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Unhappy Oosterdam Reviewers


Seasick Sailor
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I just happened to stumble on this thread and it got my interest too the extent that I had to go and read the last couple of dozen Oosterdam Reviews.  Yes, I understand that HAL has plenty of fans (most over 70) for which the line can do no wrong.  And yes, we know that there are chronic complainers who find fault with everything.  But a careful reading of the reviews (which were filled with many facts) caused me some concern.  And it is not so much about the Oosterdam (a ship that we have only cruised on for 40 days) but about HAL.  I do not cruise with young children (ours are grown) but sympathize with anyone who booked a cruise based on an advertised children's program only to find the program had been eliminated!  The complaints about lack of activities on sea days is valid (for nearly any HAL cruise) as the line has cut-back on their cruise staff (often only 2 or 3 in that Department) and rely on constant Trivia (multiple times a day) as a mainstay.  Not everyone finds constant team trivia entertaining.  Complaints about entertainment?  Why would anyone complain about a line that has eliminated all their production shows, eliminated ship's bands, fired the ship's singers and dancers, etc?   Equipment in the gym not working?  My goodness, why should most HAL cruisers care (because they obviously never go to the gym).  Lack of butlers for the most expensive suites?  That is not a biggie.  Or course one could go on MSC in their Yacht Club (for about $300 per person day) and be met by a Butler before you even entered the terminal at embarkation...and then be led through security, to a nice lounge with drinks and food, and then finally led onto the ship by another butler.   But why would we expect that kind of service when we are paying several times the cost for a Neptune Suite (or even a mere SS cabin?  And who cares if excellent lecturers have disappeared from nearly all cruises, destination experts are gone, etc?   And what is wrong with a little rust, dirt, an uncleaned cabin or an empty ice bucket?  Limited dining hours in the MDR and Lido?  Who cares since we can simply eat when things are open.  Sure, some of us are used to being on ships when you do not even need to look at lido schedules because it is always open!  We just returned from our 2nd MSC (Yacht Club) cruise where our dedicated restaurant was open on embarkation day, sea days, and even port days.  In fact, that restaurant simply served 3 meals a day for every day!  What a concept.  And if we wanted to go to the Lido there was no need to look at the schedule because it was open....from early morning until the wee hours at night.  As to production shows they had them every night.  And they did not show movies in the main theater (not even sure they had a movie screen) and pretend it was their "entertainment."

 

Listen folks, HAL has been changing and it is not pretty.   Some folks can put their head in the sand (or close their eyes) and tell themselves that all is fine.  But all is not fine :(.  We are giving HAL one more chance (30 days on the Westy) but are not rushing out to book anymore HAL cruises until we see how things go on that cruise.

 

Perhaps we have created our own problem because we cruise on many different lines and have a basis of comparison.  How does the HAL of today (not yesterday) stack up against the competition?  We shall see.

 

Hank

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Given the angry tone of the recent thread on the Oosterdam Club HAL changes, I would expect that even some of the negative reviews that don't mention Club HAL were motivated by the changes. Agree re the HAL cheerleaders, though.

Edited by Wehwalt
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6 hours ago, Wehwalt said:

Given the angry tone of the recent thread on the Oosterdam Club HAL changes, I would expect that even some of the negative reviews that don't mention Club HAL were motivated by the changes. Agree re the HAL cheerleaders, though.

My issue is that there are "cheerleaders" for every cruise line that adopt their favorite cruise line and have a "can do no wrong" attitude.  These folks quickly flame (or trash) reviews or even posted comments that put their line into a bad light...even if the comments are true/accurate.  We experienced this phenomenon a few years ago when we posted some very negative comments about the Rotterdam (which we could easily back-up with pictures).  Some here on CC refused to accept that all was not perfect and even dismissed major water leaks (with lots of buckets) in the Lido by saying "we were on the ship and it did not happen).  It is as though some folks view their favorite lines through closed eyes and blocked ears!

 

Another great example was when HAL decided to end their "Production Shows" with little or no notice!  I recall a post here on CC that tried to defend HAL by saying, "we never go to the shows."  Or, if somebody has an issue with the wine packages (discounted for 3, 4 and 5 Star Mariners) somebody will post something like "I don't care because we don't drink wine"  or "we only purchase bottles of better wines."  

 

It can be difficult for cruise newbies (or a newbie to a particular line) to get accurate information.  On a recent MSC cruise we had cocktails with a few couples and one was asking us a lot of questions about HAL (they were thinking of booking a long cruise) when I mentioned that HAL had stopped their Production Shows and we had no clue as to the future of entertainment on HAL.  Another couple at the table quickly said we were wrong and that HAL had terrific production shows on all their ships and they also touted the wonderful HAL Cats.  It turned out their last HAL cruise was 6 years ago and they simply assumed nothing had changed.  We see that all the time here on CC where folks will tell you what they experienced several years ago...not realizing that many things have changed.

 

Hank 

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32 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

My issue is that there are "cheerleaders" for every cruise line that adopt their favorite cruise line and have a "can do no wrong" attitude.  These folks quickly flame (or trash) reviews or even posted comments that put their line into a bad light...even if the comments are true/accurate.  We experienced this phenomenon a few years ago when we posted some very negative comments about the Rotterdam (which we could easily back-up with pictures).  Some here on CC refused to accept that all was not perfect and even dismissed major water leaks (with lots of buckets) in the Lido by saying "we were on the ship and it did not happen).  It is as though some folks view their favorite lines through closed eyes and blocked ears!

 

Another great example was when HAL decided to end their "Production Shows" with little or no notice!  I recall a post here on CC that tried to defend HAL by saying, "we never go to the shows."  Or, if somebody has an issue with the wine packages (discounted for 3, 4 and 5 Star Mariners) somebody will post something like "I don't care because we don't drink wine"  or "we only purchase bottles of better wines."  

 

It can be difficult for cruise newbies (or a newbie to a particular line) to get accurate information.  On a recent MSC cruise we had cocktails with a few couples and one was asking us a lot of questions about HAL (they were thinking of booking a long cruise) when I mentioned that HAL had stopped their Production Shows and we had no clue as to the future of entertainment on HAL.  Another couple at the table quickly said we were wrong and that HAL had terrific production shows on all their ships and they also touted the wonderful HAL Cats.  It turned out their last HAL cruise was 6 years ago and they simply assumed nothing had changed.  We see that all the time here on CC where folks will tell you what they experienced several years ago...not realizing that many things have changed.

 

Hank 

 

I wouldn't take seriously any entertainment review that said the HAL Cats were wonderful!!!

 

I don't read the reviews part of CC. Too many one-shot wonders.  I'm more inclined to read reviews here, especially if I "know" the poster. And the tone makes a difference, too. I have a hard time believing that a cruise can have NOTHING good about it. Maybe more bad than good, but I respect the reviews that present some kind of balance because that shows some thought rather than just a rant that begins with "It ruined my cruise!"

 

 

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1 hour ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

I wouldn't take seriously any entertainment review that said the HAL Cats were wonderful!!!

 

I don't read the reviews part of CC. Too many one-shot wonders.  I'm more inclined to read reviews here, especially if I "know" the poster. And the tone makes a difference, too. I have a hard time believing that a cruise can have NOTHING good about it. Maybe more bad than good, but I respect the reviews that present some kind of balance because that shows some thought rather than just a rant that begins with "It ruined my cruise!"

 

 

I think we would get along :).  When we are asked which is our favorite line our response is usually something like "every line has its pros and cons."  Despite having cruised on 16 lines we have never found perfection and the industry is so darn dynamic that what is great one day does not even exist the next.  Right now we think that MSC's Yacht Club is the best value in all of cruising (and an amazing product) but that could change tomorrow.  We primarily like HAL for its itineraries, excellent staff/crew, and the passengers :).  HAL's entertainment is the worst of all the cruise lines we have cruised in the past decade and their food is about middle of the pack.  The decline of HAL entertainment goes back to when they started their cut-backs reducing the ship's band (that used to even work Production shows) from 7 pieces to 5 (eliminating all the brass/woodwinds) and ditching the 4 piece Rosario String concept for duos (often of lesser quality).   This entertainment decline hit new levels when we encountered "dark nights" (no entertainment) and when HAL tried to convince us that showing a BBC documentary was great entertainment.  We also have some issues with how HAL maintains their vessels but part of that is obviously related to the age of some of the ships.     There is still much to like about HAL, but it is not up to the standards of yesteryear.  

 

Hank

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The Hal Cats were terrible.

I knew when BB Kings opened up the transition had begun. Way more talent to put it mildly.   We still like HAL and will be back on Oosterdam in March after 15 months cruising others who do things well also.  For us the ones we like do different things well so it helps keep our expectations in check. 

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My wife and I are planning to board the Oosterdam in January.  While we have been on this particular ship previously (about 10 years ago), we are feeling a little bit uneasy about the current condition of this ship.  While I would agree that "bad news generally drives out good news", we cannot ignore the current commentary and reviews that have described the recent experiences of cruisers on the Oosterdam.  My wife and I, particularly, have come to respect the views and commentary of Hlitner.  From a personal perspective, it's difficult to ignore multiple reviews of a particular ship that describe an observable decline in quality entertainment, food quality, and the physical condition of passenger ships.  We certainly do not consider ourselves experts or seasoned cruisers, but I will say that defending mediocrity isn't my cup of tea.  As other experienced cruisers have reported, the sad decline in the quality of cruising is not limited to a single cruise line.  At our age, we simply do not want to cope with mediocrity.  I believe that there are still quality based land vacations that would meet our personal needs and expectations.  I hope HAL enthusiasts are not offended by my opinions, but I think that honest commentary serves all visitors and participants at this site.

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2 hours ago, GlennG said:

My wife and I are planning to board the Oosterdam in January.  While we have been on this particular ship previously (about 10 years ago), we are feeling a little bit uneasy about the current condition of this ship.  While I would agree that "bad news generally drives out good news", we cannot ignore the current commentary and reviews that have described the recent experiences of cruisers on the Oosterdam.  My wife and I, particularly, have come to respect the views and commentary of Hlitner.  From a personal perspective, it's difficult to ignore multiple reviews of a particular ship that describe an observable decline in quality entertainment, food quality, and the physical condition of passenger ships.  We certainly do not consider ourselves experts or seasoned cruisers, but I will say that defending mediocrity isn't my cup of tea.  As other experienced cruisers have reported, the sad decline in the quality of cruising is not limited to a single cruise line.  At our age, we simply do not want to cope with mediocrity.  I believe that there are still quality based land vacations that would meet our personal needs and expectations.  I hope HAL enthusiasts are not offended by my opinions, but I think that honest commentary serves all visitors and participants at this site.

The only way I know how to handle things like this if I am feeling that way is to either cancel the cruise or reduce expectations. I have done both.  For me (and this is just me) I am not going on a cruise already planning that it will fall short.  If I am thinking that before I even board it is probably what I will get.  None of these lines are perfect.  I know that MSC has been touted here but they have their issues as well.   That being said we board the Oosterdam in a few months for the second time in the last 15 months and we are going to have a great time like we did the last time!

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19 hours ago, Nymich said:

I am not going on a cruise already planning that it will fall short.  If I am thinking that before I even board it is probably what I will get.

 

Yep, it's called a 'self-fulfilling prophecy, and it is a real phenomenon. If one goes into an experience with negative preconceived notions, that experience is almost guaranteed to live up to those expectations.

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We were on the Oosterdam twice this year: a 2 week Caribbean with my elderly mom, and then my husband and I for a 14 day European cruise. We were happy both times. Love the layout of the ship and that it has an intimate well laid out feel to it, food was good especially in the Canaletto. Service was excellent both times, especially the bar staff. The only thing I was disappointed in was the dual piano players, HAL seems to consistently find people who can't sing. And it could be such a fun venue.

many cabins and ship areas have been redone.

I agree, some things have changed on HAL, and I miss the bigger library, would like band before dinner in the Ocean Bar, but over all still like the wonderful service and small ship feel of the HAL ships and the oosterdam is well laid out. We had a verandah room both times and loved it, loved the spa too!

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