3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
This was our 3rd Winter in a row to sail the Oosterdam for our COLD weather get away. We weren't disappointed. Having never sailed from San Diego, we didn't know what to expect. We stayed the night before at Springhill Suites, ... Read More
This was our 3rd Winter in a row to sail the Oosterdam for our COLD weather get away. We weren't disappointed. Having never sailed from San Diego, we didn't know what to expect. We stayed the night before at Springhill Suites, right across the street from the pier. We easily walked across the street about 1045 the morning of the cruise. There was a long line in the terminal, but it moved quickly. We are 4 star mariners, so we got through the priority check in and were seated in the priority boarding area within 20 minutes. They started boarding by 1130 and we were quickly to our room. Our signature suite was remodeled a few years ago, but it was in great shape. Our cabin steward came to check our room right after we arrived. Both stewards were very friendly and efficient. Any requests we made were taken care of with a smile. The ship had a few more bangs and worn edges than it did last year, but it was still in good shape. It was going in for a 2 week dry dock after our cruise, so I imagine some carpet and upholstery will be changed. The crows nest, library area, and Explorations Coffee cafe upstairs was still nice. I understand that's all going to get the new "remodeling " to change it to the EXC area. We always ask for fixed main dining, table for 6. That's what we got and we enjoyed our evening meal. The dining room certainly wasn't full on any night. Our stewards were always happy and very attentive to our wants. We found the selections to be very good most nights and the food was very tasty except for 1 dry chicken dish. We thought 1 bad entree out of 16 night's chioices was pretty good. The lobster, shrimp, and fish dishes were all very tasty. We ate all breakfasts and lunches in the lido. There were plenty of choices and ( except for the final morning) the workers were always quick with clearing tables and offering you drinks. We favor the Asian or salad bar for lunch most days. There was an occasional Dive burger. The evening entertainment met our wants. We don't really care for the production shows, but really enjoyed the comedians and impressionist singer. Each evening we attended the Billboard piano entertainment. We really enjoy the sing along ( although some may not enjoy OUR sing along). We took 2 ship tours which were very enjoyable and they were as stated in the brochure. Our ports were Puerta Vallarta, Hutalco, Guatemala, Nicauragua, Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal, Aruba, and Half Moon Cay. All of these had a quality of their own and were enjoyed. Half Moon was shared with Koningsdam, so it got VERY CROWDED by noon. We chose Luggage Direct, so disembarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was very quick. We were the second group called off, so we left our cabin about 7:35 and were through and to a cab by 8:05. The crew, seas, weather, and ports were all better that we had hoped for. ALL of this made for a WONDERFUL 16 days on the oosterdam. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
For those that are very critical about everything, quit cruising. You will always be disappointed. This was our 164th Voyage. 10th on HAL. We took our kids and 9 month old granddaughter. Staff and Crew were very friendly and never ... Read More
For those that are very critical about everything, quit cruising. You will always be disappointed. This was our 164th Voyage. 10th on HAL. We took our kids and 9 month old granddaughter. Staff and Crew were very friendly and never did we see any one unhappy. We saw many unhappy and crabby passengers who complained about everything. We got glares from so many passengers when we were with our granddaughter. Yes, things were not perfect. But, never are. Ship needs to be updated, but clean and very nice. We had adjoining balcony cabins and were adequate. Embarkation took 10 minutes and disembarking took 20 minutes. Very well organized and quick. Thank you for all of the very negative reviews. It really made this cruise much better than expected. Lido was lacking, but tasty. Food was the usual cruise food. Some great, some so so. But, that was what we expected. Watch out for " Cruise Critic" taking the critical part way to seriously. Treat staff and crew the way you want to be treated. They work to make your cruise special and work many hours. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We enjoy San Diego and had not done the Mexican Riviera before. We enjoyed the cruise but would likely not choose to do this particular one again - once was sufficient. We only did one excursion, choosing otherwise just to explore on our ... Read More
We enjoy San Diego and had not done the Mexican Riviera before. We enjoyed the cruise but would likely not choose to do this particular one again - once was sufficient. We only did one excursion, choosing otherwise just to explore on our own. Of the 3 ports visited Puerto Vallarta was our favorite. Cabo was just too touristy, and we didn't really get a chance to see the place as we did an excursion there so there was no time to see the city. We are now rather spoiled and always choose a Neptune Suite when possible for the roominess and perks that go with them. I would say that the food is consistently good, and the portions are a sensible size. (You can always order more if you like.) We like the fixed seating option so you get to know some new friends and the wait staff get to know you. However, fixed seating seems to be becoming less and less popular. This time we requested a table for 6 (our usual choice) but there were only 4 at the table, and more often than not there were just the 2 of us there. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This 7 day HAL cruise from San Diego seemed a great way to get some sunshine and warmer weather. We enjoyed all three ports. As we had visited and taken tours on a past cruise, this trip we opted for taxis and trips to the beach which ... Read More
This 7 day HAL cruise from San Diego seemed a great way to get some sunshine and warmer weather. We enjoyed all three ports. As we had visited and taken tours on a past cruise, this trip we opted for taxis and trips to the beach which worked out well and cost a lot less. The service on the ship was excellent but that’s what we have come to expect from HAL. We enjoyed the food in the Lido and main dining room and had great service with one exception where the waiter mixed up and forgot some orders. Oh well, 6/7 is pretty good. We had open dining this cruise and chose to sit at larger tables where we met a variety of interesting people. The entertainment was great and we really enjoyed the cooking shows in America’s Test Kitchen. The Oosterdam is an older ship and could do with some refurbishment but our ocean view cabin was in pretty good shape, tub and tv looked new and our cabin steward was very efficient. We were very happy with our trip and paid a deposit on a future cruise as we are definitely sailing with HAL again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We altus loved Holland American Cruises and continued to take them because we felt they were worth the money for a wonderful7 day cruise. The Oosterdam needs updating. The outside chairs on the Promenade deck were all soiled and not ... Read More
We altus loved Holland American Cruises and continued to take them because we felt they were worth the money for a wonderful7 day cruise. The Oosterdam needs updating. The outside chairs on the Promenade deck were all soiled and not appealing to sit on. Our cabin was awful. The crew was great, the food was good and the entertainment was top notch. Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was special and the service was excellent. We took the spa package which was worth the money and enjoyed. Having a cabin that was not in good shape for a week where we slept and got changed our clothes ruined our taste for Holland America for future cruising. We have taken this same cruise 7 times on Princess, Celebrity and Holland America and preferred Holland America until we took the Oosterdam. I have notified Holland America guest services and sent a copy to Orlando Ashford, the President of Holland America, expressing my opinion about our cruise. It will be interesting to see their reply. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Booking - Direct with HAL. Price similar to other agents. Boarding – We boarded in San Diego. Nowadays, the detail work is done online from home so the process was quick. About an hour after arriving at the terminal we were in our ... Read More
Booking - Direct with HAL. Price similar to other agents. Boarding – We boarded in San Diego. Nowadays, the detail work is done online from home so the process was quick. About an hour after arriving at the terminal we were in our stateroom. Gone was the typical crowding into the upper deck cafeteria while awaiting stateroom to be prepped. The ship – Oosterdam is showing its age despite a 2016 refurb. The passageways were full of scratches and dents from luggage. I saw places where the walls had drip marks at the bottom, like someone sprayed surface cleaner and allowed it to run. Ten minutes out of San Diego, the ship began a steady rocking motion which intensified through the night. The next morning I expected to see white caps but the sea was calm. This is my tenth cruise (not counting two years on an aircraft carrier) and I've never been bounced around this much. Many veteran cruisers agreed. The Lido deck has two pools separated by the casual dining area. One has a retractable cover. Only 46 lounge chairs surround the main pool; around them are perhaps 60 or so 4-seat tables. Initially, I thought this to be insufficient but was proved wrong. Of the 8-10 I came to the pool, I always found an available lounger. Stateroom - Our cabin was a typical veranda class. It mirrored the wear & tear of the ship in general. Rather than a typical shower, there's a 4' tub. Gouges in the sink & tub were through the melamine surface exposing the base material. I sat on a wooden chair at the desk and it cracked and broke. I admit to being overweight but 250# shouldn't have done that. Cabin staff was helpful and attentive. Cabin staff was excellent. Any requests were met quickly and cheerfully. Dining - The food was quite good. We enjoyed a good selection of well prepared dishes. There were half a dozen varied entrees each night plus the standard fare (NY strip, grilled salmon or chicken) The breakfast choices were especially diverse. I never knew there were three varieties of Eggs Benedict. If anything, the food might have been a bit too chic. I couldn't pronounce 30% of the menu items. By the end of the cruise, I was ready for a trip to Cracker Barrel. The Lido deck cafeteria was a pleasant surprise with a nice variety that often mirrored the dining room menu. The tables were all set up with place-mats, napkins and flatware. Bus boys bring you iced tea, water or lemonade. Forgot to get ketchup or tartar sauce? Just ask. The dining arrangements were a different story. I had “Open seating” so I called to make a 6pm reservation. No go. They don't take Open Seating reservations for anytime between 5:30 – 7:30 but I could come down w/o a reservation and wait in line. Turns out the wait can be up to 30 min. The next day I called for a 5:30 seating. They told me that the only thing available was after 7:30 and that would be the case for the next several days. Something seemed amiss. Eventually I spoke with the senior waiter. He was very nice and seemed genuinely embarrassed to confess that a computer glitch had jumbled many seating times and table numbers. This poor fellow was forced to do hundreds of seating changes by hand. He quickly resolved my issue and sent a complementary plate of chocolate covered strawberries to our stateroom. A poolside hot dog & burger bar also offers taco fixin's. The food was very good, the fries were outstanding. There are three specialty restaurants with premiums of $15 to $49. I did not visit any of them. Entertainment – Less than stellar. The few evening shows we attended were pretty Ho-Hum. I’ve seen much better talent on Celebrity. About the third day however, we discovered a neat little gem. One of the lounges featured a concert pianist and string quartet. They were amazing. You needed to get there 30 min early to get a seat. Farther forward was a lounge that featured a couple guys playing twin pianos. They were outstanding. Every night 80 – 100 people would crowd in to watch them. It was next to the casino and people would turn chairs from the slot machines to watch the show. I’ve gotta believe the casino manager wasn't thrilled by this. Excursions – Like most cruise lines, these were expensive. We’ve found it’s often cheaper to book your own trips from the non-affiliated companies at the end of the pier. Disembarkation – Very well coordinated and easy. Everybody gets luggage tags and a time slot. We had relatives picking us up so there was no need to rush. We waited in our cabin until 9:30am then spend 20 min in a lounge. When they called our number, the crowd was gone and our luggage was easy to find. Summary – HAL is an attractive choice for older folks. I doubt there were even a dozen school-age passengers. I’d estimate the median age at 70. If you’re in this age group or if you’re comfortable being around older folks, HAL is a good bet. Things are quiet and refined. If you prefer a younger crowd, try Princess or RCCL. If you want a floating fraternity house, consider Carnival. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
I frequently cruise the San Diego to Mexican Riviera cruise when I find a good price. I have sailed only HAL the past few years. I was on this ship before and since my last trip they have gone into dry dock and added the Lincoln Center ... Read More
I frequently cruise the San Diego to Mexican Riviera cruise when I find a good price. I have sailed only HAL the past few years. I was on this ship before and since my last trip they have gone into dry dock and added the Lincoln Center concert area, expanded the showroom, added more top deck outside veranda cabins, some cabanas and squeezed in more inside cabins by making them smaller. I was told that the ship was due to go into dry dock again in a couple of months and it needs it. Several areas are looking worn and in need of upgrade. Overall I enjoyed my cruise very much. I think the dining food is very good for a mid price ship. Service is not a ubiquitous as it has been in the past but it was OK. Embarcation and disembarkation procedures have been streamlined which is an improvement. Because I return to these ports I choose not to go ashore in Cabo and do my own thing walking in Mazatlan while taking the PV city bus (7 pesos) to the beach area and downtown. So, I cannot comment on the excursions. They do appear overpriced to me. I purchased a future cruise deposit which is a $100. cost but will pay my next cruise deposit not requiring any further expense until 90 days before when the cost is due in full. By doing that I also receive a $25. cruise credit on my account for that upcoming cruise. The other thing I do that might not be as well known is to purchase 100 shares of Carnival stock, which owns HAL as well as several other cruise lines. As a shareholder I can request a $100 credit on my account for each cruise I book and more $$ for longer cruises. Plus the stock pays a dividend as well. I was glad someone told me about this several years ago. Happy cruising everyone. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
I booked this cruise in December as a gift to my husband who had, until now, never cruised. We wanted to try a short, 5-day, cruise to make sure he wouldn't become deathly ill from motion sickness and to just give him a taste for ... Read More
I booked this cruise in December as a gift to my husband who had, until now, never cruised. We wanted to try a short, 5-day, cruise to make sure he wouldn't become deathly ill from motion sickness and to just give him a taste for sailing. Background - I've sailed at least 17+ times on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Norwegian but mostly on RC. My husband and I are 40 years old, don't really party anymore but still enjoy good shows, music, friends, fun, and fantastic food. The ship - We both agreed, the ship was absolutely immaculate! I have never experienced a cruise ship that has been cared for so thoroughly! Everything aboard the Oosterdam has been cared for and maintained meticulously. She shows signs of being 14 years old, mainly in the decor, but physically the ship is outstanding. Our cabin - We upgraded from a SY (Signature Suite) to an SA (Neptune Suite - 7062) a week before sailing and are SO glad we did! The suite was a decent size, the bed was extremely comfortable, and the cabin stewards always made sure the room looked perfect. The suite gave us access to the Neptune Lounge which was directly across the hall. We popped over to the lounge a few times during the day to get coffee, juice, and sample the wonderful horsedouvres. The lounge concierge was always very eager to help and definitely made our trip even more special. The complementary guest laundry and dry cleaning also worked out well and came in very handy. We will most likely always book a suite with similar amenities from now on as they are well worth the expense! Dining - Ok, The Main dining room, Canaletto, and the Lido buffet were just par for cruising cuisine. None of them were terribly spectacular and the dessert at all three venues was pretty lackluster. The Pinnacle Grill, however, was absolutely fantastic! We had breakfast and dinner there a few times and thoroughly loved it! When we return, we will likely only eat in the Pinnacle and forego the other restaurants completely. Service - The service on board was outstanding! Everyone we came across had a huge smile on their face, greeted us, and truly made us feel at home. So here is where things get a little funky for me... Remember, my husband and I are both 40 years old. Apparently, HAL's target demographic is considerably older than us. We found this out first-hand before boarding. When we walked into the pier, the security staff asked if we were crew. When we responded "No, we are passengers..." their jaws dropped and they let us pass in amazement. Most of the other passengers, we later found out, were in their late 70's, 80's and early 90's. I'm totally fine with cruising around senior citizens, don't get me wrong. They were extremely nice, quiet, and were all very friendly. We were walking on the Promenade and came across an elderly lady napping, head back and mouth WIDE open, on a couch. I was afraid she had passed away right there and was tempted to place a mirror under her nose to see if she was still alive. Entertainment - The entertainment wasn't that great but, again, it was designed for the target HAL demographic. My husband and I were expecting a Broadway-worthy production yet, well, that wasn't the case. The Lincoln Center Stage performers were wonderful and the America's Test Kitchen demonstrations were extremely fun. There just wasn't much in the way of nightlife. Overall - Great ship, amazing service, wonderful food (at the Pinnacle)! It's a little like a floating nursing home but there is nothing wrong with that! Just be prepared. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We thought we might be taking a risk going on a Holland America cruise with our young children, but felt like we needed a holiday and this itinerary fit the bill. It was a 4 day cruise from San Diego to Vancouver. Our children, ages 6 ... Read More
We thought we might be taking a risk going on a Holland America cruise with our young children, but felt like we needed a holiday and this itinerary fit the bill. It was a 4 day cruise from San Diego to Vancouver. Our children, ages 6 and 2, enjoyed a full day visit to the San Diego Zoo, a tour of the USS Midway and a trip to Old Town on the transit trolley prior to the cruise. We stayed at a hotel (SpringHill Suites) where our room had a view of our cruise ship the day it arrived. We walked to the cruise terminal, which was hosting two ships that day, and deliberately arrived fairly late (3pm) to avoid the lengthy lineups we have experienced in San Diego in previous years. We walked right through security, picked up our room key cards and were in our cabin in moments. This was our first voyage on a Holland America ship, and the Oosterdam is in lovely condition. It's not flashy and doesn't have the latest technological gadgets, but the public areas look like new and have a cozy, understated feel. Staff were universally friendly and helpful. Our balcony cabin, deck 4 forward, does not appear to have been updated during the most recent refit of the ship in 2016. The room was still in decent shape, but the bathroom lighting was not very bright and the wall colour (taupe) seemed to absorb the light. I'm told many other staterooms have been upgraded with brighter bathrooms. Still, it was nice to have a small bathtub for our young children. Our cabin had a drop-down bunk bed and a (worn) pull-out couch. It was tight but we managed. The food was generally very good...but it would have been nice if it had been hot in the main dining room. The only dish I didn't enjoy at all was a top sirloin steak from the main dining room. It was cold and flavourless. Again, other than these issues the food was very good. The buffett has a surprisingly pleasant ambience and a very tasty variety of food. My wife ordered room service for the children and apparently the service was prompt and the food was quickly consumed. My wife and I visited the gym a couple of times. It is a decent size with a reasonable variety of equipment, and has a view from the front of the ship. The children's and teen's play/activity centre (Club HAL) is on Deck 10. The two staff working there told us that during the previous 15 days there had been no children under the age of 18. There is a policy that children must be a minimum of 3 years old to be able to be in Club HAL, so our 2.5 yr old was not allowed to stay with her 6 year old sister in Club Hal. This kept mom and dad busy, but we had fun. If the cruise had been longer this fun might have become more of a challenge. All in all, we had a very nice time and can highly recommend the Oosterdam. Footnote: it was nice to see the President of Holland America, Orlando Ashford, on board the ship during the cruise and interacting with passengers and crew. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the ... Read More
We were fairly impressed by the Oosterdam, in that it is a beautiful ship with nice decor. I expected it to be tacky from the other reviews but did not find it so. Everything looked very modern and functional. I especially like the glass elevators on the outside of the ship that traveled between decks at midships. The pools are large and one could actually swim laps in them. The hot tubs were clean and generally warm but not really hot. The central pool deck covers when the weather is poor making it quite comfortable to sit at even when the weather doesn't cooperate. There were lots of nice nooks and crannies to sit and read in a sheltered area. The Lido deck has the different buffets: Entrees, Dessert, Drinks, Asian and Italian. This changes at the different meal times. We ate supper in the Vista Dining lounge and found the food to be excellent, and the service was doting. I felt it would have been nice to have a little more seafood such as lobster or crab but, nonetheless it was very tasty. The shows at night were entertaining, but not amazing. At least they try to entertain you so you have to give them some credit. I was not impressed by the activities because they seemed to be all about upselling you products rather than just giving you information or an activity to do. I was not please to find that they charged extra to use the steam rooms, hot pool and sauna- they wanted $100 for four days. This was included in the Carnival cruise. The port we stopped at was quite limited with very few activities unless you wanted to pay to do the usual whale watching, kayaking etc. Other than that we enjoyed ourselves. This would be a good cruise for just relaxing as long as you don't get bored to easily. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large ... Read More
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large non-luxury ship for the first time. We chose HAL as non-of our preferred ships were scheduled for a Hawaii round trip at the time we wanted to go. This was also our first sea-intensive cruise. Pre-Cruise We have owned timeshares for more than twenty years and decided to use some of our points to stay in the San Diego area the week before the cruise. We chose the Lawrence Welk Resort in nearby Escondido and found it to be one of our best exchanges ever. For those of you who may be timeshare owners, I will post a review on Timeshare Users Group www.tug2.net. Embarkation One of the things that concerning us was how difficult embarkation might turn out to be having experienced curbside to glass of sparkling wine in the atrium in about 15 minutes while watching the mob scene at nearby ships. This cruise was surely the embarkation from hell, though not necessarily the fault of HAL. We turned in our rental car and were driven to the cruise port only to find a big electronic sign declaring "no passenger discharge" at the entrance and a very long line waiting to get into the building. Our driver ended up having to leave us and all our luggage literally in the middle of the street. I found out later that the Port Of San Diego had shut down the terminal right in the middle of the embarkation process and said, to inquiring ships officers, the reason was none of their business. Passengers who arrive before 11 AM got on with no problem and those arriving after 12 went right on, but we had a 90 minute ordeal. Things were not helped by sharing the port with another large ship, resulting in nearly 5,000 people going through the terminal. Cabin We had a VD/Veranda cabin in the aft area. We had expected to be unhappy with the size and layout but were pleasantly surprised that the cabin was large enough to be comfortable and we found enough storage between the two wardrobes and the drawers in the end tables and under the bed. The balcony was small but this type of cruise doesn't lend itself to sitting out there. The bed was comfy and the bathroom utilitarian. Crew I have to agree with HAL fans that this has to be the friendliest crew at sea. Everybody we dealt with was cheerful and eager. However, there was an issue with crew to passenger ratios. An example is our cabin attendant. He appeared to be very good but overextended. I observed that he appeared to have more than 30 cabins to service. This results in service that is more like a hotel than a cruise ship. Our earlier experiences were that, every time you left your cabin, the cabin attendant seemed to have a sixth sense and, when we returned, it was apparent someone had been there, if only to do minor things such as freshen the ice or neatly fold clothing that had been tossed on the bed. On this cruise, the pattern was for the cabin to be made up sometime before the end of lunch and turned down by bedtime. Small issues such as buckets of melting ice not being replaced came up. I know I could have called for service, but hated to bother the already overworked guy. Dining One of the most important reasons people cruise, especially when you're at sea for ten days, is to dine. I've seen everything from two star to five star reviews. I gave HAL dining three stars. For one thing, the food was not up to what we found on "luxury" lines, but that is to be expected. What was disappointing was the unevenness of the food. At one meal we would be saying the food was delicious and, at the next, would find our entrees to be inedible and improperly prepared. Some of our dining companions were long-time HAL cruisers and were lamenting the fact HAL no longer had "white glove service" in the dining rooms. As this was my first time, I can only go by what they say. I also understand sommeliers have been replaced with "wine stewards" and my impression was these people did not have a really professional knowledge of wine. I believe I saw at least one or two of them actually serving as cocktail waiters in other parts of the ship. One of the biggest knocks I have on the MDR is how every meal opened with a server coming to our table and trying really hard to get us to buy a carafe of "special" water, filtered seven times. Don't they realize how this kind of stuff cheapens the experience? I can live with someone asking if I would like a cocktail or wine with dinner, but a hard-sell on water? We had open seating and enjoyed meeting our fellow passengers. The Lido was quite good. There is nothing like that on the small ships and the variety of food stations was excellent. We had met a couple at the resort who had just got off the prior cruise and said they ate only in the Lido for three weeks. I couldn't figure out why someone would want buffet food rather than the MDR but realized, after a few days, they were serving much of the MDR menu, with a few exclusions, in the Lido. We attempted to eat in the Canaletto Italian restaurant, which is an area of the Lido at dinner, but couldn't get reservations when we wanted. I heard very mixed revues on the food from several people. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill and the food was fine, but did not interest us in paying for a second visit. We had room service for a few breakfasts and thought they were quite good. I know some posters have complained about cold food, but I guess it depends on how far from the kitchen you are on this big ship. Our cabin was off the elevator bank that was one floor above where room service came out of the kitchen, so we were only about five minutes away from where it was handed off to the server. Another frequent topic I see is coffee. I mail order beans from two different sources but am not a coffee "expert". I thought the coffee was fine. It wasn't necessary to pay for coffee in the Crow's Nest as I noticed it is made from the same bags as the other restaurants. Entertainment There were good performers in all the lounges. The production shows were surprisingly elaborate with an energetic cast. Outside entertainment brought on board included a comedian, harmonica player and ventriloquist. The biggest hit of the cruise was probably Jeff Trachta (Thorne of "The Bold And The Beautiful) who had an excellent Vegas show of singing, comedy and impressions. Both his shows were packed and I understand he had a big turnout when he did a sit-down interview in the Vista Lounge the following morning. The issue I have with the entertainment venues is sightline problems. I cannot believe a ship built as recently as this one has a showroom full of large pillars and overhanging balconies that make, probably, 25 percent of the seats have an obstructed view of the stage. I you were attending a popular performance , you had to get there early and hold down a seat for at least 45 minutes. Worse was the screening room with very comfy theater chairs and fairly current releases. The down side was, with only about 30 seats, you have to get there about an hour ahead of time to know you can get into a showing. Ports Due to rough seas, we got a day behind and missed Hilo. That was a big loss. We docked in Honolulu and roamed independently. In Nawiliwili we originally had no plans but, as our tour in Hilo was scrapped, did a ship's tour to the "grand canyon of the pacific" which was nice. On Maui we had our own private tour booked. Getting on and off the ship was a big issue with us, again, being used to much smaller ships. All the tour busses seemed to arrive back at the ship in Nawiliwili simultaneously resulting in hundreds of people in a line that crept toward the gangplank. We saw that mess and, immediately, accepted a ride to Walmart on their free shuttle. We used an hour to pick up some items, including some of the least expensive Hawaii tee shirts I had seen. By the time we were delivered back to the ship, there was no line. In Maui, tendering was a mess. We were told there were tenders departing about every ten minutes but, after nothing moved for 45 minutes and the crowd in the Queen's Lounge turned into a mob, we finally got moving and, after nearly two hours, arrived on shore, late for our tour. Coming back was another mess with arriving busses and really long lines. And what can I say about our Jones Act stop in Ensenada. The port is in the middle of nowhere and, unless you've booked the inexpensive tour to see dancers and mariachis, there's no reason to get off the ship. Fellow Cruisers I was told this would be an older crowd. Yep. Disembarkation Like butter. We had a flight to catch and were down for 9 AM and were called at 8. Our suitcases were stacked together so we didn't have to search. Customs and immigration had us hand them the forms as we walked by. Oh, if embarkation was anything like this. General impressions Some people love these big ships and some that are much larger. We were not happy spending two weeks with 2,000 of our closest friends. Our cabin was close to dining but a trip to the other public areas involved a walk close to the length of two football fields. It was often hard to find a seat for dinning in the Lido and we actually saw people standing and eating. I had always heard about chair hogs, but hadn't experienced it until my walks across the Lido deck seeing every lounger had either a fanny or towel on it. But, there were always plenty of chairs on the observation deck. I mentioned before how much time you have to waste getting to show venues early in order to be sure you have a decent seat. Getting on and off this ship in port is agony for those of us used to smaller ships where there is never a line. Again, I'm not a snob, but that is my total experience cruising. Finally, as HAL considers itself a premium cruise line, I was very surprised by the lack of attention to detail. The furniture in lounges and common area can be quite beat up. Other reviewers have pointed out the poor condition of some of the leather furniture and upholstered pieces with buttons missing. The metal table on our balcony was actually rusting and it really shocked me that it hadn't been noticed and taken care of. We have had considerable experience with fine dining and found it rather strange that the Pinnacle would go to the trouble of having Rosenthal Bvlgari china along with the very common flatware used in the rest of the ship (with the logo "hotel" emblazoned on the back). To Sum Up The trip wasn't all that bad. We didn't have high expectations and were pleasantly surprised at some of what we found. We spent the first week saying, "Never again" but, by the end of the trip, had decided we might try HAL again, but on a more port intensive cruise on one of the smaller ships. We also have to consider cost. We could do several HAL cruises rather than one luxury cruise for the same price. HAL is not all inclusive and, had we opted for a suite or other more expensive accommodation and drank a lot more than we did, the cost might have been closer. But we were pretty happy with what we got.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We are veteran cruisers but this was our first cruise on HAL. The cruise was ok--not our best cruise. HAL was ok-after reading many reviews by experienced HAL cruisers we feel that HALl is very over rated for the price they charge. We ... Read More
We are veteran cruisers but this was our first cruise on HAL. The cruise was ok--not our best cruise. HAL was ok-after reading many reviews by experienced HAL cruisers we feel that HALl is very over rated for the price they charge. We booked an SB wrap around aft suite and were disappointed with the suite and amenities when compared to suites that we usually book on NCL (more later). The biggest advantage for us on this cruise was not having to fly anywhere to cruise since we live in the San Diego area. Since there is a Hawaiian Ports board--this review contains no information on the ports we visited. Embarkation: smooth--as expected for a deluxe suite passenger. Debarkation: OK--customs check for foreign nationals delayed debarkation as expected--why does San Diego continue to operate like this??? Service was excellent. --Our dining room waiter after the second night was one of the best we have ever had. We had open seating--the first two nights service was 0k but table location was terrible--in real noisy area with a lot of foot traffic. I had used the concierge in the Neptune lounge to make these reservations and asked for quite table --but later was told the concierge can not guarantee tables so I had to speak with the MDR Head manager and once I did we had a 4 top for two every night in the same location with a nice window and a wonderful waiter. We are use to the concierge making sure the table is what is requested like on NCL. Neptune Lounge/concierge service: we found the service here to be excellent--the concierge arranged a wonderful cocktail party in Lahaina sail away on our extra large balcony which turned out to be a real success with about 30 people. The ship provided hot and cold appetizers including some special items we requested..to our surprise the Hotel Director attended. The one thing we missed was our own super coffee machine (with sxpresso, cappuccino, and tea} like what is available in NCL suites. Suite steward was excellent and met every request---the laundry loss some of our items--not a big deal the steward looked for the items for a week. Bar service and lido service was also excellent. Food: --MDR food was IMOP excellent well above NCL MDR food. The Lido buffet was also better than NCL and excellent for breakfast and lunch--we never had dinner there. Just a note the bread pudding is un-remarkable--for the life of me I do not know why all the hype over it-- Also the MDR had prime rib three times and it was really good with the normal au jus. Loved the eggs benedict station in the Lido--this is a great buffet item. The Hawaiian BBQ held on the aft lido deck during the Honolulu stop at night was IMOP one of the highlights of the cruise--the sunset was beautiful--the buffet with real sucking whole baby pigs, bbq chicken and ribs and everything else was great HAL gets five stars for this. Pinnacle Grill--a real disappointment--nowhere near the menu or quality as Cagenys on NCL. Service was very slow. We also tried the Pinnacle at breakfast on two occasions (the first two days) the service was very, very slow -2 hours on both days-- we never went there again for breakfast--I actually spoke with the Hotel Director about this. Our dinner at Pinnacle was very unremarkable--the surf and turf was not seasoned well and the lamp chops were very small and not well seasoned. Desserts were below average--our experience with the food and especially the service caused us to cancel the Le Critque dinner. Cannellto was unremarkable--barely average for an Italian eatery. Deserts on the ship were average --the Pinnacle Grill deserts were very unremarkable for an up sell restaurant. Entertainment: HAL needs some work here--the only show we thought was at the NCL level was the Joe Mason show--everything else supar---the lack of dance pop band was really apparent on the ship--there was really no dancing any where--the forward observation Lounge never had a dance band at night such as pop band or something, This was really bad for a 14 day cruise with a cross section of age groups--we are in our early sixties and still enjoy dancing, Basically by 10;30pm the ship was dead. So IMOP if you are looking for entertainment do not expect too much on HAL. Day time activities limited to cooking classes, trivia, Hawaiian culture/history lectures (very, very good), movies (theater very small--HAL needs to show the movies in the Show lounge--I am sure they could find the appropriate times ). Cabin: We were in a SB deluxe suite aft wrap around--we found the suite out dated- Furniture old and very outdated--suite was clean--one sink faucet was broken and need to be repaired--water flow in bathtub was very,very slow and was fixed upon request. The TV in the room are very small compared to TVs in NCL suites--no coffee machine---no drawers to store items --everything has shelves which you store items like socks etc.--not very well designed. No real flowers delivered to suite as advertised--asked the concierge several times about this. Slippers were delivered after request--so real amenities in bathroom like on NCL--no shower caps etc. IMOP suite was below the quality of NCL suites and suite amenities also way below NCL. Balcony furniture was in bad repair---table needed to sanded and stained--furniture pads ripped etc. Dress code: the formal dress code is way over stated on this board--we saw many slacks and shirts no ties on formal nights--no real gowns on women=---smart causal wAs just casual amd in many cases we thought some of the passengers where sloppy in their dress at all times-- we saw some things like bathrobes in the buffet--people picking therr teeth with their dinner forks in the MDR-- that made us laugh after reading some the threads on this board about how classy HAL is. Will we cruise on HAL again--probably--will we book a deluxe suite on HA maybe on a new ship or if they improve their amenities for suite guests. IMOP NCL still has the best suites and suite amenities in the cruise industry. Big Green Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Waited awhile to write this review as I wanted to be as objective as possible and let the little things float away and see what stuck in my memory. That said, we are long-time cruisers having traveled on ships of all shapes and sizes. ... Read More
Waited awhile to write this review as I wanted to be as objective as possible and let the little things float away and see what stuck in my memory. That said, we are long-time cruisers having traveled on ships of all shapes and sizes. Several HAL trips, including a previous voyage on the Oosterdam, make it possible for me to be somewhat objective as we pretty much knew what to expect when we booked and boarded. What we didn't expect was a cabin whose forward position made it nearly impossible to occupy when sailing into the wind...roaring, wailing, screaming winds whipped by our balcony door for days on end. No point complaining to staff as ship was full. We almost always book guarantees and have never been unhappy until this trip - I doubt the folks in Seattle who assign cabins have any idea that these forward cabins are so prone to these wind-related problems. As a result, we were seldom in the cabin and trying to find a quiet, peaceful place to just relax and enjoy the sea days (we actively seek out cruises with few port calls)turned into a challenge. There were just way too many activities for us to even consider and most of them entailed once quiet corners of the ship (Explorers Lounge, for instance) suddenly becoming the venue for a trivia/cooking/art/spa lecture/contest. The Crows Nest is a zoo - too much going on, trying to be something for everybody and succeeding in little except in the evenings when the solo guitarist, Chris Bartlett, appeared. He was one of the highlights of the trip - a very talented young man who has a wide ranging repetoir and an engaging style. Please seek him out on your next cruise and ask him to play "Hallelujah" for me (Jeff Buckley version). Food was good - ate about half our meals in the Pinnacle and a few in the Canaletto. Breakfasts and lunches were usually in the MDR. Too chaotic in the poorly designed Lido and too much hustle and bustle in the MDR for enjoyable evening meals (we never choose 'traditional' dining). Entertainment, in addition to Chris, was a mixed bag - a very unfunny comedian named Noodles, a wonderful ventriloquist, a great ELton John imitator, and so forth. Lecturers were good and varied. Having been to Hawaii several times we weren't too interested in the ports but did manage to have a few good lunches ashore - dim sum in Honolulu was a highlight. Car rental with Budget/Dollar in Hilo was a fiasco - spend more and get National or Hertz car. The staff was very good - always a smile and a real desire by 99% of the staff we encountered to make sure the passengers were happy and enjoying themselves. Overall, we'd give the trip a 7 out of 10 and doubt we'll ever travel on the Oosterdam again given its over-large (to us) size. We'll go back to one of the smaller ships like the Maasdam/Zaandam instead. Hope the foregoing helped. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space ... Read More
Embarkation: San Diego was smooth, parked at airport parking lot about 1 mile from cruise terminal free shuttle to terminal. Cabin: We had a veranda balcony room seemed somewhat smaller than we had on the Maasdam. Limited storage space for 14 day cruise. Service was very good and timely. Entertainment: Production shows OK but music is getting stale. Would be better if newer music was introduced into productions. Movies were provided in the "Screening Room" daily which proved to be useless with only 30 seats available. Considering that this cruise occurred during the Holiday Season and to Hawaii was amazed at the lack of Christmas and Hawaiian music or Hawaiian themed activities. Thankfully HAL did have Kaimoa who represented the Hawaiian culture and provided a lot of good information on Hawaii. Without his presence there were few if any Hawaiian activities. Needed more activities on ocean days and more interaction from cruise director. Food: We had open seating and overall the food seemed better than we have had in the past. Pinnacle Grill excellent and well worth the extra charge. Should continue to offer flavored coffee in Lido. Ports: All very good, was surprised how crowed and cosmopolitan Waikiki had become. Would skip in future. Debarkation: Slow Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Embarkation: Took a shuttle down to San Diego and boarded the ship with no problems or delays at 12:00PM or so. Our cabin was already ready which was nice. Cabin: We were in Cabin VD 4167 which was an upgrade from a VH guarantee ... Read More
Embarkation: Took a shuttle down to San Diego and boarded the ship with no problems or delays at 12:00PM or so. Our cabin was already ready which was nice. Cabin: We were in Cabin VD 4167 which was an upgrade from a VH guarantee initial assignment. The cabin was clean and well kept through out the cruise. Plenty of storage space. Because of the cabin location on the ship (adjacent to employee stairway), it's balcony is double the size of a balcony for same cabin category. A definite plus!. Food: We had an open seating arrangement. The food at the dining room was fair but the service was at times lacking. Long waits for the food, miscommunication with the servers that seemed to be inexperience and very young. The food and service and the specialty restaurants (Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto) on the other hand, was very good. We hardly used the Lido/Buffet restaurant (crowded and not user friendly). The only place on the ship one can get a good cup of coffee was at the Exploration Cafe (Deck 10). It is unfortunate that it was located in the same area were the library and the computer room were. There was never a seating room available to enjoy the coffee, particularly on sea days. Entertainment: Both production shows and the individual performances were very good. Movies were shown in the "screen room" which had only 30 seats!!!. Although the movies were offered few times during the day, there was never a seating available.. particularly on sea days. Ports: There was plenty of information available on all the ports we were about to visit. We chose the HAL Pearl Harbor tour in Honolulu which was well organized and very interesting. . On the rest of the islands we travel independently. Disembarkation: Somewhat disorganized. Seemed like people left the ship at will, not necessarily per the disembarkation color codes that were provided. Summary: All in all a relaxing and timely cruise for us. The sea days going and coming back seemed "long". We were fortunate that the ocean was relatively calm. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
My husband (51) & I (47) have been on about 15 cruises and this is our 2nd HAL cruise - last being on the Zuiderdam when I turned 40. Our other cruises have been on CCL, Princess, RCI, NCL, etc. We have been to the Mexican Riviera ... Read More
My husband (51) & I (47) have been on about 15 cruises and this is our 2nd HAL cruise - last being on the Zuiderdam when I turned 40. Our other cruises have been on CCL, Princess, RCI, NCL, etc. We have been to the Mexican Riviera many times. We drove from Central Calif on Friday and stayed at the Holiday Inn Bayside about 3 miles from the ship pier. We got transfered to the pier about 1:15 and were onboard in about 30 minutes. Our VB balcony was a decent location near the aft and was a nice assignment from our VH guarantee booked just a couple of weeks before the cruise departed. The cabin was fairly clean with the exception of sand on the couch and stains on the carpet. Our room steward Rio was very nice and friendly and always remembered our names. We had towel animals most nights. I appreciated the large drawer under the bed and the two underneath the couch. We did rent two DVDs to watch and although everything in the booklet shows delivery we had to go to guest services to pick up and drop off because we were told it would be 1-2 hours and didn't want to wait. We attended the cruise critics meet & mingle on Sunday morning. We have never had open dining before and we decided to try it. The first four nights we had the SLOWEST service I have ever experienced on a cruise. These were all at different tables in different sections of the dining room. There were no smiles, no friendliness and the meals took well over 2 hours. Our tablemates complained to the maitre'd the first night and he put us all at a table by the window with a reservation the 2nd night with the same issues. We tried to get reservations at Canaletto's but couldn't until Friday night at 8pm. The 5th night we finally got a great waiter in AA from Bali and we enjoyed his fabulous service the last 3 nights when we requested his section with our reservations. Many people we spoke with had similar slow service in open seating. As we had been to these ports before we just walked around the Malecon. My husband did the hike on the first day and really enjoyed it but said it should have been rated a 4/4 in difficulty due to steepness. In Cabo we went to see the Dreams Resort as I have clients getting married there next summer. The weather was nice in both ports but a little cool in PV so we didn't go in the ocean. We enjoyed the 2 production shows and the Joel Mason Elton John show. There was a comedian one night in the smaller lounge that was very funny as was the Marriage Show. During the Marriage Show, the cruise director Michael, actually announced to the audience that he preferred men - not a surprise by the way. The other lounges played primarily music that catered to the majority over 60 crowd with the piano bar, string quartet, trio for dancing, etc. The nightclub was lightly attended but we did dance one night there when they had music from different decades from the 70's & 80's. The Explorations Cafe was nice but the books I wanted to read were considered "Reference books" and couldn't be removed from the library. We didn't use the spa or any of the cooking shows or computer classes so can't speak to those. Overall the experience was positive and I will definitely cruise HAL again but maybe in the Caribbean where the crowd will be a bit younger and maybe more lively entertainment options. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We really liked this cruise. We had a cabin with a balcony and hardly used it. The weather was bad at times so it was often wet. There was salt all over the balcony. If we went out there, we tracked gritty salt back to the floor of our ... Read More
We really liked this cruise. We had a cabin with a balcony and hardly used it. The weather was bad at times so it was often wet. There was salt all over the balcony. If we went out there, we tracked gritty salt back to the floor of our room. We had a balcony in Alaska without this problem because the sea is calm on the inside passage. The water is rougher across the sea and churns salt into the air. I'm not sure I'd book another balcony room. The food was great in the Lido cafe. Wide range of foods for all meals and everything was delicious. The dining room had a poor selection of main entree food and we hardly ate there. Plus, the service was very slow. The traditional Thanksgiving Day meal was anything but. I wondered if the turkey came out of a can. There were no mashed potatoes and no yams. The sweet potatoes were pale in color and consisted of 2-3 small thin slices. I don't think the chefs understand that Thanksgiving Day is a pig out for Americans. The servings were tiny and it is the first time I ever had only a spoonful of dressing. I will have to make up for it at Christmas time. :) Room service was great and food was hot. The Pinnacle Grill was absolutely the finest restaurant I've ever dined in. It will cost you $25 a person but it is worth it. We are wine snobs from Hades so we brought a case of our own fine wines. Thanks to Holland for allowing us to do that. The corkage fee of $18 was acceptable to us and we gladly paid it. But please don't increase the fee. A word about the coffee: I've been a coffee drinker since age 10. I could not drink the coffee on this ship. It gave me stomach ache. Waaaay, to strong for my taste buds. I even tried diluting it with hot water, It still gave me a stomach ache. I had to drink hot tea. I am just as fussy about my coffee as I am my wine. :) The cocktails served at the bars were wonderful and refreshing. Great job, bartenders. :) Our cabin beds were the best comfort you can get. As good as home. There was plenty of storage space for our clothes and we were quite comfortable there. We found the ship to be uncrowded. We did not experience the lines talked about in other posts. The ship is spotlessly clean. The staff works very hard at attacking germs and bacteria so that folks don't get sick. We really liked the Crow's Nest and spent lots of time in the library. The Internet service is pricey but works well. I bought a VIP pass to the hydro pool spa. It was great and I used it daily. When the sea was rough I would use the showers in the nearby lounge so that I didn't risk falling out of the bathtub in our cabin. The shore excursions were good. We liked going to the volcanoes and walking the lave tube on the Big Island. In my opinion, Holland should add Kona as a port and drop Honolulu. Who wants to travel that distance to go to a crowded place like Los Angeles with a beach? I could hardly wait to get back on the ship. Getting into see the 8:00 pm show was difficult. Finding a seat was next to impossible. Bingo was great fun. The photographers took great photos, pricey but worth it. The shopping on the boat was better than on the shore. The have good deals on watches and jewelry. I found shopping on shore to consist of a lot of overpriced cheap stuff and I bought very little. However, in Hilo, just off the boat ramp are local artists who make jewelry and crafts. They had some nice things so you may want to buy from them. I did not see stuff like theirs anywhere else. We purchased the unlimited laundry service for the cruise and did a load about every other day. This really cuts down on the amount of clothes you need to bring. I wish my laundry at home turned out as good as theirs. I don't know how they do it but their service is the greatest and well worth the $100. The staff is friendly and happy. They were a joy and we really liked them. Very responsive to our needs and always available to help. In other cruises we that we have taken, we have felt tipped to death. Besides the daily cabin charge and 15% drink tip they wanted extra tip money for everybody and everything. This cruise is NOT like that. We paid the daily room charge, drink tip (which is automatic) and that is it. However, we did leave some extra for our cabin guys because they worked so hard to make our trip delightful. It was our choice to do so and was not expected. Holland America does a good job this way. Of course, they have other pleasant ways to get you to part with your money. :) I had to use the Infirmary once for a minor problem and the MD and nurses were fantastic. They are attentive, knowledgeable and polite. The prices there are comparable to home so be prepared to pay that kind of fee if you have to use it. Embarkation was a breeze and well organized. Disembarkation less so. They need 5-6 staff members to manage the crowds, lines and bottle necks in disembarkation process. Overall, I recommend this cruise and I will certainly travel with Holland America again. In fact, I am already shopping for my next cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We had previously flown to visit all the islands in Hawaii but never attempted this many days at open sea to cruise to Hawaii. We brought along a transport chair for my husband in case he needed it but once on board, he did just fine ... Read More
We had previously flown to visit all the islands in Hawaii but never attempted this many days at open sea to cruise to Hawaii. We brought along a transport chair for my husband in case he needed it but once on board, he did just fine walking. In fact, with so many seniors on board with walkers, scooters and wheel chairs, it was so much faster to simply walk down the stairs to get to the Vista dining room. However we purposely choose a veranda room at the back of the ship for that reason. We started our cruise with a preplanned CRUISE CRITIC Meet and Greet. It was pleasant but I think it needed to be in a private room. The Cruise Director, Michael, was there but he never got around to our section and we did NOT hear any real suggestions or organization within the group. I don't believe the group ever meet again, it just slowly disbanded after an hour or so. Maybe we missed something - we are not sure. But other Meet & Greets we have attended on other cruises had more "structure" to the meetings, but I am not complaining. What people we did meet were very friendly. We found the Oosterdam comfortable and very clean. There were hand sanitizers everywhere! We had sailed on the Oosterdam 6 years ago and laughed when we saw the very same highly ornate (actually very very gawdy) benches and chairs throughout the ship. The style just did not appeal to us but ship was very clean and spotless. Our cabin was nice but we did find the cabin furniture old, dented and looking dated. The couch & toss pillows were badly worn. Jezzyebelle's review was right on - toss the toss pillows! Kudos to Holland America for having the best mattresses. Sealy Posture Pedic Euro top mattress was heaven to sleep on and every night we had the darling towel animals on our bed. I can't rave enough about having our own veranda as people HOG deck chairs and Room 5186's veranda was wind protected. Room service was wonderful and on time every time plus our breakfast always came HOT! With so many seniors on board, we found the early show very crowded each night plus seniors save seats and to be honest, it did take a bit of a patience on our part to deal with so many people demanding instant service and the endless saving of seats. Vacations are what you make of them, so I'll not let these minor things ruin our vacation. We came to relax and chill out, but we did overhear many people complain about the littlest things. Yes, there were constant lines for elevators and you had to be way early to get a seat for any on-board event. After a while we just dealt with it - but because there was so many lines we started to choose to NOT attend many events the last few days of our cruise. It began to be easier just to read a book. Oh yes - as a side note - I attended many FREE Tai Chi classes as I had an interest but the instructor and her pace was annoyingly SLOW. And I am disgusted that they charge extra for YOGA and Pilates. Tsk Tsk. Shame on them. The daily formal teas were lovely. All the food at all meals in general, was good and it is easy to simply overeat because it is there. However, we found most prepared desserts items to be lacking in taste - they were either all too light, moussy or boring. Simple ice cream was the best. One important note - LUCKILY we were prepared for rough seas. I am SO GLAD I read several reviews about traveling on OPEN SEAS. We had a prescribed patch to wear behind our ears, the sea bands for our wrists and Dramamine tablets and we used everything and we felt fine. But many others were sick and the main dining room was near empty the first night heading out of San Diego and the last few nights heading back. Coming back we were a rocking and rolling and just walking down the halls you had to hold onto the rails. HEY! Why do people hang out by Deck 1 and 2 on Disembarkation Day? Is it a senior thing? Disembarkation was a BREEZE except for trying to make our way thru the sea of people just sitting all over the place waiting to get off. We were all told we could wait in our staterooms until our number was called. That's what we did and enjoyed a glass of wine and laying on the bed watching TV until time to get off. By the way, Holland America has a wonderful policy about allowing wine to be brought on board and ok to drink in staterooms. It's a good policy and I hope they always keep it. The entertainment was good and there was certainly enough venues of music to listen to throughout the ship. We liked their free DVD rental policy and their selection was good. The library on deck 10 was very nice and cozy. I was able to read 3 novels on this cruise and really relax. Holland America offered some interesting seminars on computers and photos editing which were great - but once again, you had to get to the event way early to get a seat. The tech instructor was very FAIR - he insisted everyone leave the room after his event to wait in line for the next seminar. I so wish all events could be handled like this to avoid people CAMPING OUT on deck chairs, library spaces, LIDO Deck spaces, etc. We enjoyed all Hawaiian Islands and went on 2 tours. We toured the crater and lava tubes on the Big Island - very interesting. In Honolulu, the Pearl Harbor tour and the tour of the might MO battleship was fantastic. On Kauai, we simply took a free shuttle and shopped. On Maui, we took a free shuttle and went to the beach although the waves were rough. Latter, it felt good to have a lunch OFF the ship. On this trip I did not utilize any services in their SPA. So our recommendation on this cruise is favorable as long as you plan for potential sea sickness and plan to chill out. A couple of bottles of wine would not hurt either! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
I had actually never heard of HAL before my sister suggested this cruise to us. We decided to give it a shot, we brought 2 of our kids (ages 6 & 9 at the time). I found the kids program to keep off hours, which was inconvenient to us. ... Read More
I had actually never heard of HAL before my sister suggested this cruise to us. We decided to give it a shot, we brought 2 of our kids (ages 6 & 9 at the time). I found the kids program to keep off hours, which was inconvenient to us. Whenever we found an activity that we were interested in, it seemed that the kids club closed during part (or all of it). I take this with a grain of salt because most people know that HAL is geared more towards the 50+crowd. The on-board entertainment wasn't great, again geared toward older crowd. The dining was awesome-my kids still remember our server Ketut 5 years later! I liked that we dined in the same table every night and had the same server. Dining was a little on the formal side, definitely would not show up in shorts and a T-shirt. We did our own excursion in Puerto Vallarta with Aquaventuras Park with the little water park and dolphin "adventure" which the kids enjoyed. For the price, it was a pretty decent cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
My husband and I researched the Oosterdam thoroughly in preparation for our trip over spring break, and read such a strong pull of opinions on either side (good or bad), that we realized we just wouldn't truly know until we took the ... Read More
My husband and I researched the Oosterdam thoroughly in preparation for our trip over spring break, and read such a strong pull of opinions on either side (good or bad), that we realized we just wouldn't truly know until we took the trip ourselves.Because of such mixed reviews and not knowing who to believe, I am hoping to do you a favor by providing you with the complete details of the Oosterdam ship that will hopefully benefit your travel preparation! I have traveled on three different ships (Carnival, Disney and HAL), so I think I have a pretty good background to compare this trip to. Embarkation procedues:We waited about 45 minutes between arriving at the cruise terminal in San Diego, and getting to our room. There were people standing around the lobby areas to direct people to their rooms, but approach people-- just sort of stood and waited. I'm 26, and it took me about 5 nights to finally remember how to get to my room! I think the signage on the ship could be better. While we waited to leave, the Lido was open for lunch buffet, and I liked the fact that for 72 hours, HAL staff served foods. During the end of flu season, I saw people sneezing into their hands, and was glad they weren't helping themselves. :) They also have hand sanitizining stations everywhere-- so to the best of my knowledge, there were zero stomach bug outbreaks! Hooray!Rooms:The rooms were surprisingly clean. I was surprised how many different things in the room the staff sanitizes between guests (I saw them doing it)-- telephone, room magazines, remote controls, door handles, etc. Plus, our steward cleaned our rooms twice a day and changed our bedding every day! I was really pleased with how clean everything was-- bathroom and everything. The only thing I didn't like was how we had a concrete verandah so we couldn't see the ocean sitting down. I will definitely research that one more thoroughly next time. Food:This was the downside. The only excellent meal we had on the ship was in the Pinnacle Grill. The rest of the food was just decent. It definitely bore the feeling of being prepared in a hurry and without any thought put into it. Eating for pleasure didn't happen for us on the ship-- we just ate to fill a hunger pang. The Lido was actually better than Vista in our opinion, because the food was prepared fresh right in front of you. The Vista chefs just seemed really overloaded and overwhelmed. Fruit was soggy, entrees were bland, etc. I would recommend booking at least two nights at Pinnacle if you can-- it was literally one of the best meals we had ever! Expect dinners at Vista and Pinnacle to last a minimum of two hours. We had open seating and really enjoyed not only being able to eat when we felt like it, but meeting new people because we'd all sit together. We made a ton of friends this way! Unless you're traveling with a big party, I think you should definitely sign up for the open seating option. Also- HAL's biggest disappointment was how terrible their room service was. Every time we ordered breakfast it was cold and almost inedible, and when we ordered lunch or a snack, we would receive it about 1 - 1 /2 hours late-- again, cold and inedible. Their room service needs total improvement- don't order unless you are ordering the cookies or something. Entertainment:We loved the magician we saw, but the productions were really hokey and honestly not entertaining. We liked doing karaoke and bingo (of course didn't win), and also somewhat enjoyed the comedian. There was tons of raunchiness amongst the entertainment folks on this ship, which is unfortunate given their average guest is 65 years old. People didn't seem to think all of the sexual jokes were that funny. If you're bringing kids, I'd recommend only bringing them to the musical and the magic show. We only went to three performances out of seven because they just weren't great. We'd go somewhere and listen to live jazz or piano and have a glass of wine instead. If you're 35 or below, they have a great dance club that opens at 10:00pm. My husband and I had fun dancing and then just walking back to our room a couple of times. Overall we didn't really feel like entertainment options were lacking on this ship-- they just weren't things we really enjoyed doing. Ports of Call:Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas were awesome. The only excursion we did was visiting Las Caletas, and we had an amazing time. I highly, highly recommend going there, even over Rhythms of the Night. We had some friends who did both, and enjoyed the day at Las Caletas much more. We just walked around town the second day and relaxed. When we went to Cabo San Lucas, we had an incredible time swimming at a nearby resort (Sirena Del Mar). Unless you are passionate about visiting Cabo Wabo and being ripped off by the local merchants, head to a hotel for the day. It's the right way to experience Cabo!Also, don't go to Diamonds International or Tanzanite International. The ship has a huge kickback program with them, but the diamonds they tried selling me were so much more expensive than back home, and they were damaged by so many fingers trying them on then putting them back- yuck. I visited three to price shop, and was incredibly unimpressed and disappointed with Holland America for trying to dupe their passengers so much. You'll see what I mean when you attend the shopping meeting. :)Overall, for $600 pp, this ship was a great experience. You get what you pay for. If I were paying $1500 pp, I would have been sorely disappointed. I don't recommend paying more than $800pp-- you can get much more for your money with Disney or Princess if you are going to pay over $1000! HAL is budget travel at best- and if anything, a great way to see Mexico! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
DATE: March 19-26, 2011 7 dayDESTINATION: San Diego, PV, Cabo. Mazatlan is cancelled due to reported violenceCRUISE LINE: Holland America Line OosterdamWHO: mom, me and a couple--2 cabinsBackground:My mom and I have cruised before. ... Read More
DATE: March 19-26, 2011 7 dayDESTINATION: San Diego, PV, Cabo. Mazatlan is cancelled due to reported violenceCRUISE LINE: Holland America Line OosterdamWHO: mom, me and a couple--2 cabinsBackground:My mom and I have cruised before. Our friends are first timers.My mom and I take an annual trip. This year, we decided on a cruise. This itinerary was selected because my mom and our friends have never been to Mexico, and San Diego is closer than Florida.If I travel with my husband, our Cruise selection is based mostly on itinerary and dates. In this case with my mom and the 2 friends, it is mostly about convenience, the ship and its service on board.I had been to PV, Cabo with my husband. The only city I haven't been is Mazatlan. I was disappointed when the port was cancelled. However this itinerary still works since Mexico is new to my mom and our friends.I organized the whole trip. I found this itinerary and the dates fit our schedule. A special price for suite came up when I was researching. The price that is normally for a balcony. It was SZ, guaranteed. Which means we won't have the cabin # until we are closer to sailing date. Flight from a US city is usually cheaper than flying out of a Canadian city, especially there are 4 of us, the savings add up. I found Virgin America air flying out of Seattle, transfer in San Francisco, and to San Diego. 4 of us drove down to Seattle 2 nights before sailing date. We stayed in Holiday Inn near SeaTac airport, with parking, was $169 per night. Compliment shuttle was another service we appreciate. However, I am not sure if we would stay there again. The next morning, we found out the flight out of Seattle to San Francisco is delayed 1 hour. We got to the airport around 9am, for our scheduled 11am flight. The storm and fog in San Francisco delayed all morning flights. I assume San Fran is better connecting airport than LAX. Now, I learned San Fran weather is a constant recurring reason for delayed or cancelled flights. All morning, we waited nervously, hoping not to miss our connecting flight. We finally got on the flight around 3:30pm. The connecting flight decided to wait for us passengers in San Fran airport. I learned that we should always connect with the same airline, if possible. A different airline would not be able to wait for us. We arrived in San Diego around 7pm. I used Hotwire.com (first time) to reserve a hotel close by. I lucked out, the hotel was Sheraton! It is located near the airport and the cruiseship terminal. Sheraton is a 4 star accommodation, and the $99 + tax price we paid was great value!!After a long day of anxiety and waiting, we welcomed our sleep in Sheraton. Next morning, with renewed energy, we went downtown shopping! Around 1pm, we headed toward our ship, the main attraction of our trip!Embarkation Upon arrival at the terminal, there was no wait whatsoever. I was told the rush was just over. Right after we got on the ship, we were told our cabins were ready! We were able to head to our cabins right away! And our luggage was also brought in. I was pleasantly surprised! Normally, we would have to wait until 2 pm, and then much later for our suitcases.Our cabin We did get our cabin number 2 weeks prior to our embarkation. We were upgraded to SS from SZ. Because the cabin was under Lido deck, I was concerned about possible noise. With our TA, I had requested a change. I was told the ship was full, and no change could be made. However, My friends and we have connecting cabins: 8091, 8093, which was very convenient for us. After 7 nights, I have to say:noise—did it bother us? No. Did it affect our sleeping? No. My mom and I had been on Oosterdam 5 yrs ago to Alaska, at the end of September. At that time, we had an ocean view. That was not a pleasant cruise. The Sea was especially choppy, and our cabin seemed to rock and bounce much more than other cabins. Also, the dEcor was a bit dated. This time, our suite was very spacious! a 3 seater sofa, a desk by the window, and a make- up vanity near the bathroom. The bathroom has a tub AND a shower! Double sinks, with plenty of storage. Storage / closet space was plenty for just the 2 of us, for 7 days. And our luggage fit under our beds with ease! Love the balcony deck! Compared to what we had on Paul Gauguin in January, this was at lease double the size! Comfortable seating for 4 people, with table and side table! I have often wondered whether a balcony is worth the extra $. My opinion is this: if it is used and enjoyed, it is definitely worth it. With this itinerary, the weather beckoned us to utilize the balcony: great place to enjoy company, cold Corona, snacks, and sun! Even by herself on the balcony, my mom enjoyed the sun, the sight and the city. This was a great place for recording my daily journal. We did encounter a plumbing problem. Drains in both the bath tub and the shower did not drain. I reported it, and the problem was solved promptly. The tub was nice, but we did not use. Could not bear to waste water! ServiceWe have experienced fairly good service. The majority of the crew was courteous, friendly, and ready to help. Here are my likes:I was particularly impressed with people answering the phone—"At your service". Whenever I called, whoever answered the phone was always very pleasant, solution-oriented, and patient, with great listening skills. I was always able to get questions answered, or problem solved.I also like the room service. I ordered coffee, grapefruit, yogurt, and V8 every morning. My request was delivered right on the time I specified. My friends, my mom and I enjoyed our breakfasts every morning in Lido. The crew there were cheerful, joking around, chatting with us,... started our day on a high note. We could always find tables, and the line to get to the food was never too long. Coffee was always brought to us. Cannotelli (?sp)--its intimate atmosphere, its food and the service of the director, and the crew. Because we are "As You Wish" Dining selection, we always make reservation ahead of time. We do not like waiting in line. And we like to have dinner early. The first night, the only time we could get in the main dining room was either too early or too late. The customer service suggested we try Canotelli (?sp?) a small Italian "restaurant" by Lido restaurant. And there is no charge extra. We loved it: the food, the service, the pacing were just right for us. In fact, we tried to go back again, and could not get in until the last night. I suggest you reserve at least 2 or 3 nights during your 7 day cruise. The last night, the maitre'd, the director, and the waiters really went out of their way to accommodate us. They ensured we have the most memorable dinner last night of the cruise. And it did end with this great meal and caring service at Cannotelli!Dislikes: "As You Wish dining" and inconsistent service in dining room. The ambience, the service and the experience of fine dining in the main dining room, I think, are as important as the food presentation. Every night, we look forward to our dinner; it signified a celebratory gathering of good company and ending of a wonderful day. This is my first "As You Wish Dining" experience: I admit I did not like it. I understand the allure of the "Anytime Dining" or in HAL, "As You Wish Dining": For port-intense cruise, (such as Mediterranean), rushing back to a 6pm dinner may not be feasible or desirable. For this 2-port itinerary, time was not much a concern. Our past cruises, my husband and I have really enjoyed the set dining schedules: friends and waiters. We were fortunate that our fellow dining partners became friends mainly because we had dinner together every night, with the same waiter or steward. our waiters always made a positive impression on us. (I can remember almost all the waiters that we have had.) In my opinion, they are important part of our dining experience! A few years ago, we had a family get together with Oosterdam. Even though my family did not enjoy Alaska cruise that much, they would tell you that they would not forget the waiter and his service in the dining room! This trip, "As You Wish Dining" did not work for me because:1) our nightly different table locations had been less than desirable: crowded, tight, elbowing with next table and or the waiters' table. We did manage to have a table beside a window one night (after I expressed that we do not like to dine in the main dining room for the remaining of the cruise.) 2) The pace between the courses was inconsistent. 3) We have felt the waiters were stressed and rushed. I can understand why. I remembered back a few years where a waiter always has an assistant. During this cruise, we had one person serving a few tables; that is: he was responsible for explaining the menus, pouring water, taking order, clearing plates, bringing on new courses. With tight schedule, any request out of ordinary will strain their schedule even more. We were sympathetic, and we tried to not ask anything that is out of ordinary, and also not to linger too long during dinner. However, being more concerned about the waiter every dinner night compromise our dining enjoyment! To us, sharing a wonderful dinner with my mom and friends is a highlight at the end of a wonderful day! I also like to mention2 incidents that were not of normal HAL service standard:1) My mom had purchased a bucket of 5 beers, and told the beverage crew that she would like to bring the bucket back to her cabin, and would like a bucket with handles, easier for her to carry.Instead of changing the bucket, the crew suggested to my mom to carry with her arm instead. My mom pointed out to him that he at 20 something, can carry any way he likes. She, at 68, will need to carry the handles with both hands. She did get the bucket changed to one with handles.After she got back to the cabin with the bucket, she realized the beer bottles were not twist tops! I called for the room service for a bottle opener. We waited for about half an hour (beer was getting warm!), and no one came. Not like them.My mom thought she would get it faster if she physically goes to get one from the bar. Surprisingly, the crews refused to give it to her! They wanted her to call room service. I got mad, and called the room service to return the bucket. Have them to pick up the bucket; it has been almost an hour, and who wants to drink warm beer? Miraculously, within 5 minutes, an attendant showed up, with a bottle opener!I did bring this incident up to the front desk. And a day later, we received an "apology" card and a plate of chocolate desert. I am glad Oosterdam did acknowledge that. I know it is the thought that counts; However, both my mom and I are not too much into dessert. 2) After I expressed that we really did not enjoy dining in the dining room to the reservation attendant, he tried to make it right for us. He reserved a nice table, by the window for us. We were so excited and were determined to ENJOY at least ONE dinner in the main dining room! The excitement was short-lived. Our waiter was stressed and annoyed. And he did not hide it. I sympathize, but I did not appreciate his snarky remarks and rude behaviour. I tried to lighten the mood: I joked that we all ordered the same menu items to make it easier for him. His comeback? "not really, you ordered so much!" because we order soup AND salad? WOW! His attitude and behaviour demonstrated that we were a bother to him. We were an interruption to his already tight schedule. Even though we are the polite Canadians, but if we had said nothing, he would never know the impact he was making on us passengers! Finally, I asked him if we had done something wrong? Why he was hostile to us? He tried to defend and realized he had no legit reasons. He did change his tone after, better but not much. I ordered a latte after dinner. He said the machine was broken. Not sure if it was true. We also waited a long time to get wine steward to notice us. The wine is extra $ for them, should they not try to sell when there is demand? We finally got her attention by getting in front of her. (Our waiter was no help. All he said was she will come.)I did not file a complaint. I think this is a single person issue, it is a bigger issue. I am not sure if there are more passengers who had similar dislikes or I am the odd person. I trust that the ship will tailor their service and change to the market it serves. And maybe I am no longer in the market HAL try to attract?FOOD TASTE AND QUALITYLiving in Vancouver, we are spoiled with fresh ingredients, plenty of seafood, and the variety selection. It is easy for us Vancouverites to become food critics in our own minds. Our feedback on the food may be more critical and subjective. Please take that into consideration. As mentioned above, we enjoyed Cannotelli, the Italian fare on Lido deck. The kitchen was right there, the food brought to us was always hot. The main dining room, I assume it is the logistic of the layout, the food journey further to get to our table. In the main dining room, the steak was not as tender as what we like. Even though seafood and fish were a welcome item, fresh fish was difficult to do in mass production. Similar to chicken. dry and tough. The Alaska king crab legs were fabulous! We also tried Pinnacle Grill. The steak, I was told by my friend, was much better than in the dining room. The lobster I had was excellent. though the sides were a bit rich for me.One area I like to see improving: more fruit selection. I assumed with the abundance of fruits in California, Mexico, the ship would offer the same. And yet, every day, we have the same water melon, melon, honey dew, strawberry. Sometimes pine apple, and rarely Papaya. Not sure if it is because the demand is not there? FITNESS & WELLBEING Did not use the gym, but did walk around the Deck 3. Also noticed classes on the outside deck. ITINERARYAs everyone knows by now, Mazatlan was cancelled. I was disappointed because it was the only port in this itinerary that I have not been. I did know it was cancelled before we sailed. Currency—we did get some Peso for our trip; however, we find we really did not need peso to get by. Everyone we had come in contact accepts US $. Puerto Vallarta—I personally had been there a few times. For my mom and our friends, Puerto Vallarta city center was new, and not too attractive. I went on the private Canopy tour, booked online. The bus driver, and the tour assistants were funny and enthusiastic. They tried hard. I did have a blast! One of my friend chickened out. My mom and she waited at the restaurant, having some munchies and beer. Not cheap! One recommendation I have for those who attract mosquito, cover up or use repellent. I did not, and my legs were covered with bites! Even though I enjoyed the service, the expectation of tips can be exhausting. I find the business of tips / gratuities a bit too much. What is normal service and what is service deserving extra gratitude? Cabo San LucasCabo San Lucas was the more desirable port of the 2. We chartered a tour boat out to the Lover's beach in the morning. Even though there were 2 ships in, the tour boats were not busy. We were happy with paying $6 US per person? For the 4 of us, we had the whole boat to ourselves, and the "captain." We took some amazing pictures. We did not stay at the beautiful beach because we were not prepared.The town itself was full of little shops selling same merchandise. Even though bargaining is the norm, the Mexicans were not eager to part with their ware at our price.Mainly to use up our pesos, we had lunch at The Shrimp Factory, beside the Diamond International. The restaurant was not busy. The food, according to our friends, was not something they would write home about. We did enjoy Corona & Pacifica and tortilla chips in a restaurant just outside the terminal. The place was hopping. The waiter was efficient, and yes, you guess it, expected a good tip.DISEMBARKATIONThe process for disembarkation was a bit different my past experience. All non-US citizens had to wait in the Lounge and go through the US customs before disembarkation can begin. The US custom officers did not have the same urgency as us passengers trying to get off and catch a flight home.The line moved quickly and orderly once the custom officers got into the rhythm. The crew kept us organized, PLUS we passengers behaved well.Our flight was at 1pm. We flew home without a hitch. And then I start to look for my next cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
We have been busy cruising in the last 12 months. We have sailed on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and now HAL. I have previously sailed on HAL, but it has been about 12 years. We booked this cruise for a cheap getaway (no airfare) ... Read More
We have been busy cruising in the last 12 months. We have sailed on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and now HAL. I have previously sailed on HAL, but it has been about 12 years. We booked this cruise for a cheap getaway (no airfare) and to unwind, relax, and not think about work for a week. While we did manage thoughts of Coronas, sun, and cerviche instead of computers and customers, HAL turned out to be a somewhat disappointing experience. What we loved... In general, just about everything we ate we enjoyed. Desserts were very good. We dined at Pinnacle Grill on 2 nights and had enjoyed it immensely. Dining room food was all very good. Loved the Make to order items in the Buffet during the day and the waffles and omelets were worth having every day. I did have a few issues with the overcooking of fish, but all in all a fine dining experience. We booked an SZ guarantee and were upgraded to SY (6102). The room was spacious, balcony large and a great deal for the price we paid. We spent a lot of time in our room due to how comfortable it was. The weather was perfect... which is odd for this itinerary. It was sunny and warm all but Day 7. Our days in Cabo and PV. With nothing at all planned we were able to just walk until we found something that interested us. What we liked... We liked the lack of announcements and the fact that the captain came on hourly on Friday to update the ship of potential tsunami. While many were aware of the safety, the entourage of calls I received on Saturday let me know that many did not. The DVD players in every room and huge variety of movies you can borrow. The Piano bar and Randall were entertaining. Plus there are 2 for 1 drinks in there at night. The price of alcohol was the least expensive we have seen on board a ship. You are able to bring on board your favorite wines for in room and dining room consumption. There was a large number of GLBT on this cruise and the crew was very friendly to us. What we did not like... The formal nights and the plethora of costumes. Men are forced to wear jackets, but let in passengers with jeans. The temperature in the dining room makes this whole evening very uncomfortable. If there are so many restrictions on what men can wear, why can women get away with short dresses, flip flops, etc. They need to either be all in or all out on the formal discussion. The long lines in the Lido buffet. As much as we enjoyed the make to order items, they certainly caused longer lines. In general, the whole area is poorly designed. It did not help that they were serving us food for 4 days due to the 48 hour rule in place on HAL and then a heightened number of GI issues after those 48 hours. While I appreciate HAL taking precautions, they really need to teach their staff a little lesson on cross contamination when they are wearing gloves and how they should changing them when making contact with another person. The better idea is to have someone stationed outside dining areas requiring people to use the sanitation OR people should be responsible enough to just wash their hands. The ship design and dEcor. The interiors are so dark and the lighting so poor throughout that I always felt so enclosed that I never wanted to be in the area. Also, with the sliding roof over the Lido pool taking up much of the deck above it, much of the open deck space is wasted. We did like the open aft pool area and its views. We also like the Crow's nest, though it was always very busy. The vegetarian options on the main menu were not labeled vegetarian. It is pretty standard to have a V or some sort of recognition for those that choose to be a vegetarian. What was appalling... Service in general was a huge disappointment. Our room steward did the bare necessities of daily cleaning. He acted more as someone who turns down beds and replaces towels. We ordered room service late one evening, were told that it would be an hour. It never came. In the Piano bar during "happy hour" Jimmi had ordered a drink and it was made with the wrong alcohol (whiskey instead of Captain Morgan). When he told the server about this he assured Jimmi that it was made with the right alcohol and walked away. It was obvious that the server had accidentally mixed up the drinks, but never took ownership of his mistake. The constant reminder to give high scores on the survey at the end of the cruise is annoying. Simple fact is that if you provide a level of service that is a 9, you will receive a 9. If you do not, you will not. Suggesting what score I should give you after giving me poor service will not change this fact. The general condition of the ship - The Oosterdam looked aged. There were a lot of ripped cushions, broken tiles, torn lounge chairs, etc. Having been on a Princess ship roughly the same age less than a year ago, you can really tell the difference. Not sure when the last dry dock was, but she could use it again. That HAL continued stopping at Mazatlan as long as they did. Our decision was made easy to stay on the ship as we watched the Federali helicopter circling and 25 hummer type armed and manned with 4-5 men lined up across the street from the port. It is a shame that there is so much violence here, it was just astonishing to me that HAL took their chances. I am happy that changes were made to upcoming cruises. I guess you can judge my final opinion of HAL on the fact that I did not buy a future cruise credit as I do on almost every cruise. While I would consider them for another cruise, we are much better suited on Celebrity, Princess or Royal Caribbean. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
arrived in san diego from australia stayed overnight at the doubletree hotel very comfortable but next time will stay at the holiday inn at the port for convenience.embarkation was well organised and quick. went to the mariners lunch which ... Read More
arrived in san diego from australia stayed overnight at the doubletree hotel very comfortable but next time will stay at the holiday inn at the port for convenience.embarkation was well organised and quick. went to the mariners lunch which was excellent but also found out it was open to everyone including first time cruisers so why bother saying it is a special lunch for repeat travellers.cabin was very good and the bed comfortable our room steward simon was greatand very efficient no complaints there.captains cocktail party was non existant virtually one glass as you walked into the vista lounge and that was it not the usual savouries etc and waiters offering another drink.in the 43 cruises i have done this was the worst reception i have ever had.entertainment was very good but unfortunately a lot of things started at 9pm and as we were on late dinner at 7.45pm and the service was slow we had a choice of leaving before the end of dinner to see a show or to enter the show half way throughformal night again was a disappointment,there has always been a dress code for formal night and i have always liked to travel with holland america for that reason as it is always nice to get dressed up on holiday for a special evening, but not in this case people were coming to dinner in jeans etc no jacket or tie it may sound snobbish but if there is a dress code then surely it should be enforced.all in all i feel the standard of holland america has slipped and the line has lost the class it used to have. i doubt it will be my next choise for cruising Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2011
The Oosterdam is a pleasant enough ship, but not one to WOW. Our room was up to par. The food was average...certainly nothing to get excited about. The ship itself is quite nice, but not out of the ordinary. The staff were friendly and ... Read More
The Oosterdam is a pleasant enough ship, but not one to WOW. Our room was up to par. The food was average...certainly nothing to get excited about. The ship itself is quite nice, but not out of the ordinary. The staff were friendly and helpful. We did not like the fact that with a party of ten we had to eat at either 5:15 or 8:30. They could not accommodate us at any other time. Anytime dining would be better if it was actually anytime dining. The ports of call, Peurto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas are all easy to navigate. On one of the shore excursions we were told, emphatically, that there would be a toilet on the bus. After getting up early and tendering in to Cabo and walking to the bus, we were told that there was no toilet on the bus. This meant that I could not take the tour. I was quite angry, as we had specifically gone down to the shore excursion office on the ship to double check that there would be a toilet on the bus. But in their favour they refunded my tour and my husband's tour (even though he did take the tour) and the woman who had given me the wrong information came to my cabin and apologized personally. The onboard singers were above par. The magician was average, but Joel Mason, the Elton John impersonator was fantastic. We have seen him on a previous cruise and were thrilled we got to see him again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it ... Read More
This was the first cruise for the family and we chose this one due to being out of San Diego which was convenient for us. We were a little leery of HAL due to the comments of it being for the old and nearly dead, but we decided to give it a chance as the timing was during a week the schools were out so we thought more families would be on board. We were right. According to the "HALs club" staff, there were nearly 300 kids on board. They mentioned that this was a high number due to the break and that next week's cruise would also be high. However, the number would drop to about 30 for the first few weeks in March before increasing during spring break. So, one will get a very different opinion of this line depending on the week traveling. Our children were not excited about the "childcare" upon boarding, but buy the end of the cruise they were begging to go to the HALs club as they became enamored by the programs. The staff there did a wonderful job. The cabin was a Verandah suite and was a bit cramped for the four of us. There were two twins that made a "queen" when pushed together. The third bed was a pull out sofa and the fourth was a bed the folded down above the "queen." There was no room to move around when all the beds were open. However, the room stewards were fantastic. - two room sweeps a day - and kept the room looking nice. The kids always wanted to see what "towel animal" was sitting on the bed after dinner and looked forward to the nightly chocolates. We enjoyed the verandah with the exception of certain times when a neighbor's smoke drifted into it. The suite furniture and bathroom floor were starting to show some wear, but was not a negative. The shows were liked by all. The favorites were the magician and the "Elton John" impersonator. We did not attend most of the programs during the day so I cannot comment on them. The kids when not in the Club HAL spent the time swimming in the Lido pool. The Lido deck would get a little messy by the end of the day, although was cleaned quickly once the rush was gone. We had one day at the spa and had a couples massage. It was excellent! My wife commented that she had not had a massage that good in years. The food was overall good - with a different variety each day. I liked it better than my wife, but she is very particular about her food. There were a few glitches in service. The main dining room's service on the first night was not good. It was very slow, water glasses were not filled, the coffee did not come with the dessert, but well after I had finished it, etc. The coffee in the evening dining rooms was consistently not served hot and the vegetables I had at the Pinnacle Grill one night were lukewarm. My wife said the sushi one night was made with the smoked salmon from breakfast. But, other than what I have mentioned, overall it was good. The children loved the pasta, cheeseburgers and the chicken noodle soup. If you are a wine drinker, take advantage of bringing your wine on board. HAL allows as much brought on as you want. We also a bottle of rum from the line and used it to spike our virgin drinks. At three dollars extra a pop for the "leaded version", it did save money. You can also bring on all the soda and water you want. Read Less
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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