Maasdam Cruise Review by Gail Boertzel: Hurricane Irene did not stop the Maasdam
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Hurricane Irene did not stop the Maasdam
Anxiously watched the weather for the days leading up to 8/27. Who would have thought that a hurricane would have been a problem for a cruise leaving from Boston and going to Canada. Tried to pursue cancellation with trip insurance, but particular policy would have only covered if the cruise did not leave Boston for 48 hours or airports were closed for 48 hours and we were driving. So we went. The night before HAL changed the itinerary and posted it on its website. Lost ports of Bar Harbor and Halifax, gained Gaspe and Sanguenay. Ship sailed on time, looked pretty full, although believe not everyone made the cruise. Basically went far enough east to avoid the worst of the weather and I was pleasantly surprised that the two days we were at sea the ship was very stable, especially since they were giving out sea sickness medication at the front desk! Happily, not needed.
I thought she looked to be in good shape over all considering she is not a new ship. We More were in balcony cabin that was very roomy with lots of storage, refrigerator, two big closets, bathroom with tub, balcony with room for lounger and chair. Ship never feels crowded. Not an issue to get a seat in Lido for a meal or theater for a show or bar for a drink. Only the piano bar got crowded after dinner, but in a good way. Easy ship to navigate.
I think that this is where Maasdam shines. Everyone seemed friendly and anxious to please. We traveled with an 89 year old on walker, an 89 year old on cane and a 91 year old. The staff was always pulling out their chairs, whisking away the walker and cane which appeared when ready to leave. At the ports, whoever was around from the staff was helpful in terms of getting my mother in a wheelchair and pushing it up a long gangway or helping her down a steep flight of steps to the tender.
I thought it was very good, although not like going to a gourmet restaurant. Good variety and willingness to bring you multiple choices just to "taste!" Ate in the Italian restaurant for a change one night. Good service, food decent, not great. (Disclaimer - from NY area where we are used to very good Italian food). Did not do Pinnacle, didn't see need to spend so much extra for a dinner.
Shows I saw were good, enjoyable way to pass some time. Piano bar was fun and lively. Library space quite large, well used, lots of travel books for upcoming ports which I needed since there had been two last minute substitutions. Daily paper, crossword, sudoku. Did not use internet. Used ipad in terminals at every port for free. Crows nest was the best bar in my opinion. Great view forward when the ship sailed. Wonderful staff (guys more than girls) and happy hour every day 4:30 to 5:30. If looking for younger music need to go to Crow's Nest at night for DJ and some times live band. Did some trivia games. Tables in MIX have electronic games built into tables which are fun. Shopping on ship typical. Gym was well equipped. Good stretching class every morning at 7 am followed by more vigorous 1/2 hour class at 7:30, no extra charge.
Can't comment on excursions. Did our own thing.
Sydney - couldn't get in due to high winds so spent day at sea. That was disappointing. Felt like we were on cruise to nowhere, but understandble.
Charlottetown - Rented car, drove to far side and rented bikes to ride along the shore in the national park. Great day. Avoided the commercial part of island.
Gaspe - rented car, drove to Percey. Okay, quaint town with lots of shops all carrying exactly the same touristy merchandise. An interesting rock formation to see. Pretty scenery, but would not choose itinerary with this port.
Sanguenay - rented car, drove about an hour to a pre-booked kayak trip. Fjord was beautiful. We paddled for 3 hours, so arms got good work out.
Quebec City - walked from Old Town, to the big hotel to the Citadel to the park beyond the Citadel. Ate lunch in an outdoor cafe, saw street performers, went through the shops, bought some art work. Definitely felt very European.
Embarkation and disembarkation very easy. Would re-think a trip that is not round trip. Logistics are kind of a pain. We rented two cars in Montreal and drove home to NJ, an easy 5-6 hour trip (depending on how long you get stuck at border) which was a lot less than flying. NB - very few car rental companies allow taking car from Canada to USA, Hertz does. We had great weather and considering what we came home to after Irene paid her visit, a good week to be away. Less
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Very nice, with a few glitches