I cruised on the Maasdam with family and friends. We all live in the Boston area so we flew into Montreal that morning, about an hour flight, and then cruised our way home. We flew Air Canada out of Boston at 8:30am, and were met by the Holland America transfer to the ship. There was a short wait at the port to board after 11:00 am. The cabins were ready and after dropping off our carry on bags we were eating lunch in the Lido by noon. We even had time to disembark and walk around. We found a great wine store just a few blocks from the port. It is across the street from the Notre-Dame Basilica. We were back on the ship by 3:00pm.
This was our first cruise on HAL for all but one member of the group. We all agreed the size of the ship was perfect. We stayed in three Lanai cabins deck 6 in the center of the ship and found it was easy to get to everything. The Lanai cabins were fantastic for this cruise. The padded lounge chairs that are reserved for each cabin were a wonderful place to view the scenery as we cruised the St. Lawrence Seaway. The weather had been hot in humid in Boston, and we heard it got worse while we were away. The weather on this cruise was perfect high 60-70 degrees without humidity until we reached Bar Harbor. I understand the Lanai cabins are smaller than a balcony but the access to the promenade deck and view makes it seem larger than it is. One note, the door is very heavy, and some people may not be able to open it. But it worked for us.
We did all our touring on our own. We often just walked around, the ship docks right near the sights. In Charlottetown we used C and T Tours, and took a van tour of the North Shore and The Green Gables historic sight. Excellent service and I would recommend them. In Bar Harbor we did the one-hour tour with Olli's Trolley. We saw some of Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park and we and went all the way to the top of Cadillac Mountain for an impressive view of harbor. We made reservations for this before we left home, and it was sold out. Don't miss it, it is $15.00 well spent.
The food was excellent everywhere we ate. The Lido had great variety, though the layout of the food was a bit confusing. At breakfast the cereal was at one end and the milk at the other. It took us a few days to figure it all out. Silverware seemed to keep moving. During the first 48 hours they serve all the food in the Lido to you to help prevent contamination. The crew seemed to be working very hard to accomplish this, but it was slow at times.
The food in the MDR was excellent, and beautifully presented. Our only concern was that we signed up for As You Wish Dining. The first few nights we tried to make reservations, but no matter what we time we requested we were always left with 5:30 or 8:00 pm which are fixed dining times. There was never "availability" at other times. We ended up eating at 5:30 each night 8:00 was just too late for our group. We also noticed that as tables emptied around us people were not seated. We often found a line by the door when we left. The service was very slow, with diner lasting 2-2 1/2 hours each night. It seems that the Maasdam is not really doing As You Wish Dining at all. Even meeting with a manager to discuss this did not help. We ended up eating at the same time with the same table. It was frustrating at times, and on port days we were rushing to get there for 5:30.
We enjoyed all the shows the performers were excellent. We bumped into several of the stars on the Lanai, and spoke for a while which was fun. The cruise director Bruce was superb, and kept the fun going. We especially enjoyed his turn at he piano in The Mix bar one night.
The fitness center was great and we used it quite a bit. Though the air conditioning didn't seem to be working as well as it should, the chilled scented hand towels were very helpful.
This is a great relaxing cruise, which we all enjoyed. There seemed to be a mix of ages, more than I expected on a Canada/New England cruise. The service could not have been better. Embarkation and De-embarkation was the quick and easy. The ship was beautiful, clean, well maintained with fresh flowers everywhere. We hope to do this cruise again there is still lots to see.