We just got back from our 3 days in Boston and 7 night cruise on the Maasdam to New England and Canada. Mid 40's couple, 75 year old, and our 8 year old boy. It was our 8th cruise. We've been on RCCL, Carnival, Celebrity, Princess and now, HAL.
Embarkation and debarkation - absolutely flawless! We arrived at the port in Boston at 11:20 and were literally on the ship at 11:40. Incredible. Debarkation took a bit longer, but it was so well organized and just a pleasure.
The ship - The Maasdam is in excellent shape. It is an older ship (1993), comparatively, so there are some older looking things. The elevators, pool areas etc.. But everything was very clean and in great shape. It just didn't have that new look to it like newer ships. The ship never felt crowded. The Maasdam has a tremendous library with many books and is right next to the coffee shop (awesome!) It has a typical casino. The pool was small but never looked too crowded. My son spent many hours in there. There are also 2 hot tubs.
The crew - absolutely fantastic in every way. Professional, friendly and very efficient. The stateroom attendant went above and beyond. You will feel pampered and spoiled.
Our inside rooms - We had rooms 548 and 549 on the 5th deck. Unbelievable! You have to walk down the hall (maybe 30 feet) to get from one room to another. They are over 210 square feet and laid out so well. Also, they are right next to the front elevators, so the location is perfect. The rooms are really clean, well taken care of, have a very small tv with dvd player, plenty of hanging and drawer space, small but comfortable shower, comfy hard bed and plenty of lights everywhere.
Kids program - not great compared to other ships. I would say most of the time, kids were playing video games. The whole area is surrounded by tv's for video games. Then, at night, there were a couple of activities. On all other cruises there were fun activities all day long. Not on this cruise, and there were 136 kids on board a 1250 passenger ship. We were disappointed. However, the kids program crew were very friendly and professional. A couple of them were teachers.
lido deck was very good and had a lot of choices. The food is not gourmet, but still quite good. Fish, chicken, pork, steak, salads lots to choose from. Desserts are not very good, although there is free ice cream.
MDR - food is preety average. The service was very very slow; Just over 2 hours per dinner for the 1st 2 nights. After that, we ate in the specialty restaurants and one night in the lido. We wouldn't mind the MDR if we didn't have a kid and the food was incredible. The quality of the food, to us, is pretty good, but certainly does not deserve such a long wait. it took us 30 minutes to receive drinks and an hour to receive our salads. Ridiculous! This happened 2 nights in a row. We informed the main desk and spoke with the maitre d. We simply did not want to go back.
Pinnacle - Really good! Great service! Food is very good. Certainly worth an extra $25 a person. Great ambience!
Caneletto - Very nice service and it really didn'y bother us that we were in the lido. Food was quite good, but clearly not as good as Pinnacle. Still, a nice evening for 10 bucks!!
All of the ports were fantastic, except Sydney. Bar Harbor, we did Olie's Trolley for 2.5 hours. Just great at $29 a person. Wonderful town to walk around in too. PIE and Halifax, we did 4 hour private car tours. Halifax was with Paul at Halifax Historic Titanic Tour. He was unbelievable! Lincoln Town car, $50 an hour for the 4 of us. He was very interesting and took us everywhere, including an active fishing village for a fantastic lobster roll for lunch. If you can get Paul, do his tour. PEI, we did another tour with Irwin at Rusty Rover Tours. It was good.
Sydney, we opted to just chill a bit, as we were beat from the 3 days in Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax and PEI. There was not too much at Sydney; mediocre town to walk around in. There is a neat place called Fortress of Louisbourg, that some people said was pretty neat. We would have done that, but were just in the mood for a walk in town. Quebec City - Amazing! I don't need to go into much detail here. Beautiful! We did a tour with Voir Quebec tours and the guide was just great. Apparantly their food tours are wonderful too.
Unlimited laundry for $49 for the stateroom was so worth it it to us. We came on the ship with three days of Boston laundry, so really we got 10 days of laundry for $49! We gave them a stuffed bag of laundry 5 times! $10 a stuffed bag is pretty good to us!
Entertainment - We attended a couple of dress rehearsals for the shows. They call it the Maasdam orchestra, which is a slap in the face to musicians. It contains a flute, violin and rhythm section. That is not an orchestra! There were 2 singers; the woman was very good and her husband was not as good. The adagio duet (violin and piano) were great. Jazz trio was a nice touch every night!
In summary, we had a really wonderful and relaxing ten days. Beautiful scenery, amazing places, wonderful service, great food, great ship. The Maasdam's size was just perfect for us. You could really navigate the ship well, although you don't have as many options as other larger ships. It is certainly a good trade-off for us. HAL, to us, was no better or worse than Celebrity or Princess. Actually, in many ways, they are very similar. The real only downside for a family was the kids program.