On board Holland America’s Oosterdam this week, we’re fielding questions from readers and this one comes up a lot.
Good question and you’re right, that one does come up a lot. As hard as cruise lines try to focus our attention on other elements of the cruise experience, food is now and it appears will always be a big part of it all.
On Holland America Line’s Oosterdam, which I am told is typical of the rest of the fleet, dining is done about as good as any other line on a good day. That’s fair to say and reason enough for cruise travelers considering a Holland America Line sailing to check that one off the list as potential drawbacks.
Again, let’s highlight the very subjective nature of food. What one person might love, another hates. Still, there are commonalities that can make the difference between good and great food. How bread is handled, variety on the menu and the service that can make it or break it, are all factors to be considered and Holland America delivers about as well as any other line. Still, there are highlights that deserve a brief spotlight and separate Holland America from the rest
Initially, I was down on room service thinking the standard “45 minutes to an hour” delivery time quoted just about any time of the day was excessive. But there is a difference, a huge difference, between “it just takes a long time” and “they take the time to do it right.” Holland America is clearly in the later group.
I do a lot of room service as I work as I sail, writing posts like this one. That calls for room service out of necessity. Given the time, Holland America produces some of the best room service offerings of any cruise line, presented well with hot things hot and cold things cold, as they should be.
A limited 24-hour menu has a typical lineup of menu items including salads, sandwiches and desserts. Unique to Holland America is an Open Faced Omelet made with ham and cheese or vegetarian. At 3:30am one morning, I ordered one of these and found it to be one of the best omelets ever. Never mind that it was served with potato chips. (I’ll be scratching my head over that combination for years.) What I liked was that it appeared as though it was prepared in the hallway, just outside my stateroom door. It was that fresh and “too hot to eat it” right away.
Another menu, this ne available from Noon until 10pm, boasts a much deeper menu selection with everything from Baked French Onion Soup to Seared Salmon Steak, Penne Primavera and a Thai Vegetarian Wrap. Served nicely with a vase of flowers, Holland America goes out of its way to focus on the dining experience with room service, a point often missed by other lines.
Room service is just one of a variety of dining options on board Holland America’s Oosterdam. But room service is often a benchmark for the quality of operations one might find in other dining venues on any given cruise ship.
You see, the room service experience is totally focused on the individual. This is not one of hundreds if not thousands of meals that will be served in the dining room. For the most part, menu items should be prepared to our order, delivered in a timely fashion and be every bit the dining experience a meal in a dining room should be. Holland America nails that on Oosterdam and that spirit carries throughout their culinary efforts with some hitting the mark more than others.
But Judy, back to your original question “What about the food? I hear it has gone downhill lately and is no longer all that good. Is that true?”
I cannot personally compare to food offerings of the past, even in general terms, because this is my first sailing on a Holland America ship. But I come to the table expecting the best and, for the most part, got it here on Holland America’s Oosterdam. I don’t know that I could ask for more…but if I requested it, I think they would sincerely try to match that request.