Since the first two times I sailed onboard, the Oosterdam from Holland America Line has always impressed me. A full wraparound observation lounge, the pleasant undulating flow of the ship and the best steakhouse at sea were and continue to be standouts. And in the five years time between this my latest sailing and the one prior, the cruise line has really kicked it up a notch.
Not Just for Old People
It’s true that Holland America Line has a reputation for being a cruise line for older generations. The truth, however, is that the average age of the line’s passengers decreases every year, and the current average is 52 – certainly not geriatric. In fact, the older guests that remain choose not to act old and crave youthful activities.
This is no more evident than with the extraordinary popularity of Dancing with the Stars: At Sea where grandparents and grandchildren alike take to the dance classes with full participation. Other Holland America Line partnerships like those with Recycled Percussion and B.B. King’s Blues Club also speak to this reality. The old folks are rocking!
The ms Oosterdam
Of course, great software is only as good as the hardware that hosts it, and the ms Oosterdam is quite a ship. Designed to fit through the current maximum dimensions of the Panama Canal, she is well suited to accommodate itineraries worldwide, like those in Alaska and Australia. Despite her moderate size and considerable length, she feels as intimate as Holland America Line’s smaller ships thanks to the meandering placement of her public rooms.
Staterooms are very comfortable and feature good storage space and large bathrooms. A full-sized shower/tub combo makes bathing far easier than in the diminutive counterparts of other ships. A divider curtain between the closet and bedroom space is also a helpful extra for family changing. Televisions have been upgraded to flat panels, and DVD players accompany the new systems. We did, however, miss the presence of a clock, without even a simple readout on the house phone to monitor time changes.
My mom and I have recently experienced luxury cruise dining, and we can both honestly say that the food onboard the premium Oosterdam was surprisingly comparable, making Holland America Line an outstanding cruise value. The meals in the main dining room and lido buffet were consistently great, and I do believe we each gained two pounds from the excellent bread pudding alone.
The specialty restaurants upped the ante even further. Canaletto is essentially a dressed up section of the lido dining room, but the Italian food, served family style, is stellar with some of the best pastas I’ve ever had and a limoncello dessert that was simply to die for. Pinnacle Grill still wins our vote for the best steakhouse on a cruise ship, and the Le Cirque overlay is even better with the most tender and flavorful chateaubriand ever. Tres magnifique!
Dancing with the Stars: At Sea
The highlight and, in fact, theme of our cruise was Dancing with the Stars: At Sea – the fourth of six such sailings where pro dancers and celebrities from the show come onboard to meet passengers and perform. Holland America Line features this partnership on all of its ships with signature dance classes, but only on these theme cruises are the stars themselves present.
It was remarkable how popular the Dancing with the Stars events were onboard. The dance classes were packed with participants and spectators, the fashion show filled the pool deck and the main production show featuring the dancers and visiting troupe was a veritable sell out – if it weren’t already included in the fare – for two whole performances. And the effect was shear fun. There was a buzz onboard that permeated the ship from the energetic cruise director, Jason (such a good name), all the way to the resident dancers who taught the classes.
While the professionals put on quite a show, so too did the guest themselves. A component of Dancing with the Stars: At Sea is a guest competition where passengers compete for the chance to win a free cruise and perform once more to crown a singular victor on the January 12, 2014 theme cruise. It was a treat to see the enthusiasm of fellow guests who got up on stage and danced their hearts out, especially 78-year-old Darlene who proved the adage: you don’t stop playing when you grow old, but you grow old when you stop playing.
I cannot say enough good things about our latest Holland America Line experience. The brand is truly flourishing. Dancing with the Stars: At Sea is a perfect fit, and I can’t wait to follow the future of the partnership, which is expected to renew and continue. For more information about Holland America Line and the Oosterdam, visit the cruise line’s website here.
Now watch our full Video Review from onboard the Oosterdam complete with Dancing with the Stars: At Sea footage.
What do you think about Dancing with the Stars: At Sea? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below…