EMBARKATION AND DEBARKATION 5.0 Embarkation was an overnight stop in Barcelona. I arrived late (as expected) and was handled quite efficiently. Debarkation was a Monday in Fort Lauderdale and was reasonably efficient; the usual weekend ... Read More
EMBARKATION AND DEBARKATION 5.0 Embarkation was an overnight stop in Barcelona. I arrived late (as expected) and was handled quite efficiently. Debarkation was a Monday in Fort Lauderdale and was reasonably efficient; the usual weekend chaos at FLL was absent.
CABIN 5.0 Standard size and comfortable, although with an unusual L-shaped configuration. The bathroom has the standard size and layout, with a single medicine cabinet rather than double shelving.
The mid-ships elevators have an odd, three-bank configuration, where a number of outside balcony cabins were replaced with scenic elevators. An expensive arrangement which doesn't work all that well.
DINING 5.0 Main Dining Room Huge portions of bland American comfort food. Numerous choices, although no separate salad or pasta courses. Little excitement, few surprizes. If this is what you want, they do it well. Service was "average"- not bad, but didn't live up to the marketing hype.
But formal nights were a farce, even though HAL is so uptight they even put it on the boarding pass (HAL may say that plaid sports jackets with orange polka-dot bowties are formalwear, but that doesn't make it so). Perhaps half actually wore something which was properly formal.
Buffet Mostly cafeteria service, rather than true buffet. Pasta and desserts available to 1:00 AM, although I was usually the only passenger after midnight; the "midnight" buffet was already finished. A little more attention to detail is required- for example there was no holder for the bread tongs, they ended up being placed on top of the bread. Ample hand sanitizer stations were available, but there was no enforcement.
Pinnacle Grill- Lavish presentation, but the food was not really much better than the MDR. Not worth the extra money.
FITNESS AND RECREATION 2.0 Fitness Room. No one I talked to reported any difficulty with overcrowding. The equipment seems to be good quality and in good condition. For some reason, the scale is calibrated in kilograms.
Do not expect many physical-fitness oriented activities. Although HAL has a reputation for "wheelchairs and walkers", I did not see many, and the ones I met had a positive, "can-do" attitude. But I saw a large number of very fat (BMI's of 50, maybe even 60) passengers. I'm a 60-year-old guy with a heart condition, but I felt like oneof the most active and energetic people on board.
ENTERTAINMENT 2.0 Shows The comments I heard indicated shows ranged from good to mediocre.
Cooking Displays I did not attend any cooking displays, nor did I hear any comments from those who did. Some were extra cost.
Event Evenings There were two major evening events, a 50's night and a Black-and-White ball. Both were crowded for about an hour, then everyone left. Exciting only in comparison to other activity on board.
Cinema Seating is comfortable but limited; signs are already posted about not bringing extra seats.
ENRICHMENT 1.0 For a ship with 2000 passengers on a Transatlantic crossing, there was not much choice, although it seemed to be adequate for demand. The topics seemed generally interesting, although I admit I did not attend the napkin folding lecture.
LGBT activities were scheduled almost every evening; also some sort of religious service every morning. I did not attend either, so I cannot provide any details.
PUBLIC ROOMS 1.0 Apparently there is a problem with old people trying to dance and falling down, so the ship puts sticky goo on all the dance floors. This makes it very dangerous to dance until it wears off, about two or three days. But there isn't much demand, most people go to bed by 11 PM.
Ocean Bar The house band is given music by HAL, and that's all they are allowed to play. Dreary, dismal stuff, at least a generation out of date. The group on this sailing was from Mexico and spoke limited English, so I am not sure how much flexibility they had regarding tempos and requests. They did play til 11:30 PM, but very few couples danced, the room was often empty.
Queens Room A multipurpose room, used mostly for cooking demonstrations, rarely for dancing. The dance floor is a decent size, but normally occupied by extra seating. There were a few evening activities, once even until midnight.
Crow's Nest A large, attractive lounge, used mostly as a piano (or guitar) bar; often reserved for private parties.
Disco The DJ tried very hard to find out what music passengers wanted. But the busiest I ever saw the disco was 9 people- most nights, none at all. The disco bar is a smoking area for the casino.
Library/Internet A decently sized library. Food available for purchase. Internet seemed to function at normal speed for a ship.
Casino Operates on a semi-cashless system. The machines will take cash, but only credit your winnings back to your cabin account. Quite a few 1-cent and 2-cent machines.
SERVICE 4.0 Not bad, but doesn't live up to the marketing hype. The Cruise Director did the usual shameless begging for inflated survey ratings; worse, partly-completed surveys disappeared from some cabins, including mine.
SHORE EXCURSIONS Not evaluated. But there was no effort to decontaminate passengers or bags returning. Steam cleaning of carpets was not done until night. One woman actually boasted about bringing local food on board. The ship must be assumed to have been contaminated with any local microbes at every port stop.
VALUE FOR MONEY 5.0 or 1.0, depending on your interests
If you want "Florida Retirement Home" ambiance with huge amounts of food, then this ship is an excellent choice. But if "life begins at 10 PM", stay far away - you will be travelling with some of the most boring people I have ever met.
Those with racial prejudices will be happy- passengers are white, servers are brown, blacks are not to be seen.
The Oosterdam did not strike me as a happy ship. The corporate MBA's in Seattle need to stop worrying about the survey system which is obviously flawed, and spend more time on board. Read Less