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Oosterdam - Cruise Ship Review - Passenger Reviews

Holland America Line's Ooosterdam at sea One of the four Vista-class ships, the 2003-built Oosterdam (pronounced oh-sterdam) and her sisters share a similar design to Carnival’s Spirit-class ships. Touches of whimsy pop up here and there via bright colors and the odd funky piece of art or furniture style. Overall, though, the ships are casually elegant and very spacious.

Public Rooms & Activities On Oosterdam
Pleasant public rooms comprise both traditional spaces and modern ones. Lovely old-world-style rooms include the Explorer’s Lounge for low-key musical performances, drinks and high tea. The cozy Atrium Bar on the Main Deck has the feel of a romantic 1930s nightclub while the popular Ocean Bar is also a throw-back and wraps around three-deck atrium with its Waterford crystal chandelier. Funkier contemporary spaces include the piano bar, sports bar and top-of-the-ship Crow’s Nest, an observation lounge during the day and nightclub/disco at night.

The Queen’s Lounge puts on cabaret-style acts evenings and by day is the Culinary Arts Center for cooking demos. Among the most popular spots on the ship is the Explorations Café, a combo coffee shop and Internet center with a well-stocked library — one of the best at sea. For the little ones, the KidZone and WaveRunner children/teen centers are roomy and bright.

Visit the well-equipped gym, the outdoor basketball/volleyball court, or take a stroll around the wraparound Promenade Deck and soak up the great views. The large Greenhouse Spa boasts a thermal suite (a series of saunas and other heat-therapy rooms) and a hydrotherapy pool for relieving muscle tension. Up on deck are two swimming pools–the main one with a retractable roof–and a couple of hot tubs. The pool at the stern has great views.

The Pinnacle Grill on Holland America Line's OosterdamDining On Oosterdam
When it comes to mealtime, options include the glam two-deck main Vista Dining Room. The smaller and more intimate Pinnacle Grill, the place for steaks and fish, has lovely marble floors, gorgeous Bulgari place settings, and ornate sculpture-like chairs. For casual dining, head to the Lido buffet restaurant, which also has a new Italian section called Canaletto.

Staterooms & Suites On Oosterdam
Cabins are among the industry’s largest, with insides and outsides ranging from 185 to 200 square feet and all of them having a small sitting area and a tub in the bathroom, plus a flatscreen TV and DVD player, makeup mirror, massage shower head, bathrobes, and super comfy bedding. The deluxe veranda suites and cabins in the stern are among the most appealing rooms because of the views and extra deep balconies. All suites guests are privy to private concierge lounge.

Ship Information
Oosterdam belongs to Holland America Line's Vista Class of cruise ships. These elegant and spacious ships feature some of the largest private balconies found at sea. Perhaps that is why Holland America likes to refer to its balconies as Verandahs. Holland America Line names its ships after something very important to the country of Holland - its dams. The "Ooster" in Oosterdam translates to East.

Holland America Line's ships are characterized by lots of space, and many lounges - quiet as well as lively ones. With the "Signature of Excellence" initiative Holland America ships now include a Culinary Arts center presented by Food & Wine magazine (it's like being in the studio of a TV cooking show), the Explorations Cafe powered by the New York Times, and cabin amenities such as perhaps the best beds in the cruise industry - the Mariner's Dream Beds. Vista class ships also feature glass elevators on the outside of the ship, more than 600 balcony cabins, plus dozens of dining and entertainment options.

Penthouse on the OosterdamShip Facts
Year Built 2003 ♦ Ship's Class: Vista Class ♦ Year Refurbished 2007 ♦ Country of Registry Netherlands ♦ Tonnage 82,000 ♦ Length 936 ft - 280 m ♦ Cruising Speed 24 knots ♦ Passenger Capacity (double occupancy) 1,916 ♦ Passenger Capacity (incl. upper beds) 2,695 ♦ Passenger Decks 11 ♦ Officers and Crew 817 ♦ Officer's Nationality International ♦ Crew and Hotel Staff Nationality International

Cabins
Total 958 ♦ Suites with Balcony 162 ♦ Oceanview with Balcony 477 ♦ Oceanview without Balcony 165 ♦ Inside 154 ♦ Accessible Cabins (all categories) 28 ♦ Holland America Line's cabins are among the best one can find, with spacious, thoughtful and comfortable design. Amenties in all cabins include luxury bedding, refrigerator, extensive satellite TV programming, and complimentary room service.

Cabin Amenities
TV with music channels ♦ In-Cabin Movies ♦ In-Cabin Internet Access ♦ Private Safe ♦ Minibar ♦ Hair Dryer

Dining
Traditional 1st and 2nd Sitting Assigned Table Seating ♦ Optional Open Seating - "As You Wish Dining" lets you choose the venues and style that suit you ♦ Formal Nights ♦ Specialty Restaurants: Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto ♦ Specialty Coffee Bar: Explorations Cafe powered by New York Times ♦ 24 Hour Room Service Available

Public Rooms
Bars and Lounges ♦ Library ♦ Internet Center

Entertainment
Showlounge ♦ Casino ♦ Disco/Nightclub ♦ Card Room/Game Room ♦ Video Games Arcade

Sports and Activities
Outdoor Pools ♦ Sports Court ♦ Fitness Center ♦ Jogging Track ♦ Promenade Deck wraps around the ship

Spa and Wellness
Full Service Spa ♦ MedSpa Services ♦ Sauna or Steam Room ♦ Beauty Salon ♦ Yoga ♦ Pilates ♦ Fitness Assessment ♦ Health and Nutrition Evaluation

Children and Teens
Family Cabins ♦ Organized Age Specific Activities ♦ Children's Pool ♦ Outdoor Children's Play Area ♦ Youth Staff ♦ Dedicated Teen Center ♦ Teen Programs ♦ Teen Staff ♦ Group Babysitting Services

Other Facilities and Services
Duty Free Shops and Boutiques ♦ Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service ♦ Business Center Services ♦ Medical Center

You Talkin’ To Me? - Oosterdam Ship Review

Holland America Line's Oosterdam at sea by Ralph Grizzle. An award-winning travel writer, and recognized cruise ship expert.

Rotterdam, July 2003 — Holland America Line designed a ship for me. I’m not kidding, and I could hardly believe what I was hearing as I sat at a press conference and listened to company executives talk about their new Vista-class vessels. This series broke the mold for the venerable company whose ships have been so popular among the line’s alumni that there had not been a major design change for a decade.

But here in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, where Holland America Line was founded in 1873, at the inaugural of the new Oosterdam, Holland America Line execs were telling me and others that Vista-class was designed to expand the line’s premium cruise product to appeal to a broader range of passengers. That meant me. I was part of the company’s new demographic, the (then) 45-year-old with two kids that Holland America Line was targeting. They wanted me and others like me on this new brand of ship.

And so I set out on a quest to discover if indeed this was the ship for me — and my generation. In effect, like Robert Deniro in ‘Taxi Driver,’ I was asking Holland America Line execs a question firmly entrenched in the American vernacular, ‘You talking to me?’

Room To Stretch Out
Docked alongside Rotterdam’s historic Holland America Quay, a landmark for those who left for the United States on Holland America Line ships in the last and previous centuries, Oosterdam was christened bow-to-bow with the ship that holds the name of Holland America Line’s original liner, Rotterdam.

The significance of the oldest and newest ship docked within kissing distance wasn’t lost on those attending the event. Oosterdam was designed to bridge past and present — and point the way to the future.

At 81,769 tons and carrying 1,848 passengers, Vista-class vessels are Holland America Line’s largest ships — and also among the company’s most spacious. Oosterdam, for example, has a space ratio of 46, compared to the still-generous space ratio of 44 on the company’s 1,440-passenger Zaandam, built in 2000 at 63,000 tons. With Vista-class Holland America Line built a larger ship but not to cram in more people.

A Superior Verandah cabin on Holland America Line's WesterdamThat spaciousness extends to the staterooms and verandahs. Of the 924 staterooms, 85 percent offer ocean views, and two thirds of those feature verandahs. On Statendam-class ships, if you wanted a verandah, you had to pony up for suite accommodations.

Verandahs are relatively large too, ranging from 54 square feet to 318 square feet. Vista-class even introduced a new value-priced stateroom category that the line refers to as the ‘best verandah value at sea.’ These are called Deluxe Verandah Outside staterooms, and there are 461 of them (the most numerous category stateroom on the ship). They measure 200 square feet inside, with a 54-square-foot verandah.

If you’d like a verandah that’s twice as large, Superior Verandah Suites are the way to go. Up a notch further, ‘Penthouse’ and ‘Deluxe Verandah Suites’ provide enough verandah real estate for cows to graze — okay, the verandahs are not quite that large, but they are significantly spacious. Plus, these category suites provide access to the private concierge Neptune Lounge, where evening hors d’oeuvres and cocktails are served. This is a ship where there are real incentives to upgrade.

Contemporary, Yet Classic
Oosterdam is a classic, traditional ship with contemporary touches. The beautiful Explorer’s Lounge — where hand-made chocolates and after-dinner coffee is served — sits right next door to the contemporary Windstar Cafe, where specialty coffees are served [Editor's note: Vista-class ships have been upgraded since their introduction, and the Windstar Cafe has since been replaced with Explorations Cafe.]

Interior color schemes are more colorful than the primary Delft-inspired blue and whites that have long symbolized Holland America Line. The brighter design was meant to appeal to a younger audience.

Oosterdam AtriumClassic maritime themes, such as Captain Stephen Card’s renowned marine paintings, and museum quality artwork, such as the beautifully framed replicas of Dutch East India Company (VOC) pennies (once used to steep the masts of VOC ships), can be found throughout Oosterdam. Other notable pieces of art include a gorgeous Welsh Talbot Vase, a collection of rare 17th century prints from Japan that show the arrival of ships in Japanese ports, a rare Indian necklace from Rajasthan daring from the 19th century, a silver ship model that served as a container for salt and other condiments on a royal table, and whimsically, near the pool, a sculpture of four penguins standing on an iceberg.

Artists Gilbert Lebirge and Corinne Roger of Pietrasanta, Italy, were commissioned to design cast-aluminum elevator doors inspired by the art deco designs of New York’s Chrysler Building. Lebirge and Roger also created many of the ceilings and the major statues, such as the statues representing the four seasons, around the elevators.

Designers focused on creating many cozy nooks, so that the ship has a feel of intimacy, if not privacy. Oosterdam never felt crowded on my cruise, even though it was at full capacity. I was able to find my space — and keep it, whether at the bay window sitting areas that look out on the Promenade and the open sea at the Ocean Bar — or in a leather chair looking out on the sea in the Crow’s Nest at the top of the ship.

I also found there are some things the Oosterdam is not. Oosterdam, for example, strikes a sharp contrast to the stratospheric atriums found on new ships these days. Oosterdam’s three-deck atrium is small by ship standards — as well as pleasantly warm and embracing. I felt as if I were standing in the lobby at a fine hotel.

Here too is art. A Waterford crystal world globe, the atrium’s centerpiece, features raised continents in earth tones. Gazing up at the globe, I couldn’t help but think that Holland America is a world cruise line that drops anchor at ports on all seven continents.

Lunch and dinner in the Pinnacle Grill is a culinary experience on a Holland America cruiseA Premium Cruise Experience
To herald the beginning of dinner, a Filipino chime master, garbed in an elegant red jacket, strolls through the lounges. The light stroke of the chimes he carries signals that it is time to proceed to the two-level Vista Dining Room, which features striking stylized ceilings with golden flowers over a circular staircase. Another red-jacketed waiter offers figs, dates, and dried ginger as diners exit.

Oosterdam also offers alternative dining venues. Feast on U.S. Sterling Silver Beef and Northwest Seafood at the reservations-only Pinnacle Grill. The setting is gorgeous. Beautiful Italian Frette linens, Bvlgari show plates crafted by Rosenthal, and Reidel stemware adorn the tabletops. The most striking feature of the Pinnacle Grill, however, may just be the gorgeous aluminum chairs by the Italian artist Lebirge chairs. The dining experience here is well worth the $20 [Editor's note: now $30] per person cover charge.

Of course, with complimentary 24-hour room service, there’s also the option of not leaving your stateroom at all. You may choose from the menu to have dinner on your verandah as you admire the sunset or the night stars and the sea. During my time on board, I used room service as a substitute for a wake-up call.

The steward knocked at my door at 7 a.m. on my last day on Oosterdam. He placed a tray of fruits and breads, coffee and juice on my verandah table. After he left, I took a seat and looked out on the Rotterdam skyline. This was a place for new beginnings — for all those who left here for America and for Holland America Line itself. The company had started off here more than 130 years ago and had come back here now to tout its newest ship.

Rotterdam was also a place of endings — for me, at least. I had finished my quest of exploring the ship. I packed my bags and made my way down to the lobby to disembark. I left having learned something. I left knowing what those execs had been talking about a few days ago when they said they were expanding the line’s premium cruise product to appeal to a broader range of passengers. Yes, they were talking to me.