Sail Date: April 2005
Let me start by saying that this is my 11th cruise so I have a good idea on what to expect on a cruise. I'm 45 and my wife is 40. We usually sail Princess, so expect comparisons and no I don't work for them nor does anyone I ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this is my 11th cruise so I have a good idea on what to expect on a cruise. I'm 45 and my wife is 40. We usually sail Princess, so expect comparisons and no I don't work for them nor does anyone I know. We have been on NCL and RCL. We usually do at least one cruise a year. We decided to try HAL, the Oosterdam to Mexico, to break away from Princess to see how the other half lives so to speak. We soon discovered how good we have it on Princess. We had heard some good things about HAL and knew that it was more sedate and an older crowd. That was ok as we were looking for a very relaxing time. We also knew that dinner times were set as opposed to Princess where you dine when you want, anytime between 5:30 and 10pm. Boarding: When we got on the ship around noon, all cabins were off limits until 1:30 pm. You could check your carry on bags at a room but it was soon overrun so we had to carry or bags for about 1.5 hrs. This was a hassle especially trying to eat lunch. On Princess, we have always been able to go right to our cabin and drop our bags. If princess can do this on a ship of 2500, why can't HAL manage it on a ship of 1800? When I did get to my cabin, the bottle of JD I had preordered to be in my cabin was not there. After two complaints to the front desk, 3 hours apart, the bottle showed up after dinner. By the way, that bottle of JD cost me $54. The last time on Princess it cost me $27. The thing that really ticked me off about HAL is that they tried to sell me the same bottle to take off the ship for $17.95. Talk about feeling gouged. Cabins: Our cabin, a superior verandah suite, was very nice and the bathroom was great. One complaint about the cabin is that they use the fridge as a mini bar so you can't store anything in it. Also, the water temp in the shower kept alternating hot and cold. Very irritating. We had a DVD player and a 25 inch TV that were great. We also had a big balcony. Breakfast Lunch and Dinner: Breakfast in the Lido buffet was the usual fare but less of a selection than on other lines. The food is good, not great but no complaints about quality. Breakfast in the dining room was good but the service uneven. Be warned, the lower dining room at the back of the ship when under power vibrates a lot. Once I ordered smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel, got the salmon but no bagel. The coffee always was just luke warm. Lunch on the Lido buffet was the same as breakfast but only served between 11:30 - 2pm. At 2pm they were closed and the only thing you could get at that point was a slice of pizza warming under a heat lamp. On Princess, they have a true Pizzeria that you can order what you want. Dinner was fine, we had no complaints except for the strict dining times which we knew going in. We had first sitting, upstairs. Be warned they have a policy that you have 15 minutes to show up for dinner and then the doors are closed. While we had no complaints about the food or service in the dining room, we did meet a couple who had stopped going as two nights in a row their food showed up cold. The said they were frustrated. One last note, our wine steward Ruby was exceptional. She was friendly, never let our glass get empty and was the first person to greet us at our table most nights. We never dined at the Pinnacle Grill, but it seemed underutilized from what we saw. Maybe most people don't want to pay the extra $20 per person. Staff: The staff was very friendly and helpful although we didn't see our cabin steward much although he kept our cabin spotless and well stocked with fresh towels etc. We had one odd experience where 3 days out, a bartender asked us how our cruise was going. We said ok and he replied that many people had complained to him that the service and the food was not as good as it used to be and they were not returning to HAL. Maybe it's the one year contract they have to agree to. I think on Princess it's 6 months. Entertainment: The shows and musicians were ok. Our featured entertainer was a singer named Bobby Black. He was introduced at the beginning of his act as, "Straight from Las Vegas". You later find out that he doesn't perform there, he lives there. According to him, he spends 40 weeks a year on cruise ships. It's obvious why. The production shows are so so. The Northern Lights disco is odd in that it's tiny. Ship: The layout of the ship was fine for its size and was for the most part comfortable. One major complaint that was a complaint of many was the restrooms. Why in heavens name you would close the main restrooms right outside the dining room for cleaning an hour into dinner is beyond comprehension. This happened more than once. They also did this same routine outside the main show lounge one night as the show was letting out. People were furious. One night at dinner my wife had to use the restroom. The room outside the dining room was closed for cleaning. she then had to go halfway through the ship only to find that restroom out of order. She had to go one deck down to find an operating restroom. She returned absolutely furious. Whoever is in charge of this aspect of the ship should be replaced, that is if anyone is in charge of this. I have never, ever had this happen on any other ship. Ports of Call: Cabo was great. Go to Cabo Wabo, Sammy's place and get the Lobster tacos. WOW!. Mazatlan was good, go to Senior Frogs, you won't be disappointed. Puerto Vallarta was also fine. If you want to call home, get a phone card for $5 at most small stores and they work in the public phones. Shopping wise, it's the same tourist stuff in every store in every port. Final Misc: HAL like many lines now offer an unlimited soda card. Unless you consume massive quantities don't buy it. Bring your soda on with you or buy it in the ports and bring it back on. The card with gratuity added brings it over $40 a person. By comparison, Princess charged $22.50 a person last cruise. HAL also plays a little game in that they only give you the soda in a small glass, making you work for it. Again by comparison, Princess will give you a giant glass if you ask for it and also gives you a large refillable insulated container for free when you buy the card. Overall it seemed the staff was not happy and relaxed. Don't get me wrong, they were very friendly and helpful when serving or helping you but other than that they didn't smile a lot. They also didn't joke a lot or interact on their own with the passengers very much. Maybe that's a symptom of their long contract. It also seemed to me that there was less supervision of the staff. Our very candid bartender also told us that it was almost impossible to suspend or fire someone for bad service as they were so tight on staff that they couldn't be replaced. The cruise staff seemed very young and inexperienced. One morning upon meeting in the Vista lounge for our shore excursion, everyone was just told to go in and sit down and wait for their turn to be called. We were then told to follow a crew member to the tender deck, who half way down said he forgot his pen and left us going down stairs on our own. When we got to the bottom we didn't know where to go. By comparison, sorry, Princess has the room marked with signed sections like a concert, and plenty of staff to direct you and answer questions. In our room, there was nobody. All in all, HAL was not as polished, organized or well managed as other cruises I've been on. In my opinion they charge excessively for most items, are not as flexible as they could be as in the dining times etc., and don't take into account passenger comfort and convenience when planning events and ship maintenance. The last thing I will relate is that not one couple or person we talked to said they would return to HAL again. Reading this you may think that I've been too picky and just complaining about the small stuff. Well, it may all be small stuff but it adds up. I get precious little vacation time and when I spend the time, money and effort to cruise, it doesn't have to be perfect but it should be close. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
My wife and I sailed on the Oosterdam on March 4th, 2005. We opted for this cruise only because we wanted to try something different than the Caribbean. This was our 14th cruise and 12 of them have been in the Caribbean. The other was last ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Oosterdam on March 4th, 2005. We opted for this cruise only because we wanted to try something different than the Caribbean. This was our 14th cruise and 12 of them have been in the Caribbean. The other was last summer on the Maasdam to Canada-New England. This was our 5th HAL cruise and they've all been very good. This was the first time we upgraded to an SS room. We loved the room, especially the extra space. Also neat to have both a separate shower and bathtub and the two sinks made getting ready for dinner very easy. The friends we travelled with noted that there was a Holiday Inn right across the street from the pier so we booked there. The hotel is very good and reasonable. On embarkation day we were able to walk across the street to the ship which made the whole experience incredibly easy. As usual getting on board was pretty simple. We were on the ship by noon and attacking our first of many meals shortly thereafter. We did try to get into our room, but they closed all of the doors to the rooms so you couldn't get into the area. However by 1:30 the rooms were ready and so were we. The first night at sea proved to be rather exciting. We were only about five hours out when one of the passengers aboard got very sick. So much so they couldn't provide the necessary medical attention and so the ship turned around and headed back toward San Diego, although at a very slow pace. This was to help Air Ambulance come out to get the passenger. The helicopter hovered above the ship as the patient and subsequently their loved ones got into a helicopter for much needed medical attention back in San Diego. We were never told how the patient fared, but it made for an interesting view to see the chopper hovering above the ship. I've been told on earlier cruises that they actually have a morgue on all the ships. Our first full day was a day at sea and it was nice to have this day to get one's sea legs. Our first stop was in Cabo. Here we booked a trip with one of the local boats for a trip to the amazing rock formations. Should note we never (rarely) book trips via the cruise ships because they tend to be very expensive and you can get your own cruise on shore much cheaper and often times get much better service. We went into town as well. Not much to see here, although we stopped at a bar called Cabo Wabo which is owned by the lead singer of Van Halen. Next day it was off to Mazatlan. This was the only stop where we docked, the other two stops required us to hop on a tender. Here we again hired a local guide and for a price of 20 dollars a head (five in our party) we had the driver to ourselves all day. He took us around town which was fun. Not much to see here, but it was still a very nice day. Our final stop was in Puerto Vallarta. Again we hired a driver who took us around to all of the neat parts of town. There's a large development called El Cid where you can find some very expensive homes. We walked into one under construction that the builder told us was worth around 10 million dollars. The workmanship was something to behold. It seems in Mexico they build everything with cement, in one case even the entire bed, save the mattress. In PV we also toured the town, went past the home Richard Burton bought Liz Taylor. Of the three stops on this trip, this was the most scenic. Having toured the Caribbean I'd say that the Caribbean has more going for it than the Mexican side. The water was quite cool and you never saw anyone in the ocean. The last two days of this cruise are on board the ship. It is a beautiful ship and the service is outstanding. Our waiter was pretty quiet. Some say that the service is not as good as it used to be when you actually tipped the waiters. They now have this policy of adding 10 dollars per day per person to your bill. So there's a feeling that the waiters etc., don't have to impress you as much anymore. This might be true in some cases, but our guys were pretty good. The couple we cruised with hadn't cruised since the early '70s when they were on the Mardi Gras. They were impressed with both the ship and the staff. We went to the Pinnacle Grill one night and as usual the food was amazing. Although the crab cakes were the size of a quarter and there were only two of them. But I guess the massive porterhouse steak made up for it. For the first time on this ship I had a facial. Now I'm a man and they tell me that about 20 percent of the clients getting facials these days are men. It was nice and relaxing and made me look about 20 years younger -- yeah right! The entertainment did leave something to be desired. I've seen better high school productions. They did have one good act there, a singer by the name of Bobby Bland (sp?). He had great range. Too bad they kept him till the last night. He had some cute lines as well such as, "How many people like Country Music" (applause) "OK today's country is Italy." Then he said, "In '93 and '94 I wrote some number one songs for Garth Brooks and one day when I get up the nerve, I'll send them to him." He's one guy worth seeing. The only downside to taking a cruise out of San Diego is getting there. We live in Ontario Canada and flights are not that easy to come by. So we got off the ship around 9:30 on Saturday and after a long delay in Las Vegas finally got home around 9:30 Sunday morning. Another reason we prefer the Caribbean. Overall though it was a great cruise, great people. Oh and did I tell you that three weeks prior to our cruise, the dock staff in in San Diego did something that has never happened in HAL's 143-year history ... they accidentally dumped a bin with luggage into the San Diego harbour. I understand that divers had to be called in to retrieve it. Many of the customers never got their clothes back, washed and pressed until a day before the end of their cruise. Glad it didn't happen on our cruise. If you're thinking of cruising, this ship deserves consideration. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
HAL's Oosterdam March 26, 2005 - Very Long! We departed from Chicago on the day of departure which is rare for us. We were fortunate though that our flight left and arrived on time as it snowed in Chicago the night before we left. ... Read More
HAL's Oosterdam March 26, 2005 - Very Long! We departed from Chicago on the day of departure which is rare for us. We were fortunate though that our flight left and arrived on time as it snowed in Chicago the night before we left. Once we left the 26 degrees that Saturday morning we had a beautiful flight to San Diego where it was in the 70's when we landed. San Diego is an incredibly beautiful city and I wished that we had gone in at least a day early to tour this city. Transfer to pier: The port is only about a mile or so from the airport and takes about 10 minutes or less to get there. DO NOT take the large vans to the pier unless you are traveling as a single. We were told at the airport that the van would only cost us about $20 but when we got there we were charged $60!! Our return cab rides (3 cabs) only cost us $33 total including tips. Embarkation: When we arrived at the pier we were already a bit ticked due to the van situation and the entry to the pier didn't make matters any better. First you have to get your luggage checked in with the pier porters who were standing where people were trying to get out from the ship and others were standing to get on the ship. My husband is disabled and was getting pushed farther back by people trying to get ahead of us checking in. When it was out turn to get through security just to get to the embarkation building no one would let my husband through to check in and one man had the nerve to tell me "tough" when I said we were all together. Not a good way to start the trip. Not Holland America's fault, just the fault of one ignorant person. Holland does need to work on a better way to get people off the ship while others are trying to get on though. We went into the building after that and were directed on what papers needed to be filled out before you could get into line (bravo HAL!) and given a number for boarding the ship. We had all our papers in order already so we were directed to a line to check in at. The person who checked us in must have been new, lucky us. It took a very long time for her to be able to process us and take our pictures. We had been the first of our group to check in and the last to finish. Because my husband is disabled they allowed the three of us (Husband, Son, and Me) to board immediately. We skipped the picture taking and unfortunately the kid's club registration as they wanted us on and their wheelchair back. When they scanned my husband's card we were told to immediately go to the main deck and have his picture taken again as it was blank. I know that she took his picture when we checked in but something happened from that point until we boarded. I had brought on 5 bottles of Champagne for sail off in our cabin and wanted to check our carry on bags with that bag as well, but when we got to where we were told to go (Queen's Lounge) no one was there to take anything. At this point I was getting too cranky and didn't want to let it all ruin my first impressions of this cruise so away we went straight to the Sea View Bar. Within a short time I was feeling much better and able to get my vacation mood going again. We parked our things at the tables by the pool and decided we'd take care of his picture later. The views were beautiful from this point and the weather was postcard perfect! A little bit of food from the Lido and a few drinks and we were having a great time. At 1:30 the announcement was made that our cabins were ready and away we went! Cabin #8081 Category SS cabin: Our cabin was great. The beds are the best that we've ever had on a cruise! Very glad that we chose this category as anything smaller for 3 people would have been way too cramped. As it was, our daughter was in a Cat VD cabin with my Mother and Aunt and they were VERY squeezed for space. We had 2 twins that made up to a large queen or small king, plenty of room - did I mention how comfy they were? We had a sofa bed that made up into a single bed the same size as the sofa. If you have anyone larger that 6' this will be too short for them. My nephew is 6' 3" and his feet were on the table at the end of the bed. There were also 2 desk areas, one with a large mirror and the other with a window out to the balcony. The bathroom has double sinks, a separate shower and a whirlpool bathtub. The closet has 2 areas for hanging clothes and one with selves and the safe. Both desks have drawers and the stool at the desk is hollow for storing items as well. The balcony has 2 chairs with ottomans and a table in between and then a round wood table with two chairs. We had side by side cabins with my Sister and Family (3 also) and we immediately had the cabin steward open the divider for us. We never felt crowded even when we had our sail away party. Our cabin steward was Hilman and he was wonderful! Always was able to accommodate our requests. We rate the cabins a 10! Muster drill: Muster was at 4:15 and was typical of most cruise lines. Put your life jacket on before leaving the room so that you don't trip on anything. Didn't take long maybe 15 minutes. Sail away: We had our party in the cabin prior to muster so we chose to go to the Lido Pool where the band was playing. There were the typical drinks and waiters walking around with tasty little bites. Space was limited so go early and get seats if you need them. Sailing out of San Diego was beautiful. As I have said earlier, it's a beautiful city. We went up a level to get some pictures and then back to our cabins to enjoy some peace and quiet as we left the bay area. As we were getting ready for dinner we were treated to a gorgeous sunset and then off to dinner. Dining Room: We had table 207 lower level at 6:15. Good location able to see a lot as it's elevated and center. We also had members of our group surrounding us for 4 tables total. The table for 2 was squeezed between the serving station and some sort of stone wall & storage area. They were moved to another location the next night. The food was great during this cruise but it seems the servers are covering too many tables. Good luck if you want refills on water or coffee. We had to ask for water refills each night and never got refills on coffee. Small point but irritating. Our last morning at sea we ate in the dining room for breakfast. We received our initial cup of coffee and I asked for refills 3 times and never got any. It was only once I got up and walked over to the serving station to pour a cup for myself did anyone pay attention. The best service that we got was the night we went to the Lido for dinner. We saw people wearing pretty much anything you want but no swimwear. We seemed over-dressed. You take a tray for the soup and appetizer and then place your order for the main course. Find yourself a table and they bring the main course to you. You can get up and get your own dessert and there was someone always near by for sodas, water, wine or beer. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed eating there - I'm a dining room person when it comes to dinner. As I said earlier, the food was very good on this cruise and I have no complaints with that, just the service in the dining room. I did however, LOVE the assistant Maitre d' Reineir (spelling?) who was always near to assist if needed during the meals. No matter when we ate or where we ate, he seemed to be there! Always seemed to know us and had time to ask how our day was. Unfortunately the rest of the dining room staff that we encountered were not like this. But do not take this as a reason not to sail on this ship. It may have been a fluke and we dealt with it just fine. Cabo San Lucas: I woke up early this day and was able to see us sailing into the harbour. Incredibly beautiful! We sailed down the coast and right past Los Arcos, which you can see from the ship as you anchor there. We took the Land's End & Scenic Tour which was worth the money. We took the tender to the pier and boarded a boat that took us out along the stretch of beaches out to Los Arcos, we stayed in that area while they played a recording from the Cousteau Society regarding this area which was nice to hear. We saw Sea Lion's and then went around the point as certain areas were pointed out. As we turned to go back around the point and back to the harbor we were suddenly surrounded by dolphins swimming and jumping out all around us. I was in heaven! I tried to get pictures but was laughing and shooting at the same time so that didn't work so well!! When we got back we were then taken by van to Giorgio's Restaurant which has an incredible view of the bay. Once we got back we went to the ship for a quick bite to eat and then took the kids back into town. Found my nephew coming back from their fishing trip with a 95 pound Marlin! What an experience for him! After that had to take my now legal daughter to Cabo Wabo Cantina for her first drink. Fun place, great atmosphere, and reasonable drinks. This was a great day for us! Mazatlan: WOW! This was the day for my son and me! We did Randi's Happy Horses and I have to say if you are thinking about riding anywhere in the Mexican Riviera, do it here with her! I have a whole description on http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=160408 That pretty well describes the trip which is well worth the $45 per person cost! When we went to the next port we were surprised to see the condition of the horses that they used. I'm very glad we went with Randi. After Randi's we went and sat in the little shopping square they have and had a few Margarita's and listened to the Mexican music and the Flamenco dancers. We hated to go back to the ship that day. I could have stayed there forever! Puerto Vallarta: We again tendered at this port and considering the steep steps at the pier I was concerned that my husband (with MS) would not be able to get off the tender. Not to worry, those HAL guys are so good, quick, and all without making a fuss or calling attention to his disability which is a wonderful thing! Our tour was Off The Beaten Track. We spent most of the time on the van traveling around PV. We did make stops at the Guadalupe Church, Gringo Gulch and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's homes when they were filming Night of the Iguana. These were in poor condition and we were a bit shocked that they were not maintained better. We also stopped for a bathroom and refreshment break and then back into town for a very quick shopping stop and then back to the ship. We were there for spring/Easter break and it was very crowded and due to all the noise bustle and rush, we enjoyed this port the least. Our last two days were spent at sea which we used to work on our tans and just relax. The weather was perfect all but the last day at sea. Disembarkation: No problem here either! They give you bag tags and numbers based on your departure time. You can wait in your cabins and order room service until your number is called. It didn’t take too long to get off the ship but I think they called too many numbers all at once, again minor but could use some improvement. Found our bags very easy and then out to get cabs and fly home. Can’t believe how quick that week went by again! All in all, this was a fantastic trip, ship, and people on board were wonderful. We have made a lot of new friends with other passengers and I hope that our paths cross again some day! I hope all our voyages go this smoothly in the future! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
This is my first attempt at writing a review and I feel obligated to do so because I've gained so much useful information from reading the reviews of others. First, some personal information: I am 60-years-old and my wife is, well, ... Read More
This is my first attempt at writing a review and I feel obligated to do so because I've gained so much useful information from reading the reviews of others. First, some personal information: I am 60-years-old and my wife is, well, younger. This is our fifth cruise, the second to the Mexican Riviera and the first on Holland America Lines. We loved it! The ship was not only beautiful but well maintained and the mostly-Indonesian crew was absolutely magnificent. From our room steward, Agus, to our head-waiter, Zaini, and his assistant, Jaswadi, the service we received from them and other Oosterdam crew members was uniformly wonderful. We would sail HAL again in a heartbeat and we would highly recommend HAL to others. The food in the main dining room was great and served in very generous portions but if we were still hungry we were always offered more. The jumbo shrimp cocktail appetizer was my favorite. The entertainment was also great. We had three rotating acts. The ship's singers/dancers performed two tributes, one to rock-and-roll and one to Broadway musicals. They were joined in the rotation by an extremely talented singer named Bobby Black and a fabulous comedian/juggler named Barnaby, a former college English literature professor who decided one day to take the road less traveled. Our itinerary was Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. The only tour we took was the combination Land's End and scenic drive in Cabo. In both Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta—which, by the way, is by far my favorite place in Mexico—we shopped and sampled the local beverages. There were a few bumps in the road. They were minor—some might even say petty—annoyances that in no way effected our enjoyment of the cruise. I mention them only because others may benefit from knowing about them. We had a mini-fridge in our cabin but it was crammed full of beer, hard liquor and water that HAL charged you for consuming. Bottom line, you had a fridge in your cabin that couldn't be used to keep anything of yours cold because there was no free space. Worse yet, HAL locked the fridge on the fourth day of the cruise. Disembarking was, for us, both good and bad. Customs cleared the first group of passengers at 8:30 and we were off the ship by 8:45. Pretty good! Unfortunately only one of our two bags was dockside. The missing bag problem, we found out, was caused by the color-coded luggage tag system used by many, if not all, of the cruise lines to identify the luggage of the various groups of departing passengers. We were given ivory-colored tags and one of our bags was inadvertently put with the yellow-colored tags. No big problem, except for the fact that US Customs hadn't cleared the yellow-tagged luggage and we had a plane to catch. We were lucky because the yellow-tagged luggage was cleared about 30 minutes after we got off the ship and we were able to find our other bag and get to the airport. One final thought: This was our first trip to San Diego and the little we saw of the city was beautiful. If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
Just got back two days ago from a week on the Oosterdam, and wanted to enter my impressions while it was still fresh. What a great week! My wife and I (mid-late 40's) traveled with another couple and our 2 teenage daughters (1 each). ... Read More
Just got back two days ago from a week on the Oosterdam, and wanted to enter my impressions while it was still fresh. What a great week! My wife and I (mid-late 40's) traveled with another couple and our 2 teenage daughters (1 each). We had been on the Norwegian Sun with them 2 years ago so knew they were compatible cruising companions. This is our 4th cruise overall, second on HAL. This ship is superbly appointed. I would love to have most of the furniture in my house. Lots of leather and classic though modern design, and uniformly comfortable. Truly a first-rate impression (with the possible exception of the atrium, which crossed the line into 21st century cruise ship/bordello, although not as much as some ships I've seen). Also appreciate the effort to make the exterior look like a ship, rather than a sideways office tower. On to category by category: Embarkation In a word, the best I've experienced. Was helped somewhat by staying immediately across the street in the Holiday Inn at the Bay--our room's balcony directly faced the bow of the ship while in port, not more than 500 yards away. Amazing. All we had to do was shoulder our bags and walk across the street into the terminal building--no cab or shuttle necessary. The only drawback was that this hotel was the noisiest I've ever been in. No wall insulation, apparently, and could hear every car go by on Harbor Drive below. That, combined with concrete beds, made the first night on the ship true nirvana (more on that later). Once in the terminal building (we were there about 11:30 am) we walked right up to the check-in counter (no lines at all--there were numerous stations) and were on the ship by 12 noon, in the cabin by 3:00. Which leads us to: Cabin--5087, standard Verandah stateroom The good: a) OUTSTANDING, larger-than-queen bed, superb linens. Slept better than I do at home; b) roomy bathroom, with a decently sized (i.e., non-mini) tub and shower, good water pressure, plenty of shelves and storage; c) average sized balcony, but full adult sized, comfortable chairs (unlike Norwegian); d) tasteful, upscale decor. The ok: Storage. There are more storage areas than you first think, but several were full of extra blankets and such that required consolidation before usefulness. The bad: a) Get the TV up off the desk. It's a nice, big 20 incher, but it takes up half the desk--attach it to the wall, please; b) because of the large main bed, the foldout sleeper is loveseat sized and so folds out lengthwise (rather than the full sofa sized sleeper on Norwegian that folded out one cushion wide and saved on floor space), making it almost impossible to get to the balcony or open the fridge with the bed out--literally only about 6 inches between the bed and the desk; c) a nit, but bugged me: the reading lights are built into the wall only about 6 inches off the bed, below pillow level--not the best location. Fitness and Recreation Outstanding spa--everything you could ask for. Comprehensive workout facility, peaceful and spacious massage rooms, amazing 10 by 10 stainless hydropool, ceramic heated lounges, nice looking salon. First class. Dining Our first night meal at the Pinnacle was, by consensus, one of the best meals we've ever had, anywhere, not just on a cruise ship (and we live in Chicago, with no shortage of great restaurants). Even the coffee was terrific. The main dining room was also quite nice, with a good variety (like the nightly "comfort food" option), and nice presentation. Waiter Yohannis was pleasant and very accommodating. Wasn't crazy about having to look at the serving stations (we were between two), but I suppose there's nothing to be done about that. Nice to have 4 dinner times (5:45, 6:15, 8:00 and 8:30) on the upper and lower levels--we had 8 pm upper. The Lido buffets were great for lunch--deli sandwiches, Italian, Asian, full lunch, burgers/brats, taco bar; and for breakfast--continental with lots of fresh fruit, muffins, cereals and danish, omelet stations, and full breakfast with french toast, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. You can also get a full dinner in the Lido if you don't want to dress up, with many of the main entree options the same as the dining room. Much better than average cruise food, in my opinion. Entertainment Have to agree with the other reviewers on this; not the best. The comedians were very entertaining, and singer Bobby Black had a fine, effortless voice that adapted to a variety of songs, but the ship's company of singers and dancers was of only average talent at best and the productions way too cheesy for my taste. The hit of the cruise, it appeared, was the Oosterdam Idol competition, which pitted the passengers against each other in sort of a grand karaoke format. The final packed the Vista showstage and was the talk of the ship, but the whole thing didn't do much for me, personally--I hate karaoke. Ports Cabo: Tendered in; short ride, very efficiently organized (unlike Norwegian). Very pretty area at first look, quaint and resorty. We had rented a van to drive between the two main towns that make up Los Cabos, but upon arrival at the Dollar rent a car counter in town we were told sorry senor, your car is at the airport and won't be here for an hour, would you care to wait? Which was the same line the people in front of us got, but as they were in town for 11 days it probably didn't matter to them. We however said adios and headed to the beach, which we got to by walking behind the facade of the town, through a grungy neighborhood, next to trash-strewn lots and a half-finished shopping mall. Once at the beach, which was quite nice, we spent several hours fending off the constant stream of roving junk-sellers, to the point that I wanted one of them to tattoo "No, gracias" on my chest. Welcome to Mexico. Mazatlan: My wife was sick as a result of eating a bad burrito in Cabo the previous day, so we stayed on board while the other couple and the girls went sightseeing. It was a great, restful day, and there were no interesting excursions in Mazatlan anyway. Puerto Vallarta: Tendered in again (the Carnival Pride was at the only dock) and did a great excursion, boat trip through Vallarta Adventures out to the Marietas islands for snorkeling, dolphin watching (didn't see any), and beach visiting. The crew was very energetic, funny and helpful, the boat comfortable, and the destinations fascinating, although the water was pretty cold for snorkeling. After a quick shower we went back into town for some sightseeing. As in Cabo, the main street is charming and scenic, with a lovely boardwalk along the water's edge right across from the stores, but go one or two streets back and it gets cruddy again. Overall The shipboard part of the trip was great; the shoreside part not so hot. The ports were interesting, but I was glad to be staying in a place that could leave there, and have no desire to back to any of them, unlike the Caribbean. Shipboard was restful (mostly hung out on the forward Observation deck, where there were numerous wonderful padded teak deck chairs), with few interruptions from roving bar waiters (unlike Norwegian) which was a welcome relief after the Cabo experience. Disembarkation was without drama; you could wait in your cabin until your group was called--a nice touch, no congregating in the common rooms. I would travel HAL again anytime--a truly great ship. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
This being my 32nd cruise and 4th with HAL. The Oosterdam is a family oriented ship and what it does it does well. We traveled the week of Spring Break and the ship was packed - 2100 passengers, it seemed like they were all well-behaved ... Read More
This being my 32nd cruise and 4th with HAL. The Oosterdam is a family oriented ship and what it does it does well. We traveled the week of Spring Break and the ship was packed - 2100 passengers, it seemed like they were all well-behaved children. I didn't mind all the children as HAL has an excellent program for the younger crowd. The ship did not have that "overcrowded" feel. This is a 4-star (out of six stars) ship. That doesn't mean you can't have a 6-star vacation! It is a cruise ship fit for your family and not about luxury. HAL has tried to position itself as a premier line, but for the "middle class" Celebrity Cruises just does it better. Instead of writing about the destinations and such I'll just put my own views of the pros and cons of the ship. There are a great many well-done reviews of Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Pros: Food - better than all of the other middle class cruise lines Lido - Fine choices, but some of the Oriental dishes (?) I have never had before and I am Oriental. As an example - Miso soup without Miso and tastes like mushroom soup Crow's Nest - nicely appointed, comfortable setting San Diego Embarkation Port - allows a full day in Cabo San Lucas vs. a half day out of Los Angeles Bands - Cruise Control and Take Five are excellent Windstar Lounge - coffee! Decent, but slow service Casino - You can play for awhile and lose slower than on most other cruise lines Cruise Director and staff - young and good Clean - can be repeated again and again. Clean is good Staff - friendly, but overworked Elevators - glass outdoor ones! Short skirts are fine if you are not shy Cons: Service - Just calling it light is a compliment. Wait in line, get your own coffee in Lido. Lack of assistant waiters making some meals agonizingly long. Really I can't believe that HAL can get away with such light staffing. I felt the same way on the Rhyndam two years previously. Head waiters need a bit more seasoning (nuff said). Tender waits - overly long, longer, time to take a nap Entertainment - no orchestra/big band, shows not worth seeing. Indonesian staff show!? Embarrassing. I don't want to comment on this poorly done, but sometimes ok show. Cheap labor! Cheap! Okay - low cost. Disco - small dance floor with a huge column in the center of the floor. Unbelievable bad design. Spa - pay $15 a day to use the service. A first! Ambiance - Carnival plus Internet - I don't mind paying for quality, but paying by the minute when speeds are slower than dial-up is just bad business. Drink prices - smuggle your own Decor - Carnival plus Captain's Party - boring!!!!! Band? No big band! Dance on a postage stamp floor - so you don't dance. Photo prices - bring your own camera, better yet - bring your own cameraperson. Conclusion: Fine family vacation. Fine ship. As always could be better. Solidly 4-star. Put it this way, Crystal, Radisson, Cunard are 5-6 star ships. How can HAL be higher? Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
HAL's Oosterdam March 26, 2005 - Very Long! We departed from Chicago on the day of departure which is rare for us. We were fortunate though that our flight left and arrived on time as it snowed in Chicago the night before we left. ... Read More
HAL's Oosterdam March 26, 2005 - Very Long! We departed from Chicago on the day of departure which is rare for us. We were fortunate though that our flight left and arrived on time as it snowed in Chicago the night before we left. Once we left the 26 degrees that Saturday morning we had a beautiful flight to San Diego where it was in the 70's when we landed. San Diego is an incredibly beautiful city and I wished that we had gone in at least a day early to tour this city. Transfer to pier: The port is only about a mile or so from the airport and takes about 10 minutes or less to get there. DO NOT take the large vans to the pier unless you are traveling as a single. We were told at the airport that the van would only cost us about $20 but when we got there we were charged $60!! Our return cab rides (3 cabs) only cost us $33 total including tips. Embarkation: When we arrived at the pier we were already a bit ticked due to the van situation and the entry to the pier didn't make matters any better. First you have to get your luggage checked in with the pier porters who were standing where people were trying to get out from the ship and others were standing to get on the ship. My husband is disabled and was getting pushed farther back by people trying to get ahead of us checking in. When it was out turn to get through security just to get to the embarkation building no one would let my husband through to check in and one man had the nerve to tell me "tough" when I said we were all together. Not a good way to start the trip. Not Holland America's fault, just the fault of one ignorant person. Holland does need to work on a better way to get people off the ship while others are trying to get on though. We went into the building after that and were directed on what papers needed to be filled out before you could get into line (bravo HAL!) and given a number for boarding the ship. We had all our papers in order already so we were directed to a line to check in at. The person who checked us in must have been new, lucky us. It took a very long time for her to be able to process us and take our pictures. We had been the first of our group to check in and the last to finish. Because my husband is disabled they allowed the three of us (Husband, Son, and Me) to board immediately. We skipped the picture taking and unfortunately the kid's club registration as they wanted us on and their wheelchair back. When they scanned my husband's card we were told to immediately go to the main deck and have his picture taken again as it was blank. I know that she took his picture when we checked in but something happened from that point until we boarded. I had brought on 5 bottles of Champagne for sail off in our cabin and wanted to check our carry on bags with that bag as well, but when we got to where we were told to go (Queen's Lounge) no one was there to take anything. At this point I was getting too cranky and didn't want to let it all ruin my first impressions of this cruise so away we went straight to the Sea View Bar. Within a short time I was feeling much better and able to get my vacation mood going again. We parked our things at the tables by the pool and decided we'd take care of his picture later. The views were beautiful from this point and the weather was postcard perfect! A little bit of food from the Lido and a few drinks and we were having a great time. At 1:30 the announcement was made that our cabins were ready and away we went! Cabin #8081 Category SS cabin: Our cabin was great. The beds are the best that we've ever had on a cruise! Very glad that we chose this category as anything smaller for 3 people would have been way too cramped. As it was, our daughter was in a Cat VD cabin with my Mother and Aunt and they were VERY squeezed for space. We had 2 twins that made up to a large queen or small king, plenty of room - did I mention how comfy they were? We had a sofa bed that made up into a single bed the same size as the sofa. If you have anyone larger that 6' this will be too short for them. My nephew is 6' 3" and his feet were on the table at the end of the bed. There were also 2 desk areas, one with a large mirror and the other with a window out to the balcony. The bathroom has double sinks, a separate shower and a whirlpool bathtub. The closet has 2 areas for hanging clothes and one with selves and the safe. Both desks have drawers and the stool at the desk is hollow for storing items as well. The balcony has 2 chairs with ottomans and a table in between and then a round wood table with two chairs. We had side by side cabins with my Sister and Family (3 also) and we immediately had the cabin steward open the divider for us. We never felt crowded even when we had our sail away party. Our cabin steward was Hilman and he was wonderful! Always was able to accommodate our requests. We rate the cabins a 10! Muster drill: Muster was at 4:15 and was typical of most cruise lines. Put your life jacket on before leaving the room so that you don't trip on anything. Didn't take long maybe 15 minutes. Sail away: We had our party in the cabin prior to muster so we chose to go to the Lido Pool where the band was playing. There were the typical drinks and waiters walking around with tasty little bites. Space was limited so go early and get seats if you need them. Sailing out of San Diego was beautiful. As I have said earlier, it's a beautiful city. We went up a level to get some pictures and then back to our cabins to enjoy some peace and quiet as we left the bay area. As we were getting ready for dinner we were treated to a gorgeous sunset and then off to dinner. Dining Room: We had table 207 lower level at 6:15. Good location able to see a lot as it's elevated and center. We also had members of our group surrounding us for 4 tables total. The table for 2 was squeezed between the serving station and some sort of stone wall & storage area. They were moved to another location the next night. The food was great during this cruise but it seems the servers are covering too many tables. Good luck if you want refills on water or coffee. We had to ask for water refills each night and never got refills on coffee. Small point but irritating. Our last morning at sea we ate in the dining room for breakfast. We received our initial cup of coffee and I asked for refills 3 times and never got any. It was only once I got up and walked over to the serving station to pour a cup for myself did anyone pay attention. The best service that we got was the night we went to the Lido for dinner. We saw people wearing pretty much anything you want but no swimwear. We seemed over-dressed. You take a tray for the soup and appetizer and then place your order for the main course. Find yourself a table and they bring the main course to you. You can get up and get your own dessert and there was someone always near by for sodas, water, wine or beer. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed eating there - I'm a dining room person when it comes to dinner. As I said earlier, the food was very good on this cruise and I have no complaints with that, just the service in the dining room. I did however, LOVE the assistant Maitre d' Reineir (spelling?) who was always near to assist if needed during the meals. No matter when we ate or where we ate, he seemed to be there! Always seemed to know us and had time to ask how our day was. Unfortunately the rest of the dining room staff that we encountered were not like this. But do not take this as a reason not to sail on this ship. It may have been a fluke and we dealt with it just fine. Cabo San Lucas: I woke up early this day and was able to see us sailing into the harbor. Incredibly beautiful! We sailed down the coast and right past Los Arcos, which you can see from the ship as you anchor there. We took the Land’s End & Scenic Tour which was worth the money. We took the tender to the pier and boarded a boat that took us out along the stretch of beaches out to Los Arcos, we stayed in that area while they played a recording from the Cousteau Society regarding this area which was nice to hear. We saw Sea Lion’s and then went around the point as certain areas were pointed out. As we turned to go back around the point and back to the harbor we were suddenly surrounded by dolphins swimming and jumping out all around us. I was in heaven! I tried to get pictures but was laughing and shooting at the same time so that didn’t work so well!! When we got back we were then taken by van to Giorgio’s Restaurant which has an incredible view of the bay. Once we got back we went to the ship for a quick bite to eat and then took the kids back into town. Found my nephew coming back from their fishing trip with a 95 pound Marlin! What an experience for him! After that had to take my now legal daughter to Cabo Wabo Cantina for her first drink. Fun place, great atmosphere, and reasonable drinks. This was a great day for us! Mazatlan: WOW! This was the day for my son and me! We did Randi’s Happy Horses and I have to say if you are thinking about riding anywhere in the Mexican Riviera, do it here with her! I have a whole description on http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=160408 That pretty well describes the trip which is well worth the $45 per person cost! When we went to the next port we were surprised to see the condition of the horses that they used. I’m very glad we went with Randi. After Randi’s we went and sat in the little shopping square they have and had a few Margarita’s and listened to the Mexican music and the Flamenco dancers. We hated to go back to the ship that day. I could have stayed there forever! Puerto Vallarta: We again tendered at this port and considering the steep steps at the pier I was concerned that my husband (with MS) would not be able to get off the tender. Not to worry, those HAL guys are so good, quick, and all without making a fuss or calling attention to his disability which is a wonderful thing! Our tour was Off The Beaten Track. We spent most of the time on the van traveling around PV. We did make stops at the Guadeloupe Church, Gringo Gulch and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s homes when they were filming Night of the Iguana. These were in poor condition and we were a bit shocked that they were not maintained better. We also stopped for a bathroom and refreshment break and then back into town for a very quick shopping stop and then back to the ship. We were there for spring/Easter break and it was very crowded and due to all the noise bustle and rush, we enjoyed this port the least. Our last two days were spent at sea which we used to work on our tans and just relax. The weather was perfect all but the last day at sea. Disembarkation: No problem here either! They give you bag tags and numbers based on your departure time. You can wait in your cabins and order room service until your number is called. It didn’t take too long to get off the ship but I think they called too many numbers all at once, again minor but could use some improvement. Found our bags very easy and then out to get cabs and fly home. Can’t believe how quick that week went by again! All in all, this was a fantastic trip, ship, and people on board were wonderful. We have made a lot of new friends with other passengers and I hope that our paths cross again some day! I hope all our voyages go this smoothly in the future! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
This is my second cruise with Holland America. My first cruise was on the smaller ship ms Zaandam. The Oosterdam is a much larger ship and sometimes a little confusing. However after the second day I was able to navigate the ship with ... Read More
This is my second cruise with Holland America. My first cruise was on the smaller ship ms Zaandam. The Oosterdam is a much larger ship and sometimes a little confusing. However after the second day I was able to navigate the ship with little difficulty. The staff and crew were pleasant and unobtrusive. The food and services were impeccable. I was a little thrown by the new $10/ per day per person gratuity that was automatically put on my ship board bill. I was also a little disenchanted with the constant offering of alcohol. (The alcohol, if accepted was also added to the ship board bill.) I am not a drinker and at times I felt pressured and besieged to buy the alcoholic beverages that seemed to be EVERYWHERE on board. After avoiding the Jello/vodka shooters, I had a wonderful time. The comedian, a woman named Janine, was not funny and her jokes had sexual content that was not appropriate for the the majority of the audience. I observed many people grimacing in embarrassment and looking decidedly uncomfortable rather than laughing. I was wondering if Holland America screens the acts for their floor shows. I large group of us found this comedian's humor to be in poor taste and racist/sexist in nature. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
Sailing on the Oosterdam was an exceptionally pleasant experience. Within the past year, I have also sailed with Celebrity and SilverSea, and the Oosterdam provided the most value for the dollar and the most comfortable, well designed ... Read More
Sailing on the Oosterdam was an exceptionally pleasant experience. Within the past year, I have also sailed with Celebrity and SilverSea, and the Oosterdam provided the most value for the dollar and the most comfortable, well designed stateroom of all. We booked a Deluxe Veranda Suite on Rotterdam Deck, and it was outstanding in every way...spotless, extremely comfortable beds, an expansive veranda with wonderful furniture, a spacious, well-designed bathroom with two enclosed medicine cabinets at either end of the double sink vanity, a dressing room which can be closed off from the main cabin using a drape, a wall of windows/doors which allow views of the sea, and excellent closets which contain shelves that can be "dropped" to provide shelf storage if you wish. The entry level suite on SilverSea is prettier, but does not function as well, and the veranda is useless as it is crowded with large furniture, which drops off the small teak deck area. On Celebrity, the veranda is large, but the furniture on the Galaxy was not particularly comfortable and had seen better days. (Note: Do not book a veranda stateroom beside the glass elevators, because passengers on the elevators can gaze right onto your veranda.) Service aboard the Oosterdam was outstanding. Without exception, the staff were welcoming and helpful, especially so in the Concierge Lounge on Rotterdam Deck, where food lovely food is available most of the day. Overall, the food is fine, but not outstanding. I do think that the buffet food is superior to Celebrity by far. One can always make a nice salad by visiting the various food stations throughout the Lido Buffet Restaurant. The Lido is open most of the day and also serves limited food quite late. The public rooms are varied in decor, with some rather glitzy and other understated. There are numerous lovely lounges throughout the ship. The real stars, however, are the outdoor, teak, wrap-around decks, which provide numerous areas to relax on lovely teak, padded, deck chairs. The decks which wrap all the way around the ship provide wonderful space for walking, and we saw many people taking advantage of them on the lovely evenings on board. Even though the ship was full, there was enough deck space for everyone. It never seemed crowded. The cruise director was the simply the best. Entertainment was also fine. It's not Las Vegas, but perfectly acceptable. Peter Daems, the cruise director, was a superlative host at the opening and closing of each show. My son, who is 28, enjoyed this ship more than any other he has experienced. We were surprised at how much we liked Holland America, and have booked another cruise on the Oosterdam for next year. We know we will be able to board at about 11:30AM and may remain in our stateroom the morning we disembark until our group is called. We will even have the option of ordering a hot room service breakfast the day we depart, and it will come hot, because heavy, metal heated servers will be positioned under the china plates. It will also be served on time by a courteous staff member. What a cruise line! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
My wife and I have cruised a few times already - some starter cruises out of LA and a week-long cruise to Alaska. We have been on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Embarkation: This was relatively effortless. We live in San Diego, ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised a few times already - some starter cruises out of LA and a week-long cruise to Alaska. We have been on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Embarkation: This was relatively effortless. We live in San Diego, so my brother dropped us off at the dock. There were plenty of staff there to help us figure out where to go. The line moved relatively quickly, and we were on the ship in short order. Unfortunately, with rare exception this was the last decent service we received until we returned to San Diego. See "Service" for complete details. Dining: The food was excellent, better than on past cruises. Of special note was Pinnacle, which was a top-notch experience in every aspect. Public Rooms: The rooms were OK, nothing special. There were quite a few small hallways that became quite clogged before/after meals, but the seats were all comfortable. Entertainment: In the main room, generally a dud. Only one of the four primary singers were decent, and there was only one good showgirl - and we learned that both were leaving when their contract was up a few weeks later. The alternate musicians were all pretty good, except for Larry the piano man's singing - stick to the piano. Cabin: The appointments were very nice. The bed was heavenly, and it was nice to have a tub. There wasn't much room for our own toiletries and the shower was dark because of the design of the curtain track. We did get some noise from when they were testing the mechanisms of the life boats (right outside our window), but it's good to make sure they work. :) Otherwise not much noise. Our room was categorized "partially obstructed view" because of the boats, but it was good enough for us - we could see the ocean and ports in the center third of the window. Fitness & Recreation (Optional): We each got a massage, and we found the staff to be professional. I also took advantage of the Thermal Suite and Thalassotherapy Pool for our first day at sea - I spent all day there and it was awesome. Service: I will start with our dining room service. Cruise Ships should all have top-notch service. Their ratings are generally from four stars to six stars, indicating top levels of everything. We have eaten in some of the finest restaurants in Europe, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas - we know the appropriate level of service. There were several key elements that raise service up to the expected heights of refinement that were missing - service was slow and inattentive, silverware was not cleared when appropriate, our napkins were not placed when we arrived at the table, our drinks were not refilled (we even had to refill our own wine glasses), service was not delivered and cleared from the proper side, and servers reached over other diners to deliver or clear place settings. These types of items seem like minor details, and many cruisers (especially first timers) would not even notice them, but they are key elements that make the difference between Coco's and Morton's of Chicago. Of much greater concern were the dining room service elements that would raise alarm even in a restaurant such as Coco's. We had food and drink orders that were forgotten, so we had to request them two or three times before they were delivered. The dirty plates were left on the table even as the next courses were being served. We did not receive food we ordered, and we received food that we did not ask for (the wrong meat dish, the wrong soup, the wrong starch side). Once I asked for skim milk and got whole milk mixed with water (yes, I can tell the difference). One time they neglected to take my order altogether. A final key difference between other ships was the friendliness. On other ships, the dining stewards were extremely outgoing and friendly. They were always talking and joking with us. The Oosterdam dining stewards were all very quiet and stoic, their smiles seemed forced and they were unenthusiastic about anything they were doing. However, I do not believe this was an isolated incident related to our individual wait staff. We experienced similar issues when we sat at other tables (with different servers) for the lunches at sea. This leads me to believe that the issues I encountered are across the entire dining room staff. Also, there was clearly not enough staff in the dining room. The 2nd Maitre D' who was responsible for our area came over every night to say hello, and ended up personally taking care of some element of our service that had been skipped - clearing dirty dishes, getting a plate of food that had not been delivered, repouring the wine. The staff in this dining room had too many responsibilities besides taking care of the guests, and the service suffered as a result. From talking to the staff, I believe that there were many emotional problems that were distracting them and keeping their minds off away from executing on the level of service we were expecting. Considering how many of the dining room stewards are from Indonesia, this does not surprise me. I fully understand that they have all signed contracts to work for a specific period of time, but Holland America's management should have taken better care of their mental health. It is the humane thing to make sure your employees are happy, or to release their contracts in extraordinary cases. Unfortunately, we encountered multiple other issues with the staff & crew of the Oosterdam, which leads us to believe that there is a systemic problem in training and/or motivation. The issues I can remember included: • Many employees were taking their breaks, still in uniform, in public areas of the ship. These chairs and lounges should be reserved for the paying customers, since I know (from speaking with current and past cruise ship employees) that the crew have their own lounges. • The crew doors were left open. I do not mean briefly when loading supplies from the holding area to the bar (and even that should not occur, the porter should close the door immediately after passing through). I mean extended time, when I'm walking up the hallway along the Queen's lounge or the Explorer's bar and the door is wide open with nobody around. • Employees were using the public elevators. There were times when they were carting around supplies in the main elevators, to the point that no guests were able to get on. I know there are dumb waiters and elevators inside the crew area, because I was able to see them through all the open crew doors. • We were still in the showroom when the crew turned on the house lights, opened the curtains, and began to take down the set. My wife and I have both worked in theater - you should NEVER take down the set with audience members still present. Also, it was very distracting to see members of the theater crew sitting in the light/sound booth, dancing the hula along with the dance troupe. • We also had some problems with our room steward. First off, his English did not pass muster. We were not able to understand just about anything he said to us, and I don't think he ever understood anything we asked him to do. He also left dirty towels on the floor of the bathroom when he turned down the sheets. In general, he seemed to be trained to follow a very short list of actions for each room, without any idea or desire to improve upon it. Here also, the personality falls short of what we have had on past cruises - no friendly discussions, no cute little decorative touches. Just make the bed and clean the bathroom in the morning, then turn down the bed and leave the paperwork and chocolate at night. • The final and possibly most disappointing aspect was the cruise director staff. Melissa was the only decent one of the bunch, including Jason the head cruise director. She was enthusiastic and personable. The rest seemed to have a severe attitude problem - they behaved like the cool kids in school, who disdained having to deal with most of the people most of the time. Jason's humor was a sarcastic type that did not go over well with the audience. He was insulting and disinterested, clearly not the correct demeanor for the ship's Cruise Director. He behaved as if he was interacting with people only because it was his job - he wasn't having any fun with it, and didn't seem to care to connect. We saw the same list of humorous questions people ask on other cruise lines, but the audience thought it was funnier the other times - probably because Jason presented it as derogatory rather than silly. There were a few activities the cruise staff did not show up for (such as name that tune), and a few others where they needed an attitude adjustment. For instance, we were playing Taboo and a group of us just wanted to play for fun, taking turns giving clues, when one of the assistants insisted we make teams and keep score against our wishes. Some events were cancelled without warning (like the scavenger hunt) or moved to an inappropriate venue without proper notice or consideration (moving bridge from a quite card room to a noisy central lounge). Others seemed to be planned without any consideration for location and timing - a blackjack tournament during one of the dinner seatings, alternating large events between deck 9 and deck 2, etc. My wife went to one of the movie showings, and there was not enough popcorn. When she enquired about getting more, they told her that they had already turned off the machine so no more would be made. Finally, Jason showed up visibly drunk to some of the activities, most notably the Oosterdam Superstar competitions - someone needs to tell him that it's still part of his job, and he needs to maintain the same (higher than present) level of decorum throughout the day, from the moment he steps out of his stateroom until after the last minute of the last show. Unfortunately, the service was SO BAD on this cruise that it outweighs all the good aspects of the ship itself. It really is about the people, and the people on this ship failed us. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
Just returned from a wonderful time on the Oosterdam. This was my first cruise in over 35 years and we had a blast!! The ship was beautiful, so clean and well kept up. The crew was so nice, especially in the Vista -- Main Dining Room. The ... Read More
Just returned from a wonderful time on the Oosterdam. This was my first cruise in over 35 years and we had a blast!! The ship was beautiful, so clean and well kept up. The crew was so nice, especially in the Vista -- Main Dining Room. The food was delicious in all the areas of the ship. We enjoyed the special dinner in "The Pinnacle" which was an extra $20.00 per person but worth every penny. The daily program had enough to keep any age entertained all day long. Bingo, trivia contests, exercise classes, ping pong tournaments, shuffleboard tournaments, bridge, cards, art sales, dancing, etc. Our only complaint would be the evening showtime. The cast tried hard but overall they were not great. I would consider them "typical cruise" entertainment. We had three teenagers with our family and two 80+ year old women. Everyone had something to do all day long if they wanted to. We barely had time to rest and need a vacation from our vacation. The ports of call were ok. Cabo San Lucas had so many people hawking their cheap wares, with small children trying to get you to buy their junk. We enjoyed Puerto Vallarta the best. What a beautiful town. Try the jungle zip lines. The allow you to fly like a bird over the top of the trees in the jungle. What a blast!! We highly recommend the Oosterdam if you want a great vacation. Bon Voyage!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
It's easy to see why so many seniors sail with Holland America Line (HAL), it's the service. I saw several people in wheelchairs at check-in and they did not have to ask for assistance -- a crew member took each one through ... Read More
It's easy to see why so many seniors sail with Holland America Line (HAL), it's the service. I saw several people in wheelchairs at check-in and they did not have to ask for assistance -- a crew member took each one through check-in and onto the ship. Once aboard crew members are always looking for ways they can assist passengers. Also on this ship they have come to the aid of those with vision problems. Cabin numbers are also in Braille and the elevators are interesting again with Braille lettering for each deck and when you arrive at a deck a voice announces both the name and number of the deck. Holland America is the cruise line to take if you are challenged and might be in need of assistance. Check-in in San Diego was a breeze; we live near by so our granddaughter drove us. We arrived at 11 a.m., which seemed the perfect time. We drove in next to the ship, off loaded our luggage which porters took and went inside to the check-in. It is not necessary to tip the porters, they are paid well but do have their hand out. By 11:30 we were on the ship and ten minutes after that were having a nice lunch in the Lido Restaurant. If you are also driving but need to park there is always plenty of parking right across the street from the ship. There is also a Holiday Inn right there if you want to arrive early and see a bit of San Diego. There is plenty of public transport near by. We were well satisfied with our cabin 5001 category SS. It was a wheelchair accessible cabin which I wanted. Because I made my travel arrangements with an online agency, I was able to select my cabin on-line by number. The cabins are smaller than those on the Statendam/Ryndam ships which we have also sailed on. The inside cabins were the smallest I have seen in memory. A nice touch is that there are no paper napkins or styrofoam cups in any of the dining rooms, all china and all linens. They even have linen towels in the public restrooms, they are individually rolled up and you use a fresh one each time you dry your hands. I don't see how anyone could complain about the food, the selection is extraordinary. At lunch in the Lido you can get hot dogs, cheeseburgers, fries, Mexican food, salads, soups, several different main dishes and on and on. The dessert bar is something else, pies, cakes, puddings, custards, ice cream, yogurt and more, what a pig I made of myself. You have several selections of where to eat for dinner -- the Odyssey Restaurant, Main Dining room or the Lido which serves the same menu and more than the main dining room. Eating in the main dining room is much like eating in Europe where things are at a slower pace. You can expect to spend a relaxing one and one half hours at dinner. If you are traveling with children or just like to gulp your food then the Lido is a much faster alternative. If you like flowers you will love the Oosterdam, they are everywhere, and beautiful. This would be a wonderful ship to take to Alaska or the Panama Canal because there are so many places to sit and view what is going on and there are several forward decks that would be wonderful to use while watching the canal locks open before you. HAL has always been weak on the entertainment side of cruising; Princess does an excellent job in this area. There were only two stage shows that we thought were any good but we did enjoy music and dancing to tunes from the '40s & '50s both before and after dinner in the Ocean Bar. The only tour we took was whale watching in Cabo San Lucas, we have been visiting Mexico since 1959 so we have taken most tours one or more times. The whale watching was not exceptional, one could do as well off the California coast, but it was fun. I signed up for the tour on-line before leaving home and our tickets were in our cabin on arrival, nice! If you wish one of the smaller whale watching boats, they are about 20 ft and get much closer to the whales, you can get those for the asking when you get off the ship tender in port. The price is $20.00 per person minimum two people for two hours. Unfortunately, many passengers became ill. I had what seemed to be a cold which kept me in bed for a straight 18 hours days 4 & 5, and even now two days after getting off the ship I have still not fully recovered. My wife became ill on day 5 and I had to request assistance in getting her off the ship, she is still quite ill. We were not alone. On the return we had to make an unscheduled stop in Cabo San Lucas so a passenger could go by air ambulance back to the US. Then when we arrived in San Diego an ambulance arrived to take another passenger and then I heard many other stories of those who were not well. But don't let this stop you from going. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
MS Oosterdam 29 Jan 2005 Mexican Riviera While this was our first pleasure cruise, I am not new to sailing. I have made 19 Atlantic crossings, the last being first class on the QEII, so I write with some knowledge and time spent on the ... Read More
MS Oosterdam 29 Jan 2005 Mexican Riviera While this was our first pleasure cruise, I am not new to sailing. I have made 19 Atlantic crossings, the last being first class on the QEII, so I write with some knowledge and time spent on the sea. Holland America was selected for their reputation of service first, the itinerary second and the fact that it would probably have fewer young families on board at this time. We were right on all counts! Overall, it was a wonderful 7 days and we have already begun planning our next trip with Holland America. We embarked at noon in San Diego in a very smooth process where everything was done in a very professional manner. Since we had done our immigration forms online and had completed our credit card form prior to appearing at the pier it was easy to move through the line and be on board within 30 minutes. We proceeded to the Lido restaurant for a great lunch and views of the city and the bay. By 1:15 the announcement came that we could proceed to our cabin, a superior suite, #8040 port side. This was a great cabin with a full verandah, which we used extensively. Our requests for an earlier seating for dinner (needed for medical reason) had been approved (we had been wait listed); we unpacked and began to explore the ship. This ship is very well appointed and it is very easy to get around with postings near the elevators for directional purposes. Everyone on board tried to make this a great experience and they pretty much accomplished that feat. Here are my specific comments: Overall service: Excellent from all crew. We did experience some disappointing service in the Vista dinning room table 114. It was a table for 6 and while we were all seated and ordered at the same time the meals we participated in frequently were not served together. Someone was always forgotten. We found a similar problem with lunch in the Vista. The Vista is loud, hurried and typical mass dining. Our solution was to up the already reserved dinners (3) in the Pinnacle grill to 5 nights. Was it worth the extra $40 per night? ... You bet. The food was excellent. Presentation was delightful and the service fantastic. Maitre d' Mike makes you feel like it is old home week and runs a tight ship in the room. (Ask for one of the cozy booths to make it an extra special dining experience. This will be the highlight of your trip, if you enjoy fine dining!) Cabin 8040/a Superior suite grade. Our cabin steward, Tonio, was excellent. He seemed to know exactly what we wanted and when. He was great, kept us in order and yet was unobtrusive. The cabin was a delight. Very spacious with a couch that could serve as a pull out bed and a very comfortable queen bed converted from 2 singles. While directly under the Lido deck we had very little noise from above except when people were playing ping-pong in the late evening. Then we could hear the ball bounce on the floor when they hit it off the table. Just a note, not a real complaint. The decor is pretty and well maintained. Shows/Entertainment We don't really care for much of the activity that is offered on board, preferring to do our own thing. The magician, Mel, was pretty good and the Bobby Black show was good. The cast show while a good attempt was not what we enjoyed so we left after 20 minutes. It was way too loud. We missed the "adult" comedian but heard many good things about him. If you wish to meet the Captain for the photo shoot, go early. One of the assistant cruise directors forced everyone in line to another entrance after about 20 minutes because the Captain needed to get backstage. We were 4 couple away from him after standing in line for 20 minutes. We then waited 30 minutes for him to appear on stage. We stayed out of the casino, but it seemed popular. The Piano bar, Crow's Nest and Ocean bar all had very nice lounge entertainment in the evening with accomplished musicians. Our favorite was the piano bar ... a throwback to the great little piano bars so many hotels had in the '50s, '60s and '70s. Excursions: We prefer to do our own exploring. I heard both positive and negative comments from folks who did the excursions. We already knew Mazatlan, Cabo is pretty sparse and we did our own tour of PV. The shopping advisor on board is obviously a paid representative of just a few stores that are part of the cruise-shopping network. I would suggest you save your time and simply read the excellent flyer produced each day, which has the same information and maps he discusses during his presentation. Disembarkation: We requested an early disembarkation on our form presented to the office and were called at 8:45 and in a cab by 9:00 and at the airport by 9:15 in Delta's Crown room by 9:25. It was all very smooth. And I might add that a Carnival ship docked the same time we did, so it could have been a real mess on shore, but it wasn't. Would we do it again? Yes! Same ship? Yes! Same port? Yes! Same Itinerary? Probably not. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
I can say without hesitation that the service, accommodations and general ambiance of the Oosterdam far exceeded my expectations! We got to the San Diego port area about 12:30 p.m. They immediately took our luggage and it was nice to get ... Read More
I can say without hesitation that the service, accommodations and general ambiance of the Oosterdam far exceeded my expectations! We got to the San Diego port area about 12:30 p.m. They immediately took our luggage and it was nice to get it off our hands. Embarkation was a breeze, and within 30 minutes we were in the Lido, their casual restaurant with a wide assortment of all different kinds of foods. The food is REALLY good and you can have as much of it as you can possibly eat. About 1:00 p.m., they announced the cabins were ready. Our luggage was already there, and the cabin (what they call a superior veranda suite) was just wonderful. About 400 square feet including the veranda. Tons of closet space, a dressing area, a large TV and CD player, a desk area with internet connection, king sized bed, 7 foot leather couch, coffee table, chairs, servibar. The bed was extremely comfortable, high thread count sheets. The bathroom was very large with a whirlpool tub and double sinks. The veranda had a table and 4 comfortable lounge chairs. It was perfect and worth every penny! I get up early, but I'm not actually functional for about an hour and a pot of coffee. Room service is included in the price, and we'd order it the night before for 6 a.m. I'd brought instant coffee thinking room service might be unreliable, but every morning at the stroke of 6, there'd be a knock on the door and our breakfast would arrive. It was great! I can't tell you how sweet the Indonesian/Filipino cabin stewards and staff were! I swear, there must be a factory with extremely high quality control where they make these guys because they're all perfect! I kept thinking they'd get tired by the end of the week and service would slip, but it never did. This ship is only a few years old so it's in beautiful shape. Very large, but fewer passengers and more staff than other ships that size. There were 2 swimming pools, one which could be covered in bad weather. Hot tubs, full-service spa with an INCREDIBLE hot tub area, beautiful library, large internet center, tons of beautiful lounges stuck around all over the place. Lots of shops. Really, anything plus more that you'd expect to find in a really fine hotel. All over the boat, in lounges and theatres, there's live entertainment. Live performances every night. Dancing if you're into that. Games and movies and stuff. We did shore excursions at all three ports (Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta). It was fun getting off the boat and having all the arrangements taken care of. We did the early dinner seating and the food was wonderful. There were 2 formal nights, and it was fun dressing up, but we could have gone to the Lido if we hadn't wanted to do that. All in all, it was as perfect an experience as I ever expect to get in this life. I LOVE Holland America!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
The nice thing about the Oosterdam is the layout is exactly like the Zuiderdam which makes getting about the ship easy. The decor is elegant. Service on the ship was good for the most part. Our cabin steward was efficient and not to be ... Read More
The nice thing about the Oosterdam is the layout is exactly like the Zuiderdam which makes getting about the ship easy. The decor is elegant. Service on the ship was good for the most part. Our cabin steward was efficient and not to be seen, just the way I like it. Unfortunately our waiter in the main dining room spoiled our trip the fifth night into the cruise. I was never able to find out why he was so hostile as he would not speak to me about the problem. When I complained to the dining room manager, I got a very cold response without the slightest apology. Service in the bar lounge was a disaster one night. We finally gave up on our drink order and went to dinner disappointed. Others in the lounge were having an equally bad time of it. The shows were spectacular - we looked forward to every show! Food was for the most part what one would expect on a cruise ship, palatable but for the most part not great. Portions were small for the appetizers, I therefore ordered two at each meal, which seemed to perturb the waiter. Boarding was a fiasco in San Diego. Apparently the computer system was down, so we had to fill the forms already filled on the internet before our cruise. We stood in the hot sun for half an hour before even getting into the cruise terminal, then an hour sitting in their terminal before being boarded. I knew the room would be a small inside cabin, but was shocked by how small it was when we arrived. But, due to its nice decor and design, I got used to it quickly and enjoyed the stay. 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

Find an Oosterdam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise