Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Review: A Cruise Ship Designed for an Older Crowd

People who know the differences between most cruise ship companies will agree: Holland America is a little… Boring! And this is exactly what the whole experience is designed for. While Their Parent company, Carnival, names itself “the fun cruise”, it wouldn’t be too far from the truth for Holland America to call itself “the boring cruise”. The type of passengers that it attracts are mostly elderly people usually over 65 who do not want to be disturbed by kids and younger crowds, who don’t want too much entertainment outside the music here and there and the typical “guess the jewellery price” shows, and who can simply go to bed early as they please. Does this model still work nowadays?

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  • Entertainment on-board: 6/10
  • Theater Shows: 4/10
  • Ship Common Areas 8/10
  • Ship Comfort: 7/10
  • Room Comfort: 7/10
  • Service Quality: 8/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Cleanliness: 8/10
  • Check-in / Check-out: 8/10
  • Quality/Price: 7/10
  • Overall satisfaction: 6/10

In a Nutshell…

  1. Vista-Class Luxury: The Oosterdam, our second Vista Class ship, combines high style with thoughtful upgrades and stunning artwork.
  2. Spacious Staterooms: Guests can stretch out in spacious staterooms while enjoying expansive views of the high seas.
  3. Dining Delights:
    • The Dining Room: A welcoming setting for exquisite breakfasts, lunches, and multicourse dinners.
    • Pinnacle Grill: The ultimate steakhouse at sea, featuring Prime steaks, seafood, and fine wine.
    • Canaletto: Relaxed Italian cuisine best enjoyed when shared.
    • Lido Market: A modern marketplace offering a wide range of food options.
    • Dive In: Casual poolside grill serving the best burgers, hot dogs, and fries.
    • 24-Hour Room Service: Enjoy meals on your verandah whenever you wish.
  4. Entertainment and Activities:
    • Billboard Onboard: Sing along and test your music trivia knowledge.
    • World Stage: Innovative cruise ship shows with a two-story LED screen.
    • Rolling Stone Lounge: Live rock, pop, and country music.
    • Fitness Center: Professionally staffed for workouts.
    • Casino Action: Games for all levels.
    • High Score: Family game room for competitive fun.
    • Pickleball at Sea: Complimentary lessons and tournaments.
    • Kids Club: Activities for children ages 3 to 17.
  5. Ship Details:
    • Gross Register Tonnage: 91,740 tons.
    • Guest Capacity (Double Occupancy): 2,348.
    • Length: 936 feet.
    • Width (Max Beam): 105.8 feet.
    • Year Built: 2001.
    • Crew: 1,031
  6. Find special deals and reserve today on the Oosterdam by clicking here.
Whoever has been on other bigger cruise lines such as Royal Carribean or Norwegian will definitely face another reality here on any Holland America Cruises, and the Oosterdam is no different. This is my second experience on this Line after sailing the New Amsterdam a few years ago when I had told myself never to cruise this line again. Even though I still believe there are many lacks, there are still some positives that I have seen this time around. But the negative factors are still too big for me to ever want to come back on a cruise from Holland America again. And here is why.

Entertainment onboard “Fun Factor”

If this is your first cruise, it will be hard to complain since you won’t have a point of reference on what usual entertainement is on a cruise ship. Most cruise lines are doing an excellent job to get people to come together in playing games, dance, stay active and get them out of their comfort zone. This is the biggest lack on Holland America’s program, which is pretty much unixistant! There is absolutly no animation team on the ship, only a cruise director who is as quiet as possible! And this is all planned, not to bother the elderly crowd who prefers to go to sleep and stay in their room a big part of the cruise.
I ranked entertainement onboard a low 6.5, but would have ranked much lower if it wasn’t for the excellent musical entertainement onboard! Like all Holland America’s ships, the Oosterdam counts on their excellent B.B. Kings Band which is one of the most interesting factors on the cruise in my opinion. At least, it was on my last experience on the New Amsterdam, but this time, the highlight of the cruise was the Lincoln Center Stage Band; a Quintet of 4 violinists and one pianist, playing from Vivaldi Concertos to a classical variation of the Charlie Brown’s anthem! The addition of a highly professional quintet on the cruise playing on most nights was an amazing addition to a cruise experience, which I beleive more cruise lines should follow suit. Find special deals and reserve today on the Oosterdam by clicking here.
  1. Main Showroom: The Oosterdam’s main theater is where dreams take center stage. While some nights might be “dark” without a show, fear not! The port calls each day provide their own enchanting entertainment. Picture Broadway-style productions, live music, and captivating performances. The Kennedy Center ensemble may not be available on every cruise, but the sea itself becomes the ultimate showstopper.
  2. B.B. King’s Blues Club: Brace yourself for soulful rhythms and foot-tapping melodies. This club pays homage to the legendary B.B. King, and the live band knows how to make your heart sing. Grab a drink, sway to the beat, and let the blues wash over you.
  3. Planet Earth in Concert: Imagine sitting in the ship’s main theater, surrounded by fellow travelers, as the Lincoln Center Stage musicians play alongside mesmerizing episodes of the documentary series “Planet Earth.” It’s like a cinematic voyage through nature’s wonders. The partnership with BBC Earth adds an extra layer of magic.
  4. Oprah’s Book Club: Yes, you read that right! The Oosterdam hosts Oprah-inspired book discussions. Imagine sipping coffee or tea while dissecting literary gems. It’s a cozy corner for bookworms and curious minds alike.
  5. America’s Test Kitchen: Calling all foodies! Join cooking classes led by culinary experts from America’s Test Kitchen. Learn secret recipes, kitchen hacks, and culinary trivia. Plus, you get to taste the delicious results. Bon appétit!
  6. Cocktails by Dale DeGroff: Renowned mixologist Dale DeGroff lends his expertise to the ship’s bars. Sip on handcrafted cocktails designed by the maestro himself. Whether it’s a classic martini or a tropical concoction, each sip is a celebration.
  7. Music Walk: Stroll along the Music Walk, where live music beckons from every corner. The Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard, and B.B. King’s Blues Club form a harmonious trio. From classical melodies to chart-topping hits, there’s something for everyone.
  8. Late-Night Comedy: Laughter echoes through the ship’s comedy club. Stand-up comedians tickle your funny bone with witty observations and relatable tales. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a day of exploration.
  9. Outdoor Movies: Under the star-studded sky, catch a film on the giant outdoor screen. Whether it’s a classic romance or an action-packed adventure, the sea breeze adds an extra dimension to the cinematic experience.
  10. Silent Disco: Put on your wireless headphones and dance like nobody’s watching. The DJ spins tracks, but the room remains silent—until you join the groove. It’s like a secret party where everyone dances to their own beat.
Rating Entertainment onboard: 6.5/10

The Quintet Playing Nightly

Theater Shows

Absolutely horrific… Having an older crowd does not mean they should provide less quality on the nightly show, as this is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting aspects on a cruise! Some cruise lines have shows so good they can rival Broadway Shows in New York! Some hire Professional Signers, qualified acrobats and even hypnotists! But in the case of Holland America, they have decided to follow the boring route, providing a very boring experience at night.
First, They provided a “preview show” on the first night, to what we would encounter the rest of the week. What? Seriously? Like if the first night didn’t count as a night? It is a paid night as much as any other, and when people spend their only week off work to come on a cruise, they don’t deserve to be robbed of a night’s entertenment to be presented a “preview” show… This preview should be offered outside schedule to anyone who wants to assist it, not as a way to spend less money on artists on stage. Secondly, out of 6 shows presented, 3 were one man show Comedians, which is definitly overdoing it. One was a wannabe magician which had his whole show laughing at how he was bad and what a real magician would do instead. Thirdly, the official dancers and singers of the ship which presented 2 shows were at most “passable”… The shows were mostly boring and I even sighted 2 people snoozing through their performance. Compared to other cruises shows, it was plainly bad. Find special deals and reserve today on the Oosterdam by clicking here.
Rating Theater Shows: 4/10

The Shows on the Oosterdam

Ship Common Areas

The common areas on the ship are pretty good in general. There is a lot of bars and areas to sit and this helped in making the ship feel big and uncrowded. This is a good thing considering we were sailing on a fully booked cruise. Some ships can feel cramped by filling the boat with way too many people. This is also because many people were going to bed at 8pm after their diner, which left the ship mostly empty after 9pm.
Rating Ship Common Areas 8/10

Check-in / Check-out

Nothing special to note here, the simple experience of a cruise boarding in Fort Lauderdale which is similar in most terminals. The process was pretty fast except for the obvious slowness caused by having to board an elderly crowd which slows down the process. The disembarkation was a similar experience, pretty ordered and fast in my opinion. One thing to note is that from Fort Lauderdale, pretty much everybody will be transferred to the airport nearby, which is a quick 5 minutes taxi ride away and shouldn’t cost more than 15$ for the whole cab. I thought Holland America was a little abusing in asking a 19$ transfer fee per person to board one of their buses, which is definitely taking advantage of their customers with an overpriced service, especially when these same shuttles are offered at 11$ straight at the exit of the Terminal. This overpricing was also reflected in their shops and almost everything onboard, compared to what one pays on other ships.
Rating Check-in / Check-out: 8/10

Room Comfort

The Rooms were comfortable in general. Even though the Oosterdam is already getting a little bit old, the room was kept at the highest standards. So nothing bad, nor exceptional to note here.
  1. Interior Staterooms:
    • These cozy cabins are perfect for travelers who prefer an affordable option without an ocean view.
    • They provide a comfortable retreat with all the essential amenities.
    • While lacking windows, they offer a peaceful and private space to rest.
  2. Ocean View Staterooms:
    • These staterooms feature large windows or portholes, allowing natural light to filter in.
    • Guests can enjoy views of the sea or ports of call from the comfort of their cabin.
  3. Balcony Staterooms:
    • Balcony staterooms come with a private balcony where you can relax, enjoy fresh air, and take in the ocean vistas.
    • Ideal for those who appreciate outdoor space and scenic views.
  4. Suites:
    • The Holland America Oosterdam offers several suite options, each with its own unique features:
      • Vista Suite: Includes a signature Mariner’s Dream™ bed, spacious verandah, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors.
      • Signature Suite: Features a large sitting area, whirlpool bath, and priority access to exclusive amenities.
      • Neptune Suite: Offers a living area, dining area, and access to the Neptune Lounge with personal concierge service.
      • Pinnacle Suite: The pinnacle of luxury, with a large verandah, whirlpool bath, and premium in-room dining options.
Rating Room Comfort: 7/10

Service Quality

An elderly crowd means they will be more picky about the quality of the service. And I noted excellent quality service in the Buffet, Restaurants and Bars. Holland America is definitely focusing more means to this area of the Cruise experience than with their entertainment, as most of their guest are here to eat and sleep.
Rating Service Quality: 8/10

A painting of the Oosterdam that can be seen onboard


In General, I had mixed feelings with the food experience, mainly because of their buffet. Compared to most cruises, it was just on the small side and the choice and variety weren’t as extensive. The main part of the buffet would hold at most 8 different meals served at any time, for 3000 passengers… That is rediculous compared to the exceptional options one can find on Royal Caribbean and Norwegian ships for example. This made the buffet a bad option at night, having to rely on the seated restaurant service. To top it off, the opening window of the buffet was very short, closing at 2pm at lunchtime, and at 8pm at night! For any European, this would be totally unacceptable as most people eat late, around 8pm, and even later in case of the Spaniards who mostly never eat before 10pm.
Find special deals and reserve today on the Oosterdam by clicking here.
On the plus side, their asian section was a very nice addition and helped add some points to my rankings, as each day there was a different ccountry represented. The salad bar was another interesting point, as it was very big and had a lot of variety. We even had a seafood salad bar one night, where you could make your own personal ceviche!
In the restaurants, the meals were good but not exceptional, a little lower quality than what one gets on Royal Carribean for example. That was surprising considering it is oriented towards an older crowd coming especially for this.
Lastly, I must give an extra point to Holland America for its food variety, adding some uncommon fruits every day to the menu, like fresh strawberries and blueberries, as well as exotic fruits like tamarind and passion fruits. This is uncommon on cruises and greatly appreciated, as some lines provide only the typical, such as melon, Cantaloupe and apples.

1. Vista Dining Room:

The Vista Dining Room is the heart of Oosterdam’s culinary offerings. While its decor might be a tad eccentric (think giant vases of roses and curious metallic sculptures on the ceiling), it’s the food that truly shines. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Breakfast: Wake up to a delightful array of options. From simple cereals and fruit to hearty skillets served in charming skillet-style dishes, the Vista Dining Room ensures a satisfying start to your day.
  • Lunch: Although lunch availability varies, when it’s offered, you’ll find a small menu of soups, sandwiches, hot entrees, and delectable desserts. Keep an eye out for those precious lunch hours!
  • Dinner: The real star of the show! Open seating from 5 to 9 p.m. allows you to savor a diverse menu. Thanks to Holland America’s partnership with renowned chefs, including executive chef Rudi Sodamin, each dish is a masterpiece. Don’t miss the Benedicts, omelets, and tantalizing steakhouse selections.

2. Specialty Dining:

  • Pinnacle Grill: Prepare for a culinary crescendo. The Pinnacle Grill, a specialty restaurant, delivers outstanding service and exceptional flavors. Whether you’re a steak aficionado or a seafood lover, this is where you’ll find your bliss.
  • Canaletto: For a taste of Italy, head to Canaletto. Share plates of pasta, sip wine, and revel in the warm ambiance. Buon appetito!

3. Lido Buffet:

  • The Lido buffet offers a variety of food, but here’s the catch: seating can be as elusive as a hidden treasure chest. Arrive early to secure your spot and explore the buffet’s global delights. From Asian stir-fries to fresh salads, there’s something for every palate.

4. Chocolate Surprise Parade:

  • Picture this: crew members gliding through the ship, trays laden with indulgent cocoa concoctions. It’s the Chocolate Surprise Parade! A sweet, gluttonous treat that’s impossible to resist.

Overall Impressions:

  • Consistency: Oosterdam’s food is consistently tasty and well-prepared. No culinary rollercoasters here!
  • Value: The Italian venue and the steakhouse offer excellent value for your dining dollar.
  • Service: Across all restaurants, the service level is commendable. Your cup of premium tea? Consider it delivered.

Bon Appétit!

The Oosterdam invites you to savor every bite, raise a glass, and create delicious memories. Whether you’re cruising to Antarctica or exploring other breathtaking destinations, let your taste buds embark on their own adventure. Cheers to good food, good company, and unforgettable moments!

Rating Food: 8/10

The Traditional Lobster Night was a great addition


Everything is good concerning cleanliness. Hand sanitizers are widely available and encouraged, room cleaning was done properly every day, twice a day, even the food seemed always fresh.
Rating Cleanliness: 8/10

Fellow Passengers On-Board

As stated above, It’s not a secret that Holland America attracts a very old crowd that can even be qualified as intolerant towards other generations. In fact, this is exactly why they chose Holland America and this is what Holland America gives them. This will mean no animation team, no interaction with guests outside the 3 bands. It really feels like a retirement house at sea, and do not expect anybody hanging around the ship after 11pm outside the Casino. The average age would range between 60 and 70 years old with mostly Americans and Canadians on board. Most people seemed to be returning guests faithful to the brand and many would refuse to consider anything else than Holland America cruises.

The Dining Room


I chose to cruise once again a Holland America ship because I had found a good deal on this one. Even though Holland America is oriented towards older people with money, their prices don’t seem to reflect this, staying at a level considered affordable to cheap. So if someone’s priority is to have a relaxing holiday with not much to do, sleep well and eat good food, then the quality price factor will be worth it. However, I believe that cruising is much more than only eating and sleeping, and for the bad quality of entertainment they offer, I don’t think this will be a good quality/price option for most people under 60 who wish to have more “fun factor”.
Rating Quality/Price: 7/10

Overall satisfaction

As stated above, this was my second Holland America cruise, and after promising myself not to come again, this time around I have tried to see the experience through another eye. I believe there is a market for Holland America’s “boring cruise model” for anyone wanting a quiet experience with no children running around while eating considerably good food and going to bed at 10pm. But being in my 30s, it’s definitely not the type of cruise I would be loyal to if I only had to choose a cruise out of all the great options out there. The only reason I would see myself going back on Holland America would be if there is an unmissable deal on a ship I haven’t been on before, while there is nothing better offered from Royal Carribean or Norwegian on that specific week. Overall, I have to give the Oosterdam a low score of 6/10. Find special deals and reserve today on the Oosterdam by clicking here.
Rating Overall satisfaction: 6/10

The Oosterdam In Pictures

The Panaroma Lounge and Cafe

Main Buffet Area

The BB King Singers: A Great Show

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