Wow, After reading some of the recent reviews, we were a bit concerned. But no need. Has cruising changed in 20 years, absolutely, is it for the better? Mostly not, so let me tell you what we liked and what we feel could have been ... Read More
Wow, After reading some of the recent reviews, we were a bit concerned. But no need. Has cruising changed in 20 years, absolutely, is it for the better? Mostly not, so let me tell you what we liked and what we feel could have been better.
Could have been better, The ship, Oosterdam is old, it has been painted and varnished, updated etc., but she shows her age. It is not as clean as as newer ship, not as many neat features, etc. This is the main knock on this ship. The help on the ship isn't as friendly as we have seen in the past. I believe much of this is the culture of where the people come from. Nice enough, just not outwardly friendly, kind of quiet, keep to themselves. The boarding process was painful, the embarkation was a mess, they tried to get everyone checked in on the train, this worked well enough, but all it succeeded in doing was creating a massive traffic jam at security, where we waited for an hour anyway. Since we were traveling with my 85 year old parents, it was not a pleasant experience. We were staying in a Neptune suite and would have boarded much faster by refusing the train check in, taking the suite check in line at the port, much, much faster.
As many people have noted, there is not much entertainment on this ship, but it wasn't what we were here for anyway. We were a bit disappointed that B.B. King blues club never seems to actually play any blues, the band was decent, just a bit loud. And lastly, they lack a bit of common sense, when it is raining, and it is close to all aboard time, maybe they could find a way to speed up the process? Hundreds of people standing in the rain, there has to be a better way to make sure the ship is secure, and the passengers are dry. Maybe two security check points?
What we liked. The Neptune lounge, unlike the previous review, we loved Steph and Roxy, they were awesome, patient, and willing to help at any time. We had them change many of our reservations and every time they came through with a smile. One of the big advantages of being in a Neptune suite, is the lounge, food available all day, Roxy and Steph to help you, and much better coffee available here than elsewhere. A side benefit is you get to eat breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, fresh, brought to you, excellent menu and service, we ate there almost every morning. Our waiter was Francisco and he was amazing, on the spot, always with a smile, a great way to start the day. Loved the food in the Grill, night or day, it is very good.
We liked the crew in general, the Captain was very good at communicating where we were, what was going on etc. We liked our room, huge balcony, and it was nice to have 2 sinks and room to shower in the garden tub. We loved the Crows Nest lounge, up front, on top, spectacular view. We spent a great deal of time just watching Alaska go by as we sailed along. We enjoyed the main Vista dining room, two formal nights, two regular nights, food was good, true, it was not overly spiced, but they are cooking for 2000 mostly older adults, and I suspect they have learned to be easy on the spices. My parents are fussy eaters and they loved the food, we thought it was just typical for a cruise ship. The service was faster than many ships we have been on and we were thankful for that. We do not want to take 2 plus hours to eat. I have read about the south bound week having issues with fresh fruit and vegetables towards the end of the cruise, but there were no issues on this trip, plenty, right up to the day we got off. We bought most of our excursions from Holland America and they were all well managed, and we were happy with them.
Getting off the ship went very well. If you are getting off or on for that matter in Vancover, the train station is right across the street, $2.75 to go to or from the airport, about 20 minutes, quick, clean trains, highly recommended. There is a luggage service at the port that will take your luggage for the day and you can then pick it up at the airport, very easy to use and to find.
Summary, HAL is not the HAL of the past, particularly the food. More like NCL or Carnival, so I would not pay more to be on HAL, as you should know, it is an older crowd, quiet at night, and they can be a bit more demanding, service wise than younger passengers. Very few children on this ship, maybe 20 if that.
I would recommend the Oosterdam to my friends and family, we have a wonderful time. Read Less