Sail Date: May 2019
We choose this cruise just out of convince and having never tried Holland America in the past we saw the 1 night cruise as a great opportunity to compare it to past cruises on Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Overall they were a ... Read More
We choose this cruise just out of convince and having never tried Holland America in the past we saw the 1 night cruise as a great opportunity to compare it to past cruises on Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Overall they were a nice line to cruise on, however there were a few things that stood out from the other lines. Firstly I have nothing but good things to say about the live entertainment. The jazz club was fantastic and probably one of the coolest things I have experienced at sea to date. Additionally, there was a really good singer that performed a Whitney Houston tribute in the theater who's voice was amazing. For a 1 night cruise that blew me away. One thing that I did notice that I didn't enjoy as much was the quality of food in the main dinning room. It seemed to be behind the other lines (especially Norwegian). The quality of the wait staff was also not bad, but also not overly good. The embarkation in Vancouver was terrible as well. They had the classic here's a number and now wait in the big ball room until the number is called to board the ship. At that point we went to another line before going through customs. With that process I was glad to be a few hours early! We arrived at the port around 10am and didn't make it onto the ship until about 2pm. One bad thing with our cabin was that we were unable to get hot water during the entire duration of the cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I had previously traveled on Holland for a 19 day Panama Canal Cruise which I thoroughly enjoyed. This cruise was good - we had a mini suite - two twin beds and a sofa which didn't pull out to a sofa bed just sorta converted to a ... Read More
I had previously traveled on Holland for a 19 day Panama Canal Cruise which I thoroughly enjoyed. This cruise was good - we had a mini suite - two twin beds and a sofa which didn't pull out to a sofa bed just sorta converted to a bed - however it was right below the tv on the wall so watching tv in bed was very uncomfortable. The food did not compare to the Panama Canal cruise - most of the people who had cruised with Holland previously agreed. The lobster night in the Buffet Restaurant was especially disappointing/ The staff is very friendly and the ship is taken care of very well. They aruise e always cleaning something. Holland caters to an older crowd so there wasn't aot of activities which I didn't like I like to be a little more active. All in all I would recommend Holland Cruise Line Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
My wife and I are both retired and have been taking yearly cruise for a number of years. We are 3 Star Mariners and this was number 8 with HAL. Last year, we did our second, end of season Alaska cruise with HAL, out of Vancouver on the ... Read More
My wife and I are both retired and have been taking yearly cruise for a number of years. We are 3 Star Mariners and this was number 8 with HAL. Last year, we did our second, end of season Alaska cruise with HAL, out of Vancouver on the Noordam, which was a great trip. We like Holland America because of the older, more seasoned travelers on board and a very high percentage are return cruisers. This years cruise on the Oosterdam was nothing like any of the other HAL ships we have been on. This also was the biggest ship we have been on at 1,975 passengers and ONLY a crew of 800. Our big complaint this time was the food! On the Lido deck, It was unimaginative for the most part, often poorly cooked and in no way up to the standard of past cruises. In short it was very pedestrian. It seemed that there fewer serving station and the number of choices was lacking. Also, there were fewer staff on the floor and we had to get our own coffee,water most of the time. Dirty dishes were everywhere and most of the staff was to busy trying to sell soft drinks and wine to do anything else. There were no trays, so we had to make trips for juice, salads & desserts. There were hardly any orchids on the tables as well. Most had missing flowers and empty stems. Last year every table had one. The main dinning room seemed to serve mostly the same food as the Lido and service was slower this time. If this is to be the new normal for the HAL ships, we will not be returning. In fairness, we did eat at the Pinnacles which was outstanding as always. And, also the Dive In, at the to the Lido pool, which has great hamburgers. Last year we did have the Signature Drink Package for the 7 days and enjoyed it very much. In looking it over for this trip, we discovered that many of the drink prices had been raised to $8.25, which is 25 cents over the price limit for the package.!! So, we only went to Happy Hour once. They no longer serve mixed nuts and if you want any appetizers, good luck! I hate to be so negative here, but the fact is, everything seemed to be cheapened down and there was way more 'up selling' going on then on past voyages. We were very much looking forward to becoming 4 Star Mariners, but, now I fear that won't happen. Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was our 4th HAL cruise and 2nd time to Alaska. We had done the route out of Seattle the last time so wanted to try the inside passage out of Vancouver. This was the last cruised for the year out of Alaska and was a little worried ... Read More
This was our 4th HAL cruise and 2nd time to Alaska. We had done the route out of Seattle the last time so wanted to try the inside passage out of Vancouver. This was the last cruised for the year out of Alaska and was a little worried about weather and shopping being out of stock but the weather was wonderful and the shops had great specials going on. Many people we talked to were leaving a day or two later as it was the end of the season. We got a great deal upgrading from a Neptune suite to the Pinnacle suit and it was impressive. Embarkation was smooth. Being Pinnacle suite guests, we were escorted by HAL employees straight past any lines through customs and to our suit. The ship appeared to be in great shape and the service was top notch. HAL has never let us down as far as service goes. Everyone went out of their was to make sure we had a great time. We had the 8pm seating for dinner and the food was delicious and plentiful. I couldn't do dessert as I was too full. We had a great time with the waiters and they all seemed happy and willing to please. We mainly cruise to relax so we didn't take in too many onboard activities. We went to a couple of wine tastings and that was very fun. We participated in one of the dance lessons and it had a great turn-out. We only went to one musical show in the evening and it was very good. Our 1st "stop" was cruising Glacier Bay and it was amazing. We even saw a glacier calving. It was really nice to see the Glaciers up close. The park rangers on the cruise did a great job informing us about what we were seeing. Our 2nd stop was Skagway and we rode the White Pass Summit Scenic Railroad. It was a nice train ride with breathtaking view and lots of great scenery. Our next stop was Juneau where we did the Mendenhall Glacier & Whale Quest excursion. I would have been happy to see any whales but we saw about a hundred. Truly a must-do when in Juneau. Our last port was Ketchikan and it was great. We did an Alaska Rain Forest excursion. The Rain Forest is amazing and we saw Bald Eagles in the wild right up close. The guide was very informative. Overall, it was probably the best cruise we have been on and look forward to the next one. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This our my 3rd cruise. We've gone with 2 other cruise lines in the past and loved every minute. Sadly I can't say the same about the Oosterdam. Let me start by saying our stateroom was wonderful and the crew was wonderful. ... Read More
This our my 3rd cruise. We've gone with 2 other cruise lines in the past and loved every minute. Sadly I can't say the same about the Oosterdam. Let me start by saying our stateroom was wonderful and the crew was wonderful. The lay out of the ship was not the best. The ship was lacking in entertainment. Nowhere you could really sit outside without being in the weather. Food was definitely a step down from our from our previous experiences. Quite frankly we were bored. My husband and I are in our late 50s early 60s, perhaps if we were older we would have enjoyed the ship more but sadly this experience has put us off HAL and wouldn't consider cruising with them in the future. I cringe to think that a friend is on the ship right now doing the Panama Canal for 21 days. I hope she and her husband survive the boredom. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
The inhospitable environment created by the leadership of the Oosterdam ruined our Holland America cruise experience! We were sold a drink package that was difficult to use. DO NOT buy the Signature Drink Package. This ship only ... Read More
The inhospitable environment created by the leadership of the Oosterdam ruined our Holland America cruise experience! We were sold a drink package that was difficult to use. DO NOT buy the Signature Drink Package. This ship only accommodates people that rise early and are in bed by 11pm. Although every night the bars we were socializing in still had patrons, the staff were instructed to close. (First night the last bar on the ship closed at 12:15am; there were still 10-15 people in the lounge). My husband and I met interesting people from all over the world and had every evening cut short because the managers instructed their staff to close. I do not go to bed at midnight. Nowhere in the WORLD do bars close at that time. I lodged numerous complaints, finally meeting with the food and beverage manager to no satisfaction. We were left unattended in the lounges every night and felt vulnerable to other (sketchy) guests who were also left unattended. A reasonable concession would have been to keep a common area open and staffed. Perhaps even a coffee shop for those who choose not to retire early. Breakfast was shut down early some days and when we arrived at 10 am the food was not replenished. They started pulling down breakfast before the posted close of 10:30 am. Our state room was run down and inadequately furnished. It was located on Floor 1 above the anchor which woke us early each morning (metal on metal for about 2 hours) while we docked. We could also hear the music from crew parties somewhere below us late at night. The serving staff were friendly and hospitable. In contrast, the front office and leadership we encountered were accusatory (how it is our fault that our room key quits working almost EVERY day? NO! It is not next to my cell phone or any magnets!) They were rude, unaccommodating, and condescending. My husband and I will NEVER cruise Holland America again. This is NOT a 5* cruise. It is not enough to say you have 5* amenities, you actually have to provide them. I have never felt so disrespected on a vacation, we felt like we were cattle being herded. In contrast, the serving staff (bartenders, hostess, & wait staff) were really excellent! Special mention should go to Mabel, TJ, Davis, Achmad, and Joel they absolutely made every attempt to create a wonderful experience for our vacation. The bartender at the sports bar in the evenings was difficult and did not accommodate us on numerous occasions (likely because I challenged him on shutting down so early on the first night). Our issue was more with the officers, they were very defensive, inhospitable, and disrespectful. I walked onto the deck with a drink the first day and I was abruptly told to go inside (other patrons had drinks but my group was targeted; I’m sure my age had nothing to do with it!). My husband set our food tray in the hallway after we finished breakfast one day (like you would do in any hotel). An officer knocked on our door the next morning to explain that this was unacceptable. My husband apologized for not knowing the policy to which she abruptly lectured him reiterating over and over that this was not acceptable. A kind, simple directive would have been suffice and made us feel like value guests instead of criminals being interrogated. It was a food tray, relax! The front desk staff were adequate at answering questions but if we were to complain the dialogue shifted to disinterested and dismissive. They were not interested in fielding complaints and concerns. We gave them every opportunity to rectify these issues while we were on the ship; instead they chose to disregard our concerns. I think it’s interesting that I received the request for feedback via email before I even returned home. It has been 1 week since I submitted the feedback survey yet, I have heard nothing. Holland America do you really care about feedback? Listen to your guests when we are on the actual ship! Our wonderful experiences on Royal Caribbean and Disney proved that Holland America is only capable of catering to one demographic. If you are under the age of 65, you will not be accommodated; instead treated with discrimination and suspicion. For the record I am 38, and my husband is 42, we have a lot of cruising ahead of us. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
My wife and I arrived at the Vancouver Airport at 11am. Were met and welcomed by a HAL rep who arranged for a cab to the Pan Pacific. The Pan Pacific allowed us to check in immediately and our luggage was taken to our room. Nice ... Read More
My wife and I arrived at the Vancouver Airport at 11am. Were met and welcomed by a HAL rep who arranged for a cab to the Pan Pacific. The Pan Pacific allowed us to check in immediately and our luggage was taken to our room. Nice accommodations and we had the afternoon to explore Vancouver and Stanley Park. Enjoyed a dinner and drinks overlooking the Lions Gate Bridge and Bay. The next morning we headed to Victoria BC and two nights at the Empress Hotel. Great location and they provided a complimentary larger room on the 2nd floor. Buchart Gardens, Dragon Boat Festival, Harbor, Irish Pubs, BC Museum, and Fisherman's Wharf made for a great weekend in Victoria. Arrived back in Vancouver about noon on the 16th and boarding was painless and fast. Some folks seemed confused going through customs, etc. but HAL reps were there to assist. Found our luggage in our cabin, explored the ship and found a lounge for a relaxing drink while everyone else seemed to head immediately to the Lido deck for lunch. We were very impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of the HAL staff. The organization of the trip and receiving a packet with keys, etc. was perfect throughout our two week trip. The variety of entertainment venues and activities on the cruise provided for just about any interest. We enjoyed a few shows in the Vista Lounge especially the Marriage Game where the Cruise Director and an elderly couple celebrating 64 yrs. of marriage provided a very inspirational show for all in attendance. Alaska speaks for itself. While on the cruise portion of our trip we enjoyed the Navigation Deck, the Pinnacle Lounge and the Piano Bar where three talented fellow travelers provided some wonderful music with the pianist. Enjoyed dining in the Vista Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill and room service. Also enjoyed a Salmon Bake on the Lido Deck. Open dining allowed us to meet and dine with fellow travelers from around the world. The coach trip to Denali was long as we had expected but well worth the trip. Some great stops along the way to see Beluga Whales, Iditarod Headquarters and the Veteran's Memorial broke up the long trip. Enjoyed Denali Tundra Tour and our stay at the McKinley Chalet in the Cottonwood. We had purchased meal vouchers as part of the land / cruise package and enjoyed the McKinley Chalet restaurants and the McKinley Explorer. Ended our trip at the Anchorage Hilton which was ok for Anchorage but when we went to the Hilton's restaurant we were given a Holland America Voucher Menu that was a lunch type menu. Luckily we had a very good waitress who spoke with her manager and we were then given a Dinner Menu. When I purchased the dinner package HAL assured me there were no menu restrictions. I expect fellow travelers found this to be an issue and would suggest HAL speak with Anchorage Hilton management. Other than this small issue we had great weather and a excellent trip to BC / Alaska. Also, the Alaskan Summer Ale was superb. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
This was not our first cruise and compared to the others we were on, it was very disappointing. We were not impressed with the food. Selections were very repetitious, often not hot and not that tasty on the Lido Deck. There were more ... Read More
This was not our first cruise and compared to the others we were on, it was very disappointing. We were not impressed with the food. Selections were very repetitious, often not hot and not that tasty on the Lido Deck. There were more selections at lunch but many of them were closed at dinnertime. Food was offered by the pool during the day but closed around 5:00 p.m. Often sounded like some tasteful food was served at 10:00 pm for those who wanted to stay up late. Portions in the dining room were very small. I suppose you could order 2 servings but then why should you have to? We were so tired of the poor food at dinner in the Lido, we resorted to Room Service which was better. At least it was hot. We also found entertainment was lacking while on the ship. The stage shows were o.k. but nothing special. Again, repetitious the first few days. We found ourselves going to Art Auctions just for something to do! Of course the Casino was open while we were sailing but that isn't a spot where one wants to spend a lot of time. Our Room Stewards were wonderful. The dining room and Lido staff were very courteous but the staff serving the Entrees in the Lido were very pushy. We hardly had a chance to see what our choices were and they were saying, "What else do you want? What else do you want? Perhaps passengers should be allowed to serve themselves so they can make a choice. We had a handicapped suite which was wonderful. Everything was easily accessible and safe. Our room was very clean and the bed was very comfortable. Having the large deck and lots of windows was certainly a bonus which we enjoyed. Not sure if we would sail with Holland America again. If we did, it wouldn't be on the Ooosterdam. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2015
After spending a glorious week weatherwise in Vancouver, we boarded the ship at 12.30. Our stateroom was ready and our luggage arrived soon after. In the meantime, our cabin stewards knocked to welcome us aboard and introduced themselves, ... Read More
After spending a glorious week weatherwise in Vancouver, we boarded the ship at 12.30. Our stateroom was ready and our luggage arrived soon after. In the meantime, our cabin stewards knocked to welcome us aboard and introduced themselves, during the whole week they always greeted us by name whenever we met and provided a first class service. We took breakfast in the Lido each morning, never had a problem finding a table, the food was served hot and tasty. On sea days we chose to have lunch at the Dive-in, the burgers, fries and hot dogs were delicious. We had all our evening meals in the Vista dining room, open seating, never had a problem getting a table for two and no waiting either, we would reserve a table for the following night as we left each night and always got one in the same area so we had the same waiters each time, they were rushed off their feet but coped wonderfully, there was a varied selection on the menu and the usual steak, chicken and ceasar salad was on offer every night if the fancier fare wasn't to your liking. Everything was served hot with minimal waiting in between courses. All our excursions were with HAL, at Ketchikan we took the float plane over to see bears in their natural habitat - worth every penny. In Juneau we did the Tracy Arm fjord and glacier explorer, it was a long day, and, in my opinion, the whole area was much more spectacular than Glacier Bay, probably due to the fact we were on a small boat which could take us a lot nearer the waterfalls and stop or slow down when wildlife was spotted, also our guide was so full of enthusiasm and information about her area it was hard not to be carried away by the experience. We had another long day in Skagway where we took the White Pass rail and Yukon expedition. We boarded the coach on the quay and followed the road up through the White Pass summit, sadly the fog was so thick at the top it was impossible to see anything but it cleared on the way down. We drove over the Canadian border into the Yukon, stopped for lunch then made our way to the train for an amazing ride back to Skagway. I can certainly recommend all of the above excursions, the drivers/guides all knew their stuff and the scenery was amazing. The next day was Glacier Bay, had I not been to Tracy Arm first I would have found it awesome - and it was - but to me, Tracy Arm had the edge. Two local guides joined the ship in the morning and were on hand all day giving out information and answering questions.The weather was gorgeous, sunny and warm making it the perfect day. I would definitely sail with Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2015
We had a wonderful trip. Went to Vancouver and stayed in a super hotel, the Fairmont Waterfront. They parked the ship right in front of our hotel. Boarded the Holland-America's Oosterdam on Sunday the 19th and sailed at 4pm. Next ... Read More
We had a wonderful trip. Went to Vancouver and stayed in a super hotel, the Fairmont Waterfront. They parked the ship right in front of our hotel. Boarded the Holland-America's Oosterdam on Sunday the 19th and sailed at 4pm. Next day was a sea day and Formal Night. I wore my tuxedo and went to the B B King show - the band was good. Tuesday we went to Ketchikan, AK and had Dungeness Crab Feast and Wilderness boat trip. After they pulled up the crab trap, we picked up the big, live Dungeness crabs for photos. Saw many Eagles. They lured an Eagle to the boat with a fish and he swooped down to the water right in front of us. Then we went back to the Lodge and ate as much crab we could eat. Wednesday - Juneau, AK. Went to the World Famous Red Dog Saloon. In PM we went on a whale watching boat tour with Capt. Larry of Orca. Saw eleven whales diving over and over again. They were doing "Bubble net feeding" maneuvers. (See Google for interesting explanations and videos). Skagway, AK, and went on the trip on the railroad that the 49ers built over the mountains. Spectacular scenery. The track rose 3,800 feet in 14 miles. We could actually see the trail the gold prospectors had to use to get to the mines - still 600 miles away! The food and service was excellent on the cruise! It's a beautiful ship. Capt. Bos is a superb leader. We departed to Seward, AK., and took a TEN hour bus ride. I wish we hadn't gone the 4 day trip to Denali (Mt. McKinley). Alaska is just too big to go by bus. The weather was cloudy or rainy and no way I was going up in an airplane or even see Denali. Of course, the mountain scenery all over Alaska was spectacular. The next day we took another 8 hour bus ride into the Denali National Park (same size as Massachusetts!). Saw lots of animals, but they were very far away. The next day we had a day of rest, so we went to see the amazing Jeff King, the 4 time Champion of the Iditarod dog sled race at his Husky Homestead. Very interesting place and lecture, and the we loved holding the puppies. Then a very nice 8 hour dome car train trip back to Anchorage. Our ankles were the size of tree trunks from the 27 hour bus - train "legs hanging down" caused edema. The highlight of the trip, for me, was going to the Crows Nest restaurant on the 20th floor of the Capt. Cook Hotel, in Anchorage, AK and celebrating the 50th anniversary of my trip with my Dad to Anchorage in 1965. We ate in the same place 50 years ago and I vividly remember eating my very first Alaskan King Crab Legs. The Crows Nest manager, Kristen Park, made a big deal about our visit. She made us feel like royalty. She gave us a premier table overlooking the city and mountains. This was the 50th Anniversary of the hotel itself, too, since the old one was destroyed in the big 1964 Alaska earthquake, and the hotel was brand new when Dad and I went there. Kristen gave me two actual 1965 menus! (King Crab Legs - 1965 price $5.95 - 2015 price $58) . I had lots of fun and many wonderful memories with my Dad. It was an amazing, amazing trip of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
This was our 24th cruise and we've been on 5 different lines. This was without a doubt the best. The crew was stupendous. The ship was great and the food was exceptional. The sights and scenery on the inland waterway was beyond our ... Read More
This was our 24th cruise and we've been on 5 different lines. This was without a doubt the best. The crew was stupendous. The ship was great and the food was exceptional. The sights and scenery on the inland waterway was beyond our wildest imagination. Our cabin was always made up and immaculate. We wanted for nothing on this cruise. There were ZERO glitches or errors made. Wow! The entertainment was Broadway class. Embarkation and Disembarkation was smooth and extremely professional. On any of our cruises in the past my wife and I averaged taking about 300 digital photos.... this trip we were over 1600. The rail trip up to Denali was fun and wonderful. In the park we saw Caribou, Fox, Moose, Grizley Bear, Bald Eagles etc. Holland America you really outdid yourselves. Thank you for a fantastic vacation! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
We loved this cruise! Food everywhere, main dining room, Canaletto, Pinnacle Grill, and the Lido were outstanding. Staff everywhere very friendly. We took 5 side trips and they were excellent. Our signature suite was lovely. Quite large ... Read More
We loved this cruise! Food everywhere, main dining room, Canaletto, Pinnacle Grill, and the Lido were outstanding. Staff everywhere very friendly. We took 5 side trips and they were excellent. Our signature suite was lovely. Quite large and the beds are like sleeping on clouds! McKinley Chalet was very nice, and we had a nice room in building R where you hear the stream running. Food was very good in the Main Lodge also. Take the Jeep Excursion, you will not be disappointed! I did not rate the items below we did not use. Wonderful vacation; thank you HAL! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
My first time on cruise.Generally satisfied but taken by surprise that had to pay for plain water even from my room fridge. Alcohol OK but water? Also charges of 15% for service in bars or to servants-low ball. HAL charges enough for ... Read More
My first time on cruise.Generally satisfied but taken by surprise that had to pay for plain water even from my room fridge. Alcohol OK but water? Also charges of 15% for service in bars or to servants-low ball. HAL charges enough for trip. Dinners also could be better, chef was slipping at work. Attention to travelers problem from designated staff, poor. Long lines to service desk. And end of trip was the summary. We had to leave room at 9 am and waited until 12.30 to board bus to Anchorage, totally wasted time. Specially that after arrival to Anchorage was to late to go anywhere. My baggage was lost on the way to hotel and nobody know what happened, they have flyer blaming road construction for delays or lost baggage.I got my bag in Denali 30 h latter. Hal need big shake-up Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
We did a 14 day cruise tour to Alaska and as usual Holland did not disappoint us. We stayed in a Neptune Suite and the service and accommodations were outstanding. Our room was beautiful, very clean, spacious - the Neptune Lounge was a ... Read More
We did a 14 day cruise tour to Alaska and as usual Holland did not disappoint us. We stayed in a Neptune Suite and the service and accommodations were outstanding. Our room was beautiful, very clean, spacious - the Neptune Lounge was a real treat and we enjoyed having access for morning coffee and light breakfast options as well as afternoon tea and canapés. We were spoiled! The shows on the ship were good, however this was Alaska so who needs shows? We did attend a couple of the music numbers, Dancing with the Stars finale, the comedian and the illusionist show. Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto were exceptional as always. The service in Pinnacle was outstanding - we were seated at the same table each evening and really enjoyed our dining room steward. Once on land all of our accommodations were well appointed - Alyeska was magnificent and a stand out along with the Westmark Fairbanks. The Chalet at Denali is rustic but clean and nice - what you would expect in a national park lodge - it's no frills but comfortable. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Stayed in aft cabin 4176 on a surprise for DW's 60th. Had only cruised with Celebrity before this, but this cruise worked out best timing wise. I want to make a disclaimer with an overarching point: If you can't be happy and ... Read More
Stayed in aft cabin 4176 on a surprise for DW's 60th. Had only cruised with Celebrity before this, but this cruise worked out best timing wise. I want to make a disclaimer with an overarching point: If you can't be happy and enjoy yourself on a cruise, you just ain't trying. This is an awesome way to travel and a privilege to be able to do so. I really appreciate all the planing and work that went into making a cruise like this possible. The criticisms that make their way into my points below are just quibbles. I get it that I have just been treated very well and am very blessed. ALASKA. A+ It is huge and vast, the largest US state by far, yet only about 1% is privately owned land, so it is the least densely populated US state. Of all the actual countries in the world, only 18 are larger than this US state. It is the northernmost point in US, westernmost point in US, and even the easternmost point in US (the Aleutian islands cross the international date line). There are a double digit number of mountains taller than the highest point in the lower 48. It is bold, raw, and a place of extremes and simplicity mixed together. Many places people were people live here are inaccessible by roads, including the capital city of Juneau. One can see the planet actively being shaped and recently having been shaped. Seeing all this made me feel small and humble and yet also elevated by having been made to feel so. Even now in early sumner, the weather varied a lot. We were lucky to have had sunny days permitting far away views, and mostly warm temperatures (60s and 70s), sometimes enough that I was sweaty with just a t shirt. But we had fog and rain too and at one point we had chills enough that I needed several layers with my winter hat and earmuffs and gloves. Most of the time the sun set well after 9 PM and often after 10 PM , usually light starting outside well before 5 AM. Alaska for a cruise was very beautiful. Having grown up Oregon, the types of trees and some of the terrain reminded me a lot of home in some ways, especially Vancouver BC to Ketchikan. The Inside Passage had always sounded underwhelming to me compared to the "real" Alaska interior to the north. That was a wrong perception. There is nothing minimalist about the Inside Passage. It is easy to see and there is so much nature, culture, and diversity in terms of how to see it. While excursions offer profound experiences, one could also see a lot by the sailing itself and then do stuff on your own in each town, easily rewarding a car rental and/or some advance planing, and a willingness to seek out small town life. A bonus in the Inside Passage is just sailing from place to place. The water journey itself is almost constantly exposed to scenery so there is almost no time you are not seeing good stuff. And although we had profoundly lucky sunny and warm weather most of the time, the times we had rain and fog and cold did not change any of the above. I do think that this means the Vancouver departures/arrivals have an advantage because the part between Vancouver BC and southern Alaska is mostly nonstop scenery whereas Seattle has a day at sea between it and southern Alaska (tempered, sometimes, by a stop in Victoria, but even then the sailing route is mostly just open sea). I would consider Seattle though because the cost would be less both for the cruise and the airfare from the US 48. Still want a way to come in the winter to see northern lights (obviously a cruise would not be the way to get here in December or January!). I really loved it here and hope to return often, like a song you can enjoy over. HAL VS. CELEBRITY wait for it ... SEATTLE - VANCOUVER HAL SHUTTLE B Worked well, it was easy, and I'd do it again. But a bus ride is a bus ride so this can only get so good. I must say I would have liked to spend some time in Vancouver so next time might just go there first. I liked that the coach was arranged with HAL so if there had been a snafu, the ship would have waited and would have taken care of us. Made me feel less stress as soon as I got on the bus, and kinda felt like the cruise had started. EMBARKATION (VANCOUVER) B- Took under an hour, fairly efficient, but again, how "good" can something like this be? Also, would have liked a more dramatic place to step onto the ship with, a grand foyer or something to feel that "not in Kansas anymore feeling." Quibbling points to be sure. DISEMBARKATION (SEWARD) C+ A bit chaotic. Long cues, not clear where to go at times. All worked out in the end. The coach arranged for us through HAL was a bit too close in time to the fight arranged for us through HAL, but, again, all worked out in the end, and we were at our gate and waiting in a very nice Anchorage airport terminal by 10:30 AM for our 11:35 departure. AFT CABIN LOCATION A+ We had cabin 4176. Maybe best thing about this cruise, other than Alaska itself. I had read complaints that the engine would be too loud or the vibrations too much. Not so (though could hear and feel it sometimes). Remember that the dining room is in this area too, and lower and closer to the engine that the cabins are, and the dining room is OK with respect to these issues. Some feel that this end of the ship rocks too much. Though I have a tendency to sea sickness (and carry scopolamine patches with me for this reason), I felt fine compared to walking around rest of ship (and never needed my patches). I had read that soot gets on balcony. Yeah, some, but not enough to matter. The view of the wake and the 270 degree view of both port and starboard were super. And, the sound and changing waves of the wake was like sitting on a beach and experiencing the changing sight and sound of waves; became mesmerizing, sitting before a log fire. Sitting on our veranda with same view the historic sea captains of old would have had from their quarters gave the feeling that the cruise was somehow privately here for us. In fact, a channel on the in room TV gave exactly this view 24/7. I'm totally hooked. (and, ruined -- these are hard to get!) CABIN ITSELF A- Comfortable beds and big comfortable pillows. Lots of space and appreciate several things about layout. The metallic walls allowed magnets to hang things up. Art on the walls was a nice touch. Layout of lighting was good and effective and liked having switches by bed. Extra chair and fold out couch gave good sitting room. Small desk was adequate. TV worked, few channels to choose from, and did not care. Veranda had two comfortable chairs one with stool, a small table, and a recliner. Storage was abundant and very well conceived. My wife and I are one bag each travelers so we did not need a lot, but nice to have had it. Even the stool for the desk is hollow with a top that lifts to use the inside space for storage. Can store several bags under bed. Three standing closets, one with lots of shelves and a locking safe, and the others for hanging clothes each have larger shelves that can fold down or not as you wish. One even had a rack for belts and ties. Several shelves in bathroom too, for toiletries. Shower with good water pressure, massage head, and was a tub-shower mix. Clothes line for drying clothes over tub. Cannisters of self serve shampoo, conditioner, soap in shower worked well. Room decor and materials a bit dated and worn, but everything very clean and working well. FOOD B Not the high point, which saddened me, but some was outstanding, especially Le Cirque, and I would pay for that again. Most food at MDR was good to very good. Pinnacle grill was very good but not the first rate special meal I was expecting and do not think I'd pay for the experience again. I found buffet sometimes disappointing in both variety and quality, but choosing wisely allowed me to stay with options that were good. I'd more or less skip the buffet next time if I could. Room service was efficient though missed items were not rare. Still it became our preferred mode for daily breakfast and was a great option for us, always on time after ordering in advance the night before. Also, room service for dinner one night was a great experience, ordered off the MDR menu (though in part it was a great experience because of our veranda and the view that night)). On the whole, the entire food experience was decidedly above average, but not best most special category, and so a solid and appreciated "B." ENTERTAINMENT A Went to one show which was illusionist and fine. But really enjoyed classical music every night, a pianist and violinist duo self named "Adagio," played several hours each night, in Explorer's Lounge. Became popular and packed. Though this is highly subjective, that one venue and these performers made evenings a real joy each day for us. Stayed till they finished at 10 each night (usually still light out, because .... it's Alaska!). There did not seem to be a lot going on when we returned to our room after that but really was not looking. I do not know if others would have found as many options as they might have wanted. For me, though, this was excellent. Some of the other offerings good too, such as the live cooking demos, but missed most of these because we were out seeing Alaska! PUBLIC SPACES A- The ship goes to dry dock next year and I assume it will have a face lift. The vessel looks older than the super duper new sips coming out in recent years, well used but clean, in good repair, and just fine. It looks used and loved, not used and abused. But, it looks used, and used hard in some places, with some fabrics and furnishings worn, some styles dated. The spaces are very well attended to, and clean. I like the deep blue or warm earth tone colors that felt calm and welcoming. The ship has many pleasant public spaces to spend time. I especially liked the flow from one space to another, and in particular the use of curved and rounded passages and rooms, giving the illusion of more space and not one rectilinear box overall. I especially liked the look of the dining room which felt more like a nice restaurant than a cafeteria. INSIDE PASSAGE, VANCOUVER --> KETCHIKAN A Captain chose a more inland route and the wall of forested greenery on either side of ship was sublime. Sat out on deck all day. Felt like time had stopped. KETCHIKAN, WILD WOLF TOURS EXCURSION A- Competent though unspectacular private tour made better by excellent guide Tracy, whose personal stories of growing up here and her native family heritage made this much more special. Enjoyed spending time in town, especially lunch and view from Cape Fox Lodge. JUNEAU, TRACY ARM FJORD HAL EXCURSION A+ A town with a bit of size has some more to offer. Enjoyed walking into town and meeting people. Some very good food near the pier. HAL excursion from here into Tracy Arm fjord was best of trip and a huge life long remembrance. I think this is the best port of the trip with the most options. If you re going to splurge on n excursion, here is the place to do it. SKAGWAY, FRONTIER ADVENTURES YUKONER EXCURSION A Deceptively substantial town for its very small size, walkable with some good food, a few nice excursions possible. Would rent a car next time and go up into Yukon. GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK A Stunning commanding beauty. Another world feeling. History and geology and scenery conjoin. Liked having the forest rangers' input and that of the Tinglit native -- gave it a very special feel. Glaciers were not as impressive as the small boat experience at Tracy Arm but still very imressive. SERVICE, STAFF A- Very well trained. I appreciated their uniformly hard work. Friendly, but in a politely restrained way. Even if formulaic, everyone said and did all the right things. The theme seemed to be to make me feel warmly welcomed and taken care of when I asked, else not intruded upon. The result was a nice balance. Very little of the more intrusive effort to sell drinks, photos, etc such as on Celebrity. To some the style might seem so laid back as to give a sedate and hands off feel, but I felt this was instead a contentment to let me have a good time but still remain open and ready to serve me. A tough balance. Smiles and friendliness whenever I passed ANYONE. Often saw workers carefully cleaning public areas each day. Stateroom cleaned and resupplied daily and reliably. I would summarize the theme as hospitality rather than sophistication, and it makes for a serene and relaxing feeling that marks the experience better than any one single other element. HAL vs. CELEBRITY I have liked Celebrity a lot, and did not intend to consider other mass market lines before this. My initial feeling on this ship was a bit disappointed, seemed less luxurious, less exciting, food less good. While I think those impressions were true to some degree, I warmed to HAL each day, and I would now temper my initial feelings. The HAL experience is more like going to a hotel in the US National Register of Historic Places than a modern glass and shiny new hotel. I appreciated the feeling created on ship. I would sail HAL again if I can. I will still like Celebrity too. Much has been written about the smoking policy. I did smell smoke from cigarettes and some pipe / cigar on our deck from time to time. I would have preferred that it were not so. I prefer Celebrity's more restrictive policy. That said, this was not a major theme of the trip. Which line is better? I think the question is unanswerable. While I can see some people having a clear preference, I think it's more correct to say that they are both good in somewhat different ways. Just as an apple and an orange are good foods, or New York and Chicago are good cities to visit, I don't think one can say one is objectively better than the other. There are so that hate apples or Chicago, most would find plenty of merit in all these choices. Celebrity I think had better food, and feels more shiny, splashy, and HAL feels nice, calm, relaxing, warm, contented. I'm glad to have extended to be in the HAL family now. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
I am a 4 star cruiser with Holland America and have always praised how much they do for you and what a wonderful cruise line they are. I can no longer say that. I brought a high school friend with me and we stayed in a Neptune suite. The ... Read More
I am a 4 star cruiser with Holland America and have always praised how much they do for you and what a wonderful cruise line they are. I can no longer say that. I brought a high school friend with me and we stayed in a Neptune suite. The room was great and our stewards were wonderful, but the rest of the staff need a book on manners, especially in the Neptune lounge you will be treated to the rudest person on the ship. He has no idea how to help you with a problem except to say she's worked for the cruise line for 5 years and knows everything and you are not right and I am not screaming the way he did. The food was bland and not fresh. I have never sent a seal back but my salmon smelled so fishy I had them take it away and a meal replacement came when the rest of my table was finished. Trying to get a drink was easy if you jumped them but if you wanted another I suggest standing on the chair and waving your napkin over your head. If it wasn't for the people we were eating with we would have used the Pinnacle Grill every night. I did hear you could get good food there. As for service on the hole ship, there were times you had to go to the bar if you wanted a drink they were so under staffed. Things that they promises to give you has perks, LOL Are never seen or not what you were told. Even the perks of being 4 star were not honored. I left the cruise with my head down and totally embarrassed. What happened to Holland America? Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
We will keep this brief! We are a couple in our mid to late 50's with a number of cruises behind us. Oosterdam was in great shape, extremely well maintained. The stateroom (signature suite) was well designed and incredibly spacious. ... Read More
We will keep this brief! We are a couple in our mid to late 50's with a number of cruises behind us. Oosterdam was in great shape, extremely well maintained. The stateroom (signature suite) was well designed and incredibly spacious. Mega large balcony, great storage. Food in the dining room was above average...but there was limited opportunity for specialty dining (one and a half restaurants). Our only complaint...social activities were non existent. Ship "went to bed" at 11 pm. A few good shows, excellent band in the bb king lounge, but when they laid down their instruments..it was over...as in,,,dead. HAL needs to put some effort into after hours cruise activities...take a lesson from celebrity on this one. Good itinerary... Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
We have sailed many times with Holland America,and enjoyed the cruises very much. This last trip to alaska was disappointing in that we saw a big downgrading in the vista shows,the movie rooms screen is very old and should be replaced with ... Read More
We have sailed many times with Holland America,and enjoyed the cruises very much. This last trip to alaska was disappointing in that we saw a big downgrading in the vista shows,the movie rooms screen is very old and should be replaced with a bigger and new movie screen,the casino needs a big renovation and the dining rooms menu isn't as good as before because of menu selection and presentation. The service was excellent as usual,and adan our waiter in the dining room was superb. We hope Holland America will address these areas, so we may cruise with them again. Our cabin overall was nice except it needs a new tv. The attendants again were excellent. Our cabin was 5028. The ship itself is very classy and the crew very professional. They have a great cultural theme in regard to art auctions, and a trio playing classical music. Side courses on cooking and windows 8 computer educational courses,along with karoke and night club entertainment. The swimming pools are nice,along with the spas. In conclusion the oosterdam has a great atmosphere and people,it just needs some updates. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first cruise. We decided, with the recommendation of Charlene, our AAA travel agent in Minneapolis. to do the D3C "Double Denali" sea/land tour and were not disappointed. I was a bit concerned at first after reading ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We decided, with the recommendation of Charlene, our AAA travel agent in Minneapolis. to do the D3C "Double Denali" sea/land tour and were not disappointed. I was a bit concerned at first after reading some of the reviews about the Oosterdam a couple of weeks before our trip but have nothing bad to say, in fact, I found the ship, captain and crew to be outstanding! This is a two part trip. First a sea cruise from Vancouver to Seward and then land tours via bus or rail through Denali and ending in Fairbanks. Holland America takes care of their guests. You and your luggage will not fear of getting missed or lost. Outstanding stateroom stewards, great food, outstanding scenery and in our case, good weather. Probably there was not a critter we didn't see. Saw feeding humpbacks, Orcas, Grizzlys, otters, eagles, seals, i could go on and on. Take a look at their website and you will see what is possible. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first time on a large ship- Oosterdam has nearly 2000 passengers. The staff were superb and attentive, and the ship facilities extensive. The food was fairly good but not outstanding. The package was at first sight good value, ... Read More
This was our first time on a large ship- Oosterdam has nearly 2000 passengers. The staff were superb and attentive, and the ship facilities extensive. The food was fairly good but not outstanding. The package was at first sight good value, but the cost of optional extras was high: WiFi was extortionately priced, alcoholic drinks were very expensive, as was the spa, and shore excursions (though the ones we did were excellent). Entertainment on board was disappointing - we were hoping for some gentle ballroom dancing, but the dancing was either focussed on their dance competition, or cramped disco style. Talks were either all about on-shore shopping (yuk!) or very dumbed down where they were supposed to be informative. An irritation was lack of tea/coffee facilities around the ship - we had to go all the way to deck 9 for that. The ambience and style of the ship was brash and unimaginative : generally we found we couldn't wait to arrive in a port and get off - altogether a very forgettable experience. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
4th time cruising but first HAC cruise. 3 others were Carnival. I've always heard Carnival is the worst cruise line but I have never had any complaints. Currently on Day 5 of the Oosterdam, 7 Day Alaskan Cruise and I have a long list ... Read More
4th time cruising but first HAC cruise. 3 others were Carnival. I've always heard Carnival is the worst cruise line but I have never had any complaints. Currently on Day 5 of the Oosterdam, 7 Day Alaskan Cruise and I have a long list of complaints. Going to start with the positive: -Check-in in Vancouver was much easier than past experience, quick easy and friendly -Alaska is beautiful, once ported and on land our experience has been wonderful -The excursions so far are unbeatable. (Ziplining in Ketchikan, Taku Lodge Seaplane in Juneau) -Our room host is friendly, and stays out of the way mostly -Room is standard with balcony, nice size for a ship, clean... just as expected This has been such a wonderful experience seeing Alaska for the first time, I just wish we had chosen a different way to do it. We are a family group of 12, ranging 3 generations ages 18-78, so spending time with our family of course has been great. We have cruised before as a family and the ship/staff was very accommodating because we were a large, fun group. We almost feel unwelcome here and an inconvenience to most staff members. On the first night we went into dinner in our matching "family" shirts, and some of the young adult in nice shorts, one of three wearing shorts got sent away from the dining room to change, although dress code is "smart casual". Smart casual is not defined clearly I guess. Our servers at dinner are not friendly and are very slow. Slow is fine we understand the logistics are difficult, but an attempt at friendliness would be nice. Food is not good, no flavor. We did eat at one of the other restaurants, food was better, but dinner service took 3 hours and orders were mixed up. We laugh about it, but at a restaurant other than the main dining room we expect better service I guess. Staying on the topic of food, the Lido deck buffet for breakfast and lunch is horrendous. Food is disgusting, even the "regulars" like pizza and tacos are gross. Not sure what they are doing different from the Carnival ships I've been on, but it's bad. I will only eat dinner on the ship (because we have to) for the remaining time. They also don't have the late night food options like most cruises, everything but a select few room service items are pretty much shut down by 9:30-10:00pm. Late night room service also takes an hour minimum... so be prepared to wait. They also make you feel like you are inconveniencing them by ordering from the 24 hour room service menu. Speaking of shutting down, everything is empty by like 10:00pm. Mostly due to the age of the majority of the guests on the boat we assume. That's fine, maybe our fault for choosing this cruise line, but there is a definite stigma against young adults. We ended up in the casino every night so far, mostly because that is the only activity to do. We have heard the shows are bad, comedies are not funny, other activities are just trying to sell you stuff you don't want. The casino is fine, most staff is friendly, but we also feel like they don't want to be there, as the night gets later they just want to shut down and we are again, inconveniencing the staff. Casino is done by midnight or earlier each night. Last night they didn't even open the craps table due to "lack of staff". This is so much different than previous cruises where they wanted us to stay in the casino longer than we wanted to stay. We do appreciate the friendliness of the casino staff. Once the casino shuts down there are no options, bars/clubs that claim to be open til 2am on the information sheet are closed by 10:00-11:00pm. Lastly, currently in Skagway our excursion got cancelled due to an incident the previous day. Totally understandable, obviously not the cruise lines fault. We received a notice to call by 10:00am to receive our money back for the excursion. We called at 9:30am and she gave us a hard time even though we have a paper that says call by 10:00am. This issue was resolved quickly, but still, just be friendly!! There were some other little things that I would feel bad bringing up because after all we are on a cruise ship in Alaska and we are so appreciative of that. I just feel overall, we feel like an inconvenience to the staff and that they don't want to be here. There is a negativity on the ship that is very hard to ignore. We paid a lot of money for this trip and just expect good service. We were jealous when we met another couple on the Princess Cruise Line in Juneau raving about the service and staff. Next time, yes to Alaska, and a big no to the Oosterdam and HAC.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
This is not so much a detailed review as it is some notes and observations of my trip to Alaska on the Holland America's MS Oosterdam. We did the 11-day Denali, with the sea portion first, and the land portion second. - Arrived in ... Read More
This is not so much a detailed review as it is some notes and observations of my trip to Alaska on the Holland America's MS Oosterdam. We did the 11-day Denali, with the sea portion first, and the land portion second. - Arrived in Vancouver to find that Delta tore open my checked piece of luggage forcing me to buy a new suitcase in the very expensive downtown area. Fortunately I found one on sale at a Bay Harbor store near my hotel. - On-board staff was from Indonesia/Philippines. Nearly everyone worked hard, wore a smile, and was very patient and professional. There were a few exceptions though. Biggest complaint was that the language barrier could be an annoying problem. HAL really needs to make sure that crew members working in contact with customers have at least an average command of english. - overall, the ship was clean and appeared well maintained. - Room stewards were great and the towel animals were a nice touch. we gave them a pretty good tip at the end of the cruise for being on top of things and getting us some extra hangers, and extra sets of the daily schedule, keeping the fruit bowl filled, etc.. Again though, there were a few difficulties communicating due to our stewards having low english skills. - On-board activities were pretty lame, at least for me, and I rarely saw anything on the daily ships itinerary to get excited about. I did the main shows in the Vista Lounge almost every night and they were fairly professionally done; but overall there was very few on-board activities that I was interested in, or even did… spending most of my on-board time on the decks or on my verandah, reading or watching the scenery. Nearly every event or activity seemed to be trying to sell you something. I don't gamble so the casino and bingo were out for me. The drinks were too expensive to hang out at the bars (which were empty half the time anyway). The art gallery was fun to look at only once and I was not there to buy art. The stores were pretty lame (unless you are a big jewelry shopper). I never once used their internet cafe or library. I went to one cooking demonstration just to do something but otherwise could care less about the "culinary arts program'. Would have loved to use the spa and get a message, but it was way too expensive. I did do a game of music trivia in the piano bar one evening that was OK. I never even found the fitness center. If it hadn't been for the shore excursions I would have been bored to tears. - Food: I stuck with only the included meals. Either the Vista Dining Room or Lido Deck. I never used the Pinnacle grill or any other pay restaurants. The food on the Lido was average; though lots of choices. Breakfast opened a bit late for early risers. The scrambled eggs were absolutely disgusting - wet and sloppy! Food in the Vista dining room was generally good, however portion sizes were really small on most items (they were clearly going for that 'gourmet' vibe). The NY Strip was good and a decent sized portion. I needed to order two of the surf and turf entrees on the final formal night because the steak and lobster portions were tiny. Service was average (sometimes slow) and often drinks and plates were mixed up. My Dad bought the three bottle of wine deal for the family, but at the end of the cruise it ended up on my charge account. I just left it there and paid for it. Soda cards kept getting mixed up also. - I bought the soda card, but ended up not drinking enough soda to make it really worth while. There was no easy way to get a soda on the lido deck to have with your meal unless you walked to the forward or aft bars. - Photo gallery prices were ridiculous and I never bought any photos. Not to mention, the blue background they used was gaudy imo. It was also annoying having the photographer coming around during dinner and snapping pics. - Embarking and disembarking for excursions went fairly smoothly overall, though what deck was being used was not always communicated well. My father got poor treatment from one of the indonesian security guards. My Dad is not the quickest to understand things all the time, and the guard lost his patience with him because he was forgetting items in his pockets and ended up patted him down in a rude, impatient manner. - There is no self-serve Laundry on this ship. They had a $20.00 all you could fit per bag service but you need to use their bag, and it's REALLY small!!! About the size of a plastic grocery bag. It also takes 48 hours to get the laundry back which is really unacceptable. I washed some things in the sink and hung them on the line in the shower - but they took FOREVER to dry, even rung out really well. I'm assuming it was because of the damp air. - The whole land portion felt rushed and as though we never had the chance to relax. So much travel and in-and-out of hotels that it created an disturbing feeling. more exhausting than relaxing. All the hotel rooms needed better black-out curtains to help keep out the 'midnight sun'. The waitress at the Anchorage Hilton who served me in the sports bar overcharged me. It appears she must have given herself a bigger tip because it does not match my receipt. --- Overall, I was fairly disappointed with the ship-life part of the cruise, but not the cruise itself. There was virtually nothing on the ships daily itinerary that interested me. If it weren't for the shore excursions, and the Alaskan towns and scenery, I would have been severely disappointed. Not sure if I will ever book HAL again.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
My wife and I have just completed a 14-day Alaska cruise with Holland America on the MS Oosterdam. It was such an incredibly disappointing experience on all fronts that I feel that I must share my experience with other cruisers considering ... Read More
My wife and I have just completed a 14-day Alaska cruise with Holland America on the MS Oosterdam. It was such an incredibly disappointing experience on all fronts that I feel that I must share my experience with other cruisers considering sailing with Holland America. I apologize for the length of this review, but it is necessary. ACCESS FOR THE MOBILITY IMPAIRED - Like most cruise lines, Holland America only supplies wheelchair assistance for embarkation and disembarkation. The thing that sets Holland America and this cruise apart was the fact that I had to WALK several hundred yards from the bus/taxi drop off point to the office where you could request a wheelchair. While I was getting mine, a porter told the Holland America representative that a lady was sitting on the curb at the drop off point since she was unable to walk to the office. The HA rep was visibly annoyed and said that the woman would have to come to the office to get a wheelchair. Unbelievable! I do not know how the problem was resolved. There was a similar problem with disembarkation. We were told to report to one place on the ship if we needed a wheelchair. When none came, I managed to attract the attention of a HA rep and asked where the wheelchairs were. He appeared to be annoyed and told me “didn’t you hear the announcement?” You have to WALK to another area of the ship to claim your wheelchair for disembarkation. FOOD - This food on the trip, with a couple of exceptions, was very disappointing. The descriptions of the food made it sound fabulous, but they didn’t reflect reality. The food was not as described and was obviously “altered” to save money for HA. For example: “waldorf salad” consisted of apples and a little bit of celery (no grapes, no walnuts); a slice of fruit pie had two small pieces of fruit in it, the rest of the filling was thinned out fruit? liquid with a ton of cornstarch in it to make a gelatinous solid; “New York style cheesecake” looked like cheesecake, but was a concoction whipped up with air obviously to save money on ingredients; “baked Alaska” was just a small scoop of ice cream. Most of the main courses were of poor quality the worst being the fish, which was obviously frozen and was always dry and overcooked. After my second fish dish, I learned not to order that again. Unlike on our cruise earlier this year on the Emerald Princess, I never looked forward to dining on the Oosterdam. Worthy of special mention is the food on Lido buffet. I can only compare it to the worst of the chain cafeterias. For breakfast, the eggs were good (custom prepared), but that’s about it. The bacon was bordering on being raw, the waffles and pancakes were cold and like rubber, the “toast” was usually never toasted and was just awful and rubbery. They served you mini-portions (to save money). If you ordered an omelet, they would put about a teaspoon of fillings in it. I was in line next to a teenage boy (you know how they eat). He asked for pancakes and was given two, each about 3 inches in diameter. He was too intimidated to ask for more. While you can get by with breakfast and lunch (you can get a salad) on the Lido, don’t even think of eating dinner there. Enough said except to state that, as the cruise wore on, they were running out of food and the food became poorer by the day. FOOD SERVICE - Food service was terribly slow and inefficient. Either the waiters were on some kind of “work slowdown” or HA was understaffed. Can you imagine it taking an hour to have bacon and eggs! The hours of food service were very short (I’m sure they wanted to push you to eating at the Lido) and even the Lido had limited hours and was shut down by 10:30 at night (you couldn’t even get a cup of coffee after that except from room service). Our last cruise (3 months ago) was on the Emerald princess and they had the “International Café” which was staffed by a couple of people 24 hours a day. If you couldn’t sleep at night, you could go there and get a cup of coffee and read without disturbing your cabin mate. There was no such option on the Oosterdam. You would think that a ship with 2,000 passengers could afford to provide this service. Room service was, I believe, intentionally slow, in order to train you not to use it. It typically took the best part of an hour to get some coffee (or anything else) by which time you no longer wanted it. THE PASSENGER COMES SECOND - You would think that, at a minimum you should be able to enjoy the comfort of your room (we had a balcony). We returned back from breakfast one day to find that the balcony railing had been varnished. I have a lung condition and could not breath. We had to leave our stateroom for the day until the stench died down. Nobody ever bothered to ask us before doing this. Another day, we were told that they would be coming into our stateroom (at a time that we would normally be in bed) to hose down the veranda. It seems to me that whether it is ship maintenance or food service hours, or anything else, no consideration is given to the passenger. SALES PITCHES AD NAUSEUM - Being on this HA cruise was like being locked up with a bunch of high-pressure salesmen. The vast majority of activities on the ship either cost money or were sales pitches to make you spend money. Two weeks of this becomes very tedious and annoying ROOM STEWARD - The one bright spot on this cruise. Our steward was outstanding. As an example, the first day of the cruise I asked for ice so I could make myself a drink in my cabin. Thereafter, there was always fresh ice in my room without me asking. OTHER THOUGHTS - We took a 14-day cruise (Vancouver to Seward and back). HA should treat it as a 14-day cruise and not two seven-day cruises. Not only did we visit the same ports coming and going (we expected that), but also we were subjected to the same entertainment and same never-ending sales pitches. HA is way too cheap when it comes to making the passengers feel good. Princess had small token gifts and at least recognized it when you had a special occasion such as an anniversary. There was a wonderful lady on our cruise that was celebrating her 100th BIRTHDAY!!!! WOW! Guess what HA did to help her celebrate that great moment, NOTHING!!! I don’t know if HA is dishonest, or just doesn’t care about its customers. We had paid for an excursion and the HA staff directed us to the wrong bus and we missed our tour. I spoke to a HA representative the day we left the ship to get a refund and was given a business card and told to contact customer service. Customer service did not answer their phone (I was on hold a half hour) and they have failed to respond to an e-mail that I sent them regarding this matter. We are retired and will be cruising 3 to 4 times a year, but as I said earlier, NEVER NEVER again on Holland America.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
I have never cruised before but my wife and I wanted to visit the inside passage of Alaska and this is really the only way to do it. Not being cruisers, we normally like to road trip, we went in very green and opted for an interior ... Read More
I have never cruised before but my wife and I wanted to visit the inside passage of Alaska and this is really the only way to do it. Not being cruisers, we normally like to road trip, we went in very green and opted for an interior stateroom. Big mistake it was small, and to be honest it felt a little like a prison cell. Based on this we requested an upgrade and after 24 hours and two requests we were given an outer cabin with a balcony which gave a completely different meaning to cruising. So I guess our first lesson was do not try and do this type of travel on the cheap. I must say that as expected it did come at a cost but well worth it. We were travelling from the UK for three weeks and I did not want to lumber myself with suits for formal dining. I contacted Holland America to get a definition re formal dining dress. They informed me that the Lido restaurant (buffet style) required formal trousers and collared shirts for evening wear as did the Vista Restaurant on five nights the other two nights would be suit collar and tie. Based on this I just packed formal trousers and shirts with collars. When we got on board the dress wear for the Lido was very casual at all times and therefore we elected for the Vista Restaurant waiter service. Even on the full formal evenings people were being allowed in long sleeve shirts and ties. No jacket required. So I just bought a $10 tie on the ship. We were allocated a table along with six other guests and we were very lucky that we all got on very well and enjoyed each others company. The ship itself looked a little tired in places but was comfortable. As I say this was our first cruise so I cannot compare it with other companies but speaking to other more seasoned cruisers most were giving the impression that whilst they were happy with their lot there are better deals and companies out there. The staff were pleasant and very helpful especially the cabin and restaurant staff. The cruise offered varying sort of entertainment from nightly shows, and various types of music in a number of bars that you could dance or listen to. If you want to lose your shirt there is also a casino. There were also a number of interesting lectures regarding Alaska itself which gave a lot of background information on the State. Our main preference was to sit in the library area by the Crows Nest bar with a glass of wine. There is a coffee bar in this area which serves the best coffee on the ship but at a cost. The actual journey through the inside passage is to be recommended and the scenery spectacular. The three scheduled stops are small towns that lean more to the tourist and I would recommend that if you visit Alaska you should try and also travel inland by either car or train. The tours we elected for were worth the money and well organised. The one thing we did like about cruising was the fact that you went to bed and you woke up at your next destination and someone else has done the work to get you there. I must admit I personally found the last day in the open sea as a bit of a bore as you can only walk around a ship so many times and that is why I would not consider too many cruises in the future. With regard to the additional charges in respect of fixed rate gratuities and service charge I find these a little expensive but I cannot criticise Holland America too much on this as they all lines seem to charge similar fees. I note that people are not happy that they do not receive their final bill until they are just about to leave the ship, I got a copy of our up to date expenses the night before we left to give us time to study any discrepancies. This cruise served our purpose and Holland America was a good foundation for future cruises if we should take one. We felt we learnt the pit falls quickly and there are many but all in all an enjoyable experience.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
Restaurant operation seemed unprepared for guests. At various times ran out of coffee, coffee cups, and breakfast syrup. Had two buffet sides with different dishes. One side would close without warning during buffet operational hours. ... Read More
Restaurant operation seemed unprepared for guests. At various times ran out of coffee, coffee cups, and breakfast syrup. Had two buffet sides with different dishes. One side would close without warning during buffet operational hours. Bring a book as there are very few day activities. Crew can't give any information or dispense incorrect information. On a five night cruise we experienced "songs and dances" from their native land (crew provided entertainment) and "Dancing with the Stars at Sea" (passengers provided the entertainment). One night there was no entertainment. Cruise line therefore paid for entertainment 2/5 nights. Ship is old and needs a facelift. I shared all of this in the post cruise review and never got a reply. It was my first and last cruise on Holland America. At the final departure port in Fairbanks it turned out that Holland American owned the hotel and restaurant provided in the package. The land experience was like the sea experience. Dinner in the restaurant took three hours. They were out of half the entrees on the menu. We all ordered dessert and one guy in our party gave up after an hour and went back to his room. Holland America also seems to cut corners on lighting. The dim lighting did help cover up the shabby condition of the ship! Read Less
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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