Sail Date: February 2004
The nice thing about the Oosterdam is the layout is exactly like the Zuiderdam which makes getting about the ship easy. The decor is elegant. Service on the ship was good for the most part. Our cabin steward was efficient and not to be ... Read More
The nice thing about the Oosterdam is the layout is exactly like the Zuiderdam which makes getting about the ship easy. The decor is elegant. Service on the ship was good for the most part. Our cabin steward was efficient and not to be seen, just the way I like it. Unfortunately our waiter in the main dining room spoiled our trip the fifth night into the cruise. I was never able to find out why he was so hostile as he would not speak to me about the problem. When I complained to the dining room manager, I got a very cold response without the slightest apology. Service in the bar lounge was a disaster one night. We finally gave up on our drink order and went to dinner disappointed. Others in the lounge were having an equally bad time of it. The shows were spectacular - we looked forward to every show! Food was for the most part what one would expect on a cruise ship, palatable but for the most part not great. Portions were small for the appetizers, I therefore ordered two at each meal, which seemed to perturb the waiter. Boarding was a fiasco in San Diego. Apparently the computer system was down, so we had to fill the forms already filled on the internet before our cruise. We stood in the hot sun for half an hour before even getting into the cruise terminal, then an hour sitting in their terminal before being boarded. I knew the room would be a small inside cabin, but was shocked by how small it was when we arrived. But, due to its nice decor and design, I got used to it quickly and enjoyed the stay. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
Let me start by saying that this is my 11th cruise so I have a good idea on what to expect on a cruise. I'm 45 and my wife is 40. We usually sail Princess, so expect comparisons and no I don't work for them nor does anyone I ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this is my 11th cruise so I have a good idea on what to expect on a cruise. I'm 45 and my wife is 40. We usually sail Princess, so expect comparisons and no I don't work for them nor does anyone I know. We have been on NCL and RCL. We usually do at least one cruise a year. We decided to try HAL, the Oosterdam to Mexico, to break away from Princess to see how the other half lives so to speak. We soon discovered how good we have it on Princess. We had heard some good things about HAL and knew that it was more sedate and an older crowd. That was ok as we were looking for a very relaxing time. We also knew that dinner times were set as opposed to Princess where you dine when you want, anytime between 5:30 and 10pm. Boarding: When we got on the ship around noon, all cabins were off limits until 1:30 pm. You could check your carry on bags at a room but it was soon overrun so we had to carry or bags for about 1.5 hrs. This was a hassle especially trying to eat lunch. On Princess, we have always been able to go right to our cabin and drop our bags. If princess can do this on a ship of 2500, why can't HAL manage it on a ship of 1800? When I did get to my cabin, the bottle of JD I had preordered to be in my cabin was not there. After two complaints to the front desk, 3 hours apart, the bottle showed up after dinner. By the way, that bottle of JD cost me $54. The last time on Princess it cost me $27. The thing that really ticked me off about HAL is that they tried to sell me the same bottle to take off the ship for $17.95. Talk about feeling gouged. Cabins: Our cabin, a superior verandah suite, was very nice and the bathroom was great. One complaint about the cabin is that they use the fridge as a mini bar so you can't store anything in it. Also, the water temp in the shower kept alternating hot and cold. Very irritating. We had a DVD player and a 25 inch TV that were great. We also had a big balcony. Breakfast Lunch and Dinner: Breakfast in the Lido buffet was the usual fare but less of a selection than on other lines. The food is good, not great but no complaints about quality. Breakfast in the dining room was good but the service uneven. Be warned, the lower dining room at the back of the ship when under power vibrates a lot. Once I ordered smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel, got the salmon but no bagel. The coffee always was just luke warm. Lunch on the Lido buffet was the same as breakfast but only served between 11:30 - 2pm. At 2pm they were closed and the only thing you could get at that point was a slice of pizza warming under a heat lamp. On Princess, they have a true Pizzeria that you can order what you want. Dinner was fine, we had no complaints except for the strict dining times which we knew going in. We had first sitting, upstairs. Be warned they have a policy that you have 15 minutes to show up for dinner and then the doors are closed. While we had no complaints about the food or service in the dining room, we did meet a couple who had stopped going as two nights in a row their food showed up cold. The said they were frustrated. One last note, our wine steward Ruby was exceptional. She was friendly, never let our glass get empty and was the first person to greet us at our table most nights. We never dined at the Pinnacle Grill, but it seemed underutilized from what we saw. Maybe most people don't want to pay the extra $20 per person. Staff: The staff was very friendly and helpful although we didn't see our cabin steward much although he kept our cabin spotless and well stocked with fresh towels etc. We had one odd experience where 3 days out, a bartender asked us how our cruise was going. We said ok and he replied that many people had complained to him that the service and the food was not as good as it used to be and they were not returning to HAL. Maybe it's the one year contract they have to agree to. I think on Princess it's 6 months. Entertainment: The shows and musicians were ok. Our featured entertainer was a singer named Bobby Black. He was introduced at the beginning of his act as, "Straight from Las Vegas". You later find out that he doesn't perform there, he lives there. According to him, he spends 40 weeks a year on cruise ships. It's obvious why. The production shows are so so. The Northern Lights disco is odd in that it's tiny. Ship: The layout of the ship was fine for its size and was for the most part comfortable. One major complaint that was a complaint of many was the restrooms. Why in heavens name you would close the main restrooms right outside the dining room for cleaning an hour into dinner is beyond comprehension. This happened more than once. They also did this same routine outside the main show lounge one night as the show was letting out. People were furious. One night at dinner my wife had to use the restroom. The room outside the dining room was closed for cleaning. she then had to go halfway through the ship only to find that restroom out of order. She had to go one deck down to find an operating restroom. She returned absolutely furious. Whoever is in charge of this aspect of the ship should be replaced, that is if anyone is in charge of this. I have never, ever had this happen on any other ship. Ports of Call: Cabo was great. Go to Cabo Wabo, Sammy's place and get the Lobster tacos. WOW!. Mazatlan was good, go to Senior Frogs, you won't be disappointed. Puerto Vallarta was also fine. If you want to call home, get a phone card for $5 at most small stores and they work in the public phones. Shopping wise, it's the same tourist stuff in every store in every port. Final Misc: HAL like many lines now offer an unlimited soda card. Unless you consume massive quantities don't buy it. Bring your soda on with you or buy it in the ports and bring it back on. The card with gratuity added brings it over $40 a person. By comparison, Princess charged $22.50 a person last cruise. HAL also plays a little game in that they only give you the soda in a small glass, making you work for it. Again by comparison, Princess will give you a giant glass if you ask for it and also gives you a large refillable insulated container for free when you buy the card. Overall it seemed the staff was not happy and relaxed. Don't get me wrong, they were very friendly and helpful when serving or helping you but other than that they didn't smile a lot. They also didn't joke a lot or interact on their own with the passengers very much. Maybe that's a symptom of their long contract. It also seemed to me that there was less supervision of the staff. Our very candid bartender also told us that it was almost impossible to suspend or fire someone for bad service as they were so tight on staff that they couldn't be replaced. The cruise staff seemed very young and inexperienced. One morning upon meeting in the Vista lounge for our shore excursion, everyone was just told to go in and sit down and wait for their turn to be called. We were then told to follow a crew member to the tender deck, who half way down said he forgot his pen and left us going down stairs on our own. When we got to the bottom we didn't know where to go. By comparison, sorry, Princess has the room marked with signed sections like a concert, and plenty of staff to direct you and answer questions. In our room, there was nobody. All in all, HAL was not as polished, organized or well managed as other cruises I've been on. In my opinion they charge excessively for most items, are not as flexible as they could be as in the dining times etc., and don't take into account passenger comfort and convenience when planning events and ship maintenance. The last thing I will relate is that not one couple or person we talked to said they would return to HAL again. Reading this you may think that I've been too picky and just complaining about the small stuff. Well, it may all be small stuff but it adds up. I get precious little vacation time and when I spend the time, money and effort to cruise, it doesn't have to be perfect but it should be close. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
I was somewhat weary of taking a cruise over the Thanksgiving holiday, but wanted to take my mother away for the holiday. Holland America offered a very reasonable rate for two, single-occupancy, inside state rooms, so I booked them. I ... Read More
I was somewhat weary of taking a cruise over the Thanksgiving holiday, but wanted to take my mother away for the holiday. Holland America offered a very reasonable rate for two, single-occupancy, inside state rooms, so I booked them. I have been on two Holland America cruises in the past. The first on the Zaandam, which I thought was a magnificent ship perfectly suited to my needs. And another on the Maasdam, which while not as nice as the Zaandam, still suited me very well. I am a fairly young man (about to turn 40) but prefer quieter, more elegant cruises. I enjoy cruising with older folks, as I find that it makes for a much more relaxing experience. This is why I like Holland America, and it's this quieter, and more elegant style of cruising I had come to expect from this cruise line. I found the boarding procedures greatly improved from my previous Holland America cruises. We were able to drive up to the terminal, drop our bags, and then park the car; a great convenience when travelling with my 6X year old mother. We got into the terminal at about 2pm, and there were virtually no lines, and no wait to board. I had even forgotten my Tuxedo, had it overnighted to the ship, and it was waiting for me right inside the terminal's front door; very impressive! We immediately made our way to our rooms, which were clean and all ready for occupancy. My luggage had already been delivered, my mother's arrived about an hour later. The rooms were the first disappointment. They were by far the smallest of any cruise ship I have ever been on, including NCL. I was of course a bit disappointed that we hadn't gotten an upgrade. My Mother, however, rightly reminded me that we were the last people who would be upgraded from the smallest rooms, because we were two single-occupancy guests. Who was more perfect to put into these small rooms? I agreed, and quickly got over my disappointment. Just be fairly warned that these are not the standard inside and outside staterooms on HAL's older ships, they are much, much smaller and I really can't imagine a couple fitting comfortably in them. (I took lots of pictures of the rooms, which I will also post on this site.) Other than their size, the rooms are fairly well-appointed. However, the TVs are not flat panel, and there were no bathtubs in the bathroom. The new bedding program was very nice, and the beds were the most comfortable I've been on at sea. I had a problem with the room not being cool enough on the first night at sea. Admittedly, I like to keep my room very cold. Although I had the thermostat at its coolest, the room was still oo warm. I called the front desk and although they couldn't address the a/c immediately they did send me a huge floor fan (took up half the room) which was adequate for the first night. The next morning they had done something that made my room much much cooler...well done. The ship was not gaudy as some have described it. All of the Holland America ships incorporate different levels of creative and stylish design. I remember the Zaandam having beautifully designed chairs and lamps in their lounges. On the Oosterdam the color schemes have changed a bit, but the general aesthetic of high-style and quality furnishings and appointments hasn't slipped. I will say, however, that I think the new layout is quite hodgepodge compared with some of the older ships. The spaces seemed more open and inviting on the Zaandam and Maasdam. Here the space felt somewhat it was just one little room after the other. The flow was definitely adversely affected. My main complaint regarding the Oosterdam was the quality of the service. If there was ever an argument to be made against compulsory tipping my experience on Holland America is it. When I travelled on Zaandam and Maasdam, tipping was done voluntarily (or actually I should say that it was not expected.) However, when someone does a good job of serving you, it's natural to want to thank them with a tip. My cabin stewards and dining stewards on those two older ships were absolutely top notch, and they earned themselves very generous tips. Holland America's new compulsory tipping (it's added automatically to your stateroom bill) has had the very obvious effect of creating a generally indifferent service staff. Service in the dining room was awful. We'd order a soda, or glass of wine and would wait a 1/2 beverage. We'd ask someone else where our drink was....and they'd disappear. By the time it was brought to us, dinner was over. This happened almost every night. Our servers, while nice, were just not very good at their jobs. One of our dinner companions was diabetic. Every night she'd give clear instructions as to how she'd need her dinner served (no sauce, etc.) Every night she'd have to send back her meal, because her instructions were completely missed. These are things that dining room staffs need to be expected to handle with aplomb...they simply could not. My room steward, again while a very nice fellow, was simply poorly trained. Every day I asked for laundry bags, every day they were not left in the room. Lot's of little things were missed every day, which left me in the position of having to track him down and make special just shouldn't be that way. Holland America's service, which in my opinion was its strongest, differentiating characteristic has clearly slipped. My final complaint was about the programming. Again, while the cruise director's staff all seemed very nice, they seemed to forget what people come on a cruise for: namely peace and quiet. Why have cruises become another venue for overly loud music and compulsory participation? I enjoyed going to the shows, some of which were fairly good, but the music played before the shows was so inappropriate and loud it made it painful to sit through. -- Dear staff: every venue is not a New York City night club, improved only through the volume of the pounding thump of the bass -- Music -- at all times -- needs to be appropriate for the crowd, and played at a reasonable volume. The shows, while ok, were all over the map, and failed to really get anyone too excited. When will cruise ship show directors realize that bigger, flashier and louder productions won't necessarily get a crowd into their shows... I feel that Holland America is suffering from split personality disorder. It can't decide if it wants to be the classier, quieter, big cruise line, or go after the families and partiers. I'm sure it feels lured by the successes of RCCL, but how will it differentiate itself in the marketplace? I hope they realize that not all younger cruisers (is 39 still younger??) want to be blasted out of their seats with too loud music or be over-programmed. I go on cruises, because I long to get away, sit in a deck chair and read good books. It looks as if this will become more difficult on Holland America Line. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
I have been on many cruises, and have always enjoyed them. This was the first time I took a cruise which left from San Diego. Since San Diego is my home, I didn't have to travel to get to the embarkation port. I thought this would ... Read More
I have been on many cruises, and have always enjoyed them. This was the first time I took a cruise which left from San Diego. Since San Diego is my home, I didn't have to travel to get to the embarkation port. I thought this would make everything easy, but that was not the case. I had a serious problem with a missing piece of luggage, which I will discuss later on in this review. The embarkation itself was OK, although it took a very long time. Our stateroom, which had a verandah, was quite pleasant. The only problem was that we hardly slept the first night because some pictures which were attached to the wall kept banging. We had them removed the next day, and all was well. The ship was nice. I especially liked the Promenade deck which was good for taking walks. I did not partake of any spa activities. Dinners were adequate, but not special. The Pinnacle Grill, for which you pay something extra, did provide an excellent dinner, and I would recommend that. (However, on previous cruises I have taken, the food in the dining room was excellent, without paying extra.) For our lunches, we went to the Lido buffet. Again, the food wasn't spectacular, but there was a lot of variety, and it was fine for a light lunch. For breakfast, we ordered room service using the card on the door at night. It generally came on time in the morning, and was OK. The shipboard activities were good. I particularly liked the demonstrations/discussions about the animal towel folding, ice carving, and digital cameras. The entertainment was pretty good. We especially liked the piano bar, the comedian, and the Elton John impersonator. We didn't go on any shore excursions. This was partly because the time in ports was considerably shorter than it was supposed to be because of the broken azipod which caused the ship to travel slower than it should. (This problem was described in an earlier review by someone else.) The service relative to the cabin was good. The room was always clean, and the fresh fruit was replenished. However, the service provided by guest relations regarding my missing suitcase was abominable. Here's what happened: My husband and I watched a porter (hired by a company which was hired by HA) put our 4 properly-labeled suitcases on a cart to be brought to the Oosterdam. By some fluke, one of my suitcases ended up on another ship! (This happened to at least one other person on the same cruise.) After many days, HA found out where my suitcase was, but they couldn't be sure when I'd get it back. The ship's administrators could only repeat We're sorry, and sounded arrogant and insincere. I had to buy some essential clothing items in Mazatlan. These same officials told me that they couldn't pay me back, but that Seattle headquarters had been contacted. They said that Seattle would decide about compensation on a case by case basis, and that it would depend on the number of days I was without my suitcase. After 4 days of aggravation, I got a letter from the manager of guest relations on the ship offering a small shipboard credit as a gesture of goodwill. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling much goodwill towards the staff. On day 5 (on a 7-day cruise) my case was returned, in a somewhat damaged condition, and with some items missing. On the last day of the trip, I was told that HA wouldn't pay anything to cover my financial outlay. (The total amount was only $300.) I have been fighting HA ever since, including sending a letter to the CEO of the company. It was just turned over to the original person who said that nothing would be done. I have only been able to speak to 2 subordinates. They told me that the goodwill credit I received was all that HA would pay for a suitcase whose misplacement they were responsible for. When I reminded them that the ship's management told me that the goodwill credit was separate from compensation for what I spent, they said that those people had made a mistake, and HA wasn't going to take responsibility for what they said, even though I have it in writing. This attitude is unconscionable. (Some people might say that the ship's management lied to me, as several other critics on this web site have noted.) It was bad enough that I was missing clothing I had carefully selected for the cruise, but what made it worse was the arrogant and uncaring attitude of the ship's management, and then the lack of courtesy of the Seattle administrators who didn't return phone messages or letters. The disembarkment went smoothly. I liked that you could relax in your cabin until your group was called. We were even able to find our suitcases relatively easily. The problem happened the night before. When we went back to our cabin to finish packing and then relax, we found that our card keys no longer worked. Repeated visits to the front desk to get the keys fixed didn't help. We ended up standing in the hallway for an hour until guest relations found someone who had an actual metal key which unlocked the door. In summary, even though I was particularly upset due to the lack of help from guest relations, other people I spoke with were also disappointed in this particular cruise. In general, things on this cruise were adequate, but not special. I will certainly never cruise on a Holland America ship again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
I'm not sure I sailed on the same Oosterdam as the other people. Mine was marginal, at best. Mexican Riviera, 10/21-10/28/06 As has been reported, one Azipod was inop. Without notice of this prior to boarding, we sailed from San ... Read More
I'm not sure I sailed on the same Oosterdam as the other people. Mine was marginal, at best. Mexican Riviera, 10/21-10/28/06 As has been reported, one Azipod was inop. Without notice of this prior to boarding, we sailed from San Diego into the projected path of Hurricane Paul!! With the Captain's assurances that passenger safety was his first priority. (??) It all worked out, but not before wandering around at sea in the vicinity of Cabo San Lucas for 36 hrs with a short last minute stop at Cabo primarily for crew disembarking, and skipping Mazatlan entirely. Finally Paul dissipated and we did make it to Puerta Vallarta on schedule. Us, the Rotterdam and two other cruise ships, all totaling about 10,000 people. As on the previous two HAL cruises we've taken, stateroom and dining room service were excellent. However, room service was a disaster, time after time. We had a Deluxe Verandah Suite and ordered coffee for delivery between 7:30-8:00 each morning. It was ALWAYS early. Knocking on the door usually began at 7:10 or so and was our wakeup call. And lunch one day with guests in our suite took 1:45 to arrive, in spite of repeated calls and being told it was ready and would be up soon. Numerous little things on the ship were broken, like elevator buttons, the phone messaging system, light bulbs out, our toilet leaking, etc. And most were not addressed during our cruise. They did fix the toilet though. But it all added up to an impression of uncaring maintenance. They could have at least removed the broken chair from the front row of the Crows Nest. The Deluxe Verandah Suite we purchased seemed to buy us nothing. We did get a special line at check in and use of the Neptune Lounge, where the poor ladies acting as concierge got to deal with our repeated calls. They really did try hard and were truly concerned, but resolutions to our problems were out their control. And in spite of buying HAL's airport transfer, we were among the last off the ship and dropped at the San Diego airport on a Saturday morning with 25 minutes to plane time. So much for suite privileges. It didn't help that, as we learned, there were 1200 travel industry persons aboard and HAL kept closing public areas such as bars, deck pools, Crows Nest, etc for their prime time private parties. And the ship's officers who were supposed to host functions for the suite customers only briefly showed up, if at all. Guess they were busy elsewhere. We weren't the only passengers who experienced our frustrations. Our dining room tablemates were also suite occupants and they had the same experiences and observations we did. It was an anniversary cruise for them and his first (and I think last) cruise. So now we'll cancel our deposit on the Westerdam for an Eastern Med. cruise next May and be looking at other lines for future cruising. We sure liked our previous HAL cruises but this just smacked of a big decline in attitude. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
We were on the Oosterdam for the November 18 - 25 Thanksgiving sailing. This was our sixth cruise and our first on HAL. We had a group of ten including my husband and two kids, my sister and brother-in-law, my parents, and two friends. ... Read More
We were on the Oosterdam for the November 18 - 25 Thanksgiving sailing. This was our sixth cruise and our first on HAL. We had a group of ten including my husband and two kids, my sister and brother-in-law, my parents, and two friends. Embarkation was very smooth. We live in San Diego but because of a commitment didn't get to the dock until after 2 pm. We parked our car across the street from the pier, which is very convenient. There were no lines at the check-in, but the computer systems were all down so they couldn't take our pictures our process our paperwork online. Minor inconvenience - we had to go stand in at the front desk the next day to get our picture taken - but since our keycards kept magically demagnetizing we spent a lot of time down there anyway. We made our way to our aft VA cabins. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the cabins. They look tiny in the pictures, but are actually very livable for two but I wouldn't want to put three in one cabin. We had two cabins next to each other for our immediate family so we had our room steward, Joe, open the verandah divider between the two cabins. This was great for us so we could go back and forth without going into the hallway. The verandahs (we were on deck 5) were very large. We had a lounge chair, wicker chair with ottoman, and two side chairs and a small table with lots of room to move around. The cabin has plenty of storage, was very clean, and the beds are very comfortable. I had seen pictures of the Oosterdam and wasn't sure I was going to like the decor, but in most cases it was actually very nice. We absolutely did not like the layout of the ship. In all of my cruises, even on ships of the same size (Celebrity Summit) this was the most crowded and cramped ship I have been on. The public spaces are tiny. Lots of little bars, but the Vista Lounge was so small, the casino was tiny, the front desk area on deck 2 is so small there was always a line that blocked traffic. I hated having to walk through the photo gallery to go from dinner on deck 3 to the Vista for the show. Traffic flow was a nightmare there. The shopping arcade is also laid out like an afterthought, and it seemed they devoted the most space on the ship for the stupid art auctions. Because this was a Thanksgiving cruise there were many large family groups and over 400 children on board. Club Hal was a real disappointment for my kids. I knew there would be a lot of kids, but I thought HAL would be able to handle the crowd. My kids were in the Tweens group and they had to meet in one of conference rooms on deck 3 with nothing but chairs and a table in the room. The staff was great, but there were no video games and it wasn't a kid-friendly space. The worst part about Club Hal is they force you to let your kids check themselves in and out. If you don't allow it, they will take your 8 - 13 year old and put them with the 7 and under group. My kids are very responsible, but it's not them I worry about when they are wandering around on the ship. The counselors didn't care where they went when they left. We made a deal that one of my kids (the other one decided the first day he didn't really want to participate) that he could check himself out at a specified time and come right to the cabin. One day he checked himself out early, went to the cabin and we weren't there, wandered around for an hour looking for us, then checked himself back in to the club. Meanwhile, we went to Club Hal looking for him and they didn't even know he had left. I think this is an accident waiting to happen and they need to figure out a better system. Needless to say that after that fiasco we came in person to drop him off and pick him up. If HAL is going to advertise itself as family-friendly, then they need to step up and provide the services the other cruise lines do. I found overall the service on the ship to be very bad. Our cabin steward was the only bright spot and he was fantastic. Our dining room staff was simply awful. First, there was a mixup on the early/late seating and table numbers. Six of our group wanted early seating and were waitlisted for three months. The two older couples with us wanted to eat late seating and were confirmed, but when we got onboard we all had early seating but at two different tables. My sister stood in line to straighten it out with the maitre d and he was extremely rude and said that maybe he would fix it the next day. By the time the cruise was over, my parents and their friends had been moved from early to late seating (on the third day) and at late seating were moved to three different tables. The maitre d was completely unapologetic. We were at the same table the whole time, but our service was terrible. They are obviously understaffed in dining room. It was the most impersonal service I have ever received on a cruise ship. Many nights the wine stewardess (who was great) would take bar and wine orders, but I would never get an iced tea or milk for my kids even if we asked a couple of times. The waiter would forget to bring some of the food we ordered or mix up who ordered what. They got a little friendlier as the week went on, but it didn't make up for the first night when my husband asked for a shrimp cocktail and was told it wasn't on the menu so he couldn't have it, or the night when my son wanted a steak and the waiter told us no and had to call over the head waiter to get approval so my son could get his steak and french fries. It became very obvious that the waiters didn't want to do anything outside of their normal routine and they seemed afraid to ask the kitchen for something special. The food in the Vista Dining was pretty good, but not as good as some of the other cruises we have been on. They have a problem with their beef and pork - it was not prepared well at all. No matter how you ordered it, it was always overcooked, dry and chewy. The fish was very good, the breads were excellent, and many of the appetizers were really nice. Overall, I didn't think the food was anything to brag about (and yes, I understand that it is basically banquet food and can't be compared to a good restaurant). We ate a lot of meals in the Lido (we ate breakfast and lunch one day in the dining room and service was, like at dinner, pretty indifferent). The Lido food was the best of any ship I have been on. Lots of variety and we loved the stations. The sushi was good but the same every day. The Asian food was not so good, but the pasta station was very good. We all enjoyed the excellent ice cream and desserts. The staff was pretty friendly in the Lido, but there was never silverware available when it was crowded (can't tell you how many times we had to search around for silverware), there was never any ice in the machines, the staff never took our trays, and they ran out of milk on Thursday, but it was scarce even before then. We did eat in the Pinnacle Grill our last night on the ship (compliments of our travel agent). So many people got that gift that by noon on Saturday all of the big tables were booked for the week and the only spot for a party of four was Friday at 6:30. If we had known our travel agent was giving the Pinnacle meal to us we would have booked in advance. I was not that impressed with the food. The decor in the room was beautiful, but the service was only fair. Our waiter was very nice, but he couldn't tell us the dessert special for the day. The wine steward charged my sister's wine to the wrong room and then argued with her that he hadn't made a mistake. The appetizers were very good, but the steak I ordered medium was well done (not pink at all) and while it may have been a good piece of meat at one time, it was so overcooked it was hard to tell. We had three porterhouses at our table, two medium and one medium rare, and they got the orders mixed up so the medium rare steak (actually cooked to medium) went to the wrong person. At that point, after a week of bad service, I opted to just eat it and not complain. The side dishes were unmemorable. I had a baked potato and mushroom caps that I could have cooked at home. My appetizer was the heirloom tomatoes that looked really pretty but were utterly tasteless. The creme brulee trio (plain, coffee, and chocolate) was tasty but nothing special. We had great weather the whole trip and had great days in all three ports. We booked the Baja Jeep Safari for Cabo and it was fantastic. I highly recommend it. We went from the desert to the beach with a stop in Candalaria, a tiny town in the desert. Our tour guide was great, but we had to cut the tour short because of the shortened port hours and the problem tendering in. In Mazatlan we just hired an open-air jeep taxi to drive us around the old downtown area. We went to the cathedral and the big mercado and saw a lot of the old city. We returned to the ship for lunch, then hired another taxi to go the El Cid hotel on the gold coast so we could use the beach and the pool. We bought drinks there and they didn't seem to care we weren't hotel guests. In Puerto Vallarta we had independently booked a dolphin-watching excursion in a zodiac boat (they also do whale watching but it's too early for whales). It was a great day and we got to see lots of dolphins close up. Our two guides were naturalists who work with marine life and were experts on the dolphins, turtles, sea snakes, fish and birds that we saw. We also got to snorkel at Los Arcos. This was a great excursion and I would do it again. The entertainment on the ship was mixed. The singers and dancers were very talented and the first show Roadhouse was entertaining. We walked out of the second show they did Escape since it was very amateurish. We never saw Julie Barr, the comedian. Joel Mason, the Elton John impersonator, was fantastic and I usually don't like shows like that. He was genuinely funny. The magic act, DV8, was pretty bad. They copied the jokes from Joel Mason the night before. I think Dwight is a good magician, but my son described the act as cheesy. Even my stepmother, who has been on a gazillion cruises (over 150 days on HAL alone) and likes any kind of entertainment, hated the magic act. We felt there were a lot of activities, but most of them were geared toward making money for HAL (like bingo and events in the casino). The trivia was run by a couple of cruise staff who were all business and not friendly. The library was nice but always crowded. The Lido pool was fun for the kids, but needless to say with 400 kids on board it was always crowded. My sister took the two culinary classes with the chef from the Pinnacle and really enjoyed them, although he got his recipes out of a magazine - they are not his original recipes. We didn't do anything in the spa, but heard good reports on the pilates and stretching classes. As we got off the ship today we discussed taking another HAL cruise and decided that unless the itinerary was fantastic and couldn't be duplicated by another line we probably would not go out of our way to book with HAL. We had fun on the cruise (like always) but the bad service really made a big impression on us. I didn't think it came close to the service and quality we had on Celebrity and although it was a little more sophisticated in feel than Royal Caribbean, I think we prefer those two lines to HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
We boarded the Oosterdam at San Diego on December 9th. As we live in San Diego, travel to the cruise terminal was no problem. We boarded about 12:30 PM and the process went rapidly. We were in our stateroom exactly one hour after we left ... Read More
We boarded the Oosterdam at San Diego on December 9th. As we live in San Diego, travel to the cruise terminal was no problem. We boarded about 12:30 PM and the process went rapidly. We were in our stateroom exactly one hour after we left home. Round trips out of San Diego are obviously great for us. This was our 4th cruise on Holland America and our third on Holland America to the Mexican Riviera. The ship was clean and well maintained. Our room steward took care of things expeditiously and the room was as expected. This was his first trip, so we did not get any towel monkey hanging from the ceiling, however I never had trouble finding my sunglasses. Interesting that there were no drawers in the stateroom. There was a closet of shelves which we used for the stuff we would usually stashed in the drawers. We went ashore at each port and we walked or used local cabs. Weather was excellent at all three ports and was not too warm. We revisited some of the sites and locations that we had been to previously on purchased shore tours. Our pace was relaxed. We had our customary Corona at the Giggling Marlin in Cabo. Holland America decided to test a new dining schedule for this trip. We were notified ahead of time, so it was no surprise. If you had early dining, you could arrive between 5:30 and 6:00. Late dining was between 8:00 and 9:00. You were still seated at your assigned table. The plan offered some additional flexibility, but most people still showed up shortly after the doors opened. Service in the dining room was very good and the selections were about the same as previous HAL cruises. In general, I was disappointed with the quality of the food. Eggs benedict for breakfast did not include the usual slice of Canadian bacon and was served on an un-toasted English muffin. I ordered various beef dishes four times at dinner and they were all overcooked and very dry. That included the "surf and turf" selection on formal night. The lobster tail was good. The rear of the dining room on deck #2 was subject to serious vibration as a result of operating one pod at 100%. We ate one breakfast in that area and avoided it thereafter. According to some previous reviews, the Azipod problem has been going on for some time, yet we were told they were "working on it" as if it had just occurred. Entertainment was excellent and there were two full-blown production shows during the seven nights. They had a great comedian on board for the entire trip and she did a full show one night and contributed to other shows. Music was very good, although a little loud for my taste. The magician and his wife put on a fabulous performance one night and were part of the joint effort on another. The cooling system went south in Puerto Vallarta and we spent the next two days and nights with very uncomfortable public areas, a very hot cabin and almost no sleep because of the excessive temperature. Not my idea of a fun cruises either. A memo from the captain said they were "working on it" and that was the last we heard. It got cooler on the way to San Diego because the outside temperature headed into the low 60's. Got some sleep the last night. Compared to prior experiences on the Statendam, Maazdam and Ryndam, this ship is not what we expected from Holland America. Management needs to look at some of the previous Cruise Critic reviews regarding food service, technical problems and employee attitude. We will probably not use Holland-America again unless future reviews indicate that they have made some serious changes, especially in the food quality area. The Oosterdam was a disappointment. They need to look after the little stuff as that is what makes great service. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
My wife I had booked the Mexican Rivera Cruise leaving from San Diego. Since it is our home, we decided that it would be nice for a change not to deal with airlines etc. Two days enroute to our first destination, Cabo, my wife became ... Read More
My wife I had booked the Mexican Rivera Cruise leaving from San Diego. Since it is our home, we decided that it would be nice for a change not to deal with airlines etc. Two days enroute to our first destination, Cabo, my wife became very ill 3 hours after dinner. Around 9am the next morning she spoke to the ship's infirmary regarding her condition. They advised that we would both be quarantined for a 24 hour period. They were very helpful. We believed it to be food poisoning due to the quick onset. Shortly thereafter a Captain's letter came in our stateroom mail box stating that he would be increasing health conditions by shutting down the spas, Lido buffet lines, and increase sanitization throughout the ship. Little did we know that more than 300 individuals as well as crewmembers had already contracted Norovirus. At any rate we applaud the Captain's immediate attention to curtail the widespread sickness. More so during our quarantine to our room while in Cabo, we learned just how some of the Holland America staff were not so "Customer Service oriented". We experienced some very poor behavior by food service members, retail ship's store personnel and front desk uniformed personnel. To put it bluntly, The service overall was Rude. We were very disappointed in the lack of Customer Service and in-attention to detail by many of the employees. Everyone can have a bad day. Unfortunately the negatives just outweighed the positives. With that said, this will be our last Holland America Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
This is our 7th cruise. The first cruise with HAL. We drove from Palm Springs to San Diego and boarded at approximately 2 P.M. for a 5P.M. departure. The parking was across the street from the terminal and was $12/day. Handy as it only ... Read More
This is our 7th cruise. The first cruise with HAL. We drove from Palm Springs to San Diego and boarded at approximately 2 P.M. for a 5P.M. departure. The parking was across the street from the terminal and was $12/day. Handy as it only took a few minutes to park and start the boarding process. This went very smoothly and we were in our cabin within 15 minutes. Our first observation was the ship was looking a bit worn. (Passage walls scuffed up, the carpet in places slightly coming apart). The cabin, with a veranda, was adequate size and medium range in its finish. The bathroom had a tub with a shower; the weather was suburb with daytime temps in the 80's and lots of blue sky. We wonder sometimes why we leave the desert this time of year but the weather was better than at home. (Low 60's and overcast most the week). The first night we were camped into the Pinnacle room because of our platinum AMEX card. I had read various reviews of the Pinnacle and we were anxious to try it. The furnishing of the room was nice and I would say "funky" as the chairs were wrought iron and not really "elegant". The service was very good. I ordered the porterhouse as they really touted their beef. My wife had the scampi. The steak was cooked correctly but tough and not to tasty....I think we get better beef at Costco. The shrimp came with their shells on and after struggling a bit with the shells the waiter came to help my wife. He to struggled but finally torn the shells off and her verdict was, they were "O, K." not great. The appetizer were forgetful...we both forgot what we ordered. The best part was the desert, a chocolate soufflE like dish that was tasty. We made reservation for the last night in the Pinnacle after dinner. The next day I stopped to ask if we could have a table were we sat side by side as we hate yelling across the table and the Pinnacle is quite noisy. I was told first come first served. What is the point of a reservation? They only have one seating in reality. After thinking about the low quality of the previous dinner and thinking why send $40 for this a cancelled the next day. I think you are better to apply this at Ruth Crests and get a really good steak. We ate in the dining room the rest of the nights and had one good meal. Prime rib. The rest of the dinners were either poor choices on our part our nothing that great to order. My wife ordered veal one night and it was over cooked, tough and had no taste. The potatoes, vegetable etc. with the dinner was not to appealing, like it was prepared much earlier and was dried out or cold. They also had a number of standard items such as vichyssoise "style" which they were able to mess up quite handily by adding apple. Getting fancy didn't cut it. The Lido we used for breakfast most mornings and for lunch. I tried their sushi and found it to be unlike any I have ever had and hope never to have again. My wife being Asian refused to even try it after the first taste. The sandwiches they made were good because of really good bread. So that was our take on food. Our room steward Arty was the best! He was almost clairvoyant to our needs. Always smiling, cheerful and really a very nice person. If only we could take him on every cruise with us. The rest of the staff was friendly and we surely had no complaints about them. We did get a call from the office on the 6th day asking how everything was. I suggested they read my review at Cruise Critic. The other passengers were definitely the older crowd. (At 65 I consider myself not quite there.) Most were "snow birds" and seemed to enjoy the cruise. The entertainment was O.K. Their stage productions were somewhat weak but we were not on the cruise to go to the theater. A "beetles sound alike" group was good and a comic had a few great lines. A "Hollywood Idol" program was really quite good with ships Event Director being a great "Simon". The next night that had a "Newlywed, near newlywed and not so new newlywed" game. It was really a stitch! We laughed so hard we guessed some of the responses had to be rehearsed. The shore excursion were very good. Cabo San Lucas being the weakest. We went on a 40 minute boat ride that was O.K. and then to a hotel for a "great view". For the length of the ride the "view" was a let down. We have been to Cabo 4 times previously, the last in 1997 to marlin fish. The town is so overgrown and American with American prices it really has lost its charm. Next was Mazatlan. We did a tour with a great guide. Saw the cliff divers and then a Culture show that was really very good. Then a great buffet at a local hotel and an afternoon walking a very lovely beach. The next day Puerto Vallarta. Up at 6 A.M. to leave at 6:40 for a dune buggy adventure. What a kick, 3 1/2 hours of thick dust, muffler-less engines and a real ride over outback roads and a visit to a few small villages. My wife thinks she is Mario Andretti and really got to live her fantasy. We came back caked with dust and really happy campers. This made our trip. We took a bus into downtown Puerto Vallarta that afternoon and had a pleasant walk back. So assessing the whole thing we could only say we were somewhat disappointed in HAL as a cruise line. The food probably made the biggest difference and the upkeep and shape of a ship built in 2003 was a downside. Our last cruises on Celebrity (Constellation in the Baltic and the Expedition in Galapagos Islands) gave us some prospective in evaluating HAL. Would we use HAL again, possible for a short focused cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
"The Luck of the Irish?" The day of our highly anticipated cruise had finally arrived (St. Patty's day)! Flashback to Fall of 2006 - During a Fall cruise of the New England States, we especially enjoyed the company of two ... Read More
"The Luck of the Irish?" The day of our highly anticipated cruise had finally arrived (St. Patty's day)! Flashback to Fall of 2006 - During a Fall cruise of the New England States, we especially enjoyed the company of two couples we met from San Diego (We are from the Chicagoland area). We decided to keep in touch by e-mail and try to cruise together sometime again. Early in 2007 the cruizin bug hit and we all planned this Mexican Riviera trip. I was the advocate for HAL, having enjoyed their Alaska trip five years ago. HAL and Celebrity ran neck and neck as my favorite cruise lines. We arrived in San Diego a day early, staying at the downtown Embassy Suites hotel (great beds, good service,nice breakfast and in close proximity to everything we wanted to do). We were planning on eating at Anthony's, but staff persuaded us to go to the Fish Market. We arrived shortly before 6:00, and with no reservations, it was a good thing! After a 15 min. wait, we were seated at a window table with nice view of the ocean and the setting sun! Food and service was great! What a super start! Next, we headed to the much hyped Gas Light district. I don't know if it was our age (early 50's) or the fact that being from a big city (Chicago) had jaded us, but we were somewhat disappointed in the scene. We then grabbed a cab and headed to Extraordinary Deserts. THIS IS A DON't MISS! (tip: portions are large, so you may want to split something). The next day I slept in and DH headed to USS MIDWAY ship museum and then RALPH'S to buy wine for the cruise. We embarked around 2:30 - the smoothest ever! Grabbed lunch with our friend's, then room was ready & luggage had arrived - all by 3:30! I can't say enough about how comfortable the beds are on HAL! Our room steward was also so efficient the entire week! As a matter of fact, all service the entire cruise was excellent - I did note that while efficient, most workers seemed subdued (celebrity workers have always seemed very happy to us). Comparing the dining experience to Celebrity, as well as the HAL trip 5 years ago,HAL has slipped. While the ambience and service were well above average, the selection and flavor of the meals have declined significantly in our opinion. Main seating for dinner worked well with our daytime events, but did interfere with evening entertainment we would have liked to attend. The stage shows weren't really our cup of tea, but the ones we did attend were filled with energy and professionalism. The one tender to shore was extremely efficient and well organized! This was the 1st cruise ever that we did not book ship excursions. We didn't want to be held to any timetables and felt we were able (thru research on cruisecritic) to navigate quite well on our own! As recommended here, we booked the massages at Krystal resort PV - THE BEST WE'VE EVER HAD!! And I get regular weekly massages. I feel this gives a fairly just overview of what one might expect on an HAL cruise. However, every individual's expectations, preferences and experiences are unique. On that note, I feel I must include two negative situations we experienced - One of the couples we traveled with had a 4th floor room with balcony. The ship had some type of sewage problem and the smell permeated their room. This was only their second cruise ever and it really wrecked the experience for them. When they reported it, HAL responded by sending a goodie basket to the room - the problem was never rectified!! Needless to say this was their first and last HAL cruise! Also at the last port, Puerta Vallarta, just after my marvelous massage, I was knocked over by a seven foot wave in the ocean and sprained my knee. There were two days left on the cruise, and HAL stated that they only rented wheel chairs by the week, and the fee would be $125.00 - full price - even though there was only two days left. I really resented this - so much for good will! I can tell you that this left me with a very negative feel when I think of HAL, and it will probably influence my future cruise line choicemaking. 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
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: January 2008
My wife and I who are in our mid fifties took a Mexican Riviera cruise on the Oosterdam departing from San Diego on January 11, 2008. This was our fifteenth cruise in total and the first on a Holland America Line ship. Our previous cruises ... Read More
My wife and I who are in our mid fifties took a Mexican Riviera cruise on the Oosterdam departing from San Diego on January 11, 2008. This was our fifteenth cruise in total and the first on a Holland America Line ship. Our previous cruises have been on Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. We flew into San Diego the day before the ship departed and stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn on Pacific Highway which is quite near the cruise ship dock. The Hampton provides free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel and will take guests from the hotel to the cruise ship terminal as well. San Diego is a beautiful city and we greatly enjoyed walking around and trying some of the fine seafood restaurants. After the cruise we stored our luggage and spent a few hours in Sea Port Village and Horton Plaza. I also toured the Maritime Museum while my wife was shopping. The airport is only a ten minute ride from this area so we arrived in plenty of time for our flight and returned to Cincinnati with no problems. The two preceding paragraphs summarize the high points of the trip, however. Embarkation was relatively smooth because we completed the paperwork electronically before leaving home. We spent some time questioning passengers as they left the Oosterdam for any advice they might wish to share and were surprised to receive so many negative comments. We were anticipating a great trip on a five star ship but the departing ship's guests complained about crowded conditions in the Lido buffet and problems with the free style dining option. The virus that was present on their cruise as well as the one preceding theirs was also an obvious concern. We couldn't dismiss these reviews as isolated issues since they were uniformly negative and were all describing the same problems. However, we hoped for the best and boarded the ship. All guests who wanted something to eat had to go to the Lido buffet and we were unable to secure a table until a nice fellow from Chicago asked us to join him at his outside spot. The food was buffet like, nothing special and it was difficult to get a beverage of any kind because the crew had to serve them as a preventive measure because of the virus. We left the ship and walked around the port again before re-boarding in time for the lifeboat drill. The staff member directing us to our cabin recommended that we call for reservations even though we had chosen the free style dining option. I did so and was told that the only times available to us were 5:15, 5:30 and 8:00 PM. We continued to make early reservations each night because being unable to eat until 8:00 PM would be too late for a couple of Midwesterners. The food was very good at most meals served in the dining rooms and average for a cruise ship in the Lido buffet. An afternoon tea is served each day although not well advertised. At breakfast the buffet has fresh squeezed orange juice which is a little hard to find but a really nice treat. Other passengers told us that they just appeared at the Vista dining room for dinner and were admitted at any time they chose. I discussed this option with the dining room staff and they insisted that I make reservations, which I continued to do. Rather than continue documenting each thing about this cruise I'll just add some general comments. This is not a five star ship in reality although websites give it that rating. It's actually an average four star experience. There are so few activities on board that the boredom began to show itself as stress and tension among passengers. One of the activities actually appearing on the schedule was a self guided tour of the ship library. How weak is that? The ports visited were no more than the average Mexican tourist areas with moochers, panhandlers and children selling Chicklets. Other passengers who took excursions to interior areas enjoyed them a great deal and an especially popular trip was Rhythm of the Night at Puerta Vallarta. Oosterdam is not a smooth sailing ship and even at anchor at Cabo the ship rolled significantly. Several passengers complained of motion sickness. The demographic of this ship is primarily older people ranging from 70 to 80+ and perhaps the lack of activities met their needs which seemed to be eating huge amounts and then sleeping in the lounge chairs with their jaws agape. The view on the promenade deck after lunch was like that of visiting one's grandmother's nursing home. These passengers seemed to have no problems with the cruise and navigated along with their walkers, canes and wheelchairs at a steady slow pace everywhere. In summary, had this been our first cruise it would have been our last and it will be our first and final HAL trip. For the right people who can deal with a lack of planned activities, complaining and gorging senior citizens and several naps per day this might be just your trip. For others, especially persons under sixty please carefully consider before booking this cruise. We felt trapped, bored and stressed out and couldn't wait to get back to San Diego. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
My wife and I booked our own flights and arrived late on Thursday evening in San Diego. We also booked our own hotel and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay. This Inn is very, very convenient (literally right across the street from the ... Read More
My wife and I booked our own flights and arrived late on Thursday evening in San Diego. We also booked our own hotel and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay. This Inn is very, very convenient (literally right across the street from the cruise terminal). They were very accommodating and have a wonderful "English style" pub and restaurant on site. On Friday we took a tour of San Diego on one of the "canned" trolley tours. We had a wonderful guide by the name of Hatch. Had a wonderful day which included a great Mexican style lunch at Old Town Cantina. On early Saturday PM we met our son (and family) from the Fresno area and boarded the Oosterdam. Our group totaled 7 and ranged in age from 19 months to 68 years. Boarding went smoothly and our cabins were large and comfortable. Our room steward was very very helpful through the entire cruise. We selected early seating dining in the Main dining room. This, we found our to our disappointment was a mistake. The food in the Main dining room was very average and not at all at the same quality or presentation levels of Princess and Celebrity. We ended up skipping this dining on (2) nights and found that the buffet actually served better prepared food which served immediately after it was freshly prepared to our order. However our dining complaint regarding the main Dining room was not with the serving temperature but with the overall food quality. For example a desert that attracted both my son and I that was on the Friday evening menu was a "molter chocolate cupcake with chocolate and vanilla sauces. It was dried out and we could not find any chocolate filling (molten or otherwise). The dining room staff were not the friendliest and were not good at seeing to our needs. Again, for example, we were never asked about coffee or tea on that last Friday night. Our grand daughter, who is 5 1/2 went to "Club Hal". They have a wonderful staff and she thoroughly enjoyed the time that she spent there. We took on shore excursions on all 3 ports of call. They were Cabo San Lucas and the Pirate Ship and whale watching were wonderful. We took a tour of the country, etc. around Mazatlan and this was average. Last we took a tour of the city at Puerto Vallarta which included helping to make our own Mexican lunch. This also was wonderful. All in all we had a wonderful time and the weather was great. However, this was our 1st experience with Holland America and it will probably be our last. They definitely are not in the same class as Celebrity and are below Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
This was our 3rd time on the big O in a year. Two times to Mexico, one trip to repositioning in Canada. We went on this cruise, KNOWING, we would have excellent service as we did in the past. Living in So. Cal. and going out of San ... Read More
This was our 3rd time on the big O in a year. Two times to Mexico, one trip to repositioning in Canada. We went on this cruise, KNOWING, we would have excellent service as we did in the past. Living in So. Cal. and going out of San Diego is a no brainer. Drive down, hop on, easy check in and relax. Unfortunately, something has happened with HAL. The staff seems so overworked. The 'details' that made it so nice were missing. Some others were downright irritating. Here's my list and you decide for yourselves. 1) Coffee machines were only working half the time in Lido. Had to track down the full ones. This may not be a biggy for some of you, but for coffee addicts or morning people, we expect full coffee pots most of the time, not some of the time. 2) Internet Lounge. Went into the internet lounge because we had an internet snafu in one of the ports. We travel all the time, use internet for work. The internet guy was giggling into his computer, chatting away. When I told him the problem, he handed me a piece of paper with instructions and continued chatting and smirking. He's a contract guy, not a HAL employee. Downright rude & smug. Note to Hal: Lose the contract workers. They don't appreciate the great job they have...and they don't deserve it. 3) Spa - another contract worker. We bought the week spa package. Don't bother. No ice water, tea, fresh fruit which is typical in the spa experience. On previous cruises, we just bought a daily pass when we needed it. We got those perks, but not for the week. Spa pool, changing rooms need a real cleaning. Half the bathrooms worked half the time. One of of my spa days, someone grabbed my robe & key by accident while i was in the shower. The robe was hanging right outside the shower. When I went to the front desk, the gal was incredulous. "You need to keep an eye on your belongings." Well, I was in the shower and the robe was right next to me. Then a guy came up, looking really apologetic saying he grabbed the wrong robe. He & I laughed about it. I turned to the spa gal and asked how often it happens. "NEVER!" Oh, sorry. Maybe she should go back to Australia and get an attitude adjustments. The Aussies I know are some of the nicest and fun people on the planet. She must have missed the boat on that one. 4) Dining room. Sat there for an entire meal with 2 other couples and NEVER once did we get water. Nor did a wine steward come around. But one waiter plopped ice tea on our table and said "who's is it?" We all looked and said that none of us had ordered it. He took the tea, said he'd be back for drink orders but never came. I finally flagged down one guy and got a soda with my dessert. 5) Lido Restaurant. We went to grab a quick bite the last night. Both sides of the restaurant were still open. But it was freezing in there. All the temps on the ship that last day were so so cold. Anyway, grabbed a plate and sat in a far corner. Seemed warmer. It was so quiet and things had settled down. Had some great prime rib and so I went back for seconds. But by that time, our side had shut down for food and so I went over to the other side. They had a system I had never seen on that ship. And I was just on it in April. They took your "order" in the buffet line and asked your table number. Heck I didn't know. It's the Lido. Then the Manager asked where I was sitting. So I pointed to the other side. He proceeded to chew me out because I was sitting in the dining room that was closed for Officers. Well, I explained it wasn't closed when we sat down. (They have signs all over the place that clearly mark the officers areas.) He continued to tell me that we can't eat or sit over there, that it's for the officers, yadda yadda yadda. So I just cancelled my order and went back to the seat in the far corner. I could see the officers enjoying their dinners in the area roped very specifically with signs. So I got up, went to the Lido Manager and asked him to follow me over to the table I was sitting at and showed him that we were not eating with officers. His remark to me? "You don't have table cloths. THis area's closed." I guess he doesn't understand that changing tables in the middle of dinner is not on my list of priorities. 6) Disembarkation. While packing this morning, we had our drape open to enjoy the great view of the SD harbor. All of a sudden a man opens the verandah gate and proceeds to hose down our deck. So I closed the drape. A few minutes later, as I'm getting dressed, a cabin steward opened the door after one quick knock. It was about 8:15. Our disembarkation was 9am. I told him that we'll let him know when we leave... Note: We had dinner with another couple one night that had cruised on the same ship 3 times within about a 2 year period. We all agreed that something significant has happened. The gentleman at dinner attributed it to the fact hat they had cut the staff in half but had the same hours. That made sense because the morale on the ship was dismal. And rightfully so. The ones with the best attitude were by far the ones that didn't have the cushy jobs. Yet, they managed a smile. We were invited to a Captain's brunch to receive a "tile" as a member of the "Mariners Society." My husband was so fed up, he said he'd go to Home Depot and buy a cheap imitation. I've cruised about 15 times over the past few years. On several different lines. HAL has great sized rooms but this last cruise cancels it all out when you get that kind of service. And I find the condescending service of the young 'contract' workers to be annoying. I feel very fortunate to be able to travel as much as we have. But I work hard and am willing to pay for those extras. But clean facilities, working bathrooms, full coffee pots and friendly service or heck, any service for that matter, should never be considered "extras." Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
Overall - we had a good time on our vacation. Nothing terrible happened to us - no huge issues. That said, nothing spectacular happened to us either. We have had our expectations set for us by cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and ... Read More
Overall - we had a good time on our vacation. Nothing terrible happened to us - no huge issues. That said, nothing spectacular happened to us either. We have had our expectations set for us by cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Disney. First time on a Holland America ship. Overall I would say HAL not as strong as those lines. I will say I think the boat is kept extremely clean and there was no time when we felt anything - from towels to food to toiletries - were out of stock. One exception: there was a giant ball of human hair floating around in the pool. The next day, it was still there - one of my kids dove down to the bottom of the pool with a plastic glass and retrieved it and handed it to a horrified steward. We got the feeling the pools were not checked for cleanliness on a daily basis. Service through Neptune lounge was very responsive - my husband forgot long pants at home and we needed our rental tuxedo earlier than usual because of it - Neptune lounge staff responded immediately. Anything we asked for, they were very attentive. We much appreciated the benefits of having that lounge (which is accessible only to those passengers on deck 7) including easy access to coffee, special presentations of the port information, DVD rentals. We did find however that most of the staff in the Neptune lounge did not know enough to help us and we had to wait for the 1-2 staff members who could - even simple things like where to leave forms, what phone number to call for laundry pickup, very basic things that you would think anyone having sailed a couple weeks on the boat would automatically know. There seemed to be a lot of staff appropriated to keeping the coffee station clean and not enough that could answer a simple question. Sometimes this meant waiting quite a long time to talk to a staff member about something simple - waiting till someone was able to arrange a complex dinner party at Pinnacle/10 minutes, so that I could ask where to leave my completed form/2 seconds. Also, the people whom we spoke to at Holland America corporate for pre and post cruise help were extremely outgoing and helpful! They and the Neptune lounge staff appear cut from the same cloth. Smoking was a daily issue for us. Both our suite neighbors were smokers and therefore we could not use our veranda without experiencing smoke as well. It would have been easier if the smokers were segregated to 1 side of the boat or some simple, non judgmental arrangement. Fine that they allow smoking on the ship but not fine to not have some sort of organization of it so that we don't ALL have to enjoy it. We found that we had to arrange for things that we thought we could take for granted - such as arranging turndown service during our dining time so that we were not interrupted otherwise - we had a fixed dining time so it would have been easy for the ship to know when we'd be gone for dinner and arrange turndown automatically. These kinds of moments that could be magical for a guest, were not present. Though we were in a high priced suite, we were put in a table in the dining room that was in a very poor location - #24, near an exit, behind a service station, sliver of window, pretty boring. One night during a formal dinner, the promenade deck was being scrubbed by service personnel - hardly what we wanted to be looking at during dinner - and something we assume could have been cared for when dinner was not in session. The timing of dinner and entertainment really seemed off for 1st seating passengers. For 2nd seating, the show started at 6:45 and being that the shows were about an hour in duration, it was then perfect timing to use the facilities, take a photo, and then be on time for an 8 p.m. dinner seating. But for 1st seating guests, dinner started at 5:45 p.m. and concluded around 7:30, leaving 1.5 hours between dinner and the show. Being that we had kids, this means we missed the show most nights because there was really nothing to engage them in until 9 p.m. But on the reverse, you can't wait till 8 p.m. to feed children, so this left us in a bind to coordinate both dinner and entertainment. I would say about half the service personnel we spoke to onboard had a very shaky command of English and we had to use hand gestures and repeat ourselves several different ways to get what we needed - or just find someone else to ask. For example, when asked for an extra plate, a buffet attendant said "Yes!" and then just stood there. When we asked again, he handed us another set of silver. Had to eventually just reach over and take the plate. In general there seemed to be things that worked on a schedule or a set of rules, but none of the staff seemed to know what they are. A good example is the roof over the middle Lido pool; on our very hot day in Cabo, the roof did not open till 11. We asked when it would open earlier in the morning, and the steward said he'd ask someone to open it. After that didn't happen, another staff member told us it opened at a scheduled time, but he didn't know what time that was. Seems like it opened pretty much at 11 every day but nobody could give us a straight answer! This is a very small thing and not even worth noting except by example of some of the things aboard ship that the crew was relatively clueless about. In terms of staff - few of them had an open and gregarious personality. All were very hard working and meticulous. But few really created that festive atmosphere. Debarkation procedures were smooth except that it was alarming that we were left to sift through our bags unattended. If we had been unethical, it would have been easy to walk away with someone's golf bag, or entire set of luggage! Seems like it would be a relatively easy thing to ask people to label their bag tags with their cabin number and then check their bag tags and cruise card one last time on the way out of the luggage tent for security purposes. Kids did not want to take part in the kids program because so many of the other kids on board complained they had and it was terribly boring. Older kids said they ended up having to watch preschool movies. Halloween, ostensibly a kids holiday, was celebrated on the wrong day and at night - 10:30 at night is not a time when a kid can attend a costume party, and that's what they really wanted to do. Overall our age group (40s with kids) was not a group that felt particularly at home on this ship - lots of elderly, and some single/group partiers. I suppose I feel that if you are going to have programs specific to families with kids, make them good or just don't have them. The cruise line can check off the box that says "kids programs" on the comparison charts on the Internet - but that's about all. We didn't choose this cruise from a whole lot of others - we're from San Diego, this is the week we could take our vacation, and Oosterdam was the ship sailing out of our port. That said, we did pay a premium to be in one of the better cabins. I'm not sure it was worthwhile or that our experience would lead us to choose HAL if we had a choice between lines next time. In reading my own comments, I think the line suffers from a lack of forethought about the customer experience and how it could unfold in a more effortless, anticipatory, and celebratory way. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Its been five years since my last cruise experience - also on Holland America. During that time, I became what one would call "partially disabled" due to repeated leg surgeries. I've learned to see the world from a different ... Read More
Its been five years since my last cruise experience - also on Holland America. During that time, I became what one would call "partially disabled" due to repeated leg surgeries. I've learned to see the world from a different perspective and consider myself fortunate in that I can still walk, though I require assistance. However, I did require a room with handicapped capabilities (toilet, shower, etc. and a peculiar issue with my infirmity is that it limits the types of chairs I can sit on to those with arms. All in all, when my partner and I booked this short cruise as a kind of test to see if I could handle the challenges, we didn't foresee too many issues. The first thing I need to say about the Oosterdam is that I have the unusual perspective of having sailed on the ship shortly after she went into service and now 5 years later. I have not travelled by vessel in between. The ship has not aged well. HOA needs to freshen the look, change most of the carpeting, polish the brass in the elevators and update some of the public spaces. I understand that may take it out of service for a week, but 5 years without time in the beauty shop shows! Back to the original topic at hand, however. We had some expectations for the cabin that were evidently completely incorrect. When we travelled in past years on some NCL ships, we noticed that their handicapped rooms were substantially larger than other rooms in the same class. Not so for HOA! There was clearly space for a wheelchair to maneuver, but that extra space was taken away from the already sparse storage. Additionally, while HOA is known for their roomy bathrooms with tubs (I couldn't step over a tub to take a shower), their handicapped bathrooms are claustrophobic with the space for only a small flat shower. The toilet might work for most - it is high and rails help with leverage, but the architecture made all the pins and screws in my leg dig into my flesh as soon as I tried to make use of the - well, you get the picture. Strangely enough, the public handicapped facilities are not raised, so those of us who cannot raise or lower ourselves without difficulty are in trouble. Seating in the various showrooms is another issue. The Vista Lounge has a row designated as "handicapped". However, on inspection, all the seats are sloped downward so anyone who tries to use them will likely fall to the floor or be unable to raise themselves. For strange disabilities like mine that make me dependent on only chairs with arms, there are groups of those chairs in front that can be accessed without using the stairs (another problem in raked houses), but you have to get to the room at least a half hour early to claim the seat. Saving the best - or most distressing indignity for last is the issue of off-ship encounters at ports of call. This problem, I'm sure, is not limited to HOA - and they acknowledge it up front. But the inability to use the tenders or most if not all of the shore excursions because their physical limitations conflict with my physical limitations was certainly distressing and clearly limited enjoying the full benefits of the cruise. I've heard that some ships now have wheelchair accessible tenders which is certainly a step in the right direction. I also acknowledge the fact that HOA and other cruise lines are dealing with countries and infrastructure often not responsive to people with physical limitations, but no effort seems to be made to remediate this issue and it certainly put a big damper on my enjoyment of the first in five year trip. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
I am 35 and took this cruise with some family members (12 of us in all). We live in LA and drove to San Diego the night before the cruise and stayed at the US Grant - lovely hotel! We arrived for embarkation at around 12:30. The staff at ... Read More
I am 35 and took this cruise with some family members (12 of us in all). We live in LA and drove to San Diego the night before the cruise and stayed at the US Grant - lovely hotel! We arrived for embarkation at around 12:30. The staff at check in were incredibly rude and abrupt and acted like they were being tortured by working there. Between the 12 of us we checked in with 4 separate people and we all had the same experience - not a very good welcome to your cruise! It was about 1:15 by the time we were on board and we were completely aggravated and frustrated by the way we were treated. The ship is nice but nothing special - I am used to Princess and the atrium, etc. When we walked on board it was anti-climactic. The 3-story atrium is ho-hum and small with low ceilings. I felt that the ship is very chopped up - lots of small spaces everywhere - it didn't seem open and free-flowing. We had an inside cabin which was by far the most spacious of any inside cabin I've ever seen - and lots of room for 3 people to unpack and put away all out stuff. The highlights of the cruise were: 1. The cabin size and layout 2. The food - the food in the Lido was the best buffet food I've ever had on a cruise ship (although 4 out of 7 mornings I could not find a table and had to take my food back to my room). Dining room food was excellent as well. 3. The staff in the dining room. We had fixed late seating and Ario, our server, and RJ, our wine steward made every dinner special. They had all 12 of our names memorized by night #2. Incredible service! 4. Joel Mason, the Elton John impersonator - great entertainer and very funny! 5. Thermal Suite. If it wasn't for my buying this package I would have lost my mind due to boredom on the ship (all 3 sea days were cold). I highly recommend purchasing this package - it was AMAZING and so nice to be able to go there twice or more each day and chill. Other than that we were less than impressed. For us the biggest problem was lack of activities. HAL schedules their shows to be seen before dinner instead of after. I have never experienced this before on a ship. I choose late seating because I don't want to have to get cleaned up and ready to go by 7 PM - its too early for me. Every night we would finish dinner at around 9:30 and we would go from bar to bar, show room to show room, looking for something to do. There was rarely anything going on. 2 nights they did have karaoke which was fun. Other than that you had to hang out and occupy yourself until 11 PM when the Northern Lights Dance club opens. By then you'd be out of the party mood. And the times we did finally make it to Northern Lights we were the only ones in there dancing (other than the second to last night, when it was busy). Several nights I was in bed, lights out before 11 PM because there was nothing to do (a first for me on a cruise!) Overall service on board was so-so other than our dining room staff. I had an 80 minute massage that was good but not great. However, the staff in the Spa was very friendly and warm every single day. PORTS: This is my 4th time doing the Mexican Riviera so I went for the ship, not the ports so much. In Cabo we took a water taxi to Medano Beach - very relaxing and easy!! In Mazatlan we went into town and shopped and hung out at the beach in front of the hotel Flora. Mazatlan is just so-so and every time I go I wonder why I got off the ship. In Puerto Vallarta we went to Las Caletas for the 3rd time and it never disappoints - one of my favorite places on earth! I HIGHLY recommend this excursion! In my opinion if you're under 55 and you like to have any kind of fun after dinner, HAL is not for you. If you're looking to vegetate and hang out in a nice stateroom and eat great food then HAL is for you. One last comment - they allow smoking in many of their bars, and a couple of their main bars are right off the casino and smoke is wafting in rather strongly. NOT GOOD. I had asthma problems more than once. Smoking should not be allowed anywhere other than the casino. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed about almost EVERY aspect of this cruise. I would like to invite others who may think that I am just a complainer, to read my travel reviews on cruise critic and (same name: drjentile). I ... Read More
Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed about almost EVERY aspect of this cruise. I would like to invite others who may think that I am just a complainer, to read my travel reviews on cruise critic and (same name: drjentile). I believe this will help to validate my complaints. I have never had a BAD travel experience (other than an unfortunate stay at the Motel 6 in San Marcos Texas). While I enjoyed my vacation (it is what you make of it) I would like to share my thoughts about the HAL experience... Embarkation: Well I began to get fired up as soon as we were called to the desk to check in. The lady (if you want to call her that) called my mother and I up to the desk so we quickly shuffled over there. As soon as we set our bags down she rolled her eyes in the most dramatic fashion and let out a large grunt at us. Not sure why this happened, but I said "is there some sort of problem?" and she stiffened up and proceeded to be overly gracious. What a welcome! After boarding we headed to the lido restaurant (without being given direction as to where that is...unlike Carnival). We were pleased that the all clear announcement was given precisely at 1pm to indicate that our cabins were ready. Our Cabin: We got to our cabin to find out that the stationary and our steward's list indicated a different set of occupants...a Harold Veltree or something of that nature. Then we received his luggage at the cabin and the room stewards did not seem to understand that we were not Howard Veltree after several attempts to explain. He finally got it though :) We went to the purser's office to alert them to the mistake...the woman at the desk indicated that there was no problem. Then when we went to the muster drill they were asking us again if we were Harold Veltree (or something of that nature) and we were trying to indicate that there was a mix up. They did not take our names down and I was fearful that if the ship went down we would have gone unaccounted for. We booked a Superior Suite. The room was large enough but the fixtures in the bathroom reminded me of the Motel 6. The verandah was wonderful!!! It had a table with two chairs, and two chairs with ottomans. We loved it! The beds were hard and the linens left something to be desired. The blankets were those old polyester ones you see at Motel 6. Mine had holes in it. I looked under the bed to find the old linens from the previous guest, stuffed under there...sheets, pillow cases, blankets, everything...and hair!!!!! It took over 5 polite request, one more sharp request, and 7 hours to actually get the used linens removed and replaced. Also when we arrived in the room, the waste bins still had rubbish in them and the programs from the previous cruisers were left on the couch. We were skipped several times for turn down service. Our water was never replaced from the first day. I placed my wine bottle by the ice bucket, and we did not receive ice for it until day 6. We got only three towel animals (weren't sure what they were..couldn't find them in the book). Sometimes our towels were replaced...etc, etc, etc. Dining: The choice of food in the Lido for breakfast and lunch was outstanding! The pizza/pasta station was delicious. The deserts were fantastic. The taco bar was amazing!!! I even saw sushi at the buffet! There was also a nice station where you could slice your own cheeses (including brie, gouda, etc). I do not remember our lead dining steward's name (and we just disembarked yesterday)...he was outshined ten-fold by the assistant dining steward Wizz. Wizz was fantastic and very attentive. Our wine steward Romeo was excellent too. He always anticipated my needs which was very nice! The dining stewards at the other surrounding tables were helpful as well...always there to pull out a chair or offer a menu. I am a vegetarian and I was satisfied with the veg fare. There was a veg choice nightly and a completely separate menu that was all vegetarian!!! This was so wonderful. The dining stewards brought me the next night's menu and the veg menu nightly so I could choose what I wanted in advance :) I do however have to indicate thought hat the veg fare on Carnival was much better. This veg fare was often of Asian or Indian influence, which I don't enjoy as much. Unfortunately the main course was always cold when it arrived, without exception. The soups and appetizers were warm though. The teas and goodies provided at the afternoon tea were scrumptious, and I will surely miss this portion of my day. There was no chocolate extravaganza which I had read about on other posts. Beverage Service: The beverage staff were wonderful! Best crew on the ship. Although I am a very very light drinker, you wouldn't know it b/c in every common area or bar there was a beverage staff member who knew my name, anticipated my needs, and was quick to serve. They were all very friendly as well. Entertainment: The female dancers were largely unfortunate. The male dancers were excellent. The singers were good. Joel Mason (the Elton John tribute) was excellent. Even if you don't enjoy Elton John you will likely just enjoy the show he puts on. Derrick Cameron the comedian was outstanding! The magician was incredible as well, and his whole family got involved. The Filipino crew show was wonderful. The scheduling of the evening entertainment did not lead to a smooth evening. This should be considered by HAL. Unfortunately there was a huge lack of on-board activities...unless you wanted to pay for them. Also it seemed like the best activities were scheduled while we were in port and on sea days there was nothing going on! We did participate in both wine tastings (for a nominal fee) and they were excellent. Georgi the Cellar Master was fantastic...very informative and just wonderful all around. Ports: Tendering in Cabo was a breeze. Out of I believe 4 ships we were "parked" in the best location...right next to "land's end" and lover's beach. This provided great photo opps. There were an inordinate amount of individual's selling items on the beach...more so than I have ever seen in Mexico. We went to Playa Madera which was lovely, though the food and drinks were just as expensive as in San other ports there is a substantial savings, but not in Cabo. Mazatlan was wonderful. When we walked off the boat, we booked a tour with someone that was selling tours in the market area. It took us to Stone Island and was all inclusive with drinks, food, and activities for $30 pp. Thanks to Jorge and Gabriel with Playa Sur/Mazatlan tours!!!! I was underwhelmed with the beaches in Puerto Vallarta but the town itself is beautiful. Disembarkation day: Okay so when we woke up on Saturday morning it was like a switch had been turned off. All of a sudden there were no more warm greetings and only salty looks and a lack of any sort of service for breakfast. We were made to feel very uncomfortable, and could not wait to get off of the ship! This was delayed though as the computer system was down. Overall I was very underwhelmed with my experience on HAL. I will not sail with HAL in the future. It is not a luxury experience like you are lead to believe by the website. The ports and our table-mates for dinner were what made the cruise for me. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
The cabins in the Oosterdam are dated and tired. The ship needs revamping. Perhaps, in doing that they will also clean up the virus they can't seem to shake. After our cruise returned to San Diego, the ship claimed they would ... Read More
The cabins in the Oosterdam are dated and tired. The ship needs revamping. Perhaps, in doing that they will also clean up the virus they can't seem to shake. After our cruise returned to San Diego, the ship claimed they would disinfect everything. Guess what? The ship left port again, 250 people came down with GIS and the ship returned to port. On our trip, 100 people were sick. The nurse who saw me was flown in because they were so busy in the medical office. The letter I received in response to my request for some compensation for a 'lost vacation' stated "on every sailing we anticipate the possibility of gastrointestinal illness, and we monitor illness as closely as possible." I guess they need better monitors 'cause it ain't working! We have cruised many times on other lines. We found the staff on the Oosterdam to be a bit distanced from the passengers. There was a language problem. Of course, there were those who went the extra mile, but on a whole they were aloof and appeared inexperienced. We found the activities to be very mundane. Other cruise lines have interesting events and lectures on 'at sea' days. HAL did not. They also charged an 'arm and a leg' for using the internet facilities. We found the food to be good. Unfortunately, I was unable to have much of it. The entertainment was just so-so. We have had a much easier embarkation with other cruise lines. The port at San Diego leads to long lines and the feeling of being 'herded'. Would definitely suggest you look at other lines and avoid this ship in particular. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
OK, I have never written a review for anything, but felt so strongly to write about our cruise on the Oosterdam. We just got home last night from a 7 day Mexican Riviera Cruise. I have always heard such great things about Holland America ... Read More
OK, I have never written a review for anything, but felt so strongly to write about our cruise on the Oosterdam. We just got home last night from a 7 day Mexican Riviera Cruise. I have always heard such great things about Holland America and have never sailed this line. I expected wonderful service, but not on this ship! We booked a suite, since the price was so good. The room was great. We really enjoyed the large bathroom with a jacuzzi tub and the large veranda, but that is about all. Once aboard, we met our room steward and also a room with leftover food from the last passengers. Not a great way to start. Our room was never cleaned before 2:00pm every day of the cruise. The day the cruise started was also our son's 16th birthday. We wanted to celebrate at dinner with a cake. Well, we told the maitre de and the waiter and we never got a cake. The food was slow in coming and the waiters didn't seem to care about you at all. The second night was a formal night, so we all got dressed for dinner. We were in open seating because no other seating was available at the time we booked the cruise. We arrived at the dining room to a long line and after an hour wait to be seated, we almost left. As we went through the dining room, we noticed several open tables. The people we were seated with had cruised Holland America before, even on the same ship and were outraged at how we were all being treated at the dining room. If they are going to have open seating, they need to figure out a way to accommodate everyone somehow. No drinks or appetizers were offered to anyone while we waited. Again, we told the waiter about our son's birthday and after reminding him twice, we did receive a birthday cake. Not much fun! From then on until the last night, we ate on the Lido deck. The food was just as good and the lines were much shorter. I also decided to try my luck at the casino. I didn't really understand the way that you have to use your room card to put money on it and how to transfer it, etc. I just pulled out my card from the machine and thought the money was just automatically put on your card, but it is not. The next person that used the machine I was on, received my money to play with. I asked the Casino manager and he said that there was nothing they could do even though they track everything through your card. I went and spoke to the front desk and they tried to help, but the casino is a separate part of the ship. On the last night of the cruise, I was passing through the casino and they flagged me down to give me my money back. They said they had called me, but I never received any message. The way they treated me was not right even though I received my money back. I could keep going on and on about different things that happened on the ship, but I would be writing for a long time. Many of the people on the ship were first time cruisers and I am sorry that their experience was not better. Holland America needs to check into all these problems and do something about it. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We went on this cruise as a part of a group that my mom put together and being native to San Diego it was easy for us to fit into our schedule. We took a shuttle to the terminal instead of parking and it was well worth it. The shuttle ... Read More
We went on this cruise as a part of a group that my mom put together and being native to San Diego it was easy for us to fit into our schedule. We took a shuttle to the terminal instead of parking and it was well worth it. The shuttle takes you directly to the terminal doors and a porter was waiting to take our luggage; we didn't see our luggage again until we got to the room. Getting on the ship took all of 20 minutes. We got to the lido deck for lunch and that was a bit of a nightmare since there were so many people rushing to the food as though it was about to disappear. Around 1:00 the announcement came that we could go to our cabins and we arrived about 5 minutes before our luggage which made it easy for me to snap a few pics of a clean & tidy cabin. We sailed away around 5:30 and it was beautiful to see downtown San Diego lit up in the dusk...something I don't get to see very often. It reminded me of why I live in this great city! We stayed in cabin #5058 which was on the veranda deck towards the front of the ship very close to the elevators. When we first walked in we thought it was really small, but once we unpacked and found how much of our stuff fit into the cabinets we were pleased. The closets had plenty of hanging space and could convert into shelving if needed. There was a safe in one of the closets too. The veranda had a good view but I would have chosen to be about 5 cabins further back because we were right next to a portion of the ship that jutted out and blocked our view. We spent a lot of our time in the Crow's Nest Lounge & library which was directly above our cabin so it was quite convenient to go between the two with our laptop and books. The only drawback to this cabin was that the shower drained very slow and our feet were in about 4 inches of water at all times.Overall, the ship was nice and service was what we expected; it didn't seem to matter what time of day it was, but I always saw someone polishing a stair bannister. We thought the food was mediocre no matter where we ate and we got really tired of eating after about the third day. Even in the dining room, we felt that the food was comparable to any regular buffet so we felt a bit let down. Much of the food came out of giant cans and even the juices were often times watered down (FYI...tea, juice, coffee & milk are the only free drinks on the ship; you have to pay for soda). Afternoon tea and cakes was served everyday in the dining room, but once again it was mediocre; however it was nice to take a few minutes out of the day and have a bit of sophistication ... even if it was in our flip-flops. One night there was a party on the lido deck with chocolate fountains and fruit for dipping and that was very nice. The nightly entertainment was sub-par overall and unfortunately you couldn't get away from it. In the evening there was a musical group playing in every corner of the ship and it was never good. The shows were also excessively cheesy. There was one musician, a classical and acoustic guitarist named Taylor Brown, who was excellent and played often throughout the day; we made sure to catch one of his performances daily. We knew going in to this that we would be in a small demographic of "young" people and in general there wasn't a whole lot for us to do. There were ping-pong tables but they always seemed to be put away or missing the paddles. There was shuffle board, but there were only a few pucks so only one game could occur at a time. The gym was nice but you had to pay extra if you wanted to do any of the classes like yoga, pilates or spin...I was disappointed to have to pay extra for something that I expected to have been part of my booking costs. The explorations cafe was "activity central" with daily sudokus/crosswords and several puzzles for people to be occupied by. We learned on our last day that there was a closet full of board games that you could check out. We spent quite a bit of our time in here since our weather was quite chilly & windy...we enjoyed this portion of the ship. This is also where there were numerous computers and a fairly large library. There were two pools and 5 hot tubs but they were all covered up by 9pm everynight. With so much to do during the day we always seemed to have time to hit the hot tubs by about 10pm so it was disappointing to not be able to benefit from the tubs. Overall, we were somewhat let down by the cruise, but we still were able to relax. I don't think we'll be cruising on Holland America again until we're in their demographic which will be in about 30-40 years. This ship and or cruise line really caters to senior citizens and though we weren't looking for a party cruise, we wanted a tad bit more energy. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was my second experience on the Oosterdam and my husband's first. The Oosterdam is a well maintained ship and the Indonesian service crew appear to work very hard to keep it that way. I will talk about the positives before ... Read More
This was my second experience on the Oosterdam and my husband's first. The Oosterdam is a well maintained ship and the Indonesian service crew appear to work very hard to keep it that way. I will talk about the positives before getting to the negatives. First dining, the food was exceptional, even more so than on my previous trip 4 years ago. I could not fault it in any way. The Chef and kitchen have raised the bar VERY HIGH, and I could not imagine it being any better anywhere! It was fabulous. I give them a 5+ here! The food was excellent in the main dining room, and also very good in the Lido. We had any time dining and since we like to dine early, we made reservations in the Vista and never had to wait. Generally, we sat at a table for two, close enough to chat to adjoining tables if we wished, but not close enough that one had to carry on a conversation if one didn't want to.(Tables 104,106 108) The dining staff was all very good from the dining steward to the assistant to the wine steward (Buche, Andrew & Jel). Really, in this area Oosterdam absolutely shone! - The other positive was that the generally Indonesian service staff, room, vista and lido staff, were all extremely friendly and nice, always greeted us in passing in the hall whether they knew us or not. These were the highlights. The negatives, and they are pretty important 1) lack of DAY activities,they had 3 people planning the activities that I could tell and perhaps more,the party planner, the dj, and the cruise director. Considering the activities they managed to come up with, I think it shouldn't have taken more than one person working part-time to plan the activities that were presented to us. A highlight of one of the few activities on the last sea day, was: are you ready?...... towel folding. A number of activities were at an extra fee, activities that were free on princess for example (mixology). As for their digital workshop, well what a disappointment that was. Holland America advertises this as one of their services in describing their cruises, well it appears the person who runs the digital workshop classes did not show up, missed the boat, (I only found this out when enquiring from a crew member) and Holland America did not replace this person, nor they did not join the ship on our first port of call, they simply kept the digital workshop very quietly locked up for the week with no explanation or apology. I guess they figured no one would notice. Nor did they fill this missing activity with new activaties, adding to the scarcity of day activities that already existed. They did have a couple of cooking demonstrations with the chef that were interesting, though on one of them, the party planner seemed to be trying to one-up the chef in her cooking knowledge, that part really didnt come across well. . One evening they had a game planned for the queen's lounge, and because there was a private function in the queens lounge that "ran over time" they did not change the venue they simply cancelled at the very last second, with no other substitutions offered, and rebooked on a different night -talk about poor planning. When I sailed Oosterdam the first time in 2006 they had an Oosterdam (Karaoke) idol competition, that was very well advertised, well run, tons of fun, and the queen's lounge was filled to overflowing every night. They tried the same here, but it was poorly advertised, poorly run, and placed in odd time slots. This was very disappointing and so unnecessary. No reason it couldn't have been run as well as the one in 2006.(I will note that the evening production shows of which there were three plus the magician and comedian were all very good and I am not speaking of them here nor including them ,in my overal negative rating of entertainment and enrichment as a 2. I give it a 2 for the reasons mentioned above. Finally, 2) disembarkation, a complete disaster if you were on expedited or disembarking early. This was the final straw, and the reason we will not sail with Holland America next time. Coming back into the port of San Diego all non us-citizens have to present themselves at he Vista lounge at 630 am sharp! with their passports green cards , etc. to be seen by US customs.( Well I remember doing this in 2006 on my first trip and although it was early it was done promptly,leaving time for breakfastand we then disembarked with little difficulty. My how things have changed! We arrived at 630 to be explicitly directed by a staff member (Irvan)to our specific seating in 2 sections in the vista lounge, we were at the top of section one, then they filled up section 2 completely, and even a few in section 3. US customs did not arrive until 7:10 and did not start seeing passengers until 7:15 at the earliest. At that time the staff member (Irvan) who sat everyone, started allowing people out of rows to go through customs, and NOT in the order in which he sat them! People who arrived well after us were being seen first, and our section was in fact the last to be seen. I did complain to him about it while it was going on as did a number of others. Only excuses were given, and no action taken by him to correct this. i.e. "I can't stop people from going in this order". Really?!, he never even tried! -yet he firmly directed people on where to sit when they were arriving. Meanwhile when I complained to the other crew officer (Dew) about being unimpressed with how things had transpired here . Her response " I don't blame you"(totally unhelpful and indifferent) Anyway, we were there for over an hour and a half, which meant when we finally returned to our room at 8:05, there was only time left to close the case and leave for our expedited departure at 8:15 (forget breakfast!). Well we arrive down near the gangway to see that ¾ of the ships passengers must be also down there, lining up both sides of the ship almost all the way to the vista lounge on one side and vista dining room on the other. Just a mess. Expedited passengers mixed with passengers leaving at different times. ZERO crew members to be found, just security staff who were absolutely useless -and that's being kind. Their comment was they must keep the gangway area clear, well there was nobody in that area anyway, and the cruise director came over the PA (from some distant location in the ship -probably his bed ), advising us twice to keep the gangway clear, and that was it for announcements.( The gangway was always clear! -so dont know the point of his announcement) SO when it finally came time to disembark everybody disembarked higgly piggly altogether, expedited and non expedited, security staff didn't check, as it didn't matter to them (I think the only reason they have an "expedited" class is so you handle your own luggage and their staff don't have to do it during the previous night-because you certainly don't leave any earlier) regular early middle etc disembarkation all getting off at the same time. No one checking when they scanned your cruise card to see if it was the right time for you. The impression left was now that HA Oosterdam had your money, the cruise was over and they simply did not care. Too bad there is no rating for disembarkation (from 630am on) I would give it a minus 10! It left an extremely bad finishing note to a cruise that had activities run in a mediocre fashion to start with. It's too bad, because the food and the Indonesian service crew were truly exceptional. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
I'll try to keep it simple by listing all the significant positives and negatives of HAL. Hits: - excellent service from the room stewards. They are amazing. - Barnaby, the comedian Kevin Jordan and the magician Joseph ... Read More
I'll try to keep it simple by listing all the significant positives and negatives of HAL. Hits: - excellent service from the room stewards. They are amazing. - Barnaby, the comedian Kevin Jordan and the magician Joseph Tran were all great to watch, with a special mention to Barnaby for being very, very entertaining - great selection of food in the lido and the main dining room - very good enrichment programs in the form of culinary demonstrations, computer skills classes, and lifestyle classes - good selection of movies that can be delivered straight to your room for free Misses: - the dancers/swingers were painful to watch. The shows were much too repetitive, lacking storylines and they made up the bulk of the showtime entertainment unfortunately. - strange rotten egg smell in random parts of the ship at random times - the ship creaked relentlessly. Not very confidence inspiring. Also, it was a smaller ship so the swaying was quite uncomfortable for a while. - one of two hot tub pools in the adult pool area didn't function the entire cruise. The three hot tubs in the family pool area worked and were frequently occupied by kids splashing water at each other. Fun. - movies sometimes took too long to be delivered. - movie screening room was too small. It was often full 15 minutes before the movie started. - food was horrible. Bland and soft describes it all. The lobster was mush. All the steak were way too soft and bland. Ugh. Lido food wasn't bad. - food servers in the lido don't listen to you. You can ask for 1 strip of bacon and consistently get 4 on your plate instead. - ping pong tables were in disrepair by the end of the cruise. I blame the kids. They were also set up on the outside deck for half the cruise, making playing actually impossible due to wind. They smartened up and put two near the lido pool later. - some scheduled activities were cancelled unexpectedly without announcement either. No ice sculpting or adult pool games. Thanks for the headsup JT. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We arrived at the dock at approx. 12:00 to find a line around the entire pier. Come to find out the ship had arrived 2 hours late. The taxi driver took us to the front of the line. The cruise personnel directed to the back of the line so ... Read More
We arrived at the dock at approx. 12:00 to find a line around the entire pier. Come to find out the ship had arrived 2 hours late. The taxi driver took us to the front of the line. The cruise personnel directed to the back of the line so we drug our bags all the way to the rear of the line. 2 hours later as we slowly moved forward we saw other taxi's dropping people off at the front of the line and the people went right on to drop their luggage and on into the building for check in, NOT GOOD! We had pre-printed our luggage tags as requested to do so on the online check-in. We were instructed to staple the tags on our bags but never got a chance to do that before hand. As the line was moving we asked the personnel available if they had a stapler and they instructed us that they would have have one when we dropped our luggage off ahead. When we reach this point and asked the baggage attendant for a stapler he said and I quote "I ain't got no stapler, if I had one it would've never got back to me anyway".... So he then instructed us to fill out bag tags manually and attach them to our bags, we did so and left our bags with the attendant and continued to move ahead with the rest of the cattle. AT this point we were only about 1/2 way there, ugh. The lines continued on and we finally got on-board about 2:30 pm and the ship was set to sail at 5 pm. We made our way to our stateroom then decided to check out the Lido Buffet. What a mistake that was. There were excessive lines, and they were running out of food at every station. My fiancee waited in the Asian food line to only be asked if he would like white or brown rice as that was all they had available when he got to the front of the line. Also, having been on several cruises by 4 cruise lines we have never seen the buffet food being served by the staff in small individual portions. After a couple of days they loosened up and let us serve ourselves but that was really strange. After that fiasco we went back to our room to find that our luggage had not been delivered yet. We went down to the front desk to inquire and after finding yet another lengthy line and waiting our turn we were taken to a room to see if our luggage was in there as unidentified. We did find one of our bags with identification attached, they then changed the story and said they were holding it for security purposes. They stated that they had found a knife in our bag. When we told them there was no knife in it they released the bag to us but we didn't want to haul it up to our room without knowing where our other bag was and they couldn't seem to produce it. After trying to get them to call our room steward to see if our other bag was in our room they kept saying we needed to go up to our room to check for ourselves. We finally took our bag and went to our room and found our other bag there. During all of this the ship set sail and we missed the chance to see the ship leave port and all off the festivities. That is how the first 5 hours of this cruise went. We will just try to give you the pros and cons from here on in. PROS: Entertainment was somewhat enjoyable. The food in the Vista Dining Room at dinner was good and the choices were many. The Pinnacle Grill was AWESOME to say the least. Well worth the extra 20 bucks each. The room steward was punctual and entertaining and the room was very well kept. The towel animals were always interesting. CONS: Entertainment shows were not timed so the people at the late dinner could get there and get a seat before the shows started and the theatre is very small. The portions in the Vista Dining Room were the smallest we have ever seen on any cruise we have been on. The server didn't seem to ever ask you if you wanted anything to drink. The Lido Buffet variety was slim and the quality of the food was poor. It was very difficult to find a beverage person to bring you a soda, etc. The hours that the Lido was open was not conducive to most passengers needs. So make sure to check their schedules before you head down there because you might not be able to get anything to eat at all. We ordered room service twice and they got the order wrong both times. We ordered from the 24 hr room service once and they were out of one item and then wouldn't allow us to use our drink card for room service when they delivered the food. We asked the room steward to keep our ice bucket filled and that was very hit and miss. One night they had a so called "Chocolate Extravaganza" and it was anything but that. The chocolate in the chocolate fountain was like water and the deserts we really nothing special. Also, it took place on the Lido deck by the pool and there was NO lighting there. They brought out portable flood lights so you could hardly see what you were eating. Again there was a scheduling issue with this event. The evening show was still going on when the extravaganza started. Very poor event scheduling. In the room the TV is very small and has a horrible picture. Even in the Screening room the quality of the picture was not up to standard. Should at least HD. The Superbowl was shown in the Vista Lounge where all the evening shows take place and the quality of the picture for that major event was poor and not HD either. That ends our Pros and Cons section. As far as disembarkation went, it was pretty smooth but we didn't turn in our luggage after our earlier experience and carrying them out ourselves was no problem. After all the cruises we have been on we have never ran into a more confused, uninformed and inconsiderate group of passengers. The ship is staffed by mostly Indonesians so the cultural issues are very prominent lead to what we would perceive as inefficiency. Holland America's attraction is price but the money you save isn't necessarily worth it. When we cruise again we will select another cruise line. 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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