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psxer989

Oosterdam Review - First HAL Cruise

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So, I've been cruising about twice a year on NCL and had a few RC and Celebrity as well.  Got tired of the nickel and dime style of NCL, but the change in service was the biggest thing.  Everyone seemed too busy doing too much for too many passengers to say hi or smile.

I canceled my NCL cruise for December and took the Oosterdam for a 7 day Mexico trip out of San Diego.

 

San Diego Port:  This was my first time out of San Diego as I alway go out of Long Beach.  Long Beach has easier parking since it is right at the pier but it can be pricey.  At San Diego, I prepaid at the Wyndam and walked across the street.  Still easy to do, just not as quick and direct at Long Beach.  It was cheaper though at San Diego though.  I drive so getting to each port is about the same. 

The terminal baggage was a mess at San Diego.  Passengers will walking around since there wasn't clear signage and the port staff were rude and unhelpful.  Big difference from Long Beach.  The port staff, who I know are not employeed by HAL, are so much nicer and accommodating at Long Beach.

Inside the terminal, both are about the same.  Boarding was quick.  Lines were short and we only waiting about 10 minutes before we were called to board.  The big positive for HAL is the ability to carry on sodas.  My wife loves Diet Pepsi in the room so I brought a couple cases with us. 

 

Oosterdam:  Big positive is as usual for HAL from my reading is the rooms were ready.  No waiting.  NCL typically takes longer in my experience and Celebrity is just terrible and really makes you wait.  Since I was lugging around 2 cases of Diet Pepsi, I wanted to get them into the room asap and HAL didn't disappoint.

Now the Oosterdam looks dated.  However, I really liked the look.  Not ultra-modern.  Lots of wood and warm tones and colors.  The room was a mid ship veranda, room 8066.  Bed was nice, good pillows.  Balcony door opens out instead of sliding like NCL. 

One thing I wish they did like NCL, is have a channel for the Cruise Director and information about the exact ship and sailing.  HAL has the generic stuff, but no channels for the Cruise Director to describe the events for the day.  However, the On-Demand movies was a welcome surprise.  A big free selection.  NCL used to do this but has changed to pay per view style. 

Elevators.  If you've been on a ship like the NCL Bliss, elevators can be a big deal.  The Bliss has a serious shortage of elevators.  No idea why they designed it like that but they are always full and it just sucks the fun out of you to have to wait forever for an elevator.  Not the case with the Oosterdam.  Not only does it have 3 banks of elevators, but has additional glass elevators on the sides.  What a pleasure to press a button and actually expect to get on the next available elevator.  Hope HAL keeps this in mind as they build newer ships.  Now in fairness, the older NCL ships I've been on, like the Gem, Jewel, etc which are smaller do have plenty of elevators too, but NCL seems to be pushing the bigger mega ships more and more out here on the west coast.

Food:  Oosterdam does have a very limited restaurant selection.  However, the food quality is the best I've experienced anywhere.  Lido, MDR, were very good quality.  Not a great deal of quantity in terms of selection, but the quality was great.  Everything tasted fresh and flavorful.  Also, the staff comes around and serves you beverages.  Just like the old days.  We had the coke package and I thought I would have to go find a bar and wait like you do on NCL.  I was happy to see HAL still does this right.  Plus the attitude from the servers is always happy and polite.  Very impressed.  The Pinnacle Grill was amazing.  I'd stack it up against anywhere.  We ate there twice and each experience was spot on.  The Main Dinning Room was beautiful and the staff was as good as any restaurant I've been to on land much less the sea.  Upon our arrival for our second dinner, they didn't need to ask our names.  They greeted us by name and directed us to our table without asking us anything.  They then offered the same sodas, diet coke and a sprite, from the previous night without us having to remind them what we were drinking.  Impressive stuff after just one dinner.

Entertainment:  Ok, this is a little lacking on the Oosterdam.  I do like it that you don't have to reserve seats for the main shows, but there just aren't any.  There was a comedian one night and an illusionist another night, but no Vegas style show or musical.  I would have liked a main show or two.  The performances at the Lincoln Center Stage were terrific but it was packed and people, including me were left to stand around and listen.  It was very popular in a small setting.  We did gamble in the casino quite a bit but there are not a lot of slots compared to the NCL Gem, etc.  They seemed extremely tight initially, but later in the cruise we did hit some big payouts including 2 hand pays.  The casino hosts were very nice and made sure we were well taken care of.  A first for us on a cruise ship casino.

 

Overall, I was very happy with my cruise and would recommend it to anyone looking for a more relaxing cruise.  If you want to dance and party every night, then this is not the ship for that.  If you are stressed from work and need to disconnect and slow down life a bit, then yes, you will love HAL and the Oosterdam.  They have a very nice observation lounge where it is easy to find a seat and chill.  There's plenty of deck space but the pools are a little small so if you bring kids, the experience for them is not as varied as other cruise ships.  Since I don't have any, it was perfect for me.  Everything went at a nice leisurely pace which is exactly what I wanted.  No drunks falling down.  No loud banging music on deck all the time.  No annoyingly loud drink of the day announcements.  Just happy friendly staff in the hallways, restaurants, spa, everywhere.  This is cruising like it used to be.

 

Oh, and disembarkation?  We did Self Assist.  I timed it.  From the time I closed my stateroom door to the time I opened my car trunk was 35 minutes.

 

Loved this vacation!

 

 

 

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Thanks for the review! We're on the O'dam in March, for 28-days. We're HAL fankids so we weren't worried, but it's nice to see someone not complaining!

 

Belated welcome to Cruise Critic, and Happy New Year!

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Thanks for your review.  We did this same cruise on a back to back for total relaxation.  We were at the terminal early and found it the easiest we’ve ever had with the baggage employees inside offering staplers to attach to luggage and putting the bags on a dolly.  Sorry your experience wasn’t great for that.  

 

I agree that the entertainment was lacking.  We miss the production shows in the main theatre.

 

Glad you enjoyed your vacation on board the Oosterdam.  

 

 

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We have friends who should be getting back tomorrow (?) from this cruise and they have really enjoyed their time.

We are taking 2 B2B to Mexico in March, 1 week with my sister and niece on board, then continuing on with crystalspin for the 28 day cruise. 

It's nice to read your positive review. Thanks for posting!

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Thank you for the review! My husband, toddler and I are joining my parents for the new years cruise. By any chance do you remember what time you boarded at? It says 1 pm on our pass but we didnt know if we could board a little earlier for lunch.

Glad you guys had a fun time!

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You can board earlier than 1pm.  We were on board by Noon.  I believe they start boarding around 11:30am.  The 1pm is mostly a suggestion and they send that to everyone.  Have fun!

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Just remember there is not much for kids to do on Holland. It is mostly older people and very few children. 

On 12/26/2019 at 4:59 PM, irishclover said:

Thank you for the review! My husband, toddler and I are joining my parents for the new years cruise. By any chance do you remember what time you boarded at? It says 1 pm on our pass but we didnt know if we could board a little earlier for lunch.

Glad you guys had a fun time!

 

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Nice review.  I've sailed on the Oosterdam from SD and enjoyed my cruise.  Agree, the luggage situation at SD leaves a lot to be desired.

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Thank you for reviewing your cruise on board the  Oosterdam.

Pleased that you enjoyed sailing on a HAL ship.

 

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I have said it before and I might have to repeat it: HAL people are the best. Great attitudes and fantastic service, whether in a bar or not. Dining room service is beyond excellent and I appreciate the smaller portions in the dining room. It allows a passenger to determine whether to add a buncha weight or not.

So glad that you enjoyed your time on this cruise. Please complete your online survey, it will help make things better.

I gotta agree that somethings on the pier in San Diego could be better, but I cannot figure out how to make it happen.

 

Jim

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Thanks for your review. Glad you enjoyed the Oosterdam. We love it and have sailed on her 3 times.

Did you get a chance to listen to BBKings group? 

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Thanks for the review. I'm so glad you noticed the difference in service. It's one of HAL's best attributes. 

 

Yes, the showroom entertainment has declined lately. And I've heard that Lincoln Center doesn't have enough space for their audience on some ships. I'm hoping that, with the decline in main showroom entertainment, they'll move Lincoln Center into there for some performances. 

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Thanks for the nicely written review. We will be on the March 7 sailing and I'm curious if anyone knows which

nights are typically the "Gala" nights?   We wanted to travel light this time so we might end up skipping the

festivities, not sure.

Thanks!

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melakwa1, welcome to Cruise Critic.  There is  no need to skip the Gala nights in the Main Dining Room due to your wardrobe. As long as a man has a shirt with collar and non-jean pants and closed toe shoes and women can wear any non jean pants with a nice top or a skirt or dress you are good to go.  Of course if you want to dress in more elegant clothes you are welcome to and will look great. 😀  You can be comfortable and still look nice while enjoying a tasty dinner.  Based on my cruise in December, your Gala nights will probably be Sunday March 8th (at sea) and Thursday March 12th (Cabo San Lucas).  Have a great cruise!

 

~Nancy

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On 12/30/2019 at 10:31 AM, 3rdGenCunarder said:

Thanks for the review. I'm so glad you noticed the difference in service. It's one of HAL's best attributes. 

 

Yes, the showroom entertainment has declined lately. And I've heard that Lincoln Center doesn't have enough space for their audience on some ships. I'm hoping that, with the decline in main showroom entertainment, they'll move Lincoln Center into there for some performances. 

We've heard the Lincoln Center Stage performers on two cruises: a year ago on the Koningsdam and in September on the Rotterdam. On the Kdam they share a large space with BBKing's, which was ample. On the Rotterdam they had a smaller space on the way to the MDR where, I believe, the Explorers Lounge used to be. The Rotterdam space was comfortable for the first few days, but as word spread it became SRO and folks were laying claim to seats half an hour in advance.

I was told that both venues had been "tuned" with baffles and other architectural features to promote the acoustical qualities of the venue. In addition, each venue had a Steinway concert grand for the pianist's use. For the BBC Planet Earth film in the Mainstage Theatre, the LCS ensemble joined the other musicians in providing the live sound track (which I found very effective), and for that I think the pianist used an electronic keyboard, but I imagine that for the LCS recitals they would rightly insist on the Steinway (it may even be required by the contract between HAL and Lincoln Center), and it would be well nigh impracticable to move it back and forth.

I agree with the point that HAL likely did not anticipate the enthusiasm with which Lincoln Center Stage would be embraced. For many of the folks I observed, it may have been their first exposure to chamber music, much less live chamber music, and those folks were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and how much fun chamber music can be.

On both occasions the caliber of the LCS musicians just bowled me over. They were all rising stars. Kudos to HAL!

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25 minutes ago, Petronillus said:

We've heard the Lincoln Center Stage performers on two cruises: a year ago on the Koningsdam and in September on the Rotterdam. On the Kdam they share a large space with BBKing's, which was ample. On the Rotterdam they had a smaller space on the way to the MDR where, I believe, the Explorers Lounge used to be. The Rotterdam space was comfortable for the first few days, but as word spread it became SRO and folks were laying claim to seats half an hour in advance.

I was told that both venues had been "tuned" with baffles and other architectural features to promote the acoustical qualities of the venue. In addition, each venue had a Steinway concert grand for the pianist's use. For the BBC Planet Earth film in the Mainstage Theatre, the LCS ensemble joined the other musicians in providing the live sound track (which I found very effective), and for that I think the pianist used an electronic keyboard, but I imagine that for the LCS recitals they would rightly insist on the Steinway (it may even be required by the contract between HAL and Lincoln Center), and it would be well nigh impracticable to move it back and forth.

I agree with the point that HAL likely did not anticipate the enthusiasm with which Lincoln Center Stage would be embraced. For many of the folks I observed, it may have been their first exposure to chamber music, much less live chamber music, and those folks were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and how much fun chamber music can be.

On both occasions the caliber of the LCS musicians just bowled me over. They were all rising stars. Kudos to HAL!

 

I agree, LCS musicians are excellent. The space they have on the K is good, but BBKing's gets all the later times, so if you have early fixed dining it conflicts with LCS performances. Before they shared with BBKing's, LCS were in a space across from Billboard, and it was too small to hold everyone and also too open to the hallway. They actually had to put someone in the hallway to shush noisy people walking by! 

 

I've read that the space on the non-Pinnacle ships is small, so when I'm on Zuiderdam soon, I will make a point of arriving early, as I had to the first time I was on the K.

 

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It is kind of ridiculous that after a nice dinner and drinks in the MDR with friends that when you come out still chatting lively, you are shushed by a crew member or a sign.  It does totally kill the mood (for both groups).

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14 hours ago, kevingastreich said:

It is kind of ridiculous that after a nice dinner and drinks in the MDR with friends that when you come out still chatting lively, you are shushed by a crew member or a sign.  It does totally kill the mood (for both groups).

 

On the K, it was people coming out of the casino. I suspect it was complaints all around that caused HAL to move LCS to the other venue. 

Edited by 3rdGenCunarder

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On 12/26/2019 at 5:07 PM, psxer989 said:

So, I've been cruising about twice a year on NCL and had a few RC and Celebrity as well.  Got tired of the nickel and dime style of NCL, but the change in service was the biggest thing.  Everyone seemed too busy doing too much for too many passengers to say hi or smile.

I canceled my NCL cruise for December and took the Oosterdam for a 7 day Mexico trip out of San Diego.

 

San Diego Port:  This was my first time out of San Diego as I alway go out of Long Beach.  Long Beach has easier parking since it is right at the pier but it can be pricey.  At San Diego, I prepaid at the Wyndam and walked across the street.  Still easy to do, just not as quick and direct at Long Beach.  It was cheaper though at San Diego though.  I drive so getting to each port is about the same. 

The terminal baggage was a mess at San Diego.  Passengers will walking around since there wasn't clear signage and the port staff were rude and unhelpful.  Big difference from Long Beach.  The port staff, who I know are not employeed by HAL, are so much nicer and accommodating at Long Beach.

Inside the terminal, both are about the same.  Boarding was quick.  Lines were short and we only waiting about 10 minutes before we were called to board.  The big positive for HAL is the ability to carry on sodas.  My wife loves Diet Pepsi in the room so I brought a couple cases with us. 

 

Oosterdam:  Big positive is as usual for HAL from my reading is the rooms were ready.  No waiting.  NCL typically takes longer in my experience and Celebrity is just terrible and really makes you wait.  Since I was lugging around 2 cases of Diet Pepsi, I wanted to get them into the room asap and HAL didn't disappoint.

Now the Oosterdam looks dated.  However, I really liked the look.  Not ultra-modern.  Lots of wood and warm tones and colors.  The room was a mid ship veranda, room 8066.  Bed was nice, good pillows.  Balcony door opens out instead of sliding like NCL. 

One thing I wish they did like NCL, is have a channel for the Cruise Director and information about the exact ship and sailing.  HAL has the generic stuff, but no channels for the Cruise Director to describe the events for the day.  However, the On-Demand movies was a welcome surprise.  A big free selection.  NCL used to do this but has changed to pay per view style. 

Elevators.  If you've been on a ship like the NCL Bliss, elevators can be a big deal.  The Bliss has a serious shortage of elevators.  No idea why they designed it like that but they are always full and it just sucks the fun out of you to have to wait forever for an elevator.  Not the case with the Oosterdam.  Not only does it have 3 banks of elevators, but has additional glass elevators on the sides.  What a pleasure to press a button and actually expect to get on the next available elevator.  Hope HAL keeps this in mind as they build newer ships.  Now in fairness, the older NCL ships I've been on, like the Gem, Jewel, etc which are smaller do have plenty of elevators too, but NCL seems to be pushing the bigger mega ships more and more out here on the west coast.

Food:  Oosterdam does have a very limited restaurant selection.  However, the food quality is the best I've experienced anywhere.  Lido, MDR, were very good quality.  Not a great deal of quantity in terms of selection, but the quality was great.  Everything tasted fresh and flavorful.  Also, the staff comes around and serves you beverages.  Just like the old days.  We had the coke package and I thought I would have to go find a bar and wait like you do on NCL.  I was happy to see HAL still does this right.  Plus the attitude from the servers is always happy and polite.  Very impressed.  The Pinnacle Grill was amazing.  I'd stack it up against anywhere.  We ate there twice and each experience was spot on.  The Main Dinning Room was beautiful and the staff was as good as any restaurant I've been to on land much less the sea.  Upon our arrival for our second dinner, they didn't need to ask our names.  They greeted us by name and directed us to our table without asking us anything.  They then offered the same sodas, diet coke and a sprite, from the previous night without us having to remind them what we were drinking.  Impressive stuff after just one dinner.

Entertainment:  Ok, this is a little lacking on the Oosterdam.  I do like it that you don't have to reserve seats for the main shows, but there just aren't any.  There was a comedian one night and an illusionist another night, but no Vegas style show or musical.  I would have liked a main show or two.  The performances at the Lincoln Center Stage were terrific but it was packed and people, including me were left to stand around and listen.  It was very popular in a small setting.  We did gamble in the casino quite a bit but there are not a lot of slots compared to the NCL Gem, etc.  They seemed extremely tight initially, but later in the cruise we did hit some big payouts including 2 hand pays.  The casino hosts were very nice and made sure we were well taken care of.  A first for us on a cruise ship casino.

 

Overall, I was very happy with my cruise and would recommend it to anyone looking for a more relaxing cruise.  If you want to dance and party every night, then this is not the ship for that.  If you are stressed from work and need to disconnect and slow down life a bit, then yes, you will love HAL and the Oosterdam.  They have a very nice observation lounge where it is easy to find a seat and chill.  There's plenty of deck space but the pools are a little small so if you bring kids, the experience for them is not as varied as other cruise ships.  Since I don't have any, it was perfect for me.  Everything went at a nice leisurely pace which is exactly what I wanted.  No drunks falling down.  No loud banging music on deck all the time.  No annoyingly loud drink of the day announcements.  Just happy friendly staff in the hallways, restaurants, spa, everywhere.  This is cruising like it used to be.

 

Oh, and disembarkation?  We did Self Assist.  I timed it.  From the time I closed my stateroom door to the time I opened my car trunk was 35 minutes.

 

Loved this vacation!

 

 

 

 

Thank you for this great review ! - We too have cruised  NCL the last dozen times - decided to try HAL out of San Diego (ease of getting to port)  Appreciated the comparison of the two cruise lines.

 

You mentioned the timing of disembarkation.  (and that you did self-assist) - We hope to be able to check-in at the San Diego airport (15 minute cab ride from the ship last time we sailed into San Diego) at 9:00 AM for a 10:00 AM flight. (Using self-disembarkation) 

What time were you able to self disembark ?  Was your ship arrival time scheduled and actual at 7:00 AM ??

Thank You !!

 

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The ship arrived a little before 7am.  Our self disembarking time was 8:15-8:45am.  I left my room at 8:10am.  Piece of cake.  I doubt you'll have any issues.  Take the glass elevators.  We had ours all to ourselves.  Enjoy your cruise!!!

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