39 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Mexican Riviera

1. Lack luster entertainment. The cruise director was extremely boring. Trivia games were not entertaining. Overall, there was nothing to do on the ship. DJ the comedian was good. The magician Leone Ettien was good but tried to sell his ... Read More
1. Lack luster entertainment. The cruise director was extremely boring. Trivia games were not entertaining. Overall, there was nothing to do on the ship. DJ the comedian was good. The magician Leone Ettien was good but tried to sell his magic kit which was very tacky. The friday 7p show was terrible. 2. Staff was unfriendly. Wait staff Cleaned dirty dishes on dining tables instead of going into a private area. 3. Gala nights were not at all exciting to the extent that we didnt even dress up for the 2nd gala night. 4. Timing for dinner was very inconvenient. Main meals (lido market) stopped at 2p and 8:30p for dinner which was very odd. 5. Club Hal was cancelled? The kids room was a pathetic little conference room. Unclear as to why the arcade space was limited to 7-17yr old kids during most of the day. Having at least that space for all kids would have been helpful but let's be clear, the arcade was limited and ultimately boring. With 300 kids on board, one would think more of an effort would be made to entertain them. Staff did not change duvet covers even if they were stained. We had chocolate stains on our bedding throughout the cruise. The shops were over -priced and lacking in style. The Thanksgiving sale was a joke. This experience was terrible and we will never go on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
It was my husband's fall break from school and my dad and his wife could fit this cruise into their schedule so for the first time we were able to take a cruise together. We had been looking forward to it for many months. We flew ... Read More
It was my husband's fall break from school and my dad and his wife could fit this cruise into their schedule so for the first time we were able to take a cruise together. We had been looking forward to it for many months. We flew into San Diego a day earlier and got a night at the nearby Best Western prior to embarkation. Embarkation went smoothly. After checking in, we had to wait about 40 minutes before we could get on the ship but they had a decent waiting area with plenty of seating so it was not a big deal. Once we boarded the ship, we were able to go right to our rooms to check them out. We got side by side balcony staterooms and had our room steward open the balcony partition between rooms so that we could enjoy each other's company during the cruise. Our room stewards were Rohman and Ron and both seemed fine. One thing I didn't really like was that I felt a little shamed for asking for an extra towel to be inside our bathroom at all times so that if needed, I wouldn't have to ask for it. I got the lecture about how they want us to re-use the towels to save water. I get it but I'm also asking for one extra towel and shoot! I'm on vacation. If I want to use an extra towel, can't I? What I did learn super quickly though was an extra hand towel was needed to keep the sink area dry because every time we reached between the soap and the faucet, water dripped everywhere. They really should use hand soap dispensers - kind of like they do in the shower with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. If the dispenser was right over the sink itself, there would be no mess of drips everywhere. We then went up to lunch in the Lido Cafe otherwise known as the "buffet." I would give it an 8 out of 10 for lunch. I found the desserts to be lacking in flavor though. And, the ice cream was good but twice I wanted a waffle cone and twice they said, no more. Wait until next time. I think whoever makes them needs to make more if they are this popular. I liked the salad station though. It was nice to be able to have salads made up however I wanted them. We pre-purchased a soda card and a drink card before boarding and they were both very useful. In fact, I don't think we actually zero'd out the soda card by the end of the cruise. The dining room was nice and we had great waiters. Supardi and Eki where wonderful and always greeted us with a smile, and gave us what ever we asked for. And, my thing is Creme Brulee. I asked for it every night but one and I got it every night but one. Thank you for that!! Now that is an awesome fulfillment of a request! The options for appetizers and soups and salads were a little bit lacking I thought. Maybe they have cut down on choices over the years? We also enjoyed our wine guy. His name was Ron and he was great. I only ordered wine once but my dad and his wife got a wine package and he was super friendly and not pushy which is what I like!! These 3 got extra tips from all of us! Entertainment...well, I hate to say it but I was totally bored by the HAL performers on the ship. That is the first time in 11 cruises (other lines as well as HAL) that I've ever had to say that. Too bad. We opted to skip the second night they performed too. Now, the hired help - Comedians...they were awesome! Both kept me laughing and left me wanting more. Went to all three shows of theirs. The entertainment in the lounges was good, however seating was lacking if you got there even one minute after it started. That actually annoyed me. The four of us did enjoy the game nights in the different lounges though. We originally pre-purchased two shore excursions from HAL but ended up cancelling the one for Cabo because it was a beach/resort day and we found out it wasn't even on a swimmable beach and to see the pictures online left a lot to be desired. We went out on our own and purchased a resort day online before leaving - for a whole lot less, and at a nicer resort on a swimmable beach! In Puerto Vallarta we also purchased HAL's resort/beach day and it was actually very nice! My only complaint was that it should have started and hour or two later so that it ended later. Many in our group never got to eat lunch in a restaurant at the resort because the seating was limited and we had to get back on the bus at 1:20 and the restaurants didn't open for lunch until noon. If you weren't there waiting in line right at 12:00, you didn't get a table. The excursion should have gone from 10-3 or something along those times. The resort itself though was super nice with multiple pools and a private beach with kayaks to use. The all-inclusive aspect at the resort was nice too. They had nice towels and free drinks! In Mazatlan, we caught a taxi to go to the Golden Zone to shop. It was SO HOT though that about 1 hour into it we had enough. Sweat dripping down your back just isn't fun. In the future, I would do a water related excursion - at least this time of year. We also went to the newer Wal Mart and picked up some extra bottled water and a few other little items. My husband likes to bake so picking up about 5 bottles of Mexican vanilla was "the thrill of the hunt" for him! I think he ended up with different brands too. So this next part is why I gave this cruise 3/5...On the last sea day, my husband started feeling sick in the morning. Not the ships fault, but what made it really hard was that our stateroom flooded! We were away from the room, and when I came back to change, the door was open, there were huge fans all around as the water had come out into the hallway, and our room was flooded almost all the way over to the balcony. No one could tell us why and how it happened but something about the pipes in the bathroom. So my husband went to Guest Services to tell them what had happened (Rohman had told him to since he couldn't handle the catastrophe) and they followed my husband down to the room, looked at the situation and then said, "well, we'll wait and see!" Ok, our bed had been upended. Our luggage which had been stored under the bed, was next to the balcony and every item of furniture was pushed over to the door of the balcony. All the water had been shut off. It was totally unlivable! And they say, "let's wait and see????" Nope, not good enough! So we were basically displaced outside of our cabin for a few hours while they decided to "wait and see." Finally, they found us and gave us a new cabin to go to which was nice because it was a suite. Great! But at this point my husband was really feeling awful and slept the day away in the suite which meant I had to get out of it so he could rest. Moving all of our stuff to the suite was all up to us too so that was all kinds of fun. I entertained myself the rest of the day - outside the new cabin and by 10:00 that night...I was now sick! Not a fun way to end the cruise. Disembarkation was quite chaotic and both of us felt awful and had to look forward to the journey home feeling that way. ***on another note, we heard from other cruisers onboard that the ship had an issue with A/C in multiple cabins. There was none!!! Why didn't they get moved to available cabins?? These people went all week with no A/C and many of them were elderly people! That seems unacceptable to me! Many had to beg for fans! And there weren't enough! Maybe it had something to do with just coming from Alaska but even so, these systems should have been checked out before getting to the Mexican Riviera where for the most part it was extremely hot in every port! If it had happened to us, my husband said it would have been our last cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
As a 4 star mariner (loyalty level), I was very disappointed in the small changes that have occurred to HAL over the last 5 to 10 years. I have come to expect a better experience and was just disappointed by the food quality and generally, ... Read More
As a 4 star mariner (loyalty level), I was very disappointed in the small changes that have occurred to HAL over the last 5 to 10 years. I have come to expect a better experience and was just disappointed by the food quality and generally, employees that just were doing their job. There were a couple of employees that were outstanding, but overall, they had already left for the day. The food quality has decreased, even in the Pinnacle which is more expensive and has less offerings. Attempted to eat in the dining room with any time dining, but if you don't have a set reservation time on the first day. You will wait. The hydro spa was broken for 2 days, no refund. Offered a leg massage instead. I did not go on any excursions. I have found in the past that generally the ships tours are overpriced, crowded and slow. The entertainment at night has increased, but it all seems to be at the same time. Signature of excellence (last slogan) has died. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise because it was easy port to drive to and we wanted to celebrate my Mom’s 75th birthday on 02/26. The itinerary was round trip out of San Diego and the port stops were Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. We stayed ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was easy port to drive to and we wanted to celebrate my Mom’s 75th birthday on 02/26. The itinerary was round trip out of San Diego and the port stops were Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. We stayed in a Signature Suite. There were 3 adults in our room, one of whom used a rollator to get around off ship and used a cane to get around on ship. It was my first time sailing Holland America and some of the cruise critic postings made me wonder if this was the right line/ship for us. It turns out we had a great time. We bought the Thermal Suite spa passes and spent several hours relaxing there each day. We only made it to a couple of the shows, but we entertained ourselves with many hands of pinochle, thermal spa visits, reading on the balcony, and generally relaxing. In fact, we came home, and we all agreed that we wished it had been longer and we were ready for the next cruise. Pros: The smaller ship size meant that the buffet wasn’t too crazy and we always managed to sit in the same general area. The buffet was generally good and I was worried that the fact they had to serve many dishes v self serve would slow down the process, but it didn’t bother me on the ship. We liked the pool deck layout with so much space devoted to tables instead of loungers. It made it more useful for us. Cons: Main dining room food was pretty bland. I tried ordering some spicier dishes, but they always came out barely spiced. We would sail Holland America again if the price/itinerary was right for us. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We enjoy San Diego and had not done the Mexican Riviera before. We enjoyed the cruise but would likely not choose to do this particular one again - once was sufficient. We only did one excursion, choosing otherwise just to explore on our ... Read More
We enjoy San Diego and had not done the Mexican Riviera before. We enjoyed the cruise but would likely not choose to do this particular one again - once was sufficient. We only did one excursion, choosing otherwise just to explore on our own. Of the 3 ports visited Puerto Vallarta was our favorite. Cabo was just too touristy, and we didn't really get a chance to see the place as we did an excursion there so there was no time to see the city. We are now rather spoiled and always choose a Neptune Suite when possible for the roominess and perks that go with them. I would say that the food is consistently good, and the portions are a sensible size. (You can always order more if you like.) We like the fixed seating option so you get to know some new friends and the wait staff get to know you. However, fixed seating seems to be becoming less and less popular. This time we requested a table for 6 (our usual choice) but there were only 4 at the table, and more often than not there were just the 2 of us there. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
I have been on a bunch of Royal Caribbean cruises, in watching Scott singer's cruises I was wanting to get back to cruising again, but wanted to try Holland America, since the port is so close to me it's a great trip to go ... Read More
I have been on a bunch of Royal Caribbean cruises, in watching Scott singer's cruises I was wanting to get back to cruising again, but wanted to try Holland America, since the port is so close to me it's a great trip to go without flying! I was very pleased on how the overall cruise was, for me this one was for just relaxing and spending to some quality time with my daughter as well. this cruise was just my daughter and myself. I must say very happy the way Holland does there cruises, the service and food it what stood out to me. yeah this this line doesn't have the rock climbing wall, wave machine etc, but it is the old style of cruising of which I cherish. Without having to fly it was easier to upgrade the room to the Signature Suite! I love the layout of these suites, having a daughter go,makesthe bathroom double sink a bigger deal than I thought! plenty of room to spread out in the bathroom, plus having a separate shower was big deal too! Balcony - I always love being out on it. tough to cruise without a balcony, so I guess that's what happens when you get upgraded you can never go back to a regular room! overall I love Holland America, will be a customer for sure! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
Four of us sailed from San Diego on January 3, 2018 on the upgraded Oosterdam. Having sailed on her years ago, I was, with one exception, pleasantly surprised. HAL has always had good service, and on this cruise the dining room staff was ... Read More
Four of us sailed from San Diego on January 3, 2018 on the upgraded Oosterdam. Having sailed on her years ago, I was, with one exception, pleasantly surprised. HAL has always had good service, and on this cruise the dining room staff was extremely understaffed. They soldiered on but it was the slowest service I have had in 28 cruises. One of the staff told me that part of the problem was that the Oosterdam was going in to dry dock and that some of the employees had ben assigned elsewhere in anticipation. Now for the good stuff: the parts of the ship they have remodeled are just beautiful, particularly the Atrium ( don't miss happy hour by the piano,) the dining room, and the buffet area. 10 years ago the ship looked like it was decorated by a clown with garish orange, purple and red primary colors. Also, we sprung for a signature suite and it was outstanding, particularly with the large tv and on demand movies. I used to bring my own coffee and French press on board but there is no longer that need; the new coffee is quite good. The food as a whole was better than the other 5 HAL cruises I have enjoyed. A highlight was Lincoln Center at sea, where a piano quintet played a couple of times per day; the five ladies were so very talented, and the concerts were quite well attended. Also, the new Billboard on Board was terrific for those of us who love piano bars. Unlike in the old days, everyone who wanted to could find a seat; one nit is that the casino is next-door and way too loud, annoying those of us enjoying the musicians. The BBC Earth focused game shows were fun, and the MainStage video of the Arctic poles, with accompanying live music was a highlight. The ships shows were mediocre otherwise. Every morning I would take coffee up to the Crows Nest, which is so comfortable and do the NY Times crossword puzzle. It was so civilized. In summary, if the Oosterdam gets back to standard HAL service, it is a wonderful ship, and HAL should be commended for fixing most of the problems, and enhancing the experience for those of us who drifted to Celebrity and Princess simply because the old ships were ugly. I look forward to trying the other Vista Class ships once they are upgraded like the Oosterdam and Westerdam have been. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Just got off Oct 7th (2017) Mexican Riviera cruise, and couldn't be more impressed with the updates to the Oosterdam. This is the fifth time we sailed on her, and she looks like a new build. We were in a Neptune suite, with a ... Read More
Just got off Oct 7th (2017) Mexican Riviera cruise, and couldn't be more impressed with the updates to the Oosterdam. This is the fifth time we sailed on her, and she looks like a new build. We were in a Neptune suite, with a gorgeous 55" LCD TV, tons of power outlets and USB jacks next to the bed, with updated furniture and bathroom with dual sinks and separate shower/bath combo. Embarkation went smoothly, as were let onto the ship at about 11:40. Lunch for Mariners was in the main dining room - also refurbished with nice chairs and tables. Dining: I started on a partly vegetarian kick, (eating meat only two days a week) and was pleased to see a separate vegetarian menu, as well as some very nice selections available every meal. We loved that HAL still allows us to have traditional dining, and we loved having our waiters and wine steward remember having our favorite drinks ready for us. My grand-niece (5) had to have a fruit plate every night, and our waiters made sure it was ready the moment we sat down. HAL has IMHO been cutting down the serving sizes on their meals, but as I have been getting older, it seems like I still can't finish everything. The surf and turf night is really popular, and my nephew ordered multiple lobster tails and filets. One of the best places to grab a lunch is the Dive In burger and hot dog spot near the pool. The fries are fantastic, as are the Nathan's hot dogs and the variations of burgers. Wish they were open later in the evening, FYI the burgers are available from room service 24/7. The Lido provides the usual cruise buffet choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a limited service for late night (10:30 - midnight). Very impressed at how nice and tidy the service stations were, makes the food more appetizing. Entertainment: The showroom was also updated with a huge LED backdrop video screen and multiple moving screens, all high resolution. The new dance numbers make very effective use of the panels - better than many Las Vegas shows IMO. The comedian and the magician/comedian were pretty good, although I remember seeing the comedian before (Andrew Kennedy). The casino was also upgraded, with lots of new slot machines and new felt on all the tables with some new games like Texas holdem bonus and a new 3 card poker variation called prime. Ports: We were surprised that the Las Caletas trip in Puerto Vallarta had only 3 tickets left, so my wife and I grabbed 2. The lunch buffet at LC was one of memorable meals of our trip. I bought an up-sold scuba dive on the catamaran on the way there. The dive was not offered by HAL, but my experience with the tour helped. I'm an advanced diver so with 2 other "C" card divers we went down with a dive master to see some submerged boat wrecks about 60' down. Mazatlan was fun, as we hired a van driver for a custom 3 hour tour for $20 a person. In Cabo, we made the mistake of trying to find the glass blowing factory near the tender point that was on the ship's shopping map. It hasn't been there for several years. We ended up taking cab to the real glass shop. Despite the error, we had a good time and bought some nice drinking glasses and napkin holders. Summary: Although we recently visited the same ports in March with a different line, we love the consistent service and quality of the HAL ships. And with the recent refurbishment of the Oosterdam, this short cruise ranked as one of our favorites (after 26 overall cruises). Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
After some 15 cruises with Princess we have recently become unhappy with some of the changes be made by them and decided we would reach out to HAL and see if we could find a new home with them. We thought that they catered to an older and ... Read More
After some 15 cruises with Princess we have recently become unhappy with some of the changes be made by them and decided we would reach out to HAL and see if we could find a new home with them. We thought that they catered to an older and perhaps a more sophisticated demographic which we found to be quite incorrect. We looked forward to our Chirstmas cruise on the Oosterdam but unfortunately we left the ship quite disappointed. Likes: Friendly officers & crew Well trained and friendly PSD staff Easy Check in Meals generally tasty Breakfast dishes excellent Good buffet lines Complimentary after dinner specialty coffees albeit not brewed Linen hand towels in public restrooms Gents being handed jackets on formal nights Santa Gifts for children on Christmas Balcony furniture Table fully set in MDR Size and shape of coffee cups in MDR Brewed coffee in MDR and throughout the ship....free No steward carts in hallways Very comfortable beds Towel animals on bed each evening Full hot breakfast available from room service Wine stewards in MDR Not being hustled for drinks around pool areas Scooped ice-cream available free Juice available free in buffet Fully tiled cabin bathrooms Medicine chest in bathroom Glass holders in bathroom Adjustable table in cabin Coffee, tea, cookies set out for bridge players and CC meeting Dislikes: Tables in outdoor bars and buffet areas left un-bused and dirty for long periods Unexciting production shows Lack luster entertainment No Laundromat Closing of MDR on sea day for Mariner's luncheon MDR closed on port day, no help for H/C person in Lido buffet Very crowded MDR for dinner Dinner service extremely slow; dinners took full two hours each night Number of out of order fixtures in public restrooms bathroom Small atrium No refund of FCC after 4 years Very small accessible cabins No onboard wheel chairs for disabled; must rent at cost of $200 for 7 days Very limited shops and boutiques Crow's-nest Lounge used for too many activities...coffee bar, library, dance classes, trivia contests, internet lounge, meeting room...... Large columns blocking views in Vista Theatre Glasses and bottles in pool area Poor condition of Lido poolside lounges. Very limited cabin closet space Bath soap, shampoo and conditioner in dispensers Limited drawer space Very small ice buckets....ice melted before happy hour Cabin fridge used for mini-bar Wines more expensive than other lines Running out of pool towels in late afternoon Dinners often cool Meat often tough Smoking including cigars permitted Onboard activities poorly organized and equipped No note paper in cabin Dirty glasses not removed from cabin in evening. San Diego is such a poor terminal non US Citizens, including Canadians MUST report to USINS at 0645 with passports, not withstanding HAL and INS having passport and NEXUS information months ahead. Gentlemen allowed in MDR at diner in shorts and t-shirts. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Detailed reviews in some areas, need some time to read... This was a family vacation during Christmas week for our family while the kids were off school. We sailed with Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean before. Of course, we ... Read More
Detailed reviews in some areas, need some time to read... This was a family vacation during Christmas week for our family while the kids were off school. We sailed with Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean before. Of course, we could not expect "perfect" in any of the cruise lines when comparing them in different ways like food, service, cabin, activities, ship's design & condition, etc... Every passenger enjoys different things and has different opinions. For our purpose of cruising, we are looking for family fun and fine food. So, my review about this cruise is based on a family with kids. When the kids are happy, the parents are happy. I have heard this cruise line has more elderly than any other cruise lines before choosing this cruise. But I realized that HAL has added the kid's programs and since it was a Holiday cruise, there should be more kids on-board than usual. Besides, I watched HAL's on-line video, it offers kid's hands-on culinary classes, which is rare to see in other cruise lines, so there must be something unique to go for - just one more reason I picked HAL. However, in all 7 days during the cruise, none of the culinary classes were offered for kids. There was a day on the schedule that the kids can play dodgeball, but there was no dodgeball on the ship, the kids were sooo disappointed. There was no rock-climbing wall, no mini-golf... For adults, there was no "hairy leg" competition or pool deck challeges. Most of the games for adults were trivias, where I learned some educational facts, but too many of one game became boring. Dance classes were held in a tiny place, where could not even fit 20 people, and there were only 2 dancing classes in all 7 days. 4 out of 6 shows were just boring. There was no show at all in the last night. As compared to Norwegian Star we sailed the Christmas in 2010, the show in the last night was the grand one, which combined all performers to produce a never-forgetting grand show with a mix of magic, ballets, modern dance, and stage special effects. Norwegian Star hired professional performers from Las Vegas to throw in different shows every night. The very first night already offered a show (not a welcome show), Band on the Run. Then, there were Duo Acrobatique, Extreme Vegas, Comedy Hypnotist, The Second City (comedy), a musical show, and the grand show Elements! On the Christmas Eve, the cruise director guided his cruise team members to line up along the beautiful attrium stairs to sing Christmas Carols along with the passengers...have not even mentioned how involved the cruise director was in the cruise, we saw him everywhere organizing games and activities. He was even in one of the shows himself! That were what Norwegain Star offered. Well, get back to HAL...after all, there was not many things to do in Oosterdam. I saw people reading their books everywhere. Even HAL tried to run kids programs, but there are still a lot more rooms for improvements if HAL really wants to attract families with kids. When kids don't like it, we don't like it because it was a FAMILY vacation. There was a problem with the ship's keying system. We booked 2 cabins and we needed to have extra room keys for each family member. It took the front desk 3 times before the extra keys could work. It was just a nightmare, it wasted us 90 minutes to get extra room keys that will work, plus we did not know the keys worked or not until we went up to our cabin to try out, then went back down to front desk to line-up for reporting the problem, it was repeated 3 times! Every time we needed to go to the back of the line... Good things about this ship are that the overall food is the best out of the rest of the cruises we sailed before. The breakfast menu in the dining rooms has more choices than any other ships: Dutch Breakfast, Japanese Breakfast, English Breakfast, Full American Breakfast, Scandinavian Breakfast, etc. Juice choices during breakfast include tomato juce, V-8, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, prune juice, apple juice, and of course orange juice. The best of all is that juices can be ordered during lunch or dinner, too. Other cruise lines already cut back on juices that there was extra charge for ordering. Oh, forgot to mention that we had free soda in the captain toast and the champagne brunch. It is not an expensive item but none of the other cruise lines we sailed before gave out free soda. Also, cappuccino and expresso were also free to order during lunch and dinner at the dining rooms besides coffee. There is a good feature at the buffet that it offers 80% of the dining room's dinner menus at the buffet. If passengers just wanted to grab a quick bite at the buffet, they won't miss out too much of the fine food from the dining rooms. It was the first time I tasted Duck Pate with Black Truffles in cruising, 8-oz Lobster Tails, and the finest cut of Filet Mignon. The afternoon tea was still offered in HAL, which is a traditional feature for cruising. None of my other past cruises offered this. However, the dining room was not open for every lunch, it only opened for 2 days for all passengers, 2 extra days for past passengers. The passengers were stuck with buffets on the days the dining rooms were not open. Even the past passengers have privilege to enjoy 2 more lunches at the dining rooms, however, the food choices were just like cafe...nothing as special as HAL reserving that 2 days especially for past passengers. One of the lunch dishes was that cheap swai fillet, I couldn't believe it is being served in a cruise. If you know where the swai was raised from, you dare not to eat it. Speaking of negative reviews on dining room dishes. There were 2 port days that the dining dish choices were the worst, nothing look good or exciting. We rather had hamburgers by the pool deck... I can feel that the cruise director tried to make the ship to be kids-friendly. He threw-in a Santa's Arrival party in the lounge on the Christmas day. It worths lots of time and efforts to organize this event. Kids and other passengers were delighted in that event. But you can only see this on Christmas day. Without this, the cruise is even more boring... The captain, cruise director, and all cruise team members were very polite. The services were excellent. Food was better than other ships which we sailed before (some areas mentioned need to be improved). If HAL can pay more attention to the kids programs, adult activities, and shows, then this will be my #1 choice of cruise line. However, there is no such thing as "perfect" cruise since everyone expects different things. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I had actually never heard of HAL before my sister suggested this cruise to us. We decided to give it a shot, we brought 2 of our kids (ages 6 & 9 at the time). I found the kids program to keep off hours, which was inconvenient to us. ... Read More
I had actually never heard of HAL before my sister suggested this cruise to us. We decided to give it a shot, we brought 2 of our kids (ages 6 & 9 at the time). I found the kids program to keep off hours, which was inconvenient to us. Whenever we found an activity that we were interested in, it seemed that the kids club closed during part (or all of it). I take this with a grain of salt because most people know that HAL is geared more towards the 50+crowd. The on-board entertainment wasn't great, again geared toward older crowd. The dining was awesome-my kids still remember our server Ketut 5 years later! I liked that we dined in the same table every night and had the same server. Dining was a little on the formal side, definitely would not show up in shorts and a T-shirt. We did our own excursion in Puerto Vallarta with Aquaventuras Park with the little water park and dolphin "adventure" which the kids enjoyed. For the price, it was a pretty decent cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I was very particular about booking our second cruise and did lots of research and this is what I came up with after cruising on the HAL for the last 7 days:HAL terminated the port to Mazatlan..good thingTold us 2 days in Cabo but ended up ... Read More
I was very particular about booking our second cruise and did lots of research and this is what I came up with after cruising on the HAL for the last 7 days:HAL terminated the port to Mazatlan..good thingTold us 2 days in Cabo but ended up 2 days in Puerto Vallarte. Was disappointed in the change in itinerary since did not like Puerto Vallarte as much as Cabo. Many military and police around but we always felt safe on the ports. We did not do any of the excursions but went to downtown in PV and then did jet skiing in Cabo,the teens enjoyed both. Very many vendors in town and on beach, crowded with spring breakers as well but festive.On the HAL itself, excellent cruise for the family or over 50 crowd. The teens were a bit bored, very limited teen program. The pool was a real disappointment as they only had one for the kids and was no larger than a motel 6 pool. The other pool was for adults only. The spa can not be accessed unless over 18 or part of teen spa program. The SS8048 Cabin we were in was spacious but very noisy. I asked our TA if being uder pool we would hear noise, they said no. This is untrue, you can hear everything, you can hear chairs moving, kids running, drinks clinking, all hours of the day. Do not stay below pool area, I will be writing Expedia Travel to let them know of my dismay regarding this suite. But the best thing on the HAL by far is the service, bar none, the staff is excellent, attentive and warm. The food is also very good but limited. Only three restaraunts inclusive, the Lido Terrace has limited food service times or rotate the same type of food all day, pizza, ice cream, burger etc. No sodas but plenty of Juice. The entertainment was good but sometimes advisable to let families know some of the humor was a bit adult or inappropriate. The casino was fine, a casino. The movie theater was small, only 30 people could fit in the theater. There were cute programs like name that tune or family BINGO, but I felt they could expand on the daily programs since we were at sea 4 out of the 7 days. The standouts in service are Andi (Undeee)pronounced in his language, a waiter in the Vista Dining Room and Erwin the chef in the Lido Terrace. They were wonderful and made the cruise a wonderful experience. I think the HAL is great for an older demographic and is clean, well attended and great food, but we will most likely choose a Carnival or Disney Cruise to spend that kind of money next time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
While on this cruise I did a type of blog/daily report and had a lot to say - so I'll try to make this one shorter and more concise.Boarding - We arrived a day early in San Diego and took our time decompressing. Wanted to be wide ... Read More
While on this cruise I did a type of blog/daily report and had a lot to say - so I'll try to make this one shorter and more concise.Boarding - We arrived a day early in San Diego and took our time decompressing. Wanted to be wide eyed and ready for the cruise. We booked through HAL directly and couldn't have been more happy with the entire process. Boarding was a piece of cake. Dropped of the bags, walked across the street, pulled out the boarding documents and started down the lines. The entire process from start to finish took possibly 20 minutes. The cabin were ready when we boarded - VF5136 - Closet space was very nice, bathroom was a little small but adequate for two people. We didn't plan on spending too much time in the Cabin anyway. One thing though - HAL's beds are amazing. You will always get a good night's sleep. Dining - Where ever we ate we had excellent service and well prepared, excellent tasting food. We did not dine in the Vista this trip, we opted out for the experience of dining in Canaletto's three nights. All three nights we had excellent service, wonderful food and a very nice dining atmosphere. After the first night, the servers remembered what wine we enjoyed as well as our after dinner preferences. I do recommend that everyone try this upscale Italian restuarant style at least once during their trip. Had room service 4 of the 7 mornings and have no complaints. Breakfast was delivered on time, the correct temperature and always what was ordered. In fact there was more food that what we could eat. Lunch was either the taco bar or the burger/hot dog stand on the Lido deck or a sandwich from the Lido Buffet. Dinner when not taken at Canalettos, was eaten a the Lido Buffet. Not once were we disappointed in our meals. Entertainment - We went to one show in the main theater and saw the comedian. His comedy was more adult and recommend that you not bring the children, but he was very good. We spent most of our evenings in the Crow's Nest and enjoyed listening to David Oates and his music. A very talented entertainer who has a very wide repertoire. The library is well stocked and has an excellent selection of games and puzzles for those of you who enjoy quiet entertainment after dinner. The Explorations Cafe (coffee bar) is on the level of a small Starbucks and you can always get a very nice after dinner coffee or chai. The casino was hosting a "Club 21" event, so it was usually crowded, but a person interested in doing some gambling could have some fun. Particularlly like playing (and watching other play) the game that used quarters and raked them off of the various levels until they fell out. Still haven't figured that one out. Activities - While on board, if a person was bored, that was their fault. There were many seminars (cooking, animal towel folding, flowers, health and well being, shopping and tour excursions) for you to attend and chose your own. Am including excursions in this section - Puerto Vallarta was a two day stop. My husband played golf the first day and really enjoyed the course. It is located near a bird sanctuary and he said it was beautiful. Granted the crocodiles were a little off putting but as long as you stayed away - you were safe. The Malecon is full of entertainment - from the the statues, stone sculpting, SAND ART and the pole flying. The second day in Puerto, we left the town and went off to the north to a tequila factory. Learned a great deal about the liquor and about the area around Puerto Vallarta that isn't as prosperous. When we dropped anchor in Cabo San Lucus - saw some of the most beautiful waters and rock formations jutting out into the sea. A great place for water activities and such. We took an excursion that took us out of Cabo to a small and very nice town called San Jose. Recommend it highly. One side note - don't over pack. Bring enough for three days then take advantage of the laundry service. An excellent deal for your money. In before 9:00 AM back the same evening.And now to the end - disembarkation was easy but did have some issues. Since the turn around on the cabin is so short - you are expected to get out of it long before you leave the ship. Public space is limited when everyone has baggage - suggest that if you can put it out the night before - do it. Then find a public area that is not as crowded - such as an elevator landing on 4th or 5th deck and then wait until your disembarkation number and color is called. That will make the process much easier and less frustrating. It isn't HAL's fault that the crowding occurs. It is the passengers who cause the problems. Over all we enjoyed our trip, have booked another for 2012 (Panama Canal) and am looking forward to that one as well. Enjoy Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Background: My DH, DS (17) and I have been on eleven cruises. We are not big drinkers or party people. DH and I both work really hard professionally and DS is always deluged with school work, so when we go on vacation, we just want to ... Read More
Background: My DH, DS (17) and I have been on eleven cruises. We are not big drinkers or party people. DH and I both work really hard professionally and DS is always deluged with school work, so when we go on vacation, we just want to relax and enjoy each other's company. We appreciate good food and good entertainment, prefer larger staterooms, like our spa treatments and don't care too much about excursions. DS is a shy guy and hasn't participated in a kids' program since he was about 12Embarkation: We stayed at the Residence Inn Downtown in San Diego. The property was within walking distance of the port and they had a free shuttle to the ship which was very helpful. We arrived a couple of hours after boarding had commenced, so it wasn't too crowded. The downside was that there weren't any available porters to meet the van, so DH had to carry our bags to the porter. After that, we had already done online check-in, so boarding was pretty efficient and we received our luggage in the stateroom in a timely fashion.Stateroom: We find the HAL superior verandah suites ideal for a family of 3. DS sleeps on the convertible bed, but he is getting a little tall for it and may need his own stateroom soon. The bathrooms are spacious and have both a stall shower and a combined jacuzzi tub/shower. The room was very clean and in good condition. Although it didn't come with concierge service, it had some nice perks such as the phone concierge, fresh fruit daily and delivery of DVDs from the front desk. Firdaus and David, our stewards, did an excellent job of keeping the stateroom spotless and delivering our favorite fruits. We also noticed that HAL has stopped giving little mini-size Elemis toiletries in favor of big pump containers installed in the bathtub and shower. I think this is an improvement because the stewards don't have to constantly replace these items.Dining: The food was fabulous and Arif, our server, outdid himself with remembering our favorite dishes and beverages every night. The blackened tuna with jalapeno creamed corn was especially delicious. The menu has a variety of choices and "spa cuisine" options every night. We chose to dine at the 7:45 p.m. seating every night. Other guests seemed happy with the "As you wish" dining, but we prefer the consistency of an assigned dining time.Entertainment: "The Marriage Game" was hysterical and it was never vulgar. "The Liars' Club" was also very, very funny. We enjoyed Randall Powell in the piano bar and Leo Ward's magic show. Kevin Jordan's stand-up act was also funny. We didn't see any of the production shows as they are not really our style. We played trivia several times and won the "Name That Tune" contest. Again, we are not looking for big parties or anything like that. The entertainment on HAL was perfect for our family trio to laugh and have a good time. The librarian, Amanda and the travel expert, Monique, were both delightful and helpful.Spa: We all had massages and they were excellent. DS and I used the thermal spa and it was very relaxing.Ports; We walked around the downtown of Puerto Vallarta and it was very nice, especially if you veered off the main drag and checked out the local crafts shops and the candy store. The sand sculptures along the beach are amazing. Los Palomas, one of the restaurants, made us wait forever for our meal and then when it came out, it was cold. I would avoid this restaurant. We never left the ship in Cabo because the view we had from our stateroom of the tip of Cabo and the arch was unbeatable.Overall: I would recommend the Oosterdam's voyage to the Mexican Riviera without hesitation. It is beautifully run ship and an interesting itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego ... Read More
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego and less expensive since we are not dealing with the flights to get us back east for a Caribbean cruise which is next on my list.Well I scoured several sights and found Holland America to be very reasonable with the pricing and it had some decent reviews so I figured I had nothing to lose right? Well my husband wanted Norwegian but we had already been on that ship 2x and Royal pulled out of the area so I convinced my husband about trying a new ship and what a great deal I was getting $$Where we disappointed? HECK NO! Where do I start?1. The kids resisted going to Club Hal first and of course Grandma did not want us to dump the kids, but I told her not to worry the kids would be ok and guess what? After that 1st night they were hooked and did not want to be with us! They wanted to be at the kids club and reluctantly joined us for lunch/dinner when the club closes.2. The buffet was tasty. Do you ever go on cruises were the food is ok and you are just counting down for the dining room to open? Well we don't have that concern on this ship. Sure there might be a few things left out from the buffet but we hardly noticed.3. Beverage Cards - One for alcohol and one for soft drinks..Bigger savings on the soft drinks and I was advised to buy only one for all of us to use. On other cruise ships, I have been advised to buy one for each member of our party (rip-off!!)4. FOOD, oh wait I already mentioned that one. The only thing I would not do again would be the cupcake tea time.5. Movie theater was comfortable and they had the popcorn bags out :)The cons:1. Casino, the way they handle the payouts is confusing. I felt liked I needed 101 classes on how to get the payouts and there wasn't much help.2. Deals on the pictures - too expensiveI'm definitely a fan of Holland America, they keep it classy and I'm glad that they avoid having the waiters sing and dance , well they did have them do it one night but it was just waiving the napkins. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Just got back from the Oosterdam Mexican Riviera cruise... had a GREAT time... sad that it's over. Traveled with my mom (in her 60's) and my ten year old daughter. We were in an SY cabin. We have one other cruise under our ... Read More
Just got back from the Oosterdam Mexican Riviera cruise... had a GREAT time... sad that it's over. Traveled with my mom (in her 60's) and my ten year old daughter. We were in an SY cabin. We have one other cruise under our belt... Alaska with Holland America (three years ago). I REALLY appreciated the reviews from the other guests who have taken this cruise, so I vowed to write one when we got back. I'm not a witty writer, so this will have to do. Pre-Curise: Did priceline.com for 4 star room... got Westgate in downtown for $86 with all fees. Great hotel, great location. I love to priceline 4 star hotels in big cities... get to stay at really nice places at great rates.Embarkation: Arrived at 11:30. Went smoothly. Room was ready when we got on board at 12:00. We were seated for our Mariner's brunch by 12:30. Luggage was a little slow getting to our room, but hey, we're on vacation... no problem with us. We signed up for unlimited laundry and loved it. We filled a bag almost daily. Clothes came back same day (when given to steward by 9:00 am) even though they told us it could be up to 48 hours. The clothes were clean and pressed. Vista Dining Food: Wow! Really exceeded my expectations. I thought the food was OK on our last cruise, but this food was great! We are all picky eaters, but there was always something for each of us to eat. We even stretched ourselves to try new things since it's all "free." Some don't enjoy the master dinner on the last night due to the silliness/dancing, but we really enjoyed it.Cannaletto: Fun change! We enjoyed our experience and appreciated a different dining option that was "free."Pinnacle Dinner: Again, WOW! Great filet, great desserts, great service (albeit, slow)... nice experience. Would do it again.Room: Loved our SY suite. We had an inside cabin on our first cruise, so our suite felt luxurious. Our balcony looked MUCH larger than the other ship balconies that were in port with us (Disney Wonder, Sapphire Princess, Norwegian Star). We spent hours upon hours sitting on our veranda. Enjoyed many snacks/meals from room service on the Veranda.Kids Club: My daughter enjoyed the kids club every time she went, but she mostly enjoyed being with mom and grandma. All of the staff went out of their way to be kind to her... gave her extra cherries in her Shirley Temple, shared a magic trick, gave her a cute nickname, her stuffed animals were arranged in cute ways, etc...) Videos: Great selection. Had all but one movie we wanted.Entertainment: Loved the magician/comedian. Loved the John Denver singers. Didn't go to any of the performances by the HAL singers/dancers.Puerto Vallarta: Daughter and I did the Canopy Adventure - really fun. I highly recommend this excursion. It was fun to get out of town and into the forest canopy. Came away with about 10 mosquito bites each... bring your bug spray. A shout-out to "team D" who were so fun and professional. Mom did the "Town and Fiesta Tour." She really enjoyed this tour and said the food was great.Cabo: We wanted to do the Dolphin Swim, but it was totally full. Daughter was disappointed, but I just told her that mom should have booked sooner than the day of. We took a glass bottom boat out to El Arco and walked around the pier. Service: Really, what can I say except WOW!! Our room steward, Janji was great... I wish I could take him home with me. The Indonesian staff go out of their way to provide little extras and service with a smile - they are amazing. There were a few "human errors" (a missed room service item, a cappuccino that took too long to come at dinner time), but really, this is to be expected. The number of positives FAR out-weighed the number of human errors.The only bad part of the trip was getting off the boat today. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it ... Read More
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it a chance as the timing was during a week the schools were out so we thought more families would be on board. We were right. According to the "HALs club" staff, there were nearly 300 kids on board. They mentioned that this was a high number due to the break and that next week's cruise would also be high. However, the number would drop to about 30 for the first few weeks in March before increasing during spring break. So, one will get a very different opinion of this line depending on the week traveling. Our children were not excited about the "childcare" upon boarding, but buy the end of the cruise they were begging to go to the HALs club as they became enamored by the programs. The staff there did a wonderful job. The cabin was a Verandah suite and was a bit cramped for the four of us. There were two twins that made a "queen" when pushed together. The third bed was a pull out sofa and the fourth was a bed the folded down above the "queen." There was no room to move around when all the beds were open. However, the room stewards were fantastic. - two room sweeps a day - and kept the room looking nice. The kids always wanted to see what "towel animal" was sitting on the bed after dinner and looked forward to the nightly chocolates. We enjoyed the verandah with the exception of certain times when a neighbor's smoke drifted into it. The suite furniture and bathroom floor were starting to show some wear, but was not a negative. The shows were liked by all. The favorites were the magician and the "Elton John" impersonator. We did not attend most of the programs during the day so I cannot comment on them. The kids when not in the Club HAL spent the time swimming in the Lido pool. The Lido deck would get a little messy by the end of the day, although was cleaned quickly once the rush was gone. We had one day at the spa and had a couples massage. It was excellent! My wife commented that she had not had a massage that good in years. The food was overall good - with a different variety each day. I liked it better than my wife, but she is very particular about her food. There were a few glitches in service. The main dining room's service on the first night was not good. It was very slow, water glasses were not filled, the coffee did not come with the dessert, but well after I had finished it, etc. The coffee in the evening dining rooms was consistently not served hot and the vegetables I had at the Pinnacle Grill one night were lukewarm. My wife said the sushi one night was made with the smoked salmon from breakfast. But, other than what I have mentioned, overall it was good. The children loved the pasta, cheeseburgers and the chicken noodle soup. If you are a wine drinker, take advantage of bringing your wine on board. HAL allows as much brought on as you want. We also a bottle of rum from the line and used it to spike our virgin drinks. At three dollars extra a pop for the "leaded version", it did save money. You can also bring on all the soda and water you want. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This cruise was Nov 24-Dec 4, 2010. This was our 6th cruise, 2nd with Holland America. M/D have done several world cruises, prefer smaller ships. We stayed with in-laws prior to cruise and got dropped off, Mom and Dad stayed at Hotel ... Read More
This cruise was Nov 24-Dec 4, 2010. This was our 6th cruise, 2nd with Holland America. M/D have done several world cruises, prefer smaller ships. We stayed with in-laws prior to cruise and got dropped off, Mom and Dad stayed at Hotel Circle Inn, where they could park for the week and get shuttled to/from cruise terminal. We arrived around 11:30am and were through security, check-in and on-board at noon. ATTENTION You CAN take lots of wine on-board with no penalty or charge. We saw individuals with boxes containing 6 bottles each. We brought 2 bottles and M/D brought 4. Met M/D at 1pm on the Lido deck. Vista DR was packed with returning pax which made the Lido less busy with plenty of seating. Staterooms were ready around 1:30pm. Lifeboat drill was held at 4:15pm. Our stateroom, SZ6052 was very nice. Because of the location, this cabin and veranda is larger than SY staterooms. King bed (w/2 larger drawers under one side and suitcase storage under the other), 5 outlets, 3 full closets, 3 sitting chairs, sofa-bed, desk and vanity, lcd tv, dvd, plenty of drawers (12), veranda large enough for 2 tables and 4 chairs. Plenty of lighting and lighting combinations. Bathroom had 2 sinks, 2 outlets, jacuzzi tub, full-size glass shower. Cabin stewards kept the room well maintained and for the most part seemed invisible. Fresh flowers daily, nightly chocolates and towel animals. M/D had a balcony on the same deck. They were very happy with their accommodations and stewards. Dining was wonderful. We ate in the MDR several nights and enjoyed our table-mates, food and service. We also did the anytime dining with the folks and that worked out just fine. Lido had good food all week. Did not mind the personal service for the first few days, then they allowed self-service. Captain's Brunch was very nice and included wine. Ordered room service for late night snacks (2am) and delivery was prompt and the food was good. Had RS for all five of us in our suite on the morning of departure. Asked for 7am delivery and at 7am the trays arrived. A superb breakfast with hot, fresh omelets, pancakes, waffles, fruits, coffee, juices, croissants, etc. What a way to get ready to disembark. Activities/Entertainment - Plenty enough to keep my parents entertained as well as ourselves and our 18 yr old. The magician and comedian were quite good. There was a string quartet playing every evening, guitar soloist till 9pm, disco til 2 or 3am, bingo, movie theater, trivia, Microsoft classes (get there early, very popular), cooking demonstrations, etc. No hairy chest stuff on this cruise. Quiet moments in the Crow's Nest, read a book, NY Times, specialty coffee. Internet is nearby. Fantastic view. Ports of Call - This was out 3rd MexRiv cruise but M/D hadn't been to Mexico in years. Read port reviews for each location. Overall the ship is well maintained. Every crew-member we interacted with was pleasant and helpful. We had no issues with our cabin, dinning, or charges. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
In the past, we have cruised on Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, but this was our first HAL adventure. Overall, the experience was good, but there were a few issues along the way. Many people had told us prior to our voyage that HAL ... Read More
In the past, we have cruised on Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, but this was our first HAL adventure. Overall, the experience was good, but there were a few issues along the way. Many people had told us prior to our voyage that HAL would be quite a luxurious experience compared to the other three lines we have traveled. In fact, there was quite an emphasis from most that the service and the food would excel above the others. Perhaps it was that our expectations were too high due to what we had been told, however we were surprised to find that it wasn't quite the case. Don't get the wrong impression, the stewards and wait staff were very friendly, however it seemed that they were understaffed. Our visits to the Vista Dining Room were what surprised us the most. The first night at the dining room, our meals came out cold. The next morning, my wife commented that the food was closer to a Vegas Buffet than she expected; mind you, we rarely visit gourmet restaurants so we really are not food critics, but I have to admit that the food quality was below what I have had at some Denny's restaurants. After that, all of our breakfast and lunches were at the Lido Restaurant. We continued to have dinner in the Vista, with the exception of two nights at the Pinnacle Grill, which was fantastic by the way. On another evening, the food for our two children was served a good half hour before my wife and my meals came out. On the second to last evening, I had asked for my water to be refilled when our appetizers were served as it had sat empty for quite some time and despite being served dinner and dessert and multiple more requests I never did get it refilled, which was disappointing (my wife and I do not drink and our kids don't really like soda, so we drank water the entire trip). My wife ordered "Land and Sea" one night which was prawns and fillet mignon, however the steak, although cooked to the correct temperature, was a very tough cut and really seemed too chewy to be fillet. The wait staff were very friendly, but pretty scarce; it would take them quite a bit of time to reach the table to welcome us and then once the orders were in they were MIA until it was time to order dessert. The wine stewards were at our table in a flash, but as we don't drink and our kids don't like sodas we really did not utilize their services. Club HAL was awesome for our 7 year old daughter and our 4 year old son. As they were in the same age group for Club HAL, it worked out well as our son is shy and our daughter is very outgoing. With the two of them together in the same group, they had a blast. In fact, they wanted to go there constantly. Which was quite a blessing as with two young children it was a rare opportunity for my wife and I to spend some time together alone. Our stateroom was always clean and our steward was very helpful. The only problem that we found is that there were four of us in the room, but on three of the four days, we were only provided with 3 towels. In the end, it was not a big deal as my 4 year old could handle a hand towel without issue, however it would have been nice to be able to have a larger towel for him. The only other problem we had was our missing breakfast. We had filled out the card for a morning breakfast to be delivered to our room on the day of our first port. We had asked for a 7:00am to 7:30am delivery window. However by 8:00am, we called to find out why it had not been delivered. The voice on the other end stated that they didn't have an order for our room. They offered to have us give them the order over the phone, however it just seemed easier at that point to go the Lido buffet since all of us were dressed by then and ready to go to port. I do want to point out that we really did enjoy the cruise overall. All of the staff were very friendly. There was plenty of information regarding the ports and where to go. Being in our early forties we were one of the younger couples on board, which was a great change to the "party" atmosphere of a younger crowd on a Carnival ship. I hold CCL stock in my IRA, so receiving the $100.00 ship credit for being a shareholder on a 7 day cruise was a nice bonus and covered the extra cost of the Pinnacle Grill without issue. Having the opportunity to have DVDs delivered to the room was awesome with two kids. Although there were some disappointments, we attribute most of it to having expectations that were too high. Overall, we had a great time, the kids were happy and my wife and I still were able to have alone time on a family vacation. We will sail again with HAL, but now we will have more realistic expectations. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
GOODBYE MATZALAN HELLO MANZANILLO Our 7 day Oosterdam cruise started off on a very easy note. We drove from the Palm Springs area & arrived at the Aladdin parking lot at 10:30 am. We were ready to go to the port right away, but ... Read More
GOODBYE MATZALAN HELLO MANZANILLO Our 7 day Oosterdam cruise started off on a very easy note. We drove from the Palm Springs area & arrived at the Aladdin parking lot at 10:30 am. We were ready to go to the port right away, but they told us that the port wouldn't let them drop us off until 11am. Once another couple showed up 5 minutes later, they decided to take us (I guess 3 people on the bus weren't enough!) At the port, a porter with a wheelchair whisked us from the sidewalk to the port, an another took us to the check-in to the ship. We received an invitation to the Mariners' luncheon in the Vista Dining room. The service was slow, but the food was great, and it was relaxing to sit down instead of fighting through lines on the Lido Deck. By 11:30, an announcement came over the speakers that our cabins were ready, and we could hear a cheer from all over the ship! Our cabin was a Veranda suite near the aft elevators, and it was nice to have the fresh air. We had 2 twins & a pull out sofa for me to sleep on. When pulled out, it was hard to open the cooler, but it was great to have a place to keep milk & cookies for the evening. Love the bathtub! We received our Captain's Brunch invitation in the basket outside the door, and planned on a light breakfast with cabin service. Then came the announcement. Due to the violence in MATZALAN, our 2 sea days before PV were changed to one sea day, then stops in Cabo, PV, and then a new port, MANZANILLO! The brunch was moved to Thursday, the same day as our second Formal night. The clocks moved ahead twice during the cruise. As we arrived in Cabo, a pod of Dolphins & school of Whales were there to great us. I took off to find the Banner Wave, exploring the small casino, lounges, and theater along the way. I was very pleased to find plenty of quiet places to sit & read around the ship, but disappointed to find that the entertainment in those lounges was limited to after 5pm (many other cruises, it was scattered through the ships starting in mid-afternoon). The Neptunes were a great easy listening trio, with a variety of modern songs. In the Piano Bar, we played Name that Tune with Jim, who had a great personality. The Adagio Strings in the Explorers Bar were very soft & melodic. Most of the ship was comfortable, but the Main Deck, and lower level of the theater were Very chilly. The first night, people around me were wondering why they didn't bring a blanket. If you went even a few rows back, it warmed up considerably. The stage had elevators to raise & lower sections of the stage to different levels. FOOD: Great, but I was disappointed in the variety of cold soups available. I was pleased to discover that chocolate croissants were available daily on the Lido deck, and not just in the MDR. Rack of Lamb, Lobster, and lasagna were great, and fruit was plentiful. Royal Dutch High Tea was offered buffet style with lemon & strawberry tarts, chocolate dipped strawberries, fruit tarts, Eclairs, and other sweets. A selection of teas was offered at the tables. The rest of the week, a sit-down tea was served, with tea & sweets brought to the tables. On Friday, mini-cupcakes were substituted for the sweets. On Thursday, a desert buffet with ice sculptures, fruit kabobs with white or milk chocolate fountains, & various cakes & tarts from the teas were offered. The chefs were presented in a parade. The chefs dinner was presented Friday night in the MDR & reservations were requested. A ballet presented by the wait-staff was offered with a presentation of napkins & a mousse on bread, then a Swing dance was offered with the Salad. The Duck l'Orange was delicious, and you had your choice of a semi-baked Alaska (meringue over ice-cream with a bit of cake) or other deserts (I had the flourless cake with raspberry sauce -it was very similar to the chocolate melting cake on Carnival). There was also a rib barbecue on the Lido deck, which I did not participate in (that was the only night crème Brule was served in the MDR, and I didn't want to miss it!). As a disabled person, I was disappointed in the seating we were given in the MDR, being forced to the back of the room, when there were empty tables up front. They then took my walker away, & I had to search to find it. We chose Own Time Dining, but if you don't make a reservation, they will make one for you- we were given a very unacceptable 7pm time one night, which we cancelled & used the Lido deck instead. The Captain's brunch was elegant with a very limited menu and a very talkative Captain, who had a great personality and a fun sense of humor. ENTERTAINMENT: The daily activities were very limited- one Trivia contest a day, except on the day we our schedule was changed & they announced a morning Trivia before we got to a mid-day Cabo arrival). There were 2 day-time Name that Tune (70's - not Disco, and Broadway), with am evening Name that Tune in the Piano Bar, which was fun. Cruise Director TJ Watters handled the games with grace, humor & style, & showed many other talents throughout the cruise. DJ Matt handled Bingo & daytime Name that Tune, as well as a poorly attended Karaoke, but I couldn't really get a handle on his personality. The Karaoke selection book was on a hard to operate computer system, and you cannot bring your own discs. There was a great selection of movies on DVD for rent, but no descriptions of the movies. Films in the Screening room ranged from the Oscar nominated Inception to the Spy- movie send-up Night & Day. These movies were also shown on TV (very limited cable station entertainment- TCM, Cartoon, TNT, Fox & CNN News & 2 Sports channels). Evening shows featured a very talented cast of singers & dancers in three production shows (backed by the HALCATS) , Magician Johnny Tran, and Joel Mason, in a tribute to Elton John and lots of comedy dialogue between. The Finale on Fri night brought back all the performers in a great jam session, where everyone displayed other talents. All in All, it was a very smooth crossing, no accidents, & a new port added spice to the usual MR cruise.. [url]http://s809.photobucket.com/albums/zz18/ccruisequeen717/HAL%20DAILY%20EXPLORERS%20JAN%2011/[/url] Scans of Daily Explorer Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We sailed Jan 15-22,2011...our fourth with HAL, and 18th overall. We flew into San Diego the night before and stayed at the Bay Club Hotel & Marina. We chose it mainly because it had comp. air & cruise shuttles, however the ... Read More
We sailed Jan 15-22,2011...our fourth with HAL, and 18th overall. We flew into San Diego the night before and stayed at the Bay Club Hotel & Marina. We chose it mainly because it had comp. air & cruise shuttles, however the airport shuttle stops at 11pm so we missed it by 5 min. The breakfast buffet was included and very nice, and they did take us personally to the cruise terminal the next morning. We arrived at B St. pier at 10:40am and gave our luggage directly to the porters. The pier staff were very helpful and friendly, and it was suggested we check in right away as there was absolutely no line up. So we got our cruise cards and headed out to enjoy a little of San Diego before we boarded. An easy walk next to the ship is the Maritime Museum which we thoroughly enjoyed. We picked up some wine then boarded about 1:45pm, again no lineup at all. We went directly to our stateroom, superior veranda suite, beautiful mid-ship location and easy walk to elevators etc. Nice big veranda with a table,two chairs, and two wicker lounge chairs with a foot rest to share. Everything was in great shape and loads of storage for three people. The double sinks in the bathroom and separate shower/jetted tub were a nice treat and the Elemis bath products. The wine and beer we had ordered online was waiting for us, however there was no bottle opener and it took several days of asking everyone possible to get one. So if you want to enjoy your wine on your balcony, remember your bottle opener! Our wonderful cabin steward ended up loaning us his own personal one. You would think HAL would have a case load of dollar store cork screws for guests who order wine from them? Just a heads up for you there folks...the one and only hiccup we experienced. We found the ship had many small, intimate lounges which made it not feel so big. The staff was always smiling and friendly. The food was awesome in the main dining room which made us not so impressed by the Pinnacle Grill the one night we ate there. We enjoyed the Canaletto which seemed like one of the best kept secrets on board, you have to try it at least once! I liked the set up at the Lido restaurant with the different stations, line ups never got very long at all, pizza was good and the taco bar by the pool. The pool at the back of the ship is adult only and never got too full, fresh towels were always available but did notice a lot of used towels lying around on the chairs etc. We went to several shows in the main show lounge. The singers and dancers were just your generic song & dance shows,not too thrilling. The guitarist/Eagles impressionist was very good. We were happy with all the ports, Mazatlan and Cabo were our favorites. Puerto Vallarta seemed very busy with traffic/pollution etc. We were so happy that HAL has got their tender boat process down to an art, we didn't have to wait even 10 minutes to tender to shore in Cabo. Some ships we've been on have been over 2.5 hour wait to catch a tender boat, so hats off to the Oosterdam there! In Mazatlan we took a taxi to the Hotel Playa Mazatlan for the day, $20 per person to use their facilities and it goes towards your food & drink.Our daughter enjoyed the ceramics and we found it so clean and friendly! In Cabo we took a whale watching boat tour with Pez Gato out past the arches etc. which was really fun, and we saw three whales pretty close. Overall, we had a very relaxing, enjoyable cruise, wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone, nice variety of ages on board too. Loved our balcony breakfasts, one morning we were scenic cruising at Bahia Magdalena, when four dolphins skipped past us and whales were spouting along the shore...one of those unforgettable moments! Will definitely sail with Holland America again! Had a great time meeting everyone at our Cruise Critic meeting! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Pre-Cruise: We flew to San Diego on Friday morning January 21st and the hotel picked us up at the airport at 8:30am. We stood at the Courtyard by Marriot San Diego Old Towne in San Diego. The hotel allowed me to check in early as I ... Read More
Pre-Cruise: We flew to San Diego on Friday morning January 21st and the hotel picked us up at the airport at 8:30am. We stood at the Courtyard by Marriot San Diego Old Towne in San Diego. The hotel allowed me to check in early as I called in advance. The Hotel was nice, the staff where excellent however the rooms were older looking and need some remodeling. We went to the San Diego ZOO and the Hotel's shuttle drops off guests at 9:30am and picks them up at the ZOO at 4:30pm. Nice perk because I didn't have to rent a car!! This was plenty of time because it allowed my husband and I enough time to walk through the entire zoo. The Baby Panda was our favorite. The shuttle then picked us up right at 4:30pm and brought us back to the hotel. There are so many restaurants within a 5 minute walking period. We decided to eat at Cafe Coyote's; it's a nice Mexican restaurant. They had happy hour when we arrived which was nice. The next morning we decided to have the breakfast buffet at the hotel and then they shuttled us to the Cruise Port by 10:45am. The cruise begins: We arrived at the San Diego Cruise Port and not many passengers where there, we were guided right into the building and walked right up to the luggage porter who was so pleasant; he took our bags and instructed us where to go. We then were able to check in, the lines where short and then we sat for a while (30 minutes) by this time it was about 11:30am. I was handed a special luncheon invitation for the main dining room at NOON which was a first for us. This is our 3rd Holland America cruise so I was already excited about cruising again, this just made my day because I was not really looking forward to eating lunch on the LIDO as most do on embarkation day. They called our grouping number; we took our standard photo and began to board the ship. Absolutely seamless, we then stopped at the front desk to order the "Unlimited Laundry" package. The best investment anyone can make for $49.00 for the entire week of laundry. We then stopped at the Maitre D's area right outside the dining room and confirmed our seating for two (1st seating) and made reservations to eat at the "Canaletto" restaurant (which is complimentary) that evening and then the "Pinnacle Grille" ($20.00 PP) on Monday evening. The Maitre D was our Dining room Maitre D, his name was Osman he is from Turkey a very pleasant person always went out of his way to say hello whenever he saw us. After we made our reservations we headed into the dining room to eat a nice lunch and some fresh rolls. I almost forgot how good and fresh they are YUM. After lunch we headed to our cabin which was 6035 Upper Verandah Balcony, it was a nice location as it was very close to stairs and elevators. We used the stairs quite a bit so we can walk off all those dinner rolls ? On deck 9 was the Lido; SPA; GYM and deck 10 the Cafe Promenade and library. After we dropped off some carryon luggage we walked around a bit and then attended the life vest drill at 4:15pm. Something new that we experienced was that we no longer had to wear the life vest to the drill which was a pleasant surprise. Our luggage soon arrived and we were able to unpack our clothes and then go to dinner at Canaletto for 5:30pm. The Canaletto restaurant is located on the LIDO deck they have a small section blocked off. The atmosphere was pretty nice however I was a bit disappointed with the food. I think I was expecting the quality of Italian food found at Sabatini's Italian restaurant on Princess Cruises. The food was a bit bland and lacked flavor. Hubby ordered Lasagna and he was not impressed, I ordered the Linguini Fruitti Di Mare which is a pasta dish with seafood. It lacked spices and tasted more like a jar white sauce. If I had to pay to eat here I would have been really disappointed so I'm glad it was complimentary. At least we can say we tried it. We decided not to see a show this evening as we were tired and called it a night. Sunday through Friday we made it a goal to hit the gym from 6am-7:30 we needed to make sure to get our exercise in as we knew we would be eating good food the entire week. The gym is a good size with about 8-10 treadmills some elliptical and bikes and a few stair master climbers and two Cybex machines. They also had several cable machines to lift weights as well as a section where you can use free weights. It suited our needs for the entire week and was clean. Our wait staff in the dining room was good; our waiters were Suby and Lilik two young men who worked very hard. Service was a little slow the first few nights but they seemed to have a lot of tables to wait on compared to others. So we were patient and gave them the benefit of the doubt. After the 2nd evening it picked up and the service was very good the rest of the week. As you exit the dining room if you would like one of those small mints or dried fruit, the young man name Jetro is glad to hand you some as long as you sing with him. He was funny and it didn't matter whether you could hold a tune or not. The first formal night was Sunday 1/23 and we noticed an 8x11 sign posted outside the dining room. It said for formal attire men MUST wear a jacket otherwise they will not be permitted to enter. I was a bit nervous because this was the one cruise I decided to ease up on our dress code. In the previous 7 cruises hubby always wears a Tux and I wear a gown. I have seen many couples wear nice business casual attire such as dress slacks and a dress shirt for men and a pants suit for woman so I decided let me dress down a bit on this cruise. . I have read on previous posts that some have decided to dress down a bit during formal night this is why I thought I would try it - Big Mistake. I approached our Maitre D Osmon during lunch on Sunday and informed him of my concern as I did not want to be turned away at the door. He said "don't worry about it I have extra jackets". As we entered the dining room that evening we were stopped and informed "sir you need a jacket to eat in the dining room tonight" and thank goodness Osmon was right there with a spare jacket for hubby to wear. As we sat down for dinner I noticed a handful of other men that did not have a jacket. I wondered where they stopped at the door, they were allowed in, where they embarrassed at the door? I can tell you I was and it taught me a lesson that I will always bring a jacket for hubby on future cruises no matter what. Back to the positives: Our cabin stewards were Mo and Jam Jam - these two guys are like Ninja's. We never saw them; they knew our routine perfectly while we were at breakfast they would make up our room and when we were at dinner they would make up the room again. EXCELLENT SERVICE from these two. Every day I left a bag of laundry with the slip and many times it would be returned the same evening or very next morning folded and shirts; pants on hangers neatly pressed. The paperwork states it may take up to 48 hrs to get your clothes back but the turnaround time here was at times 12 hours which was fantastic. It was worth every single penny for this service. Again thanks to reading blogs on cruise critics I would have not known how good this service was. Every morning hubby and I would eat breakfast in the dining room as we really don't care for the Lido buffet. I noticed a big difference in the breakfast menu where Holland has such a great variety this time around. The menu is the same every day but they added so many options to choose from such as the Dutch breakfast; Japanese breakfast; English breakfast etc. They were all very good and we were served timely and the food was never cold. Several days we ordered the fresh fruit parfait which has Greek yogurt in case anyone is wondering. We ate lunch in the LIDO twice during two port days (Cabo and Puerto Vallarta) because they closed the Dining Room. I was disappointed in this because the variety at lunch was not very good, an example is the outdoor grill the burgers they serve are overcooked and the fries where not tasty. If anyone from HAL is reading this please allow sit down lunches for port days in the dining room. On Sunday we received an announcement during lunch from our Captain stating that we WILL NOT port in Mazatlan due to the increased violence there. Holland America has decided to remove that port off their itinerary and replace it with Manzanillo. I was not upset about the change cause I'd rather be safe than sorry. I appreciated the fact that HAL is taking precautions for their passengers. On the port days we stood on the ship as this is my 4th time to the Mexican Riviera we have gone on the islands many times and decided to just relax which we had a wonderful restful week doing. We read several good books and found many great locations to read quietly. The Crows Nest is a great place to go, the Promenade Cafe is a bit small but nice to grab a cup of coffee. We did purchase a few coffees during the week but truthfully the coffee in the dining room is the same if not better. The coffee in the LIDO is not good as its instant and weak coffee which we don't like. We also found that during the day the Explorers Lounge is a great place to sit and read. On one of the days they had High Tea in the Explorers lounge at 3pm. Not many showed up but the tea, scones and cream/jelly where delicious. We attended another High tea earlier in the week and that was in the Main Dining room they served small sandwiches, lots of unique pastries and many varieties of tea. Another nice improvement I noticed on this 3rd time on HAL was that the entertainment has gotten much better. The HAL singers and dancers where all very good and they put on a great performance on the two nights we saw them. The illusionist "Joseph Tran" was very funny and cracked us up as he added a lot of comedy to his show. He also gave us a treat and had a matinee show later in the week. They had an Elton John impersonator his name is John Mason and he dressed up in different costume attire and sang very well. He was a riot as he kept many of us laughing during his show. He deserves two thumbs up as he was truly excellent - he received a standing ovation. Prior to cruising on this ship again I read up on the changes the Oosterdam had from my previous cruise almost 3 years ago to Alaska. They now have a beverage card you can purchase for $90.00 and its worth $100.00. This is truly worth it because we were able to use this during Happy Hour which is 4:30-5:30pm Sunday-Friday in the Ocean Bar. They also give you complimentary appetizers with your beverage. I not talking about just peanuts but good appetizers you don't even get in the dining room such as Chinese Egg rolls with sauce, sweet mushroom in a flaky puff; teriyaki beef on a skewer. The Happy Hour special is 2 for 1 so if you buy two Margarita's they only charge your card for one drink. We also noticed a room called the "Screening Room" this is a really nice movie theatre, it has about 20 leather chairs but they are really big and comfortable and they actually lean back quite a bit. There is plenty of room to put a beverage down as each chair has a little table attached to it and they also make fresh popcorn for every movie. They have little popcorn baggies you can grab and eat while watching the movie. They had a lot of movies that just came out on Video such as SALT; Wall Street Money Never Sleeps; Inception; Oceans and many others. We took the opportunity to see Oceans and Money never sleeps. We ate dinner at the Pinnacle Grille on Monday evening and our waiter was Rocky he was excellent. Hubby had the Rib Eye which he said melted in his mouth. I had a few bites and it was really good. I ordered the Lobster with butter. For our soups we both had the lobster bisque which was very good and loaded with real lobster chunks. The breadsticks; flatbread and rolls where all fresh and delicious. As you read this review you can tell we love bread...thus the reason for exercising every day ? . We were allowed to bring in our beverages we just purchased from the Happy Hour and bring them into the Pinnacle Grille which was nice. For desert we ordered the Crème Brule, the only downside is that you can't just have the vanilla it comes with coffee; vanilla and chocolate which I don't really care for. We walked away stuffed but indeed satisfied. Well worth the $20.00 per person. On Thursday we were invited to attend the Luncheon for past mariners in the Main dining room. They had a set menu that had several options you could choose from for your salad/soup and entrEe. The Captain thanked all of us for sailing HAL and reviewed how the Mariner Program works and what you receive for cruising so many number of days. They offered complimentary Red and White wine to go with our lunch. Nice touch HAL - at the end of lunch when we left the dining room we all received a little gift and it was another Tile (coaster) which I will add to my collection. That was a nice surprise as I previously read in one of the cruise critic posts that they had done away with the tiles. That is not the case because they are still giving them out on the Oosterdam. The dinners in the dining room where good some evenings and excellent others. We found that on Wednesday night the evening before the second formal night they had King Crab legs on the menu. Can you say "I'd like two orders please" We indeed ordered two servings as we knew the portion size would be small. It was very good and tasty. They were not salty and it had the right spices added to the broth with potatoes. Deserts were pretty good, I felt that HAL lacked here a bit here compared to previous cruises. The standard deserts like your ice cream parfaits are good but the watermelon pie with a dark chocolate crust was not good at all. The Crème Brule in the dining room was mushy and the sugar crust was watery. There was no comparison between the dining room Crème Brule and the Pinnacle Grille Crème Brule. With that said on the last evening when they had baked Alaska, that was delicious and well worth the wait. The only issue I had on this cruise was how HAL handles disembarkation for their passengers. This process really lacks structure and it is not fair to make 1500+ passengers wait to leave the ship until all Non-US Citizens go to the Vista Lounge and go thru Customs. They must have called the same 5 people over the intercom to please come to the Vista Lounge and check in. Because these passengers did not pay attention to specific instructions to be in the Lido at 7am they inconvenienced almost the entire ship of passengers. We were delayed 45 minutes from disembarking the ship. They really need to change their policy and procedures on this. We were so nervous we were going to miss our flight home because I had planned for early disembarkation at 8:30am but we didn't get off till 9:15am. Thankfully we were able to breeze through customs and grab a cab ride for $10.00 to the airport and arrived within 10 minutes so we were good. Overall this 7 day cruise was very good and we will continue to sail HAL in the future. We had a well rested week and where able to come home refreshed. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I'll try to keep it simple by listing all the significant positives and negatives of HAL. Hits: - excellent service from the room stewards. They are amazing. - Barnaby, the comedian Kevin Jordan and the magician Joseph ... Read More
I'll try to keep it simple by listing all the significant positives and negatives of HAL. Hits: - excellent service from the room stewards. They are amazing. - Barnaby, the comedian Kevin Jordan and the magician Joseph Tran were all great to watch, with a special mention to Barnaby for being very, very entertaining - great selection of food in the lido and the main dining room - very good enrichment programs in the form of culinary demonstrations, computer skills classes, and lifestyle classes - good selection of movies that can be delivered straight to your room for free Misses: - the dancers/swingers were painful to watch. The shows were much too repetitive, lacking storylines and they made up the bulk of the showtime entertainment unfortunately. - strange rotten egg smell in random parts of the ship at random times - the ship creaked relentlessly. Not very confidence inspiring. Also, it was a smaller ship so the swaying was quite uncomfortable for a while. - one of two hot tub pools in the adult pool area didn't function the entire cruise. The three hot tubs in the family pool area worked and were frequently occupied by kids splashing water at each other. Fun. - movies sometimes took too long to be delivered. - movie screening room was too small. It was often full 15 minutes before the movie started. - food was horrible. Bland and soft describes it all. The lobster was mush. All the steak were way too soft and bland. Ugh. Lido food wasn't bad. - food servers in the lido don't listen to you. You can ask for 1 strip of bacon and consistently get 4 on your plate instead. - ping pong tables were in disrepair by the end of the cruise. I blame the kids. They were also set up on the outside deck for half the cruise, making playing actually impossible due to wind. They smartened up and put two near the lido pool later. - some scheduled activities were cancelled unexpectedly without announcement either. No ice sculpting or adult pool games. Thanks for the headsup JT. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We have cruised Royal Carribean twice in the past on the same cruise 7 nights Mexican Rivera, same ports, Cabo, Puerta Vallarta, and Mazatlan-albeit in a different order this time. The children really liked RCL because of the rock ... Read More
We have cruised Royal Carribean twice in the past on the same cruise 7 nights Mexican Rivera, same ports, Cabo, Puerta Vallarta, and Mazatlan-albeit in a different order this time. The children really liked RCL because of the rock climbing, roller-blading and ice skating. They also liked the ocean club at RCL. Why did we switch this year? We went on Vision in 2008 and Mariner in 2009. We were going to book Mariner in 2010 but they their prices went up (stop discounting) and so we saved over 2000 dollars by booking Holland America. My wife and I also wanted a slower pace and wanted to try the reputation of HA for better food. They didn't disappoint. The MS Oosterdam was big enough for my crew of six children. We got two cabins one inside and one ocean view. Both were quad. What we liked about the MS Oosterdam and Holland America... 1) Superior food in all venues. RCL was good, HA better. 2) Fresh water swimming pools. Children did not like RCL pools because they had salt water in them. 3) Ping Pong tables superior on Oosterdam. Four tables compared to RCL having only 2 or 3. RCL tables on Vision and Mariner were very beat up. Oosterdam's tables were very good. We played alot of ping pong. However the competition on RCL was MUCH MUCH MUCH better in all age groups. Oosterdam lacked any competition. 4) Desserts were better on HA than RCL. 5) Theatre for movies was much better on HA than on RCL. Big problem: HA seating is limited in theatre (bigger than RCL) so you have to get there 30 min early or more to guarantee a seat. 6) Movie selection was much better on HA than RCL. All in theatre movies. 7) Superior library. 8) Much better BOARD GAME selection and great chess sets. 9) Calmer atmosphere and more sophisticated crowd on Oosterdam and HA. 10) Cooking demonstrations were interesting. 11) String quartet was very enjoyable throughout cruise. We like classical and tire of the RCL's steel drums...very repetitive and low-brow. 12) Much better cabins on Oosterday with beds being much more comfortable than RCL. Also flat screen TV's and dvd players in room. Both lacking in RCL. The children liked RCL's club a little bit better than HA's, but there were some up-sides to HA's HAL program. Adults can stick around if they want. Not too many children. We liked our cruise. Here is a summary of port experiences: 1) Mazatlan - Did Stone Island horseback riding, saved 50% by booking on internet rather than cruise line. Same exact tour operators. Avoid stone island, their horse back riding is painful and not fun. Instead do GINGER's horsebacking riding...about the same money much more comfortable and enjoyable, sign up via internet. We did it in 2009 it was better. Walked/ran mazatlan with two older children in the afternoon, about 2 miles roundtrip to church in old Mazatlan and back to port. Exciting. Don't linger could be dangerous. 2) Puerta Vallarta - best place for shopping for Mexican stuff at Wal-Mart good prices and selection. Then took local bus about 90 cents to town and back. Nothing to rave about here. 3) Cabo San Lucas - We snorkel annually at the public beach (hidden) for the locals which is very short walking distance from the terminal. Great view of fish. Very fun. Can see ships from beach and are actually at the same area as lessons for scuba diving so the fish are really good. And its free. Afternoon we walked around Cabo. Safe. All in all we liked Holland America. Children missed rock-climbing but other than that we really enjoyed the Oosterdam and will definitely cruise again if the price is right. My children are 13,12,10,7,5,3. Three boys and three girls. They enjoy cruising because of the food, activities and most of all time with parents on vacation. We don't do much apart from the children so can't comment on some aspects of the ship. We don't gamble, drink, or dance. It was alot of non-stop eating, ping-pong, chess, walk/running, snorkeling, swimming, movies etc. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our first Holland America sailing and we were impressed. We were worried that the ship would be crowded, being both a holiday cruise and knowing that many of the Carnival Splendor passengers were probably re-booked onto our ship. ... Read More
This was our first Holland America sailing and we were impressed. We were worried that the ship would be crowded, being both a holiday cruise and knowing that many of the Carnival Splendor passengers were probably re-booked onto our ship. But we were surprised in how uncrowded it actually felt. The San Diego Port was nice. Check in was relatively efficient. We arrived early and we were whisked directly to the Lido with our luggage. It was crowded, but we found a table for five in relatively short order. About 12:30, we were cleared to enter our cabins. Our cabin was very nice. It was clean, relatively roomy for a ship, and even had a bathtub in our balcony room. We enjoyed a nice afternoon in San Diego on our balcany. The sail away was relatively uneventful...no big fanfare. This is not a real party cruise line, catering to a more sophisticated, if not a more 'mature' crowd. The ship was wonderful. Very clean and always well kept. The public rooms are relatively small, and the atrium is unimpressive. However, we got used to the choppy feel of the ship, as it provided a number of intimate spaces with many entertainment choices. We especially loved the string quartet in the Ocean Lounge while waiting for dinner. We also like the Jazz band. The shows in the main theatre were good, but a little cheesy. The kids loved the teenager programs. We were traveling with a 14 and 17 year old. We hardly saw them and it was a negotiation every night for the curfew. They had a wonderful time and enjoyed their counselors and new-found friends. The food was among the best we have experienced on a ship. We dined twice in the Pinnacle Grill, which is worth the extra $20. The flaming kabobs and the baked Alaska were wonderful. The food in the Lido was also very nice with many choices. We did have a complaint about the limited hours at the Lido...they were quick to shut it down at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., even if there were lines down the hall. If you like afternoon tea, don't expect much on Holland America. It is a long wait to get to a buffet when you enter, and good luck getting your tea water re-filled. The gym was huge and we never had to wait for any equipment. The cruise is focused more on enrichment classes (i.e., computer classes and cooking demonstrations) and there are very few cruise director-led activities. In fact, we rarely saw the cruise director JT, and I am not sure that he had a staff (just the DJ). All in all, this was a fabulous cruise. There were some minuses and it is definitely not a cruise for the partying set. However, the ship was quiet and clean, the food above average, a good time for the kids, and great excursions. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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