16 San Diego Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

My wife and I have cruised a few times already - some starter cruises out of LA and a week-long cruise to Alaska. We have been on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Embarkation: This was relatively effortless. We live in San Diego, ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised a few times already - some starter cruises out of LA and a week-long cruise to Alaska. We have been on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Embarkation: This was relatively effortless. We live in San Diego, so my brother dropped us off at the dock. There were plenty of staff there to help us figure out where to go. The line moved relatively quickly, and we were on the ship in short order. Unfortunately, with rare exception this was the last decent service we received until we returned to San Diego. See "Service" for complete details. Dining: The food was excellent, better than on past cruises. Of special note was Pinnacle, which was a top-notch experience in every aspect. Public Rooms: The rooms were OK, nothing special. There were quite a few small hallways that became quite clogged before/after meals, but the seats were all comfortable. Entertainment: In the main room, generally a dud. Only one of the four primary singers were decent, and there was only one good showgirl - and we learned that both were leaving when their contract was up a few weeks later. The alternate musicians were all pretty good, except for Larry the piano man's singing - stick to the piano. Cabin: The appointments were very nice. The bed was heavenly, and it was nice to have a tub. There wasn't much room for our own toiletries and the shower was dark because of the design of the curtain track. We did get some noise from when they were testing the mechanisms of the life boats (right outside our window), but it's good to make sure they work. :) Otherwise not much noise. Our room was categorized "partially obstructed view" because of the boats, but it was good enough for us - we could see the ocean and ports in the center third of the window. Fitness & Recreation (Optional): We each got a massage, and we found the staff to be professional. I also took advantage of the Thermal Suite and Thalassotherapy Pool for our first day at sea - I spent all day there and it was awesome. Service: I will start with our dining room service. Cruise Ships should all have top-notch service. Their ratings are generally from four stars to six stars, indicating top levels of everything. We have eaten in some of the finest restaurants in Europe, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas - we know the appropriate level of service. There were several key elements that raise service up to the expected heights of refinement that were missing - service was slow and inattentive, silverware was not cleared when appropriate, our napkins were not placed when we arrived at the table, our drinks were not refilled (we even had to refill our own wine glasses), service was not delivered and cleared from the proper side, and servers reached over other diners to deliver or clear place settings. These types of items seem like minor details, and many cruisers (especially first timers) would not even notice them, but they are key elements that make the difference between Coco's and Morton's of Chicago. Of much greater concern were the dining room service elements that would raise alarm even in a restaurant such as Coco's. We had food and drink orders that were forgotten, so we had to request them two or three times before they were delivered. The dirty plates were left on the table even as the next courses were being served. We did not receive food we ordered, and we received food that we did not ask for (the wrong meat dish, the wrong soup, the wrong starch side). Once I asked for skim milk and got whole milk mixed with water (yes, I can tell the difference). One time they neglected to take my order altogether. A final key difference between other ships was the friendliness. On other ships, the dining stewards were extremely outgoing and friendly. They were always talking and joking with us. The Oosterdam dining stewards were all very quiet and stoic, their smiles seemed forced and they were unenthusiastic about anything they were doing. However, I do not believe this was an isolated incident related to our individual wait staff. We experienced similar issues when we sat at other tables (with different servers) for the lunches at sea. This leads me to believe that the issues I encountered are across the entire dining room staff. Also, there was clearly not enough staff in the dining room. The 2nd Maitre D' who was responsible for our area came over every night to say hello, and ended up personally taking care of some element of our service that had been skipped - clearing dirty dishes, getting a plate of food that had not been delivered, repouring the wine. The staff in this dining room had too many responsibilities besides taking care of the guests, and the service suffered as a result. From talking to the staff, I believe that there were many emotional problems that were distracting them and keeping their minds off away from executing on the level of service we were expecting. Considering how many of the dining room stewards are from Indonesia, this does not surprise me. I fully understand that they have all signed contracts to work for a specific period of time, but Holland America's management should have taken better care of their mental health. It is the humane thing to make sure your employees are happy, or to release their contracts in extraordinary cases. Unfortunately, we encountered multiple other issues with the staff & crew of the Oosterdam, which leads us to believe that there is a systemic problem in training and/or motivation. The issues I can remember included: • Many employees were taking their breaks, still in uniform, in public areas of the ship. These chairs and lounges should be reserved for the paying customers, since I know (from speaking with current and past cruise ship employees) that the crew have their own lounges. • The crew doors were left open. I do not mean briefly when loading supplies from the holding area to the bar (and even that should not occur, the porter should close the door immediately after passing through). I mean extended time, when I'm walking up the hallway along the Queen's lounge or the Explorer's bar and the door is wide open with nobody around. • Employees were using the public elevators. There were times when they were carting around supplies in the main elevators, to the point that no guests were able to get on. I know there are dumb waiters and elevators inside the crew area, because I was able to see them through all the open crew doors. • We were still in the showroom when the crew turned on the house lights, opened the curtains, and began to take down the set. My wife and I have both worked in theater - you should NEVER take down the set with audience members still present. Also, it was very distracting to see members of the theater crew sitting in the light/sound booth, dancing the hula along with the dance troupe. • We also had some problems with our room steward. First off, his English did not pass muster. We were not able to understand just about anything he said to us, and I don't think he ever understood anything we asked him to do. He also left dirty towels on the floor of the bathroom when he turned down the sheets. In general, he seemed to be trained to follow a very short list of actions for each room, without any idea or desire to improve upon it. Here also, the personality falls short of what we have had on past cruises - no friendly discussions, no cute little decorative touches. Just make the bed and clean the bathroom in the morning, then turn down the bed and leave the paperwork and chocolate at night. • The final and possibly most disappointing aspect was the cruise director staff. Melissa was the only decent one of the bunch, including Jason the head cruise director. She was enthusiastic and personable. The rest seemed to have a severe attitude problem - they behaved like the cool kids in school, who disdained having to deal with most of the people most of the time. Jason's humor was a sarcastic type that did not go over well with the audience. He was insulting and disinterested, clearly not the correct demeanor for the ship's Cruise Director. He behaved as if he was interacting with people only because it was his job - he wasn't having any fun with it, and didn't seem to care to connect. We saw the same list of humorous questions people ask on other cruise lines, but the audience thought it was funnier the other times - probably because Jason presented it as derogatory rather than silly. There were a few activities the cruise staff did not show up for (such as name that tune), and a few others where they needed an attitude adjustment. For instance, we were playing Taboo and a group of us just wanted to play for fun, taking turns giving clues, when one of the assistants insisted we make teams and keep score against our wishes. Some events were cancelled without warning (like the scavenger hunt) or moved to an inappropriate venue without proper notice or consideration (moving bridge from a quite card room to a noisy central lounge). Others seemed to be planned without any consideration for location and timing - a blackjack tournament during one of the dinner seatings, alternating large events between deck 9 and deck 2, etc. My wife went to one of the movie showings, and there was not enough popcorn. When she enquired about getting more, they told her that they had already turned off the machine so no more would be made. Finally, Jason showed up visibly drunk to some of the activities, most notably the Oosterdam Superstar competitions - someone needs to tell him that it's still part of his job, and he needs to maintain the same (higher than present) level of decorum throughout the day, from the moment he steps out of his stateroom until after the last minute of the last show. Unfortunately, the service was SO BAD on this cruise that it outweighs all the good aspects of the ship itself. It really is about the people, and the people on this ship failed us. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
This was my first (and last) cruise. It's my own fault, I suppose, that I was ill-prepared for the experience. Somehow I imagined the salt spray in my face, the smell of the sea and so on. We stayed overnight in San Diego the night ... Read More
This was my first (and last) cruise. It's my own fault, I suppose, that I was ill-prepared for the experience. Somehow I imagined the salt spray in my face, the smell of the sea and so on. We stayed overnight in San Diego the night before embarkation to ensure an early arrival. By 11:30 a.m. we were being quickly moved through an enormous room, credit card info and photos taken and my first glimpse of cruise life, being "nickel-and-dimed" to death. Before even boarding we were induced to spend $20 to buy a "soft drink card". I had not expected to be charged for sodas, bottled water and so on, being used to Club Med type inclusive vacations. We sprang for a veranda room at the very back of the ship. This was about the only fresh air available, (or would have been if every gentleman in all the surrounding staterooms had not been on Their verandas day and night puffing on Cuban cigars.) This is not Holland America's fault, of course. What WAS their fault was having our verandah soaked with filthy water being hosed down from the Lido deck three times in 6 days; the first time at 3:00 a.m., the second time as we stepped outside in our formal diner attire at 7 pm, and the third time 12 hours later, at 7:00 a.m. Yes, we complained each time and were given a plate of chocolate covered strawberries in recompense. Of course, each time it happened, the steward had to come in, remove all the soaking furniture cushions, mop down the verandah and replace wet towels (we stopped leaving books and swimsuits outside). The ship is beautiful, the service is perfect. But if you haven't cruised before, and thought a trip to the Mexican Riviera would in any way resemble being on the Mexican Riviera, think again. A cruise ship is a hermetically-sealed 10 story floating hotel. Every hallway is packed with people, standing sideways to let others pass. The Lido deck's sliding roof is usually closed, making it hot and stuffy. The adults only pool outside is so windy I hardly ever saw anyone in it. Unless you enjoy casinos, dressing up for dinner, cheesy entertainment and being herded like pampered cattle from one excursion bus to the next, you probably won't enjoy being on a cruise. The only thing that lets you know you are on the ocean was the neverending rolling from side to side. We finally stopped being nauseated about 4 days into the trip. Also, it was disconcerting to find out that many of the employees earn no salary, but rely on tips for their income, and on "Perfect" guest evaluations for a day off. All in all, I'll pick a resort by the sea under a palm tree for my next Mexico vacation. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
My wife and I just returned from a 7-night New Year's cruise aboard Holland America's (HAL) Vista Class ship Oosterdam. We are in our late 30's and have 2 children ages 7 and 9 who also accompanied us. As a point of ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a 7-night New Year's cruise aboard Holland America's (HAL) Vista Class ship Oosterdam. We are in our late 30's and have 2 children ages 7 and 9 who also accompanied us. As a point of reference all of us have cruised extensively - this was my 40th cruise. This was our 2nd voyage in just over one year on the Oosterdam. Our first cruise on this vessel was October, 2005 again on the 7-night Mexican Riviera itinerary out of San Diego. During our first sailing on Oosterdam about 80 percent of the ship was chartered for a group of very large alternative lifestyle biker men who call themselves Chumley Bears (look them up on the web). We were never advised in advance by Holland America of this very large group. Being the minority on a ship where the majority was a special interest group who pre-reserved much of the ship for private functions was frustrating to say the least. Not only were we disappointed in HAL for not advising us of this special interest group and giving us the option to cancel or reschedule, but the cruise itself was mediocre at best and not consistent with our other HAL experiences. So here we are again giving the Oosterdam another chance for the New Year - what a mistake; never again! Embarkation in San Diego was very smooth and efficient. The HAL representatives were very courteous and well organized. My advice to anybody sailing HAL out of San Diego is to have ALL of your documentation filled out and available in advance as a document check is necessary before being directed to the check-in counter. I would highly recommend registering online and printing the forms to bring with you. In addition to these registration forms you will need your passports, tickets, and on board charge form. Upon arrival at the pier a HAL employee will have you fill out a form to indicate if you have recently or are currently suffering from a gastrointestinal illness. Ship DEcor/Layout is similar to the other 3 Vista Class vessels. In fact, this same hull design has been used for multiple Carnival and Costa ships. HAL was very concerned about introducing the Vista Class ships to their fleet as they felt ships of 80,000 tons carrying 1,800 passengers would be overwhelming and not received well by their loyal passenger base that are set in their ways and creatures of habit. Subsequently, HAL instructed the ships interior designers to make the Vista Class ships sport the feel of smaller more intimate ships. Unfortunately, the result is a drab, depressing, and poorly laid out ship. The flow in public areas is awful and bottlenecks often. The dEcor can be perceived as offensively obnoxious. For example, the Lido Cafe is adorned with bright red and canary yellow Formica which resembles the colors of McDonalds as opposed to a fine ship. Public rooms are not well ventilated. One smoker quickly fills a room with a cloud a smoke. On a positive note, the promenade deck on Vista Class vessels are amongst the nicest at sea being lined in real teak wood and sporting old fashioned steamer chairs with very comfortable cushions. The Promenade is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable places to sit and watch the sea. Cabins on Holland America are some of the best and biggest at sea. However, the colors schemes and furniture selections leaves a lot to be desired. We splurged for an SA Suite which comes with access to the Neptune Lounge and other amenities including priority embarkation, complimentary laundry and dry-cleaning (multiple items lost), upgraded bathroom amenities by Elemis, a stocked bar (no host), a bathroom with dual sinks, whirlpool bath with shower, separate stall shower, dressing area, large balcony, waffle type spa bathrobes, priority tender service, champagne on embarkation, breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, full menu room service and a special welcome aboard reception as well as a farewell lunch the last day at sea. Other amenities available in all cabin categories include incredible beds with high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, flat screen televisions, magnified bathroom make-up mirrors, and fruit baskets replenished daily. Our suite was immaculately maintained and appeared as if we were the first guests to ever occupy it. Hats off to our room stewards. Unfortunately, the smell of sewage frequently was present in our suite and despite multiple complaints the engineers were unable to figure out the source. Food on board was a terrible disappointment. Menu choices were strange and lacked taste, quality and any type of creative presentation which would appeal to the senses. Most disappointing was one breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill where we were served molded cream cheese and stale bagels after literally begging to be served despite being only 1 of 2 tables occupying this room. This was after being verbally assaulted by one of the waiters and demoralized in front of my son. There were only about 6 guests in the Pinnacle on this day and we watched the 4 waiters huddled in a corner laughing while ignoring the guests in a passive aggressive manner. It was a struggle to get our order taken. The manager of this venue seemed indifferent to our bringing these issues to her attention. The main dining room is a disastrous design example of how the interior designers ruined this ship. Certainly, entering this strangely designed room is enough to take anyones appetite away. This room is dark and dilapidated with shades of red, gold, and dark wood tones which simply are depressing and poorly coordinated. The center of the two story room is decorated with some really strange Star Wars like fixtures with tiny blue lights sparkling as if they were meant to be stars. We were waiting for Scotty to beam us up! Unfortunately, I cannot report that we had one meal in either the Pinnacle or Vista (main) Dining Room which could be considered anything better than mediocre. The same can be said of the Lido Buffet for breakfast and lunch. Perhaps the best food on board could be had from room service a turkey club sandwich that is if they could get your order right! Lastly, HAL only spends about $10 per person per day on food. By comparison Seabourn spends just over $20 and provides one of the best culinary experiences on land or sea. If HAL increased the per person per day food budget by only $5 and passed this cost along to the passengers that translates to only $35 for a week long cruise! Perhaps the perception is that cheaper is better and thats what people want. Not on HAL. I'm confident that HAL passengers would gladly pay a slight premium to ensure a higher end culinary experience. Room Service was always a disaster. Orders were never correct and delivery always took more than an hour. In fact, we received a memo on the second day of our cruise to be patient with room service on our port days as they are frequently overwhelmed and delivery times would be delayed. This is shameful! If the ship can't handle room service they should not offer it. I blame the language barrier which was responsible for many of the botched orders. It does not seem unreasonable that a ship which caters to American English speaking passengers employ staff which is proficient in the English language. As an example we like to feed our kids through room service and then take them to Club HAL while my wife and I eat in the dining room. This is a win-win as our kids don't want to sit through a 2 hour meal and it allows my wife and I to have some quality time together. On several occasions after waiting in excess of 1 hour for my children's meals they arrived only to be the wrong orders. This would not be such a big deal if room service would simply apologize for such errors and correct them immediately. Both times we were told by room service that they should have the correct meals delivered in about an hour! When an order is screwed up that you already waited an hour for the correction should be almost immediate. There was no evidence at any time of anybody being accountable. Service and attitude of the ship staff is the worst I have experienced on any vessel! However, with all due respect, I must give kudos to housekeeping, Club HAL, and the Neptune Concierges all were wonderful! The staffs in all other departments were clearly unhappy and many times rude and miserable. It was obvious that most of the ship's employees did not enjoy their jobs or want to be there. In addition to poor, indifferent, and rude attitudes the language barrier was always a struggle. One morning while getting my breakfast from the Lido buffet a steward literally pushed me out of the way as the cook was preparing my plate of eggs and they started to drop the curtains on my head which cover the buffet as it was closing time. One of my more frustrating moments was when my daughter became violently ill with vomiting at 5am one morning which we believe was due to food poisoning. At this point I called the guest relations desk to send a steward with towels as we exhausted all we had cleaning up the mess. Additionally, we needed our carpets cleaned. I was left on hold for over 20 minutes until I got a hold of guest relations! She was rude and said it took so long to answer the phone because she was doing paperwork! Noro Virus seems to be alive well and flourish on board cruise ships. It is no wonder to me that Oosterdam has had its share of Noro Virus problems. The ship is absolutely filthy with staff frequently demonstrating dirty habits and no regard for cleanliness. On many occasions the public restrooms were out of soap and paper towels and dirty food trays were frequently left for hours at a time. By the pool sticky umbrella drinks and sodas were often spilled on the floor and when my wife brought these tripping hazards to the attention of deck staff nothing was done and she was told not to worry that they wash down the decks every night! One afternoon during lunch at the Lido Buffet I witnessed a server blowing his nose into a rag and then proceeding to serve guests. Unbelievable!!! That's not to say that this type of thing does not happen at land based restaurants, but one would think there would be a heightened awareness of disease on a ship given the publicity given to Noro Virus over the last few years. Diapers in the pools are clearly not allowed per the signage poolside. However, many parents insist on ignoring these signs and bringing their diapered children in the pools and Jacuzzis. It is a health hazard to have adults or children defecating and /or urinating in the ships swimming holes with or without diapers. I wish that that a policy requiring fecal and urinary continence was a requirement for swimming on board and was enforced for the protection of all passengers. HAL was in no way proactive in helping to prevent this health hazard. Certainly, I do place blame on the irresponsible parents who ignored the sign as well, but HAL should have enforced its own policy. Other passengers tended to be mostly older with the average age being well above 75. Wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, and walkers were as commonplace as would be expected while visiting Aunt Millie at the nursing home. I felt as if I spent my week at an assisted living facility. 4 passengers were removed from the ship for medical reasons before we even sailed from San Diego which delayed our departure. In fact, one lady died tumbling down the stairs shortly after embarkation. Holland America claims they have tried to attract a younger and more active clientele in recent years, but to date has failed. If HAL can't attract a younger crowd or families on a holiday sailing there is no hope. Fellow passengers tended to be fussy, easily agitated, and downright rude. The broken Azipod meant that we could only spend 6 hours in Cabo San Lucas and our stays in Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta were also shortened. Incidentally, my wife and I chose this cruise out of San Diego versus a similar one out of Los Angeles due to the extra port time in Cabo when sailing from San Diego. Being that we live in Los Angeles it would have been much easier to sail from San Pedro. It was rather strange to look off the back of the ship and see a wake from only the starboard Azipod. There was no other consequence of the broken Azipod. Most disturbing is that unless one was savvy enough to read Cruise Critic posts or know a passenger on a recent Oosterdam sailing the broken Azipod would come as a surprise upon embarkation. HAL has known about this for months, but up until this point decided it would be best to fail to notify passengers in advance of this problem. I called the toll free HAL number just for kicks before the cruise for an update and was told the problem was fixed and not to worry! Many passengers were complaining as they made plans on their own for the whole day in Cabo San Lucas (golf, etc.) which had to be cancelled. Some passengers even complained of non-refundable deposits they made for tours which they would not be able to make. Shame on HAL for being purposefully negligent and failing to advise passengers in advance of this issue. Forewarned is forearmed and I'm sure many passengers would have appreciated advance notification. In fact, I'm willing to bet that very few if any passengers would have cancelled due to this issue, but it would have been courteous to be in the know. HAL's intentional cover up of this issue speaks volumes about the lack of integrity of this company, their disregard for honesty and lack of respect for its loyal passengers the very people whose success of the company can be attributed. Hats off to Hotel Manager James Deering who finally convinced corporate that covering up this problem is not the proper way to handle the situation. As of last week, HAL is now notifying passengers and travel agents in advance of the Azipod issue and the expected impact on their sailing. The Late Arrival in San Diego was attributed to the inclement weather. We arrived after 10AM on Saturday, January 6th. The captain actually had the nerve to advise passengers that the strong winds and high seas delayed us. This was yet another lie to hide the truth. The truth is that we did have 35 knot winds, but only steaming forward on one Azipod made it impossible to overcome these conditions. The Diamond Princess left Cabo San Lucas the same time the Oosterdam did, but was bound for Los Angeles where she tied up dockside at 0630am on Saturday, January 6th. Keep in mind that Los Angeles is 100+ miles north of San Diego! Passengers on the Oosterdam were angry as they felt they were deceived and wanted only the truth. Many passengers had independent air arrangements which HAL said they were not accountable for changing. There was a lot of bad will and angry passengers on this ship. Club HAL (the children's program) remains one of the best programs at sea according to my children. We usually feed my kids early at the Lido and then drop them for a few hours at Club HAL as they have no desire to sit through a 2 hour meal in the dining room. Quite frankly, it is the only time of day that my wife and I have time alone to ourselves and we value this time. Unfortunately, Club HAL does not open until 8pm making it difficult if not impossible to have any time for a before dinner drink or trip to the casino, shops, etc. Nonetheless, the counselors do a wonderful job and keep the children engaged. Hats off to this terrific program which my children rate a perfect 10! The Neptune Lounge serves its purpose and provides suite passengers with a retreat whereby one can avoid the lines of the front desk as most shipboard passenger business can be taken care of here. The concierges were wonderful and very accommodating (Jun and Louise). However, the concierges are merely glorified front office staff who rotate and have little authority or power to make anything happen. The food and beverage presentations which are changed multiple times a day in the Neptune Lounge are a nice touch, but are merely fluff and pretty to look at. The best part of this lounge was the cappuccino/coffee machine which always provides a delicious cup of java. Disembarkation was the most disorganized disaster we have ever experienced. I will leave it at that. In summary, Holland America claims that they strive to provide passengers with A Tradition of Excellence. Unfortunately, the poor attitude of this ship's staff, pathetic and often non-existent service, deceptive practices, and horrible quality and presentation of the food made this Oosterdam cruise far less than excellent. My kids now refer to this ship as the Sewerdam. I would not recommend this ship. Twice now, Oosterdam does not fairly reflect our experiences on the other ships in the HAL fleet. I'm not sure what has gone wrong with Oosterdam, but she is definitely broken and I'm not just referring to the Azipod. Additionally, the upper management of HAL is clearly sleeping on the job. If HAL does not begin ingratiating their product to a younger generation they will find that their passenger base will quickly become extinct as these are passengers who became loyal many years ago when HAL was a different product. HAL is doing nothing progressive to win over my generation of cruise passengers. Royal Viking Line had a similar management philosophy and management drove that line into bankruptcy Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Cruise Critique Ship: Holland America Oosterdam Port of sail San Diego, Ca Date: Dec. 16 - Dec. 23 Passengers: Michael Nagy, James Osborn, Louise Wardell, Jill Rothman Cabin Numbers: 5091 and 5093 This is our tenth cruise, our ... Read More
Cruise Critique Ship: Holland America Oosterdam Port of sail San Diego, Ca Date: Dec. 16 - Dec. 23 Passengers: Michael Nagy, James Osborn, Louise Wardell, Jill Rothman Cabin Numbers: 5091 and 5093 This is our tenth cruise, our first one with Holland America. Embarkation: The Ship is located practically right next to the airport no need for transfers at $16 each when a cab ride cost us $8.00 for the 4 of us. San Diego is a big city with a small airport. Everything went smoothly here. When we arrived at the port, we dropped off the luggage and went in line. The lines moved very fast and we were aboard the ship almost immediately. The port is not of the fancy variety, I overheard several san diegoans talk about it's a political controversy over spending more money on a better port. The Room: we were on the Verandah deck 5 with category ve cabins. The room was very nice lots of room and low and behold a BATHTUB!!! We were impressed with the room. The beds are one of the most comfortable beds we have slept on. The room steward was practically invisible, although he did a great job cleaning the room. My only complaint with the room was that we had a balcony and we asked them to open the balcony between the rooms when this is done, you can only get out of one door to the balcony, since the balcony door is pinned against one of the glass doors if not, the balcony door swings back and forth as he ship moves and makes a banging noise&.one of our neighbors complained about the banging, so we went back to individual balconies. This was not designed well. The Food: I have a lot to write about here. My major complaint is this. When we were in port shopping and got back to the boat for a late lunch, say around 230 - 3pm there was hardly any choices available. Pizza, sandwiches, and burgers were about all that you could count on at that time. The Lido buffet was closed till around 4pm.  On all the ships we have been on, the buffet was never closed it just changed sides of opening from lunch to dinner. We chose the late seating for dinner. The food was of very good quality. The variety was very good as well. Our waiters were a little slow getting the courses out to us, and we could not understand since it looked like they did not have a lot of people to service. Sometimes he would get the order incorrect or serve the wrong food..but all and all it was good. We ate breakfast in the lido deck most of the time with only one occasion in the dining room. Entertainment: This is where I thought that Holland America did its best. They had a guy on by the name of joel mason who did Elton John impersonation  it was worth paying for! Also a comedian by the name of Julie Barr. We caught her late adult show and laughed and laughed. The shows with the dancers and singers were also great quality performances. The piano bar singer/player kory was also very nice. Casino: The casino is very small on this boat and the staff is not that friendly. Ports of Call: We have done soooooo much in the Caribbean and gulf of mexico side that we thought we would try something different. So we flew from Tampa to San Diego to do the Mexican Riviera. Cabo San Lucas:. Very run down place, same Mexican stuff we could buy in cozumel or Grand Cayman. We had to tender here, wait in line to get tender tickets, then wait for our number to come up. It went pretty smoothly and quickly Mazatlan: Another loser. Very poor country where they send out their 3 and 4yr olds with bobbing turtles to sell for a dollar. No tender ride. Puerto Vallarta: This was the best stop. More of a port like St Thomas or Martinique. Another Tender ride here. MAJOR COMPLAINT: Our travel agents, Diane at Vacations to Go was very nice to provide us with 2 bottles of wine per room. They also gave us a free 6 x8 picture and dinner for all 4 of us at the Pinnacle restaurant. The Pinnacle is the place where you pay extra for dinner or lunch, its suppose to be higher quality. When we tried to make reservations for dinner (the first day) we were told that they were booked through the week and we could be put on a waiting list?...WHAT? we already had gift certificates and they were not going to honor them?...they told us they could offer us a lunch instead mind you that lunch is an extra $15per and dinner is a $30 per. We said if that is the case then why can we not get 2 lunches?...we were told that the travel agent only pays $18 for the $30 dinner. GREAT ANSWER we decided to do the lunch as to not waste the gift. THE LUNCH WAS TERRIBLE. We ordered coffee, never came to the table. The potatoes were over cooked, and they forgot to give us our soup, so out came the lunch, then when we complained, they gave us the soup. Don't even think of spending any extra money here. The photo staff allowed us to pick out a free 8 x 10 with our gift certificate. Now on to the wine. The boat was rocky the first day and the last day. Also, this was a SICK ship. We were told that a lot of people were getting sick and to take extra precaution in washing our hands. The ship went into where you could not touch anything. At the buffet stood people putting the food on your plates kinda defeats the purpose of the buffet don't you think? But we understood the cause. Because of the sickness, and the rocky boat, we did not want to drink the wine and so we thought we could just bring it home. Next to the last night, we asked for a box for the wine. We were told that they could not give us a box. WHAT? They only had enough boxes for anyone who wanted to purchase from them. But wait, this was already a purchase through the travel agent, sorry no box. So on the last night of dinner, we traded in one bottle of the four and got diet cokes! We left the other three on board. I am sure like a lot of you out there that have cruised before and had excellent times, that you expect that when you book again. This ship was not the best to say the least. It had some very good qualities, but paying the extra money for a flight to get there, traveling all day we just expected better service. If I were to give this ship a grade it would be around a B-. Now I know some people would say that would not be so bad. But when you are use to A service, nothing can compare. We probably will not chose Holland America again. There are too many others, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess that are much better. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Ship: Holland America Oosterdam Port of sail San Diego, Ca Dates: Dec. 16 - Dec. 23 Cabin Numbers: 4015, 4013, 4037, 4039 This is my sixth cruise, first one with Holland America. I've sailed with Celebrity four times, and ... Read More
Ship: Holland America Oosterdam Port of sail San Diego, Ca Dates: Dec. 16 - Dec. 23 Cabin Numbers: 4015, 4013, 4037, 4039 This is my sixth cruise, first one with Holland America. I've sailed with Celebrity four times, and Carnival once. Embarkation: The Ship is located downtown near the airport. Easy to get to on Saturday morning. There is parking across the street for $12/ day ($96 for the entire cruise). Everything went smoothly here. When we arrived at the port, I dropped off the other members of my party of 8, with the luggage and went to park. Once I was back, and got in line, the lines moved very fast and we were aboard the ship within 15 minutes. The Room: we were on the Verandah deck 4 forward. The rooms were very nice. A lot of room and the best bathroom I've experienced on ship. The beds were comfortable. The balcony was also very large. The room steward was practically invisible, but he did clean the room twice a day as expected. I am used to Celebrity where the stewards are very helpful and always around. My sister complained that he didn't refill their ice bucket routinely (which they specifically requested several times), and he didn't replenish any of the bathroom items (soap) until we asked. Overall, the rooms were the best part of the trip. The Food: This is a main area of complaint. The food was so-so, bordering on poor. Every meal there was at least one dish that wasn't edible (bananas foster comes to mind). I'm a dessert person, and none of them were good. The steaks were bad particularly the first night. Nothing was outstanding. My meals were better on Carnival, and much better on Celebrity. The service in the dining room was poor. The service was slow, and several times we would not get what we asked for, and got served at different times. It seemed like the ship was very understaffed, but it also didn't seem like the dining room was that busy especially after the first night. Our waiter was not friendly at all, hardly said anything beyond what would you like to order? Our water was not refilled for long stretches. The wine steward wasn't knowledgeable or friendly. Room Service: Wow they were really bad. Apparently very understaffed because it would take at least an hour to get served during meal times. Even the breakfast ordered the night before via card was served 10-15 minutes after the designated time (i.e. requested between 8 and 8:30, served at 8:45). The also actively tried to get you not to order (it's going to be at least an hour, do you still want it?) I called at 9:55 one morning to get breakfast (served until 10) for my husband who wasn't feeling well, and still in bed. The guy said he wasn't serving breakfast anymore. When I said I thought breakfast was until 10? He said well if you insist. Money: Watch out for this one. They have no ATM on the ship, and you can't get cash in the casino like you can on Celebrity. You have to get a cash advance at the front office with a 3% surcharge. Ports of Call: Cabo San Lucas: Very run down place, but not quite as bad as Ensenada. We had to tender here. Most of us went on a ship excursion Chileno snorkel and sail. It was a great snorkeling trip a lot of fish. The boat was nice, included drinks and snacks, and the crew was very friendly. I recommend it. Afterwards we walked around for about an hour before we had to return to the ship. Mazatlan: Better than Cabo. We had a private excursion set up with Mazatlan Frank. He is outstanding. We did a country side tour in the morning, and a city tour in the afternoon. We stopped for lunch at Tony's on the beach, which was great. Puerto Vallarta: This was the best stop. More like cool places in the Caribbean. Another Tender ride here. We had another private tour lined up with a contact of Mazatlan Frank's, Alfredo (el Oso). He wasn't as good as Frank, but still a great day. We saw the city, had lunch at a good restaurant in the rain forest, and swam with the dolphins in the afternoon. Alfredo was very nice, and accommodating to our needs. Overall: I am sure like a lot of you out there that have cruised before and had excellent times, that you expect that when you book again. This ship was not the best to say the least. The service was really poor when compared to my other experiences. The ship had some good qualities, but the bad outweighed the good for me compared to my other trips. I would rate this ship/trip as a C. We will not chose Holland America again. We're planning an Alaska trip for summer 08 and will definitely go Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Having only cruised once before some 15 years ago, I was really looking forward to taking the family on a cruise to Mexico just before Christmas. Unfortunately the trip just wasn't that memorable and a lot of the reason was HAL's ... Read More
Having only cruised once before some 15 years ago, I was really looking forward to taking the family on a cruise to Mexico just before Christmas. Unfortunately the trip just wasn't that memorable and a lot of the reason was HAL's Oosterdam. The trip started out fine. No problem getting on the ship in San Diego. We were lucky that we had family members in southern California who dropped us off right in front of the terminal. We didn't experience any lines getting on board at around 2pm for the 5pm sailing. I knew this wasn't the smooth Caribbean when we started rocking at sea shortly after leaving San Diego. The seas did get smoother as we traveled south but were heavy again the final two days coming back to port. As others have written, this was a sick cruise and I came down with the GI virus on day two. It felt like a very bad case of the stomach flu and I couldn't get out of bed, other than to throw-up, all day. Luckily my family left the ship early without me and had a great time on a snorkel trip out of Cabo. They even ran into some whales performing some high jumps on the way back from the Sea of Cortez. When they returned they,as well as I, were quarantined on the room for the rest of the night. I missed the one side trip I was really looking forward to and didn't feel like eating or drinking for a couple of days...not a plus on any cruise. Once the captain announced the GI virus outbreak the cruise went backwards..the spas closed, the buffet slowed down with the crew handing out the food and drinks...sports equipment was put away and many passengers looked like they were actors from "The Dawn of the Dead." The crew did their best but they seemed tired and disinterested. The food was just OK...the entertainment was good but I missed the Elton John imitator due to quarantine. More people got sea sick on the way back to San Diego due to rough seas. By the end of the week the kids were bored and refused to go to ship activities. Most parents on board said they wished they had gone on a Fun Ship or Disney cruise. The ship was just lacking in features and attitude hard to explain. We won't be back on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Where to begin. This is my first review and only write it because of how disappointing my experience was while cruising with Holland America (Oosterdam). I realize everyone has a different experience and reserve the right to say my ... Read More
Where to begin. This is my first review and only write it because of how disappointing my experience was while cruising with Holland America (Oosterdam). I realize everyone has a different experience and reserve the right to say my experience could have been a minority (or rare) experience. The embarkation process was probably the absolute best I have ever experienced. I was truly amazed at how efficiently I boarded the ship. The process (regrettably) elevated my expectations to a level that was unfortunately non-sustainable. No cruise has been without problem but the manner in which the problems were dealt with were vastly different. Day one: When I opened the cabin door, I was blown away by the intense odor of smoke. The steward did his best to deal with the smell (de-ionizer) but even this could not remove the smell. I was able to pin point the smoke odor (it was the curtains) and asked that they be removed. They were not! Instead, the staff just sprayed the room (daily) with some type of spray which did "mostly" remove the smoke odor. Despite the steward's best efforts, the smoke odor remained albeit, tolerable (did I have a choice?). I have to give props to my steward; he busted his butt for me (and was rewarded for his efforts). Day two: The toilet backed up 3 times. This was the first cruise this ever happened to me. Was it me? The crew did "fix" the problem but it was just another blemish on the cruise experience as it took them three attempts to get things right. This was NOT a major blemish rather cumulative. Day three: Here is where it got bad. The GI virus (Norwalk Virus) broke out on the ship. The ship's crew implemented a "code red" (their term) status. I immediately noticed breeches in their own policies and quickly pointed the breeches out to crew. Unfortunately either they did not know how to implement the ship's code red policies or did not care. I continued to complain. I actually called the ship's medical crew and was told by the crew member, "that is not my job". Whether it is or isn't can be debated. However, maintaining proper Hygiene controls is EVERYONE'S job!!! According to the Captain, the crew would serve the passengers from all "common" sources (food, drinks, towels, utensils). For the record, the virus is spread via contact. After day 5 and several more complaints that the crew were not implementing the Captain's orders, they FINALLY got it! However, how many more people got sick because the crew did not know what to do or did not care to follow orders? All I know is what *I* observed. As a final note, I observed (on day 6) a crew member in a shop lick his fingers while handling a cruise card. Was the passenger sick? Who knows. If they were, then that crew member would have (potentially) spread the disease (virus) to more passengers. I have not mentioned the food service (well the lack of service) because it is possible many of the crew were infected which would have weakened the wait staff to a point of being unable to properly serve dinner. However, if they were not sick, the service was absolutely unacceptable. Again, this was not my first cruise thus, I had a benchmark to compare HA Oosterdam by. Finally, the part which put me over the edge was the way in which I was "handled" by the front office when I called to point out the breeches of sanitation. On one of my calls, the first thing out of the staff was "what other safety concerns do you have now Mr. "Smith" not, how may I help you. It was not of a tone of concern rather the tone of OMG, another complaint. I don't know about you, but hygiene is one of the MOST important issues facing a cruise (the boats are otherwise extremely safe). Will I sail with Holland America again? I understand they are part of a conglomerate or outright own other lines (of which I have sailed with) but will never step foot on one that says Holland America!!! Peace and happy sailing, Acetylsleeper Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was on 2nd cruise, first on HAL. I'll review the cruise in sections below. Embarkation Got to the port about 11:00 on Saturday. Showed our boarding passes and IDs a few times, dropped our bags and sat down on benches ... Read More
This was on 2nd cruise, first on HAL. I'll review the cruise in sections below. Embarkation Got to the port about 11:00 on Saturday. Showed our boarding passes and IDs a few times, dropped our bags and sat down on benches to wait. Very quick process. About 11:30 they started calling the groups. We were Group 2. Went to the Lido to wait until rooms were ready. We were surprised that they announced rooms were ready at about 12:15. Public Rooms To me, the public rooms' decor seems dated and tacky. Cabin We had an aft deluxe verandah. Room was ok, but also old and dated. Bed was comfortable, until you roll over to the middle crack. Bathroom was small, but sufficient. Balcony was usually wet. Limited viewing options on the tv. Refrigerator in the room was nice for drinks. We would hear the chairs being moved a little, but not a big deal. Fitness and Recreation Tried to go to the gym a few times, but it was always busy at the times we went in the morning. Probably an off time you would be able to use the equipment. We bought the spa package for the week, which we used a lot. It was quiet and peaceful there. A few things that were annoying were how the pool would turn off in 15 minutes and you had to get out of the pool to turn it on. Also, walking from the pool to the heated chairs/steam room was awkward. And of course, there could be some chair hogs and there are only 6 chairs. But we were definitely glad to have a nice place to relax and unwind. Enrichment N/A Rates I work for an airline, so we got a good deal. $399 pp for the verandah. Dining Lido gets old after a bit. Breakfast best option for me was the omlette bar and the fresh fruit. People definitely fill their plates here with lots of mediocre food. I liked the salad bar for lunch. We ate in MDR only on the first night. Service was abysmal. Got room service a few nights. We would get a few options so that way you could try different things and find something that you liked. I didn't have a good piece of fish all week. We went to Pinnacle Grille for lunch, pretty good. Canalleto was a little disappointing. And my husband got sick from something he ate on Friday. Entertainment We didn't go to the shows, they do not interest us. Saw a bit of the crew show on TV, I'm sorry but that was painful to watch. We tried to go to the movie theatre a few times but it was always full. Get there early if you want to get a seat. Service In my experience, a lot of the staff seemed kind of indifferent and uninterested. I did not seem to get excellent, personalized service. I had to leave a note for the cabin steward to clean off some bird poop off the deck rail after it had been there for 3 days. Never did get wine glasses for the room, had to drink out of a regular glass. Shore Excursions We did not purchase shore excursions from HAL or had them reserved prior on our own. PV-Just wandered around a bit, went to an internet cafe nearby ($1/hour compared to 75 cents/minute on board was great) Mazatlan-Went to Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay for the day Cabo-Walked along the port, went on a whale watching tour. It was really cool to see the whales that close. Value for the Money We got a really good deal and went to relax, so a good value for us. Disembarkation Disembarkation was late because of a delay in Cabo and high winds coming back to San Diego. We had expedited disembarkation. Was not able to get off until about 10:30. Got the the taxi about 10:45, got the airport about 11:00, and managed to get on a 11:30 flight. They called many times for a certain non-American passenger. Overall I thought the Oosterdam was just OK. I don't think I will cruise on HAL again. I think we prefer the larger ships. The last few nights the seas were very rough. The outside decks were closed due to the high winds. I felt a little 'cabin fever' on the smaller ship. There was a variety of age groups on board. But the Oosterdam just seems old and tired to me. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Cruised from San Diego to Mexico and back, last FebruaryOosterdam is an old ship. The AC is clogged with all the bacteria that had accumulated in last 10 years from the 50,000 passengers/year carried on that ship and the air is stale, and ... Read More
Cruised from San Diego to Mexico and back, last FebruaryOosterdam is an old ship. The AC is clogged with all the bacteria that had accumulated in last 10 years from the 50,000 passengers/year carried on that ship and the air is stale, and it stinks in the rooms. Early morning, it smells like paint, later, like sewer.We called and like talking to the toilet. And that is another one, the bath, when drained flowed onto the bathroom floor with clogged drainage, and they did nothing about it.The lighting in the room is not sufficient for reading, lucky we had a balcony.On the 5th "great dinner" I was served a Shrimp Cocktail that caused my body to rebel, and the food poison diarrhea that flowed at night onto every thing in this Cabin. Will you be in it in the future?And for the finish line, we all of us, 7 members of our family, got the flue. my wife- pneumonia. What a good cruise, with the Mexico nothing to offer, the ships food just like in any tourist area, for show and plating, not quality of cuisine.Well, not again with this ship or any one over 2 or 3 years old. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
I have cruised with 4 other cruise lines and I have to say, HAL Osterdam was my only regret. Before selecting Holland America, I researched the internet and found they were rated tops in several categories. How?? I must give credit to the ... Read More
I have cruised with 4 other cruise lines and I have to say, HAL Osterdam was my only regret. Before selecting Holland America, I researched the internet and found they were rated tops in several categories. How?? I must give credit to the room stewards, Lido food servers, and Atrium wait staff-they were ALL friendly, courteous and attentive to their guests! Bravo!! We checked into 5002 and couldnt believe our eyes. What a mess! -The mini bar had dried tomato juice and was dirty inside -The carpet was dirty and stained(had to be cleaned on our Cabo shore day) -The wallpaper was dirty, stained, and ripped -Furniture was FILTHY!! Chairs dirty with water stains and ottoman had liquid dripping down -Toilet seat was broken I couldnt believe my eyes! I asked the head of housekeeping if I was being unreasonable or is this typical of Holland America-she assured me it wasnt. I could go on.... Mila with guest relations was nice enough to invite us to the Pinnacle Grill for our inconveniences. By this point we were actually tired of complaining and just wanted to enjoy our holiday. Mila's service recovery convinced us not to take further action. However Louie the wine steward in the Pinnacle Grill sent us over the edge!!!!! We graciouly accepted Mila's invitation with no intentions of taking advantage of the situation. My partner ordered salad and lamb chops, and I ordered soup and steak. We didnt order any appetizers nor cocktails and we split a dessert. We did however order a bottle of wine. I was familiar with some of the pricier wines($200 and up) but not the moderately priced ones and again, my intentions were not to take advantage. I told the wine steward that I was looking for a Full-Bodied Red with a "Strong oak flavor" and ask which of 3 wines he recommended. He suggested the $89 bottle. Louie then asked if I was familiar with Italian wines and suggested another. My experience with Italian wines is that they tend to be lighter but I figured he is the 'expert.' My initial taste was a bit disappointing but as I said, I was tired of complaining and was hoping the wine would later come alive. Also, we didnt see the need to offend our hosts since there was never any mention that we would be responsible for our beverages. After all, I would NEVER invite guests to my house for dinner and hand them a bill for their wine at the end of the night. I wasnt familiar with that particular Italian wine however, I am familiar with 'upselling.' The $108 bottle of wine that Louie recommended was not on the Pinnacle Grill wine list but I did find it the next night on the Atrium list. Its description began...Soft and Velvety with no mention of 'oak'. When checking out Saturday morning, we were surprised to see that Louie added the bottle onto our tab without our consent. We felt taken advantage of, swindled and gouged-exactly what WE set out not to do. What Mila had accomplished through service recovery was not only nullified by Louie but infuriated us!! No one likes being deceived! We spent almost 2 hours Saturday morning with Mila and Louie trying to resolve the issue. I asked Louie how could he recommend a wine described as 'Soft and Velvety" when I SPECIFICALLY as for a Full Bodied Strong red wine with Oak? It was clear Louie's only interest was in fattening his gratuity and not the wishes of the customer. I am a flight attendant with Delta Airlines and my spouse is an accountant with the Ritz Carlton(which Mila informed us is who Holland America models its customer service) and we come into contact with 'thousands' of travelers and are asked daily for recommendations regarding travel. I can assure you(as I did Mila and Louie) that the ill will created by that $30 bottle at cost was not worth it. My spouse assured Mila that this is not an example of how The Ritz Carlton would have handled this situation. The condition of our Suite alone would have dismissed the haggling(which caused us to miss our 11:15 flight). I have never written a complaint letter and although HAL offered us a wine package as an apology, I will NEVER cruise HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
First and foremost I will start off as - no question - I had fun since went with my friends. That was my objective - spend time with close friends, sun, read, and eat lots of good food. I have been on the Mexican Rivera cruise on ... Read More
First and foremost I will start off as - no question - I had fun since went with my friends. That was my objective - spend time with close friends, sun, read, and eat lots of good food. I have been on the Mexican Rivera cruise on Carnival before. Due to hurricane we were diverted to Catalina (Come on! Catalina? Seriously? Who pays for a 7 day cruise to stop in Catalina?!) The weather may not be the cruise line's fault - but for the "Holland America brand" you would think they could have picked something else - like say - stay in Cabo for 2 days? We stopped in La Paz on the other day. La Paz is the cleanest city in Mexico I have ever seen. I will probably go back there for a week on my own someday. Cabo is excellent as always! My biggest complaint about cruising to Cabo - why does it always have to be the shortest port stay??? There were 6 of us all together in our group - all age ranges. I was VERY disapointed in this cruise and Holland America. This brand isn't even remotely luxury as was expected. The food is horrible. I've sailed Carnival 3 times and their food was so much better in selections and options. And I believe people's first complaint about Carnival is the food - so that's how bad it is on this ship. While we had a few bright spots (Maha in dining room was lovely, our room steward was excellent, and another waiter in the bar where we met every night made our nightly before dinner meet for drinks very nice) the rest of the service was lacking. Especially the lido deck. My first thought was no incentive for them to even clear plates and refill drinks. And how do you have a Taco special on the deck but out of tacos? Room service is very prompt and on top of it. But that's all I can say for that - zip selection - and zip taste. My best friend (her first cruise) and I splurged and got a balcony on the Rotterdam deck. While the balcony was beautiful - you cannot help leaving with that bad taste in your mouth of such good money wasted for nothing. We could have just flown to Cabo for the week much cheaper and guaranteed good food. On our way off we talked to two guys on our floor who we never met before who were complaining about what a waste of money this cruise is, now that makes us 6 plus two more. How many more? Oh and most of all - the shower is mostly warm, lukewarm and lots of intermitant cold water in between. Had to keep turning the shower off and let it run through the bath - I did not pay for 7 days of cold/lukewarm showers. Obviously the hot water doesn't reach that high up - or it's seriously out with everyone else showering for dinner. This ship looks and acts old. It seems like a cookie cutter ship. Nothing special about it. Important for non-smokers - not a lot of spots for smokers to go - and I certainly didn't appreciate having to have that smoke in my face all day long at the adult pool. No ventilation in the casino. You can't get away from it. On your balcony or on the deck. Sorry smokers - but all cruise ships need to adopt a smoke free environment. Clean air is first and foremost when sailing in the open waters! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We have many cruises under our belt and this one to date was by far the poorest of them all....read on :) Wintertime cruising may have had a lot to do with the sea and weather conditions but certainly not the appearance of the ms ... Read More
We have many cruises under our belt and this one to date was by far the poorest of them all....read on :) Wintertime cruising may have had a lot to do with the sea and weather conditions but certainly not the appearance of the ms Oosterdam. First off, let me start by saying this Cruise was more forgettable than regrettable. After all it was a holiday cruise and we were sailing to Hawaii with friends and family. But that's it!! We sailed on the well used ms Oosterdam from San Diego, Ca. on Dec 10 for 14 days via Hawaii/Ensenada, Mexico and back to San Diego on the 24th of Dec. Passenger total around (my guess) 1700 vs 1916 max Passenger ratio to staff was about 12:1 or maybe even 13:1. Seemed a little thin. AVERAGE age for THIS cruise: 70+ PROS: > Staff was most likely the friendliest and most polite crew we have ever experienced on any cruise! Hats off to Abdul and Atkar for keeping our cabin ship shape and for the friendly smile of Carina each morning in the Lido Buffet Restaurant. > "Buffet" style food was absolutely the BEST, by far a better dining experience than assigned/scheduled seating, with no comparison! We did NOT experience one bad or even marginally poor meal. > Ports of call were outstanding! Lahaina being the exception, (mentioned in the body of this review) CONS: Some of our cabin furniture was ready for the recycle bin, with deep scratches and gouges in the table, the "imitation" leather chair had tears and the bedding just wasn't new and fresh. Even the pictures on the walls resembled something out of a 60's Sammy Davis movie. > The atrium appeared old and outdated. >Exploration Lounge and quiet area was pretty tired as well. It is adorned with leather seating everywhere, most of which in need of repair or replacement. > The carpet, throughout the vessel, was spent! Stained and faded by severe foot traffic helping show its age! < VISTA RESTAURANT (assigned or scheduled seating) WAS A JOKE! HORRIBLE SERVICE, UNTIMELY FOOD DELIVERY AND SUB PAR MEALS! < On board recreation.......again, don't count on it. Deck 10, the sports deck, was so cold and windy EVERY day that only the brave would venture a morning walk. Don't wear a hat, you'll never see it again. Basketball, shuffleboard, and other outdoor activities on this deck simply won't happen while at sea. < Itinerary says 4 days at sea to and from Hawaii. This isn't true. Those are calendar dates, and in reality you're at sea for almost 5 days or 110 hours. THAT'S A LONG TIME in rough seas! < My wife being a health Spa fanatic would NOT get in any of the "community" hot tubs. (yes, that swirling hot tub scum was evident in both midship and aft tubs, nasty!) She used the midship pool on the first day and didn't use it again! < Seriously HACL!!! You can't afford to at least maintain the Ping Pong tables! The table tennis nets needed to be super glued or nail gunned in place in order to use them. The paddles were purchased when the ship was christened! Throw them away and get new ones. (We brought our own, which turned out to be a GREAT plan) My take: Our group of 5 had reviewed this very site for positive and negative reviews of this particular vessel and cruise. We decided that there wasn't really any bad signs that would inhibit us from taking this cruise to Hawaii. Embarkation was a SNAP, I mean literally a piece of cake! We arrived at the dock parking lot in our POV and off loaded our luggage where we were met with efficient baggage handlers. From that moment until we were in our cabin was not more than 30 minutes. No lines, little fuss with security and very few people. This was nice. We made a timely pushback from the dock as scheduled at 5pm under a gorgeous rising full moon over the San Diego sky line. Day 1 at sea: Water Water Water, rough seas and more water. Not much to go on as you read this but the sea was so rough that sitting down attractions were the only way to pass the time. Cribbage anyone? First night entertainment was slightly better than that roadside puppet show you'd see at the county carnival. We opted for the Vista "As You Wish" seating and made our way to dinner around 6pm. We were seated promptly, but that was only the good part of this experience. We had 2 waiters, both of whom seemed to be in training or somewhat lost with there job descriptions. It took, literally, 30 minutes each time for 4 different courses of food to be delivered to our table of 5. That's soup, salad, entree, and desert, followed by a cup of coffee. We spent almost 2.5 hours in the Vista Restaurant waiting for service and food. On top of that, our entrees were room temperature and certainly NOT palatable. First night slow start, maybe, we gave that to them and moved on. Day 2 at sea: Water, Wind, and still more water, except the wind had increased. Pretty boring day it turned out to be, but that was our choice as we really didn't want to be cabin bound all day. Cribbage anyone? Formal night wasn't going to happen after our first Vista dining experience. We ate at the Lido Restaurant, and as it turned out was excellent!!! Day 3 at sea: Review Day 2, except we tried the Vista Restaurant for a second attempt. This experience was actually efficient and notable turn-around from day 1. Exceptions being we had different table and waiter assignments. Go figure? Day 4 at sea: Water is really getting boring and the sea was continuing to toss us around. Still nothing to do but wander the girth of the ship and explore. We were bobbing around in 10-12 foot swells with 30 knot cross wind. Our cabin sliding door was actually whistling loudly by the vacuum being created from the strong wind on the port side of the ship. We could barely open it. Day 5 Hilo!! Can you say rain.........one of the rainiest places on earth, but this POC (Port of Call) was awesome. Highly recommend the helicopter tour of the volcano and keep your camera with you at all times. There's plenty to see and do. Day 6 Honolulu.......Not so much fun...college students were out of classes for the holiday break and the traffic in Honolulu is beyond belief. It was literally the worst we have EVER experienced. And I used to live in Southern Cal. We did the Arizona Memorial, which pretty much took up all of our time. Took us exactly 1 hour to drive 6 miles to get lunch. Still the sites were pleasant, but we will never do Honolulu again. Day 7 Nawiliwili....Kauai, this was the best island by far, rent a car or scooter and enjoy it all. You won't be disappointed. This was also the evening we tried the Vista Restaurant once again, citing a good experience from 3 or 4 days earlier. OH man!! what a mistake this was. We got seated at the same table as our first visit and had the same deplorable waiters. Again we sat for an unnecessarily long time. We even questioned if we could sit at the adjacent vacant table by the window but got denied. About 15 minutes later that table did occupy. All our orders were placed, almost exactly like the first day. And like the first day I ordered a generic green salad, nothing extra, with dressing. The waiter could NOT comprehend what it was I wanted, even after many clarifying definitions. I asked him to disregard my request and move on. Magically a salad showed up??!! I'm thinking someone had to translate my order for him. Remember that table that was by the window that occupied 15 minutes after us? They received their main entree before we did, and they also ordered the same number of courses from the dame waiters. The maitre 'd explained that there was a screw up in the kitchen and that our order was on its way. Oh yeah, our entree showed up! They showed up cold, we couldn't believe it!!!! We each ate a small portion of our meal and got up and walked out. Actually the looks on the waiters faces made my day. The VISTA Restaurant is HORRIBLE! Certainly not worthy of having the distinction of serving world class entrees. Day 8 Lahaina, Maui.....Well here we go............We were tendered off the vessel while anchored in Lahaina bay. Even though we had rental cars waiting for us there, we caught a glimpse of some advertising for scooter rentals conveniently parked at the dock.....and took the bait. Actually it is a great way to see the island. I made a phone call via the 800 number listed on the ad and was given instructions where to wait. 25m later a van arrived and drove us "across town", (10miles??) to the rental location. This is where you really get a taste of the local economy and businesses. Shortly after we arrived we discovered that the scooters advertised were indeed NOT the scooters we were intending to rent, and even though the engine size was the same, the overall size of the scooter was more fitted for use as a circus ride rather than a SAFE escort around the island. We immediately questioned the availability of the larger version and was told they were not in stock and that what we see is what we get! I'm 6'1" and my buddy is 6'5" and there was no way we could safely manage our way around the island on the smaller versions, which is probably why they were left in stock. We subsequently denied the rental agreements and politely asked to be returned to our pick up location, to which we received a CURT and DISRESPECTFUL reply of "you're on your own!" Remember this, if you get anything out of this review, that ALOHA MOTORSPORTS shouldn't be your first choice when it comes to renting transportation on the islands of MAUI or KAUAI. There attitude towards tourism and their customers has definitely set the bar for the LOWEST of industry standards. Avoid them at any cost! Regardless of this unfortunate error in judgement, we still recorded a wonderful day on the island. Day 9 at Sea: We left the bay of Lahaina on time and set sail for Ensenada Mexico for 125 hours of rocking and rolling. We experienced, at one point, 66kts of wind head-on through the bow of the ship. That lasted through the night and wasn't very pleasant. The following morning yielded an overcast sky and windy conditions which lasted for the remainder of the 4+ days at sea. Our entertainment was limited to eating and watching the ocean, because going below deck was typically unpleasant. Day 13 we arrived at the port Ensenada, Mexico. International Maritime Law, (if I heard this right) says that before a vessel can return to the US after leaving a US port, they must first stop at a foreign POC before returning to the US. Ensenada is merely a token POC, barely enough time to get off the ship and have a Margarita. A serious waste of time. Disembarkation, like embarkation, was a snap as well. Took about 1 hour to gather our gear and wait for our ride. IN REVIEW: We didn't do any returning shows, because our first viewing was somewhat of a let down, so we elected to avoid any future efforts. Lido "dining" was superb! The focus of a quality cruise like this one should have been is the dining experiences. The VISTA RESTAURANT fails miserably in that endeavor. There is ample room for a great degree of remedial training for the VISTA waiters. (at least the 2 we had experiences with, they failed miserably) Having to get gussied up and looking pretty for a 2+ hour wait for sub standard food really wasn't worth the aggravation. If Holland will change the wiper blades, wax the hood, and put on a new set of tires, this boat wouldn't look like it's ready for the scrap heap. It is truly worn and tired looking. This cruise was clearly geared for the elderly, again the 70+ generation, Rascals and 3 wheeled scooters everywhere! I don't recommend taking ANY kids on this trip, they will have absolutely NOTHING to do while at sea. The pools are heated, but I we just couldn't help but wonder how funky they really were??? POC were incredible, with exception of the scum personnel at Aloha Motorsports, we'd go back. We still managed a wonderful day dispute the deplorable treatment hours earlier. Would I take this Holland trip again?, absolutely NOT, would I cruise Holland again?, probably not. Can I recommend Holland Cruise Line all things considered? I don't think so. Scaled from 1-10 this cruise is about 4.5 Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I'd sailed happily on the Westerdam last year 5 times to Mexico, but its sister ship was disappointing. The crew seems to be dispirited and bored, more interested in chatting with their fellow Filipinos or Indonesians instead of with ... Read More
I'd sailed happily on the Westerdam last year 5 times to Mexico, but its sister ship was disappointing. The crew seems to be dispirited and bored, more interested in chatting with their fellow Filipinos or Indonesians instead of with passengers. The Explorations Cafe barista is downright surly, with never a smile or a thank you, something I've never seen on Holland before. After 3 cruises on Carnival in the past month, greeted in the dining room by charming hostesses from 5 different countries, it was disappointing to see nothing but male Indonesians on Holland. My image of the dining room went to zero when I went to use the restroom next to the dining room one morning, only to be chased away by security, who had a table set up stacked with urine sample bottles. There was also a line-up of miserable-looking crew waiting to be drug tested. Has anyone ever seen drug testing done in a public area of a hotel, restaurant, or any other business? Would you continue patronizing a restaurant that would display to patrons urine jars at its entrance? Well, I'm not, I cancelled the 3 other Holland cruises I had scheduled this Spring. The second big fail was having surly contractors close off sections of the promenade outside deck for the entire cruise, from 8-6, so nobody could do laps, run, or relax, without having to turn around and go the other way. Several days they closed off sections on both sides, including 10 minutes before the charity walk they do on the last sea day. There was apparently no oversight of these contractors and no attempt to balance desires of the passengers to enjoy unimpeded access to the promenade versus their maintenance needs--on other ships they saved major maintenance work for port days. Everyone on the ship acted and sounded bored, from the lifeless cruise director on down. The same singers and dancers were doing the same dull, plotless shows I saw 6 months ago on an Alaska cruise (why can't cruise lines do like Norwegian and Vegas and put on 1-hour versions of Broadway shows?) As usual on Holland, the only people who were truly friendly were the Lido servers and the room stewards, along with the jolly captain, bragging about the beautiful, elegant Oosterdam (well, other than the bottles of pee outside the dining room). It's definitely a shock going back to Holland after Carnival. Mobility carts everywhere, older couples bickering like George Costanza's parents everywhere. Despite the tattoos and trashiness of Carnival, I think I had more fun there, the crew seemed to enjoy life more, there was music everywhere (not the corporatized piano duo and classical quartet playing the same programs on every cruise), and Carnival fulfills what it promises, whereas Holland just seems to project faux elegance to gloss over its money-grabbing and upselling. The lack of crew diversity and gender equality is disappointing (if you're not a male Indonesian you can't work as a dining room server or room steward). With every activity on Holland now tied to some corporate partnership, everything is now standardized, so I'll see the same piano and classical programs, the same cooking demonstrations and Oprah/BBC lectures on every Holland cruise, so there's nothing new or original. More and more Lido and outside deck space is being closed off by cabanas that I've never seen anyone use (even the airlines aren't stupid enough to try to raise money by putting a tent cover over a seat--at least not yet). Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This was our 4th HAL cruise and about our 40th cruise overall. We have been fortunate to have done of the worlds best cruises itineraries all over the world. We started cruising in our 40s and have done as many as two a year. For reference ... Read More
This was our 4th HAL cruise and about our 40th cruise overall. We have been fortunate to have done of the worlds best cruises itineraries all over the world. We started cruising in our 40s and have done as many as two a year. For reference most of our cruises have been on Celebrity, but our more recent cruises on Azamara (4), Celebrity (2), Oceania (1) HAL (2) and Crystal (1).. This last cruise was the 18 day San Diego - Hawaii departing in January 2018. Overall this cruise was a major disappointment and joined the unenviable list of the other (1) cruise when i could not wait to exit the gangway and go home. Only our 3 week trip on the QEII (2006) was worse taken the year before it was decommissioned and Cunard's maintenance had stopped completely and the crew was ready to split. Overall headlines of my review - HAL manages to the dollar not to customer satisfaction. Every aspect of the cruise had been subject to clear value engineering to provide the minimum possible - While most visible areas (save one) were well maintained, cabin decks showed serious neglect and were shabby and under-maintained. - Staff were courteous but had minimal training and management - Chef clearly had no interest in how food tasted Ship The ship info claimed that it had been refit in 2016. Its clear that that is meant to mean "some areas". Main areas looked fairly fresh and some very fresh, but it was also easy to find ripped carpets on stairs, major dings, scrapes and significant and visible defacement in elevators. My sleeping deck was dingy, had marred up walls and stained carpets. Major odors were present and attendants continually spayed deodorizer. The ship was full and apparently with the additions of more cabins always felt crowded. The most obvious and in your face issue was the condition of the exterior deck chairs. Decrepit, stained, torn and broken..... any Hotel Manager or Ship Captain who saw this should have been ashamed. Ratty, torn, broken dirty. No self respecting Holiday Inn would have put these out. So dirty we had to cover them with towels. Disgusting. Cabin Our cabin 1007 was on the Main deck. The room was satisfactory. Bedding was of good quality and we slept well, room was quiet. Entertainment system featured many very good moves (free) and was well past expectation (a blessing on this cruise). Walls were dirty in some places and appeared to need heavy scrubbing. Water in sink would often run only hot (scalding) from the COLD water side? Metal baseboard trip near bed was missing and sharp edge cut my wife's foot. Dining Lido and main dining room food was 75% tasteless and ranged from horrible to good (on occasion). Lido lunch was repetitive and tasteless. Pizza was below the level of frozen from the Safeway. Highlights were fresh made omelettes were great and Dive in burgers were very good. Dining room served me a piece of prime (?) rib that was perhaps the worst piece of meat I had ever encountered. It was not cut-able and looked like something that should have become hamburger. Any food service professional should have deemed this best for the trash can. Highlight was dinner at the extra cost Italian restaurant where the food was very good to terrific. It is well worth the modest fee of $15 (discounted for loyalty classes). Really good and competitive with more expensive cruise lines. We did not try Pinnacle as the $35 surcharge was too high for my expectations of value. Mixed drinks were measured to the drop and I judged them as a poor value. Beers at about $7 ++ are over priced. We found that their supply of keg beer was never delivered at the onset of the cruise (hard to believe) so advertised draft been was unavailable. Likewise 20% of the wine choices in the mid-level wine package were unavailable even at the onset. Entertaiment Main stage was fine, but had many seats with impaired visibility (posts). Only some seats had a table if you buy a drink or bring one. Dance shows were very good quality and I applaud HAL for not doing yet another "salute to Broadway". Very enjoyable. Other entertainment was bad to good. Comedian doing simplistic and worn fat cruise ship jokes and grade school puns got me heading out the door. Another asking "have you ever seen someone make a dog out of balloon" left me also running for the door. Variety pianist was talented and entertaining as was the Sax player. Enrichment speaker was presenting a standard presentation and was not an expert. She simply learned a presentation. Highlights were the Lincoln Center stings which put on superb classical and popular concerts curated for HAL. This was terrific quality. however the room was uncomfortable and always crowded. Passengers sometimes came in an hour early and slept in the chairs to hold seats. Chairs were uncomfortable at best. It seemed at odds with all the minimal things HAL put forward on this ship to see something of such over the top quality. Kudos to HAL for getting something very, very right. Cruise Director was amateur level and added no value. Service HAL's people displayed good attitudes and were always friendly. Find a good waiter in the DR and you will get good service for a cruise at this price point, but quality varies greatly. Maitre D's were very good, learned our names and tried to get us to the waiter we preferred. Generally though service staff for meals had minimal skills and training. Dishes often not collected, had to beg for coffee and many times we would see them chatting with their peers and not working. On more than one occasion I was given morning OJ that had clearly set out for a very long time and was room temperature. What are they thinking? Ports and Shore excursions Hawaiian ports were routine. Major problems occurred at Lahaina on Maui where the re boarding of the ship via tender took nearly 1 1/2 hours. We heard via rumor that it was due to the local Harbor Master but the ship never explained nor did they take the opportunity to set any expectation before we boarded the tenders to go ashore that the re-boading was going to be problematic due to local procedures. HAL is not a premium or luxury line and had no expectations that it was. But the obvious cost cutting, deferred maintenance and fair service were below their advertised value proposition. This will be my last cruise on Holland America. You can get more for the money from Celebrity and probably several others. This is the last HAL for me. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Be prepared if you expect luxury because my comparison of this ship is that it was more like a passenger ferry than a cruise ship.--I just wrote to Holland America to explain my decision to leave the ship on day five of a seven day ... Read More
Be prepared if you expect luxury because my comparison of this ship is that it was more like a passenger ferry than a cruise ship.--I just wrote to Holland America to explain my decision to leave the ship on day five of a seven day itinerary, A little history on me--I have done about thirty five cruises, three previously with Holland America on the Nieuw Amsterdam, Koningsdam and Eurodam--these ships were beautiful. When I booked the Oosterdam, I thought I would have a similar ship to the Eurodam (which I only did four months ago) but was shocked at the state of it: on my of my facebook postings, I stated "I am on a ship a few sailings away from the scrapyard" and it was not an exaggeration. The crew were exceptional in trying to maintain the cleanliness but there comes a point that the effort to keep up an appearance is all in vain, which was the case here, and I feel so bad for those hard working people. Unlike the other ships that had nice light, warm inviting colours, one entered into this one facing dark, drab maroon and blue--very 70s retro. As I walked down the hall to my cabin what was the most noticeable was the smell of dampness, then looking at the carpets, on most all decks, they were water stained. Not little ones here or there but the stains were making their own pattern in the carpets! The room--same drab colours, a couch that was threadbare and the arm rest black (mixed into the maroon) with dirt, the bathtub so worn that my initial reaction to all the nicks was a slight heart palpitation because I thought they were insects. The water temperature in the shower never got above luke-warm, the light fixture behind the bed was broken, about to fall off, one light needed replacing and the coffee table lever was broken so it was left in the highest position. To me it felt like the ship must be on a scheduled dry-dock sometime soon because all effort to make it look somewhat presentable was gone. Others on board seemed to enjoy it, and I am glad they could make the most of it, but with all these cruises under my belt, I felt the need to place this review for a) frequent cruisers like myself who have a certain expectation of cleanliness and a small standard of basic working order of things and b) for those who might be spending hard earned money for a first-time cruise---my advice, do another ship or wait to see if this one ever gets upgraded. In Cabos I went to the Walmart there to buy more cleaning supplies to try to get that "dirty" feeling out of my room but by Mazatlan, I knew that I could not do those last two days at sea, researched the contract, confirmed with the ship that I could depart in PV and that is what I did. I booked a hotel in PV, new flights up to my final vacation destination and set the wheels in motion. Note--if one chooses to go this option, expect a change in attitude from the front desk staff from sweet and polite to rather blunt. Further, when I first inquired as to being allowed to stay on-board until noon I was told no problem but by 7pm on the last night, a letter arrived to my room informing me that at 7:45 am the following morning I must report to the Immigration officers on-board with my luggage (normal procedure) but I had to depart the ship immediately after---there went the welcome. Too add insult to injury, they did not even communicate my departure with the security officers on Deck A so after I cleared the Mexican Customs on board, the security staff still pulled me to one side to "verify" that I was allowed to leave. I had a few choice words for them on that topic. The ports I have been to before---San Diego, to begin is a beautiful city and I will go there again. The first sea day, and on Western based cruises this is to be expected, it was freezing and wet! Cabos uses tenders so be prepared for a bit of a line-up to get on one unless you have an excursion. Coming back close to noon a very intoxicated woman sat next to me and practically passed out on my shoulder going back to the ship--I had to wonder how much she drank so early in the morning?! Mazatlan, though it did not have a tendering system because it was docked at a cargo port, meant that one still had to wait for little shuttle trolleys to take passengers from the ship to the cruise building. The town itself was lovely and I took the local bus over to the hotel zone to find a Starbucks to get a coffee and good wireless. The malecon in Mazatlan is miles long and very scenic--loved it. PV--I have been there many times on land vacations and though the ship docks close to the hotel zone and 7 peso bus ride can take anyone into the historic part in about 20 mins for each direction. Overall, I would use Holland America again, especially one of the past three ships I enjoyed, but the lesson I learned this time, even after all my cruises is that any future cruise I take, I have to research the ship more closely, in particular--the date it was built and when it was refurbished! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
As a 4 star mariner (loyalty level), I was very disappointed in the small changes that have occurred to HAL over the last 5 to 10 years. I have come to expect a better experience and was just disappointed by the food quality and generally, ... Read More
As a 4 star mariner (loyalty level), I was very disappointed in the small changes that have occurred to HAL over the last 5 to 10 years. I have come to expect a better experience and was just disappointed by the food quality and generally, employees that just were doing their job. There were a couple of employees that were outstanding, but overall, they had already left for the day. The food quality has decreased, even in the Pinnacle which is more expensive and has less offerings. Attempted to eat in the dining room with any time dining, but if you don't have a set reservation time on the first day. You will wait. The hydro spa was broken for 2 days, no refund. Offered a leg massage instead. I did not go on any excursions. I have found in the past that generally the ships tours are overpriced, crowded and slow. The entertainment at night has increased, but it all seems to be at the same time. Signature of excellence (last slogan) has died. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

Find an Oosterdam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click