Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: January 11th, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Just returned from a great cruise on a beautiful ship. We cruised for 7 days on the new Oosterdam. This ship made her maiden voyage in August of 2003.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale about 10am on Sunday the 11th and took a taxi to the Port. We had heard that HAL offered early boarding. The taxi was $20 with tip and the Port was very quiet when we arrived. We waited through a small line and then we were on the ship about 11:30am. The rooms are not ready until about 1pm, but we had lunch on the Lido Deck and wandered the ship. We had dressed comfortably so we did not need out luggage. If you need to change, or want your swimming suit as soon as you board, pack it in your carryon.
We were pleased with our stateroom. We went on a shoestring budget and our room was the basic inside stateroom. But it was roomy enough for two. We asked our steward to combine the beds to a queen. The closet space was adequate with lots of shelves. No drawers, but the shelves were easier to organize clothing. We did notice about 3 days into the trip that there are drawers under the beds and spaces under the bed where we could place empty luggage.
The food was good on the ship. The Vista Dining room really offered a variety of food all presented very elegantly. The Lido Deck is pretty much the same fare on a daily basis. We gravitated to the Lido Grill often for lunch for the burger and fries. Room service was good--try the BLT. You can buy a “soft drink card” at any of the bars. I think it was 27.00 for the week. Again, the shoestring budget, we carried on 14 diet cokes. They almost lasted the week. Hubby bought 2 cokes at $1.95 when he ran out.
Movies and more movies. This was a surprise to us. Very recent movies being shown several times a day and once in the Queen’s Lounge. I had read from another review that the seating was poor. It was if the movie was well attended. If you really want a good seat--get there early for front row.
Take a tour of the Greenhouse Spa. They have some great services and if you avail yourself of them on “Port” days, they are cheaper.
The private island “Half Moon Cay” was beautiful. The water was a bit cool and the snorkeling wasn’t great. But the beach is beautiful and hammocks and chairs provided. We didn’t stay for lunch. We went back on the tender to eat on the ship.
We did one shore excursion with HAL. It was in Ocho Rios -- Enchanted Garden. I wouldn’t bother.again. It was $29 each and it was not informative enough. We weren’t impressed with Ocho Rios on the whole -- not great shopping and very poor city.
The third port was Grand Cayman. It was great. We had read ahead to just walk out to the street and look for a vendor selling Sting Ray City tours. We went with one and had a great time. It cost each of us $35. The ships price was $49 for the same thing and was sold out when we were onboard.
The fourth port was Cozumel. I suggest getting a taxi and go to Chakannab beach on your own. It will cost about $20 for the taxi and $10 to get in. But the beach is great and snorkeling is at your feet.
Disembarkation was very orderly. We had an early flight (11:30) and HAL sent around a form asking so that they can put people in order of priority. We had breakfast about 8:00 am and found a comfy spot to wait in one of the lounges on Deck 2. . We were the 2nd group called and we had gone through Immigration and picked up our bags and had a taxi by 10am. We noticed at the airport that there was a group of 15 that didn’t make their flight because of the HAL transportation from the ship. It seems that taking your own taxi is a good idea.
The “Tipping not Required” policy made it easy to tip. We felt we had received good service and tipped accordingly. No one wants to tell you what to tip, so you just go with what you think. The staff seemed grateful and surprised at the tipping. (Probably good training!)
All in all, it was a great cruise. The more you get involved, the more fun you will have. If you are going for R&R, you will find it on Holland America.