NOTE: the above form for this review shows "0" for the number of ports visited because there was no space to answer accurately. After leaving the home port of Boston, we visited TWENTY ports; two of these were overnight stays, ... Read More
NOTE: the above form for this review shows "0" for the number of ports visited because there was no space to answer accurately. After leaving the home port of Boston, we visited TWENTY ports; two of these were overnight stays, giving us two days in those cities.
We prefer smaller ships, so Maasdam's size suits us very well. She is comfortable and pleasant with a topnotch crew. Maasdam is scheduled for a turn in drydock in spring of 2011, at which time she will undergo some of the changes already made to Veendam. Maasdam will benefit from refurbishing as she's looking a little tired in places, but still she is basically a lovely ship.
We have high praise for our dining experiences, most of which were in the Lido. We like seeing the foods we are choosing and being able to ask for the size portion we would like, so a buffet works well for us. In addition, we enjoy the window tables in that venue. We dined at Caneletto once, the Pinnacle Grill once, and the Rotterdam dining room once; the rest of the time, up to the Lido. Special kudos to the chef for bringing just-caught fish on board at many of these northern ports. It was worthwhile to watch menus for the catch of the day.
On the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words, I put together travelogue-type on-line photo albums for our trips. To see the album for this trip, go to http://fredasphotos1.shutterfly.com and click on "Voyage of the Vikings 2010". It works best next to click on "slideshow". It may be that if you see the slideshow/travelogue first, you won't want to bother to read this review!
This itinerary was wonderful, with great variety among the ports we visited. Although the biggest draws for me were Greenland and Iceland, every single port of call was fascinating. We were blessed with great weather: aside from some showers in Qaqortoq, Amsterdam, and Reykjavik, we enjoyed blue skies and sun, including some places where rain is the norm.
Special praise and appreciation are warranted for several aspects of this cruise. As well as having marvelous ports, the itinerary was well planned in that sea days were spread out and provided needed rest after the busy port days. Our English Captain James Russell-Dunford was outstanding: affable, good sense of humor, always engaged but never intrusive, he kept us informed of any deviations from schedule and pointed out sights of interest along the way. The shore excursion team was excellent; the director, Joe L'Espiscopo, gave fine presentations on many sea days about famous ship wrecks and world fairs through the decades. Chris Jackson's digital workshop classes were invaluable. Karen Johnston, the bridge director, was very good.
Highest praise goes to Maasdam's and HAL's high level of support for this unusual itinerary, which included excellent lectures by experts, helpful port talks by the travel guide Barbara, good maps, and a book discussion group centered on "The Tricking of Freya". In the evenings of our days in Liverpool and Reykjavik, we had shows put on by locals from those cities, both most enjoyable. I had not experienced this level of itinerary support on past cruises, with the exception of small ship cruises on Windstar and Viking. HAL shows a high level of respect and regard for their passengers' interests and desire to learn.
HAL offers the Voyage of the Vikings once each summer, with some itinerary changes each year. I highly recommend it! Read Less