Not Up To HAL's Standards: Maasdam Cruise Review by Colin
Overall Member Rating
Not Up To HAL's Standards
Destination: Baltic Sea
The embarkation was inefficient, with long lines. On previous cruises, there was a separate line for those who had filled out all the information on-line (as we had). Once we had checked in, we were directed to a holding area for another wait. When our group was called, we ended up in another long line, only to find out that this one was only for picture taking. Had we only known, we would have skipped this one.
The itinerary for this cruise was wonderful. Everything from icebergs to ice fields to seals to a wonderful display of the Beatles history in Liverpool. The shipboard tours that were offered were typically expensive and our experiences with them was mixed. The best ones were in Newfoundland (Gros Morne) and in Wales (the guide was a spirited little old lady with a red bonnet who could not have been more interesting). The tour of Delft and the Hague was a waste (the guide More was uninformative and foolish and the most time on the tour was spent at the Delft pottery factory). More cost effective were the hop-on hop-off busses you could take in Dublin, Belfast, Liverpool, Rejkavik, and Oslo. The one in Belfast took you through the area where all "the troubles" took place. There are still barriers between one group and the other. The two ports in Greenland were most interesting. You've got to be a hearty soul to live there. All during the voyage, the North Atlantic was the calmest we've ever seen it. We were indeed fortunate.
While the ports were most interesting, life aboard the Maasdam was somewhat disappointing (not bad, mind you, just disappointing). The ship was understaffed and it showed in many areas. The dining room staff had too many tables to cover and service suffered. The cabin staff had too many cabins to cover and service suffered. Irritating things that were wrong in the cabin didn't get fixed because of maintenance staff shortages. The activities crew was short staffed.
The food was plentiful but uninteresting in both the dining room and the buffet.
The dance instructor, Patricia, was wonderful as was the disc jockey, Dan, who was used to assist in the dance lessons as well as the activities in addition to his normal duties. Each of these people had warm, caring, enthusiastic personalities and would make outstanding Cruise Directors. The orchestra was outstanding and the group director was a VERY talented musician. The dancers were mediocre. The nightime entertainment varied from ho-hum to excellent, with pianist Elliot Finkel being outstanding.
The internet was completely useless, in addition to being expensive ($55 for 100 minutes and then they tacked on a $3.50 "access fee" charge -- pretty "nickel/dimeish" after the many thousands of dollars you're paying for the trip). I would estimate that 75% of the time you were on line, you were waiting for the screen to refresh.
The disembarkation process was frustrating, in part due to the staffing problem. We were supposed to disembark at 8:30 but it was closer to 10AM when our number was called. Since we had an 11:55 flight, we became somewhat anxious.
In summary, I offer the following. Prior to boarding, and based on our prior experiences, my wife and I had pretty well made up our minds that we would spend our future cruise dollars with Holland America Now, I am not so sure. Less