We enjoyed this cruise on the Maasdam. We paid a low price, less than $100 a day per person plus port fees and gratuities. Our stateroom was clean and roomy for an inside and we appreciated the full size sofa. The food was very good in both the dining room and the Lido. It seemed that HAL tried to have something for everyone. As a pescatarian and a vegetarian we could almost always find something we wanted to eat. We knew we could have availed ourselves of the special menu service and ordered a day in advance, but meals in the dining room tended to take one and a half plus hours. We didn't want to do that three times a day.
The staff was friendly and competent. No complaints. The muster drill was disorganized with staff members shouting out names and cabin numbers to take attendance. Quite a number didn't appear to be there but people were walking back and forth while this was going on. After 45 minutes of this some elderly people left.
HAL has a range of activities on offer, some revenue generating. There were many talks and we attended and enjoyed most of them. We also played trivia twice a day. The shopping was there but more subdued than other lines. The small pool was closed on multiple days due to the weather, which was not great; a typhoon in the general area was blamed for two missed ports. You couldn't swim laps in the pool.
We travelled independently from the port of Kobe to Kyoto, which is inland about an hour by train. You need some nerve and experience to do this on your own as the train stations can be intimidating. The machines to buy the tickets do have an English option, however. Kyoto is many, many temples being the original capital of Japan and our best stop of the cruise. It was exceedingly hot and humid (in August) and I almost got heat stroke so be forewarned.
If you get an all day tram/bus pass for about $10 you can get off and on. The things to see were average in my opinion. There was a Music Box museum which is really a large shop with many music boxes you can buy and a demonstration/concert was held outside the shop with tinny renditions of The Blue Danube and other pieces. There's a large park at one end of town and a ropeway at the other (we didn't go on this was it was expensive for a 3 minute ride).