We chose this cruise as we had previously excellent experiences on HAL's Noordam. On this trip the Maasdam called at different islands that we had not visited.Our check-in at the terminal went very soothly and we met several acquaintances from previous trips. On entering the ship and making our way to our cabin we were immediately assailed by a disagreeable odor of mustiness.. We had read about this in old reviews but had assumed that this was solved during the last refit. Afterwards we again noticed whenever we walked by public washrooms a sewage odor met us when the doors were opened. It seemed more predominant by the ladies washrooms. Also a stale odor was noticed by the curtains in the lower dining room. During the cruise there were often portable fans in the hallways. After putting our belongings away we headed to the Lido. Immediately we noticed a major problem with cleanliness. The light grills above the Lido's windows, that also doubled as a ventilation grill, were black with airborne dirt, a condition not acceptable. We made it a practice not to sit in this location.The mens washrooms that I came to use often had run out of towels and numerous sinks were cracked and gilt paint was flaking off trim. Hand sanitizers were often empty.On the Lido deck the metal floor grates were loose an when stepped upon were a tripping hazard. Window frames were covered in rust and the windows were extremely dirty.The Lido pool metal framework under the tiled rim was completely rusted out. Throughout the ship rust streaks were coming through the numerous coats of paint . On the promenade deck the piping, water or sewage was dripping in places and it was not a good idea to sit underneath.
One looks forward on cruises for the food and dining options. Bluntly put it was TERRIBLE on this ship.We compared the meals with the previous superior ones on the Noordam. This is what we found. The sushi (3 selections) consisted of what I would describe as a tastless paste in gooey rice. I mentioned it to the culnary director and the response I received was basically that they were not able to do it properly! On one of our shore visits to 1/2 Moon Cay we attended the BBQ. The hamburger was cooked on the outside but the interior was raw and bloody. There are numerous signs advising about not eating raw foods on the ship.The Lido deserts were okay but nothing to rave about. The icecream was not kept frozen and in my opinion was of poor quality. The bread pudding quality semed to have slipped. It now is more egg than bread. Fruit had either seen it's day or was unripe. Strawberries were overripe and spoiled a few days in and still served. Other fruit consisted of bruised apples or overripe bananas. When roast beef was on the menu at the Lido the knife used to carve it was so dull we received a mangled mess, Same for the turkey. We ate several times at the dining room. It did seem an excessive time to receive our meals and chaotic. Although they were attractively presented they were not much to rave about in taste. Some of the deserts were said to contain alcohol but we found virtually no trace. I have eaten in many countries and one evening ordered the schnitzel. It was touted as veal, which I cannot believe. It was not properly breaded, extremely greasy, tasteless and would never have been served in any restaurant in Europe. There were sliced potatoes served with it and they also were the same as the meat portion, greasy. Roast beef au jus was sliced 1/4 in thick.Thai spring rolls were served by the slice probably to make ends meet. All of the Kolribi beef was tastless and tough. The major dissapointment was the midnight snack, the worst experience of all. On the first 10 days that we went for it the menu was identical. On the Noordam each evening the selection was different. Now it was always the same, chicken, chicken, chicken, battered fish and shoe leather beef. We survived on cheese cubes and bread and gave up completely for the second 1/2. We missed the almost 24 hour pizza selection on the Noordam. The complete snack and dessert selection was closed between supper and midnight. The once good cookies were tastless.Several times I ordered coffee in the dining room and when cream was added, it curdled. We noticed the food was placed out in the Lido almost 1/2 hour befor the drapes were opened. Of course it was cold by then.There is a standard temperature it must by held and the temperature was just barely warm. We received cold toast, likewarm tea water, cold vegetables numerous times. Resorted to a lot of salads. When we returned to the ship from shore excursions only a cold towell awaited us, no cold drinks as before. The iced tea on ship was basically colored water and the "fresh" squeezed orange juice was watered down. There was no evidence of a juice squeezer or orange peels as on the Noordam. One evening I went to the Casino. This is what I observed. At one blackjack table the dealer was suffering from a massive cold or whatever and constantly was coughing while dealing cards. Nearby the pitboss was watching and did not pull her from the table. I did not stop to play.
Now to the entertainment. The ships cast was extremely good and we did not miss an evening. Also the guest entertainers were in the same class. On the other side the activities arranged by the cruise director were almost non existant as compared with the Noordam. There were hardly any games that the guests could participate in. Of course there was trivia, learn to dance, computer workshop, friends of Bill? tongue analysis, play the steel drums but where was the liars club, scavenger hunts, or the cruise classic newly wed game? We began to rename the Maasdam the Morguedam amoung ourselves. At last we cornered the cruise director and questioned him and I guess we shamed him as the next night, last night of the cruise he managed to fit it in. The shuffle board equipment was either broken or the discs were missing. We rated the "entertainment" for the ships cast and the guest entertainers as a 5 however the "daily things to do" were a flop, a negative.We may be on older generation but were not dead.
We were planning a long cruise to Hawaii and Tahiti and noticed that the "S" class ships are scheduled to be used. I think now we will have to reconsider as it would be a life sentence to be on such a ship for that duration. The Maasdam is not up to the star rating it has any more. HAL should be thinking about replacing it as it's day has gone and not sink any more money on "refits" .
Again we have been previously several times here. This time we docked at the cargo port where there was a hanger where the usual souvenirs were being sold. It is much better to be docked at the cruise dock downtown for access to the town of Rousseau.Dominica is not an overly developed island with Diamond International et.al but there are nice items to be purchased at Fort Young. I suggest that one researches on the internet and then take a tour that catches you fancy. River tubing, Champagne snorkeling and the Carib Indian tour is good. On reaching shore there will be numerous taxi drivers available but be careful not missing the ship as the roads are winding and it takes a long time to cover the short distances.
Half moon Cay is great. The water level drops off gradually and therer are not too many waves. The best time to visit is near the end of your cruise as it is a place to wind down. When booking your trip the first thing to do is to rent one of the clamshells. It can get very hot, especially heading toward the end of the winter season and shade is at a premium. there are numerous shore trips and so far we have done the swim with the stingrays and parasailingSwimming with the stingrays is superior in Grand Cayman and now they have discontinued the parasailing. One word of caution, beware of the BBQ. Often the at theBBQ the hamburgers are raw on the inside.
We have been here several times and I cannot say we are fond of it. Very expensive. If you deceide to purchase any thing, although they will accept US$ it will cost more as compared if you use Euros.
San Jaun was our first port to visit. The best place for the ship to dock is at piers near the old city. We read and researched about San Juan on the various internet sites and discovered the free hop on-hop off trolly bus routes. I can recommend this way to see the city, old and new as it goes to almost all the major tourist sites. Cruise ships usually arrive around noon and stay until late ate night. Being in the old city in the evening I felt safe as the areas were patrolled by security police. I would recomend at first seeing the daytime sights, heading back to the ship and then going out again in the early evening for a meal at a restaurant.
A very clean port and city but where the ships dock, dead.Very few stores were open as many owneres have been driven out of business due to very high electrical, taxes and business costs. Best of all get a taxi and head for Christiansted. The island is very flat with straight roads and operating traffic lights. If the local government would realize this and give business owners a break, Frederickstcould be a thriving port as the building are in place.
Again it's all about shopping here too. the ship docks at the pier a distance from downtown where the majority of the stores are. There is a small selection of the usual jewelry stores here. A short boat ride $ will drop you off downtown at 3 locations and a wrist bracelet will get you back. Tours will pick one up at the dock. We have taken several of these and can recommend either the ones that take tou to the French side by boat or bus The island being so small it is also quite easyandcheap to take a private taxi to the French side for a longer stay there. There there are numerous French restaurants and hi class jewelry stores. the souvenier market at the harbor is worth a visit.
We have been several times before at St. Thomas and feel quite comfortabe there. First of all it's all about shopping. If you can't find it, it's probably not available. We went on our own by taxi first of all to Magans Bay where we spent the morning ($8.00 per person plus $4.00 entry for 3 of us) Cheaper than the cruise lines charge. We got there before the numerous ship crowds and if you want to stay longer, it's possible as it's only 20 min for the trip. Afterwards we deceided to head to Coki Beach from there as they say the snorkeling is better which it was. Obtain dog biscuits to attract the fish. It gets crowded early there especially on the RH side where Ocean World is located. The LH sice is less crowded.At each beach do not worry about catching a taxi for the return trip to the ship as there are lots of taxi's available waiting.