2 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Fitness Cruises to Hawaii

OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, ... Read More
OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, what's wrong with ten days back and forth on the Pacific? We had done two East to West TransAtlantics in years past and enjoyed them immensely. We had also done one cruise with HAL, the Veendam from NYC to Bermuda. We flew directly into San Diego and met pouring rain getting to and from the bus to the passenger terminal. This was something of a portent for our trip. Finally through Security, we boarded and went to find our cabin, Deck 7, Portside, Forward. We were greeted in the appropriate hallway by Mus and Wayan who introduced themselves as our stewards and welcomed us to our spotlessly-prepared verandah cabin. (We are aware that not all Ccers were so fortunate as to be taken care of in this manner, but we were delighted). Once we found more drawers available under the end of the bed, we were able to store everything. Anyway, after a cold and rainy lifeboat drill (seemingly more important now after the Costa Concordia), we shoved off at 5 PM. We dined in the Vista Dining Room with Ali, our headwaiter, and it was an excellent experience. Not only did he explain the use of the Vegan-Vegetarian Menu to my wife, who prefers such things, but from that night on, the appropriate teas and decaf coffee automatically appeared at the end of the meal without our asking. The food during our VDR experience was varied, very tasty, and well prepared. Not being pressed for time, we utilized the VDR for lunches, as well and they were equally good. Since we were still on Eastern time and had been up quite a while, we went to bed around 8:30 (11:30 EDT) and fell asleep in our exceptionally comfortable bed, only to waken sometime later to a howling wind and an actively moving ship. If memory serves, the Captain described 60+ mph winds and 25+ seas, not as much as we experienced on the Atlantic one time, but the larger Oosterdam handled it well and we slept on. However, given the average age and impaired mobility of many of our fellow passengers, if they weren't safely in their cabins, they might have had a difficult time getting there. Some did, apparently, have issues as several passengers sported oversized bandages on their thumbs the next few days, the reason for Captain's warning about doors, fingers, and doorframes repeatedly broadcast. Awake before 6 AM (!), the prospect of waiting for the VDR to open at 8 AM was too daunting so we decided to go to the Lido and forage for food. Not our favorite food venue due to crowds, lines, and searching for open, clean tables, we think we have 'cracked the code' for the Lido breakfast and subsequently ate there most mornings, particularly as we kept getting up before 6 AM as we went from Pacific time to Hawaiian time (- 3 more hrs). Coffee and tea were available when we got to the Lido and, around 6:30, the Continental Breakfast opened with yogurt, fresh berries, and melon. Finally, we could see when the omelette chef opened where we could obtain the best made-to-order omelettes I have ever had! After this, we would return to our cabin, which had already been made up. Thank you, Mus and Wayan. During the cruise, we would spend time in the Crow's Nest with our lap-top attempting to annoy our children with wifi emails. Not always successful, due to the dial-up (or worse) speeds, we soldiered on, hoping that the islands would re-invigorate our cell phones so we could text our children so they would not forget us! :} We attended interesting port lectures by Nancy, the excursion director, and a great guest lecturer, Dr Charlie Urbanowicz, an anthropologist who lived several years with his wife on South Pacific islands. He did an excellent job talking about WWII in the Pacific, which generated good crowds, and the South Pacific cultures and history. We only wish he had been scheduled for more lectures. THE BIG ISLAND Upon docking at Hilo, we disembarked smoothly and met the Enterprise shuttle which took us directly to their office. Our plan was to drive to Volcano's National Park 30 miles away, and it was helpful that their office was located on the same road as the park. After a 45 minute drive, we were in the Visitor's Center and shortly after on the road around Kilauea Crater, which was smokin' and so part of the road around the caldera was closed due to sulfurous gasses. We got out at an overlook for the crater and saw a trail to the Jagger Museum so off we walked. Bad choice. It began to blow and rain heavily, so by the time we reached the museum, where we could have driven to and parked, we were soaked. Blame it on the trip planner (me!) But I wasn't through. I also parked at the first lot for the Thurston Lava Tube, walked 15 or so minutes through the drizzle to get to...another lot, right at the entrance to the tube. The time spent at the Park was worthwhile, but, due to the unattractive weather, our thoughts turned to lunch at the Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant in the little town of Volcano, just a few minutes from the Park. Owned by a former makeup artist on Hawaii 5-0 and set in an older building, the menu was varied and the food excellent (antelope burgers, anyone?) While returning to the ship, we stopped at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory outside Hilo and bought some nutty souvenirs (sorry) for friends at home. Fresh? The trees were across the street! Prices? The best we saw in the islands. OAHU While I had been in Oahu in 1974, my wife had never been there so when our choice of excursions was cancelled for lack of interest, we signed up for the 3 ½ hr Little Circle Tour of Oahu. Past Diamondhead to Hanauma Bay and the Blowhole, then continuing up to the Pali Lookout. It really reacquainted me to the area and my wife got to see some of the interesting backcountry of Oahu. We had hoped to be dropped off at Waikiki after the tour, but the drive was going back another route. When we asked, he said we could use Hilo Hattie's free shuttle to get there so we got off at the huge store. The Hilo Hattie shuttle driver apparently was practicing to be a stand-up comedian and was funny and informative. When I asked him where to get off for Duke's Restaurant, he dropped us at a hotel door and told us to just walk through the lobby and turn right! And there it was. Nice lunch, virtually on the beach, followed by the largest dessert I have ever shared-- Duke's Hula Pie. Since I was on Waikiki 38 years earlier, it seems that they have built three times as many hotels and the beach has shrunk! We were headed for Ft. DeRussy near which there was supposed to be a place called Parrot-Dise where you could have your picture taken with various exotic birds. My wife grew up with a brilliant parrot, who lived more than 50 years, so Parrot-Dise was a dream for her. (We found it in a Cruise Critic review posted in the Hawaii Port thread). When I told Dino, the proprietor, that my wife had traveled 5000 miles to see his birds, he went to work and soon we had pictures of her with 2, 4, and finally 6 birds, the last one with two patiently lying on their backs in her hands! Between Duke's and Parrot-Dise, we had a great day on Waikiki. The ship planned a bar-b-que for the aft pool area and the Lido as we weren't scheduled to leave Oahu until 11 PM. Unfortunately, the wind and sporadic rain were unplanned visitors, but the food was good anyway and the staff did their best given the conditions. KAUAI Kauai was the next stop and we had reservations at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters for an aerial tour. It turns out that their office where we would check-in could be seen from the ship and was a less than 10 minute walk. The helicopter ride was spectacular and even though I was not at a window seat, the views from the newer Eco-Star copter were great. You just needed to be aware of reflections on the window when taking photos. We had lunch after the flight at The Feral Pig, a nice, informal restaurant located in the same mini-mall as Blue Hawaiian. MAUI The last stop was Maui, where we had signed up for an 8 hr tour to the Haleakala Crater and 'Iao Needle State Park. Unfortunately, the crater was overcast (at 10,000 ft) and filled with clouds. It was, however, an interesting bus trip around Maui and the 'Iao Needle was a compelling spot. The only minor drawback, besides the clouds, was our very genial guide/driver who ran out of information at about the 5 ½ hr mark and resorted to singing us Hawaiian songs. Great if you like Hawaiian music. Maui was our only tendering port which was one of the reasons we chose to take a ship's excursion--priority disembarking. I can say it was uneventful although the re-tendering process was annoying: "Sir, may I look under your hat?" They also checked ID's at both ends of the pier raising the question of how did I get to the end of the pier if I didn't have an ID? Did I swim? If you have kept up with this long review, you know we had a great time and HAL was a big part of it. We have been on Regent and Oceania five times and were worried as to how we'd like a much bigger ship. Well, we liked it so much that we signed up onboard for a similar trip next March on the smaller Zaandam. By the way, if you're thinking about a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, you can't do better for research than the Hawaii (Maui, Kauai, Oahu) Revealed series by Wizard Publications available at Amazon. Much of what we saw and enjoyed in the islands came from these books. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We are a couple in our mid to late 40s and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own 100 CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day ... Read More
We are a couple in our mid to late 40s and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own 100 CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day cruise was posted immediately to our account. Our Mexican Riviera and Hawaii B2B cruise on 11/05/2011 and 11/12/2011 cruise was wonderful. The start of the first leg of our B2B cruise was delayed by one day due to medical emergencies of passengers on the cruise prior to ours. HAL informed us and credited our account $150/pp, which was great for us as we toured and spent an extra day in San Diego. HAL also gave us a 25% rebate on our next HAL cruise which will amount to almost $700. We flew in to San Diego the day before our cruise was supposed to start. We stayed at the Embassy Suites which includes a manager's reception and breakfast. It is nicely located a few blocks away from the cruise pier and relatively close to all amenities. Post cruise we stayed at the Holiday Inn that is located just across the street from the pier. The embarkation process was very easy as the terminal in San Diego is relatively small. Our room #1836 was wonderful. An aft balcony room, always fresh fruit daily, soft robes, a LCD monitor with DVD. It was clean, adequate and somewhat quiet. The room stewards always greeted us with a smile and our rooms were always meticulously maintained. We found the service and dining onboard to be 5 stars. The dining room stewards and wine stewards were a highlight of the cruise. The menu was always tempting. We usually don't enjoy buffets, with the crowds, so we try to stay away from them as much as possible. With that being said, the food choices were excellent and the overall lay out of the buffet was good. On two occasions we dined in the Pinnacle with mixed feelings about the experience. With great service and menus in the MDR our first experience in the Pinnacle left us wondering why we bothered. The second experience was a Cellar Masters Dinner and it was wonderful. We booked the Thermal Suites and daily enjoyed the use of the steam sauna, dry sauna, ceramic hot beds and hydro pool. This was one of the reasons we booked on the Oosterdam. We were always in the gym daily. But found the facility small and overcrowded. We also enjoyed the full promenade deck to walk or jog. The few evening shows we attended were at par with what we had experienced in the past on other cruises. The evenings were mostly spent dancing at the various venues or socializing with our new cruise critic friends that we met at a well attended and organized meeting. The cruise director attended our CC meeting and made a point to talk to everyone. He offered his assistance should anyone have any special requests during the cruise. In Puerto Vallarta we used the ships excursion. The "Outdoor Adventure Tour" with zip lines, rappelling, donkey ride and speed boat was simply "Funtastic". The extra stop at the Tequila "factory" for taste testing was great. The stop in Cabo San Lucas was disappointing as we were stood up by the private tour we booked through "bestontravelnetwork dot com". We toured the town on our own and visited the beach, but weren't impressed. Had the pleasure of going on a private tour in Hilo with cruise critic friends and Ainatours dot com. We stopped by Rainbow Falls, Volcano National Park and a few other places of interest. The last stop was at OneKahaKaha Beach Park which was very close to the pier for some good snorkelling. We rented a black Ford Mustang convertible through Thrifty Blue Chip in Oahu then proceeded to explore the eastern side of the island and the north shore. In the evening we walked through downtown Honolulu discovering the historical sites. It was a wonderful day. The open door helicopter tour was fantastic that we had the pleasure to do with Jack Harter Helicopter Tours in Nawilwili, Kauai. It is a must do for sure. The rest of the day we played in the surf at the nearby beach. The ship excursion of Catamarans, sail and snorkel in Lahainia, Maui was not very impressive and expensive. The town is full of little shops and very touristy if you like that kind of thing. The quick stop in Ensenada was fun. We took the shuttle into town and bargained for souvenirs. Summary - We loved this cruise. The reason we booked this cruise was to relax and enjoy the many sea days. The extra amenities of the Thermal Suite made for a really wonderful vacation. The great service from the Maitre d', to the wait staff, room stewards, to all of the staff members, really made for a pleasant experience. On several occasions the cruise director personally wanted to know if there was anything that he might be able to do to make the cruise a wonderful experience, also there were comment cards in our room on several occasions. Our only complaints are with the bad behaviour and rudeness from some of the "entitled" guests. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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