Epicurean Adventure: Final Day Aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam

Who needs an alarm clock when I have something like this to wake me up? If you’ve been on an Alaska cruise you may have already guessed what I’m referring to— that’s right, it’s the sun.

We’ve had 3 days of clouds and light drizzle, but on our last day, passengers are flocking to the lido deck to enjoy the warm 65 degree temperatures. We’re expected to arrive at our last stop, Victoria, British Columbia, at around 8pm and will only have about 3 hours to explore the port. Most passengers are choosing to spend the day at sea sunbathing with an occasional stop at a live show, computer class, casino, or a movie.

Holland America Oosterdam’s Digital Workshop offers a wide selection of free Windows based computer classes. photo by Andrea Guthmann

Cruising for Food

Dining is a highlight of any cruise experience. Dining aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam is more than just having a meal, it’s part of the on board entertainment. Ready for me to dish out the details on the culinary cabaret we’ve experienced this week? Let the show begin! Keep in mind that everything is included in the price of your cruise, unless otherwise noted.

Decision, Decisions

Breakfast in the elegant dining room is available every morning, but we generally opt to enjoy the relaxing breakfast buffet on the lido deck. My favorite way to start off the day? Enjoying the fresh lox available every morning.

How can you go an Alaskan cruise without sampling the salmon?

You’ll also find a bounty of lunch options. Want a quick bite by the pool? Grab a burger at the Terrace Grill, or have the whole enchilada on days when they lay out the Mexican buffet. The Lido Deck restaurant is cafeteria style, but far from ordinary. An extensive salad bar with top quality cold cuts, cheeses, soups and sandwiches are always on hand. Anyone up for Chinese? Popular Chinese dishes are also available at the Lido.

Want to have lunch in style? Head over to the main Vista Dining Room for an elegant afternoon affair to remember.

The Oosterdam’s main dining area, Vista Dining Room, is a glamorous tribute to the golden age of cruising.

Meeting the growing demand for vegetarian options, Holland America introduced an all vegetarian meal option this year. Just another tasty addition to the already award-winning culinary scene.

Weather It

Chilly, cloudy days are typical for an Alaska cruise. What better way to warm up than afternoon tea, served daily on the Oosterdam. Another sweet treat? Each day’s tea time has a different theme. One day it was the kid-friendly Cupcake Tea Time, another was a Royal Dutch High Tea. Any day you choose to go, it’s time well spent.

During an Indonesian themed afternoon tea, the largely Indonesian staff took the time to explain the historical ties between Holland and Indonesia. Up until 1945, Indonesia had been Dutch colony— a great history lesson for me and my son.

Let the good times roll: tea time aboard the Oosterdam. photo by Andrea Guthmann
Specialty teas are on the menu each afternoon. photo by Andrea Guthmann
A selection of Indonesian pastries were served at Indonesian afternoon tea. photo by Andrea Guthmann
Indonesian afternoon tea was a great opportunity for Oosterdam’s largely Indonesdian waitstaff to share their culture with guests. photo by Andrea Guthmann

Hot Plate

One of the hot items on our cruise was the $40 ticket to an evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill. Is the thought of paying extra for a special meal on board hard to swallow? It shouldn’t be. That’s a fraction of what it would cost to enjoy these delicacies at a Le Cirque table in New York or Las Vegas. The Le Cirque extravaganza is a culinary experience that adds a special flavor to Holland America cruises and is offered only one night during each sailing.

Our Le Cirque extravaganza began with an appetizer of foie gras with rhubarb chutney. photo by Charlie Guthmann

I order the signature Le Cirque dishes on the menu— these are prepared according to the same recipe and displayed exactly as at the famed restaurant.

Lobster salad Le Cirque. photo by Andrea Guthmann

Our Pinnacle Grill waiter prepares the chateaubriand, exactly as they do at Le Cirque. photo by Andrea Guthmann
My choice for dessert— none other than Le Cirque’s signature Creme Brûlée. photo by Andrea Guthmann
Tables are even adorned with Le Cirque’s whimsical signature china.

Peak Experience

An evening at Le Cirque is a one night only extravaganza, but the Pinnacle Grill is always the ship’s premier dining destination. It costs an additional $25 to have dinner here, but it’s a luxury that leaves you with a delicious vacation memory.

Sublime seafood— lobster at tail at Oosterdam’s Pinnacle Grill. photo by Andrea Guthmann

Epicurean Adventure

Another new addition to the Holland America menu is the Master Chef’s International Dinner, offered once during each cruise in the main dining room. Signature dishes from all over the world let you travel the globe without leaving your table. The evening culminates with the waiters and chefs marching about the dining room in the lively Baked Alaska parade. It wouldn’t be a cruise  without the waiters hamming it up for the passengers!

Cruises are known for their entertainment— comedians, musicians, some now even put on Broadway-style productions. Holland America knows dining is a part of the entertainment as well, and they put on a first-class show.

We’ve had a fantastic week aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam. Whale watching, hiking through rain forests and getting a front row seat to the phenomenal beauty of Alaska’s Inside Passage are memories that will stay with us long after we’re back home.

Andrea Guthmann is a Midwest Emmy Award-winning broadcast, print and digital journalist. She spent many years as a TV producer for WTTW, the PBS station in Chicago. Her writing’s been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent and on-line travel sites. She’s also the Midwest blogger for TravelingMom.com.

A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations. She’s thrilled to be sharing tales of her Alaskan adventure aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam through August 5th, 2012, through daily reports on AvidCruiser.com.

Disclosure: Holland America Line is hosting the author and her guest for purposes of this review.

Join the Conversation

Jason Leppert says:

The taco bar was always a favorite of mine when on the Oosterdam! Nice report!

– Jason Leppert
PopularCruising.com

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