47 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Alaska from Seattle

This is our 4th HAL cruise. We've been in Alaska few years ago and we loved the scenery. We booked the balcony so we could enjoy the beautiful view, but it was a BIG mistake because we never enjoyed it because of a strong smell of ... Read More
This is our 4th HAL cruise. We've been in Alaska few years ago and we loved the scenery. We booked the balcony so we could enjoy the beautiful view, but it was a BIG mistake because we never enjoyed it because of a strong smell of smoke. We reported it few times at the costumer service but they never did anything. They keep telling us they will investigate ( whoever smokes at the balcony), NEVER solved the problem and it just gets worse everyday. The buffet was always crowded and I often heard people complaining about lack of space. Food was ok .The other complimentary restaurants had about the same food as buffet just fewer choices and service was not good there either.The dinners were just ok. We spent an hour and a half waiting on courses to be served. The positives side of this trip were the staff, they were great and friendly.. except the staff at the costumer service whose not very helpful. Front desk folks not helpful or friendly...took us many trips to report a problem and NEVER solved. Lack of activities as well. Most activities were just an opportunity for Holland to sell you something. This time I was in some ways disappointed. I remember our previous cruises with HAL was always great.. Not this time. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
Sail Date July 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
Sail Date June 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
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
Sail Date May 2019
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
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
Sail Date September 2017
We were on the Oosterdam last October for a Mediterranean Cruise and were very happy. When we booked this Alaska Cruise, we were thrilled to be on Oosterdam again. The staff, cabin stewards, food servers were wonderful and very helpful. ... Read More
We were on the Oosterdam last October for a Mediterranean Cruise and were very happy. When we booked this Alaska Cruise, we were thrilled to be on Oosterdam again. The staff, cabin stewards, food servers were wonderful and very helpful. We enjoyed the Lido Market and all the choices. We had our eleven year old grandson with us and he loved the ship and the Lido Market and the pool. He was in awe. Our grandson went to the Kids Club. He was in the 7-12 group, however, they seemed to group together the much younger kids with the older group. Most of the time, he enjoyed it. The food in the Dining Room had very small portions... not as I remembered. Entertainment was fabulous . I did not get a chance to take advantage of most the daytime activities this time. We enjoyed the Shore excursions and would definitely cruise on Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
The Good: AMAZING FOOD Pinnacle Grill The Band Art Gallery Personnel Had the Norovirus hit on the Ship and their Containment Procedures and protective processes was Great. THE BAD: > No Proactive Wait Staff > ... Read More
The Good: AMAZING FOOD Pinnacle Grill The Band Art Gallery Personnel Had the Norovirus hit on the Ship and their Containment Procedures and protective processes was Great. THE BAD: > No Proactive Wait Staff > No wait staff to keep your beverages full. I had to get up 2/3rds of my time to get refills or get served which meant I had to get in line and wait at the Bar. > No wait staff to clear dirty dishes as you visit with your family. Traveling with my niece and nephew meant teenagers who eat a ton, so we always had empty dishes piled up on our tables. Only when we asked (when we found someone) did they finally clear. > Main dining room took 3 different people to receive milk for Dinner. Had to contact supervisor to get milk. Also, my niece asked to get an extra salad and the guy stated "Not right now I'm too busy". So apparently he was the only guy working our table? I think not. > It took until the morning of the 3rd day to Meet my Cabin Steward; he was in his closet working. > Unable to reach anyone for help in our Cabin late night; around 11:00. When we finally got a live person (after 30 mins calling around different numbers and then being on hold) asked for and extension cord and they brought a powerstrip. The did this twice. In the end, No extension cord was ever received. Reminder to bring an extension cord and Powerstrip on next Cruise. > The Burger Grill Closes after Lunch, so if you're looking for a late night burger on the deck or for dinner that is not going to happen. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Average cruise, smaller rooms than most cruises, good service, okay food, great entertainment, big outdoor pool (deep), smaller indoor pool (shallow), kind staff. Our TV circuit kept popping, so we did not have TV for the first 2 days, our ... Read More
Average cruise, smaller rooms than most cruises, good service, okay food, great entertainment, big outdoor pool (deep), smaller indoor pool (shallow), kind staff. Our TV circuit kept popping, so we did not have TV for the first 2 days, our sink would not turn off (plumber had to come and fix it), shower/tub would not drain. I traveled with my husband, my daughter (14), and my mother-in-law. Food to your room takes a bit of time...faster just to get food from the buffet and bring it down to your room. Overall, average cruise, not a lot for kids to do, and not a lot of time spent in the ports. Other cruise ships had arrived before us and we left before they did. Nice, but not luxurious or fancy. My daughter loved the outdoor pool and the basketball court. Not many activities for kids her age. Wish we had more time in the ports. I would choose a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We're first time cruisers & went with my parents for a 3 generations cruise(6 adults + 3 teens). There were not many kids on the ship, but that was ok with us. The kids utilized the HAL kids clubs and enjoyed their time away ... Read More
We're first time cruisers & went with my parents for a 3 generations cruise(6 adults + 3 teens). There were not many kids on the ship, but that was ok with us. The kids utilized the HAL kids clubs and enjoyed their time away from the adults. Only the indoor Lido pool was for kids and it was very full, most of the time. We got kicked out of the back outdoor pool as being Adult only(even though very few people used it). Would be nice if they had some family hours for that pool too. We stayed in the brand new rooms up on the 10th floor. It was a great location being next to the Crow's Nest & just above the Lido deck. The rooms were great & being new to cruising, had plenty of space and room. The bathroom was tight but we did ok. Our daughter liked the bunk bed they put up/down each day for her(watch your heads under it). We ate at 8pm in the dining room each night and our staff got to know us & interacted with us in fun ways. We celebrated a birthday and the staff sang and brought a piece of cake. Our package included the Signature Drink deal and I tried all kinds of drinks I wouldn't have tried anywhere else(all drinks up to $9). It included coffee drinks, Vitamin Water, & Cans of Pop. We never hit the 15 drink daily limit. We did have a problem in/with the SPA. We decided our big splurge would be getting a couple's massage. They talked us into upgrading to the hot stone massage and then the 75 minute massage was really only 60 minutes + a sales pitch at the end for 15 minutes on all the products we just "had" to buy and why we needed to go to their fat camp seminar. We also saw on the spa information guide a few days later that we should have had access to their spa mineral hot tub for the rest of the day since we got a massage, but that was never offered to us. Be prepared for a hard sell & make sure you insist you get what you paid for in the SPA if you use it. We would not use it again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Our very first cruise back in August 2003 was on Holland America's Amsterdam and we've been hooked on cruising ever since. Since then, we've taken 21 more cruises on a variety of different lines with Princess being the one ... Read More
Our very first cruise back in August 2003 was on Holland America's Amsterdam and we've been hooked on cruising ever since. Since then, we've taken 21 more cruises on a variety of different lines with Princess being the one we've taken most frequently. In 2009, we took two of our grandchildren on a cruise to Alaska and they are now 20 and 17 and still remember the experience as being terrific. On this cruise, we took their two younger siblings, ages almost 13 and 11 (he had his birthday on board). First, the overall experience was an 8 out of 10. Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly. This is our second trip on the Oosterdam and the ship has been updated so that it looks lovely. There was a very nice mix of ages..from large inter-generational families with children to middle age folks still working full time to the older retired people you often see on Holland America. Second, the food was exceptional..I'd give it a 9+ out of 10. There weren't quite as many selections as you get on Princess but what was served was of very high quality and delicious! I especially liked the fact that many offerings were already plated so that it increased the liklihood of you finishing what was served and reducing the wastefulness of taking too much and then not eating it all. We loved everything that we had from the dining room, from the afternoon tea, to the Lido Market (buffet) to the Dive In on the pool deck that served scrumptuous burgers, hot dogs and fries to the Crows Nest coffee bar with tiny sandwiches and desserts, etc. Third, the Entertainment. We don't cruise for the entertainment but we do enjoy shows, comedians and magic acts all of which we had on this cruise. I would rate the entertainment 6 out of 10...in other words, it was OK but nothing too special. Fourth, the stateroom. We had an ocean view cabin on the Main Deck which our room steward made up each night for the kids. The sofa made into a bed and above the sofa, a bunk type bed came out of the wall. It was ingenious really. We were cozy since there wasn't that much space but we all made it work. Fifth. We were pleasantly surprised by the activites for the kids. Ethan went to Club Hal just once and then spent a lot of time playing basketball on the top deck. Audrey stayed close to us for the first few days and then found friends at The Loft which is fo 13-17 year olds and then we hardly saw her after that! Sixth. Shore excursions. Since this is our 6th cruise to Alaska (we live in the Seattle area), we chose excursions this time aimed at giving the kids an overview understanding of this great state without breaking the bank. So in Juneau we explored an old gold mine and panned for gold and also rode the Mt. Roberts Tram where you can see Juneau from 1800 ft. in the air and visit some raptors. In Sitka (my favorite Alaska cruise port), we visited the largest Raptor sanctuary in the state and did a rainforest walk through part of the Tongass National Forest where we saw extraordinary Totem Poles. In Ketchikan where they say it rains 375 days a year (and it rained when we were there as well), we had fun riding in an amphibious vehicle that went from riding on land to going into the bay where we saw many eagles perched on all kind of places. We also watched the Lumberjack Show which was great fun and not to be missed. All in all, Alaska is a very special place which should be on everyone's bucket list. We were happy with Holland America but we've also been there with RCL and Princess so whatever ship you choose, it;s a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
My husband contacted our cruise specialist, and they set the whole thing up. Dennis had previously researched the HAL website, and knew what he wanted before booking. We had an aft-Neptune suite. Em and disembarkation were as expected. ... Read More
My husband contacted our cruise specialist, and they set the whole thing up. Dennis had previously researched the HAL website, and knew what he wanted before booking. We had an aft-Neptune suite. Em and disembarkation were as expected. Everything and everyone were so wonderful! I have low vision, and was assisted by staff and my husband. All you had to do was ask for whatever, and would be granted. Our stateroom was Upper Verandah #6177, and had the best view in the house. Activities drew our interest, especially "America's Test Kitchen" and the Naturalists slideshow presentation of the glaciers. We only went to two excursions, Mendenhall Glacier with fish hatchery and salmon bake. The food was out of this world! Of course, we did go into Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria. Our tour of the Castle was so that we'd like to return again, just to see more details of the city. Ketchikan was the same way. Food aboard was totally top-notch. It gives one a chance to explore new cuisine. The ship itself was just the right size for us and our lifestyle. Not too large or small. To us, it was more personable. We had such a terrific time, and were quite impressed! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Having set sails with RCCL, NCL, and Celebrity, I tried not to set my standard too high because I know that HAL is going to be different and more traditional. After spending a week on Oosterdam, I can break it down and say things that I ... Read More
Having set sails with RCCL, NCL, and Celebrity, I tried not to set my standard too high because I know that HAL is going to be different and more traditional. After spending a week on Oosterdam, I can break it down and say things that I like and dislike. Things I like, 1. the relaxing nature of this cruise. It's very laid back and be as lazy as I wanted. 2. Food quality was superb. I like that I didn't notice anything artificial like food coloring. 3. A lot of healthy food options; from no sugar added items to seafood. 4. Drink pricing was reasonable. For example, Cappuccino was $2.25. 5. Everyone seems friendly and very efficient in their own area. 6. Educational events and shows, especially with BBC 7. Elevators were fast and efficient. i particularly loved the scenic elevators with glass panels facing out of the ship. 8. Refurbishment could be seen and easily noticed, especially at the Lido Market. 9. Lot of movies playing, especially in cabin. 10. Getting on and off the ship was super easy. Things I dislike 1. The relaxing nature of this cruise. It gets boring at some point on a week long cruise. 2. Crew members were friendly but restrained. I felt like they were trained to say so much and that's it. 3. The use of public areas could be improved. I ran out of things to explore. 4. The lack of energy. There wasn't much going on at all. Bars were dead and filled with people taking a nap or knitting. 5. Shows were educational and informative. Not exciting and energetic at all. 6. Comedies were good but PG-13 7. The ship could use more seating area, especially at the Lido Market. 8. The lack of food venues to help breaking up the crowd. 9. Duration at ports could have been better. Ketchikan 7am-1pm was silly. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of ... Read More
First of all, we are Cruise Noobs. Never cruised before,never thought we would like the experience. But we wanted to visit Alaska,and so we decided this would be the best way to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Our party consisted of 4 of us, ,Mom,Dad, (40's) Young adult son 1,and Teen son 2. We shared an ocean view cabin,deck 1,#1008. I was a little concerned about the location when booking, but this was our best option in our budget category,so we chose it. It turned out to be a great location! So quiet,and peaceful. I spent some time that week reading my book while sitting and watching out that window. Being on deck 1 gave us a beautiful view of the water and the views out our window, I preferred the views from the lower decks to the upper decks anyway. The cabin itself was compact, but we didn't feel cramped,and had plenty of room for ourselves and our stuff onboard. The bathroom was small,but very practical,and we enjoyed everything about the setup of the room. I really liked that we were so close to the bow of the ship,with easy access to the main stage, so usually at night on our way back to the cabin,we'd stop in just to see what was happening on the mainstage,so convenient and fun! The cabin stewards were wonderful also. The ship itself seemed really big to us at first, but it was actually a nice compact size (as far as cruise ships go) for exploring around. I don't know how full our ship was, but I never felt crowded,and if one area was busy, it was easy to walk around a bit and find a place to ourselves practically. There are multiple lounges all over the ship on different decks,and they all have comfortable seating,and multiple views out the huge windows. This was a real plus,as Alaska can get cold and rainy, but no matter where we were,we always had wonderful views. I would seek out a ship just like this again for our next cruise, I think the size of the ship and amenities are just perfect. We enjoyed various shows throughout the week,America's Test Kitchen was great- Loved the BBC Alaska Live show, Live on Lincoln Stage classical was wonderful, and the BEST time on ship was the B.B. King Blues lounge. That band,those singers were FANTASTIC. Tabitha and Tim Timmons had golden voices,and the high energy shows they did multiple times nightly were the highlight of our trip! really great times hanging out in that lounge. The pools and hot tubs were nice,as was the sauna right next door. The food? Oh the food...... How to explain how wonderful,incredible the food experience is? We chose anytime dining,and it was great every night! Our deck 2 dining room always provided a great view of the water,and scenery,but wonderful servers,and the BEST food we've had in a long while! My sons have really big appetites,and certain nights they ordered and enjoyed 3-4 entrees apiece...... but it's not just the quantity of food here, it's really good food! The choices change nightly,and we had a delicious family dinner every night together. That said, let's talk about the Lido buffet. It took us a while to figure out the timing and rhythm of the offerings here,but once we discovered the breakfast,snack,lunch,snack,dinner,snack,late night timetables.....oh boy! The food had a big variety daily, and it was so much fun to be able to just stop in whenever to get a snack or a drink of tea or coffee. Everything is so clean,and sanitary. I like that most of the food stations don't allow guests to serve themselves,which goes a long way toward keeping things non-germy and clean for everyone. My sons LOVED the asian and sushi bar, they enjoyed so many different types of food here over our week. My personal favorite was the daily omelette bar, where a very skilled and quick server would make up a personalized omelette for me,and always with a big smile! We were on a pretty strict budget, and this meant we put together our own shore excursions. Yes,we could have seen more, but we really enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. In Juneau, we rented a car from the rental shack right on the pier. It was $60 for the day,which was our best budget option for 4 people. We drove to Mendenhall Glacier,and were amazed by the dozens of bald eagles we spotted along the roadway. At the glacier area, we just parked and walked in,with plans to hike and take in the scenery. It was really beautiful,we got luck with the weather,with an overcast sky, but no rain till late evening. Perfect for hiking. We walked out to Nugget Falls,walked around the edge of the lake (so many pictures to take!) Then headed out from the visitor center to hike East Glacier Trail. It was a lot steeper than we had imagined(it's not really noted on the map guides) but it was really,really beautiful in those woods! We all had a great time hiking around,and seeing so much beauty. The woods have a really cool moss that covers everything,it looks really fantastical. All told, we spent from about 1:30-6 p.m. at Mendenhall just walking and taking in the sights. In Sitka, we discovered our favorite port stop. The town itself is cute, but surrounded on all sides by gorgeous mountain scenery. We walked from the dock thru town, around the harbor. It was another beautiful day for walking. We saw so many eagles fishing there. We headed for the Historic Totem Park,and checked that out,then proceeded onward thru a pretty woods path to the Alaska Raptor Center. For $12 per person, it was a great way to view bald eagle rehabilitation,plus a lot of other native birds,like a variety of really cool owls. I like the passion of the workers for their animals. After this, we taxi'd out to the Fortress of the Bear. (about 5-6 miles away) This is NOT TO BE MISSED. For $10 per person, we spent at least two hours thoroughly enjoying the bears,the great viewing of their activities. They had 3 types of bears, plus again, dozens of bald eagles in the trees around them. Plus the hummingbirds at the feeder..... We LOVED this place! The people who work her are passionate about their animals. After this,we walked over to the nearby bus stop (just ask the workers,they'll tell you the hourly schedule) and paid $2 to head back into town. All in all,a great bargain of a day,and lots and lots of fun! In Ketchikan, we wandered the town a bit. My son wanted to shop in all the souvenir stores,and there were a LOT of them in this town. Anyway...... we also walked over to Creek Street,and Married Mans trail,and up to the Cape Fox Lodge. It was all nice, but left us wishing we had gotten out of the town a bit more to look around. We only stopped for a few hours here anyway. Glacier Bay was beautiful,and we took lots of great pics out on the bow,in the crazy wind and rain. This cruise was one of our best vacations ever! I really like how Holland America cruises,and I want to go again.My whole family agrees, it was great fun,and also relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We had a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. We did our best to enjoy everything we could as the days flew by. We took full advantage of Seattle by arriving several days early. We toured through the city on our own. Some of the highlights ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. We did our best to enjoy everything we could as the days flew by. We took full advantage of Seattle by arriving several days early. We toured through the city on our own. Some of the highlights were The Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square, the Smith Tower observation deck (better than the Space Needle and cheaper), and Canon (an amazing bar with a 44+ page list of spirits and exquisite cocktails) Boarding went smoothly and we could go to our directly to our cabins then off to eat at the buffet on the Lido deck. Enjoyed eating by the pool as the weather was beautiful and sunny. Spa - Our group had a excellent sampling of many spa services. We tried massages, pedicures, manicures, and hair styling. All got high marks and there was not a big sales pitch during the treatment. Many of us got the Thermolounge/Hydropool passes. That was wonderful and included a quiet serene indoor heated pool, aromotherapy saunas and heated stone loungers with a view. Cabins and Room Stewards - We had a great idea to split our group up in such a way as to have balcony cabins on both sides of the ship. We also had cabins next to each other and the staff opened the dividers between them for us at our request. We could gather as a group on either side of the ship depending on the best view. Our stewards did a great job for us and we have no complaints. Teenage programs - Our teenagers loved it and made friends quickly. Seemed to be a pack of about 20 some teenagers. They spent a lot of late nights with their group, but joined the family for port excursions and meals. I heard about scavenger hunts, dances, mocktail mixing class and their own prom on the last formal night. Most of their evening activities started at times more convienent to those with early dining times. Main Dining Room - Service was slow as we often had a large group. May have been better to do fixed dining as reservations were difficult with a lot of people. Food was delicious which made the service a non issue for us. We needed plenty of time to catch up and the long dinner was perfect for us. Appetizers were always the highlight and many of us took to ordering several. Bread was consistently disappointing, not much flavor and typically hard rolls. Formal night was great as our group went all out and the men wore tuxes. We were in the minority, but it made for great pictures. My husband really enjoyed playing blackjack in his tux. Must of helped as he won over $700. Le Cirque Night - On Thursday night, the Pinnacle Grill is "transformed" into NYC's Le Cirque restaurant. There is a $39 charge, but it was worth it for us. The tables were set with genuine Le Cirque china (has a cute monkey on it) and fine glassware. Menu was amazing and plentiful. The deconstructed caesar salad was terrific and I think all caesar salads should come with a poached egg. The beef for the Chateaubriand was outstanding and so was the lobster salad. We couldn't eat it all. It was a memorable night with terrific service. Room Service - Excellent and plentiful. My kids took full advantage of it on a continual basis. Ordered milk and cookies, hot chocolate, cheese plates for everyone as we enjoyed our balconies while crusing through Tracy Arm. Hot breakfast was great too. Don't forget to call room service back when you're done so they can take the dishes back. Nightlife - On the dull side which was fine for our group. Apparently, this cruise did not have many late night partiers so casino and nightclub wrapped up around 1 a.m. The crew said this was unusual. Cocktail specials of the day were good and happy hour (2 for 1) at the Oceans bar was great. Wine list was disappointing and expensive for what you got. Fortunately, we knew this ahead of time and brought bottles of our own choosing on board with us. One special treat was the Louis XII cognac. My husband used some of his winning to try a shot of this special spirit since it was only $89 as opposed to the $250 back home. The bar staff was wonderful and made a big deal over this special order. Disembarkation was smooth and quick, however, we had not made prior arrangements for a taxi or van. Since we selected the last time slot for getting off the ship, the taxi van's were already gone with the first group of passengers, so the taxi wait was very long. Lesson learned. This was definitely a trip of a lifetime for our family. We enjoyed every minute. My 17 year old boy summed it up best when he proclaimed it "the best vacation ever!"   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Holland America Oosterdam 7 Day Alaska Cruise 07/14/13 This was my 13th and my husbands 6th cruise. This was our third time to Alaska, but first time to Tracy Arm. Overall Holland America did an excellent job and the ship was impeccably ... Read More
Holland America Oosterdam 7 Day Alaska Cruise 07/14/13 This was my 13th and my husbands 6th cruise. This was our third time to Alaska, but first time to Tracy Arm. Overall Holland America did an excellent job and the ship was impeccably kept. EMBARKATION: We arrived at 1130, and were onboard in about 20 minutes and our cabin was ready. We dropped out bags and went to the Mariner Luncheon in the dining room. Much more relaxing that going to the Lido. Then everyone set off to make their spa, specialty dining reservations, as these get booked up quickly for the best times. DINNER RESERVATIONS. (WHAT A MESS): I attempted to fix our dinner reservations, as we were a group of 10 and been told they could do this once I was onboard. We were sent back and forth between the dining room and the gangway and in the end contrary to what we were told when we booked, they would NOT accommodate us for a guaranteed reservation at 630 or 7pm for the 10 of us every evening even if we were willing to have 2 tables. They said we should just show up and they will seat us as soon as they could. (I know there are only 2-4 tables for 10 in the dining room so we may be waiting for an hour!) So much for open dining, so much for being able to make reservations only confirmation we could get was early or late so we took 530pm. This issue affected our entire cruise, as we had to rush to get to dinner nightly. I have never had this issue with my other cruises for my family reunion groups. Usually a small group of up to 10 can get a confirmed reservation in open dining at the same time nightly and I have done so on Carnival, Princess, NCL, and HAL in the past. Perhaps it was because they had a very large private group of 800 onboard, I dont know. STATEROOM: We booked VD Balcony and ended up in 4052 a handicap stateroom, which had a lot more room than a standard balcony. The location in the forward of the ship was convenient for the getting to shows, spa, crows nest, explorations caf and lido. It was of course a bit of walk to the dining room, but we liked it. The location was very quiet even though we were around the corner from the elevators. The cabin was very large with a lot of storage space. Due to this being a handicap cabin, we didnt have a bathtub, but instead a roll-in shower, large bathroom with plenty of space. The room had also a roll out balcony with no lip, but a slight ramp to go out and come back in. Our balcony was larger than most, and to the left we looked down on lifeboats, and to the right we were obstructed view by the ship jutting out. The TV was far away from the bed and it was very small, but ok. Our room was clean and well kept. The lighting as usual leaves a lot to be desired. Bed was comfortable but the middle seam from joining them caused a valley so we asked for an egg crate and it was then fine. I also asked them to put a top sheet between the fitted and the covers and bring extra pillow (now 6!). While the rooms are clean and well kept, if you have been on newer ship builds, they are lacking the interactive TV for reservations, checking your shipboard account, and other features similar to what is standard in most ships today. With all ship staterooms the storage space is limited, but we could put all our 3 bags of clothes in the closet, ask for extra hangers! The 2 drawers under the bed came in handy for non-hanging items, and our empty suit cases slid under the bed for storage. I still recommend everyone bring a hanging bathroom bag, so you have more space for your items in the bath. Hanging organizers such as for shoes are also handy in the closet for small items, if you dont want to bend over to get to those lower drawers and shelves. Magnets are handy for posting up the daily programs and notes to your room steward or spouse of reminders. The room steward was awesome, and I just left written instructions for what I wanted and he performed everything wonderfully. However, his assistant didnt seem to understand as much English and was more difficult to communicate with. We always want a ton of ice, fresh towels, and clean glasses. Which he always seem to do, but we had to tell him, that we wanted an additional ice bucket for ice, as ours was tiny. We take the ice and fill out glasses and when it melts it makes good drinking water, ice our warm drinks, chill our wine, etc. One annoying thing, was the mini bar staff. We removed items from our mini bar to make room for our stuff and they kept bringing us the items we removed. Which was ok, but the way they did it, was to knock on the door, shove a water bottle or can of soda at us, without any explanation. One time they even just walked in on us weird. I finally had a chance to tell him not to refill our refrigerator or drop off any things, unless we request them I had to put my hand on his sleeve when he attempted to hand me my warm diet coke to put in the refrigerator. Because if I took what he handed me, he was quickly gone and I am then standing there with items I am billed for and do not want! DINING: Lido: Holland America has a policy of not allowing passengers to serve themselves at the lido buffet for the first 48 hours onboard to limit the spread of viruses. While this does clog up the lines a bit, I really appreciate it. Most passengers go straight from terminal right to the Lido buffet, think of how many hands and surfaces theyve come in contact with? At the entry to all the restaurants there is an attendant with hand sanitizer and they offer this to you. So I felt very safe eating at this facility and all others on the ship. The restaurant had stations setup with various offerings, and usually repeated the ones in high demand on both sides of the buffet. Drink station of ice tea, lemonade, juice, coffee, water. Breakfast had a wide variety of make to order omelet station, eggs, potatoes, bacon, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, fresh fruit juice. Pastries, Bagels, Smoked Salmon, etc. Lunch included sandwiches, salad stations, fresh fruit, and breads. Hamburgers, Chicken Tenders, Hot Dogs, Pizza/Pasta station, Entries for fish, beef, pork, etc. They also featured nightly a cuisine from several different cultures Indonesian, Philippines, Asian, German, etc. In addition to the normal fare, they setup special buffets by the pool on certain days that were themed. Such as during the Tracey Arm day, they did a seafood extravaganza. Canaletto: Canaletto, a tiny (54-seat) Italian eatery, has been carved out of a corner of the Lido Restaurant and is open for dinner with reservations for a fee of $10. They serve Italian family style to share. They offer a series of Three courses  il primo, il secondo, and il dolci  are offered, carefully selected to focus on fresh, authentic regional Italian cuisine. Basically an antipasto offered by the chefs choice, an appetizer, entries, and dessert. On our visit with 8 the service was good, but I didnt find much of the Italian food any better than the main dining room. In fact the fare was very light, so order more than you think you would share. The opinion from my diners was it was not worth the up charge. Although I could see how many, who really like Italian food and dont want to wait for their favorites to appear on the main dining rooms menu, may opt to just make their reservations here. I was with that group. Some items were only as good as that on the Lido, like spaghetti with meatballs. Others were very good as youd expect at a fine Italian restaurant, such as the seafood, clams, veal. I would definitely do this if I liked what was on the menu. I would be interested to know if this venue varies in its reviews so much by ship or by the menu? Pinnacle Grill: Excellent, Awesome, totally worth the $25 up charge and more. We got a table reserved for our family of 10 on our Tracey Arm day. When we arrived, they had us down for 8, but immediately assured us they would fix it. Hint: make your reservations ahead of the sailing, or this venue does book up completely for the cruise. I had the halibut, it was to die for. Lamb kabobs, Steaks, Fish, Chops, everyone just raved. Even our pickiest eaters. The only quirk was for coffee. One of our diners wanted coffee with his dinner, but they kept telling him to wait until dessert? The request was made 3 times with the answer the same. Finally I found the head waiter and he said they only serve coffee with dessert. I said we didnt want a fancy one, just a plain cup of coffee and could he accommodate that? Yes of course. Gee Whiz.This turned a perfectly fabulous dining experience into a coma for the poor gentlemen falling asleep at dinner, waiting 1.5 hrs for coffee. Explorations Cafe: This top spot for coffee seemingly has it all. Now included on all of Holland America's ships as part of the Signature of Excellence enhancement program, this seagoing bistro offers reasonably priced coffee drinks (try the caramel-flavored Carmelo Latte), complimentary pastries and snacks, an extensive library, condensed international newspapers, Internet terminals (including some free sites) and Wi-Fi, desks, cool tables with reusable wipe-off NYT crossword puzzles and lots of plush chairs and sofas, many with great views. With so much going on, Explorations Cafe has set the standard for top coffee spots at sea. This is also where you can always get your soda when other venues are closed if you need your morning jolt from that. Our family used this location as our go to spot to sit and talk, relax, play chess, etc. The snacks are free whether you buy a drink or not. By the way the coffee drinkers in my group said the Lido and MDR coffee was quiet good and free. Now they are also charging in the MDR for espresso and other specialty coffees. Vista Dining Room: We had the 530pm seating, a table for 10. We had wonderful waiters. Our family didnt always arrive all on time, and they accommodated those that were tardy by speeding things up for them. They lived up to the quiet and unobtrusive service allowing our family to catch up with each other. I cannot think of any of the food I didnt find as excellent. One night I had ordered the salmon and it was a bit overdone, and they immediately brought me lobster instead. I ordered multiple appetizers, and/or soup and salads, and they didnt blink an eye. Our wine steward was not that good (seems to be a trend with me, Am I wrong, but at regular restaurants you get a drink very quickly with a smile!) He had difficulty with getting us setup with our drinks, a couple of us had the all inclusive beverage cards, and some had soda cards. He seems to be inconvenienced by this. He took and incredibly long-time to come by and get our drink orders nightly, and a long time to bring them. Our waiters pitched in and took up his slack with a smile. PORTS: Juneau: Beautiful and unseasonable hot 80 degrees. Could have worn shorts, and by the end of the day wish I would have. Having been to this port twice before, we did not book any ship excursions, because I knew there would be booths for most of these excursions right off the ship, and at  the price. Unless youre doing something that has limited availability and space, this lets you set your own schedule. Took one of the $8 shuttle buses to Mendenhall Glacier. Hiked to Nugget Falls about 30 minutes, took the scenic trails hike looked for bears and found none. The Nugget Falls hike is really more of a walk now that have improved the pathway and blasted a path thru the boulders you used to have to actual climb/hobble thru. The buses loop every 30 minutes, so once we had our fill of the scenery and hiking, we just waited for the next bus at the bus stop. The drive up and back was very beautiful and along the highway the inlet had salmon just jumping like mad out of the water, and there were several eagles hunting them along the Gastineau Channel. We saw eagles everywhere like pigeons. We asked to be dropped downtown. Weve done the Mount Roberts Tram here and decided to skip it this time, it is beautiful up there. Went by Red Dog which was packed, instead opted to get a cool drink at the Alaskan Hotel and Bar that is very historic. Grabbed lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack (great as usual, but packed) and then just walked around town, headed back after picking up some wine, beer and souvenirs back to the ship, Sitka: Took a private tour with Sitka Tours. Our guide Caroline was excellent. My group originally had said they wanted to do their Russian Historical Tour, but changed their mind and wanted to see the Fortress of the Bear, Raptor Center and Sitka National Park she smiled and immediately agreed to change it up! We got a lovely shuttle coach that sat 20 people for just the 10 of us! Wow. She met as soon as we got off the tenders and away we went. She narrated the route and told us some interesting facts about Sitka and also about each of the stops we visited. I would highly recommend them. The Fortress of the Bear was a lovely drive and we ran into a section where there was road construction, and while we waited she entertained us. The Bears were awesome. We went in the morning about 10am before lunch so the Bears were very frisky. They had 5 there divided into two family groups. The founder setup some treats in a ball that the bears had to jump up and swat to get them to come out. The bears swam in the water, the other bears were a bit younger and they played and romped. Two of bears were kissing. One was making a sign to us for more the naturalist told us. I adored Toby the female red bear. She reminded me of a sweet dog. They have restrooms, a shop to buy water/snacks. They also have turkeys, goats, ducks, and huskies. The Alaskan Raptor Center was a great stop, they have an indoor space for injured birds you can see up close, and then they do a presentation and bring in a live Bald Eagle to see up close. Next you can view all the raptors in their outdoor habitats. We saw eagles, owls, and hawks, and a wealth of information about raptors and has a walking trail connected to its bird viewing area. The trail was very beautiful easy hike thru the forest. The Sitka National Park has a beautiful collection of totem poles, art and historical information on the culture of the Tlingit natives and history. Surrounding the park are several easy walking trails, one goes along the ocean and one goes to the salmon stream. From here we walked back into town, stopping off for some of the best spicy clam chowder, and then stopped at the Sheldon Jackson Aquarium. My son (18) and nephew (13) had to be pried out of the aquarium some 25 minutes later. The few closed tanks with small local fish and anemones were okay but the big attraction were five touch tanks filled with bright anemones, starfish in shades ranging from red/orange to purple (some huge), also found in local waters, and which here you could pick up and examine. They were slimy (and some sticky) to the touch, especially the anemones which actually shoot off little drops of poison not harmful to humans. Outside was a hatchery with baby king salmon. Stopped by the Bishop house and several other sites on the walking tour map. Gathered gifts and of course stopped for items at the local drug/liquor store in town. http://www.sitka.org/includes/media/docs/sitkaTownMap2007.pdf Ketchikan: I booked a salmon fishing trip with experienceone.com fishing charters. It was great! We walked right off the ship and Captain Johnny and JR we holding a sign waiting for our group. We took a 5 minute walk down the pier to his beautiful boat. We got an overview on the way out of the fishing process and filled out our fishing licenses and paid for them. Captain Johnny had a nice clean big boat that was stocked with iced sodas, smoked salmon, crackers, cheese, grapes and yummy cookies baked by his wife. He immediately got to his spot within 10 minutes and started rigging up his 6 poles to put in the water. By the time he got the 3rd one setup we already had salmon hitting. There were 6 of us that day, and it was incredible day for fishing, we caught so many pink salmon it filled the entire cooler, my nephew caught a rare ling cod. It was interesting looking monster with lots of sharp teeth. We also caught rock fish and silvers. The fish only gave us a couple lulls in our 7am-12pm fishing trip. The captain said the rock fish were no good and he said, Let me catch you and eagle. He threw the fish up into the air, and on cue a bald eagle swoops down, he misses and has to come back 3 times to pluck the floating fish out of the water. Amazing. I accused him of doing this every time, but he denied he had that eagle trained. Once our time was near, we packed up the poles and speed back to the dock. On this route we filled out our forms to have our fish processed and shipped back to us. At the dock, we gushed at the Capt and JR and thanked them so much! When I called to check on our fish, I was informed just our 2/3 was 5 We then walked to the grocery/liquor store for supplies and got in a huge line at noon with the whole ship to get aboard. Victoria: It started out raining and lightning but then cleared. We just walked around toured the Empress, Government Street, China Town, the waterfront, the open air market. Took the 8 dollar shuttle bus out and back. Got Toffee and Maple cream cookies for the kids. Almost all the other tours were starting at 7 or closed at night. So either get on a tour immediately, or everything else is closed. The BC museum was open to 10pm with an excellent Dinosaur display but we didn't want to miss walking and checking out all the historic buildings the city was filled with. ENTERTAINMENT: The Spa: Signed up for the use of the Thallasotherapy Pool for the week. Enjoyed the private womens/mens locker rooms with robe, shoes and towels. They had showers and nice lighting for putting on your makeup (unlike my stateroom). Got a wonderful facial, afterwards they right down what products they used and ask if you would like to purchase any of them. Not very pushy, just said Id think about it. Gym: Very nice, a lot of equipment well maintained. We used the bicycles and weight machines. During one of our stays there was a free lecture. Shows: This sailing only had a 930 show time for the main theatre. We saw a few of the productions, and thought they were as good as any others, but nothing special. We enjoyed the magician and the ventriloquist. We also saw the Dancing with the Stars At Sea, which was really fun. Music: Most of the clubs seem to be empty at night, probably due to the Gospel group onboard going to their own activities. The musicians did a good job, but nothing special or outstanding. The Piano bar was always packed and very funny and entertaining. Movies: They played a lot of newer movies in the small movie theatre (Identity Thief, etc), and also played them on the TV in your stateroom. In addition, you could borrow movies from the front office to watch in your room. Naturalist: Our naturalist onboard did a great job throughout the voyage, and she was also broadcast on the intercom for the Glacier Viewing of the Tracey Arm. Fellow PASSENGERS: We were mostly among older folks onboard this trip. Probably due to the demographics of the large Gospel group. The Gospel group was polite and well behaved. However there was a definite lack of children and young families on this particular sailing. My sons who were older 18 & 23 were hard pressed to find companions their age, The 18 year old is too old for the teen club, but too young for any of the over 21 activities. My 23 year old didnt see many college aged counterparts onboard. My niece and nephew (16, 13) found kids in the clubs to hang out with. While there may have been less children in the Club Hals this sailing, there were still enough for them to meet some new friends and they had a great time. I would say out of my 3 Alaska cruises this cruise had the fewest children and young families I have seen. It wasnt a HAL thing, I think it was due to the Gospel being a majority, and most them travelling were older and without children/grandchildren. CONS/IMPROVEMENTS: The cruise was excellent, it is not their fault that the demographics were older, that just happens sometimes. I would say overall I would like to see the following: Open seating reservations. Allow reservations to be made at least 24 hrs in advance for 6, 6:30 or 7pm for all parties dont limit it to early up to 545pm or late after 745pm. Improve your beverage services in the dining room and other venues get the drink order quickly with a smile, regardless of cards, etc. Improve the menu in Canaletto or make it complimentary or maybe $5.00. Pinnacle; please serve coffee before dessert if requested. Room service has definitely needs to be more consistent and accurate as to delivery times. Lido offer more grilled chicken/turkey options, without everything being in a sauce. SUMMARY: Overall ms Oosterdam delivered a consistent low-key relaxed experience with friendly service everywhere on the ship. This ship is excellent for family reunion groups, families, retirees and couples. This ship may not be the right fit for those that are looking for a younger college or twenty something crowd, extensive sports activities, water parks, and a lively night life. The ship is older and does not have some of the newer and more modern accommodations and baths, but it is impeccably kept and a romantic classic. The ship is medium sized making it easy to get around and find others in your group. TIPS: 1. Weather in Alaska is un-predictable; it can be sunny and 80 degrees, or rainy and windy 50 degrees. Plan to wear layers so you can add and remove throughout the cruise and the day ashore. Most of our trip was unseasonable warm and sunny, we could have easily wore shorts, except for early mornings. 2. Luggage Direct is a great way to end your cruise. Send your bags ahead to your home airport and use your time to take a tour before you have to catch your flight home. 3. Sitka has a lot to see and do, and if you are in good shape you can just take the walking map and tour on your own. If youre not taking a tour with Sitka Tours, they are wonderful and can customize the trip to meet your needs. 4. Juneau is the easiest port to just walk off the ship and find a tour at the line of vendors. Mendenhall Glacier and Mount Roberts are definitely easy to do right off the ship. If its the excursion that only takes a limited amount of people, book this ahead of your trip. Fishing here is a bit of a drive and longer out than other ports. 5. Ketchikan has great self tours with the free local bus, ask the visitor's center, but if you've done that I would highly recommend fishing here, we didn't have to go very far to fish, and it is the salmon capital of the world. The fishing for salmon here is best mid July. We used Experience One Charters and Captain Johnny is awesome! 6. Victoria. You can walk into to town, its about 10 to 20 minutes, but you arent here long, and many attractions close by evening, so youre better off to take a tour. Tours that pick you up at the pier are Hop on Hop off Bus, Gray line, Horse Drawn Carriages, Ghost Walk, and it's faster than waiting for the shuttle buses to fill up. 7. Avoid the Lido the day of disembarkation and either order room service or go to the dining room (before 8am). 8. Collect your photos daily and ask the Photo center to hold them until the day youre at Victoria and then finalize before 11pm. 9. Use your webmail not your outlook for email or retrieving boarding passes, remember everyone else will be doing so at about the same time ... so it will be slow.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
I have never written a review on a message board before but I read the reviews of the Oosterdam before we left (some good, some bad) and I wanted to share our experience (June 16-23, 2013) because it was such a good one. My parents took ... Read More
I have never written a review on a message board before but I read the reviews of the Oosterdam before we left (some good, some bad) and I wanted to share our experience (June 16-23, 2013) because it was such a good one. My parents took my family of 4 and my sister's family of 4 on this cruise. When we went to embark at 12:30 in Seattle it took about an hour to get on the ship. We were pleased with our room (see cabin description). We spent the first few days at sea exploring the ship and attending some activities (the high tea was delicious, the trivia was fun). Every time I went to the gym there was only about 10 people in there- which was great. I ran on the promenade and it was not crowded- everyone else was walking. The kids spent literally hours and hours in the Lido pool (sometimes the roof was closed, sometimes open). They also liked to play ping pong and giant chess there. They also loved the views from the Crow's Nest. We played basketball a little but it was very windy. The evening entertainment was good. The service was amazing- almost every employee we interacted with was very polite and competent. Our room steward was very friendly, quick and efficient. Our dining steward was wonderful- quickly learning the 4 children's names and dining preferences. The food in the main dining room was great- everything all 10 of us had we enjoyed. The food in the Lido buffet was not as good but still very good. If you have time (like when you are at sea) I do recommend having breakfast in the main dining room. Room service (two times) took about 30 minutes and was very good- as ordered. We were very fortunate with the weather- 70s the first few days and a high of 80 in Junea, 65 in Sitka, rainy and 55 in Ketchikan, then nice again (68) in Victoria. Cruising through the Inside Passage/ Tracy Arm Fjord was stunning. We stayed on our verandah the whole time. Used our good binoculars and zoom lens alot. We saw eagles, whales, porpoises, otters, and seals. My daughter and husband went ziplining in Juneau (through the ship's shore excursion) and loved it- though it was spendy. The rest of us took the tram to the peak and had a really good time hiking, seeing the eagle refuge, watching the movie and a family of musicians who were amazing. In Sitka we went hiking in the rain forest then to the museum which was free and very informative/interesting. In Ketchikan we went on the Duck Tour which was entertaining and a good way to see the whole town. My husband and son tried to go fishing there but the tours were full so if an excursion is important to you, you should book early. In Victoria we took a cab (50$ each way) to the Buschart Gardens (admission $30 for adults, only $3 for kids). They were incredibly beautiful. All four of us really enjoyed them. We saved $120 going it ourselves instead of booking through the ship. Disembarking was very quick- literally walking right off. Overall, a great experience. The only cons were the drinks ($8/each) and the photos ($40/each) were expensive. But of course, these are optional. I would definitely cruise on Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
If you are looking for mini golf and water slides this is not the cruise for you. but if you like good food, good service and a touch of elegance then this is the cruise for you. Nice antiques adorn the common areas on Oosterdam. the ... Read More
If you are looking for mini golf and water slides this is not the cruise for you. but if you like good food, good service and a touch of elegance then this is the cruise for you. Nice antiques adorn the common areas on Oosterdam. the servants are polite and eager to please. request second seating for dinner if you want to avoid lines and crowds and get great service. We sat at table 22, in the back corner right by the window. We loved it. good view and great service. Our waiter Didic was great as was Adi his asst. They gave us double entre and appitizers every night not to mention desserts. The magician on board was world class and awesome. Better than anything I've seen in vegas. Dancing with the stars at sea was a delight for my wife. Casino staff was polite and patient with the novice. roland was the sports bar bartender, he was very professional and polite. The entertainment staff were exceptional. My only complaint was the photography dept charged 40$ per photo which i found to be a bit high. Do not bother with a black and white photo sitting. 600$ min. photo package. Waste of time. Even the Lido buffet staff was excellent. Aprillia was a delight as a staff member on the lido. Cabin stewards were proficient but not excellent. All in all a great deal. Do purchase the 30$ drink card. A bargain if you like to drink. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I have been wanting to go on a cruise for quite some time now--my family, not so much. For vacation, we usually take road trips or do timeshare exchanges, but going to Alaska has been one of my "bucket list" items and taking a ... Read More
I have been wanting to go on a cruise for quite some time now--my family, not so much. For vacation, we usually take road trips or do timeshare exchanges, but going to Alaska has been one of my "bucket list" items and taking a cruise seemed to be the best way to see tidewater glaciers. With two active teenagers, the Holland America Oosterdam was not my first choice in cruise ships. However, it was sailing the week my husband had requested for vacation, and, conveniently, the professional society he belongs to was offering continuing education classes aboard the ship. So after vacillating for many months, we reserved the last two adjoining balcony cabins still available after final deposit was due. The following, rather lengthy, review is from the perspective of a cruising newbie. The comments have been subdivided into various topics so that you may scroll down to find what might be of interest to you. However, allow me to make a disclaimer. Because I was charmed by the novelty of this adventure, I probably am not as discerning as I should be. Someone else on this exact same cruise, with more cruising experience, might be able to provide more insight. Be that as it may, I will provide a few comments from the perspective of a cruising beginner. Arrival Because of a family commitment, we were unable to fly early to Seattle. I've read a lot of discussion here on Cruise Critic regarding whether or not to arrive early to your port of embarkation. I think that if, like us, you have to arrive the day of the cruise, it's alright--especially if you take the first flight out, don't have bad weather or flight delays, and are flying within the same time zone. But definitely, it would be much nicer to come a little early to do some sightseeing first, particularly in a destination city like Seattle. Moreover, because we left so early in the morning we were a bit frazzled by the time we reached the cruise ship, and our embarkation photo looks like some sort of horrible mug shot! Embarkation At the advice of our travel agent, we did not book a ship transfer but instead caught a taxi from the airport to Smith's Cover Terminal 91 for $50 plus tip. Since there were four of us plus luggage, this seemed like a good deal. For that price, we also got to chat with the taxi driver about downtown development and the possibility of an NBA team coming to Seattle. Once at the cruise terminal, the check-in process was part airport security, part hotel registration, and part holding pen. The whole process went very smoothly, though: We arrived at the terminal at 10:30, checked in and waited until 11:30, then boarded and were having lunch by 12 noon. Tip: Have your passport and boarding pass ready as you enter the terminal and take advantage of the many hand sanitizer dispensers scattered throughout the building. Stateroom As mentioned above, we booked very late so were lucky to get two adjoining Verandah staterooms towards the back, or aft, of the ship. Level 5 or Verandah deck is quite nice: it is not too far of a walk up to the Lido Buffet and not too far down to the MDR. However, being in the back of the boat means quite a long walk to the Vista Lounge, the Fitness Center, and the Crow's Nest in the front of the ship. There was no door between our stateroom and our kids' room, but the steward opened the balcony partition and we were able to walk back and forth between the two rooms by going out on the balcony. I grew up vacationing in a motor home as a child, so I thought the stateroom's bathroom was quite spacious, much larger than any camper bathroom. However, the ceiling is a bit low, so if you are tall you might have to stoop a little. Counter space is limited, but there is a shelf below the sink for toiletries, and the shower/tub has a retractable cord for drying bathing suits. The hairdryer is not stored in the bathroom but outside in a cabinet in the vanity table. Across from the bathroom are three large closets, one has a locked safe and another has a full length mirror inside the door. The bed is two twins, pushed and locked together, or in my kids' case, separated with a nightstand in between. At the end of each twin is a large drawer, big enough for almost all of the contents of my suitcase, and the suitcases themselves can be stored underneath the bed to save space. The flat screen tv was a tad smaller than I'm used to, but I loved to turn it on to the ship information channel to play on a continuous loop. We also appreciated having a Verandah stateroom so we could prop open the door and get a little fresh air. I saw an Inside stateroom once while walking down the hallway, and it looked substantially smaller than our cabin. However, we met a couple at dinner who were staying in an Inside and who were completely satisfied. With the money they saved they were able to take a fishing excursion almost every day of their cruise! Tip: If you don't care for long treks from the back to the front of the ship, try booking a room more centrally located than we did. Dining I thought the food at the Lido Buffet and the MDR was fantastic, but admittedly, I'm not all that discerning when it comes to food. Any meal which I do not have to plan, shop, cook and clean up for is wonderful in my book, and my kids were thrilled to have steak and seafood every night. Such luxury. We loved all the choices, the food itself seemed to always be the right temperature, and the service in the MDR was efficient. My daughter and I discovered Afternoon Tea, which became our little ritual with a cup of English Breakfast and scones everyday at 3. Also, we noticed that if you make special requests, they are very accommodating. There was an extended Indian family who ate curry dishes every night. When my husband asked about this, our waiter said that we too could have Indian food, as long as we ordered it 24 hours in advance. Again, because we booked our cruise so late, we were only able to secure Open Seating Dining. Most nights this was not a problem since we didn't try to eat until after 8 pm, but there was quite a line on the first formal night. I didn't realize this, but you can make reservations for your table even if you are assigned the Open Seating Dining room. My other problem was trying to convince my teenage son that a polo shirt was much more acceptable in the MDR than a Pink Floyd t-shirt. Once he over came his aversion to the dress code, though, my son thoroughly enjoyed four-course dining. Tip: If you have Open Seating Dining, try making a reservation for the first formal night in order to avoid a lengthy wait. Activities Holland America is not known for it's onboard activities, but we found many things to do on the Oosterdam . The resident naturalist was quite good, and her lectures about glaciers and Alaskan wildlife were very informative. I went to several cooking demonstrations at the Culinary Arts Institute, while my husband attended the photography sessions. I think we would have enjoyed the "Dancing with the Stars" dance lessons, but my husband was busy attending his continuing education classes each afternoon instead. My son spent a good part of each day at the fitness center, but my daughter was too young to go. And I checked out a couple books from the extensive free library in the Crow's Nest, where my husband and daughter played a few games of chess. We never tried Bingo, and although the pool area had a retractable roof which made it possible to swim in all kinds of inclement weather, we only went once to jacuzzi in the very tiny, lukewarm hot tubs. Tip: if the coffee at the Lido Buffet is too weak for your taste, the Crow's Nest sells coffee which will perk you up while you browse through the library. Entertainment I think my family disagreed about the quality of the shipboard entertainment more than any other aspect of our cruise. My husband and son really enjoyed the live music, particularly the HalCats and the guitarist in the Crow's Nest, but neither one of them liked the large musical revues in the Vista Lounge. Although the songs the revue featured were for a much older crowd, I was impressed that the performers could sing and dance on a stage which moved with the sea swells. My kids and I thought the magician was quite entertaining, but my husband insisted that he had seen better. In fact, when the magician was scheduled for a special matinee feature, my kids and I made sure to go. Tip: the magic shows get crowded, so go early and sit down in front if you would like to participate. Summary of the Cruise The first full day was a Sea Day in which we cruised the Inside Passage heading north. It was definitely nice to be able to relax that first day, especially since the motion sickness medication made me a bit drowsy. Although the ocean was like a lake, I noticed that many other people had patches behind their ears, too. By the middle of the second day we arrived at Tracy Arm Fjord, and they opened Deck 4 at the prow of the ship for observation. It was a glorious sunny afternoon, with blue skies and even bluer water. Many people commented that the water looked like it could be in the Bahamas, except for the fact that there were iceberg chunks floating by. The fjord gets increasingly more narrow as you sail upstream until you reach Sawyer Island and the Sawyer Glacier. We got a kick out of the seals lounging on the ice floes. My daughter and I had Afternoon Tea, then walked around and around the Promenade Deck looking for the best spot to take pictures. My husband and son went back to our cabins and took pictures from our balcony. I heard that upstairs on the Observation Deck they were serving pea soup and warm blankets, but the day was quite balmy so we never went upstairs. They piped the naturalist's commentary over the loud speakers throughout the afternoon, who provided interesting information about the glacier and the geologic formations. During the next four days we stopped at Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, British Columbia. I've written about each of these under the Port Review section if you need further information, but I want to point out that the Oosterdam is one of the few cruise ships which still stops at Sitka. Some time ago, the residents of Sitka voted not to make improvements to their deep water dock, so cruise ships are forced to tender their guests to the town. This can be quite pricy for the cruise line, and one Sitka local speculated that sometime soon the cruise ships might no longer stop in Sitka at all. However, the town is quite charming and the surrounding scenery is quite spectacular, so if you have a chance to go to Sitka, I would highly recommend that you go. Misc. Topics There are a few things which we did not experience directly. Although my daughter is a teenager, she refused to participate in any of the organized activities for her age group. One day we wandered up to the teen lounge, and we saw kids hanging out and having a good time, but she was too shy to join them. So, Holland America does have organized Children's and Teen's Programs, but I can't really tell you whether those programs are good or not. We also never signed up for any of the ship's excursions. These can be very pricy, but they come with the guarantee that you will be taken care of and you will always arrive back at the ship on time. I heard many people talking positively about their excursions, so I might be more willing to arrange something on my next cruise. Finally, on the very first day my daughter and I took a tour of the spa facilities. The thermal spa area looked nice, but my daughter was too young so I didn't even consider buying a package. Later in the cruise I was talking to someone who complained that unlike Holland America, there are other cruise ships which provide adults-only, spa like areas free of charge. Tip: if you are looking for a total spa experience or a free adults-only sanctuary during your cruise, the Oosterdam might not be the ship for you. Service Finally, I want to say that I was amazed by the friendly service provided by the crew of the Oosterdam. Every day they were up early with smiles on their faces, wishing us good morning. I know how hard food service can be, but the serving staff was courteous and professional, always trying to get anything you might need. Our room steward kept our cabin tidy twice a day. And my kids were surprised that the wait staff in the MDR remembered our names. I think Holland America excels in the area of service. Disembarkation Because our flight home was later in the day, we chose the last disembarkation time slot which allowed us to eat breakfast one more time in the MDR. My husband was a little disgruntled when he saw other people disembarking with their carry-on luggage while we had placed our suitcases outside our stateroom the night before. Personally, though, I was happy not to lug the suitcase any more than I had to. At the appointed time, we went down to the gang plank, walked down to the lower portion of the terminal to collect our luggage, went through customs, and then found the Alamo rental car kiosk just outside the terminal door. The whole process took no more than 15-20 minutes. Tip: Alamo, National and Enterprise will rent you a one-way car from the cruise terminal to Sea-Tac (for a slightly higher price than normal). The rental agencies shuttle you from the terminal to downtown Seattle where you can pick up the car. Sundays in Seattle are not crazy busy, so its possible to navigate the one-way streets. Also, if you are lucky enough to find metered street parking, it is free on Sunday. Would I Cruise Again? Yes, most definitely. I found that certain stereotypes about cruising do hold true: food is always available, you are herded on and off the ship, and some guests are never satisfied. But I was surprised at how social the experience could be. People were generally quite friendly, would ask me questions, and tell me interesting stories. I learned a lot, not only about the state of Alaska, but about what life is like in other parts of the US. I was surprised at how well-traveled people were, and how familiar they were with the region where I live. And I was thankful that I never saw anyone being rude to the crew. I've read horror stories here on Cruise Critic, and I dreaded observing some nasty altercation, but I was thankfully spared any such scene. Perhaps the stereotypical, mature Holland America guest, after a lifetime of working hard, can appreciate others working hard for them. Ten Reasons Why I Would Sail on Holland America Again: 1. Fresh flowers and live music 2. Robes in each stateroom 3. Turn down service with towel animals and chocolates each night 4. Excellent food and service in the MDR 5. Afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream 6. Very professional crew 7. Good enrichment programs 8. Not a lot of pushy sales tactics 9. An emphasis on safety 10.Fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast Five Things I Would Do Differently on My Next Alaskan Cruise: 1. Book a whale-watching excursion. We saw whales from the ship, but they were much too far away. If you were on a whale-watching boat, you could get up close and personal with the whales. 2. Go a little later in the summer when the salmon begin to run. 3. Take a float plane to Misty Fjord. There's not much to do in Ketchikan besides shop, and people have said that the fjord is amazing. 4. Take the ship's excursion to Butchart Gardens to have more time. 5. Stay longer in Seattle since there's a lot to see and do there. If you have never been to Alaska, consider an Alaskan cruise. The scenery, the wildlife and the tidewater glaciers are amazing.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This cruise has been great. Alaska is beautiful; Holland America is well above my expectation. This is simply the best cruise I've ever had, and I would easily go on HAL again. I have never seen such personal services from any ... Read More
This cruise has been great. Alaska is beautiful; Holland America is well above my expectation. This is simply the best cruise I've ever had, and I would easily go on HAL again. I have never seen such personal services from any other travel companies before. To keep this review brief, I'd like to first address some of the main concerns that others mentioned in earlier reviews: 1. Tracy Arm: It is beautiful. The captain took us all the to as close to the glacier as possible. We even had dinner right by the glacier! I believe this is all dictated by the weather... 2. Victoria: Yes, we're late. But at least we got the free shuttle to downtown. No other ship had that... 3. Food: it is very personal. But I found Holland try hard to satisfy everybody. (And their dining room service is efficient and quick.) I believe that if one doesn't like the food, it's not because of the quality but because of the difference in taste. 4. Fellow passengers: Yes, Holland has among the oldest passengers. But I do not understand why that bothers anyone? In fact, it is great: The public rooms never seem to be crowded, because many of the older folks elect to stay to in their (nice) cabins most of the time... 5. Programs: This is all measured on expectation. I was there to relax, so I thought the programs were perfect. If one wants days full of active programs, Carnival or Norwegian would be the way to go. I'd also like to compare my experience at Oosterdam with a cruise I took in late 2008 on Celebrity Solstice (their second voyage), arguably the gold standard of all mass market cruise lines: 1. Embarkation and disembarkation: They are about equal. Both are very efficient and painless. 2. Staterooms: Although the room size, comfort, and amenity are similar, Celebrity has a slight edge because of its youth. 3. Ship itself: This is where Celebrity shines. Solstice looks so much more grand than Oosterdam, although the later is no slouch. I have to say, though, the public rooms on Oosterdam are a lot less crowded... 4. Programs: They are about equal. Both are on the quiet and intellectual side. For those who are looking for more "active' stuff to do on board, look to Norwegian, Carnival, or Royal Caribbean instead. 5. Dining: They are about the same in the main dining room. Celebrity has an edge in buffet layout (but not necessarily the selection). But Holland's room service is simply EXCELLENT: All breakfast came within 10 minutes of specified time, and the eggs were HOT! 6. Entertainment: I can only say "WOW" to the Holland performances. They are over-the-top good: great choreography, stage work, and dancing/singing performance. Compared to that, Celebrity performances were just luck warm and OK. 7. Service: This is where Holland really shines. On Celebrity Solstice, I felt that service was nice, tight, and formal. But on Oosterdam, everything is so personal and warm. Where else would would you get your servers to sing Indonesian Happy Birthday to you, watch a "Filipinos Crews show," get to know the performers face-to-face, and talk to the captain in his very own cooking show? Holland tries very hard to make connection between its crews and the passengers, and I have to say that it works great! 8. Value for the money: This is one thing I REALLY don't understand. How can people pay the same amount for Holland or Celebrity as a Norwegian or Carnival ship? But that's what the pricing often looks like. So in the future, do yourself a favor: If you see a fare on HAL close to that of Norwegian or Carnival, grab it when you can. You will get so much more for the same amount of money you spend. And you would never look back. I hope my review has convinced everyone that Holland, in particular Oosterdam, is a great ship to be on. The service alone is worth every penny, let alone the great performances, ship itinerary, cabins, etc. I know I will return to Holland soon... Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We took the 7-day Alaskan Explorer Cruise on the Holland America Oosterdam from June 17 to 24. This was our seventh cruise and our third cruise to Alaska and they have all been on Holland America cruise ships. We enjoy the size of the ... Read More
We took the 7-day Alaskan Explorer Cruise on the Holland America Oosterdam from June 17 to 24. This was our seventh cruise and our third cruise to Alaska and they have all been on Holland America cruise ships. We enjoy the size of the ships, the friendliness and attention, and the wonderful cuisine and service. We flew nonstop to Seattle via SW Airlines. We had transfers to the Hilton Seattle Airport Hotel, but it would have been just as easy without the transfers, as the Hotel Shuttle was our transfer. The hotel was very nice, but next time, we will make our own hotel reservations and stay closer to the downtown area. We ate dinner in the hotel at Spencer's Steak & Chop Restaurant and it was excellent. We also had transfers to Pier 91, but the HAL bus was not leaving the hotel until 11:30 a.m. so we had the concierge get us a town car. This allowed us to get to the pier early and board the ship earlier. The embarkation process at the pier was run very efficiently. Upon boarding, we went to see the dining room maitre de in the Explorer's Lounge as we had Open Seating and wanted to reserve a table for two at 5:15 p.m. This allowed us to sit at the same table each evening and get to know our waiters and wine steward. It is very comparable to fixed seating which always seems to be closed when we make our reservations. Our cabin was 5109 on the Verandah Deck with a balcony ocean view. We had never experienced a balcony before, but now I don't know if I want to cruise without one. We enjoyed it immensely. Our cabin was ready when we arrived which was so nice. We went to the Mariner's Luncheon, signed up for Internet usage, and purchased a 7-day wine package. When we returned to our cabin, our luggage had arrived, so we unpacked. We set sail at 4:12 p.m. after the mandatory emergency drill. After dinner, we listened to the Adagio Duo in the Explorer's Lounge. The duo was a pianist and a violinist from Hungary. We were used to hearing a string quartet on the other cruises, so at first we were disappointed. That feeling lasted about two minutes as these two men were outstanding. We listened to them every evening. We then went to the Vista Lounge and were entertained with a show to meet the Oosterdam singers and dancers as well as a comedy routine by Julie Barr -- very funny. We attended every show in the Vista Lounge. Julie Barr was hilarious and the comedian-ventriloquist, Mike Robinson was also great. The other shows were with the Oosterdam singers and dancers. We enjoyed the "Stage & Screen" production better than the "Garage Band" production. The singers and dancers did an outstanding job, but the Garage Band was a bit overpowering. Our day-to-day schedule was pretty routine. My husband and I do not do many excursions as we cruise to enjoy the relaxation of the ship. We like to read, attend the lectures and demonstrations, walk on the deck, go to wine tastings, play trivia, meet new people, eat, go to the shows, and watch the ocean. The first day out we experienced rough seas and there many passengers who stayed in their cabins that day; but then it was smooth sailing!! We cruised Tracy Arm and our ports of call were Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, Canada with disembarkation in Seattle. The week went entirely too fast. We used the Express Checkout so we didn't see our luggage until we arrived back in Kansas City. The only negative was that one piece of my luggage wound up at LAX and not MCI! Luckily, we picked it up at the airport the next day. I'm not sure if I would use Express Checkout again, but it was very convenient not to lug the suitcases around at the airport. We have never been disappointed with the Holland American Cruise Line and can't wait until our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My cruise was almost a year ago and I'm just now writing a review. I know that's horrible of me, but I was too depressed to even come onto this website! I had so much fun planning our time on the Oosterdam and in Alaska, and ... Read More
My cruise was almost a year ago and I'm just now writing a review. I know that's horrible of me, but I was too depressed to even come onto this website! I had so much fun planning our time on the Oosterdam and in Alaska, and when it was over I seemed to go into a post-cruise funk! But I have another cruise booked, so the clouds are leaving my mood. :-) We were in a Deluxe Verandah Suite, and man were we spoiled. If you have the means, I would definitely recommend one of these suites. Even better we were in an aft corner cabin that wraps around the side of the ship, and I couldn't have asked for anything better. I'd read reviews about the poor condition of the Oosterdam, but she was lovely. There was one of our deck tables that had some scuffs if you really want to get picky, but you could really only see them up close. The railings were painted/stained the day we sailed and looked perfect. The aft wraparound is the way to sail. Huge balcony to enjoy sail away and just staring at the wake and the glorious scenery. So amazing, and can't wait to do it again. This balcony (4185) doesn't have much cover, but for Alaska I think it was perfect. There were no rooms below us so it was a clear view to the water, and there was only one or two times where it was too rainy/stormy to enjoy the balcony. But in truth it was stormy enough that even with an awning we wouldn't have gone out there during those times. Our Stewards were attentive and helpful without being over-bearing. They always had a smile and our room always looked wonderful. Alaska is amazing and I can't wait to go back. You won't be sorry for choosing this ship! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This was our second HAL cruise. It may be our last. We had taken this cruise five years ago on the Norwegian Pearl, but this time we wanted to try HAL as a previous repositioning cruise with HAL was very nice. We thought the food and ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise. It may be our last. We had taken this cruise five years ago on the Norwegian Pearl, but this time we wanted to try HAL as a previous repositioning cruise with HAL was very nice. We thought the food and service might be better than on the Pearl. We were right about that. It was what we didn't know that would have caused us to choose the Pearl again. DEPARTURE HOTEL We always fly in a day before the cruise and out the day after a cruise primarily because my wife does not have a lot of stamina as a result of a medical condition. This time we chose the Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle and loved it. We took the train from the airport to the hotel, which has the advantage of being both very inexpensive and ending in the mall next door to the hotel. Fortunately the ride was on a Saturday afternoon and the train was not crowded - there is really no place to store Pepto and Bismal, our very large, very "findable" hot pink suitcases. (This was their first trip with us and they provided many a laugh while never being hard to spot in the sea of suitcases!) The hotel is about 5 blocks from Pike's Place Market. Being Mother's Day weekend the market was more awash in flowers than usual. We love street vendors, and we found a wonderful leather bag to replace one we'd bought 18 years ago in St. Thomas. EMBARKATION The Mayflower's van vendor is wonderful, and they delivered us to the ship at about 11:15 a.m. We were in our room by 11:45, and eating lunch by 12:15. STATEROOM We stayed in 6175, which is a handicapped aft suite. It was a wonderful room, with more room than the three of us needed. I have never seen so much storage! It was nicely appointed with excellent craftsmanship (I'm a woodworker, so I notice such things). The bed was excellent. The window was quite big with a wonderful desk in front of it and sash big enough to sit in. The balcony was very large with a table, 5 chairs and a chaise lounge. Previous reviews I'd read had warned that there is virtually no overhang over the balconies on deck 6 aft and that proved to be a handicap on the few times it rained during the cruise. I would have loved to have had the corner suite next door so I could have seen "around the corner" on the wrap-around balcony, but the very nice folk that stayed in it had booked before I. We had never sailed in an aft cabin. Though I don't care to not being able to see where we were headed, the advantage of very little wind as the ship moved through chilly air was nice indeed. The biggest disadvantage, at least on the Oosterdam, was at Tracy Arm. The captain got us there just fine, but once there he kept the ship pointed forward for a short time, then turned it around and promptly left. We only had moments to see the glacier and the harbor seals on the ice. Had I known that's what he was going to do I would have fought the crowds and gone forward for a while. Our room stewards Joe and Tree were just exceptional, astoundingly wonderful, beyond words, etc. DINING The food in the main dining room was excellent - almost every dish was as good as one could get anywhere. The service was mostly good except at lunch a couple of times. The Pinnacle was mediocre, crowded, with inadequate seating, and it always closed before the posted closing time. We always had our "first breakfast" via room service ordered for 6 a.m., and it always arrived at 5:30 a.m. It was quite tasteless. We were thankful for the order forms we filled out the night before and hung on the door, as room service did not answer the phone one single time on our cruise. As a result, we consider HAL's claim that food is available 24 hours a day just so much hot air. If you are hungry after about 8:30 at night, your menu choices are pizza and ice cream, at least until about 11. After that, forget it. We learned quickly to buy food in port, or get extra yogurt at breakfast for those late night snacks. What became amusing, but nice, was that later in the cruise coffee that we didn't order started showing up about an hour after breakfast was delivered. ACTIVITIES AND SHIP SHOPPING The "activities" were a source of derision, especially to our 20 year old daughter. It reminded me of the days I have visited folks in adult daycares. But, I don't go on cruises for ship activities, so that might explain why I thought they were so funny. My girls are professional shoppers and it didn't take them long to explore, then dismiss shopping on board - they forgot swimsuits and were out of luck as there were none. For me - no bandaids or (few) toiletries or socks or underwear? Wow. I've gotten on ships before with little or no extra clothing - on purpose - to just buy it there without having to bring a big bag, and it's a good thing I did not try that on Oosterdam! ENTERTAINMENT The one show we went to was ok; the female lead singer was very good, and some of the dancers were excellent. The routines were a mixed bag from mediocre to quite good. The comedian, Julie Barr, was quite funny. PORTS We love any port in Alaska and either shop or just walk around town visiting with locals. When shopping we avoid the cruise line's in-pocket shops and seek out locally owned places. Sitka is wonderful, as there are only about 3 places affiliated with the cruise lines. We found an amazing piece of whale bone art at Sitka Rose Gallery, and I could have maxed out a credit card or two there. (The piece beat us home to Oklahoma too!) The walk to, and around the national park in Sitka is stunning and not to be missed. I loved Sitka so much that I am going back in August for a week just to fish and hang out. There was a native art place in Ketchikan back from the harbor near the Creek Street shops that had an amazing piece of marble bear and seal (I can't remember the name of the shop), but ma wouldn't let me spend $4,000 on a rock! Darn. I'm still thinking about tracking the place down and calling them to get it. The State Museum at Juneau is small, but fun. One of the displays was a spoof and I felt rather silly after saying "Oh, give me a break" several times, then seeing the explanation outside the room only upon leaving it. We love shopping in Victoria, but unfortunately our favorite shop closed down/changed its inventory "because the younger generation does not care for fine woolens" drats. However, as I've detailed below (and noted that cruise reviews for the week before ours say the same thing), don't count on anything happening in Victoria as there is not time there- a pox on HAL! If you do get a little time in Victoria the taxis are half the cost of ship-provided transportation, and there was absolutely no waiting for one either to get to town or back to the ship. THE "YUCKIES" This ship had some mechanical issues. The toilet seemed to have a mind of its own re: flushing. Some of the time flushing occurred successfully upon pushing the button. Other times it might flush five minutes after pushing the button. Many other times it would flush an hour later. And at least 6 times it would not flush at all and we had to call maintenance. On one visit the tech actually admitted that they were having system problems all over the ship and whole sections would become inoperable because of "air locks". I asked a few of our neighbors if they were having problems, and all said "Oh, yes." I found it odd that most of the propulsion came out of the port side propeller. I even asked the captain himself about it and he gave me some nonsensical mumbo jumbo; I didn't care until it became obvious that the ship was running slow everywhere it went. We sat for four hours outside the Sitka harbor while they repaired "a problem with the anchor." Apparently it wouldn't come aboard. They only managed to make up 2.5 of the hours, so we were late getting into Ketchikan and lost that hour and a half in that port. As other Oosterdam cruisers have reported, we left Ketchikan half an hour ahead of the Norwegian Pearl, but the Pearl passed us late afternoon. We got into Victoria an hour and a half late and saw the Pearl already docked and unloaded on time. We ran into a local who claimed his brother was a harbor pilot, who explained that Oosterdam had a history of running late; that the pilots thought it was because the captain wanted to collect his fuel savings bonus, and that none of the cruise lines wanted to stop in Victoria anyway but were required by law to do so. Who knows if this is true or hogwash, but at any rate, the whole is not a positive. The end result, whether because of ship issues or captain's motives, we lost a lot of time in port. So, if I ever go HAL again, I will assume that the itinerary is probably baloney. DISEMBARKATION Walked right off at 9 a.m., found our suitcases immediately, and were outside in the van back to the Mayflower by 9:30. SUMMARY The food was worthy, the cabin extremely nice, and most of the service was outstanding. However, if we do a third Alaska cruise, we will go on the Pearl again, or try some other line. Toilets are things one only notices when they don't work, and dishonored itineraries left me feeling less than comfortable about trying this one again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This being our second HAL cruise and reading the reviews of the ship, we travelled with somewhat lower expectations than our previous HAL cruise. Overall the cruise exceeded our expectations; however we were deeply disappointed on ... Read More
This being our second HAL cruise and reading the reviews of the ship, we travelled with somewhat lower expectations than our previous HAL cruise. Overall the cruise exceeded our expectations; however we were deeply disappointed on several counts but mainly by an incident regarding the final port of Victoria. HAL seem to be making cut backs and its starting to show. Seattle Found this a great place, very clean and friendly. Well worth a couple of days pre or post cruise. The highlight for us was a tour of the Boeing factory. Highly recommend this tour even for no aviation fans like us. Embarkation Things seemed a little hectic and messy but this was expected as this was the first cruise out of Seattle this season There was poor signage (towards the suite check in) and the checking of Non US ID took a bit longer as staff had to refresh their memories and check which nationals required VISAS. Not all the security screening points were operational. The line for the remainder of the cabins seemed long. Security check took around 20 Mins and the suite check in took around 15 mins after security. Boarding Nice and easy as always on HAL Ships. Cabin ready on arrival and baggage fast and ready on return form an excellent buffet in a very busy Lido. ( The Lido seemed very over crowded compared to normal, this put down to Roof open in pool area and weather fairly cool) Cabin and Ship Condition Many of the reports on this site mention the poor condition of the ship, we found no evidence of this other than a small amount of rust on a small number of pillars on our aft corner balcony. The balcony furniture was fine and the cabin well maintained and clean as always. The cabin team do a great job. Food Overall the Food was excellent as always. Lido Buffet Although food was excellent, some choices ran out early both at lunch and dinner. Late buffets seemed more to the benefit of the ships officers and ended too early. The Pinnical As always the food and service were second to none. Well worth the $25 surcharge for dinner and $10 for lunch. Breakfast for Suite guests also proved the upgrade in cabin well worth the additional costs. The Canneletto The only real food disappointment. Service was far to slow and waiters did not seem to know what was going on. The highlight of the meal was watching the Whale just off the ship. Main Dining Room Only ate here once (On disembarkation day), Open dining did not seem to work without a reservation. Had to wait in line for over 30 mins, but after that given a buzzer and about 15 mins later seated. Room Service Breakfast always delivered to room earlier than booked, could not fault the service otherwise. Would like to have Fries available with the main meals rather than just chips ( Crisps). Just be prepared to wait about 45 -- 60 mins, which is reasonable. Entertainment & Facilities Overall ok, but not much need for entertainment with the Scenery outside. Main Shows Only went to 2, but the ones we went to were the usual standard for cruise liners. Disappointingly they seemed to be the same as over 14 months ago on the New Amsterdam. Piano Bar Well worth the visit (and in our case the hangover the next day!) HAL Cats Again proved much more entertaining than the Main show Future Cruise Representative not very helpful ( probably as like others in the crew had throat infection). Inventory for next year not yet available other than Holiday season. Neptune Longe Great service as always Tour Organiser Very well informed and gave great talks. Shame the tour desk was not of the same standard ( when open!) Public Restrooms Sad to say HAL are letting themselves down. Either not working or very Smelly! Ports, Scenery and Tours Tracey Arm Fjord - Fantastic Scenery, great to get to the front of the ship. Shame the ship was unable to go the full distance, but must have been a very cautious captain! Watch for the amazing blue ice floating by and glaciers. Juneau -- An amazing place, make sure to visit Mendenhall Glacier and the Whale watching trip. Did the combination tour through HAL. The Glacier was a slight let down, you don't get up and close, just seem from the distance. Would have liked more time to walk the trails. This was more than compensated for by the excellent crew who took us out to watch the whales and other marine life. Sitka -- Not much around port, more on offer for the sporting type. Very scenic though. Ketchikan -- Love the old style and History of this port. Did a tram bus tour arranged off ship and well worth it to get more of the history and background of the town. Victoria -- Did not get to see, please see my big whinge further down the report! Disembarkation We made a big mistake by not booking the Airport transfers earlier! They had sold all space available half way through the 7 days! This has never happened to us before, luckily 3rd party shuttle busses available at pier, but again as first cruise of the season this was a bit chaotic and had to wait around for about an hour. The general disembarkation for guest well organised an fast. Sorry to say they did not offer early morning of departure pick up of luggage for suite guests as in the past. Finally the Big Issue! -- Only if the Crew had been open and honest with the passengers this would not have escalated into a major issue for us and our fellow passangers! I have contacted HAL and are awaiting a response on the below, but this really has left us regretting paying deposits for 2 future cruises with HAL. Having left Ketchikan on the cruise for the final port of call in Victoria, we were followed out of dock by a NCL cruise ship. On arriving over 3 hours late in Victoria the NCL cruise ship had already docked next to us. On disembarking the ship we asked the passengers of the NCL cruise ship as to what time they arrived. NCL had docked on schedule at 6PM. During the journey on the Friday nothing had been communicated to the passengers by the ship's crew. There was noticeably no update from the captain during that day on the progress of the journey. On Saturday afternoon there was eventualy an update on the cruise from the captain, during which he mentioned that as the ship was running behind schedule and would arrive late in Victoria. He mentioned that all the tours in Victoria would be cancelled and credited to the room accounts. We note this was not mentioned until after the disembarkation brief and the customer surveys had been completed. No mention was made to the reason for the delay. To add to our suspicions we had found is strange that in the Morning that the tours desk had been closed and that the Neptune lounge were very vague when we tried to book an excursion in Victoria in the morning for that afternoon / evening. Eventually on disembarkation in Victoria, there was dangerous overcrowding in the stairwells leading to the gang way to shore, as most of the ships passengers attempted to leave the ship quickly to make the most of the 2 hours we had remaining in Victoria. Speculation was rife amongst the masses of passengers. The most common theory amongst others was that the ship had failed to take on enough fuel prior to departure. On questioning the crew about the delay at this time the only answer given was "Only the Master Knows". Many passengers were asking if the ship would still be leaving on time and were disappointed with a very blunt "Yes" response. Later on returning to the ship and asking other crew members for the reason for the delay we were told it was due to "Operational Reasons". It is also worth noting that the ship did finally dock early on its return to Seattle. Read Less
Sail Date May 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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