Holland America Line Oosterdam Alaska Explorer Cruise Review

Holland America Line Oosterdam Alaska Explorer Cruise Review

Although the itinerary from Seattle with port calls to Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan offered a lot of time on the water (not my favorite), I did settle into a good sea day routine, which you can read about at the bottom of this post.

Cruisers that dislike international travel will like this itinerary because there is no need to travel to Vancouver, which is common on either a Southbound or Northbound Alaska itinerary.  The downside (for me) of the Seattle option is that we had almost three sea days on the 7-night itinerary. People that will like the 7-night Alaska Explorer itinerary are those that want a great value, a roundtrip airfare to a domestic airport, and plenty of time to enjoy the ship because of the sea days.

All aboard Holland America Line's m/s Oosterdam


The m/s Oosterdam is bound for drydock later this year. That will be great news for the Australian cruise market because after drydock the ship will stay down-under, a first for a Vista-class ship.

Main attraction – Sawyer Glacier

Scenic Cruising: Sawyer Glacier

The day of  Scenic Cruising Tracy Arm Fjord was a trip highlight. Having an opportunity to sail through the icebergs that calved off one of the twin Sawyer Glaciers was an adventure. Although, as you can see m/s Oosterdam could not get into the tight passage next to the glacier, we were able to enjoy the scenery with full sun and no fog. Tip: bring a zoom lens on your camera to get those closeups.


Best Wildlife

Orca sighting

Scratch another item off  my bucket list. An  encounter with Orca whales has been on my radar for awhile. We got lucky during our port call to Juneau, because as our guide reported, the killer whales are only in residence every 7 days or so.


Best onboard moment – Cookin’ Captain

Cooking with the Captain

I will admit that there were many highlights onboard Holland America Line’s m/s Oosterdam. But when the captain took center stage at the Culinary Arts Center, I was impressed.  Captain van der Loo demonstrated how to make Dutch Pancakes to the full-house who liked his commentary as well as his cooking chops.

Did you know that Captain van de Loo is training for the New York Marathon? In fact, he told me that he spends his time in port running to keep up his training. Look for him to shatter the record in the Big Apple for the fastest  ship captain in the marathon.


Best way to relax – Greenhouse Spa

Greenhouse Spa thalasotherapy pool

While not in port exploring the sites, I spent a good deal of each day at the thermal suite and hydrotherapy pool. Capacity controlled and limited to the first 100 passengers, the hydro-therpay pool and thermal suite is a good place to detox and rejuvenate.  The thermal suite, housed adjacent to the hydro-pool has ceramic-tiled heat loungers and the steams rooms are  infused with aromatherapy scents: eucalyptus in one and orange blossom in another.

Holland America Line's m/s Oosterdam thermal suite loungers

Best Seat in the house

Best seat in the house: teak deckchairs aboard Holland America's Oosterdam

There are plenty of places on the ship to relax but the best seat in the house is probably on one of the  teak deckchairs aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam. A relic of the past, these types of chairs are getting more difficult to find on the ships.

Complete Voyage Guide

Links to articles in iVoyage series:

Share on Social Media