This was our 10th cruise but our first on Holland America. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean, Princess, & Celebrity to Alaska, Mediterranean, Bermuda, Caribbean & northern Europe and we both agreed that Holland America is a superior experience & this was the best overall cruise that we have ever taken. Although the Maasdam is an "older" ship, she is inviting, beautiful & elegant. She is a "classy" ship with appealing decor & unique touches throughout. The Indonesian/Philippine crew was exceptional & their service & professionalism was the best we have ever experienced.
One of the most noticeable things about the Maasdam to a veteran cruiser is that although she was filled to capacity (1250) she never felt crowded or "full"; we also never waited for an elevator or felt that any one area of the ship was "crowded"..she is the perfect size & ratio of space for a cruise ship!
The food in the Lido & the main dining room was above average to outstanding & we never had a bad meal, which is something that I cannot say about the other lines that we have sailed. The elegant main dining room is in the rear of the ship with exceptional views on 3 sides & we were fortunate to get a window table for two. The Pinnacle Grill (alternative restaurant) menu is the same every day & unfortunately, the day that we chose to dine there they were totally booked. We weren't too disappointed because the food in the dining room was great & we had a fabulous view of the scenery from our table. Next time!
We had exceptional weather with only one day of rain (in Sydney, Cape Breton Island) & it was smooth sailing the entire way. The Maasdam is the most stable ship we have ever sailed (we didn't rock a bit), even when we had slightly rougher seas. Bar Harbor is a beautiful town with unique shops (NO chain stores!)& the trip to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park was very enjoyable. The view is phenomenal, especially looking down on the beautiful Maasdam. The Saguanay Fiords are nothing compared to the Norwegian Fiords (we did a cruise with Royal Caribbean) but still impressive and the St. Lawrence was fabulous for whale watching..we were surrounded by beluga whales for over an hour as we sailed south to Quebec. Quebec is absolutely beautiful & very French;the people were friendly & welcoming in all the shops & restaurants. We want to go back!
Two entertainers on board were extremely good..the ventriloquist (can't remember his name) & Paul Tanner. Paul Tanner has an exceptional voice & does impressions of the most famous singers of our time. He was very enjoyable & not your typical "lounge lizard". The "Broadway" style production was actually a group that we saw on another ship (can't remember but they must take their act from cruise to cruise)& just okay. Overall, the entertainment was good.
One area of the ship that we enjoyed was the Explorations Cafe. Great library, computers & comfortable leather Eames chair recliners to sit & read/listen to music as the sea rolls by. Their is a coffee/latte bar, too. The Crows Nest on the top of the ship is the perfect place for an afternoon cocktail..there are very comfortable leather recliners at the front of the lounge (first time we've seen these on a ship)as well as leather window seats all around the room. The casino bar has plasma TVs with sports on all day. The Rembrandt Showroom was cozy & beautiful, with intricate tile work reflecting the Dutch/Holland theme that is throughout the ship. The gym was large for this size ship with excellent equipment.
Although we had heard that Holland America attracts an "older crowd" this was not the case on this particular cruise. There were approximately 150 children who seemed to be in the mid-ship pool area most of the day as well as a healthy mix of all age groups, although about 30% were "seniors". Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves & we didn't hear "negative" comments or dissatisfied complainers. The level of satisfaction among the people on board seemed to be high.
The bus trip from Montreal to Quebec was okay, but longer than we had planned due to a back up at immigrations checkpoint (took about an hour to get through) at the Vermont/Canada border. We stopped for a sit down lunch at Applebees in Berlin, Vermont although many of us wanted to drive straight through. We left Montreal at 10AM & got back to Black Falcon Terminal at 6PM. We parked our car in the lot adjacent to the terminal ($14 per day) and made a very smooth transition since the bus parked right outside the parking lot.
Overall, we thought this was a fabulous cruise & were so impressed with the service, food & cruise experience that we are busy planning another cruise on Holland America ASAP. Captain Van Der Loo, in his daily announcements, always said "welcome back on board the 'beautiful & elegant' Maasdam"...we couldn't agree more that she is a beautiful & elegant classic ship & we would not hesitate to recommend this cruise to anyone!