We just got off the newly refurbished Maasdam. The ship seemed in good shape and clean and pretty. Many of the complaints about being run down that we read about were not present now. The elevators and a few other areas still could benefit from some updating.
Our last cruise with Holland was in 2002 and was terrible. They spent a great deal of money on the line since then to upgrade and promised us a 'much superior experience' on this cruise in our correspondence with their customer service.
The cruise started off with NO SHIP.. because of heavy rains it couldn't come up to Montreal from Quebec City and we were bused 3 hours to the ship. Many people weren't happy but it actually gave us more time in Quebec City, which is a wonderful port. With the mix-up though we didn't get our bags until LATE Saturday night, which didn't help the mood of many guests. Holland offered no compensation or really even much of an apology for the problems.
Many things were better than our previous cruise on Holland- no annoying in room announcements now (yeah) and much better food in the main dinning room and a very comfortable bed. However this certainly isn't a superior cruising experience, it's just average and much like RCL and Princess but with less on-board activities.
As mentioned in previous complaints about the Maasdam there is an occasional 'toilet' odor through out the staterooms and hallways. Being a smaller ship and in the Atlantic you get a very seasick rocky ride around Sydney area. At one point the pool actually overflowed into the Lido restaurant and a stack of dishes fell in the main dinning room. Many people were sick. Perhaps they should drop this stop for the safety and comfort of the passengers if nothing else.
The main dining room was very pretty and had very good service. The food there may be a bit better than we've had on average on other lines. We didn't get anything we didn't like and service was very good, except for drink refills which were slow at times. The staff here was very friendly and funny at times.
The Lido buffet was average to poor at best with many people returning undercooked fish and meat and cold food. The staff was very slow to remove dirty dishes or clean tables and we usually ended up just busing our tables ourselves. The staff seemed very unenthusiastic and tired or overworked in the Lido.
Deserts on this cruise were outstanding and a far cry better than the flavored whipped cream things we've gotten lately on other lines..
The public rooms were well done, although the casino was so smoky I tried to avoid that part of the ship. The crow's nest lounge also would benefit from better ventilation. The stores had some nice jewelery and things to look at and the ship is small and very easy to get around.
This cruise is touted as 'traditional' and I think that means; "for the old folks". I'm going on 60 and many people there probably have kids older than me! Very little participation in the few on-board events and games, which were usually hurried and not very well done. Entertainment was fair, usual singers and dancers and a couple of comedians that were just OK. Most of the lounge musicians were good but generally didn't draw many people. I think since it was the first cruise of the year in the Canada area, they had just come out of dry dock, and they had to discount to fill up the ship they were saving a few pennies in the entertainment areas.
We didn't do any ship tours, we rented a car and went on our own or walked mostly. Much cheaper than the ship tours for four of us with car rentals in the $35 to $40 dollar range. Gas was high.
All in all just an OK cruise for us - little on-board experience, but nice stops and some good food. We have a nice time in the ports and spent a great deal of time off the ship. There were few kids or people new to cruising which can be annoying, and good service except in the Lido.
I would only cruise Holland if you desire a very quiet cruise experience around seniors and don't mind paying extra for it (or get a very good last minute special.)
I had AWFUL experiences with Hollands customer service. Wrong answers, mis-information, unthinking cut and paste answers. This alone puts them low on my cruise choice list.