We have been on many cruises (16 at last count) but only one previous HAL cruise on the Noordam. It was one of our favorite cruises but itineraries and home port locations prevented us from booking another trip - until now. When we had a chance to cruise on the Maasdam, we jumped on it. And are we ever glad we did. We loved the small ship. The Maasdam has a very efficient and elegant layout. It's an older ship. I've read reviews that said some things were worn out. We didn't experience any of that. We prefer to consider a little wear and tear on an awesome ship like the Maasdam as patina. The decor was understated and getting around the ship was easy.
We were in cabin 541, on the Main Deck and only one deck below the walk-around Promenade. It was a great cabin - nicely appointed and with a full size sofa and a large window. Our cabin steward was outstanding as was his assistant. Very welcoming and took care of anything we asked for quickly.
We made great use of the Explorations library as it is one of the best libraries afloat and is a center of activity for games, reading, computer work and gathering.
We ate most of our meals in the main dining room where the food was outstanding. The wait staff and wine stewards could not have been better. Service was excellent. We did have a few breakfasts and a lunch or two in the Lido restaurant. It was also excellent with a really nice selection of menu options.
We bought the thermal suite package as soon as we boarded as they only sell 30 passes for the week. We were glad we did. The five heated lounges were a nice relaxation place after all of the walking we did on shore.
We did not purchase any shore excursions as we are more inclined to be independent explorers. The ports were all interesting (we had been to Halifax before and enjoyed a return to our favorite restaurant for oysters). The one exception is Sydney. We probably would have been better off doing a shore trip as the town has little to offer. Charlottetown has a bustling downtown area. It would take a book to comment on Quebec City. Fortunately we live close enough to make that a future weekend destination.
All in all, this has now become one of our favorite cruises. We absolutely loved the ship and HAL is definitely going to see us again.