We chose this cruize because of the amazing locations packed into the Christmas Holiday. The service and food were exactly what we have come to expect on Holland America and we were not disappointed. Through the ports and shore excursions, plus watching from the ship, I saw over 120 new species of birds. (I am a hard core birdwatcher and we chose wildlife tours that would enable me to identify the new birds). The wildlife opportunities plus natural beauty made this itinerary feel like getting Alaska and Hawaii plus marsupials all in one. Really astounding nature that should be on everyone's bucket list. A few aspects of the itinerary made this stand out against other similar itineraries--one was the scenic cruising of Fijordland National Park. Another was a day of scenic cruising before the final port of Auckland. This allowed the ship to circle spectacular White Island twice (once for the port side and once for the starboard side. The day we visited there were dramatic plumes of smoke and sulfurous gasses coming out. The sun shown on the yellow-sulfur deposits. The power of geology was in full force. Later that day, while we sat at dinner we notice a large number of giant petrels feeding in a group. My teen, well trained from so much wildlife watching said "there must be something feeding below." Just then a pod of about 7 orcas started breaching. On a medium-sized ship, it was still our own private moment with the sea. The only negative we had was the "Loft" teen program on this ship. There were about 15 teens onboard during Christmas holidays, as we had predicted. Unfortunately, there were enough younger children that all the club HAL space was used for them. My daughter really missed having a hangout where she could reliably find her friends. Instead, there was a daily schedule that they had to follow being shuttled around to different locations--Hudson Room, Lido, etc. The teens were not impressed with being told to follow a schedule. So we would be leary of booking the Maasdam again.

All the wonders of Australia and New Zealand with no unpacking!

Maasdam Cruise Review by jarobinstx

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We chose this cruize because of the amazing locations packed into the Christmas Holiday. The service and food were exactly what we have come to expect on Holland America and we were not disappointed. Through the ports and shore excursions, plus watching from the ship, I saw over 120 new species of birds. (I am a hard core birdwatcher and we chose wildlife tours that would enable me to identify the new birds). The wildlife opportunities plus natural beauty made this itinerary feel like getting Alaska and Hawaii plus marsupials all in one. Really astounding nature that should be on everyone's bucket list.

A few aspects of the itinerary made this stand out against other similar itineraries--one was the scenic cruising of Fijordland National Park. Another was a day of scenic cruising before the final port of Auckland. This allowed the ship to circle spectacular White Island twice (once for the port side and once for the starboard side. The day we visited there were dramatic plumes of smoke and sulfurous gasses coming out. The sun shown on the yellow-sulfur deposits. The power of geology was in full force. Later that day, while we sat at dinner we notice a large number of giant petrels feeding in a group. My teen, well trained from so much wildlife watching said "there must be something feeding below." Just then a pod of about 7 orcas started breaching. On a medium-sized ship, it was still our own private moment with the sea.

The only negative we had was the "Loft" teen program on this ship. There were about 15 teens onboard during Christmas holidays, as we had predicted. Unfortunately, there were enough younger children that all the club HAL space was used for them. My daughter really missed having a hangout where she could reliably find her friends. Instead, there was a daily schedule that they had to follow being shuttled around to different locations--Hudson Room, Lido, etc. The teens were not impressed with being told to follow a schedule. So we would be leary of booking the Maasdam again.
jarobinstx’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Ages 13 to 15
Service
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Cabin Review

Vista Suite with Verandah
Cabin BB
Vista suites on this ship are equivalent to Veranda's on other HAL ships, but you do at least get the suite credits. The cabin was tight for a couple plus a teen, but we managed just fine.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Akaroa
    This relazed sailing cruise from Akaroa harbor offered great opportunities to see Hectors dolphins as well as the shags (cormorants) breeding on the steep cliffs near Akaroa Head. So relaxing with wonderful views. For some reason the dolphins prefer to follow the sailboat instead of the motorized tour boats. This was a great choice!
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  • Bank's Peninsula
    Banks Peninsula Hill Country Sheep farm was unique among the farm tours in that included interaction with the whole family across 3 generations. We heard the story of their ancestors coming to New Zealand and learned of the economic ups and downs of farming. This was special and personal, followed by a homemade devonshire tea on the family patio.
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  • Cradle Mountain National Park
    Wombats, wombats everywhere! We were on a slightly rainy day and the wildife were out in force. We must have seen over 20 wombads, many pademelons and wallabies.Lunch at the Cradle Mountain lodge was a tasty soup, cold sandwich and alcoholic beverage. Lovely nature walks and vistas over Dove Lake.
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  • Otago Peninsula and Yellow-Eyed Penguins
    There is only one pair of breeding yellow-eyed penguins, but we got to see a chick. Since this species does not breed in captivity or tolerate egg swapping, there is little that can be done to manage them. The tour helps support the activities at the reserve. We also saw numerous little blue penguins, and seals pulled out on the rocks. A great experience for us was watching one of the rehabilitated yellow-eyed penguins being released.
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  • Eden (Australia)
    Led by national park personnel and an aboriginal guide, this was a nice easy walk to Haycock point. There were aspect of culture, and the whaling history, as wells as kangaroos everywhere!
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  • Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
    This was exactly what we expected--a wildlife part with rehab animals. We much prefer seeing animals in the wild, even if it doesn't always work out. However it was very educational to learn about the plight of the Tasmanian devil and about the only place to see one, since they are nocturnal.
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  • Mt. Field National Park
    This was a lovely short nature walk to a waterfall, with great photo opportunity. But the guide was a bit soporific and annoyed trying to keep everyone on a timetable. Our favorite moment was when we sat on a bench outside the visitor's center and suddenly a flock of splendid fairy wrens surrounded us!
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  • Kangaroos & Koalas
    Wonderful opportunity to see real kangaroo behavior and koalas in the wild. Taking the tour benefits the conservation and management activities. The scientists involved mean you are much more likely to see wild koalas because they are being studied on a daily basis.
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  • Cape Kidnappers
    This drive along Hawkes Bay followed by visiting a mainland Australasian Gannet colon at Kape Kidnappers was amazing. I have dragged my husband on dozens of nature tours, and he says this is the best one ever. Even the photos on our iPhones look amazing. Gannets are large seabirds related to boobies, and are nesting during December-March. When we visited in December, some were still incubating eggs, but many of the chicks were about half size. There were great opportunities to observe mating and feeding behavior. We slo got to learn about the land management. We had a fancy homemade tea at the tour operators base before returning to the ship.
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  • Picton
    This was a short boat ride to a new reserve where predators are being excluded. We had the opportunity to see numerous bell birds, New Zealand pigeons, and YES a wild kiwi! The guides were knowledgeable, and we got a good working on the 2-mile up and down walk above the harbor. Ended with tea and cookies as we boated back to our ship.
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  • Sydney (Australia)
    We took a taxi to the port directly from a North American flight, and paid a bit extra for some photo stops at the Sydney Opera House. There was little waiting in line and it was a very pleasant embarkation experience.
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  • Tauranga
    The Glow worms at Waitomo caves are a must see attraction. The cave tour is carefully managed so that the glow worms aren't disturbed and continue to glow. Although glow worms are really fly larvae with a phosphorescent sting of mucus for catching food, as your guide puls you by rope in a boat through a cavern, you look up to the ceiling and it is like a field of stars. A must-see for New Zealand.
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  • Hobbiton Movie Set
    We wanted to see both Hobbiton and the Waitomo caves and so booked independently. This was totally do-able with our time ashore, and we really enjoyed our private guide. Hobbiton is a must-see for anyone that loves hobbits, of course. The non-Hobbit lovers in our group, put up with it for my sake.
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  • City Tour
    This city tour allowed brief views of Wellington, a tram ride to the top of Mt. Victoria. If we had it to do over, we would travel independently downtown, take the tram ourselves, and maybe enjoy Zealandia instead.
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  • Te Papa Museum
    The Maori artifacts are beautiful as is the newly constructed National Meeting house. Unfortunately these artifacts were taken without permission, and the Maori that own them do not allow photographs in the museum. Our visit as part o f a city tour allowed only 1 hour before the muesum opened.
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