We like Holland America. And we selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We were on the ship for 8 weeks starting in San Francisco on June 18. The Maasdam went to a lot of ports in the first 3 weeks. Namely Ketchikan, Sitka, Anchorage, Kodiak, Valdez, Homer, Haines, Juneau (where we did a helicopter flight to 2 glaciers), Wrangell. We saw Hubbard Glacier up close and also College Fjord. Then we did the Inside Passage and went south to Vancouver (the only rainy day) and on to Port Alberni and Astoria before returning to San Francisco. This was the end of 3 weeks.
We then started north again and went to Seattle, Victoria BC, Ketchikan, Sitka, Dutch Harbour (and Unalaska), and then on to Nome. This port even the captain hadn't been to and he still hasn't because the seas were too choppy for a safe tender journey. So we missed it unfortunately. Then we went on to Petropavlovsk in Russia and from there to Kushiro in Japan. All brilliant places. Our second 3 weeks ended in Yokohama, Japan.
And so the last 2 weeks of our cruise started.
Yokohama is a very modern city and it is quite easy to get around. Our next port was Shimizu, then Kobe, Takamatsu and Kochi where it was market day. Very hot in Japan in August though. Kanazawa was lovely. Then we went back to Russia to see Vladivostok and Korsakov. From there back to Japan. Otaru is a lovely town with great shopping. Our last port before returning to Yokohama was Hakodate. Also really nice.
So all in all a great cruise with lots of very different ports to visit. We really enjoyed it and we met great people on this cruise. We would certainly do this cruise again if we could.
We did not use the ship's shore excursions as they are too expensive. We went on independent tours with local touring companies and they were great. Some were booked by us (and listed on the relevant Cruise Critic Roll Call pages)and some by other Cruise Critic members
Embarkation went very smoothly, disembarkation was also great as long as you waited until the last moment and most people were gone.
The Maasdam is an EXC ship and therefore hasn't got the production shows that other ships in the fleet have. There were lots of lectures relating to the areas we sailed through. But we enjoyed that. We especially enjoyed Naturalist Gloetta, she is a marvel and so enthusiastic. Everyone loved her and at the end there was standing room only.
But still, every night there was some show, either singer(s), piano players, violinist, even a rock and roll band and a hip hop group. Plenty of things to do We especially liked Lee the piano man. We sat most nights around the piano and sang our hearts out. Really great fun.
Dining was hit or miss. Some meals were absolutely fabulous and others so so. Breakfast and lunch were mostly good.
The crew is fantastic, from cabin stewards to bar staff to Lido staff and also the dining room. Laundry was done perfectly.
Were there any hiccups? Sure, there always are small problems, but they were overcome and we all learned from it.
Would we sail Holland America again? Absolutely. Our next cruise will in December, again on the Maasdam.
Our cabin on A deck was great. We had the bed split so we would have more room in the middle. it also allows for easier access to the suitcases underneath. We had hired a small fridge which was great. It fit easily under the television (which is still an old model). There was a couch with extra cushions on it. Nice.
There is a good size safe in one of the wardrobes. It would easily fit an iPad, maybe even a laptop. We didn't try.
The cabin stewards refill the ice bucket twice a day and of course, they leave a towel animal and some chocolates on the bed each night. We were provided with soft drinks (mini bar) but we asked to have that removed as we don't like them. They did immediately.
Our cabin stewards were lovely and very attentive.
Bathroom was small but adequate. There is a small bath (only good for small children) so you had to step into that which was okay for us. Toileteries such as shampoo, conditioner and body wash (all Elemis brand) were provided and regularly refilled. There is a pull out line for drying washing which is handy.
For the last 2 weeks we moved to cabin 605 on deck 5 (Main deck). The cabin was the same as the one on A deck and the cabin stewards were great.