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Maasdam Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
594 Reviews

An old ship in need of renovation

Maasdam Cruise Review by gomontavista

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jul 2019
  • Destination: Transpacific
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom

This was one of few cruises out of San Francisco with a tour of Alaska and onward to Japan (21 days) with a circle Northern Japan for an additional 14 days.

Itinerary: This ship visited several ports not normally on the Alaska cruise circuit including Unalaska (Dutch Harbor) and Nome (tendering was canceled due to weather), three ports in Russia, and a couple in north Japan before stopping in Yokohama, then circle Northern Japan. It was refreshing visiting new ports in Alaska which provided a quiet non-touristy environment with free shuttles to town. The usual Ketchikan and Victoria were the normal hustle and bustle. Wanted to get a "There's no place like Nome" shirt, but due to weather, we could not get off the ship, which continued on its journey towards Russia.

Russia required visas and we were not allowed to get off the ship unless we had a visa (difficult to get in the U.S.) or booked an excursion (which provided a group permit to get off the ship in lieu of a visa). Based on reviews of the ports, we opted to stay on board.

Japan was very welcoming at each city with taiko, dancers, signing, and other entertainment at most ports (viewable from deck), and free transportation to the city center when needed. Yokohama was the large port with Chinatown and business areas within walking distance. The ship visited several Japanese cities with a similar experience before going to Vladivostok where we did take an excursion.

In Vladivostok, the excursion was high priced and not worth the cost. We visited a Russian church, a hill where we could view the city waterfront, a natural history museum, a WWII submarine partially restored and the town square, all of which would have been walking distance if we were allowed to walk around unescorted. We were brought to a single tourist shop, but shopping, at least for cruise passengers, is unmature. On board, we had exchanged some money for souvenirs and ended up exchanging it all back once on board. At least we are now able to say we visited Russia, but we would not visit again unless it is on an independent overland tour or maybe river cruise.

Traveling to Russia and Japan and between them required passport inspection which was very tedious with lines across the ship, but at least inspection was on board and it is not the cruiseline's fault its passengers have to endure this. However, a relative traveling with us, a resident of Japan, was apparently directed the wrong way by ship personnel and missed initial Japanese inspection. He was detained, and ship personnel accompanied him on shore to Japanese immigration where they sorted things out (I think they stamped him out so that he could come back in). This detained the ship a while before it was able to depart from the port.

Dining was pretty good, but we missed the souffles and other fancy foods we remember from old cruises, and after several weeks, the same basic food kind of got tedious. It was nice to have a choice of soft serve or real ice cream at the buffet (served in waffle or regular cones or bowls) though the selection of flavors was minimal (They should get more flavors and rotate them). As with other cruises, food is prepared by European style chefs who know nothing about ethnic nor even regional foods. Though sushi was regular at the buffet, we, along with lots of crew, ended up going to sushi restaurants in Japan. Western food was okay, but suffered from a lack of variety. Then again, it was nice not worrying about gaining weight on a cruise. Hours were a little off our schedule, so it was pretty often when we were hungry, there was nothing to eat. At the buffet, changeover between meals (like between breakfast and lunch) had distinct and lengthy closures when nothing was available. Same with water and coffee machines which rotated and shut down often, commonly with no cups available either.

Enrichment lectures were a joke. The cook/chef failed to follow her own instructions, and though she was supposed to be demonstrating Asian food, it was obvious that she had little experience in cooking, and confused Japanese and Chinese cooking. The Doctor who provided Japanese cultural lectures had no knowledge of Japan - we got more information from the newspaper circulated daily onboard. He was apparently a retired dentist (hence "Doctor") who blamed everything in Japan on millennials, with the explantion, "well, you know millennials". The natural history lecturer out of a Southern California community college, was dry (boring!) and was apparently lecturing to an introductory geology class. The biology lecturer surprisingly was very dynamic and entertaining, and imparted more knowledge about geology than the geologist.

Entertainment was particularly disappointing with a few bright stars. There was no dancing or Vegas show type entertainment, with generally a few one person acts singing or playing musical instruments, and a mentalist. One group was vastly inexperienced, scheduled to give two shows, but they only had one show they could do. Singers were generally poor and the lack of talent would not have been acceptable for a small community theater. The lounge groups (performing in the bars and atrium) were generally very good and vastly better than most of the star performers.

The Maasdam is ready for retirement (and we were even told it was on sale and would be leaving the Holland fleet). Things are worn out everywhere. Our room had a CRT analog TV, the shower head was broken, plugs were loose, and things wearing out. We felt our room did not heat enough and we heard many others complain of even colder rooms (this was in Alaska) and once we got to summery Japan, our cabin was still cold, but became bearable. Others became very hot, and the elevators to the buffet and the buffet became excruciatingly hot.

Our cabin , E390, was an accessible cabin, so we had a wide door and a little more room than others, with very convenient access to the deck. Our rooms were guarantee rooms and that is what we got. We noticed that there were other passengers who could have used accessible cabins, but apparently they ended up in regular cabins. The problem with our cabin was that from the sofa, you can't see the TV, and we had to be careful not to flood the washroom since the floor including shower was flat, and the shower curtain had to be positioned just right. We had concerns about this deck with the promenade right outside the window, but the heavy tinting provided reasonable privacy, and we did not notice any extraneous noise other than muffled talking (the lengthy cruise meant older passengers - it might be different with more kids around). There was an outside bench close to our window. We thought about moving it a foot or two down, but it was bolted down.

Crew was very attentive. We commented about the hardness of our bed and the steward provided a foam cushion which helped things immensely. In general, all crew was very helpful and attentive, showing a positive attitude, contentiously helping the passengers. We even tipped the wine steward, though we never ordered any wine). However, at Yokohama, there was apparently a substantial crew change with new crewmembers being less attentive and helpful. At the buffet, suddenly, tables were not cleaned, water/coffee service disappeared, and everything in general became unkempt. At the evening snack, we recall watching a young Filipina, acting in charge, busy flirting with the bus personnel. She did not bother to do any work at all and even got irritated when someone asked for some cups for water.

In summary, we would not go on the Maasdam again unless it was renovated. We'll still consider Holland (This was our second cruise with them) and generally prefer another cruiseline though it will take an additional 90 days to reach Elite which appears to provide real affinity benefit.


gomontavista's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom

Our cabin , E390, was an accessible cabin, so we had a wide door and a little more room than others, with very convenient access to the deck. Our rooms were guarantee rooms and that is what we got. We noticed that there were other passengers who could have used accessible cabins, but apparently they ended up in regular cabins. The problem with our cabin was that from the sofa, you can't see the TV, and we had to be careful not to flood the washroom since the floor including shower was flat, and the shower curtain had to be positioned just right. We had concerns about this deck with the promenade right outside the window, but the heavy tinting provided reasonable privacy, and we did not notice any extraneous noise other than muffled talking (the lengthy cruise meant older passengers - it might be different with more kids around). There was an outside bench close to our window. We thought about moving it a foot or two down, but it was bolted down.


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