My husband and I (who are in our late 20s) as well as my mother and grandmother, took this 7 day cruise to the Mexican Riviera for Thanksgiving. This was the first time we had sailed Holland America after sailing on almost all the other cruise lines, and we used to work as Cruise Staff on Carnival. We drove to San Diego from L.A. The drive was not bad and we parked in the lot across the street from the ship. Parking was easy but costs $15 per day.
We arrived at the terminal around 11:30am-12:00pm. Embarkation was smooth and we were on the ship in no time.
We were very impressed with Holland America. The service was excellent! The ship was beautiful! We had an outside stateroom category HH with an obstructed view. I was surprised to find that while we did have a lifeboat blocking our view, the natural sunlight poured in during the days. It was wonderful! The room was a nice size with a small sitting area including a couch, table and chair. The rooms have flat screen TVs and DVD Players. The bathroom was very nice and the shower was extremely clean. Our cabin steward was excellent as well. The bed was very comfortable and the sheets and pillows were of good quality.
All of the public areas of this ship were beautiful. The casino was medium sized but I never found it crowded. The gift shop had more jewelry than anything else. The Crow's Nest which is the lounge on deck 10 forward, is really nice for looking out at the ports and ocean. It has a great view.
There were a bunch of activities to participate in, more on sea days, but it still seemed like there should have been more. The trivia's were too hard and the same people would play and win every time. Bingo was fun and was pretty well priced at $10 for a single card and $20 for a triple card, and most sessions were 4 games. The cooking demonstration was very nice and my grandmother enjoyed that more than I did as I don't cook.
Because the ship was over capacity at 2,100 guests, we had late sitting dinner at 8:30pm. The Oosterdam still has fixed traditional dinner sittings. No mention of the anytime dining yet. The food was excellent! Everything we had tasted great. We all ate too much! We had turkey and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. All the dining room servers were great.
The Lido buffet was also great. The ice cream bar with waffle cones is especially nice. They also have a tasty taco/fajita bar by the pool as well as a burger bar. All of it was great!
The entertainment on the ship was very good. The singers and dancers in the production/Las Vegas style shows were only ok. Carnival has much better production shows. We left half way through the first production show and didn't even see the second show. The dancing was good but the singing was not very good. And the sound was really bad. It sounded like someone was playing a tape recorder.
All of the other shows were excellent. The comedian Julie Barr was hysterical. And Joel Mason doing the Elton John show was great! My favorite was Lance Ringnald, the Olympic Gold Medalist. He performed a gymnastics/comedy show. Don't miss this show! And the last show of the night had Julie Barr, Joel Mason and Lance Ringnald. That was the funniest show and definitely not to be missed.
Ports of Call
We visited Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. While we had been to these ports a few times before, it was still nice to visit again. We did not book any ship excursions but hired a taxi to take us around to see the sights. They are all nice and pretty much offer the same things -- shopping and beaches. Beware in Mazatlan, as right off the ship are many vendors offering free tours and rides but in exchange you have to go to the Golden Zone and listen to a time share presentation. It was quite annoying after being approached by 10 people within 10 minutes. Just say no thank you and look for a taxi driver with a sign that says no time shares.
Other Important Things
The ship offers movies to check out and watch on your DVD player in your stateroom. They keep a list of these movies at the front desk. They are free to rent but you have to put down a $30 deposit on your shipboard account. It is refunded back to your account when you return the movie. I really enjoyed this feature, although most of the movies I wanted to see had already been checked out. But you are only allowed to keep a movie for 2 days so check back if you really want to see a particular movie.
The library has a lot of games and puzzles to play with. I wanted to purchase a deck of cards so I went to the gift shop. The only set they had was 2 decks for about $7.00. I passed and later found out that I could purchase a deck of cards in the casino for $1. They are cards that have previously been used in the casino but are in great condition. A great deal!
Every day there is a different special -- the drink of the day. This is a good deal at $5.25. Most drinks are about $7.50. If you purchase your drink of the day from the casino bar, you get a $5 casino card to play on either blackjack, roulette or craps. Another good deal.
Tea time is fun and relaxing. Servers come around with various teas and desserts and appetizers. All are tasty.
Disembarkation was smooth as well. We chose expedited service and carried our own luggage off the ship. We were among the first off the ship around 8:15am-8:30am. All we had to do was show our ship card to be logged off and then hand in our customs form -- and we were on our way home!
My family and I had a great time on the Oosterdam. We were very impressed with Holland America in all aspects. The rooms were very nice, the food delicious, the service excellent, the entertainment great and overall everything was wonderful. I will definitely sail on Holland America again. I am interested in seeing the differences between the newer, bigger Holland America ships and the smaller, older ones. For anyone wanting to book a cruise on this ship, don't hesitate. It is wonderful!