4 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Romantic Cruises to Hawaii from San Diego

We booked this cruise 2 weeks before sailing. The itinerary and price was too good to pass up. Leaving from San Diego was the perfect start of this 17 day cruise. Embarkation was a bit chaotic as a Disney ship was embarking at the same ... Read More
We booked this cruise 2 weeks before sailing. The itinerary and price was too good to pass up. Leaving from San Diego was the perfect start of this 17 day cruise. Embarkation was a bit chaotic as a Disney ship was embarking at the same time. This caused an hour or more of standing in line and wait time. This was the perfect way to visit Hawaii. The 5 days on the Pacific crossing were warm and beautiful. Visiting the Hawaiian ports and being able to live and eat on the ship made it an economical vacation. Tenders were required for 2 ports and at Maui there was a 3 hour delay for disembarking. The food was wonderful and we had the same table in the dining room every night for anytime dining. The ship was a bit "tired" but the staff was exceptional. The first two nights there was loud pounding noises which prevented our sleep. We and others in nearby cabins called to complain. We discovered the noises stopped when someone placed rags in the balcony dividers below us. Some of the treadmills in the gym were non functioning. There was rust on the balcony and some of the carpets were needing updated. Even with all of this, we felt this was one of our favorite cruises. We saw dolphins and whales and lots of blue sky. We would definitely recommend this itinerary to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Embarkation was perhaps a clue of what was to come after we were checked in as we joined several hundred fellow cruisers to wait and wait and wait while a problem was resolved so we could actually board. We chose this for our annual ... Read More
Embarkation was perhaps a clue of what was to come after we were checked in as we joined several hundred fellow cruisers to wait and wait and wait while a problem was resolved so we could actually board. We chose this for our annual December cruise to enjoy the voyage to and from the Hawaiian Island destinations. It was a much smaller ship that we have been traveling in the past few years but had some very nice entertaining and learning opportunities that compensated somewhat the frustrations of getting used to poor dining room organization, and indoor temperatures that were so very cold it required most passengers to wear coats throughout the days and evening onboard --- even the men were wearing jackets! From the first evening the dining room experience was chaos and remained so for 3 days. We had requested a table for two, and that seemed to be a real problem for some reason. We were shifted from one section to another, unlike all past cruises where we had the same waiter, same table, and our wine bottles were waiting for us when we arrived. Not so on the Oosterdam. The dining room manager was a very unpleasant man to work with. We nicknamed him Mr. Smiley face since he never was seen without a scowl. On the 3rd day we finally had a regular table and waiter. However, we felt very sorry for the wait staff as they were terribly overworked and understaffed for the number of people being served at the same seating. The top 3 things on the ship included: 1) An amazing string quartet that played 3-4 times most days. They packed the room for all performances and each member was outstanding! 2) The Microsoft Workshop was hosted by Frank Barcelona who presented 3-5 sessions daily about using Outlook and Cortana. He was outstanding, patient, and provided good solid support for computer and phone users to sync their instruments to the Outlook utilities. 3) The America's Test Kitchen presentations were great! The presentation room was well designed with overhead monitors for everyone to see the chef as she demonstrated wonderful recipes in a very entertaining way. The port stops were enjoyable, especially Lahaina and Kauai. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
This cruise was our third cruise in the past 3 years to Hawaii on 3 different cruise lines, our second HAL cruise on a Vista Class Ship, and our fifth cruise in the last 3 years. Our other HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam doing the inside ... Read More
This cruise was our third cruise in the past 3 years to Hawaii on 3 different cruise lines, our second HAL cruise on a Vista Class Ship, and our fifth cruise in the last 3 years. Our other HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam doing the inside passage to Alaska. We booked VA5185 cabin, a stern veranda cabin. We always have a wonderful time on our cruises and this cruise was no exception. Lin was excited before we left to be cruising on HAL and was anticipating that this would end up being our cruise line of choice for future cruises. Let me start by saying that the crew on the Oosterdam were the happiest (genuinely happy, not corporate mandated happy) crew we have ever sailed with. We saw behavior of some passengers that was absolutely atrocious and the crew handled themselves with a dignity and respect that made the offending passengers look like idiots. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived early and when we were allowed to board, were one of the first people on-board. This was actually the easiest embarkation we have ever had on a cruise, even compared to two previous cruises where we were in suites. We did not have a cabin steward on this cruise, we had a cabin elf. Everything was always magically done and any request was met with a smile and was accomplished promptly. Our cabin elf was named Harry and we left a "Let Us Know" card praising his work at the front desk. We purchased the Thermal Suite package for the cruise beforehand knowing that the price would be cheaper on embarkation day. Upon embarking the ship we went to the spa and verified our reservation and they told us that since the special was $200 less than what we paid beforehand they would only charge our on-board account for the special price, in effect giving us another $200 of on-board credit. We absolutely love the Thermal Suite and made good use of it during the cruise. Our cabin was a little larger than I thought it would be and our veranda was huge compared to regular veranda cabins. It was about 15 or 16 feet deep. It was outfitted with two of the faux-wicker loungers and two faux-wicker chairs and the obligatory small table. This was our first time ever having a fully covered veranda and we found it to be perfect. You can find more details and photos in our blog at: http://thegeomonkeys.com/2012/03/our...osterdam-2012/ We love the promenade deck on the Vista Class ships as you can walk completely around the ship on one deck unlike some other ships that require you to go up and down stairs at either end of the ship to make a complete lap. The first night out of San Diego we had 30 foot seas and 20 foot seas the first full day at sea. Neither of us are bothered with motion sickness and slept like babies with the rocking motion. Many others were not so lucky and the bags and medication were readily available for those who needed it. This is the first time that I have ever seen a formal night canceled and rescheduled due to rough seas. We don't do formal nights and had made reservations for the Canaletto Restaurant for those nights so on the rescheduled night we ate in the Lido instead. The food on this cruise was good overall, probably better than we expected based on previous cruises. The shows were hit and miss, as expected. We always sit near an exit so we can escape if need be and we did that several times. We don't do Bingo, Karaoke, or Trivia, although we will sit in occasionally on Trivia or Karaoke to have a good laugh. We felt the cultural program left a lot to be desired. We attended the first one and left when the "expert" was basically reading a script. We don't do ships excursions because they are generally overpriced and we aren't sheep and don't like to be herded. We had arranged our own things to do while in Hawaii and enjoyed them immensely. It was nice to see that the muster drill had a little more importance placed on it although HAL needs to tweak it some. Roll was taken, under threat of not being able to sail if you weren't there. That is a good thing. However, to have everyone meet at their muster station and have a crew member try to show everyone how they should put on their life jacket when only the people in the front row could see them is rather silly, especially for first time cruisers. Our first stop was in Lahaina, Maui. This is a tender port (thankfully the only one on this cruise) and the tendering process was absolutely horrible. We have been here on two other cruises, on different lines, and HAL really screwed this up. They put 5 tenders in the water and found that two of them were broken down. REALLY! SERIOUSLY! Rather than putting in two others to replace the broken down ones, they decided that they would work on them in the water to fix them. Maybe they thought the other eleven on the ship were broken down also. These are the life boats that would be used in an emergency and they weren't working properly. So much for the enhanced muster drill procedures. From the time we got our tender tickets (#10) it took us 2 ½ hours to be put on a tender. I feel sorry for the people who showed up for their tickets 45 minutes later and had ticket #36. On our other cruises we never had more than a 20 minute wait after getting our tickets. Returning to the ship was excruciating also. We stood on the dock for over an hour for a tender to show up to take us back to the ship. There was no traffic in the harbor and the seas were calm. The tendering process was ridiculous. HAL definitely dropped the ball on this one. We did our own things on the other islands and getting off the ship was easy since all HAL had to do was make sure the gangway was secure. Unfortunately a huge storm pretty much canceled anything on Kauai. Roads were washed out and torrential rain dominated the agenda. Amazingly, some passengers were absolutely incensed that their tours were canceled and blamed HAL for it. More childish, spoiled, entitled people! Disembarkation in San Diego was a breeze. Unusual to be sure, so we'll take it and enjoy it for a change. Now for something new in my reviews. Ahhh! To Dream. IF I WERE KING: (and I had unlimited funds) I understand some of these thoughts are not possible, some are funny and some could be put into service. 1) Make it so that you could view your on board account on your stateroom television. 2) Make the atrium large enough to feel like a destination of it's own. 3) Make the Vista Showroom large enough to accommodate everyone that would like to attend a show there so you don't have to show up 45 minutes early to get a seat. 4) Have muster roll call taken with hand held mobile scanners that they use when you disembark the ship. 5) Hold muster drills inside (requires more seating in the Vista Lounge, etc) so that elderly people aren't standing for long periods of time while roll is taken. Everyone might be able to see the life vest demo that way also. 6) Make sure all tenders (life boats) are operational prior to needing them. 7) Use more tenders to get people ashore in a reasonable amount of time. 8) Install a button to turn on the T-Pool jets that can be reached while IN the T-Pool. 9) Install sensors in the Thermal Suite that will sense when someone on the tile loungers is snoring that will drop down a "Cone Of Silence" (remember Maxwell Smart) around them so others don't have to listen to them snoring. 10) Install a human wash (similar to an automatic car wash) at the entrance to all hot tubs, pools, and T-Pools so that everyone has to take a soapy shower before entering the public pools. 11) Cappuccino Bomb would be on the dessert menu every night. Prior to our cruise we saw posts from people on Cruise Critic that have sailed on the Oosterdam who said they were disappointed with the condition of parts of the ship. These people, some of whom are long time cruisers and posters to CC, were vilified, attacked, and called trolls from other boards because they dared to say something was "wrong" with the "O". We heard many comments while on-board from people who were upset about the condition of some sections of the ship. So we did a little investigation while on-board to see for ourselves. Feel free to yell at me now for what I am about to post. There are areas of the "O" that are in need of repair. Should they ruin someone's vacation? I don't think so, but everyone needs to decide for themselves. It's very easy to attack someone you don't know when it is your word against theirs, so I decided to take pictures to support what I found and people can make their own judgments. The "O" underwent a dry dock a few months ago so I expected her to be in pretty good shape throughout. Yet, some items were not addressed during the dry dock, but someone had to make the decision that these conditions were acceptable for HAL's standards. You can view the photos and what the complaints were that we heard about while on board at the following link: http://thegeomonkeys.com/2012/03/hol...am-march-2012/ The offensive, obstinate, self-righteous, arrogant, demanding, holier than thou passengers were in greater numbers on this cruise than on any other we have taken. The only cruise we have taken that had similar clientele was on the Zuiderdam. The standards that HAL has for what is acceptable in public areas for furnishings also surprised us. While it didn't ruin our cruise we found much higher standards on Princess and Celebrity. Therefore, we will not sail on HAL again, not because of the crew but because of the clientele. __________________ Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large ... Read More
Let me preface this review by pointing out our previous cruises have all been on ships with a maximum of 700+ passengers. So, while I realize there are people devoted to HAL, my view is going to be that of someone experiencing a large non-luxury ship for the first time. We chose HAL as non-of our preferred ships were scheduled for a Hawaii round trip at the time we wanted to go. This was also our first sea-intensive cruise. Pre-Cruise We have owned timeshares for more than twenty years and decided to use some of our points to stay in the San Diego area the week before the cruise. We chose the Lawrence Welk Resort in nearby Escondido and found it to be one of our best exchanges ever. For those of you who may be timeshare owners, I will post a review on Timeshare Users Group www.tug2.net. Embarkation One of the things that concerning us was how difficult embarkation might turn out to be having experienced curbside to glass of sparkling wine in the atrium in about 15 minutes while watching the mob scene at nearby ships. This cruise was surely the embarkation from hell, though not necessarily the fault of HAL. We turned in our rental car and were driven to the cruise port only to find a big electronic sign declaring "no passenger discharge" at the entrance and a very long line waiting to get into the building. Our driver ended up having to leave us and all our luggage literally in the middle of the street. I found out later that the Port Of San Diego had shut down the terminal right in the middle of the embarkation process and said, to inquiring ships officers, the reason was none of their business. Passengers who arrive before 11 AM got on with no problem and those arriving after 12 went right on, but we had a 90 minute ordeal. Things were not helped by sharing the port with another large ship, resulting in nearly 5,000 people going through the terminal. Cabin We had a VD/Veranda cabin in the aft area. We had expected to be unhappy with the size and layout but were pleasantly surprised that the cabin was large enough to be comfortable and we found enough storage between the two wardrobes and the drawers in the end tables and under the bed. The balcony was small but this type of cruise doesn't lend itself to sitting out there. The bed was comfy and the bathroom utilitarian. Crew I have to agree with HAL fans that this has to be the friendliest crew at sea. Everybody we dealt with was cheerful and eager. However, there was an issue with crew to passenger ratios. An example is our cabin attendant. He appeared to be very good but overextended. I observed that he appeared to have more than 30 cabins to service. This results in service that is more like a hotel than a cruise ship. Our earlier experiences were that, every time you left your cabin, the cabin attendant seemed to have a sixth sense and, when we returned, it was apparent someone had been there, if only to do minor things such as freshen the ice or neatly fold clothing that had been tossed on the bed. On this cruise, the pattern was for the cabin to be made up sometime before the end of lunch and turned down by bedtime. Small issues such as buckets of melting ice not being replaced came up. I know I could have called for service, but hated to bother the already overworked guy. Dining One of the most important reasons people cruise, especially when you're at sea for ten days, is to dine. I've seen everything from two star to five star reviews. I gave HAL dining three stars. For one thing, the food was not up to what we found on "luxury" lines, but that is to be expected. What was disappointing was the unevenness of the food. At one meal we would be saying the food was delicious and, at the next, would find our entrees to be inedible and improperly prepared. Some of our dining companions were long-time HAL cruisers and were lamenting the fact HAL no longer had "white glove service" in the dining rooms. As this was my first time, I can only go by what they say. I also understand sommeliers have been replaced with "wine stewards" and my impression was these people did not have a really professional knowledge of wine. I believe I saw at least one or two of them actually serving as cocktail waiters in other parts of the ship. One of the biggest knocks I have on the MDR is how every meal opened with a server coming to our table and trying really hard to get us to buy a carafe of "special" water, filtered seven times. Don't they realize how this kind of stuff cheapens the experience? I can live with someone asking if I would like a cocktail or wine with dinner, but a hard-sell on water? We had open seating and enjoyed meeting our fellow passengers. The Lido was quite good. There is nothing like that on the small ships and the variety of food stations was excellent. We had met a couple at the resort who had just got off the prior cruise and said they ate only in the Lido for three weeks. I couldn't figure out why someone would want buffet food rather than the MDR but realized, after a few days, they were serving much of the MDR menu, with a few exclusions, in the Lido. We attempted to eat in the Canaletto Italian restaurant, which is an area of the Lido at dinner, but couldn't get reservations when we wanted. I heard very mixed revues on the food from several people. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill and the food was fine, but did not interest us in paying for a second visit. We had room service for a few breakfasts and thought they were quite good. I know some posters have complained about cold food, but I guess it depends on how far from the kitchen you are on this big ship. Our cabin was off the elevator bank that was one floor above where room service came out of the kitchen, so we were only about five minutes away from where it was handed off to the server. Another frequent topic I see is coffee. I mail order beans from two different sources but am not a coffee "expert". I thought the coffee was fine. It wasn't necessary to pay for coffee in the Crow's Nest as I noticed it is made from the same bags as the other restaurants. Entertainment There were good performers in all the lounges. The production shows were surprisingly elaborate with an energetic cast. Outside entertainment brought on board included a comedian, harmonica player and ventriloquist. The biggest hit of the cruise was probably Jeff Trachta (Thorne of "The Bold And The Beautiful) who had an excellent Vegas show of singing, comedy and impressions. Both his shows were packed and I understand he had a big turnout when he did a sit-down interview in the Vista Lounge the following morning. The issue I have with the entertainment venues is sightline problems. I cannot believe a ship built as recently as this one has a showroom full of large pillars and overhanging balconies that make, probably, 25 percent of the seats have an obstructed view of the stage. I you were attending a popular performance , you had to get there early and hold down a seat for at least 45 minutes. Worse was the screening room with very comfy theater chairs and fairly current releases. The down side was, with only about 30 seats, you have to get there about an hour ahead of time to know you can get into a showing. Ports Due to rough seas, we got a day behind and missed Hilo. That was a big loss. We docked in Honolulu and roamed independently. In Nawiliwili we originally had no plans but, as our tour in Hilo was scrapped, did a ship's tour to the "grand canyon of the pacific" which was nice. On Maui we had our own private tour booked. Getting on and off the ship was a big issue with us, again, being used to much smaller ships. All the tour busses seemed to arrive back at the ship in Nawiliwili simultaneously resulting in hundreds of people in a line that crept toward the gangplank. We saw that mess and, immediately, accepted a ride to Walmart on their free shuttle. We used an hour to pick up some items, including some of the least expensive Hawaii tee shirts I had seen. By the time we were delivered back to the ship, there was no line. In Maui, tendering was a mess. We were told there were tenders departing about every ten minutes but, after nothing moved for 45 minutes and the crowd in the Queen's Lounge turned into a mob, we finally got moving and, after nearly two hours, arrived on shore, late for our tour. Coming back was another mess with arriving busses and really long lines. And what can I say about our Jones Act stop in Ensenada. The port is in the middle of nowhere and, unless you've booked the inexpensive tour to see dancers and mariachis, there's no reason to get off the ship. Fellow Cruisers I was told this would be an older crowd. Yep. Disembarkation Like butter. We had a flight to catch and were down for 9 AM and were called at 8. Our suitcases were stacked together so we didn't have to search. Customs and immigration had us hand them the forms as we walked by. Oh, if embarkation was anything like this. General impressions Some people love these big ships and some that are much larger. We were not happy spending two weeks with 2,000 of our closest friends. Our cabin was close to dining but a trip to the other public areas involved a walk close to the length of two football fields. It was often hard to find a seat for dinning in the Lido and we actually saw people standing and eating. I had always heard about chair hogs, but hadn't experienced it until my walks across the Lido deck seeing every lounger had either a fanny or towel on it. But, there were always plenty of chairs on the observation deck. I mentioned before how much time you have to waste getting to show venues early in order to be sure you have a decent seat. Getting on and off this ship in port is agony for those of us used to smaller ships where there is never a line. Again, I'm not a snob, but that is my total experience cruising. Finally, as HAL considers itself a premium cruise line, I was very surprised by the lack of attention to detail. The furniture in lounges and common area can be quite beat up. Other reviewers have pointed out the poor condition of some of the leather furniture and upholstered pieces with buttons missing. The metal table on our balcony was actually rusting and it really shocked me that it hadn't been noticed and taken care of. We have had considerable experience with fine dining and found it rather strange that the Pinnacle would go to the trouble of having Rosenthal Bvlgari china along with the very common flatware used in the rest of the ship (with the logo "hotel" emblazoned on the back). To Sum Up The trip wasn't all that bad. We didn't have high expectations and were pleasantly surprised at some of what we found. We spent the first week saying, "Never again" but, by the end of the trip, had decided we might try HAL again, but on a more port intensive cruise on one of the smaller ships. We also have to consider cost. We could do several HAL cruises rather than one luxury cruise for the same price. HAL is not all inclusive and, had we opted for a suite or other more expensive accommodation and drank a lot more than we did, the cost might have been closer. But we were pretty happy with what we got.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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