cruises

Holland America Line ms Oosterdam Review

Holland America's modest-sized Oosterdam promises an outsized experience.

September 19, 2013
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Greenhouse Spa and Salon, Gym

Oosterdam’s spa and salon is managed by Steiner Leisure, the same outfit that oversees spa facilities on a majority of cruise ships. The seductive Greenhouse Spa is located on Deck 9 forward and a wide variety of treatments were available, at prices slightly higher than we find at most quality resorts. Treatments were discounted on port days, and other specials became available as the cruise went on, particularly for those booking multiple appointments.

The prices ranged from $119 for a 50-minute Well Being Massage to $279 for a 100-minute AromaSpa Seaweed Massage and Float. A couples or friends massage was $269 for a 50-minute session. The salon offered facials starting from $119 for the 50-minute LaTherapie Hydralift Facial. Manicure and pedicure services started at $45 and $65 respectively. The menu of services also included waxing, tooth whitening and acupuncture—all of which were heavily promoted with leaflets that arrived in our cabin daily.

A couple sections of the spa were devoted to the Greenhouse Spa Retreat, a spa within the spa with a very appealing indoor hydropool bubbling away; the Retreat also offered a thermal suite (akin to a Turkish bath) with dry heat, steam and aromatherapy chambers, and heated ceramic loungers. A seven-day pass to use the Retreat was $129 ($199 for couples); we found the add-on excessive, but others signed up quickly for this parcel of semi-exclusivity.

Oosterdam’s gym was accessed through the entrance to the spa. While the overall facility was in good shape and well-maintained much of the cardio equipment was made up of older Cybex machines. The gym was generally not crowded except early morning.

There was a roster of fitness classes—most were free, including daily tai chi (twice on sea days), abs conditioning, pool aerobics and dance aerobics, most of them taught by the ship’s “Lifestylist” and announced in the daily Explorer newsletter. Yoga and spinning classes were $12 per session. The Body Sculpt Boot Camp was priced $120 for four 30-minute circuit-based sessions.

A 15-percent gratuity was automatically added to the bill for all treatments.

Pools

There are two main pools on Oosterdam, both on Deck 9. The focal point for most is the Lido Pool, located at midship and covered by a retractable glass ceiling. The roof was opened when the weather allowed during the day, but was closed at most other points. Three of the ship’s hot tubs flanked this pool, along with an iceberg sculpture at one end topped by giddy penguins. Ping Pong tables were available (and busy). Sun loungers line the pool, along with tables for dining (the Terrace Grill was in this area, and the Lido Restaurant nearby).

This outdoor Sea View Pool on the aft deck was a good spot when the weather cooperated; the pool temperature was noticeably cooler than the Lido Pool. But there were also a pair of hot tubs—a good place for enjoying the view. Smoking was allowed on the starboard side of the pool, next to the bar.

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Other Recreation

Active sports are not a big focus for Holland America. There were shuffleboard courts (found on Deck 10) and ping pong tables (Deck 9), and then on Deck 11 there was a sports court with a couple tattered nets ringing the hoops. No formal or informal play was scheduled during our cruise.

Decks Overview

Deck 3 was home to Oosterdam’s promenade deck, wrapping around the entire ship. Deck chairs were lined up at midship and provided a good place to hang out and enjoy the view. Smoking was permitted on the starboard side of the deck. Three laps around the ship equaled a mile, and there was a relatively wide deck area. This was also where the Muster Stations were located, and the embarkation drill took place here, beneath the lifeboats.

Located behind the Crow’s Nest, the Observation Deck runs most of the length of the ship and comfy wooden loungers were set up most days. Deck 11, above the Crow’s Nest, is the highest public area of the ship; metal loungers are stationed here but they remained stacked and unused for most of our cruise.

Shows and Entertainment

The Vista Lounge is Oosterdam’s showroom, an attractive venue primped with a red and black color scheme. Front row balcony seating provided good sightlines, but seats toward the rear of the balcony were not so good. Holland America relies on canned musical backing tracks for most of its 45-minute stage shows—the death of spontaneity. The conservative choice of material made it clear what Oosterdam’s target demographic was, and we just didn’t feel old enough.

The show “Garage Band” started embarrassingly, with a five-man band mock-playing to the backing track. Only the singing was live, and this sounded sweetened as well. The dancing, however, was pretty strong, with decent choreography around a garage-music theme—tunes like “Pink Cadillac,” “Macho Man,” and “She Drives Me Crazy” all got a workout. It was, however, a spunkier set than some Holland America shows. The show called “Stage and Screen” was a little better, offering a mix of camp and flash. This tribute to Bob Mackie costumes (the guy behind Cher’s better outrages) is staged on other Holland America ships, but the 14-person cast was much better on Oosterdam. The juvenile synth backing track is awful, but dancing and choreography is pretty strong. Complaint: The use of stage smoke was excessive.

Another night offered a comedienne, and her regular act was bland, stilted—the usual airport security, weight and Alaska jokes. But a late show on a second night was advertised as adult comedy, and the comedienne’s unbridled personality came through, a much better set. One late-night event featured the Indonesian crew show—these are always a hit-and-miss affair, but the best acts generated enthusiastic applause.

The Queen’s Lounge and Culinary Art Center is a show kitchen at sea, a decent-sized venue designed for cooking demonstrations, with seating in a semi-circle. Two video screens projected the goings-on at the cooking counter, hosted by the on-board party planner and chefs from Oosterdam’s kitchen. The demonstrations and lessons were fairly routine compared to some of what we’ve seen on the Cooking Channel—preparations for steak Diane and chocolate mousse espresso, etc. This room was also used for trivia contests, flower arranging demonstrations, and most nights a band played various kinds of dance music. A small bar at the back was sometimes open.

There’s also a small Screening Room on Deck 3. There are just 31 seats, but they reclined comfortably. The screen was 90 inches wide, and presentation was definitely not Hollywood screening room quality. But maybe we’re just picky.

Casino

Games available in Oosterdam’s casino included Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, Three Card Poker, Texas Hold ‘Em, and there were slot machines (coinless) ranging from penny to $5 play, plus Video Poker. Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em and slots tournaments were held. Holland America also has a player’s club, Club 21, accessed using your key card. Guests under 18 are not allowed in the casino; smoking was permitted.

Other Venues

Oosterdam’s three-story Atrium does not contain the grand type of sculpture that ornaments most of the Holland America ships, just a large, translucent earth-globe suspended from the ceiling. On Deck 1 was the Front Office, Shore Excursions Desk and Future Cruise Desk. A small lobby bar was tucked under stairs, though it was often closed—this should have been a vibrant area for socializing.

The Neptune Lounge is reserved for guests booked into Deluxe Verandah Suites, a private space tended by a concierge most hours. Nibbles are available throughout the day, along with worktables, an oversized TV, sofas, and computer stations where WiFi is offered at a reduced rate. The Hudson, Half Moon, Stuyvesant Rooms were spaces used for meetings. A few religious services were scheduled here during our cruise, along with informal card games.

The ship’s Library was located within the Explorations Café on Deck 10. There was an above-average selection of books, including a small array of travel books that could not be taken out of café area.

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Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Cabins
  3. Dining
  4. Drinks
  5. Recreation and Entertainment
  6. Kids, Service, and Other Details
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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