6 Seward Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

We are experienced cruisers (both in our 60s) with our two grown children and thier spouses. To review this trip you really have to look at two separate things - the land portion and the cruise portion. We did the land portion first. ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers (both in our 60s) with our two grown children and thier spouses. To review this trip you really have to look at two separate things - the land portion and the cruise portion. We did the land portion first. Definitely a good idea. It was a lot of travelling and pretty exhausting - with not overly comfortable accommodations or very good food. It was good to do it first, and then be pampered during the cruise. We stayed at the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage for two nights. I would give it a C minus. Adequate but nothing more. It was in a good location. Anchorage is small enough that you can see virtually everything on foot. The train to Anchorage lived up to its expectations. Great scenery, interesting and fun narration, nice drink service upstairs and pretty good food downstairs. It was a comfortable ride, but it was LONG. every bit of nine hours. No alternative of course, but After 4 or 5 hours, there are only so many trees and mountains you can look at. We stayed at the Chalets in Denali. Very unimpressive. Those that like camping will think it is luxury. Those - like us - used to higher end properties think it was pretty rustic. Service was not great either. Trying to get a straight answer about times for the shuttle were impossible. Coffee shop for was supposed to be open for breakfast at 6 - staff showed up at 6:15 and said they would open " in a little while". (This on a day we had a tour leaving at 7:15. The included tour into Denali was very nice. But again, I wish an 8 hour bus trip lasted 4 or 5. We also did a tour to the Iditarod puppies (a very nice and interesting time) and the raft trip down the river (wonderful!) The bus trip down to Seward was a mystery, I had no idea what to expect. Here is what I posted after the trip: "You are assigned a time for your bus from Denali to Seward once you get to Denali. It can be anywhere between 7 AM and 9 AM. Our time to leave was 7:15 The trip is approximately 10 hours. The bus is a nice tour bus. Comfortable seats, smooth ride and a small but adequate bathroom. The driver also acts as a narrator. I found him annoying, others liked him. There were a couple of travelogue type videos shown on TV monitors which I ignored. There is one rest stop about 2 hours in. It is a highway rest area with portapotties. Not very nice. There is a very meager snack bar. About 5 hours in, you stop at a restaurant. A lunch buffet is set up in a side room. It is free and all you can eat. It includes breads, lunchmeats, salads and cookies. Soft drinks are also provided. There is also a bar where you can buy other drinks. The total time of this stop is about an hour. The food is decent and the bathroom facilities are clean. You find an open table to sit and eat. There is a very nice outdoor patio with tables if you want to take your food outside. After lunch, there is about 4 hours to Seward. There is another rest area stop planned about 1 hour from Seward. The driver asked if we wanted to stop, but everyone said keep driving. The scenery for the first 4 hours is just trees. We did see a couple of Moose running along the side of the road. The second half of the trip you ride along an inlet (on the right side of the bus). But really, not much to see. We pulled into Seward about 4:30 and were dropped off right by the front door of the embarkation building. Basically, this trip is something to be tolerated. Not much fun at all. " Once on Board, the cruise was excellent. Room was a typical veranda cabin and service was efficiently invisible. Food in the main dining room was consistently good (B plus to A minus). My daughter in law had significant dietary restrictions and the worked with her every evening to plan her menu for the following night. My only complaint about the dining room is the drink (wine) service. I would give it a c at best. Slow. We also had one dinner in the Pinnacle grill - excellent - as well as the LeCirque dinner in the Pinnacle (very good, not over the top great). Only complaint about the Pinnacle was an obviously scorched lobster bisque that was virtually inedible. Four of us agreed about that on the next morning, but none of us wanted to send it back. We should have. We ate most mornings and lunches at the LIDO. I am not a buffet person by any means, but I really did enjoy these meals. Fresh, served nicely, nice variety no trouble finding seats. We loved the piano bar and the player Jimmy. Incredibly talented and we closed the piano bar down at midnight each night. I enjoyed the casino while my wife and others went to the shows. No rave reviews, but they report they were enjoyable. Our cabin (5077) is a great location - just about equal distance from the bow and the back. Typical balcony cabin. I liked having the tub /shower - much better than the small shower stalls. Adequate storage for a week's cruise. Lifeboats are one deck down, so no obstruction looking out, but you can not see straight down to deck below or ocean. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Wow, After reading some of the recent reviews, we were a bit concerned. But no need. Has cruising changed in 20 years, absolutely, is it for the better? Mostly not, so let me tell you what we liked and what we feel could have been ... Read More
Wow, After reading some of the recent reviews, we were a bit concerned. But no need. Has cruising changed in 20 years, absolutely, is it for the better? Mostly not, so let me tell you what we liked and what we feel could have been better. Could have been better, The ship, Oosterdam is old, it has been painted and varnished, updated etc., but she shows her age. It is not as clean as as newer ship, not as many neat features, etc. This is the main knock on this ship. The help on the ship isn't as friendly as we have seen in the past. I believe much of this is the culture of where the people come from. Nice enough, just not outwardly friendly, kind of quiet, keep to themselves. The boarding process was painful, the embarkation was a mess, they tried to get everyone checked in on the train, this worked well enough, but all it succeeded in doing was creating a massive traffic jam at security, where we waited for an hour anyway. Since we were traveling with my 85 year old parents, it was not a pleasant experience. We were staying in a Neptune suite and would have boarded much faster by refusing the train check in, taking the suite check in line at the port, much, much faster. As many people have noted, there is not much entertainment on this ship, but it wasn't what we were here for anyway. We were a bit disappointed that B.B. King blues club never seems to actually play any blues, the band was decent, just a bit loud. And lastly, they lack a bit of common sense, when it is raining, and it is close to all aboard time, maybe they could find a way to speed up the process? Hundreds of people standing in the rain, there has to be a better way to make sure the ship is secure, and the passengers are dry. Maybe two security check points? What we liked. The Neptune lounge, unlike the previous review, we loved Steph and Roxy, they were awesome, patient, and willing to help at any time. We had them change many of our reservations and every time they came through with a smile. One of the big advantages of being in a Neptune suite, is the lounge, food available all day, Roxy and Steph to help you, and much better coffee available here than elsewhere. A side benefit is you get to eat breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, fresh, brought to you, excellent menu and service, we ate there almost every morning. Our waiter was Francisco and he was amazing, on the spot, always with a smile, a great way to start the day. Loved the food in the Grill, night or day, it is very good. We liked the crew in general, the Captain was very good at communicating where we were, what was going on etc. We liked our room, huge balcony, and it was nice to have 2 sinks and room to shower in the garden tub. We loved the Crows Nest lounge, up front, on top, spectacular view. We spent a great deal of time just watching Alaska go by as we sailed along. We enjoyed the main Vista dining room, two formal nights, two regular nights, food was good, true, it was not overly spiced, but they are cooking for 2000 mostly older adults, and I suspect they have learned to be easy on the spices. My parents are fussy eaters and they loved the food, we thought it was just typical for a cruise ship. The service was faster than many ships we have been on and we were thankful for that. We do not want to take 2 plus hours to eat. I have read about the south bound week having issues with fresh fruit and vegetables towards the end of the cruise, but there were no issues on this trip, plenty, right up to the day we got off. We bought most of our excursions from Holland America and they were all well managed, and we were happy with them. Getting off the ship went very well. If you are getting off or on for that matter in Vancover, the train station is right across the street, $2.75 to go to or from the airport, about 20 minutes, quick, clean trains, highly recommended. There is a luggage service at the port that will take your luggage for the day and you can then pick it up at the airport, very easy to use and to find. Summary, HAL is not the HAL of the past, particularly the food. More like NCL or Carnival, so I would not pay more to be on HAL, as you should know, it is an older crowd, quiet at night, and they can be a bit more demanding, service wise than younger passengers. Very few children on this ship, maybe 20 if that. I would recommend the Oosterdam to my friends and family, we have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This review is for the Oosterdam Ship of Holland America, for our August 2014 cruise. A couple of things to note while reading my review. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare it to. I'm 28 years old, easily one of ... Read More
This review is for the Oosterdam Ship of Holland America, for our August 2014 cruise. A couple of things to note while reading my review. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare it to. I'm 28 years old, easily one of the youngest people on board the cruise ship. Overall, we had a very nice time on the cruise. The room was a decent size, with a surprisingly "large" bathroom. We did select a room on the port side (4014), so we had a balcony that had a solid color rail that we could not see through. We honestly didn't see any reason to select port side vs. starboard. The captain turned the boat around in Glacier Bay so that you could see from both sides. Most of the other rooms have a glass balcony that you can see through. I shared the room with my parents, so I had the "luxury" of sleeping on the pull out sofa. It was super uncomfortable and was definitely a bit broken because it never folded completely down. We LOVED the food in the Vista Dining Room each night. It was prepared to order and was also hot and delicious. I'm also a vegetarian and they have a separate menu you can order off of each night, or they have at least two vegetarian options on the menu each night. We also loved our dining room servers. Now the Lido is a completely different story. I hated the Lido. There were never enough seats in the Lido - you had to push through people to find a table and to get food. The good quality was definitely less than I would have liked as well. I would recommend staying as far from the Lido as you can get. This cruise was old. Meaning that the average age on the ship was around 75. I knew that typically these cruises were an older crowd, but I thought there would be a good mix of younger people too. I was wrong. There were maybe 20 people in my general age bracket. Therefore, I didn't meet a whole lot of people while on the trip. The entertainment was pretty weak. I wasn't expecting greatness, but the cruise's performers were lacking. We did enjoy the comedian, magician and the violinist/pianist at one of the bars. Otherwise, don't expect much. The one thing that I did not enjoy either, was that I always felt like I was being sold something, even during the magician's routine! People were constantly hassling me to buy wine, buy photographs or merchandise from the gift shop. I want to relax and not be bothered while I'm travelling. If I want to buy something, then I will let you know. I thought that embarking/disembarking was actually quite easy. We didn't experience any issues with it. I would recommend that if you take this cruise, that you plan a trip before/after the cruise to see the real Alaska. My family and I got to Anchorage before our cruise and rented a car for 9 days. We stayed in Anchorage, Seward, Talkeetna and Denali on our own. We got to see so much more of Alaska then we ever would have had the opportunity to do so on the cruise. The cruise was relaxing and we wouldn't have been able to see Glacier Bay, Haines, Juneau and Ketchican without it, but you don't get enough time in the Ports to really get to get a feel for Alaska. Even if you add on what the cruise ship offers, it is better than nothing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Just got back from a 12-day HAL Denali-plus-Oosterdam trip (Seward-Vancouver cruise) and here are my thoughts. I’ve read all the comments on this board and I’m an intense observer once on the ship. There were six of us who went on the ... Read More
Just got back from a 12-day HAL Denali-plus-Oosterdam trip (Seward-Vancouver cruise) and here are my thoughts. I’ve read all the comments on this board and I’m an intense observer once on the ship. There were six of us who went on the trip together. Overall – Best cruise I have been on in six years covering 6 cruises on three different cruise lines. Well run ship. But HAL still has some dining staff issues to address. Oosterdam Appearance – I had read a bunch of negative comments on this board about the condition of the ship being shabby. I really saw none of that – in fact, the ship looked 99% great to the point I went “wow.” I would assume they pulled it out of service and/or really worked on it this past month because much of the carpeting looked brand new, furniture mostly in good shape, and paint looked fine. It looked so good, in fact, it put an extra spring in my step! Our interior room was fine -- clean, well kept. Oosterdam Staff -- The non-dining room staff was energetic, smiling and focused on getting work done. Cabin steward fine. Front desk staff and general management fine. But the staff in the Lido area and in the dining room was sub-par in my estimation – waiters and cooks. In the Lido, even though I pointed out the Hollandaise sauce was borderline cold, let alone lukewarm, nothing changed during the week. In the main dining room, service was sluggish – one night I had to get the supervisor’s attention to get our meals delivered to our table – they had forgotten about us! Pinnacle restaurant staff was mediocre, too – not up to snuff for a five star meal presentation, and downright clumsy at some points. HAL does a great job in many areas, but for some reason they continue to let food areas staff -- Lido, Pinnacle and main dining room -- to be their cruise Achilles heel and prevent them from being very good. I don’t get it. HAL needs to get the message across to its restaurant staff that they, and their company are in competition with others; and people do make cruise decisions based on dining staff effectiveness as well as the food! Another issue – the infirmary. My wife was diagnosed with no more than a cold but she really had a sinus infection which now has lasted a miserable two weeks! Mis-diagnosis for the $105 doctor visit fee! Not happy. Food – Lido food has decent variety, but is very bland. I loved the salad bar. The pizza wasn’t too bad! They serve you the soft serve ice cream, which is an OK process. Ice cream was usually sugar-free and good. In the main dining room, the overall quality of the food and variety on the menu was superior to the last two cruises I was on – Carnival and RCL – but overall the quality of food on cruise ships ain’t what it used to be. At least the lobster deal was decent – our table asked for seconds. I found the meat and veal to be average, but acceptable. The ladies rated the desserts as decent, but not spectacular tasting. Pinnacle Restaurant – All six of us had a great, great meal. The halibut with shrimp was amazing. One of our team said the salmon was the best she had ever eaten, and she eats it all the time. Steaks were done right. But the fantastic food was offset by the non-enthusiastic service of the wait staff. We had a couple celebrating their honeymoon and the wait staff managed to partially bungle the presentation of the cake dessert and didn’t have the staff sing to them, as they told me they would do. Entertainment – HAL seems to get a lot of criticism for on-board entertainment, but I thought the singers and dancers on this cruise were good. Also enjoyed the HAL Cats pop group and Adagio, the violinist and pianist, although I think the Moscow-based Adagio duo on this cruise could do more to interact with the audience. Larry the piano bar man was fine. Although some said his choice of music should be more upbeat. We had a very active cruise director – more so than recent cruises. Ports of Call – Glacier Bay was amazing. Attend the ranger presentation – very informative. For Glacier Bay, sit in the Crow’s Nest or go out on deck where they keep warm blowers on and it’s not as cold as you think it will be. Good job, HAL with the on-deck blowers! Haines is pretty, but pretty much a waste as a stop. Juneau has so much to offer – great whale-watching tours and the tram to Mt. Roberts and subsequent movie, show and hiking trails activity atop the mountain were fantastic, a trip highlight. The Alaska String Company family folk group is an absolute gem, a must see. I was stunned how good they are and learned they travel internationally and have a PBS special. Scenery – Amazing views coming down the passage on the water, especially the last day before hitting port in Vancouver. Sitting in the Crow’s Nest with my binoculars, I saw five humpback whales put on quite a show for us. We also had dolphins and seals around us. Overall, didn’t see as much wildlife as I expected. Sit in the Crow’s Nest your last day and enjoy the views. Play bridge or watch sports when you get home! Embarkation and Debarkation – Very smooth, well done HAL. Denali Land Tour Before the Cruise – The sites in Denali are amazing, but HAL needs to re-work the logistics for passengers from the time they arrive by plane in Anchorage till they depart Denali by bus for Seward. What a mess. We had pre-paid a ride on a HAL secured bus to the hotel in Anchorage and the whole process was a mess. Much easier with a taxi. Passengers had many problems understanding luggage instructions – what goes to Seward what to take to Denali. The baggage handling instructions we got before the trip did not match what we saw on the ground in Anchorage and at Denali. Poor communication by HAL that luggage wouldn’t reach many McKinley Chalet rooms until 8. People fretted for several hours till they got their luggage, spoiling their initial evening at Denali. The train trip to the McKinley Chalet in Denali was very good and the food was even better. I strongly suggest the crab salad/sandwich for lunch. At McKinley Chalet, we were placed in a cabin way back from the main cabin and didn’t have WiFi access from there or access to ice and soda machines. Poor. I thoroughly enjoyed the Wilderness Tundra trip that comes free with the Denali HAL package as we went 62 miles into the park. Some harrowing, twisting roads but incredible vistas in this rugged country. Tour guides/drivers reall yearn their pay, believe me. But the “snack” they included was totally inadequate . We learned about the minimalist “snack” prior to the trip, and many of us were angered we had to expend the time to stand in line and buy our own box lunch to have a sandwich for this 8 hour trip. Poor on HAL’s part not to include a nice box lunch – just add on $10 to the trip cost for heaven’s sake! Saw some wildlife, including a close encounter with a grizzly, but all in all didn’t see anywhere near the quantity of wildlife we hoped to see. But the whole Denali landscape is worth seeing. Be prepared for chilly weather like we experienced in mid-June -- it may not be cold when you go but you ,may regret not taking warm layers of clothing. You will see Mt. McKinley in its glory about 30% of the time. It’s hidden majority of the time. Bus trip from Denali to Seward was long, but went faster than expected thanks to our great driver/guide.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time we've sailed with HAL, and second time on the Oosterdam. The train from Anchorage to Seward was spectacular, with good food and comfortable seating. We missed the track wash-out by one day, thankfully. The ship is very pretty and well designed in her layout with an incredible amount of intriguing art. We never had a problem getting around and found all public spaces quite easily. The demographics onboard this particular sailing veered towards the over-70 crowd. There were very few young people and virtually no small children sailing this third week of June. We were a bit surprised by this as we typically have seen more families on cruise ships in Alaska. Surprisingly there were only two cruise directors onboard and a very limited number of activities day and night. There were daily trivia games, two karaoke hours for the week, some dancing, one hour of disco each night, a few production shows, and a VERY old and tired out piano bar set-up. We were (jokingly) asked to leave when we requested something a bit more rock-and-roll. We did leave. This ship tidied up and shut down by 10:30 or 11pm each evening. Oh, the magician and comedian were both excellent. If you're looking for night life... you won't find it here. That being said - the food was absolutely delicious, the service in the MDR was gracious, and our cabin steward was phenomenal. One food regret for me was the Pinnacle Grill. I had so looked forward to this and my steak was chalky and dry. Yuck. The chocolate dessert was an oily bowl of soup with no consistency. Very out of character. I also had a bit of trouble in Explorations Cafe. They just couldn't get the hot chocolate right and told me they were out of chocolate syrup. We found staff for the most part to be accommodating, friendly, and vivacious in most areas. Check out the Pinnacle Bar and Ocean Bar for some light-hearted fun with the bar staff. We didn't shop or use the computer at all so I can't comment to those areas. The spa was gloriously serene and the Thermal Suite/Therapy Pool areas were pure bliss. Passenger services were on top of the few issues we had and Captain Boss kept us well informed throughout the voyage. The aft balcony cabins we booked were amazing with very little jiggle.  We had four aft cabins on Deck 7 and loved them. The balcony doors were opened the entire time so we could visit and relax together. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of room with a smallish sofa, table, and extra storage seat. Our verandah had two wicker sitting chairs and one chaise lounge. There was plenty of hanging closet space and storage for everything we brought. We could easily have stored a few weeks' worth of clothes, shoes, etc. in this cabin. You may think there'd be noise in the back, but inside the cabin it was silent. The sound of the ocean and ship's wake were only heard on the balcony. Loved the bathtub/shower combination too - you won't find that on many other cruise lines in a lower category balcony cabin. Weather at this time of year was a bit rainy out of Anchorage, but the sun came out most every afternoon. Passing through Seymour Narrows at midnight was very cool. Would I book HAL again? Maybe for the food and service, but if I wanted to have a little more fun in the evenings, I might check out one of my other favorite cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I'm not at all a cruise person. I generally travel with no plan and float from place to place. I only went on one because I was the companion of my elderly grandfather. There were times I felt a bit too much like I was part of a ... Read More
I'm not at all a cruise person. I generally travel with no plan and float from place to place. I only went on one because I was the companion of my elderly grandfather. There were times I felt a bit too much like I was part of a cattle heard. I also wish I'd gotten to see more of the less commercial parts of Alaska. Despite the above though there were parts I liked. The staff were all, with few exceptions, really great people who seemed to care that the passengers were having a good experience (or at least faked it convincingly). As odd as it might sound some of the best parts of my experience came due to starting off with an injured back. I went to an acupuncture consult with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised to find the professional working there, Justus Verre, was incredibly skilled, in addition to being personable and dedicated to helping his clients. I did 5 sessions with him, which included learning stretches and exercises for home. I felt they were worth every penny. My only regret is that I won't be able to continue seeing him for treatment off ship. He recommended I use the thermal spa and I did daily. It has a mineral soak, steam room, and heated ceramic lounge chairs (with great views). It both helped my back and turned into my favorite place to relax. Another thing I found particularly enjoyable was the art gallery and events. I wasn't a collector when I went on and honestly attended the first event for free champagne. I stayed because the auctioneer, (I think her name was Heather) and her assistants were welcoming and made learning about art fun. While I didn't purchase on board, I am seriously considering starting to collect and will remember my first experience with Park West as positive thanks to them. The photographers also did a great job, were friendly and fun. One of the best pictures I have with my grandfather is from the ship. I'm a bit of a foodie and my grandfather preferred the more casual dining option. I found the meals good but not exceptional. Our one meal at the lido was also good. The service everywhere was GREAT! I took a fun mixology class, but was disappointed that there weren't more people there. Our steward, Riyadi was also wonderful. My grandfather infrequently left the cabin and wasn't the easiest to deal with but Riyadi worked hard to make sure he stayed happy. He also taught me to make a towel monkey!! The entertainment was good but I found it a bit corny at times... I don't think it was aimed at my demographic. I particularly enjoyed the guitarist in the crow's nest. The nature programs were very good and Kelly (?) who did excursions really seemed to know her stuff (I'm jealous of her life/range of experiences). I also used the library often and appreciated the place where you could take/leave paperbacks. We did multiple excursions which all met our expectations. Downsides included feeling like many of the activities were either at an additional cost or seemed designed to sell you something. The front desk staff must have a very challenging job but I found them the least friendly and least helpful. We had an issue with the drain in our cabin the first night. Our steward looked at it and tried to fix it and couldn't. He said he'd call maintenance. I followed up twice with the desk before they sent someone to look at it (14 hours later). When I went to let them know about it, I felt like my bringing up the problem was an inconvenience for them. I don't recall them ever saying they were sorry for the inconvenience to us. Traveling with my grandfather who has lower mobility, I was surprised at how little was done for accommodating those with challenges. It was particularly an issue during the life boat drill when he couldn't get positioned where he could hear or read lips. We also weren't able to locate an option for him to both see and hear the presentation at Glacier Bay (which was a particular disappointment). They did have servers who helped him get and bring his meal back to the table though which was great. Overall it was the best options for the two of us to see multiple destinations in Alaska. Were I traveling with him again I might do something similar, it isn't what I'd pick on my own.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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