In 1871 Holland America Lines began its history as the Nederlandsche – Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatwsschappij. Headquartered in Rotterdam Holland, and providing service to the Americas, it became known as Holland America Line.
In 1895 the company offered its first vacation cruise from New York and in 1910 its leisure cruise from New York to the Holy Land. In the 1970's Holland America Line suspended its transatlantic service and sold its cargo shipping division. Vacations became her full time focus. In 1989 Holland America Line became a wholly owned subdivision of Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise company in the world.
Embarkation was smooth and easy. Drop off the bags in bins outside, walk inside, show ID and boarding pass, fill out the health questionnaire, get in a short check in line, show them the credit card you are using, smile for the camera, snap of another picture and you are on board. Probably 20 minutes from arrival to the first mojito on the lido deck. I've never had a better embarkation.
The last time we were on the Oosterdam was in 2003 when she was brand spanking new and I think someone has taken loving care of this beautiful boat. She is just as lovely today as she was back then. Our balcony stateroom was really nice and has more than enough room for us to move around, store all the clothing etc and relax with a glass of wine as the ocean roled by.
OK here we run into the only problem of the ankle cruise to date. We were confirmed with late seating and a table for 8. We arrived to a 4 top with one elderly gentleman who was also sailing on his first cruise, with Air America, and had been assured of a large table of like minded individuals.
It was ok, but not the most comfortable evening. A quick trip to the Maitre D the next day fixed us up with a table for 6 with two other couples that were simply disenchanted the evening before. We had great table mates for the rest of the cruise.
The shore excursions we picked up have to rank right up there with some of the best shore excursions we have experienced anywhere in the world. From Cabo San Lucas we went to Todos Santos for lunch at the Hotel California. This is a very interesting drive through the desert of Baja California from the bay at Cabo on the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean, where the driver stopped at an unscheduled spot because there were lots of whales to see.
The town itself is charming and some of the art work, most notable Rueben Gutierrez is spectacular. By the way the Gutierrez pottery is very reasonably priced. Then it was lunch at the Hotel California which had wonderful food.
In Mazatlan, we signed up for the Shrimp Fest. We went to a lovely private residence, up on a hill overlooking the entire city, with gorgeous gardens and lovely terraces set up for the crowd. They served Margaritas and beer and sodas all day and a buffet of all the shrimp you could eat, in three different styles along with rice and beans and guacamole and salsa and chips and of course tortillas.
A small artisans gallery was on the grounds and my wife bought the most amazing citrine and freshwater pearl necklace and then met the designer of the necklace who offered to make her clip on earrings to go with it and email her when she had designed them.
In Puerto Vallarta, we did "Rhythms of the Night" and you do not want to miss that excursion! It starts with a one hour catamaran ride to a private beach all lit up with tiki torches and absolutely gorgeous. The catamaran crew put on a show which was pretty good.
Dinner was truly memorable as each party had a table for the number of people they designated. It was a buffet, but there were so many buffet tables set up that there were no lines. Waiters bought you drinks and whatever else you wanted, and then there is a show in an amphitheater. I will admit I was not looking forward to the show because some of the cultural shows are boring, but this one was spectacular. Then we took the catamaran back to the ship with all of the stars, the lights of Puerto Vallarta and finally the gorgeous Oosterdam lit up for the evening. It was great!
The disembarkation was as smooth as the announcement. Remember way back when I said the rooms were not ready until 1:30? When you disembark, you may stay in your stateroom until they call your luggage tag color. This is great! Then you go to Deck 2, a short line, show your passport, and give the customs declaration to an official. Then quickly pick up your luggage and in our case take the first taxi in line and it is off to the airport. Could not have been smoother!
We both work for ourselves and build a cruise web site while traveling. The internet is a crucial part of cruising for us and on the Oosterdam, we had wireless access in our stateroom. You can buy packages from $ 100 for 250 minutes (40 cents a minute) on up. You can also add more minutes as you need them and if you are on a package and you run out of minutes while logged in, they are charged at whatever rate your package calls for.
This was our 11th cruise in 9 years and I must say, even though we had been to these ports before, this was one of the best cruises we have ever taken!