7 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Group and Theme Cruises to Alaska

This was the best cruise ever! The staff was friendly and very helpful as well as cheerful. The food was delicious and plentiful.Every evening it was arranged with care and lovely.Our dining staff was wonderful, especially our wine girl ... Read More
This was the best cruise ever! The staff was friendly and very helpful as well as cheerful. The food was delicious and plentiful.Every evening it was arranged with care and lovely.Our dining staff was wonderful, especially our wine girl (Miraki(Sp?)-from Japan but living in Manilla). Our room was beautiful and the gentlemen that serviced it were quick and efficient. The ship was clean and everything was top notch. The entertainment was great! I can't rave about it enough. The spa package was awesome. Seaweed wrap a must. The girls in the spa were lovely and informative. Mary our morning dining room person was so nice and helpful. She helped us start our day with JOY! The BBKing review was great. We enjoyed the special music provided by WayFM every night. The wine tastings we attended were very informative. Everyone was fabulous! A TRIP FOR THE MEMORIES!!! I am recommending Holland-America to everyone I tell about our trip and I will book again.*** Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
My husband and I are semi retired and enjoy traveling. This cruise was advertised with a local tour group and Alaska had always been on our list for travel. We booked the Veranda for the balcony. This was an older ship. The cabins were not ... Read More
My husband and I are semi retired and enjoy traveling. This cruise was advertised with a local tour group and Alaska had always been on our list for travel. We booked the Veranda for the balcony. This was an older ship. The cabins were not very clean. I had spilled some ice on the carpet and in retrieving it, brought up a glob of someone else's hair! The dinners were just ok. We spent an hour and a half waiting on courses to be served, and the coffee came 10 minutes after our dessert. We paid to eat in another dining room. Having been on other cruises that offered beautiful food sculptures and chocolate fountains this was a "nothing special cruise". The entertainment was trivia in the bar, or two guys singing at a piano. We could have gone to the digital workshop?#* What! I'm on vacation. I went to the spa/salon to have my hair done for a gala evening. I don't think these people ever worked in a real salon. They washed my hair, blow dried it and tried to sell me products. The positives of this trip were the staff, Alaska and the shore excursions. We went fishing and were fortunate to catch some and have it sent home. We also went to the dog mushing camp. If you like dogs, this is it! In spite of the bad, we did enjoy ourselves and made the best of it. My husband and I are not rich, and felt that we had "splurged" going on this trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
My spouse and I chose this cruise because of the promotion by Christian radio group WAYFm. For King and Country, Brandon Heath, Mark Lee of Third Day and Rebecca St. James were the featured artists, and they were superb. We arrived in ... Read More
My spouse and I chose this cruise because of the promotion by Christian radio group WAYFm. For King and Country, Brandon Heath, Mark Lee of Third Day and Rebecca St. James were the featured artists, and they were superb. We arrived in Seattle a day ahead in part because we had never been and we wanted to allow for airline difficulties and bad weather. Neither were a factor, so we went to Pike Place Market the day before embarkation. Embarkation went quickly and smoothly, was impressed with the number of agents HAL had at the terminal. Don't know if we timed it right or they just have their act together, but spent very little time standing in line. We chose a large interior stateroom on the Rotterdam Deck (7) due to reviews here and elsewhere and because we are tall and need a king bed. The only down side here is no view. Wish we had splurged for a room with a balcony, but now we know. 7055 suited our needs, however. Service was another topic. Although our stewards, Kom and Subchi were very good, room service was spotty. We order a bottled water package and got two, the second of which sat on our stateroom floor taking up space for most of the trip. Repeated calls did not result in retrieval, although we were not charged for two pkgs. Distilled water and an extension cord for my cpap were delivered in a timely fashion, however, and we were not charged for either, though I expected to be for the water. Dining was fine, although the buffet was always a zoo. There's got to be a better way to feed the hordes than standing in slow lines, especially for specialties such as omelets and salads, and hunting for seats like a scavenger. Drink service in the buffet was also spotty, Started out good, deteriorated badly as the week went on, unless you wanted soda or liquor, which was extra $$ and served by special waiters whose only job was selling those. A norovirus outbreak didn't help. The "free" beverage waiters/bussers had to man the drink stations to combat the virus. Evening meals were all in the main dining room and were very good, as was the service. All of the entertainment sponsored by the radio group was exceptional. The ship activities, not so much. We don't drink or gamble, and most of the other ship activities were stuff you could do at home: read, board games, movies, etc. Ports and excursions were mostly good. Juneau Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest was just OK. Too many people on the boat trying to see and snap pictures of very far off humpback whales. Rectified that by booking the Jet-Cat Wildlife Quest & Beach Exploration out of Sitka. Smaller boat, fewer people and an excellent young crew of Alex, Kara and Iris made this one worth it. Idled by a large raft of sea otters for several minutes, snapping happily away. Beach stop was not too taxing and very informative and enjoyable. Tip: it's worth the extra money to book whale & wildlife excursions on smaller vessels. The Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour out of Ketchikan is also worth the money. Great crew, very lively and passionate presentations and demonstrations by the ex-crabbers will keep you leaning forward. But the highlight of this tour is a bald eagle feeding time that brings a dozen our national symbols right up to the boat for a air and water show that is not to be missed. You can almost reach out and touch them (though you really wouldn't want to) as they soar and swoop in droves to grab and sometimes snatch in midair, large pieces of baitfish tossed out by the crew. Leaving and reboarding the ship at the various ports was quick and easy, although more information ahead of time about which floors and hatches were to be used for disembarking would have been nice. My favorite port experiences were shopping at two "local" stores: Tongass Trading Company in Ketchikan and Russell's in Sitka. Make sure you visit the second floor of the "big" Tongass store (they have several) for the real Alaskan outfitter goods. Russell's is just a smaller version of that in Sitka, with less inventory, but both have the XtraTuf boots favored by many of the locals in this rainy climate. Speaking of which, we had great luck with the weather. Only rained a little bit in Sitka on the way back to the ship. The rest of the ports and excursions, we were dry and comfortable. Temps were moderate, except during our visit to the Hubbard Glacier. But the cold was worth experiencing this wondrous marvel of nature. If you plan well and are willing to wait in line for a while, you can secure a great spot up front when they open the hatches to the ships bow. They also serve Dutch pea soup to guests who make it to that perch. All in all, a mostly postiive experience. Will we do it again? Maybe...in a warm weather climate! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This was our first time on a large ship- Oosterdam has nearly 2000 passengers. The staff were superb and attentive, and the ship facilities extensive. The food was fairly good but not outstanding. The package was at first sight good value, ... Read More
This was our first time on a large ship- Oosterdam has nearly 2000 passengers. The staff were superb and attentive, and the ship facilities extensive. The food was fairly good but not outstanding. The package was at first sight good value, but the cost of optional extras was high: WiFi was extortionately priced, alcoholic drinks were very expensive, as was the spa, and shore excursions (though the ones we did were excellent). Entertainment on board was disappointing - we were hoping for some gentle ballroom dancing, but the dancing was either focussed on their dance competition, or cramped disco style. Talks were either all about on-shore shopping (yuk!) or very dumbed down where they were supposed to be informative. An irritation was lack of tea/coffee facilities around the ship - we had to go all the way to deck 9 for that. The ambience and style of the ship was brash and unimaginative : generally we found we couldn't wait to arrive in a port and get off - altogether a very forgettable experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
Holland America Oosterdam 7 Day Alaska Cruise 07/14/13 This was my 13th and my husbands 6th cruise. This was our third time to Alaska, but first time to Tracy Arm. Overall Holland America did an excellent job and the ship was impeccably ... Read More
Holland America Oosterdam 7 Day Alaska Cruise 07/14/13 This was my 13th and my husbands 6th cruise. This was our third time to Alaska, but first time to Tracy Arm. Overall Holland America did an excellent job and the ship was impeccably kept. EMBARKATION: We arrived at 1130, and were onboard in about 20 minutes and our cabin was ready. We dropped out bags and went to the Mariner Luncheon in the dining room. Much more relaxing that going to the Lido. Then everyone set off to make their spa, specialty dining reservations, as these get booked up quickly for the best times. DINNER RESERVATIONS. (WHAT A MESS): I attempted to fix our dinner reservations, as we were a group of 10 and been told they could do this once I was onboard. We were sent back and forth between the dining room and the gangway and in the end contrary to what we were told when we booked, they would NOT accommodate us for a guaranteed reservation at 630 or 7pm for the 10 of us every evening even if we were willing to have 2 tables. They said we should just show up and they will seat us as soon as they could. (I know there are only 2-4 tables for 10 in the dining room so we may be waiting for an hour!) So much for open dining, so much for being able to make reservations only confirmation we could get was early or late so we took 530pm. This issue affected our entire cruise, as we had to rush to get to dinner nightly. I have never had this issue with my other cruises for my family reunion groups. Usually a small group of up to 10 can get a confirmed reservation in open dining at the same time nightly and I have done so on Carnival, Princess, NCL, and HAL in the past. Perhaps it was because they had a very large private group of 800 onboard, I dont know. STATEROOM: We booked VD Balcony and ended up in 4052 a handicap stateroom, which had a lot more room than a standard balcony. The location in the forward of the ship was convenient for the getting to shows, spa, crows nest, explorations caf and lido. It was of course a bit of walk to the dining room, but we liked it. The location was very quiet even though we were around the corner from the elevators. The cabin was very large with a lot of storage space. Due to this being a handicap cabin, we didnt have a bathtub, but instead a roll-in shower, large bathroom with plenty of space. The room had also a roll out balcony with no lip, but a slight ramp to go out and come back in. Our balcony was larger than most, and to the left we looked down on lifeboats, and to the right we were obstructed view by the ship jutting out. The TV was far away from the bed and it was very small, but ok. Our room was clean and well kept. The lighting as usual leaves a lot to be desired. Bed was comfortable but the middle seam from joining them caused a valley so we asked for an egg crate and it was then fine. I also asked them to put a top sheet between the fitted and the covers and bring extra pillow (now 6!). While the rooms are clean and well kept, if you have been on newer ship builds, they are lacking the interactive TV for reservations, checking your shipboard account, and other features similar to what is standard in most ships today. With all ship staterooms the storage space is limited, but we could put all our 3 bags of clothes in the closet, ask for extra hangers! The 2 drawers under the bed came in handy for non-hanging items, and our empty suit cases slid under the bed for storage. I still recommend everyone bring a hanging bathroom bag, so you have more space for your items in the bath. Hanging organizers such as for shoes are also handy in the closet for small items, if you dont want to bend over to get to those lower drawers and shelves. Magnets are handy for posting up the daily programs and notes to your room steward or spouse of reminders. The room steward was awesome, and I just left written instructions for what I wanted and he performed everything wonderfully. However, his assistant didnt seem to understand as much English and was more difficult to communicate with. We always want a ton of ice, fresh towels, and clean glasses. Which he always seem to do, but we had to tell him, that we wanted an additional ice bucket for ice, as ours was tiny. We take the ice and fill out glasses and when it melts it makes good drinking water, ice our warm drinks, chill our wine, etc. One annoying thing, was the mini bar staff. We removed items from our mini bar to make room for our stuff and they kept bringing us the items we removed. Which was ok, but the way they did it, was to knock on the door, shove a water bottle or can of soda at us, without any explanation. One time they even just walked in on us weird. I finally had a chance to tell him not to refill our refrigerator or drop off any things, unless we request them I had to put my hand on his sleeve when he attempted to hand me my warm diet coke to put in the refrigerator. Because if I took what he handed me, he was quickly gone and I am then standing there with items I am billed for and do not want! DINING: Lido: Holland America has a policy of not allowing passengers to serve themselves at the lido buffet for the first 48 hours onboard to limit the spread of viruses. While this does clog up the lines a bit, I really appreciate it. Most passengers go straight from terminal right to the Lido buffet, think of how many hands and surfaces theyve come in contact with? At the entry to all the restaurants there is an attendant with hand sanitizer and they offer this to you. So I felt very safe eating at this facility and all others on the ship. The restaurant had stations setup with various offerings, and usually repeated the ones in high demand on both sides of the buffet. Drink station of ice tea, lemonade, juice, coffee, water. Breakfast had a wide variety of make to order omelet station, eggs, potatoes, bacon, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, fresh fruit juice. Pastries, Bagels, Smoked Salmon, etc. Lunch included sandwiches, salad stations, fresh fruit, and breads. Hamburgers, Chicken Tenders, Hot Dogs, Pizza/Pasta station, Entries for fish, beef, pork, etc. They also featured nightly a cuisine from several different cultures Indonesian, Philippines, Asian, German, etc. In addition to the normal fare, they setup special buffets by the pool on certain days that were themed. Such as during the Tracey Arm day, they did a seafood extravaganza. Canaletto: Canaletto, a tiny (54-seat) Italian eatery, has been carved out of a corner of the Lido Restaurant and is open for dinner with reservations for a fee of $10. They serve Italian family style to share. They offer a series of Three courses  il primo, il secondo, and il dolci  are offered, carefully selected to focus on fresh, authentic regional Italian cuisine. Basically an antipasto offered by the chefs choice, an appetizer, entries, and dessert. On our visit with 8 the service was good, but I didnt find much of the Italian food any better than the main dining room. In fact the fare was very light, so order more than you think you would share. The opinion from my diners was it was not worth the up charge. Although I could see how many, who really like Italian food and dont want to wait for their favorites to appear on the main dining rooms menu, may opt to just make their reservations here. I was with that group. Some items were only as good as that on the Lido, like spaghetti with meatballs. Others were very good as youd expect at a fine Italian restaurant, such as the seafood, clams, veal. I would definitely do this if I liked what was on the menu. I would be interested to know if this venue varies in its reviews so much by ship or by the menu? Pinnacle Grill: Excellent, Awesome, totally worth the $25 up charge and more. We got a table reserved for our family of 10 on our Tracey Arm day. When we arrived, they had us down for 8, but immediately assured us they would fix it. Hint: make your reservations ahead of the sailing, or this venue does book up completely for the cruise. I had the halibut, it was to die for. Lamb kabobs, Steaks, Fish, Chops, everyone just raved. Even our pickiest eaters. The only quirk was for coffee. One of our diners wanted coffee with his dinner, but they kept telling him to wait until dessert? The request was made 3 times with the answer the same. Finally I found the head waiter and he said they only serve coffee with dessert. I said we didnt want a fancy one, just a plain cup of coffee and could he accommodate that? Yes of course. Gee Whiz.This turned a perfectly fabulous dining experience into a coma for the poor gentlemen falling asleep at dinner, waiting 1.5 hrs for coffee. Explorations Cafe: This top spot for coffee seemingly has it all. Now included on all of Holland America's ships as part of the Signature of Excellence enhancement program, this seagoing bistro offers reasonably priced coffee drinks (try the caramel-flavored Carmelo Latte), complimentary pastries and snacks, an extensive library, condensed international newspapers, Internet terminals (including some free sites) and Wi-Fi, desks, cool tables with reusable wipe-off NYT crossword puzzles and lots of plush chairs and sofas, many with great views. With so much going on, Explorations Cafe has set the standard for top coffee spots at sea. This is also where you can always get your soda when other venues are closed if you need your morning jolt from that. Our family used this location as our go to spot to sit and talk, relax, play chess, etc. The snacks are free whether you buy a drink or not. By the way the coffee drinkers in my group said the Lido and MDR coffee was quiet good and free. Now they are also charging in the MDR for espresso and other specialty coffees. Vista Dining Room: We had the 530pm seating, a table for 10. We had wonderful waiters. Our family didnt always arrive all on time, and they accommodated those that were tardy by speeding things up for them. They lived up to the quiet and unobtrusive service allowing our family to catch up with each other. I cannot think of any of the food I didnt find as excellent. One night I had ordered the salmon and it was a bit overdone, and they immediately brought me lobster instead. I ordered multiple appetizers, and/or soup and salads, and they didnt blink an eye. Our wine steward was not that good (seems to be a trend with me, Am I wrong, but at regular restaurants you get a drink very quickly with a smile!) He had difficulty with getting us setup with our drinks, a couple of us had the all inclusive beverage cards, and some had soda cards. He seems to be inconvenienced by this. He took and incredibly long-time to come by and get our drink orders nightly, and a long time to bring them. Our waiters pitched in and took up his slack with a smile. PORTS: Juneau: Beautiful and unseasonable hot 80 degrees. Could have worn shorts, and by the end of the day wish I would have. Having been to this port twice before, we did not book any ship excursions, because I knew there would be booths for most of these excursions right off the ship, and at  the price. Unless youre doing something that has limited availability and space, this lets you set your own schedule. Took one of the $8 shuttle buses to Mendenhall Glacier. Hiked to Nugget Falls about 30 minutes, took the scenic trails hike looked for bears and found none. The Nugget Falls hike is really more of a walk now that have improved the pathway and blasted a path thru the boulders you used to have to actual climb/hobble thru. The buses loop every 30 minutes, so once we had our fill of the scenery and hiking, we just waited for the next bus at the bus stop. The drive up and back was very beautiful and along the highway the inlet had salmon just jumping like mad out of the water, and there were several eagles hunting them along the Gastineau Channel. We saw eagles everywhere like pigeons. We asked to be dropped downtown. Weve done the Mount Roberts Tram here and decided to skip it this time, it is beautiful up there. Went by Red Dog which was packed, instead opted to get a cool drink at the Alaskan Hotel and Bar that is very historic. Grabbed lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack (great as usual, but packed) and then just walked around town, headed back after picking up some wine, beer and souvenirs back to the ship, Sitka: Took a private tour with Sitka Tours. Our guide Caroline was excellent. My group originally had said they wanted to do their Russian Historical Tour, but changed their mind and wanted to see the Fortress of the Bear, Raptor Center and Sitka National Park she smiled and immediately agreed to change it up! We got a lovely shuttle coach that sat 20 people for just the 10 of us! Wow. She met as soon as we got off the tenders and away we went. She narrated the route and told us some interesting facts about Sitka and also about each of the stops we visited. I would highly recommend them. The Fortress of the Bear was a lovely drive and we ran into a section where there was road construction, and while we waited she entertained us. The Bears were awesome. We went in the morning about 10am before lunch so the Bears were very frisky. They had 5 there divided into two family groups. The founder setup some treats in a ball that the bears had to jump up and swat to get them to come out. The bears swam in the water, the other bears were a bit younger and they played and romped. Two of bears were kissing. One was making a sign to us for more the naturalist told us. I adored Toby the female red bear. She reminded me of a sweet dog. They have restrooms, a shop to buy water/snacks. They also have turkeys, goats, ducks, and huskies. The Alaskan Raptor Center was a great stop, they have an indoor space for injured birds you can see up close, and then they do a presentation and bring in a live Bald Eagle to see up close. Next you can view all the raptors in their outdoor habitats. We saw eagles, owls, and hawks, and a wealth of information about raptors and has a walking trail connected to its bird viewing area. The trail was very beautiful easy hike thru the forest. The Sitka National Park has a beautiful collection of totem poles, art and historical information on the culture of the Tlingit natives and history. Surrounding the park are several easy walking trails, one goes along the ocean and one goes to the salmon stream. From here we walked back into town, stopping off for some of the best spicy clam chowder, and then stopped at the Sheldon Jackson Aquarium. My son (18) and nephew (13) had to be pried out of the aquarium some 25 minutes later. The few closed tanks with small local fish and anemones were okay but the big attraction were five touch tanks filled with bright anemones, starfish in shades ranging from red/orange to purple (some huge), also found in local waters, and which here you could pick up and examine. They were slimy (and some sticky) to the touch, especially the anemones which actually shoot off little drops of poison not harmful to humans. Outside was a hatchery with baby king salmon. Stopped by the Bishop house and several other sites on the walking tour map. Gathered gifts and of course stopped for items at the local drug/liquor store in town. http://www.sitka.org/includes/media/docs/sitkaTownMap2007.pdf Ketchikan: I booked a salmon fishing trip with experienceone.com fishing charters. It was great! We walked right off the ship and Captain Johnny and JR we holding a sign waiting for our group. We took a 5 minute walk down the pier to his beautiful boat. We got an overview on the way out of the fishing process and filled out our fishing licenses and paid for them. Captain Johnny had a nice clean big boat that was stocked with iced sodas, smoked salmon, crackers, cheese, grapes and yummy cookies baked by his wife. He immediately got to his spot within 10 minutes and started rigging up his 6 poles to put in the water. By the time he got the 3rd one setup we already had salmon hitting. There were 6 of us that day, and it was incredible day for fishing, we caught so many pink salmon it filled the entire cooler, my nephew caught a rare ling cod. It was interesting looking monster with lots of sharp teeth. We also caught rock fish and silvers. The fish only gave us a couple lulls in our 7am-12pm fishing trip. The captain said the rock fish were no good and he said, Let me catch you and eagle. He threw the fish up into the air, and on cue a bald eagle swoops down, he misses and has to come back 3 times to pluck the floating fish out of the water. Amazing. I accused him of doing this every time, but he denied he had that eagle trained. Once our time was near, we packed up the poles and speed back to the dock. On this route we filled out our forms to have our fish processed and shipped back to us. At the dock, we gushed at the Capt and JR and thanked them so much! When I called to check on our fish, I was informed just our 2/3 was 5 We then walked to the grocery/liquor store for supplies and got in a huge line at noon with the whole ship to get aboard. Victoria: It started out raining and lightning but then cleared. We just walked around toured the Empress, Government Street, China Town, the waterfront, the open air market. Took the 8 dollar shuttle bus out and back. Got Toffee and Maple cream cookies for the kids. Almost all the other tours were starting at 7 or closed at night. So either get on a tour immediately, or everything else is closed. The BC museum was open to 10pm with an excellent Dinosaur display but we didn't want to miss walking and checking out all the historic buildings the city was filled with. ENTERTAINMENT: The Spa: Signed up for the use of the Thallasotherapy Pool for the week. Enjoyed the private womens/mens locker rooms with robe, shoes and towels. They had showers and nice lighting for putting on your makeup (unlike my stateroom). Got a wonderful facial, afterwards they right down what products they used and ask if you would like to purchase any of them. Not very pushy, just said Id think about it. Gym: Very nice, a lot of equipment well maintained. We used the bicycles and weight machines. During one of our stays there was a free lecture. Shows: This sailing only had a 930 show time for the main theatre. We saw a few of the productions, and thought they were as good as any others, but nothing special. We enjoyed the magician and the ventriloquist. We also saw the Dancing with the Stars At Sea, which was really fun. Music: Most of the clubs seem to be empty at night, probably due to the Gospel group onboard going to their own activities. The musicians did a good job, but nothing special or outstanding. The Piano bar was always packed and very funny and entertaining. Movies: They played a lot of newer movies in the small movie theatre (Identity Thief, etc), and also played them on the TV in your stateroom. In addition, you could borrow movies from the front office to watch in your room. Naturalist: Our naturalist onboard did a great job throughout the voyage, and she was also broadcast on the intercom for the Glacier Viewing of the Tracey Arm. Fellow PASSENGERS: We were mostly among older folks onboard this trip. Probably due to the demographics of the large Gospel group. The Gospel group was polite and well behaved. However there was a definite lack of children and young families on this particular sailing. My sons who were older 18 & 23 were hard pressed to find companions their age, The 18 year old is too old for the teen club, but too young for any of the over 21 activities. My 23 year old didnt see many college aged counterparts onboard. My niece and nephew (16, 13) found kids in the clubs to hang out with. While there may have been less children in the Club Hals this sailing, there were still enough for them to meet some new friends and they had a great time. I would say out of my 3 Alaska cruises this cruise had the fewest children and young families I have seen. It wasnt a HAL thing, I think it was due to the Gospel being a majority, and most them travelling were older and without children/grandchildren. CONS/IMPROVEMENTS: The cruise was excellent, it is not their fault that the demographics were older, that just happens sometimes. I would say overall I would like to see the following: Open seating reservations. Allow reservations to be made at least 24 hrs in advance for 6, 6:30 or 7pm for all parties dont limit it to early up to 545pm or late after 745pm. Improve your beverage services in the dining room and other venues get the drink order quickly with a smile, regardless of cards, etc. Improve the menu in Canaletto or make it complimentary or maybe $5.00. Pinnacle; please serve coffee before dessert if requested. Room service has definitely needs to be more consistent and accurate as to delivery times. Lido offer more grilled chicken/turkey options, without everything being in a sauce. SUMMARY: Overall ms Oosterdam delivered a consistent low-key relaxed experience with friendly service everywhere on the ship. This ship is excellent for family reunion groups, families, retirees and couples. This ship may not be the right fit for those that are looking for a younger college or twenty something crowd, extensive sports activities, water parks, and a lively night life. The ship is older and does not have some of the newer and more modern accommodations and baths, but it is impeccably kept and a romantic classic. The ship is medium sized making it easy to get around and find others in your group. TIPS: 1. Weather in Alaska is un-predictable; it can be sunny and 80 degrees, or rainy and windy 50 degrees. Plan to wear layers so you can add and remove throughout the cruise and the day ashore. Most of our trip was unseasonable warm and sunny, we could have easily wore shorts, except for early mornings. 2. Luggage Direct is a great way to end your cruise. Send your bags ahead to your home airport and use your time to take a tour before you have to catch your flight home. 3. Sitka has a lot to see and do, and if you are in good shape you can just take the walking map and tour on your own. If youre not taking a tour with Sitka Tours, they are wonderful and can customize the trip to meet your needs. 4. Juneau is the easiest port to just walk off the ship and find a tour at the line of vendors. Mendenhall Glacier and Mount Roberts are definitely easy to do right off the ship. If its the excursion that only takes a limited amount of people, book this ahead of your trip. Fishing here is a bit of a drive and longer out than other ports. 5. Ketchikan has great self tours with the free local bus, ask the visitor's center, but if you've done that I would highly recommend fishing here, we didn't have to go very far to fish, and it is the salmon capital of the world. The fishing for salmon here is best mid July. We used Experience One Charters and Captain Johnny is awesome! 6. Victoria. You can walk into to town, its about 10 to 20 minutes, but you arent here long, and many attractions close by evening, so youre better off to take a tour. Tours that pick you up at the pier are Hop on Hop off Bus, Gray line, Horse Drawn Carriages, Ghost Walk, and it's faster than waiting for the shuttle buses to fill up. 7. Avoid the Lido the day of disembarkation and either order room service or go to the dining room (before 8am). 8. Collect your photos daily and ask the Photo center to hold them until the day youre at Victoria and then finalize before 11pm. 9. Use your webmail not your outlook for email or retrieving boarding passes, remember everyone else will be doing so at about the same time ... so it will be slow.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
My sister and I recently took a cruise to Alaska on Holland America's OOSTERDAM. Entire ship was chartered by Christian entertainer Michael W. Smith and he brought along pastor/author/speaker Max Lucado, award winning singer Natalie ... Read More
My sister and I recently took a cruise to Alaska on Holland America's OOSTERDAM. Entire ship was chartered by Christian entertainer Michael W. Smith and he brought along pastor/author/speaker Max Lucado, award winning singer Natalie Grant, singer Matthew West, comedian Henry Cho, and others. That alone was worth the trip! Howver, my total experience was MAGNIFICENT!! I would go again in a heartbeat and so would my sister. Our shipmates were from all over the world,including all 50 states, Australia, Canada, South America, and Europe The OOSTERDAM was beautiful and the only TINY complaint we had is that there is a shortage of outlets in the cabins. Since my sister has cruised previously, we prepared for that by bringing extra plug-in outlets with multiple ports. Otherwise, everything was wonderful. Staff, food, decor, were all top-notch and the beds, although small, were very comfortable. That was good because our 2nd day at sea was rough (10' waves and gale winds) and about 1/2 the passengers were sick, including me. I just stayed in my comfy bed and lovely cabin all day. I enjoyed Michael's programs in the Vista Lounge each night and the seats were very comfortable. Only complaint is the poles. Best to get there early to avoid sitting behind one. Otherwise, it's a very nice theater. Inspiration Cruises put together this cruise and did a terrific job. My sister and I are widowed and we were seated with 8 other single women, all divorced, all in our general age group. We bonded the first night and spent a lot of time together. We plan to keep in touch and maybe take another cruise again- hopefully on the OOSTERDAM! Alaska is so spectacular it's really hard to describe. It was a trip that was on my "bucket list" and I'm so,so glad I went. Glacier Bay was just awesome! I would definitely recommend some excursions, if you could possibly manage it. In Juneau, we splurged and took a helicopter over the Juneau ice fields and saw several glaciers. We landed on one and walked around. AMAZING! However, you can also take a floatplane for less money and just fly over the glaciers. I'm sure that would be wonderful also. These are the only ways to really appreciate the enormity of the glaciers. In Sitka, we walked a few blooks to a Native American cultural center and watched native dancers and got to speak with them. You can get the show times at the info booth at the dock in Sitka. Pay at the theater. (You have to take a tender from the ship). Cost was $8.00 each. Very nice experience. I also took a city tour by motorcoach followed by a trip to the Raptor center. That's a gorgeous facility/park where volunteers help injured raptors such as eagles, owls, falcons, etc. Weather was sunny and nice (a light sweater or windbreaker). In Ketchican, I took a motorcoach to Auke Bay in the morning (about 20 mins from ship) where I picked up a catamaran/boat and went whale watching. Saw quite a few humpbacks and some of their calves. Saw 2 Orcas. WOW!! Very enjoyable. That afternoon, my sister and I took a floatplane to the Misty Fiords National Monument. ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING! We landed on Rudyard Bay and got out for a few minutes. This is a "must see", as you will never understand the true beauty and magnificence of Alaska simply by walking around in town. You fly over mountains, valleys, lakes, streams, pass between sheer cliffs of trees, and see lovely waterfalls. My sister and I are "talkers" so we met and spoke with quite a few Alaskans who gave us interesting information and insights. I could go on and on, but just know that this was the BEST trip I ever went on- and I've traveled a lot! I thought Hawaii was the best, but I'd have to put Alaska above it. We did spend a few hours in Victoria, BC which was very pretty. To pass time, we took a motorcoach tour of the city and then had "High Tea" at the exclusive Empress Hotel. It was enjoyable, but nothing special. Since I've been to many "high teas", I expected our server to spend more time with us and really serve. Instead, she put everything on the table and left us. She only came by at the end. Unless you take a "rickshaw" type vehicle or cab, into town, there's nothing to see by the pier. The area near the Empress hotel is really nice and not too far from the pier. There are lots of shops and restaurants. I think it's a bit too far to walk. Alaska and ship weather- Bring a lined wind-breaker jacket with hood. It drizzles a lot in Alaska, but no need for an umbrella- it gets in the way. Long-sleeved clothes are best and maybe a sweater for under the jacket, as needed. For the glacier, I wore a long-sleeved shirt, 2 light sweaters, a wind-breaker, gloves and a hat, but I really didn't need those extras for anything else. No need for heavy coats or bulky sweaters. We brought way too many clothes, trying to be prepared for all kinds of weather. There are inside and outside pools and a hot-tub, so a bathing suit is appropriate. I don't want to forget one person- I had a first-rate experience with one of the Holland American reps in the Shore Excursion dept. Her name was Anja. She and I emailed and spoke on the phone a few times. She had taken the same trip last year and was so helpful and honest. She even sent me lots of photos of her trip to help me decide. By following her advice, my trip was unforgettable! Thankfully, we booked our excursions through Holland America because our trip to the glaciers ran very late due to weather postponments earlier in the day. We were late getting back to ship- my sister and I were the very last. However, the ship waited because we booked through them! Some helpful information: I am a young "senior". I get VERY, VERY motion sick, but not on this trip (other than that stormy night). I took 2 Meclizine pills daily, starting the night BEFORE boarding. This is the same as Bonine. I also took 2 Ginger pills daily, and wore Sea Bands continuously. I don't know what did it, but something, or a combination, worked!! I wouldn't have believed it. I also suffer from acrophobia- fear of heights- and have 2 knee replacements. BUT, I overcame these disabilities in order to get the full experience of Alaska. If I can do it, anyone can! I loved the OOSTERDAM and would definitely cruise on it again! We spent the night before the cruise at the Silver Cloud Inn in in Seattle. Nice hotel with free breakfast in the morning. Used AAA rate. Spaceious room, comfy beds. After the cruise we took a 2 hour boat ride around the Lakes of Seattle. Enjoyed it. Stayed that night at Klimpton Vintage Park Hotel. Absolutely gorgeous boutique hotel. Used AAA rate. BEAUTIFUL room, lots of space and VERY, VERY comfortable beds with 900 thread sheets and down (I think) comforters. We had the double, double deluxe room. We hated to leave in the morning. They also have a wine reception in the lobby at 5 pm daily. While in Seattle, we ate at 3 recommended restaurants and loved all of them. I made my reservations for the first 2 over a month in advance! Wild Ginger; Pink Door Restaurant (homemade Italian food- yummy- and entertainment including a trapeze artist); Cutters (on the water adjoining Pike's Market). Made advance reservations with AAA Airport Service (206-271-3761)to pick us up at SEATAC airport and take us to hotel before the cruise. Only cost $40. total door to door, plus tip. They use Lincoln town cars and were cheaper than taxis and better than getting to a shuttle and then riding around town dropping off other people. Very pleased with them. During brief stay in Seattle, we met a Yellow Cab driver who owned his own cab. Same rates as others (regulated by city), but very accommodating. He took me to Target on the way to the airport because I needed another suitcase! He got a very nice tip!! We arranged for him to pick us up when we went back to the airport- $32. plus tip. Mike- 206-618-9506 Hope this review was helpful! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
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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