Holland America’s Oosterdam is the second of 4 directionally named Vista class ships, representing East. Her sister ships are Westerdam, Noordam, and Zuiderdam for west, north, and south. Built by Fincantieri of Italy, Oosterdam was christened by Princess Margriet of the Netherlands in Rotterdam in July of 2003. Oosterdam is 950 feet long and 105.8 feet wide with 11 passenger decks and a passenger capacity of 1964. The ship has two separate engine rooms that operate independently of each other.
Holland America’s Vista class is nothing like Carnival’s Vista, but P&O’s Arcadia has the same hull design and many of the same features. All of Holland America’s ships have the suffix “dam,” which besides having the same meaning in Dutch as in English (a barrier against water), it was also early tradition for Dutch passenger ships to end with dam while cargo ships ended with diik or dyk. Holland America’s ships are often referred to as the dam ships even by Holland America themselves.
This class of ship has the best thermal suite/spa pool I’ve seen. Their mineral pool is quite large and besides the rack where people can relax in the pool’s jets it has a well-jetted circular area. John said the circular part reminded him of sitting in a cannibal’s pot, but the temperature is warm, not boiling and there’s nobody waiting to eat anyone. The spa’s heated ceramic benches face floor to ceiling windows and the thermal suite also includes aroma therapy steam rooms, a sauna, and fancy showers. The thermal suite package costs extra, but on ships with a nice spa like this one it’s worth it. Though advance bookings are not available on the website, you can call to book in advance and save money over the onboard price.
We took one of our very first cruises on the Oosterdam many years ago sailing from San Diego to the Mexican Rivera. The main thing I remember about the décor back then was cow print fabric in the disco. Currently the ship has neither disco nor cow print. The current décor appears as somewhat of a subdued opulence with lots of old-time style artwork. Paintings around the ship often feature old sailing ships. Some have previous renditions of Holland America’s current ships – that is an old style ship with the same name as ships in Holland America’s current fleet. Statues mainly look like those found in Europe in former centuries. The centerpiece in the atrium is a giant fancy globe.
Oosterdam just finished the summer Alaska season cruising out of Seattle and will spend the winter cruising Mexico, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal before moving on to Europe in the spring. Ships out of Seattle always leave in a bunch and on this trip we saw the reason why. While sailing into the Straight of Juan de Fuca, which connects Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean, we had a seat near a window at the back of the dining room. As the Oosterdam neared Port Angeles it veered towards the shore. A pilot boat came to meet the ship and the pilot disembarked. As the Oosterdam moved away the pilot boat stayed in the area and when Norwegian Pearl reached the same spot the pilot boat retrieved their pilot. Emerald Princess was not far behind so they retrieved 3 pilots with just one boat.
Oosterdam had updates done recently during a 2016 drydock. Upgrades to the ship include USB ports in the cabins. Besides the 2 USB ports, our cabin also had 2 outlets, quite an improvement over the standard only one place to plug anything in found on many ships.
Smoking policies onboard are also updated with the interior of the ship and outside promenade deck now all non-smoking. It’s really nice to be able to go anywhere inside the ship and walk or jog around the promenade deck without running into any smoke. The ship’s smoking area is cleverly located outside in a sheltered area on the Lido deck on one side the stern where the ship sails forward out of the smoke. Nobody needs to walk through that area to get anywhere else so it’s easy to avoid.
Holland America has partnered with America’s Test Kitchen. They have daily cooking demonstrations with different types of food each day. On our cruise they started with salmon, ended with chocolate, and had a variety of other dishes in between.
Other entertainment options include shows, movies, live music, computer classes, and BBC Earth natural history activities. They have children’s programs for kids from 3 to 17. There are 2 pools, each with hot tubs nearby. One of them has a sliding dome so it can be an indoor pool in cold climates or rainy weather and an outdoor pool when it’s warm and sunny.
There’s lots of seating space near windows along the public hallways. Most of it is technically in bars, but they aren’t always open and people often use the areas to sit and read, play cards, or just enjoy the scenery.
The ship has several dining options. Besides the main dining room and buffet there’s a poolside grill and two premium restaurants, the Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto.
Holland America Dining Room Dress Code
Most evenings smart casual attire is appropriate. Shorts, pool/beachwear, distressed jeans and men’s tank tops are not permitted in fine dining restaurants. Jeans without holes, tears or embroidery are welcome on casual evenings in all restaurants. Shorts are not permitted in the dining room at dinner.
Gala Nights evoke the grand traditions of cruising as guests dress to impress for special events on board, including our five-course gourmet dinner in the Dining Room. For gentlemen, collared shirts and slacks are required in all fine dining restaurants. Jacket and tie is the preferred attire in all fine dining restaurants on Gala Nights, though it is not required.
For ladies on gala night attire dressy attire is appropriate. Dresses, skirts, and slacks are all acceptable.
Jeans are not allowed in the dining room on gala nights, but guests not wishing to dress up can eat at the buffet.