By day there is little by way of serious enrichment lectures. But there is Bridge, Bingo, trivia games, Sudoku, cooking demos, movies and mixology classes. Poolside bands add a festive air on sea days and sailaways.
Throughout the day and evening, The New York Times-sponsored Explorations Cafe is an active hub. It holds over 2,000 books (fiction, literature, travel, history, Harry Potter), plus a host of periodicals and a DVD library (complimentary for passengers in Deluxe Verandah Suites; modest charge for others). There are touch-screen interactive maps, write-on/wipe-off crossword puzzle tables, and a cubby of games and puzzles. There is an adjacent card room and several computer/Internet stations. (It's $.75 per minute to surf the Web; plans are available that bring the cost down to $.40 a minute.) Or you can sit for a few minutes in a reproduction Eames chair and try the music listening stations, poking around to test its range: Prokofiev? There. REM? Got it. Soundtrack from Chicago? Check. Barney the Purple Dinosaur? Yep.
Maasdam offers offers the Microsoft Digital Workshops, complimentary classes led by Microsoft-trained "techsperts." Passengers can learn to use computers to enhance photos (Windows Live Photo Gallery), produce and publish videos onto a DVD (Windows Movie Maker) and create personal webpages or blogs (Windows Live Services and Windows Live Writer). In addition, one-on-one coaching, called "Techspert Time," is available for more than 20 hours each week.
Maasdam's shore excursions cover a range of options. Depending on where the ship is sailing, look for a mix of historic tours, beach-focused excursions, moderately active eco-adventures and sightseeing trips.
One of the major updates during the dry dock was the removal of the Piano bar and the Casino bar (with its TV's tuned to sports). The resulting space was re-structured to form the chi-chi Mix Lounge -- three adjacent bars, with no walls between them. One of the bars serves only champagne, one only serves martinis, the third serves only beers and top-shelf liquor. A solo musician, singer or small combo performs during evening hours in Mix, where the table tops can be used for interactive games or to signal the waiter for another round.
Then there is the scene at the Crow's Nest (Deck 12), the ship's modish disco, with loud music and louder lighting effects and even louder curvy hot pink sofas, a DJ, electric slides and trivia contests. But the dance floor can be mainly populated by off-duty staff members: pretty spa ladies and cast members from the musical revue. (Scene-watching of a different sort takes place in Crow's Nest during the mornings and afternoons, when it's a spectacular perch for ocean viewing.)
Ah, the shows. Yes, there are the standard cruise ship musical extravaganzas, magic shows and comedians. These take place in the main show room where the seating has been changed (as part of the 2011 dry-dock) to provide better sight lines; the room is now named the Showroom at Sea. It is done up in Delft tiles, brass and Mahogany, metallic fabric wall covering, ship-print carpeting, and settees and sofas in lieu of standard auditorium seating. Shows occur twice nightly to accommodate both early and late diners.