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Brief review of Oosterdam Western Caribbean Feb 24 to March 3


JPH814
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This won't be a soups to nuts review. I will hit the highlights and low lights as I experienced them. I also will post other threads about specific things that I think may be of specific interest to people searching. (For example, I already posted a thread about the new Piano bar and another about my spa experience)

 

We were a group of 20 - siblings, spouses, a couple of cousins and a bunch of friends. We were all about the same age and most were experienced cruisers some more than others, and some with a broader range of experiences. I am 62 and most in our group were my contemporaries.

 

Bottom line - I had a very good time. Some aspects were A+, most a solid B. A few aspects were bad..

 

Here we go

 

Food.

 

Main Dining Room; I would give the main dining room a B. I think it has slipped a little since previous cruises. Steaks and fish entrees were OK, but small and dried out. The prime rib (I always ask for an end-cut ) I really enjoyed, but it was not the wow I remembered from my earlier HAL cruises. Others who got the regular slice were a little disappointed- a thin cut and did not look as good as mine. My bigger problem was the temperature of the dinning room. I was sweating through dinner and I noticed many other guys taking off their jackets at dinner. ( I will probably post about this separately.) On a happy note, it seems they have solved the drink problem. Wine service in the MDR was fabulous.Very quick and very attentive.In the past this was a major problem. Maybe the new PC Tablets they use to place orders helps.

 

 

Lido:I only ate on the Lido for lunch. It was very good. The best feature is the salad bar. A very broad selection of veggies, proteins, toppings and dressings made to order. The other thing to notice is the sandwich selection. YES YOU CAN GET A MADE TO ORDER SANDWICH. And there are also pre-made sandwiches that to me tasted pretty fresh. They also had a nice selection of lunch entrees and a carving station each day. I love the pizza.

 

Pinnacle Grill: I love the PC. Dinner was wonderful. We went with my cousin and her spouse so had a nice dinner for 4. We bought a couple of bottles of very nice red wine. (Maybe a bit more pricey than a most restaurants, but not bad) I had the larger filet with the 6 ounce lobster tail ($10 up charge). Wonderful, Good lobster bisque to start and a souffle for dessert. Very nice service and a quiet, classy atmosphere. We also had the perk of breakfast in the PC each morning.(yes, we were in a suite). It may be the same menu as the MDR breakfast, but it was such a different experience. And you can get French Press Coffee (mine was decaf) which is so much better than the regular stuff.

 

Canaletto: What a surprise! One of the highlights of our week. I arranged a last minute dinner for 8 for come of our group one evening. We had a an large oval table and it worked perfectly for the plate sharing style of the menu. Worth the $10 per person upcharge.

 

Never tried room service or the burger place, although my friends raved about the burgers.

 

Entertainment

 

Some of this will be second hand reporting. With second seating dinner, my evening entertainment was actually at the craps table. (A very friendly crew and, also, very friendly dice.) If anyone wants more about the casino, let me know.

 

My family loved the dueling pianos in the Billboard place. There were two "kids" playing (ages mid 20's at most). They were good musicians, passable singers and they played three sets a night.They drew a large crowd in the much larger, new venue.. I wrote a separate post about the place.

 

Our groups also seemed to like the BBKing shows.A lot of dancing and high energy entertainers. None of our group enjoyed the main theater shows. Nothing like the shows in the past with singing and dancing. One night was a comedian, another a magician, one night dancers and another a solo piano player. those that went were not impressed and most of us did not bother.

 

One major complaint: The ship is dead after 11 PM. the shows are over, the piano bar is done. Most of the bars are closed - it took a while to find out the ones that stayed open "late" (Defined as midnight). What a shame. For those with late dinner, you are just starting to digest your food at 11. If there is a reason why many of our guests will not choose HAL in the future, it will be for that reason.

 

I will continue this thread later...

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Drinks

 

We drink a lot, We drink around the pool. We drink at dinner. We drink at the bars and in the casino. So it is a pretty important aspect of our cruise. The good news: Service in the dining room is much improved. Service in the bars is pretty good too. Two big complaints and one little one.

1) We all had the 15 drinks a day package.as a perk. The wines offered are not very good. The chardonnay and the pinot noir offered in the package are watery. We attempted to upgrade our package for a price tso we could drink better wines, but we were not allowed to do so. Mixed drinks were not too bad. I had Absolute Vodka in my appletinis, Grand Marnier or Galliano after dinner, etc. But for the wine drinkers, they had to buy wine by the glass or bottle to get something they enjoyed.

2) Service by the pool was terrible. We were laying by the pool on at least three afternoons and there might be one server serving quite a large number of people. We waited over on hour frequently between server-sightings.

3) Now the silly complaint...the straws are too damn short!. Who puts a pina collada in a 10 inch glass and serves it with an 8 inch straw???

 

General service

 

Previous posts have complained about the service, especially in the cabins. For the first time, I feel I could agree with them, I never met them until the 5th day...they always seemed to be up the other end of the hall (I think we were the end room of their responsibilities). Lot's of little things which gives you the impression that the stewards are maybe stretched too thin.

  • Dirty dishes in our suite upon our arrival. I put them on the floor outside the cabin and they stayed there for several hours.
  • No daily program left 2 out of 7 nights.
  • No dinner menu left 3 out of 7 days
  • Other things (including a flyer about in-port spa special) not left in room. This turned into an issue later
  • Only one beach towel in the room...had to call for another.
  • No pillow spray in the room (OK - this can not even be considered a first world problem, but still, an example of inattention to detail)

I also had to very closely examine my folio several times.

  • I had a Stockholders On Board Credit that was not applied. Luckily I had a confirming email.
  • We had $100 worth of internet service but only mine was free, my wife's was charged (until I complained).
  • We prebooked and paid for a beach cabana for two and sailing excursion for me. Upon arrival , we had the tickets for the cabana but not the sailing. That required two trips to the concierge, a trip to the front desk and three phone calls to straighten out.
  • We had a Pinnacle Grill Dinner as part of our package, In the past, there would be a card upon arrival telling us the date and time, Not this time...we had to call to find out what day and time we were assigned

Were any of these disasters, no. But why do I need to waste time on my vacation tracking down a daily program or straightening out a billing screw up? Holland America is slipping in its execution - at least on this cruise.

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Excursions

 

We only did two.

 

In Roatan we reserved a cabana. When you have a wife with very fair skin, this was a necessity. Well worth it, Very private and relaxing with everything we needed (except towels - remember to bring them with you) My brother had the one next to us and we had 10 people between the two cabanas. (We had to pay extra for more than 4 people per cabana. Great service by our Cabana person. Good drinks - although the food kinda sucked.

 

In Cozumel I went with my brother and a few others to do the America's Cup Yacht racing. Another highlight of our trip. So much fun and a completely unique experience. Again, if anyone wants details, let me know.

 

In Key West we visited the Truman White House and Hemingway Home. Between those two stops was a lunch at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant so that pretty much filled up our day on shore.

 

Conclusion

 

We had a great time. Mostly because we had a great group of family and friends. Holland America and the ship get a Solid B for me..As I said, some things were very positive and excellent. There were a few minor and a couple of major disappointments. Maybe I am getting a little spoiled because of some upscale cruises lately on Seabourn and Uniworld. But for what you pay on HAL, it was good value. I just think HAL used to be a better value than it is today.

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Thanks for the honest and fair review Joe. We are boarding on the 10th for 21 days and will hopefully avoid some of the irritants you were subjected to. We usually roll with the punches, except when it comes to food and wine. ;)

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Thanks for the honest and fair review Joe. We are boarding on the 10th for 21 days and will hopefully avoid some of the irritants you were subjected to. We usually roll with the punches, except when it comes to food and wine. ;)

 

 

I an sure you will enjoy it. The piano bar was actually a pleasant surprise. But it is not fair to compare these guys to Stryker. But you and Lisa will enjoy it.

 

BTW We also had a very nice wine tasting one afternoon in the Pinnacle Grill2f5c66b7acaa928be6e07b4e2f1bca04.jpg

 

 

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Very interesting Joe. Thanks so much for the review.

 

May I ask a question about your internet please? You say you had the $100 credit? It sounds like what we will have next year.

 

It sounds like it was an actual internet credit and not obc. Am I understanding that correctly? If you had the $100 internet each then it sounds like the same. Could you buy a larger package and get it?

 

Thanks very much if you don't mind sharing.

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Very interesting Joe. Thanks so much for the review.

 

May I ask a question about your internet please? You say you had the $100 credit? It sounds like what we will have next year.

 

It sounds like it was an actual internet credit and not obc. Am I understanding that correctly? If you had the $100 internet each then it sounds like the same. Could you buy a larger package and get it?

 

Thanks very much if you don't mind sharing.

 

 

We had on board credit plus we had $100 worth of internet ( I believe it bought 250 minutes). If you run out you can buy more.

 

 

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They really need to get the beverage package policy in line fleet wide. POA1 reported that he had to ask many before one finally agreed to upgrade. When we were on Westerdam last October a bartender suggested upgrading and took care of it in minutes. We heard beverage servers recommending Elite package upgrades to other passengers.

 

I will say that we will likely not upgrade again. We always get a wine package to cover all nights and normally drink from the bar menu so really wasn't worth the extra charge for us.

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We had on board credit plus we had $100 worth of internet ( I believe it bought 250 minutes). If you run out you can buy more.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

 

If I run out? LOL.

 

Seriously thank you for sharing. Good info and helpful to me for next year.

 

Much appreciated.

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They really need to get the beverage package policy in line fleet wide. POA1 reported that he had to ask many before one finally agreed to upgrade. When we were on Westerdam last October a bartender suggested upgrading and took care of it in minutes. We heard beverage servers recommending Elite package upgrades to other passengers.

 

I will say that we will likely not upgrade again. We always get a wine package to cover all nights and normally drink from the bar menu so really wasn't worth the extra charge for us.

 

 

We were told that if you purchase the basic package you can pay to upgrade. But since we were given the basic package as part of a promotion, we could not pay to upgrade it. This was a discussion with the beverage manager.

 

 

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We were told that if you purchase the basic package you can pay to upgrade. But since we were given the basic package as part of a promotion, we could not pay to upgrade it. This was a discussion with the beverage manager.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

 

 

We were on the Explore 4 with the promo and were upgraded with no problem. Again, inconsistency at its finest. I would think that since the basic package is promo they would like the extra revenue from the upgrades.

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Thank you for reviewing your Oosterdam cruise.

 

Am surprised that you did not meet the room stewards until the 5th day.

 

Our room was at the end of their run of rooms and was around the corner from where their other rooms were. So we did not see them in the hallway like you normally would. They did not make any effort to see us, nor did we make an effort to find them either.

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Our room was at the end of their run of rooms and was around the corner from where their other rooms were. So we did not see them in the hallway like you normally would. They did not make any effort to see us, nor did we make an effort to find them either.

 

 

Sounds like the steward was doing the job well.

 

Thank you for sharing your experience.

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Sounds like the steward was doing the job well.

 

Thank you for sharing your experience.

 

 

I have no problem with invisible cabin stewards. I don't need to be their BFF - as long as they are efficient. But when they miss something I would like to be able to find them.

 

 

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If anyone wants more about the casino, let me know.
Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. We will be sailing soon on Oosterdam and the casino is one of our favorite activities. A couple questions:

 

While every cruise is different, was there decent participation at the tables? Also, what were evening table minimums for BJ, 3 card poker type table games? We are also hoping that quarter slots are well represented in the casino. The casino looks awfully small.

Again, thanks for sharing.

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Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. We will be sailing soon on Oosterdam and the casino is one of our favorite activities. A couple questions:

 

While every cruise is different, was there decent participation at the tables? Also, what were evening table minimums for BJ, 3 card poker type table games? We are also hoping that quarter slots are well represented in the casino. The casino looks awfully small.

Again, thanks for sharing.

 

 

The casino was a pretty good size. If you ask me, it was much too large given the amount of play,

 

I played mostly craps at night. The table did not open until 8 and my brother and I were 2 of about 6 people we saw at the table all week. The minimum was $5 on the pass line but you could only do 2 times odds. I fear HAL is going to take the table out. I cannot believe they made enough profit to pay the crew. (I know they lost money on me....I played every night for 1 to 2 hours and ended the trip up $300!).

 

As for other games, I played some blackjack and roulette a couple of afternoons. The minimum was $6 for black jack (they really wanted you to put five on the hand and 1 on the special bet). I am pretty sure the Roulette minimum was $10 (That is what I usually bet but it could have been a $5 table. i did not notice.

 

No idea about the slots.

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Drinks

 

We drink a lot, We drink around the pool. We drink at dinner. We drink at the bars and in the casino. So it is a pretty important aspect of our cruise. The good news: Service in the dining room is much improved. Service in the bars is pretty good too. Two big complaints and one little one.

1) We all had the 15 drinks a day package.as a perk. The wines offered are not very good. The chardonnay and the pinot noir offered in the package are watery. We attempted to upgrade our package for a price tso we could drink better wines, but we were not allowed to do so. Mixed drinks were not too bad. I had Absolute Vodka in my appletinis, Grand Marnier or Galliano after dinner, etc. But for the wine drinkers, they had to buy wine by the glass or bottle to get something they enjoyed.

2) Service by the pool was terrible. We were laying by the pool on at least three afternoons and there might be one server serving quite a large number of people. We waited over on hour frequently between server-sightings.

3) Now the silly complaint...the straws are too damn short!. Who puts a pina collada in a 10 inch glass and serves it with an 8 inch straw???

 

General service

 

Previous posts have complained about the service, especially in the cabins. For the first time, I feel I could agree with them, I never met them until the 5th day...they always seemed to be up the other end of the hall (I think we were the end room of their responsibilities). Lot's of little things which gives you the impression that the stewards are maybe stretched too thin.

  • Dirty dishes in our suite upon our arrival. I put them on the floor outside the cabin and they stayed there for several hours.
  • No daily program left 2 out of 7 nights.
  • No dinner menu left 3 out of 7 days
  • Other things (including a flyer about in-port spa special) not left in room. This turned into an issue later
  • Only one beach towel in the room...had to call for another.
  • No pillow spray in the room (OK - this can not even be considered a first world problem, but still, an example of inattention to detail)

I also had to very closely examine my folio several times.

  • I had a Stockholders On Board Credit that was not applied. Luckily I had a confirming email.
  • We had $100 worth of internet service but only mine was free, my wife's was charged (until I complained).
  • We prebooked and paid for a beach cabana for two and sailing excursion for me. Upon arrival , we had the tickets for the cabana but not the sailing. That required two trips to the concierge, a trip to the front desk and three phone calls to straighten out.
  • We had a Pinnacle Grill Dinner as part of our package, In the past, there would be a card upon arrival telling us the date and time, Not this time...we had to call to find out what day and time we were assigned

Were any of these disasters, no. But why do I need to waste time on my vacation tracking down a daily program or straightening out a billing screw up? Holland America is slipping in its execution - at least on this cruise.

 

Thank you for your quite comprehensive review. We have sailed on Princes and Royal Caribbean several times, but never before on HAL. I was surprised by all the little annoyances you had to endure. We are going on a 30 day cruise and paid (to us) a small fortune for it so it would be very disappointing to have this happening for that length of time. Our former cruises were outstanding. Absolutely no complaints. I am already exhausted from planning this one!

I hope you will post reviews of any excursions you took as we are still in the process of choosing.

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Thank you for your quite comprehensive review. We have sailed on Princes and Royal Caribbean several times, but never before on HAL. I was surprised by all the little annoyances you had to endure. We are going on a 30 day cruise and paid (to us) a small fortune for it so it would be very disappointing to have this happening for that length of time. Our former cruises were outstanding. Absolutely no complaints. I am already exhausted from planning this one!

I hope you will post reviews of any excursions you took as we are still in the process of choosing.

 

 

We were on the same cruise and had no issues at all. In fact we sailed Oosterdam Jan 13-27 also with no issues. We were in an obstructed view on deck 4 on the 7 day and an inside room on deck 7 near the Neptune lounge on the 14 day. Great service all around.

 

 

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