I had high hopes for the Oosterdam due in part to my trip on the Veendam two years ago. I had wanted to do a Panama Canal cruise for 30 years and booked the Oosterdam nine months in advance.
Embarkation was handled well, my cabin steward was outstanding, my bus boy for dinner was outstanding but the waiter was average.
Dinner service was slow, with just about every meal taking 2 hours. Time between courses was longer than necessary. I know this was not the waiter or bus boy's fault. HAL hasn't figured out how to serve 925 passengers per seating even though they have gone to 4 seatings.
Breakfast service in the dining room was absolutely abysmal. The Passenger Relations officer ended up telling me not to cruise on Holland America based on the service I had received. I was totally in shock.
The Panama Canal was fantastic as well as the other ports we visited, however service has rapidly gone downhill on HAL in the last two years and they still haven't figured out how to get 1850 passengers off the ship efficiently. The drink waiters and waitresses asked me if I wanted a drink 15 times an hour - became old real fast.
I wrote a letter to HAL and I'm curious to see the response I get. I have already booked my next cruise and this time I'm going to try Silversea Cruises. Would never go on another cruise on HAL on a Vista Class (85,000 ton) ship. They seem to be fine on the 50,000 to 60,000 ships but they still don't get it when it comes to more than 1300 passengers on one ship.