78 San Diego Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

Age 27 and 32 married no kids Balcony room 5th floor This was our third cruise but our first on Holland America. We have previously been on Royal Caribbean. we flew out of palm beach florida on delta to San diego where we got a ... Read More
Age 27 and 32 married no kids Balcony room 5th floor This was our third cruise but our first on Holland America. We have previously been on Royal Caribbean. we flew out of palm beach florida on delta to San diego where we got a taxi to the cruise terminal. $10 each way. quick and easy. the port terminal was smooth and the lines moved quick. our luggage was delivered in our rooms about 45 after boarding. went off to tour ship signed up for the THERMAL SUITE in the spa, $250. for both for the week. THE BEST MONEY WE SPENT!!!! grabbed a bite in the lido dining (buffet) food was good Dinner that night was in the formal dining room. The BEST meals we have ever had on a cruise! Ship was nice and clean 2 pools but the adult pool was always packed. CABO SAN LUCAS: we got off the ship via tender then walked around the docks went to eat eat at Squid Row VERY GOOD! We then hire a guy on a glass bottom boat for $10 per person round trip he took us out to the big rock formations around them up near a group of sea lions sunning then dropped us at lovers beach for about an hour then came back to get us. cabo was beautiful. we will definitely return there. seems like alot to do but you need more time. MAZATLAN : Yuck yuck yuck, we took a taxi to golden zone walked for about 20 min there were really not many shops there alot of vendors all selling the same tourist junk. the town smells terrible and the taxi are open so the exhaust is bad. we were off and on the boat in less than an hour went to the spa took advantage of the in port spa specials very nice!! PUERTO VALLARTA: we took a taxi downtown and walked around the shops stopped in an old church that was beautiful, then returned to the boat for our only excursion it was called RYTHYM OF THE NIGHT, this was AWESOME, we took a ferry boat ride out to a private deserted island at dusk, then watched a tribal show with fire and dances it was incredible then went down to the beach for to our table for 2 on the water, so beautiful and romantic the whole island is only lit with candles and torches. The dinner was a buffet of wonderful food, chicken steak fish side dishes and desserts, plus unlimited free drinks. we were then taken back to our ship in the evening. this is the best excursion we have done. The cruise was nice, very relaxing. The food the best we have had, breakfast on our balcony every morning via room service. the lido buffet was ok but the dining room great. my only real complaint is as much as they are trying it still is aimed for an older crowd, not much in the evenings for younger people. alot of the activities aren't really for the 20-30 yr crowd. if you want to just relax this is great cruise for that. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Unlike some, we cruise on occasion - but still enjoy other types of vacationing as well. That being said, this was our fifth cruise (and the second on Holland America) over the last ten years. This was also our second trip to the Mexican ... Read More
Unlike some, we cruise on occasion - but still enjoy other types of vacationing as well. That being said, this was our fifth cruise (and the second on Holland America) over the last ten years. This was also our second trip to the Mexican Riviera as we did a similar itinerary several years ago on NCL. My wife and I are early 60's (she's retired and I continue to work full time). While we've also cruised on NCL and Princess, we think Holland America provides one of the best rides going. Our group arrived on Thanksgiving day and spent two days seeing the San Diego sights prior to boarding. We rented a car and stayed at the Hampton Inn Sea World because of the proximity to Old Town. We also enjoyed Gas Light area restaurants as we stayed over a night upon returning at the Gas Light Marriott. Also, I must add that this particular cruise was a CardPlayers.com poker cruise (with about 500 poker players) and as a result, had a larger cross section of age groups than we saw on our earlier HAL trip. I'm sure this younger than normal crowd also affected late night activities in the Casino and other lounges. Having this group aboard, however, didn't appear to have any adverse affects on anything except for the fact that the Crow's Nest lounge was taken over by this group and not available for any other ship's activities. Embarkation - We arrived around 11:30....stood in line for 10-15 minutes and were on the Lido deck enjoying a great bloody mary and buffet lunch shortly after noon. State rooms were ready, as advertised, at exactly 1:30pm. For this cruise, we had chosen an aft veranda cabin (5180) which was fantastic. The balconies on the end of the ship are huge - we had two chairs, two chaise lounges and a table and still had tons of room. The king sized bed was very comfortable and we had more than sufficient space for all of our belongings. One note here, "bring half as many clothes and twice as much money as you think you will need" - that's the motto of my niece, a former travel agent, who along with her husband were also with us on this trip. We also opted for the unlimited laundry - at $45 for the week, we think this is one of HAL's better bargains. Don't forget, however, that your cutoff to send laundry in is 48 hours before the ship returns (or 10am on the next to last morning). As we had spent two days in San Diego before boarding, the first thing we did was to fill the laundry bag and call for pickup. We also met other CCers for the Banner Wave at 3pm and HAL provided us with a nice complimentary "meet and greet" on the first sea day. Spa - my wife and my niece opted for the hydrotherapy package ($150 a piece or $250 a couple - they were able to sign up together and got the couple's rate). This provides unlimited use of the hydrotherapy pool, heated lounges, sauna, changing rooms and showers for the week - another great bargain. The best part is that this package is limited to the first 50 people that sign up so that it is almost always available for use. My wife and niece can expand on this further - Niece: The heated thermal lounges were quite comfortable and offered floor to ceiling windows for fantastic sea views. One late day visit offered a gorgeous sunset. The thermal lounges are warm, but not overly hot - Perfect for relaxation, reading or a nap. The heat in the dry sauna was much hotter than the thermal lounges if your body needed the hotter temperature. I guess that's my (wife) cue . . .If left up to me, I would not have mentioned the hydrotherapy package. Why? Because when I cruise again with HAL, I don't want everyone else to beat me to this tremendous offer! I can't say anything negative about this package. Having the freedom to go as often as you want is wonderful. We never found it overcrowded and if you chose to stay on board during a port of call, you basically had the entire spa to yourself. The only thing that could have made it better, in my opinion, would be the hours of operation. On our cruise, the spa opened at 8:00 and closed at 10:00 p.m. A little earlier opening for the hydrotherapy pool would have been wonderful. Food - barely enough (ha)....We opted for the late traditional seating - we would have preferred the early seating, however it was already "sold out" when we made our reservations. HAL's main dining room is on two decks connected by a stairway - the upper deck is reserved for traditional seating whereas the bottom deck is available for "as you wish" dining. There is also one "extra cost" dining room, the Pinnacle Grill. My niece and husband had lunch there one day but gave it only "average" reviews. One comment however about the Pinnacle Grill, the head chef there, a Canadian, did a French Cuisine session (a $29 cost) on one of the sea days - both my wife and niece attended and gave it rave reviews - I'll let my wife expand on this as well. It's my (wife) cue again. . .the French Cuisine Culinary Arts class was fantastic! My niece is somewhat a gourmet cook in her own right, but for a very basic cook such as myself, I found this to be the absolute BEST VALUE of the entire cruise. We had the completely devoted time of Chef Brandon as he prepared 3 wonderful dishes and allowed us to help. We were served wine, given the recipe cards, an apron AND tasting rights of the meal. We were there approximately 2 hours and it was absolutely the BEST! I'll break the review into Dining Room, Lido Buffet and Room Service. Dining Room - we love the traditional dining where you have the same wait staff each evening. We really enjoy getting to know them and, assuming the service is good, provide an extra gratuity on the last night. Try as we did, we never really got the hang of our server's name (he was from Indonesia and had been with HAL for seven years). He was, however, excellent and we really enjoyed him. One night my wife went to use the pepper shaker and the lid came off. He, the waiter, was visibly upset over this and immediately grabbed up her plate and ordered a new entree' brought out for her. After that, each evening when we arrived for dinner he would pick up the salt and pepper shakers in our presence and ensure they were correctly fastened - we gave him some good-natured teasing about it as well. Also one night when my wife didn't come to dinner - he wanted to know if she was ok and I told him she was feeling a little under the weather. He replied that he would pray for her. When she appeared the next evening, he gave her a big hug to welcome her back. As for the food - it was certainly ok, however nothing really overly special and in fact, could have been a bit hotter on occasion. The highlight was the escargot - wish I'd have ordered two (or more). Soups were also very good overall. Desserts, on the other hand, were average at best. The turf portion on "surf and turf" night was very rare - which I love, but might not have been to all other's taste. Lido Buffet - We primarily ate there for breakfast with eggs/omelettes/eggs benedict to order were all hot, well prepared and very good. They also had a wide variety of toppings for waffles and the meats, breads and juices, etc were all excellent. Late night Italian buffet was average at best. We also ate off the hamburger bar which was good as well and made great use of the free ice cream bar. I also enjoyed the cookies as I'm something of a "cookie monster." All in all, I'd say the buffet was better than average just because of the breakfasts and everything seemed to be well prepared and presented. Room Service - We ordered breakfast on two occasions via the hang the request on your door the night before as well as another occasion when my wife slept in. On all occasions, everything arrived right on time and with the exception of the toast was hot and very tasty. HAL is the only ship we've been on that provides eggs/omelettes for room service breakfast - NCL and Princess were only continental breakfasts the last time we sailed with either. Overall, I'd say the food was good, not outstanding....the service in the dining room could be a bit slow on occasion but that, I think, is to be expected. Shipboard entertainment: Casino - my wife played the slots primarily and won more than she lost (which is always nice)....I tried the blackjack on one occasion. Overall the table games were priced well (several $5 blackjack games) and were quite busy in the evenings even with a plethora of poker players off playing poker in the Crow's Nest. I did have occasion to talk with a number of these folks and they seemed overall to be happy with the poker tour. Daily trivia - Our group did well here, winning on a couple of occasions. This is always a fun event for us. Other activities - ping pong, golf, basketball, bingo, etc were all available but my group participated only briefly in any of these. I did enjoy the hot tubs and pool as well as the plentiful deck chairs for reading and just overall relaxation while on-board ship. I tend to get a tad restless on the last day at sea and this time was no exception, however, the dam superstar competition and a special evening show on the last day were exceptional and made for a good finish to a great cruise vacation. Ship entertainers - Singers and Dancers did three shows and to be honest, I found them quite boring. I did watch a singer's only show in the Queen's lounge one night (Broadway to Queens) and found this to be quite entertaining so I'd say they may need to hire a new producer/choreographer for the song and dance group. The magician was superb and put on a very good show and certainly in the "don't miss" category was Joel Mason and his salute to Elton John - what a fantastic performer. The whole cast to include singers/dancers, magician, the HAL-cats musical group, and Joel Mason did a final night show called Joel Mason and friends - and it really brought the house down - what a fantastic way to finish the cruise. We were so wound up after watching this show that we stayed up and partied a while and almost forgot that we had to pack and have our bags out by 1 am - we made it, just barely. We briefly heard some of the lounge singers - the piano bar entertainer was also quite good. We also enjoyed the Ocean Bar piano and music -prior to going to dinner. The staff also hosted their version of American Idol called the "dam superstar". The cruise director, Jason, one of the male singers and Joel Mason served as judges - this is also in the "not to be missed" category - what a great time for everyone - audience and those in the show. One final note here on the entertainment, the cruise director, Jason Veneer was perhaps as good as they get - He, unfortunately for HAL and for anyone reading this was making his final cruise - He WILL be missed. Ports of Call/Excursions: Cabo San Lucas - This is the only stop requiring tender ships. We were in port with two other cruise ships (pretty much the same in all three stops) so the town was pretty full of folks. My group went on the dune buggy ride to the beach and we all got too much sun (don't forget the sun screen - ha). Our buggy also had the adventure of running out of gas just as we were trying to get up onto the highway - the trail vehicle had some gas for us and we were again soon on our way. Overall this was an "ok" adventure for the group - the beach we went to was also inhabited by one of the snorkel tours as well. Mazatlan - A first for me and my nieces husband, we went on the zip line canopy tour and had a blast! I had wanted to do this on another cruise a few years ago but for one reason or another opted out. This is one excursion, however, that I would definitely do again. The Mazatlan crew did a great job - there were 39 of us in our group. They broke us down into 3 groups of ten and one of nine....fitted us with gear, gave us a short demonstration and a safety briefing and we were zip lining through the trees in short order. I must say that never once did I not feel safe - it was a great time. We then made a stop at a working tequila factory where they assured us that the second free sample would be better than the first so, of course, I had to check them at their word and found it to be so (ha). They were selling the tequila, of course, for $30 a bottle (a so-so price). Had it not been for having to fly home afterwards and concern about packing the bottle in my luggage, I'd have probably spent the money - especially after the second shot. Puerto Vallarta - We took the advice of many of cc'ers here and made the trek across the street from where we docked to buy souvenirs at the local Wal-Mart. They also had a great selection of tequila as well - my niece bought some here for her son. The only excursion we did here was called "Rhythms of the Night" which was absolutely fabulous. I'd read other accounts where cc'ers were saying this was the best excursion they'd ever been on so was a little concerned that all that hype might be for naught. On the contrary, we loved it....the boat crew on the way to Las Caletas does a great job of entertaining you and providing as much as you care to drink. Then the evening show was fantastic and the buffet dinner complete with wine and candlelight right next to the shore line was very romantic. On the ride back, the crew of the boat continued where they'd left off on the ride over - got every one up and dancing and of course the drinks continued. I highly recommend it. I believe in tipping for good service and these folks received the highest tips I've ever doled out for an excursion. Disembarkment - Alas, all good things must come to an end but to Hal's credit this was "the best" disembarkment we have ever had. We filled out a form early in the week indicating what time we wanted to be off the ship. On the day before arrival back in San Diego, we were given luggage tags to coincide with our selected times and provided information about when to leave the ship. They made one announcement about 8:15 am or so that everyone could begin and after that, whenever your time window arrived, you left the ship. We chose not to leave until 9:30 - slept in until around 7:30 (as we hadn't gotten in bed until after 1 am), got dressed and enjoyed a final breakfast in the Lido. At 9:30 we made one last trip to the restrooms, took the elevator down to deck 2 and literally walked off the ship into a waiting cab. Couldn't have been smoother and left a great "after"taste for Holland America lines. One final remark would be, again, given the value for dollar, level of service and quality of overall cruise, Holland America leads the pack above the others that we've cruised. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Even though we're just two hours by air from San Diego, we came in the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay. By staying in the South Tower, the bow of the Oosterdam was literally pointing at our balcony when we woke ... Read More
Even though we're just two hours by air from San Diego, we came in the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay. By staying in the South Tower, the bow of the Oosterdam was literally pointing at our balcony when we woke Saturday morning. Very Cool. Another advantage to that particular Holiday Inn location is that it's just a three block walk to a Rite Aid, which sells wine that can be taken aboard. A free shuttle, and a walk across the street to board make this an ideal location. This was our first HAL cruise, and I have to say that after the first 5 minutes they treat their suite passengers very well. I'm glad I read on the CC board that we might have to ask for the suite check in line. It isn't at all obvious. And the man at the end of the line sure managed to look at us as if we were trying to cut in ahead of others. He seemed very surprised that we actually had the correct documentation to be there. We checked in and were told to wait on a bench against the wall. All we could think of was the old Arlo Guthrie song with the "group W bench", but in truth it was all good. A woman appeared to take us all aboard early, and we went to the Neptune Lounge. It really didn't take long to understand why people love that Lounge. It was a very pleasant place to drop our luggage, have a couple of nice appetizers, some cold juice, and meet other passengers. Since our cabin was way back at the stern of the ship, we didn't think we'd use the Neptune Lounge much. We were wrong. We used it several times each day, for the great coffee, a quick snack, or help from the concierge. It is a very nice perk. We chose our cabin very specifically for its large verandah. My DH was just getting past a round of chemo/radiation and with his immune system so low, we knew we'd be spending much more of our time in our private space than in the public areas. We were thrilled with how huge the verandah was. Two lounge chairs, two chairs with ottomans, and a dining size table with four more chairs. Some people are concerned that the verandah is open and is viewable from the two decks above. This didn't bother us. There is also a long covered part of the verandah along the side of the ship that is very private. Nearly all day long there was some part of the verandah in either the shade or sun, and some part with a breeze, or sheltered. We loved it. I don't know what it will be like when it's all covered in the April re-do. Right now I think it's perfect. The cabin itself is a little smaller than the other suites. It has the same amount of furniture, so it looks cramped and a bit awkward. I have to admit I was a little disappointed at first. I came to love it. It was so quiet there at the back of everything, and our cabin stewards kept it immaculate. We ordered room service breakfast every morning, and most of the time the order came as we placed it. I loved writing in any little thing I wanted on the menu. What a pleasant way to start the day. We were in need of an exceptionally good cocoon, and that's exactly what we got. The Beverage manager just outdid herself for our CC Meet and Greet. She was so easy to work with, that there was nothing to the planning. We all loved the food and drinks. It was a great way for us to get to know each other a little more than just at the Wave. We didn't use the Lido buffet much. I never could quite figure out where things were. I have no sense of direction and the stations confused me, but I did enjoy the bread pudding, and DH liked that he could watch his burger being cooked. We've been on NCL with their 'Anytime' dining, so the thought of not having a fixed seating for the dining room isn't new to us. HAL seemed to handle the flow well. The rest of the dining experience wasn't all we'd hoped for. Some of the meals were excellent, but a couple weren't even good. The deserts (and I LOVE deserts) were without inspiration. That's okay, we had enough to eat. We had expected a more formal dining experience than NCL, but I don't think that happened. We certainly noticed more jeans and fewer tuxedos on this HAL cruise than our last NCL cruise this spring. I'm sure there are many who like informality, and for them this would be a bonus. We did try the Pinnacle Grill one night, and were let down. The food was barely warm and was too cold to eat before we'd finished. Our server had disappeared and we were just stuck sitting there with cold food we didn't want to look at any longer. But again, we'd had enough to eat, so cold food probably just saved us from ourselves. Since we've been to these ports before, we didn't plan any shore excursions. We did expect to go to Stone Island in Mazatlan on our own. Watching the ship come into the harbor we were appalled at the amount of plastic and garbage floating in the water. It was disgusting. We didn't even get off the ship, having no desire to put so much as a toe into the water there. I think this is the worst port I've ever seen in about 100 days of cruising. Fortunately, we didn't choose this cruise for that port, or even for the itinerary. It was all about relaxing days at sea, and we had that. You'll notice that I didn't rate the entertainment. Somehow, with the times we chose to eat, every time we came out of the dining room all the entertainers in all the lounges seemed to be taking a break. The good side of this is that our bar bill was the smallest we've ever had. We had ordered a bar set up in the cabin, which was very reasonably priced, so we just went there for our nightcap. With full nights of sleep, we actually did come back from this cruise much more relaxed than we went. That was more important than the lack of entertainment at the times we were looking for it. Would we cruise on HAL again? Absolutely, in a heart beat, if we could get another stern cabin with an oversized verandah. That cabin made it a great cruise for us, without it, well, it was good. And there are a lot of good cruises out there. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
My wife and I, along with some friends, took a cruise from San Diego to Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta, from December 13 to December 20, 2008, on Holland America's Oosterdam. This a chronicle of the trip. We left from ... Read More
My wife and I, along with some friends, took a cruise from San Diego to Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta, from December 13 to December 20, 2008, on Holland America's Oosterdam. This a chronicle of the trip. We left from Tucson, AZ, on December 12, and drove to San Diego, staying with some friends. I think from now on that that is how we will do it, going in the day before. It is less stressful in that if something happens, you have a day to deal with it and you won't miss the boat. On December 13, embarkation day, we arrived at the terminal right at the busy time. The line was long. It took us about 45 minutes to an hour to get through. Funny thing, though, someone recognized us from my wife's Cruise Critic avatar, and came up to us in line. When we got onto the ship, we went straight to our room, which was not ready yet. We waited until they opened the doors. Our room, when we got there, was huge compared to other ships we'd been on. We had an aft balcony room: 5185. The balcony was also huge compared to other balconies on the ship; I'd say about 15 feet by 15 feet. In fact, it was large enough to hold a small table and chairs, along with two lounge chairs. This was the first balcony room we've ever had, and I'd say that we are now spoiled. I'm sure that we will never have another like it again, especially since the Oosterdam is going to have a butt lift real soon, and will change all the rooms aft. Getting under way, it was cold, rainy, and dark. Regardless, we had our friends to our room to drink champagne as we sailed out of San Diego bay. At dinner that night, they started out right with some of the best prime rib I'd ever had. In fact, that was the best dish the entire trip. It was funny; we'd taken a Carnival cruise earlier this year and I remember the first dish on that cruise was a New York steak. That had been one of the worst steaks I'd ever had way overcooked. To compare that meal to this one, I'd felt like I'd come home. The first full day at sea, we spent some time on our balcony, and explored the ship. Also, we attended one of the cooking shows, the Dueling Salmons, with a guest host, a master sommelier with her own TV show, and her husband cooking salmon dishes side by side. Also that day, we went to the Cruise Critic meet and greet. It was nice of Holland America to provide champagne for the event. There we met Larry and Paul, a nice couple from California, who became our companions throughout the trip. After the meet and greet, we stopped by their room to check out what a deluxe suite looks like, as we'd never seen one. It was remarkable how much bigger it was, especially the bathroom. They then came over to our room, where we drank wine on our balcony all afternoon. That night was the first of two formal nights. That could have been a fiasco, because the friends, who had come with us on the trip, forgot their garment bag with their dress clothes. However, they were able to rent a suit coat on board for like 45 bucks, and borrowed a tie from me. In doing that, they could scrounge up dressy enough clothes for the formal nights. The next day, we were in Cabo San Lucas. Tendering was a pain in the butt. Between getting our tender tickets and touching land in Cabo, it took like an hour and a half. It did not help that the seas were a little rough, so boarding the tender boat was difficult. In Cabo, we took a glass bottom boat to lands end, followed by a trip to Cabo Wabo. Cabo Wabo, though a landmark everyone should see in Cabo, was very expensive. I think we spent about 40 bucks on three drinks and some nachos. The following day, we were in Mazatlan, where we rode horses on the beach. We highly recommend Randi's Happy Horses for people who wish to do that. The horses are well taken care of. Finally, rounding out the port stops, in Puerto Vallarta, we took a whale watching excursion. That was amazing. I was expecting to see one or two whales if we were lucky. No. We saw tons of whales, up close a personal. In fact, at one point we saw as many as six spouts whooshing in the air. The weather could not have been more perfect on our port days. Highs were in the mid-80s and the weather was sunny and clear. In fact, it was good on the sea days as well, other than the little bit of rain in San Diego when we left. Also, our last day at sea was a little rougher than the other days, but still not bad. Every night, after our excursions and after dinner, we'd stay up long after most people had gone to bed, and talked with Paul and Larry in the Ocean Bar, talking about the day's activities, listening to the soft ballroom music played by the band, mostly old jazz standards. As great of a time we had, all was not perfect. We had a terrible time with room service. Often times when we'd call, say after an afternoon nap on the balcony, thinking that we'd like a snack to hold us until dinner, they'd never pick up. Five, 10, 15, 20 minutes we'd wait and we'd stay on hold. Most of the time, we just gave up and went to the Lido. We had problems in the morning too. We'd stick our menu card on our door to deliver breakfast, and though they delivered on time, they'd always forget something, like coffee cream. They did that twice. One time, they forgot butter for the toast. Another time, they added sausage to the breakfast plate even though we did not order it. They never seemed to get it right. Forget calling them; they'd never pick up. That was frustrating. Late one night, right before bed, we went to fill out the breakfast card to find out, to our surprise, that it was already filled out with someone else's order. We called room service, who again never answered. We finally called the front desk. They apologized profusely said that they would deliver an empty card right away. We waited and waited and they never came. We actually fell asleep waiting. Finally, I woke up and called them again to tell them to forget it, that we were just going to bed. Whoever answered said that they would deliver it personally. When all was said and done, it took them like a hour to get us the card. We thought that maybe it was just us. However, the second to last day, we gave up on room service and went to the dining room for breakfast. There, we met some people and told them our plight with room service. They told us that they had ordered dinner the night before at 11:30 at night, and it had not been delivered until 2:30 in the morning. Outrageous. So much so was our frustration, we actually went to the front desk and complained. They had us fill out a comment card, which we did, outlining the issues. Let's face it; room service on the Oosterdam is just plain bad. For a cruise line that prides itself on service, there really is no excuse. It is funny because service on the rest of the ship was impeccable. Everyone greeted you with a smile. Your dinning room staff all knew you by name. In fact, we ate out on deck one night instead of going to the dining room, and the next day, when one of dining room attendants saw us, they said, Mr. so-and-so, we missed you at dinner last night. It was nice to be pampered. We went to the spa one evening, after our whale watching adventure, and they treated us like royalty (and quite frankly, it was well priced because it was a port day). Well, there was one other thing: We went to the Pinnacle Grill one night, and though the service was okay, it was not as good as it was in the dining room. They seemed to let our glasses get empty. Also, we brought a dessert wine to dinner, and despite asking for a wine steward to come over and open it a couple of times, we could not get anybody to open it. Finally, we got up and went to the bar to have somebody open it little details, but noticeable. Maybe it was a bad night, because the next night, our friends, Paul and Larry, went there and said the service was great. The food at the Pinnacle Grill was good. I had the lobster bisque and the bone-in rib eye, both excellent. My wife had the New York, but tasted my rib eye and thought that it was better. One thing that we did that I highly recommend is that we brought all our wine on board, about a case for the week. In fact, we brought a bottle to dinner each night. Corkage fees have gone up. The fee used to be 15 bucks and has now gone up to $18. As far as entertainment is concerned, most of the time, I feel that ship board entertainment is a bit cheesy aboard any ship. Generally, because of that, I find that funny is better than serious. We saw two shows, the Elton John impersonator, who was quite funny, and the magician, who was not. As a result, I liked the Elton John impersonator much better. One thing that was interesting, though, is that the magician had like three birds and two dogs on stage with him. I had this image the whole time of him in his tiny state room with all his animals, and that brought me some amusement. That really is about it for our trip. Disembarkation was easy. The line was long getting off the ship, but moved quite fast. We drove home that day. All in all, despite the minor service problems, it was a good trip. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
So this was our first time one HAL, and i was impressed with how easy embarkation was. we got there checked in and unbelievably we were the first ones on the ship, the room was not ready but we expected this, so off we went to the Lido for ... Read More
So this was our first time one HAL, and i was impressed with how easy embarkation was. we got there checked in and unbelievably we were the first ones on the ship, the room was not ready but we expected this, so off we went to the Lido for lunch. I have to say it was quite impressive all laid out in its finery, it never looked as good again. The food was tasty and we set out about to explore the ship. First stop was the Sea View bar, where we had a nice frosty beverage. Then off to the rest of the decks to get the lay of the land so to speak. For some reason the lower decks from the Promenade deck on down the hallways smells of rotting garbage or sewer, We thought that perhaps they were smells coming from the port. but the smells stayed on the lower decks for the duration of the cruise. Sail away was great and off we went to sunny Mexico, alas the cool weather followed us on our voyage, but hey we are on vacation so put on a sweater and call it good. Sunday was a full day at sea. Yeah, lets find something to do on this ship. humm wait, usually we have to decide from many different activities ongoing at the same time, but on this cruise unless I really wanted to learn photo shop there was really nothing going on. Oh no, well, guess we can lounge by the pool or catch a movie. The popcorn was great by the way. We were really looking forward to Monday cruising the Bahia Magdelena for whale watching, but the Captain had informed us that some passengers were critically ill and we had to jam boogie to Cabo to get the people off. Thank goodness all is well with them we were informed. Mazatlan: the weather still had not really warmed up and it was cool and drizzly in this port for the fist part of the morning and then the sun came out and for the rest of the week. Sail away was 45 minutes late as we had to wait for some passengers to arrive. Then it was off to Puerto Vallarta, if you ever get there is is beautiful, we did the Yelapa excursion and had the time of our lives!!!!! Cabo was beautiful as well. The pro's of this cruise were: excellent room stewards Windia and Made Neptune Lounge, Michelle and Essay. They completely took care of my husbands tuxedo issued with cruise line formal wear. In fact the Neptune far exceeded the other concierge services on the other cruise lines that we have been on. Our room, very spacious and large balcony food was good, better than most cruise lines promenade deck, you can walk all the way around Gym was well equipped Crows nest.. fabulous views Con: the smell in the lower decks.. kept us away Ships activities not a good variety, at least for us. We struggled to find thing to do, besides hang out at the bars. (well that could be a pro as well) Bar prices were higher than on most ships Couch in room was uncomfortable but the chairs were comfy No ships info channel with GPS tracking( there was a map on deck 3) So the question is would would we cruise Hal again? Maybe but after we get older ( we are 50 now). it seemed geared towards an older clientele. The service was Outstanding! Embarkation, at least for early embarkation was disorganized but we got off in plenty of time to arrive at the airport. So for us this cruise was like a slice of white bread. Good but not exceptional either. It was a cruise no more no less. and at the end of the day we had a good time and a nice vacation. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We arrived in San Diego a couple of days early to enjoy a four star hotel booked through Priceline. It was a bargain, and the time spent in San Diego was almost as enjoyable as the cruise. The cruise terminal was a short cab ride from our ... Read More
We arrived in San Diego a couple of days early to enjoy a four star hotel booked through Priceline. It was a bargain, and the time spent in San Diego was almost as enjoyable as the cruise. The cruise terminal was a short cab ride from our hotel. This was our third cruise out of San Diego on the Oosterdam. There were a large number of senior citizens on this cruise, including us (my wife and I are at the "lower" end of "senior"). We like the quieter atmosphere that goes with an older group of passengers, although, for some reason, this cruise appeared to have more walkers, scooters and wheelchairs than our previous voyages on the Oosterdam. That tends to slow down traffic just a bit. Each cruise on the Oosterdam has been very enjoyable. The ship is still in very nice shape, although it is showing a few signs of wear in places, such as some of the carpeting. The crew is friendly and attentive. Our room stewards were great, and our dining room steward was the best. The bedding in our room was excellent; very comfortable. Embarkation was a breeze; we arrived at around 11:30 and were on the ship by noon. Our cabin, a mini-suite on the Upper Verandah deck, was ready by about 1:45. That gave us time to enjoy a light lunch on the Lido deck. After two nice days at sea we docked in Mazatlan. Having been in Mazatlan twice before, we decided to spend the day on the ship and booked a day in the thermal suite. Upon showing up to use the spa, we found that the ship had gone into Code Red due to an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness among the passengers and crew. The thermal suite was shut down for the rest of the cruise, so we got a full refund. They also shut down the hot tubs on board. From that point on, extraordinary steps were taken to prevent spread of the illness. We were basically not allowed to dish up any food ourselves, were not allowed to touch anything in the shops without rubber gloves and constantly were washing and using hand sanitizer. We and our traveling companions made it through the cruise without getting ill and it only put a slight damper on our overall activities. In Puerto Vallarta we took the mini-4x4 adventure. It was fun, although extremely dusty. A word of caution to contact lens wearers wear glasses or very good goggles on the tour. The Yamaha Rhinos were easy and fun to drive, although they did not appear to be very well maintained. The tour went through back roads, small villages and dry stream beds on a circuitous route from and back to hacienda Dona Engracia (which is also where the Town, Country and Tequila, and the Mini-ATV tours go). In Cabo, we took the Discover Todos Santos tour. It was enjoyable, although I wouldn't do it again. The bus drive is about an hour and a half to get there and the town itself was not that impressive. Lunch at the Hotel California was quite good. Our guide, Marco, did a very good job of describing the geography and history of the area. We tipped him well. Our last sea day was enjoyable and the disembarkation was very quick and efficient. As with our past cruises, the meals were excellent, both in the dining room and the Pinnacle Grill. Service was excellent overall. We probably won't cruise the Mexican Riviera again, at least for quite some time. There was a noticeable increase in armed troops and police in each port. We did feel safe, but after three visits we have no strong desire to see the Mexican Riviera again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
San Diego was incredibly convenient as an embarkation city. The proximity of the airport and the cruise terminal and the wide range of transportation options made it a breeze to get from airport to ship. We arrived the afternoon before ... Read More
San Diego was incredibly convenient as an embarkation city. The proximity of the airport and the cruise terminal and the wide range of transportation options made it a breeze to get from airport to ship. We arrived the afternoon before our cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn right across from the cruise terminal - highly recommended. We wished we would have arrived earlier in the day to enjoy all that the San Diego wharf front has to offer - the USS Midway, maritime museum, etc are all right there in easy walking distance. The elephant and castle bar at the hotel was worth the visit and had a nice assortment of beers on tap. Embarkation was reasonably efficient. We had pre-registered on line and it took approximately 40 minutes from our initial arrival at noon to when we boarded the ship. We chose the late dinner seating(8pm)in the Vista lounge and were seated with 4 new friends who we enjoyed getting to know for the rest of the cruise. The food was above average, as was the service. The soups were excellent - and we are not really big soup fans. We had 2 servers for our table that we shared with several other tables. Those guys worked hard every evening to get it right for their diners. By day 2 they had our names down which was nice to be called by name. Since we had the late seating, we'd slip by the Lido buffet around 6PM every evening for a sneak (snack) preview of the dinner entrees and soups. Entertainment - we don't cruise for the shows but we did enjoy Derrick the comic and Charlie at the Piano Bar. Both very talented and crowd friendly. Derrick had some very funny material and connected extremely well with the wide range of people in the audience. Charlie was a lot of fun also, great on the piano and had everyone involved. We also joined in for the last wine tasting event. The Master Somm, Randall was very knowledgeable and we enjoyed learning some new wines we would not have tried on our own. The gym and fitness center was well equipped. We attended the seminar on body detox and diet. It was worth the time and we learned a lot. Tyrone and Hevin are two of the trainers - both will work you just as hard a you want and were great additions to the gym - good job, HAL in hiring these guys - they make your gym! We also signed up for the Thermal Spa which had to be closed on day 3 after the break out of the N Virus. The thermal spa was ok, not sure it was worth the price unless you are really a spa person. We enjoyed the thermal pool for the 2 days it was open but would have preferred to have had a fully functioning steam room, hot tub and dry sauna. They seemed to struggle slightly here in keeping these rooms up and working at the right temperature. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Embarkation in San Diego was a breeze. We upgraded the week prior to an SA suite through our travel agent so that accounts for a bit of speed. (Bargain upgrade) We had 3 people in an SA suite and it was fantastic. Large suites with HUGE ... Read More
Embarkation in San Diego was a breeze. We upgraded the week prior to an SA suite through our travel agent so that accounts for a bit of speed. (Bargain upgrade) We had 3 people in an SA suite and it was fantastic. Large suites with HUGE veranda and amenities. Largest bathroom I've ever seen & plenty of closet space. Neptune lounge access was fantastic. Other perks were good buy with only 3 ports in Mexico the priority tendering and such was not a big deal. Crew was fantastic and were very accommodating when my mother was a bit queasy the first evening on rather rough seas. Cabin stewards were wonderful & the new bedding on HAL is great. Wonderful weather on our trip so much time in the sun. Lots of areas to escape onboard including the library when its a bit chilly outside. Spa & fitness center are great and massage was well worth it. Food was good overall. Wonderful seafood. The lido eatery is a bit chaotic but food is pretty good. Pinnacle grill is very good & our SA level let us have breakfast there each day which was fantastic. A few sketchy meals and the last evening dinner with dining room staff celebration was not impressive. Salad was terrible & baked alaska was more like a Foaming Rhode Island. Ports were good. Mazatlan leaves a bit to be desired but a climb to the lighthouse on a sunny morning is great. PV was nice and the scuba diving was a bit chilly but worth it. Cabo is the best with sun & wonderful restaurants and beaches. Furniture & carpets were a bit worn and Oosterdam is headed for a refurb this spring. Wonderful ship & crew so we would search out this class of HAL ship for a European cruise. Huge bargain to Mexico for 7 days. If you can swing the SA suite it makes it even better. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
My husband and I had a wonderful, relaxing trip to the Mexican Riviera on the Oosterdam.  We took the February 21-28 cruise that stops for two hours in Bahia Magdalena to watch whales and other marine life.  We chose this cruise ... Read More
My husband and I had a wonderful, relaxing trip to the Mexican Riviera on the Oosterdam.  We took the February 21-28 cruise that stops for two hours in Bahia Magdalena to watch whales and other marine life.  We chose this cruise specifically for the whale watching.  We are in our early 50s and this was our fifth cruise; second time on Holland America.  Even an outbreak of the norovirus did not spoil the cruise for us.  The staff took every precaution to stop the spread of disease while serving us in style.We arrived by car from Riverside on Saturday and used the Park & Go lot with an online coupon. (We paid $49 for the week.) The shuttle driver kindly took us back to our car when we realized we had forgotten our cell phone. Embarkation took a total of 25 minutes: 5 minutes to check in and 20 minutes to wait until it was our turn to board. The port facility is not very pleasant. Aboard the ship we headed straight to the Lido buffet, which was very crowded. It was frustrating going from station to station to get what we wanted, and we did not have a tray to put things on, so we kept having to go back. We finally found an empty table outside by the pool, but we had to put up with smokers all around us. The food was quite good, but the beverage glasses were tiny and we kept going back for refills. After lunch we explored the ship and then relaxed in our room until the lifeboat drill. HAL takes this drill very seriously, and they are efficient about it. Our luggage was not delivered until 5pm. We had a "fully obstructed view," but in fact only about half of the view was obstructed with pulleys and hydraulics for lowering a lifeboat. Once we saw a man working on the equipment outside of our window. The room was well-lit and comfortable, but there was only one decent chair for the two of us. The bathroom was a good size for a cruise ship, but this was a handicapped room (even though we are not handicapped). The problem with the room is the lack of drawer space, other than very small drawers at the sides of the bed. Also, our large suitcase had to stand in a corner rather than in the closet so that our clothes would not get crushed. The temperature control was touchy; it took us two days to get the room at just the right setting, and then the temperature kept changing anyway! The two days at sea at the beginning of the cruise got a bit boring. We took a Spanish class both days and went to afternoon tea (always a good experience). We walked around the Promenade Deck for exercise along with many other people. We also used the only two elliptical machines in the gym. We spent reading, doing crossword puzzles, and lounging around. We spent a good portion of each day eating. The Lido buffet food was very good, but we got tired of constantly getting up for beverages, dessert, etc. On the "at sea" days the buffet was quite crowded for breakfast and lunch. Once we had lunch in the dining room to escape the crowds and noise, and the food there was excellent. dinner in the dining room was excellent each night, and most of the time (but not always) the portions were generous. Appetizers and salads were excellent, but the soups were sometimes skimpy on ingredients. Desserts were excellent, except that the ice cream was always half melted by the time it arrived. (Even at the buffet the ice cream was melting when we got it.) Dinner was leisurely; it took 90 minutes to 2 hours for us to finish a meal each night. Some nights we had problems getting our beverages refilled. Overall, though, dining was an enjoyable experience. One night we had an outstanding meal with great service at the Pinnacle Grill. This was definitely the smoothest cruise we've been on out of five. The whale watching from 7am-9am on Monday was enjoyable, but this is NOT a photo opportunity. We often saw spouting water and tails at a distance, and one gray whale swam close enough to the ship for us to see its mottled back. We also saw porpoises leaping out of the water and a sea lion swimming by, but again at a distance. If you want to get closer, you have to pay for an excursion on a smaller boat. The norovirus broke out early on our cruise. We were informed right away, and the staff took extra precautions. We were no longer able to dish up our own food from the buffet, and we could not check out DVDs. All common items were taken off the tables at meals (salt and pepper, etc.) We were reminded constantly to wash our hands and use the hand sanitizer. One of the people at our dinner table for six came down with the virus and was confined to his room for most of the cruise. But his wife never got it, and she kept joining us for dinner. None of the rest of us got sick. Each day we were informed about the progress of the disease. About 100 people (out of 1800) came down with it; apparently many of them had cabins in the same area of the ship. When our cruise ended we discovered that the media had blown the outbreak all out of proportion and were even reporting false information about our cruise. We are cheapskates when it comes to shore excursions. On Tuesday in Mazatlan we just took a cab to the cathedral (beautiful inside), walked through the interesting market, and looked at the Peralta Theater. After a couple hours we returned to the ship. On Wednesday in Puerto Vallarta we had a lot more fun. We took a cab to the cathedral (worth a visit), and we enjoyed walking along the Malecon looking at the statues and the intricate sand sculptures. We had a nice Mexican lunch at La Chala along the Malecon and were serenaded by musicians. There are some very good, reasonable shops in the area. Then we took the cab back to the Wal-Mart by the port and bought some souvenirs. Next to Wal-Mart is a modern shopping mall. On Thursday in Cabo San Lucas we paid for the HAL shore excursion that was a boat ride to El Arco and then a bus trip to an overlook. It was very hot that day (probably 100 degrees), and we stood around for 45 minutes before we were herded onto a boat. The boat ride and the views were wonderful great photo opportunity. But by the time we got back to shore, we had no interest in going to the overlook restaurant. We and several others chose just to go back to the ship at that point. (I wish we had just gone to shore and found a cheap boat ride in the first place, instead of paying the inflated price for a HAL shore excursion.) Tendering was a fast and easy process for us. Friday, the final day at sea, got a bit boring for us, but that was o.k. because we could rest up before returning to work. Entertainment on the ship was pretty good. The singers and dancers were talented, but the show itself was uninspiring. The Olympic gymnast was very entertaining and fun to watch. The magician was also quite good and humorous. I was hoping to see the Elton John impersonator, but he was not on our cruise. Disembarkation was fast and easy. Then we stood around at the port for about half an hour waiting for our shuttle to the parking lot. We did feel like the young people on this cruise. The average age must have been in the 60s. At times I got tired of hearing pre-rock 'n roll music in the lounges (e.g. Frank Sinatra). Occasionally I heard some Rolling Stones, but the piped-in music never seemed to get beyond the 1960s. The upside of having an older clientele is that people are very polite to each other and know how to make conversation. Also, it didn't hurt my ego to feel young for a change. Overall, we like Holland America cruises. In fact, we booked our next cruise while we were on this one. We're impressed by their professionalism and their class. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our 2nd time on the Oosterdam, our 6th HAL cruise and over our 30th cruise overall. We live in southern CA, so this was an easy trip for us. We drove to the ship in San Diego and mainly went for the cruise experience, as ... Read More
This was our 2nd time on the Oosterdam, our 6th HAL cruise and over our 30th cruise overall. We live in southern CA, so this was an easy trip for us. We drove to the ship in San Diego and mainly went for the cruise experience, as we've done this run several times before, including 24 months ago exactly on this same Thanksgiving Oosterdam sailing. This review will deal mainly with the ship and cruise experience and not the ports or itinerary, as they were not of great interest to us. This should have been a great cruise and ended up being merely a good one. We were disappointed by several aspects of it, as I will explain. I will begin by saying how disappointed we were to BE disappointed. We love HAL and the Oosterdam and were very excited to be doing this holiday cruise again. Previous HAL experiences have been so positive we expected more of the same. The good.... She's a beautiful, elegant, well maintained ship with gorgeous teak decks, lots of open space, comfortable cabins and great beds. The Explorations Lounge is a wonderful place to hang out, the screening room is luxurious and reeks of leather although it is too small. The Pinnacle Room is an excellent alternative restaurant. The gym is well equipped. The kids club did a fantastic job and kept our 8 year old daughter entertained all cruise long. The pools are lovely and the retractable roof is a real plus in cold weather. The crew are happy and friendly for the most part. We had a suite and could not have asked for a better cabin. We loved everything about it and it's spacious balcony, as well as the Neptune Club access it afforded us. We had a nice Cruise Critic meeting with the hotel manager and food services director and a lovely suites luncheon with the captain. We had two marvelous meals in the Pinnacle Grill. So what went wrong???? The day we boarded gave the first hint of trouble. We went to the Lido for lunch only to find it overwhelmed and packed, with fruit trays empty, no cutlery on tables, no chopsticks for sushi, just signs of chaos and lack of control. Bags took a long time in being delivered and there were piles of suitcases in the deck elevator areas with stressed crew wondering how to deal with them. Dining Reservations staff were clueless and could offer very few available times for reservations. Someone, somewhere made some major screw ups on this particular voyage. There were many problems with the dining room service and delays in getting seated and served in As You Wish Dining, as well as making reservations for dinner. We learned there was a large crew change-over as the cruise began and some waiters were clearly unfamiliar with the location of tables. Others seemed to lack training and finesse. We ate early but heard many complaints from others who waited for long periods of time later in the evening. Some people gave up on the dining room altogether and fled to the Lido buffet for their evening meals. Despite being in a suite we struggled to get reservations for when we wanted in the dining room and Pinnacle within two hours of boarding. It was a challenge getting someone to even answer the phone and eventually we gave up and had the Neptune concierge do it for us. As You Wish Dining was more a case of When We Say dining. This was a holiday cruise and the ship was packed with families and 370 kids under the age of 18. The kids club was well prepared for it and the staff were excellent. The dining room staff simply seemed overwhelmed, overworked and understaffed. Having cruised so much, I try very hard not to find fault with each trip and to give some slack where possible but too many little things went wrong on this trip and it all added up to one big mess. I decided to write this review after the second formal night dinner, which really was indicative of much of what was wrong with this trip. Thanksgiving itself was not a formal night, which was a shock in itself. Another mistake, frankly, by some idiot designing dinner menus for 7 day voyages with no clue about important holiday dates. The second formal night was the night before, on the Wednesday. We found ourselves at dinner shortly before 6PM and ended up with a waiter who never introduced himself and gave out menus and took orders before even filling our water glasses. I don't how he ever made it out of waiter school. We ordered milk for our daughter which never arrived. Her two courses both arrived at exactly the same time as my appetizers and both her courses and both my two appetizers were all placed on the table in front of us (Table 195, HAL, and I hope you're reading....). At that point I realized this was not going to be anything like five star service and requested the bread basket because it clearly wasn't coming otherwise, and decided which appetizer to begin first. Hubby's two soups also arrived together and both bowls were put in front of him at the same time. I hoped the head waiter would stop by that evening but he never did, or else I would have said something. Things never improved. The water glasses were never refilled, the three desserts Hubby and I split all came together, tea was never offered and we left extremely disappointed with the entire experience. It was more like a coffee shop than an elegant dining experience. We ate Thanksgiving dinner in the buffet the following night. The Lido was one of the bright spots on the ship and was well staffed and maintained throughout. Breakfasts were good and the made to order omelettes were superb every day. The waffle line was another problem area, with one waffle maker for the entire ship, which meant an an average wait of 20 minutes in line for a fresh waffle. Apparently, the other machines were broken and would be ready by the time we returned to San Diego. I would have been more sympathetic to this had I not been given the exact same story the last time I was on the Oosterdam 2 years ago at the same time of year and there was only one waffle machine in operation then too. The ship ran out of HAL tote bags to give out on Day 3. Explorations ran out of coffee cards on Day 4. Again, replenishments were promised when we returned to San Diego. This was a ship with poor management and leadership and a lot of very frustrated, fed up passengers who did not understand why the Oosterdam didn't have its act together. One of our fellow Cruise Critic travelers (we met at a small but lovely meet and greet on Day 2) was invited to a meeting with other select passengers and staff to discuss the voyage and how things had done wrong and she passed along many of my comments at that meeting. Apparently the management said they were completely overwhelmed by the number of kids on board, although I don't know why. It wasn't unexpected and the kids club was well prepared for this Thanksgiving trip and the number of families on board. It was agreed that having a large crew change-over at the start of a packed holiday cruise wasn't the best idea in the world and it was acknowledged that service simply was not up to the usual high HAL standards. The really sad thing here is not the frequent, loyal cruisers that HAL pissed off with their ineptitude and poor planning, because we'll probably take a break from HAL and then return again, but that first time cruisers will be turned off by what they saw as the basic inability to run a decent ship and won't give HAL another chance. I wish I could say this was a great cruise, but unfortunately, the best I can say is that it was a good one and there is much room for improvement. Christmas decorations were coming on board as we disembarked and I hope for families traveling on Christmas sailings that HAL and the Oosterdam have got their act together by then for everyone's sake. My husband remarked that it was a good thing we were not sailing with HAL at Christmas after this sorry excuse for a holiday cruise and are going with Princess instead. Things can only improve on the Oosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Enjoyed the cruse, nothing spectacular but definitely relaxing. My wife and I booked this cruise when Holland America was advertising great rates in the summer. We came down to San Diego three days early and stayed at the Holliday Inn on ... Read More
Enjoyed the cruse, nothing spectacular but definitely relaxing. My wife and I booked this cruise when Holland America was advertising great rates in the summer. We came down to San Diego three days early and stayed at the Holliday Inn on the Bay. Great choice, they pick you up at the airport and have their own shuttle route for guests that takes you to all the local attractions on a timely schedule. This meant that I didn't need to rent a car which saved some money for my wife to use while shopping. The cruise terminal is right across the road for a very easy embarkation. Boarding the ship was by far the easiest I have ever experienced. We waited till two to walk over to the terminal and then proceeded to almost just walk on to the ship. We were in our cabin in less than ten minutes. We booked an open category hoping for an upgrade, we didn't receive one but the cabin we ended up with was very roomy. We were placed on deck one near the bow, this is the lowest and closest to the front of the ship of any of the cabins we have had before. I was worried that we might feel the movement of the ship more but it wasn't a problem. I only found the walk to the dining room or the long elevator rides a little bothersome. We had cruised on the ms Zuiderdam last winter so we knew where everything would be on her sister ship. The service from the staff was exemplarily as usual, I only found the constant requests to purchase drinks around the pool to be irksome. There were a lot more families on board this cruise than I am generally use to but it wasn't like being on a Carnival cruise as everyone was having a good time without disturbing fellow passengers. The ports were ok but nothing special, we had chosen this cruise because we were sick of doing the Caribbean, I was hoping the ports would be less Diamonds International and more authentic Mexican. It wasn't. Mazatlan was the most authentic Mexican of the ports we visited and Porto Vallarta the most "Americanized". Cabo San Lucas was a nice place to walk around; the tendering off the ship could have been done better though. The loading and unloading of the tenders was done in such a way that it took about three times longer than it should have. The waters were fairly calm but they kept stopping the loading at the ship because they only tied the bow and used the engines to keep it close to the loading platform. This meant the tender would drift too far from the platform to safely load it. For a cruise line that has a distinctly older clientele this would make the loading take over a half an hour per tender. It could have been done in ten minutes if they had attached a line to the stern. The same thing happened in port at the marina in dead calm waters while unloading. This meant that we didn't get ashore till noon when we had started to try to disembark at nine in the morning. I found that the day was basically wasted as we had to be back on board by 4:30 and the wait to re-board was slow also. The food in the main Vista dining room was good as always, I don't know where the previous reviewer was eating but crème brule was on the menu. And it was good. The only real complaint I have is the disembarkment process. On all the previous cruises (including HAL cruises) a time ticket was issued and you were either told to stay in your cabin till your colour was called or you were told to come down to the theatre at a specific time to wait for you time to be called. We had the expedited ticket as we prefer to take our own luggage off when we leave. The time was for 8:15 so at about 8:10 we emerged from our cabin to walk into a line halfway down the ship. No times were called and everyone just decided to try to leave all at once. Some people who were in line behind us were starting to panic at about nine when we had moved about ten feet and they had a plane to catch at 10:30. The lady left her party and made her way to the desk to have someone from the ships personnel help them get off. I hope they made their flight but I doubt it. The organization needs some help. All and all the cruise was good, the food was well prepared and the amenities were satisfactory. Would I recommend this cruise, definitely. If you are looking for a nice relaxing time with a familiar cruising experience then this is for you. It was a better than average vacation that could use a little massaging to make it a great time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Let me start off saying that is was my 15th cruise and my first time with Holland America. I traveled with my brother and our cousins, all of us in our late 40's and early 50's I will start my review with embarkation: ... Read More
Let me start off saying that is was my 15th cruise and my first time with Holland America. I traveled with my brother and our cousins, all of us in our late 40's and early 50's I will start my review with embarkation: Embarkation: embarkation was swift and efficient. When it was time to take a welcome aboard picture, I notice that there was just a blank green screen..which i guess they super impose a background be behind the passenger during the developing process. Once on board we were warmly welcomed. Our rooms were not ready so we had the option to check our carry on luggage in a lounge room.We then proceeded to have lunch on lido deck. On our way there i notice the main atrium.I must say that I was disappointed with the main atrium, It was not as big and extravagant as other ships I have been on. Cabins - Cabin size definitely on the small side. Only one person at a time can be in that narrow hallway where the bathroom and clothes closet is located. Balcony was average. My brother and I traveled with our cousins and their cabin was next door, so we were able to open the divider and share one big balcony. The location of our cabin was fantastic, we were located mid-ship right next to the elevator banks and stairwell, i was concerned about the foot traffic noise, but happy to report that there was NO Noise..easy access to elevators and stairwell, comes in handy when you are dog tired after an shore excursion or having an late evening. Dining- The food quality was a little above average,however, personally I was disappointed that escargot was not on the menu, I look forward to that delicacy when I cruise...We had open sitting, I know most people say that this feature did not work for them having a extensive wait period,however we went down to dinner around 6:30pm and we had little to no wait. Getting back to the food it was pretty good. We found out that the Lido buffet deck pretty much served the same menu that the main dining room served. Also I like to know what was the deal of no music playing while dining in the restaurant, all you heard was the chatter of fellow diners and the rumbling sounds of the ships engine, again WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?? Entertainment- It was ok...I've seen better and experienced better. Again this cruise line caters to an older crowd, so it's a little slow pace, However I'm 51 years old I don't want constant disco, but a little more action than a string quartet. three piece band, slow piano player. Where is the Karaoke, passenger talent shows ? Let's not under estimate the elderly, some of them want their hearts to be jumped started : ) New Years eve party reminded me of the days when I use to watch the Lawrence Welk show or Guy Lombardo..kind of sad, went straight to the room 5min after the party. I expected to at least retire 30min to 1hr after the party..Other than that other activities included Bingo, The Marriage game, different Trivia games, slot tournaments, and loads of health seminars,and culinary seminars on how to fold napkins and set tables, oh yeah there was a mixology class how to make drinks a $12.00 charge to sample the wares. Ports: First we had to make an medical emergency stop for 3 passengers at Cabo San Lucas, we all got nervous because we thought that there was an H1N1 scare, but the Captain advised that this was not the case,these passengers had experienced cardiac arrest and internal bleeding. Once we dropped them off we continued to our first port which was Mazatlan....Mazatlan was ok 2nd port Puerta Vallarta..Fantastic,take the Puerta Vallarta discovery Tour, this takes you around town, shopping, and to a non working Tequila factory, you get to sample the tequila's.. OLE'. I would wait to get the Tequila in town,the factory is a little expensive. By the way before we pulled out, an ambulance had to come to the ship,for there was a 4th passenger that got sick..IT is what it is. : ( 3rd Port- Cabo San Lucas Great place..we took a water taxi for $10.00 pp over to "Lands End" great tour over to those big rocks and over to Lovers Beach. Service: Great service from our cabin steward(Sam) to Dan the coffee guy who walks around the starboard side on the lido deck serving coffee..a must see, he is fabulous..so If you are having breakfast or lunch up on the lido deck, please,please check out or ask for Dan the coffee guy you won't believe your ears. BATHROBES..here is my gripe..Holland America gives you complimentary bathrobes in your stateroom to wear while cruising...But does that mean you wear your robe all over the ship? including to the Vista Lounge at a show???,WHAT ARE THEY NUTS??? WOULD YOU WEAR A BATHROBE TO A BROADWAY SHOW??? OR WOULD ONE WEAR A BATHROBE IN THE MAIN ATRIUM? OR TO THE BUFFET??? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH SOCIETY NOW DAYS...by the way, there were two people who wore the Holland America bathrobes to an evening show, to tell you the truth I'm not sure if they had anything on under those robes, it was kind of scary. The only places those robes should be worn is at the Spa Salon, pool side and IN YOUR STATEROOM !!!. Come on guys gives us a break . Disembarkation: Relatively Smooth. Conclusion: A different experience for me, never experience so many passengers that needed to be escorted off due to illness. The service on the ship was well done. Food so so. Accomodation, average. Location, fantastic. Cleanliness, superb most clean ship I have been on. Would I go back on the Cruise line? probably not,maybe when I'm much older.: ) On my way to Hawaii now on the American Pride, wish me luck :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I really appreciate reading reviews of other people and figured it was my turn to give back. I hope this helps someone else as they are deciding to have reasonable expectations and thus a good experience. We had semi-high hopes when we ... Read More
I really appreciate reading reviews of other people and figured it was my turn to give back. I hope this helps someone else as they are deciding to have reasonable expectations and thus a good experience. We had semi-high hopes when we read that Holland America is considered "luxury cruising", so this review is an attempt to see if they lived up to that billing. We sailed from San Diego to the traditional Mexican Riviera on Jan 9, '10. Embarkation was fairly quick and an easy process. I don't think the ship was full. We were pleased with the lunch buffet when we first arrived on board. We purchased a "guaranteed veranda" and the HA agent promised we would be "upgraded". I'd hate to see what we would have gotten if we did not have that promise! The room was pretty small but it was not as small as other ships we have been on of the same category. The bathroom was a good size with a very nice shower set up. There was plenty of creative storage for 7 days. All around it would have been good except for one issue...our room was terribly dirty, grimy with smudges and diry finger prints everywhere. The bathroom floor was even dirty! Knowing how busy the first day can be, I took a wash cloth with some hand sanitizer and spent 20 minutes wiping everything down, including the bathroom floor. I could not believe the amount of dirt that I was able to clean up with just some wiping. Everything cleaned up fairly easily so it was not just that the cabin was "old", which it is! It was just plain dirty. Later, I heard another person say they actually called to have their room cleaned before they settled in. We went down later that day to tell the first desk how we found the room and she mentioned that others had complained about our area too. But it didn't seem to make any difference throughout the cruise! The cleaning of the room, the timelyness, the mirrors and floor was the worst job I have every seen, except for some old cheap motels I used to stay in while in college! :( Then to top it off, we did not get our room made up the first a.m. until I finally called to request it at about 1:00pm. The 2nd day I had to call again, this time at 11am. Throughout the week we had streaks on the mirrors and the windows never did get cleaned on the inside! We never did actually mneet our cabin staff & it was the first time I wanted to withhold a tip but my husband is too nice to do that! Instead I wrote a detailed report to turn in on the questionnaire, which I had to go ask for twice because it was never delivered, as it was supposed to be the last day. Now to the rest of the cruise...The entertainment was OK. The singer-dancers were satisfactory but there were several other programs that were very good such as magic and comedy acts. The schedule was full with lots of things to do, such as short classes. The food was decent for 7 days but I would have tired of it for anything more than a week. There was a lot of variety on the buffet and the dining service was OK. (Our waiter spilled a dish on one of the guests the first night and the 2nd night mixed up our dishes!) The staff was a mixed level of friendliness. Some were great, pleasant, smiling, chatty. Some did not make eye contact and turned away at times they could have been helpful & engaging. One thing I really appreciated... they did not push drinks, shore excursions, shopping, etc. There was an area "expert" and those talks were helpful to us! There were two walking paths and lots of walkers. The pools were too cool to swim and the thermal pool was way too expensive for most people. I saw only two people using that pool ever! The steam sauna was broken with no promise as to when it would be repaired. The gym was modern and well equipped. They had a nice movie theater with very comfortable chairs but it was small and filled quickly. The afternoon tea was nice, although not well advertised. This is an old ship that needs refurbishing. There are a few small areas that have been redone and they are lovely, such as the computer classroom area. I took one class and it was very good. But in general the ship, especially the cabins need to be rehabbed. If you want a quick (7 day) relaxing trip, this is probably a good options but go with expectations of "luxury cruising" at a very low level and you will probably be satisfied! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was our second cruise. Our first cruise was with NCL's Pearl to Alaska so I will constantly be making comparisons. There was a long line to check in at the SD Harbor as two ships were loading passengers. However, the line moved ... Read More
This was our second cruise. Our first cruise was with NCL's Pearl to Alaska so I will constantly be making comparisons. There was a long line to check in at the SD Harbor as two ships were loading passengers. However, the line moved pretty quickly. We were quite unimpressed with the staff (not sure if they were cruise ship staff or port staff) because they directed us, with our luggage, to the wrong place at first but things got sorted out pretty soon and we were soon on our ship and being directed to have lunch at the Lido Buffet as our staterooms were not ready. We were not very impressed with the buffet. My husband and I eat mostly vegetables, fruits and fish. I occasionally eat chicken or other meat so we found the Asian section pretty quickly and helped ourselves to sushi. There were about 8-10 types of fish and vegie sushi rolls. They were ok. Modest sizes, nothing to rave about. There were two meat dishes cooking in the skillet that we did not help ourselves to. I helped myself to some curried Asian noodles, which I liked very much. We would find out that the HAL NEVER changes the lunch menu at the Lido buffet so you see the same thing day in and day out. When we were on the NCL, we noticed that they changed the buffet menu every single day, which was nice. We got to try different dishes even though we have a limited diet and we never got tired of eating the same thing. The wait staff at the Lido were Indonesian. Since I was born and raised in Malaysia, I very quickly struck up a conversation with them in broken Malay. I haven't spoken much Malay for the last 22 years that I've lived in the US and Canada so it was fun to practice Malay again and it was nice to be around a crew that came from a place close to my hometown. The two waiters we got to know very well at the Lido Buffet were Dan and Bagous. They were very warm and friendly, very talkative and helpful. They were always working. They had to be working 16 or more hours a day and they work 7 days a week for an 11 month stretch. Both had left their families behind in order to support them and make a better life for them. Our staterooms were ready pretty soon and we were surprised how absolutely large and spacious it was compared to the NCL. There was plenty of storage and the bathroom was gigantic with a full bath! The amenities were great: luxury Elemis soaps, bath gels, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, shower cap. Two luxurious robes. The NCL has tiny staterooms and tiny bathrooms and they did not provide as many amenities. Instead of soap, they had liquid soap and shampoo and no conditioner, no shower cap, no lotion, no robes. So we definitely liked this room far better than NCL. Our stateroom stewards, Tommy and Soli, were excellent. They were extremely unobtrusive and said little but they always seemed to know when we were out and they cleaned our room very well. They never forgot a single thing! I wish I could pack them home with me for life! There were two chairs, a large footrest and a small table on the balcony and it was a large, spacious balcony with walls on both sides for privacy. The safety drill was a joke. Rather disorganized. None of the passengers had to wear the safety vest. The NCL ran the drill like the army!! They really took it seriously! We soon found out that there aren't as many restaurants on this ship compared to the NCL. The Vista Dining Room is the main dining room and you can have all three meals here with waiters to serve you. Canaletto's Restaurant is an Italian restaurant beside the Lido. The Vista, Canaletto's and Lido are included in the cruise. So is the Terrace Grill and Ice Cream Bar in the Lido. Room service is complementary (no surcharge) and that's a wonderful thing. NCL charges for room service. The Pinnacle Grill is the most elegant restaurant and you have to pay a surcharge to dine there. Since we usually don't eat meat, we did not go there. The menu in the Vista DR changes daily for lunch and dinner, which is nice. The Lido has the same menu as the Vista for dinner, which isn't great as there were nights I would have preferred to eat something else other than what was on the menu of the Vista. I quickly got very tired of eating fish fillets American style. I would have had chicken but they only offered white meat and I don't like white meat. The dining staff at the Vista were extraordinary! They were the best wait staff we've ever, ever had, anywhere! The first night, Tengku (Mr. T) and Lukman were our servers. They would be our servers most of the time throughout the cruise (even for breakfasts and lunches) because we asked specifically to be put at their tables. They were extremely attentive to every detail and very funny. They were always busy but they always took time to spend time with us and made sure that our needs were taken care of. As soon as Lukman found out that Earl had a nut allergy, he informed the kitchen. When they learned I was from Malaysia, they presented us, one night, with an Indonesian meal, which is very much like Malaysian food. I was delighted and it was the best cruise meal I've ever had. It's also been 5-6 years since I've had Malaysian food. What we didn't like about dining at the Vista was the lack of tables for two. My husband and I do not enjoy socializing with others. One night, when we requested a table for 2, we were seated at a table for 2 BUT with a table for 4 stuck right beside it so it basically became a table for 6! Another night, we had to wait 30 mins for a table for 2 even though we had reservations. Canaletto's Restaurant is excellent with great food and staff. We ordered room service once for breakfast and once for dinner. Service was on time and excellent. We actually liked the dinner room service menu very much. The Thai vegetarian wraps were delicious! We were not very impressed with the entertainment. The dancing and singing troupe were not very entertaining. We went to two shows and skipped the third, in favor of a movie in the screening room. The screening room is very comfortable but dangerous. We saw two people fall, one heavily. A third person almost fell. HAL needs to make changes to the steps or make people more aware of them. The seats are really comfy and the free popcorn really nice. The magician was extremely good. We watched one night show and a matinee. On the final night, the pianist and singer was excellent and he had the house rocking to Elton John, the Beatles, etc. Another thing we disliked was the formal night as we're casual people. It just seemed to us silly to place white covers over the chairs in the Vista and ask that everyone be dressed formally. There are no huge changes to the menu. The wait staff are dressed the same so why require formality? Most of the guests in the Vista on formal night were formally dressed. My husband was dressed in a sports jacket and tie and I was dressed in a sequin blouse and nice shoes for formal night. To us, it was just more clothes to pack and since we had to fly out from frigid Winnipeg and bring our heavy winter clothes with us, this additional packing was more than we needed or wanted. For this, we definitely and without reservation, preferred the casualness of the NCL. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Disembarkation: My family (DW, DDx2 & DM) of five flew to San Diego from Portland, OR. As the airplane descended into San Diego airport my 6 year old was thrilled to see the Oosterdam waiting in the harbor. The airport is remarkably ... Read More
Disembarkation: My family (DW, DDx2 & DM) of five flew to San Diego from Portland, OR. As the airplane descended into San Diego airport my 6 year old was thrilled to see the Oosterdam waiting in the harbor. The airport is remarkably close to the Cruise dock. We had chosen to use HALs bus transfers and found the airport staff amazingly pleasant and helpful. The bus driver was entertaining and gave a mini-tour (as much as a tour a 5 min ride gets you anyway) on the way to the dock. We arrived at the terminal and were hustled through the line in a brisk, but not brusk, gauntlet of checkpoints and HAL staff. We were greeted upon boarding the ship and since we arrived later, around 2 pm, we were able to immediately go to our cabin and drop off our carry on bags. The room: We stayed in a VH category, room 5057 that is a quad room with a pull down bed in the ceiling. Since our youngest is 22 months we had requested a portable crib and it was awaiting in the room as well. The room was clean and acceptable. There were two issues of note that we quickly discovered. First, there were no towels in the bathroom, we called and had towels within 15 minutes. Secondly we quickly found (since we have young kids who crave their TV fix) that our DVD player did not work. We called to request it repaired and someone was there in 20 minutes to replace it, and left with it working. Oddly, after we returned from dinner that evening to watch a movie with the kids, the new unit stopped working. So, I called and requested another replacement, and twenty minutes later we, finally, had a working unit with no further issues. I call attention to this not as a complaint, but as a compliment, I found their response time incredibly quick and I was impressed with their alacrity in solving my problems. I have one general observation about the condition of the room. It was slightly worn. The table that should have been adjustable didn't and there were obvious signs of wear throughout the room. There were scratches on the closets, doors and fixtures, wear holes in the arms of the sofa. I found this somewhat detracted from the quality feel of the room, but not enough to cause me anything more than a minor shrug of indifference. The ship: This was our second cruise; the first was on the Noordam in 2007. Given their identical layouts, the only noticeable difference was the dEcor on the Oosterdam had what my DW called a slightly "burlesque" quality. The decorations include a lot of deep blues, reds and gold. But you know, some people can wear an outfit and not seem tacky, and the Oosterdam's decorations didn't feel tacky, but they didn't seem as elegant as the Noordam's, but that could be my memory being faulty. We were most impressed by the addition of the screening room; I cannot express enough how awesome this little theater is. The screening room is very modern looking, the seats are large, comfortable and recline. There are generously spaced and have a side table for beverages and snacks. Every movie includes a small bag of popcorn, or at least did during our cruise. The main areas of the ship seemed very well cared for and we constantly ran into people cleaning and polishing. My youngest enjoyed all the artwork and learned a new word on this cruise, "statue". Though it often sounded like she was sneezing, she pronounced it "sachue" as she cannot really seem to grasp the "T" sound yet. It is funnier when you see her point to the hat I am wearing to say hat, save that she pronounces an "H" softly and substitutes the "S" sound for a "T". So it amuses my DW that my DD points to my head and says "hASS". The ports: Mazatlan. Imagine you walk out and as far as the eye can see is a giant slum that smells of gasoline and dead fish. Welcome to Mazatlan. We took a cab to the gold coast to let my daughters run on the beach. The hotels can be very nice in this area with plenty of places to eat and things to do. We were able to stand being here just long enough to give my daughter a couple hours on the beach before we went back to the beach. We intended to go to the historic district in the afternoon, but frankly the overwhelming derelict feel to the place just kept us away. The weather was beautiful and the ship provided lots of swimming and relaxation. Puerto Vallarta. This was our favorite stop. Puerto Vallarta is a resort town that has grown up from the bones of a once peaceful small town. It has a lush tropical feel despite the incredible amount of resorts up and down the coast. We chose to take a cab to Mismaloya Beach after a brief hour shopping downtown. Downtown is interesting with many restaurants and places to shop. Mismaloya beach is just south of town and felt very small and secluded in spite of it being packed with resorts, fishing excursion boats and restaurants. This is a very pretty little beach just south of "Los Arcos" its small and there are a few restaurants which will provide you with shade, food, drinks and towels on the "cheap" we spent 5 hours here watching the oldest DD play in the water while we drank limonada (lime-aid) and ate some very good Mexican food. The cab ride there and back ran us $40 and the food and drinks were another $25. Lots to do here, fishing excursions, wave runners, snorkeling as well as being just beautiful on an 85 degree day in January. Cabo San Lucas. If you have ever been to Southern California then you know what the Marina is like in Cabo. It is new, nice and clean. Lots of luxury yachts and fishing boats here and the town is surrounded by resorts and condos which give the place an "el dorado" kind of feel to it. We did no excursions here, just walked around, shopped and enjoyed the weather at one of the many marina side restaurants listening to a young Mexican musician sing "Lay Down Sally" using words which were almost right. "Hotel California" came out, great voice, and he didn't speak much English so the words he used were always close. Sounded good and made me giggle constantly while I was there. The voyage: In all, the voyage south was smooth, and it was smooth north to Cabo. However, I have read and can attest that going north back to San Diego is "choppy". I have been in rougher seas, but there was a noticeable, but not unpleasant, roughness to the last day at sea. Apparently you are going against the current so this is to be expected. There were a variety of daily activities, mostly sedate. We cannot recommend enough taking the kitchen tour. It is amazing to see the place they turn out the copious quantities of food and throughout the tour you not only see the stations where at different foods are prepared they prepare samples of their high end food so you get a taste of the some relatively "elegant" offerings. On our tour they had toast points and caviar, various hors d'ouvres, cheeses, fresh baked cookies and very tasty deserts. This tour ended up being a fourth meal (or fifth, given the vast availability of food). Excursions: No comment as we don't book them. We go our own pace and these places are easy to get around. Entertainment: Wrong people to ask I am afraid, having kids pretty much precluded our being able to see any shows or performances. The Food: In the movie "City Slickers" the cook tells the group, "The food is brown, hot and plenty of it!" fortunately the food on board has a wider color palette, but there surely is plenty of it. My family found everything served to be of good quality and there were plenty of fresh fruits for the kids. Breakfast was the same every day. Don't argue. Banana French toast and cinnamon French toast are the same food. Same with pancakes, adding fruit doesn't change the base nature. However, I enjoyed the Eggs Benedict bar for its novelty, I think the raspberry Danishes they make are perhaps the greatest single food on board. Lunch had some variety and you could choose the formal dining room or the Lido. Having kids the lido was our choice for its simplicity, but the choices in the formal dining room were a bit more varied and definitely more refined. Overall it's the same food but they tried to distinguish going to the formal dining room by adding some choices not available in the Lido. More variety at lunch, which is understandable. My favorite lunch was the day they served Indonesian/Phillipino food on the Lido pool deck. Delicious, great tastes and amazingly good Lumpia. Dinner was hard from our perspective. We prefer the formal dining room, and were pleased to get early upper dining room table for our family of five. But, it was harder to manage with a 22 month old and we were very careful to take her out for walks in between courses. It's a long meal that is great for adults. The food was excellent. There were two formal nights and we dressed formally to attend and found that most parties were well dressed, including quite a few tuxedos. There was a children's menu which consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. Parents, you will love the mac and cheese it is truly deluxe. Your kids will not like it, it isn't bright orange for one thing and it contains no cheddar so it wont taste like what they will be expecting. On the other hand, the chicken nuggets are amazing, best version of processed meat we have encountered. On the Lido the dress was far less formal with a pared down offerings. Usually, the feature dish in the dining room wasn't available in the lido (eg: surf and turf, duck, you know the good stuff). We ate at Canaletto's on the first night and would definitely recommend eating there. They have a set wait staff and we found that there were very many open seats the first night but by the end of the cruise it was packed. So you get better service by going the first night. The food was solid Italian food, not spectacular but solid. Family perspective: There were only about 40 kids on this voyage so Club Hal was often fairly empty. In spite of the lack of compatriots there were enough kids that my daughter loved going to Club Hal, and in particular loved doing the nightly activities they had planned. She spent most of her afternoons in the pool and the Lido pool was dominated by kids (since the aft pool is adults only). Children who are not potty-trained are not allowed in the pool and the handful of parents who tried to take their kids in with swim diapers were quietly and politely told they could not be there. We found that the bathtub in the cabin was a great place for the 22 month old to play in the water and frankly, she couldn't have cared less since it was water. That being said, know going in as a parent of young kids, that these ships are not designed around families with young kids. The staff around the ship dotes on young kids, I think many of the staff have young families at home and interacting with young kids is a chance for them to remember their own family. The shows by and large are not for kids; so don't expect to see much of the Vista Theater, though we found it a great place to take the young one to climb steps and that was her favorite part of the cruise. The sports court on top of the ship also proved a popular place as it was outdoors and had balls for the kids to play with and the space to run around. Overall impressions The ship was lovely, a little worn in places but lovely none-the-less. We had a glorious time, and both our daughters and my mother enjoyed themselves as well. The itinerary isn't perfect but I would definitely do it again. The staff made up for the few shortcomings we experienced. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was my children's first cruise. They had a good time, but we had some issues as well. Embarkation: It was raining outside and it would have been nice to have more porters outside to help with our luggage. Once inside ... Read More
This was my children's first cruise. They had a good time, but we had some issues as well. Embarkation: It was raining outside and it would have been nice to have more porters outside to help with our luggage. Once inside everything was smooth. We boarded about 11:30 and headed to the Lido. It was easy to get a table. Our rooms were ready about 12:30. The room stewards need more time to clean between cruises. Our steward had 29 rooms to clean and it was quite evident in our room. There were fingerprints from a little person on the door to the balcony and closet glass. The wall next to the balcony had crayon drawings on it. We found items from the last cruise in the closet. The fingerprints were never gone even when we asked our room steward directly. We had a problem with our toilet. It did not flush. We had this issue for 5 of the 7 days. It would work 2 or 3 times and then stop. It surprised our room steward one day by flushing while he was making the beds. It had a mind of its own. We got used to it by about day 3. They finally got the problem fixed 2 days before the cruise was done. We ordered room service each morning so the kids could eat while we were getting ready. On the 5th day I went to hand my son juice and the entire top ring of the glass about a 1/2 inch down was covered with some kind of brown slime that looked like it was dried on. I showed it to the front desk and they were appalled just as I was. At dinner we had the dining room supervisor come to our table to talk about it. Needless to say after that we did not order room service. We had two of the same type of glasses in the Lido the next day. I think they had a dishwasher program. Other than the toilet, the cleanliness of our room and the dirty glasses we had a good time. Our dining room waiter was superb. He paid every attention to detail and was great with my boys. We ate in the main dining room 6 of the 7 nights. Our wine steward even showed my boys a few magic tricks. We took the kids on a tour of the ship, which was nice to know where everything was as this was my first cruise on HAL. Both my boys enjoyed the kids program. My 5 year old even choose to go to the kids program over going swimming one afternoon. Club HAL staff were professional, but had a great time working with the kids. Make sure if you are traveling with children choose the early dinner as the kids program runs from 9-11:30 am, 1-4 pm and 7-10pm while you are at sea and 9am to 4pm and 7-10pm when you are at port. They did different things each night such as a camp out, scavenger hunt, and pirate party in the kids program and in the tween program they did survivor one night, detective hunts, dance parties and more. They always wanted to go to the evening programs which gave you time to do some things on your own. The afternoons were great on the Lido pool, but it was hard to find a clean table. The staff did not clean off the tables and it was hard to find someone to clean them for you. I usually just took the dishes and put them on another dirty table. The Mexican food that they served by the pool was very good. The magic show is a must see and I wished my 10 year old would have come to the show. However, the kids program that night appealed more to him. They did do a matinee show but the night one was by far better. I could have taken both of my children to all the shows. The singers are good but they need to expand and not play the same beat at each show. Make sure to take advantage of the Windows programs they offer. They had great camera classes and ones that taught you editing and making movies using free windows software. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
I took a spring break cruise in March with my three teenagers. They are experienced cruisers; I am not. I listened to their feedback on room size and location and tried to match their requirements with my needs. We got a deal on a veranda ... Read More
I took a spring break cruise in March with my three teenagers. They are experienced cruisers; I am not. I listened to their feedback on room size and location and tried to match their requirements with my needs. We got a deal on a veranda suite room. The proximity to the Neptune lounge was a plus. Stateroom and Staff: clean, spacious room with enough room for all of us and our "stuff". Loved the veranda, and being able to have private space to get away to. Room stewards were outstanding. We followed the suggestion of a cruise ship friend/employee, and brought along a bag of chocolate candy. We placed a handful of candies on our pillows in the morning, along with a note of thanks for the room stewards. They were thrilled with their suprises. It was an inexpensive way to show appreciation for keeping the ice bucket filled, and extra towels in the bathroom. We had a chance to meet the Captain a couple of times, and enjoyed his sense of humor. I didn't expect him to be so young. His reply " Not all ship Captains look like Father Christmas!". JT our Cruise Director was a true professional. We wondered if he ever had "down" time? Food: great eats in the Neptune lounge and at the Pinnacle grill. The cappucino/latte machine in the lounge made my day. We had early dining each day, which gave us the evening free to be with friends or see the show. Lido grill was always crowded, and lines were everywhere at mealtime. Kid activities: We were at the beginning of the spring break time, with only 100 kids under 18 on board. The activities for the teenagers over 13 were good. I didn't worry about where they were in the evening, and they didn't seem to get bored. They had a prom one evening, counted the number of stairs in the staircases leading to the Loft, etc. Entertainment: The biggest surprise was the Indonesian crew review. It gave all of us an opportunity to take in some of their culture and customs. We loved it.Negatives: The spa is expensive, even with discounted pricing towards the end of the week. I didn't appreciate the follow up phone calls, urging me to sign up for more treatments. Our waiter called us the evening before the customer satisfaction survey was to be turned in, and asked us to grade his service as a "9". Awkward. Disembarcation took forever. Non-compliant passengers who had not settled their accounts or tried to avoid Immigration slowed things down. The lines to get off the ship seems to go on forever. Not a great way to end our vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We are just back from 10 day Mexico sailing out of San Diego. We have cruised about 4 different cruise lines with this one being our first with HAL (others Carnival, Celebrity, Princess). We booked a verandah cabin, purchased two extra ... Read More
We are just back from 10 day Mexico sailing out of San Diego. We have cruised about 4 different cruise lines with this one being our first with HAL (others Carnival, Celebrity, Princess). We booked a verandah cabin, purchased two extra packages "just the 2 of us" and "suite amenities." Embarkation: We drove to San Diego from the SF Bay Area the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn SD Bay directly across the stree from the cruise ship terminal. Very impressed with our Bay view room and purchased the cruise parking package that allowed us to keep our car in covered parking for the length of the cruise - highly recommend this as it was both a nice and clean hotel convenient to boarding the ship and close covered parking. We arrived at the embarkation area for HAL around 1130AM. Walked right into the luggage area with 2 people ahead of us - suitcases were taken, we were directed to the checkin area which was set up beyond the security check point (which I though was a great idea). Checkin with no waiting very smooth and courteous process. We were given a group number and waited for about 15 minues to board the ship. Cabin: We had a veranda cabin on deck 6 - we could not get to our cabin until 1:30 but had a nice lunch in Lido Lounge and enjoyed the SD weather until at the appointed time the cruise director announce rooms were available. We found our room and balcony to be very roomy and clean. Out cabin attendants were very nice but I think overworked as they told us they had 28 cabins assigned to them. Dining: We had early assigned seating and as part of the "just for the 2 of us" package had a very nice table for 2. Meals and service very good. Pinnacle Grill: This was one of the areas we had problems. Each of the 2 extra packages we purchased included dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. When we used the first reservation we were seated next to a couple dressed inappropriately (in my opinion) for the venue. She had what looked like a bathing suit bottom (very short) and a "cover up" - He had on no socks and flip flops off his feet and under the table. Our server was very slow to attend to us and once food arrived he didnt come back to offer the pepper for salad, etc. I had to ask for refill on water twice. Although we didnt especially enoy that experience we had the other "coupon" so I tried to make a reservatin for one of the last 2 sea days and was told the restuarant had no space available. As we strolled by the restaurant during these times later the restaurant wasnt even 50% full so I dont know why we couldnt get a table (and no I didnt complain about anything the first time so I dont think I was "black balled" I had on my big boy pants we didnt say anything about the first time) Extra Packages: For the most part we received all items advertised for the "Just for the 2 of Us" package - roses in cabin, table for 2 in dining room, photo ops etc. The monogramed bathrobes werent availabe as they werent delivered to the ship on time - after I went to the front office (first of many trips) they wound up crediting our acct for that amt which was fine. The "suite amenities package" was more problematic. We had 2 spa treatments that were part of that package which we got charged for again, we did not get the priority disembarkation treatment which was also supposed to be part of the package. Same "no bathrobe" situation as before. After I complained many times about these items we did wind up getting credits applied to our acct. My advice is to make a checklit of items you pay for with these packages and followup as you dont everything up front - Im not sure its worth it as every problem has to be addressed at the "front desk" (purser) and it gets very frustrating and "adjustments" cant be done immediately they say the night auditor needs to do that so that means another trip the next day to check on your acct yet again. Ports: We did the normal Mexico Riviera ports with 3 additional Baja Calif ports - had to skip La Paz due to "winds" which was disappointing. Disembarkation: What a fiasco! since our itinerary took the ship from San Diego up to Vancouver - many folks were staying on board for that final leg of the trip. Reviewing all non-USA, non-bebarking gues at San Diego was required before anyone could leave the ship. This process took HOURS. We did not get off the ship until 11AM. Many people had lined up to get off the ship and didnt care what their "tag colors" were anylonger which created huge lines along all corridors. Once debarkation was allowed, they still called the groups by tag colors and people had to climb over/around others, and deal with the folks who just wanted off the ship at that point and were clogging up the exit arguing with the ships personnel. Overall: Cruise and ship very nice. Personnel as helpful (overall) as they could be. Pinnacle Grill quite disapointing. Extra Packages purchased many items not available and I had to do the work to point out what was missing and get things straigtened out. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We sailed April 10 on the Oosterdam, mom, two kids, grandma/grandpa, sister-in-law & infant. Three rooms on the first deck. All the women were very fearful of seasickness but on the Main Deck where we "lived", we had few ... Read More
We sailed April 10 on the Oosterdam, mom, two kids, grandma/grandpa, sister-in-law & infant. Three rooms on the first deck. All the women were very fearful of seasickness but on the Main Deck where we "lived", we had few problems. the Club Hal for kids was great to have, but the evening programs for the kids age 3-7 started much too late (7 pm or 8 pm and lasted til 10 pm). The kids were exhausted! The spa and gym were fabulous, and the "Thermal Suite" pass is the way to go -$150 to use the private hydrapool, aromatherapy showers, and the heated tile lounge chairs in the serentiy suite all week. Well worth the price. Food was outstanding and abundant. Kids loved the almost all-day ice cream bar. Easy to eat healthy and nutritiously with all the fresh fruit, grilled fish, salad bar, vegetarian choices, etc. GREAT that no sodas were included, but it would have been nice if there was latte & cappucino from the coffee machine and not just plain coffee. Shows were fun & not too long. Activities like Name that Tune and Trivia Night in the Queens Lounge were really fun. The Piano Bar was dynamite and never crowded. Drinks were really reasonably priced in the bars/lounges. The movie theater was stunning, but with only 27 seats, you had to arrive at least 30 minutes before showtime to get a seat. The in-room DVD delivery service was great - 1000 titles, free! Kids loved shuffleboard, ping pong, and the basketball court up on the 10th deck. "On Deck for the Cure" 5K walk on the last day for Breast Cancer was a nice activity, too. More babysitters needed - there seemed to be only one or two available during the whole cruise, but the one we had was very very nice and always on-time. Embarkation was long and tedious - over one hour! Disembarkation was a total breeze and couldn't have been easier. My only complaint was that there were too many people scheduled each 15 minutes - there should have been wider time-bands so things didn't get congested.... The best part about cruising is that you have absolutely NO WORK to do - all your activities, all your meals, your "home" are all taken care of for you with the utmost of care and service. Just fabulous for a busy mom! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was our 15th cruise, and our third on Holland America. The Oosterdam looked familiar, since we had sailed on the maiden voyage of its sister ship, the Westerdam in 2004. We chose this cruise for its itinerary, having taken a similar ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise, and our third on Holland America. The Oosterdam looked familiar, since we had sailed on the maiden voyage of its sister ship, the Westerdam in 2004. We chose this cruise for its itinerary, having taken a similar cruise to the Sea of Cortez on HAL's Statendam in 2003. We had enjoyed seeing the small towns in Baja California and were ready for another visit. Since we have generally sailed on Princess ships rather than HAL, I've made some comparisons between the two cruise lines in my remarks. We flew from Portland, Oregon to San Diego the day prior to embarkation. This gave us a chance to see some of the center of this beautiful city and we slept better knowing that it would only be a short taxi ride to the pier from our hotel, the Westin Gaslamp Quarter, located right next to the Horton Plaza mall. With our head start, we arrived at the pier at 11:30 a.m., and were checked in, on the ship and in our stateroom by noon. We had a friendly greeting in the ship's atrium and were invited to go up to the Lido for lunch. We spotted a reservations desk for the "as you wish" dining that we had selected for this cruise and quickly made a reservation for the first night's dinner at the "Canaletto" restaurant which adjoins the Lido buffet. At 1:30 p.m. there was an announcement that all cabins were ready and we headed for our verandah stateroom on Deck 4, No. 4035, on the starboard side just beyond the forward elevators and steps. This proved to be a good location as it was a quick elevator ride down to the Vista Lounge and casino or up to the Crows' Nest Lounge. In general we did not have rough seas, but I think being down low helped mitigate any motion of the ship. Our cabin was pleasant, about the same size as similar Princess staterooms. Ample storage shelves, and luggage could be stored beneath the bed. There was a small couch which probably made into a single bed. The desk/vanity area seemed more cramped than on previous Princess ships—really very little desk space, since the ice water and glasses took up a good bit of the surface. There was a hair dryer in the desk that worked fine—once I learned that I had to push very hard on the 220v plug to insert it. The refrigerator was smaller than on the Princess ships we've been on recently and was filled with high-cost items—soft drinks, bottled water, juices. We asked the steward to remove them, and he did so very promptly. However, the refrigerator never worked well. Beer cans, water and fruit we kept in the refrigerator were at best "cool" never cold. We asked them to check the refrigerator, but it never got colder. The bed was comfortable, and with four pillows we had plenty to choose from. One of our main complaints about the cabin was the insufficient lighting at the head of the bed. This cabin had the worst bed reading lights I've ever seen! They are below pillow level and are a dim fluorescent "bar" lamp that pretty much just casts a cold "glow" over the nightstand, but is worthless to read a book by. Princess usually has spotlights, strategically placed over the head of the bed. Our veranda seemed quite ample. And it had nice furniture: a comfy "rattan" arm chair with footstool, plus another arm chair and a small table for drinks. Both chairs had a removable pad. Our veranda jutted out a bit so we had an area open to the sky, but also an area protected from sun or rain. The verandas on the decks above were all flush with the side of the ship and I suspected they were smaller. But the Front Desk assured me they are not. Some might not like the open area, but we did. Princess' verandas seem about the same size. The bathroom: Pretty much the same as on the Princess ships. Both have hand-held showers which are great. The tiny bathtub we had on this ship was pretty much a joke, and just something we had to climb over. A walk-in shower would have been much easier to use. The toiletries were very nice with a scent that was neither too "feminine" or "masculine." They also provided shower caps which I don't think Princess did. The stewards quickly replaced any toiletries that we used. The TV: We had a smallish flat-screen TV with a little DVD player attached underneath. We never found a printed guide to the stations, of which there were ample: Turner Classic Movies, TNT, CNN International (with a decided British bias), sports, ship information (map of our route, etc), excursions info PLUS a nice channel that re-broadcasts the talks given by a person who actually tells you about the ship's destinations--not just the best place to buy Tanzanite ashore. Movies that have been shown in the ship's theater are replayed on the TV the next day, but again, we had no schedule of just when that would happen. Princess had several in-house TV channels that played movies 24 hours a day and they provided a nice printed schedule listing all of them. We DID have information about the complimentary DVD's that could be ordered, by phone, for delivery to your stateroom. We intended to try that out, but never got around to it. It seems like a very nice feature and since so many of the ship's amenities had an extra charge, it was a nice surprise to find that the DVD's were free to use. They had a list of the available DVD's, organized by category, and it was impressive. We made frequent use of Room Service, especially for breakfast. It was always delivered reasonably promptly. We also often ordered a cheese plate and crackers to go with our beer or wine in the late afternoon. HAL allows wine to be brought on board—this was a pleasant surprise. Princess allowed no alcoholic beverages or sodas to be brought on to the ship for use during the cruise. The Oosterdam's version of "as you wish" dining simply divides the main dining room into two sections. The upper section was for traditional dining at a specific time and table. The lower level was used for the flexible dining. You could reserve for a specific time and table size, or just walk in. They also had added the "Canaletto" Italian restaurant which did not have a surcharge, but did require advance reservations. While it was really part of the Lido buffet area, it was quiet and very pleasant. Great service and a nice Italian menu which did not change during the cruise. An oddity was that at the end of the meal, the diners received a plate covered with pink cotton candy! The "as you wish" dining worked just fine for us. We ate in the "Canaletto" and in the Lido buffet twice each for dinner (my husband said the Prime Rib in the Lido was the best ever). The rest of our dinners were in the lower level of the Vista Dining Room. We did make advance reservations and never had a problem being seated promptly. The food was satisfactory and we were usually seated at the size table we requested. The room was a bit noisy, but overall the flexible dining worked very well for us. We still prefer Princess for "as you wish" dining as they have created separate dining rooms that feel more intimate. The quality of the food on both lines seems very similar. Not true gourmet, but quite acceptable to us. The Vista Lounge was the ship's only show room—some Princess ships have two and repeat a show in the smaller lounge the next night. The chairs and couches in the Vista Lounge were MUCH more comfortable than the theater-style seating on some Princess ships. The "Crow's Nest" observation lounge at the bow of the ship is one of the best features of the Vista class ships and far better than the minimal bow lounges on the Princess ships. There were lots of comfy seats for watching the waves plus a combination library, Internet Cafe and coffee bar area. In spite of sharing the Oosterdam with 1,996 of our nearest and dearest friends, it never felt crowded. On our previous cruise on the Westerdam we had discovered that there are two "secret" bow decks on Levels 5 and 6 of the Vista class ships which provide great views with no tinted glass wind shields to interfere with your photography. They have no chairs and at times were closed because of high winds. The casino was a disappointment to us. A poor assortment of penny slot machines; most of the casino was devoted to the older, more traditional slots. They had increased the minimum bet one could make on the penny slots so that basically they were all at least twenty or twenty-five cent machines. The casino had done away with coins—bills go in, and anything remaining when you left the machine had to be recorded on your ship I.D. card. It was a rather complicated and tedious procedure to access your "account" and not that easy to set up your "PIN" and tap in your code numbers. We enjoyed the excursions that we had selected online long before sailing. HAL charges your credit card as soon as you select an excursion and invokes a ten per cent cancellation charge even if you cancel within the required advance time. Princess lets you make online excursion advance reservations, but your credit card is not charged until you are on board. I don't recall any cancellation charges either. At Cabo San Lucas, we chose to stay on the ship and enjoy our ship's close-up location to the beautiful "Arch Rocks." At Loreto, we did our own walking tour. Everyone's favorite town! Due to high winds at Pichilingue, our day at LaPaz was cancelled. We took the "Bay, Birds and Dolphins" cruise at Topolobampo and the guide delivered all the birds and dolphins, as promised. Saw some unusual birds, including the Roseate Spoonbill and Blue-footed Booby on "Bird Island" as our boat circled this refuge in the middle of the bay. The dolphins were everywhere—near our ship and also seen up close on the boat trip. Our second excursion was at Mazatlan, the "Sierra Madre, Concordia and Copala" tour. This took us about 50 miles east of the port, and gave us a good look at the scenery away from the coast. There were stops to see bricks being made by hand, and furniture created in small open-air shops. We had ample time in the two old Spanish settlements of Concordia and Copala to walk around. The age of these little towns is hard to believe—both were settled only a few years after Cortez landed in Mexico! Copala was a delight, even if the cobblestone streets required careful walking. Lunch was at "Daniel's" which is apparently built on top of one of the old Spanish gold mines. The meal was o.k., but the dessert, Banana Cream Pie, was wonderful! Our last excursion, at Puerto Vallarta, was "Town, Country and Tequila." Again, the bus ride out to a "hacienda" in the valley east of the city gave us some glimpses of rural life. The "Tequila" portion of the tour, at the hacienda was mostly tasting—no actual brewing of tequila going on. But, they were generous with the tastings and informative about making tequila. The time in "town" was sufficient to visit the picturesque church, and have a quick stroll along the seaside Malecon with its impressive sculptures. This was a good "highlight" tour with little walking—our speed now. We have sailed enough on Princess to be entitled to a generous amount of free Internet access. But apparently even if you lived year-round on HAL ships, you are never going to get the perk of free Internet access. At 75 cents a minute, plus an "initiation fee" of four dollars, we boycotted the ship's Internet access. It was not easy to find an Internet cafe in the ports, except at Topolobampo where they had a tent right on the pier, full of Internet computers available at two dollars for an hour of access. You could also bring your own laptop and connect to their Internet modem for the same price. One last negative comment: There is no self-service laundry. What was HAL thinking when they designed these "Vista-class" ships? Put 2000 passengers on a ship for a 10-day or longer voyage and expect them all to use the expensive ship's laundry? We used the laundry service on the Westerdam and when our clothes were returned, the elastic in all the underwear had been fried! This trip we did the old hand-washing in the bathroom sink routine, but we missed the nice Laundromats on the Princess ships. Bottom line, we think this Sea of Cortez itinerary is great, and appreciate that HAL offers it several times a year. But where the two cruise lines sail the same routes, we think Princess gives us more for our money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Administration seems to be missing or in need of a tune up in handling some of the most basic elements on a cruise ship. Only one, two person hot tub at the adult only pool was functioning. It remained that way from the beginning to the ... Read More
Administration seems to be missing or in need of a tune up in handling some of the most basic elements on a cruise ship. Only one, two person hot tub at the adult only pool was functioning. It remained that way from the beginning to the end of the cruise. Most any of the very capable crew could have repaired the problem, by getting a part at the next port of call in the event administration did not see to it that there were spare parts on board. Think about it, eight days on a cruise ship off Mexico with one Two person hot tub. Oh it gets better........the kiddies pool had three functioning hot tubs including one much larger one. What sense does that make when the use by children is cautionary and most of the clientele are adults? We get into a nice deep sleep only to be awoken at 4 am to the smell of cooking in our cabin! We sit up in bed thinking one of us has left something in the oven overnight; problem being we are not at home and nothing appears to be burning in the cabin. We inform the cabin steward but he does not seem to be too surprised. Someone must have then closed a hatch etc., as it ceased. There were some exceptionally well behaved wonderful children on the ship. There were also too many that weren't. GRANDMA, take your kids on Carnival brand, NCL or Disney, where they won't be bored or restless running around the ship bothering everyone but you! HAL's attempt to reinvent itself into a kid friendly cruise conflicts with expectations of it's traditional passenger marketing. HAL has successfully created a relaxing holiday atmosphere for adults seeking a travel experience for ADULTS OF ALL AGES. I would encourage HAL to maintain it's past standards or lose to RCL, who would gladly take advantage of this large niche Holland America needs more tables for two. Evey time we came into the dinning room people were asking and it seemed to be a problem. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My wife and I took our sixth HA cruise, our first onboard the MS Oosterdam (7 day Mexican Riviera). From the San Diego airport, it is about a $10 cab ride to the ship. I asked a Holland America rep, at the airport, how much HA charges ... Read More
My wife and I took our sixth HA cruise, our first onboard the MS Oosterdam (7 day Mexican Riviera). From the San Diego airport, it is about a $10 cab ride to the ship. I asked a Holland America rep, at the airport, how much HA charges and was told $17 per person (and advised to use a taxi - thanks HA). Our embarkation was quick and fairly efficient. We shuffled quickly past the photographers (this is the first cruise that we had no pictures taken - thanks again, HA) and queued up to board. It is amazing how many people pack away their boarding passes before they get onboard the ship. This causes lengthy queues. Having "Mariner's Status", we were invited to a special lunch in the Vista dining room. We walked left from the entrance and queued up for a table. The table service was good to a certain point and then disappeared. I had a burger which was cold. I would like to have said something, at the time (and hoped to get some water) but no one came by. Cabin Our incredibly quiet room (4032) was ready at around 1:30. (Our room picked up all the evening entertainment music but was otherwise dead quiet.) The room was a fairly standard size, also had a balcony (which was about three feet deeper than the verandas above). Unfortunately there appeared to be almost no drawer space. Four days into the voyage, we found two more good sized drawers, under the sofa! Too little, too late (for this cruise) but if you get a similar room, have a look. There were the basic three closets (adjustable shelving/hanger rod), two small bed size tables and a tiny storage area beside the mini bar. By the way, our shower was fantastic! The adjustable head was high enough for my six foot height. The pressure would make most hotels and new homes jealous. There was bottled water above the mini bar. However, no price list existed (so, was it free?). We called and had a price list delivered (it wasn't free). We met our room steward. He was a nice young man who had been on the ship about three months. I asked him if we could get some ice and in no time at all he was at the door with an ice bucket full (but no tongs). Later that evening, we called several times to have more ice delivered. It finally came after an hour and a half. Our room was cleaned up, when we had gone for dinner but there were still used glasses on the desk and garbage in the room basket. The next morning it was about five hours before the room was made up. We found that leaving the "Service" card in the lock expedited things. Also, the toilet started being temperamental. It, for most attempts, would not flush. We reported this but for the rest of the cruise, it was still acting up. Dining For the first time ever, we had open seating. On our first night we had reservations for 7:15 (note - make these three days in advance, or you could be disappointed with your allotted times) and were seated at a table for two. The waiter came back to reconfirm my entrEe order. When he returned with our orders, one was hot and one wasn't (food was cold for most of the seven days). We ate in the Vista dining room, all but one dinner and most breakfasts and lunches. The menu selection was second to none (in our 15 or so, cruises). The presentation and imagination of the food, was wonderful. The service was friendly but could be more efficient. For whatever reason, there seemed to be a lack of wine stewards. The Pinnacle Grill was a nice change from the Vista dining room. The service was attentive and friendly. I love not having to pour my own wine. When I am paying 15%, I expect it to be poured for me and it was, in the Pinnacle. The food was well presented. The entrEe portions of steaks could feed a family of six. However, as was the case everywhere on this ship, the food can be cold. (Our feeling is that they put hot food on cold plates. However, I heard that the salads in the Lido, were served on hot plates. So, go figure.) Having sent four of our six side dishes back (by the way, our waiter was shocked that they were cold), we were pleased to have them reheated and served at a proper temperature. The deserts were a nice size and excellent. The Pinnacle is a step back to how Holland America (and other lines) ran all their dining rooms, in the eighties (when we first went on a cruise). We ate two lunches (as the Vista was closed) in the Lido Restaurant. The food could be a bit more imaginative. We generally were not pleased. Pizza was not good, which helped keep my weight down. Lounges and entertainment Early Happy Hour is from 4:30 until 5:30 (in two lunges). This is way too early for late sitting (or open sitting). The Crow's nest is a nice lounge (needs some furniture repairs). Before our first dinner, we enjoyed a drink and a few appetizers here. The Explorer's lounge was a great before and after dinner stop off. The Adagio Strings (three violins and a cello) were wonderful. Very professional and very talented. On this note, the HAL cats were pretty good (some didn't like the lead singer). Gerard (guitar soloist) was worth avoiding at any cost. His talent obviously lies in another field. The Piano Bar's Eric, was not very entertaining (although much better than Gerard) and needs voice lessons. People Most cruisers that we met were interesting, fun and expanded our knowledge of people, in general. What a real cross section of people and dress. We have never been on a cruise were "Formal Night" is simply, just a suggestion. Except for the Pinnacle, no one would be turned away for wearing shorts and/or t-shirts to the Vista dining room. Informal nights meant anything goes (and it did). Perhaps we are just getting old. Speaking of which, it was our 30th anniversary during this cruise. We let HA know about this in advance (what the heck, it only happens once). It was nice to be recognized the day after, with a letter talking about this special occasion on our Alaskan Cruise (we were in Mexico). We also received a generic card from the Captain, wishing us a generic "best on this special occasion". Ship, in general How a ship is decorated is not really that important to us. However, we are really confused at the who, what and why of the interior decor. To say the least (and this is all I will state), it is the most bizarre interior of any ship that we have been on (sort of J. Garcia, psychedelic, disco, meets 1970's business office). It seems to change intention every few metres. The interior elevators' outside doors, are a work of art (the inside, a work of something else that I don't understand). The glass elevators are great and fast (although they don't reach the top). If you start on the lower decks, you get a view of the fishes. The lifts are not used very much. I suppose that some people don't like to see the ocean disappearing below. The third floor promenade is excellent for walking off meals (three laps equals 1.6 kms or one mile). It has plenty of water fountains. It also has many benches to rest on, if needed. With continuously changing views, walking (or jogging) is a pleasure. It is however, perpetually full of puddles (most from the overhead life boats). I am not sure why they don't address this as a safety concern (it is perhaps why they give free shoe shines, which is also a nice touch). In the past, we had spent time in all the ports. Therefore, we were not too keyed up about getting off at any. Overall, this was a pretty good cruise on a nice ship. If HA could figure out how to get hot food to the tables, we would say that it was one of our nicer cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Overall, this was a relaxing cruise and we enjoyed ourselves. We had only cruised on Princess prior to this, but decided to give HA a try. However, we are not sure if HA is our "style" and overall prefer Princess. Hits ... Read More
Overall, this was a relaxing cruise and we enjoyed ourselves. We had only cruised on Princess prior to this, but decided to give HA a try. However, we are not sure if HA is our "style" and overall prefer Princess. Hits Once inside the terminal building, embarkation was quick and efficient. Disembarkation was orderly. Evening entertainment was good. We especially liked the HAL singers and dancers who showed a lot of professionalism, and the quality of the choreography was very good. Food in the dining room for the most part was excellent, and service very good. Food was cooked well, nice presentation, and good variety. Loved the library and internet facilities. Dining room and cabin staff were warm and friendly. We had no difficulty getting lounge chairs in the sun, perhaps since most of the ship's activities are held in the interior of the ship. Misses Embarkation baggage. On the dock, we were not advised that we were responsible for throwing our bags ourselves into the tubs going to the ship, resulting in a large crowd milling around unsure of what to do. On board, the elevator lobby areas were scenes of chaos as the room stewards tried to sort through piles of luggage to deliver them to cabins. Lido dining room. This was a huge source of frustration. The Lido reminded us of a shopping mall food court with all the stations clustered back to back in the middle. At breakfast you might join the throngs, walk around the entire area to check out each station to see what appeals to you. (Since they don't change the menu, you only need to do this for a couple of days) You decide on eggs, toast, fruit and coffee. You stand in line for fruit, then search out a table. Since you don't have a tray, leave the fruit on the table while you go for the next course. Stand in line for toast, then stand in the eggs line, take your food back to the table. Then stand in line for coffee and juice. Back you go to your table, only to discover that either your food is now cold, or they've cleared the table thinking you had abandoned your food. Yes, you can eat in the Vista dining room, but we tried that once and waited almost an hour for a simple lukewarm breakfast to be served in an almost empty dining room. Perhaps room service is the best option. Having been on Princess a couple of times, we have to say we strongly prefer the Princess delivery of buffet food which serves in a more accessible area, with serving staff providing coffee and juice. The buffet food on both is good, but not outstanding. No self laundry or ironing facilities. I'll think twice about booking on a ship without self laundry and the ability to do a quick press of the formal gear. Location of the closets in the cabin. The closets are in the hallway right inside the door, across from the bathroom. You can't enter the cabin, go in and out of the bathroom, or have more than one person in the closet area. Princess locates the closet at right angles to the hallway which makes it much more accessible. The ship has many small intimate lounges which can be nice. However, the downside is that the interior space felt cramped and crowded, and at times we felt like cattle being herded down the shoots. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Embarkation couldn't have been easier. Less than 10 minutes from parking lot to room. Room was spacious enough with a large window. We had an issue with the bathroom that took too long to fix. Once management was involved they ... Read More
Embarkation couldn't have been easier. Less than 10 minutes from parking lot to room. Room was spacious enough with a large window. We had an issue with the bathroom that took too long to fix. Once management was involved they rectified and handled it appropriately. Being close to casinos and lounge was a concern but we did not hear noise at all from either. Worst noise were the kids that were on board. Presidents week so more than usual. Not an annoyance as we are grandparents and understand. I felt the mix of young and old was fine. Food was better than other cruises I have been on. I would like to see them spice it up a bit more. We missed making reservations the last night and had to buffet it. One of the best meals we had. Go figure! I read in a previous review that the crew seemed a bit detached. I tend to agree. Alcohol policy good and prices on board were better than others. In summary I would use Holland again depending on itinerary and price. Less days at sea the better. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I booked our cruise in November 2010 when Holland was advertising a low rate. I reviewed all the offers online and decided to call Holland directly to book. We paid less for the 7 day Mexico cruise than any other cruise we have ever taken ... Read More
I booked our cruise in November 2010 when Holland was advertising a low rate. I reviewed all the offers online and decided to call Holland directly to book. We paid less for the 7 day Mexico cruise than any other cruise we have ever taken and the reservation clerk was helpful and the experience pleasant. I paid for the least expensive room and one week prior to sailing received an offer to upgrade to a better room. We took the upgrade and felt the total amount paid extremely reasonable. Our arrival in San Diego was uneventful (we booked our own air) and the shuttle to the port side Sheraton was provided by a Sheraton Shuttle. There isn't much to do at this Sheraton but it was very convenient to the ship. The dining was limited and somewhat expensive but the quick shuttle to the ship was a plus. Directly across the street from the dock is a Holiday Inn which is within walking distance for any person who is able to do any easy walk. So if you need a hotel prior to sailing I would suggest either the Sheraton or the Holiday Inn for convenience. The boarding was somewhat slow. We waited about an hour to get on board and we managed to duck out of the photo taking which also slows up the boarding process. I wish the cruise lines would stop pushing those picture taking "moments". Anyway, as repeat guests on Holland America we went immediately to the Vista Dining Room for a Mariner's lunch. It was a nice touch and a good way to begin the cruise while we waited for our cabin to be made available. Our room was adequate although this ship is not as new as some we have cruised on -- our bathtub drain was clogged and never fixed (I called the first day for a fix) and the rug in this room needs a good cleaning. The furniture is worn and the sheets and towels have been laundered so many times that they are quite thin. It's time for Holland to refurb the Oosterdam. At the top of this post I mentioned how happy we were with the price of the cruise -- well the thin towels and worn linen is probably the result of offering one too many good "deals" to passengers. It is a trade off that's for sure. The food was good. We had no complaints and most of the passengers seemed to enjoy their dining experience as well. Kudos to Holland America for having very fresh salads and good veggies at dinner time. Lastly, our itinerary was changed by Holland due to continued gang violence in Mexico. We felt safe in the ports but it might be a concern for some. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
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

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