9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise due to the itinerary and the supposed reputation of Holland America being a classy cruise line. It was to be a continuation of a seven night cruise that we took on the Paul Gauguin. We were looking forward to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the itinerary and the supposed reputation of Holland America being a classy cruise line. It was to be a continuation of a seven night cruise that we took on the Paul Gauguin. We were looking forward to the stops at Rarotonga, Cook Islands - Alofi, Niue - Vava u, Tonga - Savusavu, Vanua Levi, Fiji - Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji - Dravuni, Fiji - Nuku alofa, Tonga. To set the stage for the tender rides to shore we need to say that prior to our cruise a woman was killed while getting on the tender at a stop. Of course like the military Holland America made a decision to screw all of it's passengers due to the actions of one unfortunate soul. They cancelled the first two stops stating the sea state was to high to go a shore. They must not have realized there were many passengers that had a great deal of experience with boating and knew that the sea state was not as bad as they were saying. Real big disappointment to all aboard. All of the remaining stops we did go ashore. Shore excursions were totally overpriced. We went ashore an picked up tours at far cheaper prices than Holland America offered. For a cruise line that is supposed to be classy Holland America made it far from that. Everytime you turned around they were trying to up sale you. From the over price bottled water and canned sodas in the state rooms, to the over priced additional restaurants, to the drastically overpriced cocktails and wine. Add to this the upscale jewelry stores which I very seldom saw passengers present. The casino that was almost as empty as the jewelry stores. Really do they really need to send out daily sales brochures trying to temp you with the 20% off sale which they raised the price on items 20% prior to the sale. It seems they could have used this space for more over priced restaurants or even heaven forbid a better stocked sundry store. Now let us talk about a dead ship. Even though we are 59 and 62 we seemed to have more life than the typical passenger that appeared to be above the age of 70 and no young 70s for sure. You would think that there would be South Pacific Island music playing all over the ship. You know to set the mood. But, no, Holland America plays elevator music when they play it at all. You would get more exciting music in a mortuary or morgue. Who knows maybe that is what the old folks really want. The musical entertainers actually play Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak tree, Really? The ship seemed to be in less than stealer condition. There was rust everywhere. The cover over the midship pool broke during the cruise and it didn't seem like the crew had the capability to fix it. The covers on the lifeboats seemed faded and strained. In fact on a couple of them they seemed to be torn or caved in. The tenders were filthy and unkempt. To think that the elderly passengers could have to use these boats in an emergency was disappointing and scary. The average crew member did a good job. Even when they were forced to sell things which they looked embarrassed and not comfortable doing. Our cabin steward was great. The dining room staff was great. Can't really say anything bad about the basic crew member on the Maasdam. The front desk personnel did a great job. There was a strange noise that kept happening in our first stateroom. We complained and they moved us to a new stateroom very quickly. Our stateroom was very clean and comfortable. We purchased the laundry service for the entire cruise. We felt it was a good value and the staff did a great job. The internet service was slow and expensive for what you received. We realize the signal has to travel many thousands of mile but really that slow? The food on the ship was good. However, no better than any other cruise ship we had been on. Holland America really needs to step it up to live up to a reputation that seems like it had gotten many years ago. Stop selling and make it a classy ship again or close the line down and save not only themselves but the passengers from a poor experience. Many folks that we had spoke to that had cruised Holland America in the passed said that this would be their last cruise on the line. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise for the itinerary! I have never seen such a low cost for a 28 day cruise that included such dreamy South Pacific Island ports. It was an opportunity I had not seen before on my favorite cruise line! We arrived a ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary! I have never seen such a low cost for a 28 day cruise that included such dreamy South Pacific Island ports. It was an opportunity I had not seen before on my favorite cruise line! We arrived a few days earlier into Papeete and took the ferry to Moorea and spent a few nights at the Hilton Moorea and the Intercontinental Moorea! Moorea turned out to be my favorite island and the over the water bungalows were even more amazing than the pictures! Being able to jump in the water from our deck and snorkel among corral and colorful fish was incredible! The green mountainous backdrop with the turquoise water was surreal! The Hilton Moorea was one of the best hotels I have ever stayed at in my life! Embarkation was a breeze, stepped off the ferry from Moorea, walked 5 minutes to where our ship was docked and was on board within 15 minutes! We had a quiet, comfortable inside cabin on a lower deck with the best room stewards, Jenni and Carlos who take care of everything for us, always insuring we were comfortable! We had early dining in the main dining room, and our biggest complaint was we were torn between eating outside in the back of the Lido watching the amazing sunsets or the excellent, fun service we had in the dining room with Sugi and Andre! We always found something delicious to eat and really loved the salads! They were the best ever! The entertainment was different than your typical cruise. No flashy productions. We thoroughly enjoyed the Polynesian show and the comedian! The ship is small and I loved that! We were always able to find a lounger somewhere to hang out and read with incredible views! I enjoyed the EXC classes and presentations! I learned some interesting recipes and just enjoyed the cultural learning experiences! The ports were the reason we came on this cruise, and our only disappointment was having to miss 3 of the stops. Papeete: We did a tour with Dave's VIP tours and we really enjoyed the tour. The minivan was a little crowded, and the AC did not work, but our group made the best of it and we had a great introductory tour of Tahiti. Dave was an excellent tour guide. Highly recommended! We also walked around the colorful market which was bustling! Our first port stop, Hiva Oa, was cancelled due to rough water! Our second stop, Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, was fantastic! I booked a horseback riding tour with Sabine, and she was not there when we disembarked, in fact she was late as she had gone to church. The tourist office was very helpful and called her, and so we waited. I am so glad we did. It was an incredible adventure. She picked us up in her old pickup truck and drove us 30 minutes into the mountains to her incredibly beautiful ranch. The horses are well cared for and it was a fantastic ride! We asked her if we could do another ride, she said yes and this time drove us back to town to ride horses around town. (my new friend on the tour was immediately bucked off) and decided she was done for the day. Sabine gave me her horse and we rode on through town and around down to the beach. I would not recommend this part of the ride for novice riders as there are many potential hazards, cars, dogs, attacking bees, precipitous drops, and other crazy distractions! This was definitely the most wild adventure of the trip! The scenery was unforgettable! Sabine and her husband were very kind and invited us into their home for refreshments. Rangiroa was next, and this was my husband's favorite excursion. We were able to go to the Blue Lagoon. It took about an hour by boat to get there, and once there we snorkeled with black tip sharks, then walked around a pink sand beach, then did a kind of drift snorkel, then a picnic on a motu while sitting in the pretty blue water, then a snorkel in the aquarium (amazing), then a boat ride through the pass watching dolphins jump!!! Made it back to the ship with a few minutes to spare. Highly recommended! Huahine Iti was next. We rented an ATV for the day from Europcar! It was pricey but what a great way to explore on our own. We went to the vanilla farm, saw some eels, the pearl farm ( I bought most of my pearls here and thought the prices were reasonable), some beautiful beaches, some ancient ruins.... also highly recommended! Bora Bora was the next stop. I believe my expectations were too high for Bora Bora! We rented scooters and explored the island. It has a very tourist trap like feel to it! Matira Beach was nice and crowded. There were some really gross things floating in a certain area of it which was a little concerning! Overall, my least favorite port and I don't think I would want to return to it ever! Rarotonga was a nice surprise! We rented e-bikes and had a blast! We circled the island and spent a lot of time on the beautiful Muri Beach. Raiatea was a blast. We booked our excursions right at the port! We did a drift snorkel where we took a boat to another motu and drifted slowly through an amazing reef! When we returned back to port, I did another tour, this time a 4x4 up in the beautiful mountains! The scenery was incredible! Moorea was also a port stop for us and I was excited to be back. We booked a private tour with Albert and another great couple we had met on the cruise, and had an amazing day exploring the island! Albert's stories made the tour even more fantastic! Vava'u Tonga was another stop on the cruise. We had nothing planned as we had miss the whale season. At port we met a few other cruisers who were going to a beach and chipped in on an inexpensive taxi. When we got to the beach, it looked kind of desolate and trashy, so I apologized and told the rest of the group we were going to go to another beach. They stayed and we ended up at the Tongan Beach Resort. We had to pay a small fee to stay there, but the loungers were nice and we had a nice relaxing day! Savusavu, Fiji was a friendly port. We ended up joining another couple on an inexpensive private tour to a beach where survivor, Australia had been filmed and then a tour around the island. I got some great deals on souvenirs at the booths by the port. Suva, Fiji. We booked a private river tubing trip on the Navua river! I highly reccommend booking an excursion at this port since it seemed a little gritty and maybe a little dangerous to walk around. The river tubing trip was amazing. Waterfalls and rapids, it was a blast! Dravuni Island was amazing. No excursion needed here! Great snorkeling if you walk to the other side. A nice hike up the top of the little mountain was beautiful Cheap massage and boat rides were readily available. A cheap makeshift bar with local beer. I brought a flotation device and just floated in the beautiful water! Fantastic day! Nuku Alofa Tonga was next and we took a taxi to the shuttle to Big Mama's yacht club. A funky little place where we snorkeled and hung out on the beach We had the best fish and chips of our life (real tuna). Auckland, NZ was our final stop! What a beautiful city. We booked an e-bike guided tour and had such a great time. We definitely want to go back to this place! Disembarkation was super easy, grabbed a taxi and checked into our hotel room at the Intercontinental Auckland. There is an airport shuttle that is much cheaper than the taxis we used for our trip to the airport. All in all, an unforgettable cruise! HAL continues to be my favorite cruiseline!!! In fact, I will be taking another cruise with HAL (and Oprah) in less than a month!!!! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise because of the date and route. While some cruises might have more bells and whistles, this cruise was perfect for what we wanted, quality family time. We were treated so well. Our 5 year old daughter was treated like a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the date and route. While some cruises might have more bells and whistles, this cruise was perfect for what we wanted, quality family time. We were treated so well. Our 5 year old daughter was treated like a princess. When we renewed our vows, they staff made a special bouquet of yellow roses. The ceremony was special for us and our guests. The food was pretty good. The first night wasn’t that good. But it got progressively better. The gala nights were amazing. As part of our wedding vows package we had dinner one night at the Pinnacle Grill. It’s worth the price. The quality of the lobster and steak was amazing. The route stops are all wonderful (except Sidney.) I can’t say which one was our favorite, because they all had spectacular places to see. Québec is wonderful, but make sure to make it out to the Falls. PEI was my favorite! My husband loved Halifax. I do wish we could’ve spent more time in the places. The worst downfall was that customs took place in Bar Harbor, and it cut part of the time we could’ve spend on land. Overall, we loved the cruise and would do it again. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was our third Holland America cruise, and the first that disappointed us. The Maasdam is one of the fleet's older ships, and sister ship to the Veendam. The public areas appear to have been updated in previous years; however, ... Read More
This was our third Holland America cruise, and the first that disappointed us. The Maasdam is one of the fleet's older ships, and sister ship to the Veendam. The public areas appear to have been updated in previous years; however, our stateroom needed work. The sink was cracked, and there was rust and chipped paint in the bathroom. The dining chairs in the upper deck Lido were worn, and need to be replaced. The food quality in the main dining room was not up to standard compared to our two previous Holland America cruises, the most recent being during Christmas 2015. It appears that budget restrictions are having an effect on food quality and presentation. This was a Maine cruise, and no whole Maine lobster was available, even in the upscale restaurant. Disappointing. Cruises are meant to be a quality travel experience. This Holland America one was mediocre at best. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary and price. This is the longest we have ever cruised. The crew were fantastic.From the cabin stewards to the dining room staff, they were all courteous, respectful and bent over backward to ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary and price. This is the longest we have ever cruised. The crew were fantastic.From the cabin stewards to the dining room staff, they were all courteous, respectful and bent over backward to see we were happy. The food almost always was outstanding. The dining room is where we ate mostly but occasionally we had a hamburger on the pool deck. They were hand made and delicious. If I had any complaints it was all the activities we wanted happened at the same time of day so we had to choose. We took advantage of the bridge lessons, the bar hop (that was fun!), all the trivia games, the pools, the casino tournaments, the guest lectures and the library. I would have attended more of the computer skills classes but they were a little early for me or else they conflicted with something else I wanted to do.. Andrew in the piano bar was amazing and we saw some movies in the little theater. We were sad to leave them. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This is a LONG log-style review. I have included our pre-cruise activities in New Zealand as many of these can be done as shore excursions from Tauranga. If interested in just the summary, scroll down to the bottom. We booked this ... Read More
This is a LONG log-style review. I have included our pre-cruise activities in New Zealand as many of these can be done as shore excursions from Tauranga. If interested in just the summary, scroll down to the bottom. We booked this cruise nearly 11 months ahead as we decided to do the 17 night round-trip Auckland cruise. Departure from our home in the Philadelphia region was on Wednesday, Dec. 13. An Uber driver picked us up at 5:00 and we arrived at the airport for our 8:35 flight at 6:20. There was no wait to check our bags and no wait at the TSA precheck line. We were at Chick-Fil-A at PHL airside by 6:30. Our American flight to Los Angeles was about as good as it gets in coach. DW had seat 10F, the exit row with no seat in front. I was next to her in the middle seat but right after takeoff our neighbor in the aisle seat moved back a row as that aisle and middle was empty. So we had the whole three seats in the exit row for the 6 hour flight. We arrived 45 minutes early (how does that happen?) and were in the shuttle to the LAX Hilton by the time our flight was scheduled to arrive. The LAX Hilton is an older hotel however the bed and pillows were wonderful. It was quiet and very close to the airport. We slept in until after 8:00 and then had a leisurely breakfast in the executive lounge. We repacked our one suitcase and two carry-ons as our next flights are on Fiji Airways and they limit the carry-on weight. If it were not for the weight limit we would just have had one stuffed carry-on but this way we needed to take two. A local friend came by at 1:00 to take us to Santa Monica for the afternoon. He went way “Above and beyond” with his time and friendship. We had never been there and enjoyed the walk all around the pier, seeing (and hearing) the many different musicians selling their CD’s and hoping for donations. We had a light lunch at Bubba Gump’s on the pier. We had discovered that the one thing that did not make it into the suitcases was band aids. Due to some recent skin work we need four fabric ones per day, so we stopped at a CVS to obtain a big box. We were back at the Hilton at 5:20 and picked up our luggage. Our friend dropped us at the international terminal at 5:40. There was a very short wait to check our bags at Fiji Airways and yes, the carry-ons were weighed. Getting through security took quite a while and even though we have Global Entry no precheck line is available. This was the most through and intrusive security screening we’ve ever witnessed. With such a long trip one carry on was largely medications and they insisted on examining these. We met our cruising friends from Florida right after security. We walked the terminal to see what was available and we sat and visited in the food court. Our flight was delayed a little due to “Cargo loading” and we arrived Saturday morning in Nadi Fiji 15 minutes behind schedule. I will say that this 11 hour flight was likely the ‘worst’ flight we have ever had to date. We had seats in row 9, g & h (aisle & window). These seemed like the tightest and most uncomfortable seats. Our friends were behind us and their comments were the same. Many crying babies. Beverage service was very sparse. No need to talk about the food (it was not edible)… The transfer at Nadi airport seemed to use technology that is 30 years old. The line moved very slowly as each connecting passenger was being checked off manual dot-matrix printouts. Our flight to Auckland is at 10:00. Being on Fiji time, the plane arrived late (from Honolulu) and so we left 35 minutes behind schedule. We also arrived 35 minutes behind schedule. This was a much more comfortable flight in a 737-800, with seating assigned but equal in comfort to Southwest back home. Customs in Auckland was a pleasure. Automated kiosks read your passport if you are from certain countries (including the USA). Then obtain your luggage and the only wait is to get through controlled substance checks. They are serious about no meats, animal items, wood, etc! I found an ATM and obtained local currency and then we picked up our Avis rental. We were upgraded to a full size SUV and it is a good thing we were as the luggage barely all fit. We drove the 90 minutes to Hamilton and checked in to our hotel, the Argent Motor Lodge. Lovely rooms and great service at check in. It was time for showers to get out of our nearly two day clothes. After we went to the Saturday evening “Hamilton night market.” We enjoyed dinner from a variety of vendors and it was a fun and very inexpensive way to enjoy ‘dinner.’ On the way back to the Argent, we stopped by a local grocery for a few items. Sunday, Dec. 17 – Hobbiton & Waikite Valley Thermal Resort We were up early and enjoyed the Argent provided breakfast. Then we were off to Hobbiton, where we had tickets for the first tour of the day at 8:30. We arrived at 8:12 and were quickly checked in. The bus pulled up to take the first group of 41 adventurers to the Hobbiton movie set right at 8:30. Our guide was terrific and while I had high expectations for this visit they were all exceeded. We have a marvelous tour, took hundreds of photos, and even had a mug of Hobbit Cider at the conclusion of the tour. The best decision we made many months ago was booking the first tour of the day! We were able to take clean photos without other tour groups getting in the way. This was the way to best see “The Shire.” The gift shop would be well served to have more “Movie set” related items. In fact, we commented on our guide’s hat and he said “You can get one in the gift shop.” This was not the case. They even told us that hat can’t be purchased anywhere. We left the Shire’s Rest at about 11:30 and began the drive to Waikite Valley Thermal Resort. This ended up being a bit longer than we expected but along the way we stopped in Rotorua and found a delightful pedestrian only street with restaurants. We ended up at Mac’s steakhouse and enjoyed a great lunch of fish & chips and a prawn salad. We also visited a local ice cream place and then noticed a street market along the coast of Lake Rotoiti. Then we completed our drive to the Thermal pools. We enjoyed relaxing in the warm waters and spent a few hours there. Next we began the drive back to Hamilton. The GPS said an hour and 45 minutes and that is what it took. We stopped for fuel along the way. As we approached Hamilton we decided to stop at the Hamilton Gardens where a summer Sunday event “Gourmet at the Gardens” was taking place (we learned about this from the Argent folks). This served as our supper stop and then finally back to the Argent at nearly 8:00. A very full day indeed but lots of fun. Monday, Dec. 18 - Waitomo Caves: Glowworm Caves and Ruakuri Cave. Monday was another day full of adventure. We were ready early and were loading up the car at 7:10 AM. We returned the outlet adapter to the office and checked out of the Argent. A combination of TripAdvisor and the Argent’s proprietor led us to the “Coffee and Food Establishment” for breakfast. Everyone thought this was a terrific breakfast. We all had something different and enjoyed it greatly. Service was superb. From there we began the just over an hour drive to the Waitomo Glowworm cave. We were there a half hour early for our 10:00 tour. Kind employees snapped a few group photos for us and then we also posed for the photos they would like to sell you at the conclusion of the tour. We found a huge wooden slab table to sit at (on huge slab benches) while waiting for our tour. When the 9:45 tour was departing they asked if we were on that tour and we said no. What we should have asked was if there was room for us? The Glowworm cave allows no photography of any kind while inside the cave. All the marketing materials concentrate on the ‘boat ride’ through the glowworms but in actuality the tour is 80% walking and going up and down steps, with a short boat ride (the highlight of the tour) at the end. We did enjoy the experience but this was more stair climbing than we expected. We did buy the group photo package at the end including digital downloads of the eight photos. I also asked the gift shop folks and they had a single shirt in my size which was purchased. Next we had a 12:30 appointment at the Ruakuri Cave. This is the amount of time between tours recommended. It is way too long. We arrived at Ruakuri at 11:25 hoping we might get on an earlier tour. This was not to be. The waiting area for Ruakuri is outdoors and as it was raining (a good day for cave tours) we ended up waiting in the car. This tour was 90 minutes and as it is stated to be “Wheelchair accessible” we did not think it would be strenuous. I give the company great credit in that it truly is wheelchair accessible. Ramps everywhere and no stairs. However, there were a number of places we had to crouch-walk due to low clearance and this was very difficult for my DW. On the other hand, over the years we’ve been in a number of caves. This was the most pristine and undamaged cave environment I ever recall seeing. The great room at the furthest point is spectacular and we greatly enjoyed seeing the cave. From here we stopped at a tourist trap info center to use the facilities. They advertised Wi-Fi but wanted $2.00 for 20 minutes. We back-tracked to the nearby town and stopped at a McDonalds for a snack and to use the Wi-Fi to find the best route to Auckland. It was 2 ½ hours driving back, the first 2/3 over mostly curved hilly roads. The traveling went well until we were five miles from our destination, the Crowne Plaza in Auckland when the expressway came to a dead stop. Those last five miles took over an hour. We checked in to the hotel and I parked the car in the adjoining garage. Later this evening we will need to go out and fill up the tank and verify where Avis is for the return. We walked around the area and found the “Federal Street Deli” at Sky City. This real “New York” style deli was great and everyone could have as little or as much as they wanted. Super food and great service. We returned to the hotel and took the car out to fill up the gas. We passed Avis as well. Driving in Auckland is not for the faint hearted and not recommended. I really didn’t mind the driving until we arrived in Auckland. Tuesday, December 19 – Auckland and embarkation No need to be up super early today so we agreed to meet at 8:30 and head to breakfast. We found a place “The Ugly Bagel” on TripAdvisor. We found it, only to find they had a very limited menu, no eggs, and the bagels were rather small. Two of us obtained coffee (not very good) and we agreed to head to Denny’s. Denny’s was okay although we were surprised that at 9:00 on a weekday it was ‘Dead.” A few others came in while we were dining but we’ve never seen a Denny’s so quiet. We returned to the hotel and I made a stop at an ATM to obtain more NZ currency for later in the cruise. We met at 10:30 and packed up the car, checked out, and headed for the Queen’s Wharf and the Maasdam. We arrived at 10:58 and they kindly let us park to unload and get the ladies settled in the terminal. The men went back to Avis to return the car. Avis was busy with no automated return. They said we could just leave the paperwork and keys. It took us 17 minutes to drive back to Avis, and then it took us 12 minutes to walk back to Queen’s Wharf. Check in had opened so we all together went to check in. From arrival to being on board the Maasdam was less than 20 minutes. We dropped off our carry-ons in the impeccably clean cabins (Thank you Dede and Andy) and went to the dining room for lunch. There were few (very few) in the dining room but imagine our surprise when our waiter is Wirawan, the same waiter we had for our dinners last year on the Koningsdam. He immediately remembered us. Lunch was great and we all enjoyed our meal. DW was also able to pre-order dinner for her special needs. After lunch we returned to our cabin to find our luggage was delivered. We also met our cabin steward, Dede and his partner Andy. Dede provided us an oversize laundry bag so we were able to send out all our soiled clothing for wash. We changed into swimwear to spend some pool time only to find the lido pool drained and closed. The aft pool was open but too cool for us, so we opted for a long soak in the hot tub. We got ready for dinner and the 5:00 muster drill. We visited the Ocean bar and spoke with a couple who have been on board for the previous round trip Sydney cruise. They told us all was well with the Maasdam and they have greatly enjoyed their cruise. At about 5:10 the third alarm was sounded so we worked our way down to station #11. With only about half the passengers required to attend, it was not crowded and was quickly completed by 5:25. We went directly to our 5:30 fixed seating table #53 and met our waiter, Agus. Dinner was ‘strained.’ I don’t know a better way to say it. I’m not sure if there was miscommunication or what happened, but DW’s meal arrived with three items she can’t consume, (despite the special order) and it needed to go back. Roast Turkey was on the menu which is normally one of ‘the guys’ favorites but it seemed to be off tonight. Dessert became another challenge as the only item that seemed to work for DW was the crème bruelle but it was totally cold and not appetizing. Despite being the first in the dining room for dinner we were the last to leave from fixed seating. We thought there was a 7:30 port talk but when we reached the showroom it was empty. Turned out it was at 7:00. The Trio in the Ocean bar had just about finished their set, so we walked down to the atrium to inspect the Christmas displays. They have two trains actually running in the evening and a nice presentation including a mountain with a sign ‘Pinnacle desserts made here.’ We listened to Adagio for a while and then found our traveling friend listening as the shore expert spoke to other guests about Christmas in Melbourne. A few options we were not aware of came up. Then we went to the Piano bar for Barry from Boston’s tribute to the Beatles. Barry was terrific. At about 10:15 he said he still had six Beatles tunes so his set would run late. We have an early start tomorrow so we left at about 10:20 to call it a night. Wednesday, Dec. 20 – Bay of Islands, New Zealand. As this is a short and early tender port we ordered breakfast for room service. With a delivery window of 6:30 to 7:00 it arrived about 6:50. Everything was as ordered and hot. We had arranged to meet our friends at 8:00 but we ran into them at 7:40 and as we were all ready we proceeded to the Ocean bar for our tender tickets. We were given #6 but five minutes later “All numbers” were called. It is a long tender ride (20 minutes?) from the ship to shore. So it was about 8:30 that we were on shore. We had a 9:00 overview tour booked with “Total Tours” so we used the time to explore the craft market set up across the main road. Both the ladies purchased some handmade seashell jewelry from one of the crafters. We also noticed a unique shell clock being offered and spoke some with the artist. At 8:55 we went to the Total Tours table and found that just one other person was on our tour. We were off and had a terrific overview tour of the area with the highlights being a scenic lookout from the local golf course and the Haruru Falls. Our timing was incredible as a ship’s tour was just heading to the falls on a Maori watercraft and we were able to witness this. Our tour ended as scheduled at 10:00 and we decided there was enough to see and do there in Pahia that we did not attempt the ferry to Russell. We enjoyed looking over the several craft markets, attempted to negotiate a deal for two of the shell clocks without success, and found a neat shop with shirts in the right size and I also obtained an authentic New Zealand made bush hat. Both the ladies made additional shell jewelry purchases. At about 11:40 we got in line for the return tender. There was quite a wait but we did get on the next tender and made it back to the Maasdam at about 12:30. We went to the dining room for lunch and then enjoyed the hot tub. Still no water in the pool, but later in the afternoon as we sailed away they began to fill the pool. Dinner was in the dining room followed by a few tunes in the Ocean bar and the evening show, Violin Virtuoso Patrick Roberts. He is extremely talented but is the type of show I find it hard to stay awake for. After the show we enjoyed Barry in the Piano Bar for “Piano man night,” the songs of Elton John and Billy Joel. We lasted until about 10:20 and called in a night. We gain an hour tonight with a time change. Thursday, Dec. 21 – Sea Day #1 Time change? It didn’t feel like it as we slept well until at least 7:30. We went to the Lido for breakfast followed by a 9:00 “Coffee chat” with Barry from Boston. This was a very nice session and we learned a lot about Barry’s background. It turned out our traveling friend attended the same music camp at the same time as Barry! After the chat at 10:00 there was a Dutch Shuffleboard Challenge. I came in third and for my efforts earned a Holland America Australia / New Zealand pin. We enjoyed the lido, finding a table near the pool and had lunch followed by some pool time. Being surprised at the pool temperature (cooler than expected) I lost my glasses in the pool. There was a stressful 45 minutes until one of the young boys with goggles found them in the deepest part of the pool. Afterwards it was time to take a nap before our first gala night. It is obvious that gala nights on this cruise will be continuing the trend towards less formality. With the luggage restrictions it just makes sense if there is no need to bring jackets or suits. Dinner was okay with the Asian shrimp being the entrée of choice. After dinner the show was the singers and dancers in “Dance.” Not sure what the point of that show is. We left the show a little early to get seats in the Piano bar. Tonight Barry did an evening of show tunes “Barry’s Broadway.” We enjoyed until his first set ended at 10:40. We gain another hour tonight! Friday, Dec. 22 – Sea Day #2 Again, we had a time change? We slept soundly until 7:00. We decided to dress for the pool and have breakfast at the lido. After breakfast we went out to the pool to find there were two other early risers enjoying the pool before the day really got moving. DW was able to do her water exercises and I kept her company and enjoyed speaking with others leaving Maasdam tomorrow after their 32 day cruise. Our traveling friend found me and said we had mail about Sydney. They are assigning times to leave the ship. That could be a problem as we have a private eight hour tour set up. He was able to get the four of us the first ticket for continuing passengers but we have another party touring with us. I went back to the cabin to both get ready for computer class and to call our third party. I did not reach them but they ended up coming to the same computer class. They managed to also get the same ticket time, with great effort. There was a deck sale this morning. The ladies found t-shirts they liked so we have more t-shirts to take home. We visited a while before getting ready for lunch in the Pinnacle. The Pinnacle lunch was very good despite a few mis-steps. My steak was initially very undercooked (extremely rare). That was corrected. We ordered fries as the Pinnacle fries are the best on the ship but were brought Dive-In fries. I asked about this and was told the Pinnacle fries were only available at dinner, but they would see what they could do. Sure enough, Pinnacle fries appeared nice and hot some minutes later. The men enjoyed some pool and hot tub time before a nap. We made it to the Ocean bar for happy hour today. I worked on my log and uploaded all the photos to date to my PC. Dinner is in the dining room and tonight will be our last night with Agus. The menu seemed somewhat uninspired this evening but after our Pinnacle lunch no one was very hungry anyway. We went to the show, magician Adam Mada. His act engaged the audience and was okay. Afterwards for a change we went to the Crow’s Nest to listen to “The band.” We lasted until about 9:40 and called it a night as we have an early start tomorrow for the sail in to Sydney, Australia. Saturday, December 23, 2017 – Sydney, Australia (no, this is not Nova Scotia!) We set the alarm for 5:30 AM and woke on our own shortly before. The bridge cam showed we had just entered the harbor from the open sea, so we were soon on the bow, along with about two other folks, and stayed there until we had passed under the harbor bridge. We enjoyed the sail in and with the early sun from the east the photos should be special. Returning to our cabin, we finished getting ready for the day. We have pink 1 tickets (the first in-transit group at 8:30) to get off the ship. We never heard them call pink 1, but went to the gangway at 8:25 and they wished us a great day. We quickly passed through passport control and were on the curb at 8:35 for our 9:00 pick up. I texted our guide, Mark, from all around Sydney tours. He responded that he was on his way and he arrived just before the 9:00 scheduled time. As we slowly drove through the port (Mark called it the prison) we discussed our plan for the day. The first spot we stopped at was the Sydney Observatory. The 160 year old fig trees there were nearly as impressive as the views of North Sydney and the harbor bridge. From there we stopped at “The Rocks,” the oldest area where a street market was going on. We obtained a nice hat for DW. Back to the van we headed to Mrs. Macquarie’s chair for fantastic photos of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. From there we began to head to the beach, passing through each little cove and bay along the way. We saw all the sleek sailing yachts preparing for the Boxing Day regatta to Hobart. We stopped at Watson’s Bay to view the beach and also looked back at the city from the distance. “World Famous Bondi beach” was the next stop. We can see the attraction of this beach, but there is quite a crowd! We drove through Paddington and saw many of the historic row homes built in the 1840’s. We then were dropped off at the Opera House. We walked around, went into the lobby, rode the unique “Roof-less” elevator, and walked to the entrance of the botanical gardens. Then it was time to be picked up! Our next and longest stop was in Chinatown. We visited “Paddy’s market” to do some shopping. Expecting everything in the market to be “Made in China” I was pleasantly surprised to find vendors selling “Made in Australia” at very good prices. A few such polo shirts were purchased and we looked at leather (both cow and kangaroo) hats but did not buy one (but should have). At the appointed time we again met Mike and he whisked us off to Darling Bay to view a few of the ships from the Australian Maritime Museum. This is a very pretty area with all the “Big bank” buildings across the water. At last he returned us to the White Bay cruise terminal at about 4:50 PM. Returning to Maasdam, the muster drill was underway for the 1000 or so guests who joined today. We found we had ‘just missed’ being able to get a dive-in burger or ice cream. However the main pool had sat in the brilliant sunshine all day and had gained about 10 degrees making it delightfully warm. We met the Maori ambassadors (three of them) in the pool. About 6:15 we went to the Lido for dinner. In our 150+ days of HAL cruises, this was our first time to have dinner in the Lido. Why tonight? Well, the menu in the dining room was rather uninspired and we wanted to be able to be out and about for sail away photos. Maasdam left the dock moments before the stated 6:30 departure time. We had backed in and therefore took off like a shot! In less than five minutes we were passing under the harbor bridge. The ship’s horn was sounded liberally. I don’t think it took Maasdam much more than 40 minutes in total to be out of the harbor and in the open Pacific. At 7:30 a tree lighting ceremony took place in the main foyer. This was fun and warm cider or hot chocolate was served, along with Christmas Cookies. There was no show until 9:30 (a ‘welcome aboard’ show) so by about 8:30 or so after our very busy day we called it a night. Sunday, December 24, 2017 – At Sea #3 We woke this morning at 6:00 and could not get back to sleep. We went to the lido at 7:00 for breakfast dressed for the pool. By 7:25 we were in the pool and DW could do her aqua therapy. We moved to the hot tub at 8:00 after watching the pool staff take the covers off. We ran into our traveling friends and went to the 10:00 port talk on Melbourne. We had all been invited to a mariner’s “Welcome back” reception at 11:00 in the crow’s nest. The orange juice was very good although many beverages were available. At the same 11:00 hour the Maori ambassadors were doing a “Learn the Haka” session in the showroom. So at 11:15 we left the reception and headed down to the showroom. We had lunch on the pool deck. With the roof partly opened it certainly chilled off a little from yesterday! After lunch the men enjoyed the hot tub. Tonight is a gala night and also Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve “Gala” dinner was excellent. My end cut of Prime Rib was superb. The ladies had maple glazed fish with shrimp and Canadian bacon rice. We skipped the show due to a time change to 7 & 9, in favor of enjoying the Maori Ambassadors singing Maori Love Songs followed by a Christmas Sing Along with Barry in the Piano Bar. We attended the 11:00 Performance of the three crew choirs. They ended with a combined choir singing Silent Night followed by a processional where the crew lined up at the exits wishing everyone a Merry Christmas as they left. Monday, December 25 – Christmas day in Melbourne Australia We had a nice dining room breakfast before meeting our friends to leave the ship at 9:00 to see what we can see in Melbourne today. I give the city of lot of credit. Many volunteers were at the dock and in town to help guide visitors. Public transit is free as it is Christmas day. The express bus took us right to the center of town, one block from Flanders station. There were many Christmas displays and few folks out and about early this morning, so we had the chance to take some great photos. As 10:00 approached, the bells of the main church were ringing and ringing and we watched the vicar welcoming Christmas worshipers. We hopped on one of the free trams to visit Chinatown hoping to find some open shops. We did find a number of places with cooked goose hanging in the windows. We also found the shop windows of Myers department store with the animated story of the Christmas elf. We found a few open souvenir shops but did not purchase anything. We rode another tram to visit the docklands area. This is distinct and in a different part of town from the cruise ship dock. In the docklands we enjoyed the waterfront and then wandered through an open air mall (with all the stores closed) until we reached the Melbourne Star, their version of the London Eye. We might have ridden the Star except we were there at noon and they didn’t open until 1:00. From there we rode another tram back to Flanders station. While on the tram we discussed options for the rest of the day and decided to head back towards the ship. Back on board we made it in time for lunch from the Lido. We then used the pool and mostly the hot tub. Christmas dinner was “Gala optional.” We opted not to be “Gala” however we greatly enjoyed the best dinner of the cruise thus far. The “Slow roasted turkey” was top-notch. Surf and Turf was also offered. We men had second helpings of the turkey, and also complimented the chef on it. The show was the singers and dancers in “Droom.” “Droom” being a Dutch word for dream. We did not enjoy the show and the writer must have been in a dream state when writing this. Droom made us long to have our own dreams so we called it a night, missing out on Barry’s 50’s night. Tuesday, December 26, 2017 – Burnie, Tasmania, Australia. We had coffee and tea delivered to the room at 6:00 this morning. That helped get our day started as our goal was to be on the first shuttle bus this morning as we had an 8 hour tour planned with Robyn McCarthy of “Play a Round in Tassie” tours. We had reserved the COASTAL DELIGHTS TOUR. We had breakfast in the lido and lined up to depart the ship at about 7:50. Within moments the gangway was open and we were quickly on the shuttle to the Maker’s workshop to meet Robyn. Robyn was ready for us with a sign and a smile and we promptly left to begin our tour. We drove through the main street of Burnie and went to an overlook for photos of the ship and town below. While there, Robyn gave us a brief history of the town and the repurposing of some of the large buildings after the paper mill shut down in 2010. Moving on, we drove out of town to the Guide Falls. Robyn drove us to above the falls and dropped us off. The falls are beautiful and accessible for nice photos from a paved path; they are also accessible right to the base via a rough and rocky path. Just when we were done taking photos Robyn met us and led us back down the path to the parking and restroom area. At the parking area we saw one of the famous Tasmanian birds, the name I can’t recall but I have photos. We drove back towards Burnie and stopped at the Fern Glade reserve. Here we searched for the elusive platypus. Our search was in vain and Robyn reported that severe floods two years ago washed many of the platypuses out to sea. They are recovering but it is slow. However at the reserve we did see and I was able to photograph Wallabies in the wild. We now began to drive along the old coastal highway towards the town of Penguin. Just before the town we turned inland and began a magnificent drive to Wings Wildlife Park. On the way we stopped at the George Woodhouse overlook for photos of the beautiful valley and mountains. Robyn also showed us many fields of poppies. Yes, those kinds of poppies. Tasmania is the producer of over 60% of the world’s legal poppy production. The dried poppies are then processed on the island into the ingredients used for medicinal pain killers. We reached the Wings Wildlife Park and from the parking area it doesn’t look like much. However, once inside, we had a magnificent time. We arrived just in time for the Koala feeding, one of the few times during the day the Koalas are awake! We took many photos of the oh so cute Koalas. Next there was an unscheduled Tasmanian devil feeding. I took a number of photos of the cute and tranquil devils. However, their behavior changed completely when dinner arrived. The three Tasmanian Devils fought over their dinner to no seeming end. Incredible photos and videos were taken and we could certainly understand why they are named as they are! We walked pass some mountain goats to the Kangaroo enclosure. The Kangaroos eat right out of your hand (we were provided food) and like being scratched under their necks as they can’t reach there themselves. A number of the Roos had babies (Joeys) and we were also able to see and feed some of the moms. Again, lots of photos and videos were taken. We had some Roo food left over and Robyn told me to just throw the bag at the mountain goats. The two nearby goats proceeded to fight with their rams over the food. Walking to see the Wallabies I noticed a snake on the ground. Robyn said that was a Tasmanian King snake, a very poisonous snake. She reported it to the staff and we did not continue up that path. It was time for a restroom stop and then a quick look at some baby animals and fish. Soon it was time to wash up and head out. We drove to the town of Penguin and stopped for photos along the beach. Regretfully there are no Penguins on the beach at this time of day. We continued down the coastal road to the city of Devonport. Devonport is a little larger than Burnie and a short drive further brought us to Anver’s Chocolates & Fudge. Samples were complimentary and purchases were made. After Anver’s as we have a longer than typical port call, Robyn was able to take us to a Cherry farm as Cherries are just in season. We enjoyed a number of very tasty cherries as well as samples of two types of Cherry liquor at “The Cherry Shed.” We also visited Speyton Orchard where cider was available. Again, complimentary samples were available as is a paid sampling of six alcoholic ciders. We enjoyed the free samples and bought a few bottles of standard cider for immediate consumption. We then drove back to Burnie. Robyn offered to take us to yet another lookout but we had already been out for eight hours and wanted some time to look around the Maker’s workshop. Small purchases were made and we made sure every last Australian dollar was spent. A shout out is deserved by the many volunteers at Burnie. Both at the ship and at Maker’s workshop, volunteers worked all day to make cruise visitors welcome. This was a major holiday, Boxing Day, so special thanks to the town folk who worked so hard on their holiday to make us feel welcome. We were on the third to last shuttle back to Maasdam after Robyn bid us farewell. Back on board we took quick showers and sent every last piece of clothing worn today out to the laundry. Dinner was not as spectacular as the past two nights but no one went hungry. The show was Mario D’Andrea. He was fantastic and was certainly the best show of the cruise to date (and proved to be the best show of the cruise). He did two encores and we went immediately to the Piano Bar for Barry’s “60’s night.” We managed to stay until 10:15 before calling it a night. The clocks get pushed forward an hour tonight as we leave Australia behind. Wednesday, December 27, 2017 – At Sea #4 Today we began our crossing of the Tasman Sea, well known for some of the roughest waters in regular navigational lanes. We were blessed with mostly sunny skies, a high of about 68 degrees, and a smooth ocean. We went to the dining room for breakfast at about 8:30. Shortly after returning to our cabin at 9:30 or so we heard the announcement that group 3 was ready to head for New Zealand immigration processing. We arrived at just the right time and in a few short minutes were cleared. Kudos to New Zealand for handling this on the ship rather than delaying shore calls with these procedures. We had lunch on the lido and enjoyed the hot tub for a time. The haddock in the lido was very good. I visited the Microsoft workshop where Georgia, the tech-spert helped me find and make a copy of the Windows photo and movie making programs I use which are no longer in Windows 10. She also provided electronic copies of all the digital workshop handouts. Dinner returned to the “Very good” column tonight. Three of us had the featured dinner Cobb salad while one greatly enjoyed the Pot Roast. The chef stopped by and we complimented him and also told him how much we enjoyed the lido lunch. He was greatly appreciative. Internet connectivity continues to be beyond hopeless. We passed on the singers and dancers show of “Atlantic Crossing” in favor of the movie, The Hitman’s Body Guard. Immediately as the movie finished we moved to the Piano bar for Barry’s 70’s night. The last 30 minutes was rather a downer. I never realized how many huge 70’s hits are so sad and depressing, but we did manage to stay up until he took his break at 10:45. We lose a second hour on the clocks tonight to bring us to New Zealand time. Thursday, December 28, 2017 – At Sea #5 The Tasman Sea continues to be placid with mostly sunny skies and a high of about 62 degrees. We slept until well after 9:00, likely a record for us on a cruise. By the time we went to the lido for a light breakfast most of it was closed down at 10:20! We didn’t want a lot anyway as we had a mariner’s reception at 11:00 and the mariner’s lunch at 11:30. We walked around and noticed a deck sale. Would have loved to buy the $10 boomerang but don’t want trouble bringing it into Fiji post-cruise. We enjoyed the mariner’s reception where maybe a dozen folks received their copper medallions and one silver medallion was awarded. We met a nice couple at the mariner’s lunch for which this was only their second HAL cruise. Afterwards we ran into our friends and attended the Indonesian Crew Show at 1:30. Dede, our cabin steward, was the director of the show. Both Wirawan and Gede our dining room team were in the show as well. After the show we enjoyed the hot tub. Late in the afternoon I tried again to use the internet and I was again unable to get my work e-mail. In fact, I could reach hardly any web pages at all. I’ve had enough with this and went to the front desk, showing them my internet usage report and how since Sydney while the minutes disappear the MB remains near zero. I asked for a refund of the package I purchased and they promised to get back to me. Later that evening they did respond with a 75% refund. Dinner was quite enjoyable with great service as usual. The show was the “Interactive comedy of Kim Potter.” Kim (male) is from New Zealand. He lost us in less than 15 minutes. We then went to the piano bar where Barry was setting up so we spoke with him a while. Barry’s theme for the evening was “Ascertain that tune!” It was a lot of fun and we had 13 of the 20 correct. At 10:35 when Barry went for his short break we called it a night as we are up early tomorrow for Scenic Sunrise cruising in Milford Sound. Friday, December 29, 2017 – Scenic Cruising Milford and Dusty Sounds, New Zealand We woke at 5:15 to see a faint outline of mountains of the bridge cam. Our alarm was set for 5:45 but at about 5:40 the bridge cam was clearer and it was apparent we were entering Milford Sound. We still had 40 minutes before sunrise but I threw on the clothes I had laid out the prior evening and joined others on the bow. I took lots of photos and some video as it progressively became lighter. A large pod of dolphins approached and then swam under the ship. We reached the end of the sound with the large waterfall at about 7:00. The ship turned around, I assume those on the $1200/person shore excursion tendered to shore (did not see this though) and we began the trip back down the sound at 7:30. The return trip was much more enjoyable than the entry trip. For one thing, there was now sunlight on some of the mountainsides. We exited the sound by about 8:30 and went to the dining room for breakfast. At 10:00 the Maori gave a talk on Maori designs and their meanings. This was another standing room only event in the explorer’s lounge. We had a light lunch in the lido before the scenic cruising in Dusky sound began at about 12:30. This was a “One way” transit exiting a different way than we entered. I thought Dusky sound was more picturesque and when we were sheltered from the wind and in the sunshine it actually felt warm. We “Turned a corner” and the wind became ferocious. I saw no wildlife but DW did spot a few seals sunning on a rock. After the early start we did take a 2 hour nap during the afternoon. Dinner was enjoyable in the dining room. It’s the singers and dancers tonight with “Heat” so we skipped the show which we have seen before. We saw someone on a cell phone so we got ours and sure enough, we were off the southern coast near the terminus of NZ highway #1 and had a strong signal on deck. I was able to download all my e-mails and send some reports. We enjoyed Barry in the Piano Bar for “Sinatra night.” DW even received a HAL “South Pacific” pin for her participation. Called it a night at 10:15 as tomorrow begins five port days in a row and our plans are uncertain. Saturday, December 30, 2017 – Port Chalmers (Dunedin) New Zealand. Maasdam docked at 7:00 in Port Chalmers. What we really wanted to do here is the Taieri Gorge Railway. Problem is that the Ocean Princess is also in port so the cruise lines have chartered the two available trains. The cruise lines charge more than 400% of the true fare (but you get a free lunch) so we did not do the train. A private tour provider had mistakenly given us hope that there would be last minute seats on sale so we did not prebook an excursion. That was a mistake. Leaving the ship at 7:30 we went to the information center to find many tours available but many others sold out. We ended up buying the hop-on hop-off with Dunedin transfer option though Headfirst Travel NZ. Our transfer was set for 8:45. The cruise terminal did offer free and good internet. It was nearly 9:00 before we left and we arrived in Dunedin at 9:20. The first Ho-Ho route left at 10:00 so we walked part of the shopping district. We took the Ho-Ho route as far as the Dunedin train station. It was nice that we stopped long enough to take photos of the “Worlds steepest street” and the main building at the University. There was a farmers market at the train station but certainly no deals of any kind to be found. We walked to the Cadbury tour and all tours were sold out. However, they did have a “Cruise ship visitors” store set up and after looking at the nearby supermarket we did buy some Cadbury at the cruise ship store. Walking back to the town center we explored the main shopping street and found a modern mall tucked in behind the storefront. We did find one relative ‘bargain’ on an extended Boxing Day sale. We walked the rest of the shopping area and returned to the bus pick up site at about 1:00. We let them know we wanted to return on the 1:30 shuttle and tried to get comfortable while waiting. The return shuttle was in a non-air conditioned 11 passenger van and it was getting warm. We returned to the Maasdam at about 2:10. Overall this port call was disappointing. If I had to do it over again I would have chosen the nature tour to see the Yellow Eyed Penguins and Albatross colony. When we were back on the ship we enjoyed a “Dive-In” burger and ice cream for lunch. I enjoyed the hot tub for quite a while and then relaxed in our cabin before getting ready for dinner. Dinner was fine and we attended the show, “Frozen Planet Live.” Although we had seen this before the photography is worth a second viewing. While the ship’s musicians participated we believe there is also canned music in the soundtrack. After the show we enjoyed Barry in the Piano Bar for ‘U-Pick it Classics’ songs from before 1964. We lasted until about 10:15 and called it a night. Sunday, December 31, 2017 – Akaroa, New Zealand Announcements were made the prior evening that independent tender tickets would be handed out beginning at 9:00 in the Ocean Bar. I will say I like this better than handing out tender tickets at 8:00 and making everyone sit around for an hour or more like we encountered earlier this year. We arrived at the Ocean Bar about 8:55 to find it filled with people. Right about 9:00 they did announce that tender tickets were available and also that four or five star mariners did not need tickets, just show your key card and go at any time. Our traveling friends obtained ticket #3. Five minutes later tickets 1-4 were called so off we went. It is a longer tender ride to the town dock, stated to be about a mile and a half. The tender took about 20 minutes to reach town and we were ashore at 9:30. Right on the pier was information centers and we were directed to our prebooked tour providers. Our first tour is at 11:00 with Pohatu Penguin Tours. They gave us our boarding cards and told us to come back just before 11. We wondered the town and DW found a locally made jewelry piece to add to her collection. We were back at 10:45 and found our van waiting at the designated place. We were allowed to board and soon all were present and we left a few minutes early. Wow, what a tour! This two hour tour took us on the scenic roads on Banks Peninsula to beautiful Pohatu Bay. There, on the family farm, we first fed the sheep, which are very used to visitors providing lunch! Then we were guided into the penguin colony. We viewed the tiny blue penguin chicks in their burrows. We also saw how the family takes care of injured penguins and nurses them back to health and release. They are NZ department of conservation approved operators. Then we drove back to Akaroa over the same roads. Jodi our guide told us a lot of information and this was a superb tour to enjoy unique experiences. We had just less than 90 minutes between tours but walked down towards our second meeting spot. We heard there was a local crafts market operating so we found it at the Presbyterian Church yard. There were only about six vendors and nothing too attractive for us. We stopped at the local supermarket for cold drinks and went to watch our afternoon tour boat, the Ecoseeker, arrive back from their “Swim with the penguins tour.” 10 minutes or so before our appointed 2:30 time Steve, the owner, welcomed us onboard. We went out and enjoyed seeing and photographing “1000 foot cliffs, sea arches, amazing volcanic formations, caves, marine farms, White Flippered Blue Penguins, Albatross and other seabirds, Akaroa Marine Reserve, Nikau Palm Gully, and Occasional Blowholes.” From this list we did not see any Albatross however we also had close interaction with the local Hector Dolphins and came very close to a Cormorant bopping in the waves. The boat was so stable we were very pleased, even at speed. This is an “Ex America’s Cup Chase Boat and previously a Coastguard Marine Rescue vessel with 600HP four stroke outboards” Steve is another long term local and his family farm borders the inlet. This was an outstanding tour and truly rounded off a “10” day in port. We returned to the dock and walked quickly to the tender pier. We were the very last to board a waiting tender and off we went. We were back on board at 5:20 and tonight, New Year’s Eve, is a “Gala night.” We certainly did “Gala light” but we all managed to make it to the dining room by 6:00. Surf and Turf was the featured entrée. The lobster was very good while the filet was just “Okay.” After dinner we returned to our room to take care of the day’s laundry. Then we went to the showroom for Patrick McCullaugh. This had to be nearly the worst entertainer we’ve ever seen on a cruise. His first three jokes were about a Potato. All four of us left within five minutes. It’s hard to believe HAL couldn’t find something better for a major holiday “Gala” evening! Leaving the showroom, we went to the Mix Piano Bar to await Barry from Boston for his “All request” evening. While there, the crew began coming around with Oliebollen and Apple Floppies. They were scrumptious and so much better than sitting in that show! Barry’s show was great with an “Open mike” and a few of the guests helped provide additional entertainment. We left the Mix at about 10:30 to get seats in the showroom for the main New Year’s Eve Party beginning at 11:00. This was a nice event and we noticed food stations being set up in the main lobby on decks 7 and 8. We had a nice time and watched the New Year come in together. After we wandered around taking a few photos and stopped at the Mix to wish Barry a Happy New Year. We stayed for one (extended) number and called it a night. Monday, January 1, 2018 – Wellington, New Zealand Being New Year ’s Day we were alerted that many shops and restaurants would be closed. Those giving that warning were not kidding. At least 80% seemed closed, including the shopping malls. We left the ship before 9:00 and rode the port provided shuttle bus into downtown. It was less than a two block walk to the Cable Car. There were volunteers to guide visitors at many spots, thank you Wellington! We rode the Cable Car to the top of the mountain and took photos. We enjoyed the free cable car museum and took many photos. We walked the downhill, ‘Back to town’ path through the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are very nice, clean, and well maintained. At the bottom a few other volunteers encouraged us to not miss the rose garden and begonia house. We heeded their advice and checked those venues out as well. Wanting to visit the “Te Papa” museum (National museum of New Zealand) we called an Uber which quickly transported the four of us for the princely sum of $10.95. We can’t believe the museum is “Free.” This is an extremely well done museum and we enjoyed it very much indeed. After the museum we walked back towards the shuttle bus stop, visiting a few vendors along the waterfront while searching for a cold drink. We ended up at a McDonald’s where we ran into Dede, our cabin steward. After being unable to connect to McDonald’s Wi-Fi we headed back to the shuttle bus and returned to Maasdam at about 1:10. We had lunch on the lido and used the somewhat warmer pool and relaxed in the hot tub. I hooked up to the local cell service to check and send e-mails. We enjoyed dinner in the dining room and called it a night. After staying up for New Year’s and a rather early start, we needed to catch up on sleep. Plus, we have an early 7:00 AM tour departure tomorrow in Napier. Tuesday, January 2, 2018 – Napier, NZ We arrived on time in Napier and the gangway was open at about 7:05. Our group of nine met at 7:00 in the crow’s nest (meaning an earlier room service breakfast) and we were all on the first shuttle bus. In fact, there were 10 on the shuttle. They kindly left before ‘filling up the bus’ as we told them we had a tour to catch. Our driver with Hawke’s Bay Scenic tours was Jim. This tour took us through the countryside showing us various farms, orchards, and vineyards. We visited Te Mata Peak, the highest in the region, watching all the mountain bikes & hikers enjoy the trails. Regretfully in the morning it was not clear and we could not see more than a few miles from the peak. We stopped for a break and found that January 2 is nearly as large a holiday in NZ as January 1. Many shops and pharmacies were closed. We drove on through the town of Hastings where Jim told us that there are over 40 empty storefronts. Many folks are buying things on line from outside NZ rather than in shops. Driving back to Napier Jim showed us the main street of art deco buildings and then took us to the Bluff Hill Domain, from where we could observe the entire port and the Maasdam. Driving back he dropped four of us off at Main Street while the other five were returned to the cruise ship bus stop. We enjoyed walking the main shopping street and found about half the shops were open. A few small purchases were made. We really enjoyed watching the antique cars, many of which were for hire for short local tours. If we had more time we would have likely taken advantage of this, as it would be a treat to ride in many of these. Taking the shuttle bus back to the ship we found a swing band playing on the pier and a collection of 1920’s and early 1930’s cars there with their proud owners. We lingered a while enjoying the ambiance before reboarding the ship. Back on board, we had lunch in the lido, sitting outdoors by the pool. The captain made a long announcement that tomorrow’s in port times were being adjusted to a 9:00 arrival and 8:30 departure (still a very long day in port) and that due to a strong weather system moving in our scenic cruising was being canceled for Thursday. Rather we will arrive in Auckland at 8:00 Thursday morning, spend the day and overnight in Auckland, followed by disembarkation on Friday as scheduled. I hooked the computer to the cell phone to find that sure enough the forecast for Auckland is for rain from Thursday until next Monday. Tomorrow in Tauranga is 50% chance of rain. Well, the weather thus far has been incredible. 23 of the top 25 things to do in Auckland are outdoors according to TripAdvisor. The other two are museums. We quickly found that the Queen Street Cinema is showing “The Last Jedi” in IMAX 3D at 11:00 on Thursday. That is certainly a good possibility. We spent some time in the hot tub and then showered up. Dinner was as always a pleasant time. The show tonight is “Classique” with the singers and dancers. We twice before have walked out of this show. We watched a movie in the cabin and called it a night. Wednesday, January 3, 2018 – Tauranga, New Zealand We did not arrive at 9:00 as scheduled. It was actually after 10:30 before the gangway was in place and open. We are docked next to the Ovation of the seas. It was down pouring when the gangway was open so we instead headed for the very pleasant hot tubs. We watched the armies of folks getting of the Ovation. That is some huge ship. We had an early lido lunch and headed out at about 12:30 as the rain had essentially stopped. We took the $10 round trip bus shuttle into Tauranga, about a 20 minute ride. We walked the town, enjoyed a coffee break and used the free Wi-Fi to make a call back home, and then headed back to the shuttle bus. When we got off the shuttle rather than head back to the ship we headed into town here on the island. We should have just stayed here in the first place. The island is buzzing and we found a few items at shops, including neat Maori made New Zealand shirts in correct sizes. We walked and walked and returned to the ship at about 3:45. I used the time to connect to my e-mail by phone and the sun broke through the clouds for the first time today. Dinner was nice with a menu featuring items from each of the “Culinary council” chefs. I enjoyed the crusted Prime Rib and it was cooked perfectly. We told Wirawan we wanted to attend the “One time” 7:15 show of ‘authentic Maori cultural folklore’ called “Mana: The Prestige.” The dining room was lightly attended and we were finished by 6:45. We attended and enjoyed the show. I like it when the cruise line brings local culture onboard. After the show we hung out at the Piano Bar waiting for Barry to start. We stayed until about 10:15 and called it a night. The shops had their final blowout sale during the evening and the ladies took a look and made no purchases. Thursday, January 4, 2018 – Auckland, New Zealand Today’s storm dumped more rain on Auckland then they received in November and December combined. We had a perfectly nice day. We enjoyed a later breakfast in the dining room and left the ship between rain bands at about 10:00. After talking with a few folks at the information center, we decided the best option to get to the airport the next day was “Super Shuttle” at a cost of $64.48 for the four of us so I made the booking using my phone. We took a taxi ($20) to the Queen Street cinema and enjoyed the “Only IMAX screen in New Zealand” and watched Star Wars, the Last Jedi. The movie was great. When the movie was over it was totally down pouring so I called an Uber who picked us up promptly and dropped us off right at the cruise terminal. We hardly got wet at all, and the cost was all of $8.51. We enjoyed lunch on board and then got to the task of packing. We made one suitcase full of “Won’t need this in Fiji” and that was 49.8 lbs. The other suitcase we maxed out also, but we did manage to keep both carry-ons under the Fiji airlines 15 lb. limit. Dinner was nice and we said farewell to our great staff in the dining room and our room stewards. The show tonight is the “Dancing Keys” of Pianist Adam Johnson. He was very good and also was called back for an encore. Afterwards we enjoyed the Piano Bar one last time. The last two nights Barry had chosen many all-time favorites and it truly has been a lot of fun. We lasted until nearly 10:30 and called it a night. Friday, January 5 – Auckland – Fiji The alarm went off at 6:30 and we headed to the dining room for our last breakfast on board at 7:20. Breakfast was good as we watched the wind-swept rain out the windows. Luggage tag numbers were being called early so after gathering our remaining belongings we headed off the ship about 8:15. We quickly found our luggage and a helpful porter gave us a luggage carrier to load it up. We saw a super shuttle in the lot and inquired of the driver. He made a phone call and confirmed he was not our driver but said they let our driver know we were ready. At about 8:45 we noticed two shuttles in the drive and one of those was for us. There was another couple from the ship on board. Our luggage was loaded and we waited in the van. The driver had one other reservation and that person never showed, so we waited 20 minutes for someone who never showed. Half-way to the airport the other party’s cell phone rang and they apparently had picked up the wrong piece of luggage. Between there and the airport they and the driver were trying to work out how they were going to fix that situation. We were dropped off immediately in front of the international terminal and walked in the doors to find the Fiji airways luggage drop. As this is a cruise review I am not including our less than incredible visit to Fiji in the review. Cruise Summary: We had a really nice cruise on the Maasdam. Honestly, the fact that we spent the three days in Fiji post-cruise gave us a greater appreciation for the cruise. We had generally superb dining, with selections always available and super service from Wirawan and Gede. Our stateroom was kept clean as a whistle and our laundry attended to often returned the same day or the next morning when we were at breakfast. We would have preferred the stateroom a little cooler but it wasn’t so warm that we needed to request a fan, and honestly this is something I never brought to the office’s attention. The front office folks, while usually very polite, and often terrific, do drop the ball from time to time. Early in the cruise we sent DW’s Red jacket out for dry-cleaning. When she went to put it on for Christmas Eve she discovered a missing button. Yes, they looked for the button but did not find it, and never offered even to credit the dry cleaning charge. The missing button due to the design of the jacket made it unwearable and we just left it at the end of the cruise. We were disappointed in the stop in Port Dunedin. Not the town’s fault, but what we had wanted to do we couldn’t do as Holland and Princess had chartered out the two trains to the Taleri gorge. I understand the cruise lines making a profit on shore excursions. I have CCL stock, and want them to be successful, but to charge passengers $270 US for a train ride that is available on any day that two ships are not in town for NZ$99 is just wrong. Simply on principle, charging 400% the normal price is not right. The “EXC” excursion price guarantee is a joke as never would every single aspect of a tour be exactly identical. Most of the ports were great and that is the #1 reason we do a cruise. Entertainment is a weak point on the Maasdam except in the Piano Bar as Barry from Boston is great. I know there will be some changes in the future on Maasdam with more of a port focus and they will lose the singers and dancers. I see that as no great loss. Hopefully local talent will be brought on board, we find that is often the best. We do hope they keep the piano bar in the mix! We greatly enjoyed the Maori ambassadors who were on board for about 6 days and the Maori group that performed in Tauranga. Maasdam gets a solid 4 stars out of 5. As I’ve mentioned in prior reviews, I don’t see HAL getting five stars any longer due to the many things cut from their cruises. Christmas Eve, for example, was very nice. But, there was no “Christmas around the world” food event like we enjoyed a few years ago on Zaandam. Deck barbeques are history. And many other little things that new cruisers wouldn’t even know about. 4 stars is not at all “Bad,” it’s just not quite what it was when we started cruising in earnest in 2009. I hope we have another chance to sail on Maasdam, they sure have some interesting itineraries in late 2018 and 2019. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
Always have wanted to Cruise the canal . Ship left from Boston , where we live so perfect. Captain had to miss several Hurricanes, which he did . A little rough but not bad . Ft Lauderdal was in tough shape so excursions had ... Read More
Always have wanted to Cruise the canal . Ship left from Boston , where we live so perfect. Captain had to miss several Hurricanes, which he did . A little rough but not bad . Ft Lauderdal was in tough shape so excursions had been canceled . Missed a few more storms and than clear sailing . Great tour in Columbia by a firm called Duran Duran . Booked it myself and we had a terrific time . We stopped in Costa Rica , Nicaragua, Guatemala , Puerto Chiapas , Cabo and San Diego . Every stop was an adventure Botanical gardens , coffee plantation , Banana plantations colonial capitals and a great thermal spa in the mountains overlooking the volcano's . Truly a great tour. as usual Holland staff were on top of their game . Great waiter, wine steward , bar staff just excellent . The concierge in the Neptune lounge was amazing , couldn't do enough . Everyday a new treat . Nicaragua left a lot to be desired . Leon is a few walls still standing that could have been a barbecue pit . The view to the lake was spectacular . but just not much to see . check in and disembarkation were like silk , just smooth . As always thanks Holland America Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I chose this cruise because it was the only one that went to Quebec City and Montreal. It exceeded my expectations with regard to service, food, and especially entertainment. Shows were varied and exceptional. I would recommend this cruise ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it was the only one that went to Quebec City and Montreal. It exceeded my expectations with regard to service, food, and especially entertainment. Shows were varied and exceptional. I would recommend this cruise to anyone. Only negative was the spa tried to upsell you on every little thing. The spa didn't list the 55 minute massage, only more expensive ones. Entertainment was exceptional every night. Food was over the top. Steaks always tender. Service great. Our first Holland America cruise, but we would recommend. Sidney was not a great port of call. Quebec City was very nice. Charlottetown was also nice. I did not book any of the ship excursions but did my own. Overall, this was a great cruise with great entertainment and food! Embarkation was easy. Disembarkation was trickier as they had luggage tags of lime and green that were too similar in color. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
HAL is changing directions and have deleted Karaoke and poolside activities. No Ambassadors from San Diego to Lima and halfway back. So that left Trivia for at sea days. Trivia in the morning, trivia in the evening and trivia all day ... Read More
HAL is changing directions and have deleted Karaoke and poolside activities. No Ambassadors from San Diego to Lima and halfway back. So that left Trivia for at sea days. Trivia in the morning, trivia in the evening and trivia all day long. Bad decision by HAL as this was the most boring cruise that we have been on. The CD, John, just made excuses, but all he did on board was to announce entertainment and conduct Trivia. Several problems with this older ship, including two tenders breaking at Fuerte Amador - unacceptable delays. Even the fueling plans went awry and we ended up spending extra hours in Panama to re-fuel. Food was average but the main dining room service started out exceptionally poor and dinners ran over 2 hours long, forcing excessive use of the Lido, where food was less than average. Need to clean up your act, Holland America. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This cruise was our 6th overall and third with Holland. We did our first 3 cruises with Princess but they were full of noisy and unruly children whose parents did not even try to control them. The staff and crew of our Princess cruises did ... Read More
This cruise was our 6th overall and third with Holland. We did our first 3 cruises with Princess but they were full of noisy and unruly children whose parents did not even try to control them. The staff and crew of our Princess cruises did not seem to care that many of the children were running amuck with no parental supervision. We found that Holland caters to a more mature clientele and that suits us just fine. I believe that there were only 5 or 6 children on the Maasdam out of 1138 passengers. The service was outstanding and the port stops were more than satisfying. I particularly want to give a shout out to the management and crew of the Lido dining room as well as the people who ran room service. We like to hike and found several very nice trails at Mauganui, Picton and Akaroa. These trails were all within walking distance of the port. I have seen some not so good reviews of the Maasdam but all I can say is that these folks would probably complain if their heads were in a vise. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We chose this cruise for the different ports it stopped at. This was our 4th Alaskan cruise and our first with HAL. We probably won't go on anther HAL cruise as we were not impressed. Everything was average at best. The food in the ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the different ports it stopped at. This was our 4th Alaskan cruise and our first with HAL. We probably won't go on anther HAL cruise as we were not impressed. Everything was average at best. The food in the dining room was ok most of the time, but there were 3 nights where we wished we had gone to the Lido buffet instead. I understand that the ship is being sold and they did their best to make it presentable, but again - nothing special... We upgraded to a Vista Suite with a Veranda and that made a big difference. We were able to open the door when the AC didn't cool down the room, we could eat breakfast and stare at the sea...we even saw humpback whales a few mornings while we were sailing. The cabin stewards were great, making sure that we had ice and that the room was ready for us each day and evening. The waiters in the main dining room were great too. The brought my tea after dinner without me having to ask which was nice. Rex, the dining room manager was awesome. He helped us make changes to our dinner reservation and found us a table by the window which was really nice. He always greeted us at the door by name and asked how things were going. I wish they offered more fish choices - Alaskan Halibut more than once would have been nice. We did have a nice dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. We had a blast at the Pub Trivia with Johan. He made it fun and we learned things along the way. We even skipped desert to make it by 7... The entertainment was ok - the backround music is too loud and the singers have to strain their voices to be heard. This sometimes makes the voices sound shrill or sharp. Some had excellent voices but much of the time, they were forced to sing too loud. The dancers were great. We enjoyed listening to the guitar player in the Mix lounge - he was awesome. The piano guy, on the other hand, was terrible. He didn't sing all of the words and changed up some very well known songs so much that you couldn't tell what he was playing. His Beattles tribute night was a total joke. HAL does get points for their embarkation and disembarkation. It was the best we've ever experienced. We boarded at 12:00 and our room was ready. Luggage arrived shortly after lunch and we were able to unpack and settle in before the lifeboat drill. We worked on a puzzle after breakfast in the Exploration lounge until we were called to disembark which was right on time. We rented a car in Juneau for the morning and went to the Shrine of St Therese which was beautiful. We saw whales spouting across the bay. We then went to Mendenhall Glacier and spent some time walking on the trails to watch the salmon run. We did a whale watching cruise in the afternoon. We saw humpbacks bubble feeding right by the boat. It was really cool. We also went up the Mt Roberts tram and then had halibut dinner at Twisted Fish. Favorite day of the trip!! We chose the Grandview Train excursion in Anchorage - BIG MISTAKE... We were trapped on a train for 8 1/2 hours and then bused back to the ship as the train wouldn't have us back in time to leave. We didn't see much and could only get off the train in Whittier for 20 minutes and then a quick walk at the Grandview stop. It seems the trip is mostly for passengers going on the rafting trip or the hike at the Glacier. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2016
Rather mediocre quality food and entertainment for the most part. Food was overly sauced and fancy but the end result was "strange tasting food" that reflected the Filipino and Indonesian influences of the chef. Maybe 2 -3 ... Read More
Rather mediocre quality food and entertainment for the most part. Food was overly sauced and fancy but the end result was "strange tasting food" that reflected the Filipino and Indonesian influences of the chef. Maybe 2 -3 nights of decent entertainment acts unfortunately. The ship is very old and in a bad state of repair. I understand it is being sold to another country, good luck! Loud repairs were virtually a daily occurrence sometimes as early as 6:00 AM! I don't know about you but when I go on a cruise I want to sleeop a bit later than that. Nothing special at all. Crew still does not understand basic American English regardless of how the cruise line says different. Some helpful staff but Front Desk Personeel were notorious for giving you half-answers about things and many times just acted difficult when the hotel operations fell short. We would probably not go on Holland America again. The crowd they typically draw is the geriatric wing of a hospital it seems. Very quiet Casino and virtually no activity after 10:00 PM. Recommended for the over 80 crowd I guess! Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
All of my friends told me the wonders of Holland America and how great they were...we were excited. Paid a lot of money for a room in the bowels of the ship, lots of noise from the engines but we figured, how much time do you spend in ... Read More
All of my friends told me the wonders of Holland America and how great they were...we were excited. Paid a lot of money for a room in the bowels of the ship, lots of noise from the engines but we figured, how much time do you spend in your room anyway? First of all, we paid extra for the thermal room. My neighbor told me it was the best money he ever spent. There was one Jacuzzi and I've been in larger Jacuzzi's in hotel rooms. Worse, the jets didn't have hardly any pressure, I used the room ONCE. Way too much money for that. The buffet was not a serve yourself buffet, it was more like a cafeteria and they were really small on the helpings and they ran out of food all the time. There were hardly any vegetables. They actually put bacon bits on my breakfast place more than once when I asked for bacon, there were no bacon strips only some crumbs left in the pan. The salad bar ran out of lettuce. We had the beverage packages. I was looking forward to starting every day with a mimosa but was not able to get one at breakfast once during the 2 week cruise. No bar beverage servers available. In fact, the only time we got alcoholic beverages in the buffet is when our evening wine steward was working there in the afternoon. The beverage package, even though they threw it in, was not worth the money. I was told about this wonderful midnight chocolate buffet....never happened. The movies they showed were old, some from the 70's. I realize this cruise caters to seniors but we do like seeing more modern movies. The best one they had was the new star wars movie and it was interrupted by the captain once and the cruise director once. No popcorn, after we were promised popcorn. You know, if you aren't going to have it, don't tell us you will. The overall appearance of the cruise was on the cheap. We ordered hamburgers at their hamburger restaurant and were told they were out of fries. This cruise was to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary and we feel a little disappointed. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We chose this cruise for the itinerary as there were 2 islands we had not visited. We have sailed multiple times with Holland and the Carribean. When we arrived at the terminal there was a bit of a line for check in. We completed this step ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary as there were 2 islands we had not visited. We have sailed multiple times with Holland and the Carribean. When we arrived at the terminal there was a bit of a line for check in. We completed this step and were given a group number for boarding. We sat down to wait for boarding to begin. Once onboard we were able to go straight to our cabin. We had booked 047 on deck 10 in the aft section of the ship. We prefer this location. Our air conditioning didn't seem to be working at its best but we assumed the doors were open and all the coming and going it just needed time to catch up. We would find out a few days later that repairs would be needed. As we left port we sailed into some heavy thunderstorms and heavy rain that lasted several hours. As we took a stroll after dinner we realized that parts of the ship had actually flooded. We were thankful that our cabin had not been affected. On this itinerary we had two sea days before reaching our first port. On the night of our second sea day we were awakened about 2:00 am by the fire alarm sounding. Quite scary In the middle of the night from a sound sleep. There was a report of smoke in the engine room and the engine had been shut down while they investigated. The all clear was finally given about 2 hours later. We made it to our first port of St. Maarten successfully. That night we received a note that the AC would be down for repairs the next day from 9 til 6. We left for our shore excursion thinking that it would be fixed shortly after we returned. Unfortunately repairs were not made until almost 11:30 which made for a very hot night. Once we made it through this rough patch things seemed to even out. We made all of our scheduled ports as planned. We did enjoy this itinerary and each of the islands. We were disappointed in the food on board. The MDR often times didn't seem to have a great selection. We did eat in the Lido buffet frequently. They had a great salad bar which was a plus. The ice cream was great too. Sometimes the selection of foods was strange but we could usually find something. We did eat more frequently on this cruise in Cannallato twice and The Pinnacle Grill twice. The food in both these restaraunts was great every time. The wait staff in the Cannallato were wonderful! We did miss the glass front on our balcony. The balconies had metal across the front with minimal views below the rail. Storage was tight as we were unable to store our suitcases under the bed. Had to move them around the room. The ship did seem to roll more than usual when the waves were rough. I could see that that could bother those with motion sickness. The ship is old and we did hear that it has been sold and will be decommissioned in February. It really was not up to the standards we are accustomed to when cruising with Holland. One cruiser stated that there had been a "Carnivalization" of Holland. It had been awhile since we had sailed with Holand, but we certainly hope that's not true. Shore excursions: St. Maarten - took a Holland excursion around the island, then walked the boardwalk St. Kitts - took a Holland excursion to Nevis, beautiful island Barbados - took a private excursion with Calabaza sailing cruises which was great St. Vincent - took a Holland excursion to Montreal Gardens in the rain forest which was beautiful Martinique - took a private excursion with Karambole tours which was wonderful St.Croix - took a Holland excursion to Whim plantation and Cruz rum factory Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
First time on the Maasdam but our 8th trip on HAL. First time on this class ship. We had no problems with our stateroom (a larger ocean view) but did hear from other passengers that some leaking had occurred. I noticed a large fan at the ... Read More
First time on the Maasdam but our 8th trip on HAL. First time on this class ship. We had no problems with our stateroom (a larger ocean view) but did hear from other passengers that some leaking had occurred. I noticed a large fan at the adult pool end of the Lido that stayed on pretty much the entire cruise drying the floor in the hall going to the restrooms. This ship is an older not as elegant as others we were on but I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. The ship was booked up but we didn't have to wait for anything no lines and always plenty of deck chairs to choose from. Dining room was superb from the service to the food and wine list. The Vegas style show was terrible (Droom) I believed was doomed. But the other entertainers were good. One extremely talented man running the piano bar kept us enthralled several nights, David Anthony I believe. Embarkation and Disembarkation was flawless. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Everything you wish a cruise won't be is what this cruise was. The ship itself older but refurbished. Needs to be put out of commission really. Ports advertised were not ports we visited. Nicaragua was cancelled never knew why, ... Read More
Everything you wish a cruise won't be is what this cruise was. The ship itself older but refurbished. Needs to be put out of commission really. Ports advertised were not ports we visited. Nicaragua was cancelled never knew why, zihuanteneo cancelled because pier had been damaged in storm. New ports added hualtco and Puerto Vallarta. Main reason for choosing this cruise was to see Nicaragua. Dining room staff poor, food worse almost unacceptable. In the lido buffet, lots of mystery dishes often without names. Daily at least one elevator didn't work. Shellacking, polishing, etc done when at sea rather than in port. Smells were often unbearable. One day we needed to evacuate our cabin so staff could put air cleaner in cabin to remove odor. The entertainment was barely acceptable but it did give us something to do nightly. The ship had self service laundry which was great for a two week cruise. Overall, the cruise was disappointing. I've always had great experiences with RCCL and Celebrity. To ad insult to injury, our ship docked hours later than scheduled and most of the passengers missed flights home. It was never broadcast exactly why we docked late but our assumption was because we left our last port of cabo San Lucas hours late. Shopping on board barely existed. A movie theater was a good source of entertainment but wasn't offered during the days we were at sea. Only at night. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We flew to the Boston airport and took the Adams Inn Best Western free shuttle to the hotel on Thursday, October 8, 2015. Then we took the Gray Line "Bean Town Hop On Hop Off" bus tour and harbor cruise on the following day. ... Read More
We flew to the Boston airport and took the Adams Inn Best Western free shuttle to the hotel on Thursday, October 8, 2015. Then we took the Gray Line "Bean Town Hop On Hop Off" bus tour and harbor cruise on the following day. The trees were gorgeous red, yellow and gold colors on this trip. We should have arranged at least another day in Boston, because we didn't have time to take a guided "Freedom Trail" 2 1/2 mile walk in downtown Boston. The Gray Line tour included pick up and return trips to our hotel. Since we'd never been in the New England states, nor had we been to the eastern seaboard of Canada, this was very interesting for us. There were 4 sisterships of similar design. Holland America sold the Ryndam and Statendam in November of 2014. The 2 remaining ships of that class are the Veendam and the one we sailed on, the Maasdam, commissioned in 1994, 1,358 passengers, 57 tons. The embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly, as per usual with HAL. Our room steward and our table stewards were terrific. The Indonesian wait staff and room stewards, and the Filipino bar staff are thoroughly professional, and take pride, rightfully so, in their work. This was a port intensive cruise, with just one sea day. The onboard Microsoft classes and the culinary classes are top notch. We're ball room dancers, so we were fortunate that both the Ocean Bar "Neptunes" band, and the Halcat band which played in the Crows Nest played great music, and took requests. The cuisine on this cruise was outstanding. The pumpkin stuffed quail with pork belly cracklings was probably my favorite dinner. Every day of the cruise, the main dining room, the lido (day time and late night snack), Terrace Grille, Pinnacle, and Canaletto all had different menues. We took the Acadia Park and Lobster Fisherman stop at Bar Harbor. This was one continuous "photo op" because we were there at the peak of the changing fall foliage colors. At Halifax, we walked along the main quay. We took the tour of Fort Louisbourg at Sydney, and gained an understanding of what life was like there in 1754. The re enactors really have studied the history of the fort and gave us a very interesting tour. At Quebec we took the tour of the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham, and an elevator ride to the top of a 31 story government building where we had a wonderful view of this city. So the four HAL shore excursions were very enjoyable. We took the HAL shuttle from the ship to the airport at Montreal. That city experienced the first snow storm of the coming winter season on the day we boarded the Delta flight in Montreal for home, Oct. 17, 2015. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We are not "Career Cruises." Age, for both; mid 60's. Both in reasonable shape with no physical problems. Flew into Montreal from Raleigh, NC, (RDU) the night before and stayed at the Lord Berri Hotel, close to the ... Read More
We are not "Career Cruises." Age, for both; mid 60's. Both in reasonable shape with no physical problems. Flew into Montreal from Raleigh, NC, (RDU) the night before and stayed at the Lord Berri Hotel, close to the terminal. Hotel was functional, somewhat like a Holiday Inn. I would recommend it. Cab fare from airport was $40.00 CAD. Embarkation was quick and easy. Had cabin #523 on main deck. Wife liked the tub/shower. Those with mobility issues may not be able to negotiate the 23" step up over the side of the tub. Yes, I measured it. The cabin was fine; clean and a full size ocean view. Bring a power strip or multi-outlet extension cord(s) if you have chargers, CPAP or other appliances. Hair dryer in the cabin. One minor complaint: The TV was set back from the edge of the shelf and secured, making the use of the remote a chore since you had to raise it up high to clear the edge of the shelf. Service was great and the stewards took care of everything. Had a minor plumbing leak around the sink faucet. A call to the front desk brought rapid repair and a "sorry" letter. This ship is 22 years old, older than most but in amazingly fine condition. The maintenance is ongoing and it is clean, bright and shining. Deck 5 was quiet all the time. Unlike the other "Fun Ships," there were no drunks or kids running up and down the passageways at all hours. Even though you were allowed to smoke in the cabins, I did not smell any tobacco smoke inside the ship. THAT WAS GREAT!!! This includes the Casino, which I did go to every night. Now if you are searching for fun and excitement on board, this cruise is not for you! As our sons would say, "Mom and Dad, you are cruising with the Blue Hairs." That's OK with us. I am aware that Carnival owns Holland America, but this is not a Carnival type ship. More class and less noise! Food was great. The last night, I did not see anything that interested me and asked if I could have a steak. No problem; got it RARE the way I like it. All staff were helpful, courteous and smiling. I did not meet one sourpuss. Entertainment was average for a cruise ship. There was 2 "dress up" nights which is a pain to pack a suit, but I did. The second night, I wore the suit with a black t-shirt under. Looked fine and passed the test. The rest of the time it was smart casual. Translation: No holy jeans and no t-shirts. Sport shirt and slacks are fine. Lido deck for quick dining if you have a shore excursion. Food is fine there too. Lots of choices, Asian, Italian, sandwiches, salads, even scooped ice cream with waffle cones! MONEY-SAVING TIPS: Book your shore excursions on line at least a week before you leave. You will save at least half over the ship booked excursions. Use a travel service like Trip Adviser and read the reviews. It does not guarantee a perfect experience but it will be at least as good as the ship trips for a lot less money. Use Cruise Critic to hook up with other passengers to fill out a tour. That's what we did and had a lot of fun and made new friends. Buy a couple of six packs of sodas B4 you board if you are a soda drinker. We drank mostly iced tea (you have to ask for it) and a few sodas we brought aboard. The beer is not that costly and that is what I drink. Cocktails are pretty pricey. Disembarkation: Pretty simple and efficient. Made the mistake of buying 2- $30.00 (US) transfer tickets from the ship to Logan airport in Boston. Could have done a cab for less but did not know how far the airport was from the terminal. Another Cruise ship "excursion gotchas." SUMMARY: You go on this cruise to relax and see the sights, not to party. This is an older, retired group of cruisers. I have seen some who rate this ship as only average. I don't agree. The Maasdam is indeed older but it has class. No rock climbing walls or water slides. A nice indoor/outdoor pool and hot tubs were just fine with us. The ship is clean, efficient and comfortable. A final note: We missed Bar Harbor. This is one port you have to go in by tender. The Maasdam was just starting to ready the tenders when the Captain came on the PA to cancel our call to Bar Harbor due to deteriorating weather conditions. We looked outside and it was sunny with high clouds, very calm. In a matter of 20 minutes, that changed. The wind came up and so did the seas. Sun went in and it got very cool It was a good chance we may not have been able to get back to the ship. The Captain made the right call. And I respect him and Holland America for that decision. I am ex Coast Guard and have seen this happen before with fatal results. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
This was my 7th cruise, first with Holland America. Overall I enjoyed myself on this cruise. Holland America seems to be a step up from Carnival, in terms of class and you can definitely tell that their clientele are retirees. My parents ... Read More
This was my 7th cruise, first with Holland America. Overall I enjoyed myself on this cruise. Holland America seems to be a step up from Carnival, in terms of class and you can definitely tell that their clientele are retirees. My parents took me and my wife on this cruise; so Canada/New England would not have been my first destination of choice but a free cruise is a free cruise and it was a nice change from the traditional Caribbean cruises I am more used to. We embarked out of Montreal, which was a great city and enjoyed my time in the port before leaving, all be-it was just 24 hours but that is none fault of the cruise. Anyways onto embarkation; probably one of the smoothest embarkations I've had. We arrived to the cruise terminal early, between 11 and 12 in the morning and boarding wasn't until one. I was prepared to wait a little bit before we were allowed on ship. I was pleasantly surprised when we basically able to board right away and once again I was surprised when they said our rooms were ready. So we were able to drop off our carry-on bags immediately and headed up to the Lido deck for lunch. All of our luggage was delivered before we embarked and the muster drill which was nice. The muster drill, went smoothly and then we departed from Montreal. The weather was beautiful that day, in the mid 70s and it was neat to go under the many bridges of the St. Laurence. The food on the ship was good, it was your typical cruise fare. Probably not the best you've ever had but overall it was good and nothing was just bad and inedible. The dinners were rather formal and I didn't prepare for that, used to Carnival which is a bit more informal with their dinners now. And I was bummed that the buffet seemed to have odd times and was closed for large portions of the day. Since we had late dinner, we liked to go up and have a snack around 4ish and many times the buffet was closed when we wanted food. The ship was on the smaller side of cruise ships I've been on. Which was nice but also lacked some amenities that I wish it would've had, a larger lounge, a private adults only area with a hot-tub or something, and maybe another free dining option but if the ship was bigger it probably couldn't have taken that route. As far as ports go. Quebec City was probably my favorite, we did a tour in the morning which was a dud but the city was beautiful and my wife and I loved the city. It was very European and was pretty spectacular, the weather was perfect, and the city was very walkable. Next favorite port was probably Charlottetown, which was next port of call after a day-at-sea, which was beatiful, calm, and picturesque, the weather was chill at our day at sea but can't blame the cruise for that. Anyways on to Charlottetown, when you think of quaint fishing villages, Charlottetown fits the mold. It's a smaller city, once again very walkable; we didn't take an excursion just walked around for a while and went back on ship. I would say Bar Harbor and Halifax were about even. I enjoyed both ports. We went to the Citadel and the Maritime museum on our own in Halifax which was the way to go. The Citadel was neat, much like any other fort/museum you go to and the Maritime museum was really cool and had a pretty big Titanic exhibit which I enjoyed. Bar Harbor was nice, we went on a tour, which once again was a dud. The City was beautiful but was filled with thousands of tourists. Lastly, we have Sydney. It was probably our worst weather day, it was misty out. We went to a wild-life park which was my favorite excursion. Other than that we didn't explore town do to the weather, sounds like we didn't miss a whole lot. Like I said the scenery on this cruise was top notch. Unfortunately two of the nights in the Atlantic were incredibly foggy so you couldn't see anything. The Fog horn was sounding every few minutes which made it difficult to sit out on deck but safety does come first. The entertainment on board was okay; geared more towards retirees, the cruise director had the normal fake stories and bad jokes and the entertainment were your normal cruise entertainment; nothing too special. Overall, I had a good time on this cruise. It wasn't my favorite probably because of their target audience isn't me. Other than that it was good. So I give it a 4/5. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2015
We very much enjoyed our time on the Maasdam. The ship has been impeccably maintained and of course the HAL crew/staff are all top-notch. No complaints and I even won in the casino! Canada/New England has some very rural stops as well as ... Read More
We very much enjoyed our time on the Maasdam. The ship has been impeccably maintained and of course the HAL crew/staff are all top-notch. No complaints and I even won in the casino! Canada/New England has some very rural stops as well as Montreal and Quebec. We always take the ship excursions if we are leaving the port where we're docked just so we know we will make it back without any problems. This was the case in both Montreal (ship-airport transfer/tour) as well as Quebec. Tour guides were great and added humor to the tours. We ate in all the venues and enjoyed the main dinning room more this time. Canelettos and Pinnacle are good, but we enjoyed the pulse of life in the main dinning. Also enjoyed the snack bar poolside. If we have a complaint, it is that Maasdam does not have a thermal pool; it has whirlpools and the famous "hot chairs", but not enough room for a thermal pool. Spa and exercise room were clean and smelled fresh. Good driver, too, with an exciting departure from Boston. Don't miss the bridge at Quebec, close fit! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Up until this cruise my wife and I had always hopped on a plane and went...well...all over. Friends who have cruised told us about the convenience, the food and the general fun they had getting on a ship; so we thought we'd try it. ... Read More
Up until this cruise my wife and I had always hopped on a plane and went...well...all over. Friends who have cruised told us about the convenience, the food and the general fun they had getting on a ship; so we thought we'd try it. Holland America's cruise from Montreal up though the St. Lawrence Seaway with stops in Quebec City, Prince Edward Island (PEI), Nova Scotia (Halifax), Bar Harbor, and terminating in Boston was far more fun than I had expected. Best of all it was relaxing. Were it not for the fact that the elevators had the day of the week printed on the carpets, we would not have known the day of the week. Except for one day that we spent at sea, each morning we arrived at a new port. We had been to both Montreal and Quebec City, but all of the other stops were new and unique. We didn't take advantage of any of the land tours, but we spent all the time we wanted at each port--some with real surprises like Charlottetown on PEI had the only knitting machine for making woolen sweaters, blankets and other woolen goods in North America. The only place the incredible woolens were available besides Charlottetown was NYC. Plus, the people in everywhere we stopped were wonderful. Canadians are terrific people to be around. Our cabin was more on the thrifty side with an unobstructed sea view only one deck above the crew's. However, it was comfortable and was everything we needed for the little time we spent there--sleeping and showers. (We've decided to go up a few decks to the veranda staterooms in the future.) The entertainment was lots of fun, and we went to the nightly shows ranging from musicals to comedians. The food was great even though we did not dine at some of the tonier restaurants on board. The grand dining room was great, and the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch was good and varied. We learned that while there was a great workout room on board, we ended up walking about 5 miles per day on the ship. We both enjoy walking but not so much on a treadmill provided in the Fitness room. Two pools provided plenty of swimming but we didn't go or use the jacuzzi. We relaxed in the many public rooms on the higher decks. Great experience, and Holland America was both affordable and the provided the experience that any first-time cruiser would enjoy. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
Our first ocean cruise a dream come true for me,the Maasdam was a big enough ship with ought it being over sized just right as you can get to every thing and every where easily . The ship had two crews one that ran the ship and the ... Read More
Our first ocean cruise a dream come true for me,the Maasdam was a big enough ship with ought it being over sized just right as you can get to every thing and every where easily . The ship had two crews one that ran the ship and the other that ran the hotel on the ship,well they certainly over stepped the mark in high standard of service,and care of the clients,all the crew could not do enough to please and serve,just incredible. For us Dodi from the pinnacle Grill took away the standing ovation he was so intertaining I at times forgot to eat my food ,he has a way of talking and walking ,my wife says he should have been in the theater. We used all the facility's of the ship,spa ,pool area,upper decks ,restaurants , shops and lounges full five stars to all. Anne suffered with a little sea sickness ,well some people do,can not be helped,as for me I loved every second of the cruise. Shore excursions with plenty of choice in all ports but in Grenada they did not offer a beach visit even though a water taxi just next to the ship takes you to a wonderful ride for 4 $ each way to a beautiful beach with white sand and cleare blue water. Would I do it again ??? For me yes with great pleasure Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
There were four of us on this particular cruise. To reach Ft. Lauderdale we took the Cruise Connection from Sarasota, Fl. and arrived around noon time. The porters were there to take our luggage. A person from the Cruise Connection handed ... Read More
There were four of us on this particular cruise. To reach Ft. Lauderdale we took the Cruise Connection from Sarasota, Fl. and arrived around noon time. The porters were there to take our luggage. A person from the Cruise Connection handed us stickers to put on our clothing for the return trip. We walked into the terminal and were directed to the reservation desk. However, once inside, we were given a number and directed to the wait area. There were already many passengers seated awaiting their turn. We sat for almost a half hour before our number was called and once at the reservation desk it took only minutes for us to receive our room key and have our passports checked. We were told we could go directly to our room, which we did. Our stateroom was clean and immaculate. Plenty of closet and drawer space for our two week adventure. The bathroom was one of the largest we had seen on a ship. It included a soaking tub with shower. The only draw back here was that there was no step stool for entering and exiting. For some people this would have been a real hardship if they were not agile enough to climb in and out on their own. Being hungry, we made our way to the Lido deck for the lunch buffet. We met our friends and found a table. Going through the buffet we found many of the items were gone and were not being replenished. It was only 1:15pm in the afternoon and we all thought lunch was until 3pm. No one at the reservation desk had given us the information that lunch was served only until 2pm. If we had known, we would have just dropped our carryons in the stateroom and gone immediately to the buffet. Or, as a suggestion, have a buffet set up in the reservation area for those just coming on board. What we also didn't realize is that there were other people who had embarked a week earlier for a 21 day cruise. Not finding anything at the buffet, we were told that there was a hotdog and hamburg area on the Lido deck near the pool area. The four of us found a table in the shade and then proceeded to give our order. We were given an electronic device that would light when our order was ready. It took over a half hour. One person was doing all the cooking while another just took the requests. We noticed that people coming after us were being served first and thought they had forgotten us. But we soon learned that this was the way it would be throughout our cruise. Why they didn't have more manpower was a good question. There was also a Mexican Food area where you could add some vegetables and other delights to your meal. However, even though the cart was in the shade, there was no ice or refrigeration anywhere on or in the cart. With the sun bearing down and the temperature being in the mid to upper eighties we didn't feel that these items were safe for eating. The dress code for all meals in the dining room was "smart casual." This meant no T-Shirts for either men or women. Men were requested to wear long trousers with a shirt or a shirt with a collar. Women could wear skirts, dresses, pant suits with a top that was something they would wear to a show or a nice event. Being extremely tired we all opted for the Lido deck and this time we made sure we were early enough to enjoy a meal. Also on this first day, we learned that there was a $60 fee per person which amounted to a charge of $1680. We checked this out with the front desk and found that this was a policy and that the $1680 was in actuality a hold to make sure that your credit card was in good order. This amount would come off your bill at the end of the cruise and you would only be charged for items purchased. At the end of our cruise we did receive a statement and this amount was no where to be seen. Food was wonderful. The Maitre'D knew us by room number. The first couple of nights we had some problems when ordering more than one appetizer or entree. However, this was soon swept under the table and we could order anything. The cold soups were delightful. Having only had Gazpacho in the past, it was great to try the carrot soup, passion fruit with guava and so many others. And, at the end of the cruise these recipes were given out to anyone who attended the last culinary session. Entertainment was the best of the best. There was a different person each night. The Maasdam singers and dancers put on a great show and we were sorry to learn that their nine months were up and they would be leaving the ship when we returned to Ft. Lauderdale. Two of the singers were actually leaving for good. Both Andrew Diesnner and Chelsea Coyne were going on to new and exciting adventures. And speaking of the show time it is really imperative that you tell the wait staff in the dining room that you were going to the 8pm show. If not, meal time would drag and you would have to attend the 10pm. Towards the end of the cruise, the Indonesians put together an hour of entertainment in the showroom. It was amazing. The dance routines were wonderful to watch. it was hard to believe that these men and women worked twelve hour shifts on the Lido Deck. We will always remember Jomar and his wonderful smile. We also wonder if he choreographed the routines which included our favorite bamboo dance. There were also singers who probably never had a lesson in their lives and still were able to carry a tune and mesmerize the audience. We also thought that maybe, someday, they should be recognized and be part of the entertainment. They were that good!!!! Jamm the Piano Man also put on a great show each and every night beginning at 9pm. Every evening there was something special to look forward to. Broadway show tunes, "Name That Tune" game with prizes, Barbra Streisand hits, An hour of Gershwin and Sondheim just to name a few. Getting on and off the ship was no problem at the ports of call. Please be sure to check the weather and temperatures for the places you visit. We found the Caribbean to be very hot and extremely humid on our adventure. So, be prepared. Our stateroom as I said above was wonderful. Everynight the lights behind our pillows were on while the overhead lights were off. It was like candlelight and so very romantic. At the foot of your bed were always two pieces of candy and a towel animal. So cute. Also, your agenda for the next day was set to the side of the bed. Every hour was filled from an exercise class, a computer class or a show. There was something for everyone. Everyday our steward would greet us by name and ask if we were all right. How he remembered everyone is beyond me. Ok, we were to be with him for two weeks, but what about those who signed up for just a week. That's alot of names to memorize in a short period of time. As far as the shore excursions went, we did manage to have a two hour plus tour of St. Georges which we did on our own after leaving the ship. We not only toured the area, but actually saw the College of Medicine on the Island. The scenic views were breathtaking. However, I would have enjoyed meeting the locals and doing the things they enjoyed rather than sitting in a van the entire time. We usually walk alot and go to their shopping areas rather than the tourist areas. We find a hole in the wall cafe where the locals enjoy their punch, rum, sandwiches, etc.. In other words, off the beaten path. For instance. In St. Thomas the ship did not dock close to the shopping district, but rather a few miles away. We had to take a cab into the city. On the way out we spied a grocery store/supermarket and decided that this was a stop we needed to make since it was just around the corner from the Maasdam. We went into the city and walked around. The surrey cab fare to Main Street was $4pp. The return trip was $2pp. Of course you had to negotiate the price, but that's the fun. Now the supermarket was fun. Rum was $1.19. however, the Maasdam adds on an $18 surcharge on all alcoholic beverages which does take the fun out of shopping. Since we wanted water for the room, we purchased 24 bottles for $3.99 which was approximately $1.50 more than the sale price at Big Lots. It was not only worth it, but gave us great exercise as well. There were a couple of days where the seas were a little rough. We had packed a bottle of Dramamine, a bottle of Pepto Bismal, Pepto Bismal pills and also brought Ginger Beer without the sugar with us and used them as needed. There was only a day and a half when one of us felt a little whoosy. Other than that, no problem. In order to conserve fuel, the Captain probably didn't want to use the stabilizers. About the third or fourth day of the cruise, the Captain notified us that a few of the passengers became ill with a virus that was not life threatening. Starting that day there would be precautions taken in hopes of preventing any additional outbreaks. This included no salt or pepper on the table, the buffet would no longer be self served, washing your hands with Purell became the norm. Bread, Rolls and Butter were served by the waitstaff in the dining room. It was my thinking that these minor things should have started from the beginning. All wait staff should have been wearing gloves from the onset and the buffet should no longer be self served, but rather choice made behind the counter. Approximately one week prior to the disembarkation we received a form which asked for information concerning your flight, hotel, car (if you drove one), etc..It also asked the time you needed to be off the ship. You had five days to complete the form and to return it to the front desk. Based on your answers, you received an envelope two days prior to disembarkation containing tags for your luggage which coincided with the time you needed to depart the ship along with the schedule in which you would be contacted. The luggage you were not hand carrying had to be outside your room by midnight the night before. The next morning we were rudely awaken between 4:15am and 4:30am when the ship started to vibrate as it made it's way to the pier. Even though we asked for a 7am wake up call the night before, we decided to remain awake and leisurely get ready to leave. We packed our hand luggage and left the room shortly before 8am. We went directly to the Lido deck and got our food. We thought we would have a relaxing breakfast since, according to the note in our packet, we would be called between 9:15am and 9:30am to head down to the Main deck and leave the ship. Guess the surprise was on us when our number was called at 8:20am and we had just sat down. Rather than rush, we ate and then took off. What a surprise we received when the elevator doors opened and we saw a line of people that stretched to the back of the elevator area into the hallway as far as the eye could see. We decided to return to the elevator and go up to the 7th floor where there were comfortable seating arrangements. We sat there for a good half hour before we ventured downstairs. This time we were able to walk straight through to the baggage area. We showed the stub of our luggage ticket and the color designated where we would find our two bags. However, once we retrieved everything we ended up in another line that wound around like a snake. it took us about an hour to go through customs and to be on our way. Oh, by the way, you could not bring any food from either the dining room or the Lido Deck to the airport, hotel, bus or whatever. A heavy fine would be impose if you did. Finally, we were done and we left the building. Our bus would be waiting for us, but, it wasn't out front. We had stickers on our shirt and this enabled the shipmates to direct us to the right area. Unfortunately, the area was to the end of the building. A nice, long walk, but a beautiful ride home. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our second cruise on the Maasdam, the first being a 10 night cruise in April 2013. We had enjoyed that one and were happy to cruise on the Maasdam again. We like the size of the Maasdam very much. We find it easy to navigate ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Maasdam, the first being a 10 night cruise in April 2013. We had enjoyed that one and were happy to cruise on the Maasdam again. We like the size of the Maasdam very much. We find it easy to navigate around and you don't have to walk for miles to get everywhere. We were happy with our cabin - an inside cabin on the main deck, midship. It was small but adequate size, the bed was very comfortable,the room had very good air conditioning, and was kept in great shape by our steward Lili. He filled our ice bucket every day and most days left us a towel animal. The ship is scheduled to go into drydock after it's holiday cruise, and I think it needs some TLC. Overall she is in good shape, but a little worn around the edges. One thing that needs looking at is the toilet system. Our toilet worked fine for the first 10 days then all of a sudden it would flush only intermittently. Also, toilets around the ship would have an out of order sign for days at a time. The entertainment on the ship was quite good we thought. The singers and dancers, magician, ventriloquist, musicians - all were good. We also enjoyed the Adagio musicians in the explorer's lounge - we listened to them most nights after dinner, before going to the 10 pm show in the main showroom. I thought the ships band the HAL cats were great - they accompanied most of the acts in the showroom at sea. The food in all venues was very good. We especially liked the Pinncale Grill - we dined there twice, as well as when it was the Le Cirque night. This was our first time in 4 HAL cruises that we tried the Canaletto and we really enjoyed it. Actually, we liked it so much we dined there 3 times. My advice to anyone is don't let negative reviews keep you from trying something. Go into it with an open mind. We had never tried the Canaletto before because we kept reading reviews by people who disliked it. This cruise we tried it and loved it. The crew of the Maasdam is great. Friendly, professional and eager to please. We always felt we were in good hands. One night around 9 pm the fire alarm went off. The officer of the watch came on and said it wasn't a drill and all firecrews were to go to their stations. A few minutes later the captain came on and told us that there was indeed a fire in a garbage silo but the crew was on top of it. He kept us updated several times and everything turned out fine. We felt the crew responded quickly and professionally and we appreciated being told what was going on by the captain. Embarkation and disembarkation were both okay. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
We chose this cruise for several reasons. We liked the idea of returning to Holland America, we liked the idea of a smaller ship and we would get to see 5 islands that we had never been to yet. We tend to be easy going travellers who ... Read More
We chose this cruise for several reasons. We liked the idea of returning to Holland America, we liked the idea of a smaller ship and we would get to see 5 islands that we had never been to yet. We tend to be easy going travellers who don't expect everything to be perfect and we believe that a holiday is what you make of it. We try to go with flow and have a positive outlook. We sailed out of Port Everglades on April 1. Embarkation was easy and quick. Two sea days followed, then one port each day: St. Martin, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Martinique and St. Croix. Next was a sea day and then our last stop was Half-Moon Cay in the Bahamas. We liked all the ports but our favourite was St. Vincent. We did an awesome tour there, through the Mesopatamia Valley, up into the rain forest and to the Montreal Gardens, which is like visiting the Garden of Eden. It is a must-see. We had cabin 500 which was on the Main deck. The cabin itself is very nice, quite large. Has comfortable bed, a sofa, and the bathroom is nice - shower, no tub. It was kept spotless by our steward Agus. One word of advice though: this cabin is NOISY on port days. It is right at the front of the ship and when the ship is docking there is alot of noise, I think from the machines (winches) that are used to drop the ropes and then tighten them. In each port we heard the noise for about an hour (no exaggeration). It is loud and irritating and then the bow thrusters start. They are loud and the cabin shakes like crazy. Oh well,we survived, but I wouldn't be quick to book this cabin again. We loved the size of this ship. It is easy to navigate and you don't have to walk for miles to get anywhere. It never felt crowded. There are lots of areas to sit quietly if you wanted, and lots of activities if you wanted things to do. The staff is great. Welcoming, smiling,friendly. No complaints about the staff whatsoever. The entertainment was decent, some things better than others. We especially liked the Adagio Duo - a violinist and a Pianist who played every night in a quiet lounge. They were excellent. Food overall was very good. Lots of choice both in Lido and main dining room. We had anytime dining and most nights shared a table with other diners. A few nights we requested a table for two, and 3 times we ate in the Pinnacle grill, which was very good. The service was great and the food excellent. Overall we had a great time, have no complaints (other than noisy room)and would recommend Holland America and the Maasdam to anyone who wants a quiet, elegant cruise experience. This ship is not for you if you want a noisy party atmosphere. Read Less
Maasdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.7
Family 3.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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