4 Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Alaska from Seward

After my 3 day land tour and torture of the 10 hour bus ride from Denali I was looking forward to just relaxing on the ship. I was not disappointed. The cruise was everything I wished for - relaxing, good food and plenty of things to hold ... Read More
After my 3 day land tour and torture of the 10 hour bus ride from Denali I was looking forward to just relaxing on the ship. I was not disappointed. The cruise was everything I wished for - relaxing, good food and plenty of things to hold my interest. We landed in Anchorage and spent an extra day before heading to Denali. Stayed at the Hilton which was very nice. The train to Denali was wonderful- make sure you wait and eat breakfast on the train. Our guide was very entertaining. Our only issue was that my husband and brother in law booked a jeep excursion at Denali and we arrived at the hotel (Chalet) only 15 minutes before the excursion. 8 hours on the train and then a 4 hour jeep tour made a long day for them. The next morning was the 8 hour Tundra tour. Remember to order a box lunch at the lodge the night before the tour. 2 people can actually share 1 lunch as the wraps are large and filling. Sunday morning it was back on the bus for the 10 hour ride to Seward. This was torture. 10 hours with very few stops and the air conditioner in the bus died. We had no trouble getting onto the cruise ship and all our luggage was there waiting for us. After a nice meal we explored the ship then settled in for a well deserved sleep. We opted for breakfast most mornings on the Lido deck. One of the servers, GoGo became a fave. What a personality! My husband found the Exploration Lounge on the 10th deck and really enjoyed sitting there looking at the ocean while reading or doing his crossword while having a coffee or beer. I enjoyed the short films in the screening rooms on the ports in Alaska. I also enjoyed listening to the native speakers who came aboard. The casino was a fave for my in laws as well as the piano bar. We participated in a few of the games they had after dinner. What fun! The BB King band was wonderful. We did a whale watch in Juneau after seeing the Mendenhall Glacier. What a wonderful day - so many whales. We also did the Bering Sea Crab Tour in Ketchikan. That was so much fun. Our own "deadliest catch". The meals were good in the main dining room. I did find however if you do not drink wine it was sometimes quite a while to get someone to bring you an ice tea. We did the open seating making reservations each morning as we let breakfast. We never had a problem getting the time we requested. Disembarking went quickly. We were spending an extra day in Vancouver so we left the ship, went through customs and then walked across the street to get our rental car. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
I will start with the bottom line, one of the more expensive vacations we have taken, Holland America provided the least value of any cruise line or vacation package we have ever purchased. I fell for the pitch Holland America has been ... Read More
I will start with the bottom line, one of the more expensive vacations we have taken, Holland America provided the least value of any cruise line or vacation package we have ever purchased. I fell for the pitch Holland America has been doing Alaska package the longest in the Alaska area and were the best. They cannot stand up to Royal Caribbean or Disney Cruise Lines. We take 2 vacations a year and usually I plan each one a year in advance to ensure we can participate in the activities we are interested in. Biggest mistake, I left the planning to Holland America. One week on land, one week on the water. We travel as a family of 4, 2 teenage boys included. Won't bore you with a novel, just bullet statements to share the comedy of errors Holland America laid on us. - When arranging rooms at hotels for land package, we were separated as a family by being assigned rooms apart from each other. I booked this vacation months in advance, you think they could get a clue and notice the same last name on the reservations? -rooms had no AC. I understand we were in Alaska, but the rooms were stuffy. We were told to open the windows. One hotel, The Chalet in Delani was set up in separate building. We were in the last building in the "loop" therefore the shuttles were always filled. We had to run to make our excursion. No ironing board or iron in the room. Overall, hotel selection was average at best throughout the trip. Exception- The Alyeska Hotel and Resort, very nice. -bus driver "William" did not know how to operate the lift to assist an ADA individual, wasting close to an hour to figure it out. Then instead of allowing all to board the bus or get off the bus, William made everyone wait until he was able to service the ADA individual. Because of this, we were last in line for all activities, again, not allowing us to enjoy the activity as a family. We could not get seats together. The whole trip, Holland America drivers seemed to be last in line. Our family is up and out early to avoid these types of situations. -from transfer to transfer, new baggage tags had to be filled out with detailed information in order to get your bags to the next stop. Come on Holland America, it is 2014, pre-printed labels would be nice. A number of items in the baggage were damage during transit, worse than the airlines if you can believe it. -the stateroom my wife and I had on the cruise ship had defective or broken throughout. Reported immediately and none were ever resolved. Stateroom attendants were great, as usual. Rooms were smaller than any other ship we have been on, but yet were the most expensive. We had a verandah room, curtains were torn therefore you could not keep the light out (Alaska had 22 hours of light during the day while there). -attitude of staff on board the ship, the worst we ever experienced. they seemed angry they were working there. outside of the stateroom attendants, we found 2 bartenders that had a great attitude and were fun to be around. -food, average at best, if you get any. We are average size people who do not gorge ourselves at meals. Half way through the serving period, the servers would run out of many selections and just shut it down. I have never seen anything like it on a ship before. This included coffee! When ordering a soft drink with our meals, we never received the drink until we were completely finished with our meals. Service was terrible throughout. Servers were very slow. -ship was replacing carpet while cruising. Give me break, they only have 3-4 months to travel in this part of the country, have the ship ready. Many other flaws in other areas, ship not up kept properly. -captain never shut up. once on the speaker, he loved to hear himself talk. -laundry service, one day folded everything in a basket, the next time everything thrown in the basket leaving it totally wrinkled with no iron to press. -purchased a DVD package (3 DVD's for $65) of "our" cruise. Not quite sure what cruise we got, but wasn't ours. Just some clips of the different stops from a different time. -we had 4 hours to catch our flight after receiving our time to get off the ship. Due to the poor transfer system Holland America practices, we barely made out flight. Terrible system. Slow and unorganized. -I could go on and on. Terrible experience. When you spend a good amount of money on a vacation, you expect a bit more. Surprised people travel Holland America, they have not experienced other cruise lines that do a much better job. Extremely sorry I allowed them to coordinate the land package. Many other cruise lines in Alaska, I would try any of them in place of Holland. By the way, I completed their survey, they got back to me and told me if I wanted to discuss the concerns further, call them. That should tell you something. They should have made that call. Alaska is beautiful, go see it, just do not do it with Holland America at the helm, you will be sorry. 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
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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