82 Holland America Oosterdam Romantic Cruise Reviews

We returned last night from what will now be referred to as 'the trip from Hell on the Oosterclunk'. I will start out by saying we have taken 28 cruises on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Azamara, and in the past 12 ... Read More
We returned last night from what will now be referred to as 'the trip from Hell on the Oosterclunk'. I will start out by saying we have taken 28 cruises on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Azamara, and in the past 12 months, two other Holland America ships. Imagine our disappointment to find that the Oosterdam is in such disrepair that they would offer us an oceanview room on 1st floor right which was filled with 'engine noises' that were evident morning, noon and night...to the point in was in tears and not able to sleep. The ship was apparently full...we were told the only way was if someone left the ship would they be able to offer us another room...we gave up....but after 6 days someone did vacate a room up on 5 and we were able to relocate there. For that we were grateful...however there were other major concerns we found. Lack of sanitization stations throughout the ship...not once did a staff member offer or remind anyone to sanitize their hands and we were amazed by this considering it is now the new normal on all other ships we have been on. The nightly line up at anytime dining was inexcusable...expect to wait 20 - 30 minutes and on formal night we waited over an hour...we gave up some nights and headed to the Lido Buffet rather than beg for a table for two...and that had issues of its own....large groups of staff, and spa staff gather and congest the tables so that guests had difficulties finding places to sit. Food choices were very poor...and I would rate food average at best. Steak tough, few fish options even fewer vegetable offerings ...desserts were often inedible. Staff were not up to par with our other Holland America cruises...and I believe the front office staff are not equipped to handle the many complaints coming their way from disgruntled guests...and there were many we chatted with during our 11 days. The Oosterdam is old, tired and clearly in need of an overhaul. When paying for a cruise holiday, one should not have to beg for sleep, an acceptable dining experience or wonder about the cleanliness of the ship due to lack of sanitization by fellow guests...this is unacceptable. We did receive two letters of apology and a small onboard credit on the last day, however by this time our vacation was ruined and we will no longer be considering Holland America for any future cruises. Please note we have never had to formally complain about anything on any other cruiseline and I do regret having to write such a review but since I use cruise critic to assist in my planning i hope to offer some insight and consideration for others in making their choice. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our third Holland America cruise, our first to the Caribbean. Although the Caribbean isn’t my favorite itinerary, Holland America is DEFINITELY my favorite cruise line! We flew in a day early and stayed at the ... Read More
This was our third Holland America cruise, our first to the Caribbean. Although the Caribbean isn’t my favorite itinerary, Holland America is DEFINITELY my favorite cruise line! We flew in a day early and stayed at the "Cruise and Fly" Ramada. It was adequate but you could probably find a better value elsewhere. It did include a shuttle to the cruise dock though so that was good. Embarkation in Ft Lauderdale was crowded but organized. We were sailing on Oosterdam and we got on the ship at about 12 noon. The Oosterdam was my first and I’ve got a soft spot for her. She’s a great ship. Our stateroom (6092) was ready and our luggage was already there! We dropped off our carry-ons and headed straight for the Dive-In bistro at the forward pool. The food was great as always. In addition, the taco bar they set out next to the Dive-In is exceptional. I ate many a taco out there. After that, we went back to our cabin to unpack and settle in. We always get a Signature Suite because we like the double sinks and two showers. The balconies are great too, with four chairs and two tables, one tall and one little short one. We were traveling with another couple and instead of getting adjoining cabins, we just opened the partition between the two balconies. It worked out great and we didn’t lose the cabin space that would have otherwise been taken up with the pass-through door. Although extra perks do come with the Neptune Suites and we have been in them, we have never felt the need to upgrade to one because for just the two of us, Signature Suites have plenty of room, amenities and storage space. As always, the bed and linens were superb. The TV’s are a little on the small side and somewhat outdated but I’m sure they will be upgraded soon. The only trouble with the cabin that we did have was a strong exhaust smell one night out at sea. The crew was VERY attentive about it and it was resolved to our satisfaction. Whatever they did to fix it worked because it never came back. 6092 is a great location. Very quite and pretty convenient to mid and aft elevators. Of course, our cabin stewards were fantastic as always. The gym and spa area on the Oosterdam is very nice. I did the morning stretch class a lot and hit one of the numerous treadmills quite often. I only had to wait for a machine one time. All of the equipment was well maintained and working. There were plenty of lounge chairs available on both pool decks on most days but shade is a little tough to come by if you don’t know where to look. There was always plenty of bar staff roaming around and it was very easy to get a drink when you needed one. Our cruise fare included the Signature drink package which allowed you 15 drinks a day. That sounds like a lot and it is but you gotta remember that includes premium coffee, sodas, smothies and hot chocolate etc. I drank A LOT and still never went over the 15 but I’m sure I came close on most days. My DW on the other hand never came close to maxing out. One bone of contention though, the drinks have to be priced at $8,00 or less each and most of them are but one night we ate in the Pinnacle Grill and wouldn’t you know it, the cheapest glass of wine was $8.50! Come on now, you’re telling me that you can get a glass of wine anywhere on the ship for less than $8 bucks but in the Pinnacle the cheapest is $8.50 and therefore not eligible to go on the drink package? It is a blatant and disingenuous attempt to squeeze a few extra dollars out of someone who is ALREADY paying a premium just to eat in there. I was a little ticked at that and refused to order anything other than water. To tell you the truth, the Pinnacle was good but I don’t think I got $29.00 worth of better than the rest of the ship. The food in the Vista dining room was very good on most nights and I have to say, the soups were consistently EXCEPTIONAL. On the second gala night we were served surf and turf and the lobster was great. The steak was pretty good too. We choose anytime seating and very rarely had to wait for a table. The service in the Vista Dining Room was consistently good and efficient. One thing though, and maybe it was the itinerary, but it seems that more and more people have no qualms about showing up for dinner in shorts, sandals and tee shirts. Even in the Pinnacle Grill there were people in polo shirts and jeans. Come on people, if you don’t want to get dressed for dinner, eat in the Lido or order room service. Sheesh! The service in the Lido was very good. I personally witnessed a lady ask for a soft boiled egg and the server went in the back, brought out a boiler, scrambled around to find a place to plug it in and then proceed to give the lady what she wanted. Another server went and retrieved all the food for an elderly gentleman who had mobility problems. He even got chocolate milk! Where did they get that from? They did all this with a smile and good humor. Even the pizza was pretty good and I know that it has had some issues in the past but not this time. Well done Holland America! I went to all the main stage shows and they were very good. The Oosterdam dancers and singers were first class. The lead female has an awesome voice and the numbers were very entertaining, even a little risqué at times I might add. BB King’s Blues Band was entertaining. The lead singer was the same as we had seen last year on Eurodam but the lead female was different. This band had one less horn player than the previous one as well. I’d have to say that the band we saw on Eurodam beat this one. The piano bar entertainer (Barry from Boston) was a disappointment. Even though we had seen him on Eurodam last year I didn’t remember him being this unentertaining. Too much talking and not enough crowd participation. The piano bar was virtually deserted all cruise and this is unheard of on most ships. I gave him several tries but just couldn’t stomach it and always left quickly. On the other hand, Adagio, the piano-violin duo, was beautiful. I made it a point to catch them every day before dinner. It was wonderful. The Band (Otherwise known as the HalCats) was pretty good too. They were a five piece and every time we would walk by it seemed like they were playing a song we wanted to dance to so we would drop everything and hop on the floor for a whirl. It was a great time! I myself didn’t do many shore trips except Half Moon Cay which was nice and St. Kitts for a taxi tour we booked on the pier. $90 for just the four of us in a large air conditioned van for 3 hours. The guide was a native and very knowledgeable. It was nice tour and she got a $10 tip. My travelling companions went on several shore trips, always booking on the pier and they all said that St. Lucia was their favorite. One of the ship activities was making luggage pom-poms. This was fun and they came in handy for the trip home. Disembarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was pretty smooth. A lot of people but the line moved quickly. Plenty of taxis waiting to go to the airport. It was less than $20 for all four of us and lots of luggage. We had a van and it was an easy trip to the airport. Even though the Caribbean isn't my favorite itinerary, Holland America made sure I had a wonderful time. While we were onboard we booked our Panama Canal cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The inhospitable environment created by the leadership of the Oosterdam ruined our Holland America cruise experience! We were sold a drink package that was difficult to use. DO NOT buy the Signature Drink Package. This ship only ... Read More
The inhospitable environment created by the leadership of the Oosterdam ruined our Holland America cruise experience! We were sold a drink package that was difficult to use. DO NOT buy the Signature Drink Package. This ship only accommodates people that rise early and are in bed by 11pm. Although every night the bars we were socializing in still had patrons, the staff were instructed to close. (First night the last bar on the ship closed at 12:15am; there were still 10-15 people in the lounge). My husband and I met interesting people from all over the world and had every evening cut short because the managers instructed their staff to close. I do not go to bed at midnight. Nowhere in the WORLD do bars close at that time. I lodged numerous complaints, finally meeting with the food and beverage manager to no satisfaction. We were left unattended in the lounges every night and felt vulnerable to other (sketchy) guests who were also left unattended. A reasonable concession would have been to keep a common area open and staffed. Perhaps even a coffee shop for those who choose not to retire early. Breakfast was shut down early some days and when we arrived at 10 am the food was not replenished. They started pulling down breakfast before the posted close of 10:30 am. Our state room was run down and inadequately furnished. It was located on Floor 1 above the anchor which woke us early each morning (metal on metal for about 2 hours) while we docked. We could also hear the music from crew parties somewhere below us late at night. The serving staff were friendly and hospitable. In contrast, the front office and leadership we encountered were accusatory (how it is our fault that our room key quits working almost EVERY day? NO! It is not next to my cell phone or any magnets!) They were rude, unaccommodating, and condescending. My husband and I will NEVER cruise Holland America again. This is NOT a 5* cruise. It is not enough to say you have 5* amenities, you actually have to provide them. I have never felt so disrespected on a vacation, we felt like we were cattle being herded. In contrast, the serving staff (bartenders, hostess, & wait staff) were really excellent! Special mention should go to Mabel, TJ, Davis, Achmad, and Joel they absolutely made every attempt to create a wonderful experience for our vacation. The bartender at the sports bar in the evenings was difficult and did not accommodate us on numerous occasions (likely because I challenged him on shutting down so early on the first night). Our issue was more with the officers, they were very defensive, inhospitable, and disrespectful. I walked onto the deck with a drink the first day and I was abruptly told to go inside (other patrons had drinks but my group was targeted; I’m sure my age had nothing to do with it!). My husband set our food tray in the hallway after we finished breakfast one day (like you would do in any hotel). An officer knocked on our door the next morning to explain that this was unacceptable. My husband apologized for not knowing the policy to which she abruptly lectured him reiterating over and over that this was not acceptable. A kind, simple directive would have been suffice and made us feel like value guests instead of criminals being interrogated. It was a food tray, relax! The front desk staff were adequate at answering questions but if we were to complain the dialogue shifted to disinterested and dismissive. They were not interested in fielding complaints and concerns. We gave them every opportunity to rectify these issues while we were on the ship; instead they chose to disregard our concerns. I think it’s interesting that I received the request for feedback via email before I even returned home. It has been 1 week since I submitted the feedback survey yet, I have heard nothing. Holland America do you really care about feedback? Listen to your guests when we are on the actual ship! Our wonderful experiences on Royal Caribbean and Disney proved that Holland America is only capable of catering to one demographic. If you are under the age of 65, you will not be accommodated; instead treated with discrimination and suspicion. For the record I am 38, and my husband is 42, we have a lot of cruising ahead of us. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Stayed in aft cabin 4176 on a surprise for DW's 60th. Had only cruised with Celebrity before this, but this cruise worked out best timing wise. I want to make a disclaimer with an overarching point: If you can't be happy and ... Read More
Stayed in aft cabin 4176 on a surprise for DW's 60th. Had only cruised with Celebrity before this, but this cruise worked out best timing wise. I want to make a disclaimer with an overarching point: If you can't be happy and enjoy yourself on a cruise, you just ain't trying. This is an awesome way to travel and a privilege to be able to do so. I really appreciate all the planing and work that went into making a cruise like this possible. The criticisms that make their way into my points below are just quibbles. I get it that I have just been treated very well and am very blessed. ALASKA. A+ It is huge and vast, the largest US state by far, yet only about 1% is privately owned land, so it is the least densely populated US state. Of all the actual countries in the world, only 18 are larger than this US state. It is the northernmost point in US, westernmost point in US, and even the easternmost point in US (the Aleutian islands cross the international date line). There are a double digit number of mountains taller than the highest point in the lower 48. It is bold, raw, and a place of extremes and simplicity mixed together. Many places people were people live here are inaccessible by roads, including the capital city of Juneau. One can see the planet actively being shaped and recently having been shaped. Seeing all this made me feel small and humble and yet also elevated by having been made to feel so. Even now in early sumner, the weather varied a lot. We were lucky to have had sunny days permitting far away views, and mostly warm temperatures (60s and 70s), sometimes enough that I was sweaty with just a t shirt. But we had fog and rain too and at one point we had chills enough that I needed several layers with my winter hat and earmuffs and gloves. Most of the time the sun set well after 9 PM and often after 10 PM , usually light starting outside well before 5 AM. Alaska for a cruise was very beautiful. Having grown up Oregon, the types of trees and some of the terrain reminded me a lot of home in some ways, especially Vancouver BC to Ketchikan. The Inside Passage had always sounded underwhelming to me compared to the "real" Alaska interior to the north. That was a wrong perception. There is nothing minimalist about the Inside Passage. It is easy to see and there is so much nature, culture, and diversity in terms of how to see it. While excursions offer profound experiences, one could also see a lot by the sailing itself and then do stuff on your own in each town, easily rewarding a car rental and/or some advance planing, and a willingness to seek out small town life. A bonus in the Inside Passage is just sailing from place to place. The water journey itself is almost constantly exposed to scenery so there is almost no time you are not seeing good stuff. And although we had profoundly lucky sunny and warm weather most of the time, the times we had rain and fog and cold did not change any of the above. I do think that this means the Vancouver departures/arrivals have an advantage because the part between Vancouver BC and southern Alaska is mostly nonstop scenery whereas Seattle has a day at sea between it and southern Alaska (tempered, sometimes, by a stop in Victoria, but even then the sailing route is mostly just open sea). I would consider Seattle though because the cost would be less both for the cruise and the airfare from the US 48. Still want a way to come in the winter to see northern lights (obviously a cruise would not be the way to get here in December or January!). I really loved it here and hope to return often, like a song you can enjoy over. HAL VS. CELEBRITY wait for it ... SEATTLE - VANCOUVER HAL SHUTTLE B Worked well, it was easy, and I'd do it again. But a bus ride is a bus ride so this can only get so good. I must say I would have liked to spend some time in Vancouver so next time might just go there first. I liked that the coach was arranged with HAL so if there had been a snafu, the ship would have waited and would have taken care of us. Made me feel less stress as soon as I got on the bus, and kinda felt like the cruise had started. EMBARKATION (VANCOUVER) B- Took under an hour, fairly efficient, but again, how "good" can something like this be? Also, would have liked a more dramatic place to step onto the ship with, a grand foyer or something to feel that "not in Kansas anymore feeling." Quibbling points to be sure. DISEMBARKATION (SEWARD) C+ A bit chaotic. Long cues, not clear where to go at times. All worked out in the end. The coach arranged for us through HAL was a bit too close in time to the fight arranged for us through HAL, but, again, all worked out in the end, and we were at our gate and waiting in a very nice Anchorage airport terminal by 10:30 AM for our 11:35 departure. AFT CABIN LOCATION A+ We had cabin 4176. Maybe best thing about this cruise, other than Alaska itself. I had read complaints that the engine would be too loud or the vibrations too much. Not so (though could hear and feel it sometimes). Remember that the dining room is in this area too, and lower and closer to the engine that the cabins are, and the dining room is OK with respect to these issues. Some feel that this end of the ship rocks too much. Though I have a tendency to sea sickness (and carry scopolamine patches with me for this reason), I felt fine compared to walking around rest of ship (and never needed my patches). I had read that soot gets on balcony. Yeah, some, but not enough to matter. The view of the wake and the 270 degree view of both port and starboard were super. And, the sound and changing waves of the wake was like sitting on a beach and experiencing the changing sight and sound of waves; became mesmerizing, sitting before a log fire. Sitting on our veranda with same view the historic sea captains of old would have had from their quarters gave the feeling that the cruise was somehow privately here for us. In fact, a channel on the in room TV gave exactly this view 24/7. I'm totally hooked. (and, ruined -- these are hard to get!) CABIN ITSELF A- Comfortable beds and big comfortable pillows. Lots of space and appreciate several things about layout. The metallic walls allowed magnets to hang things up. Art on the walls was a nice touch. Layout of lighting was good and effective and liked having switches by bed. Extra chair and fold out couch gave good sitting room. Small desk was adequate. TV worked, few channels to choose from, and did not care. Veranda had two comfortable chairs one with stool, a small table, and a recliner. Storage was abundant and very well conceived. My wife and I are one bag each travelers so we did not need a lot, but nice to have had it. Even the stool for the desk is hollow with a top that lifts to use the inside space for storage. Can store several bags under bed. Three standing closets, one with lots of shelves and a locking safe, and the others for hanging clothes each have larger shelves that can fold down or not as you wish. One even had a rack for belts and ties. Several shelves in bathroom too, for toiletries. Shower with good water pressure, massage head, and was a tub-shower mix. Clothes line for drying clothes over tub. Cannisters of self serve shampoo, conditioner, soap in shower worked well. Room decor and materials a bit dated and worn, but everything very clean and working well. FOOD B Not the high point, which saddened me, but some was outstanding, especially Le Cirque, and I would pay for that again. Most food at MDR was good to very good. Pinnacle grill was very good but not the first rate special meal I was expecting and do not think I'd pay for the experience again. I found buffet sometimes disappointing in both variety and quality, but choosing wisely allowed me to stay with options that were good. I'd more or less skip the buffet next time if I could. Room service was efficient though missed items were not rare. Still it became our preferred mode for daily breakfast and was a great option for us, always on time after ordering in advance the night before. Also, room service for dinner one night was a great experience, ordered off the MDR menu (though in part it was a great experience because of our veranda and the view that night)). On the whole, the entire food experience was decidedly above average, but not best most special category, and so a solid and appreciated "B." ENTERTAINMENT A Went to one show which was illusionist and fine. But really enjoyed classical music every night, a pianist and violinist duo self named "Adagio," played several hours each night, in Explorer's Lounge. Became popular and packed. Though this is highly subjective, that one venue and these performers made evenings a real joy each day for us. Stayed till they finished at 10 each night (usually still light out, because .... it's Alaska!). There did not seem to be a lot going on when we returned to our room after that but really was not looking. I do not know if others would have found as many options as they might have wanted. For me, though, this was excellent. Some of the other offerings good too, such as the live cooking demos, but missed most of these because we were out seeing Alaska! PUBLIC SPACES A- The ship goes to dry dock next year and I assume it will have a face lift. The vessel looks older than the super duper new sips coming out in recent years, well used but clean, in good repair, and just fine. It looks used and loved, not used and abused. But, it looks used, and used hard in some places, with some fabrics and furnishings worn, some styles dated. The spaces are very well attended to, and clean. I like the deep blue or warm earth tone colors that felt calm and welcoming. The ship has many pleasant public spaces to spend time. I especially liked the flow from one space to another, and in particular the use of curved and rounded passages and rooms, giving the illusion of more space and not one rectilinear box overall. I especially liked the look of the dining room which felt more like a nice restaurant than a cafeteria. INSIDE PASSAGE, VANCOUVER --> KETCHIKAN A Captain chose a more inland route and the wall of forested greenery on either side of ship was sublime. Sat out on deck all day. Felt like time had stopped. KETCHIKAN, WILD WOLF TOURS EXCURSION A- Competent though unspectacular private tour made better by excellent guide Tracy, whose personal stories of growing up here and her native family heritage made this much more special. Enjoyed spending time in town, especially lunch and view from Cape Fox Lodge. JUNEAU, TRACY ARM FJORD HAL EXCURSION A+ A town with a bit of size has some more to offer. Enjoyed walking into town and meeting people. Some very good food near the pier. HAL excursion from here into Tracy Arm fjord was best of trip and a huge life long remembrance. I think this is the best port of the trip with the most options. If you re going to splurge on n excursion, here is the place to do it. SKAGWAY, FRONTIER ADVENTURES YUKONER EXCURSION A Deceptively substantial town for its very small size, walkable with some good food, a few nice excursions possible. Would rent a car next time and go up into Yukon. GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK A Stunning commanding beauty. Another world feeling. History and geology and scenery conjoin. Liked having the forest rangers' input and that of the Tinglit native -- gave it a very special feel. Glaciers were not as impressive as the small boat experience at Tracy Arm but still very imressive. SERVICE, STAFF A- Very well trained. I appreciated their uniformly hard work. Friendly, but in a politely restrained way. Even if formulaic, everyone said and did all the right things. The theme seemed to be to make me feel warmly welcomed and taken care of when I asked, else not intruded upon. The result was a nice balance. Very little of the more intrusive effort to sell drinks, photos, etc such as on Celebrity. To some the style might seem so laid back as to give a sedate and hands off feel, but I felt this was instead a contentment to let me have a good time but still remain open and ready to serve me. A tough balance. Smiles and friendliness whenever I passed ANYONE. Often saw workers carefully cleaning public areas each day. Stateroom cleaned and resupplied daily and reliably. I would summarize the theme as hospitality rather than sophistication, and it makes for a serene and relaxing feeling that marks the experience better than any one single other element. HAL vs. CELEBRITY I have liked Celebrity a lot, and did not intend to consider other mass market lines before this. My initial feeling on this ship was a bit disappointed, seemed less luxurious, less exciting, food less good. While I think those impressions were true to some degree, I warmed to HAL each day, and I would now temper my initial feelings. The HAL experience is more like going to a hotel in the US National Register of Historic Places than a modern glass and shiny new hotel. I appreciated the feeling created on ship. I would sail HAL again if I can. I will still like Celebrity too. Much has been written about the smoking policy. I did smell smoke from cigarettes and some pipe / cigar on our deck from time to time. I would have preferred that it were not so. I prefer Celebrity's more restrictive policy. That said, this was not a major theme of the trip. Which line is better? I think the question is unanswerable. While I can see some people having a clear preference, I think it's more correct to say that they are both good in somewhat different ways. Just as an apple and an orange are good foods, or New York and Chicago are good cities to visit, I don't think one can say one is objectively better than the other. There are so that hate apples or Chicago, most would find plenty of merit in all these choices. Celebrity I think had better food, and feels more shiny, splashy, and HAL feels nice, calm, relaxing, warm, contented. I'm glad to have extended to be in the HAL family now. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We did a 14 day cruise tour to Alaska and as usual Holland did not disappoint us. We stayed in a Neptune Suite and the service and accommodations were outstanding. Our room was beautiful, very clean, spacious - the Neptune Lounge was a ... Read More
We did a 14 day cruise tour to Alaska and as usual Holland did not disappoint us. We stayed in a Neptune Suite and the service and accommodations were outstanding. Our room was beautiful, very clean, spacious - the Neptune Lounge was a real treat and we enjoyed having access for morning coffee and light breakfast options as well as afternoon tea and canapés. We were spoiled! The shows on the ship were good, however this was Alaska so who needs shows? We did attend a couple of the music numbers, Dancing with the Stars finale, the comedian and the illusionist show. Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto were exceptional as always. The service in Pinnacle was outstanding - we were seated at the same table each evening and really enjoyed our dining room steward. Once on land all of our accommodations were well appointed - Alyeska was magnificent and a stand out along with the Westmark Fairbanks. The Chalet at Denali is rustic but clean and nice - what you would expect in a national park lodge - it's no frills but comfortable. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We embarked in Sydney fron the new White Bay cruise terminal, which was ok but disappointed not to be in Circular Quay. Was not allocated a cabin till checking in despite asking for a good cabin when booking a year earlier. We were on ... Read More
We embarked in Sydney fron the new White Bay cruise terminal, which was ok but disappointed not to be in Circular Quay. Was not allocated a cabin till checking in despite asking for a good cabin when booking a year earlier. We were on deck one , near the bow, but the cabin was ok. We were on anytime dining, the food was not great, there was only 3 nights out of 14 that we could say we really enjoyed our meal. The choice was limited, with only a couple of new items on each night, mostly the same options night after night. Service was not that good, we did eat in the lido each morning, some staff were very good, most were indifferent, not bothered. Same with the bars, some staff were excellent, especially Josef in the pinnacle bar, but some were poor. There was a 15% surcharge on all bar bills, disgusting when you consider the charge of $23 per day gratuities, we refused to pay that and opted to pay half, although wish now that we had not paid anything at all. Entertainment was not great, most of the acts were mediocre, did a couple of quizzes, the piano bar was quite good for a couple of nights but repetitive after that. The excursion charges were extremely high, not good value for money. it was very easy to arrange excursions from the ports, the information centres were very good, helpful and a lot cheaper than the ship prices. We particularly enjoyed Napier and Picton in New Zealand. We did a tour in Rotorua with Mount Tours, booked on the dockside, that was brilliant. All in all a disappointing experience with Holland America and would not sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful cruise (June 9-16) Holland American America service was outstanding. This was our second cruise to Alaska the other previous cruise being nine years ago. On our previous cruise it rained ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful cruise (June 9-16) Holland American America service was outstanding. This was our second cruise to Alaska the other previous cruise being nine years ago. On our previous cruise it rained every day, on this cruise we had beautiful beautiful weather and much warmer than expected. I am somewhat spoiled since our last three cruises have been on Oceania, which we enjoyed. Cabin - We booked the largest inside cabin 8041 since space meant more to us than a balcony. We did not ask for a free upgrade and were very happy with our cabin selection. It looked just like the picture on the website with a sofa a room to move around Dining - We ate most meals in the dining room and found most of the food to be tasty, hot and well prepared. The best part was Tedi our waiter on most nights. Portions for the entree are very small but most of the time we didn't mind since there are so many courses. I was upset when I ordered veal which was delicious but my portion was so much smaller than I saw other being served (3bites). If I asked, I am sure they would have brought more but I wanted to get to the show. Dinner didn't take an unreasonable amount of time and the dining room was open for lunch everyday except for one.I did not like the Mariners brunch. Only a few choices. I did like a salmon roast on deck and the salmon was good. I found a good variety of choices on most menus including several types of fish. I loved the soups available in the dining room much better than Oceania since most of their soups are cream based. I also loved their baked Alaska.We loved the specialty restaurants. My husband celebrated his birthday at the Pinnacle Grill. They surprised him with a cake and the food was comparable to an Oceania specialty restaurant?Ports - Tracy Arm was beautiful. Similar to Millford Sound in New Zealand but a lot closer to visit.Juneau - we had a beautiful day so Roberts tramway up the mountain was great no problem buying tickets when you get off the ships. 2 movies on top which we enjoyed. The views since it was a clear day made it well worth it.Sitka - Birds, Bears, Barnacles. Seeing bald eagles up close was fantastic, the bears were interesting. I didn't, care much for the Barnacle part of the tour since it was the wrong time of year for the salmon eqq process. We were glad overall that we did this tour.Ketchikan - just walked around town since we only had 4 hours and had been here before.Victoria - took Holland excursion Craigdarroch castle and city tour. We were disappointed. It's not really a castle like you see in Europe. Just an historical home. We didn't get to see the harbor until it was almost dark and the bus didn't even slow down for pictures. We would have been much better off going on our own directly to the harbor and china town which looked so interesting.Entertainment - it was fine. We enjoyed the shows. It's not Broadway but great after a nice dinner.The cooking demonstrations on the ship were great. As good as watching Julia Child. Informative and humorous. We had no problem with disembarkation and catching a cab to our Seattle hotel. Enjoyed Pikes market, gold rush museum (free from national park service), and the Chihuly garden and glass .We were glad that we selected Holland America. If you have reasonable expectations, I believe that they will be exceeded. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Background: We have never cruised with HAL, but had been on 2 Princess, 2 Carnival and 1 RC. We are 40 something's on a cruise with some good friends. We had been to Alaska before, back in 1997 on Princess. We flew in the day ... Read More
Background: We have never cruised with HAL, but had been on 2 Princess, 2 Carnival and 1 RC. We are 40 something's on a cruise with some good friends. We had been to Alaska before, back in 1997 on Princess. We flew in the day before, stayed at one of the hotels near the port and took their shuttle to the pier on day of departure. We were traveling together as 2 couples. We picked up my husbands scooter at the terminal. They had it ready for him. This was the first time it was not delivered to the cruise ship stateroom. As we proceeded through to embark, hubby and I were able to breeze through, but our friends had to go through as usual. I do not remember an embarkation taking so long as this one. We waited for them to get through the line and I believe we waited close to 2 hours. The line curved on forever. They did not have enough help to check people in. This was literally the worst thing on the entire cruise. Once they got through, we boarded and let the fun begin. Services: I enjoy going to the spa when on a cruise and this time was no exception. I really enjoyed the massage. I went on a port day and had no trouble getting into the time slot I wanted. The pool was very nice. Sat by that and caught some rays. A waiter was readily available should I need anything. Art Auction: My husband and I like going to the art auctions, but for some reason, this gallery and staff turned us off. One of the male auctioneers gave me the impression that he was too busy to stop and talk with me. Too bad for him, as we have purchased art before from other cruises. It is usually our reminder of the cruise and the good time we had. Instead, this trip I bought a Phillip Stein watch. Food: We ate in the main dining room at the anytime dining. We really enjoy that. 5 of the 7 nights we ate with our friends at a table for four. Food was excellent. In fact this is the best food we have had in a long time on a cruise. Only draw back was they kept seating us way in the back when my husband had his scooter. It was OK when we would go in because tables were empty going back, but when we would come out, the restaurant was packed and people had to get up and move their chairs in so he could get by. We suggested they seat us up front, but they always said no no no, it is no problem. We just nodded and said OK. Activities: Went to the Newlywed game- it was a blast. We haven't laughed that much in a long time. It was fun because the crowd was really into it also. We spent time up in the Crow's nest Lounge. We would play cards up there, have some cocktails and play trivia. Always a great way to spend a day at sea - great views!! Casino: Very nice Casino! Not too smoky. Huibby had a good time playing blackjack and even won a little. Casino staff very helpful. We enjoyed the slot tournaments they had. Disembarkation; Went very smooth. Much better than getting on. Little wait time. We were sad to be getting off. Wanted to stay another 7 days! Summary: We went to Alaska before with Princess Cruises in 1997. It was a different time and cruising was different. Food quality was so much better and this was our very first cruise and I think you always remember your first cruise. Having said that, I feel HAL was an excellent cruse to Alaska and I think the ports have improved since we were there. For seeing glaciers and the scenic shoreline, HAL was better! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I had read several reviews about cruising Holland America as well as the ship Oosterdam, I do not know what ship they were sailing on, but it could not have been the same. On a positive note, the crew were very friendly, always smiling, ... Read More
I had read several reviews about cruising Holland America as well as the ship Oosterdam, I do not know what ship they were sailing on, but it could not have been the same. On a positive note, the crew were very friendly, always smiling, and so helpful. Sometimes the language barrier was a little frustrating, but I would not trade that in as the crew was wonderful. That being said, lets start with the ship. It seems to be older, basically clean as long as you stay out of the casino, but there was not much to do unless you want to pay a couple thousand dollars just to get on the ship and spend several hundred more on shopping and activities. Everything seemed to cost. Internet usage was expensive, deoderant(my husband forgot his) was almost $8, every turn someone was trying to sell low quality wine at a price that would suggest robbery. I was excited about the movies, but there is only room for maybe 30 people-keeping in mind the ship holds around 2,000! And help you if you are caught saving a seat for your spouse, I thought one of the families who was saving a seat for her inlaws was going to have to walk the plank! Seating is cutthroat so go early if it is a decent movie that you really want to see. I went to an activity called "make a candy box", Ok there was no candy, and it involved a prefolded HAL box that took all of 15 minutes. * Ok now the room. I had the VA, which is delux verandah. I don't know what was delux about it. I always heard HAL rooms were bigger than other cruiselines-this room was no bigger than any other cruise I have been on, and our toilent did not work the first 4 days. We were constantly calling for someone to unclog it-keep in mind my rule is always flush twice, once before the paper and once after to prevent clogging. It was never less than 2 hours to get the toilet unclogged. Half the time it wouldn't even flush-you never knew when the toilet would work. Beds weren't bad, and the one thing I can say was great was the run of free movies in the room, especially since the screening room was always full. * The ship performances were low rate, say if you visited the old part of Branson Missouri, they were better performers. Even if you wanted to see the shows, there was no room. The only explanation I have for the tiny spaces, is they must have been trying to fit as many staterooms as possible, and no room for other spaces. The fitness center just plane sucked (sorry). It was one tiny room with a few treadmills and weights-people hovered trying to get a treadmill. My husband and I took to running the flights of stairs since working out was not working out in the fitness center. * The ports were great. Alaska is wonderful-but I would not take HAL to visit again. Careful with the excursions. We did the zipline and it was great-all we expected. The second excursion was not very active, and I did not realize that. It was the Wilderness Crab feast. The food was great, but it is more suited for a 70 year old than a 30 year old. We did meet a couple who found their own excursions in Juneau and Sitka. They went to a glacier on foot and kayaked-we were jelous. Their excursion turned out great and they made it to port in plenty of time. Yes, the boat will leave you if you do not make it in time, but don't let that scare you from a wonderful excursion, just do your homework. * Now I saved the best for last-the food. It was for the most part terrible. The positives- the fresh fruit is great, breakfast was just fine. It is hard to mess up 2 fried eggs and french toast, but that is where the good news ends. There were a couple exceptions. I had escargot and it was actually very tender and flavorful. That same night I had a salad with mushrooms and gorgonzolla cheese that was great. The rest of the food is typical buffet food. Tough beef-stay away from the prime rib, it is a sad waste of a cow's life, unless you like boot leather. Vegetables were super salty and full of butter, pizza was comparable to cardboard, I was given a salad that had bloated raisens and soggy apples-it was terrible. The desserts were awful, no flavor at all. We stopped eating in the dining room because it was the same food that was served on deck, and it took forever to get the food. We heard everyone say that the restaurants you pay extra for were great-but I already paid almost $3000, I should have great food. The better food on the boat is the in room dining. You are very limited on your choices, but the quality seemed a little better, and you didn't have lines of people. Oh, and you have a place to sit in your room. The buffet restaurant, you spend most your time fighting for a place to sit and eat before your food gets cold. * I am sorry this review is so negative, but both my husband and I were very disappointed. We are not first time cruisers, but may be last time cruisers. We were not the only passengers with this opinion, we spoke with several others who were disappointed. Yes there were people who were thoroughly enjoying themselves, but I suspect those are the same people happy with the golden coral special. If you like chicken stuffed with prunes, bloated raisens in your salad, the excitement of not knowing if you commode will work, and fighting to the death for a theater seat, this is the cruise for you, otherwise, I would look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our 2nd Alaska cruise but the first time we had ever sailed with HAL and while none of it was horrible it just wasn't anything special either. The food was ok in the Vista restaurant nicely prepared and served, the food ... Read More
This was our 2nd Alaska cruise but the first time we had ever sailed with HAL and while none of it was horrible it just wasn't anything special either. The food was ok in the Vista restaurant nicely prepared and served, the food in the Pinnacle was great excellent quality, taste and service, well worth the extra charge. The food in the Lido was just not good, mostly cold, not enough options and the hours of operation not very accommodating. The only station open through out the day was pizza and pasta and it never changed. The place is always a little trashy too, lots of table left with dishes too long, food on the floor not picked up just not well taken care of. The room steward was great but too often in other areas of the ship the service was spotty at best and downright sullen at times. The ship is older and definitely showing its age, chipped and cracked, needing paint little wobbles here and there, our door would not shut tight so we had to put up with a wind noise even after they "fixed" it. On the other hand the bed was the best we have ever had on any cruise and the bathroom while old and tacky was well laid out and had a great shower, too bad the tub didn't drain while you showered. The on board shops are very limited in selection and prices seemed high even for a cruise. The smoking area is not well ventilated so there is a very strong odor all around on that floor. The daily activities were very repetitive and not that interesting. The show lounge had some very good singers and dancers and they put on some nice shows, there were also 2 comics on the ship. They were not to my taste but I must say that everyone around me seemed to be loving them. The acts in the bars and other lounges were uniformly weak and not worth wasting your time. Two things that really bothered me the most is the ports of call and the time allotted to you in each of them. We spent all day in Tracy arm and then didn't see the glacier a real waste of time. We had a reasonable time in Juneau and Sitka but only about 4 hours in Ketchikan and then the biggest disappointment of all was getting into Victoria 3 hours late and having just about 2.5 hours to try to see one of the best walking and shopping cities in the world, and it was late at night. I found it very interesting that the NCL Pearl was still tied up at the dock when we left Ketchikan and yet was already tied up at the dock when we got to Victoria. I don't know whether they got lost or were trying to save on fuel. The second thing is kind of related to the first and that is that there are no comfortable chairs anywhere on this ship. Because of the itinerary we spent a lot of time on the ship, in fact I finished 3 books from the library, but could not find a chair or couch anywhere to sit more than an hour or so.I guess that is not entirely true, the ship has a nice small movie theater and the seats there were pretty good, they got a lot of use from the movie goers. Getting on and off the ship during the ports of call was very slow, but embarkation and disembarkation was handled very well, quick and smooth. If a friend asked me to recommend this cruise I would tell them all of the things to expect but probably still suggest they go if they got a great price. I think as long as you understood what this ship experience is you would be all right. Most of our cruises have been on Celebrity and they are just a better more polished experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We took our cruise on July 8th and we got back on July 15th, this was our 1st on Holland America. I had all high hopes and good thoughts for this cruise because I have wanted to go to ALASKA my whole life and was finally going. So I am ... Read More
We took our cruise on July 8th and we got back on July 15th, this was our 1st on Holland America. I had all high hopes and good thoughts for this cruise because I have wanted to go to ALASKA my whole life and was finally going. So I am going to do this review in groups and cover all that I can and I am going to be totally honest, don't want to make anyone mad or think all I am going to talk about is the bad stuff... here goes....Carla and Blue's trip to ALASKA on the OOSTERDAM..... Embark Day---- we arrived in Seattle about 11:30 and was picked up by the shuttle around 12:30 we arrived at the pier at 1:00 and got in line at 1:10 we were on the ship by 2, yes it took a while but there was alot of people there. I think it went pretty smooth a little slow but once we got to the counter it was fast from then on.... Cabin----- we went to our room 1st to put down our carry on's and our luggage was already in the room.. I was very shocked about this and happy because I was worried (there was another ship in port) that it would take a while, very happy.. we checked out our room, HAL assigned us a handicap room which we didn't ask for and it was a very good size, I loved our bathroom, No tub but the easy of just pulling a shower curtain and having all that room. Our sink was a little small but it did just fine. I loved the shampoo and hair conditioner and I liked the shower gel but my husband didn't he said it was to strong smelling. Our bed was GREAT!!!!! I Don't think I have ever slept so good and sound (even with all the doors slamming and kids running in the hall). We loved our balcony It just adds so much to the room and the beauty of the Mountains views..Food----- this is 1 subject that has so many different views but for us, we were pleased with the food. Breakfast was our favorite we got room service every morning but 1 we love the peace of having it brought to the room and not having to fight all the people so early in the morning. We ate most of our meals in the Lido and had No real complaints the food was always hot same with room service always hot BUT---- I was disappointed with the hours they had. And the dessert could have been a little more sweeter, LOVED THE ICE CREAM..We loved the black forrest raspberry cake... Tracy Arms---THIS RIGHT HERE IS WHAT GOT ME SO UPSET!!!!! THE mtns. was great with snow on them but we only saw one glacier far away and that was it!!! I know they have to be careful and it is our safety they put first but I just had in my mind that we would be up close and see alot of glaciers and icebergs and some sea life and animals (at the airport on the way home a woman who was on the Princes showed me some of her pictures of Tracy Arms and they got right on top of the glaciers and she said they stayed there a long time). So I don't know what happened made some of the other people on the ship with us knows but I was really disappointed, I asked 1 man at the front desk and he said you have to take a small boat out to see it up close... SO I DON'T KNOW. I didn't see any whales either I guess it just wasn't my time for Alaska I was expecting to much and I know this isn't HAL's fought but I did feel like they could have done better with the glaciers...Ok on to something else. We didn't pay for any extra tours or site seeing, we live on a very tight budget so going to Alaska was all we could do this time, BUT don't get me wrong Tracy ARMS was beautiful I was expecting more.. THE SHIP--- the ship was beautiful, the shops on board were priced good I thought and we got a few drinks in the evening buy one get the second for a dollar, I think they make good mixed drinks... But I was a little disappointed in how small I thought the ship was, there is not alot of outside space and not a lot to do on sea days... WORKER ON BOARD--- I LOVED OUR STEWARDS, I LOVED THE PEOPLE WORKING ON BOARD, THE PEOPLE AT THE FRONT DEST, EVERYONE WAS SO NICE AND HELPFUL AND ALWAYS WANTED TO SPEAK AND TALK WITH YOU. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We took the 7-day Alaskan Explorer Cruise on the Holland America Oosterdam from June 17 to 24. This was our seventh cruise and our third cruise to Alaska and they have all been on Holland America cruise ships. We enjoy the size of the ... Read More
We took the 7-day Alaskan Explorer Cruise on the Holland America Oosterdam from June 17 to 24. This was our seventh cruise and our third cruise to Alaska and they have all been on Holland America cruise ships. We enjoy the size of the ships, the friendliness and attention, and the wonderful cuisine and service. We flew nonstop to Seattle via SW Airlines. We had transfers to the Hilton Seattle Airport Hotel, but it would have been just as easy without the transfers, as the Hotel Shuttle was our transfer. The hotel was very nice, but next time, we will make our own hotel reservations and stay closer to the downtown area. We ate dinner in the hotel at Spencer's Steak & Chop Restaurant and it was excellent. We also had transfers to Pier 91, but the HAL bus was not leaving the hotel until 11:30 a.m. so we had the concierge get us a town car. This allowed us to get to the pier early and board the ship earlier. The embarkation process at the pier was run very efficiently. Upon boarding, we went to see the dining room maitre de in the Explorer's Lounge as we had Open Seating and wanted to reserve a table for two at 5:15 p.m. This allowed us to sit at the same table each evening and get to know our waiters and wine steward. It is very comparable to fixed seating which always seems to be closed when we make our reservations. Our cabin was 5109 on the Verandah Deck with a balcony ocean view. We had never experienced a balcony before, but now I don't know if I want to cruise without one. We enjoyed it immensely. Our cabin was ready when we arrived which was so nice. We went to the Mariner's Luncheon, signed up for Internet usage, and purchased a 7-day wine package. When we returned to our cabin, our luggage had arrived, so we unpacked. We set sail at 4:12 p.m. after the mandatory emergency drill. After dinner, we listened to the Adagio Duo in the Explorer's Lounge. The duo was a pianist and a violinist from Hungary. We were used to hearing a string quartet on the other cruises, so at first we were disappointed. That feeling lasted about two minutes as these two men were outstanding. We listened to them every evening. We then went to the Vista Lounge and were entertained with a show to meet the Oosterdam singers and dancers as well as a comedy routine by Julie Barr -- very funny. We attended every show in the Vista Lounge. Julie Barr was hilarious and the comedian-ventriloquist, Mike Robinson was also great. The other shows were with the Oosterdam singers and dancers. We enjoyed the "Stage & Screen" production better than the "Garage Band" production. The singers and dancers did an outstanding job, but the Garage Band was a bit overpowering. Our day-to-day schedule was pretty routine. My husband and I do not do many excursions as we cruise to enjoy the relaxation of the ship. We like to read, attend the lectures and demonstrations, walk on the deck, go to wine tastings, play trivia, meet new people, eat, go to the shows, and watch the ocean. The first day out we experienced rough seas and there many passengers who stayed in their cabins that day; but then it was smooth sailing!! We cruised Tracy Arm and our ports of call were Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, Canada with disembarkation in Seattle. The week went entirely too fast. We used the Express Checkout so we didn't see our luggage until we arrived back in Kansas City. The only negative was that one piece of my luggage wound up at LAX and not MCI! Luckily, we picked it up at the airport the next day. I'm not sure if I would use Express Checkout again, but it was very convenient not to lug the suitcases around at the airport. We have never been disappointed with the Holland American Cruise Line and can't wait until our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My girl friend and I have cruised several times, with our favorite being Royal Caribbean, and least favorite Carnival. However Holland American now takes the top spot. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise to Alaska via the Oosterdam in late ... Read More
My girl friend and I have cruised several times, with our favorite being Royal Caribbean, and least favorite Carnival. However Holland American now takes the top spot. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise to Alaska via the Oosterdam in late May. But to be honest, it didn't start the best. We had booked the transportation option from SeaTac Airport thru Holland America. We liked the idea of simply checking our luggage with HAL at the Seattle Airport and not having to worry about it after that. Luggage check in was a breeze, but then we had to wait outside for almost an hour for a bus to bring us to the pier. Although the waiting area was covered, it was still a cold blustery morning and the hour wait was unpleasant. Once on the bus, the driver lost her way, missed the entrance to the turnpike, so we had to circle around back to the airport via side streets in order to find the entrance. I felt we were lucky to have arrived mid morning, because combined with the hour wait for a shuttle bus, then the driver getting lost, we did not arrive at the pier until near 1:00. Still plenty of time to get boarded, but we had envisioned a leisurely morning, instead of waiting in the cold, then taking the long route to the pier. Boarding the ship was handled quickly. It took us about 20 minutes to work thru the security, get our HAL cards, and allowed to board. We were told our room was ready...which was a pleasant surprise. We had a balcony room on the eight deck, near the rear elevator. Our stateroom exceeded our expectations. We had read previous reviews on the condition of the ship and that the ship was a bit worn, but our room was clean, a good size, more than enough closet and storage space. The bed was very comfortable. We easily had room to hang all of our clothes and we had alot, and still completely store our suitcases (4) beneath the bed. We had not cruised Alaska before, so we brought along quite a bit in case we had cold wet weather instead of mild weather. By way, we brought way too much...but now we know better. We thoroughly enjoyed the ship, especially the Thermal Suite (well worth the extra $199 for a couple). You can sign up for once on board which I wholeheartedly recommend. It was wonderful to have unlimited access to this amenity all week long. I only wish it was open until midnight. We do a lot of dancing in the evening and it would have been nice to unwind here. We had signed up for the open dining, but we found ourselves eating mostly in the Lido buffet. The menu was the same as the Dining Room and it was so much more convenient to eat on our schedule. We did eat one evening in the Dining Room..and the service and food were fine, but it was the same quality as the Lido Buffet. I noticed on our cruise that the Lido Dining seemed more popular than the Dining Room option. Often times during the evening, we would walk several miles on the outside deck, which passed the Dining Room windows, and very rarely did we see the Dining Room full. Perhaps more travelers, like ourselves, liked the freedom to dress casually and eat without making a reservation. There was a good assortment from which to select, and the wait staff was superb! Since we are creatures of habit, we had a tendency to eat on the same side of the ship, and we got to know the wait staff. They recognized us quite quickly, and were always willing to make sure we were happy with the food and service. On our previous cruises, we only experienced this type of service in the main Dining Room...kudos to HAL for the staff in the Lido! We didn't participate in a lot of the cruise activities or the HAL excursions. I had gone on the Internet and had the Visitor's Guide for our ports sent to us via snail mail...so we had a good handle on what to do and where to go..without spending a ton on excursions. We did Zip line in Ketchikan, and enjoyed that..otherwise we hiked and explored on our own. We went to most of the evening shows....loved Barnaby (comedian and juggler). Show quality was average for a cruise, but enjoyable. We hated to leave the ship. I still have sore fingers as they had to pry my hands off the railing to disembark. But as far as disembarkation goes, HAL has it figured out. Seamless, smooth, no waiting in large group in a lounge. Instead we had a nice breakfast on the Lido deck, then waited in our room until called to disembark. Easily the best disembarkation we have experienced! We love the cruise, the ports, and the staff on the Oosterdam. It was a great week...we plan on taking another Alaska cruise with HAL next May. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This cruise was our third cruise in the past 3 years to Hawaii on 3 different cruise lines, our second HAL cruise on a Vista Class Ship, and our fifth cruise in the last 3 years. Our other HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam doing the inside ... Read More
This cruise was our third cruise in the past 3 years to Hawaii on 3 different cruise lines, our second HAL cruise on a Vista Class Ship, and our fifth cruise in the last 3 years. Our other HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam doing the inside passage to Alaska. We booked VA5185 cabin, a stern veranda cabin. We always have a wonderful time on our cruises and this cruise was no exception. Lin was excited before we left to be cruising on HAL and was anticipating that this would end up being our cruise line of choice for future cruises. Let me start by saying that the crew on the Oosterdam were the happiest (genuinely happy, not corporate mandated happy) crew we have ever sailed with. We saw behavior of some passengers that was absolutely atrocious and the crew handled themselves with a dignity and respect that made the offending passengers look like idiots. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived early and when we were allowed to board, were one of the first people on-board. This was actually the easiest embarkation we have ever had on a cruise, even compared to two previous cruises where we were in suites. We did not have a cabin steward on this cruise, we had a cabin elf. Everything was always magically done and any request was met with a smile and was accomplished promptly. Our cabin elf was named Harry and we left a "Let Us Know" card praising his work at the front desk. We purchased the Thermal Suite package for the cruise beforehand knowing that the price would be cheaper on embarkation day. Upon embarking the ship we went to the spa and verified our reservation and they told us that since the special was $200 less than what we paid beforehand they would only charge our on-board account for the special price, in effect giving us another $200 of on-board credit. We absolutely love the Thermal Suite and made good use of it during the cruise. Our cabin was a little larger than I thought it would be and our veranda was huge compared to regular veranda cabins. It was about 15 or 16 feet deep. It was outfitted with two of the faux-wicker loungers and two faux-wicker chairs and the obligatory small table. This was our first time ever having a fully covered veranda and we found it to be perfect. You can find more details and photos in our blog at: http://thegeomonkeys.com/2012/03/our...osterdam-2012/ We love the promenade deck on the Vista Class ships as you can walk completely around the ship on one deck unlike some other ships that require you to go up and down stairs at either end of the ship to make a complete lap. The first night out of San Diego we had 30 foot seas and 20 foot seas the first full day at sea. Neither of us are bothered with motion sickness and slept like babies with the rocking motion. Many others were not so lucky and the bags and medication were readily available for those who needed it. This is the first time that I have ever seen a formal night canceled and rescheduled due to rough seas. We don't do formal nights and had made reservations for the Canaletto Restaurant for those nights so on the rescheduled night we ate in the Lido instead. The food on this cruise was good overall, probably better than we expected based on previous cruises. The shows were hit and miss, as expected. We always sit near an exit so we can escape if need be and we did that several times. We don't do Bingo, Karaoke, or Trivia, although we will sit in occasionally on Trivia or Karaoke to have a good laugh. We felt the cultural program left a lot to be desired. We attended the first one and left when the "expert" was basically reading a script. We don't do ships excursions because they are generally overpriced and we aren't sheep and don't like to be herded. We had arranged our own things to do while in Hawaii and enjoyed them immensely. It was nice to see that the muster drill had a little more importance placed on it although HAL needs to tweak it some. Roll was taken, under threat of not being able to sail if you weren't there. That is a good thing. However, to have everyone meet at their muster station and have a crew member try to show everyone how they should put on their life jacket when only the people in the front row could see them is rather silly, especially for first time cruisers. Our first stop was in Lahaina, Maui. This is a tender port (thankfully the only one on this cruise) and the tendering process was absolutely horrible. We have been here on two other cruises, on different lines, and HAL really screwed this up. They put 5 tenders in the water and found that two of them were broken down. REALLY! SERIOUSLY! Rather than putting in two others to replace the broken down ones, they decided that they would work on them in the water to fix them. Maybe they thought the other eleven on the ship were broken down also. These are the life boats that would be used in an emergency and they weren't working properly. So much for the enhanced muster drill procedures. From the time we got our tender tickets (#10) it took us 2 ½ hours to be put on a tender. I feel sorry for the people who showed up for their tickets 45 minutes later and had ticket #36. On our other cruises we never had more than a 20 minute wait after getting our tickets. Returning to the ship was excruciating also. We stood on the dock for over an hour for a tender to show up to take us back to the ship. There was no traffic in the harbor and the seas were calm. The tendering process was ridiculous. HAL definitely dropped the ball on this one. We did our own things on the other islands and getting off the ship was easy since all HAL had to do was make sure the gangway was secure. Unfortunately a huge storm pretty much canceled anything on Kauai. Roads were washed out and torrential rain dominated the agenda. Amazingly, some passengers were absolutely incensed that their tours were canceled and blamed HAL for it. More childish, spoiled, entitled people! Disembarkation in San Diego was a breeze. Unusual to be sure, so we'll take it and enjoy it for a change. Now for something new in my reviews. Ahhh! To Dream. IF I WERE KING: (and I had unlimited funds) I understand some of these thoughts are not possible, some are funny and some could be put into service. 1) Make it so that you could view your on board account on your stateroom television. 2) Make the atrium large enough to feel like a destination of it's own. 3) Make the Vista Showroom large enough to accommodate everyone that would like to attend a show there so you don't have to show up 45 minutes early to get a seat. 4) Have muster roll call taken with hand held mobile scanners that they use when you disembark the ship. 5) Hold muster drills inside (requires more seating in the Vista Lounge, etc) so that elderly people aren't standing for long periods of time while roll is taken. Everyone might be able to see the life vest demo that way also. 6) Make sure all tenders (life boats) are operational prior to needing them. 7) Use more tenders to get people ashore in a reasonable amount of time. 8) Install a button to turn on the T-Pool jets that can be reached while IN the T-Pool. 9) Install sensors in the Thermal Suite that will sense when someone on the tile loungers is snoring that will drop down a "Cone Of Silence" (remember Maxwell Smart) around them so others don't have to listen to them snoring. 10) Install a human wash (similar to an automatic car wash) at the entrance to all hot tubs, pools, and T-Pools so that everyone has to take a soapy shower before entering the public pools. 11) Cappuccino Bomb would be on the dessert menu every night. Prior to our cruise we saw posts from people on Cruise Critic that have sailed on the Oosterdam who said they were disappointed with the condition of parts of the ship. These people, some of whom are long time cruisers and posters to CC, were vilified, attacked, and called trolls from other boards because they dared to say something was "wrong" with the "O". We heard many comments while on-board from people who were upset about the condition of some sections of the ship. So we did a little investigation while on-board to see for ourselves. Feel free to yell at me now for what I am about to post. There are areas of the "O" that are in need of repair. Should they ruin someone's vacation? I don't think so, but everyone needs to decide for themselves. It's very easy to attack someone you don't know when it is your word against theirs, so I decided to take pictures to support what I found and people can make their own judgments. The "O" underwent a dry dock a few months ago so I expected her to be in pretty good shape throughout. Yet, some items were not addressed during the dry dock, but someone had to make the decision that these conditions were acceptable for HAL's standards. You can view the photos and what the complaints were that we heard about while on board at the following link: http://thegeomonkeys.com/2012/03/hol...am-march-2012/ The offensive, obstinate, self-righteous, arrogant, demanding, holier than thou passengers were in greater numbers on this cruise than on any other we have taken. The only cruise we have taken that had similar clientele was on the Zuiderdam. The standards that HAL has for what is acceptable in public areas for furnishings also surprised us. While it didn't ruin our cruise we found much higher standards on Princess and Celebrity. Therefore, we will not sail on HAL again, not because of the crew but because of the clientele. __________________ Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large ... Read More
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large non-luxury ship for the first time. We chose HAL as non-of our preferred ships were scheduled for a Hawaii round trip at the time we wanted to go. This was also our first sea-intensive cruise. Pre-Cruise We have owned timeshares for more than twenty years and decided to use some of our points to stay in the San Diego area the week before the cruise. We chose the Lawrence Welk Resort in nearby Escondido and found it to be one of our best exchanges ever. For those of you who may be timeshare owners, I will post a review on Timeshare Users Group www.tug2.net. Embarkation One of the things that concerning us was how difficult embarkation might turn out to be having experienced curbside to glass of sparkling wine in the atrium in about 15 minutes while watching the mob scene at nearby ships. This cruise was surely the embarkation from hell, though not necessarily the fault of HAL. We turned in our rental car and were driven to the cruise port only to find a big electronic sign declaring "no passenger discharge" at the entrance and a very long line waiting to get into the building. Our driver ended up having to leave us and all our luggage literally in the middle of the street. I found out later that the Port Of San Diego had shut down the terminal right in the middle of the embarkation process and said, to inquiring ships officers, the reason was none of their business. Passengers who arrive before 11 AM got on with no problem and those arriving after 12 went right on, but we had a 90 minute ordeal. Things were not helped by sharing the port with another large ship, resulting in nearly 5,000 people going through the terminal. Cabin We had a VD/Veranda cabin in the aft area. We had expected to be unhappy with the size and layout but were pleasantly surprised that the cabin was large enough to be comfortable and we found enough storage between the two wardrobes and the drawers in the end tables and under the bed. The balcony was small but this type of cruise doesn't lend itself to sitting out there. The bed was comfy and the bathroom utilitarian. Crew I have to agree with HAL fans that this has to be the friendliest crew at sea. Everybody we dealt with was cheerful and eager. However, there was an issue with crew to passenger ratios. An example is our cabin attendant. He appeared to be very good but overextended. I observed that he appeared to have more than 30 cabins to service. This results in service that is more like a hotel than a cruise ship. Our earlier experiences were that, every time you left your cabin, the cabin attendant seemed to have a sixth sense and, when we returned, it was apparent someone had been there, if only to do minor things such as freshen the ice or neatly fold clothing that had been tossed on the bed. On this cruise, the pattern was for the cabin to be made up sometime before the end of lunch and turned down by bedtime. Small issues such as buckets of melting ice not being replaced came up. I know I could have called for service, but hated to bother the already overworked guy. Dining One of the most important reasons people cruise, especially when you're at sea for ten days, is to dine. I've seen everything from two star to five star reviews. I gave HAL dining three stars. For one thing, the food was not up to what we found on "luxury" lines, but that is to be expected. What was disappointing was the unevenness of the food. At one meal we would be saying the food was delicious and, at the next, would find our entrees to be inedible and improperly prepared. Some of our dining companions were long-time HAL cruisers and were lamenting the fact HAL no longer had "white glove service" in the dining rooms. As this was my first time, I can only go by what they say. I also understand sommeliers have been replaced with "wine stewards" and my impression was these people did not have a really professional knowledge of wine. I believe I saw at least one or two of them actually serving as cocktail waiters in other parts of the ship. One of the biggest knocks I have on the MDR is how every meal opened with a server coming to our table and trying really hard to get us to buy a carafe of "special" water, filtered seven times. Don't they realize how this kind of stuff cheapens the experience? I can live with someone asking if I would like a cocktail or wine with dinner, but a hard-sell on water? We had open seating and enjoyed meeting our fellow passengers. The Lido was quite good. There is nothing like that on the small ships and the variety of food stations was excellent. We had met a couple at the resort who had just got off the prior cruise and said they ate only in the Lido for three weeks. I couldn't figure out why someone would want buffet food rather than the MDR but realized, after a few days, they were serving much of the MDR menu, with a few exclusions, in the Lido. We attempted to eat in the Canaletto Italian restaurant, which is an area of the Lido at dinner, but couldn't get reservations when we wanted. I heard very mixed revues on the food from several people. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill and the food was fine, but did not interest us in paying for a second visit. We had room service for a few breakfasts and thought they were quite good. I know some posters have complained about cold food, but I guess it depends on how far from the kitchen you are on this big ship. Our cabin was off the elevator bank that was one floor above where room service came out of the kitchen, so we were only about five minutes away from where it was handed off to the server. Another frequent topic I see is coffee. I mail order beans from two different sources but am not a coffee "expert". I thought the coffee was fine. It wasn't necessary to pay for coffee in the Crow's Nest as I noticed it is made from the same bags as the other restaurants. Entertainment There were good performers in all the lounges. The production shows were surprisingly elaborate with an energetic cast. Outside entertainment brought on board included a comedian, harmonica player and ventriloquist. The biggest hit of the cruise was probably Jeff Trachta (Thorne of "The Bold And The Beautiful) who had an excellent Vegas show of singing, comedy and impressions. Both his shows were packed and I understand he had a big turnout when he did a sit-down interview in the Vista Lounge the following morning. The issue I have with the entertainment venues is sightline problems. I cannot believe a ship built as recently as this one has a showroom full of large pillars and overhanging balconies that make, probably, 25 percent of the seats have an obstructed view of the stage. I you were attending a popular performance , you had to get there early and hold down a seat for at least 45 minutes. Worse was the screening room with very comfy theater chairs and fairly current releases. The down side was, with only about 30 seats, you have to get there about an hour ahead of time to know you can get into a showing. Ports Due to rough seas, we got a day behind and missed Hilo. That was a big loss. We docked in Honolulu and roamed independently. In Nawiliwili we originally had no plans but, as our tour in Hilo was scrapped, did a ship's tour to the "grand canyon of the pacific" which was nice. On Maui we had our own private tour booked. Getting on and off the ship was a big issue with us, again, being used to much smaller ships. All the tour busses seemed to arrive back at the ship in Nawiliwili simultaneously resulting in hundreds of people in a line that crept toward the gangplank. We saw that mess and, immediately, accepted a ride to Walmart on their free shuttle. We used an hour to pick up some items, including some of the least expensive Hawaii tee shirts I had seen. By the time we were delivered back to the ship, there was no line. In Maui, tendering was a mess. We were told there were tenders departing about every ten minutes but, after nothing moved for 45 minutes and the crowd in the Queen's Lounge turned into a mob, we finally got moving and, after nearly two hours, arrived on shore, late for our tour. Coming back was another mess with arriving busses and really long lines. And what can I say about our Jones Act stop in Ensenada. The port is in the middle of nowhere and, unless you've booked the inexpensive tour to see dancers and mariachis, there's no reason to get off the ship. Fellow Cruisers I was told this would be an older crowd. Yep. Disembarkation Like butter. We had a flight to catch and were down for 9 AM and were called at 8. Our suitcases were stacked together so we didn't have to search. Customs and immigration had us hand them the forms as we walked by. Oh, if embarkation was anything like this. General impressions Some people love these big ships and some that are much larger. We were not happy spending two weeks with 2,000 of our closest friends. Our cabin was close to dining but a trip to the other public areas involved a walk close to the length of two football fields. It was often hard to find a seat for dinning in the Lido and we actually saw people standing and eating. I had always heard about chair hogs, but hadn't experienced it until my walks across the Lido deck seeing every lounger had either a fanny or towel on it. But, there were always plenty of chairs on the observation deck. I mentioned before how much time you have to waste getting to show venues early in order to be sure you have a decent seat. Getting on and off this ship in port is agony for those of us used to smaller ships where there is never a line. Again, I'm not a snob, but that is my total experience cruising. Finally, as HAL considers itself a premium cruise line, I was very surprised by the lack of attention to detail. The furniture in lounges and common area can be quite beat up. Other reviewers have pointed out the poor condition of some of the leather furniture and upholstered pieces with buttons missing. The metal table on our balcony was actually rusting and it really shocked me that it hadn't been noticed and taken care of. We have had considerable experience with fine dining and found it rather strange that the Pinnacle would go to the trouble of having Rosenthal Bvlgari china along with the very common flatware used in the rest of the ship (with the logo "hotel" emblazoned on the back). To Sum Up The trip wasn't all that bad. We didn't have high expectations and were pleasantly surprised at some of what we found. We spent the first week saying, "Never again" but, by the end of the trip, had decided we might try HAL again, but on a more port intensive cruise on one of the smaller ships. We also have to consider cost. We could do several HAL cruises rather than one luxury cruise for the same price. HAL is not all inclusive and, had we opted for a suite or other more expensive accommodation and drank a lot more than we did, the cost might have been closer. But we were pretty happy with what we got.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
This was our second time cruising with HAL. Our first time was 1998 Hawaii and back, and was the standard by which we judged all other cruises since; the service was great. Wanted to try HAL again now that we are older and making more ... Read More
This was our second time cruising with HAL. Our first time was 1998 Hawaii and back, and was the standard by which we judged all other cruises since; the service was great. Wanted to try HAL again now that we are older and making more money and see if it was worth building loyalty points. Also our 20th anniversary. The suite service and concierge level was the only thing that saved the cruise, and that we were willing to pay extra for the fine dining. The restaurant staff and service was what we had in the dining room those many years ago, it was great! And the food was several times better than Princess' Sabatino's. As another cruiser said, the dining room was abysmal. No smiles, no wine list, I was told I could only get the house wine. The Lido food was merely OK and the servers there were harried and showed it. I was expecting greater things from the hype about their Chef-retooled cuisine, it should have gone to all levels of dining. Room service took hours and the sandwich I ordered off the room service menu was great and perfect the first time and the second made completely wrong. We could have waited another couple of hours for them to make it right, I guess. The room was great, very spacious. The bed was wonderful and we have ordered one from HAL, they sell them. The concierge service was great. We went prepared to spend most of our $ on liquor and tips, which we did. Also, even though the SA is a suite, the embarkation people made me get in the regular line, saying it was Superior only. After winding through the line to where I could reach the expediter, she said the same thing the looked at the room number and expedited us. HAL did not win our loyalty. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
After reading the review just posted about the Holland Oosterdam, I must also express my disappoint with our recent cruise on September 4th. I also am in the hospitality/restaurant business and I believe that customer service is the most ... Read More
After reading the review just posted about the Holland Oosterdam, I must also express my disappoint with our recent cruise on September 4th. I also am in the hospitality/restaurant business and I believe that customer service is the most important element to anyone's vacation. We have been on over 20 cruises, with only a very few bad experiences. But this one was bad from the beginning. At the airport, the Holland bus was there to pick up our group of 12. My mother-in-law is in a scooter, so a bus with ADA lift was needed. The lift did not work and after an hour we were finally on our way. At port check in, my wife's parents were told that a military ID was not valid, after checking with our agent prior to leaving. That took more time and delays to get that approved. Once on board, all buffets were served by the crew, more delays. We were told that this was their policy for the first 48 hours. Come to find out from some crew members, the sickness that we had on board that was mentioned by the prior review, actually started the week before. And since they were not sure if it was gone, they served all buffets for 48 hours. Then they let people serve themselves by Tuesday, but on Tuesday night many people were sick and at the medical clinic. 7 of our 12 became sick. Now for food and service. Since I am in this business, I too watch this very closely. Both food and service were very poor. We had two large tables, some would get their salads, others that appetizers, then others would get salads a few minutes later, etc. There was no organization to meal service, very frustrating. Example of food quality. I order Surf and Turf, a filet mignon and lobster tail. Sounds good right. The lobster was not cooked completely, had an interesting smell, and my filet mignon, well it was about a 1/2 inch thick, tough and looked like a piece of flank steak. I told the waiter that is is not filet mignon and he said yes it was. I did neat not eat my meal. The head waiter then came over, I explained myself again, and he returned from the kitchen with the exact same poor quality dish. I said no thank you, and they literally tried to force the plate in front of me. There are many other stories of poor food, poor presentation, and poor service. Due to the sickness, they did not put anything on the tables. No butter, no bread, no salt/pepper, nothing. You had to ask then wait. One last comment on food. My wife wanted a vegetarian meal the first night, nothing on the menu. The waiter said that you have to order that 24 hours before you meal time. What????? I have never heard of this on a cruise ship, ever. How do you know 24 hours before your dinner what dish that you might be in the mood for???? In the spa, they had no drinking water before, during or after a treatment. They blamed this on the sickness and said they could not provide drinking water. After any spa treatment, the first thing you want is water. The answer was NO. Even if they could not provide a glass of water from a pitcher, the least they could do is provide a small bottle water after you paid $250 for a treatment. That is not too much to ask, is it?? We have sailed on Holland America in the past, many years ago. We were very happy then, not happy with our most recent trip. Where has the quailty gone? Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We loved our stateroom and our steward, Simon. The staff onboard were wonderful. The food was only okay, mostly overcooked and under-flavored, with few choices. I think they serve mediocre food so you'll pay extra for the specialty ... Read More
We loved our stateroom and our steward, Simon. The staff onboard were wonderful. The food was only okay, mostly overcooked and under-flavored, with few choices. I think they serve mediocre food so you'll pay extra for the specialty restaurants, which we didn't try because it cost more. We sometimes ate on the Lido deck because the food was about the same there, but oftentimes there were no clean tables to sit at and tables with dirty dishes and half-eaten food sat uncleaned.We saw lots of whales and seagulls while on board. One of the best expeditions was an independent one with a young man with a small boat who took 6 of us out in the bay. We saw lots of sea otters, many mothers holding little babies and one group of them with at least 50 otters. We saw a grey whale with lots of barnacles so close we could have touched it and it swam under our boat, rolled over underneath the boat and came out the other side. Amazing! My husband booked an independent fishing expedition and caught 4 salmon, now fileted and in our freezer. But...the itinerary for Sitka said that we would be there at 9 o'clock so we paid for reservations for the small boat cruise for 10. However, unless you had booked your expedition through Holland America (at a very premium price), because Sitka is a tender situation, you were not allowed off the ship until 10:30. So we had to cancel that reservation and quickly make another with someone we weren't familiar with. There was a couple onboard that had family waiting and they were not allowed to disembark early either. Holland America should explain about the tender and furnish the time you are actually going to be on land.We brought our laptop, believing we could keep in touch with our family by emails. We paid over $50 for 100 minutes - no free wifi anywhere on board - at least not for those of us that paid only for verandahs and not suites. The first time we tried to get online, it took about 5 minutes to get to the web and we spent about 5 more minutes checking emails. When we logged off, we had been charged for far more than 10 minutes. Most of the time we could not even get online in our stateroom. The woman in the computer area on the ship said that nothing was guaranteed. She, of course, didn't tell me that until after I paid and complained, but she used that phrase, "it is not guaranteed" a total of 12 times when I did complain. She said that I could use the computers in the computer area, but they were just as slow and used up minutes quickly. For over $50, we got to send 2 emails and receive 3. Holland America should suggest that you not bring a laptop - a total waste of time - and that if you must bring one, they should tell you which staterooms actually get service. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Just got home from 7-day cruise on the Oosterdam. Wish I was still on the ship. I have only had one experience cruising and it was on the Carnival Holiday about 12 years ago. That was a much smaller and older ship. The Oosterdam was much, ... Read More
Just got home from 7-day cruise on the Oosterdam. Wish I was still on the ship. I have only had one experience cruising and it was on the Carnival Holiday about 12 years ago. That was a much smaller and older ship. The Oosterdam was much, much better. Transportation to Pier 91: We took link light rail from airport and transferred to bus for about $5 each. Bus dropped us off on a bridge and we had to climb down a number of stairs with all the baggage, which was a challenge, but we were not sorry because we got to see some of the streets of Seattle and bus driver and light rail employees were friendly. On the return, we thought we would take taxi, but the organization of the taxi system at the pier was horrible. We finally decided to go with Shuttle Express back to the airport at $18 per person. We just went outside the ship terminal and they were very friendly. We originally thought we would go with taxi to the light rail, but there was a long line and taxis were picking up people that were way at the back of the line, as they just wanted to grab passengers and not wait on the line to do it in the order they arrived. Taxi to airport could be from $45 to beyond $60. The sign on the cabs say, "airport $32 from downtown", but Pier 90 is further away, so don't be fooled. Encountered two separate hostile taxi drivers and the way they were picking up people was not properly organized, unfair, and chaotic. Both the Oosterdam and Princess Sapphire unloaded passengers at the same time. Why, why, why? Why does the authority at the Pier 91 allow this? There really should be a difference of at least 2 hours between the disembarkation of cruise ship passengers. It had a ripple effect, as the security line at the airport was an absolute mess and very, very long and the competition of airfare made the airfare prices way higher than otherwise. On my next trip, I will surely check that my cruise ship doesn't return anywhere near the time of another cruise ship. Ship Very friendly service on the Oosterdam. Employees greeted us and smiled every time we passed. We enjoyed Rollis, a waiter in the Vista Lounge, and above all we were soooo happy to have met a gentleman employee in the Lido Deck dining area, whose name is Ngakan (pronounced "Knock-on"). One night, in the Vista Dining room, all the staff danced around the room on three occasions. The shops seems like a waste of space. I liked the Karaokee in the Queen's lounge. DJ Bret made sure to get the crowd to cheer on every volunteer singer and singers were backed up by a live band. There were some contests where they only gave out an Oosterdam pin if you won. There were Trivia contests where you were encouraged to team up with people, but then they gave the team (sometimes of strangers) one bottle of champagne to share. My guy doesn't drink, so it wasn't much incentive. The captain of the ship is actually a funny guy. Our cabin steward Daniel always greeted us in the hallway. I think the employees are under a tremendous strain of getting ready for the next bunch of passengers, so it was very unfortunate that some workers knocked on our door three times wanting to enter to change linens or check the stock in the fridge before our assigned departure window of time had come. It made the last half hour stressful, as I was doing my best to be sure that I had packed last minute items. There were cleaners out on the balconies cleaning at around 9:15am, so be forewarned to close curtains if you are changing outside the bathroom. I participated in Jackpot Bingo twice, but not third time, as I think that real numbered bingo balls, like in the old times, should be used instead of having the numbers called up on the computer. Ship had three bingo games with a chance to win $40K, $60K, and $100K if you got bingo on the entire card in under 46 calls. Each bingo card had identification numbers on them. It seems that a programmed computer can know what numbers NOT to call, which may be the very reason why no one has ever one. It was nice to have breakfast on the ship before disembarking. That was a treat and employees at the Lido Deck dining area were still pleasant right 'til the end. Shows Ventriloquist was fun, as was the magician. Some of the group dancing was good, but in between the dance routines were solos or duets (singing only), that were way too cheesy, and I left to do something else. So much more to write about! I would consider Holland America again, as they do try to keep prices lower than competitors, and I spoke to different cruisers who said that the friendliness of the staff is what stands out about the Oosterdam/Holland America. Juneau Took free tour of the capitol building. $1.50 city bus to 2 miles from Mendenhall Glacier. Walked a straight level sidewalk the rest of the way. (took around 1.5 hours) Took the $8 Glacier Express bus back (took less than 20 minutes. Ketchikan There was two guys at the port that offered us to ride the seaplane for $175/person, but we still didn't go ahead with it. Sitka Sweet town. Went to Raptor center. Victoria Took $7.50 RT/pp bus to Empress Hotel. May have done better with blue taxis that seemed to be picking up at lightning speed even though line was long. I think I heard that that was $14 for a careful, but don't quote me. Parliament building is lit up like Christmas at night. Cabin We booked a VH cabin guarantee and found out our room number 10 days before trip: we were given a VB cabin on deck 6 near elevator towards front of the ship. I was happy with cabin and location. Cabin appears larger in the photos online, but I would have been happy to live in the cabin. Nice hot water, great water pressure, shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel pumps in the shower. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our first experience with Holland America and our second trip to Alaska. My wife and I have been on three other cruises, two with Princess and one with Carnival. I blame myself for the initial stress I experienced since I ... Read More
This was our first experience with Holland America and our second trip to Alaska. My wife and I have been on three other cruises, two with Princess and one with Carnival. I blame myself for the initial stress I experienced since I didn't realize my wife's passport had expired and I was concerned that a driver's license and birth certificate wouldn't be enough for her to fly and cruise with. After some phone calls and web research I was assured we would be fine since we were sailing round trip from Seattle but I couldn't relax until we were on the ship. As it turned out, everything went smooth as silk, even when entering Canada, and I was able to enjoy the trip. I booked my own plane tickets out of Detroit and opted out of the HA transfer to the pier hoping to save a little money. A little research after the fact showed that a cab ride was about six or eight bucks less and you had to handle your own bags at the pier. When we got to Seattle we went to the HA desk, bought transfers, handed them our luggage and got on the bus. Worked out just fine. Not only was it worth a few bucks more to forget about the bags until after we got on the boat, the HA people made sure you got to where you needed to be with minimal hassle. There was a HA and a Princess boat at the pier loading at the same time. There were a lot of people being moved through the pier but the lines moved quickly and efficiently and we were on the Oosterdam in no time. At 4pm we were on our way to Glacier Bay. The second day was a full day at sea. This was a great opportunity to get acquainted with the ship and research shore excursions since we didn't have an opportunity to do so before we left. Excursions were easily purchased at the excursions desk or at one of the automated touch screen kiosks around the ship. The Oosterdam is an attractive, nicely appointed vessel though, as others have commented, may be starting to show her age particularly along the waterline. The captain reminded us that the ship was due for dry-dock soon and I'm sure she'll be good as new in no time. The interior of the ship was very clean and well maintained. Being able to close the roof over the pool was a nice touch that kept the pool area usable the entire trip. They push the spa facilities pretty hard and the spa looked well equipped. We are not spa people so we never used it. My wife found it very handy to be able to use her "keycard" in the casino machines in addition to cash. Day three in Glacier Bay was as we remembered it from our last visit 15 years ago, spectacular! We had a beautiful sunny day and the mountain views and glaciers did not disappoint. Day four was another beautiful sunny day spent in Juneau. Like all the cities visited, downtown Juneau was the usual collection of shops selling overpriced jewelry and cheesy souvenirs. We purchased a shore excursion to go whale watching and visit Mendenhall Glacier. The whales were very active and put on a great show. Mendenhall Glacier was awesome though we wish we had a little more time there. Sitka was next. A drizzly, cloudy day but hey, it's Alaska. You've got to expect it. Weather never keeps things from happening though. The port doesn't accommodate cruise ships so we tendered to shore. A well organized, relatively quick process. Weather cleared nicely by the time we got to shore but Sitka was a bit of a disappointment for us. We didn't buy a shore excursion and the city attractions were mostly cultural and centered around a church in the middle of town, Zzzzzzz. Other than that was the usual souvenir shops selling the same stuff every other city has. We highly recommend a shore excursion here. I'm sure we would have benefited from one. Day six was spent in Ketchikan. Once again the weather cleared as we exited the ship. We remembered Ketchikan as a good place to see the salmon running but I guess we were a little too early in the season this time and there wasn't much to see in the way of fish this time around. There were four cruise ships docked so the city was really busy. We took in the lumberjack show which was quite entertaining. We had to be back on the boat by 12:30p in order to make Victoria, BC by the next day. Wouldn't have minded a little more time in Ketchikan though. Victoria was a little odd. Travelling at full steam from Ketchikan we didn't get to Victoria until 7pm the next day. Then it was all aboard by 11:30pm. Victoria was a big modern city and was worthy of a little more time to explore. The short amount of time spent there almost felt like an afterthought. I'm sure the schedule is based on port availability as there are many cruise ships making this run this time of year. There was almost always another ship visible from ours while at sea and every port but Sitka had at least three cruise ships at their docks. Still, it was a very pretty city and I would like to go back and stay a while some time. Between the flat rate, pre-billed tipping and the smooth, well organized disembarkation in Seattle, Holland America made the end of the trip easier to deal with than any previous cruise we had been on. When I was researching cruise lines one of the standout complaints about Holland America was the poor food quality. Unfortunately, I would have to agree. One of the standout memories from our two Princess cruises was the incredible food. Large portions and very high quality. We never felt that way with the meals on the Oosterdam. Although we never walked away from the main dining room hungry, we also never found ourselves saying, "that was a great meal!" Any of the meats served were tough and grizzly and didn't seem to be of very high quality. Perhaps the better cuts of meat were saved for the other, added cost, reservation only restaurants. Appetizers were bland and forgettable. Soups and salads were just OK. I'm not saying the food was bad, it just wasn't great. I wont even bother commenting on the buffet. Certainly nothing special but how special should a buffet be? It served its purpose as a handy, reliable source of tolerable sustenance. Price was the main decision maker in giving Holland America a try. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the trip we are going to think twice next time based strictly on the uninspiring food. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was quick and efficient...I had a walker so was directed to another entrance since the elevator was not working and was disappointed that we missed out on the boarding picture.The cabin ... Read More
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was quick and efficient...I had a walker so was directed to another entrance since the elevator was not working and was disappointed that we missed out on the boarding picture.The cabin was nice and spacious and the steward was very accommodating but disappointed that our room had a fully obstructed view. Unable to switch room due to the fact that the ship was at full capacity. The Lido menu was the same day after day. The glasses for tea and drinks small (4 ounces?) The food quality and presentation were lack luster and boring. The staff were very attentive & helpful. Enjoyed our evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Room...the food was delicious and the service superb. Met Marco the owner of Le Cirque and he was a gracious host. Entertainment was great...the comedian and Peter Peterkin were outstanding. Most of the venues & poolside were over crowded and had a hard time finding a seat. Tried several nights to attend Karaoke...but never was able to get in the door.We feel the ship needs some TLC...carpet & seats torn in several areas...ship feels claustrophobic at times..low ceilings and dark colors. We have been on Royal Caribbean and Carnival,so comparing them, we would say the Oosterdam is the Motel 6 of cruises. We don't think we will go another HAL cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
From the time we entered security from the street until we were in our stateroom was literally 15 minutes. Everyone was friendly and efficient. This couldn't have gone better.Entertainment included energetic, polished and exciting ... Read More
From the time we entered security from the street until we were in our stateroom was literally 15 minutes. Everyone was friendly and efficient. This couldn't have gone better.Entertainment included energetic, polished and exciting production shows. Dancing was fabulous and the lead singers were great particularly when singing duets. Peter Peterkin (the Rockin' President) offered a fabulous hour of musical impersonations from Barack Obama to Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and more. He came back for a encore show the last day of the cruise, receiving a standing ovation both times. Leo Ward put on a very flashy magician show and later offered a follow-up show to teach the audience a few tricks. Kevin Jordan delivered a somewhat dark comedy show which received lots of laughs, although I was somewhat offended by his jokes involving small children and cruelty to animals. A Beatles tribute on the last night by one of the lead singers was great.Darlene and the HAL Cats performed on the Lido deck and Ocean Lounge with 70's, 80's, and 90's music throughout the cruise.We could sing along with just about every song. Karaoke existed, but wasn't a big deal on this cruise. We enjoyed the Filipino show put on by the staff.The disembarkation talk at the end of the cruise was nicely done and ended with the staff singing a farewell song to the audienceFood in the Lido restaurant was served quickly with a good selection from hamburgers and fries to beef tenderloin and trimmings including soups and salads and a desert and ice cream bar. Service was quick--we never waited more than a few minutes to be served. The Vista dining room offered efficient and warm service. The menu offered several appetizers, soups and salads along with six or seven entrees each evening. The presentation and taste of each serving was always done very well. The last night with the staff's show was fun.The Culinary Arts Center was a pleasant surprise with food preparation demonstrations from visiting and cruise ship chefs as well as wine tasting and decoration demonstrations. Craig, who ran the Tech Center, was very approachable and able to teach to the level of audience.Ports of Call on this cruise included Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Puerto Vallarta best area is Old Town which is a 120 peso taxi fare from the ship (or a 6 1/2 peso bus ride--the bus can be caught about 1 block from the gangway. Just look for a bus with Centro to get into town and a bus marked Walmart in the window to get back to the ship). Old town offers a mile long beach front walk called the Malecon lined on one side by shops, discos, restaurants and bars and on the other side by the beach with impressive sand sculptures and rock pilings (once you see these, you'll know what I mean). We stopped by Cafe Roma for Margaritas and to visit Carlos, the head waiter--there is no friendlier restaurant. Beaches are just a few blocks from the ship and also in Old Town. In Cabo we tendered in to the Marina which a literally a mile long walk lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Numerous signs for 6 beers and chips for $10 US. After walking all the way around the marina there is a fabulous beach for strolling or swimming or jet skiing or para-sailing. The town is right off the marina so no need for cabs or buses.Cruise Staff included JT the cruise director who smiled and asked us if we were having a good time, but could work on sincerity and engaging his audience a little more. Amber the party planner was engaging, knowledgeable and energetic. You felt as if Amber would be doing this job whether she was paid or not. Monique delivered the cultural and shore presentations. These were pretty dry and we skipped all after the first, although we had looked forward to a little Mexican culture. Overall this was great cruise on a wonderful ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
My husband and I researched the Oosterdam thoroughly in preparation for our trip over spring break, and read such a strong pull of opinions on either side (good or bad), that we realized we just wouldn't truly know until we took the ... Read More
My husband and I researched the Oosterdam thoroughly in preparation for our trip over spring break, and read such a strong pull of opinions on either side (good or bad), that we realized we just wouldn't truly know until we took the trip ourselves.Because of such mixed reviews and not knowing who to believe, I am hoping to do you a favor by providing you with the complete details of the Oosterdam ship that will hopefully benefit your travel preparation! I have traveled on three different ships (Carnival, Disney and HAL), so I think I have a pretty good background to compare this trip to. Embarkation procedues:We waited about 45 minutes between arriving at the cruise terminal in San Diego, and getting to our room. There were people standing around the lobby areas to direct people to their rooms, but approach people-- just sort of stood and waited. I'm 26, and it took me about 5 nights to finally remember how to get to my room! I think the signage on the ship could be better. While we waited to leave, the Lido was open for lunch buffet, and I liked the fact that for 72 hours, HAL staff served foods. During the end of flu season, I saw people sneezing into their hands, and was glad they weren't helping themselves. :) They also have hand sanitizining stations everywhere-- so to the best of my knowledge, there were zero stomach bug outbreaks! Hooray!Rooms:The rooms were surprisingly clean. I was surprised how many different things in the room the staff sanitizes between guests (I saw them doing it)-- telephone, room magazines, remote controls, door handles, etc. Plus, our steward cleaned our rooms twice a day and changed our bedding every day! I was really pleased with how clean everything was-- bathroom and everything. The only thing I didn't like was how we had a concrete verandah so we couldn't see the ocean sitting down. I will definitely research that one more thoroughly next time. Food:This was the downside. The only excellent meal we had on the ship was in the Pinnacle Grill. The rest of the food was just decent. It definitely bore the feeling of being prepared in a hurry and without any thought put into it. Eating for pleasure didn't happen for us on the ship-- we just ate to fill a hunger pang. The Lido was actually better than Vista in our opinion, because the food was prepared fresh right in front of you. The Vista chefs just seemed really overloaded and overwhelmed. Fruit was soggy, entrees were bland, etc. I would recommend booking at least two nights at Pinnacle if you can-- it was literally one of the best meals we had ever! Expect dinners at Vista and Pinnacle to last a minimum of two hours. We had open seating and really enjoyed not only being able to eat when we felt like it, but meeting new people because we'd all sit together. We made a ton of friends this way! Unless you're traveling with a big party, I think you should definitely sign up for the open seating option. Also- HAL's biggest disappointment was how terrible their room service was. Every time we ordered breakfast it was cold and almost inedible, and when we ordered lunch or a snack, we would receive it about 1 - 1 /2 hours late-- again, cold and inedible. Their room service needs total improvement- don't order unless you are ordering the cookies or something. Entertainment:We loved the magician we saw, but the productions were really hokey and honestly not entertaining. We liked doing karaoke and bingo (of course didn't win), and also somewhat enjoyed the comedian. There was tons of raunchiness amongst the entertainment folks on this ship, which is unfortunate given their average guest is 65 years old. People didn't seem to think all of the sexual jokes were that funny. If you're bringing kids, I'd recommend only bringing them to the musical and the magic show. We only went to three performances out of seven because they just weren't great. We'd go somewhere and listen to live jazz or piano and have a glass of wine instead. If you're 35 or below, they have a great dance club that opens at 10:00pm. My husband and I had fun dancing and then just walking back to our room a couple of times. Overall we didn't really feel like entertainment options were lacking on this ship-- they just weren't things we really enjoyed doing. Ports of Call:Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas were awesome. The only excursion we did was visiting Las Caletas, and we had an amazing time. I highly, highly recommend going there, even over Rhythms of the Night. We had some friends who did both, and enjoyed the day at Las Caletas much more. We just walked around town the second day and relaxed. When we went to Cabo San Lucas, we had an incredible time swimming at a nearby resort (Sirena Del Mar). Unless you are passionate about visiting Cabo Wabo and being ripped off by the local merchants, head to a hotel for the day. It's the right way to experience Cabo!Also, don't go to Diamonds International or Tanzanite International. The ship has a huge kickback program with them, but the diamonds they tried selling me were so much more expensive than back home, and they were damaged by so many fingers trying them on then putting them back- yuck. I visited three to price shop, and was incredibly unimpressed and disappointed with Holland America for trying to dupe their passengers so much. You'll see what I mean when you attend the shopping meeting. :)Overall, for $600 pp, this ship was a great experience. You get what you pay for. If I were paying $1500 pp, I would have been sorely disappointed. I don't recommend paying more than $800pp-- you can get much more for your money with Disney or Princess if you are going to pay over $1000! HAL is budget travel at best- and if anything, a great way to see Mexico! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We arrived at the dock at approx. 12:00 to find a line around the entire pier. Come to find out the ship had arrived 2 hours late. The taxi driver took us to the front of the line. The cruise personnel directed to the back of the line so ... Read More
We arrived at the dock at approx. 12:00 to find a line around the entire pier. Come to find out the ship had arrived 2 hours late. The taxi driver took us to the front of the line. The cruise personnel directed to the back of the line so we drug our bags all the way to the rear of the line. 2 hours later as we slowly moved forward we saw other taxi's dropping people off at the front of the line and the people went right on to drop their luggage and on into the building for check in, NOT GOOD! We had pre-printed our luggage tags as requested to do so on the online check-in. We were instructed to staple the tags on our bags but never got a chance to do that before hand. As the line was moving we asked the personnel available if they had a stapler and they instructed us that they would have have one when we dropped our luggage off ahead. When we reach this point and asked the baggage attendant for a stapler he said and I quote "I ain't got no stapler, if I had one it would've never got back to me anyway".... So he then instructed us to fill out bag tags manually and attach them to our bags, we did so and left our bags with the attendant and continued to move ahead with the rest of the cattle. AT this point we were only about 1/2 way there, ugh. The lines continued on and we finally got on-board about 2:30 pm and the ship was set to sail at 5 pm. We made our way to our stateroom then decided to check out the Lido Buffet. What a mistake that was. There were excessive lines, and they were running out of food at every station. My fiancee waited in the Asian food line to only be asked if he would like white or brown rice as that was all they had available when he got to the front of the line. Also, having been on several cruises by 4 cruise lines we have never seen the buffet food being served by the staff in small individual portions. After a couple of days they loosened up and let us serve ourselves but that was really strange. After that fiasco we went back to our room to find that our luggage had not been delivered yet. We went down to the front desk to inquire and after finding yet another lengthy line and waiting our turn we were taken to a room to see if our luggage was in there as unidentified. We did find one of our bags with identification attached, they then changed the story and said they were holding it for security purposes. They stated that they had found a knife in our bag. When we told them there was no knife in it they released the bag to us but we didn't want to haul it up to our room without knowing where our other bag was and they couldn't seem to produce it. After trying to get them to call our room steward to see if our other bag was in our room they kept saying we needed to go up to our room to check for ourselves. We finally took our bag and went to our room and found our other bag there. During all of this the ship set sail and we missed the chance to see the ship leave port and all off the festivities. That is how the first 5 hours of this cruise went. We will just try to give you the pros and cons from here on in. PROS: Entertainment was somewhat enjoyable. The food in the Vista Dining Room at dinner was good and the choices were many. The Pinnacle Grill was AWESOME to say the least. Well worth the extra 20 bucks each. The room steward was punctual and entertaining and the room was very well kept. The towel animals were always interesting. CONS: Entertainment shows were not timed so the people at the late dinner could get there and get a seat before the shows started and the theatre is very small. The portions in the Vista Dining Room were the smallest we have ever seen on any cruise we have been on. The server didn't seem to ever ask you if you wanted anything to drink. The Lido Buffet variety was slim and the quality of the food was poor. It was very difficult to find a beverage person to bring you a soda, etc. The hours that the Lido was open was not conducive to most passengers needs. So make sure to check their schedules before you head down there because you might not be able to get anything to eat at all. We ordered room service twice and they got the order wrong both times. We ordered from the 24 hr room service once and they were out of one item and then wouldn't allow us to use our drink card for room service when they delivered the food. We asked the room steward to keep our ice bucket filled and that was very hit and miss. One night they had a so called "Chocolate Extravaganza" and it was anything but that. The chocolate in the chocolate fountain was like water and the deserts we really nothing special. Also, it took place on the Lido deck by the pool and there was NO lighting there. They brought out portable flood lights so you could hardly see what you were eating. Again there was a scheduling issue with this event. The evening show was still going on when the extravaganza started. Very poor event scheduling. In the room the TV is very small and has a horrible picture. Even in the Screening room the quality of the picture was not up to standard. Should at least HD. The Superbowl was shown in the Vista Lounge where all the evening shows take place and the quality of the picture for that major event was poor and not HD either. That ends our Pros and Cons section. As far as disembarkation went, it was pretty smooth but we didn't turn in our luggage after our earlier experience and carrying them out ourselves was no problem. After all the cruises we have been on we have never ran into a more confused, uninformed and inconsiderate group of passengers. The ship is staffed by mostly Indonesians so the cultural issues are very prominent lead to what we would perceive as inefficiency. Holland America's attraction is price but the money you save isn't necessarily worth it. When we cruise again we will select another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We were married in September and took the Jan.8-15 7-night Mexican Riviera Cruise for our honeymoon. It was my first cruise and my wife's third. We flew into San Diego around 11am and were warmly greeted by name by the staff. They ... Read More
We were married in September and took the Jan.8-15 7-night Mexican Riviera Cruise for our honeymoon. It was my first cruise and my wife's third. We flew into San Diego around 11am and were warmly greeted by name by the staff. They directed us outdoors to a nice full-sized tour bus. We boarded the bus, and since we were the first to board the bus we sat in the front seats and waited for the other passengers. After waiting about two minutes, the driver hopped in and off we went, the only ones on the entire bus! --So far so good, but I had heard nightmare stories about boarding, long lines, etc. Perhaps because we were early, there was no nightmare, and we were checked in and on board our ship all in less then fifteen minutes. We booked a Superior Veranda Suite and it was wonderful. Jetted tub, separate shower, twin sinks, tons of closet space and plenty of drawers, and the best part of it was the balcony itself. I cannot imagine going on any cruise (and never will) without having a deck. I have done a great deal of traveling and found this to be one of the most favorable and memorable vacations I've ever spent. I seriously cannot think of any single thing or occurrence regarding this ship that would make me want to choose a different cruise line. To be grossly picayune, the ice buckets are quite small and calling room service sometimes resulted in a long wait. Finally, after figuring out where they kept the ice machine, it became much quicker and easier for me to simply walk a few steps down the hall and get it myself instead of waiting for someone to bring it. The only other negative thing I can think of was their special night of Le Cirque, the restaurant offering at a special rate. The meal was certainly excellent, but I paid extra for the wine pairing and I was shocked when they brought a very heavy and sharp Bordeaux to accompany my Halibut. We ordered coffee with dessert, but it was not served until after the creme brulee. It may seem like a small thing, but for a world-class establishment such as Le Cirque, those were glowing errors. Conversely, dining at the Pinnacle Grill was equal to or even better than the Le Cirque experience. The hostess at the Pinnacle was top-notch. On our first time there, we were brought to the back of restaurant and seated next to a table of ten, with little children present. When the hostess showed us our table, she caught the look of utter disappointment in my wife's eye and before we even said a word, asked us if we wished to be seated elsewhere. That's true professionalism in action. The Lido was excellent for wonderful breakfasts and lunches and the midnite buffet contained food presentations that were stunning. We paid extra for spa treatments and massages, facials, and the use of the steam, sauna and hydro-pool, and it was worth every penny; highly recommendable. The Promenade Deck runs all the way around the ship, which is perfect for long walks or jogs, and I found that not all ships have that available. The bars? All very good, although the sports bar could've benefited from a few more TV's, but that's probably because it was during the NFL playoffs, and that attracts a fairly good crowd. Suffice to say, everything about this trip was nearly perfect, and by the time it ended, my wife and I were nearly heartbroken at having it come to an end. From start to finish HAL showed us a very good time and wonderful hospitality. I recommend them highly. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
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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