3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary (through the Panama Canal) and the fact we love HAL and prefer the smaller ships.We had done the Canal once before in 1996. We had the signature suite 8094, which was good size. Bathroom had ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary (through the Panama Canal) and the fact we love HAL and prefer the smaller ships.We had done the Canal once before in 1996. We had the signature suite 8094, which was good size. Bathroom had a whirlpool tub and shower plus another free standing shower and two sinks. Large balcony. We ate breakfast daily in the Lido, usually at the omelet station, made to order. Food was always excellent. We had lunch either in the Lido or the Dive Inn hotdog, hamburger cafe outside. A lot of time they had "tapas" in the Lido which sufficed for lunch. Also made to order salads. We really didn't notice any wear and tear on the ship because we were having too much fun. Maybe some paint missing in the elevators was about it. Many raved about the Pinnacle Restaurant, which was an added charge. I didn't think it was worth the extra and the menu doesn't change. The Vista, Main dining room, was great and of course, the menu changed daily. We got a meal in the Cannaletto given to us by my travel agent. It was an added charge restaurant and although it was nice, we won't do it again. We had the signature beverage package so no worry about added charges at the end. Our favorite part of the trip was the staff we met in the bars around the ship. They were above awesome. I would take this ship again whatever the itinerary just for the same people. We became very close to them. We loved the Lido Bar, BB King bar, the Pinnacle Bar and Billboard Bar.We loved the Trivia games and Bingo. We used the spa more than previously. I had some acupuncture sessions for knee pain that were amazing. My daughter and sis had several facials and manicures they were very happy with. I used the fitness center daily which was quite adequate. The Crow's Nest was great for watching the ocean go by and reading or internet. Unfortunately the internet availability was awful. i would never have spent the money if I knew it would just be wasted. Their reason for bad internet might be because we were in the middle of nowhere. Last year we cruised Princess, a sister ship, around South America and had much better reception so middle of nowhere is no excuse. I didn't take any of the ship's excursions but my kids did and were happy with all. Maybe we should have, especially in Corinto, Nicaragua, because there was nothing to do at the port. Probably my favorite cruise of all time!!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We chose this cruise because it was easy port to drive to and we wanted to celebrate my Mom’s 75th birthday on 02/26. The itinerary was round trip out of San Diego and the port stops were Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. We stayed ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was easy port to drive to and we wanted to celebrate my Mom’s 75th birthday on 02/26. The itinerary was round trip out of San Diego and the port stops were Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. We stayed in a Signature Suite. There were 3 adults in our room, one of whom used a rollator to get around off ship and used a cane to get around on ship. It was my first time sailing Holland America and some of the cruise critic postings made me wonder if this was the right line/ship for us. It turns out we had a great time. We bought the Thermal Suite spa passes and spent several hours relaxing there each day. We only made it to a couple of the shows, but we entertained ourselves with many hands of pinochle, thermal spa visits, reading on the balcony, and generally relaxing. In fact, we came home, and we all agreed that we wished it had been longer and we were ready for the next cruise. Pros: The smaller ship size meant that the buffet wasn’t too crazy and we always managed to sit in the same general area. The buffet was generally good and I was worried that the fact they had to serve many dishes v self serve would slow down the process, but it didn’t bother me on the ship. We liked the pool deck layout with so much space devoted to tables instead of loungers. It made it more useful for us. Cons: Main dining room food was pretty bland. I tried ordering some spicier dishes, but they always came out barely spiced. We would sail Holland America again if the price/itinerary was right for us. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We like the convenient departure from San Diego, the port call at Puerto Vallarta and Holland America hospitality. Cabo and Mazatlán were ok but nothing special. The food quality and variety was very good in the dining room and on the ... Read More
We like the convenient departure from San Diego, the port call at Puerto Vallarta and Holland America hospitality. Cabo and Mazatlán were ok but nothing special. The food quality and variety was very good in the dining room and on the Lido deck. One should have hamburger and fries at least once in the voyage. Formal dinners were enjoyed, especially the steak and lobster. The musical entertainment in the ships showroom, Lincoln Center, BB King venue was excellent and the comedian was very funny. There was a good selection of movies available but I did miss CNN, they had MSNBC and FOX.The embarkation and disembarkation was well organized and ran smoothly. We had a midship verandah room which was comfortable and clean. The Oosterdam is a very nice vessel and this was our 8th cruise with three on Holland America. The clientele are definitely on the mature side. I did read a book but did find the ships library to be on the meager side. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
I have been on a bunch of Royal Caribbean cruises, in watching Scott singer's cruises I was wanting to get back to cruising again, but wanted to try Holland America, since the port is so close to me it's a great trip to go ... Read More
I have been on a bunch of Royal Caribbean cruises, in watching Scott singer's cruises I was wanting to get back to cruising again, but wanted to try Holland America, since the port is so close to me it's a great trip to go without flying! I was very pleased on how the overall cruise was, for me this one was for just relaxing and spending to some quality time with my daughter as well. this cruise was just my daughter and myself. I must say very happy the way Holland does there cruises, the service and food it what stood out to me. yeah this this line doesn't have the rock climbing wall, wave machine etc, but it is the old style of cruising of which I cherish. Without having to fly it was easier to upgrade the room to the Signature Suite! I love the layout of these suites, having a daughter go,makesthe bathroom double sink a bigger deal than I thought! plenty of room to spread out in the bathroom, plus having a separate shower was big deal too! Balcony - I always love being out on it. tough to cruise without a balcony, so I guess that's what happens when you get upgraded you can never go back to a regular room! overall I love Holland America, will be a customer for sure! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Four of us sailed from San Diego on January 3, 2018 on the upgraded Oosterdam. Having sailed on her years ago, I was, with one exception, pleasantly surprised. HAL has always had good service, and on this cruise the dining room staff was ... Read More
Four of us sailed from San Diego on January 3, 2018 on the upgraded Oosterdam. Having sailed on her years ago, I was, with one exception, pleasantly surprised. HAL has always had good service, and on this cruise the dining room staff was extremely understaffed. They soldiered on but it was the slowest service I have had in 28 cruises. One of the staff told me that part of the problem was that the Oosterdam was going in to dry dock and that some of the employees had ben assigned elsewhere in anticipation. Now for the good stuff: the parts of the ship they have remodeled are just beautiful, particularly the Atrium ( don't miss happy hour by the piano,) the dining room, and the buffet area. 10 years ago the ship looked like it was decorated by a clown with garish orange, purple and red primary colors. Also, we sprung for a signature suite and it was outstanding, particularly with the large tv and on demand movies. I used to bring my own coffee and French press on board but there is no longer that need; the new coffee is quite good. The food as a whole was better than the other 5 HAL cruises I have enjoyed. A highlight was Lincoln Center at sea, where a piano quintet played a couple of times per day; the five ladies were so very talented, and the concerts were quite well attended. Also, the new Billboard on Board was terrific for those of us who love piano bars. Unlike in the old days, everyone who wanted to could find a seat; one nit is that the casino is next-door and way too loud, annoying those of us enjoying the musicians. The BBC Earth focused game shows were fun, and the MainStage video of the Arctic poles, with accompanying live music was a highlight. The ships shows were mediocre otherwise. Every morning I would take coffee up to the Crows Nest, which is so comfortable and do the NY Times crossword puzzle. It was so civilized. In summary, if the Oosterdam gets back to standard HAL service, it is a wonderful ship, and HAL should be commended for fixing most of the problems, and enhancing the experience for those of us who drifted to Celebrity and Princess simply because the old ships were ugly. I look forward to trying the other Vista Class ships once they are upgraded like the Oosterdam and Westerdam have been. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I normally don't write reviews anymore, but having just read two reviews rating their Panama Canal cruises as average, I feel I need to give my opinion to help bring the average up to where it belongs. The ship is not ... Read More
I normally don't write reviews anymore, but having just read two reviews rating their Panama Canal cruises as average, I feel I need to give my opinion to help bring the average up to where it belongs. The ship is not "tired" as one reviewer said, in my opinion of course. The ship is in great shape. The food is "good but not excellent" one reviewer said. That can be said about almost every cruise and cruise line. This was my 37th cruise so I do have many with which to compare. There were many activities on board to keep one involved during the days and evenings. During the evening there was a quartet playing classical music, a couple at two pianos playing and singing popular music as well as the main shows, movies and the casino. The enrichment speaker and the Panama Canal movies were excellent. The cruise director, TJ, and his assistant Francisco were excellent, friendly and good humored. They were the only cruise director staff on this cruise so they had a lot to do. The trivia games were well attended and varied, being competitive and fun. The evening main shows were the best I have encountered on recent cruises. The ports were not very exciting to me but that is to be expected traveling from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. we did take a tour to San Jose, Costa Rica, and tour old town Cartagena, Columbia. It was the transit of the Panama Canal that was the feature of the cruise. We were well informed before entering the canal by the enrichment speakers and movies so we were prepared to see the highlights. There was a running narration as we progressed through the canal which also helped. Overall it was a wonderful cruise on a great ship. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Just got off Oct 7th (2017) Mexican Riviera cruise, and couldn't be more impressed with the updates to the Oosterdam. This is the fifth time we sailed on her, and she looks like a new build. We were in a Neptune suite, with a ... Read More
Just got off Oct 7th (2017) Mexican Riviera cruise, and couldn't be more impressed with the updates to the Oosterdam. This is the fifth time we sailed on her, and she looks like a new build. We were in a Neptune suite, with a gorgeous 55" LCD TV, tons of power outlets and USB jacks next to the bed, with updated furniture and bathroom with dual sinks and separate shower/bath combo. Embarkation went smoothly, as were let onto the ship at about 11:40. Lunch for Mariners was in the main dining room - also refurbished with nice chairs and tables. Dining: I started on a partly vegetarian kick, (eating meat only two days a week) and was pleased to see a separate vegetarian menu, as well as some very nice selections available every meal. We loved that HAL still allows us to have traditional dining, and we loved having our waiters and wine steward remember having our favorite drinks ready for us. My grand-niece (5) had to have a fruit plate every night, and our waiters made sure it was ready the moment we sat down. HAL has IMHO been cutting down the serving sizes on their meals, but as I have been getting older, it seems like I still can't finish everything. The surf and turf night is really popular, and my nephew ordered multiple lobster tails and filets. One of the best places to grab a lunch is the Dive In burger and hot dog spot near the pool. The fries are fantastic, as are the Nathan's hot dogs and the variations of burgers. Wish they were open later in the evening, FYI the burgers are available from room service 24/7. The Lido provides the usual cruise buffet choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a limited service for late night (10:30 - midnight). Very impressed at how nice and tidy the service stations were, makes the food more appetizing. Entertainment: The showroom was also updated with a huge LED backdrop video screen and multiple moving screens, all high resolution. The new dance numbers make very effective use of the panels - better than many Las Vegas shows IMO. The comedian and the magician/comedian were pretty good, although I remember seeing the comedian before (Andrew Kennedy). The casino was also upgraded, with lots of new slot machines and new felt on all the tables with some new games like Texas holdem bonus and a new 3 card poker variation called prime. Ports: We were surprised that the Las Caletas trip in Puerto Vallarta had only 3 tickets left, so my wife and I grabbed 2. The lunch buffet at LC was one of memorable meals of our trip. I bought an up-sold scuba dive on the catamaran on the way there. The dive was not offered by HAL, but my experience with the tour helped. I'm an advanced diver so with 2 other "C" card divers we went down with a dive master to see some submerged boat wrecks about 60' down. Mazatlan was fun, as we hired a van driver for a custom 3 hour tour for $20 a person. In Cabo, we made the mistake of trying to find the glass blowing factory near the tender point that was on the ship's shopping map. It hasn't been there for several years. We ended up taking cab to the real glass shop. Despite the error, we had a good time and bought some nice drinking glasses and napkin holders. Summary: Although we recently visited the same ports in March with a different line, we love the consistent service and quality of the HAL ships. And with the recent refurbishment of the Oosterdam, this short cruise ranked as one of our favorites (after 26 overall cruises). Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was our second cruise on Holland. We had done one a month earlier and said we need to go on this line again! After my second cruise, I can say I am a loyal Holland customer already. There are so many things they do right and so many ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Holland. We had done one a month earlier and said we need to go on this line again! After my second cruise, I can say I am a loyal Holland customer already. There are so many things they do right and so many things that remind me of how cruising used to be. The Oosterdam is a perfect size ship. It's perfectly maintained and it seems like it is constantly being updated. Our room was on deck 4 midship in an ideal location. I love Holland for the bath amenities, bathrobes and they always make sure I have feather pillows. Dining is overall very good.I can't say I really had anything bad thing the entire cruise. I love the fact that they serve breakfast in the dining room every morning whether you are in port or at sea. Its the little things like offering fresh berries at breakfast that make all the difference. My only complaint about dining would be the buffet was always too crowded. The fitness center was very large for a cruise ship and all the equipment was brand new. The pools were both nice although we only went in the solarium hot tubs mainly since we were in Alaska in April. There was always entertainment in the evening between the theater and the other venues. Also ,the on demand movies and tv shows in your cabin is awesome! Sometimes you just wanna lay in bed and watch a movie! Bottom line is if you haven't been on Holland, you need to go. It is a wonderful cruise line and the staff is always amazing. Looking forward to my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
This was our second HAL cruise, first time on the Oosterdam. Embarkation was very fast and really well organized. HAL has its act together. Our obstructed oceanview cabin on Deck 4 amidships left ample space above the lifeboat. The safety ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise, first time on the Oosterdam. Embarkation was very fast and really well organized. HAL has its act together. Our obstructed oceanview cabin on Deck 4 amidships left ample space above the lifeboat. The safety drill was held an hour before sailaway. Names and cabin numbers were called and marked off lists. Almost everybody paid attention to instructions. We found the food in the MDR excellent, compared to our 16 cruises on many other cruise lines. Even going for low-fat, low-cholesterol was easy and delicious. Early fixed seating being so popular, the dining room was crowded and quite noisy. The tables are very close together. We sailed into a howling storm with 35 ft waves right the first night and a lot of people got very sea sick. We were happy to be on a lower deck amidships and rode it out with our usual SeaBands and ginger pills. The first 24 hours the dining room was sparsely populated. We found food and service to be excellent. The 3 times we ate in the Pinnacle Grill were truly superb, exquisite, you name the adjective. We never ate in the Lido except for one breakfast before an early shore excursion. HAL's beds are luxurious compared to other lines'. We slept wonderfully well. We spent a lot of time in our cabin reading, especially on "rocky" days. The ship was not as overly air-conditioned as some, but our cabin was cozier. We'd hoped on lots of dance practice but that did not happen, either because it was a struggle to stay upright or the dance floors being used for other things and thus full of chairs. But we enjoyed the Neptunes, who switched from the "golden oldies" to our more up-tempo favorites once they got to know us. We found the ship to be spotless and very elegant in a subdued and classy way. The crew and staff were wonderful and genuinely friendly. A couple of the shore excursions were very disappointing but I've sent in a review about them separately. Disembarkation on April 15 was the fastest and best organized we have ever experienced! We were off the ship in 10 minutes after our color and number were called, and that included customs! We're very impressed with HAL and the Oosterdam. Our favorite ship so far. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
Hi, I'm Traveling Dot and this is my fourth cruise on Hal. We have done Canada/Maasdam (round trip Boston to Boston), Alaska/Statendam (Fairbanks to Vancouver) and the Panama Canal/Rotterdam (from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale). We ... Read More
Hi, I'm Traveling Dot and this is my fourth cruise on Hal. We have done Canada/Maasdam (round trip Boston to Boston), Alaska/Statendam (Fairbanks to Vancouver) and the Panama Canal/Rotterdam (from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale). We flew from Boston to San Diego on Jet Blue the day before we were scheduled to sail. Would recommend Jet Blue for the extra leg room they provide at coach prices. We were met at the airport by HAL representative and helped us to the shuttle to the Sheraton Marina Hotel. Our room faced the harbor and the next morning we could see the Oosterdam from our balcony. The provided shuttle to the pier was flawless and being my husband walks with a cane we got special attention both at the hotel and at the pier. Check-in went smoothly and we took the elevator to the boarding level of the ramp to the ship. Our cabin was ready on our arrival and we met our room steward, Eric. He was a great help throughout the cruise and whenever I needed something he was right there. Our room was always clean and everything was taken care of fast considering how many cabins they had to care of. We had a veranda room on deck 4 almost mid-ship. This ship is a lot bigger than the ships that we have sailed on previously. After we dropped off our carry ons in the cabin we went to the Vista Dining Room for lunch with other fellow Mariners. When we finished lunch and went back to our cabin our suitcases had arrived and I was able to unpack and get settled. At 3 PM we met the other cruise critic passengers for a Banner Wave from the fore deck and we took pictures and got to know each other. Our meet and greet was scheduled for the next day in the Crow's Nest. Our next order of business was the lifeboat drill where everyone had to attend or they would be asked to leave the ship. Roll Call was held and everyone was accounted for or they were called personally and told to get to their station. We found out after the drill that the Catholic Priest did not make the ship and we would not have one on board. This was a downer for us because we sail with HAL because they do have a priest on board. And especially because this was Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The first night out was a rough one. We had 36 hours of bad seas and winds and a lot of people were seasick by dinner time. Barf bags were to be found by the elevators on each deck. I would suggest if anyone going on this cruise even thinks they may get seasick to take something as soon as they board just to play it safe. It is not a pretty sight to see people getting sick while you are trying to eat or just walk to another end of the ship. I just wish those who were sick had stayed in their cabins. By the second day things started to calm down and people were getting their sea legs and didn't sway from side to side as they walked. Each day got calmer and warmer as we neared Hawaii. Finally on day 6 we arrived in Hawaii, I opened the curtains to see the island in the distance. We didn't dock until 11 AM because we had slowed down because of the rough seas the first day. We had arranged a private tour with four other people from the cruise critic group. We were met at the end of the pier by our driver and we walked to were he parked his van. The tour we received was well worth the money and we got to see all the places that were offered by HAL without the crowds. We had a tour of Hilo, went to Volcano National Park, walked through the lava tube, saw lava fields and the Rainbow Falls before going to the Moana Loa factory and then back to the ship in time for boarding. Our next port of call was Honolulu for two days where we took the ship excursions. On day one we went to Pearl Harbor and the Mighty Mo and that night we we went to the Paradise Cove Luau. Day 2 we did the Little Circle Tour of Oahu. Next port of call was Kauai and now I know why it is so green, rain. We took the Scenic Hanalei Valley tour and it seemed to rain while we were on the bus and stop when we arrived at a scheduled stop. So it wasn't all rain there was a lot of sun too. The last port of call was on Maui, on this island we did the Maui Tropical Plantation and Ocean Center Tour. The Ocean Center was very interesting and worth the time to see it, the tram ride at the Plantation was not what I expected and I could have skipped that. Being this was a tender port we did not rush back to the ship and took the bus to Hilo Hatties and did a little shopping before taking the free shuttle back to the area by the pier. We had lunch at a place across the street from the dock which was nice but everything is on "Hawaii Time" (slow). The cruise back to San Diego was uneventful and mostly smooth. We made the mandatory stop in Mexico before heading to the US. Some people got off the ship but we stayed on and were serenaded by some seals on the shore next to the ship. I have one thing to say about the cabin with the door closed you did not hear the loud barking of the seals. The travel guide on our cruise was Kainoa who was very knowledgeable about the islands and very entertaining. He even taught us how to hula. We had some very good entertainers on the cruise and we enjoyed the shows. The food was good no matter where we ate, the Lido, the Dining Room, the Pinnacle Grill, or the Terrace Grill. The only place we didn't try was Canaletto, I'm not big on Italian food. Pizza at the Lido was good enough for me. All the crew members that we met were very pleasant and always had a smile and hello for you. I did the Ship Tour (cost $150) and it was very interesting to see the different areas of the ship and how they are run. From the Engine Room to the Bridge, from the garbage room to the kitchen to where they store the food and beverages, it was all very, very interesting. And we met the Captain (had a picture taken with him) and learned how the ship is navigated. After the tour we had a cocktail and canapes and received a goody bag and the picture of us with the Captain. It was worth the money and if you want to know what goes on behind the scenes it is a must do. Overall we had a great cruise and plan on sailing with HAL in the future. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
My wife and I are in our early sixties and consider ourselves as being quite active. We have done 10+ cruises in the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera. Our cruise line of choice has been Royal Caribbean. We boarded the ... Read More
My wife and I are in our early sixties and consider ourselves as being quite active. We have done 10+ cruises in the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera. Our cruise line of choice has been Royal Caribbean. We boarded the Oosterdam shortly after 1:00 PM and went directly to our stateroom on the stern starboard of deck seven. We were promptly greeted by our cabin stewards Bari and Tasman. Everything within our stateroom met our expectations and we thanked out steward. Our luggage arrived within a short period of time. During the entire cruise stateroom service was outstanding and was rewarded with additional gratuities We departed San Diego in rain and high winds. On the following windy miserable day one at sea, we were informed that during the night we were in 24 foot seas and 65 mile per hour winds. Day one and day two at sea continued to be very windy and cloudy. Passengers were not allowed on any of the outside deck areas (I assumed part of the reasoning was due to the average passenger age of around 75 years). We had been under the false assumption that the days at sea would be warm and sunny, we were badly mistaken. In talking to crew members we learned that cool cloudy weather is more the norm on the Hawaiian crossings. The Oosterdam does show wear in many areas. The only stained furniture that we observed were water stains on some of the deck furniture cushions. This situation was very easily remedied by placing readily available towels on the cushions. We never used the elevators always using the stairs, there was constantly staff polishing vacuuming etc. almost to the point of being annoying, they always had a friendly greeting as you passed them. We did find it quite odd that the exterior decks were flushed and scrubbed just prior to sunrise leaving them wet for morning walkers and joggers. When cruising we normally have morning coffee in the buffet area waiting to take sunrise pictures. Out of nine days at sea there were only two decent sunrises. The Lido Buffet offered numerous breakfast choices setup at different stations including the omelet choices, waffle selections, a variety of eggs Benedict, cold cuts and cheese, fruit/pastry area as well as the main lines serving eggs, pan cakes, toasts, breakfast meats, etc.. It is "buffet" food but for the most part was quite good. Lunch at the Lido also offered a large variety at different stations including Oriental, Italian, salad bar, build your own sandwiches, desert/ice cream bar as well as traditional. We appreciated that for the most part buffet items were not self serve that contributed to more sanitary conditions as well as expatiating the serving process. Given the age of the majority of passengers patience was a virtue but the buffet area pushed the limit of patience at times. Most areas varied selections daily. In addition to the Lido Buffet the Terrace grill located pool side served hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages, The Terrace also had a small buffet serving different ethnic foods daily. We selected assigned dinning for dinner in the Vista dining room. In our opinion food quality was not as good as we have experience on Royal Caribbean and the friendliness and efficiency of the dining room staff was below our expectations. On the plus side for us they did offer lobster on two occasions. Having cruised the Caribbean we love the days at sea with poolside activity and live bands. Of the nine days at sea there were only three days with sun, poolside activities were almost nonexistent and there were no live bands on deck. Canned music being played in the background was from the forties to the sixties. Passengers did a lot of card playing and reading. Some of the activities that were offered were intro computer classes, craft classes, culinary demonstrations and a variety of lectures. The ship offers many spa options and therapy for a price. We utilized the Fitness Center daily when at sea and found the equipment to be adequate. Classes at the fitness center were also offered, mostly for a fee. Our first port of call was Hilo on the Island of Hawaii. We had prearranged a private tour with Ricky's Tours for sixty dollars per person. Ricky met us and seven other passengers at the pier to begin our five hour tour. We visited numerous attractions on the island with the high light being The Volcanoes National Park. Ricky was very informative and readily answered questions. The only drawback of the day was the intermittent rain showers. The second port of call was Honolulu on the Island of Oahu. We have previously spent time on Oahu and visited most of the attractions on the island therefore we did not plan any activities. We took the free shuttle to the Maui Divers Jewelry operation and from there did some shopping in Waikiki before returning to the Oosterdam. Port number three was Nawiliwili on Kauai. We walked around the nearby shop area and watched the surfboarders. We finished our time ashore by taking the free shuttle to Walmart. Our final port was the "Tender Port" of Lahaina, Maui. We were able to get on one of the first tenders to enable to get to our private snorkeling excursion on the Scotch Mist II, sail boat. We departed the harbor with our captain Gene and crew Kerstin along with another couple that were vacationing on the Island. We sailed to a relatively sheltered area on the edge of a reef to begin our snorkeling. As the boat was being anchored we spotted two giant Sea Turtles within a hundred feet of the boat. We dove the reef for about an hour viewing many tropical fish. We than spotted a number of whales vying for a female off in the distance. With no need to operated a motor we were able to sail close enough to the fighting whales to see the barnacles attached to their skin. We watched and photographed the Whales for an hour then sailed back to the harbor. The morning aboard the Scotch Mist II was a great adventure. The crew was very friendly, hospitable, and extremely knowledgeable about Whales and their migration/mating habits. We highly recommend one of the excursions offered on the Scotch Mist. http://www.scotchmistsailingcharters.com/ The trip back to San Diego via Ensenada (to fulfill the requirements of the Jones Act) was mainly cloudy and chilly with relatively calm seas. Prior to booking on the Oosterdam we understood that Holland America is the Carnival Corporation line to cater to senior cruisers, but we were not prepared for quite such an inactive ocean crossing nor were we prepared mentally for such dreary weather. We found crew members to be very friendly and helpful . Holland America is not our premiere line but would book with them again. In reading cruise reviews I have always said it is hard to believe how completely different review can be written by people on the same cruise. In the case of the Oosterdam's March 17th Hawaiian cruise I feel that somehow there must be two Oosterdam's making this voyage. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, ... Read More
OUR TRIP ON THE OOSTERDAM TO HAWAII Before deciding on the Oosterdam, San Diego to Hawaii cruise, we looked at various tours of the islands but they all required that we fly to Honolulu and back. I hate flying today. And really, what's wrong with ten days back and forth on the Pacific? We had done two East to West TransAtlantics in years past and enjoyed them immensely. We had also done one cruise with HAL, the Veendam from NYC to Bermuda. We flew directly into San Diego and met pouring rain getting to and from the bus to the passenger terminal. This was something of a portent for our trip. Finally through Security, we boarded and went to find our cabin, Deck 7, Portside, Forward. We were greeted in the appropriate hallway by Mus and Wayan who introduced themselves as our stewards and welcomed us to our spotlessly-prepared verandah cabin. (We are aware that not all Ccers were so fortunate as to be taken care of in this manner, but we were delighted). Once we found more drawers available under the end of the bed, we were able to store everything. Anyway, after a cold and rainy lifeboat drill (seemingly more important now after the Costa Concordia), we shoved off at 5 PM. We dined in the Vista Dining Room with Ali, our headwaiter, and it was an excellent experience. Not only did he explain the use of the Vegan-Vegetarian Menu to my wife, who prefers such things, but from that night on, the appropriate teas and decaf coffee automatically appeared at the end of the meal without our asking. The food during our VDR experience was varied, very tasty, and well prepared. Not being pressed for time, we utilized the VDR for lunches, as well and they were equally good. Since we were still on Eastern time and had been up quite a while, we went to bed around 8:30 (11:30 EDT) and fell asleep in our exceptionally comfortable bed, only to waken sometime later to a howling wind and an actively moving ship. If memory serves, the Captain described 60+ mph winds and 25+ seas, not as much as we experienced on the Atlantic one time, but the larger Oosterdam handled it well and we slept on. However, given the average age and impaired mobility of many of our fellow passengers, if they weren't safely in their cabins, they might have had a difficult time getting there. Some did, apparently, have issues as several passengers sported oversized bandages on their thumbs the next few days, the reason for Captain's warning about doors, fingers, and doorframes repeatedly broadcast. Awake before 6 AM (!), the prospect of waiting for the VDR to open at 8 AM was too daunting so we decided to go to the Lido and forage for food. Not our favorite food venue due to crowds, lines, and searching for open, clean tables, we think we have 'cracked the code' for the Lido breakfast and subsequently ate there most mornings, particularly as we kept getting up before 6 AM as we went from Pacific time to Hawaiian time (- 3 more hrs). Coffee and tea were available when we got to the Lido and, around 6:30, the Continental Breakfast opened with yogurt, fresh berries, and melon. Finally, we could see when the omelette chef opened where we could obtain the best made-to-order omelettes I have ever had! After this, we would return to our cabin, which had already been made up. Thank you, Mus and Wayan. During the cruise, we would spend time in the Crow's Nest with our lap-top attempting to annoy our children with wifi emails. Not always successful, due to the dial-up (or worse) speeds, we soldiered on, hoping that the islands would re-invigorate our cell phones so we could text our children so they would not forget us! :} We attended interesting port lectures by Nancy, the excursion director, and a great guest lecturer, Dr Charlie Urbanowicz, an anthropologist who lived several years with his wife on South Pacific islands. He did an excellent job talking about WWII in the Pacific, which generated good crowds, and the South Pacific cultures and history. We only wish he had been scheduled for more lectures. THE BIG ISLAND Upon docking at Hilo, we disembarked smoothly and met the Enterprise shuttle which took us directly to their office. Our plan was to drive to Volcano's National Park 30 miles away, and it was helpful that their office was located on the same road as the park. After a 45 minute drive, we were in the Visitor's Center and shortly after on the road around Kilauea Crater, which was smokin' and so part of the road around the caldera was closed due to sulfurous gasses. We got out at an overlook for the crater and saw a trail to the Jagger Museum so off we walked. Bad choice. It began to blow and rain heavily, so by the time we reached the museum, where we could have driven to and parked, we were soaked. Blame it on the trip planner (me!) But I wasn't through. I also parked at the first lot for the Thurston Lava Tube, walked 15 or so minutes through the drizzle to get to...another lot, right at the entrance to the tube. The time spent at the Park was worthwhile, but, due to the unattractive weather, our thoughts turned to lunch at the Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant in the little town of Volcano, just a few minutes from the Park. Owned by a former makeup artist on Hawaii 5-0 and set in an older building, the menu was varied and the food excellent (antelope burgers, anyone?) While returning to the ship, we stopped at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory outside Hilo and bought some nutty souvenirs (sorry) for friends at home. Fresh? The trees were across the street! Prices? The best we saw in the islands. OAHU While I had been in Oahu in 1974, my wife had never been there so when our choice of excursions was cancelled for lack of interest, we signed up for the 3 ½ hr Little Circle Tour of Oahu. Past Diamondhead to Hanauma Bay and the Blowhole, then continuing up to the Pali Lookout. It really reacquainted me to the area and my wife got to see some of the interesting backcountry of Oahu. We had hoped to be dropped off at Waikiki after the tour, but the drive was going back another route. When we asked, he said we could use Hilo Hattie's free shuttle to get there so we got off at the huge store. The Hilo Hattie shuttle driver apparently was practicing to be a stand-up comedian and was funny and informative. When I asked him where to get off for Duke's Restaurant, he dropped us at a hotel door and told us to just walk through the lobby and turn right! And there it was. Nice lunch, virtually on the beach, followed by the largest dessert I have ever shared-- Duke's Hula Pie. Since I was on Waikiki 38 years earlier, it seems that they have built three times as many hotels and the beach has shrunk! We were headed for Ft. DeRussy near which there was supposed to be a place called Parrot-Dise where you could have your picture taken with various exotic birds. My wife grew up with a brilliant parrot, who lived more than 50 years, so Parrot-Dise was a dream for her. (We found it in a Cruise Critic review posted in the Hawaii Port thread). When I told Dino, the proprietor, that my wife had traveled 5000 miles to see his birds, he went to work and soon we had pictures of her with 2, 4, and finally 6 birds, the last one with two patiently lying on their backs in her hands! Between Duke's and Parrot-Dise, we had a great day on Waikiki. The ship planned a bar-b-que for the aft pool area and the Lido as we weren't scheduled to leave Oahu until 11 PM. Unfortunately, the wind and sporadic rain were unplanned visitors, but the food was good anyway and the staff did their best given the conditions. KAUAI Kauai was the next stop and we had reservations at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters for an aerial tour. It turns out that their office where we would check-in could be seen from the ship and was a less than 10 minute walk. The helicopter ride was spectacular and even though I was not at a window seat, the views from the newer Eco-Star copter were great. You just needed to be aware of reflections on the window when taking photos. We had lunch after the flight at The Feral Pig, a nice, informal restaurant located in the same mini-mall as Blue Hawaiian. MAUI The last stop was Maui, where we had signed up for an 8 hr tour to the Haleakala Crater and 'Iao Needle State Park. Unfortunately, the crater was overcast (at 10,000 ft) and filled with clouds. It was, however, an interesting bus trip around Maui and the 'Iao Needle was a compelling spot. The only minor drawback, besides the clouds, was our very genial guide/driver who ran out of information at about the 5 ½ hr mark and resorted to singing us Hawaiian songs. Great if you like Hawaiian music. Maui was our only tendering port which was one of the reasons we chose to take a ship's excursion--priority disembarking. I can say it was uneventful although the re-tendering process was annoying: "Sir, may I look under your hat?" They also checked ID's at both ends of the pier raising the question of how did I get to the end of the pier if I didn't have an ID? Did I swim? If you have kept up with this long review, you know we had a great time and HAL was a big part of it. We have been on Regent and Oceania five times and were worried as to how we'd like a much bigger ship. Well, we liked it so much that we signed up onboard for a similar trip next March on the smaller Zaandam. By the way, if you're thinking about a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, you can't do better for research than the Hawaii (Maui, Kauai, Oahu) Revealed series by Wizard Publications available at Amazon. Much of what we saw and enjoyed in the islands came from these books. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Background Info: We were a party of "3 girls", me (47), my mom (82) and my cousin (51). We have all sailed HAL before, and had all been on the Oosterdam at least once. We had sailed 7-10 days in the past, and were looking for ... Read More
Background Info: We were a party of "3 girls", me (47), my mom (82) and my cousin (51). We have all sailed HAL before, and had all been on the Oosterdam at least once. We had sailed 7-10 days in the past, and were looking for a longer trip with more sea days. This was a logical choice as we all live on the West coast. Travel to San Diego and Embarkation: We flew into San Diego the morning of embarkation, 2 of us from Portland, 1 from San Francisco. We had a family member pick us up and he dropped us at the cruise terminal at about 11:30am. There was another ship in port and a lot of people waiting in line! There seemed to be a lack of organization on the part of the port authorities. We were in line about an hour; once we dropped our bags on the luggage cart and entered the terminal, things were much smoother. We went to the short line for suite guests, and were onboard a short 15 minutes later, by about 1pm. We went directly to our room and our luggage arrived by 2pm; our case of wine which had been left with our luggage arrived by 4pm. Stateroom: We had sailed in a Superior Suite on the Oosterdam before so we knew what to expect. Our suite was lovely, with plenty of closet space (and trust me, we didn't pack light!). We found the bathroom to have more than enough space for all of us and didn't use all of the storage in the stateroom. The beds, including the sofa bed, were very comfortable and we had no issues throughout the trip. In fact, twice during our stay, maintenance knocked on our door to repair issues with a shower head and a door that didn't close properly. Both had been reported by our cabin stewards...we hadn't even noticed! Ship Info: We had read several reviews prior to sailing, and several had commented that the ship looked rundown and in need of sprucing up. We didn't really see that; sure if you looked hard enough you might see a pillow or cushion that could have been replaced, but overall, this is a beautiful ship that has been well cared for. There certainly wasn't anything that would have prevented us from having a great time. We are just not very critical I guess. Dining: One word....FABULOUS!! I don't recall a single meal that we didn't completely enjoy. We ate breakfast all over...the Lido, the Vista and many days in the Pinnacle Grill. What a nice treat for suite guests. Same menu as the Vista, but a really calm, pleasant way to spend your morning! We had room service for breakfast a few times...always right on time, and the coffee was always hot. I had read several reviews that mentioned the temperature of the toast from room service, and honestly, I don't understand why someone would expect toast to be hot. The sheer distance from the kitchen to the stateroom should explain why the toast wasn't hot! Heck my toast at home isn't usually hot by the time I get it from the toaster to the table. Needless to say, the toast was warm and just fine! We had dinner (early seating) most nights in the Vista and our servers were wonderful, always remembering that we liked our skim milk and that I had a food allergy. We celebrated mom's birthday in the Pinnacle Grill; we loved it so much we made another reservation on the way out. The grilled salmon was out of this world and the others said it was the best lobster they had ever had! Most days we had a later breakfast, and with the early seating at dinner, we often just grazed at the Lido or the Neptune Lounge at lunchtime. We did have burgers at the Terrace Grill once, and they were very good. Activities: As I said, we were here to relax and get away from very stressful jobs, so we spent a lot of our sea days on our verandah with a cocktail and our Kindles. We did take part in Team Trivia several days, and completely enjoyed The Marriage Game with CD Eric Dowis. That man has more energy and enthusiasm than any other CD I have sailed with! We went to several sessions of "Good Morning Oosterdam" where Eric would interview members of the crew. Very interesting conversations. We went to several of the cooking demonstrations but our favorite was when our Captain Arjen van der loo made his Dutch Pancakes. Between his cooking and his interview with Eric, Captain van der loo found 3 new fans in us. What a great sense of humor and upbeat personality. Far and away, the most personable Captain we have seen. We never saw him around the ship without his big smile! Our first few days at sea were pretty rough, but we felt very safe in his capable hands! Service: In my opinion, this is where HAL really shines. Smiling faces, always willing to help, and how do they remember all our names?? This is what brings me back to HAL time and again. Special kudos to Ruel and Candice in the Neptune Lounge. Always happy, and willing to help with anything that we needed! Ports and Shore Excursions: We didn't schedule any excursions and did things on our own. We missed Hilo due to the rough seas the first few days. In Honolulu, we spent the day with a friend and went to Pearl Harbor and then just toured the city. We had been there before. In Nawiliwili, we took a shuttle bus and did some shopping. We found a great little restaurant, JJ's Oceanfront Broiler. Nice beachside views, great beer and wonderful homemade potato chips. In Lahaina we went to the Maui Ocean Center which was very nice and then spent the afternoon walking around town. The local artists that are under the BIG banyan tree have some fantastic crafts at very reasonable prices. Disembarkation: One big problem. They told me I had to get off the ship. I did everything I could think of to stowaway, but in the end, we took our bags (we had opted to handle our own luggage) and left this lovely ship under protest. We were in off the ship by 8:15am. Dropped my cousin at the airport at 8:45am and she was home by 11am thanks to a standby flight. We were safely back in Portland by 3:30pm, already plotting our next HAL adventure! In summary, we can't think of a single thing that would have made our trip more enjoyable. What a lovely ship, with a fantastic crew. A very special shout out to CD Eric and Captain van der loo. The two of them make an outstanding team, and we hope we can sail with them again. We are already looking to book a trip to Alaska this summer on the Outstanding Oosterdam! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Just off the Oosterdam (opronounced 'Oh'sterdam) (Jan 28-Feb 18). Visited Mexico and Hawaii. As veteran HAL cruisers we love HAL. Here are our 'likes': typical HAL experience. Food was GREAT! Service, ditto. Staff ... Read More
Just off the Oosterdam (opronounced 'Oh'sterdam) (Jan 28-Feb 18). Visited Mexico and Hawaii. As veteran HAL cruisers we love HAL. Here are our 'likes': typical HAL experience. Food was GREAT! Service, ditto. Staff ditto. Ship, excellent shape. Ships's personnel continually cleaning and polishing. We very much appreciate HAL offering religious services on board...thanks HAL. BIG SURPRISE: HAL coffee was very drinkable. Up till now all the coffee on any cruise was at best exceedingly low quality and almost undrinkable....coffee on this cruise was a very pleasant surprise :) Dislikes: First time at sea for so long a spell, 5 days one way, 5 days another. We thought this would not be a problem but neither one of us were very happy sittin on board for so long a time. (I know this is not HAL's fault...no blame). Seas were VEY HEAVY going to Hawaii. Missed HILO (big island) due to conditions. Almost fell outa bed couple times :( (If you are reading this and questioning whether or not you would 'enjoy' lengthy times on board and are wondering how crossing the pacific to Hawaii might be, you may not want to take this cruise). Was very upset that Mazatlan was cancelled. HAL's response that it was due to pax 'safety' is a bunch of baloney. (odd though it may seem, one of the main reasons we signed up for this cruise was the stop in Mazatlan....and the other reason was the stop in the only island we have not visited..you guessed it, the big island!) If you ever decide to cruise from San Diego, do get there a day early and visit the greater San Diego area. We had a wonderful time visiting the huge open air farmer's market (little Italy) and the 'gaslight' district. Old town was very nice as well. Any questions, feel free to write me at: tlc_grantsburg@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
All the usual stuff about embarking and disembarking, the food, the entertainment and programs on the ship are basically the same as stated by others. This review is meant to give helpful hints. The room: SY has three large closets. ... Read More
All the usual stuff about embarking and disembarking, the food, the entertainment and programs on the ship are basically the same as stated by others. This review is meant to give helpful hints. The room: SY has three large closets. Hangers are provided. There are fold down shelves in each closet. There is also a safe in one of the closets. There is one full size drawers under the foot of each bed. There are six small drawers in the vanity and two large drawers in the desk. There is extra storage in the vanity stool. Just take the top off and you will find a cavity to store stuff. There are two night stands with two drawers each. One of the drawers locks. There is a two shelf cabinet at the end of the couch. The Bath room: Has two medicine cabinets with three shelve each. There is also abundant storage under the sink both on a large shelf which runs the length of the double sink and on the floor under the shelf. There is a cooler in the room under the TV. It is not a refrigerator but it does keep drinks cool. We were three adult females and the storage was sufficient and plentiful. The Electricity: Not good. The room had 3 plugs total. One in bathroom, one on vanity and one on the desk. You should bring your own power strips if you need more then three outlets. We were on the port side of the ship. We had the sunrise on the way to Hawaii. Once we turned the sun was on the other side of the ship. In Lahaina we were on the sea side of the ship. In Maui we were again on the sea side of the ship. In Kauai, Hilo and Encenada were were on the dock side of the ship. The food: It was good but at time bland, no salt butter. If you choose to eat in your room you can have the same meal as the dining room if you order within the first half hour the dining room is open. If you wish to dine in the Lido you get the same meal as the MDR however you serve yourself. The Vista Lounge as well as the other venues are very well attended and if you want a good seat you better get there early. Oosterdam: The ship is well kept, clean and comfortable. It is showing a little wear. Some chair arms looked warn, drape in the room were showing their age, The wicker footstools on the balcony were showing wear but this did not detract from our pleasure in any way. The staff is excellent, Captain Van der Loo is charming and very capable. The Cruise director Eric is really good at his job. Our cabin steward Yedi was very accommodating. In fact the whole staff was friendly always with a smile and a hello. We did not eat often in the dining room due to the illness on one of our roommates but when we did the service was outstanding. We used the Medical Facility twice. One of my room mates was gravely ill the first few days and the physicians and nurses were able to turn her around and restore her to enjoy the rest of the trip. We had a flawless trip all things considered. Looking forward to traveling again with Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
My spouse and I had originally booked this cruise as a late celebration of our 40th anniversary. As it turned out, we celebrated it in Sep/11 with a cruise to Alaska on board the Diamond Princess. But, no matter, as we knew we wanted to ... Read More
My spouse and I had originally booked this cruise as a late celebration of our 40th anniversary. As it turned out, we celebrated it in Sep/11 with a cruise to Alaska on board the Diamond Princess. But, no matter, as we knew we wanted to get away from the typically cold Canadian weather in January and this cruise was a good mid-winter break. Getting There We flew from our home gateway of Winnipeg to San Diego via Denver the day before the cruise. We are always concerned about being storm-stayed. It was unusually cold the day we left but quite mild in Denver when we changed planes and very pleasant when we arrived. We arrived just after lunch and took the shuttle to the hotel. It's a bit of hike from the baggage carousels, up to the pedestrian walkway and down to the shuttle/taxi area and it can be crowded with all the shuttles, buses and taxis jockeying for a spot; just keep an eye peeled for your hotel's shuttle, if you are using one. Our Hotel We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay, just across from the B Street Cruise Ship Terminal. It's located at 1355 N. Harbor Drive. We had a 'bay view' room which was located on the 10th floor of the south tower, a building separate from the main hotel complex. There are two main elevators as well as a panoramic elevator which gives great views of the bay. The room was not overly spacious and showing its age, but it was clean and comfortable. There is a pillow menu, flat screen TV, coffee/tea maker, and separate table for your PC or tablet. Complimentary WI-FI is included. The view from the balcony was spectacular and we were able to watch our ship slowly come into the pier area - it was literally "parked" directly across the street from our room - nice! We had supper at Antonio's across the street from the hotel, and breakfast on embarkation day in the Elephant & Castle restaurant, located in the main hotel building. We would recommend both. Embarkation We initially signed up for the shuttle from the hotel (has to be done between 8 and 10 on the morning of embarkation) but realized that it was only about 100m from our hotel to the Terminal so we just hooked up our bags and literally walked across the street. We were in about 10:45 a.m., dropped our bags at the luggage check-in area, and through HAL check-in by 11:10. Our group number was called about 11:45 and after the customary embarkation photo, we were literally on board by 11:55. Our room was forward, port side, so we made our way to the forward elevators and were in our room by noon. Our Room We had a Superior Verandah Suite on the Navigation Deck. It is a spacious room with a large bathroom consisting of dual sinks, whirlpool tub and separate shower, medicine cabinets and Elemis toiletries. There are three closets opposite the bathroom, with fold down shelving and a safe. The bed was queen and faced a dresser/vanity area. There is a sofa bed, three armchairs, a cocktail table and a desk area holding more shelves, a DVD player, flat screen TV and ports for data and AC (110 and 220v). The balcony was large with a table and two dining chairs and two deck chairs, and wicker ottomans, all with seat pads. We noted that all the chairs and throw pillows in the room were very dirty. The wicker balcony furniture had seen better days as well and most of the wicker strands was literally unravelling. The bathroom tile work needed a major cleaning and despite reporting the problem to ship maintenance, we had a chronic leak from the shower stall for the entire two weeks of the cruise. Ship Information There is lots of information on this site about the Oosterdam so I won't go into that here. The ship was built in 2003. I am not sure if it has had a refurbishment but it sure needs one. We noted several areas where maintenance looked overdue and the waterline area was badly rusted and fouled. Dining We had second seating in the Vista Dining Room on Deck 3, table for 6. Curiously, no one offered to escort us to our table on the first night; we had to ask a couple of waiters before one would show us. We had a small table with a banquette on one side and chairs on the other. Unfortunately, this table was located below another level of the dining room which permitted guests at the table for four above us to constantly stare at us (not sure what their problem was but it was very rude). Our waiter and assistant waiter were pleasant and reasonably efficient but not overly so. Our meals arrived usually on time but never hot, just warm. We were never sure what the problem was in getting entrEes to our table so that they were more enjoyable. Portions were small and presentation was always excellent. Service from the wine steward was always very slow. The Lido buffet was OK with a reasonable selection of dishes. For the first two days at sea, there was no self-service; everyone had to point to their desired food items and they were placed onto small plates by stewards. We ate in the Lido on a few mornings. The specialty restaurant, Pinnacle Grill ($25 cover charge) was excellent. Superb service, ambiance, menu and wine selection. On one night, the Le Cirque menu was presented although we do not believe the $14 surcharge was worth it and this was shared by most other guests we talked to as well. The menu was not as good as the regular menu. Room service was OK. Orders were delivered on time and accurate for the most part; just don't order toast as it will be cold - guaranteed. The pizza selections were just OK; we believe Princess has a better pizzeria. The grill on the Lido deck serves up hamburgers and hot dogs although we were appalled to see dogs and patties sitting in warming trays and just reheated on the grill prior to being served; it makes the waiting time shorter but who wants reheated food? On the Honolulu port evening, a "Hawaiian" BBQ was served, supposedly with suckling pig. Perhaps, but all we got was a little bit of pork and a lot of fat. Activities We went to the gym most sea days. My spouse did fitness classes and Tai Chi. I attended some Microsoft workshops. We attended the Royal Dutch Tea but this has really deteriorated since we were last on HAL in 2002. We also attended some bingos. On the last formal night, there was a Dessert Extravaganza, spread over three decks. Although it was well done (presentation) and the desserts were to die for, we thought this should have been done in one of the dining rooms as we have experienced on other cruise ships, to avoid the congestion that results from putting on this type of event. What surprised and appalled us even more, however, was the amount of food that was thrown out after the event was finished; perhaps HAL could take a lesson from this and just make less desserts? Service Service was generally very good to excellent. The best service was from Guest Relations; they were masters at problem solving. The Hotel Manager, James Deering, was absolutely superb at his job; you saw him everywhere, talking to guests and answering questions, including the two Meet & Greet sessions we attended as part of the Cruise Critic roll call for this cruise. The worst service was from the photography staff who are contractors; they were at times unreasonable and argumentative. We had to go to Guest Relations to intercede on our behalf. Entertainment Entertainment varied depending on the venue. The Ocean Bar and the Piano Bar had particularly good performers. The Vista Lounge was a two (or three) level theatre which curiously, had many obstructed views from overhanging balconies and structural posts (I thought ship designers had corrected this in the 2000's). Acts varied from the ship's dancer/singer ensemble, a Liberace wanna be pianist, a violinist/comedian (OK, but not really that good), a magician (OK), the Las Vegas Tenors (OK but a copycat act for the Italian group)and a really good comedian by the name of Elliot Maxx. Port & Shore Excursions Lahaina (Maui). This is a port that require a tender. Be patient as the harbormaster controls access very tightly and you could be bobbing around in a tender for a while. We did the whale watching tour and it was excellent. Honolulu (Oahu). The ship docks right in downtown Honolulu. We did the Pearl Harbor and city tour. It was quite good but there is only a short window on board the Arizona memorial and it is quite crowded. Nawiliwili (Kauai). The ship docks at a local commercial pier. We did the river cruise and Fern Grotto tour. It was excellent. The cruise is relaxing and the cultural tour at the Grotto and on the way back to the river pier are some of the best local entertainment we have ever experienced; we even learned to hula! Note that there a couple of local malls near the pier where the ship is docked, including a nice public beach. Hilo (Hawaii). The ship docks at a local commercial pier. We did a local tour which included Paradise Falls, a stop at Big Island Candies (bring your sweet tooth) and the Imiloa Astronomy Centre. The latter is an astronomy museum and planetarium. Don't bother with a ship's photo in any of these ports; the backdrop is industrial. Disembarkation This was colour-coded as it is on most cruises we've been on. We were scheduled off at 0900 but our colour was never called. When the colours to date had been called, we realized our colour was among those that should be disembarking. We proceeded to Deck 2 only to be swallowed up in a morass of cruisers trying to get off the ship. In spite of the instructions to guest to stay in their rooms until their colour was called, several were hanging around the gangway and crowding the hallways. HAL staff were very frustrating and yelling at guests to form two lines to clear the clutter. What they should have done is clear out out all the guests who were loitering. Other than that, the process to get off the ship, find our luggage and exit the terminal was straightforward. There is a bit of a queue to get a taxi but eventually we did and were at the San Diego airport in less than 10 minutes. It's about a $12 fare. Summary Overall, it was a very good cruise and a welcome break from winter (although our winter has been unusually mild as it has been in most of North America). If you like sea days just to relax and not do much, this cruise is perfect. All tour guides were excellent and very proud of their culture. We noted that there is a noticeable difference (i.e. fewer) in the numbers of staff from our 2002 HAL cruise. There was no presentation of leis on embarkation; odd for a ship going to Hawaii. This ship is in bad need of a major refurbishment; it's looking really old and worn in a lot of areas. For us, in our early 60's, we learned a new meaning of the word 'patience.' Most guests were in their 70's and 80's with a good measure of 90+ year-olds. So be prepared for a lot of walkers, scooters, canes, etc. and time to enter and exit elevators, rooms, theatres, and buses. Perhaps we will consider HAL in future when we reach that age. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
Last time on Oosterdam was on a Mexico cruise. We had been on other HAL ships, but there was something about the Oosterdam...it felt like coming home. I wondered this time -- before we boarded on January 14, 2012 -- "Would it feel ... Read More
Last time on Oosterdam was on a Mexico cruise. We had been on other HAL ships, but there was something about the Oosterdam...it felt like coming home. I wondered this time -- before we boarded on January 14, 2012 -- "Would it feel again, like 'home'?" particularly, since we were cruising in an interior stateroom for the first time ever; previous cruises had all been done in veranda suites. Frankly, when we stepped aboard I could not find a single familiar physical detail. Though I knew to a certainty we had been on the Oosterdam before, the physical surroundings had simply homogenized into a total HAL experience. But, when we heard "The Voice from the Bridge" Captain Arjen C. Van Der Loo, and Eric the Cruise Director, our previous experiences on the Oosterdam came back into focus. I don't know how HAL assigns crew and staff to a ship; maybe Captain Van Der Loo and others get to choose their staff. I do know that the "people" of the Oosterdam make it my most memorable ship. The Captain, the Cruise Director, Subi and Trish (our cabin stewards), Erza the entree server and cook on the starboard side of the Lido, the wonderful man at the podium of the Vista Dining Room...who valiantly tried every night to try to meet our needs though we walked in without notice or reservations...there is a spirit among the people of the Oosterdam that can only result from fair, disciplined, and constant leadership. Our next cruise will be this September...the 75-day "voyage" to Asia and Australia on the Amsterdam. I already know the ship and its people will be more than satisfactory...I've never had a bad HAL cruise...but I hope the Amsterdam will feel like we're "coming home" -- just like our two cruises on the Oosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
DH and I are both in our late 60's with some mobility problems. We chose this 7-day trip as our "practice" cruise. This was DH's first cruise and my first cruise as an adult. Our cabin, VB 6080, was mid-ship and ... Read More
DH and I are both in our late 60's with some mobility problems. We chose this 7-day trip as our "practice" cruise. This was DH's first cruise and my first cruise as an adult. Our cabin, VB 6080, was mid-ship and close to the elevators. It was clean and had plenty of storage. Our stewards were friendly and accommodating. I had asked our TA to request a fan per a cruisecritic suggestion. It was in the room when we arrived and I never needed to use it. The AC and heat worked perfectly. And as everyone knows...the beds are super comfortable. We ate in the Pinnacle Grill, the Lido Buffet, the Canaletto and the Vista Dining Room where we had open-seating. The food was very good and so was the service. We always requested a table for 4 or 6 and had great visits with our variety of table-mates. Before I get labeled as a total "cheerleader"....I will report that one man had a tough piece of steak in the MDR (which he should have returned) and we will never forget our first breakfast when a lady at our table announced "it was the worst cruise ever". If I hadn't read months of pros and cons on cruisecritic....I might have take her seriously. Instead it was pretty funny...!!! I hadn't even considered signing up for any of the spa services. However, that very first day we toured thru the hydro-pool and the thermal spa room and purchased the one week program for $199, Laying in the hydro-pool was so relaxing. We also liked using the walk-in showers in the dressing rooms. Sure hope that was one-way glass....??? We watched a few shows, played bingo once, sunbathed on the observation deck, shopped in Puerto Vallarta and basically had a very nice cruise. Was every single thing perfect..?? No. I did see a worn spot in the Explorer's Lounge. Thought about taking a photo and posting it on youtube. Decided it really didn't spoil our cruise tho... The only thing I would do differently was when we were leaving the ship. They announced that wheelchair passengers should exit at another area and since we both use canes we proceeded to use the main gangway and it was really too steep. Luckily a nice HAL volunteer came to my rescue and helped me with my carry-on bag. Lesson learned. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We have been on the Oosterdam several times (3 times in 2011) and always have a good time...that said, one must keep in mind that you are on vacation and have a good time without sweating the small stuff as "ship" happens at sea ... Read More
We have been on the Oosterdam several times (3 times in 2011) and always have a good time...that said, one must keep in mind that you are on vacation and have a good time without sweating the small stuff as "ship" happens at sea just as it does at home or in your favorite hotel or resort!!! This voyage had Captain Arjen van der Loo in command, he is well liked by both his passengers and crew plus having a wonderful sense of humor sets a great tone for his sailings every time we have sailed with him. Our Hotel Manager, James Deering is without a doubt the best in HAL's fleet...having known him for many years, we can honestly say that you always can count on him to be out and about the ship, mingling with both his staff and the passengers, answering questions and solving problems for everyone that he meets along the way...this extraordinary officer needs to be cloned for every ship!!! Our Cruise Director, Michael Langely made the voyage "fun" with his very personable style and wit during all of the onboard activities with the assistance of D J Brett who was also pretty funny!!! We noted that a lot of repairs had been done in the recent drydock...all the new carpeting and upholstry as well as such things as the new ceiling in the piano bar helped to spruce the ship up a bit...hopefully the cabins will be updated on the next refurb as they are starting to show a bit of wear and tear on this nine year old vessel. We had great service from the happy crew of the big "O"...the room stewards, dining captains, waiters, busboys and buffet staff could not have been more friendly and helpful...sure there were a few bumps along the way with some slow dining room service, but overall it was pretty dam good. San Diego embarkation was a breeze as usual...we arrived at about one o'clock and were on the ship in fifteen minutes...with self disembarkation at the end of our journey, we were off the ship an into a taxi five minutes after leaving our cabin at 8:30 AM...for another relaxing cruise experience on the Oosterdam. With many thanks to Captain van der Loo and Hotel Manager Jim Deering for a job well done, we'll see you again "down under" in Australia next year!!! HAL SAN DIEGO Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
I will start this review by noting that our cruise was the unfortunate cruise that followed the three passengers becoming gravely ill in Hawaii and was therefore shortened by a day. This shortened itinerary significantly impacted this ... Read More
I will start this review by noting that our cruise was the unfortunate cruise that followed the three passengers becoming gravely ill in Hawaii and was therefore shortened by a day. This shortened itinerary significantly impacted this cruise and made many aspects feel rushed but that is the worst thing I can say about this cruise. Staff Since we were both first-time cruisers we of course have nothing to compare our cruise to but the Holland America staff were nothing short of amazing! The people working on this ship were so incredibly warm and genuine smiles were abundant in every venue. They not only served us well but remembered our names and many of our preferences. Our room stewards Thofa and Sapto were like "ninjas" quietly slipping into our room when were weren't there and taking care of every last detail. For instance somehow our ice bucket was ALWAYS full no matter the time of day. You would see the same people working in the Lido Buffet in the morning and at lunch and many of them again at dinner in the main dining room. It was apparent that none of the staff sleep much! Everyone from food service to bartenders even shop staff were friendly and obviously recognized you. We kept running into this very nice young man named Adi that would just light up when he saw us and was very sweet. This kept happening everywhere we went. Anyone that says anything bad about these people needs to have their head examined. Food Venues I will start with the Lido Buffet. The food here is good and is of course abundant. With the exception of dinner the choices don't change much if at all. Once you've eaten there a couple of days you pretty much are eating the same things. If you want variety the main dining room is your best bet. Still for breakfast and lunch you can't go wrong as it is quick and you get what you want. The Lido Buffet is of course not far from the Lido Pool and the Terrace Grill. This is an excellent alternative for lunch as they serve made to order hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hot dogs. From the second day forward there was also a buffet table set up outside the Terrace Grill with Mexican themed foods such as tamales, nachos, tacos, etc. Very tasty and interestingly enough just about the only food offered that was themed to our itinerary. The Vista Dining Room (main dining room) was elegant and the service exemplary. We chose open dining as we did not want to be locked into one dining time as there is so much to do on the ships. This was an excellent choice as we met the most wonderful people on board and ended up dining with them throughout the remainder of our cruise. By the last night I think our table grew to over 9 people! The food was wonderful and as is the theme ABUNDANT. You can order as many appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, and deserts as you want and we did! We both gained over 5 lbs! Eeek! We also ate breakfast in the Vista Dining Room one time and it was excellent. The only reason we didn't eat breakfast there more often was the Lido Buffet was just quicker and more convenient for us. We had coffee and danishes delivered to our stateroom every morning. This worked out well (too well) as it became our wake up call. The food and coffee was always the right temperature and was very good. One note on this, they have you choose a time frame to have the food delivered. If we chose between 6:30 and 7:00 it would generally be delivered between 6:00 and 6:30, waking us up. While this was a nice way to ensure we were up on time it never failed they would knock on our door before our alarm went off. I certainly cannot fault them for being late! Skip the dessert extravaganza in my opinion. The desserts were just ok. In short food is abundant, generally good, and usually the correct temperature. Occasionally a dish would be a bit cold (you don't have to eat it, there is more where that came from) but overall very good. The cruise line's weak point seems to be anything made from bread. Bread and cake items tended to be hard, dry, or very dense. I suppose this is the danger from producing food at such great quantities. Entertainment Venues There are a lot of bars on this ship with an atmosphere to suit just about anyone's taste. The drinks are priced pretty much the same as land-based bars and they will make anything for you, just ask! The only venue we didn't really check out was the Piano Bar but the couple of times we poked our head in there everyone seemed to be having a great time! I highly suggest getting beverage cards as this keeps the dreaded bill you receive at the end of your cruise in check. We had a credit at the end of our cruise and this was a rare exception to the many people we spoke to. We went to 4 shows in the Vista Lounge during our cruise and enjoyed all but one. Joel Mason (I believe that was his name) did an excellent Eagles tribute the first night but when he did a comedy act on the third we found the humor tacky and not terribly funny. Many left during that performance. The Holland America singers and dancers were amazing and so entertaining. Catch as many shows with them as you can. DJ Brett kept the Northern Lights disco hopping every night with great music from all decades and was a lot of fun. He came out many times to boogie with all of us and was super funny. Truly enjoyed going here and closed it twice! Shopping This is an area that suffers a bit on this ship in my opinion. While the staff is wonderful and the products generally high quality it is a very small area and therefore selection is limited. There is a fine jewelry and watch area, a Holland America branded merchandise area, a venue that changes depending on the traveling "show" that is on that cruise (ours was colored glass jewelry), a small makeup and perfume/cologne area, and a liquor area. In addition to this there is a separate fine jewelry store the showcased different designers. While this may seem extensive they have gone to great trouble to make shopping more about the $300 and over merchandise than anything else so if you like us are shopping for souvenirs and personal items you may find the selection to be pretty limited. Also there was scarcely few items specific to our itinerary. Enrichment Classes On this shortened itinerary we couldn't attend as many of these as we would have liked. The ones we did attend were hit and miss unfortunately. My significant other attended a workshop on shopping in Puerto Vallarta that ended up being an advertisement for their diamond and tanzanite jewelry store partner in Puerto Vallarta, which he found to be a complete waste of time. We both attended a mixology class next to the Lido pool that showcased some of our bartenders making drinks in a very entertaining way and taught us how to make three of their signature drinks. This was entertaining, informative, and you get to try all three drinks they teach you how to make. For $12.50 this was very worth the money IMO. We were so enamored by our little towel animals that we attended a towel folding class the last day of our trip. While this ended up basically being a way to sell a towel folding instruction book it was fun and it was amazing watching the cabin stewards quickly make these towel animals. We bought the book for about $14 and they signed it. Makes a great souvenir. Pools The Lido Pool was a must the first day as it was cold outside and windy at the Aft Pool. The Lido Pool had a lot of children so not for someone seeking peace and quiet. Once we were further down the Mexican coast (around Cabo) the air temperature went up significantly and the Aft pool was full with adults only. We spent a great deal of time here. Speaking of Cabo we had an unscheduled stop in Cabo due to a crew member needing medical assistance. This did not impact our cruise but provided an unexpected preview to this wonderful place. We sincerely hope the crew member is ok. Cruise Stops I'm going to start this by commenting on excursions. TAKE THEM. The reason I say this is the stops are so short if you venture out on your own you could end up with a stop like we had in Puerto Vallarta. I had already been there so we opted for a cab ride to the Malecon to do some shopping and made our way down to some friends on a beach area known as "Blue Chairs". The shopping was a complete bust as was the food along the Malecon, the prices they wanted for their merchandise was ridiculous! We've had better Mexican food at taco shops in San Diego and the vendors weren't haggling at all (likely due to two cruise ships being in port). By the time we got to the blue chairs our day was more than half over and we only got a couple hours on the beach. We had a great time but since a second day that was supposed to happen at this stop was cancelled we felt like we were running to get everything in. Not at all relaxing. We took the Chilean Bar snorkeling tour in Cabo and every aspect of it was amazing. The catamaran was beautiful, the crew was wonderful, and the snorkeling was so incredible. The water here is a beautiful azure blue and the fish and reefs were so very beautiful. On the way back they served endless drinks and snacks. This was easily the highlight of our vacation and was reasonable given all that was included. Once we got back to land we went to Cabo Wabo for margaritas and lunch and shopped our way back to the ship. The food was good (if not a bit expensive) but again the shopping was a bust. Too expensive. Still because we took the excursion we felt like we accomplished something and had a wonderful day. We will definitely return to Cabo! Oosterdam Final Thoughts Many have said the ship is dated and tired. In some aspects they are correct and I guess if you look for bad things you'll see them. There was evidence of worn cushions and one of our friends had torn drapes in their cabin along with a somewhat worn couch. Our room was in better shape but our veranda room was designed for a maximum of 2 people while theirs slept up to 4 I believe. This seemed to make a difference. Our cabin 8105 was on the top cabin deck and was so conveniently located to the elevators, Lido Buffet, and Aft pool. Overall though the ship is in great repair and there was someone cleaning, painting or doing some kind of maintenance all day and all night. I would gladly cruise on her again if she wasn't leaving San Diego indefinitely next year. Someone said a cruise in what you make it and they are so right. Go aboard looking for a great vacation and I assure you the Oosterdam, Holland America, and their wonderful crew will give you just that. Go aboard looking for deficiencies and you will most certainly find them. My advice don't look for deficiencies. Have a good time, we did and booked our next cruise to the Southern Caribbean. We look forward to seeing you there! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Our plan was to fly into San Diego on Friday night, 11/11/11, however due to flight issues, we ended up missing our connection in Atlanta and had to spend the night there and head to San Diego on Saturday, the 12th. We arrived in a very ... Read More
Our plan was to fly into San Diego on Friday night, 11/11/11, however due to flight issues, we ended up missing our connection in Atlanta and had to spend the night there and head to San Diego on Saturday, the 12th. We arrived in a very wet San Diego on time. We heard several times that it hasn't rained that hard there in several years. Embarkation was a breeze as we visited with family and friends in San Diego until about 3 pm before heading to the pier. We were the only 5 people in line and was on the ship in about 15 minutes time after we got out of the car. I knew going into this that Holland America was well known for their elder clients with many "life cruisers". What I didn't expect was for all of these elder people to be so rude. My husband (38) and I (37) were both raised to respect all people, including our elders, but these 14 days tested my patience on every level in dealing with fellow cruisers. We were forever waiting behind people with canes, walkers and wheelchairs. They would cut in front of us in line, run into you with their scooters, push you out of their way, etc. The staff on this cruise was the friendliest group of people I have ever encountered. We were treated like royalty in every aspect. One of the people traveling with us had questions about dinner and wanted some of this and some of that every night and our waiter put up with it with a smile every single night. What a trooper he was! Our stateroom, 5115, was located pretty much mid ship so the location was great. The bed was very comfortable and the bed linens were very nice. The stewards kept our room and bathroom clean and stocked. There is storage under the beds for your luggage and drawers at the end of the beds for clothes.The closets are a good size. There is also storage space over the couch. The room itself shows a lot of wear and tear. I guess I didn't expect this since the ship was just dry-docked 1 cruise prior to our sailing. The upholstery on the couch was very dirty, the "throw" pillows, should have been thrown away, the carpet was stained and the curtains were stained and torn. Don't get me wrong, I did expect a little wear and tear on the fixtures, etc, but I didn't expect to feel like I was staying in the no-tell motel when I paid for the Ritz. This however, did NOT ruin my trip. I have read many reviews from people who felt their entire trip was ruined because of these kinds of things. I am simply giving my observations as part of my review. One more thing, Ladies with thick hair, you might want to bring your own shampoo and conditioner. My hair never felt clean or conditioned using the ship's shampoo and conditioner. The public areas of the ship are all very nice. The Vista Lounge is the only place that seemed cramped, but this was during the 8 o'clock shows. I imagine most of the folks attended that one because the 10 o'clock show was too late for them. The casino is adequate, my husband played a lot of roulette, he was up and down the whole trip we think he ended the cruise about even. I too was up and down on the slots the whole trip, but ended up cashing out with some money to bring home!! I played in my first live cash game of Texas Hold 'em and did a pretty good job of taking the other player's cash home with me too. The food in the Terrace Grill is good and always hot - hamburgers, hot dogs, Italian sausages, and fries. The breakfast in the Lido is EXCELLENT. There wasn't one day that I didn't enjoy breakfast. About the only thing I liked during the lunch hour was the sandwich bar. Any combination you can think of can be created. One disappointment for me was that they never had French dressing for the salad bar. We ate dinner at the Lido one evening and I did not enjoy it at all. I tried the pasta and Alfredo sauce and it was very "wet". No flavor at all, just wet noodles. The pizza is always good for a late-night snack. We ate at the free Italian restaurant, Cantenello, once and it was DELICIOUS. Dessert comes with a plate of cotton candy, which was a bonus! We also indulged at the for fee restaurant, Pinnacle, where I encountered the best tasting steak I have EVER had. There were five of us and we each had something different and every meal was great. Well worth the $25 per person cover charge. The sad part was that we were so full from dinner that we could not eat dessert. We had room service a couple of times - just cheeseburgers and club sandwiches. We knew going that there was usually a long wait for room service, but I don't think that we ever waited more than 30 minutes. There was always a good variety of food in the main dining room for dinner. The food mostly had a good taste and the presentation of the food was always exciting. I have two bad notes about the food in the MDR - the bread was always hard and the steak was never done. On 4 different occasions one or more of us ordered the steak well done and it came out, every time, still very pink in the middle and a couple of time still bloody. Beverages-- on previous lines we had fruit punch as a choice in the buffet, but on this cruise it was water or tea. I did not care for the tea, it is not fresh-brewed, it tastes like Nestea or something and it is lemony. I drank a lot of water, which is a good thing. I came home weighing 4.5 pounds lighter than when I started this journey! The seas were really rough on our first day at sea - it seems like nearly everyone on board was sick that day. Then we had calm seas until we reached Hawaii and then on the way back, the first day at sea was calm and a picture perfect day, and the next three days were very rough. I have been off the ship for over 24 hours now and I still feel myself moving!! - Again these are just observations for anyone reading the review if trying to decide on this cruise. HAL nor the captain can control the weather or the seas. We used the ship's unlimited laundry service (the Oosterdam does not have self-service laudry) It was $98 for our 14 day cruise. Well worth it; next time I can pack 1/2 as much!! (this is laundry only, dry cleaning is extra) Hawaii was everything I dreamed it would be. I would love to go back and spend more time on each of the islands to see what we didn't see during this trip. We took HAL excursions in all four ports. I felt that three of them were well worth the money. The forth was just a motor coach drive to the beach, which, don't get me wrong, we LOVED the beach, but I think $64 a person is a bit much for that "excursion". We did have $100 shore excursion credit from our credit card company so I like to think that that particular excursion only cost us $28! We did not exit the ship in Ensenda Mexico because we had been there before and we were only docked for 3 1/2 hours at night... Disembarkation was also a breeze. If you can get past all the people gathered at the gangway waiting to exit the ship. I don't understand why, if you're scheduled to exit the ship at 10 am, you are blocking me from exiting at 9 am when I am supposed to be exiting. Our luggage was right where they said it would be. Overall we enjoyed this vacation. If you do not enjoy long, leisurely days at sea, this is not the trip for you because you are at sea for a long time. If you do not have a ton of patience, this is not the cruise for you. This is not a "party" cruise line, it caters to older cruisers and they know it and take full advantage of their status in life. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Oosterdam is beginning to show its age, but neither more nor less than any other ship from the early 2000's with only a single refurbishment. Cuisine choices are good to excellent, though the open seating option seems to present ... Read More
Oosterdam is beginning to show its age, but neither more nor less than any other ship from the early 2000's with only a single refurbishment. Cuisine choices are good to excellent, though the open seating option seems to present problems for both the kitchen and the waitstaff. The Canaletto option is inexpensive but good, while the Pinnacle can be either very good or superb. The hotel is once again under the direction of Mr. Deering, with whom we sailed on the same itinerary back in 2005. Our only problem was a somewhat chaotic debarkation owing to delays presented by Customs and Immigration. This ship is definitely not in direct competition with either Disney Wonder or Carnival Splendor on the same route. It is not as noisy and crowded as the Splendor or best suited to families as is the Wonder. In short, it is the only solid standard medium-priced all purpose ship for a wide variety of guests in this market. We had few problems either on board or at the two ports visited. A large contingent of physically challenged passengers was in evidence, which could have been problematic but was not. A typical senior on a walker jumped three feet into the arms of a crewman as our tender heaved upwards at Cabo. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We are a couple in our mid to late 40s and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own 100 CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day ... Read More
We are a couple in our mid to late 40s and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own 100 CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day cruise was posted immediately to our account. Our Mexican Riviera and Hawaii B2B cruise on 11/05/2011 and 11/12/2011 cruise was wonderful. The start of the first leg of our B2B cruise was delayed by one day due to medical emergencies of passengers on the cruise prior to ours. HAL informed us and credited our account $150/pp, which was great for us as we toured and spent an extra day in San Diego. HAL also gave us a 25% rebate on our next HAL cruise which will amount to almost $700. We flew in to San Diego the day before our cruise was supposed to start. We stayed at the Embassy Suites which includes a manager's reception and breakfast. It is nicely located a few blocks away from the cruise pier and relatively close to all amenities. Post cruise we stayed at the Holiday Inn that is located just across the street from the pier. The embarkation process was very easy as the terminal in San Diego is relatively small. Our room #1836 was wonderful. An aft balcony room, always fresh fruit daily, soft robes, a LCD monitor with DVD. It was clean, adequate and somewhat quiet. The room stewards always greeted us with a smile and our rooms were always meticulously maintained. We found the service and dining onboard to be 5 stars. The dining room stewards and wine stewards were a highlight of the cruise. The menu was always tempting. We usually don't enjoy buffets, with the crowds, so we try to stay away from them as much as possible. With that being said, the food choices were excellent and the overall lay out of the buffet was good. On two occasions we dined in the Pinnacle with mixed feelings about the experience. With great service and menus in the MDR our first experience in the Pinnacle left us wondering why we bothered. The second experience was a Cellar Masters Dinner and it was wonderful. We booked the Thermal Suites and daily enjoyed the use of the steam sauna, dry sauna, ceramic hot beds and hydro pool. This was one of the reasons we booked on the Oosterdam. We were always in the gym daily. But found the facility small and overcrowded. We also enjoyed the full promenade deck to walk or jog. The few evening shows we attended were at par with what we had experienced in the past on other cruises. The evenings were mostly spent dancing at the various venues or socializing with our new cruise critic friends that we met at a well attended and organized meeting. The cruise director attended our CC meeting and made a point to talk to everyone. He offered his assistance should anyone have any special requests during the cruise. In Puerto Vallarta we used the ships excursion. The "Outdoor Adventure Tour" with zip lines, rappelling, donkey ride and speed boat was simply "Funtastic". The extra stop at the Tequila "factory" for taste testing was great. The stop in Cabo San Lucas was disappointing as we were stood up by the private tour we booked through "bestontravelnetwork dot com". We toured the town on our own and visited the beach, but weren't impressed. Had the pleasure of going on a private tour in Hilo with cruise critic friends and Ainatours dot com. We stopped by Rainbow Falls, Volcano National Park and a few other places of interest. The last stop was at OneKahaKaha Beach Park which was very close to the pier for some good snorkelling. We rented a black Ford Mustang convertible through Thrifty Blue Chip in Oahu then proceeded to explore the eastern side of the island and the north shore. In the evening we walked through downtown Honolulu discovering the historical sites. It was a wonderful day. The open door helicopter tour was fantastic that we had the pleasure to do with Jack Harter Helicopter Tours in Nawilwili, Kauai. It is a must do for sure. The rest of the day we played in the surf at the nearby beach. The ship excursion of Catamarans, sail and snorkel in Lahainia, Maui was not very impressive and expensive. The town is full of little shops and very touristy if you like that kind of thing. The quick stop in Ensenada was fun. We took the shuttle into town and bargained for souvenirs. Summary - We loved this cruise. The reason we booked this cruise was to relax and enjoy the many sea days. The extra amenities of the Thermal Suite made for a really wonderful vacation. The great service from the Maitre d', to the wait staff, room stewards, to all of the staff members, really made for a pleasant experience. On several occasions the cruise director personally wanted to know if there was anything that he might be able to do to make the cruise a wonderful experience, also there were comment cards in our room on several occasions. Our only complaints are with the bad behaviour and rudeness from some of the "entitled" guests. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This cruise was so relaxing, a no-brainer. Embarkation---very smooth. Outside fence of pier it's a little confusing but they are helpful. The line moved fast. Get there early, if Holland has cleared the ship on time from the past ... Read More
This cruise was so relaxing, a no-brainer. Embarkation---very smooth. Outside fence of pier it's a little confusing but they are helpful. The line moved fast. Get there early, if Holland has cleared the ship on time from the past cruise, they board early. Took very little time to board. We did open dining so we went to make a reservation for the first night at Canaletto-Italian Restaurant. There was some confusion at our 8:00pm reservation time but we figured it was because of it being the first night. Service was very slow. But we spoke to others that said the service the second night was much faster. Made another reservation for the last night and the service was spot on. All the meals we had both nights were very good. Dessert surprise was delicious. The open dining was a little weird. They only seemed to have reservations available for 5:15 or 7:45. But we figured out there were never any lines so we just started going when we wanted. Sometimes they seat you downstairs with the open dining and sometimes they took us upstairs to eat with the 2nd seating people. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night---absolutely fabulous. One of the best meals that we have ever had, along with the best service. Worth the $20 pp.Shows---The singers and dancers were good. The magician, impressionist and comedian were good. Some complained about the comedian but we loved him.Bingo was good because they haven't gotten into the "machine" craze like the other cruise lines.The best thing on the ship?------SERVICE The Indonesian/Filipino crew were fantastic. Very helpful and really friendly. Always saying hello when they passed you.Cabins---quite roomy, closet space good. Drawers under beds and couch. Still space for the suitcases under the beds though. All in all a great cruise, really a good value for the price. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego ... Read More
Our first cruise was 7 years ago and now it seems that we are taking a cruise almost every year since this cruise on Holland America was cruise #8. Since we live in California, it's easy for us to board in Los Angeles or San Diego and less expensive since we are not dealing with the flights to get us back east for a Caribbean cruise which is next on my list.Well I scoured several sights and found Holland America to be very reasonable with the pricing and it had some decent reviews so I figured I had nothing to lose right? Well my husband wanted Norwegian but we had already been on that ship 2x and Royal pulled out of the area so I convinced my husband about trying a new ship and what a great deal I was getting $$Where we disappointed? HECK NO! Where do I start?1. The kids resisted going to Club Hal first and of course Grandma did not want us to dump the kids, but I told her not to worry the kids would be ok and guess what? After that 1st night they were hooked and did not want to be with us! They wanted to be at the kids club and reluctantly joined us for lunch/dinner when the club closes.2. The buffet was tasty. Do you ever go on cruises were the food is ok and you are just counting down for the dining room to open? Well we don't have that concern on this ship. Sure there might be a few things left out from the buffet but we hardly noticed.3. Beverage Cards - One for alcohol and one for soft drinks..Bigger savings on the soft drinks and I was advised to buy only one for all of us to use. On other cruise ships, I have been advised to buy one for each member of our party (rip-off!!)4. FOOD, oh wait I already mentioned that one. The only thing I would not do again would be the cupcake tea time.5. Movie theater was comfortable and they had the popcorn bags out :)The cons:1. Casino, the way they handle the payouts is confusing. I felt liked I needed 101 classes on how to get the payouts and there wasn't much help.2. Deals on the pictures - too expensiveI'm definitely a fan of Holland America, they keep it classy and I'm glad that they avoid having the waiters sing and dance , well they did have them do it one night but it was just waiving the napkins. Read Less
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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