5 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

The itinerary was changed because of the hurricanes and the ship only carried 1255 passengers according to the captain. This cruise was the first HAL Cruise we took 3 generations on. There were 6 and 8 yoear olds going to Club HAL and were ... Read More
The itinerary was changed because of the hurricanes and the ship only carried 1255 passengers according to the captain. This cruise was the first HAL Cruise we took 3 generations on. There were 6 and 8 yoear olds going to Club HAL and were very happy with their activities and gave the adults "me" time. The staff at the main dr were a delight with the kids every night doing origami creatures and brain teasers and magic tricks. The Lido staff discussed what it's like to live in Indonesia with the kids. The Windows Digital Workshops were the best. Have attended them on several different HAL ships and HAL is to be commended for their agreement with Microsoft to not charge for these excellent learning experiences. Lincoln Center Stage is my favorite music venue of the 3. The Crows Nest and Explorations Cafe are excellent areas for relaxation but the music at times was too intrusive. The Pinnacle Grill food is top notch and our adult children loved Sel De Mer seafood pop up on the one night it occurred. One of our best cruises! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
My qualification for writing this is that I am a four star member of the HAL Mariners group. That is I have accumulated over 250 days on some 25 different cruises. I have also cruised quite a bit with Princess. A few years ago, I had an ... Read More
My qualification for writing this is that I am a four star member of the HAL Mariners group. That is I have accumulated over 250 days on some 25 different cruises. I have also cruised quite a bit with Princess. A few years ago, I had an article in Cruise Critic comparing the two lines. One finding was that Princess has better perks. I would be eligible for some free internet on Princess, something that is much harder to get on HAL. I could spend a whole year on a HAL ship and still not even be eligible for discounted internet. I noted that the libraries on HAL where much superior to the comparatively small Princess Libraries with fewer books and no librarian. HAL had much bigger libraries with many books, selected by the NY times in a deck ten Explorations Café, with a librarian who knew something about the computers there, and a lot of DVDs, with players in every cabin. That, alas, has changed, changed utterly. On a recent Oosterdam cruise, the library had far fewer books, some paper backs left by other passengers, but no librarian, no DVDs, and no one who knew anything about computers. Front desk person said HAL has abandoned libraries on other ships as well. A major loss. A number of other changes have occurred on HAL, quite a few that seem aimed at saving or making money. They “push” alcohol. In almost every public event, some crew member circulates with a glass of wine or some other alcoholic beverage. They were kind enough to call a gathering of veterans. They used to offer us a free drink; now we pay for it. Although there is an AA meeting on board, it is not a safe environment for anyone with alcohol problems. What used to be free wine tastings, now have a charge. The dining staff work hard for long hours, but there seem to be fewer of them than there used to be, so service is slower. Music is a different matter. Princess has an occasional good music group. HAL, however, has a history of excellent music. Used to have a string quartet on most ships, though that changed over the years to a piano and cello or a piano and violin duo. This year, however, the Oosterdam had a piano quintet assembled by Lincoln Center (New York) that provided excellent concerts for two hours most nights. Plus another “B-B band and two-piano duo on a “Music Walk.” I have heard that the Eurodam and new Konigsdam have similar groups. Some compensation for the lack of a library. HAL still has a troublesome pattern of docking at places remote from the place listed on the itinerary, and failing to provide shuttle service to the place where taxis are available, or to the listed port. They fail to do much, even for the very old or wheel chair people. Princess is not much different on these issues. Both still offer good cruises. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
A week off the Oosterdam and thought I should finally write my first review/story, since I read a lot of other people's experiences. Firstly, we are a family of three, early fifties with a teenage daughter who will be attending ... Read More
A week off the Oosterdam and thought I should finally write my first review/story, since I read a lot of other people's experiences. Firstly, we are a family of three, early fifties with a teenage daughter who will be attending University this fall. This would be our 6th cruise as a family, 7th for the Wife and I, 3 with Princess, 2 with Norweign and 2 with Holland America. We don't expect a lot on our trips, just good food and clean surroundings. We flew in a day earlier and stayed at the Hilton Marina Hotel. This is our second time there and will be the last only because it is not worth the money. We left the room around noon, cab fair was six bucks each plus the bag guys at the dock we were generous and spent 25.00 bucks already. Holiday spirit I guess. Embarkation was incredible as usual with HA. Line up for check in wasn't too long. We dropped bags in our room, headed for lunch at lido. It was exactly 1:18 when we sat down with food and drink. One hour and eighteen minutes from hotel to Holiday I think is fast.....and away we go. Half Moon We pre-booked a clam shell which we could not do without. Very hot first day. I proped the back of it up with a rock to get a bit of airflow. The one we had was set up on a sand/rock ledge so you could see over the chairs in front. Clam shells are first come when you get to the beach. Find a yellow shirt and give them you ticket. Facing the ocean, the ones on the right are in a single row, go left, one behind each other and further from the water so get there early. Beach is beautiful and clean. Another HA ship was also there but the beach didn't seem crowded. Lunch was very good. The only complaint, which will probably be posted several times was the smoke from the BBQ. There were times it was so thick you couldn't see, eyes watering, it was terrible for everyone standing in the line. You just have to laugh about it, nothing they could do. Watching everyone leaving with tears in their eyes, running down there cheeks, you would have thought we were at a funeral. I love holiday's:)We have the all inclusive drink package, 15 drinks a day under 8 bucks which covers beer and mixed drinks. Didn't work on the island. Had to charge to the room. I'll wait to see if they are on our bill at the end. Grand Turk Started off doing some shopping at the port and then lunch at Margaritaville. We just ordered some nachos and drinks. Didn't stay long though. I can't stand country music, especially in the Caribbean. Headed down the beach to Jack's. The girls found lots of sea glass on the way, mostly dark but some yellow and blue. When we arrived at Jacks we were greeted by his famous dog and then Jack himself. Jacks dog searches for sand crabs so when he starts diggin don't get behind him. Sand flies everywhere. Great entertainment. We spent the afternoon here then stopped back at the shops to get some snacks; small selection on ship; before boarding. Samana I wanted to go back to the beach on the mainland, just outside the town but I was outnumbered and it was decided we would pay the 45 bucks each and go to Cayo Lavendato instead. Great people here. Chairs are free but there was an older guy who would clean them and set them up for you. Gave him 10 bucks. He immediately thanked me and ran to get the beachtender who would get our drinks and food. For 10 bucks these two guys gave us great service, with huge smiles, stories and jokes that made our day. Beach time was only three hours as we were told to meet the tender at 2:30 to return tho the ship. We spent the rest of the day by the pool as we departed. At Sea First full day at sea was pretty quiet. Breakfast, lounge chair, lunch, lounge chair and drinks, pool then more drinks. Time flies when ur hav'in rum. I can't or maybe won't comment on the food. I have never thought the food was anything special on any cruise. It's not bad or anything like that It's just buffet style stuff, quantity. Even the main dining room, food is good, but not "wow was that good" kinda food. That being said we will be dining at the Pinnacle on the next sea day so we'll see. Bonaire I reserved a truck so we could do our own tour. I would advise against renting a golf cart to do this. Very very hot and it's far enough to travel. Tried to book through some of the businesses mentioned here but were either not available or wanted 3 day day rental. I ended up reserving through Budget, which is at the airport. Booked with Vanessa for 69.00 fully insured with no credit card required. They picked us up at the pier and brought us to the airport where we filled in the paperwork and off we went. Headed straight south to see the salt, slave huts, lighthouse. We saw a total of 3 flamingo's. Not many but they were really close. There is security where you stop to look at the salt so don't bother trying get over to the piles. If you walk under the conveyer system you can find pieces there. Local fella says 90% of the salt is shipped to Florida and is made into water softener salt, not road salt. The remaining is used locally. We then followed the road around to Sorobon Beach. Not much to see between the Lighthouse and the beach, six wild donkeys,very rugged along the coast. Had lunch at Jibe City. Very good salads and chicken. It was fun watching the wind surfers while enjoying our lunch. Next stop was the Donkey Sanctuary. We were greeted by a very nice young lady who explained the reasoning behind the sanctuary and quickly charged us 6 bucks each to drive through and feed the "sad faced" donkeys some carrots at 3 dollars per bag. Sounds fun doesn't it. So camera at the ready we proceeded into the reserve. Oh, we were told to keep the windows down as the donkeys might get hurt because they can't see the glass, something like that. We crossed a little bridge like thing and then it began. Donkeys everywhere and they all wanted carrots. Picture driving through a herd of cows that were starving. Two sometimes three heads through each window and I mean into the truck. Remember these vehicles are small. Could barely move with donkeys everywhere around the vehicle. Couldn't go around them, large stones on either side, could barely weave my way through them. Sound like fun? This went on for about 500 meters. Finally there was a brake and I sped up to get away. Big mistake, they ran beside the truck, head still in window. Bent mirrors in, donkey slober everywhere. There was a bang at the back of the truck, no I didn't run over one although it's amazing I didn't. Way to aggressive to call it fun. We made it to the far end of the park, donkeys in tow, no carrots left. I swear they had a plan. A few would stand in the middle of the road and make you stop while the other fifty surrounded you. As we rounded the corner for the home stretch everything calmed down. Put her in second gear and let's get out while we can.We stopped outside the main donkey part to see them feed two baby donkeys. The youngest was rescued when the mother was hit by a car. Was it fun, sure, after the fact. I would recommend getting full insurance and if something does happen don't tell the rental agency where you were because it probably won't be covered. When we mentioned our experience to the locals, they were upset and were actually petitioning for the closer of the "Donkey Prison". Back on the road we headed to Rincon to get some rum. Beautiful drive, lots of cactus and iguanas along the way. We arrived at the Cadushy distillery and were quickly welcomed and treated to some samples. Very tasty and unique. The process of extracting the alcohol from the cactus was explained then back for more samples, rum this time. This is a small place, very personnel and accommodating. They don't cater to tours or tour busses. In the past they felt like a free drink and washroom break stop, not for what they really are. If you enjoy liqueurs, rum or whiskey, this is a must. We bought a small selection of the liqueurs and a bottle of there private 5 yr aged rum which Eric was kind enough to personally sign for me. Mission complete, we headed back to town. Quick note, you can't travel along the coast, heading south from Rincon,one way only, so we had to back track the way we came. Dropped truck back at airport around 2:30. Cost of vehicle was around 69.00 with insurance, gas was 5.00, left airport at around 9:30. Pretty cheap self guided tour. Then drove us back to town. Remember the bang I herd, no dent just scuff marks at the back of the truck. Budget let it go. Whey! Had a bite at Karl's on the water, decent food, slow service, nothing special. Did some shopping, some nice shops and vendors then headed back to ship. Fantastic Day. Curacao Shopping day. Promised the Mrs. Wandered around Punda for the morning took pics at the Dushi and the Curacao sign, then back across the bridge to the Steak and Ribs at the Riff Fort. We have been here before and were looking forward to the crab salad here which is delicious. Lunch and drinks complete we shopped around then headed back to ship around 4. We had reserved a table at Scampis for supper and arrived at 6:30 to eat and watch the sun set. Very nice setting with decent food. Service was excellent. Dinner complete we headed back past the Casino/ Hotel on the point and as we turned the corner there it was. Queen Emma bridge, neon lights, ship in background, simply beautiful. Got some pics and hung around for a while before heading back to ship around 9. Aruba Last port. We planned on a bit of beach time and some shopping but it turned out to be National Flag Day. A local lady greeted us and welcomed us to her beautiful island. She encouraged us to explore the island and see all the natural beauty. We agreed with her and mentioned that we had visited previously and agreed her island was indeed beautiful. Most stores were closed except the ones on the main drag, and the vendor market. Good thing for us. There was a parade. I don't mean just any kind of parade either. Hundreds and hundreds of people, kids, marching bands,Boy and Girl Scouts, swimming club, cars, motorcycles. Absolutely beautiful. I think we stood in the sun for well over an hour and a half watching all this. Every kid on the island had to be in this parade. There were folks from Curacao and Bonaire in the parade. That changed the day pretty quick. We had lunch at Mojitos, poor food poor service, maybe because it was a holiday and everything was supposed to be closed. Did a bit of shopping before heading back, 4:30 departure today. Met the same lady when we left and I mentioned to her that all of her island beauty was downtown today. She smiled and very proudly mentioned she had grandkids in the parade. Told us we were welcome to come back anytime. Enough said. Sea Day 2&3 Nothing much to tell. Lounged around, played bingo and relaxed. Deck 3 is my favourite. Shade, old time loungers and you can see everything, no glass, tankers, other cruise ships, some private vessels and even some whales.Dinner at the pinnacle grill. Filet Mingon, lobster, crab legs, ceasre salad, shrimp cocktail, all excellent. Should eat here every night. Impeccable service. Each course was served to each of us at the exact same time. Salad prepared at the table. Lettuce was tossed, amount of dressing at your discretion, then placed on the plate. Croutons were individually placed around the outside of the plate. I do mean placed, each piece of the salad. Impressed the heck out of my daughter. Well worth the extra dollars. Lasted two hours. Ft. Lauderdale Disembarkation was a breeze. There was a line up but of no significance. We stayed another day at the Westin Beach Resort, thinking we could have another beach day. Nope, very cold today. All in all this was another great cruise for us. Ship was clean, staff friendly and always greeted you with smiles. Islands felt safe and people were friendly. The ship was not noisy with no vibrations to speak of. We were on deck 6 forward.I don't know about worn carpets because I don't walk with my head down or did I notice fading paint on the walls or ceiling as I don't walk with my nose in the air either. If the ship is getting old and a bit ragged, it really doesn't concern us. Good food, cleanliness, safe ports are more important. The majority of the cruisers were older, some elderly which would frustrate some people with their slower pace and inability to figure out the ice machine, hand wash thing, elevators. Too bad actually because we should all be going their speed. It is a holiday after all... Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
After reading some less than favorable reviews I felt compelled to write this review. First off and seriously, this may be THE best vacation Holland America has ever delivered. We cruise quite frequently and exclusively with HAL. HAL is ... Read More
After reading some less than favorable reviews I felt compelled to write this review. First off and seriously, this may be THE best vacation Holland America has ever delivered. We cruise quite frequently and exclusively with HAL. HAL is consistently meeting and exceeding our expectations. The ship may be up in years but she is still beautiful and mighty! Super clean! You can not beat the crew! Talk about being spoiled! We were celebrating the New Year and our son being admitted into Medical School! Eleven wonderful days of celebration at sea! The cruise director, Hamish was the best we've ever experienced. He was everywhere! So much energy, so much fun and never passed by without a huge hello. The captain was very visible and very friendly. He was out and about which was nice and he kept us well informed. We took the Behind the Scenes tour with Glen Cowely, who was sensational! So much information and so much fun! The tour was extensive and well worth doing. Don't miss it! The shows were fun and the comedien was hilarious! We ate most of our meals in the main dining room and found the food exceptional. Everything was hot, delicious and beautifully presented. Always a great selection to choose from. We had open seating and all of our dining stewards and wine stewards were superb! We found the food in the Lido also delicious. The Dive In and Taco bar by the Lido pool area are also a MUST! Delicious burgers! Delicious tacos! We also ate several meals at the Pinnacle Grill which NEVER disappoints. Scrumptious! The ports were beautiful, some familiar some new yet always a thrill. We were in cabin 8019, a verandah suite. Our cabin stewards kept the room impeccably clean. They even outdid me! We couldn't have asked for anything to be better! Overall, great family time, wonderful service, delicious food and a wonderful ship! Vacation is what you make it! Make it great and enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We enjoyed our trip to the southern Caribbean in late December 2015 (Christmas trip) on the Oosterdam. But one bad experience spoiled it for us. My wife booked our cruise a long time in advance of the departure date and booked our ... Read More
We enjoyed our trip to the southern Caribbean in late December 2015 (Christmas trip) on the Oosterdam. But one bad experience spoiled it for us. My wife booked our cruise a long time in advance of the departure date and booked our excursions weeks in advance. We took our grandson on the Christmas cruise to expand his scuba diving experience and let him see some of the other countries and cultures. It all came to an end in Bonaire when Dive Friends Bonaire refused to allow me to dive with them because I am over the age of 65. Nearly all parts of our cruise were good-to-very good. Our stateroom was very good and plenty large enough for the three of us and our stewards took good care of the stateroom. We missed the Mariners onboard gathering and none of the staff knew anything about it. So much for that perk. We attended the Gala nights and had all of the pictures taken. My wife enjoys having photo documentation of our trips even if the price is outrageous. The food served was good and presented in a wonderful way and there was a good selection every night. If you want to spend an hour to two hours dining then take advantage of the regular dining assignments. We did enjoy the Dive-in Dogs after a good shore excursion even though diet wise they are not the best thing to eat, but they were good. Otherwise the Lido buffet served a verity of foods and more time could be spent on the other shipboard amenities. We did not take advantage of many of the shipboard amenities such as facials, massages, saunas and such. Not much for laying around a pool with a lot of noise and roasting like a pig on a spit. I wasn't crazy about the ten kids that spent their day running and jumping in the pool and then running to the hot tub and jumping in and splashing all of the water out. No running, jumping, or diving notices posted everywhere and no one to control it. A highlight was the evening dining. Our table stewards were great. We had fun and they interacted with us and made the meal something to look forward to. My hat's off to Putu and Komang. That brings me to getting on and off the ship. The embarkation went much better than the last HAL cruise. Maybe because we stayed at a Hampton Inn & Suites that provided a shuttle to and from the cruise ship and kept our vehicle at the Inn while we were on the cruise at a very reasonable cost. Getting off of the ship for excursions was a nightmare. No organization at all, just a bunch of people pushing and shoving and hollering at fellow passengers. It is hard for me to understand how people can act this way. One port was tendered in very choppy seas (tender would move up and down 3-4 feet) which created a very dangerous condition especially for the older clientele that had canes or walkers or had physical handicaps. The debarkation went really smooth. We had time to get up enjoy a breakfast and then wait for our turn to get off. By 10:30 to 11:00 we had picked our vehicle and were on the road home. We enjoyed the stops we made and it gave us the opportunity to have the grandson see different countries and cultures. Half Moon Cay is ho-hum. Few things to do if you don't want to just lay in the sun. They even removed the parasailing which the grandson was looking forward to. So we walked and talked. We visited Grand Turks, Samana, D.R., Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba. Grand Turks, Curacao, and Aruba were wonderful. While the grandson and I scuba dived my wife enjoyed island tours. She saw some good things and learned a few things. A highlight was the slave housing and its history in Curacao. Samana, D.R. was not a good shore excursion mostly due to the weather conditions. But we survived it even though the dive operation was not up to standards and we cut our dive short. The lunch served on shore was very good with the fresh caught fish served hot. Bonaire was a big disappointment. This is where we made our big mistake. As I stated my wife set up the cruise and made the excursions weeks in advance. When scheduling the scuba diving in Bonaire with Dive Friends Bonaire she did not see the "age" limits. Anyone over 65 can't dive with Dive Friends Bonaire if they are on the Holland America Line ship. I am 67 years old and have no medical problems, am physically fit for my age, have no disabilities, and take no medications at all. Yet, I was not allowed to dive because I am over 65. Somehow Holland America Lines is partnered with Dive Friends Bonaire and together they acknowledge and support age discrimination. I still don't understand this. We had five ports scheduled for scuba diving, with three of them booked through the ship (Gran Turks, Bonaire, and Aruba). We were allowed to dive with the Gran Turks and Aruba ship excursions but Dive Friends Bonaire had the age limit. Had we known this prior to booking we would not have booked with Holland America or Dive Friends Bonaire. If we had not booked through Holland America I could have dove with Dive Friends Bonaire. And this makes no sense to me. The Oosterdam was full of elderly and disabled people. Some with wheelchairs, carts, walkers, and canes. So why would Holland America Lines partner with Dive Friends Bonaire and discriminate based on age? Based on this experience we cancelled our future cruises with Holland America Lines and will take our next cruises on another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
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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