Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: May 8th, 2004
WooHoo! What a great first cruise we had! We took Holland America’s Oosterdam’s maiden Alaska voyage and it was DYNO! We wanted to be one of the first cruises in the Alaska cruise season for two reasons: 1] we wanted to avoid the native “tourist fatigue” and 2] it’s cheap! We also booked the Oosterdam because it was the newer of HAL’s ships to go from Seattle to Alaska (although my parents took the Amsterdam on her Panama Canal repositioning cruise last year when it was really new).
EMBARKATION was a little tough. We live close to Seattle so we parked right at the terminal and walked in at 12:28. We were sitting comfortably on the Lido Deck watching people grabbing their lunches at 1:00. In the interim there was a lot of confusion and what appeared to be long waits at the check-in counter. This was the first day of the cruise season and this is a new HAL terminal so that was probably the biggest factor. Hopefully all that has been worked out by this time.
The Oosterdam is a beautiful ship with subtle colors, wonderful artwork and artifacts, and great public rooms. I spent a lot of time in the Erasmus Library and just walking through all the nooks and crannies. The crew kept it in spotless condition.
We booked a Deluxe Verandah Suite on the port side. We originally booked a starboard cabin but after looking at a map of the cruise I changed to the port side. After it was too late (of course) I thought, why did I change sides? It looks like we’re approaching all the cool stuff from the starboard side. I apologized profusely to my husband for doing that. HOWEVER, once we got going we found out that we catch the sunset and sunrise near Seattle on both ends of the trip, and we’re dockside at Juneau, Ketchikan and Victoria, AND the captain does a slow 360º at Hubbard Glacier so we got to see it from the comfort of our balcony. So I did good and we were both happy.
The suite and amenities were TREMENDOUS! The cabin, bathroom and balcony were quite roomy. There was plenty of storage space and it was very nicely appointed. Some of the perks of booking an S cabin were: welcome flowers, champagne and Captain’s welcome receptions (2). We had fluffy robes, complimentary laundry, dry-cleaning and pressing. We had use of the DVD player and the CD and DVD collection. Lots of feather pillows, fruit baskets, corsage and boutonniere for the first formal night. Full breakfast and high tea served in the cabin along with pre-dinner hot appetizers. We also got priority tender passes to Sitka. And don’t get me started on the Neptune Lounge! The concierges were great with information and the food and the latte machine was WONDERFUL! If I didn’t know where my husband, Mr. Cookienandlattehead was, I just had to check the Neptune Lounge and there he was. And the Captain’s luncheon was absolutely FABULOUS! They served these incredible coconut prawns and chicken satay and the caviar was one of the smoothest I’ve had.
Okay, so the ports of call were very nice. We were very fortunate because the weather was warm and sunny everyday (except in Seattle, natch). Lots of good shopping, the natives were very friendly and everything ran smoothly. We did the Mendenhall helicopter excursion at Juneau. Gorgeous! And the Sitka Bike & Hike. That was a lot of fun and the guides were very cool but it was too short. We wanted a little more exercise but what the heck; it was a great bunch of people in a gorgeous venue on a beautiful day.
The food in general was good to very good in every dining area. We do recommend the Pinnacle Grill for $20. It’s worth it and you can have three entrees if you want. The service there was exquisite. We felt very pampered. All in all, I have never eaten so many desserts in such a continuum – ever! Whew!
We liked the gym with its great Cybex equipment. We spent a lot of time there. The classes (aerobics, yoga, etc) looked pretty full. We didn’t do any spa/salon stuff. All that fat hangin’ out is just too embarrassing.
We went to a couple of shows. If you ever see Lee Bayliss on a schedule, go see him. He’s a good clean fun comedian. I could not stop laughing! Even the serious Mr. Cookieandlattehead was bustin’ a gut. The last show was a crew show and it was flashy and tear jerking at the same time. I forgot to bring my camera too.
The service rendered was great. Our room steward was friendly but professional and kept our room is great order. Our dinner steward was very nice – not quite as together as perhaps others but he was always working hard. His assistant was wonderful, as were the headwaiter and the wine steward. The whole staff was friendly, smiling and helpful.
Disembarkation went quickly. I think because of our S status. Customs and immigration were no problem at all.
So, we’re planning our next cruise already. If you are interested in seeing photos from our trip, check out our photo album at http://community.webshots.com/user/annieuu
If you have any questions, email me too. Happy cruising! Now I have to get back on my rowing machine – ugh -