Sail Date: March 2007
We stayed overnight at the Best Western Bayside and found it quite nice. It was a twelve dollar taxi ride from the airport and we had a lovely view of the dock from our windows. We ate both lunch and dinner at a small Italian restaurant ... Read More
We stayed overnight at the Best Western Bayside and found it quite nice. It was a twelve dollar taxi ride from the airport and we had a lovely view of the dock from our windows. We ate both lunch and dinner at a small Italian restaurant directly across from the hotel and the food and service was exceptional, it was quite reasonable in price. The hotel had a shuttle service to the dock and embarkation was quick and hassle free. We did have all our paperwork done in advance. On board we acquainted ourselves with the ship and I made reservations for a manicure and facial, there was no line up. I would unequivocally recommend if you have a facial that you request the girl from Scotland. She is delightful and gave me the best relaxing facial that I have ever had. We had lunch in the Lido restaurant and our suite was ready in about two hours. We had a Superior Veranda Suite which was very nice, the cabin attendant kept the room and bathroom spotlessly clean. There was ample closet space, a flat screen TV, a very comfortable queen size bed with nice linens and bathrobes. The bathroom had a double sink, Jacuzzi and a separate shower stall. The balcony was roomy with table and chairs and two chairs for lounging with footstools. We used room service for breakfast only and the food arrived piping hot and on time. The kippers were fantastic though why they were served with potatoes and scrambled egg was a mystery to me. I requested balsamic vinegar and to slightly raised eyebrows it was delivered promptly. We would have killed for some HP Sauce when we had eggs and bacon but no luck there. Ah well. We ate in the dining room every night with the exception of one meal in the Pinnacle and our last meal on Friday which we ate in the Lido. I found the food in the dining room to be adequate but nothing I would call top notch. The two waiters we had for our particular table of six were outstanding, polite yet friendly. The entrees were varied but seemed to me to lack in imagination though they were by no means pedestrian; on the whole I was disappointed with the desserts. The cheese plate for example was dull and unappetizing with extremely meager portions and only a scanty portion of blue cheese, the remaining cheeses were tiny, unrecognizable, tasteless and extremely bland. We had wine every night with dinner and the wine steward to put it bluntly was arrogant and not overly helpful. The Pinnacle dining room was tastefully appointed and the service was very good. The food was haute cuisine. We both had crab cakes as appetizers which were very good and for an entrEe we had planked prawns with asparagus. The prawns were delicious; the asparagus was rather stringy; the bernaise sauce was good, though by no means as good as I can make it. The desert was a disaster, I ordered Crème brulee which came in a dish divided into three separate portions, Crème brulee it was not, rather three separate flavored Jello puddings would be my guess. My husband had ice cream which he said was OK. For a combined cost of sixty dollars and in my opinion a too overly large tip it did not by any stretch of the imagination live up to our expectations. We ate lunch every day in the Lido and really enjoyed it. The English fish and chips are wonderful and the bread pudding is to die for. The varied assortments of cheesecakes made me think that I had died and gone to cheesecake heaven. In summation all I can say is "hats off to the chefs in the Lido." We ate dinner in the Lido our last night and had skewered filet mignon steak, absolutely fantastic. We were served at our table on table linen and by a charming waiter. The vegetables accompanying the deliciously tender steak were hot and crisp, the potato wedges melted in your mouth. I had crème brulee for dessert and it was the best that I have every tasted. We had a glass of house wine and it too was quite good. Our one dinner in the Lido far surpassed any meal we had in the dining room and was way superior to the sixty dollar dinner we had in the Pinnacle. The entertainment was pretty good though the volume of the speakers was way too loud for comfort. The casino looked OK if you could stand the second hand cigarette smoke which hung like a thick cloud over everything and drifted into the adjoining hallways. We couldn't tolerate the heavy smoke and the ghastly odors and beat a hasty retreat. The popcorn in the movie theatre was frightful, absolutely horrible. The stores were abysmal; the adjective to describe most of the items for sale would be tacky. The jewelry for sale was to my mind over priced and I had some doubts regarding the authenticity of some of it. The store selling clothing had some quality items though I thought that they too were a tad overpriced. The Oosterdam was kept spotlessly clean with much evidence of continual sanitization being carried out. We were really impressed with the measures being taken to prevent any outbreak of the Norwalk virus. I can't honestly say I was overly impressed with the color scheme throughout the ship, to be scrupulously fair I must admit my tastes run to more subdued colors. I can't speak too highly of the personnel at the front desk, they were friendly and helpful and extremely courteous. We disembarked on Saturday with no problems; everything was orchestrated to be hassle free, which it was. Over all we enjoyed our cruise with Holland American and I definitely would recommend it. We plan to travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
3/17/07 Oosterdam Mexican Riviera Cruise We returned yesterday from a 'fun in the sun' 7 day relaxation vacation with our cruise buddies, Tom and Lisa, to celebrate their 30 year Renewal of Vows. As it turned out, we had the ... Read More
3/17/07 Oosterdam Mexican Riviera Cruise We returned yesterday from a 'fun in the sun' 7 day relaxation vacation with our cruise buddies, Tom and Lisa, to celebrate their 30 year Renewal of Vows. As it turned out, we had the most agreeable weather, the Ship was fabulous, and my only complaint is that the cruise just flew by much too quickly. The Oosterdam is designed primarily in royal hues. It is a Vista ship with a pax compliment of appx. 2,000, but rarely seemed crowded. The Ship is well maintained and the color scheme is very rich and warm, a trademark of HAL ships. We were fortunate and were able to book an SC aft suite, cabin 4180. The views from that aft cabin are so spectacular!! We awoke every morning to the spectacular panorama view of the ocean. Of course the beds are clad in 350 count Egyptian cotton sheets, with pillow top mattresses and piled with 8 soft pillows, it is truly a decadent experience. We flew down to San Diego and after a 2 attempt landing due to heavy fog, we were glad to step onboard the Oosterdam promptly at 11:30. We met Tom and Lisa as we waited to board as well as Tija and Pat from LV also. With priority boarding we were some of the first to step onboard and found our way to the Neptune and then the Lido for lunch until the rooms were ready. Unlike some of the other ships, the corridors are actually closed and manned prior to 1:30 making that quick peek in the room undoable. But precisely at 1:30 we were able to wander back to our aft corner suite on the Upper Promenade floor. We found the views while laying in bed to be some of the best we have had. We really enjoyed the room and didn't notice any excess vibrations being in the aft. Fact be know, we prefer the aft as well as lower floors, I like to be closer to the water. (Probably has something to do with being very nearsighted!) The balcony was the largest we have had ever and we enjoyed the extended views around the side. I did miss the shade at times, and would sit on the side decking reading out of the sun. (Tip: Upper Promenade decks on both sides of the ship are actually wider than those above them, so if you are considering a veranda cabin, you actually get a bit larger balcony than those above for a cheaper price. (VD vs. VA).) The bed in our cabin was in great condition as was the cabin. The large couch is covered in a nice leather (or was it pleather?) which was holding up nicely. There is a huge flat screen TV and loads of pillows to relax on. I counted 8 full size pillows on our bed. The linens are really nice as are the duvets the suites have, I slept soooooo well! Our outside furniture was nice but the hot sun has really worn it more than those with covered balconies, and it needs replacing. We attended the Oosterdam's infamous 3 pm wave and got an idea of some of the special energy this cruise would hold. We all waved, hooted and hollered, and made sure we all signed the lovely banner. 33 of our compadres attended including HM James Deering and Beverage Manager Hans Becker, both of whom seemed to take it all in great fun. We attended a festive sail away party on Lisa and Tom's large aft balcony. What a spectacular sailaway you experience from San Diego!! The sailaway celebration truly set the tone of letting the good times role for the entire week. Our first morning at sea was relatively calm but foggy till just about 1pm as predicted by Captain Jonathan Mercer. At 11:00 AM we attended a CC get together in the Oak Room. A nice spread of cookies and teas were provided as well as mimosas and Bloody Marys. A big thank you to Hans Becker, who took such good care of us. We were pleasantly surprised to have Mr. Deering stop bye and discussed the state of cruising, our love for HAL, and its' future. We spoke of the keel laying of the Eurodam which was to occur and the additional services to be offered on the ship as well as the drastic redesign of the Explorations Cafe and the viability of locating it next to the Crows Nest. I found Mr. Deering's candor and honesty to be totally refreshing. It was evident as our cruise continued how well respected he is onboard and how happy the crew on the Oosterdam seems to be. Captain Mercer and HM Deering are to be congratulated on the wonder job they and the crew are doing. We relaxed in the afternoon, falling into the wonderful rhythm of a sea day. I sat out on our balcony and devoured a portion of a new novel, one of my favorite sea day activities. The second night was formal and most of the pax that I observed were dressed appropriately. There were a fair number of kids onboard, all of which appeared to be very well behaved. There was a little guy (16 Mo.?) sitting next to our table with Mom and Dad and a beaming Grandma and Grandpa who kept us all entertained during the week with his " funny old man" faces, what a good baby he was during dinner! Our dining steward was Reno, he is a gem and HAL is lucky to have waiters of that caliber. The dining room was run very well, kudos to Dining Room Manager Sanjay Nariani, a very handsome gentleman we've cruised with before. Kudos also to Exec. Chef Andreas Sommerfield and Stephan Schuetz, many of the dishes we'd had previously on other HAL cruises, but they really knew how to bring out the best in the menu. We awoke the next morning to find that although the revised schedule said we were to be in port at 12:00, we actually were coming into Cabo at 9 am!! It was a beautiful day and tendering began at 9:15 am, a record since the pod problems. A fabulous day was had by all in Cabo, and most of us returned with a little more color in our cheeks that night. I elected to snorkel with a ship excursion called "Chilleno Bay snorkel". It was very toasty in Cabo (90F) and the catamaran ride was beautiful, we even got to see whales, which wasn't part of the excursion. The snorkeling unfortunately is not like that in the Caribbean, the water is colder and the fish lack the outrageous colors. During the entire trip there were beverages served, alcohol being served after the snorkeling. The catamaran was very clean and the crew very accommodating. We came back to another lovely dinner and we retired soon after sitting on our balcony and enjoy the balmy breezes. The exercise I got snorkeling made me sleep wonderfully. The next morning we awoke as we docked in Mazatlan. The last time I'd been there I'd not been particularly impressed, this time I enjoyed it immensely!!! Our day started by hiring a driver of a Pulmonia (a car somewhat like the VW thing that is manufactured there in Mazatlan). This is truly the authentic way to see the city. The fresh air A/C system is wonderful and the views are great. The town really grew on me this time. We managed to be in Mazatlan on the first day of spring and happened upon a parade/fundraising drive for the Mexican Red Cross. The kids in the parade were dressed in their finest for the celebration and parade. We found the old town to be charming. After seeing all of the usual sites and getting to tour the well preserved old part of town we met our group for a wonderful lunch of margaritas and shrimp before returning to the ship to prepare for the ROV ceremony. The ROV ceremony (Renewal of Vows) itself was wonderful and the dinner following was spectacular! It was wonderful to share such a happy occasion with new friends! Lisa looked just stunning and Tom seemed a wee bit nervous, they made a darling couple!! Dinner ended late and we all headed to our cabins after a full night of an unforgettable celebration. Just when we thought the cruise, couldn't get any better, we arrive in Puerto Vallarta. As I'd had many a Christmas in PV as a child in the 60's, we elected to go into old town and walk the Malecon which has been beautifully extended across the river. Again, we happened upon a parade of cars carrying many children dressed in their finest, and throwing candies, to celebrate spring. They were just darling and happy, and reminded me of our wonderfully hokey parades at home that the kids just adore! After some shopping we met the group for a lunch on the beach, very literally. We were able to sit and dine right there on the sand at La Palapa. Boy where those margaritas tasty!! Even more lovely was the opportunity to meet fellow HAL cruisers Ine and Ton from the Netherlands. It's such fun to finally put names with faces of folks you've talked with for years! I also managed to wander down that area of beach, as it looked very familiar to me. Sure enough I found that a portion of the hotel I stayed in during the 60's was still there 40 years later. It was fabulous day including a walk down memory lane of the small town I loved 40 years ago with it's cobbled streets, friendly occupants and beautiful Cathedral. That night we saw another of the fabulous sunsets we'd had all week. Our next two days were sea days and the first day Lisa and I bought a day pass for the hydrospa ($40). I got my money's worth by using the spa in the morning and afternoon. By dinner I was as relaxed as a wet noodle!! Dinner was another formal one, with surf and turf being ordered by most at our table. Dinner was once again fabulous and was topped off by the Baked Alaska parade. Never have been too wild about the dessert, but it's a cruising tradition I've grown to appreciate! On the final day we attended the Mariners awards which were held at 11:15am. This was the first time we'd attended a day time reception. Interestingly, approximately 50% of the pax had not cruised HAL before. I have to tell you I never overheard a complaint all week, which was really exceptional. But then again, there is nothing I can think of to complain about on the Oosterdam!! We had an exceptional and very relaxing cruise, albeit much too quick. DH and I look forward to many more cruises on the 'O' as she is a fabulous ship with an equally wonderful staff!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
Our 3rd cruise with HAL - 1st time on the Oosterdam 3/3 to 3/10. We are a husband and wife, 69 & 66 and have taken over 15 cruises on lines such as Royal Caribbean;Windstar;Crystal;Princess etc. We drove from the San Fernando Valley ... Read More
Our 3rd cruise with HAL - 1st time on the Oosterdam 3/3 to 3/10. We are a husband and wife, 69 & 66 and have taken over 15 cruises on lines such as Royal Caribbean;Windstar;Crystal;Princess etc. We drove from the San Fernando Valley to San Diego; dropped our luggage off at the Pier and parked across the street. Very easy with no stress. It took approx 20 minutes going through the lines to check in and receive our cabin key and info packet.We had "Pre-Registered" on line and that saved time. Our cabin, Veranda #7109 was quite spacious with 3 large closets, a bathroom with tub/shower. The Queen size bed was very comfortable and the linens were 1st Class. Flat screen TV with a DVD player; refrigerator and all amenities were very good. Cabin steward kept the room clean,ice bucket filled and well stocked through out the cruise. Our dining was in the Vista Dining Room, 2nd deck, in the far aft of the dining room. The "good" in this area is not much traffic walking around you -- the "bad" is we could really feel the vibration from the ships engines and that made some people very uncomfortable. With one of the Azipods still out of commission you may want to dine in the middle of the room. We only ate our dinners here and I have to say that the food was very well served, presented, and good. We were actually surprised how good the food and selection was. The waiters could not do enough for us. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Lido Restaurant, Deck 9. It is buffet style with quite a large variety of items to choose from each day. For Breakfast there were stations for making pancakes, french toast, omelets, eggs "your" way, bacon, ham, sausage, etc........every kind of dry/hot cereals, sweet rolls, toast, bagels and lox - well you get the idea. There was always someone to carry your tray and find you a table. Once again the staff are terrific, friendly and wanting to make your cruise experience on the Oosterdam the best so you will continue to choose HAL. For lunch you could go to the Grill on the Pool Deck for hamburgers, hot dogs, turkey burgers, french fries. Also a taco bar on Pool Deck. There was always many desserts including a variety of ice creams and puddings every day. Also many "theme" meals. We ate one evening in The Pinnacle Grill - which has a service charge of $30 per person and is supposed to be their gourmet restaurant specializing in "the best steaks ever". We were impressed with the staff, the dinning room experience and the "starter" items. We were extremely disappointed in the steaks (Filet Mignon). They were tough and stringy and we had to send them back. The second ones were not much better. The hostess and waiters were very embarrassed and apologetic. NOTE: The Filets we had the last evening in the Vista Dining Room were better!! HAL has adopted a "arrive at your leisure" dining. Early seating between 5:30PM and 6PM - and - late seating between 8PM and 9PM. We do not think this works out very well. At early seating if one or two couples arrive at 5:30PM they either have to wait until the other people show up - or - if the 5:30PM guests are served first then it is disturbing when the others show up a 6PM. This should be rethought. The entertainment in the Vista Lounge was just OK. The entertainers worked very hard to please and the energy level was quite high at all times. The costumes were well done. The sound system seemed to be off most evenings and the loudness of the sound (pre recorded music) drowned out the voices of the singers. The show room is very beautiful but one has to arrive early for a performance and choose a seat where the view of the show is not obstructed by the many huge posts. The Interned Center is well spaced out with a lot of computers. The cost to use the internet, I think,a little high. There is a one time activation fee of $3.95. There are 3 "Time Packages". (1)250 minutes for $100 (2) 100 minutes for $55 -or-(3)Pay as you go rate of .75 a minute. In cabin Dial-Up is a pay as you go rate of .50 per minute. The last day they have a "Special Rate" of $12 or 30 minutes with a $3.95 activation fee. If you bring your laptop the costs are the same and there are designated places on the ship that it will work. We have been to all three ports many times and just relax most of the time. There were plenty of tours to take at each port and the charges were reasonable. In Cabo San Lucas we took the Discovery Whale Watching boat trip; in Mazatlan we just walked around; and in Puerto Vallarta we took the complimentary shuttle to the Diamond Inter'l store in town. Puerto Vallarta is our favorite town with lots to do, see, and good restaurants. Bottom line - this is a cruise line that really wants to make you happy and have you return to take other HAL cruises. We were very impressed with the Oosterdam, its crew, staff, accommodations,food, activities etc. NOTE: the ship is very clean and everywhere you turn there is another station for washing your hands - on and off the ship. Very well maintained. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
My second cruise, first was on NCL to Central America one year ago and enjoyed it. Traveled with my 19 year old son during his college spring break. Picked this cruise because we were traveling from Idaho and this left at 5 PM on a ... Read More
My second cruise, first was on NCL to Central America one year ago and enjoyed it. Traveled with my 19 year old son during his college spring break. Picked this cruise because we were traveling from Idaho and this left at 5 PM on a Saturday and arrived back at 8 AM on a Saturday, allowing us to fly in and out on those days. We included transport to and from airport with our booking, and HAL was very efficient. We were on the ship 30 minutes after landing at San Diego, and at the airport 30 minutes after disembarking the ship. We had all forms filled in that were either available on line or mailed to us, and that greatly decreased the check in time. The ship was built in 2003, and over all is very clean and well kept. Holds around 1900 passengers and 800 crew. Wait staff and room stewards are Indonesian, bar staff Filipino. We booked a Veranda Suite - SY 6059 - and it was a nice sized room, around 390 square feet including balcony. Had a whirlpool bath/shower combo and a stand alone shower, two sinks in the bathroom, plenty of closet and drawer space, two desks, bath robes, flat screen TV, veranda had 4 chairs and a table - we were very pleased with the room. Most mornings ordered a room service light breakfast, and it was delivered within 20 minutes. If you know when you will be up, they provide forms so that you can order room service the night before, if you desire. Also provided a slip to fill out indicating the type of fruit you will like restocked in your room each day. Ate two or three breakfasts and all lunches in the Lido dining room (buffet style) and it offered lots of selections - very easy to eat a healthy meal, if you so elected. HAL has just recently liberalized its evening dining policy. Rather than having to show up at a specific time, you now show up within a window - if assigned to early dining you show up between 6 and 6:30, if late, you show up between 8 and 9 - we requested late dining in order to avoid conflict with excursions and liked the system. All of our dinners were in the Vista dining room except one night at the Pinnacle Grill. Our wait staff was excellent, really enjoyed talking to Rudi and Freddy, our stewards, about their Indonesian homeland, and the meals were good with a good variety each night. Pinnacle Grill was also very good, but not worth the extra $30/person "nominal fee" and its portions were too large, in my opinion. We weren't interested in many of the traditional cruise activities, like bingo, shopping seminars, jewelry shopping, art auctions and towel folding lessons, so did not participate in those. I did go on a tour of the kitchens, and it was very interesting to see how they put together thousands of meals a day. The show productions were somewhat disappointing - the singers and dancers were talented and energetic, but the music in the shows was dated - mostly 70s stuff - and just not that interesting. A couple of comedians were ok, some guy they call a humorist - playing a ukulele and telling old jokes - was horrible. The highlight of the entertainment was an American Idol type Karaoke competition that ran all week with the finals on Friday. We were fortunate to have some very talented folks on board, so it was fun to watch and filled up the main showroom for the finale. The entertainment around the ship - pianist in the Piano Bar, string quartet in another bar, the band and its lead singer that played in different venues - all were talented and entertaining. Excursions were typical tourist oriented stuff - in Cabo, took a boat tour out to El Arco - lands end - and it was pretty dramatic. Also went to a restaurant for refreshments high above Cabo overlooking the bay and visited Cabo Wabo, Sammy Hagar's bar noted for its smooth tequila. Met friends in Mazatlan, so no excursion. In Puerto Vallarta, went on a whale watching, snorkeling and beach boat trip with Vallarta Adventures - kind of hokey with crew dancing and putting on skits, but did see whales and enjoyed the beach. Snorkeling doesn't compare with Caribbean. Also visited the Cuban bar downtown (can't remember the name) but it is a neat place with signatures all over the walls and pictures of celebrities - famous for its Mojitos (they are good). Would like to eat there if we ever return. Exercise facilities are adequate and the walk around the promenade is a great way to start the day - 3 laps equal a mile. All kinds are out there every morning, the strollers usually carrying a book, cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette, the power walkers with arms flailing and the joggers - I swear one little Japanese lady cut through at midship just so she could lap me a few extra times. Biggest disappointment was the lack of decent sports coverage. There is a sports bar on the ship, but its only feed was an international ESPN that only seemed to cover rally racing and European basketball. They did obtain a bizarre feed of the NCAA basketball tournament - it was a raw feed with no cut aways for commercials, highlights from other games, halftime reports. On NCL they had very good sports coverage. Another strange development was that our port times were changed after booking apparently because of problems with one of the engines - the ship couldn't travel as fast - so our port times were cut down. Everyone was given a $25 credit to make up for the problem. HAL has a reputation for having an older clientele. Perhaps because it was spring break time, there were a large number of 16-25 year olds on board, all traveling with their families and all appearing to have a good time. HAL seems trapped by its reputation, and needs to update some of its entertainment to appeal to folks younger than 60. Overall, we had a great time, the service was outstanding, the facilities were nice, the food was good, really enjoyed visiting with fellow passengers and most folks seemed to enjoy their trip. Most importantly, my 19 year old son also had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
This was our first cruise on HAL and the family really enjoyed it. I was hesitant about HAL because I was concerned that there wouldn't be any families with kids on board, but there were people of all ages and plenty of kids. We were ... Read More
This was our first cruise on HAL and the family really enjoyed it. I was hesitant about HAL because I was concerned that there wouldn't be any families with kids on board, but there were people of all ages and plenty of kids. We were on the 3/24 sailing and the weather in Mexico was great --in the 80's and sunny. We live in Arizona, so we drove to San Diego and parked at the garage across from the pier. Embarkation was very fast -- there were no lines to check-in and we got right on the ship. Our luggage arrived at the stateroom quickly. We were in cabin 4180, an aft suite. The cabin was very nice with a big bathroom/dressing area and comfy king size bed. There was more storage space than we could fill -- we probably only used half of it! The wrap-around balcony for this suite is very large, however, the balcony furniture is worn and needs to be replaced. The cabin steward was attentive and brought fresh fruit every day. The kids gobbled up all the grapes and the steward kept bringing bigger bunches each day...yummy! The suite is a triple, so we also had an interior cabin, 4171, for two of the kids. The interior cabin was small but it was fine since the family spent most of the time in the suite. The bedding was comfortable in the interior cabin - I really didn't notice a big difference between the "upgraded" bedding in the suite compared to the interior cabin. The suite did have better toiletries than the interior cabin, but the main difference between the two was the space (of course!). The only complaint with the suite was the vibration from the broken motor. The vibration was very noticeable in the suite as well as the aft portion of the upper dining room where we were seated. It was like sleeping on one of those vibrating beds - constant shaking. The interior cabin was on the other side of the ship and there was no noticeable vibration there. We ate breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill each morning which is a perk that comes with the suite. The breakfast menu was the same as the dining room but we really enjoyed the attentive service there. Another great perk was the Neptune Lounge which has a cappuccino machine and tasty snacks. We ate lunch and dinner in the main dining room. Our waiter, Hari, was awesome. He did magic tricks for the kids each night and provided excellent service. The food was very good -- we liked it all, appetizers, soups, salads, entrees. The selection of entrees was good - fish/seafood, beef, pasta and other options like pork, lamb or duck each night. The only entree that I did not like was the sirloin steak on the first night. There was a kids menu available at dinner which was the same each night. The food in the Lido was actually pretty good. The kids liked the ice cream and the pizza. The "chocolate extravaganza" was disappointing...there were many chocolate fountains but there weren't enough interesting things to dip -- just sticks with fruit like melon and pineapple but no strawberries to be found! Chocolate covered grapes - yick! We really enjoyed the comedian, Derrick Cameron. He had two shows, one of which was an adults-only show at 10:30 -- both shows were excellent. The other entertainment was good. I'm not a big fan of musical production shows - we did go to the show "Escape" and found it better than most shows of this type. The comedy-magic show was just "okay". The cruise director, Dan, said that usually they have more of a traditional Vegas-type magic show - we would have enjoyed that more. We did not take any shore excursions. We just went to the beach in Cabo where we rented a wave runner (the beach vendors there are overwhelmingly annoying). We went to the El Cid resort in Mazatlan which was nothing special but the kids had fun swimming in the pool. In PV, we went to the waterpark in Nuevo Vallarta and had a great day there. The cab ride was $20 each way and the admission to the park was $17 for adults and $14 for kids. The water slides and lazy river were great. They also had a bird show, seal show and dolphin show. My son did the swim with the dolphins program ($99 including park admission). My 7 year old daughter really enjoyed Club Hal. They had many fun activities - art projects, games, outdoor games like water balloons and such. She loved it all. The 11 and 13 year old boys had no interest in Club Hal or the teen activities, so they did not participate. They enjoyed the movies, the pool and the sports court. Disembarkation was a breeze. The only delay was getting the car out of the parking garage -- there was one person working and a huge line of cars to exit. Overall we had a great cruise...we felt the service and food were terrific. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was our first cruise out of San Diego, and our 5th cruise with Holland America. Firstly, it was an absolute pleasure to sail from San Diego. The pier is a quick 1.5 miles from the airport, and Hertz shuttled us over at no cost. San ... Read More
This was our first cruise out of San Diego, and our 5th cruise with Holland America. Firstly, it was an absolute pleasure to sail from San Diego. The pier is a quick 1.5 miles from the airport, and Hertz shuttled us over at no cost. San Diego is a great place to explore, and next time I will schedule more time, but for this trip it was in the night before the cruise. I will start this review by telling you that I am not particularly fond of Holland America because the crowd is generally too old for me. I am 41, and my mother is 64. We tend to cruise together since dad passed so we compromise on selection of cruises. Holland America is ALWAYS a compromise for me because of the elderly crowd which it attracts. That being said, I was very happy with the speed of check-in which started at about 11:30AM. The ship had 940 passengers out of a possible 1980 so there was another reason to be happy. Upon boarding, we were not met with the normal white-gloved escorts, but told that we can leave our carry-ons in the lounge and proceed to the Lido for a buffet lunch as cabins would not be available until 1:30PM. So there was everyone, with luggage, sitting around the Lido waiting like caged animals. After all, your carry-on usually has the important stuff like jewelry, medicine, or laptops so who wants to leave it unattended? Upon entering our cabin (1049 on the Main Deck), we were VERY happily surprised. If you look at the deck plans for the Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Zuiderdam (all sister ships), you will see that the insides along the corridor between the Purser's Desk and the forward elevators appear to be double the size of the outsides across the hall. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE! These are the cabins normally available to families, but they are regular J category so available to anyone! I highly recommend them. The steward told us they were 255 sq ft each. We immediately called an booked a spot at the Pinnacle Grille for the 3rd night of the cruise. Good thing we did because the service in the Vista Dining Room was HORRIBLE! DINING ROOM: As the ship was only half full, they decided to only use one level of the dining room and hold open seating for dinner from 6:00PM to 9:00PM. This was a HUGE mistake for a cruise line that advertises 5-star service. When you walked into the dining room, a Head Waiter with a laptop asked for your room number and then assigned you a table after he asked your preference- IE window, 2/4/6/8 seat table, etc. The problem was that they were seating people around the dining room in a haphazard manner. Therefore, when we were seated the first night, our waiter was serving dessert to the next table, mains to another, salads to a third while taking our order. It was completely confusing and out of sync to the waiters- and it showed in their service. It did not improve the entire cruise for lunch or dinner. After the first dinner, we spoke to the Head Waiter who apologized profusely, and promised us his best waiter the next night. The next afternoon, he sent a personal note an chocolate covered strawberries to the cabin. Nice touch, but service did not improve. Food was good but not extraordinary. Generally not hot in temperature and not seasoned all that well. Their fish dishes, however, were outstanding. On the last night, we ate in the Pinnacle Grille. We had done this on the Ryndam last May in Alaska and had a WONDERFUL time. The cover charge in May was $20pp and completely worth every penny. On the Oosterdam, the Pinnacle Grille was twice the size. Service was just as exceptional, but the Ribeye was chewy. When the check came, the cover charge was raised to $30pp. Given the meal quality, I was not as happy this time. In fact the Executive Chef was table hopping and I told him of my chewy steak, and he agreed that Holland America has not been receiving good Ribeyes from their supplier. So why serve them? He did nothing about the service charge for an uneaten steak, nor did they offer to replace it with something else. This experience was reflected on the survey at the end of the trip. Lido Dining on the first day was good, but we do not normally do buffets so I have no consistent experience. Entertainment was routine stuff- 2 reviews and one comedian. Disembarkation was horrible in Victoria, Canada. It was raining and the terminal is about the size of a 3 room house so the line extended about 300 feet out of the building in the rain. Bad planning, and the ship should have held people on until the line thinned, but they kept them coming off. Holland America bus transfer tot he airport was convenient, but we sat for 30 minutes waiting for the bus to fill up, but this happens at every port. Overall, we paid $172pp for a 3 night repositioning cruise, and I feel that I got good value, but was disappointed in the service level. While Holland America may not be MY first choice because of the older crowd, I do give them very high marks for service. Unfortunately, I did not see it on this cruise. As a point of interest, this ship was scheduled into a 2 week drydock at the end of our cruise to fix one of the Azipod engines and spruce up for the Alaska season. Would I take Holland America again? Sure. They sell service which I have definitely received in the past. The ship was very nice itself. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
We splurged on the penthouse since we were traveling with kids and wanted the privacy of a separate bedroom, but at the same time wanted our 'tween kids in the same room (instead of a separate cabin or on a couch next to our bed). The ... Read More
We splurged on the penthouse since we were traveling with kids and wanted the privacy of a separate bedroom, but at the same time wanted our 'tween kids in the same room (instead of a separate cabin or on a couch next to our bed). The suite was huge and well worth the expense. However, we were surprised at how much the wooden walls and ceilings squeaked when we were at sea. For a 4 year old ship, this seemed unusual and something we have not noticed on other cruises we have been on. The food was quite good, considering the number of people being served at one time, and the service was truly excellent. The waiters, cabin steward, and women in the Neptune Lounge were extraordinarily helpful and nice. We all also loved Hunky Dory, one of the staff in the Lido Buffet that remarkably could remember everyone's name. We really enjoyed the village tour outside of Mazatlan and the canopy tour in the mountains an hour outside of Puerto Vallarta. We loved flying through the trees on zip lines. I would recommend both of those tours. The snorkeling in Cabo was disappointing as the water was freezing and we saw no fish. Overall, we had a great time!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2007
Much has been written about the azipod problem with the Oosterdam, so that won't be dealt with here. Hopefully, this propulsion dilemma is a one-off and will be corrected once the ship is in dry dock. This was our first Holland ... Read More
Much has been written about the azipod problem with the Oosterdam, so that won't be dealt with here. Hopefully, this propulsion dilemma is a one-off and will be corrected once the ship is in dry dock. This was our first Holland America experience so we went into this cruise with open minds. Prepared to enjoy ourselves, the cruise was just adequate. Embarkation was lovely, so fast and easy. Disembarkation was exactly the same. The food was delicious, especially in the Pinnacle Grill. Although we had second seating for dinner, the Vista Dining Room was never enjoyed for dinner. The vibration and rolling of the ship where our table was located (right on the stern) was just too annoying. The clattering/clinking of the china made conversation almost impossible. Wanting to experience the Royal Dutch High Tea, the vibration and clatter was braved. Thankfully, our table was more towards the mid-section so the noise wasn't as bad. At least the table was nice as the service was lousy. We were three-quarters of the way through the meal before tea was offered...and that was after a waiter had been flagged some time before. Tea was then served, but it was another long wait for lemon/milk. Thankfully, the Lido Restaurant and Terrace Grill were pleasant. The wait staff was right on top of things and extremely helpful. Our cabin steward was tremendous. Our cabin was not. The bath mat was black from mold, the curtain between the balcony and the bed was broken, and the upper cabinet above the sofa was hanging by one hinge. That we had corrected as it was a definite safety problem. The items in the shops, which were marked 50% off, had been marked up to be marked down. The original $16.00 price was blacked out, with $20 written beside it. Unfortunately, the original asking price of $16.00 was still clearly showing. All the calls for cleanliness and sanitizing hands should have been employed by the staff, also. Noticed at the Sea View Bar (by the adult pool) was the bartender wiping the rim of a glass onto his bare palm and then filling the glass with a drink...which was then served to the customer who was pool-side. No shore excursions were done. Overall experience? Have had better cruises where all the 'niceties' have been covered. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Having cruised many times, this was my first trip with Holland America. As a suite traveler, embarkation and disembarkation processes were the most facilitating. The suite was well appointed and with ample space. The room was clean and ... Read More
Having cruised many times, this was my first trip with Holland America. As a suite traveler, embarkation and disembarkation processes were the most facilitating. The suite was well appointed and with ample space. The room was clean and with more than adequate close space. The shower and jacuzzi tub were both extremely clean. The Neptune Lounge was a God send. The young ladies who managed the lounge were efficient and pleasant. A place to have issued solved quickly without a long line at the pursers desk. I had a cocktail reception for 7 others in my traveling party. Abigail , one of the Neptune hostesses, made all the arrangements. Delivery of the hot and cold hors d'oeuvres was quite prompt. Every thing was nicely arranged. The Pinnacle Grill was well worth the $30. The food ,service and attention were notably distinctive. The Royal Dutch High Tea and the Indonesian Tea were quite special. However no Devonshire cream with the scones. The shops were not well appointed. Appeared rather common and with not much variety. Overstocked to some extent. I did not utilized the Lido Restaurant too often. One day they happen to run out of juice glasses and tea cups. A 10 minute wait before they were replenished. I did not participate in any organized tours. There were some days of high waves. disappointedly the ship creaked very often . The closets doors opened frequently with the rolling making a sound as if some one was knocking at the cabin door. HAd to get out of bed a few times to close the doors ,as well as make sure that no one was at the cabin door. Annoying!! The Formal Nights lacked some of the usual festive atmosphere. Some fellow travelers and their children ignored the dress code "FORMAL" and opted for the jeans and polo or tee shirt attire. HAL needs to address this faux pas. Overall, I had a pleasant cruise. The niceties of the Neptune Lounge was well worth it. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
10 Tips You Need to Know About the Oosterdam Mexican Riviera Cruise This review became longer than expected! We split it into sections if you want to read just those areas of interest. There are also 10 specific tips included in our ... Read More
10 Tips You Need to Know About the Oosterdam Mexican Riviera Cruise This review became longer than expected! We split it into sections if you want to read just those areas of interest. There are also 10 specific tips included in our review. OVERALL. For us, any cruise is a spectacular and wonderful experience. We really enjoyed the food, service, cabin, ship, entertainment and ports on this cruise. If you are considering this cruise - go! This was our 3rd cruise and our first with HAL. We have also cruised with RCL and Princess. We did this same itinerary last year on the Diamond Princess. This cruise on the Oosterdam left from San Diego and made stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta and then back to San Diego. This was our first cruise in a Suite. Our 3 cruises have been in an ocean view cabin, a balcony and now this suite. The suite was by far the largest cabin we have experienced. Overall, we were just as happy with the balcony and will probably stick to balcony cabins on future cruises unless the suite price is close to the balcony price Now that we've taken a few cruises, we have points of reference to compare our experiences. We were expecting HAL to be a notch above RCL and Princess since they are a "premium" cruise line. This was a great cruise, but we would rank our RCL and Princess cruises as slightly better than this HAL cruise. There were a number of minor issues, but nothing interfered with our complete enjoyment and relaxation during this cruise. We've made notes of our minor issues in the sections below. AIRPORT TO CRUISE TERMINAL. Our flight arrived at the San Diego airport. This was a chartered cruise and the travel agency had arranged transfers to the pier for most passengers. After getting our bags at the airport, we were informed that there would be a long wait for the group shuttles to the pier. We opted to take a short taxi ride to the pier rather than wait with the crowd at the airport. We also took a cab back to the airport at the end of the cruise. Cab fare from the airport to the pier is cheap - about $10 and about a 10 minute ride. TIP 1: Save money on transfers and just take a cab if you need to get from the San Diego airport to the pier for a cruise - it is quick and cheap! CRUISE TERMINAL. We arrived at the dock at about 1 PM, and there was a small line waiting to check baggage outside the cruise terminal. You drop your bags outside in the parking lot before you enter the cruise terminal - we started to take our bags with us into the terminal and had to do an about face to drop them off. We then entered the cruise terminal and were pleased to find very short lines through the security check point. We moved quickly through security and then found ourselves in a much longer line to get to the HAL check in counters. Even so, the wait was less than 30 minutes to the counter. We had done the online check in and had our HAL pre-boarding passes, so we were shuttled to the shorter line. Those without their pre-boarding passes had to wait in the longer lines. TIP 2: Have your passport & HAL online pre-boarding passes when you arrive at the terminal and you'll get onboard quicker! CABIN. By 2 PM we were onboard and found our cabin was ready. We dropped our carry on bags in the cabin and headed to the Lido Buffet and then on to exploration of our new home for the week. Our suite was SS8082 on the Navigation deck. This is the highest deck with cabins on the ship. The suite is very large. The bathroom is spacious with 2 sinks, a full-size jetted bathtub and a separate shower. There is a large queen bed with 6 pillows - 2 each of soft, medium and hard pillows. We loved the extra pillows. There was also a sofa, plenty of drawers and closet space and a very large verandah. The verandah included a small table and chairs for eating or drinks plus 2 comfortable cushioned chairs with ottomans. We love having a balcony and will select a balcony cabin for future cruises. We're not as convinced on the suite. The 2 advantages of the suite compared to a balcony are the bathtub and the extra storage space. We brought plenty with us, but there was so much room, we didn't use all the storage space provided. TIP 3: If you can live without a bathtub and a lot of extra storage space, save some money and reserve a balcony cabin. If you love a nice bath - then spring for the suite on this ship! SAN DIEGO. Since we arrived & boarded fairly early we had time to explore the exterior decks and take in the views from onboard ship in the harbor. To the south of the ship, we could see the docked USS Midway & museum. While in port there were a few air force jets that screamed over the harbor - what a thrill! On the north side, we could see Star of India (the world's oldest active ship) and the B-39 Soviet Attack Submarine museum. There were boats and activity all around the harbor next to the cruise terminal. We also noticed that there is a Holiday Inn at the Bay straight across the street from the cruise terminal. TIP 4: If you can add a day before or after your cruise, stay at the Holiday Inn at the Bay. You can WALK from the hotel to the cruise terminal and there are an incredible variety of inviting activities and restaurants right at your doorstep! WINE & SPIRITS ONBOARD. We had read online that HAL sells wine cards for house wine during the cruise. We like wine, so we wanted to taste the house wine. The house Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were all fine for Dan but the house White Zinfandel was not as good for Janean. We bought a wine card for Dan and opted to buy wine by the bottle and glass for Janean. We had to ask 4 servers before we found someone with a wine card we could buy. The servers seemed less than excited about selling the wine cards, but the card worked nicely once we found it and it saved us money. The house selections are limited and may not work for you, but if you can find a house wine, it will only cost about $4 per glass with the wine card (compared to $40-60 plus for a bottle or $6-10 plus for wine by the glass). On day 1, we also had an enthusiastic server sell us a cocktail card for discounted cocktails. He was persuasive and fun, so we bought a card. The cocktail card was a little more frustrating to use. HAL has a limited definition for "cocktails". If you don't order a specific "foo-foo" drink, your drink won't work with the cocktail card. Dan likes a bourbon and water after dinner, but that is not a "cocktail" on the Oosterdam. We had to resort to asking for a whisky-sour, but "hold the sour and add water instead" to be able to use the card. The servers were put out and pretty rigid about what could and couldn't be ordered with the cocktail card. The cocktail card cost is about $5 per drink, which can be lower than the $5-$8 price per cocktail depending upon what you order. TIP 5: If you drink wine or spirits, wait until you are on the ship and taste the house wine or confirm that your preferred drink is on the "cocktail" list. The cards can save you money, but make sure you like what you can order with the cards before you buy the card. THE SHIP. The Oosterdam has 936 cabins and will accommodate 1848 guests. It is easy to find your way around this ship. We really liked the 4 glass elevators which are mid-ship - a pair on the starboard and another pair on the port side. The glass elevators seemed to be less busy also. The Lido Buffet takes up most of the Lido deck. You can't miss it once you're on the Lido deck. The Vista Dining for dinners is aft and again, once you get aft and on the right deck - you can't miss it. The Promenade deck has a deck that completely encircles the ship. It is a pleasant way to walk off some of those big meals! Three laps around the ship equals one mile. We very much enjoyed the upper observation deck. You can sit in the hot tub, lie in a lounge or Adirondack chair or kick back with a drink at a table. Dan particularly enjoyed the wide-angle view of the sea and the horizon off the aft observation deck - the wake view from the rear of the ship is amazing. TIP 6: Take an exploration stroll around the public areas of the ship during the day and find a great window seat for ocean viewing - there are many choice seats in the empty bars with great views of the ocean. Related to the ship, there were a few issues. We noticed stray "sewer" smells around different parts of the ship and at different times of the day. We haven't noticed unpleasant odors on the other cruises we've taken, but we had at least 2-3 encounters with this unpleasant odor every day while on the Oosterdam. Also, our dinner companions had a plumbing problem during the cruise. We're not sure what happened or what caused the problem, but a number of cabins were without water for several hours on one day during the cruise. The A/C didn't keep up with the heat while docked in Puerto Vallarta. The Oosterdam uses ocean water to help cool the ship. While we were docked in Puerto Vallarta, the ship's temperature rose into the 80s everywhere onboard. It hit the crew of the ship hardest - they had been in the cool Alaskan climate all summer - this was their first cruise of the season to Mexico. The afternoon and evening in Puerto Vallarta were uncomfortably warm everywhere on the ship making passengers and crew pretty uncomfortable. ENTERTAINMENT. Showtime with Joel Mason is a tribute/comedy act to Elton John and he is AMAZING! The Romanian Tempo String Quartet in the Explorer's Lounge was wonderful! The karaoke competition on this cruise was incredible. Most of the participants had already cut CDs of their own music. We would have paid to see most of the karaoke performers at their own shows! The Broadway shows (A Rock & Roll tribute & An Island Music tribute) were ok. The comedienne Julie Barr was funny. The piano player in the Piano Bar didn't keep us in the Piano Bar (which is unusual for us - we love piano players). We missed the magic show and the piano player in the Crow's nest. TIP 7: Do NOT miss the Showtime with Joel Mason - Elton John show! DINING. HAL is still pretty traditional. We prefer the anytime dining options and less formal attire. We were stuck with 5:30 PM early seating and missed dinner 3 times on this cruise due to the early start time. We prefer less formal attire for dining options - which are very limited on this ship. Men are asked to wear a suit or tux for the 2 formal nights and a coat to dinner ALL other nights on this 7 day cruise. According to HAL policy, if you're not in a coat, your only other dining option is the buffet or room service. Thankfully, reality onboard is much different than the written HAL dress code. Most fellow cruisers were less formally dressed than we were - and BRAVO to them! HAL should loosen the written dress code because reality is much less formal than their dress code states. We would have packed much lighter and enjoyed the cruise more if we had known that the dress code is not really that formal. TIP 8: If you prefer informal, you can pack lighter and dress less formally than HAL requests - long pants and a button up shirt are the only real requirement for men - even on formal dining nights. VISTA DINING ROOM. The food was spectacular and the dining room service was great! There was one minor annoyance at dinner. Dan used his discount wine card to order wine with our dinners. He received more than one lecture and scowl, complete with cringed nose about drinking the "cheap" wine when he used his wine card at dinner. Yes, the house wine costs less with the card and isn't as good as the $10 per glass vintages, but it was very acceptable to Dan. We're guessing that the wine stewards may be paid a commission on their wine/spirits sales. Whether that is the case or not, the service shouldn't be based on the price of the wine. Dinners would have been more enjoyable if the wine steward had pleasantly served the house wine & wished him bon appEtit. LIDO BUFFET. The food and service were great. It can be hard to find a seat at times. Janean loved the fresh garlic on the dishes at the pasta bar. Dan is an ice cream freak - he attacked the ice cream bar often. He also loved the dessert cheese plates. There is a stand-out food server onboard & if you're lucky you'll have him at your dinner table. But, if not, he is also at the Lido Buffet for breakfast and lunch to greet EVERYONE. His name is Hunky Dory (sing it when you say it!) and everyone on this cruise knows who he is! By day 2 Hunky Dory knew our names and greeted us by name every day the rest of the cruise. He was calling all the guests by their first name. What a fun & amazing young man - he personalized the service and made dining an experience! CABO. We took the Todos Santos (Hotel California) shore excursion. We recommend avoiding this shore excursion for the next several months. There is significant highway construction north of Cabo on Highway 19. The 42 mile drive took about 2.5 hours each way. We're not sure when the construction will be finished but any shore excursions that go north of Cabo will head right into the heart of the construction. We spent about 5 hours on the bus and barely over an hour in Todos Santos. The drive up the peninsula was pretty - but that is too much bus time for us. Also, Hotel California was hardly accessible on the tour - they weren't quite ready for the tourist season. The shore excursion season had just started, but this trip was a bust for us. Tip 9: If you don't like to spend precious shore excursion time on a bus, avoid road trips and excursions heading north of Cabo until highway 19 construction is done. MAZATLAN. We took the Copala/Concordia shore excursion. The brick making stop is an interesting and informal stop on the side of the road to watch an adobe brick making demonstration. It will make you appreciate your job - whatever it is! The man making the bricks had a 6-pack of muscles - on his back! The furniture/pottery making was a little disappointing. The bus stops at the "furniture factory" which is really a souvenir shopping stop. They have the power tools and there is actual woodworking being done, but it's a stop to sell you their stuff. The wooden rolling pin we bought split within days after we returned home. We're glad we didn't shell out more money for anything else at this stop. In Concordia, there is a laid back pueblo and a 16th century cathedral but not much time to explore. Copala is the highlight of the trip. It is a 16th century gold & silver mining pueblo, now home to 900 people complete with cobblestone roads, donkeys, a small art gallery, a cathedral and a great Mexican lunch buffet. The surrounding jungle mountains are gorgeous. It was a beautiful setting and a fun shore excursion for us. TIP 10: The jewelry at the informal brick making stop was the lowest priced jewelry we found on all of our Mexico stops - if you want some inexpensive jewelry buy it where you see the brick making demonstration. PUERTO VALLARTA. We had planned on the Yelapa/Majahuitas catamaran shore excursion. The brochure said that we would have access to 2 private beaches on this trip. Fortunately, we read the cards about the shore excursion that were left in our cabin. We discovered that there was "no beach access" on this trip. This was the Oosterdam's first trip to Mexico of the season. It appears they hadn't worked out the kinks yet. The revised excursion would have had us on the catamaran all day in the hot sun with only kayaks and snorkeling allowed when we stopped - no beach access. The front desk told us we would be charged 10% for canceling. We appealed based on the change from what was printed in the brochure. It was fairly frustrating having to show them their own brochure and explain what had changed. To their credit, they did cancel and did not charge us the 10% fee. We made up our own excursion. We took a 30 minute cab south to the El Presidente Intercontinental Hotel, had lunch next to the beach, used their secluded beach, had massages on the beachfront, saw 2 turtles hatch, swam in the ocean with a couple of manta rays and had a wonderful time. All told, we spent about the same including massages as we would have on the catamaran excursion. We were happy that we changed our plans. DISEMBARKATION. We were in the last group to disembark. We were off the ship by about 11 AM. We did cut our flight a little close as the process took longer than we had expected, but fortunately the airport is close to the cruise terminal. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
This cruise was perhaps out 8th or so. We were a family that included 3 teens. We traveled with other families with a similar make-up on this Thanksgiving week. Embarking in San Diego is a breeze. Do not buy the cruise line transfers. I ... Read More
This cruise was perhaps out 8th or so. We were a family that included 3 teens. We traveled with other families with a similar make-up on this Thanksgiving week. Embarking in San Diego is a breeze. Do not buy the cruise line transfers. I would suggest a taxi. The port is about 5 minutes from the airport and the taxi will be cheaper and less of a hassle. Holland America has it together at this port. Getting on was a breeze. Although the rooms are not usually ready until 1:30, you can check your carry-on gear near the front pool area. Ship was in good shape. Previous reviews commented on rug deterioration, but the crew is replacing the rug as time goes on. Food is respectable. One member of our party wanted more of a healthy selection, so she would choose her selections the night before and it would be prepared by a special chef using low-fat type of ingredients. It worked out fairly well. Our food service was fair to poor. During previous cruises, one would order an appetizer, salad, soup and then entree because each was grouped in it's own section on the menu. On this cruise, the first three were all in one section. This may have caused some confusion in the service and maybe in the kitchen also because not everyone ordered a appetizer, soup and/or salad. The wine steward was great. Professional and personable. For those you don't consume huge amounts of wine, think about purchasing a 10 or 20 glass wine card. It is worth it. Buffet was good. If you are a creature of habit for breakfast, then no problem enjoying the food. Our room was on the Rotterdam desk. Clean and reasonable size. The hair dryer could had a bit more power though. The room steward was friendly and cleaned the room when expected. The kids room was a big mess. It was not the room steward fault, but the kids. We told the steward to just make sure the toilet was clean and they had toilet paper. After five days, the kids got tired, cleaned the room and we told the steward it was safe to return. Although there were many kids on this Holiday week, it was not out of control. Our kids were really too old for the kid's program, but other kids we knew just loved it. The Las Vegas entertainment was OK. Julie Bar the comedian, Elton John impersonator and the gymnastics person were very good. The cruise director was humorless and hardly entertaining. There were a couple of house bands on the ship, but they generally played only an hour a day somewhere on the ship. The amount of on-board activities seems to have dropped. There was bingo, trivia and thank goodness Thanksgiving day football on the big screen in a lounge. The fitness room was adequate. There were also ample number of classes to take, but most had a fee. The Greenhouse spa allowed access for a fee of $250 per couple for the entire week, which included unlimited use between 8AM and 10PM. This included warming chairs which was comprised of heated tiles. Very soothing and I fell asleep more than once. Also included was wet and dry saunas and a private mineral pool set at body temperature (could have been warmer). Holland America limits the amount of people that can purchase the package and thus the warmer chairs were available 11 of the 13 times we visited. We did not attend any of the free or pay-for cooking demonstrations. Members of our group did attend the pay-for Martini Mixer class and enjoyed it. Would we travel on this ship with this cruise line again. You bet. We saw no reason to shy away from Holland America or the Oosterdam. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2007
We are a couple in our early fifties with grown children. This was our sixth cruise: the second to the Mexican Riviera and the first on a Holland America Ship. Since we live in California we drove to the San Diego pier and were able to ... Read More
We are a couple in our early fifties with grown children. This was our sixth cruise: the second to the Mexican Riviera and the first on a Holland America Ship. Since we live in California we drove to the San Diego pier and were able to park right across the street. That was very handy, especially when we returned. EMBARKATION/LUGGAGE SERVICE/DISEMBARKATION The embarkation process went very smoothly even though the computers were down. We had pre-printed our boarding passes and had entered our credit card information on the HAL web site which helped us get processed without delay. The line was fairly long, but moved quickly. The HAL agent who served us was quite tired having just returned form a long voyage himself that morning, but quickly had us checked in and was very pleasant. We were quite impressed that once on the ship we were able to check our carry on luggage. Since we had driven to the ship we had used two large hanging bags to avoid wrinkled clothing. It was so nice to have a place to hang them while we enjoyed lunch. Our luggage arrived quicker than we have ever experienced. Within 15 minutes after are cabin was ready we had our checked luggage. We were amazed at the efficiency of HAL in this area. On criticism I would have is that the Life Boat drill was the longest we have ever experienced. We had to wait quite a while until stragglers arrived and were checked off the list. Disembarkation was just as easy as embarkation. HAL allows you to remain in your stateroom until it is time for you to disembark. Again, it was nice to be able to eat breakfast and then return to our room for our carry-on luggage. Another nice feature was HAL allowing you to choose what time you wanted to disembark if you had your own travel arrangements. THE SHIP We were quite impressed with the beauty of the Oosterdam. We have sailed on other ships that we considered more elegant, but the art collection on the Oosterdam was the best we have seen. We downloaded the podcast tour for the Oosterdam before sailing and it was a great way to experience the art collection aboard the ship. It took us about 90 minutes to take the tour which included the optional climbing up and down stairwells to view the art there. The lay out of the ship is very nice and we quickly found our way around. The public areas were very nice and we were pleased that second-hand smoke was not too noticeable. It was quite easy to detour around areas where smoking was permitted. (We have sailed on ships where you had to walk through a smoking area to enter the restaurant on the side where our table was located.) Our stateroom was a basic ocean view, but certainly more than adequate since we spend little time in our cabin. The bed was amazing. It was by far the most comfortable bed we've had at sea. In fact, my wife wondered if she slept better than at home because of the bed or the gentle rocking of the ship or a combination of both. I walk daily when at sea and have really enjoyed the walking deck on previous cruises. Since the walking decks I have experienced have always been near the top of the ship I wasn't sure about the promenade deck for walking, but I found I liked it even better being closer to the ocean. One the one day we had a bit of rain I could still walk since much of the deck was covered. OFFICERS & CREW We found the crew and officers exceptional in most areas. I had made the arrangements for our CC Meet and Greet and for our Banner Wave ahead of time. I had a note from the Beverage Manager in my cabin asking me to drop by his office to go over the arrangements. Everything was in order and HAL provided us with refreshments in the Oak Room on our first sea day. I also met the Hotel Manager, Doug Hernandez, before sailing to get the CC banner for our banner wave. He told me he was glad that we had scheduled our Meet and Greet for he afternoon so that he would be able to attend. We collected the names and cabin numbers at our Meet and Greet and we were invited to a cocktail party with the captain and several other officers later in the week. Doug also invited me to a Q & A session in his office on our last sea day along with a few others. I was quite impressed with the accessibility of the ship's officers. The front desk personnel and the future cruise consultant were all excellent in their service. We were a bit concerned about our cabin steward on our first day when our room had still not been made up at 3:30 in the afternoon. He was no where to be seen so I went to the front desk to see if there was a problem. It turns out that he had simply overlooked our room and thought he had already cleaned it. It was promptly cleaned. He apologized the next day and our service from then on was wonderful. He was very friendly, but I was a bit surprised that he didn't make an effort to learn our names. On previous cruises we've always been greeted by name by our cabin stewards. We were greeted by almost every member of the crew that we passed on the ship. They were very friendly and seemed eager to please. DINING We were quite surprised after embarkation to find that we had a choice of eating at the Lido buffet or in the restaurant. We chose the restaurant where we had a quite lunch while looking out at the San Diego Bay. It was a great way to begin the cruise. We asked to be seated at a large table and were at a table for 8 at the 8:30 seating. Dinners lasted almost 2 hours every night, but this was because we were at a table where we all enjoyed leisurely dining and conversation. We were often one of the last tables to leave. It was truly a highlight of each day. Our servers were quite friendly, but not the most efficient. Several times starters that were ordered never arrived. Again, I was surprised that our servers never made an effort to learn our names. Our waiter was quite good when it came to recommendations. When I had a hard time choosing I would asked him for his suggestion and I was never disappointed. Overall, the food was good, but not great. The salads were better than we've experienced, but the entrees were not quite as good. The desserts were often a disappointment. Our wine steward was wonderful. She has been with HAL for 10 years and even though she had many more tables than our servers she knew all of our names and greeted us by name each evening. We bought a wine card from her and drank only house wine so she didn't have great incentive to be so efficient, but she was anyway. I did tip her on the last night since we were so pleased with her service. We rarely ate at the Lido, but I did like the way they had separate stations. We are light breakfast eaters and the continental breakfast station was perfect for us and there was never a line there. We did eat lunch there once. I had sushi which wasn't too good and my wife got a hamburger from the grill which she said was ok. We did go to the Royal Dutch Tea which had a very long line. We were disappointed. We far prefer the formal teas we have experienced on another line where we were served by the waiters and the passengers had to dress for tea. We also went to the Indonesian Tea. We thoroughly enjoyed that. PORTS & EXCURSIONS CABO SAN LUCAS We booked an excursion online for the Yellow Submarine. It is a small fiberglass boat that holds 12 passengers. It has a lower deck with a bench and a large window on each side which are below water. It's like snorkeling without getting wet and with a much better view. We saw thousands of fish and there was only one other couple on our excursion so we had lots of room. They took us out past the arch and we saw the sea lions up close. There was also an opportunity to swim or snorkel for a short time. It was to last two hours, but went a bit longer. It's a new excursion and they have discontinued it until after whale watching season is over. Our guide's name was Marina and she was amazing. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone prone to sea sickness. It's a very light boat and rocked a lot whenever another boat passed. To get below you had to go down about six steps on a ladder so it would not be a good excursion for anyone with mobility issues or who is claustrophobic. MAZATLAN We love the Old Town in Mazatlan. We walked form the ship to Old Town. It's about twenty minutes, but I would only recommend walking to those who know how to get there. We started at the Cathedral where we entered and just sat for about 15 minutes in solitude to experience the beauty of the architecture and the furnishing. From there we visited a shop we discovered last winter called Nidart (Nest of Artists). It's owned by three families who make most of the art themselves. We went specifically to buy two leather masks as gifts. We bought three. (We already own two, so we decided to add another to our wall in addition to the two we bought as gifts. We also bought three small clay masks for our Daughter and her husband. They gave us a map to other galleries so we did visit those also and bought a couple of kaleidoscopes made of bamboo, hand made jewelry, pottery and a couple of wool scarves. These shops in Old Town are amazing although they can be difficult to find. We walked to Olas Altas and walked along the ocean taking pictures of bronze statues and saw the cliff divers. We then returned to Plaza Machado and had lunch and margaritas at Altazors ars Café before returning to the ship. PUERTO VALLARTA We were part of a group that our travel agent has put us in and we got a free excursion in PV. It was a city tour and Mexican Fiesta. It was OK, but not great. We did see the Cathedral which was nice. We were then taken to a Hacienda where we spent a lot of time touring their tequila factory which was interesting, but far too long. We had a mediocre Mexican lunch-no where near as good as the Mexican food in our little town in Central California. Afterwards there was an interesting show. The MC wasn't too good, but the dancers were very entertaining and a dancing horse proved to be the highlight of the tour. The "hacienda" had lots of venders hawking their wares. After returning to the ship we walked 5 minutes to Sam's Club and bought tequila and Kahlua for gifts at great prices. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment was quite mixed with some being very good and some not. We enjoy the shows and were quite disappointed that there was only one show on the first night and that it was during our dinner. Perhaps this was usual for HAL to have only one show, but it seemed as if we were penalized for choosing the late seating. The two cast shows were ok, but seemed to be planned around one singer who was quite good. The dancers were not together and a couple of the singers were weak. The shows themselves weren't choreographed too well, and overall were a disappointment. Lance Ringnald, former Olympic gymnast and a gold medalist performed one night. He is amazing, but he could use a good choreographer. He did many of the same things made popular by Cirque du Soleil performers, but without the artistry. His skill level; however, was probably greater than we've seen before. Joel Mason "Elton John" show was amazing. He's funny and quite talented. He plays the piano quite well. He is a great entertainer. The final show was a variety show put together by Joel Mason. I liked him even better at this show where he demonstrated his wide range of talent. He featured many other entertainers who were on the ship and let them shine. I was really impressed by that and by him. There were a couple of good pianists in the bars and an amazing string quartet. The HAL Cats band was good, but the singer was very weak. OVERALL This was our first HAL cruise. It was a good cruise, but not the best cruise we've had; however, the price was great which made it an exceptional value. We do plan to sail again on HAL next summer to Alaska based on price and itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
Overview My husband and I (who are in our late 20s) as well as my mother and grandmother took this 7 day cruise to the Mexican Riviera for Thanksgiving. This was the first time we had sailed Holland America after sailing on almost all the ... Read More
Overview My husband and I (who are in our late 20s) as well as my mother and grandmother took this 7 day cruise to the Mexican Riviera for Thanksgiving. This was the first time we had sailed Holland America after sailing on almost all the other cruise lines, and we used to work as Cruise Staff on Carnival. We drove to San Diego from L.A. The drive was not bad and we parked in the lot across the street from the ship. Parking was easy but costs $15 per day. Embarkation We arrived at the terminal around 11:30am-12:00pm. Embarkation was smooth and we were on the ship in no time. Stateroom We were very impressed with Holland America. The service was excellent! The ship was beautiful! We had an outside stateroom category HH with an obstructed view. I was surprised to find that while we did have a lifeboat blocking our view, the natural sunlight poured in during the days. It was wonderful! The room was a nice size with a small sitting area including a couch, table and chair. The rooms have flat screen TVs and DVD Players. The bathroom was very nice and the shower was extremely clean. Our cabin steward was excellent as well. The bed was very comfortable and the sheets and pillows were of good quality. Public Areas/Lounges All of the public areas of this ship were beautiful. The casino was medium sized but I never found it crowded. The gift shop had more jewelry than anything else. The crow's nest which is the lounge on deck 10 forward is really nice for looking out at the ports and ocean. It has a great view. Activities There were a bunch of activities to participate in, more on sea days, but it still seemed like there should have been more. The trivia's were too hard and the same people would play and win every time. Bingo was fun and was pretty well priced at $10 for a single card and $20 for a triple card, and most sessions were 4 games. The cooking demonstration was very nice and my grandmother enjoyed that more than I did as I don't cook. Dining Because the ship was over capacity at 2,100 guests, we had late sitting dinner at 8:30pm. The Oosterdam still has fixed traditional dinner sittings. No mention of the anytime dining yet. The food was excellent! Everything we had tasted great. We all ate too much! We had turkey and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. All the dining room servers were great. The lido buffet was also great. The ice cream bar with waffle cones is especially nice. They also have a tasty taco/fajita bar by the pool as well as a burger bar. All of it was great! Entertainment The entertainment on the ship was very good. The singers and dancers in the production/Las Vegas style shows were only ok. Carnival has much better production shows. We left half way through the first production show and didn't even see the second show. The dancing was good but the singing was not very good. And the sound was really bad. It sounded like someone was playing a tape recorder. All of the other shows were excellent. The comedian Julie Barr was hysterical. And Joel Mason doing the Elton John show was great! My favorite was Lance Ringnald the Olympic Gold Medalist. He performed a gymnastics/comedy show. Don't miss this show! And the last show of the night had Julie Barr, Joel Mason and Lance Ringnald. That was the funniest show and definitely not to be missed. Ports of Call We visited Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. While we had been to these ports a few times before, it was still nice to visit. We did not book any ship excursions but hired a taxi to take us around to see the sights. They are all nice and pretty much offer the same things - shopping and beaches. Beware in Mazatlan, as right off the ship are many vendors offering free tours and rides but in exchange you have to go to the Golden Zone and listen to a time share presentation. It was quite annoying after being approached by 10 people within 10 minutes. Just say no thank you and look for a taxi driver with a sign that says no time share. Other important things The ship offers movies to check out and watch on your DVD player in your stateroom. They keep a list of these movies at the front desk. They are free to rent but you have to put down a $30 deposit on your shipboard account. It is refunded back to your account when you return the movie. I really enjoyed this feature although most of the movies I wanted to see had already been checked out. But you are only allowed to keep a movie for 2 days so check back if you really want to see a particular movie. The library has a lot of games and puzzles to play with. I wanted to purchase a deck of cards so I went to the gift shop. The only set they had was 2 decks for about $7.00. I passed and later found out that I could purchase a deck of cards in the casino for $1. They are cards that have previously been used in the casino but are in great condition. A great deal! Every day there is a different special - the drink of the day. This is a good deal at $5.25. Most drinks are about $7.50. If you purchase you drink of the day from the casino bar you get a $5 casino card to play on either blackjack, roulette or craps. Another good deal. Tea time is fun and relaxing. Servers come around with various teas and desserts and appetizers. All are tasty. Disembarkation Disembarkation was smooth as well. We chose expedited service and carried our own luggage off the ship. We were among the first off the ship around 8:15am-8:30am. All we had to do was show our ship card to be logged off and then hand in our customs form. And we were on our way home! Summary My family and I had a great time on the Oosterdam. We were very impressed with Holland America in all aspects. The rooms were very nice, the food delicious, the service excellent, the entertainment great and overall everything was wonderful. I will definitely sail on Holland America again. I am interested in seeing the differences between the newer bigger Holland America Ships and the smaller older ones. For anyone wanting to book a cruise on this ship don't hesitate. It is wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
My sister and I booked a cruise to the Mexican Riviera on the Oosterdam; Nov.10th through Nov. 17th. My sister lives in San Diego, so a friend drove us right to the baggage drop off area. We had no problem with the check-in process. We had ... Read More
My sister and I booked a cruise to the Mexican Riviera on the Oosterdam; Nov.10th through Nov. 17th. My sister lives in San Diego, so a friend drove us right to the baggage drop off area. We had no problem with the check-in process. We had done the preliminary on-line check-in, so we were in and out in a matter of minutes. We were given our room/charge card, with a dining time of 8:30 PM. (We were hoping to change that time to 8 PM, and did later in the day, no problem.) Evidently, there was an on-line glitch and embarking was taking much longer than normal. We were given a number (36) and we sat down to wait our turn. A sweet little man that reminded us of Santa asked what number we had, and in a minute was back with the number that was boarding (21) Nice! It took us about 30 minutes in line to embark on the ship, but met some fun people while we were going up the plank. One guy had a huge box filled with wine and champagne. We brought a few bottles ourselves. We walked up to the Lido deck and had a little lunch. Roasted chicken, fresh salad and fruit. And of course the ships signature bread pudding with custard sauce. (Which we had every day of the cruise) Then it was on to check out our cabin for the next 7 days. Our cabin was #8027, outside balcony. The linens and towels were very nice. There were 2 bathrobes hanging up for our use. Bath and shampoo gels in little bottles (I like this better than the dispenser) and a well-stocked refrigerator. After a bit of juggling, we fit most of our things in the closet, shelves and found the drawers under the end of the bed as well as under the sofa, and filled the nightstand as well. There is also the vanity stool. The top opens! We packed our souvenirs in there. We went out on deck and watched as the Oosterdam pulled away from the docks, then went to our cabins to relax and wait for the infamous lifeboat drill. When the drill sounded, off we went to the designated station. Both of us had our jackets fastened fancifully but incorrectly, but there were employees who were helping everyone. Hopefully, we would not have a need to recall the procedure. We went up to the Lido to enjoy the sail away, then to the Ocean Bar for a bit of a cocktail. Waiters brought little fruit sticks and cold cuts. One waiter proudly showed us his fish he carved from a melon. Our first dinner on board had to be at 8:30. We were able to change to 8pm after that. Our tablemates this evening were a young couple and full of interesting cruises they had already been on. A long walk after dinner and we were back in our cabin. There was our towel animal, a fish! Also a chocolate treat, room service tag and a Daily Program for the following day. This happens every night by the way. The next morning we were out for a run/walk on deck. Lots of folks about and everyone was smiling and friendly. We went up to the Lido and played Ping-Pong and had a nice breakfast. Then we took showers, walked about the ship and took in a cooking show performed by one of the Master Chef's. After his show, waiters brought trays of food out that the chef had been preparing. It was fun. Back up on Lido, my sister had signed up for the "golf tournament". You chip a plastic ball into a life ring in the pool. She won 5 "dam bucks" to be used for buying T-shirts and what not. We caught the very end of the High Tea in the Main Dining Salon, then put our suits on and relaxed by the pool. Tonight was our 1st formal night. Our table mates were a couple from the San Diego area and another couple from back east. They had taken many Holland America cruises and were way up the chain on the Medallion member's list. After dinner, we walked past a lounge that had Billy, who sang Frank Sinatra songs. We were only able to catch the last few songs, but he promised us he would be playing again on our cruise and to watch the program guide. Back in our cabin, our towel animal (a lobster) greeted us with chocolates and Program guide for the following day. The night was so beautiful; we propped the door open with the deck table and went to sleep. The next day we were docked in Cabo San Lucas. Not our favorite town. But the following day, Mazatlan was fun. We walked into town and rented our own driver to take us about. Raul took us to see the cliff divers, a leather factory, gave us a great tour and also provided us with complimentary water and of course, Corona beer! (The Cervecchia del Pacifico factory is here) The van was new, air conditioned and seated 8 of us just fine. The other 6 people were actually from our cruise ship. The tab came to $20 each, which included the tip. We didn't have exact cash and no one could come up with a combo, so one of the fellow cruisers offered to loan us the money till we got back on the ship. He was then known as "The Banker" for the rest of the cruise. This evening, we made a reservation for the Pinnacle Grill. Although the dinner was very nice and the restaurant was beautiful, I am not sure if I would book again in the future. The filets were dry as were the vegetables. The waiter kinda hovered too much. There was hardly anyone seated at 8 PM, except for a table of 12 gorgeous gay guys that were having a big time. Our towel animal this night: peacock! Our tour guide from Cabo, Raul, highly recommended a tour guide for our next destination, Puerto Vallarta. (There is certainly a little networking going on here) Our little group decided to all go together again, since we had so much fun together in Mazatlan. Pedro was waiting for us as soon as we got off the ship with a sign that said "Friends of Raul's" Cute! Pedro took us past the Bull Ring, resorts, and shops, all along the beautiful ocean front. Then took us to a restaurant just below the rainforest. It was in the treetops, with birds everywhere (parrots? Macaws?) It was a fabulous day. But not so fast! Pedro decided he would take us to a Tequila factory. We had a guided tour of the place, with tequila tasting and a guide that took a liking to my sister. He wanted a picture with her. We wondered later how many tequila tastings this guy does a day... After we were safely back to our ship and on board, we played some Ping-Pong, took a little nap and off again for dinner. Haven't we had about 20 dinners so far? However, tonight was wonderful. We were served the best lamb shanks I believe I have ever had. Melt in your mouth and savory. Scrumptious! Took in a show and our towel treasure for the night (a shaggy dog) was waiting for us to say good night. The following day we were at sea, played games and enjoyed the perfect weather. For my birthday gift, my sister booked us massages. The spa was so relaxing. We enjoyed the nice big showers, and since our cabins hair dryer was barely blowing, took advantage of the spas nice hairdryers! Later, we met our tablemates for a pre-dinner champagne invitation. We had the Baked Alaska show that night, followed by the chocolate extravaganza on the Lido deck, along with ice carvings and beautiful flowers. I think I took a thousand pictures. It was amazing. Floppy eared bunny for the towel gig tonight. Opened the balcony door and was fast asleep. The beds are addicting. Our final day met us with a beautiful calm morning. We took the kitchen tour, which was so much fun. Got to see the guy who made so many fruit carvings and the guy who made the little dough critters that were all over the dining areas. That afternoon we went to the Indonesian tea. (It was ok) Had our last dinner with our mates. Swapped addresses and emails hugged and tipped our waiter. Went to see "Frank Sinatra". He was great. Back to our cozy cabin for a last nights sleep. Next morning, we were supposed to wait till our number was called, but decided to see if we could creep off. As we walked to the gangway, we wondered where the heck anybody was? There was no one about! So we walked off the ship, down the gangway, right into the terminal where we saw our luggage awaiting us. Perfect end to a perfect cruise! A few notes: If you ever need serious medical attention at sea: We had a call over the speaker from our captain. A cruise passenger was critically ill and there was a Coast Guard helicopter enroute to pick the person up in a litter basket. The ship slowed down, but did not fully stop. The passenger was lifted off the ship and off they went. Now we know. The shows were just "lukewarm". The magicians were a husband and wife combo who were cute, but after awhile I found myself squirming. NOT that we have anything at all against gays, but the dance troupes were absolutely openly gay. The (gay) disc jockey and co-host of an American Idol type singing contest among cruise members made very off colored gay remarks and after awhile was not funny at all. Internet: Slow, slow, slow. Very expensive. Save your money. At every port I found an Internet cafe for a few bucks. On board shops: Wait till nearly the end of your cruise. Items go on sale and there are all sorts of T-shirts and things that they bring up on the Lido deck to sell. Library: There is a $30 check out fee for books. You get charged when the book is taken out, then get a credit back when it is returned. Look at your final charges to make sure the credits are there. Food: Don't leave the ship till you've tried a bread pudding! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
Embarkation was smooth. Lunch served on the Lido, very nice. We had an inside cabin, as it was Thanksgiving, and not much was left. Our friends has balconies, very nice. Our room was huge. Room steward pretty good, I think he was new. ... Read More
Embarkation was smooth. Lunch served on the Lido, very nice. We had an inside cabin, as it was Thanksgiving, and not much was left. Our friends has balconies, very nice. Our room was huge. Room steward pretty good, I think he was new. Beautiful ship. Fantastic entertainment. Cruise director was not the usually guy. Too bad, because our guy 'Rob' was pretty boring. They cd the weeks before was very funny. (my parents went 2 weeks prior). Asst. cruise directors didn't have too much to say either. Rarely saw them. The dancers/singers were really great. The Elton John impersonator was fabulous, don't miss this show. They didn't have as much to do on board as Princess and CArnival. That was ok with us, because we just wanted to relax and read, but some people wished there were more activities. The food was the best we've ever had. Usually you have some hits and misses, but all were hits! I was so glad they brought in the surf and turf night, even though they had a Thanksgiving dinner. I really liked that there was very little smoking on board, that was a treat! Gift shops were good, and the library is great. They have an art tour you can take with an ipod, which I recommend. There is over 2 million worth of art on the ship, it's really like a museum. An art lovers dream! We've done these ports many times, so we just went to resorts and relaxed. Had the massage at the Krystal. I'm not sure if it was good, as I was really sore afterwards. Maybe that is how you are supposed to feel after a deep massage. But it was nice, and the hotel was lovely. Canopy Tour in PV, and kayaking in Cabo. Great day! Things were pretty quiet after about 10:00 p.m., but this cruise had 500 kids on board! yikes! I don't know if I would do Thanksgiving again, too many kids, but they were fairly well behaved. Unfortunately, they completely took over the pool. Overall, this was a great cruise, I would highly recommend it to anyone. I don't think I would take teenagers on a non-holiday. Beautiful ship Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Background - we are in our mid to late 50's, retired, married for 30+ years, this is our 8th cruise but first time on this ship and this itinerary. We arrived in San Diego the morning of the cruise (flew via Southwest Airlines). We ... Read More
Background - we are in our mid to late 50's, retired, married for 30+ years, this is our 8th cruise but first time on this ship and this itinerary. We arrived in San Diego the morning of the cruise (flew via Southwest Airlines). We were at the San Diego Port for Embarkation at 11am, the porters took or 3 very large suitcases and we proceeded inside to check in. Weather was overcast and chilly (dare I say cold at 57). Check in was a breeze, we waited about 15 minutes and started on board. We were directed to the Neptune Lounge but our suite (7058 was directly across from the Neptune Lounge doors) was ready and so we went right in. It wasn't but a moment before our room steward came in and introduced himself. I slipped our steward $20 for speedy luggage delivery and by 12:30 our luggage was in our cabin. We proceeded up to the Lido for a bite of lunch. Embarkation day is tough as everyone is trying to get a feel for the ship. We had no problems filling up on great food and meeting our fellow cruisers. We then went into the dining room to see where our table was located (table for 2 lower, late 8:30 seating) - perfect. Since this was our first time on a Vista Class Ship, we walked around best we could and decided what we would do our first night onboard. Back to our cabin and the Neptune Lounge - our Deluxe Verandah Suite was wonderful but we weren't expecting it to be so much smaller than the Maasdam (also had a suite). Both the cabin itself and the verandah were noticeably smaller. On the upside, the amount of storage boggles the mind, we had 150 pounds of luggage and never came close to filling up the closets and shelves least of all the drawers and nooks and crannies - Wow!! The other upside was the Neptune Lounge (there wasn't a Neptune Lounge when we were on the Maasdam). We used this space more than any other space on the ship. Everything we asked of the concierges was carried out with grace and ease except for paring down the hors dourves we had arranged for each evening.........on this topic - way too much food was delivered each evening at 6pm especially since there was also food right out our door in the Neptune Lounge. Unless you are a heavy eater, don't order hors dourves to be delivered to your suite. The first day at seas was too cold to utilize our wonderful verandah and so instead we used this day to better acquaint ourselves with the Ms. Oosterdam. Of course some of our time each day was spent in the casino - which I thought was a perfect size. The machines although not as loose as ones I've found in Vegas, weren't all that tight either - we had a good time. We saw some big winners throughout the cruise so it can happen, just didn't happen to me. I also entered a slot tournament and thought it was terribly disorganized - a waste of money to be sure! Cabo San Lucas was beautiful and we loved our day there. We did a catamaran excursion through the ship and it was perfect. We got to see probably a half dozen or more whales breaching, we got up close and personal. There was an open bar onboard (limited) and chips and fresh salsa - great! The excursion people were kind and funny and just generally a great group of people. We enjoyed this 3 hour trip very much!!! After the catamaran we took a taxi into town - very beautiful and no vendors bothered us at all. Mazatlan was a disappointment. The port is industrial (shipping containers and such) and you have to take a tram in order to get out of the port area but first you have to make your way (intentionally) through the masses of vendors and private excursion people in order to get into the shopping venue. Needless to say, we didn't stay long at all and headed back to the ship - disappointed. Puerto Vallarta is lovely. The port area is very nice and there is a shopping venue right there (the vendors are pushy but you can get almost anything you want right there). We booked a shore excursion through the ship of an Overview by motorcoach. This excursion was a disappointment. Puerto Vallarta is a large city with much to see and do even without beaches and such. This excursion required a great deal of walking (not difficult for us but was for the majority of the passengers) and we really didn't see that much in 3 hours. The next time we visit this port we will do it on our own and go into the city center for shopping and eating and drinking and we will savor each and every moment. The streets all over PV are cobblestone, old cobblestone, charming. We found everyone we met in PV to be very kind and informative and most spoke at least some english. The last two days at sea were spent enjoying our cabin and the ship itself, indulging in eating, drinking, and just general relaxation. Debarkation was smooth - we were given the first color off (our flight was at 12:30) to get off at 8:30am. We were up, showered, had breakfast and waited in our cabin until our color was called. We waited probably 10 minutes in line and started off the ship, we were at the airport before 9am - seriously. There were two other ships in San Diego this morning - Carnival Spirit and Silver Seas' Shadow. Because we checked in online during our last day at sea and it was early when we debarked, checking in luggage was a breeze, only one person ahead of us at Southwest. Within 45 minutes the airport was a zoo and continued that way until we left at 12:30 (probably was still that way at 5pm but we didn't see it). Was a wonderful cruise and I would do it again with this ship, this crew, this itinerary in a flash!! NOTE: The best part of this cruise however was the people I met onboard at our rollcall prior to the cruise - we are "private" friends now and hopefully we will cruise together again. To Mary & Dick - You made this cruise for us - Thank You!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
This was our 4th cruise, 1st with HAL, 1st out of California. Flew in a few days early and stayed at the Holiday Inn across the street the night before, so the 1st day was a breeze. No embarkation problems, did all the pre registering on ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise, 1st with HAL, 1st out of California. Flew in a few days early and stayed at the Holiday Inn across the street the night before, so the 1st day was a breeze. No embarkation problems, did all the pre registering on line. Cabin was nice, very front of the boat with a veranda, so there was a constant breeze to be dealt with. Cabin steward was switched in mid cruise, we guess our 1st one had a bout with the intestinal problems going around. The 2nd steward was less friendly and less accessible, but I believe he was suddenly saddled with a double work load, so I understood. The food was always excellent, did not try the Pinnacle, we had a scheduled time for dinner so we just stuck to that. I did not attend many of the entertainment acts but the others in my party did and all said they were very good, especially the comedian. We won one of the trivia contests and my 18 year old son finished 2nd in one of the Texas Hold Em tournaments, so of course we enjoyed those activities. The weather was not exactly stellar, so laying by the pool was kept to a minimum. Our shore excursions consisted of the Jeep Desert Safari in Cabo which was alot of fun and swimming with the dolphins in Puerto Vallarta, which everyone enjoyed. The outbreak and subsequent sanitizing activities were very evident, but it seemed to me that all was going smooth. Aside from the loss of our 1st cabin steward, I don't think we were inconvenienced at all and I thought the crew did an exceptional job given the situation. I will cruise again with HAL, as we booked a Panama canal trip while on this cruise, so we are looking forward to that. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
This was our 7th cruise and first on HAL. We have been on Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean. DH is retired and DW is close. We travelled with another couple - sister-in-law and DH. Having been told that nobody on HAL is under 50, we ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise and first on HAL. We have been on Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean. DH is retired and DW is close. We travelled with another couple - sister-in-law and DH. Having been told that nobody on HAL is under 50, we noted that at least two-thirds of this cruise were indeed under 50. Boarding was a snap, very slick. Lovely ship, every nook and crannie seems to be filled with some objet d'art. Atrium is not impressive though, it's as if it had been crowded in to create more square feet for revenue-producing activities. We liked the historic black and white photos that lined our corridor. Proper lifeboat drill at the your station with roll-call. It's a pain but full marks to HAL for doing it. We decided on an inside room for this cruise and it was the tightest we have ever seen on any ship. Seven days was enough - a longer cruise on this ship would have to be in a bigger space. Bed was comfortable though. We did not experience any line-ups at any time. Met the famous Hunky Dory in the Lido. The guy is amazing. He came up to DH and called him by name although he had never met him. He recognized DW and had memorized who she was sailing with. The Lido was the best buffet we have seen at sea, good variety and quality, lots of stations. Bread pudding was delicious and well-tested. No dancing lessons, no classes at sea, no guest lecturers, no midnight buffets, can't check your room charges on the TV. Pinnacle grill food was excellent but we felt service was rushed. Wine list was very expensive and all from Washington State. Did we enjoy the Grill? Yes. Was it worth it? No. Would we do it again? Highly unlikely. The main dining room food was very good but too often was not as hot as it should be. Our wine waiter (Leo) was excellent and had our cocktail sitting on the table when we entered. Several times during the week waiters would appear around the ship with trays of canapes, very nice too. New Year's Eve was fun, with the captain ringing a ship's bell at midnight. Lots and lots of bubbly, funny hats, party favors etc. and a good band for dancing (Counterpoint). The ship has a decent size of dance floor in the Crow's Nest, unlike many others, and there were plenty of keen dancers in the crowd. We liked deck 3, our favorite place to sit on a bed reading and watch the world go by. It is also a nice feature for walking - three times around is a mile. The sliding roof over the pool is also a nice feature since the first and last days may be on the cool side. On one of the sea days, we went for lunch in the dining room. We particularly wanted a table for two. "Very sorry, we can normally do it but today we are short staffed." The logic of that escapes me. We went to the Lido instead but were not pleased. We had an outbreak of the dreaded norovirus. We thought that HAL dealt with it very well and it really was a minor inconvenience. Disembarkation was a bit of a shambles. We were scheduled to tie up at 6:15 but the captain made several attempts (three?) to get snug in so we were late. Hence immigration clearance was late. Our scheduled 8:15 expedited departure was an hour late by which time there was a huge crowd at the exit and too many people thinking they had the right to jump the queue. There was also a terrible lack of staff to impose some discipline on the proceedings. The rain was pelting down and it was a nasty day in San Diego. Once off, high marks to U.S. Customs - they were expediting things very well indeed. Overall, an excellent cruise and we'll be back on HAL in future. Not exclusively though, we'll take the others when it suits us. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We just got back from a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. Where do I begin? Everything about this ship was truly an experience we won't shortly forget. This ship is beautiful! Easy to get around and within the first few hours it ... Read More
We just got back from a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. Where do I begin? Everything about this ship was truly an experience we won't shortly forget. This ship is beautiful! Easy to get around and within the first few hours it truly became our home. The crew were so attentive and friendly. Our ship's steward was impeccable. Our room was a little smaller than we had expected but larger than any other we had on other cruise ships. This a 5 star ship! Most of the crew was Indonesian and Filipino. Sweetest. hard working people you could ever meet The show were so entertaining we even stayed to watch again missing dinner one nite. Our ship's Captain David was wonderful, so talented and kind. He works so hard. Julie Barr is the ship's funny! Singers and dancers too were great. I could go on and on but it really was just wonderful. We will probably sail again on Holland America. It is an excellent shipline. I highly recommend this cruise to others. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
This was my third cruise, and first with HAL. I was most impressed with the ratio of guests on this size of ship. It never felt crowded - you could get a chaise lounge by the Lido pool at prime time, and there were rarely lines for ... Read More
This was my third cruise, and first with HAL. I was most impressed with the ratio of guests on this size of ship. It never felt crowded - you could get a chaise lounge by the Lido pool at prime time, and there were rarely lines for anything. My travel companions for this trip ranged in age from 2 to 60 years old, and we all had fun. STAFF AND GUESTS There was a great mixture of guests. All generations were represented. The staff was attentive and always smiling. Specifically: Hakim from the Vista dining room, waiters Wayan and Rizqon, wine stewart Thomas, and room stewart Harris. FOOD The selection of food in the Lido and on the room service menu was excellent. If you missed your main dining room time, you could still eat well. The only area that could use improvement is the quality of desserts in the Lido. You MUST try the "Chocolate Bomb" in the main dining room! ENTERTAINMENT Shows were okay for a cruise ship. The Casino was small, and not conducive to socializing with other guests. Only go to the Casino if you are strictly into gambling. People tended to congregate either in the Northern Lights Disco (after 11pm) or the Crow's Nest. PORTS Mexico is Mexico. Our expectations were met. Swimming with the Dolphins was amazing, and zip lining through the rain forest was adventurous yet fun(both through Puerto Vallarta Adventures). The Mazatlan tour with Papantla Flyers was easy and fun - I recommend it for people traveling with children or seniors. OVERALL This was a good dam trip!!! HAL's attention to the little details and the spacious feel of the Oosterdam helped to make this a special family vacation. I am hooked on HAL! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Having sailed before on Admiral, Carnival, Princess, Costa, RCCL, NCL (3) we had some expectations. Most were met and exceeded. Here's the low-down. Let me start by saying that I really think that not every cruise line is suited to ... Read More
Having sailed before on Admiral, Carnival, Princess, Costa, RCCL, NCL (3) we had some expectations. Most were met and exceeded. Here's the low-down. Let me start by saying that I really think that not every cruise line is suited to every individual. We are neither low key or overly rambunctious folks in our late 40's - early 50's. We enjoy meeting people, cocktails, playing cards in the casino, going to some shows, laying by the pool and participating in few shipboard activities. We don't attend religious services, port talks, shopping talks, bingo. We have, in the past paid for dining outside the main dining rooms. With that said....... We loved the Oosterdam. We arrived late due to a late flight and an offsite parking lot that made us wait for a ride. We opted not to buy the transfers as we were meeting family. Nearly the last to board at approx. 3:30 or 4:00 - there were virtually no lines. I (the seasoned cruiser) forgot to PRINT my embarkation documents after filling them out online. So we had to stand there and fill it all out again, by hand, on two separate documents. Upon boarding there were the usual photo ops but no one to greet us at the door and welcome us on board or direct us to the cabin. No big deal. We can read signs and we finally got someone to point us in the right direction. (How hard could it be... our cabin was AFT ... as in totally in the back with a balcony facing the wake of the boat!) Our cabin was FABULOUS. I shouldn't let out the secret. GET AN AFT CABIN if you can. It was great. The balcony is larger and the walls dividing the cabins on the aft balcony shielded nearly all wind and even though the weather wasn't as warm as we liked it - we could lay out and feel the warmth of the sun. Especially going northbound. Take note. On level 4 we could lay out in the buff without being noticed from above. We could tell that if you were on 5 or up you probably couldn't do that. Also the corner mini suites had less privacy from above. We spent more time on our balcony this time than previously. You could eat out there, sun bathe, read the mornings news with breakfast served in the cabin. Our steward was pleasant and efficient, but not worth mentioning. We had to ask for shampoo. He didn't understand what a feather pillow was. And he didn't clean up the ash off the balcony each day that accumulates from the smoke stacks. By the way ... that is one of the drawbacks, but it is hardly a problem. I wouldn't wear white clothes out there - We never saw it fall but it was always there in the morning. Nuff said. I will always get an aft balcony whenever possible. We strolled through most of the public rooms. Had cocktails just about everywhere. We were less than thrilled with the ambience music in various bars. Many folks were really enjoying a chamber quartet a few nights and as I passed by I thought ... I might enjoy it too if I could slow down for a minute. Next time. We were not bored at the shows but they didn't measure up to NCL's on board performers (The Jean Ann Ryan Company). The Comedienne Julie Barr was very funny and interactive with the audience. The headliner who I never heard of was a Vegas type entertainer who sang for some big names and did his own tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. He had a very high energy entertaining show and encore presentation on the last night. We skipped the former Olympic gymnast Lance ___? but saw a few minutes of him on encore night. Not our cup of tea. As for the HAL singers and dancers. One good lead singer, the rest were so so. The men in our party were enjoying "Barbie" ... need I say more? They had an on board talent competition which lasted 3 nights like American Idol. Complete with judging by the comedienne Julie Barr, Jazzy (the right hand of the cruise director) and someone whose name I can't remember. That seemed to be the hit show of the cruise. We never sat down to watch it entirely but caught the finale on Friday afternoon. I am a sucker for amateur talent (and lack thereof!) Dining is the thing worth boasting about on HAL. We really missed regular dining after our last two NCL cruises and that "whatever" dining. We enjoy the familiarity of our regular waiter, busboy and wine steward. Gustavi at table 162 was great. Always attentive, always remembering our personal tastes. Once I ordered a capuccino after dinner (NO CHARGE by the way) and the busboy asked me each night after that. Capuccino? I love that. You can't get that with open dining. Oosterdams food was extraordinary (we thought) at dinner. So much so that we canceled our dinner reservations for the 2nd formal night at the Pinnacle dining room. 1st of all.. why pay $60 for a dinner when you can have a perfect meal included in your cruise cost? We always chose to try other restaurants on NCL because their food isn't so hot. HAL on the other hand had a very good chef. We wish we could remember the name of the corporate chef we met (who lived down the hall from us) - he is responsible for it all ... him and hundreds of others all doing a good job. To me, every night seemed like GALA night on the menu. All except one. Which was not bad, it was just odd. Items I never heard of... or read about... or ever want again! I had entrees of Prime Rib, Cojo Salmon, Pepper encrusted NY steak, Sirloin and Lobster tails (2 tails). I ordered some items like it were my last meal. "I'll have this.. AND ...that". What gluttons. We ate last. 2nd late seating. Wish we had opted for 1st late. It was a bit too late. We never finished before 10:00 pm after arriving at 8:30 (ish). Our adorable wine steward Jenalyn .... we hope gets promoted to cruise director. We told her so and she insisted we erred. She wanted to be Captain! She was so pleasant, we looked for her every night. She remembered us and found us by day at the Lido restaurant, always stopping by to share a slice of her life with us. >>> Those are the people who make cruising so fabulous. We took no tours from the ship (against our religion) and they were sold out of everything we wanted before we got on board! BOOK EARLY if that is how you like to travel. In Cabo we rented jet skis for $80 an hour after haggling. We ran out of gas 1/2 way through and got a refund for 1/2 the hour from the portion of the rental which actually went to the owner of the jet ski. We took a cab tour of Cabo.. again.. got slightly ripped off. I did this before and got lucky. This time our guide didn't speak enough English and took us to a closed hotel for a drink! These are small $55 mistakes that you LAUGH about later. In Mazatlan we walked to Old Town, had beers and guac in the plaza, shopped for an hour and then went to the Joes Oyster Bar in the Zona Dorada beach area for 1 hr of sun before heading back to the ship. In Vallarta we scattered. I used to live there so we met a friend in town for Chillaquiles at Las Palomas Restaurant and then walked through town to Los Muerto Beach and had too many margaritas at La Palapa Restaurant. A dozen RAW oysters on the beach and I am still alive to tell you about it. Live Large! We did our tequila shopping at Wal Mart next to the pier in Vallarta. Such a deal. Back to the ship review. We paid our tips on our daily bill, $10 per day per person. No shore excursions, 1 photo for $14.95 which they messed up on while cropping out the unsightly parts of my legs... $30 in souvenirs, $100 at the casino, -$100 on board credit, $118 worth of 3 bottles of wine... $150 for the spa. I signed up for a week of the thermal suites... WAY TOO much money for that. I didn't even use it on the port days. Next time I will do it day by day when I know I will use it. It should be free and with reserved times of use .. very very nice feature but overpriced. The tile beds are so nice to read on in the morning. The steam and sauna and cold rooms are fresh and rejuvenating. The hydro-pool is hype. We had one on NCL .. free... outside. (but it was salty.. on HAL it was fresh) By the way, the pools and hot tubs are all fresh water. The hot tubs are approx 100 degrees...... (we keep our tub at home at we had a "feeling" for the temp) - better than some shipboard tubs kept at 98. Never used the pool. Also first time with a slider canopy over the Lido deck. Nice feature for colder windy days. Disembarkation .. sad but efficient. We put our things out the night before and whoosh... there it goes. Our only complaint about disembarkation is that we were told we could stay onboard until 10:00 am. We had a late flight and didn't had anything to do. But our cabin steward came into the room while we were still there trying to make up the room with us sitting there. It was uncomfortable. Only other complaint was the gal who books future cruises. We were ready to lay down $100 per person for a future cruise within 4 years but she set an appointment for us and then didn't attend to us when we arrived on time. She let another couple slide in who were supposed to be "just asking a quick question"... 45 minutes later she attended to us. Needless to say she didn't win our return business. But that doesn't mean we won't be returning. I can't wait to book a new cruise and it will definitely be on HAL. Try and AFT cabin. You will love it. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
My wife and I recently took the Oosterdam on a 7 day 'Mexican Riviera' cruise. (Dec 8-15 2007). I should point out this was only my second cruise, her first, so we're not experts. We travel extensively, and know our way ... Read More
My wife and I recently took the Oosterdam on a 7 day 'Mexican Riviera' cruise. (Dec 8-15 2007). I should point out this was only my second cruise, her first, so we're not experts. We travel extensively, and know our way around. We're in our mid-fifties, but are very active. The ship itself is everything we'd hoped for. Decent sized cabin with good sized veranda. Nicely appointed ship. All the amenities. Wonderful bed and linens. The staff was a joy, thoroughly helpful, courteous, and happy. We used room service extensively, (I sprained my ankle a week before the cruise), and service was very fast, food was hot every time. Our cabin steward never let me run out of ice for my ice pack. And he was uncanny in his ability to find the right time to attend our room twice a day. I can't say enough about the staff. Shore excursions appeared to be the standard fare. Here's an idea folks: Make your own shore excursions! Do a little research! Save a lot of money, get away from the crowds! Plan a personal adventure tailored to your particular interests. In most towns, esp. in Mexico, you can hire a cab for all day, for about half the cost of what one person pays for a cruise ship sponsored shore excursion. Go parasailing. Do a SCUBA dive. Explore the old town. Visit a flea market. Get out of town for cocktails and lunch at a more remote village. This is especially true for a group of 4 or more, but works for a couple too. We cruised with a large family group, and I was the tour guide for groups of 5 to 10 people, because I'd done the research. Let's talk about the food. I'm a gourmand. If you don't know what that means, this part of my review is probably not for you. The food was dull. Plain and simple. In the main dining room, the dinner menu looked great, but the food was not anything like we'd hoped. French onion soup should be BAKED! With bread in it. And ONIONS! Lots of them! Overcooked lamb, undercooked steak. Medium rare does not not mean raw. Tasteless lobster was a real disappointment, the one night it was offered. The Lido buffet (basically the only other dining option) could take a few lessons from Royal Fork or Old Country Buffet. How about roast beef every night, not just the first night? Mashed potatoes and gravy shouldn't be too difficult. How about springing for some spices in your pasta? Maybe just some gourmet soups? We never even tried the pizza, one look was enough. I must admit that our expectations were high, we heard this was supposed to be a great dining experience. Sorry, it was all flash and no substance. In a nutshell, I'd have to say that the Oosterdam was a great value. I don't believe other ships will have better dining, it's all about trying to appeal to American tastes. As long as you don't have high expectations, you'll eat well. If you don't like kids running rampant, this is a great cruise ship! Spa was well rated by those in our group who used it, albeit expensive. We were not impressed by the music and shows, but that's all about our personal tastes, others in our group enjoyed them. One final note. Everyone in our group seemed to pay a different price for the cruise, even though we all had the same cabin class. We paid about $400 less than most. Do your research! Unless you don't care about cost. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Background: My wife and I have each cruised a number of times before, but this was our first cruise together and our first on HAL. My son lives in San Diego, so we flew out a day early to spend some time with him. We spent Friday night in ... Read More
Background: My wife and I have each cruised a number of times before, but this was our first cruise together and our first on HAL. My son lives in San Diego, so we flew out a day early to spend some time with him. We spent Friday night in the Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island and took the hotel's shuttle to the cruise ship terminal. We had checked a number of hotels in San Diego and found that most have shuttles to the pier. San Diego is very easy to get around in at times other than rush hour, so it was an easy trip to the pier on Saturday morning. Embarkation: Embarkation was smooth. Baggage handlers met us as the shuttle arrived on the pier and promptly took our bags off our hands. All bags arrived in our stateroom. The check in procedure was smooth, and we were quickly aboard the ship. Stateroom: We were extremely pleased with the stateroom. I'm 6'4", and we need a king bed, and we were surprised, but pleased, to find that the advertised "two single beds which make into a queen" actually made close to a king sized bed. The bed was comfortable too. The head was much larger than any other head I've seen on a cruise ship with a double vanity and a shower and a jacuzzi. The room itself was comfortable, but possibly could have been made more comfortable if one or two of the chairs had been removed. The veranda was nice with comfortable patio furniture. The climate control in the room was easy to operate and maintained a pleasant temperature in the room. Dining: My wife is difficult to please when it comes to food, but she was happy with the food in the Vista Dining Room. Her comment was that it was not gourmet food, but neither was it "down home" food. We chose the "dine as you wish" option and that worked out well. When we tried to make a reservation the first night, there were no times available except for very early and very late. We learned, however, that we could walk in just about anytime and as long as we were willing to sit with others, that we could be quickly seated. I have noted that others have said that service was slow in the Vista Dining Room, but I don't think it was as slow as service is in any decent restaurant in our city on a Friday or Saturday night. I might note that we were pleased with "dine as you wish" and will do that on future cruises. We never had a bad experience with our table partners in the Vista and met some very nice folks that way. With regard to the buffets on the Lido Deck, vacant tables were hard to find at times, and, as a result, we did not eat there often, but we found the food to be generally good when we did. Entertainment: My wife and I are ballroom dancers. In response to a question I had posted on one of the message boards, we learned that the dance floors on this class of HAL ship are small, and that was accurate information. However, there were only a few ballroom dancers on this cruise, so there was generally plenty of room to dance. On other cruises, however, with more dancers, the two lounges will be woefully short of space to dance, and we hope HAL will restructure the two lounges to provide more dance floor. Particularly, more space for dancing could be made in the Crow's Nest by simply moving tables. The ship had a wonderful dance band named "Counterpoint", and I hope we have a chance to dance to their music again. In sum, we danced til we could dance no more most nights and that helped make our cruise was wonderful as it was. The only complaint we had about the two lounges, the Ocean Lounge and the Crow's Nest Lounge, is that HAL apparently allows smoking in the lounges. We had to leave the Ocean Lounge one night because of cigarette smoke. We enjoyed the shows, but other than the two piano players, did not find the shows to be particularly exciting. Gym: The O has a great gym; we were surprised to find such a well equipped gym on a cruise ship. Movement of the ship: As a Navy retiree, the ship's movement did not bother me and made me feel that I was at sea on a real ship and not a floating hotel, but my wife had a moment of nausea the first day, and we noticed that others had similar problems at various times during the week. The O not only rolled a bit, but pitched as we returned north and the bow was into the Alaskan Current. I've noticed that others have mentioned this problem in their reviews of the ship Obviously, I didn't have a way to measure the rolls, but I don't think they were more than two or three degrees which is a very small amount of roll for a ship. I recall that waters off Southern California are generally rougher than most and that ships tend to roll when the seas are on the quarter as it was on our way south, so it may be that the O will not roll and pitch in other areas. My wife said that once she got her "sea legs", she enjoyed the gentle rolling, particularly at night. However, those who are prone to seasickness should go prepared. Service: Our room steward did a magnificent job. I've never had that job done so well before. A+ to him. Service elsewhere was very good. Shore Excursions: We took only one, being the "Rhythms of the Night". We had expected a high energy dance, but it was more of a ballet. It was very good, and we enjoyed it thoroughly, but the one hour each way boat ride detracted from it. Passengers: I noted at least one complaint in these reviews from a former passenger who apparently felt that the average age on the O was a bit too much for him. We are both 61 and felt that we were about at the average age on the ship. We both think that we have never met so many very nice people in one week as we did on the O. Disembarkation: It also went smoothly; all luggage showed up and we were off the ship and on our way to our hotel quickly. Two Minor Complaints: (1) I had written HAL before the cruise (sent by e mail, U. S. Mail and facsimile) requesting a tour of the ship, and I've never had a response from HAL. I could understand if my request could not be accommodated, but someone with HAL should have responded. (2) Why does HAL allow smoking aboard its ships? As noted above, we had to leave the Ocean Lounge one night because of cigarettes smoke, and it was always an issue anywhere near the casino - and one must pass through the casino to get from one end of the ship to the other on that deck. HAL should reconsider its smoking policy and ban smoking aboard its ships! Summary: We agree that this was the best cruise we have had. We plan to return to HAL soon, and, hopefully, another cruise on the O. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We left from San Diego shortly after the first of the year for our 12 cruise with HAL and 21 cruise in general. This was the first time I had the pleasure to cruise on the Oosterdam and it was majestic as it pulled in early the day we left ... Read More
We left from San Diego shortly after the first of the year for our 12 cruise with HAL and 21 cruise in general. This was the first time I had the pleasure to cruise on the Oosterdam and it was majestic as it pulled in early the day we left and we watched a few of the guests from the previous cruise head home. Public Rooms: The public rooms onboard the ship are great. HAL has added another smaller show lounge and I found that a nice place for other entertainment. The art work was beautiful and it was an improvement over other ships I have traveled on. Staterooms: The rooms were nice, They say they are larger than other ships in their class and I found that to be true. Entertainment: I really enjoy their knockoff of American Idol. It can really be a good time and it creates some week long celebrities out of some of the guests. Dining: I tried the "As you wish" dining and I really think its a great idea but I don't think they quite have it down yet. Waits would sometimes be longer for a table. But they still offer the old style of dining. Food in the Lido and in the Dining room was great as usual. Overall it was another homerun for HAL. They continue to be one of my favorites and I will travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Because this was a charter some of the usual features of a regular cruise were not observed. Embarkation - The in-processing by HAL was fantastic. The only negative was luggage porters were not available to off load luggage from the cab ... Read More
Because this was a charter some of the usual features of a regular cruise were not observed. Embarkation - The in-processing by HAL was fantastic. The only negative was luggage porters were not available to off load luggage from the cab and transport to the ship area. We had an inside, aft cabin on deck 4. This gave us quick and easy access to the elevators and to the Lido deck; plus one deck down to the main dining room. Lido Restaurant - the food and the service was excellent. Main Dining Room - dining times were from 5:30 - 7:30 and there were no reservations, but we never waited more than five minutes to be seated. The food was average, but the service was slow. I am sure it is difficult to determine appropriate staffing when the ship does not know how many or when people are coming to dinner. Excursions - We took one excursion we booked outside the ship and it was fantastic (zodiac whale watching with Oceanriders in Cabo). We talked with people who booked other tours through the ship and they were pleased. Spa - My wife loved the spa. Disembarkation - Everything went smoothly. We enjoyed the trip although the weather was bad. The ship and staff could not have been more hospitable. Read Less
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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