Embarkation was fast and efficient. We were among the first onto the ship and our cabin was ready, which was handy as we had carried on our own luggage. HAL had upgraded us from inside to out, which was delightful except for the joggers who could not read the "Please, no jogging" sign on the promenade deck directly overhead. I(f you really want a dark, quiet room, then book an inside. Don't spring for a balcony in May on the Atlantic, it's too cold.) However, the views and the bathtub more than made up for a little noise overhead at night. The Maasdam has more room for storing clothes, etc than pretty well any ship we have ever been on, and is certainly looking and smelling better than our other cruise on her a few years ago when the plumbing was problematic.
The only thing that stunk on this cruise was some of the food in the Lido. Raw meringue (runny, anyway. Can you spell Salmonella?) on a lemon pie, stale pastry, burnt and weird toppings for waffles, which were cold and rubbery if you didn't specify that you wanted "fresh." The sundae bar was also unfortunate: ice cream that had been melted and refrozen, full of little crunchy ice crystals; and toppings that included chopped candied ginger, giant marshmallows and some sort of fruit sauce that I couldn't identify. Note that all of these problem foods came from the same rather ill managed bar of food.
Generally the rest of the Lido food was fine, if unexciting. You could make yourself a pretty good salad.
There are no longer trays in the Lido, doubtless this reduces both waste and gluttony, but makes it hard to collect a plate of food, cutlery and a drink on one trip. Spoons were never put in with the cutlery and often had to be hunted down as they were not obviously placed near cereal or soup. Does HAL think we will walk off with them?
Service was not terrific in the Lido, but the room steward and dining room waiter were, as usual with HAL, excellent. A nice surprise was the front desk service, where staff were always available (never saw a line up there), smiling and efficient. The library was better than most at sea and there is a free DVD lending library, available through the front desk. All rooms are equipped with a dvd player. The ship was kept sparkling clean at all times and I was not aware of any norwalk on board.
The reserved deck chairs on the promenade for the lanai cabins certainly reduced the seating options, but there were still plenty of deck chairs. We have never seen so little smoking on a cruise, which was wonderful. Not one pipe or cigar!
The ports were interesting with the only glitch being tender tickets for Bar Harbour. If you don't pick up your ticket early, you will end up waiting an hour or more, which is just silly. Even when our number was called, they still kept us waiting, penned up in the stairwell. Better organization and communication please.
The big excitement, of course, was the seven blasts of the ship's whistle in the middle of one night. We had our life jackets and warm clothes on by the time they announced that it was the FIRE alarm, NOT abandon ship. Still, after the Costa Concordia, we think they handled the situation appropriately.
This was a good cruise, though of course the food was not up to the old days and likely never will be again, barring moving up to the six star level. We were on the Rhyndam (spelling?) last winter (it was even better!) and find that we really do like small ship cruising.