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kangforpres

First time cruise review with family, 4 star mariner report

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Well I got to take my brother and his twin daughters (my nieces) with me to Alaska on the Oosterdam on 08/04-08/11. First time I've sailed with anyone who is not my wife.

 

We quickly agreed the 3 of them would get the corner Neptune Suite and I would take the Interior across the hall (having my own cabin was a trade-off for missing the Neptune Lounge and PG breakfast.

 

It was their first cruise and they absolutely fell in love with everything about it, they were in a Suite after all enjoying the high life, we ate every meal in the MDR and the food quality was above average, my brother couldn't believe he could get Rack of Lamb one night, and then Lamb Shank the next. My nieces are vegetarian/vegan and after the first night they got to pre-order the next night's meal off the Veterinarian Menu the have copies of in the MDR if you ask.

 

Our dining room stewards where wonderful and one of them made Origami animals for my 13 year old nieces every night, our cabin stewards where also excellent, too me the things that still stand out for me with HAL is the service and the food quality. I know many are upset with the diminishing choices in the MDR, but on Gala nights it is still a 4 course meal and on other nights your can always order 2 starters and you entree.

 

The Lido was fine but always busy, It was a completely sold out cruise with many newbies so having patience for your fellow cruisers  in the Lido was indeed needed. 

 

My nieces didn't find their Teen/Tween cohorts until the 4th night of the cruise, my mistake sort of. On embarkation day I took them to Club Hal and it had 2 doors one listed for 6-12 year- olds and one listed for 6 and under. They are 13. We didn't put 2 and 2 together and realize The Loft is for Teen and Tweens not Club HAL, they could have meet their age-group fellow cruisers much sooner, but uncle kind of dropped the ball. They still had 3 nights/days together with a really well behaved and adventures group of 13-17 year olds.

 

All of the shore excursions where fine and whale watching in Juneau was great, they even got to see their first breach. And a whole bunch of flipper waves from a mama whale with 2 calf's. It was alarming warm all over South East Alaska that week and Seas where exceptionally calm. From Seattle you go on the outside of Vancouver Island for a 7 day RT, because you have to book it top speed 21-22 knots to get there and back in 7 days.

 

79 degrees and not a cloud in the sky in Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier is fading fast and expected to reced 800 ft this year instead of the usual 400 ft. Hubbard Glacier was grand and is still a spectacle to behold for the first time or 3rd time in my case.

 

Now for my observations, conclusions from a 4 star perspective. The Oosterdam staff and crew seem to still really enjoy their work, the food is still good. I really miss having music in the Ocean Bar, why is there a piano there at all if it never gets played? The Music walk is fine for what it is but sometimes I just want to grab my book find a comfy chair have a few drinks and listen to someone play piano or the old Neptune's jazz trio from days gone by.

 

I appreciate the musicianship in BB King's but I was solo and didn't want to go there by myself, I just was never in the mood for classical at Lincoln Center stage and neither of the dueling piano guys in Billboard had a signing voice. No really I heard them try to sing, while I was spending way too much time in the Casino each night.

 

Also, the bartender in the Seaview Bar at night was great, made me feel really welcomed and appreciated and was impressed that I was a Bourbon and Scotch drinker, he didn't say so but I think he gets tired of serving Bud Light all day and night (Yes that's an elitist comment).

 

We will keep sailing with HAL, we still really like the service and feel of the ships, plus the 4 star Mariner benefit of laundry is too good to pass-up. I know a lot of HAL loyalist chagrin all the changes, cut-backs and economizing, or monetizing of everything. I don't like them either.  But we have tried Celebrity, Cunard, Princess, RCI and well there really just don't feel as nas nice to us as the HAL experience. I guess we could give Celebrity another try  or Oceania since they send us a brochure every week, but we still get a home away from home feeling from HAL.

 

Thanks for reading this far, 

 

Paul

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6 hours ago, kangforpres said:

Well I got to take my brother and his twin daughters (my nieces) with me to Alaska on the Oosterdam on 08/04-08/11. First time I've sailed with anyone who is not my wife.

 

We quickly agreed the 3 of them would get the corner Neptune Suite and I would take the Interior across the hall (having my own cabin was a trade-off for missing the Neptune Lounge and PG breakfast.

 

It was their first cruise and they absolutely fell in love with everything about it, they were in a Suite after all enjoying the high life, we ate every meal in the MDR and the food quality was above average, my brother couldn't believe he could get Rack of Lamb one night, and then Lamb Shank the next. My nieces are vegetarian/vegan and after the first night they got to pre-order the next night's meal off the Veterinarian Menu the have copies of in the MDR if you ask.

 

Our dining room stewards where wonderful and one of them made Origami animals for my 13 year old nieces every night, our cabin stewards where also excellent, too me the things that still stand out for me with HAL is the service and the food quality. I know many are upset with the diminishing choices in the MDR, but on Gala nights it is still a 4 course meal and on other nights your can always order 2 starters and you entree.

 

The Lido was fine but always busy, It was a completely sold out cruise with many newbies so having patience for your fellow cruisers  in the Lido was indeed needed. 

 

My nieces didn't find their Teen/Tween cohorts until the 4th night of the cruise, my mistake sort of. On embarkation day I took them to Club Hal and it had 2 doors one listed for 6-12 year- olds and one listed for 6 and under. They are 13. We didn't put 2 and 2 together and realize The Loft is for Teen and Tweens not Club HAL, they could have meet their age-group fellow cruisers much sooner, but uncle kind of dropped the ball. They still had 3 nights/days together with a really well behaved and adventures group of 13-17 year olds.

 

All of the shore excursions where fine and whale watching in Juneau was great, they even got to see their first breach. And a whole bunch of flipper waves from a mama whale with 2 calf's. It was alarming warm all over South East Alaska that week and Seas where exceptionally calm. From Seattle you go on the outside of Vancouver Island for a 7 day RT, because you have to book it top speed 21-22 knots to get there and back in 7 days.

 

79 degrees and not a cloud in the sky in Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier is fading fast and expected to reced 800 ft this year instead of the usual 400 ft. Hubbard Glacier was grand and is still a spectacle to behold for the first time or 3rd time in my case.

 

Now for my observations, conclusions from a 4 star perspective. The Oosterdam staff and crew seem to still really enjoy their work, the food is still good. I really miss having music in the Ocean Bar, why is there a piano there at all if it never gets played? The Music walk is fine for what it is but sometimes I just want to grab my book find a comfy chair have a few drinks and listen to someone play piano or the old Neptune's jazz trio from days gone by.

 

I appreciate the musicianship in BB King's but I was solo and didn't want to go there by myself, I just was never in the mood for classical at Lincoln Center stage and neither of the dueling piano guys in Billboard had a signing voice. No really I heard them try to sing, while I was spending way too much time in the Casino each night.

 

Also, the bartender in the Seaview Bar at night was great, made me feel really welcomed and appreciated and was impressed that I was a Bourbon and Scotch drinker, he didn't say so but I think he gets tired of serving Bud Light all day and night (Yes that's an elitist comment).

 

We will keep sailing with HAL, we still really like the service and feel of the ships, plus the 4 star Mariner benefit of laundry is too good to pass-up. I know a lot of HAL loyalist chagrin all the changes, cut-backs and economizing, or monetizing of everything. I don't like them either.  But we have tried Celebrity, Cunard, Princess, RCI and well there really just don't feel as nas nice to us as the HAL experience. I guess we could give Celebrity another try  or Oceania since they send us a brochure every week, but we still get a home away from home feeling from HAL.

 

Thanks for reading this far, 

 

Paul

Paul,

Thank you for such a wonderful report on your journey to Alaska and The Oosterdam!  What makes HAL special is what you said the crew!! We found also that at the Sea View Bar the bartenders really get to know you and make you feel welcomed. I’m glad your nieces found The Loft and enjoyed themselves too! 

Have many more great adventures on HAL!

Denise😊

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Thanks for posting your well balanced review, I agree with all your comments, glad your family had a wonderful first time cruise, hope they get to enjoy many more. 

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Great review and so glad you and your family had a great cruise and some great sightings!

 

Thanks for taking the time to report and give us an enjoyable read 🙂 

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Thank you for taking the time to write your review -- especially the part about your family enjoying their first cruise.

 

How wonderful you had lovely weather.  We also enjoy Hubbard Glacier and have been there quite a few times.

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Thanks for taking the time to post your comments.

Glad everyone enjoyed their cruise.  I hope there will be many more.

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Thank you for your review. I will be traveling on the Oosterdam in a couple of months, so I am happy to hear that she has a great crew!

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So glad the cruise worked out for you after the earlier postings about how to make it work with one Neptune suite and an inside cabin.

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Thank you for reviewing your cruise.

Is Lamb not avilable for your brother to eat at home?

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Thanks for the great review.  I really like your positive attitude.

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1 hour ago, erewhon said:

Thank you for reviewing your cruise.

Is Lamb not avilable for your brother to eat at home?

 Well not unless they start serving lamb at McDonald's. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, erewhon said:

Thank you for reviewing your cruise.

Is Lamb not avilable for your brother to eat at home?

If I recall you are from Australia, right?

 

Lamb isn’t common in most main stream (non-ethnic) grocery stores in California, except around Easter. Sometimes you can find lamb chops or a small roast. It depends on the market. I’ve noticed it showing up more frequently recently than several years ago.

 

Lamb was on the menu several times during my last several cruises so I enjoyed that.

Edited by TiogaCruiser

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, TiogaCruiser said:

If I recall you are from Australia, right?

 

Lamb isn’t common in most main stream (non-ethnic) grocery stores in California, except around Easter. Sometimes you can find lamb chops or a small roast. It depends on the market. I’ve noticed it showing up more frequently recently than several years ago.

 

Lamb was on the menu several times during my last several cruises so I enjoyed that.

Lamb especially different cuts is sometimes difficult to find here in NC....Costco carries it...thank goodness...specialty stores like the Fresh Market will have it...but very very expensive...I am also thrilled to be able to have lamb while cruising!!

Edited by jbhcw

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I enjoyed your review.  I was on the Nieuw Amsterdam in June and I too really liked the rack of lamb.

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Yes, that's right for non North Americans particularly from Australia or New Zealand, lamb is the one meat not all that abundant in the USA, unless you are in Colorado.  So having lamb options on the MDR on HAL ships is a nice option for us Yanks.

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Thanks for reporting on the family Alaska experience.  It’s something I’ve been debating....HAL or Princess for a family cruise.  13 sounds like a good age for enjoying both the cruise, other teens,  and Alaska.  Neptune Suite for more space, free laundry, and snacks in the lounge sounds like a good idea!   

 

 

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Thanks for the information regarding availability of Lamb in USA.  Did not realise that it's not so freely available.

We take  lamb for granted, usually eat lamb at least once  a week, it has increased in price recently, we will often roast a leg of lamb......great New Zealand lamb.

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Thanks for your review.  It is lovely to share HAL with family and friends as they discover the experience I've raved about for years.  Yes, I agree with you that sailing with Holland America Line is like coming home each time.  So glad everyone had a fabulous time.  What great memories you and your family created together.

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