We were on the Maasdam's 14 day Southern Caribbean cruise. After reading from many who love the Maasdam, I thought that this 20 year old vessel was going to be better than it actually was. While it did undergo major renovations, which are observable in some areas of the ship, other areas, like the pool areas, look very aged. The tub shower fixtures are ancient. This ship does not compare at all with the Noordam or the other Vista class ships.
We were appalled at the quality of the towels provided in our verandah "suite." These towels felt and looked like they came from a Comfort Inn. For 13 days, each of the the towels we were provided were rough and yellowish in color. Then, on day 14, a fluffy pair of white towels magically appeared in our room as if HAL was hoping we would forget about the prior 13 days. The bed sheets were also stained and yellowish. No bar soap is provided in any rooms including suites, even upon request. They provide one (1) shower cap for the 14 days and must ask for any other ones. As I have not experienced this on any other HAL ship, I concluded this is a product of the Maasdam's age and neglected status. Suite perks were non-existent-- one-touch concierge meant the front desk (available to all), fruit only 2 days, and if ours were "upgraded towels," I imagine other cabins were given paper towels.
While others have commented favorably about the service on the Maasdam, we found it the worst of any HAL ships we have been on. We were surprised that the first response to many, many requests was "no" followed by "let me check" if one insisted. Except for the excellent management in the Rotterdam Dining Room, we found service lacking in most other areas of the ship.
Crew staff has been significantly reduced in all areas of the ship and employee morale is low. The lower level dining room used to have 7 wine stewards and now has 3. You no longer have a waiter and a busboy. Instead, HAL has created a new class of server called an errand, whose job is to get the plates from the kitchen to the server. The actual waiter is now a high level employee in the dining room as there are much fewer of these. This new system is not working and is yet another example of HAL's cutbacks.
The quality of the food and presentation in the Main Dining Room was excellent and the best we have experienced. Night after night, the food choices and quality were those of a fine restaurant. The lamb chops were outstanding. Although we went to the Pinnacle Grill twice, there was no need to pay a surcharge for great food. Still, the Pinnacle Grill was outstanding as always although they, sadly, removed the French Onion soup they used to have. I was pleased that they did not charge for an espresso at the Pinnacle Grill. The manager of the PG, Gorian, was excellent as was the one on the Westerdam 2 years ago.
After a great meal, why would HAL now ask passengers to pay $1.25 for an espresso in the Main Dining Room? It looked very cheap on their part. So foolish to make passengers who paid premium prices to cruise with HAL pay extra for an espresso.
The only reason to ever travel on the Maasdam is its itinerary and, in this respect, it did not disappoint. The islands we visited on the 14 day Maasdam cruise are the best the Caribbean has to offer. St. Barts, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, Barbados, Bonaire, Curacao and HMC-- WOW!!! We had excellent weather in every single port. The Maasdam's itinerary was the highlight of our cruise but do not make up for the actual ship.
Passengers were generally over 65, which we view as a plus. Most passengers were very respectful of others as well as staff. The Lido pool was not crowded on most afternoons, including sea days. We had the most mellow and pleasurable sail away ever.
The shows were inconsistent and generally below the quality of those on other lines. Sometimes they were very good, like the ventriloquist and the British singer, sometimes mediocre, like their production shows, and sometimes awful, like the two violinists. The singer at Mix was very good.
The Culinary room was also the movie theater, which should have played movies more often than the few time slots.
Overall, this was a 3 (out of 5) Star cruise. I've never had a bad cruise and this was no exception. My misgivings were the result of the ships age and HAL's observable cutbacks in staff, towels, and linen.