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In 1871 Holland America began its history as the Nederlandsche - Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatwsschappij. Because it was headquartered in Rotterdam and provided service to the Americas, it became known as Holland America Line. The line was a principal carrier of immigrants from Europe to the United States until well after the turn of the century carrying 850,000 to new lives in the new world. In 1895 the company offered its first vacation cruise from New York and in 1910 its leisure cruise from New York to the Holy Land. In the 1970's Holland America Line suspended its transatlantic service and sold its cargo shippi8ng division. Vacations became her full time focus. In 1989 Holland America Line became a wholly owned subdivision of Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise company in the world. Carnival Corporation owns Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn, Costa Cruises, Europe's leading cruise company, the premium luxury Cunard Line, which built the world's largest ocean liner, the 150,000 ton Queen Mary 2 and in April 2003 P&O Princess became part of the Carnival Corporation.
A review of this cruise followed by Pictures :
HAL Oosterdam Feb 23 – Mar 1 Mexican Riviera
Pre-cruise we stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay in San Diego. This is a moderately priced hotel for the area. It is across the street from Anthony's Fish Restaurant which is really very good. It has a great little Pub /Restaurant called the Elephant and Castle that serves great drinks at night and breakfast that is either a buffet or a regular menu. But most important is that it is across the street from the cruise ship terminal, and if you reserve a tower room, and get up at a ridiculous hour of the morning, you can watch the Oosterdam arrive in port. A huge benefit to staying there.
Can we all say EASY. This was a breeze. Drop of the bags in bins outside, walk inside, show ID and boarding pass, fill out the health questionnaire, get in a short check in line, show them the credit card you are using, smile for the camera, stop of another picture and you are on board. Probably 20 minutes from arrival to the first mojito on the lido deck. I have never seen better. The rooms were ready, and in our case the luggage was there by 1:30... unpacked and ready to play by 2PM. We grabbed the banner and met on deck 5 forward for the Banner wave to start the week just right. Thank you Lisa. About 17 of us showed up so it was just right. The life boat drill was well done. Enough said there... it is what it is and it is a part of every cruise and it was over quickly and the Party Started!!
We were last on the Oosterdam in 2003 when she was brand spanking new and I think someone has taken loving care of this beautiful boat. She is just as lovely today as she was back then. Our balcony stateroom was really nice, and I am now promising myself that next time I am getting and Aft SB... for the balcony alone.. but that is for next time. This was more than enough for us to enjoy, move around, store all the clothing etc and relax with a glass of wine as the ocean rolled by.
Ok here we run into the ONLY problem of the entire cruise to date. We were confirmed with late seating and a table for 8. We arrived to a 4 top with one elderly gentleman who was also sailing on his first cruise, with Air America, and had been assured of a large table of like minded individuals. It was ok, but not the most comfortable evening. A quick trip to the Maitre D the next day fixed us up with a table for 6 with two other couples that were similarly disenchanted the evening before. We had great table mates for the rest of the cruise. Unfortunately, we had chosen the dining time given over to most of the Air America cruisers and the service was not what one would expect. We started to pay more attention to what was going on around and it was quickly apparent that the Air America group was not making a favorable impression. Somehow they seemed to think that since they paid so much more for the same cruise and there were so many of them that they should get different treatment. I truly felt sorry for the dining staff, I think some of that group left their manners at home. By the 3rd night service did get better but it never seemed quite up to the par one is used to on HAL, or really on any cruise ship. I am writing this before the second formal night and will add/amend it as appropriate.
Now I have to say the ones we picked have to rank right up there with some of the best shore excursions we have experienced anywhere in the world. From Cabo San Lucas we went to Todos Santos for lunch at the Hotel California. This is a very interesting drive through the desert of Baja California from the bay at Cabo on the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific ocean, where the driver stopped at an unscheduled spot because there were lots of whales to see. The town itself is charming and some of the art work, most notable Rueben Gutierrez is spectacular. By the way the Gutierrez pottery is very reasonably priced. Then it was lunch at the Hotel California which I thought was wonderful, but my husband did not find to be spicy enough.
In Mazatlan, we signed up for the Shrimp Fest. We went to a lovely private residence, up in on a hill overlooking the entire city, with gorgeous gardens and lovely terraces set up for the crowd. They served Margaritas and beer and sodas all day and a buffet of all the shrimp you could eat, in three different styles along with rice and beans and guacamole and salsa and chips and of course tortillas. A small artisans gallery was on the grounds and I bought the most amazing citrine and freshwater pearl necklace and then met the designer of the necklace who offered to make me clip on earrings to go with it and email me when she had designed them.
In Puerto Vallarta, we did Rhythms of the Night and I just have to say... do not miss that excursion. It starts with an approx one hour catamaran ride to a private beach all lit with tike torches and absolutely gorgeous. Dinner was truly memorable as each party had a table for the number of people they designated. It was a buffet, but there were so many buffet's set up that there were no lines. Waiters brought you drinks and whatever else you wanted. Then a show, and I will admit I was not looking forward to that part because some of the cultural shows are boring... but this one was spectacular. Then the catamaran back with all of the stars, the lights of Puerto Vallarta and finally the gorgeous Oosterdam lit up for the evening.. Truly a wonderful experience.
Again, well thought out plan. Remember way back when I said the rooms weren't ready until 1:30? When you disembark, you may stay in your stateroom until they call your luggage tag color. This is totally lovely!! Then you go to Deck 2... a short line , show your passport and give the customs declaration to an official, quickly pick up your luggage and in our case take the first taxi in line and it is off to the airport. Couldn't have been smoother!
THIS & THAT
Internet: We both work for ourselves and build a cruise web site while traveling. The internet is a crucial part of cruising for us and on the Oosterdam, we had wireless access in our stateroom. Wonderful feature. You can buy packages from $100 for 250 minutes (40 cents a minute) on up. You can add more minutes as you need them and if you are on a package and you run out of minutes while logged in, they are charged at whatever rate your package calls for.
Smoking: One smoker and one reformed smoker here... and finally a cruise ship that did not make me feel like I should be banished to a dark corner of only one bar... or one of 3 tables on a deck if I wanted a cigarette. There were not a LOT of places to smoke, but the ones that were available were very nice. The casino was non smoking every day /night from 4 to 8.
Entertainment: We never go to the shows, so no comment on that.
Drink Cards Ok I love the signature drinks, for instance, the Cucumber Lime Smash, and this card did represent not only a savings, but a totally efficient means of purchasing the drinks. The card was $64.50 and it was for 10 drinks... which if you read the menu were $6.45 or more unless it was a drink of the day., BUT on every drink you paid the tip and so It does work out that you are paying for about 9 drinks for the price of 10. Not a huge savings, but the convenience of just handing them a card was an extra bonus.
This was our 11th cruise in 9 years and I must say, even though we had been to these ports before, this was one of the loveliest cruises we have ever taken!!
San Diego and the bow
Cruise food pictures
Deck photos on the Oosterdam
Pool side pictures of the Oosterdam
Dinning area near the buffet on the Oosterdam
|That concludes the pictures on this page of the Oosterdam passenger cruise review. Too many pictures to caption them all. Sorry.