At ages 45 and 46, my boyfriend and I did not expect a whole lot from an old smaller cruise ship. We had previously cruised with Sunquest, Royal Caribbean, NCL, and Carnival cruiselines. However, the 14 day Eastern Caribbean itinerary offered by HAL seemed fabulous. As well, we were traveling with my folks who we thought would appreciate the older clientele aboard the Maasdam. We simply anticipated a mediocre hotel stopping at 11 great ports. We couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised!!!!!
What stood out the most - was the service.
We were constantly greeted by the friendly staff. The eye contact and bright smiles were welcoming.
Unlike other cruise experiences, there was never a feeling of intrusiveness. Bar staff were readily available, but never "pushing" for sales. Cabin stewards were friendly and efficient - but seemed to respect and honor privacy. Waiters were prompt, friendly and fun, but refrained from interrupting conversations.
Prior to the Maasdam, I had never gained weight on any of my previous cruises. But this time, despite the gym, swimming, and fabulous excursions, the food won. Between the savory beef-wellington, prime rib dinners, filet-mignon and steak and seafood dinners, (let alone the desserts), it was tough!!!!
In their defense, the Maasdam did cater to those who may have had more self-discipline. From Cream-of-Wheat or Oatmeal, - to waffles, french toast, and personalized eggs - to boxed cereals - to fruit - to toast, baked goods and pastries - it was all there. And like everything else, consistently served with smiles. And that was just breakfast.
Congruent with the tone throughout all aspect of the experience, there is no "pressure" to be either formal, or casual. Traditional dining opportunities were available in the formal dining room with 4 formal nights throughout the 14 days. However, there was no pressure to use the formal dining room and we opted for the wonderful buffet in the lido deck about as often as not.
As a health-care professional, the Maasdam's commitment to health was outstanding. The dedication to prevention of illness was noticeable throughout the ship - in fact even before boarding. Hand-gel was always readily available. Everything - everywhere (despite the dam's age) was meticulous.
We would not hesitate to sail HAL again. Only next time, we may bring some friends our age along. We were "junior" on the Maasdam - but that's not a bad thing!!!