Oosterdam cruise ship Eastern Caribbean cruise review!                                                      


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Oosterdam cruise ship review December 05 to December 12, 2004 to the Eastern Caribbean!

Holland America Lines - Oosterdam (Pronounced Oasterdam)

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Oosterdam at Nassau pier

Although I have limited cruise experiences, this cruise review will provide a little insight into my observations while on this cruise. First, let me start by saying that we traveled as a family group of eight adults. This alone makes for memorable and treasured times.

Our vacation started with an uneventful flight to Ft. Lauderdale. Although we had a minor hic-up in getting from the airport to our overnight hotel and then to the cruise terminal, our vacation anticipation was not dashed. Once at the terminal, everything was very organized and smooth.


The Ship and Staff

The entry onto the ship had its usual feeling of "Wow!". The common areas are very well appointed and elegant looking. The very friendly staff greets their new guests with big smiles and gracious welcomes. After a brief time enjoyed in the lido dining area, the passengers were invited to visit their staterooms. (We had early access to the ship, so the rooms were not all prepared when we arrived.)

Our room was spacious considering that there are about 1800 passengers on the Oosterdam. The entrance to the room is quite tight with closets on one side, and the bathroom (with full bath tub) on the other. An easy chair, love seat, small table and TV on a desk with mini bar were set between the bed and the glass doors. We were fortunate enough to have a private deck with a couple of chairs, a footrest and a small table - the perfect place for our quiet (sometimes) late afternoon glass of wine.

Our room steward, Idham, was a delight to deal with. After meeting once, he would greet us each time he would see us and call us by name (something that many people find very flattering even though it is likely part of their training). Idham quietly and efficiently went about his business always sporting a big friendly smile.

Our family had a table for eight at the early sitting in the lower dining room. This table was perfectly sited in a very large window at the very back of the ship. And we had (in my humble opinion) THE best staff looking after our table. Our table steward Wahyu is quiet but very efficient and friendly. His able table assistant Pirsa reflected the friendliness and efficiency. And then there was our wine steward (and in our case, the entertainment!), Dino. Dino is very knowledgeable in his trade. Add to that his sense of humour and desire to please and you have a winning combination. These three young men complimented each other to provide excellent and enjoyable service as our dining room "Dream Team" and deserve a great deal of praise for making our vacation even more enjoyable.

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Dino at work?


Oosterdam Dining Room photo.JPG

Wahyu serving


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Pirsa pouring

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The Dining Room Dream Team!

I found that the food for the most part was excellent and very well presented in the dining room. Although I ordered items that I perhaps would not order in another restaurant, I enjoyed every meal. Meal courses came on a smooth regular basis without seeming to be rushed. For our lunches, we enjoyed the diverse offerings on the lido deck cafeteria style restaurant. It is incredible to think that the kitchen staff prepares about 10,000 meals a day!

After the dining room, our routine included wandering the casino for a little while, then off to the shows that occurred in the Vista Lounge. Many lounges offered entertainment into the night (although we were usually too tired from our daily activities to be able to enjoy them). There are many cosy areas to enjoy throughout the ship.

The lido pool area was always the centre of activity during the days at sea. The aft pool was also a very busy area. In these two areas, the lounge chairs were in high demand. Besides these areas however, there were plenty of lounges available on the upper decks where you could find a quiet place to read or just enjoy the sunbathing. (We obviously had terrific weather.)

The spa area looked quite pleasant although we did not use much of the facilities available. We did use the health gym each morning. It was very well equipped and had classes running at various times. The tread mills and cycles were set-up so that one could use them and enjoy the vistas through the glass wall above the cruise ship's bridge.

We found that the shopping arcade area on board was a little congested. On the third floor, one could not get to the front of the ship (where the Vista Lounge is found) without navigating through the various displays and browsing passengers because you had to walk actually through the shops. As with other cruises, the ship's photographers were ever present and the picture displays were vast.

The Atrium was an especially elegant area with a two flight circle stair two stories high. Because of the timing of our cruise, this area was decorated for the Christmas season (as were many other areas) which added to the ambiance. At the bottom of the Atrium is the Olive Pit, a cute little Martini bar. On one side of the Atrium on the second floor is the optional dining room - the Pinnacle Grill - which looked quite elegant as well.


Our Ports-of-Call

Our first stop was Nassau, Bahamas. We opted to take the short walk to the main street and the Straw Market. The shops on the way to the Straw Market were interesting and loaded with local artwork and crafts as well as the usual souvenirs. The Straw Market is in temporary quarters. It was jamb packed with vendors. When we arrived, there were not many tourists yet and the vendors were just setting up. Even with this it was, at times, difficult to pass through the various aisles.

The next stop on our cruise was Phillipsburg on Dutch St. Maarten. The port was full of cruise ships so we anchored and tendered into the Dutch side of the island. Here we chose a day at a beach on the French side of St. Martin. After a short bus trip we arrived at Orient Bay on the island's "French Riviera". Here, the beach area is well organized with areas and lounges provided for each tour group. The beautiful bay is protected by a small rocky island. Although the water was a little rough, I enjoyed it immensely, barely taking time out of the water to have the provided lunch. From the water, the views of the beach, the hills in the background, and all around are breathtaking. After the return bus ride to the Dutch side, we spent some time wandering the shops in the downtown area of Phillipsburg before tendering back to the ship. Tendering to and from the ship adds to the cruise experience. And at this port-of-call, passengers were dropped off perfectly at the heart of the shopping area.

Tortola was the next port-of-call on our itinerary. As we approached the port, the scenery was fabulous. The British Virgin Islands of which Tortola is one, are beautiful to sail amongst. We opted to again take the short walk into the port. There was very little to do and see at the port and Road Town. If we were to do this island again, we would surely take one of the organized tours, or take a taxi to the beaches. There were also very few shops here. The voyage out of Road Town that afternoon was very interesting and scenic as well. However, shortly after leaving Road Town, a passenger had a medical emergency. Because we were so close, the Captain diverted to St. Thomas so the passenger could receive hospital care there.

Despite the diversion to St. Thomas, we arrived on time at Half Moon Cay, Holland America's private island. If we had one disappointment with our cruise, it was that we were unable to disembark at Half Moon Cay because of rough water. (Because tenders are required to go ashore, for safety reasons the Captain decided to eliminate this stop.) We then proceeded on our last leg of the cruise.

We arrived back in Ft. Lauderdale with no further excitement. Our disembarkation went very smoothly and painlessly. Then it was off to the airport for the journey home to the cold and snow.

Again, we would like to thank the wonderful staff for making our cruise vacation so enjoyable. Many of these crew members must spend the Christmas Season and up to a year away from their loved ones to serve their passengers.

A very special thank you to my "In-laws" for taking us all on this family pre-Christmas vacation. Unlike Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation, our holiday was a wonderful family event.

For the actual cruise itineraries for our cruise see Oosterdam itinerary.

For our cruise's shore excursions see Eastern Caribbean Shore Excursions.

For more information on Caribbean Cruises, check out some of the other interesting pages on our Caribbean Cruises Related Articles page or one of the following links.

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