7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
This was the best cruise ever! The staff was friendly and very helpful as well as cheerful. The food was delicious and plentiful.Every evening it was arranged with care and lovely.Our dining staff was wonderful, especially our wine girl ... Read More
This was the best cruise ever! The staff was friendly and very helpful as well as cheerful. The food was delicious and plentiful.Every evening it was arranged with care and lovely.Our dining staff was wonderful, especially our wine girl (Miraki(Sp?)-from Japan but living in Manilla). Our room was beautiful and the gentlemen that serviced it were quick and efficient. The ship was clean and everything was top notch. The entertainment was great! I can't rave about it enough. The spa package was awesome. Seaweed wrap a must. The girls in the spa were lovely and informative. Mary our morning dining room person was so nice and helpful. She helped us start our day with JOY! The BBKing review was great. We enjoyed the special music provided by WayFM every night. The wine tastings we attended were very informative. Everyone was fabulous! A TRIP FOR THE MEMORIES!!! I am recommending Holland-America to everyone I tell about our trip and I will book again.*** Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
My partner and I, 55 and 58 gay men, decided pretty last minute to do this Alaska Explorer 7 night charter. We were able to get a good deal booking with the charter as we are alumni with many past cruises with them, and there were many ... Read More
My partner and I, 55 and 58 gay men, decided pretty last minute to do this Alaska Explorer 7 night charter. We were able to get a good deal booking with the charter as we are alumni with many past cruises with them, and there were many cabins to fill.....our luck. Also, we had never cruised with Holland American Line before and have wanted to for years, so a win-win all around! We flew in to Seattle arriving around 1pm for a 3pm at the lasted boarding time. We had thought we would simply grab an Uber or Lift to the pier, but after getting our bags, time was running out, and we discovered HAL had a service to transfer us by bus to the terminal....so we used that (both ways as it turned out).... Check in was easy as we were getting they later in the day and most had already boarded. Our veranda cabin on the 8th floor starboard was decent. Definitely could use an upgrade as there were repaired holes and such in the bathroom. The deck really needed to be washed, as it was all a mess and dirty. The beds were quite comfortable, slept well all 7 nights. The TV served up some good movies OD, a few TV channels, access to the bridge cams.....nice. I liked how the closets had shelves that could be swung up to make more room for hanging clothes....every cruise line should have this great idea. Cabin steward was efficient and did not see much of him. As for dining, we ate most meals in the main dining room and had mostly above average luck with our meals. We are mostly Celebrity Cruisers so that is what we are comparing to....I think Celebrity does food better, my partner thinks HAL is just a bit better. The Lido Market is not a bad place for snacks and small meal. Overall, the service onboard is wonderful. The staff seems to enjoy what they are doing and we enjoyed having one waiter all week who treated us great. I would say the general overall service seems a bit warmer on HAL that Celebrity. Also, the Oosterdam has a warmer feel to it than most of the Celebrity ships. The design is obviously night and day, with Celebrity more modern and HAL a bit traditional. I like the change and the size of the ship. As a charter ship, the on board entertainment was quite good. A few let downs, but over all some great comedy, music and dancing were well done. The ships own dancers did an awesome job the night I saw them, using the huge screens on stage to interact with....something new to me and fun to watch! Something else HAL does is the Lincoln Center Stage, with a string quintet and pianist play a huge variety throughout the cruise. I wish I was able to see more of them, but what I did hear was top-notch..... OK, the internet! I thought I would take advantage of buying a weekly package before boarding as I would save about $50 for the 'Premier' package and be able to stream shows if I would like. Well, the internet on the Oosterdam is a joke. I was never able to stream....downloading pictures from Facebook took many seconds, and often,,,,very often, the whole thing stopped and needed to be restarted.....not fun....the front desk passed on my concerns.....but while I was there at the front desk,(and every time I was there, btw) other passengers were also complaining and some were rather irate. I just put down my iPad and did not let it bother me. But just don't expect much in terms internet on the Oosterdam. We had been to Alaska a few times before, so did not do many excursions, but LOVE seeing Hubbard Glacier....always my favorite part of an Alaska cruise! We would certainly consider HAL again....we like the 1900 pax load. Not too small, not too big. The food was good and service great. While this review was a little boring, the ship was not! I would suggest this to those who like music, relaxed atmosphere and a ship not geared up with bells and whistles of all the newer ships like RCL and Norwegian and Carnival. I almost forgot my favorite place on the ship, the Crows Nest on the top deck.....great place to sit and stare out watching the world go by with the panoramic windows....and a bar and coffeeshop..... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
This was a charter cruise so most of the standards don't apply. Overall it was nice. I just wish the bow was open all the time not just for special occasions. The buffet was ok nothing to brag about and the staff were very nice ... Read More
This was a charter cruise so most of the standards don't apply. Overall it was nice. I just wish the bow was open all the time not just for special occasions. The buffet was ok nothing to brag about and the staff were very nice and always accommodated us. The ship was clean and reasonably well maintained, but the cherry on top was the cloth towels in the public bathrooms. Each bathroom had individual cloth towels for your hand as well as paper to open the door but 90% of the time I could use the cloth and drop in the towel receptacle. The best part of the trip was the cabin. It was very roomy and comfortable and the staff took care of my request to empty the mini fridge so I could put my own soda in it. It was also nice to have USB charging ports on the desk and night stands for electronics. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We arrived at the ship at approximately 12:30 after parking at the Cruise Parking lot by the Armory and taking their shuttle to the cruise dock... We were on board and in our cabin about 20 minutes later. It was pretty painless. Our ... Read More
We arrived at the ship at approximately 12:30 after parking at the Cruise Parking lot by the Armory and taking their shuttle to the cruise dock... We were on board and in our cabin about 20 minutes later. It was pretty painless. Our luggage was in our stateroom after we got back from lunch. The ship was in great shape and was constantly being cleaned and maintained. We had Verandah Stateroom 4181 which is an aft facing cabin on deck four. This was a great cabin in some ways and not so great in others. It was plenty large enough for two people and the verandah was nice and spacious. It got plenty of sun and at times it actually got TOO hot out there. There really is no cross wind. We had no problem with “soot” as some people said we might. When we looked down all we could see was water and the ships’ wake... When you are at the rail, people on the upper decks can see you but you do have complete privacy if you sit closer to the cabin. It is very close to the MDR and the elevators to the Lido are not too far away. Getting to the Crow’s Nest and gym is a hike though, especially if you need to go up there to shower, which brings me to the not so good. This cabin had hot water issues from day one. It was hit and miss. Sometimes you had it and other times you didn’t and you could never count on it. Eventually, the ship became very responsive to the problem and it was finally resolved permanently two days before the cruise was over. HAL and the Guest Relations Manager on board did make it up to us and we were satisfied with the end result but not before I had already trekked up to the gym on two separate occasions to find a hot shower. The cabin stewards were awesome as usual. Food: We ate in the Canaletto twice on this cruise. It was GREAT both times. The food was excellent and the service was awesome. Canaletto seems to get lost in the shadow of the Pinnacle Grill but it truly is a hidden gem. We ate once in the Pinnacle Grill and it has redeemed itself in my opinion. I have been somewhat critical of this venue recently but this experience was really good. We had a weird and unusual experience with room service though. Two out of three times our order just never showed up. When we called, they said they had no record of it. There were a lot of kids on this cruise and maybe they were playing pranks by removing the menus from the doors at night? We have never had that issue before and it was really strange to have it happen two out of three times. The Hotel Manager did mention that some kids were playing pranks by filling out the menu cards, ordering one of everything, and placing them on random doors. Maybe we were victimized by something similar? We ate in the MDR twice and it was good both times. The Lido was good also. I was afraid that the Lido would be a madhouse in the mornings for breakfast because of all the families aboard but it really wasn’t too bad. It looked like a lot of people were using the MDR for breakfast. We had the Hot Dogs at the Dive In Grill once, they were good but the line was consistently long. !5 minutes just to get the pager and then another 30 minutes if you wanted Hamburgers. Not so long for just the dogs. This was a very popular venue with all the families aboard. Entertainment” This was our first cruise where we never went to BB King’s Blues Club. We just never got around to it. We did see the comedian and the magician and enjoyed both. The dual pianos were ok, we saw their show once. Lincoln Center Stage was good but we only saw a brief performance. The naturist on board gave some very interesting lectures as did the Cruise Director. She is a very good public speaker. Crew” The crew was wonderful as usual and they did a good job managing with all the kids on board. Our room stewards were great and always kept our cabin tidy and stocked with ice and fresh fruit. All in all this was a very nice cruise and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was sunny and warm every day! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Our son and our nephew both graduated from high school this year. We wanted to get my husband's whole family together, and since several of them live out west, Seattle was a good meeting point. Our family (we don't live out ... Read More
Our son and our nephew both graduated from high school this year. We wanted to get my husband's whole family together, and since several of them live out west, Seattle was a good meeting point. Our family (we don't live out west) flew in one day before the cruise. It was a good thing because our flight was delayed. I would suggest, if you are coming from a long distance, fly in a couple of days ahead and explore Seattle. Uber rides from the airport only take 15-20 minutes to where our hotel was. We stayed in the Sheraton Four Points due to its great location. It is walking distance to the Space Needle. We got an Uber to the port and it was a very quick ride from the hotel. We got onto the ship pretty quickly. We had a bit of a wait before checking in but were on the ship by 12:30. And, our room was ready when we got on. Things were smooth for embarking. The ship itself was clean and easy to navigate. It is an average-sized ship, I would say. We liked walking around the deck on a daily basis, although at times, it got rainy or chilly. The public spaces were nice and comfortable. We especially liked the crow's nest area. It was just down the hallway from our room and was a perfect meeting spot for family members. This ship is very similar to other HAL ships we have been on. Our son works out a lot. He was not impressed with the fitness area. And, the lady who works in that area was rather rude to him. So, he didn't spend much time in there. The pools and hot tubs were nice. The pools never were crowded. And, you could get into a hot tub if you wanted, although they were very small. They closed very early in the evenings, perhaps because of the weather, I'm not sure. Smoking was allowed in an area by the aft pool. We don't smoke, so we avoided that area. No smoking was in the casino. The casino got fairly crowded, depending on what was going on there. Our son discovered that he is a good poker player on this trip; that was exciting for him. I didn't participate in many ship activities. There wasn't a huge amount of entertainment. The music was good that was performed. It was very loud and crowded in the Blues Club; I don't think that the space is large enough for the people who want to hear the music there. The comedian was pretty funny, and he was clean, so the kids were able to join us. Our nieces went to the children's activities and seemed to really like them. There were a good number of teenagers; between two of our families, there were 6. The teens met several others on the ship, and they seemed like nice kids. I don't know how much they had provided as far as organized activities for the teens, but our teens did have a wonderful time. Service on the ship was very good. Our stewards did a consistent job of tidying our room, although we keep a clean room. And, the dining room service was nice, as well. Our waiters were friendly and did an excellent job each night. We dined in the main dining room every evening. Even our teenage kids wanted to dine in there each night. It was a fun experience for them. We had a couple of nights where all 21 of us ate in there together. Although we had late dining, because the sun barely sets at that time of year in Alaska, it wasn't a bad time, really. Lunch meals were nice in the dining room, too. The menu was varied, and the food was of good quality. I especially liked the main courses. The Lido often got busy and it could be hard to find a seat sometimes. They have some nice stations in there at lunch time, so the days the MDR was closed, I would walk around and see what was available before getting food so I didn't overeat. Dive Inn is a good place for sandwiches and fries; I just ordered from there one time and shared my food with a daughter. Our cabin was on the tenth floor. It was a balcony but might have been a little smaller than some of the balcony rooms. It had a tub, a real plus on a cruise ship. This had less storage than other balcony rooms I have stayed in, but there were four of us. We had two beds together (king), a pull-down bunk above, and a pull-out loveseat. Beds were comfortable with nice linens. The balcony itself was pretty narrow, I think due to the location on the ship. The pull-down bed actually rattled a lot, until I finally stuck a rolled-up towel into part of it. We had the wall between our balcony and the ones beside us opened up because there were three family rooms beside each other. I would recommend closing them back at night because they can make some noise. One night, there was a huge amount of fog, and the foghorn was going off all night. At first, I thought someone had fallen overboard. Once I realized it was the fog, I fell asleep. it is nice having the balcony when going to the glacier and also when in port. But, it gets cold and windy when traveling. And being on the tenth floor is close to the Crow's Nest, which is a nice spot. Each port was good. Seattle is a lovely city. We enjoyed the Seattle center with the Space needle, fountain, museums. Just a great place to walk and see the sights. And, the mountain views are gorgeous as you leave port. We booked a last-minute whale watching tour in Juneau. The kids LOVED it. It was fun and we saw a lot of sea creatures. We booked it when we got off the ship and so we got a nice discount. I recommend NOT booking on the ship for these if you can avoid it. Better deals for the same thing onshore. Hubbard Glacier was incredible. One couple in our group had booked a suite, and they had a wraparound balcony, so we spent a good bit of time there during our Hubbard Glacier stop. We got close to the glacier, saw some calving and had great weather. The port for Sitka is 6 miles from town, but the shuttle gets guests back and forth quite well. It was about 12 minutes to get there, and the wait for the shuttle was just a few minutes. If you get a Sitka map online, you can just follow that and walk around town. Our group enjoyed the sea walk and spent a lot of time out along the sand in the sound area. We saw starfish, eels, crabs - the kids LOVED it. There were seals swimming in the sound, too. There are pretty green spaces and flowers on the walk, as well. We walked to Sitka National Historical Park's Totem Trail. We walked to the river; it's a very pretty, but also fairly easy walk. You can get nice views of St. Michael Cathedral along Lincoln Street. And panoramic views can be seen from Baranof Castle Hill. You will take several flights of stairs to get up, but it's worth it. At the end of town is the Pioneer Home, some type of retirement home. It sits on a big square with a giant totem pole and is a good photo spot. our time in Ketchikan was short - only five hours. I suggest getting up very early so you can see it all. It's not a big town. The waterfront promenade is nice, and there is an interesting tunnel that is good for photos. We got some nice street views right beside the tunnel...after walking up several dozen steps. Creek Street is fun to check out. There was an eagle down by the creek eating fish, and we saw cute little marmots. Married Man's Trail was pretty; my son and up took the stairs up to the Civic Center. It was a pretty walk. We also took a walk along Park Avenue, by the creek. After crossing the bridge, we found a paved path among the trees. We then found a spot where we could walk down to the creek banks; my kids loved that area. The waterfront shops are good places to buy souveniers. Victora was really lovely. We walked quite a ways and just got lots of pictures. We were there in the early evening. I would love to have been there during the day. But, we all had a great time at each stop, so I cannot really complain. Disembarkation was pretty quick. Really, if you need to change your time, they will work with you. It was easy finding our suitcases. You have to walk a little way to get to the Uber area, but once you get there, booking a driver is very simple. We loved this cruise. The stops were great. Our time with family was delightful. Typically, HAL cruises have a huge number of senior citizens. This cruise had a wide array of ages. There were many, many family groups, and it was a festive enjoyable feel overall. Our son (18) wasn't crazy about the onboard experience and would probably like RCI a little more, or Carnival, with its party atmosphere. But our three kids did have a fabulous time with family and this cruise allowed us to all gather together and that was what was so special about it. We have gone out of Whittier before, and getting to Alaska by plane is exhausting. Going to Seattle was a little tiring, but much easier than all the way up to Alaska for the departure. Yes, I would go again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I did this exact same trip last September and boy, the things slipped a bit. Still enjoyed myself but Holland America Line really needs to look at making some changes. Generally, I really enjoyed my Neptune Suite. It was large and ... Read More
I did this exact same trip last September and boy, the things slipped a bit. Still enjoyed myself but Holland America Line really needs to look at making some changes. Generally, I really enjoyed my Neptune Suite. It was large and bright and had a great balcony. The Concierge Lounge is a huge benefit. Enjoy coffees and small plates in the morning and afternoon. Food for the most part was very good, I think the dining room tries too hard to serve fancy dinners. I would rather just calm down and made nice dinners that weren't too fancy and under two hours. My biggest problem with this ship is regarding the hours it keeps and the buffet service. The buffet seems to be closed more than it's open leaving only room service if you want something to eat. Sounds great, but the problem with that is with 2,000 passengers it really isn't a great idea. Sometimes you had to wait on hold for over 10 minutes. My first night it took an hour and a half to get a club sandwich. They need to keep something open 24 hours where you can go sit down and eat. Coffee shop style, anything but just relying on room service so many hours of the day is a terrible idea. Why is the buffet closed so often? Worried about food waste? This was the most disappointing aspect of the trip. And while we're on the subject of hours, why does it seem like they roll up the sidewalks right around midnight? If you do the late dinner you're not going to get to do a show afterwards the last show is at 9:00.. Really? Why so early? How about a midnight comedian?Something for the people that want to stay up past 10:00. They have a couple bars and the casino open late and that's really it. If you're doing a late dinner you really can't catch a show after you eat. I also felt the service wasn't as good as in the past. A lot more of the crew seem to have bad attitudes. Especially the bartenders. I think the reason for that is because they know they're getting 15% and nothing more, so why do they have to try? Having that policy is really terrible for customer service, cuz they basically just rolled their eyes and make you a drink. After this Cruise I'm probably moving on and going to try Celebrity or somebody else. Some of these policies Holland America has implemented seem like nothing but cost-cutting measures and really hampered our experience. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary. This was also our 25th cruise. We had never cruised to Alaska before and over the years many fellow cruisers had recommended it. It was our 3rd time on the Oosterdam and our 2nd ... Read More
We chose this cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary. This was also our 25th cruise. We had never cruised to Alaska before and over the years many fellow cruisers had recommended it. It was our 3rd time on the Oosterdam and our 2nd Neptune suite so we knew what to expect as far as accommodations. We stayed in Seattle at the Marriott waterfront for two days prior to embarkation and had a nice time there exploring the city and doing the usual touristy things. We rode the Light rail for the experience and ate at two notable places in Seattle: Belltown Pizza, and the Biscuit Bitch, both within walking distance from the hotel. Embarkation was easy but different from any others we’ve experienced. We arrived at 11:00 and walked right into the terminal but were not directed by anyone to the proper stations for check-in. There were signs of course, but with so many people walking around at once it seemed a little confusing not to have a person directing traffic. We expected to complete a health check first as we usually do but surprisingly that was not required for this cruise. We found our way to the proper line and were checked in quickly and were instructed to wait for our number to be called. The waiting area was combined with Princess and Holland ships, a first for us. We began boarding about 45 minutes later and walked right on to the ship without any greeting at all. We expected at least a greeting and maybe the usual mimosas as suite guests but nothing. We went straight to our cabin (5190) and found it ready for us but without luggage so we went exploring a little and had lunch in the Lido. Our luggage had arrived by 1:00. Our steward, Toni, took very good care of us. The room is a nice size and the balcony is amazing as we remembered. We stayed in the same cabin 18 months earlier. It’s perfect for Alaska viewing. Dinner in the main dining room was routine— food satisfactory, service good. With one exception, it remained that way throughout the cruise. We had dinner in the Pinnacle Grill one evening and it was considerably better than the Main Dining Room, as expected. Breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill was very good each day. We avoided the Lido as much as possible. It’s crowded, difficult to get a seat, long lines, and mediocre food. Hundreds of people in there at once, many wandering around, stopping and turning without notice, breaking in line. It’s a madhouse. Some use it as a place to sit long after eating rather than a place to eat and leave, contributing to the shortage of places to sit and eat. There are so many other places on the ship to sit; I don’t understand the desire to use the Lido. On the first night we began to have a lot of ship movement which got steadily worse throughout the night and into the next day. The captain announced at noon that the winds were gale force in excess of 40 mph which had not been forecast which were causing the significant motion. He predicted it would improve later in the day but it didn’t until after midnight. Many got sick including crew. Fortunately my wife and I did not. We did the Mendenhall Glacier guided hike in Juneau, which was strenuous but very nice. We walked around town in Sitka, visiting the historical museum with totem poles, native artifacts, and artisan presentations, and a stroll through downtown shopping. We found it a very pleasant place. In Ketchikan we watched the Great Alaskan Lumberjack show. It was a little corny, but entertaining. The Hubbard Glacier cruising was spectacular, especially from our enormous wrap around verandah. Lastly, we got off in Victoria, walked to the Fisherman's Wharf Park about ½ mile from the dock. Lots of places to eat and to see unusual houses built on the water. As for entertainment, my wife attended a couple of shows but didn’t find them interesting enough to stay the entire time. I like to play blackjack but not unless the table is at least 4-6 people. Many times there were just one or two at a table so I didn’t play as often as I like. We did like the Lincoln Center musicians and the two piano players just across from the casino. The group playing at the B.B. King club sounded great but we did not go in. We had a good time, and we’re glad we went but doubt we’ll ever visit Alaska again. Once was enough for us. In fact I think we realized something on this cruise. Our enthusiasm for cruising has diminished over the years. The past two cruises with a Neptune Suite have been nice upgrades from previous cruises and a must for future cruises but at a cost that now competes with some other pricey getaways. I think we’ll try something different for a while. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Sailed HAL for 10 of 12 cruises. Last cruise 34 years ago. First vacation in 8 years and first vacation with wife in 28 years (never had honeymoon and always had kids)?? Basically, the shore system didn’t match the onboard system. I ... Read More
Sailed HAL for 10 of 12 cruises. Last cruise 34 years ago. First vacation in 8 years and first vacation with wife in 28 years (never had honeymoon and always had kids)?? Basically, the shore system didn’t match the onboard system. I bought 4 indulgences and packages and none were ready for us. We never received the excursion tickets or most of the Add-ons without multiple trips to Guest services. They never notified us of Port Valet services or shopping specials that were supposed to be delivered to room. HAL completely missed our anniversary. They were quick with ‘I’m so sorry’ but slow on resolutions. Missed several onboard events while waiting in line at Guest Services. They don’t answer the phone so don’t bother. MDR was nice but if you share a table, they may make you wait 30 minutes until the table is full. Lincoln Center Stage was the best. I wish they would let me throat punch the drunks and obnoxious passengers that walked by and disrupted the performance. Weather was rough 1 day (18’ swells) and passengers felt the need to vomit on the common area carpets instead of staying in their cabins. Everything is an add on. Better meals in MDR ($25+ extra), candid photos ($20 each or 5 for $60). Portraits at Gala, $40 each or $160 for 5). Bingo was about $40 plus the $2.50 dauber. Staff was always pushing drinks, pictures, spa treatments, etc. Had 2 of 8 days without problems and trying to get what we paid for. Well possibly travel on HAL again if they fix their problems. I’m a 3 star Mariner and have a long way until 4 stars. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Just returned from the 7 day Alaska cruise. This was the first time on HAL but have over 12 cruises on other lines. It been several years since our last cruise so the comparison is from over time. Last cruised Alaska about 8 years ago ... Read More
Just returned from the 7 day Alaska cruise. This was the first time on HAL but have over 12 cruises on other lines. It been several years since our last cruise so the comparison is from over time. Last cruised Alaska about 8 years ago Everything very clean- including cabin- no complaints about ship or cabin. Very satisfied there. Thankful we had great weather- no rain at any port and saw Hubbard Glacier fairly close. Main issues were food and entertainment. Poor entertainment....very little to do during the "at sea" days unless you watched a movie...surprisingly they had a good selection but why pay hundreds of dollars to watch a movie when it can be had for $10 at home. I walked every deck for exercise at night...by 10 o"clock the ship was deserted. Some people in Casino, BB King and listening to twin pianos but all combined maybe 50-75 people out of 2,000 passengers. This is a seniors ship...( note: we are seniors in our 80's but still full of life.) Food was blah. Many of the selections did not appeal to me and you were given small portions. Buffet had same food and if you are into desserts--FORGET IT. Had ice cream scooped for you and 3-4 cake selections and that was it. No great broadway-type entertainment...no steak at all at main meal...no midnight buffet...no tables full of various desserts..no joy of cruising. The 'good old days of cruising" not available here. Probably gone from other cruise lines too. Will go back to Las Vegas where you pay the same or less but get more bang for your buck. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Probably I took my last cruise on Holland America last month. The cruise was a 7 day cruise on the Oosteram round trip from Seattle to Alaska. Here is an explanation of why I feel as I do: Pros: • The Hotel staff was nice and ... Read More
Probably I took my last cruise on Holland America last month. The cruise was a 7 day cruise on the Oosteram round trip from Seattle to Alaska. Here is an explanation of why I feel as I do: Pros: • The Hotel staff was nice and provided good service; the room was clean and comfortable; the ship was clean. Our cabin staff remember my name after the first day. • The bow was open for viewing and picture taking when at a Glacier; the naturalist’s narrative was helpful. Since it was cold out, hot beverages were served during the sightseeing on the bow. • Regular Coffee was better than the coffee on many ships I’ve been on. • Bar service was reasonably priced, and we were not constantly bombarded with someone trying to sell us a specialty drink. • The string quartet was very good in the Lincoln Center venue. Cons: There is a list of cons: Food: • Food and Food Service: Food service in the main dining room was spotty at best and on several occasions we had to flag down a server after a long wait. One of our party ordered a soda and it was never delivered. When we complained, he no longer wanted it as we were through with our meal although it was offered at no charge. At Breakfast the portions were very small, much smaller than what is normal in a regular Diner. In the main dinning room I ordered lamb chops, medium rare. I was served two very thin, too thin to cook medium rare, chops. I sent them back and got 3 chops, 2 of which I’d call medium, 1 close to medium rare-it was the only thick enough to be able to be cooked right. • In the extra $35 charge specialty restaurant there was an extra charge of $10 for a lobster tail with a steak, something I have not seen of other lines I’ve been on. In fact on one cruise two of the party I was with had three or four lobster tails, one after the other, in the specialty dining room at no extra charge. One of our party asked if it was possible to get a side dish of the mac and cheese entrée and was told she would be charged $15 for an extra entrée. We asked to speak with the dining room Captain and he approved it for no charge. I have never before been told on a cruise that a second entrée was an extra charge in either the regular or specialty dining rooms. Although the steak I ordered was very good, the sides were smaller than usual portions. • In the specialty Italian Restaurant the food was good, but again the service was slow and the portions smaller than I’ve seen on other ship. • The Lido buffet was a big disappointment when it came to service. Although the food was good, the lines were slow due to a lack of adequate staff, especially in the sections that required some preparation. Staff was slow to clean up tables during busy times and in one case only cleaned part of the table. I ordered two eggs over easy and the yoke on one broke and I was served this unappealing glob with one yoke whole and the other a yellow spot on the plate. When I saw an supervisor and mentioned it to him he said he would take care of it, took my plate and returned with only one egg where part of the white was still uncooked. On another day that featured poached eggs, I asked for two eggs and was given one. The portion of corn beef hash was smaller than I have ever seen before in any food venue, shipboard or on land. Other portions were also smaller than usual. As a side note, the Taco Bar by the pool was tasty, but often the bins were empty and the shredded beef was put out with so much juice that it was hard to get to the meat. • As a coffee lover, there was no place for specialty coffee drinks, even at an extra charge, on board other than in the main dining room. Entertainment: • Understanding it was Memorial Day weekend and there were a number of Vietnam Vets and families on board, the ship closed up early in the evening. The piano bar, which on every other cruise I’ve been on was always open in the evening was usually without a piano player, there was some dancing in BBKing Blues shows, but that’s because the shows were more Motown than Blues. The other bars were also pretty dead with almost no entertainment. • The first night had no entertainment venues other than BBKing that I found open. • The big production show had fine dancers, but I found it loud and the fantastic electronics took away from the talented performers. Some people said they liked it, most I talked with found it annoying, loud and overproduced. • Was there a lack of activity because the ship felt the passengers would not take advantage of it or was there no activity at night because the passengers give up trying to find a place to dance or do anything other than buy drinks. I don’t know the answer, but my guess it was the second reason. If you look at other reviews I’ve written you’ll see I tend to be positive in what I see and I’m sad that I am writing such a disappointing narrative. My other Holland America cruise a number of years ago did not have any of the problems I describe here. Hopefully the other passengers had a better experience than I did, but I’ve read where Holland America is playing with charging extra fees and cutting back in order to get a better bottom line. It’s unlikely they’ll see me again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
My wife and I have been on two other cruise lines so a friend of ours invited us on a vacation to Alaska on the line HAL Oosterdam. The staff was very friendly but when we needed some guidance we couldn't understand what they were ... Read More
My wife and I have been on two other cruise lines so a friend of ours invited us on a vacation to Alaska on the line HAL Oosterdam. The staff was very friendly but when we needed some guidance we couldn't understand what they were saying and they didn't even know the answer to our question so make sure your staff who works on the ship knows everything about it like where's the nearest bathroom . While going down the hall to my room it smelt like sewage that was just not normal and it wasn't just my hall... we made a shore excursion n Ketchikan as soon as we were down we had 2 go back 2 the ship we had no time to explore Ketchiken cause we only hade 4 hours to stay. Now the food in the restaurants were EXCELLENT but n the lido deck buffet u couldn't serve yourself , same food every day , when they served you they gave you little portions . Now my main concern on my list is the ENTERTAINMENT !!! To talking to some of the other passengers there was nothing 2 do. Sure they had the comedian which who was hilarious and the magician which who could of had did something more than what she did if Lance Burton is her idol. Every day u should have some kind of ENTERTAINMENT it doesn't have to be something big but just something. Hope this helps cause I will not be recommending this cruise ship 2 anyone Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Introduction: We are frequent cruisers with Platinum Plus status on NCL and Black Card status on MSC. NCL was our go to company for N.A.cruises and MSC was our go to company for everywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, both companies ... Read More
Introduction: We are frequent cruisers with Platinum Plus status on NCL and Black Card status on MSC. NCL was our go to company for N.A.cruises and MSC was our go to company for everywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, both companies have adopted strategies of bigger and bigger ships and more fees beyond the cruise fare. After our last cruise on the 5,700 passenger MSC Meravigilia, we decided bigger is not necessarily better. This led to our selection of a smaller ship with a new company for us: Holland America's Oosterdam to Alaska. Cabin: We selected a Neptune cabin, because we were travelling as a family of four. The cabin is spacious with a king bed, sofa bed for two and large balcony. The cabin had a large screen 55" T.V. and a bathroom with an independent shower and independent shower/tub combo. Overall a very nice cabin, and the balcony is excellent for Alaska sightseeing. Dining: We dined at the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, the Lido market for lunch and the MDR for dinner. All meals were excellent, and better than similar offerings in NCL and MSC's buffet and MDR. Embarkation: Embarking was smooth. We arrived at 11 a.m. and walked on the ship after check-in. Disembarkation was a bit more crowded, but we were off the ship in about twenty minutes. Entertainment: We saw the comedian Tim Kaminsky twice. Very funny shows. We also went to the dance company show. Fairly typical dance fare. We missed the magician because dinner ran late one night. Overall, Kaminsky was the star of the show. Fitness Center: I used the fitness center several times. A bit smaller than the larger ships, but had similar amenities to those ships. The center was crowded in the early a.m., but wide open in the p.m. Onboard Experience: The onboard experience was where you notice the difference between big and small ships. It was much easier to get around the ship, elevators, dining room, etc. No waves of people even after shows. Definitely easier to move around the ship compared to the 4,000 to 6,000 passenger mega ships Service: Service was excellent. Our room steward figured out early in the cruise when we went to breakfast and dinner. The room was made up and turned down during those times. The ship, although older, is in excellent shape and the crew keeps it spotless. Shore Excursions: We did our own excursions. Easy to do in Alaska. We drove to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. We took the Raptor/Bear shuttle in Sitka. We walked the Downtown area in Ketchikan which was mostly a shopping stop. Value for money: Holland's price for a Neptune suite was 50% less than a similar NCL Haven suite. NCL continues to raise it fares. Value for money is hands down in favor of Holland. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
As a Seattle resident, it may seem strange to go to Alaska four times but the Last Frontier is so spectacular, it never fails to thrill. Embarkation was very smooth, although porters were few. Lines were almost non-existent and we on board ... Read More
As a Seattle resident, it may seem strange to go to Alaska four times but the Last Frontier is so spectacular, it never fails to thrill. Embarkation was very smooth, although porters were few. Lines were almost non-existent and we on board in about 20 minutes from car to room. The Oosterdam is lovely - understated decor with some beautiful touches like hammered brass elevator doors.Unfortunately, the "library" is a few shelves located in the Crow's Nest and not the opulent club setting like the Amsterdam or Prinsendam. Bars were lively and plentiful. B.B. Kings is a blues option and Billboard Onboard was two very talented piano playing, singing guys who played over five decades of music during the seven days we were sailing. Other entertainment included a comedienne and great magician. The only trivia session was at 4:30 pm which interfered with our dining time. The MDR was tasteful with excellent service. Food was served in proper courses and we never waited too long, except on the first night. As this was the first trip of the season for Oosterdam, I don't fault that. Entree selections (5) were a bit fewer than I remember from past cruises, but salmon, steak, a vegetarian pasta and turkey tetrazzini was served every day. I loved all the soups and the desserts were often spectacular. Fresh bread daily and everything served with a smile! We usually book an outside cabin to Alaska as a balcony is just too cold for us. We actually had great weather in May with the only rain coming in Juneau. Hubbard Glacier is amazing and even with some fog, it took my breath away. The wildlife expert on board was very helpful and HAL even provides hot soup to hardy souls who venture out on deck. We visited Sitka, Ketchikan and Juneau as well as a stop in Victoria to satisfy the Jones Act. Victoria is a waste - expensive ($35.00) to get to town and too late to do much except eat dinner or ride in the horse-drawn carriages ($1.00 per minute with minimums) Suggest guests arrive early in Seattle or stay one day extra to experience the Pike Place Market, Space Needle, Puget Sound ferries, Monorail, Big Wheel and all our fantastic seafood. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We are back, mostly unpacked and exhausted. We have been on cruises to Alaska 4 other times, 3 of them on HAL. We picked this one since it docked in Sitka where most others do not, preferring Skagway. It was well worth it. Embarkation ... Read More
We are back, mostly unpacked and exhausted. We have been on cruises to Alaska 4 other times, 3 of them on HAL. We picked this one since it docked in Sitka where most others do not, preferring Skagway. It was well worth it. Embarkation was the easiest we have ever experienced. It all went smoothly and we were on the ship much earlier than the time we had been assigned (since we transferred from a hotel). We went right to our cabin where we found the scooter and oxygen concentrator I had ordered already in the cabin. There was more than enough room for the rented scooter, my own scooter and walking around. The Lido beckoned and lunch was good. Then, there was one hitch...the drink card I had ordered was nowhere to be found. Down to Guest Services where I was promised it would be delivered in 9-10 minutes. It wasn't. It took 2 more contacts with Guest Services before they printed it for me at the desk. The only other problem was, one evening while trying to watch a movie in the cabin, there was a pop and the electricity on one side of the room was out. There was a maintenance man at the cabin in 15 minutes and it was fixed. Probably a breaker needed to be thrown. We ate in the dining room most of the time since my husband has trouble walking and the Lido is hard on him. I found, however, that the selection was not as good as on past cruises. The food was good, just the selection was poor. The main dining room was very good although, here as well, the selection wasn't up to previous cruises. The table staff and hosts were wonderful. Adi (host) and Von (wine steward) were especially wonderful. We had open seating and had the same table every evening with different companions, all fantastic people. We are not night people and only attended one show. The ports were wonderful. We only did one excursion (since we'd done this so many times before) and it was good. There was some confusion as to an ADA bus, but that got cleared up pretty quickly. The rest of the time we just wandered around...exactly what I wanted to do. There was one particular shop on Creek Street in Ketchikan (Perfect Partners) that I wanted to visit and it had just opened. I was thrilled. Disembarkation was as smooth as glass. We were on the bus before the time we were scheduled to leave the ship. Then there was the airport..... This may be our last cruise due to medical reasons. It was a wonderful week. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
My husband and I are an active couple in our 30's/40's. Last summer, we took an Alaskan cruise on HAL's Eurodam. We really enjoyed that experience (https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=624622) ... Read More
My husband and I are an active couple in our 30's/40's. Last summer, we took an Alaskan cruise on HAL's Eurodam. We really enjoyed that experience (https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=624622) and wanted to repeat it. For this cruise, we got a good price with discounted airfare. We were even able to upgrade from an inside cabin to a balcony for a fraction of the difference. Before the cruise, we spent 3 nights at an Airbnb in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. We had a fantastic time visiting the Ballard Locks and Discovery Park! This is a very walkable area, and it's tucked away from the downtown tourists. Also, it was a short drive to Pier 91. My feelings for this cruise were mixed, so I will divide my thoughts between pros and cons. PROS ~ There is only one designated smoking area, and it is located outside at the back of deck 9. For a nonsmoker, this was truly a breath of fresh air! ~ Our room was wonderful, and our stewards were excellent. ~ The fresh floral arrangements found throughout the ship are gorgeous. ~ We absolutely loved Lincoln Center Stage! On our previous cruise, we went to a few concerts. The musicians on the Oosterdam were even better. Besides being talented, they had a special chemistry that made their concerts extra special. ~ We enjoyed the food. There was decent variety, and waiters were able to accommodate special requests. For some meals, we pre-ordered from the vegetarian menu. The fruit selection in the buffet was great for a cruise (apples, bananas, oranges, plums, kiwis, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, melons, berries). ~ Each evening, there were a variety of drink specials (BOGO for $2, $5 wines, $4 cocktail samples). These are definitely a good value. ~ Each morning, we had room service breakfast. Unlike many other major cruise lines, HAL still offers hot breakfast items on their complimentary menu. Also, we would request other items not listed on the menu (e.g. grapefruit, plain yogurt), and these items were always included. Orders arrived on time, and it was relaxing to start each morning with breakfast in our room. ~ We did have one small issue with room service. One morning, the wrong omelet was delivered, and we did not discover the mistake until after the waiter left. I quickly fixed the situation by running up to the buffet and getting a new omelet. Later that day, I told guest services about what happened because I wanted to ensure future orders would be correct. To my surprise, we were sent a bottle of sparkling wine and chocolate covered strawberries. This was a small mistake, and HAL did a great job making up for it. Kudos for great customer service! ~ The Promenade deck was a nice place for walking. Even on rainy or misty days, we were able to enjoy long walks outside. ~ We liked the daily newspapers and puzzles provided each day on deck 1. CONS ~ Entertainment was lacking. Each evening, we would find ourselves wandering around after dinner without anything to do. We don't go to the main shows in the theater. We prefer listening to bands in lounges and dancing. Lincoln Center Stage ends rather early. BB King has talented musicians, but their venue is small and has a poor layout. It felt more like a concert than a dance club. Most nights, very few dancers came out on the floor. There was very little energy and excitement at night. ~ The atrium is tiny and dull. For me, the atrium should be the heart of the ship, but this area is lackluster and often deserted. ~ This is a small ship. When the weather was cold, the ship felt even smaller. There were very few public areas and most of them were clustered together. ~ During the day, there are not many scheduled activities. Computer workshops and cooking demos don't interest me. I prefer more active things, such as dance classes. ~ We did freestyle dining, and we usually went to the dining room between 7 and 8pm. I was surprised at the first set dining time. 5pm seems entirely too early. Since so many people were eating during the cocktail hour, it made time before dinner dull too. ~ The dress code is not enforced at dinner. On Gala Night, I saw people in t-shirts and guys wearing baseball caps. ~ The ports were wonderful, and Hubbard Glacier was awesome! However, the timing in most of the ports is odd. The all aboard for Ketchikan was 12:30pm, and we weren't allowed off the ship in Victoria until after 6:30pm. These short stops make it difficult to fully enjoy these ports. ~ The excursion prices are ridiculously expensive. We planned ahead and did our own thing in each port. If the excursions had been more reasonably prices, we might have gone on one or two. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise because the ports are beautiful and interesting. Shipboard life, on the other hand, proved a little too boring for us. We would consider HAL again if the itinerary is port intensive. If we do an Alaskan cruise again, we will try another line. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We selected this cruise because it was raining in San Diego the week after New Years and we decided to treat ourselves. We were on a family vacation and it was too rainy so we did the illogical thing and jumped on an Alaskan cruise in May, ... Read More
We selected this cruise because it was raining in San Diego the week after New Years and we decided to treat ourselves. We were on a family vacation and it was too rainy so we did the illogical thing and jumped on an Alaskan cruise in May, the rainy season. We live in Eastern Washington so a Seattle departure and a short trip were the most critical elements. Sunday to Sunday works. We both had been on Alaskan cruises before so this wasn't about anything other than a nice boat ride in spring. We knew we wouldn't be taking any excursions because only flight related ones appealed and the weather is not predictable enough to spend that kind of money for marginal ceilings. So we rode the boat for the experience. And we had a great time. While not night owls, we spent every evening moving back and forth between the BB King venue and the pianos in the Billboard Onboard section. Made it worth the trip. Stage shows were fine, but we don't care much for magicians, even though the young lady was good, and dance troupes don't grab our hearts, and again they were good. The comedian did a great job with audience participation, but that meant he picked people from the crowd, so we absented ourselves. Our travel agent suggested an aft cabin and picked one for us on the stern. Loved it. Yes, there is motion. Yes, it is the ocean. Decks are slightly larger on the stern. Had it been warmer, this would have been even better, but we had some chilly times so indoors was the choice. Liked the stern so much we booked another one for our next adventure. Ship was in great shape, clean, constantly being cleaned, and bright and reasonably cheery. (Day before our departure the Oosterdam bumped another Holland ship in Vancouver, slight damage, but just below our room) We were contacted when the crew was going to be working below to repair the cosmetic damage to the ship, great communication. Public areas were great, as well. Service wonderful with attentive, positive folks everywhere, except maybe the guy at the dining room check in. Tough job. No big deal. Food was great when it was great, okay part of the time, and never lousy. Gala nights were the best food. The Lido was more hit and miss. Best food was generally anything Asian. Might be comfort zone for staff. American breakfast was okay, step above Best Western free breakfast, but not a full flight better. Lots of other options. Our last Holland cruise was through the Panama Canal so longer cruise. That trip did not have a huge number of ball cap, ragged jeans, with Jack Daniels shirts. We had some of these. (sorry for the stereotype) Things like lines, personal space, and gentle conversation weren't what I was used to, but this was only apparent on the Lido. Crowd management was a bit rough there as far as seating went. Too many large tables with one person sitting while unseated guests were searching for a table. In defense, this was the first Alaska cruise of the season and was a sell out, so maybe some ramping up. Same was true for first destination. Disembarking was rough with some frustration. Later ports were better. We had a great time, met some wonderful folks, enjoyed wonderful entertainment and signed up for more, just on a different ship going elsewhere. No knock on the Oosterdam, just wanted something different and smaller. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We enjoyed our Oosterdam cruise in April very much. The Ship: Embarkation was a breeze. We expected there would be many people waiting to board but we literally walked in, checked in, and boarded in less about 15 minutes. Upon ... Read More
We enjoyed our Oosterdam cruise in April very much. The Ship: Embarkation was a breeze. We expected there would be many people waiting to board but we literally walked in, checked in, and boarded in less about 15 minutes. Upon boarding, we headed to the Lido deck for lunch and by the time we went to our room, the luggage was already there. We immediately began hanging our clothes in the three closets. In addition to hanging rods in two closets, one closet had shelves for clothes that did not need hanging. The storage space in the cabin was ample and easily accessible. There are drawers in the desk/vanity in the room and drawers under the bed. There were ample outlets in the room and a small fridge. We enjoyed being able to keep drinks cold and fruit refrigerated while in our room. We stayed in an aft balcony room and liked this location. It was convenient to get to the dining rooms, pools, and bars. Our room was located at the back of the ship on the portside and we did not experience any additional turbulence or rocking due to the location. The balcony room provided us the opportunity to lie in bed and watch the ocean or to sit on the nice sized balcony. The bathroom had a tub which I enjoyed as I do enjoy a bath rather than a shower sometimes. The storage in the bathroom was adequate. Overall, the room met all of our expectations with a large screen tv placed on the wall in front of the bed. It was a nice room. The ship is an older ship but I did not see any big problems and I could see that somethings had been updated. The dining rooms were beautiful and the theatre was easy to navigate and had plenty of seating. Overall, we were pleased with the condition of the ship. It has been well-maintained and the staff were constantly cleaning all areas of the ship. In addition, the pool areas were well-kept and seating was plentiful. We never had a problem on ship days finding a place to lounge by the pools. Debarkation was quick and we were at the airport by 9am on our last day Dining Room Service: We did enjoy ordering room service a few times and service was excellent and on time each time we ordered by phone or by placing a card on our door at night. Lido Deck Dining: We enjoyed the food we were served on the Lido Deck. Choices were varied and service was never slow. Usually, there were no more than two to four people in any one line at a time. The servers were all polite and welcoming. I, particularly, enjoyed the Pasta station and the Omelet station. The taco station was also a favorite. The diversity in the food choices made it easy to find something to eat. At times, the table area was crowded but we always found some place to sit and enjoy our meals. I felt the food was more sanitary by having the staff serve our food at the buffet. The wait staff kept our drinks filled and cleaned tables quickly upon someone leaving the dining area. Overall, I would rate the food excellent and the service outstanding on the Lido Deck Dining. Formal Dining Room: The dining room was beautiful and the service was outstanding. We never had to wait long for any of our order to arrive. After the first night, our drinks were on the table when we arrived. The wait staff were very friendly and exuded happiness each night. We enjoyed our evening meal and a couple of lunches in the dining room. We could not ask for better service than we experienced on the Oosterdam. My favorite foods were the lobster, the soups, and the desserts. Entertainment: We love to dance and the B.B. Blues Club was a perfect venue for that. The band played music that people could dance to and enjoy listening to as they relaxed with a beverage. The only thing I would change is that the band play longer. Beverage service was excellent in this club. We did enjoy the Piano Bar music on a couple of evenings but there was no area to dance. The shows in the theatre needed more singing and dancing type shows. Also, I think the theatre should have a show on the first night of the cruise to welcome guests and set the tone for the trip. Fitness & Recreation: The fitness center offered a variety of equipment and classes for those who wanted to work out. The Spa offers diversity in services as well. Enrichment Activities: There were opportunities to join in enrichment activities each day. We chose to relax and enjoy the pool area rather than attend classes offered. Service: I cannot say enough good things about our room stewards and the services they provided. They cleaned the room at least twice a day and always responded positively to any requests. They placed fresh fruit in the room daily and intentionally interacted with us daily to see if we had any requests or concerns. I requested a fan and a mattress topper and both were provided promptly. I could not ask for more from our room stewards. The wait staff in the dining room and on the Lido dining area were friendly and provided outstanding service to us. Around the ship, we always saw crew members cleaning and replenishing supplies as needed. This is an area where this ship excels--providing outstanding service. Shore Excursions: Turks & Caicos: We took a bus tour of the island and enjoyed seeing the entire island in addition to visiting a small market area. There had been some storm damage from the hurricane but one could tell that progress was being made in the clean-up and rebuilding. The guide provided us with an extensive history of the island which was interesting. Key West: The trolley car excursion provided us with a good overview of the history and sights of Key West. After the tour, we walked around the town and enjoyed mingling with the locals. Dominican Republic: I took a bus tour that took us into Puerta Plata where we shopped and visited a beautiful church. In addition, the tour guide provided us with a history of the island. We did not visit Haiti. My boyfriend did the excursion to the water falls and he had a wonderful time. He hiked through the jungle and then slid down about four waterfalls which he said was an exhilarating experience. Due to my health, I could not experience the waterfall excursion but I did enjoy the tour. Half Moon Cay: This island is beautiful with sand as white as snow. There are many activities available such as horse back riding, jet skiing, sailing, and a waterpark that would be great for children to enjoy. Just swimming and enjoying the beauty was what we chose to do. The ship provides a lunch on the island for those who do not want to return to the ship to eat. The bar area is convenient and easy to procure drinks. Cabanas are available for rent. We chose to sit on the beach in one of the many lounge chairs provided. It was a wonderful and relaxing day. Next time we sail in November, we plan to rent a small sail boat and enjoy this experience. In conclusion, I would like to say that even though the Oosterdam is an older ship, it is beautiful and well-kept. The service on the ship is outstanding and the food is excellent. I highly recommend sailing on this ship. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
It's been a few years since we've cruised on Holland America. Our last cruise on Royal Caribbean was not good so for our next cruise we chose HAL. Overall HAL provides good value for the money. Everyone has different cruise ... Read More
It's been a few years since we've cruised on Holland America. Our last cruise on Royal Caribbean was not good so for our next cruise we chose HAL. Overall HAL provides good value for the money. Everyone has different cruise expectations and HAL checks many of our boxes, though not all. We will continue to experience different cruise lines. For us, we cruise to spend time with our family. We enjoy the food, the destinations, shore excursions, and to be at sea. We do not care for drinking, partying, and childrens entertainments. For us, HAL is a good choice. This review is of the Oosterdam May 5 Alaskan Explorer cruise from Seattle. The Ship: The Oosterdam was in good shape, though I wish the last refit had kept more of the old Dutch Masters feel. The public areas were spacious and well appointed (I think the HAL Vista class ships have the highest area per passenger rating of all the majors). I like a full promenade deck, and it was the place to be during the cruise down the inside passage from Ketchikan. The card room(s) were well used by groups playing all kinds of games together. One plus of the Vista Class of ships is the retractable dome over the Lido Pool area. This is very helpful in Alaska as it can rain at any moment, and can be quite chilly at times. The Exploration Cafe was my favorite public area. The gym was well used and I thought the class instructors were quite good. I did two yoga classes on the 7 day cruise and worked out daily. The Food: I was especially impressed with the Lido Market (buffet) which we used for breakfast and lunch. There were special selections from around the world daily, and all manner of offerings for every taste. Some of our party really enjoyed the Dive In for burgers and fries. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night ($35 surcharge but ours was a gift from the travel agency). The food there was very good. Not quite as good as Ruth's Chris or something like that, but better than Outback for sure. The main dining room was pretty good for the MDR on a major cruise line. Some of the menu selections weren't that great and so it was hit or miss if you picked the right thing. One night I chose a fish (not great) and my spouse chose the deconstructed pot roast (good). Service started out a bit shaky, but I learned many of the staff had just joined the ship as our cruise was the first cruise of the Alaska season. They got better as the week progressed. Destinations: Juneau, Sitka, Hubbard Glacier, Ketchikan, Victoria. We were on a Coral Princess Southbound cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver a few years ago. We chose that cruise because it went to Glacier Bay. On this cruise we were looking for value, as we were cruising with relatives and cost was a concern. If I was only going on one Alaska cruise in my life, I would want to do Glacier Bay. And I would cruise later in the season. That said, Hubbard Glacier was worthwhile. Despite the rain and lots of ice in the water our captain was able to get us a pretty good view of the glacier face. It was a fun day, and a lot of us went out to the bow to take photos. I spent some time on the promenade as well. And a secret spot - Deck 9 Forward in front of the Gym was a good and mostly empty spot for viewing, though you are further up from the water. Shore Excursions: Good excursions overall. We did the Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau as we had been to Mendenhall previously. It is worthwhile. We were not in Juneau long or else we would have probably gone up to Mendenhall again. We did Birds, Bears, and Barnacles in Sitka. Fun excursion. The bear place is still under renovation. We went to see the Totem Poles in Ketchikan. I would like to spend more time in Ketchikan someday. We were only in Victoria for 5 hours so we didn't do much. We have been there several times in the past. It was evening so options were limited. I would like to see Bouchard Gardens in the spring, though. At Sea: I like the feeling of being at sea. I am not looking for the floating hotel experience. I think a lot of the newer ships (ahem Royal) are very inward focused. The Oosterdam is very much in the vein of a classic cruise ship. I like hanging out outside, playing cards with family, enjoying good food, relaxing. Passengers were a good mix. HAL has a reputation of being the cruise line of choice for elders. I have not found this to be true. Though there were few children, most age groups were well represented, with a diversity of passengers from mostly North America and Asia. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Having taken seven previous cruises in the Mediterranean, Caribbean,TransAtlantic, and Hawaii, we were looking for an opportunity to take our first Alaskan cruise. This September 17th, Roundtrip Seattle Cruise was still available for a 6 ... Read More
Having taken seven previous cruises in the Mediterranean, Caribbean,TransAtlantic, and Hawaii, we were looking for an opportunity to take our first Alaskan cruise. This September 17th, Roundtrip Seattle Cruise was still available for a 6 week prior booking. Our stern, balcony cabin choice was available, so that sealed the deal for us. Since we live in Hawaii, it was a tolerable flight to Seattle and back. It helped that they were offering on board credit and paid gratuities as well. We enjoyed the itinerary, particularly cruising Hubbard Glacier. Not sure why we stopped in Victoria for 5-1/2 hours at 6pm. Guessing it was an international requirement. We had never been on this ship before, but were on the Eurodam--which we found similar. The Oosterdam looked a bit dated, but overall, was in descent condition and very clean. Our room steward did a nice job taking care of the room. The food was very good on this ship, with the exception of "in room dining". I guess they call it that now instead of "room service". It was very difficult to get someone on the phone, and when we did, we had a tough time understanding/hearing them. The food that arrived was simply sustenance and was cold. The dining room was fantastic. The food was amazing, and we never had to wait to get into dine. The service was good and the menus were great. The desserts were below par, and we actually experience a cake tasting like detergent. The entertainment was just ok. Started off a little rough on the first night, but got better over the rest of the cruise. The other venues had nice entertainment, but everything raps up pretty earlier on the Holland trip. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We were recommended by a friend who lived in Canada. It was our golden wedding so we wanted an unforgettable trip. It was amazing, we had glorious weather and saw glaciers,bears,whales etc. BUT Ship was cold, only place we were ... Read More
We were recommended by a friend who lived in Canada. It was our golden wedding so we wanted an unforgettable trip. It was amazing, we had glorious weather and saw glaciers,bears,whales etc. BUT Ship was cold, only place we were warm was our cabin where we could turn heating up. Theatre, CrowsNest ,all public areas, you needed your coat. First 2 nights awake all night due to constant banging, reception said it was the waves, never had that on any previous cruise even if weather bad. After an unfortunate encounter with “man in grey suit” at first breakfast, where i was told breakfast was closed, despite me holding my plate with eggs on it,waiting for toast, we ate breakfast every day in our cabin. Buffet and dining room, queue for everything, food bland, always cold and unless you liked salmon or Japanese cuisine you were in trouble. Lived on fried chicken and pizza. Gala night a joke, no one wore smart clothes, one fellow diner even kept his cap on. Staff very random, always smiled but did not always deliver. We apparently had 2 cabin stewards, never met them, cabin clean but nothing exceptional. Excursions expensive but very good. Cruising to the glacier stunning but surprised to have to pay $9 each for mug in which to drink our Free hot chocolate. We wanted a photo but pushed to buy a package at end of cruise, needless to say we did not bother. Entertainment poor , singers were flat. B.B. king club good , no activities during the day. Never saw Cruise director around the Ship, obviously very busy in the office. Embarkation and disembarkation excellent, best we have ever had. Daily gratuities expensive considering service etc, we adjusted it to Nil, but reception staff made it very difficult and were quite condescending, attempting to explain to me how gratuities worked. After 16 plus cruises I think I know and this is the first time I have ever refused to pay it. The destination, weather and sites made the distance travelled worthwhile ( we flew from London) but Holland America Oosterdam - forget it. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This was my second cruise on Holland America, my 10th cruise overall. Husband and I did round trip from Seattle to Alaska. The price was a few hundred below other cruise lines doing this itinerary, and now I know why. The Good: Smooth ... Read More
This was my second cruise on Holland America, my 10th cruise overall. Husband and I did round trip from Seattle to Alaska. The price was a few hundred below other cruise lines doing this itinerary, and now I know why. The Good: Smooth embarkation and disembarkation. Room stewards attentive. 24 hour Room Service fantastic. LOVED BB King Blues Club. Drink prices were quite reasonable. Large selection of movies on the TV in the stateroom. The Bad: Main Dining Room food always lukewarm, quite bland, and service was spotty. On Gala night was seated at 5:30 and did not get entree until 7PM. Activities during the day were sparse. If you like to cook or want to learn more about Windows, you will be fine. Other than that, though, you had best pack a few books because you are on your own! Singers and Dancers on the Main Stage were sub-par. The stateroom seemed poorly designed Holland America has made great strides in reforming its image as catering only to older (read 65-85) passengers, sadly this has happened at a cost to the "Old World Elegance" that HAL was once known for. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
My cousins had never cruised, so we picked an itinerary they were excited about. Thus, we had the chance to see this cruise through the eyes of our cousins who came with us. We found many areas in need of improvement, especially ... Read More
My cousins had never cruised, so we picked an itinerary they were excited about. Thus, we had the chance to see this cruise through the eyes of our cousins who came with us. We found many areas in need of improvement, especially communication. There was no apparent mechanism for hearing most announcements in the room. My cousin is hard of hearing and so felt he missed a lot of information. We were unsure if we needed to be wearing life vests for the safety drill, until the very last minute when they instructed us to proceed to the muster stations. We’ve cruised a lot and have always seen this information in the instructions or heard it on the video. No guest laundry on board the Oosterdam. I told the cousins they should expect a laundry special during the week but there never was. Nor were there any internet specials, even last-minute specials to check boarding passes, etc. Stayed at HIE SEATAC which had a shuttle to the port. This service worked very well. Embarkation: Arrival around 1045 at port, and getting through all the checkpoints was a breeze. We had a 45 min or so wait but the area was pleasant enough. Lido deck was open for lunch but apparently so was a formal dining area. We were informed about only the Lido deck. Although we normally prefer the formal lunches, our travel companions had never cruised before and so having lunch on the Lido was a good introduction to the buffet. The area is nicely designed and was much quieter and less crowded than I expected, although it was starting to get crowded by the time we left. Food options were varied, interesting, and of good quality. Somehow we missed the opportunity to meet the naturalist, but we did make the sail-away party. While the venue was a bit too noisy and crowded for our companions, they enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery, and meeting other people. Day 1, embarkation: Dinner: we managed to get a 6 pm dining slot. Service is slow. Food was quite good. I had the seafood chowder and rockfish. I could take or leave the chowder but the fish was nice. Day 2: Sea Day. Quite a few options at breakfast. Sit-down lunch was nice with a variety of options, but slow service. Since we also enjoyed high tea a short time later, we ended up skipping formal night dinner as we had early reservations and were still too full. Day 3. Juneau Breakfast. Arrived when the doors opened, asked for window so we got the table at the very rear. Apparently the wait staff find this territory dangerous. Sometime after 8:30 I asked if we could get pastries and several minutes later my oatmeal and the pastries arrived. Sometime after 9 the hot meals arrived. As for service, my oatmeal arrived on one plate, accompanied by a plate with milk and raisins on it, and a separate one with sliced banana. Finding no space to put all these plates, the waiter set them on the edge and shoved the existing plate further in. I hurriedly tried to move plates so the milk didn’t topple. Just not the way food should be served. Day 4 at sea, view of glaciers Bundle up! It’s going to be cold outside, but you’ll want to be outside for the best view. The naturalist was speaking on deck 4 but the PA system seemed to cut out frequently so we stopped trying to make out what she was saying. Just look, and be awed. Day 5. Sitka Sea Otter and Wildlife tour was amazing. We had time for this tour, a very quick bite of lunch in town at the Highliner Coffee Shop, and a little walking around before rushing back to the ship. Most restaurants are sit-down, table service places which take time, according to the Visitors’ Center staff. We wanted time for looking around. So keep in mind how limited your time is here. The ship was docked some distance from town. There is a shuttle station at the town port with free shuttle service to the ship. Although they said it ran every 20 minutes it seemed to be more frequent. Just don’t expect to end a tour in town (as most seemed to do), grab the shuttle back to the ship for lunch and make it back to town to do much of anything. The town library is about a block from the shuttle stop, and has free wi-fi. Day 6 Ketchikan A very short day, with arrival at 7:30 and departure at 12:30. We had time to walk around a little. Bars and restaurants might have free wi-fi if you make a purchase, but otherwise, don’t expect free wi-fi anywhere. We have Google Fi which has worked in some pretty obscure places in the world but not here, at least not for data. Phone worked fine. Day 7 Vancouver Arrival at 6:30 pm and time to be back on board 11:30 pm. Very odd hours, difficult to work around if you didn’t go on a tour. We ate an early dinner and decided to walk around. Disembarkation was chaotic, with the gangway stairs roped off, and most elevators not going to deck A. We got off the elevator on deck 1 to find people milling around and the cordon being removed from the stairwell, but we were there after 7, so the stairwell should have been open. There were no instructions in the Where and When as to what documents we needed to get back aboard. Turns out, just the ship’s card. Arrival in Seattle No information on breakfast hours provided the day before. We had to call and ask. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
In August 2017 my wife suffered a fully-detached retina. If you don't know, rehab from surgery requires no change in air pressure for at least 90 days. Well, that meant no flying and our Mediterranean Cruise in September 2017 had to ... Read More
In August 2017 my wife suffered a fully-detached retina. If you don't know, rehab from surgery requires no change in air pressure for at least 90 days. Well, that meant no flying and our Mediterranean Cruise in September 2017 had to be cancelled. Thankfully we had trip insurance so all non-refundable expenses were reimbursed. Six weeks later, we were in the doctor's office for another check-up. Since the eye was healing on schedule, we asked, "Can we take a vacation on a ship?" We live in Seattle so the doctor said, "Absolutely, yes"". A quick call to our AAA travel agent and, 9 days later, we left on a 7 day round-trip to Alaska on HA's Oosterdam. We selected this cruise because we'd previously been to Skagway and the Oosterdam's itinerary included Sitka (instead of Skagway) plus Hubbard Glacier (instead of Tracy Arm). We were so happy with our substitute cruise...while it wasn't Venice and the Adriatic, we had a wonderful time on the Oosterdam, with its emphasis on European Art and Holland America's partnerhsip with America's Test Kitchen. Sitka is a great city to visit...so much Russian and Native Northwest Indian history; we'd love to go back for a few days! If you every get to book a cruise that visits Hubbard Glacier, you'll be very impressed with the immensity of this glacier. Sailing up Tracy Arm provides spectacular scenary but Hubbard Glacier is so huge. Our ship's naturalist said our sunny, 45 degree day was the best weather of the entire 2017 cruising season to Alaska. What's not to love about that? We'd heard a few stories that HA caters to an older cruise clientele. From our first experience, this is probably true, at least compared to our other cruise experiences with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. There were families with small kids and grandparents with grandchildren, just not as many as on other cruise lines. (Our cruise was in late September, well after the school year started, so that was probably a contributing factor.) We're nearly 70 and had a great time. We really loved the emphasis on classical art and music. Once again, the best part was meeting interesting travelers, which is true on every cruise anywhere. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Got a great deal on cruise to Alaska on the Oosterdam so we took it. Since we live near the west coast and are seniors on a limited budget, but love cruising. We shop for cruise deals primarily from the west coast which limits us pretty ... Read More
Got a great deal on cruise to Alaska on the Oosterdam so we took it. Since we live near the west coast and are seniors on a limited budget, but love cruising. We shop for cruise deals primarily from the west coast which limits us pretty much to Alaska and Mexico as destinations. This was our 16th cruise and second on HAL. In addition to HAL we have cruised Celebrity, Princess, Carnival Norwegian, and RCCL. We almost always get an oceanview (picture window, no balcony) room. We booked a fully obstructed view as we have been to Alaska twice before, both times with balconies. We have booked fully obstructed rooms before only to be given partially obstructed or non obstructed rooms when we got on board but this room was FULLY obstructed. No complaints. That is what we paid for and that is what we got. Embarkation at Seattle was super fast. Also our luggage was outside the door of our room before we got back from lunch. That was a first for us. Usually we are lucky if we get it right after dinner. HAL seems to have embarkation down really well. The room was a moderate size room for that category cabin compared to other ships we had been on. Not the smallest and not the largest. The bed, however, was the most comfortable of any bed I have had on any cruise ship anywhere. Both my wife and I tended to sleep in very late as we did not want to get out of that bed. It was wonderful. The ship itself is an older ship and that is evident but it is kept clean and functional. The food is very, very good in my opinion. I know people have particular and sometimes very different taste in food and what one person finds terrific, another finds horrible. I am very much a simple meat and potatoes type guy. I like my hot food hot, my cold food cold and tasty. I want the food to taste good enough that I would love to come back and have the same thing again. I am not an adventurous eater. I know what I like and am not particularly interested in trying new things. I really liked the food on both HAL ships I have been on. I always found something that appealed to me and it always tasted like I expected it to taste and good. Except for the pizza. The first evening I got a piece of plain cheese pizza. It was the worst pizza I have ever had on any cruise ship ever! I would swear to you that there was not a drop of tomato sauce underneath the cheese on the pizza. I could not see or taste any but when we questioned the staff they said there was. That was the only piece of pizza I had for the entire trip. It was BAAAD. Food in the main dining room was exceptional. Food in the buffet was above average for cruise buffet food. The desserts merit special praise. The Dive In next to the pool had great hamburgers and hot dogs. I found the main showroom entertainment disappointing. The were only two production shows and while the singers and dancers were certainly talented enough, they could only work with the material they had. I found the first show just OK and the second show very disappointing because of the choice of material,staging, production values as a whole. This was more than made up for by the entertainment provided by Jordan Wolf and Justin Lacey at Billboard in the small lounge across from the casino. These two young men played duet pianos across from each other and sang. They were amazing!!! People passing through on their way to the main stage show or elsewhere would stop, stand there and listen for the rest of the show. Their shows were standing room only. They became a nightly must see for us, as well as many others. The regulars got there early and got seats. The last night of the cruise, at the last show, those of us that were seated stood and gave them a standing ovation at the conclusion which spontaneously lasted for 10 minutes or more. If they were the only entertainment we saw on the cruise, we would have been more than satisfied. In addition to the production shows in the main theater, they had a comedian who I did not find particularly funny who spent part of his act talking about his autistic daughter, her development and accomplishments, which evoked pathos, but was not what I considered to be an evenings entertainment on a cruise ship. It was not, in my opinion, an appropriate venue for that discussion. There was also a comedian/magician who I thought was very good and very entertaining. Two things I have high standards for are entertainment and pizza. A third is hamburgers and hot dogs. I am not going to discuss the ports or Alaska, as we do not do excursions. Suffice it to say Alaska is beautiful. I could see it 20 times, it would still be beautiful. The ports are in Alaska. Enough said. When we go on cruises, we go on cruises to be on the ship. That is what we like. In Mexico, we do not even get off to see the ports much of the time. We have already seen them a whole bunch and they pretty much all the look the same to us. So I don't review ports. Could not tell you what to not miss and what to be sure and miss. The library on the ship, located in Explorations Cafe, is well stocked. The crows nest is great for looking out the windows and observing provided you can get a seat, which is a bit of a challenge. Did not go in the pool which others said was cold but did go in the hot tub which was more of a warm tub, which actually was okay by me. I could stay in longer. Service on the ship was very good and the staff were exceptional. They always smiled and greeted you warmly. Each staff member encountered would do whatever they could to help you, solve any problems and make your cruise enjoyable. Unfortunately, guest services has long lines and limited personnel to handle the amount of people needing assistance. Part of the problem, in my opinion, lies with that fact that HAL does not have an interactive account listing on your TV screen like other cruise lines do. Instead you have to go to guest services and either get a printout from one of two kiosks, if they are working, or speak with a guest services person after waiting in line forever. If you want to keep track of how much you are spending, being charged, your onboard credit, etc., expect to spend a lot of time at or near the guest services desk. Disembarkation was not quite as smooth as embarkation. We utilized the valet service which allows you to check your bags through to your final destination and get your airline boarding passes while still on the ship. We received written notice that we were in port valet group C and would be called to disembark at 8:15 am. The ship was scheduled to dock at 7 am. Our experience on cruise ships has been that usually we are called at the disembarkation time or later. We went up to eat breakfast at 7 am. At 7:15 our group was called for disembarkation. We rushed back to the room to get our carry-ons and disembark, barely having had anything to eat. I hope I conveyed that the pluses on this ship and this line far outweighed the minuses and I would take this cruise again in a New York minute. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We have always wanted to venture to Alaska, and the Inside Passage was truly amazing. So many islands, beautiful terrain. Lovely boat, overall, I must say. GREAT: America's Test Kitchen presentations were amazing. BB King ... Read More
We have always wanted to venture to Alaska, and the Inside Passage was truly amazing. So many islands, beautiful terrain. Lovely boat, overall, I must say. GREAT: America's Test Kitchen presentations were amazing. BB King club was also fantastic and fun! The best, however, was Fusion, the Quartet--such very talented musicians and just so entertaining. Erin was fantastic, and we loved her lovely voice as Cruise Director. The ship's staff was very friendly, mostly Filipino. (The friendliness, though, wasn't the kind of sincere relationships we have had with staff on past cruises. Seems like these poor people are paid miserably, and work very hard.) We loved Alaska and all the stops (Juneau, Ketichkan, & Sitka) -- recommend getting out into wilderness as much as you can. We saw bears and eagles. NOT SO GREAT: The classes at the fitness club were not great. Very mediocre, and meant for a "general" cruise crowd, not those athletic really. Young staff who talked down like you've never used a gym before. Decent gym, but more space needed for stretching and weights. Rudi's dining was a rip off--do not pay the extra money. The Palisade Cafe was good--fresh meat, filet, steak that was worth the extra mark up. In previous cruise experiences, you could get that kind of food on the regular menu. The drink packages are kind of a joke. Think carefully about what you want to consume and choose what package may work. My husband and I both bought the Signature Package, and were very upset that it wouldn't cover my favorite champagne by the glass (Veuve Cluvoe)... I would have been happy to pay the $2.50 difference from the $15.00 maximum charge for my package. They should be very clear about what you can and cannot buy, and the staff also seems to be very confused about this. Over $500 pp for the week is a lot to pay, and not worth all the confusion the packages can bring. The amount of time at the ports was dismal and rushed, especially the last stop in Victoria. Also, the ports are SO VERY touristy, with many of the jewelry and trinket shops being owned by the plethora of cruise companies. The excursions are way too expensive, and we would suggest booking with other, private companies. Read Less
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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