1 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Repositioning Cruises to Europe - Western Mediterranean

We often take a year-end cruise in the Mediterranean and enjoy visiting various ports along the way. This cruise focussed on the western Mediterranean and then crossed the Atlantic, ending up in Tampa. In all, we spent 39 days on the ... Read More
We often take a year-end cruise in the Mediterranean and enjoy visiting various ports along the way. This cruise focussed on the western Mediterranean and then crossed the Atlantic, ending up in Tampa. In all, we spent 39 days on the Oosterdam (two 12-day collector cruises and a 15-day transAtlantic cruise). Although we were supposed to join the ship in Civitavecchia, our Alitalia flight from Toronto was delayed four hours and this meant our arrival time was set for 5:00 pm - the ship was sailing at 6! Luckily we had booked our flight with Holland America and, once we phoned to alert them, they arranged for us to fly on from Rome to near Florence where we were put up in a hotel overnight and driven to the ship in Livorno the next day. Full marks to Tom in HAL's Seattle Office on this one for arranging everything - on arrival we found a bottle of sparkling wine in our cabin and $50 credit each for our meals. Having sailed with Holland America several times since 2007, we have noticed that while service levels from the Indonesian cabin stewards and waiters remain excellent, the rest of the experience is slowly being devalued. The first thing we noticed was that under normal circumstances, it's very difficult to get a seat in the Lido for breakfast or indeed lunch. This is thanks to the extra passenger capacity added since the ship was built. Another sign of decline is that the latest re-fit has almost done away with the Library which is now part of the Explorer Cafe and Crow's Nest. There is no librarian, you simply take the books that you want away with you (they must stay on the ship). If you like the quiet atmosphere of the library and a place to use your laptop on other ships, you'll hate this arrangement as both the noise of the cafe, art and Crow's Nest activities invade this small corner making it difficult to focus. Food is still generally good but decline is creeping in - for example, the only milk available for your cereal is UHT milk (with its distinctive taste) and it comes only in Tetra Paks meaning that you have to insert the straw and squeeze the carton repeatedly (think milking the cow) in order to pour your milk. Full fat plain yogurt is not available. In terms of sanitation, for the last leg of our trip, we noted that many passengers had no idea how to keep their hands off the food and plates. They would touch food or dishes / cutlery etc and return it. One gentleman was seen picking just the fruit he liked off individual fruit plates and putting them on his own. There should have been better supervision to deal with people like this. The last few days were spent in 'Code Red' thanks to an inevitable Norovirus outbreak. As always, an excellent room service menu is available with prompt and cheerful service and we found it to be a good alternative to the Lido crowds at breakfast. We had fixed seating for dinner in the main dining room and our waiters were excellent although they seem to have to work harder than ever before. One thing in large supply is wine stewards but we don't usually bother with wine since wine prices are high and the quality low. Our cabin stewards were excellent and worked around our schedule. Entertainment: there was a fair amount of entertainment but we generally like early nights. I took part in the quizzes but entertainment staff often repeat the same old questions making it a memory rather than a knowledge competition. Some staff tend to drone on about themselves or the many money-making activities on the ship. We didn't use the gym - the spa is very expensive. I find that keeping off the elevators and walking a mile on sea days helps keep the pounds off. We became 4-Star mariners by the Transatlantic portion and though we were entitled to 4-Star privileges, we had to pester front office staff several times to expedite this and missed out on our free wine-tasting. Not a big deal but if they're offering this, passengers shouldn't have to chase it down. It was nice having free laundry privileges. Speaking of Front Office Staff, we found a great variation in their levels of willingness to help. Often we would report a problem and find that we would have to explain everything all over again the next day since the original person failed to make notes. One was outright rude and accused us of being freeloaders when we asked about a wine package that HAL had given us. Lastly, we paid HAL for a transfer from the ship to Tampa Airport. The process was a total shambles with porters holding people to ransom inside the terminal and total chaos getting onto the bus organized by HAL. A sign indicating where to catch the bus would have helped. Once we had scrambled onto the bus, we had to get off to check that our luggage had been loaded. Adding to the fun, the air conditioner apparently couldn't operate if the bus wasn't moving so we sat and sweltered through the loading and checking process. Hint: take a taxi - they're cheaper, cooler and you won't worry about your luggage. In summary, we find that we're outgrowing Holland America - the quality of the experience is going down. They seem to be moving towards being a budget cruise line and attempting to extract money from passengers once they're aboard. We'll be looking elsewhere for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
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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