31 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Alaska

First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of ... Read More
First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of us, ,Mom,Dad, (40's) Young adult son 1,and Teen son 2. We shared an ocean view cabin,deck 1,#1008. I was a little concerned about the location when booking, but this was our best option in our budget category,so we chose it. It turned out to be a great location! So quiet,and peaceful. I spent some time that week reading my book while sitting and watching out that window. Being on deck 1 gave us a beautiful view of the water and the views out our window, I preferred the views from the lower decks to the upper decks anyway. The cabin itself was compact, but we didn't feel cramped,and had plenty of room for ourselves and our stuff onboard. The bathroom was small,but very practical,and we enjoyed everything about the setup of the room. I really liked that we were so close to the bow of the ship,with easy access to the main stage, so usually at night on our way back to the cabin,we'd stop in just to see what was happening on the mainstage,so convenient and fun! The cabin stewards were wonderful also. The ship itself seemed really big to us at first, but it was actually a nice compact size (as far as cruise ships go) for exploring around. I don't know how full our ship was, but I never felt crowded,and if one area was busy, it was easy to walk around a bit and find a place to ourselves practically. There are multiple lounges all over the ship on different decks,and they all have comfortable seating,and multiple views out the huge windows. This was a real plus,as Alaska can get cold and rainy, but no matter where we were,we always had wonderful views. I would seek out a ship just like this again for our next cruise, I think the size of the ship and amenities are just perfect. We enjoyed various shows throughout the week,America's Test Kitchen was great- Loved the BBC Alaska Live show, Live on Lincoln Stage classical was wonderful, and the BEST time on ship was the B.B. King Blues lounge. That band,those singers were FANTASTIC. Tabitha and Tim Timmons had golden voices,and the high energy shows they did multiple times nightly were the highlight of our trip! really great times hanging out in that lounge. The pools and hot tubs were nice,as was the sauna right next door. The food? Oh the food...... How to explain how wonderful,incredible the food experience is? We chose anytime dining,and it was great every night! Our deck 2 dining room always provided a great view of the water,and scenery,but wonderful servers,and the BEST food we've had in a long while! My sons have really big appetites,and certain nights they ordered and enjoyed 3-4 entrees apiece...... but it's not just the quantity of food here, it's really good food! The choices change nightly,and we had a delicious family dinner every night together. That said, let's talk about the Lido buffet. It took us a while to figure out the timing and rhythm of the offerings here,but once we discovered the breakfast,snack,lunch,snack,dinner,snack,late night timetables.....oh boy! The food had a big variety daily, and it was so much fun to be able to just stop in whenever to get a snack or a drink of tea or coffee. Everything is so clean,and sanitary. I like that most of the food stations don't allow guests to serve themselves,which goes a long way toward keeping things non-germy and clean for everyone. My sons LOVED the asian and sushi bar, they enjoyed so many different types of food here over our week. My personal favorite was the daily omelette bar, where a very skilled and quick server would make up a personalized omelette for me,and always with a big smile! We were on a pretty strict budget, and this meant we put together our own shore excursions. Yes,we could have seen more, but we really enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. In Juneau, we rented a car from the rental shack right on the pier. It was $60 for the day,which was our best budget option for 4 people. We drove to Mendenhall Glacier,and were amazed by the dozens of bald eagles we spotted along the roadway. At the glacier area, we just parked and walked in,with plans to hike and take in the scenery. It was really beautiful,we got luck with the weather,with an overcast sky, but no rain till late evening. Perfect for hiking. We walked out to Nugget Falls,walked around the edge of the lake (so many pictures to take!) Then headed out from the visitor center to hike East Glacier Trail. It was a lot steeper than we had imagined(it's not really noted on the map guides) but it was really,really beautiful in those woods! We all had a great time hiking around,and seeing so much beauty. The woods have a really cool moss that covers everything,it looks really fantastical. All told, we spent from about 1:30-6 p.m. at Mendenhall just walking and taking in the sights. In Sitka, we discovered our favorite port stop. The town itself is cute, but surrounded on all sides by gorgeous mountain scenery. We walked from the dock thru town, around the harbor. It was another beautiful day for walking. We saw so many eagles fishing there. We headed for the Historic Totem Park,and checked that out,then proceeded onward thru a pretty woods path to the Alaska Raptor Center. For $12 per person, it was a great way to view bald eagle rehabilitation,plus a lot of other native birds,like a variety of really cool owls. I like the passion of the workers for their animals. After this, we taxi'd out to the Fortress of the Bear. (about 5-6 miles away) This is NOT TO BE MISSED. For $10 per person, we spent at least two hours thoroughly enjoying the bears,the great viewing of their activities. They had 3 types of bears, plus again, dozens of bald eagles in the trees around them. Plus the hummingbirds at the feeder..... We LOVED this place! The people who work her are passionate about their animals. After this,we walked over to the nearby bus stop (just ask the workers,they'll tell you the hourly schedule) and paid $2 to head back into town. All in all,a great bargain of a day,and lots and lots of fun! In Ketchikan, we wandered the town a bit. My son wanted to shop in all the souvenir stores,and there were a LOT of them in this town. Anyway...... we also walked over to Creek Street,and Married Mans trail,and up to the Cape Fox Lodge. It was all nice, but left us wishing we had gotten out of the town a bit more to look around. We only stopped for a few hours here anyway. Glacier Bay was beautiful,and we took lots of great pics out on the bow,in the crazy wind and rain. This cruise was one of our best vacations ever! I really like how Holland America cruises,and I want to go again.My whole family agrees, it was great fun,and also relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Never having been on a cruise before We listened to many people rave about Holland America and selected them. We really enjoyed the trips off the ship and listening to the tour guides. The tour guides were very good but the bus rides ... Read More
Never having been on a cruise before We listened to many people rave about Holland America and selected them. We really enjoyed the trips off the ship and listening to the tour guides. The tour guides were very good but the bus rides are killers, no room for legs, even in 60 degree weather air conditioners need to run so windows did not fog! Our first night was in the Anchorage Hilton and that Hilton is not up to Hilton Standards! After Denali the over ten hour ride to Seward was terrible! The ship part was so so! When we got to our stateroom it needed vacuuming, sofa bed was so dirty I would not even put a suitcase on it, there were lumps in the floor under the carpet. We used the john, it over flowed and later that night, it would not flush (plumber came about 11:30 pm). Having floor to ceiling windows and a balcony was great for viewing. My favorite part of the ship was the Explorations Café and Crow's Nest on the top deck. We were set up for 5:30 pm dinner and changed it to open seating (that was great). We met quite a few different couples from, Canada, US and Australia. The fish dishes were excellent the other selections were not as good! The food was OK, but from the amount people were eating they must have thought it was great! Not being drinkers or gamblers meant about 1/3 of the ship was unnecessary for us. The ship is showing its age, worn carpets, shabby appearance in a lot of areas, but the bars, the shopping venues and the casino were well taken care of. They definitely want you to spend money while you're aboard. The crew were all very friendly and attentive, our cabin stewards were very friendly and unobtrusive. At the end of the cruise disembarking was not handled well, the group responsible showed up late, was not organized and seemed to be totally flustered! I am not sure we would ever take another cruise on Holland America the value in my opinion was not there! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My wife and I arrived at the Vancouver Airport at 11am. Were met and welcomed by a HAL rep who arranged for a cab to the Pan Pacific. The Pan Pacific allowed us to check in immediately and our luggage was taken to our room. Nice ... Read More
My wife and I arrived at the Vancouver Airport at 11am. Were met and welcomed by a HAL rep who arranged for a cab to the Pan Pacific. The Pan Pacific allowed us to check in immediately and our luggage was taken to our room. Nice accommodations and we had the afternoon to explore Vancouver and Stanley Park. Enjoyed a dinner and drinks overlooking the Lions Gate Bridge and Bay. The next morning we headed to Victoria BC and two nights at the Empress Hotel. Great location and they provided a complimentary larger room on the 2nd floor. Buchart Gardens, Dragon Boat Festival, Harbor, Irish Pubs, BC Museum, and Fisherman's Wharf made for a great weekend in Victoria. Arrived back in Vancouver about noon on the 16th and boarding was painless and fast. Some folks seemed confused going through customs, etc. but HAL reps were there to assist. Found our luggage in our cabin, explored the ship and found a lounge for a relaxing drink while everyone else seemed to head immediately to the Lido deck for lunch. We were very impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of the HAL staff. The organization of the trip and receiving a packet with keys, etc. was perfect throughout our two week trip. The variety of entertainment venues and activities on the cruise provided for just about any interest. We enjoyed a few shows in the Vista Lounge especially the Marriage Game where the Cruise Director and an elderly couple celebrating 64 yrs. of marriage provided a very inspirational show for all in attendance. Alaska speaks for itself. While on the cruise portion of our trip we enjoyed the Navigation Deck, the Pinnacle Lounge and the Piano Bar where three talented fellow travelers provided some wonderful music with the pianist. Enjoyed dining in the Vista Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill and room service. Also enjoyed a Salmon Bake on the Lido Deck. Open dining allowed us to meet and dine with fellow travelers from around the world. The coach trip to Denali was long as we had expected but well worth the trip. Some great stops along the way to see Beluga Whales, Iditarod Headquarters and the Veteran's Memorial broke up the long trip. Enjoyed Denali Tundra Tour and our stay at the McKinley Chalet in the Cottonwood. We had purchased meal vouchers as part of the land / cruise package and enjoyed the McKinley Chalet restaurants and the McKinley Explorer. Ended our trip at the Anchorage Hilton which was ok for Anchorage but when we went to the Hilton's restaurant we were given a Holland America Voucher Menu that was a lunch type menu. Luckily we had a very good waitress who spoke with her manager and we were then given a Dinner Menu. When I purchased the dinner package HAL assured me there were no menu restrictions. I expect fellow travelers found this to be an issue and would suggest HAL speak with Anchorage Hilton management. Other than this small issue we had great weather and a excellent trip to BC / Alaska. Also, the Alaskan Summer Ale was superb. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
First Time Cruise; 40th Anniversary Celebration. With nothing to compare to, these opinions are based on a comparison to the views of others on Cruise Critic, as well as a comparison to the marketing of Holland America itself. Food: ... Read More
First Time Cruise; 40th Anniversary Celebration. With nothing to compare to, these opinions are based on a comparison to the views of others on Cruise Critic, as well as a comparison to the marketing of Holland America itself. Food: C+. Pinnacle Grill was a memorable, and clearly, higher end dining experience. Main Dining Room (Vista) was good quality and selection, but nothing rising to “The Best ___ I Ever Ate” level. LIDO buffet was on par with mid-range Las Vegas buffets; average quality, below expectation deserts and sub-par coffee. In-room service was good. Service: B+. Although the staff exhibited the traditional “smiles all around”, it was clearly part of the Designed Experience. The actual service was good, but the customer service phone line was never answered in less than a two minute on-hold time for the entire voyage. Nightly towel animals were a nice touch. Activities: B-. If the activities were eliminated which promote any kind of additional cost items, not much would be left. The trip included three days at sea, and this meant that they were long days with limited activity available to those who did not want to shop. Communications: A-. The daily activity plan was distributed each night (along with Junk Mail and Advertising). The Cruise Director and Master kept the passengers up to date on the fight against norovirus. Logistics: A-. Embarkation and Disembarkation went surprisingly smoothly. The Anchorage airport representatives were a bit confused as to meeting points and times, but this was resolved by asking better questions to other reps. The pre-printed Cruise Card indicated assigned seating for meals, when Open Seating was booked…this was corrected the first night. Health: D. Norovirus was active from Day 3 until the end. The isolation procedures appeared to favor non-revenue activities, such as the LIDO. The casino never closed or required gloves. The spa demonstration person used the same rubbing device on every customer without any protection or attempt to sanitize. Value: The Explore4 package was offered at booking, and, exclusive of that, the value would have been poor. As it was, considering the restricted view of the stateroom, limited activities offered, the value was “acceptable” at the very best. Experience: The trip was the first cruise, and was to be a Grand Celebration. But, where Acceptable Value meets disappointment (noro), the resulting overall experience was less than expected. Recommendations: Get on the first bus out of Anchorage, and you will arrive on the ship before the land-tour rail arrives, and have the ship, all quiet, and to yourself, for a few hours. Since we flew from the East Coast of the USA, we bookended the trip with overnight stays in Anchorage and Vancouver; which was good for travel fatigue impact. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
My first time on cruise.Generally satisfied but taken by surprise that had to pay for plain water even from my room fridge. Alcohol OK but water? Also charges of 15% for service in bars or to servants-low ball. HAL charges enough for ... Read More
My first time on cruise.Generally satisfied but taken by surprise that had to pay for plain water even from my room fridge. Alcohol OK but water? Also charges of 15% for service in bars or to servants-low ball. HAL charges enough for trip. Dinners also could be better, chef was slipping at work. Attention to travelers problem from designated staff, poor. Long lines to service desk. And end of trip was the summary. We had to leave room at 9 am and waited until 12.30 to board bus to Anchorage, totally wasted time. Specially that after arrival to Anchorage was to late to go anywhere. My baggage was lost on the way to hotel and nobody know what happened, they have flyer blaming road construction for delays or lost baggage.I got my bag in Denali 30 h latter. Hal need big shake-up Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our first cruise. We decided, with the recommendation of Charlene, our AAA travel agent in Minneapolis. to do the D3C "Double Denali" sea/land tour and were not disappointed. I was a bit concerned at first after reading ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We decided, with the recommendation of Charlene, our AAA travel agent in Minneapolis. to do the D3C "Double Denali" sea/land tour and were not disappointed. I was a bit concerned at first after reading some of the reviews about the Oosterdam a couple of weeks before our trip but have nothing bad to say, in fact, I found the ship, captain and crew to be outstanding! This is a two part trip. First a sea cruise from Vancouver to Seward and then land tours via bus or rail through Denali and ending in Fairbanks. Holland America takes care of their guests. You and your luggage will not fear of getting missed or lost. Outstanding stateroom stewards, great food, outstanding scenery and in our case, good weather. Probably there was not a critter we didn't see. Saw feeding humpbacks, Orcas, Grizzlys, otters, eagles, seals, i could go on and on. Take a look at their website and you will see what is possible. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I have never cruised before but my wife and I wanted to visit the inside passage of Alaska and this is really the only way to do it. Not being cruisers, we normally like to road trip, we went in very green and opted for an interior ... Read More
I have never cruised before but my wife and I wanted to visit the inside passage of Alaska and this is really the only way to do it. Not being cruisers, we normally like to road trip, we went in very green and opted for an interior stateroom. Big mistake it was small, and to be honest it felt a little like a prison cell. Based on this we requested an upgrade and after 24 hours and two requests we were given an outer cabin with a balcony which gave a completely different meaning to cruising. So I guess our first lesson was do not try and do this type of travel on the cheap. I must say that as expected it did come at a cost but well worth it. We were travelling from the UK for three weeks and I did not want to lumber myself with suits for formal dining. I contacted Holland America to get a definition re formal dining dress. They informed me that the Lido restaurant (buffet style) required formal trousers and collared shirts for evening wear as did the Vista Restaurant on five nights the other two nights would be suit collar and tie. Based on this I just packed formal trousers and shirts with collars. When we got on board the dress wear for the Lido was very casual at all times and therefore we elected for the Vista Restaurant waiter service. Even on the full formal evenings people were being allowed in long sleeve shirts and ties. No jacket required. So I just bought a $10 tie on the ship. We were allocated a table along with six other guests and we were very lucky that we all got on very well and enjoyed each others company. The ship itself looked a little tired in places but was comfortable. As I say this was our first cruise so I cannot compare it with other companies but speaking to other more seasoned cruisers most were giving the impression that whilst they were happy with their lot there are better deals and companies out there. The staff were pleasant and very helpful especially the cabin and restaurant staff. The cruise offered varying sort of entertainment from nightly shows, and various types of music in a number of bars that you could dance or listen to. If you want to lose your shirt there is also a casino. There were also a number of interesting lectures regarding Alaska itself which gave a lot of background information on the State. Our main preference was to sit in the library area by the Crows Nest bar with a glass of wine. There is a coffee bar in this area which serves the best coffee on the ship but at a cost. The actual journey through the inside passage is to be recommended and the scenery spectacular. The three scheduled stops are small towns that lean more to the tourist and I would recommend that if you visit Alaska you should try and also travel inland by either car or train. The tours we elected for were worth the money and well organised. The one thing we did like about cruising was the fact that you went to bed and you woke up at your next destination and someone else has done the work to get you there. I must admit I personally found the last day in the open sea as a bit of a bore as you can only walk around a ship so many times and that is why I would not consider too many cruises in the future. With regard to the additional charges in respect of fixed rate gratuities and service charge I find these a little expensive but I cannot criticise Holland America too much on this as they all lines seem to charge similar fees. I note that people are not happy that they do not receive their final bill until they are just about to leave the ship, I got a copy of our up to date expenses the night before we left to give us time to study any discrepancies. This cruise served our purpose and Holland America was a good foundation for future cruises if we should take one. We felt we learnt the pit falls quickly and there are many but all in all an enjoyable experience.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time we've sailed with HAL, and second time on the Oosterdam. The train from Anchorage to Seward was spectacular, with good food and comfortable seating. We missed the track wash-out by one day, thankfully. The ship is very pretty and well designed in her layout with an incredible amount of intriguing art. We never had a problem getting around and found all public spaces quite easily. The demographics onboard this particular sailing veered towards the over-70 crowd. There were very few young people and virtually no small children sailing this third week of June. We were a bit surprised by this as we typically have seen more families on cruise ships in Alaska. Surprisingly there were only two cruise directors onboard and a very limited number of activities day and night. There were daily trivia games, two karaoke hours for the week, some dancing, one hour of disco each night, a few production shows, and a VERY old and tired out piano bar set-up. We were (jokingly) asked to leave when we requested something a bit more rock-and-roll. We did leave. This ship tidied up and shut down by 10:30 or 11pm each evening. Oh, the magician and comedian were both excellent. If you're looking for night life... you won't find it here. That being said - the food was absolutely delicious, the service in the MDR was gracious, and our cabin steward was phenomenal. One food regret for me was the Pinnacle Grill. I had so looked forward to this and my steak was chalky and dry. Yuck. The chocolate dessert was an oily bowl of soup with no consistency. Very out of character. I also had a bit of trouble in Explorations Cafe. They just couldn't get the hot chocolate right and told me they were out of chocolate syrup. We found staff for the most part to be accommodating, friendly, and vivacious in most areas. Check out the Pinnacle Bar and Ocean Bar for some light-hearted fun with the bar staff. We didn't shop or use the computer at all so I can't comment to those areas. The spa was gloriously serene and the Thermal Suite/Therapy Pool areas were pure bliss. Passenger services were on top of the few issues we had and Captain Boss kept us well informed throughout the voyage. The aft balcony cabins we booked were amazing with very little jiggle.  We had four aft cabins on Deck 7 and loved them. The balcony doors were opened the entire time so we could visit and relax together. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of room with a smallish sofa, table, and extra storage seat. Our verandah had two wicker sitting chairs and one chaise lounge. There was plenty of hanging closet space and storage for everything we brought. We could easily have stored a few weeks' worth of clothes, shoes, etc. in this cabin. You may think there'd be noise in the back, but inside the cabin it was silent. The sound of the ocean and ship's wake were only heard on the balcony. Loved the bathtub/shower combination too - you won't find that on many other cruise lines in a lower category balcony cabin. Weather at this time of year was a bit rainy out of Anchorage, but the sun came out most every afternoon. Passing through Seymour Narrows at midnight was very cool. Would I book HAL again? Maybe for the food and service, but if I wanted to have a little more fun in the evenings, I might check out one of my other favorite cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We had a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. We did our best to enjoy everything we could as the days flew by. We took full advantage of Seattle by arriving several days early. We toured through the city on our own. Some of the highlights ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. We did our best to enjoy everything we could as the days flew by. We took full advantage of Seattle by arriving several days early. We toured through the city on our own. Some of the highlights were The Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square, the Smith Tower observation deck (better than the Space Needle and cheaper), and Canon (an amazing bar with a 44+ page list of spirits and exquisite cocktails) Boarding went smoothly and we could go to our directly to our cabins then off to eat at the buffet on the Lido deck. Enjoyed eating by the pool as the weather was beautiful and sunny. Spa - Our group had a excellent sampling of many spa services. We tried massages, pedicures, manicures, and hair styling. All got high marks and there was not a big sales pitch during the treatment. Many of us got the Thermolounge/Hydropool passes. That was wonderful and included a quiet serene indoor heated pool, aromotherapy saunas and heated stone loungers with a view. Cabins and Room Stewards - We had a great idea to split our group up in such a way as to have balcony cabins on both sides of the ship. We also had cabins next to each other and the staff opened the dividers between them for us at our request. We could gather as a group on either side of the ship depending on the best view. Our stewards did a great job for us and we have no complaints. Teenage programs - Our teenagers loved it and made friends quickly. Seemed to be a pack of about 20 some teenagers. They spent a lot of late nights with their group, but joined the family for port excursions and meals. I heard about scavenger hunts, dances, mocktail mixing class and their own prom on the last formal night. Most of their evening activities started at times more convienent to those with early dining times. Main Dining Room - Service was slow as we often had a large group. May have been better to do fixed dining as reservations were difficult with a lot of people. Food was delicious which made the service a non issue for us. We needed plenty of time to catch up and the long dinner was perfect for us. Appetizers were always the highlight and many of us took to ordering several. Bread was consistently disappointing, not much flavor and typically hard rolls. Formal night was great as our group went all out and the men wore tuxes. We were in the minority, but it made for great pictures. My husband really enjoyed playing blackjack in his tux. Must of helped as he won over $700. Le Cirque Night - On Thursday night, the Pinnacle Grill is "transformed" into NYC's Le Cirque restaurant. There is a $39 charge, but it was worth it for us. The tables were set with genuine Le Cirque china (has a cute monkey on it) and fine glassware. Menu was amazing and plentiful. The deconstructed caesar salad was terrific and I think all caesar salads should come with a poached egg. The beef for the Chateaubriand was outstanding and so was the lobster salad. We couldn't eat it all. It was a memorable night with terrific service. Room Service - Excellent and plentiful. My kids took full advantage of it on a continual basis. Ordered milk and cookies, hot chocolate, cheese plates for everyone as we enjoyed our balconies while crusing through Tracy Arm. Hot breakfast was great too. Don't forget to call room service back when you're done so they can take the dishes back. Nightlife - On the dull side which was fine for our group. Apparently, this cruise did not have many late night partiers so casino and nightclub wrapped up around 1 a.m. The crew said this was unusual. Cocktail specials of the day were good and happy hour (2 for 1) at the Oceans bar was great. Wine list was disappointing and expensive for what you got. Fortunately, we knew this ahead of time and brought bottles of our own choosing on board with us. One special treat was the Louis XII cognac. My husband used some of his winning to try a shot of this special spirit since it was only $89 as opposed to the $250 back home. The bar staff was wonderful and made a big deal over this special order. Disembarkation was smooth and quick, however, we had not made prior arrangements for a taxi or van. Since we selected the last time slot for getting off the ship, the taxi van's were already gone with the first group of passengers, so the taxi wait was very long. Lesson learned. This was definitely a trip of a lifetime for our family. We enjoyed every minute. My 17 year old boy summed it up best when he proclaimed it "the best vacation ever!"   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
As this was my very first cruise, I was very excited and looking forward to cruising on the Osterdam. However, my excitement was squashed when I showed up and discovered that the regular paying passengers were going to be outnumbered by a ... Read More
As this was my very first cruise, I was very excited and looking forward to cruising on the Osterdam. However, my excitement was squashed when I showed up and discovered that the regular paying passengers were going to be outnumbered by a southern gospel group that would take over the ship, and create a second class status for those who weren't part of the group. I knew things were going to be bad when on Sunday, the elevator door opened and a woman thrusted a bible in my face. At one breakfast, a gentleman asked me what religion I was and when I told hin I was Catholic, he implied that I was going to hell. Many activities were canceled for the regular passengers and the only time for shows was 930pm. A veteran's group meeting was canceled due to this religious group occupying the meeting room and over extending their time. Several times the Crow's Nest and other venues were closed to regular paying passengers. Yet, it was strongly enforced that passengers who were not members of the group were not welcomed at any of their events. Nighttime was dead and the ship was a ghost town after 900pm since all the holy rollers went to bed!!! Instead of showing previews of the cruise's trip DVD, they showed previews of the gospel group activities. This is very much ashame as the ship and crew were fabulous. It was a very speedy check-in that took less than 20 minutes from taxi to opening the door of my room. Looking over at the Princess line that looked like hours long, I was very thankful for this. There were two lines for embarkation photos, one for the regular passengers with a blah background, and one for the gospel group with a fancier background. The food in the dining room was excellent. The lido deck buffet was so-so. The entertainment, although abbreviated because of the gospel group, was superb with fantastic broadway style shows. I especially liked the Movie theme night and the Garage show. Because of the holy rollers, all the dance floors were DEAD. There were a few in the piano bar. My biggest disappointment was the late night buffet. It was served from 1030pm until 1130pm. The food wasn't all that great. There was never any ice sculptures and no chocolate fountin night. My room was the best part!! I was upgraded to an obstructed view . The room wa very big and tastefuly done. This is a wonderful ship and very elegant. The glass elevators were the iceing on the cake!! The ship was always spotless. The Indonesian crews, whether it be the cabin stewards or the waiters in the dining room, worked tirelessly and always with a smile. It's aashame that Corporate HAL had to be decitful and greedy. They should have booked the entire ship for the gospel group (like they did the following week for the gay cruise) or innformed all passengers so they could reschedule. Most of the regular paying passengers that I spoke with are very upset and said they'll never sail HAL again. If I had been warned in advance, I would have changed my travel date to a different cruise. It's ashame because the ship and frontline emplyees were topshelf. HAL Corporate turned what could have been a A+++ first time cruise to a C-. Feeling cheated and scammed by HAL, next time I will travel Princess!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This was our first cruise, and overall it was a wonderful experience because of the breathtaking scenery, the outstanding service, and the yummy food. However, we were unprepared for the degree of seasickness we both experienced. So, a lot ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and overall it was a wonderful experience because of the breathtaking scenery, the outstanding service, and the yummy food. However, we were unprepared for the degree of seasickness we both experienced. So, a lot of the cruise ended up being a blur, as we were drowsy and woozy from the Dramamine we had to keep taking. Two nights were rough, but one night--the evening of Day 5, as the boat sailed south after our day in Sitka--was absolute hell. The boat was tossing to and fro so violently, we abruptly had to leave dinner in the dining room and attempt to get to our cabin to lie down. This was no small task, as we stumbled and lurched all over the hallways, clutching the railings for dear life. Fortunately, we found some discreetly placed containers of vomit bags near the elevators. (We would fill 3 of them by night's end.) The location of our cabin (8012) didn't help; we found out later that a cabin on a low deck, most toward the center of the boat, would have the least motion. If this is true, then we were seriously out of luck--our cabin was nearly the most forward, and on the highest cabin deck. The cabin itself was lovely; however. We didn't mind at all that it was a small, interior room. It was private and quiet, clean, and had tons of closet space. I was afraid we might feel claustrophobic, but we didn't at all. The bed was very comfortable; we had no problems sleeping. The bathroom had plenty of space, and the shower was spacious enough, had a detachable showerhead, and high-quality shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel in convenient dispensers. One problem we noticed with the room, however, would occur in the afternoons and early evenings (we took a lot of daytime naps because of the Dramamine)--there would suddenly be a very strong odor of some kind of chemical--it smelled like turpentine--that would fill the entire cabin and linger for hours. We smelled it all over the boat at various times and guessed it to be a cleaner or polish of some kind. Our toilet clogged one night for no apparent reason, but we called it in, and the repairman promptly came and fixed it. No problems after that. He was also quite helpful and showed us how to make our shower water hotter--the shower knobs were odd, and we hadn't realized that you could turn them counter-clockwise 360 degrees to get more hot water (still no idea what the red button is for). Our room stewards, Komang and Gede, were terrific. I can recall only a couple instances during the entire cruise that we did not see Komang somewhere on our hallway, joyfully calling out greetings to us by name. When we left to go to breakfast, we'd return to the room less than an hour later and find they had slipped in Ninja-style and cleaned already. We spent a lot of time on the Lido deck because the views were amazing and the food was terrific. We probably gained a good 30 lbs between the two of us during the cruise! The Lido breakfast was my favorite. I loved the eggs cooked to order, the amazing breakfast potatoes, and the delicious, fresh waffles with fruit compote of your choice. Also, the coffee was outstanding!! I drank their decaf coffee all day and evening because it was so good--hey, I'm from Seattle, and I know coffee--I still can't believe it was decaf; it was just. so. good. One complaint about the Lido that I should mention--FOOD ALLERGY SUFFERERS, TAKE NOTE--it was difficult to be certain about potential allergens in the Lido food offerings. In the Vista dining room, they bend over backwards to accommodate any food allergies you might have, but not so in the Lido. I am fatally allergic to nuts. One afternoon, during a quiet time when the Lido crowds had cleared out, my husband ordered a chocolate ice-cream cone for me. After a few bites of it, I crunched into a walnut. Turns out it was Rocky Road ice cream! My husband went back to the ice-cream lady and she explained, "Sometimes we have 'specialty chocolate' flavors, so when you order 'chocolate,' that is what you get." Wow. That could've ended really badly. At the very least, THE LIDO REALLY NEEDS TO PUT ALLERGEN LABELS ON ITS FOOD. We ate a handful of times in the Vista dining room for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner. The food was always great, and again, they took great care of me and my food allergies; but the meals were too slow-paced for us. One night, our dinner lasted well over 2.5 hours. Many people would like that, but it was just too long for us to be sitting in the same chairs. Also, set on the tail end of the boat, we experienced a great deal of motion in the dining room. Given our seasickness, this was not an ideal way to enjoy a meal. We didn't take advantage of as many shipboard activities as we would've liked, but we did enjoy Trivia in the Crow's Nest Lounge every day with Cruise-Director Drew. We won 3 times, and have lovely Oosterdam and Holland America pins to show for it. Drew made it fun; our only complaint was that there were never enough trivia questions. :-) Overall, we did have a wonderful time and enjoyed Holland America immensely. My husband and I are mature 42-year olds, so we fit in well with the majority of our fellow passengers. We wanted to avoid any semblance of loud, drunken partygoer types, rowdy children, packs of teenagers, college students, etc. Holland America was perfect for us, as mostly everyone was our age and beyond. Very quiet and relaxing. We will definitely cruise with Holland America again--but next time, we'll be more proactive with motion-sickness remedies! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Our Seattle to Juneau to Seattle cruise aboard the Oosterdam was the best vacation I can remember. We're new to cruising and this cruise has spoiled my wife and me for any other type of vacation. We're already planning a European ... Read More
Our Seattle to Juneau to Seattle cruise aboard the Oosterdam was the best vacation I can remember. We're new to cruising and this cruise has spoiled my wife and me for any other type of vacation. We're already planning a European cruise for just the two of us and an extended-family Caribbean cruise with my siblings and all of our adult and teen children. The ship was very comfortable in a sophisticated way, our balcony stateroom was large by cruise line standards and very comfortable, the food (with minor exceptions) was excellent, the entertainment was fun, the spa was luxurious but, above all, the service was phenomenal. Our Indonesian room stewards greeted us even before we entered our room, introduced themselves, learned our names and asked if we had any immediate requests. During the remainder of the cruise they greeted us warmly by name, made up our cabin when they wouldn't be in our way, provided a second sprucing up and turndown while we were out for the evening and left us needing nothing. The only staff that surpassed our cabin stewards for level of service were our dining room stewards. Our table steward and his assistant, both also Indonesian, were friendly, omnipresent without being intrusive, and concerned with making sure that everything, and I do mean everything, was perfect. We signed up for the late dinner service at 7:45 each evening. It worked wonderfully for us, giving us time to clean up from shore excursions, have a wonderful perfectly paced four-course meal and still have time for late shows or laid back time in one of the ship's lounges. We had a four-top dining table set for two right next to the windows looking out over the ship's wake. It was the little things that made the service top-notch. At our second dinner our friendly servers greeted us by name, paced our dinner perfectly for the two of us and, remembering that my wife had ordered after dinner coffee the previous night and I hadn't, served her coffee and asked me if I would like any. They had noted which bread we ate and which we left uneaten the night before and our basket was filled with our favorites and not the others for the remainder of the cruise. They quickly determined (correctly) that we liked efficient, unobtrusive service with a little chit-chat while the Japanese party of three at the next table preferred a quiet but more ostentatious presentation and close attention by the wine steward, and that the large younger group at the table on the other side of us wanted to have a lot of interaction and conversation with the wait staff. Everyone was catered to in the most amazing, personalized and pampering way. We had one pretty rough evening on the ship. Little white bags appeared next to all of the elevators and in our stateroom even before things got bad. At dinner, some of the tables were sparsely populated or outright empty. My wife had a single bite of her appetizer and one bite of her salad before deciding that she was going back to the cabin. She didn't feel like she was going to throw up, just that eating was completely unappealing for her. Our head table steward came over to me immediately after she left to inquire after my wife's welfare and make sure that there was nothing that they had done to cause her any problem. The next night their greeting included a hearty welcome back for her and what felt like real concern that she be feeling better. Barmen, lounge wait staff and lido deck food servers were all professional and quick to serve as well. As for the food, everything we had in the main dining room (breakfast, lunch or dinner) was very good to excellent, presentation was beautiful and freshness of ingredients was obvious. All of the sauces and soups we had were wonderful, seafood was fresh and cooked just right and steaks were cooked exactly as ordered. In most restaurants my wife, who likes her steaks rare, orders medium rare because so few places get rare right. She found that ordering a rare steak on this cruise produced one perfectly done. Salads were crisp and vegetables were never overcooked. The only things we found lacking in the dining room were the crusts on pies and other pastries. After the first couple of less than flaky, dry crusts we steered our dessert choices to wonderful chocolate cakes, elegant baked Alaska, etc. We ate in the extra cost Pinnacle Grill our second night on the ship to celebrate our 26th anniversary and had a pleasant experience but didn't think it was worth doing again. We paid $50 out-of-pocket for an upscale meal but were disappointed, not because it was bad but because the main dining room was so good that there wasn't much room for improvement. My filet mignon was a heavenly cut of meat cooked perfectly, but sides were average, prawns were slightly overcooked and we felt the level of service was not an improvement over our dining room experience. The food at the lido deck buffet stations was so-so. They did some nice things like cooked to order omelets and pressed sandwiches, and very fresh cut fruit and salads but the rest (Italian, burgers, pizza and Mexican) were average at best. We ate there only on embarkation day and if we missed times for meals in the main dining room. Okay, I admit I did make a few stops specifically for scoops of rocky road in waffle cones. The first 48 hours of the cruise the buffets were not self-serve as they were trying to avoid the possibility of any viral outbreaks so everything was served by staff. Entertainment was hit and miss. The ship's show singers and dancers were not very good. After the first welcome show we didn't attend any other shows with them. We had a magician one night and a ventriloquist/comedian another night. Both were pretty good and we enjoyed their shows. The best theatre show was the one put on by the Indonesian crew members. They showed us some of their culture, some talented song and dance performances and a little comedy, a very fun time. There were also small groups or individuals that performed in the ship's lounges. A classical duo of piano and violin was fun to listen to as we watched the ocean go by, a solo pianist in the piano bar led sing-alongs of Beatles songs one night and 60s and 70s music another. There was also a solo guitarist that played at night in the crow's nest lounge who had a pretty good set, took requests and had a lot of slightly sarcastic fun with the late night crowd. We ended up there on multiple nights. We attended a really fun karaoke night, a champagne art auction, cooking demos, small-scale drink tastings and a walkthrough of the ship's kitchens. We participated in trivia contests and I played in a Texas hold 'em tournament. We enjoyed happy hours and late night dessert showcases. We never made it to the movie screenings, computer classes or informational/educational lectures since we were busy doing other things. All-in-all we didn't feel like we were ever hurting for something fun to do. Most everything is geared to a bit older crowd. At 51 and 45 we were below average age on the ship. Our cruise had some young couples, a small number of teenagers and very few children. The public areas of the ship are very comfortable and generally well-appointed. The main theatre stage area seats a good number at tables in front and tiered seats behind and in the balcony, but there are several large columns that give some seats obscured views of the stage. Nearly every lounge/bar seat has an ocean view. Our favorites were the intimate piano bar and the crow's nest. The crow's nest has a bar on one side and a coffee bar on the other, a small dance floor, a large library, computer stations and lots of games, puzzles, etc. The 270 degrees of curved walls host seating with great views of the ocean. We loved sitting here with a drink or a coffee, watching the waves roll by and occasionally spotting a whale. Onboard shopping was overpriced, as expected, but they had some really nice things, duty free shops, etc. Our stateroom was good size, cozy but not too tight. The queen size Posturepedic pillow top bed was awesome, as good as any hotel bed I've slept on. I dread hotels because I sleep terribly in anything but my own bed at home. But even on open ocean nights with a good deal of ocean roll we fell asleep almost immediately and slept right through to the arrival of our morning room service. There is plenty of storage in the room. Our cruise was in Alaska so, of course, we brought a lot more clothing than we would on a tropical vacation. Even so, we found places for everything. There is more than enough hanging storage that can be converted to shelves and there are cubbies or drawers under beds and couches, below vanities and on open shelves. The bathroom was nothing special with a single small sink, an open shelf vanity, small shower with retracting clothesline and vacuum flush toilet similar to an airline toilet, but the room was efficiently laid out, water was hot and everything worked just as it should. Outlets are scarce so we brought a three-way splitter that allowed us to charge phones and tablets and use blow-dryers and other appliances. Our balcony was private and comfortable and even a little bigger than I had thought it would be. We spent a good deal of time sitting there or leaning on the railing when it wasn't too windy, watching the world go by. On our day in the Tracy Arm Fjord I was out there for hours. We went once to the spa. Services are pretty pricy but if you wait a few days into the cruise they start offering special packages. My wife signed up for a "ladies night" special that included an hour of massage and an hour in the hydrotherapy pool and on the heated tile chaise lounges, so relaxing. When she signed up she asked if husbands could take advantage of the promo as well and they readily signed me up. We paid $99 each for our two hours of pampering. It was great. I've never been more relaxed. Another reviewer complained about not having enough time in ports as if it were a surprise. The schedule of the ship stuck to the itinerary exactly. We knew going in that we weren't going to have a ton of shore time. That was fine with us since, as first time cruisers, we were fine with most of our time being onboard. Shore time IS tight on this particular cruise since it starts and ends in Seattle. They have a lot of ocean to cover in a tight time frame. You cruise the Tracy Arm Fjord, and have shore time in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan Alaska as well as Victoria, BC. Shore time was lacking in Ketchikan and Victoria at six hours each, but we still enjoyed all the wonderful towns we visited, some adventurous shore excursions and some casual shopping and dining on shore. If you want a cruise with a maximum amount of time on land, you'd be better off with one of the one-way Alaska cruises. As a first-time cruise experience this was better in every way than we had expected and, like I said, has spoiled us for any other vacation. We would definitely cruise with HAL again and we're busy recommending this cruise to friends and family, really anyone that will listen. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I travelled with my family (daughter, son-in-law and two of my grandchildren). I had no idea what cruise line to choose, having never cruised before. They picked HAL, and said it would be more my style. We booked two VD cabins on the ... Read More
I travelled with my family (daughter, son-in-law and two of my grandchildren). I had no idea what cruise line to choose, having never cruised before. They picked HAL, and said it would be more my style. We booked two VD cabins on the upper promonade deck, but later upgraded to an SY and SB cabin on the upper veranda. Check-in began at noon or 1pm, but we didn't show up until a little after two. We were able to walk right up and check in. We checked out our cabins - I was impressed, and my son-in-law (with the SB cabin) was very impressed. We walked around awhile, and checked out the crows nest, and at 4pm we were on deck as the Oosterdam left Seattle. During the next seven days, I was totally pleased by the cabin, the service, the food, even the weather. As much as it rains in that part of the world, for us the sun shone every day. I've read other reviews by travelers on the same voyage, maybe it's all just luck -- we had a great cabin with no problems, our steward was friendly and attentive, the dining room service was wonderful (maybe just a little slow, but what's time when you're on vacation). I had a massage at the spa, and it was lovely, except for the sales pitch to buy products. We attended some of the shows in the Vista Lounge, they were nice, but not Vegas quality. Still, as I said, they were entertaining. There were not LOTS of kids on board, but enough so that my grandchildren made friends to swim, and play with. They enjoyed Club Hal, for the most part. If I have the opportunity, I will definately sail the Oosterdam again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Cruising is something everyone should do at least once. According to fellow passengers who had been on many, this cruise was above average. We enjoyed it. Contrary to the early reviews, you won't be sorry you did this. Since this ... Read More
Cruising is something everyone should do at least once. According to fellow passengers who had been on many, this cruise was above average. We enjoyed it. Contrary to the early reviews, you won't be sorry you did this. Since this cruise is mostly on the inside passage, you are not likely to get seasick. Getting onboard is easy enough. If you are coming from far away, come the night before and have Holland-American handle your transfer from hotel to ship. They will transfer baggage from hotel to ship. The less carry-on, the easier both at security and when you go on board. Clearing security was painless compared to airline check-ins. After you get onboard, eat lunch and then start at the top of the ship and go down touring the public spaces. I never got myself fully oriented port to starboard and forward to aft, but each stairwell has a good map. YOUR STATEROOM The staterooms are showing wear, but still perfectly pleasant and comfortable. They have adequate storage space and amenities. If you can, get a stateroom on the Port side of the ship-the views are better-at least on this cruise. Avoid the staterooms on deck 4 whose views are obstructed by lifeboats. We were able to get into our stateroom immediately-baggage came about four hours later. We had a stateroom with a balcony. I'm not sure the balcony was necessary but it was pleasant enough to have. The stateroom was good-sized with a sofa, desk, bed and storage space. The bathroom had a small sink and vanity, a good sized medicine cabinet, a toilet and a good shower. Be warned the outlet in the bathroom is low wattage. But those on the desk in the stateroom are normal. The TV gets several ship channels and CNN,, Fox, ESPN and a couple of movie channels-use the remote and go channel up or down. The bathrobes the ship provides are warm enough. There was a good hair dryer. I never looked the minibar. The minisafe worked well. Unless you are being reimbursed by an employer, 75 cents a minute seems excessive for wi-fi. You should wait til you are ashore. This is also true for cell phone service. WHAT TO TAKE The clothing you need depends on you and the time of year. I found a lightweight windbreaker and/or a long sleeve shirt and a pair of chino slacks, one dress shirt, a pair of shorts and some polo shirts. People who chill easily might want a sweatshirt and a medium weight windbreaker. Ponchos are a must. Remember that onboard ship you will spend most of your time in heated or airconditioned spaces. There is a dress code. "Smart Casual" means a a shirt with a collar or a nice polo shirt and slacks or chinos for men. "Formal" means a jacket and shirt with a collar. Many men wear ties. Women can get by with a nice pair of slacks and a top. For most of the time and for all restaurants other than the main dining room, you can wear anything you want. In the Pinacle Room, smart casual is OK for lunch and formal is OK for dinner. FOOD Breakfast can be delivered to your cabin and is adequate. The food in the main dining room is generally very good. They do have misses and some things are better than others. Generally simpler is better. Remember this is mass feeding. If your travel agent can get you a table by the window in the Vista Dining Room, take it. If not, negotiate with the maitre de when you get onboard. Usually he will give you a reserved spot for three nights but that can be extended. The dining room is very good about helping people with allergies, both by recommending specific items and by making items omitting allergens. But you do need to let them know in advance. The very fancy Pinnacle Restaurant has an upcharge but it is worth it. Lunch at $10 is a better value than dinner at $25. The food is superb. There is an Italian restaurant but we never tried it. The buffet on the Lido deck is OK. It is not pretentious either in food or ambiance. This is a bar lovers paradise. You cannot move without finding one. Remember the era of continuous feeding is over. PUBLIC SPACES In general the public rooms are well furnished, well maintained and comfortable. There is a lovely library on the forward port side of the Observation Deck. It has a decent coffee bar nearby. You can borrow books or just relax. Right at the bow on the Observation Deck is the Crows Nest Bar. This has wonderful views and when we were onboard a nice singer. When we were going through Tracy Arm, we camped out there and took turns going for food and drink. We preferred this to going outside where it was cold. The Explorers Lounge is great if you want a quiet place with classical or light pops and comfortable chairs and good windows. The pools are like pools at any hotel. The fitness room had an adequate supply of machines but was always crowded. We never tried the spa. The screening room for movies fills up quickly, so if you want to see the movie be early. But note you can watch the same movie the next day on the TV in your cabin. SERVICE The service was attentive but not intrusive. Our dinner waiter was outstanding. Our cabin stewards kept the cabin immaculate without our being aware of their presence. Although you are charged $11.50 per night per passenger for tips, you should tip waiters and stewards who gave outstanding service with a cash gift at the end of the trip. Your bartender gets a 15% tip billed automatically with your drinks(including sodas, etc.) THE DESTINATIONS Most ports can be visited on foot and without a tour. But if you are mobility or strength limited, take the city bus tour. Our travel agent persuaded us to take an airplane tour of the glaciers out of Juneau. The five glacier tour was wonderful-a not to be missed experience. However, we were lucky because the weather was perfect. They fly in all sorts of weather. So, you may prefer to wait to book this until you are sure of conditions or even wait til you reach port and walk the 100 yards or so to the Wings Air office where you can book the same tour on the day you are in port. Unlike earlier cruises, on our trip the ship got right up to the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm. The experience was fantastic. See above about how to view it. The ship invariably had good docking positions convenient to everything at all ports. In Juneau do not miss the Mt. Roberts tram. And be sure to watch the movie on the Tligit that is shown in the movie theater at the top. The view is spectacular. In Sitka do not miss the Sheldon-Jackson museum. This is a real gem filled with a wonderful collection of Alaskan native artifacts. If coffee is your thing, hit the Highliner Cafe. Ketchikan is mainly a place to pick up whatever souvenirs you didn't already buy. Creek Street is well worth seeing. Nearby is a municipal library and museum that has a nice collection of artifacts from the early days of the city. Remember that many of the trinkets are mass produced. But there are a large number of reasonably priced goods made by Alaskan natives. And their quality is somewhat higher than the mass produced stuff. Victoria was our only disappointment. As had happened on earlier sailings, the ship was about an hour late into port. Since there were only four hours to see things, this limited opportunity. In our case we booked the Bouchard Gardens tour although we knew most of it would be in darkness. However, coming an hour late, we were unable to see much in light and had insufficient time to tour the garden in the artificial light. We had been promised by both the Front Desk staff and the excursions desk staff that our time at Bouchard Gardens would be extended. It wasn't. And unlike earlier sailings, they neither cancelled the tour nor offered us the opportunity to cancel. I would urge people not to book this excursion. We had been to Victoria before, so the loss was less than it might have been. It is a city well worth seeing. A walk around the inner harbor and tea at the Empress Hotel is not to be missed, if possible. The souvenirs are of somewhat better quality than elsewhere. Disembarkation and transportation to the airport were swift and easy. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our first cruise (wife); I was originally going to book on line, but I decided to go with an agent. I booked this tour in early February for a departure of 3 June for 7 days. I read many of the posts on cruise critic to give me ... Read More
This was our first cruise (wife); I was originally going to book on line, but I decided to go with an agent. I booked this tour in early February for a departure of 3 June for 7 days. I read many of the posts on cruise critic to give me an idea what to expect. We are about 50 miles from pier 91, so we drove up and parked in the provided parking lot for a sum of $177.00. This was a good deal when you consider many of the passengers had to fly in from around the country, and some stayed in hotels before the shipped sailed. I received my room assignment one week before departure. I did not get an upgrade or any offer to upgrade. So, we got our assigned room. On the day of departure, it was relative easy going through check in and security. We both carried passports. It took about 15-20 minutes for security and check in. We had to wait over an hour in this large room for our number to be called to get on the ship; we were in group nine. After bordering the ship, we went to our assigned room and put our carryon in the room. My wife luggage was already there. It was about 1330, so we went upstairs to the 9th deck Lido, and we ate in the CANALETTO RESTAURANT and the food was good. After lunch we went back to the room and began touring the ship on our own. I brought 4 cameras with me if you include my cell phone. I had a hand held camcorder, Nikon 9100, and my Nikon 5100 with telephoto lenses; all my cameras are capable of taking still and videos, photography is one of my hobbies. We were assigned to sit at a table of 8, I got that change to a table for two; I could not change my scheduled meal time of 1945, I would have preferred the 1730 time frame, I tried to get this change at the time of booking; I was told it was filled?????? There is a gym on deck 10, my wife loved going there. I preferred the daily and sometime more walks around deck 3. According to the posted sign, 3 times around is a mile; I got plenty of exercise, and with all the good food, I really need the exercise. The shows were ok - good; however, if you wanted to eat at our scheduled time of 1945, you missed many of the shows. Dinner was over around 2100. We ate most of our meal in the LIDO RESTAURANT. We did do formal night and some other days at our assigned table. The meals were always great at this restaurant located on deck at the rear of the ship called the UPPER VISTA DINING ROOM. We ate at open seating on deck 2 called the Lower VISTA DINING ROOM. Again, the food was always GREAT. They have a grill at pool side on deck 9; hamburgers, fries, tacos; it was good. Sunday thru Tuesday we were at sea, Tuesday afternoon we began Cruising Tracy Arm; I had my camera the N5100, and I took some really great pictures. We could not go very far into the narrow passage due to floating ice, but the scenery was beautiful. On Wednesday morning we sailed into Juneau. I was up and walking around deck three with my hand held camcorder taking pictures. We docked and we chose to visit Mendenhall Glacier. It cost my wife and me $8.00 for each of us to go and come back for $32.00, the park is beautiful I took my N9100 and took some really great pictures. We walked around town and shopped. On Thursday am we were getting ready to dock in Sitka. As usual I got my hand camcorder and headed to deck 3 for walking and pictures taking. As I was approaching the back of the boat, I noticed the water and saw a whale water spout. I had spotted my first whale. I wish at this point I had brought along my N5100. It is kind of difficulty taking picture of moving, and diving whales looking through a monitor. I saw a total of 7 whales before I could go and get my other camera. We were anchored, and they began to use the life boats to shuttle us to shore. It caused the whales to move much further out. In Sitka we walked to the raptor center (1.5 miles) and visited some stores before it began to rain. So, we headed back to the ship. On Friday, we visited Ketchikan, and as we sailed into the city I took the opportunity to take some pictures using my camcorder. We docked, and we only shopped. We had to be back on the ship at 1230. Late Saturday around 1900, we docked in Victoria. The city provided free bus service to downtown. We had been to Victoria before, so, we just visited a few shops and headed back to the ship. It was rather windy that day. On Sunday at around 0600, we rolled into Seattle, Disembarking was easy since days prior we had elected to use the expedite option. We kept our luggage and we were probably among the first 50 cruisers to depart the ship. As a first time cruiser, we both enjoyed this adventure; our next cruise will be a warm weather (Caribbean). We did over pack. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
After reading so many negative reviews on this ship, we almost didn't book it, but at the last minute decided to give it a shot. We flew into Seattle the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn across from the airport. The next ... Read More
After reading so many negative reviews on this ship, we almost didn't book it, but at the last minute decided to give it a shot. We flew into Seattle the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn across from the airport. The next morning we paid a towncar service to take us to Pier 91. Once there, we were met by a fast and efficient (and friendly) staff that got us thru the check-in process and onboard and up to our room, where our luggage was waiting. Our room was very nice; king-sized bed, table, chair, loveseat, desk, tv,etc., and clean, as was the bathroom. We threw our carryon luggage down and went upstairs to the Lido Restaurant. No lines, and no waiting on a table. We had tons of different foods to choose from and made pigs of ourselves. (after all, isn't that what cruises are all about?) :) We enjoyed the Lido so much, that we ate most of our meals there. We did make reservations for the Vista dining room twice and enjoyed that as well. The Lido served much of the same foods that the dining room did, plus more. It was easy to keep going back and get more of what you really loved or try something else('til you were stuffed to the gill!) We also ordered room service breakfast every morning but one. They made this a VERY easy process-they put a menu card in your mailbox (outside of your door) and you just check off what you want and hang it on your doorknob. The next morning, at your picked out time frame, there it is! I think this was my favorite part of the cruise!!:) Our breakfasts were always on time and always hot. We had a great time touring the ship and ducking into the lounges to see what was going on and maybe staying and participating or not. The shows were very entertaining (Joel Mason was SOOOOOOO FUNNY!!!!), as was our Cruise Director. Between the both of them, we did alot of laughing! We enjoyed our days at port. At Juneau, we went to the Mendenhall Glacier, and did some shopping. At Sitka, we went out on our own to the totem pole forest and the raptor center. The forest was absolutely beautiful and the raptor center was very interesting and well worth the walk. At Ketchican, we stayed around the port area browsing and sightseeing. And at Victoria, it was cold and windy, so we did some shopping and went back to the ship. During our time on the ship we also spotted many whales, eagles, and one bear. That was very exciting! We also went to the casino a few times, and won some money! The Crow's Nest was one of our favorite spots to sit and have a drink, there seemed to be someone playing a guitar and singing relaxing songs every time we went. And the view from the Crows Nest was AWESOME! So, to all you naysayers out there, we are SOOO glad that we didn't turn down this cruise because of the negative remarks a few of you had. This was the trip of a lifetime for us and we definitely would recommend it to any and everyone! We hope to someday go again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Ok so this was my first cruise in recent history. I was looking forward to visiting Alaska but my experience on the Oosterdam really left a lot to be desired. First of all the food. I ate in the buffett mostly but the two times I ate in ... Read More
Ok so this was my first cruise in recent history. I was looking forward to visiting Alaska but my experience on the Oosterdam really left a lot to be desired. First of all the food. I ate in the buffett mostly but the two times I ate in the restaraunt, the food was basically all the same as the buffett. By day three I was bored with the menu. Each day it was salmon, chicken pork and very rare beef. The salad bar one day had two types of lettuce. On day one there was sliced cucumbers. On day two there were tomatoes. On day three there was celery. The sauce changed daily but the basic items were always the same. Eating in the restaraunt wasn't a whole lot better as both nites the steak came totally rare when asking for it medium. Got to the point that I ordered it well done in hopes it might not be too bloody for me. I just found that the dining was a big downfall. Even though I know HAL has tried very hard to change the image from their older more sedate clientele I felt this cruise represented a way older crowd than I anticipated. The late shows were sparsely attended. I realize it was the first cruise of the season and that presented some issues. First the day to Tracy Arm we didn't go very far and never saw the glacier that was supposed to 'like Glacier Bay'. Ports of call in Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan were all good however Ketchikan was only from 8 am till 12:30 and last port in Victoria we didn't arrive till 8 pm or so. The emphasis on shopping and visiting jewlery stores was a real turn off. Instead of handing us a port map and showing where the attractions are their 'shopping ambassador' met you and gave you a map of the jewlery stores. That I felt was a total turnoff. I did enjoy the staff but I think I'd like to experience a new ship with more dining choices. I know some people just love cruises but I met several on this cruise that were less than impressed. I know it wasn't the norm but this was a dissapointment for me. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
There is a reason I don't drink alcohol, I don't like the hangover the next day. If there is a reason I don't like cruising, it is because the feeling I had after leaving the ship. I drove home after the cruise and was ... Read More
There is a reason I don't drink alcohol, I don't like the hangover the next day. If there is a reason I don't like cruising, it is because the feeling I had after leaving the ship. I drove home after the cruise and was struck by the rudeness of other drivers on the road. Where was the politeness that I experienced for a week? I'm just glad I didn't have to deal with airport TSA. When I got home and unpacked, I noticed the bed had laid unmade all this time. Where was housekeeping to keep things tidy and fresh? Then my stomach started to grumble. Where was the Lido deck? Where was I to get gourmet food at this time of day? Daily life is full of indifference and angry people, it is a shock to the system after being on a ship where the people are dedicated to your comfort and anticipating your needs. The crew on the Oosterdam are wonderful. The Asians working the housekeeping and food service are happy and bring joy to their job. To me this was the best part of the cruise experience. The Ooosterdam is a beautiful ship. Lots of detail to delight the eye. There is art on display, there are flowers and plants everywhere. There are plenty of windows, all clean, to enjoy the passing scenery. And clean. They have this army of people who do nothing but clean all day. I thought Disneyland was clean, but this is a higher level. The stateroom was almost too nice. I could have stayed there the whole time and enjoyed room service, and felt I got my money's worth. The bed and linens were as good as anywhere I have stayed. The layout was such that I didn't feel cramped. And the nightly turn down made me feel special. I have gone hungry in my past, so food can be pretty important to me. And it seems to be pretty important to HollandAmerica, too. There was so much food it was coming out of my..., well there was a lot of it. Seven types of eggs benedict! So much variety. Some of it was great and some not so great. I didn't like the BBQ, but my partner loved it. Seems as if you didn't find something good, you weren't looking. One other comment about the food, was the way it was prepared. Very little fried food. There was only the grill by the pool to get french fries and hamburgers. So, it was easy to eat healthy. I couldn't understand why a mother got her child a hotdog for lunch, when there were so many other choices a few steps away. BTW, the vegetables all were good or better. I have had problems with traveler's stomach in the past. So I took the tour of the kitchen. So as the chef explained how many pounds of food and how things were prepared, I was busy looking under sinks, into door hinges and up into light fixtures. I was looking for grime or dirt. The kitchen was by far the cleanest I have ever inspected. There was a lot of emphasis on shopping, but there were plenty of low cost gifts and luxuries to choose from. One thing I noticed on-board were $10 wristwatches. What a deal! I also must mention the shopping in Alaska. I thought everything would be expensive there. It wasn't (they must be closer to China). I bought, for a friend's daughter, an "Alaskan black diamond" necklace for $1.99 ($0.99 with coupon) and vial of gold flakes in liquid for $2.99. She was delighted to have a gift of "diamonds" and gold, and her parent was happy I spent less than $4. My fellow travelers were not all old people as I was lead to believe. There were plenty of people of every age. The children, few in number, were all well mannered. The nightlife seemed OK, but I don't know. I was in bed before 9pm each night. One night I stayed up for the comedian, who was a "Maineiac" and watched the movie "War Horse", both good entertainment. There were enough activities and exploring to do that I was exhausted by the end of the day, and I was anxious to start each day anew. But there were some complaints: First, why did I have to wait a half hour on embarkation for my picture to be taken? I didn't want it. Second was the toilet situation. A minor inconvenience that was always fixed promptly, but still... And the television. I can understand not getting satellite reception at sea, but how come half the time there was no reception there still was FOX News? What? Are you trying to torture me? Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
So, my sister and I wanted to surprise our husbands with a first cruise and the destination was Alaska. We chose HAL because so many reviews stated that this was a top notch cruise line with attention to superb detail. First off, the ship ... Read More
So, my sister and I wanted to surprise our husbands with a first cruise and the destination was Alaska. We chose HAL because so many reviews stated that this was a top notch cruise line with attention to superb detail. First off, the ship is so run down that it wasn't very impressive. The red leather chairs in the Vista Lounge are so dirty that the chair arms are no longer red but gray with dirt!!! The carpeting thru out the ship is a disgrace; chairs in our room were all stained. The first 2 days on ship the staff served the food for hygenic reasons thereby making for extremely long lines in the Lido buffet. There were lines everywhere on the ship! We couldn't ever make reservations for any of the restaurants because they were already all reserved. My sister had the room next to me which was a Superior Suite; she was supposed to get all these upgrades and be treated extra special for the room category; well, nada zip zilch! she didn't get anything different than me. After watching so many different movies over the years, I had a vision of being treated like a queen in a large stateroom and wearing beautiful clothes and having great dinners. So if I didn't have that impression, the cruise probably would have been fine. However, service was truly mediocre, food was so so, room was small and not very clean. I know without a doubt we won't be on HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
First of all, I should mention that I was raised and have had a lifetime of employment in the hospitality industry. A 5-star facility in fact, so my 'critical eye' is probably a bit more precise and picky than the average guest. ... Read More
First of all, I should mention that I was raised and have had a lifetime of employment in the hospitality industry. A 5-star facility in fact, so my 'critical eye' is probably a bit more precise and picky than the average guest. With that being said, this was our first cruise, EVER! We were so excited and after a couple of years or planning our Alaska trip, we decided to go with HAL over NCL & Princess. Mainly for the 'Quality of Excellence' they were promoting and looking at the dvd's & brochures. I studied the reviews regularly, and yes, there were a few terrible reviews, but there were equally as many excellent ones. So basically I threw them out, but made mental notes of each. One good would cancel out the bad, etc. Trying to compare apples to apples with all cruise lines, generally, the HAL reviews seemed consistently above average overall, with the exception of a frequent observation of the worn areas (corners, furniture, robes, tiles, carpet, dated colors, chipped plates & glasses, etc.) of the ship. I thought we could get by that, and we did, knowing the Oosterdam was scheduled for dry dock shortly after our cruise. It definitely needs an overhaul. The part that disappointed and offended me immediately was the attitude from the crew we experienced right from the start. From then on, it was an immediate daily downhill experience. For starters, embarkation was a nightmare. Long waits and the long lines were just the beginning of daily longs lines over the next week. Reading many CC reviews, we tried to get into the dining room instead of the Lido once on board because of the long buffet lines. We were refused and said it was only for returning passengers. Not a good start. After waiting in a long line, we couldn't find any seats available. Another negative. Finally there was an announcement made that all rooms were ready. Excited for a rest and hopefully a nice room, we fought the crowds to our room. Yet ANOTHER huge disappointment! It was filthy! Hair on bathroom floor, around sink, toilet & in tub! Gross! Carpet was stained and dirty, but worst of all, on main desk area, where there was a welcome packet, there were glass rings and sticky jelly and food stains. There was a think pattern of dirt/dust around the mirror and edge of the brochures, so after picking up my purse, yes, stains of old food now on it....I went to the bathroom to get a washcloth to wash off the desk. It was gross. While doing so, the dirt was so bad that I decided to wipe around the literature after removing it to do so. Well, I found a bunch of pocket change in the corner under the pamphlets left from previous guests! So at that point I stopped cleaning, took pics and immediately called the front desk, who finally sent the room steward up. I pointed out the filth, dirt, coins and said how disappointed we were in the cleanliness. He apologized and said it was his 'assistant' who had cleaned the room and that they didn't have enough time to turn over the cabin from the earlier departing guests of that day. And then added that the folks in our cabin before us had two small children and a baby and they were very messy, with cookies, crackers and crumbs everywhere, including the bed! I was starting to freak! He agreed to reclean it so we left. When we came back, the obvious dirt I had pointed out had been removed, however, the room stunk like a cheap hotel. The pillows also smelled terribly. Not the quality they had advertised. From that point on my optimistic attitude changed. We were literally looking for something positive on this ship. The first two days the weather was rough, many of the passengers were sick. The lines were very long EVERYWHERE! Passengers were all grumbling. By the 3rd day, there was a letter and an announcement that a flu virus was going around, and to stay in cabins if sick. Luckily, we didn't get sick, however, many folks were. Hand sanitizing was full on! However, since the buffets were being served, (not self serve) it made for more long lines! Not ONCE a dining pleasure at the Lido. The taco bar was never open once during the trip. The Terrace grill was only open the 2nd half of the trip, and of course, long, long lines. We did make it to the Pinnacle one night. Not worth the $25 upgrade (increased from $20 after we booked the trip). The food was good, but not any better than the dining room. Unfortunately, we couldn't get back in again as it was booked all week. We did eat in the dining room a few times that we could get a reservation. We had anytime seating but found out that was a bad choice as there was never any room without a reservation. We we had to eat in the Lido or get room service. We had some type of room service daily. Not once was it right, either on time or food selection. It became a joke towards the end of the week, wondering what we'd get an when. Food in the dining room I would have to say was exceptional. Excellent presentation, portions, flavor! WOW! A 5+ rating, however, the service, very lacking. Again, the attitude that we were inconveniencing THEM. Cold, resentful types, especially if you didn't order alcohol. Which, by the way we did regularly, but as soon as you said no, they lost their fake smiles. We made it to a couple of shows, lame, but the biggest complaint was the seating. No room. We either had to stand or go up to the balcony in the back for a seat. Noticed that no one was ever in the lounge with the band. Did some trivia and game show deals, but seating once again a problem. Made it to the casino a few times. We play alot in Vegas & Reno, and noticed the same slots we played in casinos were poor paybacks, so we stuck to the tables. Held our $$ together, but the dealers were mentally 'elsewhere'. We tried talking to them, but some of them had a convenient english problem. They seemed to speak amongst themselves frequently. Again, the guy getting drinks was friendly, until you turned him down. Started out going to the the first day at sea. I was there at 6:00 a.m., YES, that early, and only one treadmill available. There was a 30 minute limit, I wanted to run/work out for an hour. Not allowed. Maybe it was packed because it was raining so no one was outside?? Or maybe it was packed because EVERYTHING on this ship was crowded and jammed! Tried to get in a few more times, no luck, after that quit going. I had a whole week of work outs planned that never happened. Therefore, the first class gym and equipment get a ZERO rating since I could never get on it!! Finally, disembarkation was just as disappointing as embarkation, if not more! We were told to wait in our rooms until our 'color group' was called. The announcement from the cruise director, Dave, was to not arrive ONE MINUTE prior to our scheduled time. That would've been fine, except the room stewards came an and basically kicked us out! They started ripping up the bed and pulling towels, and we weren't even out of there! They didn't speak, weren't friendly, NOTHING! It was a joke. I asked if we could have a couple of minutes and then we'd vacate, but no response. We decided to go and wait in the lounge but of course there were no seats! Finally, when we got off the ship, we had to wait yet again for our luggage and a bus. And here was the FINAL straw.....after waiting on the bus for our driver to depart. He walked on the bus, and with broken english, out of breath and holding a handkerchief to his head, made an announcement that "There is NO ONE in this town that worked harder than him, the over worked bus driver, loading and unloading all of our HEAVY luggage, all by himself, and that if we appreciated him we would TIP him!!!" I am NOT KIDDING! Everyone on the buss was shocked and we all looked around at each other. Did that guy actually just say that? My husband actually commented stating that he must have a pair of 'brass ones' to blatantly state that. With the bus drivers theatrical performance, I decided that the tip he WAS getting was now a suggestion....GET ANOTHER JOB! Finally, with all that being said, I am not sure if we'll ever do another cruise again. We were told by other passengers that Princess had more people, therefore, more lines. However, we were also told by others that Princess was better organized, cleaner and the crew were much more pleasant. Throughout this trip, both an NCL ship and a Princess ship stopped in the same ports as we did. HAL promotes their quality, service and attention to detail as above all others. I did not find this at all. If anything, it is over rated, over priced and the crew is over worked. At best, it was a mediocre hotel room with a view. I do not recommend HAL unless your expectations are not too high. If you are looking for cleanliness, attention to detail and quality service, look elsewhere! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I with my wife and friends traveled to Seattle to cruise on the Holland America Line Oosterdam, as first time cruisers I was really looking to get going on our voyage to Alaska. The ship looked very impressive and after finally getting on ... Read More
I with my wife and friends traveled to Seattle to cruise on the Holland America Line Oosterdam, as first time cruisers I was really looking to get going on our voyage to Alaska. The ship looked very impressive and after finally getting on board we checked out our cabin; I expected it to be really cramped but I was surprised how nice it was, my wife was not so impressed. We were next door to our friends so me met on our adjoining buy separated verandas. The problems presented themselves after realising that there was so real service in the dining room it was a buffet style lunch but after getting our food which was excellent we had to get on another line to get our drinks, 8 ounce glasses of juice or ice tea,leaving or food cold and unprotected.This continued for every meal at the casual dining room. The main dining room was excellent but the the formal meals were with the king crab, lobster and fillet mignon were when we were at open seas, the shipped tossed around that pretty good so if you were prone to sea sickness your substitute meal was green apples and tea if the ship served the fancier meals when they were in more protected waters it would have been much calm seas to sail in and more passengers would have enjoyed the king crab, lobster, and fillet mignon, maybe I just answered my own question. I would also explain that every morning I, we, awoken by crew members dragging and then slamming the deck furniture together at 5;30am every morning the front desk said that they would investigate and correct this problem, the told me that everyday, very polite but very unprofessional They gave us $100 for ruining our sleep every morning. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was our very first cruise. Went to Alaska in September on the last cruise of the season. While the weather was cold and rainy, and seas were very stormy, we still enjoyed every minute of this trip. We chose HAL based on comments ... Read More
This was our very first cruise. Went to Alaska in September on the last cruise of the season. While the weather was cold and rainy, and seas were very stormy, we still enjoyed every minute of this trip. We chose HAL based on comments here on CC regarding their service and food and we were not disappointed. I wanted to clarify one subject. Previous posters have said the ship is worn out and run down. I have to disagree. This ship is NOT run down. Everything seems to be in good condition and extremely clean. Since the ship is exposed to the sea air and it serves almost 2,000 passengers per day, naturally, the ship will have some scratches, dents, and stains. But overall, this ship was excellent. Employees can be seen constantly cleaning and maintaining the ship. Embarkation / Disembarkation - sailed out of Seattle. All of the port personnel were very helpful and friendly. Check-in was a breeze and we were on the ship within a half hour. Once on the ship, our room was ready. Dropped off our carry on bags and ate at the Lido Buffet. We then toured the entire ship by ourselves. Luggage was on our bed well before the lifeboat drill. Disembarkation was even simpler. It was very quick and ahead of schedule. Room - we had an outside cabin with a partially obstructed view near the lifeboats. This was fine for us. There was still enough view to see the ocean and the weather each morning. The cabin was slightly larger than expected. Very clean and comfortable. Our steward always had our cabin cleaned while we were out. Room seemed very quiet. No problems with noise. Food - we were very pleased with the quality of food. Lido - good variety of food. Desserts were good, as well as a lot of salads and fruits. We also enjoyed their late night snacks that had a theme each night (Indonesian, Victorian, Chinese, etc.). There was pizza too. Lido can get crowded, but lines were never long and we were always able to find seats. Ship was at capacity so we expected long waits. MDR - excellent. We had open seating. Tried to go early since we wanted a table for 2. While it was busy, it was never packed to capacity and noticed most guests did not have long waits. We enjoyed the elegant MDR. Pinnacle Grill - ate here twice. Food and service were excellent. You must try this at least once. Steaks were excellent. Only negative was that I made one reservation for a non-formal night, but apparently it was a formal night. I was dressed in dress slacks, long sleeve dress shirt, and a tie. But upon checking in, was told a jacket was required. But the host said no problem and grabbed a jacket and seated us. He just draped the jacket on my chair and said that I didn't need to wear it. Thought that was a very nice classy touch. Saw other men with polo or dress shirts and they too had to 'carry' the house jacket and place it on their chair. While I respect those who want to dress formally, it doesn't make sense to require jackets when you are on vacation and with all the baggage fees nowadays. From what I saw, around 70% were in suits, while the rest were in acceptable country club attire. Did not see anyone in shorts, workout clothes, or swimsuits. Canaletto - another good restaraunt. Again, good food and service. We enjoyed this change of pace. Just remember to make reservations since it is fairly small. Terrace Grill - hamburgers, hot dogs, and tacos were available next to pool. These were very good to enjoy for lunch. Also, one night there was a 'dessert extrvaganza' which was very nice. Activities / Entertainment - we tried to attend all of the shows. While others have commented that these were not as good as Las Vegas, we enjoyed all the music, dancers, and magic/comedy. Thought that they did a great job. Also checked out the live disco band and game show in the Queen's lounge. A lot of fun. We also signed up for many activities such as cooking demos, bingo, computer classes, and wellness classes. Very well organized. My only complaint here is that the computer classes fill up quickly and is held in a very small area. Also, the instructor allowed the overflow crowd into one of the classes, but he did not allow questions from any of the overflow folks. He said that it would slow him down. Made use of the casino and fitness center which were both enjoyable. Also, checked out the gift shop and their sales near the pool. Not sure if this is because of the end of season or if they always have these sales? But we got some really good deals on shirts, jackets, and sweatshirts. The ship generally had an older crowd, but there were many 'younger' folks (30s, 40s, 50s). Everyone seemed to have fun but it was not a party ship full of young drunks. That was perfect for us. Tours - did not take any tours. We just walked around the city and shopped. Probably worked out since one port was cancelled and the entire schedule was changed due to the storms at sea. Enjoyed Ketchikan since there is a lot to see in very close proximity to the pier. Victoria is a very nice city. You need to catch a bus ($7 all day pass) to get to the middle of the city which is worth it. You can walk, but it might be a slightly long walk. Service - this is where HAL gets a 5+ from us. Every employee was very pleasant and helpful. No one was ever rude and all of the employees seemed very happy. We were told this was the strong point of HAL and we have to agree. Service was awesome! I must say a big thank you to our MDR servers (ASEP and YUDI both from Indonesia) and our LIDO server (NICKY from Indonesia). I wish I had asked for their email addresses to keep in tough. They treated us like family. All of them remembered our names and remembered what we needed with our food and drinks. Hope we run into them again sometime. We are so happy that we chose HAL and its Oosterdam. Although we have nothing to compare to since it was our first cruise, this was a dream trip for us that we will never forget. I highly recommend this cruise and line. We will return!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was a first time cruise for my husband and myself. I had no idea what to expect so I truly was overwhelmed at all that was offered through Holland America Lines. From the moment we left Seattle on July 3rd until we departed the ship ... Read More
This was a first time cruise for my husband and myself. I had no idea what to expect so I truly was overwhelmed at all that was offered through Holland America Lines. From the moment we left Seattle on July 3rd until we departed the ship on July 10th, we were impressed. One of the things I was most impressed with, and what I was most anxious about, was making connections, missing one or whatever. Our travel agent must have thought I was nuts as I kept stressing over details. But, every connection was met with ease and we had no problems at all. Holland has people moving down to a science I think. I just read a review from someone who obviously was on the same cruise and was a bit disappointed. Too bad, I thought everything was handled well,the food outstanding,the entertainment, superb and the 800 staff members, FANTASTIC! The only disappointment I had was that I couldn't get into the Pinnacle Grill for the Le Cirque dinner. I was on the "waiting to be called in case of a cancellation" list. That call did not come. Heavy Sigh! Oh well! Next time.....There are worse things to stress about. My heart goes out to the family who lost their loved one on Saturday morning in the wee early hours. So sorry for their loss. Anyway, old ship (??) or not, I loved my experience on the Oosterdam and would book on it in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
I'm going to attempt to give a comprehensive review providing the details I was not able to find before our cruise. We sailed on the Oosterdam from July 17- July 24. We booked our cruise three weeks before sailing, and got a great ... Read More
I'm going to attempt to give a comprehensive review providing the details I was not able to find before our cruise. We sailed on the Oosterdam from July 17- July 24. We booked our cruise three weeks before sailing, and got a great deal. We were supposed to have an HH stateroom (lifeboat obstructed view) but pleaded with our travel agent to see if we could change. The ship was full, no such luck... until 2 days before sailing- she got us a verandah room! (I saw no benefit to a travel agent until this point, at which I was VERY happy! I firmly believe w/o this connection we would not have been upgraded) Seattle/Embarkation: We stayed in Seattle for 2 nights prior to the cruise at the Sheraton Seattle-very nice hotel. If you stay in Seattle on either end of your cruise, do NOT take the 'Downtown Airporter' shuttle. It advertises as $10 less than a taxi ride. (The Link is a deal at $2.50 but we arrived at 11:30 pm and had to walk downtown w/luggage- no thanks.) We waited for an HOUR before boarding our shuttle, our driver got lost (!) and thankfully I had a map, we directed him ourselves! For $10 more, the taxi would have been much better. (I called and got a full refund) We loved downtown, highly recommend the Duck Tour, Underground Tour, visit to the Pike Place Market. The Seattle Aquarium was way too crowded on a Saturday- very nice place but go on a weekday if possible. You can bring fruit on board; we bough fresh fruit at the market and put it in our stateroom minibar fridge. We arrived around 1:45 to embark, it was crowded but orderly. I think cruise info says you can arrive at 1, but we later learned you can come as early as 11. I doubt you can access your room that early, but you can have meals and tour the ship (many organized tours of places you'd otherwise not see behind the scenes if that interests you). They deliver the baggage to your room for you so arriving early wouldn't be a hassle, just keep the things with you that you might need. We took a taxi there (not sure of the price) but the convenience was worth it- dropped off right at the terminal. Don't take the bus there, it is a very long walk.Stateroom: No complaints. Here's a tip- we were port-side. I think this is the better side for this trip. We faced the port town in each call except Seattle (no big deal there.) We were on the side that lingered longer at the glaciers and faced them on the way in (on the way back, it is dinner time so you could just sit at the restaurant on the best side). Yes, the captain turns the boat around, but he spent nearly the entire time port side, maybe only 20 minutes starboard side before leaving Marjorie Glacier. For this reason alone, I would also recommend upgrading to a balcony room. The weather was gorgeous and we sat on our balcony the entire time at Glacier Bay. On the way back to Seattle, we faced the coast. Our particular room was right by the elevators. Our steward was wonderful, though we only met him once- our room always looked great. We are folks who like to sleep in, and if we placed the 'service please' sign outside our room, it was cleaned RIGHT away. There was wear and tear in the room but I'll address that later.Open or Assigned Seating: Unbeknownst to us, we were signed up for an assigned seat and time for dinner. At first we were upset, as we received a table by ourselves and looked forward to meeting people. But I have changed my tune and here is why: the lower level of Vista is open seating, and is available for all three meals. The upper level is only available at dinner and is assigned seating. We ate lunch in the lower level one time. The waiters down there had much poorer English and seemed confused by our ordering. That never happened, ever, upstairs. My theory is this: the best waiters are upstairs b/c they see the same people each day and develop a deeper relationship w/passengers. Our steward, Ajibon, was so great, as were the others that assisted him. The head waiter checked on us nightly. You have a better view of the mid-area platform for the crew night of dancing and singing. We had the 7:45 time and it was great. We sometimes arrived late, and they accommodated us, but they close the doors upstairs at 8, so you know. We would just walk right up to our table, with no hassle, each night.Dining/Food: I don't know what people are talking about when they complain about the food on this ship. I am a foodie, and I was so pleased. The only meal I was not very pleased with was the salmon on the first night; it was good, just nothing spectacular-I just think it is that dish's preparation. We had it all: salmon, lobster, crab, veal, lamb, beef, chicken, duck, (among many other options we did not choose.) So good! Every night I chose the chilled soup (various kinds) as part of my meal- delicious! The lamb, particularly, was wonderful. Each dish was presented nicely. We ate in the dining room every night except once in Pinnacle Grill. Pinnacle is totally worth the money, we loved it. It felt like a date night in the middle of an already relaxing vacation. I would advise dressing very nicely, as it seemed a totally different clientele in this restaurant- I suspect some people choose to dine here nightly just for the classy ambiance. I had no problems with food served cold or improperly heated plates, as mentioned in other reviews. We hardly ate in the Lido room. Their breakfast has many options, which were good. We had lunch in there a few times, always pizza; also good. We never tried Canaletto because I was so happy with our steward and the food at Vista. On room service: we utilized room service breakfast every day but 2. They were very good about delivering it on time. If I left a note about a tight time for a shore excursion, or to include something not on the breakfast menu, they accommodated us. We ordered room service the night before we sailed into Victoria. We were packing and I envisioned chaos in the dining rooms as everyone perhaps wanted to eat before leaving for Victoria. Not sure if that happened, but it was so nice to have dinner in our room and calmly pack before our last shore excursion. I also recommend breakfast in the room the day of disembarkation. No hectic lines for me.Bars/Beverages: The drinks on the ship are neither under- or over-priced. But boy, are they good! I loved trying the cocktails, and they were made to perfection. We loved the Ocean bar, it was mellow, never crowded, and had great seats- not too flashy, as some bars on the ship can be. One tip, though I don't know why- when we had drinks at the Ocean bar, we had appetizers brought to us as well- and they were good! Spanikopita, mixed nuts, and several other delicious items. I came to expect this, but in other bars, it did not happen. ?? Perhaps it is the time of day? We did not ever make it to happy hour- from 4-5 daily- because we were always napping then!! :) But we would go early for a drink before dinner, and loved this daily ritual. If you are a coffee person, the prices on the ship are great compared to any place on land- between $1-3. We did drink the soda in our room fridge, and it was never restocked- though if I had asked, I am sure it would have been.Entertainment: Okay, lots of people have complained about the singers/dancers. Yes, do not expect top-of-the-line shows. But, we went every night except the comedian. The poor singers and dancers are constricted by cheesy synthesizer tracks and overdone costumes and wigs. I am sure they are more talented than the shows allow. The singers were pretty good, but they had big cheese factor- esp. the main girl and her solo ballads. That said, if you are going to attend one of their three performances, go to 'Garage Band', midweek. It was way better than the other ones! I am sure many don't see it, as they assess earlier in the week that it isn't so great. But it was lively, well done, and fit generationally better w/the ages of the performers while retaining mass appeal. Less cheesy, more captivating. The magician was good, but not as good as people have raved. He was VERY funny though- I enjoyed the laughs more than the tricks. The Indonesian crew show on the last full day is very endearing but a little rough around the edges. By that time, though, you love the staff so much it's okay. But you could miss the show without missing much. Meanwhile, the musicians performing around the ship are very, very talented. In that regard, the entertainment exceeded my expectations.Ship condition: Many people talk about how worn the ship appears. It's not so bad in most places. But I do have a comment for any HAL employees who might read these reviews. It is perfectly understandable to have wear and tear on permanently fixed items such as bathroom floors, tables, walls, etc. However, the wear and tear that was very visible on easily replaceable items was unacceptable: fraying bath robes, stained shower curtains, worn menus, faded chair cushions on balconies and decks... these items should be kept updated, as these little things communicate the quality of the entire ship, and are visibly worn out. But, it really did not affect the overall experience. Many places had no wear at all. People who get so upset about these things are not looking outside enough- such beauty, or are noticing the incredible service. The quality of service more than makes up for the wear, and the ship heads to dry dock in 3 months.Glacier Bay: Wow. I am amazed. What a day. Bring your binoculars!Ports of Call/Shore excursions: I was never let down with the HAL excursions we booked! I am including port information in the port review section.Weather: We lucked out and had sunny weather every day but in Ketchikan and our day at sea. I would pack the gamut as I needed every article of clothing. There are fleece blankets in your room and I hear, blankets provided outside. We used these outside at Glacier Bay. Just in that one day, we went from all hats/gloves/sweaters/coats/blankets to my husband sitting in shorts with his shirt off! The sun makes a HUGE difference. Even when you go out in the ports, pack a few things to take on/off. You'll need it. We didn't have a problem with mosquitos but better to be safe than sorry.Photo package: It is pricey- $199 for 5 sheets (five of each: 8x10, 5x7, ten wallets each) and digital files. I say, pose for the many pictures they offer and then see what you get. We got outstanding photos and bought the package just because we are not often happy with formal pictures (me especially) But, if HAL fully digitized their photos so that they are not printing them all- and throwing MANY away at the end of the cruise, the cost would go way down, the labor would go way down, and it would be a much 'greener' endeavor. It's crazy to think just of our own photos that we did not take- easily about 30. Multiply the entire ship- what a waste of paper and ink, HAL. And of course that cost is passed onto us with such a hefty photo package price.Spa: We did not partake but I would do the thermal room/whirlpool option next time around. It is $199 per couple for the entire cruise- about $14 per person per day. It is a blissful adults only retreat. The Lido pool is enclosed and DOMINATED by children- don't imagine you'll get in the hot tub unless it is a really odd hour. The Aft pool is exposed and I don't know if anyone went there in Alaska. The spa package guarantees that you can have that hot tub blissful experience whenever you want- 8am-10pm. I really wanted it but then my husband bought me jewelry in Juneau, so there you have it! :) Maybe next time. Disembarkation: You are given a 15 min. window to disembark. It was so easy- we were completely done in 20 min. The crowds in the terminal are crazy, but move quickly. We had a prepaid transfer, and it was super duper easy. We walked out of the terminal, told a HAL employee which airline we were flying, and we walked to the corresponding coach. A pleasant surprise: commentary from the bus driver/tour guide the whole way to the airport. The quick boarding and commentary made it more than worth the price, which I think is less expensive than a taxi ride. Very seamless and highly recommended.Why HAL?: I've never cruised before, so I can't really remark. But we never had to wait in lines deeper than a few people, with the exception of getting on and off the ship in ports of call- no surprise. There were open seats everywhere. We never had to wait to be seated in any restaurant. We received service every time we asked for it. We were kept well informed. The food was wonderful. The ports did not disappoint. The excursions were outstanding. Once the Oosterdam is refurbished, nothing will detract.On a much sadder sidenote: A cruise passenger went missing on our cruise, between Sitka and Ketchikan. A 20-year-old, Blake Kepley, was traveling with extended family for a matriarch's 80th birthday (or something like that) and disappeared in the early morning hours. We were kept abreast of the situation with periodic updates from the captain. Sadly, I do not think this situation has a happy ending- as of writing this review, the Coast Guard has called off the search and he has not been found. But- we were able to witness the security procedures of the ship- we saw many employees conducting the search on board, and we also were well-informed by the staff. Many on board were talking about it, and the overall tone was one of worry. The ship did a good job maintaining 'business as usual' while appearing very respectful and concerned for the family. We are not privy to further details, and cannot comment on the overall responsiveness as info was rightfully kept minimal. But, with what we did observe, they seemed very responsive and respectful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
My parents (ages 64 and 58) and I (age 28) were first-time cruisers on the Oosterdam to Alaska in May 2011. We booked the Oosterdam because of the Glacier Bay itinerary and because HAL was running a "third person free" promotion ... Read More
My parents (ages 64 and 58) and I (age 28) were first-time cruisers on the Oosterdam to Alaska in May 2011. We booked the Oosterdam because of the Glacier Bay itinerary and because HAL was running a "third person free" promotion that made it cheaper to book on HAL than on other cruise lines. We had an amazing time on the ship and in Alaska and would do it again in a heartbeat! Ship - I was a little apprehensive because I had read some posts on CC that the Oosterdam was looking outdated and worn, and because the Oosterdam interior pictures on HAL's website always struck me as gaudy with all the metallic finishes and Art Deco styling. However, in reality the Oosterdam is in terrific shape, and looks completely classy throughout. I didn't notice anything worn about the ship. It was very easy to get around and the ship is large enough that we never felt crowded and there were always relatively empty public spaces. Food - the food was uniformly excellent. We had breakfast in the Lido every day and lunch/dinner in the Vista MDR most days (and in the Lido a few times). We took full advantage of being able to order as much as we wanted in the MDR and never went hungry during the cruise. Sure, the MDR food wasn't perfect, but I thought it was comparable to decent restaurant food and was great value considering it was included in the cruise fare. We never felt the need to eat at the Pinnacle Grill given how good the Lido and MDR were. We did want to try eating at Cannaletto, but it was impossible to get reservations at a reasonable time, so we ended up not going. Service was excellent everywhere. Activities - entertainment was very good. We went to all the main evening shows and thought the comedian/magician, Leo Ward, was spectacular. I thought the resident dancers/singers were also good and their shows were of high production quality - not Broadway quality, of course, but still good considering they are based on a cruise ship! We also went to the "Liars Game" and "Marriage Game" shows in the Queen's Lounge, both of which were extremely funny. The only issue is that Leo Ward's humor definitely has an edge to it and I am not sure it is completely appropriate for children, but otherwise he is not to be missed. Cabin - we originally booked an oceanview cabin but were offered a paid upgrade to a very good balcony cabin for $198 total, which we took. The room was very nice but I am not sure we needed a balcony considering we spent most of our time in the public areas, even on Glacier Bay day (because the views were nicer and it was just more fun to be watching with other folks on the public decks). In retrospect, I think an oceanview cabin or even an inside would have been just fine. Itinerary - Glacier Bay was spectacular. We saw the Marjorie Glacier calve blocks of ice the size of houses, and as we heard someone else say, "that alone was worth the cost of the trip." Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka were also quite nice and we were very fortunate to get almost no rain the whole week (it was sunny in Ketchikan when we were there!). In Juneau, we rented a car from Rent a Wreck (they were great) and drove by ourselves to the Mendenhall Glacier and other sites. Sitka is quite walkable and we didn't feel like we needed a car to get around. In Ketchikan, a car would have been useful to get to the totem parks, but considering the short amount of time we were there, we just walked around the central area and had fun attending the lumberjack show. Overall, we had a fantastic first cruise experience on the Oosterdam to Alaska. I don't have other cruise experiences to compare it to, but if you are thinking of cruising to Alaska, I can't recommend HAL or the Oosterdam more highly. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
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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