7 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Mexican Riviera

I will start this review by noting that our cruise was the unfortunate cruise that followed the three passengers becoming gravely ill in Hawaii and was therefore shortened by a day. This shortened itinerary significantly impacted this ... Read More
I will start this review by noting that our cruise was the unfortunate cruise that followed the three passengers becoming gravely ill in Hawaii and was therefore shortened by a day. This shortened itinerary significantly impacted this cruise and made many aspects feel rushed but that is the worst thing I can say about this cruise. Staff Since we were both first-time cruisers we of course have nothing to compare our cruise to but the Holland America staff were nothing short of amazing! The people working on this ship were so incredibly warm and genuine smiles were abundant in every venue. They not only served us well but remembered our names and many of our preferences. Our room stewards Thofa and Sapto were like "ninjas" quietly slipping into our room when were weren't there and taking care of every last detail. For instance somehow our ice bucket was ALWAYS full no matter the time of day. You would see the same people working in the Lido Buffet in the morning and at lunch and many of them again at dinner in the main dining room. It was apparent that none of the staff sleep much! Everyone from food service to bartenders even shop staff were friendly and obviously recognized you. We kept running into this very nice young man named Adi that would just light up when he saw us and was very sweet. This kept happening everywhere we went. Anyone that says anything bad about these people needs to have their head examined. Food Venues I will start with the Lido Buffet. The food here is good and is of course abundant. With the exception of dinner the choices don't change much if at all. Once you've eaten there a couple of days you pretty much are eating the same things. If you want variety the main dining room is your best bet. Still for breakfast and lunch you can't go wrong as it is quick and you get what you want. The Lido Buffet is of course not far from the Lido Pool and the Terrace Grill. This is an excellent alternative for lunch as they serve made to order hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hot dogs. From the second day forward there was also a buffet table set up outside the Terrace Grill with Mexican themed foods such as tamales, nachos, tacos, etc. Very tasty and interestingly enough just about the only food offered that was themed to our itinerary. The Vista Dining Room (main dining room) was elegant and the service exemplary. We chose open dining as we did not want to be locked into one dining time as there is so much to do on the ships. This was an excellent choice as we met the most wonderful people on board and ended up dining with them throughout the remainder of our cruise. By the last night I think our table grew to over 9 people! The food was wonderful and as is the theme ABUNDANT. You can order as many appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, and deserts as you want and we did! We both gained over 5 lbs! Eeek! We also ate breakfast in the Vista Dining Room one time and it was excellent. The only reason we didn't eat breakfast there more often was the Lido Buffet was just quicker and more convenient for us. We had coffee and danishes delivered to our stateroom every morning. This worked out well (too well) as it became our wake up call. The food and coffee was always the right temperature and was very good. One note on this, they have you choose a time frame to have the food delivered. If we chose between 6:30 and 7:00 it would generally be delivered between 6:00 and 6:30, waking us up. While this was a nice way to ensure we were up on time it never failed they would knock on our door before our alarm went off. I certainly cannot fault them for being late! Skip the dessert extravaganza in my opinion. The desserts were just ok. In short food is abundant, generally good, and usually the correct temperature. Occasionally a dish would be a bit cold (you don't have to eat it, there is more where that came from) but overall very good. The cruise line's weak point seems to be anything made from bread. Bread and cake items tended to be hard, dry, or very dense. I suppose this is the danger from producing food at such great quantities. Entertainment Venues There are a lot of bars on this ship with an atmosphere to suit just about anyone's taste. The drinks are priced pretty much the same as land-based bars and they will make anything for you, just ask! The only venue we didn't really check out was the Piano Bar but the couple of times we poked our head in there everyone seemed to be having a great time! I highly suggest getting beverage cards as this keeps the dreaded bill you receive at the end of your cruise in check. We had a credit at the end of our cruise and this was a rare exception to the many people we spoke to. We went to 4 shows in the Vista Lounge during our cruise and enjoyed all but one. Joel Mason (I believe that was his name) did an excellent Eagles tribute the first night but when he did a comedy act on the third we found the humor tacky and not terribly funny. Many left during that performance. The Holland America singers and dancers were amazing and so entertaining. Catch as many shows with them as you can. DJ Brett kept the Northern Lights disco hopping every night with great music from all decades and was a lot of fun. He came out many times to boogie with all of us and was super funny. Truly enjoyed going here and closed it twice! Shopping This is an area that suffers a bit on this ship in my opinion. While the staff is wonderful and the products generally high quality it is a very small area and therefore selection is limited. There is a fine jewelry and watch area, a Holland America branded merchandise area, a venue that changes depending on the traveling "show" that is on that cruise (ours was colored glass jewelry), a small makeup and perfume/cologne area, and a liquor area. In addition to this there is a separate fine jewelry store the showcased different designers. While this may seem extensive they have gone to great trouble to make shopping more about the $300 and over merchandise than anything else so if you like us are shopping for souvenirs and personal items you may find the selection to be pretty limited. Also there was scarcely few items specific to our itinerary. Enrichment Classes On this shortened itinerary we couldn't attend as many of these as we would have liked. The ones we did attend were hit and miss unfortunately. My significant other attended a workshop on shopping in Puerto Vallarta that ended up being an advertisement for their diamond and tanzanite jewelry store partner in Puerto Vallarta, which he found to be a complete waste of time. We both attended a mixology class next to the Lido pool that showcased some of our bartenders making drinks in a very entertaining way and taught us how to make three of their signature drinks. This was entertaining, informative, and you get to try all three drinks they teach you how to make. For $12.50 this was very worth the money IMO. We were so enamored by our little towel animals that we attended a towel folding class the last day of our trip. While this ended up basically being a way to sell a towel folding instruction book it was fun and it was amazing watching the cabin stewards quickly make these towel animals. We bought the book for about $14 and they signed it. Makes a great souvenir. Pools The Lido Pool was a must the first day as it was cold outside and windy at the Aft Pool. The Lido Pool had a lot of children so not for someone seeking peace and quiet. Once we were further down the Mexican coast (around Cabo) the air temperature went up significantly and the Aft pool was full with adults only. We spent a great deal of time here. Speaking of Cabo we had an unscheduled stop in Cabo due to a crew member needing medical assistance. This did not impact our cruise but provided an unexpected preview to this wonderful place. We sincerely hope the crew member is ok. Cruise Stops I'm going to start this by commenting on excursions. TAKE THEM. The reason I say this is the stops are so short if you venture out on your own you could end up with a stop like we had in Puerto Vallarta. I had already been there so we opted for a cab ride to the Malecon to do some shopping and made our way down to some friends on a beach area known as "Blue Chairs". The shopping was a complete bust as was the food along the Malecon, the prices they wanted for their merchandise was ridiculous! We've had better Mexican food at taco shops in San Diego and the vendors weren't haggling at all (likely due to two cruise ships being in port). By the time we got to the blue chairs our day was more than half over and we only got a couple hours on the beach. We had a great time but since a second day that was supposed to happen at this stop was cancelled we felt like we were running to get everything in. Not at all relaxing. We took the Chilean Bar snorkeling tour in Cabo and every aspect of it was amazing. The catamaran was beautiful, the crew was wonderful, and the snorkeling was so incredible. The water here is a beautiful azure blue and the fish and reefs were so very beautiful. On the way back they served endless drinks and snacks. This was easily the highlight of our vacation and was reasonable given all that was included. Once we got back to land we went to Cabo Wabo for margaritas and lunch and shopped our way back to the ship. The food was good (if not a bit expensive) but again the shopping was a bust. Too expensive. Still because we took the excursion we felt like we accomplished something and had a wonderful day. We will definitely return to Cabo! Oosterdam Final Thoughts Many have said the ship is dated and tired. In some aspects they are correct and I guess if you look for bad things you'll see them. There was evidence of worn cushions and one of our friends had torn drapes in their cabin along with a somewhat worn couch. Our room was in better shape but our veranda room was designed for a maximum of 2 people while theirs slept up to 4 I believe. This seemed to make a difference. Our cabin 8105 was on the top cabin deck and was so conveniently located to the elevators, Lido Buffet, and Aft pool. Overall though the ship is in great repair and there was someone cleaning, painting or doing some kind of maintenance all day and all night. I would gladly cruise on her again if she wasn't leaving San Diego indefinitely next year. Someone said a cruise in what you make it and they are so right. Go aboard looking for a great vacation and I assure you the Oosterdam, Holland America, and their wonderful crew will give you just that. Go aboard looking for deficiencies and you will most certainly find them. My advice don't look for deficiencies. Have a good time, we did and booked our next cruise to the Southern Caribbean. We look forward to seeing you there! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I have to start by saying that I have nothing to compare this cruise with since I've never cruised before... I also realize my girlfriend and I are much younger than the average passenger on board but we were not bothered by that one ... Read More
I have to start by saying that I have nothing to compare this cruise with since I've never cruised before... I also realize my girlfriend and I are much younger than the average passenger on board but we were not bothered by that one bit... Neither of us drink and we don't really enjoy the "night life" so we are probably much different from most other 29 year-old cruisers... I should also mention that I love to write, so this is going to be a long-winded review... We boarded the Oosterdam on 4/9... Everything on this cruise far exceeded our expectations, including the politeness of the staff, including the quality and ease of dining, and even including the accuracy and speed of room service...The Food - I will start with room service... We had heard time and again that room service on board the Oosterdam is unreliable and of poor quality... I don't know what all of those people are doing wrong... We had room service 3 times per day... My girlfriend had breakfast delivered at 9:30 everyday... It was always accurate, always at the appropriate temperature, and always delivered within 5 to 10 minutes of the time she selected... Everyday I had a triple-decker club sandwich with no mayonnaise delivered to the state room between 3:30 and 4:30 with chips, an assortment of cheeses and crackers, and usually smoked salmon and a Caesar salad with chicken for my girlfriend... I had the same meal delivered again everyday between midnight and 1:30, minus the salad and salmon, but added a plate of cookies and two milks... The food was always, always, always, delivered within one hour of the call being placed, and only once out of the dozen or so times did they forget to hold the mayonnaise on my sandwich... The food was always at the perfect temp when delivered, it was delicious and pretty close to perfect every time... We did tip $2 for the room service each time... Maybe that made the difference in accuracy and punctual delivery times... Either way, I was 99% pleased with everything about room service and found the majority of complaints I had seen on here prior to cruising to absolutely not be the case for us... Maybe we were just lucky... We did eat at the lido every morning about 11:30 or so... I did not like it when the lido reverted to self-serve... It was much cleaner and more organized when food was served by the servers... Once it went to self-service, filthy hands touched just about everything you could imagine... So, after the self-serve started, we relegated ourselves mostly to items such as the sandwiches, which only the staff handle... So sandwiches it was, and they were great... We had no complaints and we liked our sandwich maker Jaime so much we went and supported him at the Filipino show, which was enjoyable in it's own way... The Vista Dining Room was an experience to remember... We originally had open seating, but on the first day when we tried to change our Pinnacle reservation, one of the staff insisted he had the perfect "Honeymoon Table" for the "Beautiful Honeymooners"... (we're not married (yet), nor were we honeymooning (yet), but throughout the rest of trip, this staff member constantly referred to us affectionately as his "Honeymoon Couple" and we absolutely loved it)... And, he wasn't lying... The table was a perfect little table for 2 and we had dinner with the same waiters (Wikan and Saury, whom we love) at the same table every night at 7:45... We were very thankful he had talked us out of the open-seating... It worked out perfectly... The food was fantastic, with the exception of one night when it was just so-so... Again, we had heard numerous times before our cruise that dinner was a 2 hour affair, took a long time to get anything you wanted, and so on and so forth... We found none of it to be true... The food was always the correct temperature, nearly always tasted fantastic, and we were always in and out within an hour... within 2 minutes of finishing a dish, the next one was brought out... Maybe Wikan and Saury are just the most fantastic waiters in the world and we lucked out by getting them, but either way, it was always a delight to eat in the Vista Dining Room and I was nearly in tears at the thought of not getting to see our kind and affectionate waiters again... Also, as a side note, our wine steward (who's name I have regretfully forgotten) always remembered after the first night that we each took a coke with our meal, and always had it to us within 5 minutes of our having sat down... Absolutely phenomenal service from everyone in the Vista Dining Room... And yes, we went to the Master Chef's Dinner, and despite what we had heard about it being a limited menu and not a very enjoyable experience, we absolutely loved it, loved cheering our waiters on, loved watching them unwind, loved the napkin ballet, and had no problem finding food we enjoyed... Even got to try oxtail soup for the first time... Not half bad... We ate at the Pinnacle one night and it was the best dinner of my life... Upon arrival, our waiter, Jos, led us past all of the tables and chairs to one of the only 2 booths in the restaurant... We felt spoiled already... Then he brought out a tray of 3 different sea salts and proceeded to inform us of what they were made from and what dishes they complimented best... We felt even more spoiled... Then he brought out a special treat from the chef... I believe it was raw tuna, covered in a sweet wasabi like sauce... My girlfriend loves sushi and as such, this was a real treat for her... It was very good and she absolutely loved it... It was fairly obvious to both of us at this point that The Pinnacle is easily worth what it costs and more... We really were treated like royalty by all of the staff on-board, and it especially showed in The Pinnacle... She had the filet mignon and I had the troll-caught salmon... we both figured we'd fight over the filet, both of us being beef lovers, and the filet was excellent, but in fact, it was the salmon we battled over most... Without a doubt the best fish either of us had ever had... It ruined the taste of regular old salmon for both of us... I finished up the meal with the softest, creamiest cheesecake I've ever had topped with fresh raspberries... She had the souffle and loved it... BTW, we were told before boarding that souffle would have to be ordered at the beginning of the meal as it took about 20 minuted to complete... We now know that the ovens on-board the Oosterdam have been updated, and the new technology allows for about a 7 minute souffle, so no more need to order ahead unless you are in a hurry to get out of there, which we were not... We never wanted to leave... I will pause here to say that Jos was without a doubt a joy to be waited on by... Very knowledgeable , very kind, very fun to interact with and just made the whole Pinnacle experience that much better... We were so impressed with the Pinnacle that we contemplated trying to squeeze in another meal there, but in the end found we had too much of a good bond with our Vista Dining Room waiter to want to go another night without seeing him... If people played no part in the decision, only food, or if we could have squeezed in 2 dinners every night, we definitely would have eaten the Pinnacle more often as the food was just above and beyond amazing... I should pause here to mention that even though my review and the constant mention of food intake make my girlfriend and I out to sound like morbidly obese pigs, we're both pretty fit and the amount of food we took in during this cruise is not reflected by our weight... We ate a lot during this cruise, probably 4-5 times as much as normal, but usually we are quite responsible about our diets... but hey, this is what vacation is for, right?Ok, no more food talk...The casino... Since neither of us drink and since we know Holland America makes most of their money on booze and gambling, we felt it our due diligence to donate via the casino, which we did... there was a fun ambiance in the casino when it wasn't absolutely packed, but the machines were definitely very tight... We had a lot of fun in the casino despite never winning much of anything... The machine in the casino that you drop the quarter tokens into in hopes of winning far less tokens than you've put in - I Loved It! I had never seen one before... My girlfriend said, "I've never won anything out of one of those"... I put in a couple of dollars and won a couple of dollars and a losing lottery ticket and a couple of Holland America Dice... I enjoyed it as much as anything in the casino, despite the absolute absurdity of it... The shows... We saw the show the first night... Kind of a high school musical type production... The dancing was very good, and the lead male vocal was tremendous... The lead female vocal however smiled instead of opening her mouth when she sang... It made her hard to understand and sounded a little weird... Overall it was a fun show, and probably really fun if that's your thing, but it wasn't really our thing... We saw the impersonator, Pete Peterkin... He was great... Did a great Obama impersonation, was very musically talented, and overall just a very entertaining individual... We enjoyed him thoroughly... I wish I could say more to praise him, but really, he's just one of those acts you have to see to fully appreciate...Leo Ward, the magician... Poor guy must have had a list of things that can go wrong during a show and was able to put a check next to each one of them, up to and including my girlfriend throwing his plush ball towards the balcony only to have it get lodged in a hole in the wall that cradled the spotlights(yes, that was us)... He should be less insistent on telling the audience members to throw the ball "Anywhere you want"... It was a good laugh though and the show was very entertaining minus the teenagers sitting in the front to the left side of the stage... The few teenagers on-board were not well behaved or well looked after and were one of the very few disappointments about the trip... Don't get me wrong, they did not spoil our trip or make us very unhappy for any significant portion of the trip... They were just very poorly behaved and it was a sad surprise to find as we specifically cruised with Holland America to avoid such individuals... The actual children on-board were very well behaved (at least that we saw), and their parents did such a wonderful job supervising them and keeping them controlled (at least that we saw)... The children were not a problem, only the teenagers...We skipped the comedian, and are now glad we did as we heard his humor was not in the greatest taste... We played bingo once... It was a lot of fun although we did not win... We watched the movie Inception in the screening room... The movie theater was cold and a little difficult to hear at times... As for the movie itself, well lets just say I'm glad I read the entire wikipedia page about the movie before watching it or I wouldn't have had the slightest idea what was going on... Overall, we enjoyed the screening room experience a great deal as we rarely if ever get the opportunity to go to a movie together... It was a lot of fun... And it didn't cost $32.50 for a medium popcorn and large coke, so another huge plus...We didn't get off the ship at either ports... I grew up in San Diego and have been to Mexico many times and my opinion of the place was not changed by Puerto Vallarta... In my opinion, the only thing dirtier than the water in Puerto Vallarta was the air in Puerto Vallarta... The giant Wal Mart and Sams Club almost blocked the view of the dilapidated, disheveled apartment buildings that the locals call homes... I'm sure there is beauty beyond at the lovely resorts and hotels and scenic beaches that the many tourists visit but I did not care to see that... and as such, we stayed on the boat... And all for the best... We love ship life and never wanted to leave, although Cabo did tempt us... The view of Cabo from our balcony was amazing... The beaches and the water and the rock formations... I'm sure Cabo also has terrible conditions that the locals call homes, but in Cabo, it wasn't sitting right outside of my balcony and I'm sure that made a difference in my reaction to it... In the end we chose to stay on the ship in Cabo simply because 12,000 other people had made the decision to get off the many ships docked around us... It was very crowded, and again, even at this point in the cruise, we had not tired one bit from being on-board... We played shuffle board, my girlfriend visited the spa for a much deserved and well-loved massage, and I walked around and looked at all of the absolutely must-see amazing relics and works and pieces of art displayed about the ship... As I said, we absolutely loved being on-board the ship, never tired of being on-board, and even slept better when we were at sea... The rocking of the ship put us right to sleep...The most memorable part of this trip, the one thing that stood out the most, and the main driving factor behind why we will definitely be planning another cruise with Holland America, is without a doubt the staff... Never in my life have I been treated so well by people who barely knew me... My name is Joel and my girlfriends name is Jacquelyn... I'm a fairly slender white guy with long dreadlocks that go past the middle of my back... When we entered the lido the first day, one of the workers on the far side of one of the stations saw me, and broke into a loud, Filipino-accented, broken-down English version of the Bob Marley hit, Jammin'... By the second day, this had spread to the majority of the Lido workers, and the very sight of us usually generated some rendition of some Bob Marley song by at least a couple of them... Our waiters in the Vista Dining Room never called us by our names, but rather by the nicknames they and the rest of the staff had affectionately chosen for us, which was Bob and Jack... The staff on-board were an absolutely lovely experience in and of themselves... We did not treat them as servants, but rather as we would a friend, and it made them all the more lovely to be around... This has been the best vacation of our lives, without exaggeration... We are looking towards Alaska for a honeymoon cruise (an actual honeymoon cruise) and it will certainly be on-board a Holland America ship... Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it ... Read More
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it a chance as the timing was during a week the schools were out so we thought more families would be on board. We were right. According to the "HALs club" staff, there were nearly 300 kids on board. They mentioned that this was a high number due to the break and that next week's cruise would also be high. However, the number would drop to about 30 for the first few weeks in March before increasing during spring break. So, one will get a very different opinion of this line depending on the week traveling. Our children were not excited about the "childcare" upon boarding, but buy the end of the cruise they were begging to go to the HALs club as they became enamored by the programs. The staff there did a wonderful job. The cabin was a Verandah suite and was a bit cramped for the four of us. There were two twins that made a "queen" when pushed together. The third bed was a pull out sofa and the fourth was a bed the folded down above the "queen." There was no room to move around when all the beds were open. However, the room stewards were fantastic. - two room sweeps a day - and kept the room looking nice. The kids always wanted to see what "towel animal" was sitting on the bed after dinner and looked forward to the nightly chocolates. We enjoyed the verandah with the exception of certain times when a neighbor's smoke drifted into it. The suite furniture and bathroom floor were starting to show some wear, but was not a negative. The shows were liked by all. The favorites were the magician and the "Elton John" impersonator. We did not attend most of the programs during the day so I cannot comment on them. The kids when not in the Club HAL spent the time swimming in the Lido pool. The Lido deck would get a little messy by the end of the day, although was cleaned quickly once the rush was gone. We had one day at the spa and had a couples massage. It was excellent! My wife commented that she had not had a massage that good in years. The food was overall good - with a different variety each day. I liked it better than my wife, but she is very particular about her food. There were a few glitches in service. The main dining room's service on the first night was not good. It was very slow, water glasses were not filled, the coffee did not come with the dessert, but well after I had finished it, etc. The coffee in the evening dining rooms was consistently not served hot and the vegetables I had at the Pinnacle Grill one night were lukewarm. My wife said the sushi one night was made with the smoked salmon from breakfast. But, other than what I have mentioned, overall it was good. The children loved the pasta, cheeseburgers and the chicken noodle soup. If you are a wine drinker, take advantage of bringing your wine on board. HAL allows as much brought on as you want. We also a bottle of rum from the line and used it to spike our virgin drinks. At three dollars extra a pop for the "leaded version", it did save money. You can also bring on all the soda and water you want. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
The cruise itself was great. The food, hospitality, and the state rooms were great along with the events. Overall...if we did not have any incidents...this was a great cruise... However, this was not the case. In the few occaisions ... Read More
The cruise itself was great. The food, hospitality, and the state rooms were great along with the events. Overall...if we did not have any incidents...this was a great cruise... However, this was not the case. In the few occaisions that we needed to discuss an issue with the Oosterdam front-desk agents or customer service we were severely disappointed. Three instances showed this to us: 1) We complained that an even that we had paid for did not meet our expectations. The front-desk agent took our notes and then called the manager for us. We were told that the the manager (seemingly hiding behind the front-desk clerk) did not agree with our complaints but was too busy to meet with us that day. We came back the next morning for our booked appointment to find out that the manager was too busy with another appointment. Only after complaining did he finally leave his work and meet with us. 2) We received an incorrect medical bill. The front-desk manager refused to do anything about it but tell us to talk to the infirmirary. We talked to the infirmirary who resolved this issue but we were incensed that the bill only arrived on our final day and was not discussed with us when it was incurred. Also, that the front-desk managers were not willing to discuss this with us. 3) We lost our car/apartment keys on the boat. After leaving, we found that we could not talk to anyone from HAL on a Sunday who could help us since their offices were only open from M-F. Also, the HAL office did not have a contact for the Oosterdam. I could not believe that this! In most of the cases, I would not fault the individuals who seemed to want to help us. It seemed that the they were not empowered to help us or to look into our issues. In most cases, if the front desk agents were allowed to make decisions or judgment calls on their own then we believe that the management making decisions would not need to hide behind them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We sailed April 10 on the Oosterdam, mom, two kids, grandma/grandpa, sister-in-law & infant. Three rooms on the first deck. All the women were very fearful of seasickness but on the Main Deck where we "lived", we had few ... Read More
We sailed April 10 on the Oosterdam, mom, two kids, grandma/grandpa, sister-in-law & infant. Three rooms on the first deck. All the women were very fearful of seasickness but on the Main Deck where we "lived", we had few problems. the Club Hal for kids was great to have, but the evening programs for the kids age 3-7 started much too late (7 pm or 8 pm and lasted til 10 pm). The kids were exhausted! The spa and gym were fabulous, and the "Thermal Suite" pass is the way to go -$150 to use the private hydrapool, aromatherapy showers, and the heated tile lounge chairs in the serentiy suite all week. Well worth the price. Food was outstanding and abundant. Kids loved the almost all-day ice cream bar. Easy to eat healthy and nutritiously with all the fresh fruit, grilled fish, salad bar, vegetarian choices, etc. GREAT that no sodas were included, but it would have been nice if there was latte & cappucino from the coffee machine and not just plain coffee. Shows were fun & not too long. Activities like Name that Tune and Trivia Night in the Queens Lounge were really fun. The Piano Bar was dynamite and never crowded. Drinks were really reasonably priced in the bars/lounges. The movie theater was stunning, but with only 27 seats, you had to arrive at least 30 minutes before showtime to get a seat. The in-room DVD delivery service was great - 1000 titles, free! Kids loved shuffleboard, ping pong, and the basketball court up on the 10th deck. "On Deck for the Cure" 5K walk on the last day for Breast Cancer was a nice activity, too. More babysitters needed - there seemed to be only one or two available during the whole cruise, but the one we had was very very nice and always on-time. Embarkation was long and tedious - over one hour! Disembarkation was a total breeze and couldn't have been easier. My only complaint was that there were too many people scheduled each 15 minutes - there should have been wider time-bands so things didn't get congested.... The best part about cruising is that you have absolutely NO WORK to do - all your activities, all your meals, your "home" are all taken care of for you with the utmost of care and service. Just fabulous for a busy mom! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We live in San Diego so getting to the parking garage and shuttle to the cruise terminal was quick and painless. We got there about 12:30. Since we are first time cruisers it would have been more helpful to have more signage telling ... Read More
We live in San Diego so getting to the parking garage and shuttle to the cruise terminal was quick and painless. We got there about 12:30. Since we are first time cruisers it would have been more helpful to have more signage telling people where to go first. We stayed in line to find out we did not need to stand in line to just drop off our luggage because we already had luggage tags on. Just needed to load them onto the large luggage carts and go through security. Security was very quick and then a short line to check in and get our ship/room/charge key cards. I think all in all we spent less than an 30 minutes from the luggage line to getting to our room which was already ready. We were in a quad as we had our 2 boys (ages 8 & 11) with us. We dropped our carry on items headed up to the Lido deck for lunch which my boys fell in love with right away - Pizza and ice cream all day every day! The food was always fresh, hot and easy to attain. The first 48 hours the staff serve you to cut down on illnesses - nice! Previous reviews complained about the food - but we were quite happy with all our choices. By the time we looked around and went back to our room our luggage was already there. We unpacked a little and then participated in the emergency drill. We set sail a little after 5:00. We had a balcony with the concrete or they say steel covering (all of 4th or 4000 cabins) as opposed to floors above us with clear or plexiglass coverings. Our Verandah was a little longer out but later in the cruise we picked up things spilled or dropped from floors above us. Next time I would move up a floor or two. We were also above the Vista Lounge where the shows were so in the evening you could hear the sounds from the shows as we were in the front of the ship. It never really bothered me that much. My kids and I fall asleep to the TV and I always take Tylenol PM whenever and wherever I travel so sleeping was not a problem. Vista Dining was also excellent - service and choices of food were fabulous each night. We chose open dining and never had a problem with getting a seat. Be sure to make a reservation on formal night and the last night in the dining room as it is a great show!! We spent one evening - no kids - at the Pinnacle Grill which is worth the extra $20 each. Caneletto was OK - appetizers and desserts were great - entree's were so-so. My kids are not used to sitters or afterschool programs - stay at home daddy - so they weren't really excited about Club HAL - but liked it enough to go at least once a day. Ports of call were nice - Puerto Vallarta 2 days and Cabo San Lucas one day. We did Las Caletas shore excursion through Vallarta Adventures and Cabo Dolphin Encounter through Cabo Adventures. Both were fabulous memorable experiences. Next time I would book on my own online as it would be a slight savings. We felt safe in both ports. Our second day in Puerto Vallarta we went shopping in town on a quick cab ride - only $1.50 each on anapproved taxi service right outside the ship. Always bargin with vendors you can get them down to reasonable prices. Wished we had another day in Cabo to enjoy the beach it looked nice. Biggest complaint would be the street vendors in each port - people calling out to you all the time. 'Hey Lady - you want to look around?" If you just keep walking and ignore people they go on to the next person. Every port took american dollars - just be sure to bring lots of 5's, 10's and 1's. Merchants don't like to break $20's and will try to bargain with you for the whole $20.The ship ride out of San Diego and back into San Diego were the rockiest. Not enough to make me or the kids ill, but I did hear about others and it did make things rocky when walking or a bit queasy. Spent one hour in the casino and won $20 on slots, and attended the magician show. He was funny and good! On our last night my husband and I found the guitarist in the Crow's Nest and wished we had found him earlier. He was great. Randall in the Piano Bar was funny and had great Name that Tune Games. Towel Folding demonstration was fun and great to learn how they make all those towel animals you get in your room. I loved, loved, loved the guest chef and demonstrations by Chef Kelly English - who's restaurant was featured on Food Network's Best Thing I Ever Ate. I'm a big foodie so this was impressive. We bought two bottle of Vodka for cheap and was tax and duty free the day before we had to disembark. Disembarkation was scheduled to your time liking. Book it early if you want to leave early. Overall a great time was had by all everywhere. Don't listen to the complaints others had about the food. It was excellent. Service and folks on board were as nice as could be and always smiling. Really makes you want to go back. First vacation I had that I came home relaxed!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
I took a spring break cruise in March with my three teenagers. They are experienced cruisers; I am not. I listened to their feedback on room size and location and tried to match their requirements with my needs. We got a deal on a veranda ... Read More
I took a spring break cruise in March with my three teenagers. They are experienced cruisers; I am not. I listened to their feedback on room size and location and tried to match their requirements with my needs. We got a deal on a veranda suite room. The proximity to the Neptune lounge was a plus. Stateroom and Staff: clean, spacious room with enough room for all of us and our "stuff". Loved the veranda, and being able to have private space to get away to. Room stewards were outstanding. We followed the suggestion of a cruise ship friend/employee, and brought along a bag of chocolate candy. We placed a handful of candies on our pillows in the morning, along with a note of thanks for the room stewards. They were thrilled with their suprises. It was an inexpensive way to show appreciation for keeping the ice bucket filled, and extra towels in the bathroom. We had a chance to meet the Captain a couple of times, and enjoyed his sense of humor. I didn't expect him to be so young. His reply " Not all ship Captains look like Father Christmas!". JT our Cruise Director was a true professional. We wondered if he ever had "down" time? Food: great eats in the Neptune lounge and at the Pinnacle grill. The cappucino/latte machine in the lounge made my day. We had early dining each day, which gave us the evening free to be with friends or see the show. Lido grill was always crowded, and lines were everywhere at mealtime. Kid activities: We were at the beginning of the spring break time, with only 100 kids under 18 on board. The activities for the teenagers over 13 were good. I didn't worry about where they were in the evening, and they didn't seem to get bored. They had a prom one evening, counted the number of stairs in the staircases leading to the Loft, etc. Entertainment: The biggest surprise was the Indonesian crew review. It gave all of us an opportunity to take in some of their culture and customs. We loved it.Negatives: The spa is expensive, even with discounted pricing towards the end of the week. I didn't appreciate the follow up phone calls, urging me to sign up for more treatments. Our waiter called us the evening before the customer satisfaction survey was to be turned in, and asked us to grade his service as a "9". Awkward. Disembarcation took forever. Non-compliant passengers who had not settled their accounts or tried to avoid Immigration slowed things down. The lines to get off the ship seems to go on forever. Not a great way to end our vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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