82 Holland America Oosterdam Romantic Cruise Reviews

Observations and opinions. The Oosterdam is a perfect size. 3 laps around the promenade deck equaled one mile. Walking on this teak deck was a joy. The ship is in generally good condition, very clean with lovely lounges, bars, ... Read More
Observations and opinions. The Oosterdam is a perfect size. 3 laps around the promenade deck equaled one mile. Walking on this teak deck was a joy. The ship is in generally good condition, very clean with lovely lounges, bars, coffee shop, theater,and main dining room. The Lido pool deck area seemed in need of some updating and the red carpet on the spiral staircase in the Atrium needs to be replaced immediately, but overall the ship is lovely. My husband and I loved our verandah cabin. It was small, a little worn, but very efficiently laid out with good storage and a fantastically comfortable bed and of course the fabulous verandah. I had booked a VH guarantee with HAL, so was quite pleased with the location we were assigned, Deck 7, #7032. I thought the food was mostly very good, though opinions really varied about this among the passengers we met. Some thought it was very average to awful! We enjoyed the shows in the Vista Lounge. The lead singers of the production shows ( there were 3 of these shows,) a young married couple were amazingly good and the dancers were excellent. The sound system at times was too loud for me and I heard others also complain about this. My husband and I like to dance, ballroom and West Coast swing, and were able to do so every evening we wanted to in the Neptune Lounge. There were other couples who knew how to dance so we were not alone on the dance floor. The service workers work so hard and were usually gracious and friendly. At times there did not seem to be adequate staffing in the MDR and service was slow. I recommend making reservations for the As You Wish Dining if you don't want to wait for a table. There were rough seas from the time we left Cabo San Lucas on Thursday evening until we docked in San Diego Saturday morning. The ship was rocking and rolling. I did not like this constant motion. Luckily neither my husband nor I got seasick but we heard of others who did. Despite rough seas, a little worn carpeting etc., we had a wonderful time and appreciate how very fortunate we were to be able to spend a week on the MS Oosterdam!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our honeymoon cruise and first ever for DH. I have cruised on several lines including RCCL and NCL, but HAL is my hands down favorite. I have previously been on the Zuiderdam and the Eurodam. We decided to get married in May and ... Read More
This was our honeymoon cruise and first ever for DH. I have cruised on several lines including RCCL and NCL, but HAL is my hands down favorite. I have previously been on the Zuiderdam and the Eurodam. We decided to get married in May and booked this trip online in March so not much time for me to plan as I am a big time planner. We flew to Seattle the day before and stayed at the Edgewater Hotel. What a unique property right on the water and just a few blocks away from Pike Place Market which we had to see. We are both Starbucks junkies so of course we had to see if the latte's are better in the "original"..they weren't. LOL. Back to the hotel....I ususally don't spend too much on a hotel to save more money for the cruise, but since our honeymoon I made an exception. It is a unique mix of modern and eclectic with a fireplace in the room and teddy bears on the bed. The bathroom was gorgeous with stone and granite. The lobby had trees in it and comfy furniture with a great view of the harbor. We got to watch our ship come in with the sun rising...DH got some great pics. Embarkation was pretty quick although we did have to wait for about 30 minutes after getting our checkin...not too bad but DH is not very patient. Having sailed on other HAL ships in this class I found my way around pretty quickly and found the ship to be in good condition. I loved the colors of the ship although some of the artwork and benches etc...were very strange...a blue merman bench?? We chose open dining as we don't like to be scheduled. I made reservations for Canaletto the first night and hubby liked it so much we ate there 3 times. The antipasta platter is worth the trip alone not to mention the yummy cotton candy. Something about eating cotton candy on china with a glass of wine is so cool. We ate 2 nites in the Lido and twice in the Pinnacle Grill. Although I have sailed HAL before this was my first time to dine there and it was delicious. I had the veal chop and he had the 18oz bone in ribeye both were cooked perfectly and service was impeccable. The second nite there he got the ribeye again as he loved so much and I had Steak Diane. The filet was cooked and broght tableside where the sauce was flamed with congnac. So good, but I couldn't eat it all as I saved room for the chocolate cake...the reviews on this were right on....totally fabulous. We did not eat in the MDR at all and didn't miss it. Glacier Bay- totally beautiful and saw some calving while there. Loved being out on deck for viewing. Juneau- did the Photo Safari offered through the cruiseline. Had a great guide and learned how to better use my new SLR camera. Great tour for photo amateurs like me though DH didn't learn anything new. Saw lots of humpbacks and sea lions and so many bald eagles we lost count. Our guide said we were lucky as many only see one or two on this tour. Stopped at Mendenhall Glacier and did a short hike to the lake. WOW what a beautiful place. We had time to take more pics and the guide got some great ones of DH and I in front of the glacier. Back to the cruise dock boarded the ship had quick lunch and spent afternoon going through shops. Found a great coffee shop with free WIFI and sent emails home to the family. Sitka- We were supposed to to the Ocean Raft and 4x4 excursion, but it was cancelled at the last minute as we were told the boat was broke down. We tendered to town and walked to the Raptor Center which was way cool. The bald eagles and other birds of prey there were great. Did not find the shops very good and bought nothing. Back on the ship pretty early. This was our least favorite port though that might have been different if we had gotten to enjoy our excusion. Ketchikan- Misty Fjords flightseeing with Island Wings. Had an amazing trip and the weather was beautiful. Landed on a little island on an alpine lake for 30 minutes and took pictures. The pilot Michelle was great and took pictures of us in front of the plane...some of the best from our trip. We went back to town after our great flight and did a great deal of shopping. There were many stores near the dock and bought gifts for Christmas for the family. Wanted to do Creek Street, but not enough time. We loved Ketchikan and would have liked to stay longer (7am-1pm) Victoria- We were so tired and not feeling good that day so we stayed on th boat, but had fun watching all the people get off the 3 cruise ships there from our balcony. Cabin- We had a balcony toward the front of the ship and loved it. My first time to have one and now spoiled forever. We used it extensively during this trip and found the extra room to be very nice. Our cabin steward did a fine job and took care of everything we needed. He was always smiling and speaking to us. I actualy saw him more than usual on a cruise which was nice,. I found the service to be good in all areas of the ship. I booked the thermal suite for the week and used it every day. I have only gotten day passes in the caribbean, but really loved the pool and heated loungers after chilly days in port. I got to see an orca while laying in the heated loungers and it was really close to the ship. That very quiet room got quite animated to say the least. It is a bit pricey for the two of us at $250, but I used it and loved it. We did not go see any of the shows but watched a movie in the screening room every day. Great comfy chairs and popcorn is a nice touch. It would be nice if they offerred drink service there as popcorn makes you thirsty. We had a fantastic cruise and hubby is hooked on cruising and loves HAL as much as I do. I keep thinking of trying other lines, but why leave something that works for you. We are booked on the Westerdam next spring and can't wait. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We went on this cruise as a part of a group that my mom put together and being native to San Diego it was easy for us to fit into our schedule. We took a shuttle to the terminal instead of parking and it was well worth it. The shuttle ... Read More
We went on this cruise as a part of a group that my mom put together and being native to San Diego it was easy for us to fit into our schedule. We took a shuttle to the terminal instead of parking and it was well worth it. The shuttle takes you directly to the terminal doors and a porter was waiting to take our luggage; we didn't see our luggage again until we got to the room. Getting on the ship took all of 20 minutes. We got to the lido deck for lunch and that was a bit of a nightmare since there were so many people rushing to the food as though it was about to disappear. Around 1:00 the announcement came that we could go to our cabins and we arrived about 5 minutes before our luggage which made it easy for me to snap a few pics of a clean & tidy cabin. We sailed away around 5:30 and it was beautiful to see downtown San Diego lit up in the dusk...something I don't get to see very often. It reminded me of why I live in this great city! We stayed in cabin #5058 which was on the veranda deck towards the front of the ship very close to the elevators. When we first walked in we thought it was really small, but once we unpacked and found how much of our stuff fit into the cabinets we were pleased. The closets had plenty of hanging space and could convert into shelving if needed. There was a safe in one of the closets too. The veranda had a good view but I would have chosen to be about 5 cabins further back because we were right next to a portion of the ship that jutted out and blocked our view. We spent a lot of our time in the Crow's Nest Lounge & library which was directly above our cabin so it was quite convenient to go between the two with our laptop and books. The only drawback to this cabin was that the shower drained very slow and our feet were in about 4 inches of water at all times.Overall, the ship was nice and service was what we expected; it didn't seem to matter what time of day it was, but I always saw someone polishing a stair bannister. We thought the food was mediocre no matter where we ate and we got really tired of eating after about the third day. Even in the dining room, we felt that the food was comparable to any regular buffet so we felt a bit let down. Much of the food came out of giant cans and even the juices were often times watered down (FYI...tea, juice, coffee & milk are the only free drinks on the ship; you have to pay for soda). Afternoon tea and cakes was served everyday in the dining room, but once again it was mediocre; however it was nice to take a few minutes out of the day and have a bit of sophistication ... even if it was in our flip-flops. One night there was a party on the lido deck with chocolate fountains and fruit for dipping and that was very nice. The nightly entertainment was sub-par overall and unfortunately you couldn't get away from it. In the evening there was a musical group playing in every corner of the ship and it was never good. The shows were also excessively cheesy. There was one musician, a classical and acoustic guitarist named Taylor Brown, who was excellent and played often throughout the day; we made sure to catch one of his performances daily. We knew going in to this that we would be in a small demographic of "young" people and in general there wasn't a whole lot for us to do. There were ping-pong tables but they always seemed to be put away or missing the paddles. There was shuffle board, but there were only a few pucks so only one game could occur at a time. The gym was nice but you had to pay extra if you wanted to do any of the classes like yoga, pilates or spin...I was disappointed to have to pay extra for something that I expected to have been part of my booking costs. The explorations cafe was "activity central" with daily sudokus/crosswords and several puzzles for people to be occupied by. We learned on our last day that there was a closet full of board games that you could check out. We spent quite a bit of our time in here since our weather was quite chilly & windy...we enjoyed this portion of the ship. This is also where there were numerous computers and a fairly large library. There were two pools and 5 hot tubs but they were all covered up by 9pm everynight. With so much to do during the day we always seemed to have time to hit the hot tubs by about 10pm so it was disappointing to not be able to benefit from the tubs. Overall, we were somewhat let down by the cruise, but we still were able to relax. I don't think we'll be cruising on Holland America again until we're in their demographic which will be in about 30-40 years. This ship and or cruise line really caters to senior citizens and though we weren't looking for a party cruise, we wanted a tad bit more energy. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We embarked from San Diego, which is a wonderful port in itself. Spent the night at the Hampton Inn (very close to the cruise port) the night before. Embarkation was a bit slow, but in light of increased security, it was understandable. We ... Read More
We embarked from San Diego, which is a wonderful port in itself. Spent the night at the Hampton Inn (very close to the cruise port) the night before. Embarkation was a bit slow, but in light of increased security, it was understandable. We like the Celebrity process where previous cruisers with the line have an expedited boarding. But this wasn't bad. Our cabin, 8033, was one of the smaller veranda cabins. It was really small, but offered enough storage. If and when we sail again with Holland America, we would choose a suite. We were traveling with friends who did just that and they had an incredible cabin with a large bath and sitting area and larger balcony. Everything was very clean and the bed was super comfy. We had courtesy robes, which makes it much more pampering. The balcony was large enough with nice wicker chairs (one with ottoman). We were on the starboard side and we always had good views the way we were docked in each port. One thing that stood out on this ship was the entertainment. All of the performers were a notch above the standard cruise fare. Very talented entertainment crew and wonderful choice of guest entertainers. We had Leo Ward, a magician and illusionist, who was also very funny---loved him. We had a comedian named Barnaby who we adored and another comedian/ventriloquist named Don Bryan who was hilarious and the best we've seen. We also saw Delores Park, a singer, who was incredible. Just fabulous entertainment and we looked forward to each night's offering. Okay, there has to be a few things that we weren't crazy about. The dining room was beautiful, but there was no background music, which would have been nice. Our wait staff was wonderful. Our waiter was Viand and he couldn't have been nicer and more attentive. But the menu----I admit we are just plain old Southerners with not the most sophisticated palettes on the planet. But the offerings on the menu were extremely gourmet and the items offered all the time were limited. I love a shrimp cocktail. I only got one and that one had 3 medium sized shrimp. We never had lobster offered. The entrees were heavy. They always had a spa offering which was lower in calories and fat. The only other thing I could criticize on this cruise or the ship was the smoking policy. I have asthma and did not appreciate the fact that smoking was allowed in the casino and the sports bar. I don't know if it was allowed in any other public rooms, but we had to go through the casino often and it was horribly smoky. Also, we would have like to go to the casino occasionally, but couldn't. The Australian Open was on during the cruise and we wanted to go to the sports bar to see it on a bigger screen, but couldn't because of the smoke. There are cruise lines who have a stricter policy and unfortunately, we will have to go to them even though we prefer Holland American. The Fitness Center was very good and the staff were very helpful. We didn't use the spa, so can't speak to that. The Lido Grill is probably the best at sea. There are so many choices. There is a Bistro section (sandwiches, deli), an Asian section, etc. Something for everyone. The Pinnacle Grill was the alternative dining with charge ($20 pp at night, $10 for lunch). The menu is very good, the food excellent and the presentation is beautiful. We didn't think the wait staff were very friendly, compared to our regular dining room. We ate there for our anniversary evening and for my birthday. Our cruise director, Patty, was down-to-earth, friendly and made the cruise fun. She is one of the very best cruise directors we have had. We've been on twelve cruises and we've seen all kinds. The Ports: Mazatlan was okay. We didn't do a shore excursion and opted for a taxi ride to the old town to do some looking around and shopping. We had lunch, then back to the ship. Puerto Vallarta is beautiful and easy to get around. We lived there for a short time, so we love going back as often as we can. We got a taxi and took our friends for a tour of the town. There are scads of 4 and 5 star restaurants there, so food is not a problem. Shopping is good too. Look for the Mexican pewter bowls and platters---very pretty and useful. The Malecon is great for walking along the water and people watching. Hautulco was extremely old and dirty. We walked around a bit. It was very hot. Not much shopping. There were some interesting excursions offered. That it the best bet in this port. Acapulco has a lot to see. The cliff divers are the most interesting. We took an excursion on a boat around the coastline of Acapulco, saw the cliff divers and a lot of famous homes. Very nice. Cabo San Lucas is a wonderful port. Scenic and clean. We walked around, got a water taxi to The Office, a cute little beach restaurant that is very famous. On the way, our captain took us to Los Arcos and the rocks where the sea lions gather. This is a bargain ($20 for two) and you get to see a lot. Disembarkation was a snap. You receive a color luggage tag and you remain in your cabin until called. They were running a little late,due to having to clear some guests through customs, but we were off the boat by 10:30 am. We had a 2:00 flight back to Florida, so we had plenty of time. There is an expedited disembarkation offered at $19 pp for luggage and $19 pp for transportation. We just got a shuttle and went to the airport, which was about 5 minutes from the port and it cost $10. The Oosterdam is a beautiful ship, Holland American does it right. This was our second cruise aboard Holland. This itinerary was perfect for us with 5 days at sea and 5 ports (6 including San Diego). We were rested when we got home. Love those longer cruises!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Mediterranean MomentsOur Iberian flight left Washington D.C. for Venice on the evening of June 22nd allowing an extra pre-cruise day to explore this beautiful city.  We decided to stay a little off the beaten path in the Cannaregio ... Read More
Mediterranean MomentsOur Iberian flight left Washington D.C. for Venice on the evening of June 22nd allowing an extra pre-cruise day to explore this beautiful city.  We decided to stay a little off the beaten path in the Cannaregio neighborhood at the Hotel Vecellio.  This made for an easy transport from the airport on the Alilaguna water bus (less than a 10 minute walk to the stop and 13 Euro for the ticket) to the hotel which is located on the lagoon at Fondamenta Nuove.  It took about forty minutes and made one short stop at Murano. There was only one small set of steps to maneuver before entering this small charming family run hotel.  We practiced a little of our Italian while gathering tips of local places to have dinner, but not to worry as they also spoke English.  After refreshing ourselves, we set off to explore the area around the hotel which is quite residential and after about fifteen minutes arrived at Piazza San Marco.  From there we wandered along the amazing winding streets to the Rialto Bridge and checked out some of the shops.  To save time and steps as we weren't near a bridge, we took a traghetto across a small canal (inexpensive-.50Euro) and continued back to the Cannaregio neighborhood.  We had dinner among the locals at Osteria Storica which is run by the daughter-in-law of our hotel manager.  The seafood risotto was delicious but the S shaped Burano cookies and dessert wine was even better!  We were soon asleep with the sound of the water lapping outside our hotel room.   The next morning we walked to San Marco and easily purchased tickets for the Doge Palace at the Correr Museum and did a self-guided tour with info from Rick Steves.  Audio sets are also available.  This was a definite "must see."  We then waited in a long line for about 30 minutes to enter the Basilica San Marco.  We had done a lot of research about the basilica but the number of people, the overall darkness inside, and our schedule didn't allow for as much examination as I hoped.  If this is of great importance to you, plan to do a guided tour.  We returned to the hotel to pick-up our luggage, took a water bus to Piazzale Roma and a cab directly to the ship (10E.)  As we would be staying in Venice until tomorrow, embarkation was a breeze.....no lines at all.  We found the ship looking great with rich colors and many artistic accents.  We had lunch from the lido on the aft deck which became our favorite spot.  We returned to our cabin and found our luggage had arrived so we unpacked before heading back out to explore more of Venice.  We walked to the vaporetti stop and did a full tour of the Grand Canal.  Again using the info from Rick Steves, we were able to identify many of the key sites along the way.  We walked to the Rialto Bridge and again to Piazza San Marco and listened to the dueling orchestras before taking a cab back to the ship.  As it was now somewhat late for dinner, we decided to try dinner from the lido at one of the attractive table clothed areas.  This was not a good choice.  We found all of our entrees to be over cooked and dry.....perhaps because it was near the end of the serving time.  This turned out to be more the exception to the rule of our dining experience on the ship but we didn't return there for dinner either.  This is not to be confused with the new Canaletto Restaurant.   The next day we explored more of the city, did some shopping, and took pictures etc. before taking the water bus back to the ship for the sail away.  It was quite beautiful being on deck for this on a beautiful sunny day.  The music was playing, those fancy cocktails were flowing, and everyone was having a good time.  I would say contrary to other posts of HAL ships, there was quite a mix of age groups on board.  Though more than half were of my fellow Americans, there were also many Canadians and Europeans.  For those planning to travel this route this summer with children and teens, there were a lot of young people having a good time.  There were also a lot of young couples as well so this mix provided a good vibe. st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } Our next stop was Dubrovnik.  We took the local bus to the Pile Gate and though we were open to walking around and climbing the wall at the Ploce gate entrance if the lines were long, this was not necessary.  Walking the wall is a must.  You really get to see the city from a perch.  There were even a few residents with small tables selling hand crafted items along the way. The citrus trees were full of fruit almost asking to be picked.  The people were very friendly. Having local currency I'm sure is preferred but they would also take Euro if the bills were small.  Stop for a gelato by the big ice cream cone in the main square before you leave. st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } More sunny weather greeted us during our three days visiting the Greek Isles.  We walked into the city from the ship to explore the old city walls in Corfu and meandered through the streets.  Argostoli was a little gem on the Sunday morning we were there.  We attended a service at one of the churches, observed fishermen coming in with their catch of the day, visited an archeological museum, and enjoyed a cup of cappuccino before the shops opened up in the early afternoon.  Of course the favorite isle was Santorini.  The captain allowed us to go out onto the bow of the ship for the sail into the rim area.  We took the cable cars up to the top which moved right along after about a 10 minute wait.  We then took the local bus up to Oia.  This was even more beautiful than all the pictures that I'm sure you have seen.  Make time to visit here as it is less touristy than Fira.  We also took the local bus back which was inexpensive and you could buy tickets on the bus.  I believe they ran every hour this time of the year.  And then there is the sunset...whether you stay in Oia, Fira, or go back to the ship it is a lovely sight. st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } Back to Italy where the choices are many.  The fish market in Catania was great fun, and you also have the ruins right in the center of the city along with the churches.  Sit on a bench and people watch as this is a vibrant place. In Naples we took the hydrofoil over to the island of Capri.  This was our family name so this was more special for me.  It is extremely scenic.  You can walk around the many lanes that look over the sea, walk through the Gardens of Augustus, and see the Faraglioni rocks.  There are also many shops and cafes to spend time in, as well. st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } Arriving in Civitavecchia, we took the train into Rome and got off at the St. Peter's stop.  The train ride took about 40 minutes.  The train was very crowded and we had to stand during the trip in.  Once there, it is a short walk over to St. Peter's Square and there are also places to stop for a cappuccino. We chose to visit the Vatican Museum while in Rome as we had missed this during our previous visit.  Buy your tickets ahead of time online and get right in.  The art collection is amazing.  Our guide was great.  Pay attention when they explain highlights of the Sistine Chapel ceiling at the orientation of the tour as you are on your own when you arrive there at the end. You are also supposed to be silent which the guards had a hard time controlling!  The lines waiting to get into St Peter's were extremely long so plan for this or plan ahead!  In Livorno, we took the train and went to Lucca.  This was even more charming than I had expected.  The home of Puccini, it would be great to attend an opera if our visit was longer.  There are many beautiful churches and many shops to get lost in. Our last stop was Barcelona.  This is truly a magical metropolitan city.  We were there on a Sunday evening and so the Magical Fountains were showing there colors with music in the background.  It takes place in front of the art museum at the Placa Espana.  You can arrive there by Metro.  We added an extra day to our visit and stayed at the Hotel Jazz, a great modern hotel.  It was very conveniently located near the Catalunya metro stop.  It is close to La Rambla and La Sagrada Familia.  We only wish we had more time to spend in this fabulous city.   We truly had an enjoyable vacation sailing through one of our favorite destinations.  We found the ship to be in great shape with a variety of amenities.  With only one sea day we tried to save a few hours of each day for time relaxing on deck Though there were many people on  st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } board, we never found the ship to be over crowded.  With two pools, one having a retractable cover, there were plenty of chairs and tables for everyone to lounge around. I liked the old fashion wooden chairs with plump cushions.  We especially enjoyed the Pinnacle Grill and would highly recommend it.  We had both sea food and steak and both were cooked to perfection.  I would encourage booking ahead.....before you leave home.  We had booked two nights in advance and were given a third night from our booking agent that was a surprise when we arrived on the ship.  Unfortunately, we were not able to get a reservation for this third night (unless we ate at 5:45 the day we were in Rome) once on board as they were full.  They did arrange for onboard credit which was nice.  We really enjoyed anytime dining.  We never made reservations, always were able to get a table for four, and only one night did we have to wait twenty minutes (they give you a hand held beeper when your table is ready) for our table.  Though we had many different people serving us over the period, everyone was attentive and we did not find this to be a problem. Except for the first two nights when it was just ok, the food in the dining room was quite good, especially the onion soup.  Maybe they had trainees on those first nights!  During the cruise we celebrated Canada Day and the 4th of July.  On the July 4th celebration, they went all out with red, white and blue decorations, ice sculptures, carved fruit displays and of course bar-b-que. There was great emphasis on hygiene.  There was a letter in our room when we arrived explaining what they were doing to keep everyone healthy and what we should do to help.  There were many, many anti-bacterial dispensers dispersed throughout the ship, and a number of items were served to you in the lido.  The staff appeared to be working very hard and all tried to be helpful and friendly.  The special entertainment was excellent.  Preston Coe performed everything from a repertoire of the Three Tenors, Roy Orbison, and guitar riffs of Eric Clapton.  Leo Ward performed state of the art illusions sprinkled with comedy.  They each did one show in the early part of the cruise and returned for a joint show on the last day.  The HAL singers and dancers performed two energized shows of dance and Broadway.  The other lounge acts were the caliber mentioned in a number of previous posts.  I did have to use one service that I hope all of you don't have to.  I experienced a bad toothache and had to use the medical center.  Dr. Sanchez and his staff were great.  They helped to make me comfortable and even arranged for me to see a dentist when I arrived in Barcelona.  The other thing HAL did that impressed us was making everyone feel a little closer to home.  Having a news recap from a major news source in your country and printing both the daily program and the menu in your native tongue was a nice touch.  Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly as did tendering when it was necessary.  The G8 Summit was being held in Italy so extra security required that all of our passports be turned in for a few days and that procedure went well too.   Other than that, the only thing left to comment on is our cabin.  We had plenty of storage room and plenty of hangers....I even learned from some of you that I could lift the lid of the hassock for more storage options!  We used room service twice, though they had to enter sideways with the tray.  We enjoyed our robes and had more TV channel options than on Celebrity. Our only issue was their vacuum type plumbing system.  At peak times in the day there would be a long delay before flushing.  Though we often travel to Europe to visit family, we are new to cruising.  This was only our second cruise and our first on HAL.  I have learned so much from your many posted tips and comments and find great enjoyment in reading about your cruising experiences.  I hope my review recalls some memorable times for those of you that have been to these places before.  I also hope it provides information and confirmation to cruising newbies like me that you can have a wonderful time even if you aren't sailing in a veranda suite!  Hope to meet up with some of you on a future cruise.......    Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My husband and I had a wonderful, relaxing trip to the Mexican Riviera on the Oosterdam.  We took the February 21-28 cruise that stops for two hours in Bahia Magdalena to watch whales and other marine life.  We chose this cruise ... Read More
My husband and I had a wonderful, relaxing trip to the Mexican Riviera on the Oosterdam.  We took the February 21-28 cruise that stops for two hours in Bahia Magdalena to watch whales and other marine life.  We chose this cruise specifically for the whale watching.  We are in our early 50s and this was our fifth cruise; second time on Holland America.  Even an outbreak of the norovirus did not spoil the cruise for us.  The staff took every precaution to stop the spread of disease while serving us in style.We arrived by car from Riverside on Saturday and used the Park & Go lot with an online coupon. (We paid $49 for the week.) The shuttle driver kindly took us back to our car when we realized we had forgotten our cell phone. Embarkation took a total of 25 minutes: 5 minutes to check in and 20 minutes to wait until it was our turn to board. The port facility is not very pleasant. Aboard the ship we headed straight to the Lido buffet, which was very crowded. It was frustrating going from station to station to get what we wanted, and we did not have a tray to put things on, so we kept having to go back. We finally found an empty table outside by the pool, but we had to put up with smokers all around us. The food was quite good, but the beverage glasses were tiny and we kept going back for refills. After lunch we explored the ship and then relaxed in our room until the lifeboat drill. HAL takes this drill very seriously, and they are efficient about it. Our luggage was not delivered until 5pm. We had a "fully obstructed view," but in fact only about half of the view was obstructed with pulleys and hydraulics for lowering a lifeboat. Once we saw a man working on the equipment outside of our window. The room was well-lit and comfortable, but there was only one decent chair for the two of us. The bathroom was a good size for a cruise ship, but this was a handicapped room (even though we are not handicapped). The problem with the room is the lack of drawer space, other than very small drawers at the sides of the bed. Also, our large suitcase had to stand in a corner rather than in the closet so that our clothes would not get crushed. The temperature control was touchy; it took us two days to get the room at just the right setting, and then the temperature kept changing anyway! The two days at sea at the beginning of the cruise got a bit boring. We took a Spanish class both days and went to afternoon tea (always a good experience). We walked around the Promenade Deck for exercise along with many other people. We also used the only two elliptical machines in the gym. We spent reading, doing crossword puzzles, and lounging around. We spent a good portion of each day eating. The Lido buffet food was very good, but we got tired of constantly getting up for beverages, dessert, etc. On the "at sea" days the buffet was quite crowded for breakfast and lunch. Once we had lunch in the dining room to escape the crowds and noise, and the food there was excellent. dinner in the dining room was excellent each night, and most of the time (but not always) the portions were generous. Appetizers and salads were excellent, but the soups were sometimes skimpy on ingredients. Desserts were excellent, except that the ice cream was always half melted by the time it arrived. (Even at the buffet the ice cream was melting when we got it.) Dinner was leisurely; it took 90 minutes to 2 hours for us to finish a meal each night. Some nights we had problems getting our beverages refilled. Overall, though, dining was an enjoyable experience. One night we had an outstanding meal with great service at the Pinnacle Grill. This was definitely the smoothest cruise we've been on out of five. The whale watching from 7am-9am on Monday was enjoyable, but this is NOT a photo opportunity. We often saw spouting water and tails at a distance, and one gray whale swam close enough to the ship for us to see its mottled back. We also saw porpoises leaping out of the water and a sea lion swimming by, but again at a distance. If you want to get closer, you have to pay for an excursion on a smaller boat. The norovirus broke out early on our cruise. We were informed right away, and the staff took extra precautions. We were no longer able to dish up our own food from the buffet, and we could not check out DVDs. All common items were taken off the tables at meals (salt and pepper, etc.) We were reminded constantly to wash our hands and use the hand sanitizer. One of the people at our dinner table for six came down with the virus and was confined to his room for most of the cruise. But his wife never got it, and she kept joining us for dinner. None of the rest of us got sick. Each day we were informed about the progress of the disease. About 100 people (out of 1800) came down with it; apparently many of them had cabins in the same area of the ship. When our cruise ended we discovered that the media had blown the outbreak all out of proportion and were even reporting false information about our cruise. We are cheapskates when it comes to shore excursions. On Tuesday in Mazatlan we just took a cab to the cathedral (beautiful inside), walked through the interesting market, and looked at the Peralta Theater. After a couple hours we returned to the ship. On Wednesday in Puerto Vallarta we had a lot more fun. We took a cab to the cathedral (worth a visit), and we enjoyed walking along the Malecon looking at the statues and the intricate sand sculptures. We had a nice Mexican lunch at La Chala along the Malecon and were serenaded by musicians. There are some very good, reasonable shops in the area. Then we took the cab back to the Wal-Mart by the port and bought some souvenirs. Next to Wal-Mart is a modern shopping mall. On Thursday in Cabo San Lucas we paid for the HAL shore excursion that was a boat ride to El Arco and then a bus trip to an overlook. It was very hot that day (probably 100 degrees), and we stood around for 45 minutes before we were herded onto a boat. The boat ride and the views were wonderful great photo opportunity. But by the time we got back to shore, we had no interest in going to the overlook restaurant. We and several others chose just to go back to the ship at that point. (I wish we had just gone to shore and found a cheap boat ride in the first place, instead of paying the inflated price for a HAL shore excursion.) Tendering was a fast and easy process for us. Friday, the final day at sea, got a bit boring for us, but that was o.k. because we could rest up before returning to work. Entertainment on the ship was pretty good. The singers and dancers were talented, but the show itself was uninspiring. The Olympic gymnast was very entertaining and fun to watch. The magician was also quite good and humorous. I was hoping to see the Elton John impersonator, but he was not on our cruise. Disembarkation was fast and easy. Then we stood around at the port for about half an hour waiting for our shuttle to the parking lot. We did feel like the young people on this cruise. The average age must have been in the 60s. At times I got tired of hearing pre-rock 'n roll music in the lounges (e.g. Frank Sinatra). Occasionally I heard some Rolling Stones, but the piped-in music never seemed to get beyond the 1960s. The upside of having an older clientele is that people are very polite to each other and know how to make conversation. Also, it didn't hurt my ego to feel young for a change. Overall, we like Holland America cruises. In fact, we booked our next cruise while we were on this one. We're impressed by their professionalism and their class. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our third cruise. Previously we had cruised with another couple. This was our first time going it alone. All of our cruise experiences have been on HAL. (Our first cruise was to the Caribbean on the old Westerdam in an ... Read More
This was our third cruise. Previously we had cruised with another couple. This was our first time going it alone. All of our cruise experiences have been on HAL. (Our first cruise was to the Caribbean on the old Westerdam in an oceanview. The second was also to the Caribbean on the Volendam in an oceanview.) This cruise was to the Mexican Riviera out of San Diego. We weren't looking specifically for this destination, but the rate was too good to pass up. It was SO much less expensive than comparable length Caribbean cruises at the same time. This seems to be one of HAL's best value cruises since it is still substantially cheaper than other HAL offerings a year later. ABOUT THE EMBARKATION PORT. San Diego was a pleasure compared to Fort Lauderdale (where we sailed from on our previous cruises). You could even walk from the airport to the cruise terminal if you didn't have to deal with luggage! (It's about 2 miles.) We flew in a couple days before and stayed in one of the several hotels that is within a few blocks of the terminal. We stayed at the Hampton Inn which was a two block walk to the ship. We walked pulling our wheelies behind. There is a high-rise Holiday Inn immediately across the street from the terminal - after checking out from your hotel, all you need to do is negotiate a crosswalk to check in for the ship. The whole experience of airport-to-hotel-to-ship transfers were absolutely painless. The proximity of the airport made catching your flight home much less stressful, too. ABOUT THE CABIN. We booked an SY cabin (Superior Veranda Suite) for about $800. Some time before saildate (maybe 6-8 weeks) we got a call from HAL asking if we wanted to upgrade to SA (Delux Veranda Suite) for $295pp. We jumped at it. The total for the cruise was just a little over $1300pp for the second largest stateroom on the ship. Was it worth it? Oh yes! It definitely was. The stateroom was more than 500sf with a very large and comfortable sitting area and a huge bathroom with two sinks, a jacuzzi tub and separate shower. There was a large, well-lighted dressing area with lots of closet space. The veranda was large enough for two lounges and a table & chair set. Waiting for us in the room was a bottle of wine (or was it champagne?). The stateroom was nicer than many hotel rooms I've stayed in. To give you a sense of how large it was: without moving furniture around, there was enough open floor space for the two of us to stretch out on the floor and do yoga! Another benefit about having a suite is you get priority boarding and departure. We didn't know this when we checked in, but as soon as we cleared check in, we were told to go right on board. A nice unexpected perk. NAVIGATOR LOUNGE. For passengers booked into Deluxe Veranda Suites and Penthouse Suites, there is a Navigator Lounge. It is a large, comfortable room in the center of the ship (no windows). There is constantly food and drink (coffee, tea, juice) available for self-service. (The staff will also offer to have you sit and they will get what you want.) We got our breakfast from this Lounge every morning and walked down the corridor to our room to enjoy our breakfast on the veranda. There is a nice breakfast selection, an excellent variety for a light lunch, hors d'ouvers in late afternoon, pastries and sweets all along the way. We would also go to the lounge to have tea and play cards mid-afternoon. It is a very quiet, comfortable, welcoming place. SPA & HYDRO-THERAPY SUITE. We splurged ($250/cpl) for the week and used the hydro-therapy suite. The eucalyptus steam rooms, heated ceramic lounges, and luxurious, quiet and large therapy pool were totally worth it. I lost many hours that week in utter relaxation! THE SHIP. I was a bit concerned about the size of the Vista Class ship. Our two previous cruises were on significantly smaller ships. One of the things I liked about those experiences was the lack of crowds. I was pleasantly surprised. The only time I felt at all crowded was our first night going into the dining room. There was a long line with people waiting to be shown to their tables. That didn't happen subsequent nights because people knew where their tables were. The ship felt exactly like the other HAL ships I was on. I liked the familiarity and definitely liked how the 1800+ passengers seemed to disappear nicely! It was never even a problem finding a deck chair at the pool or on the Promenade. THE FOOD. I have read mixed reviews about the food on HAL. Personally, I have yet to be disappointed. We're both "foodies" and appreciate fine dining. The meals in the main dining room consistently surprised me. I always marvel at how they serve so many people such high quality food. The Pinnacle Grill is very much worth the small surcharge. The meat that I've had there surpasses what I've had at most dining establishments on land. SERVICE. We had a table mix up our first night. Since this cruise was a celebration for our 20th anniversary, we really wanted to have a table for two. We were seated at a table for six (or was it even larger?). This was a big disappointment (and the only one on the cruise). We chose not to dine there that night after discussing the mix up with the dining room manager. The next day we got a call in our stateroom from the manager - he would have us seated at a table for two for the rest of the cruise. One night we off-handedly mentioned to our waiter that it was our anniversary. The next night he surprised us with a "Happy Anniversary" cake. This was particularly nice because, as a gay couple, we really appreciated the being treated as a couple. The dining room manager even wished us a happy anniversary when he next saw us. These little personal touches are the types of things that have happened on each of our HAL cruises - and it's one reason why we're brand-loyal. NOTABLE POINTS ABOUT THIS CRUISE. I particularly liked that 3 of the 7 days were at sea. I really enjoy at sea days. I wish HAL had more cruises to nowhere. When I'm looking for a cruise I look for one with a high ratio of at sea days. We had lots of whale and seal sightings on this cruise. We enjoy jazz and classical music. Each night in the Explorer Lounge after diner there was a string quartet that was truly excellent. It was a lovely way to close the evening. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
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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