan which was mostly a shopping stop. Value for money: Holland's price for a Neptune suite was 50% less than a similar NCL Haven suite. NCL continues to raise it fares. Value for money is hands down in favor of Holland. 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
Our very first cruise back in August 2003 was on Holland America's Amsterdam and we've been hooked on cruising ever since. Since then, we've taken 21 more cruises on a variety of different lines with Princess being the one ... Read More
Our very first cruise back in August 2003 was on Holland America's Amsterdam and we've been hooked on cruising ever since. Since then, we've taken 21 more cruises on a variety of different lines with Princess being the one we've taken most frequently. In 2009, we took two of our grandchildren on a cruise to Alaska and they are now 20 and 17 and still remember the experience as being terrific. On this cruise, we took their two younger siblings, ages almost 13 and 11 (he had his birthday on board). First, the overall experience was an 8 out of 10. Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly. This is our second trip on the Oosterdam and the ship has been updated so that it looks lovely. There was a very nice mix of ages..from large inter-generational families with children to middle age folks still working full time to the older retired people you often see on Holland America. Second, the food was exceptional..I'd give it a 9+ out of 10. There weren't quite as many selections as you get on Princess but what was served was of very high quality and delicious! I especially liked the fact that many offerings were already plated so that it increased the liklihood of you finishing what was served and reducing the wastefulness of taking too much and then not eating it all. We loved everything that we had from the dining room, from the afternoon tea, to the Lido Market (buffet) to the Dive In on the pool deck that served scrumptuous burgers, hot dogs and fries to the Crows Nest coffee bar with tiny sandwiches and desserts, etc. Third, the Entertainment. We don't cruise for the entertainment but we do enjoy shows, comedians and magic acts all of which we had on this cruise. I would rate the entertainment 6 out of 10...in other words, it was OK but nothing too special. Fourth, the stateroom. We had an ocean view cabin on the Main Deck which our room steward made up each night for the kids. The sofa made into a bed and above the sofa, a bunk type bed came out of the wall. It was ingenious really. We were cozy since there wasn't that much space but we all made it work. Fifth. We were pleasantly surprised by the activites for the kids. Ethan went to Club Hal just once and then spent a lot of time playing basketball on the top deck. Audrey stayed close to us for the first few days and then found friends at The Loft which is fo 13-17 year olds and then we hardly saw her after that! Sixth. Shore excursions. Since this is our 6th cruise to Alaska (we live in the Seattle area), we chose excursions this time aimed at giving the kids an overview understanding of this great state without breaking the bank. So in Juneau we explored an old gold mine and panned for gold and also rode the Mt. Roberts Tram where you can see Juneau from 1800 ft. in the air and visit some raptors. In Sitka (my favorite Alaska cruise port), we visited the largest Raptor sanctuary in the state and did a rainforest walk through part of the Tongass National Forest where we saw extraordinary Totem Poles. In Ketchikan where they say it rains 375 days a year (and it rained when we were there as well), we had fun riding in an amphibious vehicle that went from riding on land to going into the bay where we saw many eagles perched on all kind of places. We also watched the Lumberjack Show which was great fun and not to be missed. All in all, Alaska is a very special place which should be on everyone's bucket list. We were happy with Holland America but we've also been there with RCL and Princess so whatever ship you choose, it;s a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
My husband contacted our cruise specialist, and they set the whole thing up. Dennis had previously researched the HAL website, and knew what he wanted before booking. We had an aft-Neptune suite. Em and disembarkation were as expected. ... Read More
My husband contacted our cruise specialist, and they set the whole thing up. Dennis had previously researched the HAL website, and knew what he wanted before booking. We had an aft-Neptune suite. Em and disembarkation were as expected. Everything and everyone were so wonderful! I have low vision, and was assisted by staff and my husband. All you had to do was ask for whatever, and would be granted. Our stateroom was Upper Verandah #6177, and had the best view in the house. Activities drew our interest, especially "America's Test Kitchen" and the Naturalists slideshow presentation of the glaciers. We only went to two excursions, Mendenhall Glacier with fish hatchery and salmon bake. The food was out of this world! Of course, we did go into Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria. Our tour of the Castle was so that we'd like to return again, just to see more details of the city. Ketchikan was the same way. Food aboard was totally top-notch. It gives one a chance to explore new cuisine. The ship itself was just the right size for us and our lifestyle. Not too large or small. To us, it was more personable. We had such a terrific time, and were quite impressed! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of ... Read More
First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of us, ,Mom,Dad, (40's) Young adult son 1,and Teen son 2. We shared an ocean view cabin,deck 1,#1008. I was a little concerned about the location when booking, but this was our best option in our budget category,so we chose it. It turned out to be a great location! So quiet,and peaceful. I spent some time that week reading my book while sitting and watching out that window. Being on deck 1 gave us a beautiful view of the water and the views out our window, I preferred the views from the lower decks to the upper decks anyway. The cabin itself was compact, but we didn't feel cramped,and had plenty of room for ourselves and our stuff onboard. The bathroom was small,but very practical,and we enjoyed everything about the setup of the room. I really liked that we were so close to the bow of the ship,with easy access to the main stage, so usually at night on our way back to the cabin,we'd stop in just to see what was happening on the mainstage,so convenient and fun! The cabin stewards were wonderful also. The ship itself seemed really big to us at first, but it was actually a nice compact size (as far as cruise ships go) for exploring around. I don't know how full our ship was, but I never felt crowded,and if one area was busy, it was easy to walk around a bit and find a place to ourselves practically. There are multiple lounges all over the ship on different decks,and they all have comfortable seating,and multiple views out the huge windows. This was a real plus,as Alaska can get cold and rainy, but no matter where we were,we always had wonderful views. I would seek out a ship just like this again for our next cruise, I think the size of the ship and amenities are just perfect. We enjoyed various shows throughout the week,America's Test Kitchen was great- Loved the BBC Alaska Live show, Live on Lincoln Stage classical was wonderful, and the BEST time on ship was the B.B. King Blues lounge. That band,those singers were FANTASTIC. Tabitha and Tim Timmons had golden voices,and the high energy shows they did multiple times nightly were the highlight of our trip! really great times hanging out in that lounge. The pools and hot tubs were nice,as was the sauna right next door. The food? Oh the food...... How to explain how wonderful,incredible the food experience is? We chose anytime dining,and it was great every night! Our deck 2 dining room always provided a great view of the water,and scenery,but wonderful servers,and the BEST food we've had in a long while! My sons have really big appetites,and certain nights they ordered and enjoyed 3-4 entrees apiece...... but it's not just the quantity of food here, it's really good food! The choices change nightly,and we had a delicious family dinner every night together. That said, let's talk about the Lido buffet. It took us a while to figure out the timing and rhythm of the offerings here,but once we discovered the breakfast,snack,lunch,snack,dinner,snack,late night timetables.....oh boy! The food had a big variety daily, and it was so much fun to be able to just stop in whenever to get a snack or a drink of tea or coffee. Everything is so clean,and sanitary. I like that most of the food stations don't allow guests to serve themselves,which goes a long way toward keeping things non-germy and clean for everyone. My sons LOVED the asian and sushi bar, they enjoyed so many different types of food here over our week. My personal favorite was the daily omelette bar, where a very skilled and quick server would make up a personalized omelette for me,and always with a big smile! We were on a pretty strict budget, and this meant we put together our own shore excursions. Yes,we could have seen more, but we really enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. In Juneau, we rented a car from the rental shack right on the pier. It was $60 for the day,which was our best budget option for 4 people. We drove to Mendenhall Glacier,and were amazed by the dozens of bald eagles we spotted along the roadway. At the glacier area, we just parked and walked in,with plans to hike and take in the scenery. It was really beautiful,we got luck with the weather,with an overcast sky, but no rain till late evening. Perfect for hiking. We walked out to Nugget Falls,walked around the edge of the lake (so many pictures to take!) Then headed out from the visitor center to hike East Glacier Trail. It was a lot steeper than we had imagined(it's not really noted on the map guides) but it was really,really beautiful in those woods! We all had a great time hiking around,and seeing so much beauty. The woods have a really cool moss that covers everything,it looks really fantastical. All told, we spent from about 1:30-6 p.m. at Mendenhall just walking and taking in the sights. In Sitka, we discovered our favorite port stop. The town itself is cute, but surrounded on all sides by gorgeous mountain scenery. We walked from the dock thru town, around the harbor. It was another beautiful day for walking. We saw so many eagles fishing there. We headed for the Historic Totem Park,and checked that out,then proceeded onward thru a pretty woods path to the Alaska Raptor Center. For $12 per person, it was a great way to view bald eagle rehabilitation,plus a lot of other native birds,like a variety of really cool owls. I like the passion of the workers for their animals. After this, we taxi'd out to the Fortress of the Bear. (about 5-6 miles away) This is NOT TO BE MISSED. For $10 per person, we spent at least two hours thoroughly enjoying the bears,the great viewing of their activities. They had 3 types of bears, plus again, dozens of bald eagles in the trees around them. Plus the hummingbirds at the feeder..... We LOVED this place! The people who work her are passionate about their animals. After this,we walked over to the nearby bus stop (just ask the workers,they'll tell you the hourly schedule) and paid $2 to head back into town. All in all,a great bargain of a day,and lots and lots of fun! In Ketchikan, we wandered the town a bit. My son wanted to shop in all the souvenir stores,and there were a LOT of them in this town. Anyway...... we also walked over to Creek Street,and Married Mans trail,and up to the Cape Fox Lodge. It was all nice, but left us wishing we had gotten out of the town a bit more to look around. We only stopped for a few hours here anyway. Glacier Bay was beautiful,and we took lots of great pics out on the bow,in the crazy wind and rain. This cruise was one of our best vacations ever! I really like how Holland America cruises,and I want to go again.My whole family agrees, it was great fun,and also relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
After my 3 day land tour and torture of the 10 hour bus ride from Denali I was looking forward to just relaxing on the ship. I was not disappointed. The cruise was everything I wished for - relaxing, good food and plenty of things to hold ... Read More
After my 3 day land tour and torture of the 10 hour bus ride from Denali I was looking forward to just relaxing on the ship. I was not disappointed. The cruise was everything I wished for - relaxing, good food and plenty of things to hold my interest. We landed in Anchorage and spent an extra day before heading to Denali. Stayed at the Hilton which was very nice. The train to Denali was wonderful- make sure you wait and eat breakfast on the train. Our guide was very entertaining. Our only issue was that my husband and brother in law booked a jeep excursion at Denali and we arrived at the hotel (Chalet) only 15 minutes before the excursion. 8 hours on the train and then a 4 hour jeep tour made a long day for them. The next morning was the 8 hour Tundra tour. Remember to order a box lunch at the lodge the night before the tour. 2 people can actually share 1 lunch as the wraps are large and filling. Sunday morning it was back on the bus for the 10 hour ride to Seward. This was torture. 10 hours with very few stops and the air conditioner in the bus died. We had no trouble getting onto the cruise ship and all our luggage was there waiting for us. After a nice meal we explored the ship then settled in for a well deserved sleep. We opted for breakfast most mornings on the Lido deck. One of the servers, GoGo became a fave. What a personality! My husband found the Exploration Lounge on the 10th deck and really enjoyed sitting there looking at the ocean while reading or doing his crossword while having a coffee or beer. I enjoyed the short films in the screening rooms on the ports in Alaska. I also enjoyed listening to the native speakers who came aboard. The casino was a fave for my in laws as well as the piano bar. We participated in a few of the games they had after dinner. What fun! The BB King band was wonderful. We did a whale watch in Juneau after seeing the Mendenhall Glacier. What a wonderful day - so many whales. We also did the Bering Sea Crab Tour in Ketchikan. That was so much fun. Our own "deadliest catch". The meals were good in the main dining room. I did find however if you do not drink wine it was sometimes quite a while to get someone to bring you an ice tea. We did the open seating making reservations each morning as we let breakfast. We never had a problem getting the time we requested. Disembarking went quickly. We were spending an extra day in Vancouver so we left the ship, went through customs and then walked across the street to get our rental car. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We had a wonderful trip. Went to Vancouver and stayed in a super hotel, the Fairmont Waterfront. They parked the ship right in front of our hotel. Boarded the Holland-America's Oosterdam on Sunday the 19th and sailed at 4pm. Next ... Read More
We had a wonderful trip. Went to Vancouver and stayed in a super hotel, the Fairmont Waterfront. They parked the ship right in front of our hotel. Boarded the Holland-America's Oosterdam on Sunday the 19th and sailed at 4pm. Next day was a sea day and Formal Night. I wore my tuxedo and went to the B B King show - the band was good. Tuesday we went to Ketchikan, AK and had Dungeness Crab Feast and Wilderness boat trip. After they pulled up the crab trap, we picked up the big, live Dungeness crabs for photos. Saw many Eagles. They lured an Eagle to the boat with a fish and he swooped down to the water right in front of us. Then we went back to the Lodge and ate as much crab we could eat. Wednesday - Juneau, AK. Went to the World Famous Red Dog Saloon. In PM we went on a whale watching boat tour with Capt. Larry of Orca. Saw eleven whales diving over and over again. They were doing "Bubble net feeding" maneuvers. (See Google for interesting explanations and videos). Skagway, AK, and went on the trip on the railroad that the 49ers built over the mountains. Spectacular scenery. The track rose 3,800 feet in 14 miles. We could actually see the trail the gold prospectors had to use to get to the mines - still 600 miles away! The food and service was excellent on the cruise! It's a beautiful ship. Capt. Bos is a superb leader. We departed to Seward, AK., and took a TEN hour bus ride. I wish we hadn't gone the 4 day trip to Denali (Mt. McKinley). Alaska is just too big to go by bus. The weather was cloudy or rainy and no way I was going up in an airplane or even see Denali. Of course, the mountain scenery all over Alaska was spectacular. The next day we took another 8 hour bus ride into the Denali National Park (same size as Massachusetts!). Saw lots of animals, but they were very far away. The next day we had a day of rest, so we went to see the amazing Jeff King, the 4 time Champion of the Iditarod dog sled race at his Husky Homestead. Very interesting place and lecture, and the we loved holding the puppies. Then a very nice 8 hour dome car train trip back to Anchorage. Our ankles were the size of tree trunks from the 27 hour bus - train "legs hanging down" caused edema. The highlight of the trip, for me, was going to the Crows Nest restaurant on the 20th floor of the Capt. Cook Hotel, in Anchorage, AK and celebrating the 50th anniversary of my trip with my Dad to Anchorage in 1965. We ate in the same place 50 years ago and I vividly remember eating my very first Alaskan King Crab Legs. The Crows Nest manager, Kristen Park, made a big deal about our visit. She made us feel like royalty. She gave us a premier table overlooking the city and mountains. This was the 50th Anniversary of the hotel itself, too, since the old one was destroyed in the big 1964 Alaska earthquake, and the hotel was brand new when Dad and I went there. Kristen gave me two actual 1965 menus! (King Crab Legs - 1965 price $5.95 - 2015 price $58) . I had lots of fun and many wonderful memories with my Dad. It was an amazing, amazing trip of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We did a 14 day cruise tour to Alaska and as usual Holland did not disappoint us. We stayed in a Neptune Suite and the service and accommodations were outstanding. Our room was beautiful, very clean, spacious - the Neptune Lounge was a ... Read More
We did a 14 day cruise tour to Alaska and as usual Holland did not disappoint us. We stayed in a Neptune Suite and the service and accommodations were outstanding. Our room was beautiful, very clean, spacious - the Neptune Lounge was a real treat and we enjoyed having access for morning coffee and light breakfast options as well as afternoon tea and canapés. We were spoiled! The shows on the ship were good, however this was Alaska so who needs shows? We did attend a couple of the music numbers, Dancing with the Stars finale, the comedian and the illusionist show. Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto were exceptional as always. The service in Pinnacle was outstanding - we were seated at the same table each evening and really enjoyed our dining room steward. Once on land all of our accommodations were well appointed - Alyeska was magnificent and a stand out along with the Westmark Fairbanks. The Chalet at Denali is rustic but clean and nice - what you would expect in a national park lodge - it's no frills but comfortable. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We had a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. We did our best to enjoy everything we could as the days flew by. We took full advantage of Seattle by arriving several days early. We toured through the city on our own. Some of the highlights ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. We did our best to enjoy everything we could as the days flew by. We took full advantage of Seattle by arriving several days early. We toured through the city on our own. Some of the highlights were The Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square, the Smith Tower observation deck (better than the Space Needle and cheaper), and Canon (an amazing bar with a 44+ page list of spirits and exquisite cocktails) Boarding went smoothly and we could go to our directly to our cabins then off to eat at the buffet on the Lido deck. Enjoyed eating by the pool as the weather was beautiful and sunny. Spa - Our group had a excellent sampling of many spa services. We tried massages, pedicures, manicures, and hair styling. All got high marks and there was not a big sales pitch during the treatment. Many of us got the Thermolounge/Hydropool passes. That was wonderful and included a quiet serene indoor heated pool, aromotherapy saunas and heated stone loungers with a view. Cabins and Room Stewards - We had a great idea to split our group up in such a way as to have balcony cabins on both sides of the ship. We also had cabins next to each other and the staff opened the dividers between them for us at our request. We could gather as a group on either side of the ship depending on the best view. Our stewards did a great job for us and we have no complaints. Teenage programs - Our teenagers loved it and made friends quickly. Seemed to be a pack of about 20 some teenagers. They spent a lot of late nights with their group, but joined the family for port excursions and meals. I heard about scavenger hunts, dances, mocktail mixing class and their own prom on the last formal night. Most of their evening activities started at times more convienent to those with early dining times. Main Dining Room - Service was slow as we often had a large group. May have been better to do fixed dining as reservations were difficult with a lot of people. Food was delicious which made the service a non issue for us. We needed plenty of time to catch up and the long dinner was perfect for us. Appetizers were always the highlight and many of us took to ordering several. Bread was consistently disappointing, not much flavor and typically hard rolls. Formal night was great as our group went all out and the men wore tuxes. We were in the minority, but it made for great pictures. My husband really enjoyed playing blackjack in his tux. Must of helped as he won over $700. Le Cirque Night - On Thursday night, the Pinnacle Grill is "transformed" into NYC's Le Cirque restaurant. There is a $39 charge, but it was worth it for us. The tables were set with genuine Le Cirque china (has a cute monkey on it) and fine glassware. Menu was amazing and plentiful. The deconstructed caesar salad was terrific and I think all caesar salads should come with a poached egg. The beef for the Chateaubriand was outstanding and so was the lobster salad. We couldn't eat it all. It was a memorable night with terrific service. Room Service - Excellent and plentiful. My kids took full advantage of it on a continual basis. Ordered milk and cookies, hot chocolate, cheese plates for everyone as we enjoyed our balconies while crusing through Tracy Arm. Hot breakfast was great too. Don't forget to call room service back when you're done so they can take the dishes back. Nightlife - On the dull side which was fine for our group. Apparently, this cruise did not have many late night partiers so casino and nightclub wrapped up around 1 a.m. The crew said this was unusual. Cocktail specials of the day were good and happy hour (2 for 1) at the Oceans bar was great. Wine list was disappointing and expensive for what you got. Fortunately, we knew this ahead of time and brought bottles of our own choosing on board with us. One special treat was the Louis XII cognac. My husband used some of his winning to try a shot of this special spirit since it was only $89 as opposed to the $250 back home. The bar staff was wonderful and made a big deal over this special order. Disembarkation was smooth and quick, however, we had not made prior arrangements for a taxi or van. Since we selected the last time slot for getting off the ship, the taxi van's were already gone with the first group of passengers, so the taxi wait was very long. Lesson learned. This was definitely a trip of a lifetime for our family. We enjoyed every minute. My 17 year old boy summed it up best when he proclaimed it "the best vacation ever!"   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I have never written a review on a message board before but I read the reviews of the Oosterdam before we left (some good, some bad) and I wanted to share our experience (June 16-23, 2013) because it was such a good one. My parents took ... Read More
I have never written a review on a message board before but I read the reviews of the Oosterdam before we left (some good, some bad) and I wanted to share our experience (June 16-23, 2013) because it was such a good one. My parents took my family of 4 and my sister's family of 4 on this cruise. When we went to embark at 12:30 in Seattle it took about an hour to get on the ship. We were pleased with our room (see cabin description). We spent the first few days at sea exploring the ship and attending some activities (the high tea was delicious, the trivia was fun). Every time I went to the gym there was only about 10 people in there- which was great. I ran on the promenade and it was not crowded- everyone else was walking. The kids spent literally hours and hours in the Lido pool (sometimes the roof was closed, sometimes open). They also liked to play ping pong and giant chess there. They also loved the views from the Crow's Nest. We played basketball a little but it was very windy. The evening entertainment was good. The service was amazing- almost every employee we interacted with was very polite and competent. Our room steward was very friendly, quick and efficient. Our dining steward was wonderful- quickly learning the 4 children's names and dining preferences. The food in the main dining room was great- everything all 10 of us had we enjoyed. The food in the Lido buffet was not as good but still very good. If you have time (like when you are at sea) I do recommend having breakfast in the main dining room. Room service (two times) took about 30 minutes and was very good- as ordered. We were very fortunate with the weather- 70s the first few days and a high of 80 in Junea, 65 in Sitka, rainy and 55 in Ketchikan, then nice again (68) in Victoria. Cruising through the Inside Passage/ Tracy Arm Fjord was stunning. We stayed on our verandah the whole time. Used our good binoculars and zoom lens alot. We saw eagles, whales, porpoises, otters, and seals. My daughter and husband went ziplining in Juneau (through the ship's shore excursion) and loved it- though it was spendy. The rest of us took the tram to the peak and had a really good time hiking, seeing the eagle refuge, watching the movie and a family of musicians who were amazing. In Sitka we went hiking in the rain forest then to the museum which was free and very informative/interesting. In Ketchikan we went on the Duck Tour which was entertaining and a good way to see the whole town. My husband and son tried to go fishing there but the tours were full so if an excursion is important to you, you should book early. In Victoria we took a cab (50$ each way) to the Buschart Gardens (admission $30 for adults, only $3 for kids). They were incredibly beautiful. All four of us really enjoyed them. We saved $120 going it ourselves instead of booking through the ship. Disembarking was very quick- literally walking right off. Overall, a great experience. The only cons were the drinks ($8/each) and the photos ($40/each) were expensive. But of course, these are optional. I would definitely cruise on Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
If you are looking for mini golf and water slides this is not the cruise for you. but if you like good food, good service and a touch of elegance then this is the cruise for you. Nice antiques adorn the common areas on Oosterdam. the ... Read More
If you are looking for mini golf and water slides this is not the cruise for you. but if you like good food, good service and a touch of elegance then this is the cruise for you. Nice antiques adorn the common areas on Oosterdam. the servants are polite and eager to please. request second seating for dinner if you want to avoid lines and crowds and get great service. We sat at table 22, in the back corner right by the window. We loved it. good view and great service. Our waiter Didic was great as was Adi his asst. They gave us double entre and appitizers every night not to mention desserts. The magician on board was world class and awesome. Better than anything I've seen in vegas. Dancing with the stars at sea was a delight for my wife. Casino staff was polite and patient with the novice. roland was the sports bar bartender, he was very professional and polite. The entertainment staff were exceptional. My only complaint was the photography dept charged 40$ per photo which i found to be a bit high. Do not bother with a black and white photo sitting. 600$ min. photo package. Waste of time. Even the Lido buffet staff was excellent. Aprillia was a delight as a staff member on the lido. Cabin stewards were proficient but not excellent. All in all a great deal. Do purchase the 30$ drink card. A bargain if you like to drink. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I have been wanting to go on a cruise for quite some time now--my family, not so much. For vacation, we usually take road trips or do timeshare exchanges, but going to Alaska has been one of my "bucket list" items and taking a ... Read More
I have been wanting to go on a cruise for quite some time now--my family, not so much. For vacation, we usually take road trips or do timeshare exchanges, but going to Alaska has been one of my "bucket list" items and taking a cruise seemed to be the best way to see tidewater glaciers. With two active teenagers, the Holland America Oosterdam was not my first choice in cruise ships. However, it was sailing the week my husband had requested for vacation, and, conveniently, the professional society he belongs to was offering continuing education classes aboard the ship. So after vacillating for many months, we reserved the last two adjoining balcony cabins still available after final deposit was due. The following, rather lengthy, review is from the perspective of a cruising newbie. The comments have been subdivided into various topics so that you may scroll down to find what might be of interest to you. However, allow me to make a disclaimer. Because I was charmed by the novelty of this adventure, I probably am not as discerning as I should be. Someone else on this exact same cruise, with more cruising experience, might be able to provide more insight. Be that as it may, I will provide a few comments from the perspective of a cruising beginner. Arrival Because of a family commitment, we were unable to fly early to Seattle. I've read a lot of discussion here on Cruise Critic regarding whether or not to arrive early to your port of embarkation. I think that if, like us, you have to arrive the day of the cruise, it's alright--especially if you take the first flight out, don't have bad weather or flight delays, and are flying within the same time zone. But definitely, it would be much nicer to come a little early to do some sightseeing first, particularly in a destination city like Seattle. Moreover, because we left so early in the morning we were a bit frazzled by the time we reached the cruise ship, and our embarkation photo looks like some sort of horrible mug shot! Embarkation At the advice of our travel agent, we did not book a ship transfer but instead caught a taxi from the airport to Smith's Cover Terminal 91 for $50 plus tip. Since there were four of us plus luggage, this seemed like a good deal. For that price, we also got to chat with the taxi driver about downtown development and the possibility of an NBA team coming to Seattle. Once at the cruise terminal, the check-in process was part airport security, part hotel registration, and part holding pen. The whole process went very smoothly, though: We arrived at the terminal at 10:30, checked in and waited until 11:30, then boarded and were having lunch by 12 noon. Tip: Have your passport and boarding pass ready as you enter the terminal and take advantage of the many hand sanitizer dispensers scattered throughout the building. Stateroom As mentioned above, we booked very late so were lucky to get two adjoining Verandah staterooms towards the back, or aft, of the ship. Level 5 or Verandah deck is quite nice: it is not too far of a walk up to the Lido Buffet and not too far down to the MDR. However, being in the back of the boat means quite a long walk to the Vista Lounge, the Fitness Center, and the Crow's Nest in the front of the ship. There was no door between our stateroom and our kids' room, but the steward opened the balcony partition and we were able to walk back and forth between the two rooms by going out on the balcony. I grew up vacationing in a motor home as a child, so I thought the stateroom's bathroom was quite spacious, much larger than any camper bathroom. However, the ceiling is a bit low, so if you are tall you might have to stoop a little. Counter space is limited, but there is a shelf below the sink for toiletries, and the shower/tub has a retractable cord for drying bathing suits. The hairdryer is not stored in the bathroom but outside in a cabinet in the vanity table. Across from the bathroom are three large closets, one has a locked safe and another has a full length mirror inside the door. The bed is two twins, pushed and locked together, or in my kids' case, separated with a nightstand in between. At the end of each twin is a large drawer, big enough for almost all of the contents of my suitcase, and the suitcases themselves can be stored underneath the bed to save space. The flat screen tv was a tad smaller than I'm used to, but I loved to turn it on to the ship information channel to play on a continuous loop. We also appreciated having a Verandah stateroom so we could prop open the door and get a little fresh air. I saw an Inside stateroom once while walking down the hallway, and it looked substantially smaller than our cabin. However, we met a couple at dinner who were staying in an Inside and who were completely satisfied. With the money they saved they were able to take a fishing excursion almost every day of their cruise! Tip: If you don't care for long treks from the back to the front of the ship, try booking a room more centrally located than we did. Dining I thought the food at the Lido Buffet and the MDR was fantastic, but admittedly, I'm not all that discerning when it comes to food. Any meal which I do not have to plan, shop, cook and clean up for is wonderful in my book, and my kids were thrilled to have steak and seafood every night. Such luxury. We loved all the choices, the food itself seemed to always be the right temperature, and the service in the MDR was efficient. My daughter and I discovered Afternoon Tea, which became our little ritual with a cup of English Breakfast and scones everyday at 3. Also, we noticed that if you make special requests, they are very accommodating. There was an extended Indian family who ate curry dishes every night. When my husband asked about this, our waiter said that we too could have Indian food, as long as we ordered it 24 hours in advance. Again, because we booked our cruise so late, we were only able to secure Open Seating Dining. Most nights this was not a problem since we didn't try to eat until after 8 pm, but there was quite a line on the first formal night. I didn't realize this, but you can make reservations for your table even if you are assigned the Open Seating Dining room. My other problem was trying to convince my teenage son that a polo shirt was much more acceptable in the MDR than a Pink Floyd t-shirt. Once he over came his aversion to the dress code, though, my son thoroughly enjoyed four-course dining. Tip: If you have Open Seating Dining, try making a reservation for the first formal night in order to avoid a lengthy wait. Activities Holland America is not known for it's onboard activities, but we found many things to do on the Oosterdam . The resident naturalist was quite good, and her lectures about glaciers and Alaskan wildlife were very informative. I went to several cooking demonstrations at the Culinary Arts Institute, while my husband attended the photography sessions. I think we would have enjoyed the "Dancing with the Stars" dance lessons, but my husband was busy attending his continuing education classes each afternoon instead. My son spent a good part of each day at the fitness center, but my daughter was too young to go. And I checked out a couple books from the extensive free library in the Crow's Nest, where my husband and daughter played a few games of chess. We never tried Bingo, and although the pool area had a retractable roof which made it possible to swim in all kinds of inclement weather, we only went once to jacuzzi in the very tiny, lukewarm hot tubs. Tip: if the coffee at the Lido Buffet is too weak for your taste, the Crow's Nest sells coffee which will perk you up while you browse through the library. Entertainment I think my family disagreed about the quality of the shipboard entertainment more than any other aspect of our cruise. My husband and son really enjoyed the live music, particularly the HalCats and the guitarist in the Crow's Nest, but neither one of them liked the large musical revues in the Vista Lounge. Although the songs the revue featured were for a much older crowd, I was impressed that the performers could sing and dance on a stage which moved with the sea swells. My kids and I thought the magician was quite entertaining, but my husband insisted that he had seen better. In fact, when the magician was scheduled for a special matinee feature, my kids and I made sure to go. Tip: the magic shows get crowded, so go early and sit down in front if you would like to participate. Summary of the Cruise The first full day was a Sea Day in which we cruised the Inside Passage heading north. It was definitely nice to be able to relax that first day, especially since the motion sickness medication made me a bit drowsy. Although the ocean was like a lake, I noticed that many other people had patches behind their ears, too. By the middle of the second day we arrived at Tracy Arm Fjord, and they opened Deck 4 at the prow of the ship for observation. It was a glorious sunny afternoon, with blue skies and even bluer water. Many people commented that the water looked like it could be in the Bahamas, except for the fact that there were iceberg chunks floating by. The fjord gets increasingly more narrow as you sail upstream until you reach Sawyer Island and the Sawyer Glacier. We got a kick out of the seals lounging on the ice floes. My daughter and I had Afternoon Tea, then walked around and around the Promenade Deck looking for the best spot to take pictures. My husband and son went back to our cabins and took pictures from our balcony. I heard that upstairs on the Observation Deck they were serving pea soup and warm blankets, but the day was quite balmy so we never went upstairs. They piped the naturalist's commentary over the loud speakers throughout the afternoon, who provided interesting information about the glacier and the geologic formations. During the next four days we stopped at Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, British Columbia. I've written about each of these under the Port Review section if you need further information, but I want to point out that the Oosterdam is one of the few cruise ships which still stops at Sitka. Some time ago, the residents of Sitka voted not to make improvements to their deep water dock, so cruise ships are forced to tender their guests to the town. This can be quite pricy for the cruise line, and one Sitka local speculated that sometime soon the cruise ships might no longer stop in Sitka at all. However, the town is quite charming and the surrounding scenery is quite spectacular, so if you have a chance to go to Sitka, I would highly recommend that you go. Misc. Topics There are a few things which we did not experience directly. Although my daughter is a teenager, she refused to participate in any of the organized activities for her age group. One day we wandered up to the teen lounge, and we saw kids hanging out and having a good time, but she was too shy to join them. So, Holland America does have organized Children's and Teen's Programs, but I can't really tell you whether those programs are good or not. We also never signed up for any of the ship's excursions. These can be very pricy, but they come with the guarantee that you will be taken care of and you will always arrive back at the ship on time. I heard many people talking positively about their excursions, so I might be more willing to arrange something on my next cruise. Finally, on the very first day my daughter and I took a tour of the spa facilities. The thermal spa area looked nice, but my daughter was too young so I didn't even consider buying a package. Later in the cruise I was talking to someone who complained that unlike Holland America, there are other cruise ships which provide adults-only, spa like areas free of charge. Tip: if you are looking for a total spa experience or a free adults-only sanctuary during your cruise, the Oosterdam might not be the ship for you. Service Finally, I want to say that I was amazed by the friendly service provided by the crew of the Oosterdam. Every day they were up early with smiles on their faces, wishing us good morning. I know how hard food service can be, but the serving staff was courteous and professional, always trying to get anything you might need. Our room steward kept our cabin tidy twice a day. And my kids were surprised that the wait staff in the MDR remembered our names. I think Holland America excels in the area of service. Disembarkation Because our flight home was later in the day, we chose the last disembarkation time slot which allowed us to eat breakfast one more time in the MDR. My husband was a little disgruntled when he saw other people disembarking with their carry-on luggage while we had placed our suitcases outside our stateroom the night before. Personally, though, I was happy not to lug the suitcase any more than I had to. At the appointed time, we went down to the gang plank, walked down to the lower portion of the terminal to collect our luggage, went through customs, and then found the Alamo rental car kiosk just outside the terminal door. The whole process took no more than 15-20 minutes. Tip: Alamo, National and Enterprise will rent you a one-way car from the cruise terminal to Sea-Tac (for a slightly higher price than normal). The rental agencies shuttle you from the terminal to downtown Seattle where you can pick up the car. Sundays in Seattle are not crazy busy, so its possible to navigate the one-way streets. Also, if you are lucky enough to find metered street parking, it is free on Sunday. Would I Cruise Again? Yes, most definitely. I found that certain stereotypes about cruising do hold true: food is always available, you are herded on and off the ship, and some guests are never satisfied. But I was surprised at how social the experience could be. People were generally quite friendly, would ask me questions, and tell me interesting stories. I learned a lot, not only about the state of Alaska, but about what life is like in other parts of the US. I was surprised at how well-traveled people were, and how familiar they were with the region where I live. And I was thankful that I never saw anyone being rude to the crew. I've read horror stories here on Cruise Critic, and I dreaded observing some nasty altercation, but I was thankfully spared any such scene. Perhaps the stereotypical, mature Holland America guest, after a lifetime of working hard, can appreciate others working hard for them. Ten Reasons Why I Would Sail on Holland America Again: 1. Fresh flowers and live music 2. Robes in each stateroom 3. Turn down service with towel animals and chocolates each night 4. Excellent food and service in the MDR 5. Afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream 6. Very professional crew 7. Good enrichment programs 8. Not a lot of pushy sales tactics 9. An emphasis on safety 10.Fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast Five Things I Would Do Differently on My Next Alaskan Cruise: 1. Book a whale-watching excursion. We saw whales from the ship, but they were much too far away. If you were on a whale-watching boat, you could get up close and personal with the whales. 2. Go a little later in the summer when the salmon begin to run. 3. Take a float plane to Misty Fjord. There's not much to do in Ketchikan besides shop, and people have said that the fjord is amazing. 4. Take the ship's excursion to Butchart Gardens to have more time. 5. Stay longer in Seattle since there's a lot to see and do there. If you have never been to Alaska, consider an Alaskan cruise. The scenery, the wildlife and the tidewater glaciers are amazing.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This cruise has been great. Alaska is beautiful; Holland America is well above my expectation. This is simply the best cruise I've ever had, and I would easily go on HAL again. I have never seen such personal services from any ... Read More
This cruise has been great. Alaska is beautiful; Holland America is well above my expectation. This is simply the best cruise I've ever had, and I would easily go on HAL again. I have never seen such personal services from any other travel companies before. To keep this review brief, I'd like to first address some of the main concerns that others mentioned in earlier reviews: 1. Tracy Arm: It is beautiful. The captain took us all the to as close to the glacier as possible. We even had dinner right by the glacier! I believe this is all dictated by the weather... 2. Victoria: Yes, we're late. But at least we got the free shuttle to downtown. No other ship had that... 3. Food: it is very personal. But I found Holland try hard to satisfy everybody. (And their dining room service is efficient and quick.) I believe that if one doesn't like the food, it's not because of the quality but because of the difference in taste. 4. Fellow passengers: Yes, Holland has among the oldest passengers. But I do not understand why that bothers anyone? In fact, it is great: The public rooms never seem to be crowded, because many of the older folks elect to stay to in their (nice) cabins most of the time... 5. Programs: This is all measured on expectation. I was there to relax, so I thought the programs were perfect. If one wants days full of active programs, Carnival or Norwegian would be the way to go. I'd also like to compare my experience at Oosterdam with a cruise I took in late 2008 on Celebrity Solstice (their second voyage), arguably the gold standard of all mass market cruise lines: 1. Embarkation and disembarkation: They are about equal. Both are very efficient and painless. 2. Staterooms: Although the room size, comfort, and amenity are similar, Celebrity has a slight edge because of its youth. 3. Ship itself: This is where Celebrity shines. Solstice looks so much more grand than Oosterdam, although the later is no slouch. I have to say, though, the public rooms on Oosterdam are a lot less crowded... 4. Programs: They are about equal. Both are on the quiet and intellectual side. For those who are looking for more "active' stuff to do on board, look to Norwegian, Carnival, or Royal Caribbean instead. 5. Dining: They are about the same in the main dining room. Celebrity has an edge in buffet layout (but not necessarily the selection). But Holland's room service is simply EXCELLENT: All breakfast came within 10 minutes of specified time, and the eggs were HOT! 6. Entertainment: I can only say "WOW" to the Holland performances. They are over-the-top good: great choreography, stage work, and dancing/singing performance. Compared to that, Celebrity performances were just luck warm and OK. 7. Service: This is where Holland really shines. On Celebrity Solstice, I felt that service was nice, tight, and formal. But on Oosterdam, everything is so personal and warm. Where else would would you get your servers to sing Indonesian Happy Birthday to you, watch a "Filipinos Crews show," get to know the performers face-to-face, and talk to the captain in his very own cooking show? Holland tries very hard to make connection between its crews and the passengers, and I have to say that it works great! 8. Value for the money: This is one thing I REALLY don't understand. How can people pay the same amount for Holland or Celebrity as a Norwegian or Carnival ship? But that's what the pricing often looks like. So in the future, do yourself a favor: If you see a fare on HAL close to that of Norwegian or Carnival, grab it when you can. You will get so much more for the same amount of money you spend. And you would never look back. I hope my review has convinced everyone that Holland, in particular Oosterdam, is a great ship to be on. The service alone is worth every penny, let alone the great performances, ship itinerary, cabins, etc. I know I will return to Holland soon... Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We took the 7-day Alaskan Explorer Cruise on the Holland America Oosterdam from June 17 to 24. This was our seventh cruise and our third cruise to Alaska and they have all been on Holland America cruise ships. We enjoy the size of the ... Read More
We took the 7-day Alaskan Explorer Cruise on the Holland America Oosterdam from June 17 to 24. This was our seventh cruise and our third cruise to Alaska and they have all been on Holland America cruise ships. We enjoy the size of the ships, the friendliness and attention, and the wonderful cuisine and service. We flew nonstop to Seattle via SW Airlines. We had transfers to the Hilton Seattle Airport Hotel, but it would have been just as easy without the transfers, as the Hotel Shuttle was our transfer. The hotel was very nice, but next time, we will make our own hotel reservations and stay closer to the downtown area. We ate dinner in the hotel at Spencer's Steak & Chop Restaurant and it was excellent. We also had transfers to Pier 91, but the HAL bus was not leaving the hotel until 11:30 a.m. so we had the concierge get us a town car. This allowed us to get to the pier early and board the ship earlier. The embarkation process at the pier was run very efficiently. Upon boarding, we went to see the dining room maitre de in the Explorer's Lounge as we had Open Seating and wanted to reserve a table for two at 5:15 p.m. This allowed us to sit at the same table each evening and get to know our waiters and wine steward. It is very comparable to fixed seating which always seems to be closed when we make our reservations. Our cabin was 5109 on the Verandah Deck with a balcony ocean view. We had never experienced a balcony before, but now I don't know if I want to cruise without one. We enjoyed it immensely. Our cabin was ready when we arrived which was so nice. We went to the Mariner's Luncheon, signed up for Internet usage, and purchased a 7-day wine package. When we returned to our cabin, our luggage had arrived, so we unpacked. We set sail at 4:12 p.m. after the mandatory emergency drill. After dinner, we listened to the Adagio Duo in the Explorer's Lounge. The duo was a pianist and a violinist from Hungary. We were used to hearing a string quartet on the other cruises, so at first we were disappointed. That feeling lasted about two minutes as these two men were outstanding. We listened to them every evening. We then went to the Vista Lounge and were entertained with a show to meet the Oosterdam singers and dancers as well as a comedy routine by Julie Barr -- very funny. We attended every show in the Vista Lounge. Julie Barr was hilarious and the comedian-ventriloquist, Mike Robinson was also great. The other shows were with the Oosterdam singers and dancers. We enjoyed the "Stage & Screen" production better than the "Garage Band" production. The singers and dancers did an outstanding job, but the Garage Band was a bit overpowering. Our day-to-day schedule was pretty routine. My husband and I do not do many excursions as we cruise to enjoy the relaxation of the ship. We like to read, attend the lectures and demonstrations, walk on the deck, go to wine tastings, play trivia, meet new people, eat, go to the shows, and watch the ocean. The first day out we experienced rough seas and there many passengers who stayed in their cabins that day; but then it was smooth sailing!! We cruised Tracy Arm and our ports of call were Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, Canada with disembarkation in Seattle. The week went entirely too fast. We used the Express Checkout so we didn't see our luggage until we arrived back in Kansas City. The only negative was that one piece of my luggage wound up at LAX and not MCI! Luckily, we picked it up at the airport the next day. I'm not sure if I would use Express Checkout again, but it was very convenient not to lug the suitcases around at the airport. We have never been disappointed with the Holland American Cruise Line and can't wait until our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My cruise was almost a year ago and I'm just now writing a review. I know that's horrible of me, but I was too depressed to even come onto this website! I had so much fun planning our time on the Oosterdam and in Alaska, and ... Read More
My cruise was almost a year ago and I'm just now writing a review. I know that's horrible of me, but I was too depressed to even come onto this website! I had so much fun planning our time on the Oosterdam and in Alaska, and when it was over I seemed to go into a post-cruise funk! But I have another cruise booked, so the clouds are leaving my mood. :-) We were in a Deluxe Verandah Suite, and man were we spoiled. If you have the means, I would definitely recommend one of these suites. Even better we were in an aft corner cabin that wraps around the side of the ship, and I couldn't have asked for anything better. I'd read reviews about the poor condition of the Oosterdam, but she was lovely. There was one of our deck tables that had some scuffs if you really want to get picky, but you could really only see them up close. The railings were painted/stained the day we sailed and looked perfect. The aft wraparound is the way to sail. Huge balcony to enjoy sail away and just staring at the wake and the glorious scenery. So amazing, and can't wait to do it again. This balcony (4185) doesn't have much cover, but for Alaska I think it was perfect. There were no rooms below us so it was a clear view to the water, and there was only one or two times where it was too rainy/stormy to enjoy the balcony. But in truth it was stormy enough that even with an awning we wouldn't have gone out there during those times. Our Stewards were attentive and helpful without being over-bearing. They always had a smile and our room always looked wonderful. Alaska is amazing and I can't wait to go back. You won't be sorry for choosing this ship! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
For a bit of context, my wife and I have been on 12 cruises and this was our first time with Holland. We have cruised with Princess and Royal and once each with Celebrity and Carnival. I think we have developed a pretty decent ... Read More
For a bit of context, my wife and I have been on 12 cruises and this was our first time with Holland. We have cruised with Princess and Royal and once each with Celebrity and Carnival. I think we have developed a pretty decent perspective on cruising over the years and before we cruised with HAL my perception was that HAL was likely a 3.5 star cruise experience compared to Carnival at 2.0 , Royal at 2.5, Princess at 3.0, Celebrity at 3.5 to 4.0 and the real high-enders at 5.0. I use Cruise Critic for 2 reasons: to gain insight into private excursion possibilities and to get familiar with the ship we are sailing on. In doing my research prior to our HAL cruise on the Oosterdam I saw a significant range within the reviews from readers on their cruise experience with this ship. I'm accustomed to seeing this -- where we have been very satisfied with the same cruise that other fellow passengers have been highly critical of. So with this being our first HAL cruise I was curious to see if the same would hold true. Having just returned from our first cruise to Alaska with HAL, I can report that our cruise was excellent, HAL and the Oosterdam were just fine, and I'm further convinced that there are people out there that just should not cruise. My perceived ranking of 3.5 for HAL would remain largely unchanged compared to the other lines and I would most certainly cruise with HAL again. As I had thought, HAL is a cruise offering that is more suited to mature adults, has a more refined culture about it, has a quieter atmosphere and delivers above average service and food quality. Based on the reviews and the passenger experience on our cruise, it had the same spectrum of people when it comes to outlook and attitude that I'm pretty sure you will find on every cruise. Quite simply, no matter what line you cruise with there are going to be people that apparently can't be pleased and are not happy unless they find something to complain about, there are those that choose to focus on the good versus the bad and are determined to enjoy the their holiday despite the small issues, and there are those that fall somewhere in the middle. My wife and I are of the opinion that there can be no such thing as a bad cruise holiday. Sure there are things that may not go right or as expected, but surely even a bad day on a cruise is still better than a good day off a cruise!! Surely there are more reasons than not to be happy and positive. Yet, it seems that some people are simply not happy unless they are whining or complaining or sending a message about how important they are relative to others. The absolute worst thing about cruising -- we have found -- is not the level of service or the food or the state of the ships furnishings, it's some other people on the cruise. Don't get me wrong, one of things we love about cruising is the people we meet and the ability to meet people, but the behaviour of too many people on cruises is appalling and reprehensible. For as nice and as well-raised as many of these people appear to be, they can be the most inconsiderate, rude and obnoxious people you could ever meet. They act as if they are above others and are entitled to act however they choose. We call them "cruise-spoilers" and while we largely try to ignore them, we have at times 'called them out' if their behaviour is bad enough to affect other people than just ourselves. Enough of that though. My wife and I had a great time and rather than ramble on with every detail of our cruise, I'll share what we felt were the pros and the cons of HAL and the Oosterdam that stood out to us from other ships and cruise lines. And since the pros far outweighed the cons and since it is always nicer to talk about good things, let's start with the pros. The Oosterdam is a very clean and well maintained ship. Staff and crew were always at work keeping her up to snuff. The decor in a couple of lounges seemed a little dated, but was certainly not out of line with the modern art deco style employed by some cruise lines. The overall theme is less flashy and more sophisticated with the use of rich woods, brass and darker colours. Very appealing. Holding just under 2000 passengers, the ship was a nice size providing ample privacy and a quieter atmosphere. This is not your cruise lines if you are looking for the noisy, partying atmosphere found on Carnival or even Royal. Suites were ample in size and very well laid out. Plenty of storage, large, well furnished verandahs and larger bathrooms that any other line we have been on. The Superior Verandah suites have a double door plus a separate window which makes the room seem open and airy. Food in the dining room was excellent. Each night offered at least 4 appetizers, 3 soups and 6 entrees. Lamb chops, shrimp cocktail, escargot, lobster tail and mahi, mahi were all there, and more. Quality and selection with HAL is only exceeded by Celebrity in our opinion. If there was one surprise, it was their Caesar salad which consistently arrived limp and saturated. Breakfast in the Lido Cafe was very good. Highlights included a waffle bar with various fruits and whip cream, an eggs benedict bar with 7 options to choose from and some of the best sticky cinnamon walnut buns I have had. Except for the crowds, breakfast was a treat. The Crow's Nest lounge at the front of the ship on the 10th floor is a very welcoming and comfortable area to spend free time, especially on an Alaskan cruise when the weather keeps you indoors on sea days. With plenty of room to relax, read or visit, the panoramic windows surrounding the lounge allow you to take in the spectacular views from 3 sides of the ship at once. With the library on one side of the lounge and the bar on the other, the Crow's Nest is a cross between Chapters and Cheers. We have not experienced a lounge or an atmosphere like it on any other ship. It also becomes a great happy hours spot from 4 to 5 and they have an outstanding guitarist/vocalist named Matt Murphy. He is perfectly suited to the Alaskan itinerary. A must see. By far the best bar beverage offering that we have had on a cruise in a long while. Excellent quality and quantity. Cocktails-of-the-day run $5.95, all other cocktails run $6.95 and beer runs from $4.75 for domestic to $4.25 for premium brands. Even better, from 4 to 5 every day in the Crow's Nest and the Ocean Bar they run a Happy Hour special where you get a second drink for an extra $1. Wow!! HAL does not overdo it on the 'hawking' side. It is very low key when it comes to pushing photography and anything else most cruise lines try to push onto you. Well done HAL. Disembarkation was very pleasant and relaxing. No gathering in lounges and waiting to be called. You are given a tag with your departure time and then you can start your day with a leisurely breakfast and wait in your stateroom or on a deck until your time arrives. Then you go to the gangway for an orderly departure. How civilized! There were only a few cons that stood out enough to be mentioned, but clearly not enough to spoil the cruise experience or turn us off of HAL. These included: Checking-in and getting onto the ship was the slowest we have experienced. Perhaps it was because this was the first Alaskan cruise of the season for HAL. They must be good at this though because it was the same at almost every port when you re-boarded the ship from shore. Slow line-ups and slow security. My-Time Dining. This was our first experiment with this option because HAL does not take many reservations upon booking for the early seating. Given that our daughter was with us and does not like to eat late, we figured we would give it a try. First two nights we waited in a line that never moved until we finally gave up and went up to the Lido Cafe. While they served some of the same food, the Lido dining experience obviously did not match the formal dining room experience that we really enjoy. We spoke with the dining room doorman and were able to get an early dining seating, and all was good from that point on. The Lido Buffet on sea days is very busy. Line-ups are slow and seating is hard to find, and is made even worse by inconsiderate passengers that choose to sit and visit long after they have finished eating. There is also a lot of space taken up with tables designed for 6 or 8 people when smaller tables for 2 or 4 would be more eficient. Photo's are more expensive than most other lines and while HAL offers some packages that include digital prints, they are not brave enough to offer digital only packages for either some or all of the pictures taken. Such a waste, such an opportunity on all cruise lines. Major CON with all cruises including HAL continues to be the passengers that should simply not cruise. These people take no notice of others, jump into lines wherever they choose, are rude and ungrateful to staff and act in general as if they are above all others. I say to these people, please stay home and allow appreciative cruisers the opportunity for an even better holiday. Alaska with HAL and the Oosterdam was a wonderful cruise. While it had never been a top priority or 'bucket list' holiday for me, it was a very unique cruise experience that I would highly recommend to anyone with a sense of adventure and enjoyment for life. The trick we have learned with cruising is that not all cruise lines and not all ships are made for all cruise passengers. Each has its own unique culture and character. The trick is to find the one that suits you and your style, and then make up your mind to enjoy your holiday. We will definitely cruise HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We recently enjoyed a week long cruise on the MS Oosterdam sailing from Seattle to Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria BC. Overall the itinerary was very good, although the arrival time of 6pm in Victoria BC was a little ... Read More
We recently enjoyed a week long cruise on the MS Oosterdam sailing from Seattle to Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria BC. Overall the itinerary was very good, although the arrival time of 6pm in Victoria BC was a little late to feel we could fully enjoy the port. Some context - this was our third cruise, having previously sailed a very similar route on the Norwegian Pearl around 5 years ago, plus a Mexican Riviera cruise with Carnival two years ago. This time our party consisted of my husband and I plus our three sons (16, 15, 11) and my husband's mother, brother and sister. The trip was a celebration of my mother in law's 80th birthday. The whole family had a fantastic time on the Oosterdam. One of the great joys of cruising a large ship such as this for us was that there are so many ecosystems on board that everyone was able to find their niche without feeling we were permanently compromising, but we also had many shared experiences to enjoy being together. Our biggest impression was that Holland America in general and the MS Oosterdam in particular are extremely well run. It really felt like this cruise line knew everything there was to know about how to run the ship as efficiently and effectively as possible. Other cruisers: Generally genteel and older (55+) with limited younger families and really very few children given the fact we were in the school holidays. However our sons didn't feel unwelcome or out of place. The crew: Easily the best part of the cruise. Great crew, super cheerful, eager to help and make your stay better, absolutely went the extra mile in all areas. Really, jobs on a cruise are not always the most pleasant, but the HAL crew rose above what must be very repetitive and hard work to make you feel special. Big thumbs up. The ship: Although a little older than other ships we have sailed in, the Oosterdam was extremely well maintained and exceptionally clean. Some of the decor felt a little dated to me, even for a cruise ship, and some of the room fixtures were showing a little sign of wear. However, overall the word 'immaculate' sprang to mind. When we did spot a few items that needed attention and mentioned them to the staff they were fixed immediately. There was limited pool space on the ship, which was fine for Alaska but I think would have been an issue on a hotter route. There was a limited size pool on the rear of the ship outside on deck 9, and another midship on 9 with a sliding roof which was nice touch. A third pool can be found in the Spa, but this was on a fee basis (except when in port) and was typically full of the much older cruisers and didn't really appeal to us. We all really enjoyed the Crow's Nest on deck 10. Great views at the front of the ship, excellent library of novels, periodicals, and non-fiction including large print. My sons enjoyed playing chess in this area, and older family members sat with coffee (fee based) whilst enjoying the wildlife. The Crow's Nest had a really nice atmosphere throughout the day, and there was a really good singer/guitar player who entertained in the evening. My teen sons went to 'The Loft' most days to meet up with their peers. The facilities were limited and the activities a bit lame (scavenger hunt - really it's time to rethink that one!) - but I think just the opportunity to find other kids their own age was good enough and they seemed ot enjoy the facility. The basketball court on deck 10 was also fun but a bit of a challenge in the sea winds. There are also shuffleboard areas on 10, and ping pong/giant chess available on Lido 9. We went to the gym pretty much everyday. I didn't particularly like the facility since it was quite small and also quite hot, however other family members thought it was fine. Location was a bit odd since you had to go through the spa area to access, but it was at the front of the ship with a great view. Promenade deck on 3 was a nice feature. It was very busy in the mornings but quite quiet later in the day. The only downside here was the maintenance crew were painting something down here all week so it was a bit smelly at times. There was a nice movie theater on deck 3 - we went there most evenings after dinner since the movie selection was quite good with high quality recent releases. The seats were super comfortable/recliners, and there was fresh popcorn which was a nice touch. However the layout wasn't great so in fact there were far fewer seats available than really could have been, and it was consistently cold. I particularly liked the outer glass elevators mid ship - nice to be able to still see wildlife and the outside. Cabin: We were in a balcony on deck 5. This was immediately above the lifeboats which initially put me off the view a bit, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Bed was v. comfy and big, bathroom large (even had a bath), lots of clothes storage space, room for cases under the bed. Only gripe was the desk area was a bit crowded. Nice that there were many in room DVD movies available although a limited selection for kids. Food: Overall very good. The restaurant food was far superior in my opinion to the Lido. Evening meals were generally good with a great choice although I think they overdid the adventurous soup route a bit too much. Great fun watching my 16 year old son's face crumple when he discovered what Gazpacho was though! In the Lido, salad and fresh fruit choice was good but I thought the hot meals both at lunch and in the evening led a lot to be desired. Room service food was very good. The coffee throughout the ship was awful. There was a chocolate buffet one evening which looked great and was visually appealing but taste and texture were both a bit lacking. Restaurants: Ambiance and service in the main dining room were very nice. The Lido was OK but really not big enough for peak times when it was a challenge to find somewhere to sit. We didn't use the fee based restaurants. Internet: Our one BIG gripe. This is 2011, the era of facebook and texting. HAL (or maybe it's all the cruise lines?) seem to be in denial over the internet. There was WiFi but it was a ridiculous rate and very slow so pretty much unusable. Get into the 21st century please - free wifi should be seen as necessary as electricity and water, and surely much more important than towel animals at bedtime? Who knows, we might even post our fab pictures of our fab vacation live while we have R&R time and give you some great PR and marketing? There's no option to review Glacier Bay as a port so I'll add our review here. I think this is the highlight of the itinerary, and wouldn't consider a cruise that didn't visit Glacier Bay. What a sight! We sailed in close to the Johns Hopkins glacier for a while, then back out and up to the Marjorie which was absolutely spectacular. Such a great day on the cruise, everyone out on the decks enjoying the gorgeous scenery, hot pea soup, tartan blankets to keep warm, hot cocoa. Local park rangers join the ship to give a great commentary. Even my cave dwelling teenagers came blinking wildly out of the depths of the teen club to soak in the grandeur. 5+++ stars. We had a great cruise for wildlife and scenery. On the first day at sea were treated to whales, dolphins, flying fish as we ate in the Lido. Lots of whales as we headed up to Glacier Bay, and again at Juneau and Sitka. Eagles everywhere. My eldest son even saw a momma bear and three baby bears wandering the streets on the edge of Juneau. Sea Otters, Puffins, Deer, Goats on the wildlife tour. And of course the spectacular blue/grey/white creaking grandeur of the glaciers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We're a family of three, two adults and one 10 year old girl. This was our second cruise, the first being on The Disney Dream. We chose HAL for Alaska because they have permission to enter Glacier Bay and were recommended by a few ... Read More
We're a family of three, two adults and one 10 year old girl. This was our second cruise, the first being on The Disney Dream. We chose HAL for Alaska because they have permission to enter Glacier Bay and were recommended by a few trusted friends - people who've taken multiple cruises and know our family's preferences. It turns out the Oosterdam was a solid pick. Port Seattle's downtown area is perfectly situated right next to where the ships dock. We arrived in the evening, spent a day doing activities in Seattle, spent a second night at the hotel (We could see our ship come in from the Westin Seattle) and embarked the next day. If you have the time, here a few restaurant recommendations: Top Pot for Doughnuts, Pike Brewery for just about any meal, Belltown Pizza for casual late night dining and Oddfellows for lunch. We also enjoyed a meal and a Greek restaurant called Lola, not too far from The Westin. Embarkation The most pleasant embarkation to date! Port employees were genuinely friendly and helpful. Our photos were taken promptly and we were on our way to our room, which lo and behold was ready! This was a first. Cabin Loved it. Having read the editorial review, I worried we'd be cramped and lack storage. It was a non-issue. We felt we had as much living space as we did on The Dream and the overall design of the cabin was relaxing. Speaking of which, the beds were incredibly comfortable -- better than our bed at home and with nicer linens. I was also impressed with the bathroom. The spa line of toiletries had this great smell, the shower had excellent water pressure and the bath was a decent size. The balcony was also big enough to fit 2 chairs for an adult and a small child, so that worked out well for us. Note: Having cruised twice, I probably would not bother traveling without a verandah. Waking up to see a new landscape is priceless. We met our cabin steward (who did a great job, btw and made excellent towel animals) briefly then headed straight to the Lido for lunch. Food The Lido was a bit crowded on the first day, but we managed to find a seat by the large window and head over to the buffet. Compared to our other cruise, this food was just as good. I'd resigned myself to the idea that cruise food is not always going to be as good as what you'd get ashore, but HAL exceeded by expectations in many respects with the freshness of the produce, fruit and quality of the beef. I can't comment on the seafood as I don't eat it, but the other types of meat (including lamb) were all very tasty. The only thing I found disappointing was some turkey I had one day at lunch, but there was some really good ham that made up for it plus a lot of other things to choose from. There weren't a lot of ethnic choices - just an Asian station with mediocre sushi and the usual Americanized stir-fry dishes, but my husband enjoyed his stir-fry. Because there were so many other choices, I never even made it to the Asian station. So in terms of variety, I thought it was fine. Plus if you're observant, you will also notice they change up the salad selections every day, so if you like various whole grain salads with wheat berries and such, always take a pass by the salad station. Whales and Porpoises Saw quite a few throughout the cruise. If you spend a lot of time looking out the window, you're bound to see one and usually when there's on there are more. First you see the spouts, then you see the whales. Porpoises just kind of come out of nowhere and then start jumping alongside the ships. The three we saw did a little synchronized act alongside the ship. I think they like playing in the wake. Passengers I like babies and don't mind hearing them cry, but when kids get unruly it can be a stress for the parents therefore a ship full of babies can mean a ship full of harried parents. This was not the case on HAL. People seemed fairly mellow and happy. The crowd may have skewed a wee bit on the older side, but I find that a bonus as I tend to enjoy the company of people with more experience on this planet - especially healthy, happy, seasoned travelers. There were also happy young couples and plenty of middle aged parents with kids my daughter's age. It was a nice mix of people from different walks of life. I didn't feel that "I'm here to drop the kids off at the club and get toasted" vibe. Crew Having traveled only on a very large ship, it was nice being on a somewhat smaller ship and having access to the crew. I actually knew the cruise director's name and loved that he participated in game shows and ran trivia. His name was JT and while he was not the captain, he was kind of the voice (along with the captain) of the ship and seemed like someone you could trust to handle any problem that arose. The party planner and culinary host (Kirby) was delightful, the guy who led the tech classes was funny, the spa staff were always visible and friendly, and the captain was the best! He even participated in a culinary demonstration in which he made Dutch pancakes and answered questions about life as a captain. It was truly fascinating and if HAL offers that again, I recommend you go even if you don't have kids. By the end of the tour we felt like they were part of our family and it was kind of sad to leave. By the way, I realize how cheesy that sounds and I never thought I'd say that in a review, but the staff were just so warm and efficient and genuine. Which leads me to the dining room staff. We were supposed to be at a table of 8 but they gave us a table of 4 which meant the three of us weren't sharing a table with another family. It was actually kind of nice not having to make small talk every evening, but even better knowing we'd have the same waiter, Freddy, every night. He was kind to our daughter, remembered our preferences, and very professional at the same time. Okay, so that's enough about the great service. But let's get back to the food. Main dining room food was VERY good. We didn't go until the third night because we had our first dinner at Canaletto and second at Pinnacle, but the main dining room was a sideways step rather than a step down, in my opinion. Pinnacle was good and the steak at Pinnacle was a tiny bit better than the one I had on surf and turf night in the MDR, but the service on the upper level of the MDR was better and overall. That being said, I'd definitely have another evening at Pinnacle for the great steak and maybe a chance to try some other things. As for Canaletto, It was solid and we had excellent service. The food was good, but not quite in the same league as Disney's Palo. Then again, you have to pay extra for Palo. My chicken Marsala was tasty, but it was on par with Macaroni Grill (which I happen to like for casual dining, knowing full well it's not the utmost in cuisine). Okay, moving on. Whoops . Not moving on. Desserts! We loved the desserts on HAL. The cookies were okay, but not very imaginative. They had sugar, chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. Maybe they could throw in a more imaginative cookie? I suggest big ginger cookies for HAL. Seems like they wouldn't be too difficult. The cakes were excellent - moist and in varied flavors and the other desserts were quite inventive. I also loved eating different takes on Baked Alaska every night. The chefs would make it with different flavors of Ben & Jerry's and different sauces each evening. Good thing we could order as many desserts as we wanted. The sundaes, cakes and tarts were all great. There was a cheesecake which I didn't care for because it tasted more like icebox cake than real New York cheesecake, but it wasn't terrible like the gelatinous mess I'd had on the other ship. They also had sugar free desserts such as pudding, Jell-O, some sort of apple thing and chocolate mousse. The breads were all good too, though the muffins were a little heavy and not really my style. The wine by the glass list was rather limited and the bottled wines were all marked up. I never thought I'd say this, but it might be work taking your own wine on board and paying whatever corkage fees they charge. That, or just order wine by the glass. If you do order a bottle of wine, they cork it when you're done and bring it out the next meal. That was kind of nice, as we don't typically drink a bottle of wine every night. Activities We loved going to the daily trivia game, culinary demos, craft session and game shows. Bingo was a lot of fun too and there were plenty of kids in attendance, which is always a riot. We only did one Bingo game because you have to pay for it, but next time I'll budget for more bingo. When there weren't activities going on, we either swam or read books and played games in the Explorations lounge (more on that later.) Entertainment The singers and dancers were fine, but they could use some new material to work with. We still enjoyed watching them. The magician, Leo Ward, was fantastic. Our daughter couldn't stop talking about him. The whole family also liked the comedian who was funny without being raunchy. I'll also add that we went to all the 10:00 shows. That's way past the usual kid bed time, but on a cruise it didn't seem to matter and there were other well-behaved kids in attendance. Kid's Area It was small and homey with lots of planned activities games and I believe, X-boxes. Kids came and went. It never seemed over-crowded, but there were always enough people for our daughter to play with. She only went twice in 7 days, but the Kid's Club staff remembered her and wrote her a personal goodbye letter on the last day. Oh, and they kids did a talent show one day! They got to perform in the Queen's Lounge on a real stage and everyone on the ship was invited (though not everyone came, thank goodness). The staff were so encouraging and supportive of the kids' talents. Again, that was just another advantage of a small kid's club. Not having a toddler, I didn't pay any attention to policies on toddlers, but I really didn't see a lot of them on board anyway. Pool Always a nice place to swim and never too crowded. Hanging out by the pool was fun because it always smelled like hamburgers. There were lots of comfy chairs and of course, a nice view out of the windows. Because we were in a cold climate, it was covered, though the top of the deck as a big skylight type thing that they can open during nice weather. Explorer's Lounge/Crow's Nest Filled with periodicals, books, a paperback exchange (I traded two new good books for two new good books), puzzles and games, this little coffee lounge was our favorite room. It had really comfortable chairs (3 or 4 were Eames) and sofas and you could always find a place to sit back and enjoy your book without being secluded or truly alone because the Explorer's Lounge connected with a much larger lounge called Crow's nest which had a big wall of windows. It was pretty much the living room of the ship - always busy, but never over-crowded or unpleasant. Casino I've been known to throw money in the slots from time to time, but this room didn't appeal to me. It was dark and smoky. We always walked through it really quickly. The casino host seemed really nice, though. If you don't mind the smoke and like games, it seems like a fun place to learn some gaming lessons. I just can't sit very long in a room full of smoke, but I'm probably not the casino's target audience anyway. I'm not sure we'll ever see non-smoking casinos, sadly. Overall Opinion Our first cruise set the bar pretty high. This one was a completely different experience which had a completely different bar set at that same level just in a different spot. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We arrived in Seattle a few days early to spend some time with my son who is in grad school in Portland and a dear family friend who also lives in Washington. We had lots of fun and the weather was great in Seattle before we left on our ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle a few days early to spend some time with my son who is in grad school in Portland and a dear family friend who also lives in Washington. We had lots of fun and the weather was great in Seattle before we left on our cruise. Our hotel dropped us off at the dock. Even though we ended up toting our baggage to the building, it wasn't a big deal. This was nothing like the last cruise I went on via Houston, Texas, where it was wall to wall people and cars and pandemonium. We quickly went through security and dropped off our bags. Very easy! Then walked to the window and got our key cards. We waited for about 45 minutes (there were no chairs available but fortunately I found an extra chair by a wine tasting sign up area with a young couple going on their honeymoon. I hope they had a great time!) I really needed a chair. My knees and legs got inflamed when we got to the airport in Seattle and thought the light rail was close by. Be prepared for a long walk dragging your heavy bags if you decide to use this mode of transportation. It really messed my legs up which gave me mobility issues during the entire cruise and trip. Our group was called and we quickly entered the ship. We found our stateroom (no luggage yet) and then went to the Mariner's Lunch. My sister and brother in law, our cruising companions, had cruised on Carnival and so that entitled them to the Mariner's Lunch. It was no problem for us to join them. It was a lovely lunch and after walking (or me limping) around the deck, we went back to our rooms and our luggage had arrived. We booked the VH category which came with a balcony. Since we had rooms side by side, our steward opened the divider between the balconies so we could enjoy the scenery together. The room was very clean and the view of Seattle was spectacular. We very much loved the balconies. We ate in the MDR for dinner and met our server, Freddie. He was a great server and treated us very well. The food was all very good for the most part. I only had a couple of meals that I didn't care for. For the most part, our group thought the desserts were not that spectacular. Since we were on CST, I changed us to the late dinner seating. That was a big mistake because we couldn't go to any 8 p.m. shows due to the 7:45 dinner seating (and you can't go to the MDR at 5:45, they won't allow you to eat during that time if you have the 7:45 set time). And by 10 p.m., we were too tired to stay up that late. We did go watch Leo the magician's show after reading so many good reviews on CC. We ate the second night (at sea) at the Italian restaurant. My lasagna was dried out and I couldn't eat it. BUT everyone else in our group thought the food was good. We had rough seas that night and so it took me a while to feel back to normal the next day at Glacier Bay. We did go to the Crow's Nest which I had read about on CC, but the first time we went was super crowded. Hubby and I went a second time, enjoyed a happy hour drink special and listened to the guitarist. I regret that we didn't get to see more shows but the time change was a killer for us. Alaska time is an extra HOUR added on so we were three hours off our regular time. We did go watch the Dutton Family (from Branson and Mesa, AZ) who made a special appearance for a cruise group that had organized. That was in the afternoon and we enjoyed watching the very talented family perform. We had terrific weather for the cruise -- only that one rough day. The crew was very welcoming and made each person feel special. We ate in the Lido from time to time. I loved the Asian station. I think those noodles were my favorite. It is kind of pandemonium there and we got tired of it so we ended up eating the rest of our dinners in the MDR. We ordered room service every morning so that we could have coffee in our room. I don't think I would ever go cruising again without that balcony. I LOVED whale watching, dolphin watching, site seeing - everything was so much better being able to have my own balcony. With my mobility issues, it was great that I didn't have to go find a window to look out. Our stateroom bed was FANTASTIC! It was nice not having to bring shampoo, conditioner and soap. There is a blow dryer and we did have a fridge in our room. But nothing else was in there like cotton swabs. We had no issues with any mysterious charges on our bill. The small couch in our room was very uncomfortable as was the worn chair. Definitely needs to be replaced. But the rest of the ship was fine. I didn't see any wear and tear that was super noticeable. All in all it was a great cruise and I have no issues with the ship at all or HAL. I think some folks who post here are super critical or maybe I am just easy to please and happy to be on vacation! I would highly recommend this cruise. The trip to Glacier Bay was the HIGHLIGHT of our cruise. The weather was spectacular and we watched the glaciers calve several times. Bald eagles were flying around it. This is what makes this particular cruise/cruise line so awesome to be able to be up close and personal with a huge glacier! My one caveat is that if you truly want to experience the real Alaska, you won't on this cruise due to the time limitations of the ports. Now for those who do float plane trips, (I don't do little planes!) maybe they have a different opinion. I'll give a port by port review but each ship docks right in the heart of tourist traps. Many of the shops are even owned by the cruise lines and all have the same stuff. I kept asking the local bus driver in Sitka where do the locals go for lunch. She just brushed it off that they don't eat out. My next trip there (if I can walk!) would probably be by plane and then with a car so I could really see and experience the real Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Oosterdam Alaska from Seattle Review- July 17-24th 2011 This was a wonderful and relaxing trip. DH, 50; DD,16; and I, 49; had been on the Oosterdam to the Mexican Riviera a few years before and it was fun to notice a few changes but ... Read More
Oosterdam Alaska from Seattle Review- July 17-24th 2011 This was a wonderful and relaxing trip. DH, 50; DD,16; and I, 49; had been on the Oosterdam to the Mexican Riviera a few years before and it was fun to notice a few changes but was easy to feel at home. The noticeable change was the library/coffee/ internet area area was now in the crow's nest. I thought that was great. I am not a good writer and I will not get the ship terms correct but I have always flaked on doing a review so this time I'm doing one! We stayed At the Arctic Club Doubletree Seattle for three nights before embarkation. It was a very nice hotel but a bit pricey. The ship: This is the only time I have been on a ship twice and it was great to feel at home right away. I thought the ship was in great condition and was very clean. My husband noticed some more wear and tear and felt it wasn't kept as clean as last time. Our suite was kept immaculate though there was some grout in bathroom that had some mold in a few places - no big deal. Our room stewards did an excellent job keeping everything spotless. They told us they had 30 rooms. Wow. I did call for housekeeping service the first day when our rooms with sofa bed (couldn't use sofa) were still not made up by 11am, after that they came the minute we left our room. I thought the ship was well arranged and easy to get around. It was very easy to avoid smoking areas. Just made sure to take floor 3 to the showroom. This ship felt empty the whole week and we had bars and the promenade to ourselves many times. The Lido never had lines of more than 2 or 3 people - maybe we ate at odd hours??? Our Suite: we had room 7151 SB aft suite on the Rotterdam deck. It is definitely a little smaller than the SA's but the amazing deck was worth it. The deck was rather gritty but was swept about 5 days in. We had such nice weather this week, we were out there a lot. Being on the back of the ship the cool wind was blocked and it was quite cozy out there. People could look down on us if we were out by the railing. It was fun talking to those above and below us. I loved it so much! I expected some shuddering or vibration but there was none. The bed was perfect, bedding amazing. They give you 6 pillows of every variety, hubby likes medium, I like soft...perfect. We slept really well. Our 16 yr. old DD, said the sofa was very comfortable. The storage space is more than anyone could need. A solid wall of closets in the room and more closets in the changing area. The fridge was full of sodas and water but we still placed some of our items in there as well. We left valuables such as cameras, laptops and never felt they needed to be locked up. The safe works well with a four digit combo, we kept wallets and passports in there. We brought wipes and wiped down everything down first day and then knew the room was very clean. It stayed that way. The Flat screen TV blocks part of the desk and can't be moved but no big deal, just a weird placement. This room is VERY quiet since it is at the very end of a hallway - loved this. Also loved the daily laundry service. We used it every day, including embarkation (we had been travelling for a week already). Only the dry cleaning took 2 days (DH's tux and my formal outfit). Embarkation Seattle: We arrived by vehicle at 10:30am. It was a bit rainy. DH dropped DD and I off while he went to park the car. It was very difficult to find a porter. We finally got smart and sent DD to front of Bldg. to grab a porter. That worked and we finally got rid of our 6 bags (gave $10 tip). We waited out front on a bench for DH. He parked off sight and it took maybe 20 minutes for him to make it back. Suite check-in went very quickly. They basically just gave us our keys and sent us on our way. No info on where to go next or about Mariner lunch...oh well. We were group one which was supposed to embark at 11:30. There seemed to be some confusion on how we were to line up but finally about 11:45 we were going aboard! The Restaurants- We ate at the Canaletto, The Pinnacle Grill, LIDO, and MDR. The Canaletto - We made reservations thru the Neptune lounge right when we got on the ship. This has no additional cost. We ate there our first night. We had three servers and felt quite spoiled. Started with a delicious antipasto platter that they serve you from. I asked for one of everything and it was delicious. We had salad, minestrone, seafood soup, pasta and meatballs, veal scaloppini, linguini frutti de mar, and dessert of trio of tiramisu. We all enjoyed our meals tremendously. It was very empty, no idea where all the passengers were but we loved the great service, and food. My daughter LOVED the surprise (I won't ruin it for you) we received right before dessert; it brought big smiles to everyone's faces! A great experience and wonderful views as well. MDR - We enjoyed our meals here over 95% of the time. We had anytime dining! We did the embarkation lunch - they did not ask for an invitation (I asked at check in and they said I did not need one. I noticed that they did not announce that the MDR was available and we were not told about it at check in even though we are mariners. This was also empty with only 20 or so tables. Very nice lunch! The 4 dinners we ate here were very good. Twice we made reservations, twice just showed up with no waiting. We ate by ourselves once and with a group of three the other times. We were matched up with wonderful families each time and enjoyed them tremendously. My only food mishaps were extremely salty fish at the Mariners lunch and the Chile Rellenno sp? the last night (not spicy had a basic tomato sauce I wanted salsa!). Ahhh, the Master Chef's dinner; I had planned to skip this after reading about it but somehow we ended up there that night (Fri). As we introduced ourselves to our tablemates, I started looking for my napkin and thought maybe it had slipped from my lap, others at our table also doing the same. Then, the music started up and dancing servers twirling napkins arrived. Next, the Salad dance (actually pretty amusing) then later, a dessert dance. Everyone at our table decided to go with it and had a great time. I can imagine it could get a little old for frequent cruisers but for one night, pretty fun. We found our MDR experiences to be great. Of course it was nothing like the caliber of the Pinnacle Grill. Pinnacle Grill: We never had breakfast here...sorry. Heard it was great though! We ate here twice. The idea was that we would eat once by ourselves and once with our daughter. She ended eating with us both times! We had wonderful service. Our first time we were seated with a view of the atrium/stairs, the second time with a fabulous secluded table with a sea view. We commented on our better table and our server mentioned that the view tables go to those that asked. We just got lucky since I didn't think to ask for a view table! We loved every bite of what we had: (1st time)Tableside Caesar salads ( asked for extra anchovy - yum), shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, a lobster mousse palate refresher, lobster bisque, lamb chops, rib eye steaks cooked perfectly, sides - creamed spinach, onions, mushrooms, mashed potatoes, crème brulee, choc. SoufflE and cinnamon ice cream. We also had a bread basket, three kinds of butter and we brought our own wine ($18 corkage) and our glasses were kept filled. (2nd time) Better table. Besides what we had above, a few changes: Surf and Turf - cooked perfectly and huge prawns! And Chocolate lava cake and crème brulee trio for dessert. Another perfect meal - no complaints. LIDO - I loved the layout but then it seemed the ship was empty and never any big lines! We had breakfast here or Neptune lounge every day. I loved the eggs benedict station. They had it 5 different ways but I always asked for the regular way. It is made in front of you but only takes a minute - delicious. The fresh squeezed OJ was fantastic. Danishes, especially chocolate croissant -yum. I had a few omelets which are also made your way and only had one person in front of me each time. DD loved the waffles. DH loved fresh fruit and breakfast parfaits. Rarely had lunch but tried the pizza - just so-so but DD liked it. Salad bar good too! Usually made my lunch out of hordervous in Neptune lounge. Neptune Lounge: Love this perk. Never had to stand in long line at front desk. We made reservations, changed luggage tags, checked onboard account with concierge. Had Cappuccino daily - love that machine! It was a lonnnggg walk from our room or probably would have used it even more. They had fresh fruit, Danishes, parfaits in the morning and really yummy hordervous afternoon and evening. Sometimes hordervous would run out and they did not seem to be in a hurry to replace them. They also had water and juices all day. This is forward on Rotterdam deck. There are no views from here, so no point in hanging around! They do have a selection of magazines and internet here as well. The Gym - Enjoyed the gym. DH did all 3 spin classes thought they were good. Teen Program - DD loved the teen program and spent lots of time there. Back to the room at midnight each night. There were 90 teens on the ship. Maybe 30 used the teen program a lot. Others occasionally dropped by. They had one young woman on staff there. The Shows: We didn't participate in many of the activities - our balcony was way too awesome, but we did the 10pm show most nights. I enjoyed the dance shows quite a bit, but they aren't a Vegas caliber show but lots of fun just the same. By far my favorite was "Garage Band". The comic, Mike Robinson was an excellent ventriloquist and lots of fun. The best show was the Illusionist, Leo Ward. He was hilariously funny and the Illusions were excellent. Do not miss this show! Danced to Tina Lou and the Halcats once and had tons of fun, thought they sounded great. Also peeked in on the game show, the Liars Club. It was so funny. Wish I had gone to more game shows after seeing that! The Captain: I was very impressed with Captain Arjen Van Der Loo! He was so dynamic, funny and interesting to listen to. He spoke for a good twenty minutes at the first show and was very amusing. At the Mariner brunch, he also spoke quite a while. He told us lots of info on the Oosterdam. She will go into dry-dock (new carpets, cleaning, internal stuff) after Alaska itinerary in Victoria BC and then try a new itinerary to Hawaii /and old itinerary to Mexico. Later to New Zealand... Great guy! He also did a good job keeping us informed of the tragic event of our missing 20 year old passenger. He was not found. The Ports: Glacier Bay: I know, not a port but one of the most awesome days! DD and I did a 12 person cooking class at 11am ($29 fee) and I was worried about missing some sights but it turned out fine. This class was an awesome experience. Chef Pablo was wonderful and the food we cooked was terrific. Loved the apron we got to keep. We also got recipe cards. Wine included as well. A fun two hours. After the class, rushed out to sightsee. The fog and clouds were just lifting. It took another two hours, about 3pm for the first glaciers. The best glacier sightings were around 5pm - the Marjorie glacier where we stopped and turned for about an hour. It calved 3 times! Lots of cracking and beautiful sunshine. This was a sight I will never forget. Worth the price of the cruise all by itself! As we left, two whales made their appearance. Just fabulous. Juneau: No excursions planned so we took our time getting off the ship. We walked to the State Capitol building and took the free tour. This turned out to be wonderful. The young woman who gave the tour was very knowledgeable about all things Alaska and gave a very interesting tour. Next, DH and DD decided to do the 2 ½ mile hike up Mt Roberts while I took the Tram. Of course, even after a trip back to the ship, I beat them to the top and hiked some of the gorgeous trails at the top. It was sunny, warm, and I got some awesome pictures! We met up for lunch (tasty, not too expensive, but very slow service). DH says the trail is very muddy steep and treacherous. No way would they hike back down! Luckily, having lunch gave them a free pass to ride the $27 tram back down. Loved the long day here. We had more time so we took the shuttle ($8) to Mendenhall Glacier. Very nice visitor Center (another $3) and nice viewpoints for pictures. We weren't as close as to Marjorie Glacier but a great excursion. We also stopped by the Salmon run which was by the shuttle stop. Lots of bear warning signs there but no bears. Walked thru town. Terrific post office with cards and gifts as well. Sitka: We slept in and waited for the early tours to tender. By the time we got to the tenders (no need for suite guests to get a tender ticket) we got right on and were walking in town 15 minutes later. I loved this stop. This town is so cute and easy to get around. Another gorgeous sunny day. We decided to walk to the raptor center. On the way, we stopped at the Bishops House (Forest Service attraction free for 1st floor). This is a short worthwhile stop. Probably a good mile or more to the Raptor Center. Stopped at National Cemetery on the way. The Raptor Center is a very special place. Make sure you see the talk with the Eagle. The cost was $12. You get very close to lots of Bald Eagles. Next, we went across the street to the back entrance to the Totem Park. Beautiful in there. We hiked thru and headed back along the shore to town. Time for some souvenir shopping...Plenty of shops in town. Finished our day with an Alaskan Beer at a cafe near the tender stop. Another fabulous special day. Ketchikan: Had to be up very early for this port! Wish we were here longer. We did excursions here. DD and DH did a zip line which ended with a slide. They seemed to like it but weren't raving about it. I did Eagle Island Kayak. I loved it. Once again, we were very fortunate and the sun came out. Due to wind, the kayaking was a bit challenging but really fun. It was my first time kayaking and I can't wait to go again. Yes, we saw Eagles! No other wildlife though. Very nice place for an excursion and terrific guides. They also do Mt Biking and have a zip line there as well. We had to be back on the ship at 12:30pm so I had no time to check out the town...darn! Victoria: I definitely want to come back here someday (added to my Bucket list). I don't do crowds well, so we skipped the excursions. We arrived late into port. Think we finally got let off around 8pm and had to be back by 11:30. We paid the $8.50 for the shuttle into town waited with the crowds to get on a bus and made it to downtown. Next time we would just walk - it's not that far if you walk straight thru a neighborhood to downtown. Well, the town is really beautiful. There was some kind of fair going on and it was fun seeing the entertainment and the sights. We visited a cute Gelato shop- yum. Just walked around then back to the ship. Watched a seal feeding on small fish right by the ship, very cool. Later talked to many people who said the Fireworks and scenery at Buttchart were the best ever. BUT, the crowds fighting to leave afterwards was awful... I was pleasantly surprised by the prices in the ports. Postcards 20cents each, reasonable T-shirts, candy...of course plenty of very expensive items as well. No such thing as inexpensive crab by the way. More reasonable at Costco! Debarkation: Seattle Smooth and easy. A nice warm and sunny day. Whew! I can't say enough about Holland America. I am in my 40's but consider it a great fit. I love the elegance, the truly amazing service, the warmth of the staff, the ship ... all of it. This was an awesome cruise and I would recommend it to anyone. One very sad part, After Ketchikan we started hearing announcements for someone to contact front desk right away. After a couple of these announcements, the Captain made an announcement about a missing 20 year old young man and to please look at his picture and keep an eye out. At Debarkation he was still missing. I felt so bad for his family. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Another great cruise on HAL, been on the Oosterdam several times and will be back on board in December for Hawaii...the ship, as many have stated here, does show some signs of wear, but give me a break folks, ships are used 24/7 by ... Read More
Another great cruise on HAL, been on the Oosterdam several times and will be back on board in December for Hawaii...the ship, as many have stated here, does show some signs of wear, but give me a break folks, ships are used 24/7 by thousands of passengers and just like your favorite hotels, they get refurbished periodically...last time for "O" was in 2009 and it will be done again this year, the last week in September. A few specifics...embarkation was a breeze as usual...have your boarding pass and passport in hand...grab your room key from the friendly shore staff and viola...you on the ship very fast!!! After more than forty cruises on different lines, HAL is our favorite, the food and service are always good...don't miss eating in the Pinnacle Grill at least once, it's well worth the extra money and do try Canaletto too!!! Our cabin and the stewards were fine as usual and for relaxation, we do highly recommend the thermal suite and spa, no better way to prepare for dinner. I feel that I must mention the Master of Oosterdam, Captain Van der loo, with whom we have sailed previously...he is first of all a gentleman, but also a very responsible professional that has a funny side that makes him very well liked by both the his passengers and his crew. Some captains are very aloof and out of touch with the passengers, but not this guy!!! Also, cruise director J T Watters on this voyage is probably one of the best and most fun CD's that we have had in a long time...he works extremely well with Captain Van der loo to enhance the whole cruise experience. Looking forward to Hawaii in December after the refurbishment in drydock!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
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
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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