This was to be my first sailing on Holland America and I was sure I was going to be the youngest on the ship. After all, only old people go on Holland America – How wrong I was. It is true that people do put off this trip until they are older, and Holland America offers many services for those dealing with health issues. Alaska is a very accessible place for those who need a little extra assistance.
The ship I was on was the Oosterdam and it had recently been refurbished to include a BB Kings Lounge, who was America’s Test Kitchen during the day, Microsoft classes and Lincoln Center Performing Stage. Holland America puts a great deal of focus on food and giving you a premier experience.
What’s a premiere experience? Smaller ship, upgraded food and beverage, cloth towels in the bathroom and more attention from the ship’s crew. Each day there was wide variety of onboard activities to choose from a cooking class presented by America’s test kitchen or shopping specials on the enclosed pool deck. We also had nightly entertainment as well as in cabin movies free.
The headliner show was a film of Alaska with a live orchestra. I thought there was no way it would be entertaining – wrong again. It was incredible and the orchestra brought the images to life. BB Kings had the best live bands – better than the Journey tribute band on Anthem of the Seas (and I Love Journey!) Lots of funky 70’s music.
There was a wide range of ages onboard including many children. Yes, some of the guests were ‘older’, but overall there was wide age range. Holland also has a great group program that offers many incentives for small group travel.
Was the Oosterdam perfect? No, the spa was located far from the ladies room which meant I had to walk through public hallways to get my treatment room. For me, this ruined the experience and I cancelled my spa treatment. There was also not enough seating at the buffet area due to the cold weather in Alaska. The food was excellent but the lines were long. Once I figured out the dining room was open for lunch, I didn’t go back to the buffet. We ate twice in the only specialty restaurant onboard -The Pinnacle Grill. Excellent steaks, seafood and service.
The highlight of the cruise for me was the itinerary. Timing was perfect. While other cruise lines get to go to the Hubbard Glacier at the crack of dawn, our ship was scheduled from 11am-1pm. We chose to rent a cabana on the top deck where a butler catered to our food and drink needs. It also included a bottle of champagne and an exclusive view of the Glacier. These cabanas afforded us the best view of the glacier and no crowds. Only those who had rented Cabanas for the day were permitted in our viewing area. I thoroughly enjoyed my week on the Oosterdam . Holland offers some of the largest suites and fantastic amenities for groups making a perfect fit for an extended family vacation.
Disembarkation was fairly easy and I loved the Holland allowed our bags to be sent directly to the airport from the ship. This service was complimentary of the port of Seattle. It made getting to the airport so much easier. Upon arrival I picked up my bags and checked them with my airline.
Stay tuned for my review of the Celebrity Summit sailing from San Juan over Christmas and after all the hurricanes.