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Maasdam Cruise Review by puppydog: Beating the Florida heat in Canada/New England


puppydog
1 Review
Member Since 2009
0 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 5.0
Dining 5.0
Embarkation 4.0
Enrichment Activities 5.0
Entertainment 5.5
Family & Children 1.0
Fitness & Recreation Not Rated
Public Rooms 5.0
Rates 4.0
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions 5.0
Value for Money 5.0

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Beating the Florida heat in Canada/New England

Sail Date: July 2009
Destination: Canada & New England
Embarkation: Montreal

I've been on more than 15 cruises and this one on the Maasdam was as good as it gets.  Food and entertainment were surprisingly good.  My husband and I are in our late 50's.  Our daughter turned 18 the day before the cruise.  I wondered whether our daughter would enjoy the trip since I had read that Holland America caters to an older crowd.  I didn't need to worry.  Summer cruisers on our Maasdam voyage were a diverse bunch.  Even though my daughter was technically "too old" for the kids' program, she still met many of the 40 kids in the 13-18 age group.  She was impressed by how well-travelled, worldly, and intelligent they were.  She made friends with kids from Mexico, Scotland, England, and all over the U.S.  At 18, she was technically old enough to gamble in the ship's casino but not old enough to drink onboard.

Let me start with some nice (surprising) touches on the Maasdam.  The orange juice served at More breakfast in the Lido is fresh-squeezed. If you attend a movie in the cinema/theater (which doubles as the culinary arts center), you can pick up free fresh-popped popcorn before the show.  The cabins have bathtubs, DVD players, and plenty of storage space.  We don't travel light and had room for all of our luggage and purchases in our oceanview cabin on the main deck.  The bathroom has one narrow shelfwhich is the only negative that comes to mind.  The Maasdam offers daily tea service from 3-4 p.m.which is a nice way to unwind (or warm up) after a busy day in port.
 
We booked late and were assigned "as you like it dining."  Apparently 80% of the cruisers are assigned to "as you like it dining."  It was our first time dealing with this concept.  I started out making dinner reservations at 8 a.m. each morning for a specific time from the four times usually offered.  When I did this, our party of three was seated alone at a table.  In the past we had always enjoyed dining with other peopleso it looked like it was going to be a lonely cruise. Then one day I didn't have time to call in our reservation at 8 a.m. because we were off on an early tour.  That evening we tried the "walk-in" line at the Rotterdam dining room after concluding that the menu was better there than at the Lido.   We were given a pager and told we would be seated within half an hour.  We were able to shop on a nearby deck, received the page, and then were seated at a large table with other walk-ins.  From then on, we used the "walk-in" line and met a variety of interesting people.  Most of the time, we were able to walk right in and get seated at a large table without using a pager.  We had one elegant dinner at the Pinnacle Grill.

Entertainment was great.  We were able to get good seats for all the shows in the Rembrandt lounge and enjoyed the HAL singers and dancers, spectacular piano player Paul Pappas, magician Jamie Allan (who incorporates A-V technology into his shows), and comedian Jim Labriola.  I also participated in a Broadway trivia contesta team event held in the Crow's Nest barwhich was a lot of fun.  Drew, the cruise director, was a likeable and entertaining guy with a low-key sense of humor.
          
The ship features a computerized classroom with a technical expert who teaches groups of about 15-20 students how to edit digital photos.  I finally learned how to remove red-eye.  I loved being able to view my digital photos on the ship's computer monitor while still on vacation. I attended several of Will's classes and decided that this room would be my home-away-from-home on our lone port day.  (My daughter and I also took a class in making "fun and easy towel creatures.")

As for ports, we enjoyed all of themespecially Quebec City and Prince Edward Island.  It rained heavily all day in Sydney and Bar Harbor and in the afternoon in Halifax.  We took a taxi to Peggy's Cove (outside Halifax) and beat the tour busses and the rain for a spectacular morning in an extremely scenic spot. I also enjoyed shopping in the buildings adjacent to the ports in Sydney and Halifax.  We also took a taxi to the Fortress of Louisbourg (outside Sydney).  We found that taking taxis to tourist spots usually saved us money over conventional tours and offered more flexibility since we like to spend time in local shops near the tourist attractions. 

We spent three nights at the Embassy Suites in Montreal before the cruise.  It was a beautiful well-designed hotel with a full kitchen and separate sofabed sleeping area for our daughter.  The location (near Notre Dame Cathedral) was close to Chinatown, Old Montreal and downtown/underground shopping.  The hotel itself is new and features a huge breakfast with omelette and pancake stations and a nightly manager's reception.  The breakfast area is crowded and bustling in the morning.  The bathroom was so pretty that I even took some photos of the spa tub!  From the hotel, it was just a quick taxi ride (in a van) to the port.  Embarkation and disembarkation were routine.  We decided to fly right home from Boston and were again able to get a van to transport us right to Logan Airport. Less


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Cabin review: Maasdam M670

M670We did hear the docking noises reported by other cruisers but the noise did not really bother us.  We liked being in the back of the ship on deck five because we disembarked from the ship on our deck several times.  We had a large window but did not have a balcony.  Also, it was a convenient elevator ride to most of the dining areas.  As the ship's crew pointed out, most of the dining is in the aft section and most of the entertainment was in the fore section.  The third person's bed was on the floor rather than suspended above the other beds.   We enjoyed the cabin and felt lucky to get an outside cabin since we booked late.  I think we got the last available outside cabin.  The cabin steward was friendly and attentive.

Port and Shore Excursions


Another drenching downpour day. Luckily we had also been to Bar Harbor on a previous driving trip. We literally ran from shop to shop and then settled in for a delicious lunch at the West Street Cafe (recommended by the ship). A few workers and other passengers from the ship were also dining thereso we had a feeling it would be good. It was spectacular. My husband had the lobster special which came with clam chowder and blueberry pie. He paid $10 extra to get a larger lobster. I had an exceptional lobster bisque. Finally had enough of the rain so we took the tender back to the ship (a somewhat rough ride but at least it was fast). Bar Harbor was the only tender port on this cruise. Fellow cruisers were disappointed because they had a hard time experiencing the beauty of Acadia National Park in the rain.

Luckily I have been to Halifax before because I had an entirely different experience this time than when I went five years ago on a sunny day. This time our visit was overshadowed by a drenching downpour. My 18-year-old daughter took the Titanic tour by herself and was very impressed by the stories told by her guide. She visited the Fairview cemetery and the Maritime Museum. My husband and I walked to the Alexander Keith's Brewery and other storesskipping the Citadel this time. We made it as far as the Cows' ice cream store and then walked back. Husband enjoyed a beer at the microbrewery right next to the dock. I enjoyed getting rid of our remaining Canadian money at the many interesting booths inside the terminal building adjacent to the dock.

In the morning we all got up early and hired a taxi to take us to Peggy's Cove. We beat the tour busses there by just a few minutes and were able to capture some pristine lighthouse scenes before the place was overrun with our fellow tourists. I liked the little shops in the area too but was still pressed for time because our daughter needed to get back to Halifax to catch the Maasdam's afternoon Titanic tour. Halifax in the rain just didn't seem as charming as it was on our first trip. Plus some interesting local shops had been replaced by chains such as Del Sol.

Read 349 Halifax Reviews

Quebec City was our favorite port and probably one of the nicest places we have ever visited. We walked from the ship to the quaint town, got caught in a brief downpour, and then took the funiculaire up the hill for even more shopping and a break for lunch! No need for a tour hereit's just too beautiful for words. There was even a harpist playing music along one of the main shopping streetsalong with a variety of other street performers and entertainers.

Personally I found the Fortress of Louisbourg boring. We got there early in the morning when most of the workers were still eating breakfast rather than demonstrating aspects of colonial life. Plus the rain was extremely heavymaking for some muddy treks. We took a taxi to the Fortress, which was a good thing since we decided to leave after less than 90 minutes. We went to the town of Louisbourg which has a handful of souvenir stores and looked at the Tall Ships which were in town for a day or two. We couldn't board the ships because it was too early in the day for tours so we took a few photos and left. We had the taxi drop us off at a church craft market near the ship. This was a small place but very welcoming (free tea was offered). If you get there, purchase the home-made milk chocolate bars. They were absolutely delicious. Right next to the ship there is a huge Celtic fiddle (where you can take photos). Also, there is a large warehouse-type building with many vendors. Souvenirs were well priced here and the selection of jewelry was very good. I highly recommmend shopping here and at the church hall. We had lunch in town at a place called Joe's Warehouse which was recommended by the ship and quite crowded. We enjoyed our meal there too.

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