Small Ships Have Some Advantages: Maasdam Cruise Review by drtenor

Maasdam 4
Member Since 2010

Overall Member Rating

Small Ships Have Some Advantages

Sail Date: August 2010
Destination: Canada & New England
Embarkation: Boston
First, we would like to thank previous reviewers for their helpful advice. We found their observations regarding the ship and its crew to be very accurate. There truly is only ONE outlet in the entire stateroom; this is not a dual outlet, mind you, but a single AC outlet, so plan accordingly by charging your devices on a rotating schedule, or bring a small power strip. We also found that the air conditioning was inadequate. The cooling unit was working, but the amount of air stream and coolness was not enough to cool the stateroom on days when it was above 85 degrees outside. The public areas were always comfortable, but the stateroom was unavoidable when it came time to sleep! Most nights, I would go to sleep with no covers on, then find myself waking @3am when the temp finally dropped to necessitate some light covering. We were extremely lucky that outside heat and humidity conditions were ideal throughout our trip; had it been much warmer or more humid, we would have been miserable More all night long. When this ship goes in for remodeling next year, I hope this ventilation issue is addressed.

We agree also with others that this ship is showing some signs of wear and tear, but not so much as to detract from its overall elegance. The stateroom bathroom showed the most wear, especially the basin, which showed crazing and cracking of the finish. Our toilet functioned well as long as we were careful not to put too much paper in it at one time. We overheard other passengers complaining about their toilets backing up and spilling; this seemed to be a system issue that worsened in the final days of the cruise. Aside from these potentially serious issues (again, we were lucky with the weather and very careful with the toilet), we found the entire cruise experience to be very positive.

A key advantage to the size of this ship is that it can clear under all the bridges necessary to reach Montreal. I learned from a tour guide in Quebec that most cruise ships must terminate in Quebec City because they are too tall. At 719 feet and 12 decks, this small ship maneuvered well into and out of each port, ducking under low bridges and steering in between bridge pillars. The captain and crew needed to stay attentive to achieve this, plus, navigate the St. Lawrence as it narrowed into shipping lanes. With a total of 1200 passengers, it was possible to meet up with people that you had met and conversed with earlier, thus making for a familiar friendly atmosphere.

All the public areas seemed plenty spacious enough, so we never felt crowded, with two notable exceptions. One was the piano bar. Thanks to a very gifted pianist, this bar was a real hit. It is walled off in the middle of the ship, with no windows. It is the smallest bar, and many people who wanted to sit in there found that there simply wasn't room. The other space allocation issue I would raise was that the Casino area "spilled over" into the central concourse of deck 8, upper promenade. The upper promenade is the most elegant of all decks, with big picture windows, a classy library, well appointed coffee bar, some shops, the stately explorations lounge where the string quartet would play, the upscale dining restaurant, and the upper levels of the live theatre and formal dining room. All these areas are beautifully appointed, but the whole atmosphere is somewhat cheapened with the presence (and noise) of the Casino area clearly having been extended beyond its originally intended boundary. The Casino area was much more properly situated on the slightly larger Zaandam that we took on our Alaska cruise in August of 2006.

Lest I sound too negative, please let me emphasize that this was a wonderful experience that I would recommend to others and do again myself. Among the positives: our stateroom was compact, but large enough for all four of us to reside at night and to have in room breakfast. The beds and linens were very comfortable. The staff was ALWAYS attentive and courteous. The ports of call were interesting, and there were plenty of on board activities. My wife and daughter signed up for a culinary class for a fee of $29 each. They both really enjoyed and learned from the experience, and felt this was well worth the price, which also includes a subscription to food and wine magazine. Another good "investment" for us was purchasing a wine card on the day of embarkation. My wife and kids don't drink, but I like a glass of wine with dinner. Purchased separately, each glass of house wine would have cost about $7, but with a 10 glass wine card that cost $41, each glass cost just $4. This was enough to have a glass with each dinner, plus a couple more as an occasional aperitif. Less

Published 09/06/10

Cabin review: F720 Large Ocean-View Stateroom

Stateroom 720, on deck 4, forward starboard, was in a very quiet location. It is a quad room ,of which there aren't very many. It has a view window, which we appreciated, so we could see when we were underway and when we were pulling into port. The window also helps make the room feel a little bit bigger.

Read All Large Ocean-View Stateroom (F) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We took the excursion tour up to Acadia National Park. I enjoyed the tour guide who pointed out all the points of interest along the way. While we could have gotten to the park for less, it was reassuring to have this coordinated with the cruise, so that we didn't have to worry about getting back to the ship on time. As it turned out, a couple of youngsters who toured Bar Harbor on their own got back too late and missed the ship. They ended up being sped out on a pilot boat to meet us an hour after we disembarked. The ship slowed and the pilot boat tied on, then the couple climbed a rope ladder onto deck 5, the whole spectacle of this being watched by many of the passengers on board.

Not officially a port of call, this was the city from which we embarked. Flying from Seattle, it was necessary to arrive at least one day before sailing. Never having been to Boston, we allowed ourselves three days in Boston, and would recommend at least as many days for anyone visiting this glorious city. TIP: get a 7-day link pass (purchased from vendor machines in the subway stations) which is good on all subway transit lines PLUS ferries. We were able to visit MIT and Harvard, follow the freedom trail, visit historical sites of interest, such as the Adams' estates and the USS Constitution, along with a visit to the JFK Museum. In our mid forties, we were hale and hearty enough to manage the stairs at subway stations and jump on and off the trains as needed. For those who are older, I would recommend an additional day to see all that we did in three days. If you are retired and have more time (and money), spend a full week in Boston. I was really impressed with this jewel of a city, whose bridges and waterways reminded me of my hometown of Seattle. However, Boston is much more rich in American colonial history, of course, and its mass transit system makes it so much easier to get around than in Seattle.

Read 490 Boston Reviews

Charlottetown was quaint and charming. We visited Cows Ice Cream (the kids insisted), then my wife and daughter took the Anne of Green Gables tour. They are both aficionados of that whole story, so they enjoyed it. My son and I enjoyed strolling the beautiful streets, and took in some street entertainment along the way. I had brought my laptop on board the ship, but found the ship's internet speed way too slow to pay approx a dollar a minute. Until Charlottetown, we did not find free public Wi-Fi. In the dockside port of entry building, there was free Wi-Fi. It was slow, but free, so I checked email and responded to queries that needed a timely response.

We enjoyed a meaningful tour of the Catholic Basilica by Franciscan Brother James. Also, we toured the Halifax Immigration Museum, which was very informative. Those immigrants who crossed the Atlantic came to New England entering via Ellis Island. There were also many who came to Nova Scotia (meaning "New Scotland") entering via Halifax. This museum is a must for anyone visiting Halifax.

Read 563 Halifax Reviews

For all of us, this was the highlight of the ports of call. We strolled the old part of the city, appreciating the stately architecture of "New France", which in some ways is more traditional than modern day France. We enjoyed shopping here, getting some very nice, quality clothing articles. Later, we picked up the bus tour of the old parts of the city. It was good to get the background and history of the city, and this tour also took us up to the Citadel.

When visiting Quebec City, be sure to allow time to do lots of shopping. If you do take a tour, make it a short one.

Besides an interesting visit to St. Patrick's, the first Catholic church in Nova Scotia, there wasn't much to see or do in Sydney. We visited a small cutural/maritime museum, then stopped at a used bookstore. We checked out the public library to see if there was public internet access, but you had to be a card carrying member. We visited a local park, and walked the waterfront boardwalk. We boarded the ship long before it was time to disembark.

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