Tranquil atmosphere, great ports of call, but food not great: Maasdam Cruise Review by janewdc

Maasdam 4
Member Since 2012

Overall Member Rating

Tranquil atmosphere, great ports of call, but food not great

Sail Date: December 2012
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
I've read that Holland America has become less of a cruise line catering only to seniors but in our trip 8 out of 10 people were seniors. It was great for us because there were no loud noises, children running up or down, and especially we loved that the music played in the bars and lounges was calm and not loud to the point of hurting your ears as in other cruises so we really enjoyed that part. Also the AC wasn't freezing cold as in all the other cruises I've taken. Stateroom service is also incredibly silent and we noticed our clean room but never the cleaning crew except the main cabin attendant who asked if we needed anything when he met us in the hallway.
My only complaint noise-wise is that the public announcements can't be muted. They sound "only" in the hallways but are loud enough to be heard by an older person in the shower. They start with a chime and then instead of just informing people could now get out of the ship the cruise director went on an on and on about More activities for the day at 7:00 am! This made it impossible to sleep in and sometimes nap since she did the same for departure. Not everybody care for those announcements so I think they should sound inside the room and not just the public areas but allow for volume control.
As for the ship, the Maasdam is the second smallest ship in HAL's fleet so you should expect the basics of all cruise ships but smaller. However, it does have a wonderful, vast library with books for every interest (only problem is that it's the coldest area in the ship), a daily summary of news and a coffee shop (extra charge).
There's also a tennis court and a small basketball court as well as a movie theater/culinary exhibition area where there are cooking classes for free.
The spa has some decent daily offers and there's also free tai chi everyday.
There are a couple of pools, the one in the lido deck has a retractable roof so it can be covered if it's raining.
The big con is the food. The first 48 hrs they serve you everything even if it's standing right in front of you for sanitary reasons. However, the situation doesn't improve much after the 48 hrs because you can get your own dessert and bread but most things are still behind a glass so for example you have to wait in line until the omelettes the guy in front you ordered be prepared even if you just want a hash brown. There is not enough people to serve and it makes no sense to have things behind glass that are very easy to serve. The taste is also a disappointment too. Breakfast was by far the worst because it was rather limited. Lunch was a little bit better but still lacking. Dinner had the best tasting dishes but nothing compared to delicacies we've had in other ships. Especially being a vegetarian, I struggled to find options since most of the food includes some kind of meat. They only had one day at lunch with Indian food for example and still more that half of it was meat. This will not be a problem to most people but still the taste of the food is far better in other cruise lines.
Overall, we liked the atmosphere, we had a lot of fun with the seniors which might not be appealing to some people but to us it was a big positive in this cruise. The itinerary was great so if we find a deal with a great itinerary on HAL we'll take it but won't purposely look to cruise with them.
I was surprised after reading this was a lower luxury cruise line. For me the rooms and ship in general were no different from Royal Caribbean and less in some aspects. In my opinion Celebrity is superior by far to it in all aspects. Less

Published 12/29/12

Cabin review: DA644 Large Ocean-View Stateroom

Cabin 644 was excellent. Very quiet despite being bellow an open veranda hallway that's the "balcony" of the lanai staterooms upstairs but can be publicly accessed. It was close to the stairs and elevators that took you right to the dining room and the lido buffet without being too close to have any noise from it. The room was nice with a sofa bed and a small tub in the bathroom. Window is very nice and large too with perfect views. Highly recommended room. Also, since it's on the bottoms floors and close to the center of the ship the rocking of the ship was less noticeable than in other areas of the ship.

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Port and Shore Excursions

The Parliament in Barbados is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a 2 USD per person shuttle there to see the building and once there cross the bridge and walk left and you'll find a wonderful beach right there close to the city with pink beaches and sea stars in the bottom of the crystal clear water. Barbados is a must for the beach. If you want to spend more they'll take you to better beaches but this one was so beautiful that we didn't need to go elsewhere and you can walk right back to the ship if you want.
Read 1226 Barbados Reviews

Half Moon Cay is the cruise line private island and no wonder they chose this location because it's gorgeous! You have to get a tender ashore because the water gets really shallow near the beach which allows you to get really far into the sea and still touch ground. The sea is very calm and looks more like a pool with wonderful hues of blue. The water is crystal clear and if you have goggles it's easy to spot fish. It's really the picture of paradise.

Martinique is very French indeed. In Fort-de-France you will find Galleries LaFayette and pharmacies carrying the same beauty products as those in France do. Other than the Schoelcher Library and Josephine's beheaded statue in front of it there's not much to see in the city. The biggest issue is the ship is docked very far from the entrance of the port and especially in hot weather it's terrible. Plus adding the walk to downtown it gets really uncomfortable. However, the cab costs 8 euros to downtown or two per person if you share. It's highly recommended as they're waiting very close to the ship and they save you a really long walk in the scorching sun. Another pointer is that the port provided free wi-fi but if you don't need it badly don't bother. It has too many security protections and you have to put in a password to get to another password to put in an address, etc. etc. It's really a hassle and the most complicated wi-fi I've seen in the world.

The cruise ships arrive at Frederiksted but in the port entrance there are very well organized shuttles waiting to take you on the 40 min drive to Christiansted for 16 USD (there's no negotiating needed as this is the flat rate). Downtown Christiansted is a well preserved dutch town with the Government House and Fort as its highlights. It's pretty but small to navigate so it doesn't take much time. Frederiksted is less well preserved so it's not recommended to spend much time here. Immediately to the left of the port entrance you can find the Frederiksted fort and a beach. It must be the closest beach to the ship I've seen in the Caribbean. It's very convenient if you want to go to the beach hassle free.

Downtown Basseterre is busy and except for the Cathedral there's not much to see. Head to UNESCO World Heritage Site Brimstone Hill Fortress. It's a must see in Basseterre. It's a 30 min drive from the port and the cab cost us 50 USD (apparently it's the government set rate because we asked around and everybody gave us the same price). The exhibitions in the fort are not all that impressive but the view and the architecture of the place are what matters. It's worth the trip.
Read 1321 St. Kitts Reviews

Cruise ship arrived in Philipsburg on the dutch side. Downtown is a 10 min walk to the left of the port. It's a wonderful nice little down full of stores, a beach right downtown with lines of stores were the beach ends. Very pretty combination of ocean with green hills. A 2 USD per person ride on public bus will take you to Marigot, the French capital. There's not much to see other than a few restaurants and a market but still is interesting to see how different both towns are. Incredible to see how to different cultures can peacefully coexist is such a small piece of land.

We arrived on a Saturday when the market was in full swing and it covered several blocks of the capital. We didn't take a shore excursion but it might be worth it to go see more of the island because in Kinsgstown there's nothing to see. Not even the two churches are worth it and they're a long walk from the port especially when you have to fight your way through the busy market.

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