Review: MS Oosterdam
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
Our First cruise with Holland America
13 people found this review helpful
My wife and I travelled with my sister and her husband on the Ms Oosterdam from Seattle on their first 2012 cruise to Alaska.
We saw an advert for a cruise to Alaska and a train ride on the Rocky Mountaineer to Chicago. We contacted the tour company and booked this cruise on their advice and added a stay in New York to round it off.
The agent spent ages on the telephone and via e-mail telling us the best time to visit Alaska to make sure you have the best chance of seeing Whales and to see the Glaciers at there best and we should try Holland America line as they are a 5 star cruise line.
Our previous cruise had been with Princess Cruises which he said was just a 4 star cruise line so if you liked Princess then you will like Holland America much better.
The four of us travel a lot and we always do plenty of research on where and when to go so as to make the most of our holiday and by doing this has always come up trumps for us, but on this occasion we left it to our travel advisor as he seemed to know what he was talking about. The only research we did was finding out about Seattle, Chicago and of course New York.
I would like to write a review on our Amtrak experience and the hotels in Seattle and New York but will stick to for now on the Oosterdam cruise.
The begining of May is not the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise as the Whales are just arriving in Alaska and the Salmon arrive at the end of the month so if you want the best chance of seeing more Whales and Bears on your holiday don't go until at least the end of the month.
The agent also said that going later (July of example) the sea will be too warm and the Whales won't surface much. How wrong could he have been. A friend of ours went via Vancouver to Alaska in July and she saw Whales up close and the glaciers breaking up, we saw none of this so was a little dissapointed with the advice we received.
Back to the cruise: The embarkation and disembakation at pier 91 in Seattle was very slick and smooth and fuss free, so 5 stars for that. Our stateroom was nice although we did not use the balcony much as the sea was rough and saw everything we wanted to see from one of the viewing decks
The dining was excellent, we opted for the late seating in the main restaurant and was very glad our table was on the upper deck of the dining room as the main dining room was very noisy and a little cramped. Our server Rico and his helper Alun were wonderful, they were difinately 5 star. We were lucky to get them as they had come out top on the cruise customer coments for the previous nine cruises. Rico had just two more cruises to do before he left the ship to get married and he will be sadly missed. The food was fine dining but be careful not to sign up to the water offer but ask for ordinary iced water which was free. We said that we would have a bottle of either still or sparkling water every night for the special offer price of $10 but at the end of the cruise we recieved a bill of $54 which we are disputing with Holland America.
On our previous cruise with Princess line we were introduced to Afternoon Tea which was fun and from that we always find a hotel wherever we go for our ritual Afternoon Tea. On the Star Princess the servers all dressed for the occasion, wearing white gloves to serve you which made it special.
The Oosterdam was supposed to have been a 5 star ship so we were looking forward to having the best 5 star experience. How wrong were we. The afternoon tea was a shambles, they didn't have a clue, yes they came around with large polished boxes with different kinds of tea in them but to try to get a breakfast tea bag was like pulling teeth. They served the cakes and pastrys before serving the sandwiches and they didn't seemed to grasp the concept of serving the sandwiches before the cakes. There was on the final day a Royal Dutch Tea which was like a buffet style so you could choose what you wanted on you plate, at least they didn't get this wrong.
The entertainment on board was not very good especially at the start of the criuse but did improve a little towards the end.
Our first stop after sailing around the Tracy Arm was the capital of Alaska Juneau (FULL DAY). Not a very nice port, there didn't seem to be much there but it's where most of the trips are done from. We chose the Whale Watching trip on a small boat so as to get up close. The trip like most of the trips booked with Holland America was expensive and we saw just a couple of Whales from a distance so we did not have the close up experience we were looking for. We did the Roberts Tramway whilst in Juneau as the entrance to the cable car was opposite to where the ship had docked. This was very good but the weather was not that kind to us as it was pouring with rain at the bottom and a snow blizzard at the top which the crew found great fun. Because of the rain and low cloud you could not get very good views of the surrounding area and bay. Walking in the snow great fun.
The next stop was Sitka (FULL DAY). We had to go ashore using the ships tenders and Sitka was very nice and well worth a visit and it rained all the time we was there but still worth the visit, unlike Juneau.
Our nest port was Ketchikan (HALF DAY). By far the nicest stop, very interesting to walk around but we only stopped there for about 5 hours. We had booked to go on a trip to the rain forest to try a zip wire experience. This was by far the best trip of all. Don't worry about your age on this trip as it is for all ages and you have wonderful views of the rain forest. Going at the end of May the Salmon start to swim up the streams below and then you will have a chance of seeing Bears whilst you are zipping through the trees. This trip is fun and a must.
Our last stop was supposed to have been an evening stop in Victoria British Columbia. Our ship was due to dock around 6pm but according to our captain due to the rough seas or arrival would be delayed and all the trips would have to be cancelled. We eventually docked at 9.30pm and had just 2 hours in Victoria. Because the ships docks some way out of Victoria you have to get a coach into the centre so you have to add on travelling time so our visit was very limited.
When we left Ketchikan there was an NCL ship the Norweigan Pearl docked behind us and left after us. When we docked in Victoria the Norweigan Pearl had already docked and her passengers were coming back from their visit to Victoria. We could not understand this as they had the same rough seas a we did.
To sum up:
Was our cruise the 5 star experience we were promised? No it wasn't we had a much better cruise with Princess Cruises plus they cruise up the inside passage to Glacier Bay National Park so you would have a much better chance of seeing the Whales there.
Was the Oosterdam a nice ship? Yes it was but no better than the Star Princess so can't understand why the Oosterdam is classed at 5 stars
Would we cruise with Holland America again? Not sure.
My advice is to listen to what you travel agent says about the holiday on offer and remenber he is trying to sell you a holiday and please do you home work before you book. I wish we did. Happy cruising.
13 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.
Silver Travel Advisor Recommended Partner: Holland America Line