13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Just got off Oct 7th (2017) Mexican Riviera cruise, and couldn't be more impressed with the updates to the Oosterdam. This is the fifth time we sailed on her, and she looks like a new build. We were in a Neptune suite, with a ... Read More
Just got off Oct 7th (2017) Mexican Riviera cruise, and couldn't be more impressed with the updates to the Oosterdam. This is the fifth time we sailed on her, and she looks like a new build. We were in a Neptune suite, with a gorgeous 55" LCD TV, tons of power outlets and USB jacks next to the bed, with updated furniture and bathroom with dual sinks and separate shower/bath combo. Embarkation went smoothly, as were let onto the ship at about 11:40. Lunch for Mariners was in the main dining room - also refurbished with nice chairs and tables. Dining: I started on a partly vegetarian kick, (eating meat only two days a week) and was pleased to see a separate vegetarian menu, as well as some very nice selections available every meal. We loved that HAL still allows us to have traditional dining, and we loved having our waiters and wine steward remember having our favorite drinks ready for us. My grand-niece (5) had to have a fruit plate every night, and our waiters made sure it was ready the moment we sat down. HAL has IMHO been cutting down the serving sizes on their meals, but as I have been getting older, it seems like I still can't finish everything. The surf and turf night is really popular, and my nephew ordered multiple lobster tails and filets. One of the best places to grab a lunch is the Dive In burger and hot dog spot near the pool. The fries are fantastic, as are the Nathan's hot dogs and the variations of burgers. Wish they were open later in the evening, FYI the burgers are available from room service 24/7. The Lido provides the usual cruise buffet choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a limited service for late night (10:30 - midnight). Very impressed at how nice and tidy the service stations were, makes the food more appetizing. Entertainment: The showroom was also updated with a huge LED backdrop video screen and multiple moving screens, all high resolution. The new dance numbers make very effective use of the panels - better than many Las Vegas shows IMO. The comedian and the magician/comedian were pretty good, although I remember seeing the comedian before (Andrew Kennedy). The casino was also upgraded, with lots of new slot machines and new felt on all the tables with some new games like Texas holdem bonus and a new 3 card poker variation called prime. Ports: We were surprised that the Las Caletas trip in Puerto Vallarta had only 3 tickets left, so my wife and I grabbed 2. The lunch buffet at LC was one of memorable meals of our trip. I bought an up-sold scuba dive on the catamaran on the way there. The dive was not offered by HAL, but my experience with the tour helped. I'm an advanced diver so with 2 other "C" card divers we went down with a dive master to see some submerged boat wrecks about 60' down. Mazatlan was fun, as we hired a van driver for a custom 3 hour tour for $20 a person. In Cabo, we made the mistake of trying to find the glass blowing factory near the tender point that was on the ship's shopping map. It hasn't been there for several years. We ended up taking cab to the real glass shop. Despite the error, we had a good time and bought some nice drinking glasses and napkin holders. Summary: Although we recently visited the same ports in March with a different line, we love the consistent service and quality of the HAL ships. And with the recent refurbishment of the Oosterdam, this short cruise ranked as one of our favorites (after 26 overall cruises). Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was our second cruise on Holland. We had done one a month earlier and said we need to go on this line again! After my second cruise, I can say I am a loyal Holland customer already. There are so many things they do right and so many ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Holland. We had done one a month earlier and said we need to go on this line again! After my second cruise, I can say I am a loyal Holland customer already. There are so many things they do right and so many things that remind me of how cruising used to be. The Oosterdam is a perfect size ship. It's perfectly maintained and it seems like it is constantly being updated. Our room was on deck 4 midship in an ideal location. I love Holland for the bath amenities, bathrobes and they always make sure I have feather pillows. Dining is overall very good.I can't say I really had anything bad thing the entire cruise. I love the fact that they serve breakfast in the dining room every morning whether you are in port or at sea. Its the little things like offering fresh berries at breakfast that make all the difference. My only complaint about dining would be the buffet was always too crowded. The fitness center was very large for a cruise ship and all the equipment was brand new. The pools were both nice although we only went in the solarium hot tubs mainly since we were in Alaska in April. There was always entertainment in the evening between the theater and the other venues. Also ,the on demand movies and tv shows in your cabin is awesome! Sometimes you just wanna lay in bed and watch a movie! Bottom line is if you haven't been on Holland, you need to go. It is a wonderful cruise line and the staff is always amazing. Looking forward to my next cruise. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
I booked this cruise in December as a gift to my husband who had, until now, never cruised. We wanted to try a short, 5-day, cruise to make sure he wouldn't become deathly ill from motion sickness and to just give him a taste for ... Read More
I booked this cruise in December as a gift to my husband who had, until now, never cruised. We wanted to try a short, 5-day, cruise to make sure he wouldn't become deathly ill from motion sickness and to just give him a taste for sailing. Background - I've sailed at least 17+ times on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Norwegian but mostly on RC. My husband and I are 40 years old, don't really party anymore but still enjoy good shows, music, friends, fun, and fantastic food. The ship - We both agreed, the ship was absolutely immaculate! I have never experienced a cruise ship that has been cared for so thoroughly! Everything aboard the Oosterdam has been cared for and maintained meticulously. She shows signs of being 14 years old, mainly in the decor, but physically the ship is outstanding. Our cabin - We upgraded from a SY (Signature Suite) to an SA (Neptune Suite - 7062) a week before sailing and are SO glad we did! The suite was a decent size, the bed was extremely comfortable, and the cabin stewards always made sure the room looked perfect. The suite gave us access to the Neptune Lounge which was directly across the hall. We popped over to the lounge a few times during the day to get coffee, juice, and sample the wonderful horsedouvres. The lounge concierge was always very eager to help and definitely made our trip even more special. The complementary guest laundry and dry cleaning also worked out well and came in very handy. We will most likely always book a suite with similar amenities from now on as they are well worth the expense! Dining - Ok, The Main dining room, Canaletto, and the Lido buffet were just par for cruising cuisine. None of them were terribly spectacular and the dessert at all three venues was pretty lackluster. The Pinnacle Grill, however, was absolutely fantastic! We had breakfast and dinner there a few times and thoroughly loved it! When we return, we will likely only eat in the Pinnacle and forego the other restaurants completely. Service - The service on board was outstanding! Everyone we came across had a huge smile on their face, greeted us, and truly made us feel at home. So here is where things get a little funky for me... Remember, my husband and I are both 40 years old. Apparently, HAL's target demographic is considerably older than us. We found this out first-hand before boarding. When we walked into the pier, the security staff asked if we were crew. When we responded "No, we are passengers..." their jaws dropped and they let us pass in amazement. Most of the other passengers, we later found out, were in their late 70's, 80's and early 90's. I'm totally fine with cruising around senior citizens, don't get me wrong. They were extremely nice, quiet, and were all very friendly. We were walking on the Promenade and came across an elderly lady napping, head back and mouth WIDE open, on a couch. I was afraid she had passed away right there and was tempted to place a mirror under her nose to see if she was still alive. Entertainment - The entertainment wasn't that great but, again, it was designed for the target HAL demographic. My husband and I were expecting a Broadway-worthy production yet, well, that wasn't the case. The Lincoln Center Stage performers were wonderful and the America's Test Kitchen demonstrations were extremely fun. There just wasn't much in the way of nightlife. Overall - Great ship, amazing service, wonderful food (at the Pinnacle)! It's a little like a floating nursing home but there is nothing wrong with that! Just be prepared. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We thought we might be taking a risk going on a Holland America cruise with our young children, but felt like we needed a holiday and this itinerary fit the bill. It was a 4 day cruise from San Diego to Vancouver. Our children, ages 6 ... Read More
We thought we might be taking a risk going on a Holland America cruise with our young children, but felt like we needed a holiday and this itinerary fit the bill. It was a 4 day cruise from San Diego to Vancouver. Our children, ages 6 and 2, enjoyed a full day visit to the San Diego Zoo, a tour of the USS Midway and a trip to Old Town on the transit trolley prior to the cruise. We stayed at a hotel (SpringHill Suites) where our room had a view of our cruise ship the day it arrived. We walked to the cruise terminal, which was hosting two ships that day, and deliberately arrived fairly late (3pm) to avoid the lengthy lineups we have experienced in San Diego in previous years. We walked right through security, picked up our room key cards and were in our cabin in moments. This was our first voyage on a Holland America ship, and the Oosterdam is in lovely condition. It's not flashy and doesn't have the latest technological gadgets, but the public areas look like new and have a cozy, understated feel. Staff were universally friendly and helpful. Our balcony cabin, deck 4 forward, does not appear to have been updated during the most recent refit of the ship in 2016. The room was still in decent shape, but the bathroom lighting was not very bright and the wall colour (taupe) seemed to absorb the light. I'm told many other staterooms have been upgraded with brighter bathrooms. Still, it was nice to have a small bathtub for our young children. Our cabin had a drop-down bunk bed and a (worn) pull-out couch. It was tight but we managed. The food was generally very good...but it would have been nice if it had been hot in the main dining room. The only dish I didn't enjoy at all was a top sirloin steak from the main dining room. It was cold and flavourless. Again, other than these issues the food was very good. The buffett has a surprisingly pleasant ambience and a very tasty variety of food. My wife ordered room service for the children and apparently the service was prompt and the food was quickly consumed. My wife and I visited the gym a couple of times. It is a decent size with a reasonable variety of equipment, and has a view from the front of the ship. The children's and teen's play/activity centre (Club HAL) is on Deck 10. The two staff working there told us that during the previous 15 days there had been no children under the age of 18. There is a policy that children must be a minimum of 3 years old to be able to be in Club HAL, so our 2.5 yr old was not allowed to stay with her 6 year old sister in Club Hal. This kept mom and dad busy, but we had fun. If the cruise had been longer this fun might have become more of a challenge. All in all, we had a very nice time and can highly recommend the Oosterdam. Footnote: it was nice to see the President of Holland America, Orlando Ashford, on board the ship during the cruise and interacting with passengers and crew. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the ... Read More
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the glass elevators on the outside of the ship that traveled between decks at midships. The pools are large and one could actually swim laps in them. The hot tubs were clean and generally warm but not really hot. The central pool deck covers when the weather is poor making it quite comfortable to sit at even when the weather doesn't cooperate. There were lots of nice nooks and crannies to sit and read in a sheltered area. The Lido deck has the different buffets: Entrees, Dessert, Drinks, Asian and Italian. This changes at the different meal times. We ate supper in the Vista Dining lounge and found the food to be excellent, and the service was doting. I felt it would have been nice to have a little more seafood such as lobster or crab but, nonetheless it was very tasty. The shows at night were entertaining, but not amazing. At least they try to entertain you so you have to give them some credit. I was not impressed by the activities because they seemed to be all about upselling you products rather than just giving you information or an activity to do. I was not please to find that they charged extra to use the steam rooms, hot pool and sauna- they wanted $100 for four days. This was included in the Carnival cruise. The port we stopped at was quite limited with very few activities unless you wanted to pay to do the usual whale watching, kayaking etc. Other than that we enjoyed ourselves. This would be a good cruise for just relaxing as long as you don't get bored to easily. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
The Captain kept referring to the "Beautiful Oosterdam". Well he should have walked around to see it more closely. So let me tell you about this ship: Threadbare furniture, cracked leather seating, filthy chairs you ... Read More
The Captain kept referring to the "Beautiful Oosterdam". Well he should have walked around to see it more closely. So let me tell you about this ship: Threadbare furniture, cracked leather seating, filthy chairs you wouldn't want to sit in, lampshades in dining room scotch taped together, restrooms that either smelled of urine or were not working, 3 out 8 treadmills dysfunctional and our bathroom drain was broken and had to be used manually to get rid of the water. The Lido Buffet was a Chinese fire drill - you had to run all over the place to get your meal. The food was cold and the selection boring. The drinks were served in juice glasses so you had to fill them up several times. And there was absolutely no logic to the layout......none! And you couldn't help yourself to anything it all had to be served. The cabin stewards were magnificent but the waitstaff was unhelpful. Whatever you asked them the answer was "I don't know".......unless they sent for their supervisor. My guess was they didn't speak English. On the plus side: the restaurant food was tasty, well presented and superior to other Carnival lines; the entertainment was professional and the disembarkation procedure was phenomenal. Unfortunately this was my first - and probably last - Holland America Cruise as it did not meet by a long shot my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
This was our second HAL cruise, first time on the Oosterdam. Embarkation was very fast and really well organized. HAL has its act together. Our obstructed oceanview cabin on Deck 4 amidships left ample space above the lifeboat. The safety ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise, first time on the Oosterdam. Embarkation was very fast and really well organized. HAL has its act together. Our obstructed oceanview cabin on Deck 4 amidships left ample space above the lifeboat. The safety drill was held an hour before sailaway. Names and cabin numbers were called and marked off lists. Almost everybody paid attention to instructions. We found the food in the MDR excellent, compared to our 16 cruises on many other cruise lines. Even going for low-fat, low-cholesterol was easy and delicious. Early fixed seating being so popular, the dining room was crowded and quite noisy. The tables are very close together. We sailed into a howling storm with 35 ft waves right the first night and a lot of people got very sea sick. We were happy to be on a lower deck amidships and rode it out with our usual SeaBands and ginger pills. The first 24 hours the dining room was sparsely populated. We found food and service to be excellent. The 3 times we ate in the Pinnacle Grill were truly superb, exquisite, you name the adjective. We never ate in the Lido except for one breakfast before an early shore excursion. HAL's beds are luxurious compared to other lines'. We slept wonderfully well. We spent a lot of time in our cabin reading, especially on "rocky" days. The ship was not as overly air-conditioned as some, but our cabin was cozier. We'd hoped on lots of dance practice but that did not happen, either because it was a struggle to stay upright or the dance floors being used for other things and thus full of chairs. But we enjoyed the Neptunes, who switched from the "golden oldies" to our more up-tempo favorites once they got to know us. We found the ship to be spotless and very elegant in a subdued and classy way. The crew and staff were wonderful and genuinely friendly. A couple of the shore excursions were very disappointing but I've sent in a review about them separately. Disembarkation on April 15 was the fastest and best organized we have ever experienced! We were off the ship in 10 minutes after our color and number were called, and that included customs! We're very impressed with HAL and the Oosterdam. Our favorite ship so far. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
Hi, I'm Traveling Dot and this is my fourth cruise on Hal. We have done Canada/Maasdam (round trip Boston to Boston), Alaska/Statendam (Fairbanks to Vancouver) and the Panama Canal/Rotterdam (from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale). We ... Read More
Hi, I'm Traveling Dot and this is my fourth cruise on Hal. We have done Canada/Maasdam (round trip Boston to Boston), Alaska/Statendam (Fairbanks to Vancouver) and the Panama Canal/Rotterdam (from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale). We flew from Boston to San Diego on Jet Blue the day before we were scheduled to sail. Would recommend Jet Blue for the extra leg room they provide at coach prices. We were met at the airport by HAL representative and helped us to the shuttle to the Sheraton Marina Hotel. Our room faced the harbor and the next morning we could see the Oosterdam from our balcony. The provided shuttle to the pier was flawless and being my husband walks with a cane we got special attention both at the hotel and at the pier. Check-in went smoothly and we took the elevator to the boarding level of the ramp to the ship. Our cabin was ready on our arrival and we met our room steward, Eric. He was a great help throughout the cruise and whenever I needed something he was right there. Our room was always clean and everything was taken care of fast considering how many cabins they had to care of. We had a veranda room on deck 4 almost mid-ship. This ship is a lot bigger than the ships that we have sailed on previously. After we dropped off our carry ons in the cabin we went to the Vista Dining Room for lunch with other fellow Mariners. When we finished lunch and went back to our cabin our suitcases had arrived and I was able to unpack and get settled. At 3 PM we met the other cruise critic passengers for a Banner Wave from the fore deck and we took pictures and got to know each other. Our meet and greet was scheduled for the next day in the Crow's Nest. Our next order of business was the lifeboat drill where everyone had to attend or they would be asked to leave the ship. Roll Call was held and everyone was accounted for or they were called personally and told to get to their station. We found out after the drill that the Catholic Priest did not make the ship and we would not have one on board. This was a downer for us because we sail with HAL because they do have a priest on board. And especially because this was Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The first night out was a rough one. We had 36 hours of bad seas and winds and a lot of people were seasick by dinner time. Barf bags were to be found by the elevators on each deck. I would suggest if anyone going on this cruise even thinks they may get seasick to take something as soon as they board just to play it safe. It is not a pretty sight to see people getting sick while you are trying to eat or just walk to another end of the ship. I just wish those who were sick had stayed in their cabins. By the second day things started to calm down and people were getting their sea legs and didn't sway from side to side as they walked. Each day got calmer and warmer as we neared Hawaii. Finally on day 6 we arrived in Hawaii, I opened the curtains to see the island in the distance. We didn't dock until 11 AM because we had slowed down because of the rough seas the first day. We had arranged a private tour with four other people from the cruise critic group. We were met at the end of the pier by our driver and we walked to were he parked his van. The tour we received was well worth the money and we got to see all the places that were offered by HAL without the crowds. We had a tour of Hilo, went to Volcano National Park, walked through the lava tube, saw lava fields and the Rainbow Falls before going to the Moana Loa factory and then back to the ship in time for boarding. Our next port of call was Honolulu for two days where we took the ship excursions. On day one we went to Pearl Harbor and the Mighty Mo and that night we we went to the Paradise Cove Luau. Day 2 we did the Little Circle Tour of Oahu. Next port of call was Kauai and now I know why it is so green, rain. We took the Scenic Hanalei Valley tour and it seemed to rain while we were on the bus and stop when we arrived at a scheduled stop. So it wasn't all rain there was a lot of sun too. The last port of call was on Maui, on this island we did the Maui Tropical Plantation and Ocean Center Tour. The Ocean Center was very interesting and worth the time to see it, the tram ride at the Plantation was not what I expected and I could have skipped that. Being this was a tender port we did not rush back to the ship and took the bus to Hilo Hatties and did a little shopping before taking the free shuttle back to the area by the pier. We had lunch at a place across the street from the dock which was nice but everything is on "Hawaii Time" (slow). The cruise back to San Diego was uneventful and mostly smooth. We made the mandatory stop in Mexico before heading to the US. Some people got off the ship but we stayed on and were serenaded by some seals on the shore next to the ship. I have one thing to say about the cabin with the door closed you did not hear the loud barking of the seals. The travel guide on our cruise was Kainoa who was very knowledgeable about the islands and very entertaining. He even taught us how to hula. We had some very good entertainers on the cruise and we enjoyed the shows. The food was good no matter where we ate, the Lido, the Dining Room, the Pinnacle Grill, or the Terrace Grill. The only place we didn't try was Canaletto, I'm not big on Italian food. Pizza at the Lido was good enough for me. All the crew members that we met were very pleasant and always had a smile and hello for you. I did the Ship Tour (cost $150) and it was very interesting to see the different areas of the ship and how they are run. From the Engine Room to the Bridge, from the garbage room to the kitchen to where they store the food and beverages, it was all very, very interesting. And we met the Captain (had a picture taken with him) and learned how the ship is navigated. After the tour we had a cocktail and canapes and received a goody bag and the picture of us with the Captain. It was worth the money and if you want to know what goes on behind the scenes it is a must do. Overall we had a great cruise and plan on sailing with HAL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Oosterdam is the twentieth ship that we have travelled on, therefore we feel qualified for the review that we are submitting for this ship. Additionally, we generally travel on voyages of two weeks' duration or longer, so have ... Read More
Oosterdam is the twentieth ship that we have travelled on, therefore we feel qualified for the review that we are submitting for this ship. Additionally, we generally travel on voyages of two weeks' duration or longer, so have substantial experience of what is and is not acceptable for paying passengers on a cruise line that claims such terms as "refined elegance", gracious service", "signature service style", "our 5-star world" (all quotations from the 2012 Holland America Voyages brochure). We had travelled on Volendam for a 17-day cruise from Sydney around New Zealand and return to Sydney over Christmas 2011. This was our first Holland America experience and we were thrilled at the quality of that voyage; Captain Pieter Bos and his team kept Volendam in absolute top condition, staff were always right on the money for first-class service and we had no reason to complain about the accommodation, food or service. It was primarily on the goodwill built-up on Volendam that we chose to use Holland America again for our next voyage. What a mistake. We travelled from Australia (Sydney) on 16 March on Qantas Flight QF11 to Los Angeles, staying there overnight and self-driving to San Diego the next morning to join Oosterdam. Qantas enroute to Los Angeles was excellent, the flight being on the A380 aircraft with very good creature-comforts and superb service by cabin crew. Accommodation at Los Angeles was the Airport Marriott (very well-priced and comfortable, close to freeway entrances), vehicle rental was from Hertz at the Marriott. A nice upgrade from Hertz - we booked a Dodge Caravan for ease of transporting luggage, instead provided with a Mercedes GL450 4WD at no extra cost. Porters at San Diego Cruise Terminal are as usual, excellent. They know what they're doing and they do it very efficiently and politely. On arrival at our cabin, the premises were nothing short of putrid. Past passengers' pubic hairs on the bathroom floor; more hair within the bed linen; soap scum layering the sink, soapdish and shower-tile surfaces; carpet lined with grit and filth; litter (potato-crisp packets) on the floor adjacent to and beneath the bed; mattress stinking and reeked of perspiration; sofa head covered in dust with some dead insects for good measure; sofa and cushions stained and obviously not correct for use in accommodation represented as "5-star"; makeup stains on the pillow-linen for the bed. We genuinely believe that the bed-linen had not been changed from the cabin's previous occupants, if not longer than that. The hair-dryer's casing was severely chipped and therefore a safety risk. No steward identified themselves to us as being responsible for our cabin. We approached a steward standing in the corridor (not doing much) near our cabin and asked him whether he was responsible for Cabin 5150, he said that he was and that seemed to be the end of the conversation. No enquiry as to the satisfaction of our accommodation, no greeting blurb as to the location of our lifeboat station, etcetera. I rang the front desk to advise that we wanted housekeeping management to view our accommodation. Shortly afterwards, Housekeeping Managers Tessa and Melanie arrived at the cabin and agreed that the accommodations were in fact filthy. They could provide no explanation for the condition that the cabin was presented to us in, but advised that it would be properly cleaned when we went for dinner. On return from our meal, the cabin appeared to have been thoroughly cleaned. Over the next number of days enroute to Hawaii, other events occurred - unfolding a napkin at the Lido Buffet Restaurant during a lunch, the napkin contained somebody's fresh nasal discharge - whoever folded the napkin must have seen this but chose to make the napkin available for use, complete with cutlery folded into it. Another lunchtime napkin in the Vista Dining Room contained some luxuriant black hair on another day. The bartender at the Ocean Bar one evening gave us a drink with somebody's fresh lipstick nicely decorating the glass's rim. The strip of corridor on Deck 2 between the Atrium and Queens Lounge stank strongly of vomit, all day every day, widely-commented on by many others. Then the air-conditioning unit over the bed in Cabin 5150 started spewing out black soot into the cabin - onto the bed and cabin-furniture, probably onto us during the night and being inhaled by us, too. Even after a claim of repair, the unit continued to do this until finally stopping. The Hawaiian ports were excellent, we made use of Dollar Car Rental for Hilo, Honolulu and Nawiliwili, Hertz for Lahaina. Lacklustre service at the Dollar depots, excellent service at Hertz. Tendering at Lahaina was fairly efficient and if you were prepared to start the day early, you got off early, too. From the Hawaiian Islands back to San Diego, grumbles amongst various passengers were becoming more bold, but whether or not anybody else made their grievances known to the Oosterdam management, we are unaware. Corridor-carpets and stairwells were always filthy, especially in the rearmost internal areas of the ship. At lunch in the Vista Dining Room on the second-last seaday enroute to San Diego, I ordered a Tuna Melt sandwich, clearly stipulating without bellpepper as I have a severe allergy to this and to pickles. The waiter repeated the order back, which was witnessed by three other Florida passengers with whom we were having lunch. I bit-into the sandwich, and it was loaded with bellpepper. The response from my insides was immediate, resulting in a dreadful mess at the table (you can guess the images). Lots of apologies from the restaurant staff at all levels, no explanation though as to how it had happened especially given that the order had been correctly-taken and supposedly then correctly relayed to the kitchen. What the checking mechanism is then for the meal's forwarding to the Dining Room, is unknown by me. The next day (final seaday), same time, I ordered a cheeseburger without pickles due to allergy. The cheeseburger arrived, on this occasion I checked the burger before biting it, and the burger was loaded with pickles. I informed the Head Waiter (same one as on the previous day with the bellpeppers) and he could not advise why this had now happened to me on consecutive days with advice of an allergy that would cause me to be seriously ill. At this table with us were four British passengers (one a retired judge). The judge ordered a meal which when arrived, he advised that it was inedible and insisted on a replacement. When the replacement meal arrived, the judge advised the Head Waiter that this meal was also inedible due to the way in which it had been prepared. The judge then gave-up on getting an edible meal in the Dining Room and they left to try to obtain edible food at the Terrace Grill. We cancelled our housekeeping tips that afternoon, and only left the Dining Room tips still standing due to some degree of loyalty to our Dinner (Fixed Seating) Waiters, who were relatively solid in their table-service to us each night. We wrote five positive-feedback compliments for various staff on Oosterdam, including the fabulous Glenn Gonsalves (personable and super-professional Manager of the Pinnacle Restaurant). As a comparison, we wrote over twenty compliment-cards for Volendam crew-members, struggled to find five to write about on Oosterdam. We received a letter from Oosterdam Hotel management thanking us for the compilment-cards we had written, and they included on the list a further four crew-members we had never heard of. The two Cruise Critics Meetings that were held were well-attended, and many, many thanks must go to our wonderful Cruise Critic Den Mother Norma from Arizona, who did all the pre-cruise organisation and correspondence with Holland America for the CC meetings. Special hellos from us also to Dobie Mom from San Diego and Cruznmonster from Chicago. We very much enjoyed the company of all the Critics who attended. It was a nice moment to sign the CC banner which is held aboard Oosterdam. Our dinner table (65) was an excellent collection of wonderful folk (family Dan, Diane and Shirley from San Diego, friends Kathleen and Dianne from Seattle). Disembarkation at San Diego was relatively efficient, again with those great porters who know their business so well. We hired a Chevrolet Tahoe truck from Hertz and kept this vehicle until departure from Los Angeles to Sydney on the night of 3 April. Holland America place a 'Let Us Know' slip in the cabin in each evening and advise that if you have any concerns, put it in writing. We have learned that this is lip-service only by Holland America, and in our experience on Oosterdam this 'Let Us Know' advice is lacking in sincerity and commitment. We wrote four advices to the Oosterdam management during this cruise, firstly for the completely unacceptable cabin-presentation, then for the deteriorating condition of the hygiene-critical items (napkin with nasal discharge, etcetera). then for having been served on consecutive days with food-ingredients that I had advised the restaurant would cause me serious illness with a potentiality for worse. On the first two occasions, we received short responses signed 'Thoughfully' from the Hotel Services Manager. After the incident which caused me to be violently ill in the Dining Room, I received a note saying my correspondence had been sent to Head Office in Seattle (no mention of 'Thoughtfully' against the signature this time); there was no acknowledgement even that something had happened to me. We submitted a further letter after I was served with an allergic-food on the consecutive day - we did not even receive an acknowledgement this time, even though we specifically asked for a response. Gutless or incompetent management? Make up your own mind. Any goodwill generated by Volendam on Holland America's behalf is well and truly gone now. We had intended to travel on Noordam in Europe this year, but not now. One older female passenger on this same Oosterdam voyage, when we advised of our intention to write this review for Cruise Critic, said "Tell 'em their ship stinks". Where does the 'buck stop' on Oosterdam - how could this ship vary so differently in a passenger-experience to Volendam? Whispers to us from some crew-members from various departments on Oosterdam were that this vessel is perhaps not a good example of Holland America. In our view, on this ship, the buck stops with the Hotel Services management (go as far up the tree of the ship's management as you wish). During the course of the voyage, we had never asked for any form of upgrade, only seeking a vacation that lived up to (or near enough to) the promises in the advertising. Oosterdam is relocating to Australia later in 2012. P&O Cruises in Australia, often commented for a rowdy passenger-demographic, at least provide very clean ships with good reliable service in recent years. Our tip to Australians who may be considering booking on Oosterdam, either as the opportunity to travel on a 'new' ship to Australian waters or due to previous good experiences on the excellently-run Volendam is DON'T. Instead give your fare to P&O or Royal Caribbean (who have also demonstrated a serious commitment in providing quality ships with responsible management to Australian passengers). This was a waste of vacation-time on a poorly-managed ship whose Hotel Management doesn't even have the courtesy to respond in writing after having actively solicited feedback (supposedly good or otherwise). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
My wife and I are in our early sixties and consider ourselves as being quite active. We have done 10+ cruises in the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera. Our cruise line of choice has been Royal Caribbean. We boarded the ... Read More
My wife and I are in our early sixties and consider ourselves as being quite active. We have done 10+ cruises in the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera. Our cruise line of choice has been Royal Caribbean. We boarded the Oosterdam shortly after 1:00 PM and went directly to our stateroom on the stern starboard of deck seven. We were promptly greeted by our cabin stewards Bari and Tasman. Everything within our stateroom met our expectations and we thanked out steward. Our luggage arrived within a short period of time. During the entire cruise stateroom service was outstanding and was rewarded with additional gratuities We departed San Diego in rain and high winds. On the following windy miserable day one at sea, we were informed that during the night we were in 24 foot seas and 65 mile per hour winds. Day one and day two at sea continued to be very windy and cloudy. Passengers were not allowed on any of the outside deck areas (I assumed part of the reasoning was due to the average passenger age of around 75 years). We had been under the false assumption that the days at sea would be warm and sunny, we were badly mistaken. In talking to crew members we learned that cool cloudy weather is more the norm on the Hawaiian crossings. The Oosterdam does show wear in many areas. The only stained furniture that we observed were water stains on some of the deck furniture cushions. This situation was very easily remedied by placing readily available towels on the cushions. We never used the elevators always using the stairs, there was constantly staff polishing vacuuming etc. almost to the point of being annoying, they always had a friendly greeting as you passed them. We did find it quite odd that the exterior decks were flushed and scrubbed just prior to sunrise leaving them wet for morning walkers and joggers. When cruising we normally have morning coffee in the buffet area waiting to take sunrise pictures. Out of nine days at sea there were only two decent sunrises. The Lido Buffet offered numerous breakfast choices setup at different stations including the omelet choices, waffle selections, a variety of eggs Benedict, cold cuts and cheese, fruit/pastry area as well as the main lines serving eggs, pan cakes, toasts, breakfast meats, etc.. It is "buffet" food but for the most part was quite good. Lunch at the Lido also offered a large variety at different stations including Oriental, Italian, salad bar, build your own sandwiches, desert/ice cream bar as well as traditional. We appreciated that for the most part buffet items were not self serve that contributed to more sanitary conditions as well as expatiating the serving process. Given the age of the majority of passengers patience was a virtue but the buffet area pushed the limit of patience at times. Most areas varied selections daily. In addition to the Lido Buffet the Terrace grill located pool side served hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages, The Terrace also had a small buffet serving different ethnic foods daily. We selected assigned dinning for dinner in the Vista dining room. In our opinion food quality was not as good as we have experience on Royal Caribbean and the friendliness and efficiency of the dining room staff was below our expectations. On the plus side for us they did offer lobster on two occasions. Having cruised the Caribbean we love the days at sea with poolside activity and live bands. Of the nine days at sea there were only three days with sun, poolside activities were almost nonexistent and there were no live bands on deck. Canned music being played in the background was from the forties to the sixties. Passengers did a lot of card playing and reading. Some of the activities that were offered were intro computer classes, craft classes, culinary demonstrations and a variety of lectures. The ship offers many spa options and therapy for a price. We utilized the Fitness Center daily when at sea and found the equipment to be adequate. Classes at the fitness center were also offered, mostly for a fee. Our first port of call was Hilo on the Island of Hawaii. We had prearranged a private tour with Ricky's Tours for sixty dollars per person. Ricky met us and seven other passengers at the pier to begin our five hour tour. We visited numerous attractions on the island with the high light being The Volcanoes National Park. Ricky was very informative and readily answered questions. The only drawback of the day was the intermittent rain showers. The second port of call was Honolulu on the Island of Oahu. We have previously spent time on Oahu and visited most of the attractions on the island therefore we did not plan any activities. We took the free shuttle to the Maui Divers Jewelry operation and from there did some shopping in Waikiki before returning to the Oosterdam. Port number three was Nawiliwili on Kauai. We walked around the nearby shop area and watched the surfboarders. We finished our time ashore by taking the free shuttle to Walmart. Our final port was the "Tender Port" of Lahaina, Maui. We were able to get on one of the first tenders to enable to get to our private snorkeling excursion on the Scotch Mist II, sail boat. We departed the harbor with our captain Gene and crew Kerstin along with another couple that were vacationing on the Island. We sailed to a relatively sheltered area on the edge of a reef to begin our snorkeling. As the boat was being anchored we spotted two giant Sea Turtles within a hundred feet of the boat. We dove the reef for about an hour viewing many tropical fish. We than spotted a number of whales vying for a female off in the distance. With no need to operated a motor we were able to sail close enough to the fighting whales to see the barnacles attached to their skin. We watched and photographed the Whales for an hour then sailed back to the harbor. The morning aboard the Scotch Mist II was a great adventure. The crew was very friendly, hospitable, and extremely knowledgeable about Whales and their migration/mating habits. We highly recommend one of the excursions offered on the Scotch Mist. http://www.scotchmistsailingcharters.com/ The trip back to San Diego via Ensenada (to fulfill the requirements of the Jones Act) was mainly cloudy and chilly with relatively calm seas. Prior to booking on the Oosterdam we understood that Holland America is the Carnival Corporation line to cater to senior cruisers, but we were not prepared for quite such an inactive ocean crossing nor were we prepared mentally for such dreary weather. We found crew members to be very friendly and helpful . Holland America is not our premiere line but would book with them again. In reading cruise reviews I have always said it is hard to believe how completely different review can be written by people on the same cruise. In the case of the Oosterdam's March 17th Hawaiian cruise I feel that somehow there must be two Oosterdam's making this voyage. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, ... Read More
OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, what's wrong with ten days back and forth on the Pacific? We had done two East to West TransAtlantics in years past and enjoyed them immensely. We had also done one cruise with HAL, the Veendam from NYC to Bermuda. We flew directly into San Diego and met pouring rain getting to and from the bus to the passenger terminal. This was something of a portent for our trip. Finally through Security, we boarded and went to find our cabin, Deck 7, Portside, Forward. We were greeted in the appropriate hallway by Mus and Wayan who introduced themselves as our stewards and welcomed us to our spotlessly-prepared verandah cabin. (We are aware that not all Ccers were so fortunate as to be taken care of in this manner, but we were delighted). Once we found more drawers available under the end of the bed, we were able to store everything. Anyway, after a cold and rainy lifeboat drill (seemingly more important now after the Costa Concordia), we shoved off at 5 PM. We dined in the Vista Dining Room with Ali, our headwaiter, and it was an excellent experience. Not only did he explain the use of the Vegan-Vegetarian Menu to my wife, who prefers such things, but from that night on, the appropriate teas and decaf coffee automatically appeared at the end of the meal without our asking. The food during our VDR experience was varied, very tasty, and well prepared. Not being pressed for time, we utilized the VDR for lunches, as well and they were equally good. Since we were still on Eastern time and had been up quite a while, we went to bed around 8:30 (11:30 EDT) and fell asleep in our exceptionally comfortable bed, only to waken sometime later to a howling wind and an actively moving ship. If memory serves, the Captain described 60+ mph winds and 25+ seas, not as much as we experienced on the Atlantic one time, but the larger Oosterdam handled it well and we slept on. However, given the average age and impaired mobility of many of our fellow passengers, if they weren't safely in their cabins, they might have had a difficult time getting there. Some did, apparently, have issues as several passengers sported oversized bandages on their thumbs the next few days, the reason for Captain's warning about doors, fingers, and doorframes repeatedly broadcast. Awake before 6 AM (!), the prospect of waiting for the VDR to open at 8 AM was too daunting so we decided to go to the Lido and forage for food. Not our favorite food venue due to crowds, lines, and searching for open, clean tables, we think we have 'cracked the code' for the Lido breakfast and subsequently ate there most mornings, particularly as we kept getting up before 6 AM as we went from Pacific time to Hawaiian time (- 3 more hrs). Coffee and tea were available when we got to the Lido and, around 6:30, the Continental Breakfast opened with yogurt, fresh berries, and melon. Finally, we could see when the omelette chef opened where we could obtain the best made-to-order omelettes I have ever had! After this, we would return to our cabin, which had already been made up. Thank you, Mus and Wayan. During the cruise, we would spend time in the Crow's Nest with our lap-top attempting to annoy our children with wifi emails. Not always successful, due to the dial-up (or worse) speeds, we soldiered on, hoping that the islands would re-invigorate our cell phones so we could text our children so they would not forget us! :} We attended interesting port lectures by Nancy, the excursion director, and a great guest lecturer, Dr Charlie Urbanowicz, an anthropologist who lived several years with his wife on South Pacific islands. He did an excellent job talking about WWII in the Pacific, which generated good crowds, and the South Pacific cultures and history. We only wish he had been scheduled for more lectures. THE BIG ISLAND Upon docking at Hilo, we disembarked smoothly and met the Enterprise shuttle which took us directly to their office. Our plan was to drive to Volcano's National Park 30 miles away, and it was helpful that their office was located on the same road as the park. After a 45 minute drive, we were in the Visitor's Center and shortly after on the road around Kilauea Crater, which was smokin' and so part of the road around the caldera was closed due to sulfurous gasses. We got out at an overlook for the crater and saw a trail to the Jagger Museum so off we walked. Bad choice. It began to blow and rain heavily, so by the time we reached the museum, where we could have driven to and parked, we were soaked. Blame it on the trip planner (me!) But I wasn't through. I also parked at the first lot for the Thurston Lava Tube, walked 15 or so minutes through the drizzle to get to...another lot, right at the entrance to the tube. The time spent at the Park was worthwhile, but, due to the unattractive weather, our thoughts turned to lunch at the Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant in the little town of Volcano, just a few minutes from the Park. Owned by a former makeup artist on Hawaii 5-0 and set in an older building, the menu was varied and the food excellent (antelope burgers, anyone?) While returning to the ship, we stopped at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory outside Hilo and bought some nutty souvenirs (sorry) for friends at home. Fresh? The trees were across the street! Prices? The best we saw in the islands. OAHU While I had been in Oahu in 1974, my wife had never been there so when our choice of excursions was cancelled for lack of interest, we signed up for the 3 ½ hr Little Circle Tour of Oahu. Past Diamondhead to Hanauma Bay and the Blowhole, then continuing up to the Pali Lookout. It really reacquainted me to the area and my wife got to see some of the interesting backcountry of Oahu. We had hoped to be dropped off at Waikiki after the tour, but the drive was going back another route. When we asked, he said we could use Hilo Hattie's free shuttle to get there so we got off at the huge store. The Hilo Hattie shuttle driver apparently was practicing to be a stand-up comedian and was funny and informative. When I asked him where to get off for Duke's Restaurant, he dropped us at a hotel door and told us to just walk through the lobby and turn right! And there it was. Nice lunch, virtually on the beach, followed by the largest dessert I have ever shared-- Duke's Hula Pie. Since I was on Waikiki 38 years earlier, it seems that they have built three times as many hotels and the beach has shrunk! We were headed for Ft. DeRussy near which there was supposed to be a place called Parrot-Dise where you could have your picture taken with various exotic birds. My wife grew up with a brilliant parrot, who lived more than 50 years, so Parrot-Dise was a dream for her. (We found it in a Cruise Critic review posted in the Hawaii Port thread). When I told Dino, the proprietor, that my wife had traveled 5000 miles to see his birds, he went to work and soon we had pictures of her with 2, 4, and finally 6 birds, the last one with two patiently lying on their backs in her hands! Between Duke's and Parrot-Dise, we had a great day on Waikiki. The ship planned a bar-b-que for the aft pool area and the Lido as we weren't scheduled to leave Oahu until 11 PM. Unfortunately, the wind and sporadic rain were unplanned visitors, but the food was good anyway and the staff did their best given the conditions. KAUAI Kauai was the next stop and we had reservations at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters for an aerial tour. It turns out that their office where we would check-in could be seen from the ship and was a less than 10 minute walk. The helicopter ride was spectacular and even though I was not at a window seat, the views from the newer Eco-Star copter were great. You just needed to be aware of reflections on the window when taking photos. We had lunch after the flight at The Feral Pig, a nice, informal restaurant located in the same mini-mall as Blue Hawaiian. MAUI The last stop was Maui, where we had signed up for an 8 hr tour to the Haleakala Crater and 'Iao Needle State Park. Unfortunately, the crater was overcast (at 10,000 ft) and filled with clouds. It was, however, an interesting bus trip around Maui and the 'Iao Needle was a compelling spot. The only minor drawback, besides the clouds, was our very genial guide/driver who ran out of information at about the 5 ½ hr mark and resorted to singing us Hawaiian songs. Great if you like Hawaiian music. Maui was our only tendering port which was one of the reasons we chose to take a ship's excursion--priority disembarking. I can say it was uneventful although the re-tendering process was annoying: "Sir, may I look under your hat?" They also checked ID's at both ends of the pier raising the question of how did I get to the end of the pier if I didn't have an ID? Did I swim? If you have kept up with this long review, you know we had a great time and HAL was a big part of it. We have been on Regent and Oceania five times and were worried as to how we'd like a much bigger ship. Well, we liked it so much that we signed up onboard for a similar trip next March on the smaller Zaandam. By the way, if you're thinking about a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, you can't do better for research than the Hawaii (Maui, Kauai, Oahu) Revealed series by Wizard Publications available at Amazon. Much of what we saw and enjoyed in the islands came from these books. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Background Info: We were a party of "3 girls", me (47), my mom (82) and my cousin (51). We have all sailed HAL before, and had all been on the Oosterdam at least once. We had sailed 7-10 days in the past, and were looking for ... Read More
Background Info: We were a party of "3 girls", me (47), my mom (82) and my cousin (51). We have all sailed HAL before, and had all been on the Oosterdam at least once. We had sailed 7-10 days in the past, and were looking for a longer trip with more sea days. This was a logical choice as we all live on the West coast. Travel to San Diego and Embarkation: We flew into San Diego the morning of embarkation, 2 of us from Portland, 1 from San Francisco. We had a family member pick us up and he dropped us at the cruise terminal at about 11:30am. There was another ship in port and a lot of people waiting in line! There seemed to be a lack of organization on the part of the port authorities. We were in line about an hour; once we dropped our bags on the luggage cart and entered the terminal, things were much smoother. We went to the short line for suite guests, and were onboard a short 15 minutes later, by about 1pm. We went directly to our room and our luggage arrived by 2pm; our case of wine which had been left with our luggage arrived by 4pm. Stateroom: We had sailed in a Superior Suite on the Oosterdam before so we knew what to expect. Our suite was lovely, with plenty of closet space (and trust me, we didn't pack light!). We found the bathroom to have more than enough space for all of us and didn't use all of the storage in the stateroom. The beds, including the sofa bed, were very comfortable and we had no issues throughout the trip. In fact, twice during our stay, maintenance knocked on our door to repair issues with a shower head and a door that didn't close properly. Both had been reported by our cabin stewards...we hadn't even noticed! Ship Info: We had read several reviews prior to sailing, and several had commented that the ship looked rundown and in need of sprucing up. We didn't really see that; sure if you looked hard enough you might see a pillow or cushion that could have been replaced, but overall, this is a beautiful ship that has been well cared for. There certainly wasn't anything that would have prevented us from having a great time. We are just not very critical I guess. Dining: One word....FABULOUS!! I don't recall a single meal that we didn't completely enjoy. We ate breakfast all over...the Lido, the Vista and many days in the Pinnacle Grill. What a nice treat for suite guests. Same menu as the Vista, but a really calm, pleasant way to spend your morning! We had room service for breakfast a few times...always right on time, and the coffee was always hot. I had read several reviews that mentioned the temperature of the toast from room service, and honestly, I don't understand why someone would expect toast to be hot. The sheer distance from the kitchen to the stateroom should explain why the toast wasn't hot! Heck my toast at home isn't usually hot by the time I get it from the toaster to the table. Needless to say, the toast was warm and just fine! We had dinner (early seating) most nights in the Vista and our servers were wonderful, always remembering that we liked our skim milk and that I had a food allergy. We celebrated mom's birthday in the Pinnacle Grill; we loved it so much we made another reservation on the way out. The grilled salmon was out of this world and the others said it was the best lobster they had ever had! Most days we had a later breakfast, and with the early seating at dinner, we often just grazed at the Lido or the Neptune Lounge at lunchtime. We did have burgers at the Terrace Grill once, and they were very good. Activities: As I said, we were here to relax and get away from very stressful jobs, so we spent a lot of our sea days on our verandah with a cocktail and our Kindles. We did take part in Team Trivia several days, and completely enjoyed The Marriage Game with CD Eric Dowis. That man has more energy and enthusiasm than any other CD I have sailed with! We went to several sessions of "Good Morning Oosterdam" where Eric would interview members of the crew. Very interesting conversations. We went to several of the cooking demonstrations but our favorite was when our Captain Arjen van der loo made his Dutch Pancakes. Between his cooking and his interview with Eric, Captain van der loo found 3 new fans in us. What a great sense of humor and upbeat personality. Far and away, the most personable Captain we have seen. We never saw him around the ship without his big smile! Our first few days at sea were pretty rough, but we felt very safe in his capable hands! Service: In my opinion, this is where HAL really shines. Smiling faces, always willing to help, and how do they remember all our names?? This is what brings me back to HAL time and again. Special kudos to Ruel and Candice in the Neptune Lounge. Always happy, and willing to help with anything that we needed! Ports and Shore Excursions: We didn't schedule any excursions and did things on our own. We missed Hilo due to the rough seas the first few days. In Honolulu, we spent the day with a friend and went to Pearl Harbor and then just toured the city. We had been there before. In Nawiliwili, we took a shuttle bus and did some shopping. We found a great little restaurant, JJ's Oceanfront Broiler. Nice beachside views, great beer and wonderful homemade potato chips. In Lahaina we went to the Maui Ocean Center which was very nice and then spent the afternoon walking around town. The local artists that are under the BIG banyan tree have some fantastic crafts at very reasonable prices. Disembarkation: One big problem. They told me I had to get off the ship. I did everything I could think of to stowaway, but in the end, we took our bags (we had opted to handle our own luggage) and left this lovely ship under protest. We were in off the ship by 8:15am. Dropped my cousin at the airport at 8:45am and she was home by 11am thanks to a standby flight. We were safely back in Portland by 3:30pm, already plotting our next HAL adventure! In summary, we can't think of a single thing that would have made our trip more enjoyable. What a lovely ship, with a fantastic crew. A very special shout out to CD Eric and Captain van der loo. The two of them make an outstanding team, and we hope we can sail with them again. We are already looking to book a trip to Alaska this summer on the Outstanding Oosterdam! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Cruise Critic Review of the Oosterdam Hawaii Trip Feb 25, 2012 First let me start with the positives. The service staff on this ship are great. The room stewards work hard to keep their assigned rooms clean and neat. The bar staff ... Read More
Cruise Critic Review of the Oosterdam Hawaii Trip Feb 25, 2012 First let me start with the positives. The service staff on this ship are great. The room stewards work hard to keep their assigned rooms clean and neat. The bar staff are friendly and courteous - special shout out to the Ocean Bar staff (Eddie et al). We ate all our meals in Lido and were impressed both with the service and the quality of food. The Captain was approachable, informative and friendly. On our entry into the Hawaiian Islands, there was a pod of hump back whales that we could watch frolicking in the sea. That was really the highlight of the journey! Kudos to Holland America for being not just handicap accessible but handicap friendly. there were many seniors on this cruise that needed assistance and it was provided with a friendly smile. We had 2 medical emergencies on board that were handled in an expedited fashion, showing that the customer truly does come first when it comes to health issues. A captain that sends out for medication to be delivered by air drop from the US Coast Guard out of San Francisco and stops the ship to retrieve said medications shows a great respect for his medical staff and their patent and should be commended for his handling of the situation. The negatives: No one's fault but the weather just didn't' cooperate. Can't blame Holland America but 10 days at sea with wind, cloud cover, cool and rainy to say nothing of when in Hawaii itself tended to colour the whole trip in a negative light. The first couple of days at sea were rough with moderate swells for much of the journey. This wasn't an issue for myself or hubbie but I think a lot people were battling sea sickness for the first while. Our room was intruded on at 1030 PM by someone who only identified himself when my husband called out to ask if I was ok - the intruder was in our washroom and Hubbie thought it was me. When he called out, a male voice responded that he was maintenance checking our toilet. We did complain to the front desk staff about this and they said they would address the appropriate department. We did get an apology but both feel that everyone was busy covering their you know whats and no one would explain or take responsibility for this frightening intrusion. The Oosterdam is not that old a ship and I understand that it has recently been refitted. However, everywhere there are signs of wear and tear in this ship. The carpets are worn, the furniture is worn and there is often a musty smell in some areas. While the ship claims that the casino is smoke free with only designated areas to smoke in - That's a bit of an oxymoron. If you allow smoking, it drifts and all are exposed. It was nice that the eating areas were all non-smoking and would have been nicer if the casino was non smoking. Designated smoking areas need to be walled off and have a good air return so others are not exposed to the second hand smoke. Even to get to the shows, one had to run the gauntlet of stale smoke. Also the musty smell was predominate in the area just outside the Queen's Lounge. In summary, if what you want is a relaxing holiday with not much to see for most of the vacation, then this is the trip for you. If, like me you like to watch the shorelines and ships pass by, pass this one up. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Just off the Oosterdam (opronounced 'Oh'sterdam) (Jan 28-Feb 18). Visited Mexico and Hawaii. As veteran HAL cruisers we love HAL. Here are our 'likes': typical HAL experience. Food was GREAT! Service, ditto. Staff ... Read More
Just off the Oosterdam (opronounced 'Oh'sterdam) (Jan 28-Feb 18). Visited Mexico and Hawaii. As veteran HAL cruisers we love HAL. Here are our 'likes': typical HAL experience. Food was GREAT! Service, ditto. Staff ditto. Ship, excellent shape. Ships's personnel continually cleaning and polishing. We very much appreciate HAL offering religious services on board...thanks HAL. BIG SURPRISE: HAL coffee was very drinkable. Up till now all the coffee on any cruise was at best exceedingly low quality and almost undrinkable....coffee on this cruise was a very pleasant surprise :) Dislikes: First time at sea for so long a spell, 5 days one way, 5 days another. We thought this would not be a problem but neither one of us were very happy sittin on board for so long a time. (I know this is not HAL's fault...no blame). Seas were VEY HEAVY going to Hawaii. Missed HILO (big island) due to conditions. Almost fell outa bed couple times :( (If you are reading this and questioning whether or not you would 'enjoy' lengthy times on board and are wondering how crossing the pacific to Hawaii might be, you may not want to take this cruise). Was very upset that Mazatlan was cancelled. HAL's response that it was due to pax 'safety' is a bunch of baloney. (odd though it may seem, one of the main reasons we signed up for this cruise was the stop in Mazatlan....and the other reason was the stop in the only island we have not visited..you guessed it, the big island!) If you ever decide to cruise from San Diego, do get there a day early and visit the greater San Diego area. We had a wonderful time visiting the huge open air farmer's market (little Italy) and the 'gaslight' district. Old town was very nice as well. Any questions, feel free to write me at: tlc_grantsburg@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large ... Read More
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large non-luxury ship for the first time. We chose HAL as non-of our preferred ships were scheduled for a Hawaii round trip at the time we wanted to go. This was also our first sea-intensive cruise. Pre-Cruise We have owned timeshares for more than twenty years and decided to use some of our points to stay in the San Diego area the week before the cruise. We chose the Lawrence Welk Resort in nearby Escondido and found it to be one of our best exchanges ever. For those of you who may be timeshare owners, I will post a review on Timeshare Users Group www.tug2.net. Embarkation One of the things that concerning us was how difficult embarkation might turn out to be having experienced curbside to glass of sparkling wine in the atrium in about 15 minutes while watching the mob scene at nearby ships. This cruise was surely the embarkation from hell, though not necessarily the fault of HAL. We turned in our rental car and were driven to the cruise port only to find a big electronic sign declaring "no passenger discharge" at the entrance and a very long line waiting to get into the building. Our driver ended up having to leave us and all our luggage literally in the middle of the street. I found out later that the Port Of San Diego had shut down the terminal right in the middle of the embarkation process and said, to inquiring ships officers, the reason was none of their business. Passengers who arrive before 11 AM got on with no problem and those arriving after 12 went right on, but we had a 90 minute ordeal. Things were not helped by sharing the port with another large ship, resulting in nearly 5,000 people going through the terminal. Cabin We had a VD/Veranda cabin in the aft area. We had expected to be unhappy with the size and layout but were pleasantly surprised that the cabin was large enough to be comfortable and we found enough storage between the two wardrobes and the drawers in the end tables and under the bed. The balcony was small but this type of cruise doesn't lend itself to sitting out there. The bed was comfy and the bathroom utilitarian. Crew I have to agree with HAL fans that this has to be the friendliest crew at sea. Everybody we dealt with was cheerful and eager. However, there was an issue with crew to passenger ratios. An example is our cabin attendant. He appeared to be very good but overextended. I observed that he appeared to have more than 30 cabins to service. This results in service that is more like a hotel than a cruise ship. Our earlier experiences were that, every time you left your cabin, the cabin attendant seemed to have a sixth sense and, when we returned, it was apparent someone had been there, if only to do minor things such as freshen the ice or neatly fold clothing that had been tossed on the bed. On this cruise, the pattern was for the cabin to be made up sometime before the end of lunch and turned down by bedtime. Small issues such as buckets of melting ice not being replaced came up. I know I could have called for service, but hated to bother the already overworked guy. Dining One of the most important reasons people cruise, especially when you're at sea for ten days, is to dine. I've seen everything from two star to five star reviews. I gave HAL dining three stars. For one thing, the food was not up to what we found on "luxury" lines, but that is to be expected. What was disappointing was the unevenness of the food. At one meal we would be saying the food was delicious and, at the next, would find our entrees to be inedible and improperly prepared. Some of our dining companions were long-time HAL cruisers and were lamenting the fact HAL no longer had "white glove service" in the dining rooms. As this was my first time, I can only go by what they say. I also understand sommeliers have been replaced with "wine stewards" and my impression was these people did not have a really professional knowledge of wine. I believe I saw at least one or two of them actually serving as cocktail waiters in other parts of the ship. One of the biggest knocks I have on the MDR is how every meal opened with a server coming to our table and trying really hard to get us to buy a carafe of "special" water, filtered seven times. Don't they realize how this kind of stuff cheapens the experience? I can live with someone asking if I would like a cocktail or wine with dinner, but a hard-sell on water? We had open seating and enjoyed meeting our fellow passengers. The Lido was quite good. There is nothing like that on the small ships and the variety of food stations was excellent. We had met a couple at the resort who had just got off the prior cruise and said they ate only in the Lido for three weeks. I couldn't figure out why someone would want buffet food rather than the MDR but realized, after a few days, they were serving much of the MDR menu, with a few exclusions, in the Lido. We attempted to eat in the Canaletto Italian restaurant, which is an area of the Lido at dinner, but couldn't get reservations when we wanted. I heard very mixed revues on the food from several people. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill and the food was fine, but did not interest us in paying for a second visit. We had room service for a few breakfasts and thought they were quite good. I know some posters have complained about cold food, but I guess it depends on how far from the kitchen you are on this big ship. Our cabin was off the elevator bank that was one floor above where room service came out of the kitchen, so we were only about five minutes away from where it was handed off to the server. Another frequent topic I see is coffee. I mail order beans from two different sources but am not a coffee "expert". I thought the coffee was fine. It wasn't necessary to pay for coffee in the Crow's Nest as I noticed it is made from the same bags as the other restaurants. Entertainment There were good performers in all the lounges. The production shows were surprisingly elaborate with an energetic cast. Outside entertainment brought on board included a comedian, harmonica player and ventriloquist. The biggest hit of the cruise was probably Jeff Trachta (Thorne of "The Bold And The Beautiful) who had an excellent Vegas show of singing, comedy and impressions. Both his shows were packed and I understand he had a big turnout when he did a sit-down interview in the Vista Lounge the following morning. The issue I have with the entertainment venues is sightline problems. I cannot believe a ship built as recently as this one has a showroom full of large pillars and overhanging balconies that make, probably, 25 percent of the seats have an obstructed view of the stage. I you were attending a popular performance , you had to get there early and hold down a seat for at least 45 minutes. Worse was the screening room with very comfy theater chairs and fairly current releases. The down side was, with only about 30 seats, you have to get there about an hour ahead of time to know you can get into a showing. Ports Due to rough seas, we got a day behind and missed Hilo. That was a big loss. We docked in Honolulu and roamed independently. In Nawiliwili we originally had no plans but, as our tour in Hilo was scrapped, did a ship's tour to the "grand canyon of the pacific" which was nice. On Maui we had our own private tour booked. Getting on and off the ship was a big issue with us, again, being used to much smaller ships. All the tour busses seemed to arrive back at the ship in Nawiliwili simultaneously resulting in hundreds of people in a line that crept toward the gangplank. We saw that mess and, immediately, accepted a ride to Walmart on their free shuttle. We used an hour to pick up some items, including some of the least expensive Hawaii tee shirts I had seen. By the time we were delivered back to the ship, there was no line. In Maui, tendering was a mess. We were told there were tenders departing about every ten minutes but, after nothing moved for 45 minutes and the crowd in the Queen's Lounge turned into a mob, we finally got moving and, after nearly two hours, arrived on shore, late for our tour. Coming back was another mess with arriving busses and really long lines. And what can I say about our Jones Act stop in Ensenada. The port is in the middle of nowhere and, unless you've booked the inexpensive tour to see dancers and mariachis, there's no reason to get off the ship. Fellow Cruisers I was told this would be an older crowd. Yep. Disembarkation Like butter. We had a flight to catch and were down for 9 AM and were called at 8. Our suitcases were stacked together so we didn't have to search. Customs and immigration had us hand them the forms as we walked by. Oh, if embarkation was anything like this. General impressions Some people love these big ships and some that are much larger. We were not happy spending two weeks with 2,000 of our closest friends. Our cabin was close to dining but a trip to the other public areas involved a walk close to the length of two football fields. It was often hard to find a seat for dinning in the Lido and we actually saw people standing and eating. I had always heard about chair hogs, but hadn't experienced it until my walks across the Lido deck seeing every lounger had either a fanny or towel on it. But, there were always plenty of chairs on the observation deck. I mentioned before how much time you have to waste getting to show venues early in order to be sure you have a decent seat. Getting on and off this ship in port is agony for those of us used to smaller ships where there is never a line. Again, I'm not a snob, but that is my total experience cruising. Finally, as HAL considers itself a premium cruise line, I was very surprised by the lack of attention to detail. The furniture in lounges and common area can be quite beat up. Other reviewers have pointed out the poor condition of some of the leather furniture and upholstered pieces with buttons missing. The metal table on our balcony was actually rusting and it really shocked me that it hadn't been noticed and taken care of. We have had considerable experience with fine dining and found it rather strange that the Pinnacle would go to the trouble of having Rosenthal Bvlgari china along with the very common flatware used in the rest of the ship (with the logo "hotel" emblazoned on the back). To Sum Up The trip wasn't all that bad. We didn't have high expectations and were pleasantly surprised at some of what we found. We spent the first week saying, "Never again" but, by the end of the trip, had decided we might try HAL again, but on a more port intensive cruise on one of the smaller ships. We also have to consider cost. We could do several HAL cruises rather than one luxury cruise for the same price. HAL is not all inclusive and, had we opted for a suite or other more expensive accommodation and drank a lot more than we did, the cost might have been closer. But we were pretty happy with what we got.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
This cruise was our third cruise in the past 3 years to Hawaii on 3 different cruise lines, our second HAL cruise on a Vista Class Ship, and our fifth cruise in the last 3 years. Our other HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam doing the inside ... Read More
This cruise was our third cruise in the past 3 years to Hawaii on 3 different cruise lines, our second HAL cruise on a Vista Class Ship, and our fifth cruise in the last 3 years. Our other HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam doing the inside passage to Alaska. We booked VA5185 cabin, a stern veranda cabin. We always have a wonderful time on our cruises and this cruise was no exception. Lin was excited before we left to be cruising on HAL and was anticipating that this would end up being our cruise line of choice for future cruises. Let me start by saying that the crew on the Oosterdam were the happiest (genuinely happy, not corporate mandated happy) crew we have ever sailed with. We saw behavior of some passengers that was absolutely atrocious and the crew handled themselves with a dignity and respect that made the offending passengers look like idiots. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived early and when we were allowed to board, were one of the first people on-board. This was actually the easiest embarkation we have ever had on a cruise, even compared to two previous cruises where we were in suites. We did not have a cabin steward on this cruise, we had a cabin elf. Everything was always magically done and any request was met with a smile and was accomplished promptly. Our cabin elf was named Harry and we left a "Let Us Know" card praising his work at the front desk. We purchased the Thermal Suite package for the cruise beforehand knowing that the price would be cheaper on embarkation day. Upon embarking the ship we went to the spa and verified our reservation and they told us that since the special was $200 less than what we paid beforehand they would only charge our on-board account for the special price, in effect giving us another $200 of on-board credit. We absolutely love the Thermal Suite and made good use of it during the cruise. Our cabin was a little larger than I thought it would be and our veranda was huge compared to regular veranda cabins. It was about 15 or 16 feet deep. It was outfitted with two of the faux-wicker loungers and two faux-wicker chairs and the obligatory small table. This was our first time ever having a fully covered veranda and we found it to be perfect. You can find more details and photos in our blog at: http://thegeomonkeys.com/2012/03/our...osterdam-2012/ We love the promenade deck on the Vista Class ships as you can walk completely around the ship on one deck unlike some other ships that require you to go up and down stairs at either end of the ship to make a complete lap. The first night out of San Diego we had 30 foot seas and 20 foot seas the first full day at sea. Neither of us are bothered with motion sickness and slept like babies with the rocking motion. Many others were not so lucky and the bags and medication were readily available for those who needed it. This is the first time that I have ever seen a formal night canceled and rescheduled due to rough seas. We don't do formal nights and had made reservations for the Canaletto Restaurant for those nights so on the rescheduled night we ate in the Lido instead. The food on this cruise was good overall, probably better than we expected based on previous cruises. The shows were hit and miss, as expected. We always sit near an exit so we can escape if need be and we did that several times. We don't do Bingo, Karaoke, or Trivia, although we will sit in occasionally on Trivia or Karaoke to have a good laugh. We felt the cultural program left a lot to be desired. We attended the first one and left when the "expert" was basically reading a script. We don't do ships excursions because they are generally overpriced and we aren't sheep and don't like to be herded. We had arranged our own things to do while in Hawaii and enjoyed them immensely. It was nice to see that the muster drill had a little more importance placed on it although HAL needs to tweak it some. Roll was taken, under threat of not being able to sail if you weren't there. That is a good thing. However, to have everyone meet at their muster station and have a crew member try to show everyone how they should put on their life jacket when only the people in the front row could see them is rather silly, especially for first time cruisers. Our first stop was in Lahaina, Maui. This is a tender port (thankfully the only one on this cruise) and the tendering process was absolutely horrible. We have been here on two other cruises, on different lines, and HAL really screwed this up. They put 5 tenders in the water and found that two of them were broken down. REALLY! SERIOUSLY! Rather than putting in two others to replace the broken down ones, they decided that they would work on them in the water to fix them. Maybe they thought the other eleven on the ship were broken down also. These are the life boats that would be used in an emergency and they weren't working properly. So much for the enhanced muster drill procedures. From the time we got our tender tickets (#10) it took us 2 ½ hours to be put on a tender. I feel sorry for the people who showed up for their tickets 45 minutes later and had ticket #36. On our other cruises we never had more than a 20 minute wait after getting our tickets. Returning to the ship was excruciating also. We stood on the dock for over an hour for a tender to show up to take us back to the ship. There was no traffic in the harbor and the seas were calm. The tendering process was ridiculous. HAL definitely dropped the ball on this one. We did our own things on the other islands and getting off the ship was easy since all HAL had to do was make sure the gangway was secure. Unfortunately a huge storm pretty much canceled anything on Kauai. Roads were washed out and torrential rain dominated the agenda. Amazingly, some passengers were absolutely incensed that their tours were canceled and blamed HAL for it. More childish, spoiled, entitled people! Disembarkation in San Diego was a breeze. Unusual to be sure, so we'll take it and enjoy it for a change. Now for something new in my reviews. Ahhh! To Dream. IF I WERE KING: (and I had unlimited funds) I understand some of these thoughts are not possible, some are funny and some could be put into service. 1) Make it so that you could view your on board account on your stateroom television. 2) Make the atrium large enough to feel like a destination of it's own. 3) Make the Vista Showroom large enough to accommodate everyone that would like to attend a show there so you don't have to show up 45 minutes early to get a seat. 4) Have muster roll call taken with hand held mobile scanners that they use when you disembark the ship. 5) Hold muster drills inside (requires more seating in the Vista Lounge, etc) so that elderly people aren't standing for long periods of time while roll is taken. Everyone might be able to see the life vest demo that way also. 6) Make sure all tenders (life boats) are operational prior to needing them. 7) Use more tenders to get people ashore in a reasonable amount of time. 8) Install a button to turn on the T-Pool jets that can be reached while IN the T-Pool. 9) Install sensors in the Thermal Suite that will sense when someone on the tile loungers is snoring that will drop down a "Cone Of Silence" (remember Maxwell Smart) around them so others don't have to listen to them snoring. 10) Install a human wash (similar to an automatic car wash) at the entrance to all hot tubs, pools, and T-Pools so that everyone has to take a soapy shower before entering the public pools. 11) Cappuccino Bomb would be on the dessert menu every night. Prior to our cruise we saw posts from people on Cruise Critic that have sailed on the Oosterdam who said they were disappointed with the condition of parts of the ship. These people, some of whom are long time cruisers and posters to CC, were vilified, attacked, and called trolls from other boards because they dared to say something was "wrong" with the "O". We heard many comments while on-board from people who were upset about the condition of some sections of the ship. So we did a little investigation while on-board to see for ourselves. Feel free to yell at me now for what I am about to post. There are areas of the "O" that are in need of repair. Should they ruin someone's vacation? I don't think so, but everyone needs to decide for themselves. It's very easy to attack someone you don't know when it is your word against theirs, so I decided to take pictures to support what I found and people can make their own judgments. The "O" underwent a dry dock a few months ago so I expected her to be in pretty good shape throughout. Yet, some items were not addressed during the dry dock, but someone had to make the decision that these conditions were acceptable for HAL's standards. You can view the photos and what the complaints were that we heard about while on board at the following link: http://thegeomonkeys.com/2012/03/hol...am-march-2012/ The offensive, obstinate, self-righteous, arrogant, demanding, holier than thou passengers were in greater numbers on this cruise than on any other we have taken. The only cruise we have taken that had similar clientele was on the Zuiderdam. The standards that HAL has for what is acceptable in public areas for furnishings also surprised us. While it didn't ruin our cruise we found much higher standards on Princess and Celebrity. Therefore, we will not sail on HAL again, not because of the crew but because of the clientele. __________________ Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
All the usual stuff about embarking and disembarking, the food, the entertainment and programs on the ship are basically the same as stated by others. This review is meant to give helpful hints. The room: SY has three large closets. ... Read More
All the usual stuff about embarking and disembarking, the food, the entertainment and programs on the ship are basically the same as stated by others. This review is meant to give helpful hints. The room: SY has three large closets. Hangers are provided. There are fold down shelves in each closet. There is also a safe in one of the closets. There is one full size drawers under the foot of each bed. There are six small drawers in the vanity and two large drawers in the desk. There is extra storage in the vanity stool. Just take the top off and you will find a cavity to store stuff. There are two night stands with two drawers each. One of the drawers locks. There is a two shelf cabinet at the end of the couch. The Bath room: Has two medicine cabinets with three shelve each. There is also abundant storage under the sink both on a large shelf which runs the length of the double sink and on the floor under the shelf. There is a cooler in the room under the TV. It is not a refrigerator but it does keep drinks cool. We were three adult females and the storage was sufficient and plentiful. The Electricity: Not good. The room had 3 plugs total. One in bathroom, one on vanity and one on the desk. You should bring your own power strips if you need more then three outlets. We were on the port side of the ship. We had the sunrise on the way to Hawaii. Once we turned the sun was on the other side of the ship. In Lahaina we were on the sea side of the ship. In Maui we were again on the sea side of the ship. In Kauai, Hilo and Encenada were were on the dock side of the ship. The food: It was good but at time bland, no salt butter. If you choose to eat in your room you can have the same meal as the dining room if you order within the first half hour the dining room is open. If you wish to dine in the Lido you get the same meal as the MDR however you serve yourself. The Vista Lounge as well as the other venues are very well attended and if you want a good seat you better get there early. Oosterdam: The ship is well kept, clean and comfortable. It is showing a little wear. Some chair arms looked warn, drape in the room were showing their age, The wicker footstools on the balcony were showing wear but this did not detract from our pleasure in any way. The staff is excellent, Captain Van der Loo is charming and very capable. The Cruise director Eric is really good at his job. Our cabin steward Yedi was very accommodating. In fact the whole staff was friendly always with a smile and a hello. We did not eat often in the dining room due to the illness on one of our roommates but when we did the service was outstanding. We used the Medical Facility twice. One of my room mates was gravely ill the first few days and the physicians and nurses were able to turn her around and restore her to enjoy the rest of the trip. We had a flawless trip all things considered. Looking forward to traveling again with Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We expected a much better experience than we had. This was our first time on this line and this ship. Food was good, but dining room service terrible. We complained about cold food and time between servings and were told there was only ... Read More
We expected a much better experience than we had. This was our first time on this line and this ship. Food was good, but dining room service terrible. We complained about cold food and time between servings and were told there was only 1 waiter per five tables which could mean 30 plus guests to serve. Open seating was disorganized and had long lines for early seating. We ended up ordering breakfast in room and going for sit down dining for lunch and endured the terrible service at dinner. We could not find a lot we wanted to do on the ship. The staff that does activities is subcontracted and minimal. Might as well forget Internet access. Tried to log on to Gmail and message came up that their software does not support Google. Could not open email and they refused to adjust the package I had bought to the tune of $100. It would not support tablets either. This department is also subcontracted. On last day of cruise people were offering others money to print boarding passes. Under cabin I have listed all the problems we had with it. The crow's nest was supposed to be library and reading room? Too many other activities there to be a good place to read and relax. Even a cruise critic meeting that got real loud. Other venues for activities are small. Lido buffet is cut up and disorganized and no trays so you could collect your food before you sat down. Had a burger on deck was dry and tasteless. Early on in the cruise I smelled mold around the Greenhouse Spa which seemed to be corrected later on. Upholstery on chairs in Crow's nest had holes on the arms and one glass top table had water and dirt under the glass. Buttons missing from the leather seats there also. Daily movies were offered in a screening room with seating for only 25-30 people. People were continually disappointed. Entertainment was just average. Seems like a lot of activities are offered to sell something, like spa treatments, etc. Art department is very small. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
My spouse and I had originally booked this cruise as a late celebration of our 40th anniversary. As it turned out, we celebrated it in Sep/11 with a cruise to Alaska on board the Diamond Princess. But, no matter, as we knew we wanted to ... Read More
My spouse and I had originally booked this cruise as a late celebration of our 40th anniversary. As it turned out, we celebrated it in Sep/11 with a cruise to Alaska on board the Diamond Princess. But, no matter, as we knew we wanted to get away from the typically cold Canadian weather in January and this cruise was a good mid-winter break. Getting There We flew from our home gateway of Winnipeg to San Diego via Denver the day before the cruise. We are always concerned about being storm-stayed. It was unusually cold the day we left but quite mild in Denver when we changed planes and very pleasant when we arrived. We arrived just after lunch and took the shuttle to the hotel. It's a bit of hike from the baggage carousels, up to the pedestrian walkway and down to the shuttle/taxi area and it can be crowded with all the shuttles, buses and taxis jockeying for a spot; just keep an eye peeled for your hotel's shuttle, if you are using one. Our Hotel We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay, just across from the B Street Cruise Ship Terminal. It's located at 1355 N. Harbor Drive. We had a 'bay view' room which was located on the 10th floor of the south tower, a building separate from the main hotel complex. There are two main elevators as well as a panoramic elevator which gives great views of the bay. The room was not overly spacious and showing its age, but it was clean and comfortable. There is a pillow menu, flat screen TV, coffee/tea maker, and separate table for your PC or tablet. Complimentary WI-FI is included. The view from the balcony was spectacular and we were able to watch our ship slowly come into the pier area - it was literally "parked" directly across the street from our room - nice! We had supper at Antonio's across the street from the hotel, and breakfast on embarkation day in the Elephant & Castle restaurant, located in the main hotel building. We would recommend both. Embarkation We initially signed up for the shuttle from the hotel (has to be done between 8 and 10 on the morning of embarkation) but realized that it was only about 100m from our hotel to the Terminal so we just hooked up our bags and literally walked across the street. We were in about 10:45 a.m., dropped our bags at the luggage check-in area, and through HAL check-in by 11:10. Our group number was called about 11:45 and after the customary embarkation photo, we were literally on board by 11:55. Our room was forward, port side, so we made our way to the forward elevators and were in our room by noon. Our Room We had a Superior Verandah Suite on the Navigation Deck. It is a spacious room with a large bathroom consisting of dual sinks, whirlpool tub and separate shower, medicine cabinets and Elemis toiletries. There are three closets opposite the bathroom, with fold down shelving and a safe. The bed was queen and faced a dresser/vanity area. There is a sofa bed, three armchairs, a cocktail table and a desk area holding more shelves, a DVD player, flat screen TV and ports for data and AC (110 and 220v). The balcony was large with a table and two dining chairs and two deck chairs, and wicker ottomans, all with seat pads. We noted that all the chairs and throw pillows in the room were very dirty. The wicker balcony furniture had seen better days as well and most of the wicker strands was literally unravelling. The bathroom tile work needed a major cleaning and despite reporting the problem to ship maintenance, we had a chronic leak from the shower stall for the entire two weeks of the cruise. Ship Information There is lots of information on this site about the Oosterdam so I won't go into that here. The ship was built in 2003. I am not sure if it has had a refurbishment but it sure needs one. We noted several areas where maintenance looked overdue and the waterline area was badly rusted and fouled. Dining We had second seating in the Vista Dining Room on Deck 3, table for 6. Curiously, no one offered to escort us to our table on the first night; we had to ask a couple of waiters before one would show us. We had a small table with a banquette on one side and chairs on the other. Unfortunately, this table was located below another level of the dining room which permitted guests at the table for four above us to constantly stare at us (not sure what their problem was but it was very rude). Our waiter and assistant waiter were pleasant and reasonably efficient but not overly so. Our meals arrived usually on time but never hot, just warm. We were never sure what the problem was in getting entrEes to our table so that they were more enjoyable. Portions were small and presentation was always excellent. Service from the wine steward was always very slow. The Lido buffet was OK with a reasonable selection of dishes. For the first two days at sea, there was no self-service; everyone had to point to their desired food items and they were placed onto small plates by stewards. We ate in the Lido on a few mornings. The specialty restaurant, Pinnacle Grill ($25 cover charge) was excellent. Superb service, ambiance, menu and wine selection. On one night, the Le Cirque menu was presented although we do not believe the $14 surcharge was worth it and this was shared by most other guests we talked to as well. The menu was not as good as the regular menu. Room service was OK. Orders were delivered on time and accurate for the most part; just don't order toast as it will be cold - guaranteed. The pizza selections were just OK; we believe Princess has a better pizzeria. The grill on the Lido deck serves up hamburgers and hot dogs although we were appalled to see dogs and patties sitting in warming trays and just reheated on the grill prior to being served; it makes the waiting time shorter but who wants reheated food? On the Honolulu port evening, a "Hawaiian" BBQ was served, supposedly with suckling pig. Perhaps, but all we got was a little bit of pork and a lot of fat. Activities We went to the gym most sea days. My spouse did fitness classes and Tai Chi. I attended some Microsoft workshops. We attended the Royal Dutch Tea but this has really deteriorated since we were last on HAL in 2002. We also attended some bingos. On the last formal night, there was a Dessert Extravaganza, spread over three decks. Although it was well done (presentation) and the desserts were to die for, we thought this should have been done in one of the dining rooms as we have experienced on other cruise ships, to avoid the congestion that results from putting on this type of event. What surprised and appalled us even more, however, was the amount of food that was thrown out after the event was finished; perhaps HAL could take a lesson from this and just make less desserts? Service Service was generally very good to excellent. The best service was from Guest Relations; they were masters at problem solving. The Hotel Manager, James Deering, was absolutely superb at his job; you saw him everywhere, talking to guests and answering questions, including the two Meet & Greet sessions we attended as part of the Cruise Critic roll call for this cruise. The worst service was from the photography staff who are contractors; they were at times unreasonable and argumentative. We had to go to Guest Relations to intercede on our behalf. Entertainment Entertainment varied depending on the venue. The Ocean Bar and the Piano Bar had particularly good performers. The Vista Lounge was a two (or three) level theatre which curiously, had many obstructed views from overhanging balconies and structural posts (I thought ship designers had corrected this in the 2000's). Acts varied from the ship's dancer/singer ensemble, a Liberace wanna be pianist, a violinist/comedian (OK, but not really that good), a magician (OK), the Las Vegas Tenors (OK but a copycat act for the Italian group)and a really good comedian by the name of Elliot Maxx. Port & Shore Excursions Lahaina (Maui). This is a port that require a tender. Be patient as the harbormaster controls access very tightly and you could be bobbing around in a tender for a while. We did the whale watching tour and it was excellent. Honolulu (Oahu). The ship docks right in downtown Honolulu. We did the Pearl Harbor and city tour. It was quite good but there is only a short window on board the Arizona memorial and it is quite crowded. Nawiliwili (Kauai). The ship docks at a local commercial pier. We did the river cruise and Fern Grotto tour. It was excellent. The cruise is relaxing and the cultural tour at the Grotto and on the way back to the river pier are some of the best local entertainment we have ever experienced; we even learned to hula! Note that there a couple of local malls near the pier where the ship is docked, including a nice public beach. Hilo (Hawaii). The ship docks at a local commercial pier. We did a local tour which included Paradise Falls, a stop at Big Island Candies (bring your sweet tooth) and the Imiloa Astronomy Centre. The latter is an astronomy museum and planetarium. Don't bother with a ship's photo in any of these ports; the backdrop is industrial. Disembarkation This was colour-coded as it is on most cruises we've been on. We were scheduled off at 0900 but our colour was never called. When the colours to date had been called, we realized our colour was among those that should be disembarking. We proceeded to Deck 2 only to be swallowed up in a morass of cruisers trying to get off the ship. In spite of the instructions to guest to stay in their rooms until their colour was called, several were hanging around the gangway and crowding the hallways. HAL staff were very frustrating and yelling at guests to form two lines to clear the clutter. What they should have done is clear out out all the guests who were loitering. Other than that, the process to get off the ship, find our luggage and exit the terminal was straightforward. There is a bit of a queue to get a taxi but eventually we did and were at the San Diego airport in less than 10 minutes. It's about a $12 fare. Summary Overall, it was a very good cruise and a welcome break from winter (although our winter has been unusually mild as it has been in most of North America). If you like sea days just to relax and not do much, this cruise is perfect. All tour guides were excellent and very proud of their culture. We noted that there is a noticeable difference (i.e. fewer) in the numbers of staff from our 2002 HAL cruise. There was no presentation of leis on embarkation; odd for a ship going to Hawaii. This ship is in bad need of a major refurbishment; it's looking really old and worn in a lot of areas. For us, in our early 60's, we learned a new meaning of the word 'patience.' Most guests were in their 70's and 80's with a good measure of 90+ year-olds. So be prepared for a lot of walkers, scooters, canes, etc. and time to enter and exit elevators, rooms, theatres, and buses. Perhaps we will consider HAL in future when we reach that age. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
Last time on Oosterdam was on a Mexico cruise. We had been on other HAL ships, but there was something about the Oosterdam...it felt like coming home. I wondered this time -- before we boarded on January 14, 2012 -- "Would it feel ... Read More
Last time on Oosterdam was on a Mexico cruise. We had been on other HAL ships, but there was something about the Oosterdam...it felt like coming home. I wondered this time -- before we boarded on January 14, 2012 -- "Would it feel again, like 'home'?" particularly, since we were cruising in an interior stateroom for the first time ever; previous cruises had all been done in veranda suites. Frankly, when we stepped aboard I could not find a single familiar physical detail. Though I knew to a certainty we had been on the Oosterdam before, the physical surroundings had simply homogenized into a total HAL experience. But, when we heard "The Voice from the Bridge" Captain Arjen C. Van Der Loo, and Eric the Cruise Director, our previous experiences on the Oosterdam came back into focus. I don't know how HAL assigns crew and staff to a ship; maybe Captain Van Der Loo and others get to choose their staff. I do know that the "people" of the Oosterdam make it my most memorable ship. The Captain, the Cruise Director, Subi and Trish (our cabin stewards), Erza the entree server and cook on the starboard side of the Lido, the wonderful man at the podium of the Vista Dining Room...who valiantly tried every night to try to meet our needs though we walked in without notice or reservations...there is a spirit among the people of the Oosterdam that can only result from fair, disciplined, and constant leadership. Our next cruise will be this September...the 75-day "voyage" to Asia and Australia on the Amsterdam. I already know the ship and its people will be more than satisfactory...I've never had a bad HAL cruise...but I hope the Amsterdam will feel like we're "coming home" -- just like our two cruises on the Oosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We arrived at the port in San Diego at around 11:30 a.m. and though there was a line we were aboard the Oosterdam in good time. We didn't have to wait for our cabin like on other ships. We went straight to our cabin, dropped off our ... Read More
We arrived at the port in San Diego at around 11:30 a.m. and though there was a line we were aboard the Oosterdam in good time. We didn't have to wait for our cabin like on other ships. We went straight to our cabin, dropped off our stuff and headed for the Lido deck. The food was ready and waiting for us. My luggage was in the cabin when we returned from lunch, but my companion had to wait until 4:45 p.m. for hers. The cruise to Hawaii took four days and was relaxing except that we did not receive any water in our stateroom the first three days. We thought that they didn't provide it in the stateroom anymore, until there was two bottles in the room on the fourth day along with a receipt for three bottles that we never received. I couldn't find the cabin steward so I returned the water to the front desk and requested that no more be left in the stateroom for the rest of the cruise. The next day we returned to the stateroom to find a bottle of water with a receipt for two more bottles. Once again I took the water to the front desk and requested our bill be corrected, which it was. When I returned to the cabin I left the cabin steward a note requesting the removal of all items in the mini bar so we were not charged for anything else. He complied. As I stated, the cruise to Hawaii was relaxing, but on the cruise back it seemed as though the number of children doubled in size. I was told by another passenger that most of them were children of the crew, which I could not substantiate. I certainly hope that Holland America does not risk the loss of paying customers in this way. The unsupervised children took over the pool and all three of the hot tubs. At one time there was an elderly person with a noodle in the deep end of the pool and the kids were jumping in the water on both sides of him. Another time a child in the hot tub was splashing people as they practiced line dancing. The aft pool is for adults only, but it is outside and the air temperature stayed in the 50's and 60's. The aft pool should be for the children; it is even decorated for them. The shore excursions were organized and informative. The food in open seating was excellent on some nights, but bad on other nights. Service after the first night was excellent. We had Gede as our server after the first night and we requested him every night until the end of the cruise. We took a cruise to the Panama Canal a couple of years ago on the Zuiderdam and was very impressed with the food. I guess your can't judge by cruise lines, you have to judge each ship on it's own merit. The shows were good, especially the Oosterdam singers and dancers. I would have liked to see more of them. We were scheduled for disembarkation between 9:50 and 10:00 a.m. but were called around 9:10 and went directly off the ship. Easiest disembarkation ever. When I returned home I checked my credit card account online and was again charged $12.03 for the mini bar, that was empty since day four. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
DH and I are both in our late 60's with some mobility problems. We chose this 7-day trip as our "practice" cruise. This was DH's first cruise and my first cruise as an adult. Our cabin, VB 6080, was mid-ship and ... Read More
DH and I are both in our late 60's with some mobility problems. We chose this 7-day trip as our "practice" cruise. This was DH's first cruise and my first cruise as an adult. Our cabin, VB 6080, was mid-ship and close to the elevators. It was clean and had plenty of storage. Our stewards were friendly and accommodating. I had asked our TA to request a fan per a cruisecritic suggestion. It was in the room when we arrived and I never needed to use it. The AC and heat worked perfectly. And as everyone knows...the beds are super comfortable. We ate in the Pinnacle Grill, the Lido Buffet, the Canaletto and the Vista Dining Room where we had open-seating. The food was very good and so was the service. We always requested a table for 4 or 6 and had great visits with our variety of table-mates. Before I get labeled as a total "cheerleader"....I will report that one man had a tough piece of steak in the MDR (which he should have returned) and we will never forget our first breakfast when a lady at our table announced "it was the worst cruise ever". If I hadn't read months of pros and cons on cruisecritic....I might have take her seriously. Instead it was pretty funny...!!! I hadn't even considered signing up for any of the spa services. However, that very first day we toured thru the hydro-pool and the thermal spa room and purchased the one week program for $199, Laying in the hydro-pool was so relaxing. We also liked using the walk-in showers in the dressing rooms. Sure hope that was one-way glass....??? We watched a few shows, played bingo once, sunbathed on the observation deck, shopped in Puerto Vallarta and basically had a very nice cruise. Was every single thing perfect..?? No. I did see a worn spot in the Explorer's Lounge. Thought about taking a photo and posting it on youtube. Decided it really didn't spoil our cruise tho... The only thing I would do differently was when we were leaving the ship. They announced that wheelchair passengers should exit at another area and since we both use canes we proceeded to use the main gangway and it was really too steep. Luckily a nice HAL volunteer came to my rescue and helped me with my carry-on bag. Lesson learned. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
After some 15 cruises with Princess we have recently become unhappy with some of the changes be made by them and decided we would reach out to HAL and see if we could find a new home with them. We thought that they catered to an older and ... Read More
After some 15 cruises with Princess we have recently become unhappy with some of the changes be made by them and decided we would reach out to HAL and see if we could find a new home with them. We thought that they catered to an older and perhaps a more sophisticated demographic which we found to be quite incorrect. We looked forward to our Chirstmas cruise on the Oosterdam but unfortunately we left the ship quite disappointed. Likes: Friendly officers & crew Well trained and friendly PSD staff Easy Check in Meals generally tasty Breakfast dishes excellent Good buffet lines Complimentary after dinner specialty coffees albeit not brewed Linen hand towels in public restrooms Gents being handed jackets on formal nights Santa Gifts for children on Christmas Balcony furniture Table fully set in MDR Size and shape of coffee cups in MDR Brewed coffee in MDR and throughout the ship....free No steward carts in hallways Very comfortable beds Towel animals on bed each evening Full hot breakfast available from room service Wine stewards in MDR Not being hustled for drinks around pool areas Scooped ice-cream available free Juice available free in buffet Fully tiled cabin bathrooms Medicine chest in bathroom Glass holders in bathroom Adjustable table in cabin Coffee, tea, cookies set out for bridge players and CC meeting Dislikes: Tables in outdoor bars and buffet areas left un-bused and dirty for long periods Unexciting production shows Lack luster entertainment No Laundromat Closing of MDR on sea day for Mariner's luncheon MDR closed on port day, no help for H/C person in Lido buffet Very crowded MDR for dinner Dinner service extremely slow; dinners took full two hours each night Number of out of order fixtures in public restrooms bathroom Small atrium No refund of FCC after 4 years Very small accessible cabins No onboard wheel chairs for disabled; must rent at cost of $200 for 7 days Very limited shops and boutiques Crow's-nest Lounge used for too many activities...coffee bar, library, dance classes, trivia contests, internet lounge, meeting room...... Large columns blocking views in Vista Theatre Glasses and bottles in pool area Poor condition of Lido poolside lounges. Very limited cabin closet space Bath soap, shampoo and conditioner in dispensers Limited drawer space Very small ice buckets....ice melted before happy hour Cabin fridge used for mini-bar Wines more expensive than other lines Running out of pool towels in late afternoon Dinners often cool Meat often tough Smoking including cigars permitted Onboard activities poorly organized and equipped No note paper in cabin Dirty glasses not removed from cabin in evening. San Diego is such a poor terminal non US Citizens, including Canadians MUST report to USINS at 0645 with passports, not withstanding HAL and INS having passport and NEXUS information months ahead. Gentlemen allowed in MDR at diner in shorts and t-shirts. Read Less
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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