It has been five years since we last experienced cruising on Holland America Line. We have toured several of the line’s ships recently to produce our signature video tours, but this marks our first sailing in quite some time. Not yet even taking into consideration the Dancing with the Stars at Sea opportunities – which have been truly fantastic – we have been extraordinarily impressed with the experience onboard the Oosterdam.
I must admit some of Holland America’s decor has never been much to my personal liking – namely the antique ornamentation and omnipresence of red, taupe and gold hues. However, I am forever fond of the line’s homages to its ocean liner past, with art nouveau flourishes, art deco accents, black and white historical photographs and color oil paintings throughout.
The undulating flow of the mid-sized Oosterdam perfectly segments the vessel to make it feel more intimate in size, and the traditional placement of three elevator banks evenly across the ship serves her passengers well. Also, the expansive 270-degree view Crow’s Nest observation lounge and Explorations Cafe are always a treat as are several nooks and crannies throughout the ship’s bars and lounges in which to pop down and relax for a spell.
The magrodome-covered pool deck is perfectly suited to colder and wetter itineraries such as Alaska and even hosted a Dancing with the Stars at Sea fashion show today featuring many costumes from the show shielded from the elements accordingly.
Dancing with the Stars at Sea
We’ll have a full Dancing with the Stars at Sea report coming in the next few days, but as a teaser until then, I’ll share some photos from today’s fashion show and say that Holland America Line has done a fine job of integrating the television show with the daily activities and deserves a round of applause for its success onboard.
Dance classes and competitions have been packed with guests in the Vista Lounge – onstage and in the aisles – learning steps from the show led by the ship’s resident dancers. Yesterday’s Q&A with the pro dancers and stars from the show was most entertaining, and we still have a much anticipated production from the team to enjoy this week.
While the dancers flaunt their skinny physiques, the rest of us are unfairly but enjoyably putting on the pounds. The food onboard has been a knockout, to the point that we are comparing the fare in the main dining room to that usually reserved for luxury cruise lines. Holland America Line’s only premium cruise competitor should definitely be taking notes. Even the lido buffet offerings have been delicious, and the Pinnacle Grill remains, in my opinion, the best steakhouse at sea. What a porterhouse!
Our praises for the food actually begin with the incredible variety and quality of the bread onboard, and everything from there follows suit. A coconut-encrusted scallop appetizer on the first night was both creative and explosive with flavor, and the following apple cider-brined pork chop with cherries was stellar. The decorative plating has also been very artful.
Tonight we have the Italian Canaletto to enjoy, and we will return to the Pinnacle Grill for a Le Cirque experience with a special menu associated with the famous New York City restaurant.
Certainly the entertainment highlight of our cruise has been the Dancing with the Stars at Sea component, but that’s not to overshadow the Oosterdam’s other great options. For instance, I seem to recall the music in the show lounge being canned during my previous sailings, and it’s quite nice to see a full band on stage now backing the excellent singers and dancers.
In fact, there are many more impressive instrumentalists onboard than I was expecting, from an acoustic guitarist to a violin and piano duo, plus a standards-playing band for dancing as your very own stars. I must say, Holland America Line is doing a grand job of polishing its brand and its loyalists and newcomers alike are loving it.
Continue on to Live Cruise Review: Shore Excursions…