Sail Date: December 2011
We are veteran cruisers but this was our first cruise on HAL. The cruise was ok--not our best cruise. HAL was ok-after reading many reviews by experienced HAL cruisers we feel that HALl is very over rated for the price they charge. We ... Read More
We are veteran cruisers but this was our first cruise on HAL. The cruise was ok--not our best cruise. HAL was ok-after reading many reviews by experienced HAL cruisers we feel that HALl is very over rated for the price they charge. We booked an SB wrap around aft suite and were disappointed with the suite and amenities when compared to suites that we usually book on NCL (more later). The biggest advantage for us on this cruise was not having to fly anywhere to cruise since we live in the San Diego area. Since there is a Hawaiian Ports board--this review contains no information on the ports we visited. Embarkation: smooth--as expected for a deluxe suite passenger. Debarkation: OK--customs check for foreign nationals delayed debarkation as expected--why does San Diego continue to operate like this??? Service was excellent. --Our dining room waiter after the second night was one of the best we have ever had. We had open seating--the first two nights service was 0k but table location was terrible--in real noisy area with a lot of foot traffic. I had used the concierge in the Neptune lounge to make these reservations and asked for quite table --but later was told the concierge can not guarantee tables so I had to speak with the MDR Head manager and once I did we had a 4 top for two every night in the same location with a nice window and a wonderful waiter. We are use to the concierge making sure the table is what is requested like on NCL. Neptune Lounge/concierge service: we found the service here to be excellent--the concierge arranged a wonderful cocktail party in Lahaina sail away on our extra large balcony which turned out to be a real success with about 30 people. The ship provided hot and cold appetizers including some special items we requested..to our surprise the Hotel Director attended. The one thing we missed was our own super coffee machine (with sxpresso, cappuccino, and tea} like what is available in NCL suites. Suite steward was excellent and met every request---the laundry loss some of our items--not a big deal the steward looked for the items for a week. Bar service and lido service was also excellent. Food: --MDR food was IMOP excellent well above NCL MDR food. The Lido buffet was also better than NCL and excellent for breakfast and lunch--we never had dinner there. Just a note the bread pudding is un-remarkable--for the life of me I do not know why all the hype over it-- Also the MDR had prime rib three times and it was really good with the normal au jus. Loved the eggs benedict station in the Lido--this is a great buffet item. The Hawaiian BBQ held on the aft lido deck during the Honolulu stop at night was IMOP one of the highlights of the cruise--the sunset was beautiful--the buffet with real sucking whole baby pigs, bbq chicken and ribs and everything else was great HAL gets five stars for this. Pinnacle Grill--a real disappointment--nowhere near the menu or quality as Cagenys on NCL. Service was very slow. We also tried the Pinnacle at breakfast on two occasions (the first two days) the service was very, very slow -2 hours on both days-- we never went there again for breakfast--I actually spoke with the Hotel Director about this. Our dinner at Pinnacle was very unremarkable--the surf and turf was not seasoned well and the lamp chops were very small and not well seasoned. Desserts were below average--our experience with the food and especially the service caused us to cancel the Le Critque dinner. Cannellto was unremarkable--barely average for an Italian eatery. Deserts on the ship were average --the Pinnacle Grill deserts were very unremarkable for an up sell restaurant. Entertainment: HAL needs some work here--the only show we thought was at the NCL level was the Joe Mason show--everything else supar---the lack of dance pop band was really apparent on the ship--there was really no dancing any where--the forward observation Lounge never had a dance band at night such as pop band or something, This was really bad for a 14 day cruise with a cross section of age groups--we are in our early sixties and still enjoy dancing, Basically by 10;30pm the ship was dead. So IMOP if you are looking for entertainment do not expect too much on HAL. Day time activities limited to cooking classes, trivia, Hawaiian culture/history lectures (very, very good), movies (theater very small--HAL needs to show the movies in the Show lounge--I am sure they could find the appropriate times ). Cabin: We were in a SB deluxe suite aft wrap around--we found the suite out dated- Furniture old and very outdated--suite was clean--one sink faucet was broken and need to be repaired--water flow in bathtub was very,very slow and was fixed upon request. The TV in the room are very small compared to TVs in NCL suites--no coffee machine---no drawers to store items --everything has shelves which you store items like socks etc.--not very well designed. No real flowers delivered to suite as advertised--asked the concierge several times about this. Slippers were delivered after request--so real amenities in bathroom like on NCL--no shower caps etc. IMOP suite was below the quality of NCL suites and suite amenities also way below NCL. Balcony furniture was in bad repair---table needed to sanded and stained--furniture pads ripped etc. Dress code: the formal dress code is way over stated on this board--we saw many slacks and shirts no ties on formal nights--no real gowns on women=---smart causal wAs just casual amd in many cases we thought some of the passengers where sloppy in their dress at all times-- we saw some things like bathrobes in the buffet--people picking therr teeth with their dinner forks in the MDR-- that made us laugh after reading some the threads on this board about how classy HAL is. Will we cruise on HAL again--probably--will we book a deluxe suite on HA maybe on a new ship or if they improve their amenities for suite guests. IMOP NCL still has the best suites and suite amenities in the cruise industry. Big Green Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Waited awhile to write this review as I wanted to be as objective as possible and let the little things float away and see what stuck in my memory. That said, we are long-time cruisers having traveled on ships of all shapes and sizes. ... Read More
Waited awhile to write this review as I wanted to be as objective as possible and let the little things float away and see what stuck in my memory. That said, we are long-time cruisers having traveled on ships of all shapes and sizes. Several HAL trips, including a previous voyage on the Oosterdam, make it possible for me to be somewhat objective as we pretty much knew what to expect when we booked and boarded. What we didn't expect was a cabin whose forward position made it nearly impossible to occupy when sailing into the wind...roaring, wailing, screaming winds whipped by our balcony door for days on end. No point complaining to staff as ship was full. We almost always book guarantees and have never been unhappy until this trip - I doubt the folks in Seattle who assign cabins have any idea that these forward cabins are so prone to these wind-related problems. As a result, we were seldom in the cabin and trying to find a quiet, peaceful place to just relax and enjoy the sea days (we actively seek out cruises with few port calls)turned into a challenge. There were just way too many activities for us to even consider and most of them entailed once quiet corners of the ship (Explorers Lounge, for instance) suddenly becoming the venue for a trivia/cooking/art/spa lecture/contest. The Crows Nest is a zoo - too much going on, trying to be something for everybody and succeeding in little except in the evenings when the solo guitarist, Chris Bartlett, appeared. He was one of the highlights of the trip - a very talented young man who has a wide ranging repetoir and an engaging style. Please seek him out on your next cruise and ask him to play "Hallelujah" for me (Jeff Buckley version). Food was good - ate about half our meals in the Pinnacle and a few in the Canaletto. Breakfasts and lunches were usually in the MDR. Too chaotic in the poorly designed Lido and too much hustle and bustle in the MDR for enjoyable evening meals (we never choose 'traditional' dining). Entertainment, in addition to Chris, was a mixed bag - a very unfunny comedian named Noodles, a wonderful ventriloquist, a great ELton John imitator, and so forth. Lecturers were good and varied. Having been to Hawaii several times we weren't too interested in the ports but did manage to have a few good lunches ashore - dim sum in Honolulu was a highlight. Car rental with Budget/Dollar in Hilo was a fiasco - spend more and get National or Hertz car. The staff was very good - always a smile and a real desire by 99% of the staff we encountered to make sure the passengers were happy and enjoying themselves. Overall, we'd give the trip a 7 out of 10 and doubt we'll ever travel on the Oosterdam again given its over-large (to us) size. We'll go back to one of the smaller ships like the Maasdam/Zaandam instead. Hope the foregoing helped. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
We have many cruises under our belt and this one to date was by far the poorest of them all....read on :) Wintertime cruising may have had a lot to do with the sea and weather conditions but certainly not the appearance of the ms ... Read More
We have many cruises under our belt and this one to date was by far the poorest of them all....read on :) Wintertime cruising may have had a lot to do with the sea and weather conditions but certainly not the appearance of the ms Oosterdam. First off, let me start by saying this Cruise was more forgettable than regrettable. After all it was a holiday cruise and we were sailing to Hawaii with friends and family. But that's it!! We sailed on the well used ms Oosterdam from San Diego, Ca. on Dec 10 for 14 days via Hawaii/Ensenada, Mexico and back to San Diego on the 24th of Dec. Passenger total around (my guess) 1700 vs 1916 max Passenger ratio to staff was about 12:1 or maybe even 13:1. Seemed a little thin. AVERAGE age for THIS cruise: 70+ PROS: > Staff was most likely the friendliest and most polite crew we have ever experienced on any cruise! Hats off to Abdul and Atkar for keeping our cabin ship shape and for the friendly smile of Carina each morning in the Lido Buffet Restaurant. > "Buffet" style food was absolutely the BEST, by far a better dining experience than assigned/scheduled seating, with no comparison! We did NOT experience one bad or even marginally poor meal. > Ports of call were outstanding! Lahaina being the exception, (mentioned in the body of this review) CONS: Some of our cabin furniture was ready for the recycle bin, with deep scratches and gouges in the table, the "imitation" leather chair had tears and the bedding just wasn't new and fresh. Even the pictures on the walls resembled something out of a 60's Sammy Davis movie. > The atrium appeared old and outdated. >Exploration Lounge and quiet area was pretty tired as well. It is adorned with leather seating everywhere, most of which in need of repair or replacement. > The carpet, throughout the vessel, was spent! Stained and faded by severe foot traffic helping show its age! < VISTA RESTAURANT (assigned or scheduled seating) WAS A JOKE! HORRIBLE SERVICE, UNTIMELY FOOD DELIVERY AND SUB PAR MEALS! < On board recreation.......again, don't count on it. Deck 10, the sports deck, was so cold and windy EVERY day that only the brave would venture a morning walk. Don't wear a hat, you'll never see it again. Basketball, shuffleboard, and other outdoor activities on this deck simply won't happen while at sea. < Itinerary says 4 days at sea to and from Hawaii. This isn't true. Those are calendar dates, and in reality you're at sea for almost 5 days or 110 hours. THAT'S A LONG TIME in rough seas! < My wife being a health Spa fanatic would NOT get in any of the "community" hot tubs. (yes, that swirling hot tub scum was evident in both midship and aft tubs, nasty!) She used the midship pool on the first day and didn't use it again! < Seriously HACL!!! You can't afford to at least maintain the Ping Pong tables! The table tennis nets needed to be super glued or nail gunned in place in order to use them. The paddles were purchased when the ship was christened! Throw them away and get new ones. (We brought our own, which turned out to be a GREAT plan) My take: Our group of 5 had reviewed this very site for positive and negative reviews of this particular vessel and cruise. We decided that there wasn't really any bad signs that would inhibit us from taking this cruise to Hawaii. Embarkation was a SNAP, I mean literally a piece of cake! We arrived at the dock parking lot in our POV and off loaded our luggage where we were met with efficient baggage handlers. From that moment until we were in our cabin was not more than 30 minutes. No lines, little fuss with security and very few people. This was nice. We made a timely pushback from the dock as scheduled at 5pm under a gorgeous rising full moon over the San Diego sky line. Day 1 at sea: Water Water Water, rough seas and more water. Not much to go on as you read this but the sea was so rough that sitting down attractions were the only way to pass the time. Cribbage anyone? First night entertainment was slightly better than that roadside puppet show you'd see at the county carnival. We opted for the Vista "As You Wish" seating and made our way to dinner around 6pm. We were seated promptly, but that was only the good part of this experience. We had 2 waiters, both of whom seemed to be in training or somewhat lost with there job descriptions. It took, literally, 30 minutes each time for 4 different courses of food to be delivered to our table of 5. That's soup, salad, entree, and desert, followed by a cup of coffee. We spent almost 2.5 hours in the Vista Restaurant waiting for service and food. On top of that, our entrees were room temperature and certainly NOT palatable. First night slow start, maybe, we gave that to them and moved on. Day 2 at sea: Water, Wind, and still more water, except the wind had increased. Pretty boring day it turned out to be, but that was our choice as we really didn't want to be cabin bound all day. Cribbage anyone? Formal night wasn't going to happen after our first Vista dining experience. We ate at the Lido Restaurant, and as it turned out was excellent!!! Day 3 at sea: Review Day 2, except we tried the Vista Restaurant for a second attempt. This experience was actually efficient and notable turn-around from day 1. Exceptions being we had different table and waiter assignments. Go figure? Day 4 at sea: Water is really getting boring and the sea was continuing to toss us around. Still nothing to do but wander the girth of the ship and explore. We were bobbing around in 10-12 foot swells with 30 knot cross wind. Our cabin sliding door was actually whistling loudly by the vacuum being created from the strong wind on the port side of the ship. We could barely open it. Day 5 Hilo!! Can you say rain.........one of the rainiest places on earth, but this POC (Port of Call) was awesome. Highly recommend the helicopter tour of the volcano and keep your camera with you at all times. There's plenty to see and do. Day 6 Honolulu.......Not so much fun...college students were out of classes for the holiday break and the traffic in Honolulu is beyond belief. It was literally the worst we have EVER experienced. And I used to live in Southern Cal. We did the Arizona Memorial, which pretty much took up all of our time. Took us exactly 1 hour to drive 6 miles to get lunch. Still the sites were pleasant, but we will never do Honolulu again. Day 7 Nawiliwili....Kauai, this was the best island by far, rent a car or scooter and enjoy it all. You won't be disappointed. This was also the evening we tried the Vista Restaurant once again, citing a good experience from 3 or 4 days earlier. OH man!! what a mistake this was. We got seated at the same table as our first visit and had the same deplorable waiters. Again we sat for an unnecessarily long time. We even questioned if we could sit at the adjacent vacant table by the window but got denied. About 15 minutes later that table did occupy. All our orders were placed, almost exactly like the first day. And like the first day I ordered a generic green salad, nothing extra, with dressing. The waiter could NOT comprehend what it was I wanted, even after many clarifying definitions. I asked him to disregard my request and move on. Magically a salad showed up??!! I'm thinking someone had to translate my order for him. Remember that table that was by the window that occupied 15 minutes after us? They received their main entree before we did, and they also ordered the same number of courses from the dame waiters. The maitre 'd explained that there was a screw up in the kitchen and that our order was on its way. Oh yeah, our entree showed up! They showed up cold, we couldn't believe it!!!! We each ate a small portion of our meal and got up and walked out. Actually the looks on the waiters faces made my day. The VISTA Restaurant is HORRIBLE! Certainly not worthy of having the distinction of serving world class entrees. Day 8 Lahaina, Maui.....Well here we go............We were tendered off the vessel while anchored in Lahaina bay. Even though we had rental cars waiting for us there, we caught a glimpse of some advertising for scooter rentals conveniently parked at the dock.....and took the bait. Actually it is a great way to see the island. I made a phone call via the 800 number listed on the ad and was given instructions where to wait. 25m later a van arrived and drove us "across town", (10miles??) to the rental location. This is where you really get a taste of the local economy and businesses. Shortly after we arrived we discovered that the scooters advertised were indeed NOT the scooters we were intending to rent, and even though the engine size was the same, the overall size of the scooter was more fitted for use as a circus ride rather than a SAFE escort around the island. We immediately questioned the availability of the larger version and was told they were not in stock and that what we see is what we get! I'm 6'1" and my buddy is 6'5" and there was no way we could safely manage our way around the island on the smaller versions, which is probably why they were left in stock. We subsequently denied the rental agreements and politely asked to be returned to our pick up location, to which we received a CURT and DISRESPECTFUL reply of "you're on your own!" Remember this, if you get anything out of this review, that ALOHA MOTORSPORTS shouldn't be your first choice when it comes to renting transportation on the islands of MAUI or KAUAI. There attitude towards tourism and their customers has definitely set the bar for the LOWEST of industry standards. Avoid them at any cost! Regardless of this unfortunate error in judgement, we still recorded a wonderful day on the island. Day 9 at Sea: We left the bay of Lahaina on time and set sail for Ensenada Mexico for 125 hours of rocking and rolling. We experienced, at one point, 66kts of wind head-on through the bow of the ship. That lasted through the night and wasn't very pleasant. The following morning yielded an overcast sky and windy conditions which lasted for the remainder of the 4+ days at sea. Our entertainment was limited to eating and watching the ocean, because going below deck was typically unpleasant. Day 13 we arrived at the port Ensenada, Mexico. International Maritime Law, (if I heard this right) says that before a vessel can return to the US after leaving a US port, they must first stop at a foreign POC before returning to the US. Ensenada is merely a token POC, barely enough time to get off the ship and have a Margarita. A serious waste of time. Disembarkation, like embarkation, was a snap as well. Took about 1 hour to gather our gear and wait for our ride. IN REVIEW: We didn't do any returning shows, because our first viewing was somewhat of a let down, so we elected to avoid any future efforts. Lido "dining" was superb! The focus of a quality cruise like this one should have been is the dining experiences. The VISTA RESTAURANT fails miserably in that endeavor. There is ample room for a great degree of remedial training for the VISTA waiters. (at least the 2 we had experiences with, they failed miserably) Having to get gussied up and looking pretty for a 2+ hour wait for sub standard food really wasn't worth the aggravation. If Holland will change the wiper blades, wax the hood, and put on a new set of tires, this boat wouldn't look like it's ready for the scrap heap. It is truly worn and tired looking. This cruise was clearly geared for the elderly, again the 70+ generation, Rascals and 3 wheeled scooters everywhere! I don't recommend taking ANY kids on this trip, they will have absolutely NOTHING to do while at sea. The pools are heated, but I we just couldn't help but wonder how funky they really were??? POC were incredible, with exception of the scum personnel at Aloha Motorsports, we'd go back. We still managed a wonderful day dispute the deplorable treatment hours earlier. Would I take this Holland trip again?, absolutely NOT, would I cruise Holland again?, probably not. Can I recommend Holland Cruise Line all things considered? I don't think so. Scaled from 1-10 this cruise is about 4.5 Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We have been on the Oosterdam several times (3 times in 2011) and always have a good time...that said, one must keep in mind that you are on vacation and have a good time without sweating the small stuff as "ship" happens at sea ... Read More
We have been on the Oosterdam several times (3 times in 2011) and always have a good time...that said, one must keep in mind that you are on vacation and have a good time without sweating the small stuff as "ship" happens at sea just as it does at home or in your favorite hotel or resort!!! This voyage had Captain Arjen van der Loo in command, he is well liked by both his passengers and crew plus having a wonderful sense of humor sets a great tone for his sailings every time we have sailed with him. Our Hotel Manager, James Deering is without a doubt the best in HAL's fleet...having known him for many years, we can honestly say that you always can count on him to be out and about the ship, mingling with both his staff and the passengers, answering questions and solving problems for everyone that he meets along the way...this extraordinary officer needs to be cloned for every ship!!! Our Cruise Director, Michael Langely made the voyage "fun" with his very personable style and wit during all of the onboard activities with the assistance of D J Brett who was also pretty funny!!! We noted that a lot of repairs had been done in the recent drydock...all the new carpeting and upholstry as well as such things as the new ceiling in the piano bar helped to spruce the ship up a bit...hopefully the cabins will be updated on the next refurb as they are starting to show a bit of wear and tear on this nine year old vessel. We had great service from the happy crew of the big "O"...the room stewards, dining captains, waiters, busboys and buffet staff could not have been more friendly and helpful...sure there were a few bumps along the way with some slow dining room service, but overall it was pretty dam good. San Diego embarkation was a breeze as usual...we arrived at about one o'clock and were on the ship in fifteen minutes...with self disembarkation at the end of our journey, we were off the ship an into a taxi five minutes after leaving our cabin at 8:30 AM...for another relaxing cruise experience on the Oosterdam. With many thanks to Captain van der Loo and Hotel Manager Jim Deering for a job well done, we'll see you again "down under" in Australia next year!!! HAL SAN DIEGO Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space ... Read More
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space for 14 day cruise. Service was very good and timely. Entertainment: Production shows OK but music is getting stale. Would be better if newer music was introduced into productions. Movies were provided in the "Screening Room" daily which proved to be useless with only 30 seats available. Considering that this cruise occurred during the Holiday Season and to Hawaii was amazed at the lack of Christmas and Hawaiian music or Hawaiian themed activities. Thankfully HAL did have Kaimoa who represented the Hawaiian culture and provided a lot of good information on Hawaii. Without his presence there were few if any Hawaiian activities. Needed more activities on ocean days and more interaction from cruise director. Food: We had open seating and overall the food seemed better than we have had in the past. Pinnacle Grill excellent and well worth the extra charge. Should continue to offer flavored coffee in Lido. Ports: All very good, was surprised how crowed and cosmopolitan Waikiki had become. Would skip in future. Debarkation: Slow Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Embarkation: Took a shuttle down to San Diego and boarded the ship with no problems or delays at 12:00PM or so. Our cabin was already ready which was nice. Cabin: We were in Cabin VD 4167 which was an upgrade from a VH guarantee ... Read More
Embarkation: Took a shuttle down to San Diego and boarded the ship with no problems or delays at 12:00PM or so. Our cabin was already ready which was nice. Cabin: We were in Cabin VD 4167 which was an upgrade from a VH guarantee initial assignment. The cabin was clean and well kept through out the cruise. Plenty of storage space. Because of the cabin location on the ship (adjacent to employee stairway), it's balcony is double the size of a balcony for same cabin category. A definite plus!. Food: We had an open seating arrangement. The food at the dining room was fair but the service was at times lacking. Long waits for the food, miscommunication with the servers that seemed to be inexperience and very young. The food and service and the specialty restaurants (Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto) on the other hand, was very good. We hardly used the Lido/Buffet restaurant (crowded and not user friendly). The only place on the ship one can get a good cup of coffee was at the Exploration Cafe (Deck 10). It is unfortunate that it was located in the same area were the library and the computer room were. There was never a seating room available to enjoy the coffee, particularly on sea days. Entertainment: Both production shows and the individual performances were very good. Movies were shown in the "screen room" which had only 30 seats!!!. Although the movies were offered few times during the day, there was never a seating available.. particularly on sea days. Ports: There was plenty of information available on all the ports we were about to visit. We chose the HAL Pearl Harbor tour in Honolulu which was well organized and very interesting. . On the rest of the islands we travel independently. Disembarkation: Somewhat disorganized. Seemed like people left the ship at will, not necessarily per the disembarkation color codes that were provided. Summary: All in all a relaxing and timely cruise for us. The sea days going and coming back seemed "long". We were fortunate that the ocean was relatively calm. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
My husband (51) & I (47) have been on about 15 cruises and this is our 2nd HAL cruise - last being on the Zuiderdam when I turned 40. Our other cruises have been on CCL, Princess, RCI, NCL, etc. We have been to the Mexican Riviera ... Read More
My husband (51) & I (47) have been on about 15 cruises and this is our 2nd HAL cruise - last being on the Zuiderdam when I turned 40. Our other cruises have been on CCL, Princess, RCI, NCL, etc. We have been to the Mexican Riviera many times. We drove from Central Calif on Friday and stayed at the Holiday Inn Bayside about 3 miles from the ship pier. We got transfered to the pier about 1:15 and were onboard in about 30 minutes. Our VB balcony was a decent location near the aft and was a nice assignment from our VH guarantee booked just a couple of weeks before the cruise departed. The cabin was fairly clean with the exception of sand on the couch and stains on the carpet. Our room steward Rio was very nice and friendly and always remembered our names. We had towel animals most nights. I appreciated the large drawer under the bed and the two underneath the couch. We did rent two DVDs to watch and although everything in the booklet shows delivery we had to go to guest services to pick up and drop off because we were told it would be 1-2 hours and didn't want to wait. We attended the cruise critics meet & mingle on Sunday morning. We have never had open dining before and we decided to try it. The first four nights we had the SLOWEST service I have ever experienced on a cruise. These were all at different tables in different sections of the dining room. There were no smiles, no friendliness and the meals took well over 2 hours. Our tablemates complained to the maitre'd the first night and he put us all at a table by the window with a reservation the 2nd night with the same issues. We tried to get reservations at Canaletto's but couldn't until Friday night at 8pm. The 5th night we finally got a great waiter in AA from Bali and we enjoyed his fabulous service the last 3 nights when we requested his section with our reservations. Many people we spoke with had similar slow service in open seating. As we had been to these ports before we just walked around the Malecon. My husband did the hike on the first day and really enjoyed it but said it should have been rated a 4/4 in difficulty due to steepness. In Cabo we went to see the Dreams Resort as I have clients getting married there next summer. The weather was nice in both ports but a little cool in PV so we didn't go in the ocean. We enjoyed the 2 production shows and the Joel Mason Elton John show. There was a comedian one night in the smaller lounge that was very funny as was the Marriage Show. During the Marriage Show, the cruise director Michael, actually announced to the audience that he preferred men - not a surprise by the way. The other lounges played primarily music that catered to the majority over 60 crowd with the piano bar, string quartet, trio for dancing, etc. The nightclub was lightly attended but we did dance one night there when they had music from different decades from the 70's & 80's. The Explorations Cafe was nice but the books I wanted to read were considered "Reference books" and couldn't be removed from the library. We didn't use the spa or any of the cooking shows or computer classes so can't speak to those. Overall the experience was positive and I will definitely cruise HAL again but maybe in the Caribbean where the crowd will be a bit younger and maybe more lively entertainment options. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2011
Detailed reviews in some areas, need some time to read... This was a family vacation during Christmas week for our family while the kids were off school. We sailed with Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean before. Of course, we ... Read More
Detailed reviews in some areas, need some time to read... This was a family vacation during Christmas week for our family while the kids were off school. We sailed with Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean before. Of course, we could not expect "perfect" in any of the cruise lines when comparing them in different ways like food, service, cabin, activities, ship's design & condition, etc... Every passenger enjoys different things and has different opinions. For our purpose of cruising, we are looking for family fun and fine food. So, my review about this cruise is based on a family with kids. When the kids are happy, the parents are happy. I have heard this cruise line has more elderly than any other cruise lines before choosing this cruise. But I realized that HAL has added the kid's programs and since it was a Holiday cruise, there should be more kids on-board than usual. Besides, I watched HAL's on-line video, it offers kid's hands-on culinary classes, which is rare to see in other cruise lines, so there must be something unique to go for - just one more reason I picked HAL. However, in all 7 days during the cruise, none of the culinary classes were offered for kids. There was a day on the schedule that the kids can play dodgeball, but there was no dodgeball on the ship, the kids were sooo disappointed. There was no rock-climbing wall, no mini-golf... For adults, there was no "hairy leg" competition or pool deck challeges. Most of the games for adults were trivias, where I learned some educational facts, but too many of one game became boring. Dance classes were held in a tiny place, where could not even fit 20 people, and there were only 2 dancing classes in all 7 days. 4 out of 6 shows were just boring. There was no show at all in the last night. As compared to Norwegian Star we sailed the Christmas in 2010, the show in the last night was the grand one, which combined all performers to produce a never-forgetting grand show with a mix of magic, ballets, modern dance, and stage special effects. Norwegian Star hired professional performers from Las Vegas to throw in different shows every night. The very first night already offered a show (not a welcome show), Band on the Run. Then, there were Duo Acrobatique, Extreme Vegas, Comedy Hypnotist, The Second City (comedy), a musical show, and the grand show Elements! On the Christmas Eve, the cruise director guided his cruise team members to line up along the beautiful attrium stairs to sing Christmas Carols along with the passengers...have not even mentioned how involved the cruise director was in the cruise, we saw him everywhere organizing games and activities. He was even in one of the shows himself! That were what Norwegain Star offered. Well, get back to HAL...after all, there was not many things to do in Oosterdam. I saw people reading their books everywhere. Even HAL tried to run kids programs, but there are still a lot more rooms for improvements if HAL really wants to attract families with kids. When kids don't like it, we don't like it because it was a FAMILY vacation. There was a problem with the ship's keying system. We booked 2 cabins and we needed to have extra room keys for each family member. It took the front desk 3 times before the extra keys could work. It was just a nightmare, it wasted us 90 minutes to get extra room keys that will work, plus we did not know the keys worked or not until we went up to our cabin to try out, then went back down to front desk to line-up for reporting the problem, it was repeated 3 times! Every time we needed to go to the back of the line... Good things about this ship are that the overall food is the best out of the rest of the cruises we sailed before. The breakfast menu in the dining rooms has more choices than any other ships: Dutch Breakfast, Japanese Breakfast, English Breakfast, Full American Breakfast, Scandinavian Breakfast, etc. Juice choices during breakfast include tomato juce, V-8, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, prune juice, apple juice, and of course orange juice. The best of all is that juices can be ordered during lunch or dinner, too. Other cruise lines already cut back on juices that there was extra charge for ordering. Oh, forgot to mention that we had free soda in the captain toast and the champagne brunch. It is not an expensive item but none of the other cruise lines we sailed before gave out free soda. Also, cappuccino and expresso were also free to order during lunch and dinner at the dining rooms besides coffee. There is a good feature at the buffet that it offers 80% of the dining room's dinner menus at the buffet. If passengers just wanted to grab a quick bite at the buffet, they won't miss out too much of the fine food from the dining rooms. It was the first time I tasted Duck Pate with Black Truffles in cruising, 8-oz Lobster Tails, and the finest cut of Filet Mignon. The afternoon tea was still offered in HAL, which is a traditional feature for cruising. None of my other past cruises offered this. However, the dining room was not open for every lunch, it only opened for 2 days for all passengers, 2 extra days for past passengers. The passengers were stuck with buffets on the days the dining rooms were not open. Even the past passengers have privilege to enjoy 2 more lunches at the dining rooms, however, the food choices were just like cafe...nothing as special as HAL reserving that 2 days especially for past passengers. One of the lunch dishes was that cheap swai fillet, I couldn't believe it is being served in a cruise. If you know where the swai was raised from, you dare not to eat it. Speaking of negative reviews on dining room dishes. There were 2 port days that the dining dish choices were the worst, nothing look good or exciting. We rather had hamburgers by the pool deck... I can feel that the cruise director tried to make the ship to be kids-friendly. He threw-in a Santa's Arrival party in the lounge on the Christmas day. It worths lots of time and efforts to organize this event. Kids and other passengers were delighted in that event. But you can only see this on Christmas day. Without this, the cruise is even more boring... The captain, cruise director, and all cruise team members were very polite. The services were excellent. Food was better than other ships which we sailed before (some areas mentioned need to be improved). If HAL can pay more attention to the kids programs, adult activities, and shows, then this will be my #1 choice of cruise line. However, there is no such thing as "perfect" cruise since everyone expects different things. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
This was our second time cruising with HAL. Our first time was 1998 Hawaii and back, and was the standard by which we judged all other cruises since; the service was great. Wanted to try HAL again now that we are older and making more ... Read More
This was our second time cruising with HAL. Our first time was 1998 Hawaii and back, and was the standard by which we judged all other cruises since; the service was great. Wanted to try HAL again now that we are older and making more money and see if it was worth building loyalty points. Also our 20th anniversary. The suite service and concierge level was the only thing that saved the cruise, and that we were willing to pay extra for the fine dining. The restaurant staff and service was what we had in the dining room those many years ago, it was great! And the food was several times better than Princess' Sabatino's. As another cruiser said, the dining room was abysmal. No smiles, no wine list, I was told I could only get the house wine. The Lido food was merely OK and the servers there were harried and showed it. I was expecting greater things from the hype about their Chef-retooled cuisine, it should have gone to all levels of dining. Room service took hours and the sandwich I ordered off the room service menu was great and perfect the first time and the second made completely wrong. We could have waited another couple of hours for them to make it right, I guess. The room was great, very spacious. The bed was wonderful and we have ordered one from HAL, they sell them. The concierge service was great. We went prepared to spend most of our $ on liquor and tips, which we did. Also, even though the SA is a suite, the embarkation people made me get in the regular line, saying it was Superior only. After winding through the line to where I could reach the expediter, she said the same thing the looked at the room number and expedited us. HAL did not win our loyalty. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We really liked this cruise. We had a cabin with a balcony and hardly used it. The weather was bad at times so it was often wet. There was salt all over the balcony. If we went out there, we tracked gritty salt back to the floor of our ... Read More
We really liked this cruise. We had a cabin with a balcony and hardly used it. The weather was bad at times so it was often wet. There was salt all over the balcony. If we went out there, we tracked gritty salt back to the floor of our room. We had a balcony in Alaska without this problem because the sea is calm on the inside passage. The water is rougher across the sea and churns salt into the air. I'm not sure I'd book another balcony room. The food was great in the Lido cafe. Wide range of foods for all meals and everything was delicious. The dining room had a poor selection of main entree food and we hardly ate there. Plus, the service was very slow. The traditional Thanksgiving Day meal was anything but. I wondered if the turkey came out of a can. There were no mashed potatoes and no yams. The sweet potatoes were pale in color and consisted of 2-3 small thin slices. I don't think the chefs understand that Thanksgiving Day is a pig out for Americans. The servings were tiny and it is the first time I ever had only a spoonful of dressing. I will have to make up for it at Christmas time. :) Room service was great and food was hot. The Pinnacle Grill was absolutely the finest restaurant I've ever dined in. It will cost you $25 a person but it is worth it. We are wine snobs from Hades so we brought a case of our own fine wines. Thanks to Holland for allowing us to do that. The corkage fee of $18 was acceptable to us and we gladly paid it. But please don't increase the fee. A word about the coffee: I've been a coffee drinker since age 10. I could not drink the coffee on this ship. It gave me stomach ache. Waaaay, to strong for my taste buds. I even tried diluting it with hot water, It still gave me a stomach ache. I had to drink hot tea. I am just as fussy about my coffee as I am my wine. :) The cocktails served at the bars were wonderful and refreshing. Great job, bartenders. :) Our cabin beds were the best comfort you can get. As good as home. There was plenty of storage space for our clothes and we were quite comfortable there. We found the ship to be uncrowded. We did not experience the lines talked about in other posts. The ship is spotlessly clean. The staff works very hard at attacking germs and bacteria so that folks don't get sick. We really liked the Crow's Nest and spent lots of time in the library. The Internet service is pricey but works well. I bought a VIP pass to the hydro pool spa. It was great and I used it daily. When the sea was rough I would use the showers in the nearby lounge so that I didn't risk falling out of the bathtub in our cabin. The shore excursions were good. We liked going to the volcanoes and walking the lave tube on the Big Island. In my opinion, Holland should add Kona as a port and drop Honolulu. Who wants to travel that distance to go to a crowded place like Los Angeles with a beach? I could hardly wait to get back on the ship. Getting into see the 8:00 pm show was difficult. Finding a seat was next to impossible. Bingo was great fun. The photographers took great photos, pricey but worth it. The shopping on the boat was better than on the shore. The have good deals on watches and jewelry. I found shopping on shore to consist of a lot of overpriced cheap stuff and I bought very little. However, in Hilo, just off the boat ramp are local artists who make jewelry and crafts. They had some nice things so you may want to buy from them. I did not see stuff like theirs anywhere else. We purchased the unlimited laundry service for the cruise and did a load about every other day. This really cuts down on the amount of clothes you need to bring. I wish my laundry at home turned out as good as theirs. I don't know how they do it but their service is the greatest and well worth the $100. The staff is friendly and happy. They were a joy and we really liked them. Very responsive to our needs and always available to help. In other cruises we that we have taken, we have felt tipped to death. Besides the daily cabin charge and 15% drink tip they wanted extra tip money for everybody and everything. This cruise is NOT like that. We paid the daily room charge, drink tip (which is automatic) and that is it. However, we did leave some extra for our cabin guys because they worked so hard to make our trip delightful. It was our choice to do so and was not expected. Holland America does a good job this way. Of course, they have other pleasant ways to get you to part with your money. :) I had to use the Infirmary once for a minor problem and the MD and nurses were fantastic. They are attentive, knowledgeable and polite. The prices there are comparable to home so be prepared to pay that kind of fee if you have to use it. Embarkation was a breeze and well organized. Disembarkation less so. They need 5-6 staff members to manage the crowds, lines and bottle necks in disembarkation process. Overall, I recommend this cruise and I will certainly travel with Holland America again. In fact, I am already shopping for my next cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
I will start this review by noting that our cruise was the unfortunate cruise that followed the three passengers becoming gravely ill in Hawaii and was therefore shortened by a day. This shortened itinerary significantly impacted this ... Read More
I will start this review by noting that our cruise was the unfortunate cruise that followed the three passengers becoming gravely ill in Hawaii and was therefore shortened by a day. This shortened itinerary significantly impacted this cruise and made many aspects feel rushed but that is the worst thing I can say about this cruise. Staff Since we were both first-time cruisers we of course have nothing to compare our cruise to but the Holland America staff were nothing short of amazing! The people working on this ship were so incredibly warm and genuine smiles were abundant in every venue. They not only served us well but remembered our names and many of our preferences. Our room stewards Thofa and Sapto were like "ninjas" quietly slipping into our room when were weren't there and taking care of every last detail. For instance somehow our ice bucket was ALWAYS full no matter the time of day. You would see the same people working in the Lido Buffet in the morning and at lunch and many of them again at dinner in the main dining room. It was apparent that none of the staff sleep much! Everyone from food service to bartenders even shop staff were friendly and obviously recognized you. We kept running into this very nice young man named Adi that would just light up when he saw us and was very sweet. This kept happening everywhere we went. Anyone that says anything bad about these people needs to have their head examined. Food Venues I will start with the Lido Buffet. The food here is good and is of course abundant. With the exception of dinner the choices don't change much if at all. Once you've eaten there a couple of days you pretty much are eating the same things. If you want variety the main dining room is your best bet. Still for breakfast and lunch you can't go wrong as it is quick and you get what you want. The Lido Buffet is of course not far from the Lido Pool and the Terrace Grill. This is an excellent alternative for lunch as they serve made to order hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hot dogs. From the second day forward there was also a buffet table set up outside the Terrace Grill with Mexican themed foods such as tamales, nachos, tacos, etc. Very tasty and interestingly enough just about the only food offered that was themed to our itinerary. The Vista Dining Room (main dining room) was elegant and the service exemplary. We chose open dining as we did not want to be locked into one dining time as there is so much to do on the ships. This was an excellent choice as we met the most wonderful people on board and ended up dining with them throughout the remainder of our cruise. By the last night I think our table grew to over 9 people! The food was wonderful and as is the theme ABUNDANT. You can order as many appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, and deserts as you want and we did! We both gained over 5 lbs! Eeek! We also ate breakfast in the Vista Dining Room one time and it was excellent. The only reason we didn't eat breakfast there more often was the Lido Buffet was just quicker and more convenient for us. We had coffee and danishes delivered to our stateroom every morning. This worked out well (too well) as it became our wake up call. The food and coffee was always the right temperature and was very good. One note on this, they have you choose a time frame to have the food delivered. If we chose between 6:30 and 7:00 it would generally be delivered between 6:00 and 6:30, waking us up. While this was a nice way to ensure we were up on time it never failed they would knock on our door before our alarm went off. I certainly cannot fault them for being late! Skip the dessert extravaganza in my opinion. The desserts were just ok. In short food is abundant, generally good, and usually the correct temperature. Occasionally a dish would be a bit cold (you don't have to eat it, there is more where that came from) but overall very good. The cruise line's weak point seems to be anything made from bread. Bread and cake items tended to be hard, dry, or very dense. I suppose this is the danger from producing food at such great quantities. Entertainment Venues There are a lot of bars on this ship with an atmosphere to suit just about anyone's taste. The drinks are priced pretty much the same as land-based bars and they will make anything for you, just ask! The only venue we didn't really check out was the Piano Bar but the couple of times we poked our head in there everyone seemed to be having a great time! I highly suggest getting beverage cards as this keeps the dreaded bill you receive at the end of your cruise in check. We had a credit at the end of our cruise and this was a rare exception to the many people we spoke to. We went to 4 shows in the Vista Lounge during our cruise and enjoyed all but one. Joel Mason (I believe that was his name) did an excellent Eagles tribute the first night but when he did a comedy act on the third we found the humor tacky and not terribly funny. Many left during that performance. The Holland America singers and dancers were amazing and so entertaining. Catch as many shows with them as you can. DJ Brett kept the Northern Lights disco hopping every night with great music from all decades and was a lot of fun. He came out many times to boogie with all of us and was super funny. Truly enjoyed going here and closed it twice! Shopping This is an area that suffers a bit on this ship in my opinion. While the staff is wonderful and the products generally high quality it is a very small area and therefore selection is limited. There is a fine jewelry and watch area, a Holland America branded merchandise area, a venue that changes depending on the traveling "show" that is on that cruise (ours was colored glass jewelry), a small makeup and perfume/cologne area, and a liquor area. In addition to this there is a separate fine jewelry store the showcased different designers. While this may seem extensive they have gone to great trouble to make shopping more about the $300 and over merchandise than anything else so if you like us are shopping for souvenirs and personal items you may find the selection to be pretty limited. Also there was scarcely few items specific to our itinerary. Enrichment Classes On this shortened itinerary we couldn't attend as many of these as we would have liked. The ones we did attend were hit and miss unfortunately. My significant other attended a workshop on shopping in Puerto Vallarta that ended up being an advertisement for their diamond and tanzanite jewelry store partner in Puerto Vallarta, which he found to be a complete waste of time. We both attended a mixology class next to the Lido pool that showcased some of our bartenders making drinks in a very entertaining way and taught us how to make three of their signature drinks. This was entertaining, informative, and you get to try all three drinks they teach you how to make. For $12.50 this was very worth the money IMO. We were so enamored by our little towel animals that we attended a towel folding class the last day of our trip. While this ended up basically being a way to sell a towel folding instruction book it was fun and it was amazing watching the cabin stewards quickly make these towel animals. We bought the book for about $14 and they signed it. Makes a great souvenir. Pools The Lido Pool was a must the first day as it was cold outside and windy at the Aft Pool. The Lido Pool had a lot of children so not for someone seeking peace and quiet. Once we were further down the Mexican coast (around Cabo) the air temperature went up significantly and the Aft pool was full with adults only. We spent a great deal of time here. Speaking of Cabo we had an unscheduled stop in Cabo due to a crew member needing medical assistance. This did not impact our cruise but provided an unexpected preview to this wonderful place. We sincerely hope the crew member is ok. Cruise Stops I'm going to start this by commenting on excursions. TAKE THEM. The reason I say this is the stops are so short if you venture out on your own you could end up with a stop like we had in Puerto Vallarta. I had already been there so we opted for a cab ride to the Malecon to do some shopping and made our way down to some friends on a beach area known as "Blue Chairs". The shopping was a complete bust as was the food along the Malecon, the prices they wanted for their merchandise was ridiculous! We've had better Mexican food at taco shops in San Diego and the vendors weren't haggling at all (likely due to two cruise ships being in port). By the time we got to the blue chairs our day was more than half over and we only got a couple hours on the beach. We had a great time but since a second day that was supposed to happen at this stop was cancelled we felt like we were running to get everything in. Not at all relaxing. We took the Chilean Bar snorkeling tour in Cabo and every aspect of it was amazing. The catamaran was beautiful, the crew was wonderful, and the snorkeling was so incredible. The water here is a beautiful azure blue and the fish and reefs were so very beautiful. On the way back they served endless drinks and snacks. This was easily the highlight of our vacation and was reasonable given all that was included. Once we got back to land we went to Cabo Wabo for margaritas and lunch and shopped our way back to the ship. The food was good (if not a bit expensive) but again the shopping was a bust. Too expensive. Still because we took the excursion we felt like we accomplished something and had a wonderful day. We will definitely return to Cabo! Oosterdam Final Thoughts Many have said the ship is dated and tired. In some aspects they are correct and I guess if you look for bad things you'll see them. There was evidence of worn cushions and one of our friends had torn drapes in their cabin along with a somewhat worn couch. Our room was in better shape but our veranda room was designed for a maximum of 2 people while theirs slept up to 4 I believe. This seemed to make a difference. Our cabin 8105 was on the top cabin deck and was so conveniently located to the elevators, Lido Buffet, and Aft pool. Overall though the ship is in great repair and there was someone cleaning, painting or doing some kind of maintenance all day and all night. I would gladly cruise on her again if she wasn't leaving San Diego indefinitely next year. Someone said a cruise in what you make it and they are so right. Go aboard looking for a great vacation and I assure you the Oosterdam, Holland America, and their wonderful crew will give you just that. Go aboard looking for deficiencies and you will most certainly find them. My advice don't look for deficiencies. Have a good time, we did and booked our next cruise to the Southern Caribbean. We look forward to seeing you there! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Our plan was to fly into San Diego on Friday night, 11/11/11, however due to flight issues, we ended up missing our connection in Atlanta and had to spend the night there and head to San Diego on Saturday, the 12th. We arrived in a very ... Read More
Our plan was to fly into San Diego on Friday night, 11/11/11, however due to flight issues, we ended up missing our connection in Atlanta and had to spend the night there and head to San Diego on Saturday, the 12th. We arrived in a very wet San Diego on time. We heard several times that it hasn't rained that hard there in several years. Embarkation was a breeze as we visited with family and friends in San Diego until about 3 pm before heading to the pier. We were the only 5 people in line and was on the ship in about 15 minutes time after we got out of the car. I knew going into this that Holland America was well known for their elder clients with many "life cruisers". What I didn't expect was for all of these elder people to be so rude. My husband (38) and I (37) were both raised to respect all people, including our elders, but these 14 days tested my patience on every level in dealing with fellow cruisers. We were forever waiting behind people with canes, walkers and wheelchairs. They would cut in front of us in line, run into you with their scooters, push you out of their way, etc. The staff on this cruise was the friendliest group of people I have ever encountered. We were treated like royalty in every aspect. One of the people traveling with us had questions about dinner and wanted some of this and some of that every night and our waiter put up with it with a smile every single night. What a trooper he was! Our stateroom, 5115, was located pretty much mid ship so the location was great. The bed was very comfortable and the bed linens were very nice. The stewards kept our room and bathroom clean and stocked. There is storage under the beds for your luggage and drawers at the end of the beds for clothes.The closets are a good size. There is also storage space over the couch. The room itself shows a lot of wear and tear. I guess I didn't expect this since the ship was just dry-docked 1 cruise prior to our sailing. The upholstery on the couch was very dirty, the "throw" pillows, should have been thrown away, the carpet was stained and the curtains were stained and torn. Don't get me wrong, I did expect a little wear and tear on the fixtures, etc, but I didn't expect to feel like I was staying in the no-tell motel when I paid for the Ritz. This however, did NOT ruin my trip. I have read many reviews from people who felt their entire trip was ruined because of these kinds of things. I am simply giving my observations as part of my review. One more thing, Ladies with thick hair, you might want to bring your own shampoo and conditioner. My hair never felt clean or conditioned using the ship's shampoo and conditioner. The public areas of the ship are all very nice. The Vista Lounge is the only place that seemed cramped, but this was during the 8 o'clock shows. I imagine most of the folks attended that one because the 10 o'clock show was too late for them. The casino is adequate, my husband played a lot of roulette, he was up and down the whole trip we think he ended the cruise about even. I too was up and down on the slots the whole trip, but ended up cashing out with some money to bring home!! I played in my first live cash game of Texas Hold 'em and did a pretty good job of taking the other player's cash home with me too. The food in the Terrace Grill is good and always hot - hamburgers, hot dogs, Italian sausages, and fries. The breakfast in the Lido is EXCELLENT. There wasn't one day that I didn't enjoy breakfast. About the only thing I liked during the lunch hour was the sandwich bar. Any combination you can think of can be created. One disappointment for me was that they never had French dressing for the salad bar. We ate dinner at the Lido one evening and I did not enjoy it at all. I tried the pasta and Alfredo sauce and it was very "wet". No flavor at all, just wet noodles. The pizza is always good for a late-night snack. We ate at the free Italian restaurant, Cantenello, once and it was DELICIOUS. Dessert comes with a plate of cotton candy, which was a bonus! We also indulged at the for fee restaurant, Pinnacle, where I encountered the best tasting steak I have EVER had. There were five of us and we each had something different and every meal was great. Well worth the $25 per person cover charge. The sad part was that we were so full from dinner that we could not eat dessert. We had room service a couple of times - just cheeseburgers and club sandwiches. We knew going that there was usually a long wait for room service, but I don't think that we ever waited more than 30 minutes. There was always a good variety of food in the main dining room for dinner. The food mostly had a good taste and the presentation of the food was always exciting. I have two bad notes about the food in the MDR - the bread was always hard and the steak was never done. On 4 different occasions one or more of us ordered the steak well done and it came out, every time, still very pink in the middle and a couple of time still bloody. Beverages-- on previous lines we had fruit punch as a choice in the buffet, but on this cruise it was water or tea. I did not care for the tea, it is not fresh-brewed, it tastes like Nestea or something and it is lemony. I drank a lot of water, which is a good thing. I came home weighing 4.5 pounds lighter than when I started this journey! The seas were really rough on our first day at sea - it seems like nearly everyone on board was sick that day. Then we had calm seas until we reached Hawaii and then on the way back, the first day at sea was calm and a picture perfect day, and the next three days were very rough. I have been off the ship for over 24 hours now and I still feel myself moving!! - Again these are just observations for anyone reading the review if trying to decide on this cruise. HAL nor the captain can control the weather or the seas. We used the ship's unlimited laundry service (the Oosterdam does not have self-service laudry) It was $98 for our 14 day cruise. Well worth it; next time I can pack 1/2 as much!! (this is laundry only, dry cleaning is extra) Hawaii was everything I dreamed it would be. I would love to go back and spend more time on each of the islands to see what we didn't see during this trip. We took HAL excursions in all four ports. I felt that three of them were well worth the money. The forth was just a motor coach drive to the beach, which, don't get me wrong, we LOVED the beach, but I think $64 a person is a bit much for that "excursion". We did have $100 shore excursion credit from our credit card company so I like to think that that particular excursion only cost us $28! We did not exit the ship in Ensenda Mexico because we had been there before and we were only docked for 3 1/2 hours at night... Disembarkation was also a breeze. If you can get past all the people gathered at the gangway waiting to exit the ship. I don't understand why, if you're scheduled to exit the ship at 10 am, you are blocking me from exiting at 9 am when I am supposed to be exiting. Our luggage was right where they said it would be. Overall we enjoyed this vacation. If you do not enjoy long, leisurely days at sea, this is not the trip for you because you are at sea for a long time. If you do not have a ton of patience, this is not the cruise for you. This is not a "party" cruise line, it caters to older cruisers and they know it and take full advantage of their status in life. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Oosterdam is beginning to show its age, but neither more nor less than any other ship from the early 2000's with only a single refurbishment. Cuisine choices are good to excellent, though the open seating option seems to present ... Read More
Oosterdam is beginning to show its age, but neither more nor less than any other ship from the early 2000's with only a single refurbishment. Cuisine choices are good to excellent, though the open seating option seems to present problems for both the kitchen and the waitstaff. The Canaletto option is inexpensive but good, while the Pinnacle can be either very good or superb. The hotel is once again under the direction of Mr. Deering, with whom we sailed on the same itinerary back in 2005. Our only problem was a somewhat chaotic debarkation owing to delays presented by Customs and Immigration. This ship is definitely not in direct competition with either Disney Wonder or Carnival Splendor on the same route. It is not as noisy and crowded as the Splendor or best suited to families as is the Wonder. In short, it is the only solid standard medium-priced all purpose ship for a wide variety of guests in this market. We had few problems either on board or at the two ports visited. A large contingent of physically challenged passengers was in evidence, which could have been problematic but was not. A typical senior on a walker jumped three feet into the arms of a crewman as our tender heaved upwards at Cabo. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We are a couple in our mid to late 40s and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own 100 CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day ... Read More
We are a couple in our mid to late 40s and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own 100 CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day cruise was posted immediately to our account. Our Mexican Riviera and Hawaii B2B cruise on 11/05/2011 and 11/12/2011 cruise was wonderful. The start of the first leg of our B2B cruise was delayed by one day due to medical emergencies of passengers on the cruise prior to ours. HAL informed us and credited our account $150/pp, which was great for us as we toured and spent an extra day in San Diego. HAL also gave us a 25% rebate on our next HAL cruise which will amount to almost $700. We flew in to San Diego the day before our cruise was supposed to start. We stayed at the Embassy Suites which includes a manager's reception and breakfast. It is nicely located a few blocks away from the cruise pier and relatively close to all amenities. Post cruise we stayed at the Holiday Inn that is located just across the street from the pier. The embarkation process was very easy as the terminal in San Diego is relatively small. Our room #1836 was wonderful. An aft balcony room, always fresh fruit daily, soft robes, a LCD monitor with DVD. It was clean, adequate and somewhat quiet. The room stewards always greeted us with a smile and our rooms were always meticulously maintained. We found the service and dining onboard to be 5 stars. The dining room stewards and wine stewards were a highlight of the cruise. The menu was always tempting. We usually don't enjoy buffets, with the crowds, so we try to stay away from them as much as possible. With that being said, the food choices were excellent and the overall lay out of the buffet was good. On two occasions we dined in the Pinnacle with mixed feelings about the experience. With great service and menus in the MDR our first experience in the Pinnacle left us wondering why we bothered. The second experience was a Cellar Masters Dinner and it was wonderful. We booked the Thermal Suites and daily enjoyed the use of the steam sauna, dry sauna, ceramic hot beds and hydro pool. This was one of the reasons we booked on the Oosterdam. We were always in the gym daily. But found the facility small and overcrowded. We also enjoyed the full promenade deck to walk or jog. The few evening shows we attended were at par with what we had experienced in the past on other cruises. The evenings were mostly spent dancing at the various venues or socializing with our new cruise critic friends that we met at a well attended and organized meeting. The cruise director attended our CC meeting and made a point to talk to everyone. He offered his assistance should anyone have any special requests during the cruise. In Puerto Vallarta we used the ships excursion. The "Outdoor Adventure Tour" with zip lines, rappelling, donkey ride and speed boat was simply "Funtastic". The extra stop at the Tequila "factory" for taste testing was great. The stop in Cabo San Lucas was disappointing as we were stood up by the private tour we booked through "bestontravelnetwork dot com". We toured the town on our own and visited the beach, but weren't impressed. Had the pleasure of going on a private tour in Hilo with cruise critic friends and Ainatours dot com. We stopped by Rainbow Falls, Volcano National Park and a few other places of interest. The last stop was at OneKahaKaha Beach Park which was very close to the pier for some good snorkelling. We rented a black Ford Mustang convertible through Thrifty Blue Chip in Oahu then proceeded to explore the eastern side of the island and the north shore. In the evening we walked through downtown Honolulu discovering the historical sites. It was a wonderful day. The open door helicopter tour was fantastic that we had the pleasure to do with Jack Harter Helicopter Tours in Nawilwili, Kauai. It is a must do for sure. The rest of the day we played in the surf at the nearby beach. The ship excursion of Catamarans, sail and snorkel in Lahainia, Maui was not very impressive and expensive. The town is full of little shops and very touristy if you like that kind of thing. The quick stop in Ensenada was fun. We took the shuttle into town and bargained for souvenirs. Summary - We loved this cruise. The reason we booked this cruise was to relax and enjoy the many sea days. The extra amenities of the Thermal Suite made for a really wonderful vacation. The great service from the Maitre d', to the wait staff, room stewards, to all of the staff members, really made for a pleasant experience. On several occasions the cruise director personally wanted to know if there was anything that he might be able to do to make the cruise a wonderful experience, also there were comment cards in our room on several occasions. Our only complaints are with the bad behaviour and rudeness from some of the "entitled" guests. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We had previously flown to visit all the islands in Hawaii but never attempted this many days at open sea to cruise to Hawaii. We brought along a transport chair for my husband in case he needed it but once on board, he did just fine ... Read More
We had previously flown to visit all the islands in Hawaii but never attempted this many days at open sea to cruise to Hawaii. We brought along a transport chair for my husband in case he needed it but once on board, he did just fine walking. In fact, with so many seniors on board with walkers, scooters and wheel chairs, it was so much faster to simply walk down the stairs to get to the Vista dining room. However we purposely choose a veranda room at the back of the ship for that reason. We started our cruise with a preplanned CRUISE CRITIC Meet and Greet. It was pleasant but I think it needed to be in a private room. The Cruise Director, Michael, was there but he never got around to our section and we did NOT hear any real suggestions or organization within the group. I don't believe the group ever meet again, it just slowly disbanded after an hour or so. Maybe we missed something - we are not sure. But other Meet & Greets we have attended on other cruises had more "structure" to the meetings, but I am not complaining. What people we did meet were very friendly. We found the Oosterdam comfortable and very clean. There were hand sanitizers everywhere! We had sailed on the Oosterdam 6 years ago and laughed when we saw the very same highly ornate (actually very very gawdy) benches and chairs throughout the ship. The style just did not appeal to us but ship was very clean and spotless. Our cabin was nice but we did find the cabin furniture old, dented and looking dated. The couch & toss pillows were badly worn. Jezzyebelle's review was right on - toss the toss pillows! Kudos to Holland America for having the best mattresses. Sealy Posture Pedic Euro top mattress was heaven to sleep on and every night we had the darling towel animals on our bed. I can't rave enough about having our own veranda as people HOG deck chairs and Room 5186's veranda was wind protected. Room service was wonderful and on time every time plus our breakfast always came HOT! With so many seniors on board, we found the early show very crowded each night plus seniors save seats and to be honest, it did take a bit of a patience on our part to deal with so many people demanding instant service and the endless saving of seats. Vacations are what you make of them, so I'll not let these minor things ruin our vacation. We came to relax and chill out, but we did overhear many people complain about the littlest things. Yes, there were constant lines for elevators and you had to be way early to get a seat for any on-board event. After a while we just dealt with it - but because there was so many lines we started to choose to NOT attend many events the last few days of our cruise. It began to be easier just to read a book. Oh yes - as a side note - I attended many FREE Tai Chi classes as I had an interest but the instructor and her pace was annoyingly SLOW. And I am disgusted that they charge extra for YOGA and Pilates. Tsk Tsk. Shame on them. The daily formal teas were lovely. All the food at all meals in general, was good and it is easy to simply overeat because it is there. However, we found most prepared desserts items to be lacking in taste - they were either all too light, moussy or boring. Simple ice cream was the best. One important note - LUCKILY we were prepared for rough seas. I am SO GLAD I read several reviews about traveling on OPEN SEAS. We had a prescribed patch to wear behind our ears, the sea bands for our wrists and Dramamine tablets and we used everything and we felt fine. But many others were sick and the main dining room was near empty the first night heading out of San Diego and the last few nights heading back. Coming back we were a rocking and rolling and just walking down the halls you had to hold onto the rails. HEY! Why do people hang out by Deck 1 and 2 on Disembarkation Day? Is it a senior thing? Disembarkation was a BREEZE except for trying to make our way thru the sea of people just sitting all over the place waiting to get off. We were all told we could wait in our staterooms until our number was called. That's what we did and enjoyed a glass of wine and laying on the bed watching TV until time to get off. By the way, Holland America has a wonderful policy about allowing wine to be brought on board and ok to drink in staterooms. It's a good policy and I hope they always keep it. The entertainment was good and there was certainly enough venues of music to listen to throughout the ship. We liked their free DVD rental policy and their selection was good. The library on deck 10 was very nice and cozy. I was able to read 3 novels on this cruise and really relax. Holland America offered some interesting seminars on computers and photos editing which were great - but once again, you had to get to the event way early to get a seat. The tech instructor was very FAIR - he insisted everyone leave the room after his event to wait in line for the next seminar. I so wish all events could be handled like this to avoid people CAMPING OUT on deck chairs, library spaces, LIDO Deck spaces, etc. We enjoyed all Hawaiian Islands and went on 2 tours. We toured the crater and lava tubes on the Big Island - very interesting. In Honolulu, the Pearl Harbor tour and the tour of the might MO battleship was fantastic. On Kauai, we simply took a free shuttle and shopped. On Maui, we took a free shuttle and went to the beach although the waves were rough. Latter, it felt good to have a lunch OFF the ship. On this trip I did not utilize any services in their SPA. So our recommendation on this cruise is favorable as long as you plan for potential sea sickness and plan to chill out. A couple of bottles of wine would not hurt either! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
First and foremost I will start off as - no question - I had fun since went with my friends. That was my objective - spend time with close friends, sun, read, and eat lots of good food. I have been on the Mexican Rivera cruise on ... Read More
First and foremost I will start off as - no question - I had fun since went with my friends. That was my objective - spend time with close friends, sun, read, and eat lots of good food. I have been on the Mexican Rivera cruise on Carnival before. Due to hurricane we were diverted to Catalina (Come on! Catalina? Seriously? Who pays for a 7 day cruise to stop in Catalina?!) The weather may not be the cruise line's fault - but for the "Holland America brand" you would think they could have picked something else - like say - stay in Cabo for 2 days? We stopped in La Paz on the other day. La Paz is the cleanest city in Mexico I have ever seen. I will probably go back there for a week on my own someday. Cabo is excellent as always! My biggest complaint about cruising to Cabo - why does it always have to be the shortest port stay??? There were 6 of us all together in our group - all age ranges. I was VERY disapointed in this cruise and Holland America. This brand isn't even remotely luxury as was expected. The food is horrible. I've sailed Carnival 3 times and their food was so much better in selections and options. And I believe people's first complaint about Carnival is the food - so that's how bad it is on this ship. While we had a few bright spots (Maha in dining room was lovely, our room steward was excellent, and another waiter in the bar where we met every night made our nightly before dinner meet for drinks very nice) the rest of the service was lacking. Especially the lido deck. My first thought was no incentive for them to even clear plates and refill drinks. And how do you have a Taco special on the deck but out of tacos? Room service is very prompt and on top of it. But that's all I can say for that - zip selection - and zip taste. My best friend (her first cruise) and I splurged and got a balcony on the Rotterdam deck. While the balcony was beautiful - you cannot help leaving with that bad taste in your mouth of such good money wasted for nothing. We could have just flown to Cabo for the week much cheaper and guaranteed good food. On our way off we talked to two guys on our floor who we never met before who were complaining about what a waste of money this cruise is, now that makes us 6 plus two more. How many more? Oh and most of all - the shower is mostly warm, lukewarm and lots of intermitant cold water in between. Had to keep turning the shower off and let it run through the bath - I did not pay for 7 days of cold/lukewarm showers. Obviously the hot water doesn't reach that high up - or it's seriously out with everyone else showering for dinner. This ship looks and acts old. It seems like a cookie cutter ship. Nothing special about it. Important for non-smokers - not a lot of spots for smokers to go - and I certainly didn't appreciate having to have that smoke in my face all day long at the adult pool. No ventilation in the casino. You can't get away from it. On your balcony or on the deck. Sorry smokers - but all cruise ships need to adopt a smoke free environment. Clean air is first and foremost when sailing in the open waters! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
I have cruised with 4 other cruise lines and I have to say, HAL Osterdam was my only regret. Before selecting Holland America, I researched the internet and found they were rated tops in several categories. How?? I must give credit to the ... Read More
I have cruised with 4 other cruise lines and I have to say, HAL Osterdam was my only regret. Before selecting Holland America, I researched the internet and found they were rated tops in several categories. How?? I must give credit to the room stewards, Lido food servers, and Atrium wait staff-they were ALL friendly, courteous and attentive to their guests! Bravo!! We checked into 5002 and couldnt believe our eyes. What a mess! -The mini bar had dried tomato juice and was dirty inside -The carpet was dirty and stained(had to be cleaned on our Cabo shore day) -The wallpaper was dirty, stained, and ripped -Furniture was FILTHY!! Chairs dirty with water stains and ottoman had liquid dripping down -Toilet seat was broken I couldnt believe my eyes! I asked the head of housekeeping if I was being unreasonable or is this typical of Holland America-she assured me it wasnt. I could go on.... Mila with guest relations was nice enough to invite us to the Pinnacle Grill for our inconveniences. By this point we were actually tired of complaining and just wanted to enjoy our holiday. Mila's service recovery convinced us not to take further action. However Louie the wine steward in the Pinnacle Grill sent us over the edge!!!!! We graciouly accepted Mila's invitation with no intentions of taking advantage of the situation. My partner ordered salad and lamb chops, and I ordered soup and steak. We didnt order any appetizers nor cocktails and we split a dessert. We did however order a bottle of wine. I was familiar with some of the pricier wines($200 and up) but not the moderately priced ones and again, my intentions were not to take advantage. I told the wine steward that I was looking for a Full-Bodied Red with a "Strong oak flavor" and ask which of 3 wines he recommended. He suggested the $89 bottle. Louie then asked if I was familiar with Italian wines and suggested another. My experience with Italian wines is that they tend to be lighter but I figured he is the 'expert.' My initial taste was a bit disappointing but as I said, I was tired of complaining and was hoping the wine would later come alive. Also, we didnt see the need to offend our hosts since there was never any mention that we would be responsible for our beverages. After all, I would NEVER invite guests to my house for dinner and hand them a bill for their wine at the end of the night. I wasnt familiar with that particular Italian wine however, I am familiar with 'upselling.' The $108 bottle of wine that Louie recommended was not on the Pinnacle Grill wine list but I did find it the next night on the Atrium list. Its description began...Soft and Velvety with no mention of 'oak'. When checking out Saturday morning, we were surprised to see that Louie added the bottle onto our tab without our consent. We felt taken advantage of, swindled and gouged-exactly what WE set out not to do. What Mila had accomplished through service recovery was not only nullified by Louie but infuriated us!! No one likes being deceived! We spent almost 2 hours Saturday morning with Mila and Louie trying to resolve the issue. I asked Louie how could he recommend a wine described as 'Soft and Velvety" when I SPECIFICALLY as for a Full Bodied Strong red wine with Oak? It was clear Louie's only interest was in fattening his gratuity and not the wishes of the customer. I am a flight attendant with Delta Airlines and my spouse is an accountant with the Ritz Carlton(which Mila informed us is who Holland America models its customer service) and we come into contact with 'thousands' of travelers and are asked daily for recommendations regarding travel. I can assure you(as I did Mila and Louie) that the ill will created by that $30 bottle at cost was not worth it. My spouse assured Mila that this is not an example of how The Ritz Carlton would have handled this situation. The condition of our Suite alone would have dismissed the haggling(which caused us to miss our 11:15 flight). I have never written a complaint letter and although HAL offered us a wine package as an apology, I will NEVER cruise HAL again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
I had actually never heard of HAL before my sister suggested this cruise to us. We decided to give it a shot, we brought 2 of our kids (ages 6 & 9 at the time). I found the kids program to keep off hours, which was inconvenient to us. ... Read More
I had actually never heard of HAL before my sister suggested this cruise to us. We decided to give it a shot, we brought 2 of our kids (ages 6 & 9 at the time). I found the kids program to keep off hours, which was inconvenient to us. Whenever we found an activity that we were interested in, it seemed that the kids club closed during part (or all of it). I take this with a grain of salt because most people know that HAL is geared more towards the 50+crowd. The on-board entertainment wasn't great, again geared toward older crowd. The dining was awesome-my kids still remember our server Ketut 5 years later! I liked that we dined in the same table every night and had the same server. Dining was a little on the formal side, definitely would not show up in shorts and a T-shirt. We did our own excursion in Puerto Vallarta with Aquaventuras Park with the little water park and dolphin "adventure" which the kids enjoyed. For the price, it was a pretty decent cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This cruise was so relaxing, a no-brainer. Embarkation---very smooth. Outside fence of pier it's a little confusing but they are helpful. The line moved fast. Get there early, if Holland has cleared the ship on time from the past ... Read More
This cruise was so relaxing, a no-brainer. Embarkation---very smooth. Outside fence of pier it's a little confusing but they are helpful. The line moved fast. Get there early, if Holland has cleared the ship on time from the past cruise, they board early. Took very little time to board. We did open dining so we went to make a reservation for the first night at Canaletto-Italian Restaurant. There was some confusion at our 8:00pm reservation time but we figured it was because of it being the first night. Service was very slow. But we spoke to others that said the service the second night was much faster. Made another reservation for the last night and the service was spot on. All the meals we had both nights were very good. Dessert surprise was delicious. The open dining was a little weird. They only seemed to have reservations available for 5:15 or 7:45. But we figured out there were never any lines so we just started going when we wanted. Sometimes they seat you downstairs with the open dining and sometimes they took us upstairs to eat with the 2nd seating people. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night---absolutely fabulous. One of the best meals that we have ever had, along with the best service. Worth the $20 pp.Shows---The singers and dancers were good. The magician, impressionist and comedian were good. Some complained about the comedian but we loved him.Bingo was good because they haven't gotten into the "machine" craze like the other cruise lines.The best thing on the ship?------SERVICE The Indonesian/Filipino crew were fantastic. Very helpful and really friendly. Always saying hello when they passed you.Cabins---quite roomy, closet space good. Drawers under beds and couch. Still space for the suitcases under the beds though. All in all a great cruise, really a good value for the price. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego ... Read More
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego and less expensive since we are not dealing with the flights to get us back east for a Caribbean cruise which is next on my list.Well I scoured several sights and found Holland America to be very reasonable with the pricing and it had some decent reviews so I figured I had nothing to lose right? Well my husband wanted Norwegian but we had already been on that ship 2x and Royal pulled out of the area so I convinced my husband about trying a new ship and what a great deal I was getting $$Where we disappointed? HECK NO! Where do I start?1. The kids resisted going to Club Hal first and of course Grandma did not want us to dump the kids, but I told her not to worry the kids would be ok and guess what? After that 1st night they were hooked and did not want to be with us! They wanted to be at the kids club and reluctantly joined us for lunch/dinner when the club closes.2. The buffet was tasty. Do you ever go on cruises were the food is ok and you are just counting down for the dining room to open? Well we don't have that concern on this ship. Sure there might be a few things left out from the buffet but we hardly noticed.3. Beverage Cards - One for alcohol and one for soft drinks..Bigger savings on the soft drinks and I was advised to buy only one for all of us to use. On other cruise ships, I have been advised to buy one for each member of our party (rip-off!!)4. FOOD, oh wait I already mentioned that one. The only thing I would not do again would be the cupcake tea time.5. Movie theater was comfortable and they had the popcorn bags out :)The cons:1. Casino, the way they handle the payouts is confusing. I felt liked I needed 101 classes on how to get the payouts and there wasn't much help.2. Deals on the pictures - too expensiveI'm definitely a fan of Holland America, they keep it classy and I'm glad that they avoid having the waiters sing and dance , well they did have them do it one night but it was just waiving the napkins. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was my first cruise with Holland America. I have previously traveled on RCL, Celebrity and Norwegian. I traveled with my boyfriend who was cruising for the first time. After reading the reviews on this website, we had low ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Holland America. I have previously traveled on RCL, Celebrity and Norwegian. I traveled with my boyfriend who was cruising for the first time. After reading the reviews on this website, we had low expectations, but were proven wrong. The embarkation process began earlier than expected, and it took less than 10 minutes to be processed onto the ship. The cabins were ready over an hour earlier than expected. Disembarkation was just as fast.The food was better than expected and the presentation was outstanding. Service in the dining room was prompt, although slightly slower during breakfast. We were impressed with the crews attention to the health of the passengers, including the provision of hand sanitizer at strategic locations throughout the ship. In addition, the crew served all food in the buffet for the first two days.We took part in the unlimited laundry service provided for the entire cruise for only $50. The items were picked up in the morning and were returned that evening, folded and/or hung on hangers.The best service, bar none, was provided by our cabin steward Gaga. It was even more impressive given that he took care of over thirty cabins on a daily basis. He paid attention to every detail and kept the room clean and stocked with all supplies. Overall this was an excellent cruise for the money and would not hesitate to cruise with Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was quick and efficient...I had a walker so was directed to another entrance since the elevator was not working and was disappointed that we missed out on the boarding picture.The cabin ... Read More
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was quick and efficient...I had a walker so was directed to another entrance since the elevator was not working and was disappointed that we missed out on the boarding picture.The cabin was nice and spacious and the steward was very accommodating but disappointed that our room had a fully obstructed view. Unable to switch room due to the fact that the ship was at full capacity. The Lido menu was the same day after day. The glasses for tea and drinks small (4 ounces?) The food quality and presentation were lack luster and boring. The staff were very attentive & helpful. Enjoyed our evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Room...the food was delicious and the service superb. Met Marco the owner of Le Cirque and he was a gracious host. Entertainment was great...the comedian and Peter Peterkin were outstanding. Most of the venues & poolside were over crowded and had a hard time finding a seat. Tried several nights to attend Karaoke...but never was able to get in the door.We feel the ship needs some TLC...carpet & seats torn in several areas...ship feels claustrophobic at times..low ceilings and dark colors. We have been on Royal Caribbean and Carnival,so comparing them, we would say the Oosterdam is the Motel 6 of cruises. We don't think we will go another HAL cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was my second cruise, our first being the same location on Royal Caribbean 2 years ago. I was cruising with two girlfriends, we all left our families at home. Arriving at the terminal around 11:30 am we took the shuttle to the ship ... Read More
This was my second cruise, our first being the same location on Royal Caribbean 2 years ago. I was cruising with two girlfriends, we all left our families at home. Arriving at the terminal around 11:30 am we took the shuttle to the ship and had no wait and no problems embarking on the ship. We were able to go straight to our room, although I think we were one of the last to receive our luggage later in the day. Took time for lunch and to walk and explore the ship.Our room, what can I say??? We had been offered an upsell and our cabin was incredible. The balcony was great sized and plenty of room for the three of us. The room was large and for three women traveling, each with a separate suitcase for shoes (oops, way too many than we needed), the storage and closet space was great. The shower and tub and the counter space in the bathroom was so nice to get ready every day.We ate in the main dining room twice, in the Pinnacle Grill 3 times and used room service once. I am not an adventurous eater but am not very particular and I felt the food was great where ever we ate. My only complaint would be the wait for omelets in the morning.We were on the ship for relaxation so we did not leave and do anything in the ports so I cannot speak to those items. My overall impression of the Oosterdam is that it is an incredible ship with so many places to go and relax and stuff. If you are looking for huge entertainment, it might not be the right fit for you. We played Bingo, watched a movie, used the casino and took technology classes. Kept busy all the time, but at my pace not a crazy pace. I would recommend this ship to couples, but maybe not families. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Background: My DH, DS (17) and I have been on eleven cruises. We are not big drinkers or party people. DH and I both work really hard professionally and DS is always deluged with school work, so when we go on vacation, we just want to ... Read More
Background: My DH, DS (17) and I have been on eleven cruises. We are not big drinkers or party people. DH and I both work really hard professionally and DS is always deluged with school work, so when we go on vacation, we just want to relax and enjoy each other's company. We appreciate good food and good entertainment, prefer larger staterooms, like our spa treatments and don't care too much about excursions. DS is a shy guy and hasn't participated in a kids' program since he was about 12Embarkation: We stayed at the Residence Inn Downtown in San Diego. The property was within walking distance of the port and they had a free shuttle to the ship which was very helpful. We arrived a couple of hours after boarding had commenced, so it wasn't too crowded. The downside was that there weren't any available porters to meet the van, so DH had to carry our bags to the porter. After that, we had already done online check-in, so boarding was pretty efficient and we received our luggage in the stateroom in a timely fashion.Stateroom: We find the HAL superior verandah suites ideal for a family of 3. DS sleeps on the convertible bed, but he is getting a little tall for it and may need his own stateroom soon. The bathrooms are spacious and have both a stall shower and a combined jacuzzi tub/shower. The room was very clean and in good condition. Although it didn't come with concierge service, it had some nice perks such as the phone concierge, fresh fruit daily and delivery of DVDs from the front desk. Firdaus and David, our stewards, did an excellent job of keeping the stateroom spotless and delivering our favorite fruits. We also noticed that HAL has stopped giving little mini-size Elemis toiletries in favor of big pump containers installed in the bathtub and shower. I think this is an improvement because the stewards don't have to constantly replace these items.Dining: The food was fabulous and Arif, our server, outdid himself with remembering our favorite dishes and beverages every night. The blackened tuna with jalapeno creamed corn was especially delicious. The menu has a variety of choices and "spa cuisine" options every night. We chose to dine at the 7:45 p.m. seating every night. Other guests seemed happy with the "As you wish" dining, but we prefer the consistency of an assigned dining time.Entertainment: "The Marriage Game" was hysterical and it was never vulgar. "The Liars' Club" was also very, very funny. We enjoyed Randall Powell in the piano bar and Leo Ward's magic show. Kevin Jordan's stand-up act was also funny. We didn't see any of the production shows as they are not really our style. We played trivia several times and won the "Name That Tune" contest. Again, we are not looking for big parties or anything like that. The entertainment on HAL was perfect for our family trio to laugh and have a good time. The librarian, Amanda and the travel expert, Monique, were both delightful and helpful.Spa: We all had massages and they were excellent. DS and I used the thermal spa and it was very relaxing.Ports; We walked around the downtown of Puerto Vallarta and it was very nice, especially if you veered off the main drag and checked out the local crafts shops and the candy store. The sand sculptures along the beach are amazing. Los Palomas, one of the restaurants, made us wait forever for our meal and then when it came out, it was cold. I would avoid this restaurant. We never left the ship in Cabo because the view we had from our stateroom of the tip of Cabo and the arch was unbeatable.Overall: I would recommend the Oosterdam's voyage to the Mexican Riviera without hesitation. It is beautifully run ship and an interesting itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
We were on the April 16th sailing of the Oosterdam to PV and Cabo, it was spring break for our daughters, age 17 and 13, (and apparently about 375 other kids that were on board.) A little background, we have sailed 2 times on Princess, 1 ... Read More
We were on the April 16th sailing of the Oosterdam to PV and Cabo, it was spring break for our daughters, age 17 and 13, (and apparently about 375 other kids that were on board.) A little background, we have sailed 2 times on Princess, 1 on Carnival with our kids, and this cruise.Embarkation: Very, very quick and easy. Friendly, welcoming staff this sets the tone for a wonderful vacation.Ship: Very clean, you will constantly see crew polishing and cleaning. As other reviews have stated, it does look a bit worn. You will notice furniture, carpet, tile, ect, that probably should be replaced. It was not a big deal to us, it doesn't feel "ugly" by any stretch, but if you like the latest and greatest, you might be disappointed in this ship.Staff: As I read earlier, extremely friendly! Everyone is very kind and is always smiling. This is a huge plus for us. We like being around happy, friendly people.Stateroom: Ok, we go budget. Cheapest room we could book. Our kids sailed for $199...how can we go wrong with that?? But, that being said, you have to expect and tolerate some mess and chaos. If you have 4 people in a room, expect to have stuff laying everywhere, there is just not enough closet/drawer/bathroom space for everyone. I think our room steward pretty much gave up trying to keep the room tidy. The bunk bed pulls down from the wall, over the king bed. The couch pulls out into a single cot. A WORD OF CAUTION: that pull down bed will get you! We smacked out heads at least nightly on that thing, you can't sit up without hitting it. Every night, we'd tell ourselves to remember it, then BANG, we'd whoop our head again. (ow!!!) It isn't an ideal setup, but it was workable. I'd say, if you are a neat freak and can't handle clutter, go for an extra cabin. I went knowing it would be messy, and just decided I wasn't going to let it annoy me. Another tip for sharing cabin with more than 2 people. Go up and take your shower/get ready in the spa locker room. The showers there are wonderful and there is space to move around as well as a hair dryer and large mirror. I took my showers up there after the first day and met other people doing the same thing. This helped the stress of too many people in the room getting ready. (teenage girls, ya know!!!)Food: The presentation and quality were wonderful in both the lido buffet and dining room. Very, very good. I was so surprised the lido deck had such good food. Special requests for food: Sorry, the Oosterdam gets an D- on this one. They just don't want to deviate from their menus. As an example. my husband was told no Caesar salad available at lunch, no tortilla chips for the guac in the dining room, no NY strip steak available on the last night, (had to get the beef tenderloin) I asked if I could have frozen choc yogurt the last night, nope, everyone gets Baked Alaska. Couldn't just get fresh fruit in the dining room if it wasn't a menu selection either. Please don't misunderstand, it wasn't a huge deal to be told no, but if this is important to you to get things the way you like them, you'll probably be disappointed, or mad. (some people were!)Service: The dining room was inconsistent. Very slow sometimes. Expect to take 2 hours for dining. Then another time, we were rushed and done in an hour. This didn't seem to matter whether we were a table of 4, or 8. The buffet runs pretty smoothly, but expect to wait for omelets and special orders, like sandwiches, waffles. BTW, Mario, the omelet guy, is absolutely wonderful. He alone, will make your cruise a fun experience!! Go find Mario for your omelet. I tipped him at the end of the week, as did several other people. Great guy!Passengers: A little bit of everything, (and lots of Californians!! :) We saw young, old, newlyweds, families, gays, girl getaways, different races. Lots of kids. Everyone seemed to be having fun. This was the most unexpected, the variety of people on the Oosterdam. Everyone was friendly and seemed to be enjoying themselves.Shows: The magician, Leo Ward, was outstanding. So entertaining and funny. GO TO HIS SHOW!!! The comedians were pretty good. The singing dancing shows were interesting. Lots of costume changes. The singing was ok, I liked the dancing. Some people will not like these shows, really a personal choice. The Liar's Club was hilarious, the funniest show all week. GO see it!!! The random, on the spot humor was very genuine and funny. I believe it was on Thursday night.I also enjoyed the piano bar and the music in the Explorer's lounge. Nice variety of music choices. Teen club: Our girls had the time of their lives!!! They had so much fun with the other kids on the ship. I'm not sure if it was the actual club that facilitated that, or the kids just clicked, but they loved the cruise. There were lots of planned daily activities for the kids. Thanks HAL!!!Ports: I think this is so variable by what you do at the port. We enjoyed both ports of call. Went and had a couples massage at the Krystal Hotel in PV. Very nice!All and all, we had a great time, Very relaxing. Friendly and fun. I would say, go with the flow and don't expect perfection, but rather a sincere staff who desires to please but might have a few limitations on what they can do. 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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