We traveled with another couple which made this cruise particularly enjoyable.
The Maasdam is one of Holland America's smaller ships, but it has all of the amenities of the larger ships. It will be in dry dock next spring for a face lift, which is needed, but it is a wonderful ship with plenty of room, great staff,wonderful food, and very nice entertainment. One thing I really liked was the self-laundry. I wish every ship offered this service. It saves a great deal of money: $3 for the washer and $1 for the dryer. A great savings over $20 for a bag of laundry done by the ship. Also, we love the wine card: a $68 card good for 20 glasses of house wine. If you don't use the entire card, save it for your next Holland America cruise. They also have cocktail cards, good only for the length of the cruise, and soda cards.
The string quartet was fantastic. They played every night and are a young group of students from McGill University's School of Music. They played a variety of music, including a great rendition of Orange Blossom Special!! They will be on the Maasdam all summer. If you are on the Montreal/Boston cruises, be sure to look for them near the casino.
I also like the "in-port" specials at the spa and always take advantage of at least one special. I also love the thermal lounge - well worth $20 for the day pass.
The dining room service was a little spotty at first, but I think some of the crew were new and by the 3rd day the service was great, as you would expect from Holland America. We had open seating and tried to make a reservation for each night. There is always someone manning the reservation kiosk at the lido pool throughout the day. Make your reservations early if you like a particular table and/or time.
I made reservations for the Pinnacle Grill by phone a couple of weeks before the cruise to be sure to get the night and time we wanted. This restaurant books quickly, so I highly recommend calling before your cruise to make reservations.
I would take this cruise again in a minute. The ports of call were great and much better than the 1 week itineraries. We had mostly good weather, calm seas, and a fabulous trip. I highly recommend this cruise.
Just a note on the ports. Not all of those we visited are in the listings. Here are a few not listed:
Charlottetown: Very pretty. We took a very nice panoramic drive and saw beautiful scenary. I'd rate this a 4.
Saguenay: Delightful. The took the Craftsmen tour and it was terrific. We visited a family farm where they raise sheep and make wonderful cheese. We bought some cheese and took it to one of the lounges on-board to enjoy before dinner with our wine. We also visited a glassblowing artist who makes, among other things, beautiful whales. The 3rd stop was a small soap making company that was ok, but not terrific. This port rates a 5+
Sept-Iles: A very small town with delightful people. The tour was about a 2. If I had to do it over again, I would stroll around town near the port and then enjoy the ship. The people were very gracious and gave us a wonderful welcome. They get very few visits from cruise ships it wasn't a port I would care to visit again. I would give this port a 3.
Gaspe/Perce: The weather was awful, the bus ride to Perce on a school bus was also awful and the town of Perce had very little, other than a big rock, to see. I'd pass on this port and rate it a 1.