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scott

Age: 55

Occupation:architect

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Oosterdam

Sailing Date: 2010-04-17

Itinerary: mexican riveria

This was our first cruise, so I talked to a lot of people on the cruise, most of which had several cruises under their belt. Holland American Line (HAL) seems to be a very loyal group, as most of the people I talked with were return cruisers. The HAL cruises are not for young family - I think the average age on the cruise was in the upper 60's. We ate with one lady who was over 90 and had been on over 40 cruises (she was a travel agent), many with HAL. There are no climbing walls or surfing lessons, and the boat is smaller than the mega ships. The average person on this cruise was also well off - many had a couple of homes and cruise once or twice a year. One nice thing about this is that the cruise was pretty quiet. Everyone we talked to was very friendly and happy to make friends with us. Our cabin steward, Agus, was from Indonesia, as was 99% of the staff. They are well trained, hard workers and take care of your every need. By the end of the first day, Agus knew us by name. He redid our room when we were gone, even if it was only a short time. He really was friendly and helped to make the cruise special for us. And every night, after dinner, we returned to a different towel animal with chocolate eyes. I don't think he ever stopped working.

The food was very good, nothing really great, on the main menu, but the Pinnacle Grill got great reviews for their meals - even though is was a $20 per person premium. We ate at the Italian cafe the second formal night, and it was pretty good. You can see that most of the food is geared for the older taste, not a lot of extra spices, etc. As on all cruises, you can go to several dining rooms and get everything from sandwiches to steaks. We had great service at all of our meals, no matter where we ate. There were two formal nights. Most of the men wore dark suits rather than tuxes. Even though you could eat as much as you want, as often as you want, (you could eat one dinner downstairs and then go upstairs and eat again, if you want) they charge you $2 for sodas. I don't understand that. The drinks in your room mini-bar cost the same as in the lounge. If you want to meet people on the ship, ask for a 6 person table at dinner - you will leave with 4 new friends.

Our stateroom was small, as is on most cruise lines. We did visit one of our newly made friends in their suite, which was twice as large as ours, and had a huge veranda. Pretty nice if you can swing it. They had their own lounge, extra services, discounts on some items on ship and get double nights credits for their cruise. Ours was about 190 sf and had a lot of closet space, but not a lot of room for more than one suitcase, which fit under the bed. The toilet was small, but had a nice tub/shower. The bed was two twins put together and was one of the best beds I have ever slept on. And did I say that it was quiet? I slept like a log every night. Bring an alarm. There is no self-service laundry on this boat, and you can't iron in your room, so bring a steamer to get rid of those wrinkles.

There was always something (really several things) to do on board, and they were all well attended. The cruse director, Matt, did a great job at trivia each day, and the piano bar trivia was also fun. We never had the time to go to the cooking demonstrations, but they were always packed. Each evening we listened to the string quartet in one of the many bars. The casino was always busy, and had several special events. There is a small kid's area, but not a lot for them to do. The rear pool is for adults only, to main pool is for families.

You can do everything from swimming with your own dolphin to driving through the backwoods on a jeep (we did and learned that the locals are pretty aggressive in their driving in town) to just walking around. There are "recommended" stores on each stop, but you have to watch yourself even there, as one of our dinner mates had their wallet stolen in the biggest jewelry shop in Mazatlan. Remember to read the reviews of all of the excursions before your commit. One secret is that if you have a shore excursion purchased in Cabo, you get first dibs on the ship to shore shuttle boats. Otherwise you have to wait until a free boat is available. Most important - get back to the boat on time. Six people missed the departures during our cruise, and they had to catch up on their own dime.

Like I said at the beginning, this was our first cruise. We have traveled to a lot of places, and this was one of the best vacations we have had. I can see why people cruise - no matter where your are or what you are doing, there is someone around asking if there is anything they can do for you. We will go again, and on HAL. It was fun, relaxing and we were pampered everywhere we went.

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