This was a back to back cruise. Mar 8-18 was the Eastern Caribbean and Mar 18-Apr 1 was the Southern Caribbean. We didn't have a drop of rain, the weather was glorious and the ports outstanding!
However, this is the first Holland America Cruise that had some major flaws:
Solo Gatherings: Every cruise line and especially Holland America has always accommodated solo passengers with a solo lunch on the first sea day. This has been a wonderful function to meet other solo travelers, possibly dining with them and taking excursions. The Maasdam had the solo meeting on the first evening of embarkation at 7:30 pm. It was poorly attended and I spoke with several people stating that many people might be tired from traveling, unpacking or eating dinner. On the first 10 days no lunch was ever scheduled. I wrote the new cruise director getting on and the event manager so the second half would go better. Again, the meeting was scheduled on the night of embarkation. We were told that a solo lunch would be the next day and to meet at the Mix. The Daily Explorer stated to meet at the Explorer's Lounge. Some of us went to the dining room and the staff had no idea what we were talking about. Fortunately, about 6 of us ate lunch and discussed possibly getting together on a formal night. Many solos just wandered around searching for the solo lunch. Finally after many comments, etc. they scheduled solo cocktail hours during port days and sometimes during the hours at port. I have never seen such disorganization. I even commented that the Friends Of Bill and the LGBT have a meeting time every single day...what happened to the solos?
Band: The Hal Cats were absolutely fabulous on the first leg Mar 8-18. Sail away parties had people dancing on the deck. However, they changed band leaders on the 18th. The Hal Cat's sail away parties were not upbeat and many passengers commented that they thought The Neptunes were playing. A sail away party should not open with three instrumental jazz songs. Darelle was the singer for the entire 24 days and she is probably the best singer I and many others have every experienced. Her talents were not utilized on the last 14 days.
DJ Brett was the most personable and charismatic individual I have ever encountered on any ship. He made the cruise memorable for so many people. He is a huge asset to Holland America.
The food, cabin, service, entertainment and all 15 ports were all exceptional!!!