Holland America Exceeded my Expectations

Oosterdam Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America
Experience: 4-6 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Vote: 1

Overall Rating:

4.4 out of 5
Oosterdam

15 Night Panama Canal Westbound (Ft. Lauderdale To San Diego)

Sail Date: November 17, 2017

Ship: Oosterdam

Cabin Type: Balcony

Cabin Number: 4006

Traveled As: Couple

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review Summary

We enjoyed our fellow passengers, the crew and the ship. The itinerary would have been more interesting with stops in Columbia and Panama, rather than simply transiting the Canal, but some stops were fascinating and enjoyable. I loved excursions in Guatemala and Cabo. The quality of the cruise, day to day exceeded my expectations, particularly because of the unexpected quality and personality of the classical musicians and the baristas at the Explorations espresso bar!

Embarkation

5 out of 5
Appreciated the many well trained local people who conduct and assist in all phases of the process...help always at hand; good for the efficiency and safety of the process

Ship Experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
We enjoyed all the dining options except one or two specialty restaurants we didn't try. For my birthday we tried "Sel de Mer" & it was excellent. The room service was a godsend for my wife.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5

Entertainment

4 out of 5
Your list of venues is not up to date. These included America's Kitchen, BB King's Blues Club, and Lincoln Center Stage, among others. The biggest surprise and joy of the cruise was the Fusion Quartet + pianist at the Lincoln Center Stage. The young musicians were outstanding in all respects and I thoroughly enjoyed them and their music.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Our two room attendants were excellent. Unlimited laundry service turned out to be an excellent option and we made daily use of it...surprisingly most laundry was returned, ironed if necessary though we hadn't paid for pressing, the same night though we hadn't paid for express service. Personnel throughout the ship were very personable and reflected the excellence of Captain Willems.

Ship Quality

4 out of 5
A fellow passenger who had travelled on this ship earlier explained that many public areas were refurbished within the past few years; cabins were not.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
The cabin was very functional and comfortable. The balcony ("verandah") was very pleasant. The fabrics could have used an update.

Ship Tip

Plan on using internet resources at shore stops. The expense and limitations of internet access on board seemed to be a universal source of unhappiness. Go to the Crows Nest/Explorations lounge on the level 10 to enjoy a delicious cappuccino!

Ports Of Call

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

3 out of 5
Rating would have been higher based on past visits, but in this case we stayed at a hotel we disliked: Holiday Inn Marina. The desk clerk was remarkable for his ignorance.. In fairness a friendly lady gave out free Cuban coffee for a time in the lobby. I enjoyed finding a very good local breakfast restaurant on Google Maps and walking to it about two miles from the hotel: "Joe's." Best thing about the hotel was their advice on a shuttle service to the ship: excellent value and very knowledgeable driver made for a quick and direct transfer. The company sells shuttle tickets within the hotel and reserves departure times.

Oranjestad, Aruba

3 out of 5

Enter Panama Canal At Cristobal

4 out of 5

Panama Canal Transit

5 out of 5
Wonderful views and fascinating things to see en route. Most do not realize that the bulk of the day will be spend cruising across Gatun Lake.

Exit Panama Canal At Balboa

5 out of 5
This cruise did not stop in Panama...we merely transited the canal. If we had, I would have liked to have visited Panama City, which was within sight of the Canal exit at Balboa.

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

4 out of 5
Enjoyed the colorful dancers near the ship. Went on a boat and rail excursion that was enjoyable.

Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

3 out of 5
We decided to rest onboard on this stop and did not visit, though I would have liked to have seen Leon.

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

5 out of 5
Went on outstanding excursion up into the mountains and visited a Mayan temple. A high point of the entire cruise because of an excellent knowledgeable guide. The country, its history, and the world of the Maya came to life. I spoke to other passengers who weren't so lucky: the same excursion was a disaster for those on the second bus with a terrible guide.

Puerto Chiapas (Tapachula), Mexico Did not visit port

Because of earthquake damage that made the Puerto Chiapas harbor entrance danberous, the Captain decided to substitute Huatulco. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

5 out of 5
We expected that Cabo would be uninterestingly commercialized. Instead we went on an outstanding "Deluxe"sailing/snorkeling excursion that was the high point of the entire cruise. As if on cue, whales spouted and sounded, showing their flukes, and we enjoyed other wildlife including sea lions, many birds, and of course beautiful fish that swam around us as we snorkeled. We saw beautiful scenery including Los Arcos, the bay, a beach across the bay, and our own ship. The sailing part of the excursion was absolutely beautiful and classic. The crew consisted of two pretty, efficient, and knowldgable women and an intrepid captain (at one point he dove deep to retrieve a passenger's necklace!)

San Diego, California

4 out of 5
The port looked beautiful as I watched our early morning arrival. We spent no time here; we rented a car and drove north. I know San Diego well and it has much to recommend it.

Disembarkation

5 out of 5
The process was efficient and as at embarkation, employment of many local people to assist was very helpful. Because of one of them, we bypassed the chaos of passengers trying to find and board various shuttles, and for $10 we were at our rental car location in about 10 minutes.
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