1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
I have to start by saying that I have nothing to compare this cruise with since I've never cruised before... I also realize my girlfriend and I are much younger than the average passenger on board but we were not bothered by that one ... Read More
I have to start by saying that I have nothing to compare this cruise with since I've never cruised before... I also realize my girlfriend and I are much younger than the average passenger on board but we were not bothered by that one bit... Neither of us drink and we don't really enjoy the "night life" so we are probably much different from most other 29 year-old cruisers... I should also mention that I love to write, so this is going to be a long-winded review... We boarded the Oosterdam on 4/9... Everything on this cruise far exceeded our expectations, including the politeness of the staff, including the quality and ease of dining, and even including the accuracy and speed of room service...The Food - I will start with room service... We had heard time and again that room service on board the Oosterdam is unreliable and of poor quality... I don't know what all of those people are doing wrong... We had room service 3 times per day... My girlfriend had breakfast delivered at 9:30 everyday... It was always accurate, always at the appropriate temperature, and always delivered within 5 to 10 minutes of the time she selected... Everyday I had a triple-decker club sandwich with no mayonnaise delivered to the state room between 3:30 and 4:30 with chips, an assortment of cheeses and crackers, and usually smoked salmon and a Caesar salad with chicken for my girlfriend... I had the same meal delivered again everyday between midnight and 1:30, minus the salad and salmon, but added a plate of cookies and two milks... The food was always, always, always, delivered within one hour of the call being placed, and only once out of the dozen or so times did they forget to hold the mayonnaise on my sandwich... The food was always at the perfect temp when delivered, it was delicious and pretty close to perfect every time... We did tip $2 for the room service each time... Maybe that made the difference in accuracy and punctual delivery times... Either way, I was 99% pleased with everything about room service and found the majority of complaints I had seen on here prior to cruising to absolutely not be the case for us... Maybe we were just lucky... We did eat at the lido every morning about 11:30 or so... I did not like it when the lido reverted to self-serve... It was much cleaner and more organized when food was served by the servers... Once it went to self-service, filthy hands touched just about everything you could imagine... So, after the self-serve started, we relegated ourselves mostly to items such as the sandwiches, which only the staff handle... So sandwiches it was, and they were great... We had no complaints and we liked our sandwich maker Jaime so much we went and supported him at the Filipino show, which was enjoyable in it's own way... The Vista Dining Room was an experience to remember... We originally had open seating, but on the first day when we tried to change our Pinnacle reservation, one of the staff insisted he had the perfect "Honeymoon Table" for the "Beautiful Honeymooners"... (we're not married (yet), nor were we honeymooning (yet), but throughout the rest of trip, this staff member constantly referred to us affectionately as his "Honeymoon Couple" and we absolutely loved it)... And, he wasn't lying... The table was a perfect little table for 2 and we had dinner with the same waiters (Wikan and Saury, whom we love) at the same table every night at 7:45... We were very thankful he had talked us out of the open-seating... It worked out perfectly... The food was fantastic, with the exception of one night when it was just so-so... Again, we had heard numerous times before our cruise that dinner was a 2 hour affair, took a long time to get anything you wanted, and so on and so forth... We found none of it to be true... The food was always the correct temperature, nearly always tasted fantastic, and we were always in and out within an hour... within 2 minutes of finishing a dish, the next one was brought out... Maybe Wikan and Saury are just the most fantastic waiters in the world and we lucked out by getting them, but either way, it was always a delight to eat in the Vista Dining Room and I was nearly in tears at the thought of not getting to see our kind and affectionate waiters again... Also, as a side note, our wine steward (who's name I have regretfully forgotten) always remembered after the first night that we each took a coke with our meal, and always had it to us within 5 minutes of our having sat down... Absolutely phenomenal service from everyone in the Vista Dining Room... And yes, we went to the Master Chef's Dinner, and despite what we had heard about it being a limited menu and not a very enjoyable experience, we absolutely loved it, loved cheering our waiters on, loved watching them unwind, loved the napkin ballet, and had no problem finding food we enjoyed... Even got to try oxtail soup for the first time... Not half bad... We ate at the Pinnacle one night and it was the best dinner of my life... Upon arrival, our waiter, Jos, led us past all of the tables and chairs to one of the only 2 booths in the restaurant... We felt spoiled already... Then he brought out a tray of 3 different sea salts and proceeded to inform us of what they were made from and what dishes they complimented best... We felt even more spoiled... Then he brought out a special treat from the chef... I believe it was raw tuna, covered in a sweet wasabi like sauce... My girlfriend loves sushi and as such, this was a real treat for her... It was very good and she absolutely loved it... It was fairly obvious to both of us at this point that The Pinnacle is easily worth what it costs and more... We really were treated like royalty by all of the staff on-board, and it especially showed in The Pinnacle... She had the filet mignon and I had the troll-caught salmon... we both figured we'd fight over the filet, both of us being beef lovers, and the filet was excellent, but in fact, it was the salmon we battled over most... Without a doubt the best fish either of us had ever had... It ruined the taste of regular old salmon for both of us... I finished up the meal with the softest, creamiest cheesecake I've ever had topped with fresh raspberries... She had the souffle and loved it... BTW, we were told before boarding that souffle would have to be ordered at the beginning of the meal as it took about 20 minuted to complete... We now know that the ovens on-board the Oosterdam have been updated, and the new technology allows for about a 7 minute souffle, so no more need to order ahead unless you are in a hurry to get out of there, which we were not... We never wanted to leave... I will pause here to say that Jos was without a doubt a joy to be waited on by... Very knowledgeable , very kind, very fun to interact with and just made the whole Pinnacle experience that much better... We were so impressed with the Pinnacle that we contemplated trying to squeeze in another meal there, but in the end found we had too much of a good bond with our Vista Dining Room waiter to want to go another night without seeing him... If people played no part in the decision, only food, or if we could have squeezed in 2 dinners every night, we definitely would have eaten the Pinnacle more often as the food was just above and beyond amazing... I should pause here to mention that even though my review and the constant mention of food intake make my girlfriend and I out to sound like morbidly obese pigs, we're both pretty fit and the amount of food we took in during this cruise is not reflected by our weight... We ate a lot during this cruise, probably 4-5 times as much as normal, but usually we are quite responsible about our diets... but hey, this is what vacation is for, right?Ok, no more food talk...The casino... Since neither of us drink and since we know Holland America makes most of their money on booze and gambling, we felt it our due diligence to donate via the casino, which we did... there was a fun ambiance in the casino when it wasn't absolutely packed, but the machines were definitely very tight... We had a lot of fun in the casino despite never winning much of anything... The machine in the casino that you drop the quarter tokens into in hopes of winning far less tokens than you've put in - I Loved It! I had never seen one before... My girlfriend said, "I've never won anything out of one of those"... I put in a couple of dollars and won a couple of dollars and a losing lottery ticket and a couple of Holland America Dice... I enjoyed it as much as anything in the casino, despite the absolute absurdity of it... The shows... We saw the show the first night... Kind of a high school musical type production... The dancing was very good, and the lead male vocal was tremendous... The lead female vocal however smiled instead of opening her mouth when she sang... It made her hard to understand and sounded a little weird... Overall it was a fun show, and probably really fun if that's your thing, but it wasn't really our thing... We saw the impersonator, Pete Peterkin... He was great... Did a great Obama impersonation, was very musically talented, and overall just a very entertaining individual... We enjoyed him thoroughly... I wish I could say more to praise him, but really, he's just one of those acts you have to see to fully appreciate...Leo Ward, the magician... Poor guy must have had a list of things that can go wrong during a show and was able to put a check next to each one of them, up to and including my girlfriend throwing his plush ball towards the balcony only to have it get lodged in a hole in the wall that cradled the spotlights(yes, that was us)... He should be less insistent on telling the audience members to throw the ball "Anywhere you want"... It was a good laugh though and the show was very entertaining minus the teenagers sitting in the front to the left side of the stage... The few teenagers on-board were not well behaved or well looked after and were one of the very few disappointments about the trip... Don't get me wrong, they did not spoil our trip or make us very unhappy for any significant portion of the trip... They were just very poorly behaved and it was a sad surprise to find as we specifically cruised with Holland America to avoid such individuals... The actual children on-board were very well behaved (at least that we saw), and their parents did such a wonderful job supervising them and keeping them controlled (at least that we saw)... The children were not a problem, only the teenagers...We skipped the comedian, and are now glad we did as we heard his humor was not in the greatest taste... We played bingo once... It was a lot of fun although we did not win... We watched the movie Inception in the screening room... The movie theater was cold and a little difficult to hear at times... As for the movie itself, well lets just say I'm glad I read the entire wikipedia page about the movie before watching it or I wouldn't have had the slightest idea what was going on... Overall, we enjoyed the screening room experience a great deal as we rarely if ever get the opportunity to go to a movie together... It was a lot of fun... And it didn't cost $32.50 for a medium popcorn and large coke, so another huge plus...We didn't get off the ship at either ports... I grew up in San Diego and have been to Mexico many times and my opinion of the place was not changed by Puerto Vallarta... In my opinion, the only thing dirtier than the water in Puerto Vallarta was the air in Puerto Vallarta... The giant Wal Mart and Sams Club almost blocked the view of the dilapidated, disheveled apartment buildings that the locals call homes... I'm sure there is beauty beyond at the lovely resorts and hotels and scenic beaches that the many tourists visit but I did not care to see that... and as such, we stayed on the boat... And all for the best... We love ship life and never wanted to leave, although Cabo did tempt us... The view of Cabo from our balcony was amazing... The beaches and the water and the rock formations... I'm sure Cabo also has terrible conditions that the locals call homes, but in Cabo, it wasn't sitting right outside of my balcony and I'm sure that made a difference in my reaction to it... In the end we chose to stay on the ship in Cabo simply because 12,000 other people had made the decision to get off the many ships docked around us... It was very crowded, and again, even at this point in the cruise, we had not tired one bit from being on-board... We played shuffle board, my girlfriend visited the spa for a much deserved and well-loved massage, and I walked around and looked at all of the absolutely must-see amazing relics and works and pieces of art displayed about the ship... As I said, we absolutely loved being on-board the ship, never tired of being on-board, and even slept better when we were at sea... The rocking of the ship put us right to sleep...The most memorable part of this trip, the one thing that stood out the most, and the main driving factor behind why we will definitely be planning another cruise with Holland America, is without a doubt the staff... Never in my life have I been treated so well by people who barely knew me... My name is Joel and my girlfriends name is Jacquelyn... I'm a fairly slender white guy with long dreadlocks that go past the middle of my back... When we entered the lido the first day, one of the workers on the far side of one of the stations saw me, and broke into a loud, Filipino-accented, broken-down English version of the Bob Marley hit, Jammin'... By the second day, this had spread to the majority of the Lido workers, and the very sight of us usually generated some rendition of some Bob Marley song by at least a couple of them... Our waiters in the Vista Dining Room never called us by our names, but rather by the nicknames they and the rest of the staff had affectionately chosen for us, which was Bob and Jack... The staff on-board were an absolutely lovely experience in and of themselves... We did not treat them as servants, but rather as we would a friend, and it made them all the more lovely to be around... This has been the best vacation of our lives, without exaggeration... We are looking towards Alaska for a honeymoon cruise (an actual honeymoon cruise) and it will certainly be on-board a Holland America ship... Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
While on this cruise I did a type of blog/daily report and had a lot to say - so I'll try to make this one shorter and more concise.Boarding - We arrived a day early in San Diego and took our time decompressing. Wanted to be wide ... Read More
While on this cruise I did a type of blog/daily report and had a lot to say - so I'll try to make this one shorter and more concise.Boarding - We arrived a day early in San Diego and took our time decompressing. Wanted to be wide eyed and ready for the cruise. We booked through HAL directly and couldn't have been more happy with the entire process. Boarding was a piece of cake. Dropped of the bags, walked across the street, pulled out the boarding documents and started down the lines. The entire process from start to finish took possibly 20 minutes. The cabin were ready when we boarded - VF5136 - Closet space was very nice, bathroom was a little small but adequate for two people. We didn't plan on spending too much time in the Cabin anyway. One thing though - HAL's beds are amazing. You will always get a good night's sleep. Dining - Where ever we ate we had excellent service and well prepared, excellent tasting food. We did not dine in the Vista this trip, we opted out for the experience of dining in Canaletto's three nights. All three nights we had excellent service, wonderful food and a very nice dining atmosphere. After the first night, the servers remembered what wine we enjoyed as well as our after dinner preferences. I do recommend that everyone try this upscale Italian restuarant style at least once during their trip. Had room service 4 of the 7 mornings and have no complaints. Breakfast was delivered on time, the correct temperature and always what was ordered. In fact there was more food that what we could eat. Lunch was either the taco bar or the burger/hot dog stand on the Lido deck or a sandwich from the Lido Buffet. Dinner when not taken at Canalettos, was eaten a the Lido Buffet. Not once were we disappointed in our meals. Entertainment - We went to one show in the main theater and saw the comedian. His comedy was more adult and recommend that you not bring the children, but he was very good. We spent most of our evenings in the Crow's Nest and enjoyed listening to David Oates and his music. A very talented entertainer who has a very wide repertoire. The library is well stocked and has an excellent selection of games and puzzles for those of you who enjoy quiet entertainment after dinner. The Explorations Cafe (coffee bar) is on the level of a small Starbucks and you can always get a very nice after dinner coffee or chai. The casino was hosting a "Club 21" event, so it was usually crowded, but a person interested in doing some gambling could have some fun. Particularlly like playing (and watching other play) the game that used quarters and raked them off of the various levels until they fell out. Still haven't figured that one out. Activities - While on board, if a person was bored, that was their fault. There were many seminars (cooking, animal towel folding, flowers, health and well being, shopping and tour excursions) for you to attend and chose your own. Am including excursions in this section - Puerto Vallarta was a two day stop. My husband played golf the first day and really enjoyed the course. It is located near a bird sanctuary and he said it was beautiful. Granted the crocodiles were a little off putting but as long as you stayed away - you were safe. The Malecon is full of entertainment - from the the statues, stone sculpting, SAND ART and the pole flying. The second day in Puerto, we left the town and went off to the north to a tequila factory. Learned a great deal about the liquor and about the area around Puerto Vallarta that isn't as prosperous. When we dropped anchor in Cabo San Lucus - saw some of the most beautiful waters and rock formations jutting out into the sea. A great place for water activities and such. We took an excursion that took us out of Cabo to a small and very nice town called San Jose. Recommend it highly. One side note - don't over pack. Bring enough for three days then take advantage of the laundry service. An excellent deal for your money. In before 9:00 AM back the same evening.And now to the end - disembarkation was easy but did have some issues. Since the turn around on the cabin is so short - you are expected to get out of it long before you leave the ship. Public space is limited when everyone has baggage - suggest that if you can put it out the night before - do it. Then find a public area that is not as crowded - such as an elevator landing on 4th or 5th deck and then wait until your disembarkation number and color is called. That will make the process much easier and less frustrating. It isn't HAL's fault that the crowding occurs. It is the passengers who cause the problems. Over all we enjoyed our trip, have booked another for 2012 (Panama Canal) and am looking forward to that one as well. Enjoy Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
I was very particular about booking our second cruise and did lots of research and this is what I came up with after cruising on the HAL for the last 7 days:HAL terminated the port to Mazatlan..good thingTold us 2 days in Cabo but ended up ... Read More
I was very particular about booking our second cruise and did lots of research and this is what I came up with after cruising on the HAL for the last 7 days:HAL terminated the port to Mazatlan..good thingTold us 2 days in Cabo but ended up 2 days in Puerto Vallarte. Was disappointed in the change in itinerary since did not like Puerto Vallarte as much as Cabo. Many military and police around but we always felt safe on the ports. We did not do any of the excursions but went to downtown in PV and then did jet skiing in Cabo,the teens enjoyed both. Very many vendors in town and on beach, crowded with spring breakers as well but festive.On the HAL itself, excellent cruise for the family or over 50 crowd. The teens were a bit bored, very limited teen program. The pool was a real disappointment as they only had one for the kids and was no larger than a motel 6 pool. The other pool was for adults only. The spa can not be accessed unless over 18 or part of teen spa program. The SS8048 Cabin we were in was spacious but very noisy. I asked our TA if being uder pool we would hear noise, they said no. This is untrue, you can hear everything, you can hear chairs moving, kids running, drinks clinking, all hours of the day. Do not stay below pool area, I will be writing Expedia Travel to let them know of my dismay regarding this suite. But the best thing on the HAL by far is the service, bar none, the staff is excellent, attentive and warm. The food is also very good but limited. Only three restaraunts inclusive, the Lido Terrace has limited food service times or rotate the same type of food all day, pizza, ice cream, burger etc. No sodas but plenty of Juice. The entertainment was good but sometimes advisable to let families know some of the humor was a bit adult or inappropriate. The casino was fine, a casino. The movie theater was small, only 30 people could fit in the theater. There were cute programs like name that tune or family BINGO, but I felt they could expand on the daily programs since we were at sea 4 out of the 7 days. The standouts in service are Andi (Undeee)pronounced in his language, a waiter in the Vista Dining Room and Erwin the chef in the Lido Terrace. They were wonderful and made the cruise a wonderful experience. I think the HAL is great for an older demographic and is clean, well attended and great food, but we will most likely choose a Carnival or Disney Cruise to spend that kind of money next time. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was poor...no porters at taxis, and lackluster efforts.The embarkation line is long and slow. Our party boarded via wheelchair and even that was a bit slow.The cabin was good and spacious ... Read More
Embarked in San Diego and initial baggage handling was poor...no porters at taxis, and lackluster efforts.The embarkation line is long and slow. Our party boarded via wheelchair and even that was a bit slow.The cabin was good and spacious and the steward was very accommodating (though shampooing carpet underway is a bit much!)The Lido menu was the same day after day. The glasses for tea and drinks small (4 ounces?) The food was good, just the same each time.Worst part? No real info on the cruise each day, just a very generic bulletin with too many ads and little useful info. We were scheduled for PV, Mazatlan and Cabo....Mazatlan was canceled, yet we were never informed at all...anywhere! Had we arranged any business, reunion, meeting folks in Mazatlan, the4 trip would have been a disaster and waste of money. For that reason alone, I would not recommend HAL! I expected three ports and got two....not good! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
From the time we entered security from the street until we were in our stateroom was literally 15 minutes. Everyone was friendly and efficient. This couldn't have gone better.Entertainment included energetic, polished and exciting ... Read More
From the time we entered security from the street until we were in our stateroom was literally 15 minutes. Everyone was friendly and efficient. This couldn't have gone better.Entertainment included energetic, polished and exciting production shows. Dancing was fabulous and the lead singers were great particularly when singing duets. Peter Peterkin (the Rockin' President) offered a fabulous hour of musical impersonations from Barack Obama to Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and more. He came back for a encore show the last day of the cruise, receiving a standing ovation both times. Leo Ward put on a very flashy magician show and later offered a follow-up show to teach the audience a few tricks. Kevin Jordan delivered a somewhat dark comedy show which received lots of laughs, although I was somewhat offended by his jokes involving small children and cruelty to animals. A Beatles tribute on the last night by one of the lead singers was great.Darlene and the HAL Cats performed on the Lido deck and Ocean Lounge with 70's, 80's, and 90's music throughout the cruise.We could sing along with just about every song. Karaoke existed, but wasn't a big deal on this cruise. We enjoyed the Filipino show put on by the staff.The disembarkation talk at the end of the cruise was nicely done and ended with the staff singing a farewell song to the audienceFood in the Lido restaurant was served quickly with a good selection from hamburgers and fries to beef tenderloin and trimmings including soups and salads and a desert and ice cream bar. Service was quick--we never waited more than a few minutes to be served. The Vista dining room offered efficient and warm service. The menu offered several appetizers, soups and salads along with six or seven entrees each evening. The presentation and taste of each serving was always done very well. The last night with the staff's show was fun.The Culinary Arts Center was a pleasant surprise with food preparation demonstrations from visiting and cruise ship chefs as well as wine tasting and decoration demonstrations. Craig, who ran the Tech Center, was very approachable and able to teach to the level of audience.Ports of Call on this cruise included Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Puerto Vallarta best area is Old Town which is a 120 peso taxi fare from the ship (or a 6 1/2 peso bus ride--the bus can be caught about 1 block from the gangway. Just look for a bus with Centro to get into town and a bus marked Walmart in the window to get back to the ship). Old town offers a mile long beach front walk called the Malecon lined on one side by shops, discos, restaurants and bars and on the other side by the beach with impressive sand sculptures and rock pilings (once you see these, you'll know what I mean). We stopped by Cafe Roma for Margaritas and to visit Carlos, the head waiter--there is no friendlier restaurant. Beaches are just a few blocks from the ship and also in Old Town. In Cabo we tendered in to the Marina which a literally a mile long walk lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Numerous signs for 6 beers and chips for $10 US. After walking all the way around the marina there is a fabulous beach for strolling or swimming or jet skiing or para-sailing. The town is right off the marina so no need for cabs or buses.Cruise Staff included JT the cruise director who smiled and asked us if we were having a good time, but could work on sincerity and engaging his audience a little more. Amber the party planner was engaging, knowledgeable and energetic. You felt as if Amber would be doing this job whether she was paid or not. Monique delivered the cultural and shore presentations. These were pretty dry and we skipped all after the first, although we had looked forward to a little Mexican culture. Overall this was great cruise on a wonderful ship. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
The Oosterdam is still a great modern ship, but it is looking a bit shopworn is both the public areas and the cabins, mostly just minor cosmetic stuff, lots of nicks and dents, missing tiles and tattered furnishings that need to be ... Read More
The Oosterdam is still a great modern ship, but it is looking a bit shopworn is both the public areas and the cabins, mostly just minor cosmetic stuff, lots of nicks and dents, missing tiles and tattered furnishings that need to be repaired or replaced. It didn't help that we had to leave a note on the first day for the room steward to please vacuum all the crumbs off of the carpeting from the previous occupants and to replace the torn shower curtain that was laying on the bottom of the tub. We finally met our invisible room steward on the fourth day and he was never seen again the entire cruise!!! The food and service were excellent on this voyage, despite three days of Code Red (no self service) which is a big pain for both the passengers and crew. The Pinnacle Grill always exceeds our expectations in both food and service, it is well worth the extra charge. The spa continues to be one of the Oosterdam's highlights and really adds that extra bit of relaxation to make you feel that life is a pleasure. Our main complaint (as with many fellow passengers) was that we went to Mazatlan on this voyage while every other cruise line including Carnival had cancelled it. What were they thinking???...a military helicopter and many many soldiers with big machine guns did not make us feel secure enough to get off the ship when the TV news had stories of more violence the day before. Only the passengers that had tours were brave enough to get off and it mostly seemed like a sea day onboard in this wasted port of call. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
Just got back from the Oosterdam Mexican Riviera cruise... had a GREAT time... sad that it's over. Traveled with my mom (in her 60's) and my ten year old daughter. We were in an SY cabin. We have one other cruise under our ... Read More
Just got back from the Oosterdam Mexican Riviera cruise... had a GREAT time... sad that it's over. Traveled with my mom (in her 60's) and my ten year old daughter. We were in an SY cabin. We have one other cruise under our belt... Alaska with Holland America (three years ago). I REALLY appreciated the reviews from the other guests who have taken this cruise, so I vowed to write one when we got back. I'm not a witty writer, so this will have to do. Pre-Curise: Did priceline.com for 4 star room... got Westgate in downtown for $86 with all fees. Great hotel, great location. I love to priceline 4 star hotels in big cities... get to stay at really nice places at great rates.Embarkation: Arrived at 11:30. Went smoothly. Room was ready when we got on board at 12:00. We were seated for our Mariner's brunch by 12:30. Luggage was a little slow getting to our room, but hey, we're on vacation... no problem with us. We signed up for unlimited laundry and loved it. We filled a bag almost daily. Clothes came back same day (when given to steward by 9:00 am) even though they told us it could be up to 48 hours. The clothes were clean and pressed. Vista Dining Food: Wow! Really exceeded my expectations. I thought the food was OK on our last cruise, but this food was great! We are all picky eaters, but there was always something for each of us to eat. We even stretched ourselves to try new things since it's all "free." Some don't enjoy the master dinner on the last night due to the silliness/dancing, but we really enjoyed it.Cannaletto: Fun change! We enjoyed our experience and appreciated a different dining option that was "free."Pinnacle Dinner: Again, WOW! Great filet, great desserts, great service (albeit, slow)... nice experience. Would do it again.Room: Loved our SY suite. We had an inside cabin on our first cruise, so our suite felt luxurious. Our balcony looked MUCH larger than the other ship balconies that were in port with us (Disney Wonder, Sapphire Princess, Norwegian Star). We spent hours upon hours sitting on our veranda. Enjoyed many snacks/meals from room service on the Veranda.Kids Club: My daughter enjoyed the kids club every time she went, but she mostly enjoyed being with mom and grandma. All of the staff went out of their way to be kind to her... gave her extra cherries in her Shirley Temple, shared a magic trick, gave her a cute nickname, her stuffed animals were arranged in cute ways, etc...) Videos: Great selection. Had all but one movie we wanted.Entertainment: Loved the magician/comedian. Loved the John Denver singers. Didn't go to any of the performances by the HAL singers/dancers.Puerto Vallarta: Daughter and I did the Canopy Adventure - really fun. I highly recommend this excursion. It was fun to get out of town and into the forest canopy. Came away with about 10 mosquito bites each... bring your bug spray. A shout-out to "team D" who were so fun and professional. Mom did the "Town and Fiesta Tour." She really enjoyed this tour and said the food was great.Cabo: We wanted to do the Dolphin Swim, but it was totally full. Daughter was disappointed, but I just told her that mom should have booked sooner than the day of. We took a glass bottom boat out to El Arco and walked around the pier. Service: Really, what can I say except WOW!! Our room steward, Janji was great... I wish I could take him home with me. The Indonesian staff go out of their way to provide little extras and service with a smile - they are amazing. There were a few "human errors" (a missed room service item, a cappuccino that took too long to come at dinner time), but really, this is to be expected. The number of positives FAR out-weighed the number of human errors.The only bad part of the trip was getting off the boat today. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
My husband and I researched the Oosterdam thoroughly in preparation for our trip over spring break, and read such a strong pull of opinions on either side (good or bad), that we realized we just wouldn't truly know until we took the ... Read More
My husband and I researched the Oosterdam thoroughly in preparation for our trip over spring break, and read such a strong pull of opinions on either side (good or bad), that we realized we just wouldn't truly know until we took the trip ourselves.Because of such mixed reviews and not knowing who to believe, I am hoping to do you a favor by providing you with the complete details of the Oosterdam ship that will hopefully benefit your travel preparation! I have traveled on three different ships (Carnival, Disney and HAL), so I think I have a pretty good background to compare this trip to. Embarkation procedues:We waited about 45 minutes between arriving at the cruise terminal in San Diego, and getting to our room. There were people standing around the lobby areas to direct people to their rooms, but approach people-- just sort of stood and waited. I'm 26, and it took me about 5 nights to finally remember how to get to my room! I think the signage on the ship could be better. While we waited to leave, the Lido was open for lunch buffet, and I liked the fact that for 72 hours, HAL staff served foods. During the end of flu season, I saw people sneezing into their hands, and was glad they weren't helping themselves. :) They also have hand sanitizining stations everywhere-- so to the best of my knowledge, there were zero stomach bug outbreaks! Hooray!Rooms:The rooms were surprisingly clean. I was surprised how many different things in the room the staff sanitizes between guests (I saw them doing it)-- telephone, room magazines, remote controls, door handles, etc. Plus, our steward cleaned our rooms twice a day and changed our bedding every day! I was really pleased with how clean everything was-- bathroom and everything. The only thing I didn't like was how we had a concrete verandah so we couldn't see the ocean sitting down. I will definitely research that one more thoroughly next time. Food:This was the downside. The only excellent meal we had on the ship was in the Pinnacle Grill. The rest of the food was just decent. It definitely bore the feeling of being prepared in a hurry and without any thought put into it. Eating for pleasure didn't happen for us on the ship-- we just ate to fill a hunger pang. The Lido was actually better than Vista in our opinion, because the food was prepared fresh right in front of you. The Vista chefs just seemed really overloaded and overwhelmed. Fruit was soggy, entrees were bland, etc. I would recommend booking at least two nights at Pinnacle if you can-- it was literally one of the best meals we had ever! Expect dinners at Vista and Pinnacle to last a minimum of two hours. We had open seating and really enjoyed not only being able to eat when we felt like it, but meeting new people because we'd all sit together. We made a ton of friends this way! Unless you're traveling with a big party, I think you should definitely sign up for the open seating option. Also- HAL's biggest disappointment was how terrible their room service was. Every time we ordered breakfast it was cold and almost inedible, and when we ordered lunch or a snack, we would receive it about 1 - 1 /2 hours late-- again, cold and inedible. Their room service needs total improvement- don't order unless you are ordering the cookies or something. Entertainment:We loved the magician we saw, but the productions were really hokey and honestly not entertaining. We liked doing karaoke and bingo (of course didn't win), and also somewhat enjoyed the comedian. There was tons of raunchiness amongst the entertainment folks on this ship, which is unfortunate given their average guest is 65 years old. People didn't seem to think all of the sexual jokes were that funny. If you're bringing kids, I'd recommend only bringing them to the musical and the magic show. We only went to three performances out of seven because they just weren't great. We'd go somewhere and listen to live jazz or piano and have a glass of wine instead. If you're 35 or below, they have a great dance club that opens at 10:00pm. My husband and I had fun dancing and then just walking back to our room a couple of times. Overall we didn't really feel like entertainment options were lacking on this ship-- they just weren't things we really enjoyed doing. Ports of Call:Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas were awesome. The only excursion we did was visiting Las Caletas, and we had an amazing time. I highly, highly recommend going there, even over Rhythms of the Night. We had some friends who did both, and enjoyed the day at Las Caletas much more. We just walked around town the second day and relaxed. When we went to Cabo San Lucas, we had an incredible time swimming at a nearby resort (Sirena Del Mar). Unless you are passionate about visiting Cabo Wabo and being ripped off by the local merchants, head to a hotel for the day. It's the right way to experience Cabo!Also, don't go to Diamonds International or Tanzanite International. The ship has a huge kickback program with them, but the diamonds they tried selling me were so much more expensive than back home, and they were damaged by so many fingers trying them on then putting them back- yuck. I visited three to price shop, and was incredibly unimpressed and disappointed with Holland America for trying to dupe their passengers so much. You'll see what I mean when you attend the shopping meeting. :)Overall, for $600 pp, this ship was a great experience. You get what you pay for. If I were paying $1500 pp, I would have been sorely disappointed. I don't recommend paying more than $800pp-- you can get much more for your money with Disney or Princess if you are going to pay over $1000! HAL is budget travel at best- and if anything, a great way to see Mexico! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We arrived at the terminal at about 3:00 after driving from the Phoenix area. Except for a minor problem with the new to us car, it was an uneventful trip across IS 8. Since most of the passengers were on board embarkation was quick and ... Read More
We arrived at the terminal at about 3:00 after driving from the Phoenix area. Except for a minor problem with the new to us car, it was an uneventful trip across IS 8. Since most of the passengers were on board embarkation was quick and easy. The first intimation that HAL was losing it's class was the lack of a reception party to give directions to our cabin. Having more than twenty cruises under our belt, this gave us no problem, but one can imagine the confusion for the first timer. Since we were late, our cabin was ready for us. We dropped our carry-ons and proceeded to the Lido for something to eat. The ship was operating under high sanitation procedures so all buffet food had to be served by the staff. Chaos is the best description one can give it. We immediately found that many of our travel "companions" had little concept of manners or respect. Crowding and line jumping were rampant. Too make matters worse, the food was basically inedible. The meat was tough, the vegetables were cold, the drink dispensers were slow, and there was insufficient table space. We avoided the buffet as much as possible for the rest of the cruise. All-in-all, a bad start.Back at the cabin we found our luggage had been delivered. This was pleasant surprise given our late arrival. We found the cabin to be clean and in good condition, but a trifle smaller than we expected. Storage and closet space were very good. Quite surprisingly, we did not see our steward on the first day or for the rest of the cruise, except for the last day as we were leaving the cabin. He did, however, do a good job of keeping the room and bathroom clean and tidy.Back to the food issues. Meals in the main dining room tended to be mediocre and uninspired. Service for breakfast and lunch tended to be slow and erratic. This was a far cry from our previous experience on this ship five years previous. We ate two meals in the Pinnacle room where we found the food and service to be very good, however the Le Cirque experience was somewhat overpriced. Our meal in the Canaletto did little to inspire us since we could have obtained the same food in the buffet. Service was good, but not great.The only entertainment we attended was the Adagio Strings in the Explorer Lounge. This group of talented musicians from Romania provided a pleasant diversion. We did not attend any of the shows.Since we have been in both of the ports we visited, we spent little time ashore and took no excursions. The stop scheduled for Mazatlan was cancelled due to dangerous conditions there. In addition, one day of cruising was shortened to allow our ship to hurry to Puerto Vallarta to assist another ship there with engine problems.FYI. The casino is rather small for a ship of this size. We spent little time there since smoking is allowed. Note that you can now use your cruise card to play the machines (and the table games I surmise) This looks like a great way for the unwary to get into a lot of trouble. We did not see a lot of activity in this area.Make-up of the passengers seemed to be evenly spread from young families to senior couples. The timing of spring break, the relatively low cost, and the itinerary seems to have attracted significant numbers of passengers unaccustomed to cruising and social exposure. Rude behavior in the buffet, loud and inappropriate conversations, failure to make even the most perfunctory acknowledgment of dress "codes" all served to make activity in the public areas less than pleasant. As with all mass cruise lines, HAL is attempting to offset low initial cruise cost with nickel and diming on every thing from specialty coffees to overpriced photos. Disembarkation was well done and seemed to be one of the best organized activities of the week. I seriously doubt any future cruises on HAL for us. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
Second time on the Oosterdam and with Captain Arjen van der Loo and a lot of the same crew members we had in Alaska September 2010. Service was outstanding. EMBARKATION - SAN DIEGO: We arrived at the port at 10:45am. They ... Read More
Second time on the Oosterdam and with Captain Arjen van der Loo and a lot of the same crew members we had in Alaska September 2010. Service was outstanding. EMBARKATION - SAN DIEGO: We arrived at the port at 10:45am. They were still disembarking passengers so it was a mess in trying to get in with luggage as you could not be dropped off at the area you were supposed to be. The people in the terminal were very nice but the terminal itself was more like a large warehouse with benches. The delays and overall inefficiency was purportedly caused by passengers not cooperating with immigration debarkation procedures on the ship(you know who you are!). Not a good way to start the cruise but this was frankly the only "blemish" on an otherwise great cruise. PUBLIC ROOMS: The Oosterdam is a lovey ship with an outstanding crew but, as with any high use public area/building built in 2003, she needs some TLC. No, not in cleanliness which is a super strong point of the crew but in the condition: Missing tiles on the Lido Deck around the pool, carpets and upholstery that need replacing. That kind of stuff. If memory serves, the last dry dock was sometime in 2009. Think it is time for this to happen again. CABIN: First I have to give a shout out to our cabin steward, Frans, who we had the pleasure of cruising with again. He remembered us and some of our likes from our September cruise and he was just absolutely outstanding - I cannot say enough about this gentleman. Note to HM Douglas Hernandez - Don't let this guy get away from you. He's going home in April for well deserved vacation and we wish him all the best and hope to see him again next March on the O. Now, to the cabin: Very nice interior size but the balcony - WOW! The VA's on the stern are huge. Enough for two loungers AND two chairs plus plenty of extra room. The soft goods, like the public rooms, have seen better days. All however was spotless and no residual smells of anything from prior guests. Yes, I would book this cabin again and again and again. DINING: Main Dining Room - In a word: Fabulous. Yes, I said that. I would say that 99% of everything put in front of me and my DH was hot/cold as appropriate, properly seasoned and absolutely delicious. We had Main Dining, Upper at a table for two and were very well taken care of by Verry and Ari, our wonderful dining stewards and Elma our wine steward who was just a gem. Alex was the assistant DRM and stopped by every night to chat with us and see how things were. The Master Chef dinner was, surprisingly, low key compared to past ones. The meal at this event was also much, much better than previous cruises for the MCD. I would encourage those who have avoided this "entertainment" to try it once more. They can ditch the show IMHO so I hope they are listening to our comment cards. Pinnacle Grill: Last September, I was not overwhelmed. Meaning that I found no difference in the MDR and PG. This time, it was a 180 degree difference. The meal we had was the best on the cruise with our filets fork tender and all courses presented were superb in flavor and presentation. Our server Raj was outstanding the whole meal. Definitely a "home run" this time. Canaletto: Ruddin and crew did it again - another great meal that showcased Italian cuisine. And its free. Get to the dining podium upon boarding first day to make a reservation pronto. A very lovely dinner and a nice change of pace from the MDR. Terrace Grill and Lido: I'm not much of a buffet gal. So we only ate here once for breakfast and then two days for hamburgers or sandwiches by the pool. For a buffet it was fine (except for cold french toast - bah, humbug!) but there were a lot of people eating there daily so it must be good. A side note: The worst thing on a buffet for breakfast are the scrambled eggs. I am happy to report that the eggs on this day were hot, soft and very tasty - a happy surprise! Room Service: Had room service breakfast just about every morning. From omelets to oatmeal, everything was delivered on time, hot/cold as appropriate and very tasty. Delivery was absolutely on time as requested AND the coffee was great. They must be listening to us coffee hounds finally. Explorations Cafe: The daily iced mochas were very good and cheaper than Starbucks. Service was good. Bar Service / Staff: Lots of staff still there from our September cruise who I'd like to mention. Reynan in the Sports Bar - We must have made an impression (maybe good, maybe not???) on our last cruise that he remembered us on sight. So even though neither of us smoke (a topic for a little later) and I don't gamble, he was our "go to" guy when we thought we needed refreshment. We have agreed to meet again next March if the planets align on the Oosterdam for more good times. The guys in the Ocean Bar for Happy Hour: "Papa" Bill, Gabriel, Roman, Gene and the rest - they made Happy Hour "happy" indeed. Lots of peanuts, Goldfish, "Good Nuts" on formal nights and of course, hot and delicious snacks during Happy Hour. HH was in both the Ocean Bar and Crows Nest each day for those interested. Seaview Bar and Lido Bar: These guys were slammed each day which meant that service while good was not up to par with the rest of the bar service on the ship. Maybe HAL needs to ensure more resources are deployed in this area? ENTERTAINMENT: We saw one show, Joel Mason....HAL, please more Joel Mason! Willie Tyler and Lester (a comedian and ventriloquist) was also on board and may commented to us that he was funny. Other than that, we didn't see many shows as we had late seating for dinner. CASINO: DH won at Bingo the last day which "helped" the OB account ;) However, because of the smoking allowed in the casino (and NO, repeat NO nights for non-smokers) we didn't get in to play any tables. Which leads me to my bone of contention: SMOKING: If there was a separate section for a rating, I'd give HAL a 1. I was really repulsed this cruise by having to run almost through the cabin area all the way to the back of the ship to get to my cabin because of all the smoke seeping out from the rooms into the hallway. Thank goodness that we only had to walk through it and not have it next door. Also, we are thankful that, being at the stern, we didn't have problems with smokers next door to us, or if we did having their smoke blow into our area. I can live with smoking in the casino and sports bar as that is a fair deal for all, but they have got to eliminate it in cabins. Period. Non-smokers can avoid the smoking areas and if I happen upon them, I do not complain or make "choking sounds" as that is not right. However, we do have to sleep in our cabin and have also paid for our balcony to use and cannot change that to get away from the disgusting smells and its affects on DH's asthma. In fact how HAL handles this will affect our plans for our Panama Canal cruise decision. I want to go with HAL but on the smaller ships, I'm afraid that it will even be worse. OK...off my soapbox. DISEMBARKATION: Again, if you are NOT a US Citizen, you must go through immigration on the ship. Several passengers were called over the PA to get through customs - at 9:00am. Which means everyone was delayed getting off the ship and I hope no one had to miss a flight. So please, anyone reading this going to disembark in San Diego, make sure you do your immigration work at the appointed time for the sake of everyone. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We have sailed on HAL, Princess, RCI, NCL and Disney. The Oosterdam is beginning to show her age, but she is well maintained and is still a good ship. We booked a VH cabin and got upgraded to a VB. We were really pleased with our ... Read More
We have sailed on HAL, Princess, RCI, NCL and Disney. The Oosterdam is beginning to show her age, but she is well maintained and is still a good ship. We booked a VH cabin and got upgraded to a VB. We were really pleased with our cabin location. Just off the hallway by the elevator and stairwell. Easy to get to the Spa and Lido. My husband and I both enjoyed the SPA and took advantage of different specials offered during the cruise. We are not picky eaters and enjoyed all the meals we ate at the Lido buffet. We especially enjoyed the meals and service in the Pinnacle Grill. There is a $20 fee per guest for dinner and a $10 fee per guest for lunch. We enjoyed both dinner and lunch at the Grill. We also enjoyed dinner at the Italian restaurant. No fee is charged and it was a pleasant dinner with good service. Our favorite tour was in Mazatlan -- Salsa to Salsa. This ship sponsored tour takes place in a hotel downtown. Actually, it takes place on a large covered patio area overlooking the beach. First they teach you to make really good margaritas and then to make 3 different types of salsa including guacamole -- DELICOUS! After the food and drink are consumed, they teach you to dance the salsa - LOTS OF FUN. Cabo is a beautiful port with lots to do. We went on a whale watching tour and got to see quite of few up close. Lots of dolphins and sea lions too. We signed up for the Luggage Direct to Airport - great deal. For a $19 fee,per person, our luggage was taken directly from outside our cabin door to the airport. We did not see it again until we reached Dallas. With this option, the ship also prints out your boarding pass, so you can go directly to your gate. Saves a lot of time. We had a Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle the first sea day of the cruise. Kenneth Johnson, Bar Manager, did a nice job of setting up the area for us in the Crows Nest. Even had a sign that read "Reserved for Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle" Always fun to meet the folks we chat with for months before we begin our cruise. Until the next time, and there will be a next time....Happy Sailing Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
DATE: March 19-26, 2011 7 dayDESTINATION: San Diego, PV, Cabo. Mazatlan is cancelled due to reported violenceCRUISE LINE: Holland America Line OosterdamWHO: mom, me and a couple--2 cabinsBackground:My mom and I have cruised before. ... Read More
DATE: March 19-26, 2011 7 dayDESTINATION: San Diego, PV, Cabo. Mazatlan is cancelled due to reported violenceCRUISE LINE: Holland America Line OosterdamWHO: mom, me and a couple--2 cabinsBackground:My mom and I have cruised before. Our friends are first timers.My mom and I take an annual trip. This year, we decided on a cruise. This itinerary was selected because my mom and our friends have never been to Mexico, and San Diego is closer than Florida.If I travel with my husband, our Cruise selection is based mostly on itinerary and dates. In this case with my mom and the 2 friends, it is mostly about convenience, the ship and its service on board.I had been to PV, Cabo with my husband. The only city I haven't been is Mazatlan. I was disappointed when the port was cancelled. However this itinerary still works since Mexico is new to my mom and our friends.I organized the whole trip. I found this itinerary and the dates fit our schedule. A special price for suite came up when I was researching. The price that is normally for a balcony. It was SZ, guaranteed. Which means we won't have the cabin # until we are closer to sailing date. Flight from a US city is usually cheaper than flying out of a Canadian city, especially there are 4 of us, the savings add up. I found Virgin America air flying out of Seattle, transfer in San Francisco, and to San Diego. 4 of us drove down to Seattle 2 nights before sailing date. We stayed in Holiday Inn near SeaTac airport, with parking, was $169 per night. Compliment shuttle was another service we appreciate. However, I am not sure if we would stay there again. The next morning, we found out the flight out of Seattle to San Francisco is delayed 1 hour. We got to the airport around 9am, for our scheduled 11am flight. The storm and fog in San Francisco delayed all morning flights. I assume San Fran is better connecting airport than LAX. Now, I learned San Fran weather is a constant recurring reason for delayed or cancelled flights. All morning, we waited nervously, hoping not to miss our connecting flight. We finally got on the flight around 3:30pm. The connecting flight decided to wait for us passengers in San Fran airport. I learned that we should always connect with the same airline, if possible. A different airline would not be able to wait for us. We arrived in San Diego around 7pm. I used Hotwire.com (first time) to reserve a hotel close by. I lucked out, the hotel was Sheraton! It is located near the airport and the cruiseship terminal. Sheraton is a 4 star accommodation, and the $99 + tax price we paid was great value!!After a long day of anxiety and waiting, we welcomed our sleep in Sheraton. Next morning, with renewed energy, we went downtown shopping! Around 1pm, we headed toward our ship, the main attraction of our trip!Embarkation Upon arrival at the terminal, there was no wait whatsoever. I was told the rush was just over. Right after we got on the ship, we were told our cabins were ready! We were able to head to our cabins right away! And our luggage was also brought in. I was pleasantly surprised! Normally, we would have to wait until 2 pm, and then much later for our suitcases.Our cabin We did get our cabin number 2 weeks prior to our embarkation. We were upgraded to SS from SZ. Because the cabin was under Lido deck, I was concerned about possible noise. With our TA, I had requested a change. I was told the ship was full, and no change could be made. However, My friends and we have connecting cabins: 8091, 8093, which was very convenient for us. After 7 nights, I have to say:noise—did it bother us? No. Did it affect our sleeping? No. My mom and I had been on Oosterdam 5 yrs ago to Alaska, at the end of September. At that time, we had an ocean view. That was not a pleasant cruise. The Sea was especially choppy, and our cabin seemed to rock and bounce much more than other cabins. Also, the dEcor was a bit dated. This time, our suite was very spacious! a 3 seater sofa, a desk by the window, and a make- up vanity near the bathroom. The bathroom has a tub AND a shower! Double sinks, with plenty of storage. Storage / closet space was plenty for just the 2 of us, for 7 days. And our luggage fit under our beds with ease! Love the balcony deck! Compared to what we had on Paul Gauguin in January, this was at lease double the size! Comfortable seating for 4 people, with table and side table! I have often wondered whether a balcony is worth the extra $. My opinion is this: if it is used and enjoyed, it is definitely worth it. With this itinerary, the weather beckoned us to utilize the balcony: great place to enjoy company, cold Corona, snacks, and sun! Even by herself on the balcony, my mom enjoyed the sun, the sight and the city. This was a great place for recording my daily journal. We did encounter a plumbing problem. Drains in both the bath tub and the shower did not drain. I reported it, and the problem was solved promptly. The tub was nice, but we did not use. Could not bear to waste water! ServiceWe have experienced fairly good service. The majority of the crew was courteous, friendly, and ready to help. Here are my likes:I was particularly impressed with people answering the phone—"At your service". Whenever I called, whoever answered the phone was always very pleasant, solution-oriented, and patient, with great listening skills. I was always able to get questions answered, or problem solved.I also like the room service. I ordered coffee, grapefruit, yogurt, and V8 every morning. My request was delivered right on the time I specified. My friends, my mom and I enjoyed our breakfasts every morning in Lido. The crew there were cheerful, joking around, chatting with us,... started our day on a high note. We could always find tables, and the line to get to the food was never too long. Coffee was always brought to us. Cannotelli (?sp)--its intimate atmosphere, its food and the service of the director, and the crew. Because we are "As You Wish" Dining selection, we always make reservation ahead of time. We do not like waiting in line. And we like to have dinner early. The first night, the only time we could get in the main dining room was either too early or too late. The customer service suggested we try Canotelli (?sp?) a small Italian "restaurant" by Lido restaurant. And there is no charge extra. We loved it: the food, the service, the pacing were just right for us. In fact, we tried to go back again, and could not get in until the last night. I suggest you reserve at least 2 or 3 nights during your 7 day cruise. The last night, the maitre'd, the director, and the waiters really went out of their way to accommodate us. They ensured we have the most memorable dinner last night of the cruise. And it did end with this great meal and caring service at Cannotelli!Dislikes: "As You Wish dining" and inconsistent service in dining room. The ambience, the service and the experience of fine dining in the main dining room, I think, are as important as the food presentation. Every night, we look forward to our dinner; it signified a celebratory gathering of good company and ending of a wonderful day. This is my first "As You Wish Dining" experience: I admit I did not like it. I understand the allure of the "Anytime Dining" or in HAL, "As You Wish Dining": For port-intense cruise, (such as Mediterranean), rushing back to a 6pm dinner may not be feasible or desirable. For this 2-port itinerary, time was not much a concern. Our past cruises, my husband and I have really enjoyed the set dining schedules: friends and waiters. We were fortunate that our fellow dining partners became friends mainly because we had dinner together every night, with the same waiter or steward. our waiters always made a positive impression on us. (I can remember almost all the waiters that we have had.) In my opinion, they are important part of our dining experience! A few years ago, we had a family get together with Oosterdam. Even though my family did not enjoy Alaska cruise that much, they would tell you that they would not forget the waiter and his service in the dining room! This trip, "As You Wish Dining" did not work for me because:1) our nightly different table locations had been less than desirable: crowded, tight, elbowing with next table and or the waiters' table. We did manage to have a table beside a window one night (after I expressed that we do not like to dine in the main dining room for the remaining of the cruise.) 2) The pace between the courses was inconsistent. 3) We have felt the waiters were stressed and rushed. I can understand why. I remembered back a few years where a waiter always has an assistant. During this cruise, we had one person serving a few tables; that is: he was responsible for explaining the menus, pouring water, taking order, clearing plates, bringing on new courses. With tight schedule, any request out of ordinary will strain their schedule even more. We were sympathetic, and we tried to not ask anything that is out of ordinary, and also not to linger too long during dinner. However, being more concerned about the waiter every dinner night compromise our dining enjoyment! To us, sharing a wonderful dinner with my mom and friends is a highlight at the end of a wonderful day! I also like to mention2 incidents that were not of normal HAL service standard:1) My mom had purchased a bucket of 5 beers, and told the beverage crew that she would like to bring the bucket back to her cabin, and would like a bucket with handles, easier for her to carry.Instead of changing the bucket, the crew suggested to my mom to carry with her arm instead. My mom pointed out to him that he at 20 something, can carry any way he likes. She, at 68, will need to carry the handles with both hands. She did get the bucket changed to one with handles.After she got back to the cabin with the bucket, she realized the beer bottles were not twist tops! I called for the room service for a bottle opener. We waited for about half an hour (beer was getting warm!), and no one came. Not like them.My mom thought she would get it faster if she physically goes to get one from the bar. Surprisingly, the crews refused to give it to her! They wanted her to call room service. I got mad, and called the room service to return the bucket. Have them to pick up the bucket; it has been almost an hour, and who wants to drink warm beer? Miraculously, within 5 minutes, an attendant showed up, with a bottle opener!I did bring this incident up to the front desk. And a day later, we received an "apology" card and a plate of chocolate desert. I am glad Oosterdam did acknowledge that. I know it is the thought that counts; However, both my mom and I are not too much into dessert. 2) After I expressed that we really did not enjoy dining in the dining room to the reservation attendant, he tried to make it right for us. He reserved a nice table, by the window for us. We were so excited and were determined to ENJOY at least ONE dinner in the main dining room! The excitement was short-lived. Our waiter was stressed and annoyed. And he did not hide it. I sympathize, but I did not appreciate his snarky remarks and rude behaviour. I tried to lighten the mood: I joked that we all ordered the same menu items to make it easier for him. His comeback? "not really, you ordered so much!" because we order soup AND salad? WOW! His attitude and behaviour demonstrated that we were a bother to him. We were an interruption to his already tight schedule. Even though we are the polite Canadians, but if we had said nothing, he would never know the impact he was making on us passengers! Finally, I asked him if we had done something wrong? Why he was hostile to us? He tried to defend and realized he had no legit reasons. He did change his tone after, better but not much. I ordered a latte after dinner. He said the machine was broken. Not sure if it was true. We also waited a long time to get wine steward to notice us. The wine is extra $ for them, should they not try to sell when there is demand? We finally got her attention by getting in front of her. (Our waiter was no help. All he said was she will come.)I did not file a complaint. I think this is a single person issue, it is a bigger issue. I am not sure if there are more passengers who had similar dislikes or I am the odd person. I trust that the ship will tailor their service and change to the market it serves. And maybe I am no longer in the market HAL try to attract?FOOD TASTE AND QUALITYLiving in Vancouver, we are spoiled with fresh ingredients, plenty of seafood, and the variety selection. It is easy for us Vancouverites to become food critics in our own minds. Our feedback on the food may be more critical and subjective. Please take that into consideration. As mentioned above, we enjoyed Cannotelli, the Italian fare on Lido deck. The kitchen was right there, the food brought to us was always hot. The main dining room, I assume it is the logistic of the layout, the food journey further to get to our table. In the main dining room, the steak was not as tender as what we like. Even though seafood and fish were a welcome item, fresh fish was difficult to do in mass production. Similar to chicken. dry and tough. The Alaska king crab legs were fabulous! We also tried Pinnacle Grill. The steak, I was told by my friend, was much better than in the dining room. The lobster I had was excellent. though the sides were a bit rich for me.One area I like to see improving: more fruit selection. I assumed with the abundance of fruits in California, Mexico, the ship would offer the same. And yet, every day, we have the same water melon, melon, honey dew, strawberry. Sometimes pine apple, and rarely Papaya. Not sure if it is because the demand is not there? FITNESS & WELLBEING Did not use the gym, but did walk around the Deck 3. Also noticed classes on the outside deck. ITINERARYAs everyone knows by now, Mazatlan was cancelled. I was disappointed because it was the only port in this itinerary that I have not been. I did know it was cancelled before we sailed. Currency—we did get some Peso for our trip; however, we find we really did not need peso to get by. Everyone we had come in contact accepts US $. Puerto Vallarta—I personally had been there a few times. For my mom and our friends, Puerto Vallarta city center was new, and not too attractive. I went on the private Canopy tour, booked online. The bus driver, and the tour assistants were funny and enthusiastic. They tried hard. I did have a blast! One of my friend chickened out. My mom and she waited at the restaurant, having some munchies and beer. Not cheap! One recommendation I have for those who attract mosquito, cover up or use repellent. I did not, and my legs were covered with bites! Even though I enjoyed the service, the expectation of tips can be exhausting. I find the business of tips / gratuities a bit too much. What is normal service and what is service deserving extra gratitude? Cabo San LucasCabo San Lucas was the more desirable port of the 2. We chartered a tour boat out to the Lover's beach in the morning. Even though there were 2 ships in, the tour boats were not busy. We were happy with paying $6 US per person? For the 4 of us, we had the whole boat to ourselves, and the "captain." We took some amazing pictures. We did not stay at the beautiful beach because we were not prepared.The town itself was full of little shops selling same merchandise. Even though bargaining is the norm, the Mexicans were not eager to part with their ware at our price.Mainly to use up our pesos, we had lunch at The Shrimp Factory, beside the Diamond International. The restaurant was not busy. The food, according to our friends, was not something they would write home about. We did enjoy Corona & Pacifica and tortilla chips in a restaurant just outside the terminal. The place was hopping. The waiter was efficient, and yes, you guess it, expected a good tip.DISEMBARKATIONThe process for disembarkation was a bit different my past experience. All non-US citizens had to wait in the Lounge and go through the US customs before disembarkation can begin. The US custom officers did not have the same urgency as us passengers trying to get off and catch a flight home.The line moved quickly and orderly once the custom officers got into the rhythm. The crew kept us organized, PLUS we passengers behaved well.Our flight was at 1pm. We flew home without a hitch. And then I start to look for my next cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
We have been busy cruising in the last 12 months. We have sailed on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and now HAL. I have previously sailed on HAL, but it has been about 12 years. We booked this cruise for a cheap getaway (no airfare) ... Read More
We have been busy cruising in the last 12 months. We have sailed on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and now HAL. I have previously sailed on HAL, but it has been about 12 years. We booked this cruise for a cheap getaway (no airfare) and to unwind, relax, and not think about work for a week. While we did manage thoughts of Coronas, sun, and cerviche instead of computers and customers, HAL turned out to be a somewhat disappointing experience. What we loved... In general, just about everything we ate we enjoyed. Desserts were very good. We dined at Pinnacle Grill on 2 nights and had enjoyed it immensely. Dining room food was all very good. Loved the Make to order items in the Buffet during the day and the waffles and omelets were worth having every day. I did have a few issues with the overcooking of fish, but all in all a fine dining experience. We booked an SZ guarantee and were upgraded to SY (6102). The room was spacious, balcony large and a great deal for the price we paid. We spent a lot of time in our room due to how comfortable it was. The weather was perfect... which is odd for this itinerary. It was sunny and warm all but Day 7. Our days in Cabo and PV. With nothing at all planned we were able to just walk until we found something that interested us. What we liked... We liked the lack of announcements and the fact that the captain came on hourly on Friday to update the ship of potential tsunami. While many were aware of the safety, the entourage of calls I received on Saturday let me know that many did not. The DVD players in every room and huge variety of movies you can borrow. The Piano bar and Randall were entertaining. Plus there are 2 for 1 drinks in there at night. The price of alcohol was the least expensive we have seen on board a ship. You are able to bring on board your favorite wines for in room and dining room consumption. There was a large number of GLBT on this cruise and the crew was very friendly to us. What we did not like... The formal nights and the plethora of costumes. Men are forced to wear jackets, but let in passengers with jeans. The temperature in the dining room makes this whole evening very uncomfortable. If there are so many restrictions on what men can wear, why can women get away with short dresses, flip flops, etc. They need to either be all in or all out on the formal discussion. The long lines in the Lido buffet. As much as we enjoyed the make to order items, they certainly caused longer lines. In general, the whole area is poorly designed. It did not help that they were serving us food for 4 days due to the 48 hour rule in place on HAL and then a heightened number of GI issues after those 48 hours. While I appreciate HAL taking precautions, they really need to teach their staff a little lesson on cross contamination when they are wearing gloves and how they should changing them when making contact with another person. The better idea is to have someone stationed outside dining areas requiring people to use the sanitation OR people should be responsible enough to just wash their hands. The ship design and dEcor. The interiors are so dark and the lighting so poor throughout that I always felt so enclosed that I never wanted to be in the area. Also, with the sliding roof over the Lido pool taking up much of the deck above it, much of the open deck space is wasted. We did like the open aft pool area and its views. We also like the Crow's nest, though it was always very busy. The vegetarian options on the main menu were not labeled vegetarian. It is pretty standard to have a V or some sort of recognition for those that choose to be a vegetarian. What was appalling... Service in general was a huge disappointment. Our room steward did the bare necessities of daily cleaning. He acted more as someone who turns down beds and replaces towels. We ordered room service late one evening, were told that it would be an hour. It never came. In the Piano bar during "happy hour" Jimmi had ordered a drink and it was made with the wrong alcohol (whiskey instead of Captain Morgan). When he told the server about this he assured Jimmi that it was made with the right alcohol and walked away. It was obvious that the server had accidentally mixed up the drinks, but never took ownership of his mistake. The constant reminder to give high scores on the survey at the end of the cruise is annoying. Simple fact is that if you provide a level of service that is a 9, you will receive a 9. If you do not, you will not. Suggesting what score I should give you after giving me poor service will not change this fact. The general condition of the ship - The Oosterdam looked aged. There were a lot of ripped cushions, broken tiles, torn lounge chairs, etc. Having been on a Princess ship roughly the same age less than a year ago, you can really tell the difference. Not sure when the last dry dock was, but she could use it again. That HAL continued stopping at Mazatlan as long as they did. Our decision was made easy to stay on the ship as we watched the Federali helicopter circling and 25 hummer type armed and manned with 4-5 men lined up across the street from the port. It is a shame that there is so much violence here, it was just astonishing to me that HAL took their chances. I am happy that changes were made to upcoming cruises. I guess you can judge my final opinion of HAL on the fact that I did not buy a future cruise credit as I do on almost every cruise. While I would consider them for another cruise, we are much better suited on Celebrity, Princess or Royal Caribbean. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
arrived in san diego from australia stayed overnight at the doubletree hotel very comfortable but next time will stay at the holiday inn at the port for convenience.embarkation was well organised and quick. went to the mariners lunch which ... Read More
arrived in san diego from australia stayed overnight at the doubletree hotel very comfortable but next time will stay at the holiday inn at the port for convenience.embarkation was well organised and quick. went to the mariners lunch which was excellent but also found out it was open to everyone including first time cruisers so why bother saying it is a special lunch for repeat travellers.cabin was very good and the bed comfortable our room steward simon was greatand very efficient no complaints there.captains cocktail party was non existant virtually one glass as you walked into the vista lounge and that was it not the usual savouries etc and waiters offering another drink.in the 43 cruises i have done this was the worst reception i have ever had.entertainment was very good but unfortunately a lot of things started at 9pm and as we were on late dinner at 7.45pm and the service was slow we had a choice of leaving before the end of dinner to see a show or to enter the show half way throughformal night again was a disappointment,there has always been a dress code for formal night and i have always liked to travel with holland america for that reason as it is always nice to get dressed up on holiday for a special evening, but not in this case people were coming to dinner in jeans etc no jacket or tie it may sound snobbish but if there is a dress code then surely it should be enforced.all in all i feel the standard of holland america has slipped and the line has lost the class it used to have. i doubt it will be my next choise for cruising Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
This was our first cruise on the Holland America Line, the MS Oosterdam. We have cruised the last few years on several Princess Ships, we were expecting a similar cruise to Princess and were not expecting any large differences. We ... Read More
This was our first cruise on the Holland America Line, the MS Oosterdam. We have cruised the last few years on several Princess Ships, we were expecting a similar cruise to Princess and were not expecting any large differences. We booked through a Internet travel agency and the price we paid was very good value. As always we spend 1 or 2 days in the embarkation port and is always a separate a arrangement. San Diego is a great city, with the airport and terminal close to downtown and major hotels. Embarkation was smooth, we arrived at the terminal at 2pm. The check-in staff were very pleasant and after our bags were screened we went to our stateroom, it was very roomy with a good sized balcony and quite private from adjoining balconies, this was different to Princess. The bathroom had 2 wash basins, a spa bath with shower and a separate shower recess. The chairs were a bit tardy but not anything to be a worry about, after exploring the room we went out to explore the ship. The thing we noticed about the Oosterdam was the bold colours in its lounges and public areas we both knew that we were on a different cruise line. We were on the back pool area and quickly found out children were not allowed to use this pool, which is a good idea. There were quite a few children and young adults on this cruise and they were very well behaved and at times hardly noticed. As with all cruises people are wary on the first night and day, though we met 3 other passengers and enjoyed a refreshing drink while we sailed out of San Diego Harbour. Our dining option was anytime and we dined on the first night at the Italian restaurant Canaletto it does not charge a supplement it was very quiet with only 10 diners there at 8pm. The rest of the cruise except 1 night we dined in the Vista Dining room by ourselves or with cruise friends we had just met. We had pre booked the Le Cirque evening, this is based at the Pinnacle Grill. If you are expecting a true Le Cirque experience go to New York or Las Vegas, we both felt the food was not that different from the other dining areas. The soda card is very good value, $25 for a $50 credit and are served in cans not post mix we struggled to use up 50% of the card. There are no laundromats on this ship and we took advantage of the unlimited laundry and unlimited pressing for around $80. During shipboard activities at times there were drinks at 2 for 1, a very good marketing excersise and many passengers took advantage of it. As we had done the Mexican Riviera before and not done any tours, we did the same thing again. Its a shame we were the last ship to visit Mazatlan is no longer on the Oosterdam itinerary this season. We both enjoyed the Oosterdam, made many on-board friendships. I would sail on HAL again but would have to do a longer cruise to make a true comparasion to Princess. With what both cruise lines offer and the price for a cruise we would choose either line. If you want real 5 star treatment you may be disappointed, we only travel by ourselves and always hope to find shipboard friendships in all our cruises this has always happened. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We arrived at the dock at approx. 12:00 to find a line around the entire pier. Come to find out the ship had arrived 2 hours late. The taxi driver took us to the front of the line. The cruise personnel directed to the back of the line so ... Read More
We arrived at the dock at approx. 12:00 to find a line around the entire pier. Come to find out the ship had arrived 2 hours late. The taxi driver took us to the front of the line. The cruise personnel directed to the back of the line so we drug our bags all the way to the rear of the line. 2 hours later as we slowly moved forward we saw other taxi's dropping people off at the front of the line and the people went right on to drop their luggage and on into the building for check in, NOT GOOD! We had pre-printed our luggage tags as requested to do so on the online check-in. We were instructed to staple the tags on our bags but never got a chance to do that before hand. As the line was moving we asked the personnel available if they had a stapler and they instructed us that they would have have one when we dropped our luggage off ahead. When we reach this point and asked the baggage attendant for a stapler he said and I quote "I ain't got no stapler, if I had one it would've never got back to me anyway".... So he then instructed us to fill out bag tags manually and attach them to our bags, we did so and left our bags with the attendant and continued to move ahead with the rest of the cattle. AT this point we were only about 1/2 way there, ugh. The lines continued on and we finally got on-board about 2:30 pm and the ship was set to sail at 5 pm. We made our way to our stateroom then decided to check out the Lido Buffet. What a mistake that was. There were excessive lines, and they were running out of food at every station. My fiancee waited in the Asian food line to only be asked if he would like white or brown rice as that was all they had available when he got to the front of the line. Also, having been on several cruises by 4 cruise lines we have never seen the buffet food being served by the staff in small individual portions. After a couple of days they loosened up and let us serve ourselves but that was really strange. After that fiasco we went back to our room to find that our luggage had not been delivered yet. We went down to the front desk to inquire and after finding yet another lengthy line and waiting our turn we were taken to a room to see if our luggage was in there as unidentified. We did find one of our bags with identification attached, they then changed the story and said they were holding it for security purposes. They stated that they had found a knife in our bag. When we told them there was no knife in it they released the bag to us but we didn't want to haul it up to our room without knowing where our other bag was and they couldn't seem to produce it. After trying to get them to call our room steward to see if our other bag was in our room they kept saying we needed to go up to our room to check for ourselves. We finally took our bag and went to our room and found our other bag there. During all of this the ship set sail and we missed the chance to see the ship leave port and all off the festivities. That is how the first 5 hours of this cruise went. We will just try to give you the pros and cons from here on in. PROS: Entertainment was somewhat enjoyable. The food in the Vista Dining Room at dinner was good and the choices were many. The Pinnacle Grill was AWESOME to say the least. Well worth the extra 20 bucks each. The room steward was punctual and entertaining and the room was very well kept. The towel animals were always interesting. CONS: Entertainment shows were not timed so the people at the late dinner could get there and get a seat before the shows started and the theatre is very small. The portions in the Vista Dining Room were the smallest we have ever seen on any cruise we have been on. The server didn't seem to ever ask you if you wanted anything to drink. The Lido Buffet variety was slim and the quality of the food was poor. It was very difficult to find a beverage person to bring you a soda, etc. The hours that the Lido was open was not conducive to most passengers needs. So make sure to check their schedules before you head down there because you might not be able to get anything to eat at all. We ordered room service twice and they got the order wrong both times. We ordered from the 24 hr room service once and they were out of one item and then wouldn't allow us to use our drink card for room service when they delivered the food. We asked the room steward to keep our ice bucket filled and that was very hit and miss. One night they had a so called "Chocolate Extravaganza" and it was anything but that. The chocolate in the chocolate fountain was like water and the deserts we really nothing special. Also, it took place on the Lido deck by the pool and there was NO lighting there. They brought out portable flood lights so you could hardly see what you were eating. Again there was a scheduling issue with this event. The evening show was still going on when the extravaganza started. Very poor event scheduling. In the room the TV is very small and has a horrible picture. Even in the Screening room the quality of the picture was not up to standard. Should at least HD. The Superbowl was shown in the Vista Lounge where all the evening shows take place and the quality of the picture for that major event was poor and not HD either. That ends our Pros and Cons section. As far as disembarkation went, it was pretty smooth but we didn't turn in our luggage after our earlier experience and carrying them out ourselves was no problem. After all the cruises we have been on we have never ran into a more confused, uninformed and inconsiderate group of passengers. The ship is staffed by mostly Indonesians so the cultural issues are very prominent lead to what we would perceive as inefficiency. Holland America's attraction is price but the money you save isn't necessarily worth it. When we cruise again we will select another cruise line. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2011
The Oosterdam is a pleasant enough ship, but not one to WOW. Our room was up to par. The food was average...certainly nothing to get excited about. The ship itself is quite nice, but not out of the ordinary. The staff were friendly and ... Read More
The Oosterdam is a pleasant enough ship, but not one to WOW. Our room was up to par. The food was average...certainly nothing to get excited about. The ship itself is quite nice, but not out of the ordinary. The staff were friendly and helpful. We did not like the fact that with a party of ten we had to eat at either 5:15 or 8:30. They could not accommodate us at any other time. Anytime dining would be better if it was actually anytime dining. The ports of call, Peurto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas are all easy to navigate. On one of the shore excursions we were told, emphatically, that there would be a toilet on the bus. After getting up early and tendering in to Cabo and walking to the bus, we were told that there was no toilet on the bus. This meant that I could not take the tour. I was quite angry, as we had specifically gone down to the shore excursion office on the ship to double check that there would be a toilet on the bus. But in their favour they refunded my tour and my husband's tour (even though he did take the tour) and the woman who had given me the wrong information came to my cabin and apologized personally. The onboard singers were above par. The magician was average, but Joel Mason, the Elton John impersonator was fantastic. We have seen him on a previous cruise and were thrilled we got to see him again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it ... Read More
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it a chance as the timing was during a week the schools were out so we thought more families would be on board. We were right. According to the "HALs club" staff, there were nearly 300 kids on board. They mentioned that this was a high number due to the break and that next week's cruise would also be high. However, the number would drop to about 30 for the first few weeks in March before increasing during spring break. So, one will get a very different opinion of this line depending on the week traveling. Our children were not excited about the "childcare" upon boarding, but buy the end of the cruise they were begging to go to the HALs club as they became enamored by the programs. The staff there did a wonderful job. The cabin was a Verandah suite and was a bit cramped for the four of us. There were two twins that made a "queen" when pushed together. The third bed was a pull out sofa and the fourth was a bed the folded down above the "queen." There was no room to move around when all the beds were open. However, the room stewards were fantastic. - two room sweeps a day - and kept the room looking nice. The kids always wanted to see what "towel animal" was sitting on the bed after dinner and looked forward to the nightly chocolates. We enjoyed the verandah with the exception of certain times when a neighbor's smoke drifted into it. The suite furniture and bathroom floor were starting to show some wear, but was not a negative. The shows were liked by all. The favorites were the magician and the "Elton John" impersonator. We did not attend most of the programs during the day so I cannot comment on them. The kids when not in the Club HAL spent the time swimming in the Lido pool. The Lido deck would get a little messy by the end of the day, although was cleaned quickly once the rush was gone. We had one day at the spa and had a couples massage. It was excellent! My wife commented that she had not had a massage that good in years. The food was overall good - with a different variety each day. I liked it better than my wife, but she is very particular about her food. There were a few glitches in service. The main dining room's service on the first night was not good. It was very slow, water glasses were not filled, the coffee did not come with the dessert, but well after I had finished it, etc. The coffee in the evening dining rooms was consistently not served hot and the vegetables I had at the Pinnacle Grill one night were lukewarm. My wife said the sushi one night was made with the smoked salmon from breakfast. But, other than what I have mentioned, overall it was good. The children loved the pasta, cheeseburgers and the chicken noodle soup. If you are a wine drinker, take advantage of bringing your wine on board. HAL allows as much brought on as you want. We also a bottle of rum from the line and used it to spike our virgin drinks. At three dollars extra a pop for the "leaded version", it did save money. You can also bring on all the soda and water you want. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We arrived early and spent two nights at the Westgate Hotel booked through Priceline for 75.00 a night. This hotel is old European elegance at it's finest, walking distance to the Gaslamp Quarter, the Embarcadero, shopping malls. ... Read More
We arrived early and spent two nights at the Westgate Hotel booked through Priceline for 75.00 a night. This hotel is old European elegance at it's finest, walking distance to the Gaslamp Quarter, the Embarcadero, shopping malls. small delis, fine restaurants, convenience stores, trolley stop and bus stop. The room was beautiful and spacious. Embarkation on Saturday morning was a breeze. We were at the Lido enjoying lunch just before noon. The surprise was that the cabins were ready at 12:30 with bags arriving about 3:00 making settling in quick and easy. Stateroom: We had a superior suite which had a fair amount of extra room with lots of storage space. The bathroom was the largest we've had on ship. The jacuzzi tub had a shower in addition to a separate stall shower. We even had dual sinks! The verandah had two lounge chairs plus a table with two more chairs. If we decided to invite friends in we could easily seat 12 if we used both inside and outside chairs. Our stewards, Fausi and David, were marvelous. Everything was always spotless. HAL advertises flowers in suites which consisted of one bud vase with one stem of alstroemeria. Dining: The food in the Lido was good but it was always crowded. The service in the main dining room was outstanding! Our waiter and assistant, Yaya and Anang, were attentive, caring and devoted to making our cruise experience stand out. The food left a great deal to be desired which took us completely by surprise. We always said HAL had the best food of any cruise line but they now have added lots of spicy ingredients to almost every dish...a bit overboard on the "exotic". The standout dish of the cruise was the lobster on formal night~it was fabulous. Entertainment: Joseph Tran put his heart into his show and was visible throughout the cruise. The production shows were the same as always. I feel a bit badly for the entertainers since they work incredibly hard but there is not much anyone can do to spice up those shows. As a side note, we had a dancer seriously injured during rehearsal. We had to go into Cabo so he could be air-lifted to San Diego for numerous surgeries. Our prayers are with him and we wish him a full recovery. Shore Excursions: We have been on this cruise several times and did not take any shore excursions. Usually we get off and walk around for a couple of hours and that's enough for us. Disembarkation: Fairly easy although we were in Group 1 and did not hear any numbers being called to the gangway was pretty crowded with people pushing and shoving. As always there were people who failed to check in with ICE, had to resolve payment issues and didn't have cards ready to disembark slowing everyone down. Overall Impressions: The Oosterdam is a little tired and needs refurbishing. I know they did upgrades a few years back and greatly improved some areas like the Library. There is a lot of creaking and moaning heard mainly at night when all else is silent. We do love HAL because but we'd like to see them go back the overall ambiance of three or four years ago. The Chef's Signature dinner the last night left us less than impressed - not HAL style at all! There seemed to be a shortage of crew members with stewards and waiters having to accommodate many more people than they normally would. Huge Hit! The techspert, Craig, instructed many computer classes on digital cameras and photo editing. He was a great teacher and I learned a many things I don't think ever even occurred to me. Loyalty Program: We are Celebrity Elite and have about the same amount of nights with both. Even if we were 4-star Mariners, the benefits don't come close to competing with the way Celebrity treats Captain Club Elite members. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We landed in San Diego about 12:30 on Saturday. We had booked the HAL transfer, but opted for a cab. We were planning to stop and get some wine and sodas for the cruise. Cab driver would not stop at store despite my requests. There was an ... Read More
We landed in San Diego about 12:30 on Saturday. We had booked the HAL transfer, but opted for a cab. We were planning to stop and get some wine and sodas for the cruise. Cab driver would not stop at store despite my requests. There was an airshow going on, so traffic was heavy. We arrived at the ship dock about 1:30. We were pleasantly surprised that the embarkation process was very fast. We went through screening and signed in without any wait. We were onboard and in our room by 2:00! Much better than our previous experiences on other cruises. We had an aft cabin with a nice sized balcony. Balcony had two loungers and two chairs. We really liked the aft balcony as we were well protected from the wind. Many times it was windy on the lido deck, but very comfortable on our balcony! We chose the "any time" dining option and went to dinner several nights. We were seated very quickly without reservations. I thought dinner was very good on all nights. Food was better than I remember from previous cruises on other lines. We joined Mike and Jane from CC in the banner wave. Door on the 5th floor was locked, so we had to sneak out onto the 4th floor bow. Despite some consternation from the crew, we managed to get the banner out! Saturday night, DW won some money at the casino on the blackjack table. Note-she gave it back and more on subsequent nights. Sunday we both hit the gym in the morning and then met with the CC group in the afternoon. Monday was another sea day, but it started with a slow cruise through Bahia Magdalena. This was a beautiful 1 hour excursion. There were dozens of whales that were spouting and breaching. A little excitement Monday afternoon, as a dancer was injured and the ship had to motor quickly to Cabo San Lucas to take the victim to medical help. (Reports are that the injured dancer was recovering nicely). For us on the ship, we got to stop and view Cabo for an hour or so. A prelude to our visit on Thursday. Tuesday we stopped in Puerto Vallarta. We did not book an excursion, but took a cab to the malecon. Visited some shops where we sampled and bought some tequila. We stopped at a couple restaurants, including the Cheeky Monkey that had been recommended on CC. Cheeky Monkey did not disappoint. It is across the street from the beach and provided an excellent view, along with cheap ($1) beers. After that we ventured down the beach and to another restaurant (I can't remember the name). Met several cruisers from other cruise lines that were also in port. Had some tasty shrimp tacos and Mexican beers. Before getting back on the ship, we found an internet cafe that offered one hour online access for $1. We also stopped at the Walmart directly across from the pier for some waters and sodas. Wednesday was Mazatlan. We were not impressed with Mazatlan. The open air taxi had no seat belts and the driver was very erratic. DW was very frightened on the ride to the Golden zone. Golden zone had lots of pushy vendors and a few restaurants. The beach was nice, but overall, we were not impressed. If in Mazatlan again, we will book some excursion, because the Golden zone was not very interesting. Thursday was Cabo. DW and I had been to Cabo once before (about 12 years ago), but had been told that it had changed a lot. It has. We ventured to several spots that we had visited in 1999, including Slim's Elbow Bar, the Giggling Marlin and of course, the Office. We were happy to see all of those places. The lunch at the Office was very good---shrimp tacos and ceviche. Cabo San Lucas is like two separate and distinct areas---there is the Americanized marina area and the town. The marina is a little overwhelming, but the town is still very friendly. This was our favorite port by far. Back on the ship, we had a sea day on Friday, and then back to San Diego. The last night at sea was quite rough and a thunderstorm kept us rocking and rolling, but the rest of the week was quite calm. For disembarking on Saturday morning, once again Holland America did a great job getting us through customs and on our way. The bus to the airport was a little slow (I would not book the transfer in San Diego---it is a short taxi ride and much cheaper than the $17 per person each way for the bus). Overall, I was very satisfied with the trip. Food was better than expected. Weather in Mexico was warm and mostly sunny. Holland America staff was very attentive and friendly. The Cruise Critic members that we met were great: Don and Linda, Rebeccah and Ishi, Mike and Jane and Greg and Bertie. Hope to see them all again on a future cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We arrived in San Diego on Friday night before our cruise and checked into the Courtyard Marriott on Landing Road near the airport on the recommendation of my sister who lives in San Diego. The hotel provided a free shuttle from the ... Read More
We arrived in San Diego on Friday night before our cruise and checked into the Courtyard Marriott on Landing Road near the airport on the recommendation of my sister who lives in San Diego. The hotel provided a free shuttle from the airport and this Courtyard is new and very nice. The breakfast buffet the next morning was delicious and well worth the cost. My sister dropped us off at the terminal about 1:30 PM and we only waited 5-10 minutes in line to get checked in. Holland America allows you to take wine on board and we took 5 bottles, including champagne, and went straight to our room, which was ready. We had booked a superior veranda suite which was roomy and had a huge balcony with a table and 2 regular chairs and 2 more comfortable padded chairs. We liked our room and were pleased with the stewards, even though we rarely saw them. One morning we ordered breakfast room service and it was delivered early and hot. The Oosterdam is a nice ship, but is showing some wear and tear. We ate primarily in the main dining room and all meals were good. The menu selections were numerous, but the service was spotty. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night and it was a nice atmosphere, but the food was about the same caliber of the main dining room. We enjoyed the Elton John impersonator the best of the shows we attended. My wife went to several technology workshops and was very impressed with the instructor and what she learned about her computer and camera. Only one sea day was warm enough to be outside and we enjoyed the adult pool deck. However, it was crowded and only one small hot tub was working. Christina did an excellent job discussing the various ports and was available each day to answer individual questions. She was very helpful and researched the location of a spa that I asked her about. We really enjoyed all of the ports and I will review them individually in the port review section. Disembarkation was a breeze and the luggage handling went without a hitch and we took at taxi to the airport which was cheaper than the shuttles. In summary, the Oosterdam is a good ship and an excellent value for the money. It is not as nice as Celebrity Solstice, but then again, it is not as costly. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Cruised from San Diego to Mexico and back, last FebruaryOosterdam is an old ship. The AC is clogged with all the bacteria that had accumulated in last 10 years from the 50,000 passengers/year carried on that ship and the air is stale, and ... Read More
Cruised from San Diego to Mexico and back, last FebruaryOosterdam is an old ship. The AC is clogged with all the bacteria that had accumulated in last 10 years from the 50,000 passengers/year carried on that ship and the air is stale, and it stinks in the rooms. Early morning, it smells like paint, later, like sewer.We called and like talking to the toilet. And that is another one, the bath, when drained flowed onto the bathroom floor with clogged drainage, and they did nothing about it.The lighting in the room is not sufficient for reading, lucky we had a balcony.On the 5th "great dinner" I was served a Shrimp Cocktail that caused my body to rebel, and the food poison diarrhea that flowed at night onto every thing in this Cabin. Will you be in it in the future?And for the finish line, we all of us, 7 members of our family, got the flue. my wife- pneumonia. What a good cruise, with the Mexico nothing to offer, the ships food just like in any tourist area, for show and plating, not quality of cuisine.Well, not again with this ship or any one over 2 or 3 years old. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Embarkment was a mix, one person telling to go here another telling to go there I have a mobility issue and I don't think they could make up their mind. We waited with rest of people. Rest of embarkment went ok. We usually travel ... Read More
Embarkment was a mix, one person telling to go here another telling to go there I have a mobility issue and I don't think they could make up their mind. We waited with rest of people. Rest of embarkment went ok. We usually travel Celebrity, they offer you a drink and escort you to your room ,missed this on Holland. Room and cabin staff were excellent. Balcony was fab, best ever. Food was very good. But As you Wish Dining wasn't what we expected. The waiters seem to be rushed, went 4 nights, took 1 1/2 hours plus each time. Time between courses was long. When questioned they just shrugged it off. Lido buffet with an elderly couple was better choice. Breakfast room service was the best, always on time and hot (had to wait for the eggs to cool down one morning). I'm going to miss it Biggest complaint was with the hydrotherapy pool, $199.00 to use it, on Celebrity Free. Main swimming pool with 4 working hot tubs was made into kids pool. Adult pool(small)was at back of ship with 1 working tub. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
GOODBYE MATZALAN HELLO MANZANILLO Our 7 day Oosterdam cruise started off on a very easy note. We drove from the Palm Springs area & arrived at the Aladdin parking lot at 10:30 am. We were ready to go to the port right away, but ... Read More
GOODBYE MATZALAN HELLO MANZANILLO Our 7 day Oosterdam cruise started off on a very easy note. We drove from the Palm Springs area & arrived at the Aladdin parking lot at 10:30 am. We were ready to go to the port right away, but they told us that the port wouldn't let them drop us off until 11am. Once another couple showed up 5 minutes later, they decided to take us (I guess 3 people on the bus weren't enough!) At the port, a porter with a wheelchair whisked us from the sidewalk to the port, an another took us to the check-in to the ship. We received an invitation to the Mariners' luncheon in the Vista Dining room. The service was slow, but the food was great, and it was relaxing to sit down instead of fighting through lines on the Lido Deck. By 11:30, an announcement came over the speakers that our cabins were ready, and we could hear a cheer from all over the ship! Our cabin was a Veranda suite near the aft elevators, and it was nice to have the fresh air. We had 2 twins & a pull out sofa for me to sleep on. When pulled out, it was hard to open the cooler, but it was great to have a place to keep milk & cookies for the evening. Love the bathtub! We received our Captain's Brunch invitation in the basket outside the door, and planned on a light breakfast with cabin service. Then came the announcement. Due to the violence in MATZALAN, our 2 sea days before PV were changed to one sea day, then stops in Cabo, PV, and then a new port, MANZANILLO! The brunch was moved to Thursday, the same day as our second Formal night. The clocks moved ahead twice during the cruise. As we arrived in Cabo, a pod of Dolphins & school of Whales were there to great us. I took off to find the Banner Wave, exploring the small casino, lounges, and theater along the way. I was very pleased to find plenty of quiet places to sit & read around the ship, but disappointed to find that the entertainment in those lounges was limited to after 5pm (many other cruises, it was scattered through the ships starting in mid-afternoon). The Neptunes were a great easy listening trio, with a variety of modern songs. In the Piano Bar, we played Name that Tune with Jim, who had a great personality. The Adagio Strings in the Explorers Bar were very soft & melodic. Most of the ship was comfortable, but the Main Deck, and lower level of the theater were Very chilly. The first night, people around me were wondering why they didn't bring a blanket. If you went even a few rows back, it warmed up considerably. The stage had elevators to raise & lower sections of the stage to different levels. FOOD: Great, but I was disappointed in the variety of cold soups available. I was pleased to discover that chocolate croissants were available daily on the Lido deck, and not just in the MDR. Rack of Lamb, Lobster, and lasagna were great, and fruit was plentiful. Royal Dutch High Tea was offered buffet style with lemon & strawberry tarts, chocolate dipped strawberries, fruit tarts, Eclairs, and other sweets. A selection of teas was offered at the tables. The rest of the week, a sit-down tea was served, with tea & sweets brought to the tables. On Friday, mini-cupcakes were substituted for the sweets. On Thursday, a desert buffet with ice sculptures, fruit kabobs with white or milk chocolate fountains, & various cakes & tarts from the teas were offered. The chefs were presented in a parade. The chefs dinner was presented Friday night in the MDR & reservations were requested. A ballet presented by the wait-staff was offered with a presentation of napkins & a mousse on bread, then a Swing dance was offered with the Salad. The Duck l'Orange was delicious, and you had your choice of a semi-baked Alaska (meringue over ice-cream with a bit of cake) or other deserts (I had the flourless cake with raspberry sauce -it was very similar to the chocolate melting cake on Carnival). There was also a rib barbecue on the Lido deck, which I did not participate in (that was the only night crème Brule was served in the MDR, and I didn't want to miss it!). As a disabled person, I was disappointed in the seating we were given in the MDR, being forced to the back of the room, when there were empty tables up front. They then took my walker away, & I had to search to find it. We chose Own Time Dining, but if you don't make a reservation, they will make one for you- we were given a very unacceptable 7pm time one night, which we cancelled & used the Lido deck instead. The Captain's brunch was elegant with a very limited menu and a very talkative Captain, who had a great personality and a fun sense of humor. ENTERTAINMENT: The daily activities were very limited- one Trivia contest a day, except on the day we our schedule was changed & they announced a morning Trivia before we got to a mid-day Cabo arrival). There were 2 day-time Name that Tune (70's - not Disco, and Broadway), with am evening Name that Tune in the Piano Bar, which was fun. Cruise Director TJ Watters handled the games with grace, humor & style, & showed many other talents throughout the cruise. DJ Matt handled Bingo & daytime Name that Tune, as well as a poorly attended Karaoke, but I couldn't really get a handle on his personality. The Karaoke selection book was on a hard to operate computer system, and you cannot bring your own discs. There was a great selection of movies on DVD for rent, but no descriptions of the movies. Films in the Screening room ranged from the Oscar nominated Inception to the Spy- movie send-up Night & Day. These movies were also shown on TV (very limited cable station entertainment- TCM, Cartoon, TNT, Fox & CNN News & 2 Sports channels). Evening shows featured a very talented cast of singers & dancers in three production shows (backed by the HALCATS) , Magician Johnny Tran, and Joel Mason, in a tribute to Elton John and lots of comedy dialogue between. The Finale on Fri night brought back all the performers in a great jam session, where everyone displayed other talents. All in All, it was a very smooth crossing, no accidents, & a new port added spice to the usual MR cruise.. [url]http://s809.photobucket.com/albums/zz18/ccruisequeen717/HAL%20DAILY%20EXPLORERS%20JAN%2011/[/url] Scans of Daily Explorer Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
We were married in September and took the Jan.8-15 7-night Mexican Riviera Cruise for our honeymoon. It was my first cruise and my wife's third. We flew into San Diego around 11am and were warmly greeted by name by the staff. They ... Read More
We were married in September and took the Jan.8-15 7-night Mexican Riviera Cruise for our honeymoon. It was my first cruise and my wife's third. We flew into San Diego around 11am and were warmly greeted by name by the staff. They directed us outdoors to a nice full-sized tour bus. We boarded the bus, and since we were the first to board the bus we sat in the front seats and waited for the other passengers. After waiting about two minutes, the driver hopped in and off we went, the only ones on the entire bus! --So far so good, but I had heard nightmare stories about boarding, long lines, etc. Perhaps because we were early, there was no nightmare, and we were checked in and on board our ship all in less then fifteen minutes. We booked a Superior Veranda Suite and it was wonderful. Jetted tub, separate shower, twin sinks, tons of closet space and plenty of drawers, and the best part of it was the balcony itself. I cannot imagine going on any cruise (and never will) without having a deck. I have done a great deal of traveling and found this to be one of the most favorable and memorable vacations I've ever spent. I seriously cannot think of any single thing or occurrence regarding this ship that would make me want to choose a different cruise line. To be grossly picayune, the ice buckets are quite small and calling room service sometimes resulted in a long wait. Finally, after figuring out where they kept the ice machine, it became much quicker and easier for me to simply walk a few steps down the hall and get it myself instead of waiting for someone to bring it. The only other negative thing I can think of was their special night of Le Cirque, the restaurant offering at a special rate. The meal was certainly excellent, but I paid extra for the wine pairing and I was shocked when they brought a very heavy and sharp Bordeaux to accompany my Halibut. We ordered coffee with dessert, but it was not served until after the creme brulee. It may seem like a small thing, but for a world-class establishment such as Le Cirque, those were glowing errors. Conversely, dining at the Pinnacle Grill was equal to or even better than the Le Cirque experience. The hostess at the Pinnacle was top-notch. On our first time there, we were brought to the back of restaurant and seated next to a table of ten, with little children present. When the hostess showed us our table, she caught the look of utter disappointment in my wife's eye and before we even said a word, asked us if we wished to be seated elsewhere. That's true professionalism in action. The Lido was excellent for wonderful breakfasts and lunches and the midnite buffet contained food presentations that were stunning. We paid extra for spa treatments and massages, facials, and the use of the steam, sauna and hydro-pool, and it was worth every penny; highly recommendable. The Promenade Deck runs all the way around the ship, which is perfect for long walks or jogs, and I found that not all ships have that available. The bars? All very good, although the sports bar could've benefited from a few more TV's, but that's probably because it was during the NFL playoffs, and that attracts a fairly good crowd. Suffice to say, everything about this trip was nearly perfect, and by the time it ended, my wife and I were nearly heartbroken at having it come to an end. From start to finish HAL showed us a very good time and wonderful hospitality. I recommend them highly. 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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