11 Holland America Oosterdam Spring Break Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because the itinerary fit our spring break schedule. The ship was very nice and well maintained. Customer service was excellent. The food was very good and dining staff were excellent! The waiter was very ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the itinerary fit our spring break schedule. The ship was very nice and well maintained. Customer service was excellent. The food was very good and dining staff were excellent! The waiter was very accommodating to our 8 year old grandson and even made him an origami animal each night, showed him magic tricks and made sure he had something to eat from the kids menu that he liked at each meal. Our grandson adored him! The ventriloquist and comedy shows were very good and we enjoyed the Discovery Earth production (warning - if you don't like snakes, don't watch the first segment - could be scary for young children - our grandson did not attend). My husband enjoyed the Lincoln Center performances. The other music shows were fair - we passed on the second performance. BB King's nightclub and performances were very enjoyable. The "chocolate surprise" evening was very disappointing. It lasted about 3 minutes and if you were not in the right place at the right time you didn't get anything! Club Hal for children was fair - there were games and arts and crafts. There were video games available and my grandson enjoyed that. He attended about 3 times but quickly became bored and stayed with us the rest of the time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was out first cruise so we were not sure what to expect. We had heard from our friends that Holland America was a very elegant and relaxing cruise line... and they were right! We loved having a relaxing atmosphere. The staff around ... Read More
This was out first cruise so we were not sure what to expect. We had heard from our friends that Holland America was a very elegant and relaxing cruise line... and they were right! We loved having a relaxing atmosphere. The staff around the ship was extremely friendly and polite. Our stateroom stewards would greet us by name, even when they saw us out and about on the ship! They always asked how our day was going and if there was anything they could help us with. Everything across the ship was sparkling clean, the food was amazing and a nice selection of entertainment. We preferred to go to the later evening shows, because the earlier shows filled up quite quickly. This ship definitely has a classic feel to it, and it appeared to cater towards an 'older' crowd, although all age groups were present. My husband utilized the spa services and raved about his experience. We recommend spending the little extra to get a balcony room- ours provided spectacular views and was a nice place to take a nap or enjoy a few quiet moments. We would definitely book another cruise with Holland America Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Average cruise, smaller rooms than most cruises, good service, okay food, great entertainment, big outdoor pool (deep), smaller indoor pool (shallow), kind staff. Our TV circuit kept popping, so we did not have TV for the first 2 days, our ... Read More
Average cruise, smaller rooms than most cruises, good service, okay food, great entertainment, big outdoor pool (deep), smaller indoor pool (shallow), kind staff. Our TV circuit kept popping, so we did not have TV for the first 2 days, our sink would not turn off (plumber had to come and fix it), shower/tub would not drain. I traveled with my husband, my daughter (14), and my mother-in-law. Food to your room takes a bit of time...faster just to get food from the buffet and bring it down to your room. Overall, average cruise, not a lot for kids to do, and not a lot of time spent in the ports. Other cruise ships had arrived before us and we left before they did. Nice, but not luxurious or fancy. My daughter loved the outdoor pool and the basketball court. Not many activities for kids her age. Wish we had more time in the ports. I would choose a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We have taken a Holland America cruise in the past, in January 2016 on Nieuw Amsterdam to be specific, for the 'Dancing with the Stars' theme cruise early that month. We were impressed by the quality of the line back then and ... Read More
We have taken a Holland America cruise in the past, in January 2016 on Nieuw Amsterdam to be specific, for the 'Dancing with the Stars' theme cruise early that month. We were impressed by the quality of the line back then and knew we had to take another cruise with them in the future. Mom and I chose this cruise as it aligned with Syracuse University's spring break dates for March 2017. The Oosterdam was a ship in super condition since the refurbishment done in Spring 2016. Oosterdam's Crows' nest, Queen's lounge, MDR, pool areas (main and sea view), Casino and Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Stage, and MainStage were all kept in beautiful condition throughout the voyage. After a enjoying a relaxing day either in port or at sea, we would settle into our nightly routine. This routine included pre-dinner drinks at the Crows' nest, followed by dinner which was always good and served our needs, then head to either B.B Kings' Blues Club or Billboard Onboard for entertainment, and then hit up the casino to try our luck. One night we did try the Pinnacle Grill and must say it was spectacular. The steak offerings and the baked Alaska desert alone are worth the cover charge for the specialty restaurant. Entertainment options at night got an upgrade since we first went on Holland. Billboard Onboard was always full of life and energy at night, and the two pianist/singers there kept the crowd's attention and got some to sing along! B.B King's was amazing as always and is a staple for many at night, got the crowd going, got floor dancing to start, along with audience participation. Our issues with the casino were that it has horrible odds of winning and that there are far too many cruisers for machines in this sector of Oosterdam. The itinerary for our 7-day leg of the 21-day voyage included stops at: Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan Isle of Honduras, Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala, and Costa Maya, Mexico. Our favorite stop was easily Mahogany Bay, Roatan Isle. Beautiful beach, great ocean- very calm and inviting for a swim, and nice little restaurant off the beach area where we grabbed Jerk Chickens and local Honduran beer to enjoy for lunch. Helpful hint: absolutely do a tour in Santo Tomas, you will not regret it. Guatemala is a developing country that will hopefully one day have much to offer tourists in the way of things to see. We booked a shorex through the shipboard offerings called "A Tale of Two Towns", where you got to see Puerto Barrios, Santo Tomas, and Amantique Bay Resort. I definitely recommend getting off the ship this day to both experience this location in Central America, and educate yourself on a new port stop. Overall, Holland America delivered another excellent cruise and we have found our "regular" line to take, so to say. Holland America Line has a classy and memorable atmosphere, with activities going on throughout the day, good food and drinks, crew who may remember you from the past, and fun port stops. The Oosterdam is a lovely ship with a nice crowd of people from all over the United States and Europe looking for a quick or lengthy getaway, depending if you took the 7 or 21-day voyage. The week we took this voyage, the Northeastern United States got hit with a Nor'Easter delivering 20 or more inches of snow in certain regions- no better time to be in the Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
My daughter, surprisingly chose to do her senior spring break trip with me - her mom. She said she wanted to go where she hasn't been before. I proposed 4 different cruises and she chose the Oosterdam. We had a lovely itinerary to ... Read More
My daughter, surprisingly chose to do her senior spring break trip with me - her mom. She said she wanted to go where she hasn't been before. I proposed 4 different cruises and she chose the Oosterdam. We had a lovely itinerary to Cozumel, Honduras, Guatemala, & Costa Maya. I had booked an inside room, but my husband upgraded us to a balcony and then we rented a cabana on the top deck, which was overkill. I would take the Cabana anytime. They spoil you rotten! We also booked the spa pass for the week, so we were very pampered. And I purchased the drink package which really made everything wonderful for me. The boarding in Tampa was a breeze and so was disembarkation. The food was excellent and plentiful. I really enjoyed reading my news sheet in the mornings while breakfast was being set up on the Lido. Apparently, another 20 or so early risers like myself did too! We loved Guatemala. Holland America did a great job. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
A week off the Oosterdam and thought I should finally write my first review/story, since I read a lot of other people's experiences. Firstly, we are a family of three, early fifties with a teenage daughter who will be attending ... Read More
A week off the Oosterdam and thought I should finally write my first review/story, since I read a lot of other people's experiences. Firstly, we are a family of three, early fifties with a teenage daughter who will be attending University this fall. This would be our 6th cruise as a family, 7th for the Wife and I, 3 with Princess, 2 with Norweign and 2 with Holland America. We don't expect a lot on our trips, just good food and clean surroundings. We flew in a day earlier and stayed at the Hilton Marina Hotel. This is our second time there and will be the last only because it is not worth the money. We left the room around noon, cab fair was six bucks each plus the bag guys at the dock we were generous and spent 25.00 bucks already. Holiday spirit I guess. Embarkation was incredible as usual with HA. Line up for check in wasn't too long. We dropped bags in our room, headed for lunch at lido. It was exactly 1:18 when we sat down with food and drink. One hour and eighteen minutes from hotel to Holiday I think is fast.....and away we go. Half Moon We pre-booked a clam shell which we could not do without. Very hot first day. I proped the back of it up with a rock to get a bit of airflow. The one we had was set up on a sand/rock ledge so you could see over the chairs in front. Clam shells are first come when you get to the beach. Find a yellow shirt and give them you ticket. Facing the ocean, the ones on the right are in a single row, go left, one behind each other and further from the water so get there early. Beach is beautiful and clean. Another HA ship was also there but the beach didn't seem crowded. Lunch was very good. The only complaint, which will probably be posted several times was the smoke from the BBQ. There were times it was so thick you couldn't see, eyes watering, it was terrible for everyone standing in the line. You just have to laugh about it, nothing they could do. Watching everyone leaving with tears in their eyes, running down there cheeks, you would have thought we were at a funeral. I love holiday's:)We have the all inclusive drink package, 15 drinks a day under 8 bucks which covers beer and mixed drinks. Didn't work on the island. Had to charge to the room. I'll wait to see if they are on our bill at the end. Grand Turk Started off doing some shopping at the port and then lunch at Margaritaville. We just ordered some nachos and drinks. Didn't stay long though. I can't stand country music, especially in the Caribbean. Headed down the beach to Jack's. The girls found lots of sea glass on the way, mostly dark but some yellow and blue. When we arrived at Jacks we were greeted by his famous dog and then Jack himself. Jacks dog searches for sand crabs so when he starts diggin don't get behind him. Sand flies everywhere. Great entertainment. We spent the afternoon here then stopped back at the shops to get some snacks; small selection on ship; before boarding. Samana I wanted to go back to the beach on the mainland, just outside the town but I was outnumbered and it was decided we would pay the 45 bucks each and go to Cayo Lavendato instead. Great people here. Chairs are free but there was an older guy who would clean them and set them up for you. Gave him 10 bucks. He immediately thanked me and ran to get the beachtender who would get our drinks and food. For 10 bucks these two guys gave us great service, with huge smiles, stories and jokes that made our day. Beach time was only three hours as we were told to meet the tender at 2:30 to return tho the ship. We spent the rest of the day by the pool as we departed. At Sea First full day at sea was pretty quiet. Breakfast, lounge chair, lunch, lounge chair and drinks, pool then more drinks. Time flies when ur hav'in rum. I can't or maybe won't comment on the food. I have never thought the food was anything special on any cruise. It's not bad or anything like that It's just buffet style stuff, quantity. Even the main dining room, food is good, but not "wow was that good" kinda food. That being said we will be dining at the Pinnacle on the next sea day so we'll see. Bonaire I reserved a truck so we could do our own tour. I would advise against renting a golf cart to do this. Very very hot and it's far enough to travel. Tried to book through some of the businesses mentioned here but were either not available or wanted 3 day day rental. I ended up reserving through Budget, which is at the airport. Booked with Vanessa for 69.00 fully insured with no credit card required. They picked us up at the pier and brought us to the airport where we filled in the paperwork and off we went. Headed straight south to see the salt, slave huts, lighthouse. We saw a total of 3 flamingo's. Not many but they were really close. There is security where you stop to look at the salt so don't bother trying get over to the piles. If you walk under the conveyer system you can find pieces there. Local fella says 90% of the salt is shipped to Florida and is made into water softener salt, not road salt. The remaining is used locally. We then followed the road around to Sorobon Beach. Not much to see between the Lighthouse and the beach, six wild donkeys,very rugged along the coast. Had lunch at Jibe City. Very good salads and chicken. It was fun watching the wind surfers while enjoying our lunch. Next stop was the Donkey Sanctuary. We were greeted by a very nice young lady who explained the reasoning behind the sanctuary and quickly charged us 6 bucks each to drive through and feed the "sad faced" donkeys some carrots at 3 dollars per bag. Sounds fun doesn't it. So camera at the ready we proceeded into the reserve. Oh, we were told to keep the windows down as the donkeys might get hurt because they can't see the glass, something like that. We crossed a little bridge like thing and then it began. Donkeys everywhere and they all wanted carrots. Picture driving through a herd of cows that were starving. Two sometimes three heads through each window and I mean into the truck. Remember these vehicles are small. Could barely move with donkeys everywhere around the vehicle. Couldn't go around them, large stones on either side, could barely weave my way through them. Sound like fun? This went on for about 500 meters. Finally there was a brake and I sped up to get away. Big mistake, they ran beside the truck, head still in window. Bent mirrors in, donkey slober everywhere. There was a bang at the back of the truck, no I didn't run over one although it's amazing I didn't. Way to aggressive to call it fun. We made it to the far end of the park, donkeys in tow, no carrots left. I swear they had a plan. A few would stand in the middle of the road and make you stop while the other fifty surrounded you. As we rounded the corner for the home stretch everything calmed down. Put her in second gear and let's get out while we can.We stopped outside the main donkey part to see them feed two baby donkeys. The youngest was rescued when the mother was hit by a car. Was it fun, sure, after the fact. I would recommend getting full insurance and if something does happen don't tell the rental agency where you were because it probably won't be covered. When we mentioned our experience to the locals, they were upset and were actually petitioning for the closer of the "Donkey Prison". Back on the road we headed to Rincon to get some rum. Beautiful drive, lots of cactus and iguanas along the way. We arrived at the Cadushy distillery and were quickly welcomed and treated to some samples. Very tasty and unique. The process of extracting the alcohol from the cactus was explained then back for more samples, rum this time. This is a small place, very personnel and accommodating. They don't cater to tours or tour busses. In the past they felt like a free drink and washroom break stop, not for what they really are. If you enjoy liqueurs, rum or whiskey, this is a must. We bought a small selection of the liqueurs and a bottle of there private 5 yr aged rum which Eric was kind enough to personally sign for me. Mission complete, we headed back to town. Quick note, you can't travel along the coast, heading south from Rincon,one way only, so we had to back track the way we came. Dropped truck back at airport around 2:30. Cost of vehicle was around 69.00 with insurance, gas was 5.00, left airport at around 9:30. Pretty cheap self guided tour. Then drove us back to town. Remember the bang I herd, no dent just scuff marks at the back of the truck. Budget let it go. Whey! Had a bite at Karl's on the water, decent food, slow service, nothing special. Did some shopping, some nice shops and vendors then headed back to ship. Fantastic Day. Curacao Shopping day. Promised the Mrs. Wandered around Punda for the morning took pics at the Dushi and the Curacao sign, then back across the bridge to the Steak and Ribs at the Riff Fort. We have been here before and were looking forward to the crab salad here which is delicious. Lunch and drinks complete we shopped around then headed back to ship around 4. We had reserved a table at Scampis for supper and arrived at 6:30 to eat and watch the sun set. Very nice setting with decent food. Service was excellent. Dinner complete we headed back past the Casino/ Hotel on the point and as we turned the corner there it was. Queen Emma bridge, neon lights, ship in background, simply beautiful. Got some pics and hung around for a while before heading back to ship around 9. Aruba Last port. We planned on a bit of beach time and some shopping but it turned out to be National Flag Day. A local lady greeted us and welcomed us to her beautiful island. She encouraged us to explore the island and see all the natural beauty. We agreed with her and mentioned that we had visited previously and agreed her island was indeed beautiful. Most stores were closed except the ones on the main drag, and the vendor market. Good thing for us. There was a parade. I don't mean just any kind of parade either. Hundreds and hundreds of people, kids, marching bands,Boy and Girl Scouts, swimming club, cars, motorcycles. Absolutely beautiful. I think we stood in the sun for well over an hour and a half watching all this. Every kid on the island had to be in this parade. There were folks from Curacao and Bonaire in the parade. That changed the day pretty quick. We had lunch at Mojitos, poor food poor service, maybe because it was a holiday and everything was supposed to be closed. Did a bit of shopping before heading back, 4:30 departure today. Met the same lady when we left and I mentioned to her that all of her island beauty was downtown today. She smiled and very proudly mentioned she had grandkids in the parade. Told us we were welcome to come back anytime. Enough said. Sea Day 2&3 Nothing much to tell. Lounged around, played bingo and relaxed. Deck 3 is my favourite. Shade, old time loungers and you can see everything, no glass, tankers, other cruise ships, some private vessels and even some whales.Dinner at the pinnacle grill. Filet Mingon, lobster, crab legs, ceasre salad, shrimp cocktail, all excellent. Should eat here every night. Impeccable service. Each course was served to each of us at the exact same time. Salad prepared at the table. Lettuce was tossed, amount of dressing at your discretion, then placed on the plate. Croutons were individually placed around the outside of the plate. I do mean placed, each piece of the salad. Impressed the heck out of my daughter. Well worth the extra dollars. Lasted two hours. Ft. Lauderdale Disembarkation was a breeze. There was a line up but of no significance. We stayed another day at the Westin Beach Resort, thinking we could have another beach day. Nope, very cold today. All in all this was another great cruise for us. Ship was clean, staff friendly and always greeted you with smiles. Islands felt safe and people were friendly. The ship was not noisy with no vibrations to speak of. We were on deck 6 forward.I don't know about worn carpets because I don't walk with my head down or did I notice fading paint on the walls or ceiling as I don't walk with my nose in the air either. If the ship is getting old and a bit ragged, it really doesn't concern us. Good food, cleanliness, safe ports are more important. The majority of the cruisers were older, some elderly which would frustrate some people with their slower pace and inability to figure out the ice machine, hand wash thing, elevators. Too bad actually because we should all be going their speed. It is a holiday after all... Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego ... Read More
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego and less expensive since we are not dealing with the flights to get us back east for a Caribbean cruise which is next on my list.Well I scoured several sights and found Holland America to be very reasonable with the pricing and it had some decent reviews so I figured I had nothing to lose right? Well my husband wanted Norwegian but we had already been on that ship 2x and Royal pulled out of the area so I convinced my husband about trying a new ship and what a great deal I was getting $$Where we disappointed? HECK NO! Where do I start?1. The kids resisted going to Club Hal first and of course Grandma did not want us to dump the kids, but I told her not to worry the kids would be ok and guess what? After that 1st night they were hooked and did not want to be with us! They wanted to be at the kids club and reluctantly joined us for lunch/dinner when the club closes.2. The buffet was tasty. Do you ever go on cruises were the food is ok and you are just counting down for the dining room to open? Well we don't have that concern on this ship. Sure there might be a few things left out from the buffet but we hardly noticed.3. Beverage Cards - One for alcohol and one for soft drinks..Bigger savings on the soft drinks and I was advised to buy only one for all of us to use. On other cruise ships, I have been advised to buy one for each member of our party (rip-off!!)4. FOOD, oh wait I already mentioned that one. The only thing I would not do again would be the cupcake tea time.5. Movie theater was comfortable and they had the popcorn bags out :)The cons:1. Casino, the way they handle the payouts is confusing. I felt liked I needed 101 classes on how to get the payouts and there wasn't much help.2. Deals on the pictures - too expensiveI'm definitely a fan of Holland America, they keep it classy and I'm glad that they avoid having the waiters sing and dance , well they did have them do it one night but it was just waiving the napkins. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
The Oosterdam is still a great modern ship, but it is looking a bit shopworn is both the public areas and the cabins, mostly just minor cosmetic stuff, lots of nicks and dents, missing tiles and tattered furnishings that need to be ... Read More
The Oosterdam is still a great modern ship, but it is looking a bit shopworn is both the public areas and the cabins, mostly just minor cosmetic stuff, lots of nicks and dents, missing tiles and tattered furnishings that need to be repaired or replaced. It didn't help that we had to leave a note on the first day for the room steward to please vacuum all the crumbs off of the carpeting from the previous occupants and to replace the torn shower curtain that was laying on the bottom of the tub. We finally met our invisible room steward on the fourth day and he was never seen again the entire cruise!!! The food and service were excellent on this voyage, despite three days of Code Red (no self service) which is a big pain for both the passengers and crew. The Pinnacle Grill always exceeds our expectations in both food and service, it is well worth the extra charge. The spa continues to be one of the Oosterdam's highlights and really adds that extra bit of relaxation to make you feel that life is a pleasure. Our main complaint (as with many fellow passengers) was that we went to Mazatlan on this voyage while every other cruise line including Carnival had cancelled it. What were they thinking???...a military helicopter and many many soldiers with big machine guns did not make us feel secure enough to get off the ship when the TV news had stories of more violence the day before. Only the passengers that had tours were brave enough to get off and it mostly seemed like a sea day onboard in this wasted port of call. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Just got back from the Oosterdam Mexican Riviera cruise... had a GREAT time... sad that it's over. Traveled with my mom (in her 60's) and my ten year old daughter. We were in an SY cabin. We have one other cruise under our ... Read More
Just got back from the Oosterdam Mexican Riviera cruise... had a GREAT time... sad that it's over. Traveled with my mom (in her 60's) and my ten year old daughter. We were in an SY cabin. We have one other cruise under our belt... Alaska with Holland America (three years ago). I REALLY appreciated the reviews from the other guests who have taken this cruise, so I vowed to write one when we got back. I'm not a witty writer, so this will have to do. Pre-Curise: Did priceline.com for 4 star room... got Westgate in downtown for $86 with all fees. Great hotel, great location. I love to priceline 4 star hotels in big cities... get to stay at really nice places at great rates.Embarkation: Arrived at 11:30. Went smoothly. Room was ready when we got on board at 12:00. We were seated for our Mariner's brunch by 12:30. Luggage was a little slow getting to our room, but hey, we're on vacation... no problem with us. We signed up for unlimited laundry and loved it. We filled a bag almost daily. Clothes came back same day (when given to steward by 9:00 am) even though they told us it could be up to 48 hours. The clothes were clean and pressed. Vista Dining Food: Wow! Really exceeded my expectations. I thought the food was OK on our last cruise, but this food was great! We are all picky eaters, but there was always something for each of us to eat. We even stretched ourselves to try new things since it's all "free." Some don't enjoy the master dinner on the last night due to the silliness/dancing, but we really enjoyed it.Cannaletto: Fun change! We enjoyed our experience and appreciated a different dining option that was "free."Pinnacle Dinner: Again, WOW! Great filet, great desserts, great service (albeit, slow)... nice experience. Would do it again.Room: Loved our SY suite. We had an inside cabin on our first cruise, so our suite felt luxurious. Our balcony looked MUCH larger than the other ship balconies that were in port with us (Disney Wonder, Sapphire Princess, Norwegian Star). We spent hours upon hours sitting on our veranda. Enjoyed many snacks/meals from room service on the Veranda.Kids Club: My daughter enjoyed the kids club every time she went, but she mostly enjoyed being with mom and grandma. All of the staff went out of their way to be kind to her... gave her extra cherries in her Shirley Temple, shared a magic trick, gave her a cute nickname, her stuffed animals were arranged in cute ways, etc...) Videos: Great selection. Had all but one movie we wanted.Entertainment: Loved the magician/comedian. Loved the John Denver singers. Didn't go to any of the performances by the HAL singers/dancers.Puerto Vallarta: Daughter and I did the Canopy Adventure - really fun. I highly recommend this excursion. It was fun to get out of town and into the forest canopy. Came away with about 10 mosquito bites each... bring your bug spray. A shout-out to "team D" who were so fun and professional. Mom did the "Town and Fiesta Tour." She really enjoyed this tour and said the food was great.Cabo: We wanted to do the Dolphin Swim, but it was totally full. Daughter was disappointed, but I just told her that mom should have booked sooner than the day of. We took a glass bottom boat out to El Arco and walked around the pier. Service: Really, what can I say except WOW!! Our room steward, Janji was great... I wish I could take him home with me. The Indonesian staff go out of their way to provide little extras and service with a smile - they are amazing. There were a few "human errors" (a missed room service item, a cappuccino that took too long to come at dinner time), but really, this is to be expected. The number of positives FAR out-weighed the number of human errors.The only bad part of the trip was getting off the boat today. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Holland America's Oosterdam was the perfect vessel for a gorgeous week at sea during our early spring break. My husband and I booked this easy trip online through Holland America and couldn't have found the process any easier. ... Read More
Holland America's Oosterdam was the perfect vessel for a gorgeous week at sea during our early spring break. My husband and I booked this easy trip online through Holland America and couldn't have found the process any easier. Getting going was easy as we drove to San Diego from Phoenix. We used Aladdin Parking and their shuttle was quick and easy, dropping us off right at the pier terminal. Embarkation was not too bad, though we were loading at the same time as Celebrity Constellation and they were a bit late that morning. We stood on the boardwalk in San Diego for about 35 minutes but it was a pretty day and we encountered lively conversation with those around us. Once inside the terminal the wait was a mere 10 minutes and we were onboard for a lunch buffet in no time at all. This was our 15th cruise, but our first on the Oosterdam. We were not disappointed! We were welcomed aboard handsomely and the service continued at an extremely high level throughout the trip. The ship itself is quite nice with a few tiny scratches and smudges here and there. Nothing, absolutely nothing that I would complain about. Our room was clean and we loved having a tub in this balcony room. There was plenty of room for clothing and moving about and our balcony was a good size for us. The crowd aboard this sailing was varied as it was spring break, but filled with a ton of people from Arizona. We enjoyed meeting people of all ages from a 20-somethings to octogenerians. It was a great mix. There were about 300 children aboard but we rarely saw them and when we did they were very well supervised. We actually saw all the little darlings having their picture taken with the captain and it was precious. By the way, this Captain was probably the most visible we have ever sailed with and he had a wonderful way about him. You can tell when a ship is humming along smoothly and people enjoy working for their boss. The satff was so gracious and we commented over and over how lucky we were to be taken care of so beautifully. Food was probably the best we have ever had while cruising; quite similar to Celebrity in many ways. Yum. Yum. Yum. We ate in the Pinnacle Grill one night and had some of the best ribeye steaks we've ever had. (Unfortunately their lunch wasn't as tasty as their dinner.) We truly enjoyed the special dinner in the main dining room on the last night at sea. The waiters danced and prepared our meal tableside and it was both fun and delicious! The Ocean Bar served up some of the tastiest beverages we have tried in recent years and we loved their 3:30 to 4:30 half-price Happy Hour - wow! The daily activities onboard were mostly calm though there were a few intriguing classes offered in the Culinary Center. We used most of our time to read and relax and found the Oosterdam library to be one of the largest we've ever encountered on a ship. That Crow's Nest library/coffee bar is a very nice place to relax and gaze out over the ocean. There were quite a few sightings of whale and dolphin around the ship throughout the week. We did not use the spa facilities this time around but took the tour and found the space to be quite welcoming. One tiny side note here - we were invited to a special brunch for returning Holland America patrons. The service here and the brunch itself was the most disappointing part of the entire cruise. We couldn't figure out why they would not make this a highlight since it was a reward for loyalty.. no idea at all. Other than that tiny hiccup, this was a wonderful cruise on a beautiful ship with an extraordinarily gracious crew and a fine captain as well. We would recommend this ship to anyone searching for a lovely week at sea. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was our second cruise on HAL and our first on a Vista-class ship. Both cruises lived up to HAL's stated mission of creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience, every time, and the two experiences make for complementary observations. ... Read More
This was our second cruise on HAL and our first on a Vista-class ship. Both cruises lived up to HAL's stated mission of creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience, every time, and the two experiences make for complementary observations. Points of comparison: ** The R-class Zaandam provides self-serve laundries. The Vista class ships do not, but do offer several laundry options. Midway through the cruise we availed ourselves of the "all you can cram into a blue fabric bag for 20 bucks" deal, and, as others have noted, it is amazing how much that bag will hold. Although I would expect that midweek must be point of highest demand, the turnaround was amazing. Our underwear and socks were neatly folded, the bundles were wrapped in tissue paper, and the slacks, knit shirts, and t-shirts were all arranged on hangers. It's a small point, but on the whole I would rather have the option of a self-serve launderette. ** I much prefer the dEcor of the Oosterdam. The music/instrument theme of the Zaandam grows tiresome. The ersatz pipe organ in the atrium is a monstrosity. And what's the deal with the Escher etchings in the stairways? For anyone at all prone to motion seasickness, a ship is already a sufficiently unsettling environment that one doesn't need the further disorientation of Escher's spatial anomalies. ** The Explorations Cafe is one of my favorite spots on board a HAL ship. On the Zaandam it is situated on the Upper Promenade deck directly across from the Explorer's Lounge. It is a destination in its own right. As of the Oosterdam's recent drydock, the Explorations Cafe is now part of the Observation deck, where, to my mind, it seems cramped and comes across as an appendage to the Crow's Nest. ** While speaking of the Explorer's Lounge, I must mention how much DW and I appreciate relaxing there and especially enjoying the music of the Adagio Strings (a quartet consisting of two violins, one viola, and one cello). But once again, in our private head-to-head comparison, Zaandam came out ahead. The musicians on our Zaandam cruise were Filipino. Those on the Oosterdam were Polish. Shame on me for indulging a preconception that Europeans would be superior musicians! That prejudice is wrong all by itself, but in this case it was decidedly not true. My recollection of the Zaandam complement is that they engaged their audience, and played enthusiastically and with verve. They had a broad repertoire ranging from classics, to light classics, to show tunes and movie themes and popular tunes (including one especially delightful rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's El Condor Pasa). Their Oosterdam counterparts, by sorry contrast, seemed to unsteady in their command of the English language to engage with the audience, spent long periods of "dead" time deciding what number to play next, and spent inordinate time on breaks. It may just have been our bad luck, but they seemed to be in a pattern of 30 minutes performing (including the long intervals just noted) alternated with 30 minutes on break. They played, at least in our hearing, no show tunes and no popular music, sticking with the old masters peppered with occasional light classics. Considering the nature of their repertoire, heavily weighted toward the classics, I was amazed that they could not perform on request Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, especially given that this is the centennial of Barber's birth and that they perform under the name Adagio Strings. ** The most disappointing point of comparison is with the Thermal Suites. The cost is considerably higher on the Oosterdam. This is no doubt due to the Hydro-Therapy Pool, which Zaandam lacks. I was unimpressed; the Hydro-Therapy Pool looks snazzy but delivers less than a regular Jacuzzi or hot tub. The ceramic loungers are a major attraction, and DW and I spent many blissful hours basking in their radiant heat on the Zaandam but, strangely, they seemed to be under-powered and underwhelming on the Oosterdam. Another factor contributing to the disappointment is their relative placement. The Oosterdam's Thermal Suite faces out a bank of windows on the starboard side. On the Zaandam, the windows wrap around thus affording a spectacular view looking forward, directly under the starboard side of the Crow's Nest. Plus, the Zaandam's Thermal Suite has a door leading outside to a small deck. Even though we were plying our way up and down the Alaska coast, it was glorious to step out, wrapped in the quilted, terry-cloth bathrobe, onto the deck and feel the cool air and smell the sea breeze. If I had it to do over, I would have saved the $249 (thanks to a $50 discount owing to the unavailability of a sauna) on the Oosterdam. In the future we are unlikely to sign up for this option on another Vista-class ship but so long as HAL retains the current configuration of spa facilities on the R-class ships. I will consider the Thermal Suites a great use of my vacation dollars. Other observations, in more or less random order: ** Shore accommodations: Like many cruisers, we are unlikely to book our flights to arrive at the port on the date of embarkation. Given the likelihood of weather delays and other interruptions, we book overnight accommodations. In this case, because of the vagaries of frequent flyer miles, we could not find a return flight until the day after debarkation. So, we had two overnights bookending our cruise. In this case we stayed at the Holiday Inn On the Bay, directly across the street from the cruise terminal. One can't beat it for location. It maintains a continual shuttle service between the Inn and the airport, a scant three miles away. Unfortunately, it is one of approximately 4 Holiday Inns that do so, none of which services the guests of any other. Owing to the high volume of airline crew and cruise pax who frequent the Holiday Inn On the Bay, the shuttle had to skip over our little group waiting with growing impatience at our appointed place, and we stood there 40 minutes while other shuttle buses completed two or even three circuits. The front desk personnel were without exception cordial, pleasant, and helpful. Even though we arrived shortly after 1 o'clock, we were issued a room right away. Upon debarkation we were even earlier at the front desk, but were greeted as if we were old friends and given a room immediately. On the trip in, we were placed in the south tower. It is old and tired. Both in the common areas and in the room it shows a lot of wear and tear. The east tower, where we lodged on the homebound end, was a much different story; not only were the common areas sprucer than the south tower but our room was fresher and more commodious too. ** Embarkation: The Holiday Inn we stayed at is right across the street from the cruise terminal. One of the complimentary services it offers is a curb-to-curb shuttle, which sounds like a major benefit. In actuality, however, it ended up beside the point. Starting in the early morning, the concierge booked timeslots, at 15-minute intervals, on a first-come-first-served basis for any guests who wished to be shuttled across the street. The plan soon went awry, as terminal authorities started turning shuttle buses away from unloading their passengers at the entry to terminal. A long line had formed stretching far down the street, and passengers were told to schlep their stuff to the back of the line. As a result, the Holiday Inn suspended its shuttle service for several hours. DW and I were fortunate to claim a bench in the shaded area in front of the hotel, and watched the slow progress of the line. At about 1:30 in the afternoon, we gave up on the prospect of a shuttle ride, gathered up our gear, and walked over - the equivalent of maybe two city blocks. The line was no longer stretching along the street. We presented our passports and boarding documents at the iron grill that serves as entryway. After passing that inspection, we walked another city block to drop our baggage (two roll-a-boards and one folded up garment bag) with the handlers (whom I tipped $10). A Celebrity ship was onboarding at the same time. We followed the arrows pointing us in the direction of the Oosterdam and were herded (word chosen advisedly and with deliberation) into stalls consisting of two rows of benches facing each other antiphonal style. As these stall would fill up, an official would remove the tape barriers and shepherd us toward the metal detectors, where our persons and carry-on luggage were inspected. At that point we had a Disney World experience. Remember how after waiting and waiting outside for the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction you triumphantly turned the corner only to find another maze of stanchions you had to snake your way through? We were given our health questionnaires to fill out, and wended our way through the maze for another 45 minutes until we got to the Promised Land where our passports were scanned, our boarding documents validated, and our keycards issued. The studios photos of the passengers taken at the point of embarkation show that the ordeal took the bloom off the rose for most. We made it to our cabin by 2:30 p.m., which, blessedly, was absolutely ship-shape. I don't remember that the process of embarkation was so protracted and difficult when we boarded the Zaandam in Seattle, but that may be one of the differences with the larger Vista-class vessels. ** Cruise Critic Meet & Greet: Although we got off to a rocky start (the original poster identified our sailing date as March 20, 2009 instead of 2010), our CC roll call became a particularly active one. I think that some enduring friendships will come of it. One of our stalwarts made the necessary arrangements both shoreside and with the Hotel Manager to get the renowned banner out of storage and proudly unfurled for the "traditional" webcam wave at 3 o'clock on embarkation day. (Anyone interested in seeing a webcam screenshot of our wave can check page 16 of our roll call thread at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1098106&page=16.) The following day, at 11 o'clock Sunday morning, we had a CC meet 'n greet in the Captain's Corner of the Crow's Nest. Many thanks to Jocelyn Larson at HAL Corporate for handling the arrangements for us. We had a full house, with well over 30 people in attendance. It was great fun to meet people we had been openly corresponding with for weeks and even months. It was a little awkward at first to attach real/genuine names to people we knew only under the message board "handles." I'm glad I brought nametags and Sharpies and encouraged everyone to put not only their real names on the tags but also their handles. I have heard reports that it frequently happens that officers join the meet 'n greet; in our case the only staff member to appear was Michael the Future Cruise Consultant. In the future I will organize (or suggest to whoever is organizing the event) a second meet 'n greet for the tail end of the cruise. It would have been great to share experiences and thoughts with each other again at the end. The connection we already felt with each other from the roll call made for an instant community. Even in the congenial precincts of a cruise ship, it's nice to come across familiar faces. ** Special kudos to J.T., our esteemed Cruise Director. He is a fine specimen of a rare breed. Ubiquitous, unflappable, charming and in no way patronizing. Our CC gang formed our own team for the daily trivia challenge in the Crow's Nest, right before Happy Hour. If J.T. had awarded prizes for second place, we would have done well. As it was, we had to find our consolations elsewhere. While we're on the topic of fellow passengers, it's worth noting that this was a spring break cruise. DW and I were sailing at this time because it was spring break week at the university where she teaches. Many others we met were also teachers, at any level, on spring break. And the average age was much lower than on other cruises. Many college-age cruisers were among us, and DW and I enjoyed their company without exception. Finally, I must mention the large number of children on this cruise. I did not encounter or observe any who were obnoxious or obstreperous or insolent or running amok or any of those other things people complain about on the Cruise Critic boards. After an extraordinary evening session of trivia, our team was hanging around in the Queen's Lounge for a bit when the teen youth director came in looking haggard and advised us that the precincts were soon to be overridden with adolescents with their throttles in the full open position. Pleased to heed her warning, we beat a hasty retreat. ** One of the aspects of HAL I appreciate most is that they still accommodate the religious needs of the passengers by offering free passage to a chaplain. In our case the padre was Father Tom Mills, a priest of the Diocese of Halifax in Nova Scotia. He was both a congenial table companion and a first-rate minister of the Gospel. A surprisingly large number of cruisers came together for worship not only on Sunday but also for daily Mass - which made for further community with fellow passengers. ** As You Wish Dining: DW and I prefer open seating. We always instruct the maitre d' to seat us with others. For us the variety of mealtime companions is a major attraction. Not once did we encounter "difficult" tablemates. Conversation flows easily and smoothly (Where are you from? Have you cruised before? Is this your first with Holland America? Tell me about your family.) and it's not difficult to get people to share parts of their story. We are fairly adventurous eaters, but don't have particularly well developed palates. The regular fare in the Lido and the MDR is adequate for our needs and tastes. We appreciate that the MDR chefs maintain the sense of portion control. The portions served in most U.S. restaurants nowadays have gotten grotesque, and have done deadly damage to our sense of what is a regular portion. For the most part we enjoyed the leisurely pace of meals in the MDR. Entertainment: The few shows we attended in the Vista Lounge were pleasantly diverting. The room looks opulent but whole sections of seating are rendered superfluous because pillars obstruct what should be normal sight lines. I would gladly have enjoyed the Adagio Strings more, but I discuss them above. We have no complaints, however, with the prodigious artistry and showmanship of the man starring in the Piano Bar. His repertoire is vast, so much so that requests for the old standards/favorites, even when granted, are greeted with sighs of exasperation. But the teasing is given and generally taken all in good fun. Rarely was there an empty seat in the Piano Bar while he was holding forth. Maintenance and overall condition: To my relatively untrained eye, except for the Thermal Suites (see above), the ship was in fine condition and order. I am always impressed to observe how crew members are forever scrubbing, swabbing, varnishing, painting, and polishing. We spent far more of our waking hours on the ship than in port, and rarely if ever did I observe anything amiss from a housekeeping and maintenance standpoint. ** I credit the cabin stewards with doing an amazing job under trying conditions. Ours were amply up to snuff on both the major services (replenishing towels, refilling the ice bucket, replenishing the fruit bowl, cleaning the glassware, making the bed, etc.) and on the small special touches (chocolates, towel animals, as notable examples). It leaves us thoroughly befuddled therefore why the top sheet was never tucked in. The amazingly comfortable beds are one of the elements that distinguish Holland America from the competition, and lovely though the blanket and duvet certainly are, I like the feel of a topsheet directly on top of me - but (alas!) not so much that I would remake the bed myself. As I stated at the beginning, on the two cruises where we have enjoyed Holland America's hospitality, HAL achieved its mission of creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for DW and me. With the single exception of the Oosterdam Thermal Suites, we got good value for the money we invested. As others have noted before, a ship has a sort of character and personality all its own. Based on Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
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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