I thought you might like a tour of the Oosterdam but be warned, this post has a lot of images!
The Oosterdam is a very beautiful looking ship from the outside and I love its navy blue lines. However when we walked onto the ship I was immediately struck by the overpowering use of teal blue in the interiors. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just quite ‘in your face’. In terms of the styling, I wasn’t sure what the decorator’s idea had been, given it was a Dutch shipping line now owned by an American company. Looking at the statues and artifacts and other decorative bits and pieces, I was wondering if it was meant to be Greek-inspired or Roman-inspired but neither seemed quite right. I decided it’s some sort of channeling of King Neptune with a bit of Liberace thrown in.
Laundry: There is no iron or ironing board in your cabin. Apparently there are some communal laundries on the ship (I never came across any) but they too, don’t allow ironing. When that realisation hit, we paid around US$100.00 for unlimited laundry including dry cleaning. If you don’t want to pay that much, there is a laundry bag in your cabin and you can stuff it full and have everything in it washed for US$20.00/bag.
Internet: I knew it would be expensive but I had no idea just how much I would end up spending just to try and check emails and update my facebook status. Internet is not available in your cabin and is only accessible from a couple of the ship’s public areas. I used to go to the internet cafe as it is on the top deck, right at the front of the ship with a full view of the ocean. It’s a stunning place to try and get some work done if you can afford it. We spent just under US$400 and as you know, I wasn’t on-line long enough to be able to put up a blog post. Another frustrating feature of the internet is that the more users there are on-line, the slower it is. One day I was trying for 45-minutes to open my emails. I gave up in frustration as was only getting spinning wheels. I probably only had productive use of the internet for 10-15 minutes but paid for 45 because there were 55 other users online. There is no reduction in rate for slow speeds.
Shopping: I was pleased the ship isn’t riddled with shops as I didn’t want a ‘floating mall’ type of experience. There were essentials, clothing, gift lines and duty free. We did buy a few things at the shop and found the prices to be very reasonable, especially for cosmetics, skincare and watches as these products sell in the USA for so much less than what we pay in Australia. There were some good duty free buys on alcohol as well. Shops are only open when not in port and they have to be at least 35 miles from shore before they can open for business. On the last two days of the cruise the ship set up a market around the Lido pool so that if the passengers didn’t come to the shops, the shops would come to the passengers. I didn’t appreciate that as all deck chairs had to be removed to make room for the market giving passengers very little space to recline around the pool.
Swimming Pools: There are two swimming pools with spas; one in the mid-ship at the Lido Bar and another on the aft deck. The pool lounges are very comfortable and look fairly new and there are plenty of pool towels that are large and fluffy and look new rather than well-used. We never had any trouble getting a pool lounge which was a pleasant surprise. The roof over the Lido pool is glass and can be opened or closed depending on the weather. We didn’t have any rain so it was open most of the time, except in strong winds.
Greenhouse Spa & Salon: Close to the Lido Pool is the day spa. On embarkation they had an offer for adults-only where you could use the hydrotherapy pool, steam rooms and thermal beds as often during the cruise as you wished for US$249/couple. Carl and I paid this so we could enjoy some peace, quiet and relaxation. The package included some loofahs and body scrubs in a variety of scents. I really made the most of this package and visited everyday we weren’t in port. I found the thermal beds to be a great place to relax and would lie on the warm bed and look across to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and watch the ocean go by – very therapeutic. We didn’t have any other treatments in the Greenhouse as they were costly and had 15% gratuity added on top of the price.
Gym: There is a gymnasium just near the day spa and it’s positioned right at the front of the ship. You can workout while looking through large glass windows at the wide ocean view. I did bring gym gear but that was as close as I got to going to the gym. Arabella went quite a few times and did some of the classes and really enjoyed it. She loved the fridge where you could help yourself to iced white hand towels.
Entertainment: If you’ve heard there’s great entertainment on cruise ships, you’re not wrong. The shows were fantastic. The ship employed guest artists from Australia who were bursting-over with talent and when they weren’t on stage, the HAL singers and dancers performed to a very high standard. If you didn’t want to go to the Vista Lounge to enjoy a show, there was plenty more entertainment going on in many other places on the ship. It was often a tussle to decide what we might do for the night.
Movies: You can go to reception and borrow movies to watch in your cabin and Alfie did this several times. Movies were also screened in the Vista Lounge and we watched Prisoners and Elysium but on both occasions the movies were out of focus and the picture quality so poor that in Elysium we couldn’t even read the subtitles. There is a screening room and while the picture quality is what you would expect, and while the reclining seats are very comfortable, and while complimentary popcorn is delivered to the venue, the room only seats 30 and on a ship with 2000 passengers, more people are turned away than can fit in the seats.
Casino: Didn’t go there.
Outdoor Areas: There is a lot of space to be outside and despite being on a ship with 2000 others, it very rarely felt crowded. Carl and I liked to sit on the deck chairs on Deck 3 as these were under the lifeboats and so in the shade, and we sometimes felt like we had the entire space all to ourselves. If you’re feeling more energetic, you can walk all the way around the deck enjoying the view from every angle. It was also a great place to be as the sun sets or the moon rises over the water.
Gratuities: I’m not sure how we missed it but somewhere in the fine print was notification that on top of what we had paid to be on the ship, there was a daily charge of US$11.50/person for gratuities. Gratuities are automatically added to your account and these are in addition to the gratuities you pay whenever ordering a drink or visiting the salon. For us this was almost AUS$50/day and over 14 days it did add up and wasn’t something we had budgeted for. If you would like to have the amount adjusted you can visit reception the day before disembarkation and discuss it with the front office.
Dining: This needs a post of its own. Stand by!
Overall we were very impressed with the ship. It’s clean, tidy and kept in first-rate condition. With its timber decks it’s a stunning ship even if some of the interior styling appears to be a cross between Liberace and King Neptune. I wouldn’t hesitate to book another cruise on the MS Oosterdam.
If you liked this post, you’re welcome to share it!