We enjoy cruising because of its relaxing nature, excellent dining, and great entertainment. As a bonus, the ports of call offer a varying blend of history, beauty, and culture.We chose the Maasdam, booking 3 weeks prior to the cruise which gave us excellent rates with a guaranteed cabin, although the location of the cabin remained a mystery until a few days before sailing. But that's OK with us because we actually prefer an inside cabin for its coziness, perfect sleeping environment, and of course, the lower price of an inside cabin in relation to the other offerings. Being retired allows us to book at the 'last minute' at more economical (cheaper ) prices. Some cruises have slipped through our fingers using this method, but c'est la vie. If we lose that one, we get another one...as long as we are cruising we are happy, but certainly happier aboard HAL.We have sailed with HAL on 4 previous occasions and this was our 2nd time aboard the Maasdam. It remains the best ship with which we have cruised with its dedicated crew and personnel. You will not be disappointed if you choose the Maasdam.Another convincing reason for us to choose the Maasdam is that for our geographical location in Ottawa Canada, getting to and from the port of Montreal is a simple 2 hour train ride. We only took one large piece of luggage each and a small carry-on.Upon arriving in Montreal, we walked to the Bonaventure subway station which is connected to the train station, located below the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, by pedestrian passage-ways. A short 3 minute subway ride delivered us to the Place d'Armes subway station. It should be noted that the word'subway' is not used in Montreal...please call it the Metro. The kiosks where you purchase your ticket or Day Pass provide an option that allows you to select all of the on-screen info and directions in English. All stations also have manned booths. Since cruises in Montreal begin or end on Saturdays, there is never a line-up at the booth if you prefer to deal with an actual human being. I have never encountered a booth agent who refused to converse in English..they are actually quite friendly and helpful.When you exit the Place d'Armes station you exit onto rue St Urbain. Turn right and walk up the 2 block hill. You will see the Notre Dame Cathedral, where Celine Dion was wed, continue on your walk downhill. The street has been renamed at this point, rue St Sulpice. At the end of the street, turn right and you can see the not too glamorous-looking terminal building to your left. The walk from the Metro station to the 'ship' took us 17 minutes. More on the 'ship' further down. A note of caution. There are stairs to navigate, so if you have mobility issues or too much luggage, take a taxi from the train station to the dock...a 7 minute drive.If you are arriving by air, another bargain awaits you if you can handle your own luggage. A new service by STM, the public transit folks in Montreal, has begun an express bus service called the 747 which travels into the heart of downtown Montreal for the price of $8 which includes an all-day bus and Metro day pass for unlimited travel. 35-45 minutes depending on the traffic, and certainly much quicker on the weekends.Arriving at the Port of Montreal Iberville Ship Terminal, the Maasdam was NOT THERE. We were quickly reassured that we were not hallucinating, and that these buses were there to transport us to Quebec City, where we would then board the MaasdamIt's a 3 hour ride from Montreal to Quebec City. We arrived at the Port of Quebec at 3PM on Saturday May 7. The Mariners Welcoming Brunch was delayed until our sea day on Tuesday May 10. We chose open dining, a first for us, and having experienced that, we will never return to fixed seating with the same folks for every dinner. We met so many interesting and diverse people in the open dining concept. There are always fresh topics to discuss and the wealth of so many experiences and stories made this such a super cruise. I would have paid money just to meet some of these fascinating people. It truly made our cruise so much more memorable.We stayed in Quebec City overnight, and the ship did not leave until 10PM Sunday night. Sunday morning, we had an early breakfast and scooted up the cobblestone streets to the Chateau Frontenac to have a magnificent view of the Maasdam down below.Quebec has so much more to offer than the confines of its historic past. We purchased a day pass for public transit at the corner store at St Paul Street and Dalhousie Street. Exit right after leaving the cruise terminal through the parking lot. On Sunday 2 people can travel on a one day pass. So the total cost of busing around. From this corner we took a #1 and then got on #800 at the train station, Palais de la Gare. It's a beautiful building, a real gem, with a lovely little park situated at the front.The Bus transit is an ideal way to walk Old Quebec. Get off at the Assemble National, the seat of government for the Province of Quebec. From this point all of your walking will be downhill as you head back towards the Maasdam, as you meander the lovely cobble stoned street.We travelled on the #800 to the western suburb of the city of Quebec called Ste Foy, where we visited Universite Laval.I would also recommend rue St Joseph which is in the vicinity of the train station. It has many interesting coffee shops and eclectic shops with unique French character. Avoid the chains, unless you are truly homesick.Since we were on a B2B, our return visit to Quebec City was on a Friday, so we again bought bus passes to bring us to Montmorency Falls. With all of the rain that's been falling, it was spectacular. Take the #1 and ask the driver to let you off at place Jacques Cartier. It's a 2 minute walk east to the very modern Gabrielle Roy Library. Take the #53, which is discreetly hidden on the east side of the library.Following the sea day, Our first port was Charlottetown. Free internet is available in the Founders' Hall located to the north of the cruise terminal, or at the main public library on Queen Street. There are many coffee places, Irish bars and sea-food restaurants downtown. Some entrepreneurial taxi drivers will take you on a customized or recommended tour. Several people I spoke with did this, and they really enjoyed it and thus maximized their time visiting the island. Charlottetown only has a pop. of 35 000 and is easily navigable by foot. St Dunstan's Basilica with its stained glass windows is worth a look. It's 2 spires are beacons to you from the ship. Several Maasdam passengers and crew were in attendance at the Catholic Mass which is celebrated every week day.I should point out that when you enter the cruise terminal you will be greeted by a retired member of The RCMP, in full ceremonial dress : Stetson, brilliant red serge, blue riding pants with the yellow stripe down the side,riding boots and spurs. Sorry, no gun. This fellow is enthusiastic and really enjoys doing this work. He will pose for as many pictures as you wish, is an invaluable source of RCMP information, and is a real gem that the tourist people have recruited for this purpose. Sydney was pouring buckets, so we did not venture into the town. Fortunately the terminal has an abundance of skilled artist who arrive from all corners of Cape Breton Island to entice you to buy their Made In Nova Scotia creations. There is a splendid free museum on the 2nd floor which depicts the interesting history of Sydney. Taxi drivers are situated at the end of the long walk, up the path which takes you into the town. The highlights for folks who took tours were Baddeque, the Birthplace Of Alexander Graham Bell, and the magnificent fortress of Louisbourg, one of the best reconstructed forts in Canada.We experienced 25-30 foot waves from Sydney to Halifax. At the 5:30 dinner, half the people showed up. A half hour later the Rotterdam Dining Room was nearly empty. Dishes were flying off the serving tables. One woman was attacked by a bottle of red wine which leapt at her and gave her a drenching.Halifax. We walked to Scotia Square on Barrington Street and picked up bus info and a fairly decent map of the transit system and schedules, all free, at Lawton's Drug Store. We travelled over the bridge into Dartmouth and looked around, but it was basically suburbia, so we headed back, took a bus to the Fairview Cemetery to view some of the gravesites from the Titanic tragedy. Hopping another bus we headed towards the Alexander Keith Brewery, only a 15 minute walk north of the cruise terminal. The best fish n' chips That I have ever enjoyed were cooked just for me. Alexander Keith's India Ale draft is a must.We then walked over to the public library on Spring Garden Road to check email. There is a lovely park another 20 minute walk up Spring Garden, located just north of the huge Queen Elizabeth Health Care Centre/Hospital. Many chose the tour to Peggy's Cove and most of the reviews were positive.Bar Harbor. This is the only time you will tender. Customs and Border Protection Services was done aboard ship quite quickly. Tons of touristy stuff such as hats, jackets, jewellery, and every imaginable kinick-nack ever conceived by a Chinese sweat shop. My friends had excellent clam chowder at Poor Peter's. There was a group with an express desire to walk way down the far end of Main St called Havana. I can only imagine it's cigars or Cuban food, or both. It's a popular spot in any case.This beautiful sunny day gave people a good reason to visit Acadia National Park. Those who took the tours raved about it.Boston. There are thick books written specifically about visiting this city. Since we were B2B, we we're given the option of getting off the ship at 7:30AM or waiting till 10:30. We were in a cab by 7:35 for the trip to South Station subway station where we obtained subway/bus passes which brought us to Harvard, Quincy Market, The Boston Common, and the HUGE public library. Food. We always ate in the Rotterdam Dining Room for breakfast. Fresh fruit,yogurt, freshly squeezed orange juice, capuccino, omelettes, and the best oatmeal that is served at sea. Delicious.Lunch was usually in the Lido. Very good salad bar, an Italian station, an entree stop with a carving table, and sushi at the end of the lido. The roast chicken, roast turkey, and ham are served on different days, but there is usually strip loin or some sirloin roast available as well. You can specify rare to well done for your steak selection at the Lido buffet.Dinners at the Rotterdam Dining Room. Roast turkey, filet mignon, New York cuts, surf n' turf at the farewell dinner. Bread is always excellent.Entertainment. Guitarist Justin Miller..simply amazing. Julie Barr a terrific comedienne who showed quick reflexes and wit when ad libbing with audience members. Ventriloquist Michael Robinson was outstanding with his dummy, Terrence. The second week's entertainment was a complete change, focusing on Broadway and singing. I only made it to one of those, but again the talent which was diplayed was absolutely superb.That's the end of my abbreviated review. The Maasdam..the best ship out there.

Maasdam B2B May 7-21 Montreal/Boston

Maasdam Cruise Review by Math Guy

Trip Details
We enjoy cruising because of its relaxing nature, excellent dining, and great entertainment. As a bonus, the ports of call offer a varying blend of history, beauty, and culture.We chose the Maasdam, booking 3 weeks prior to the cruise which gave us excellent rates with a guaranteed cabin, although the location of the cabin remained a mystery until a few days before sailing. But that's OK with us because we actually prefer an inside cabin for its coziness, perfect sleeping environment, and of course, the lower price of an inside cabin in relation to the other offerings. Being retired allows us to book at the 'last minute' at more economical (cheaper ) prices. Some cruises have slipped through our fingers using this method, but c'est la vie. If we lose that one, we get another one...as long as we are cruising we are happy, but certainly happier aboard HAL.We have sailed with HAL on 4 previous occasions and this was our 2nd time aboard the Maasdam. It remains the best ship with which we have cruised with its dedicated crew and personnel. You will not be disappointed if you choose the Maasdam.Another convincing reason for us to choose the Maasdam is that for our geographical location in Ottawa Canada, getting to and from the port of Montreal is a simple 2 hour train ride. We only took one large piece of luggage each and a small carry-on.Upon arriving in Montreal, we walked to the Bonaventure subway station which is connected to the train station, located below the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, by pedestrian passage-ways. A short 3 minute subway ride delivered us to the Place d'Armes subway station. It should be noted that the word'subway' is not used in Montreal...please call it the Metro. The kiosks where you purchase your ticket or Day Pass provide an option that allows you to select all of the on-screen info and directions in English. All stations also have manned booths. Since cruises in Montreal begin or end on Saturdays, there is never a line-up at the booth if you prefer to deal with an actual human being. I have never encountered a booth agent who refused to converse in English..they are actually quite friendly and helpful.When you exit the Place d'Armes station you exit onto rue St Urbain. Turn right and walk up the 2 block hill. You will see the Notre Dame Cathedral, where Celine Dion was wed, continue on your walk downhill. The street has been renamed at this point, rue St Sulpice. At the end of the street, turn right and you can see the not too glamorous-looking terminal building to your left. The walk from the Metro station to the 'ship' took us 17 minutes. More on the 'ship' further down. A note of caution. There are stairs to navigate, so if you have mobility issues or too much luggage, take a taxi from the train station to the dock...a 7 minute drive.If you are arriving by air, another bargain awaits you if you can handle your own luggage. A new service by STM, the public transit folks in Montreal, has begun an express bus service called the 747 which travels into the heart of downtown Montreal for the price of $8 which includes an all-day bus and Metro day pass for unlimited travel. 35-45 minutes depending on the traffic, and certainly much quicker on the weekends.Arriving at the Port of Montreal Iberville Ship Terminal, the Maasdam was NOT THERE. We were quickly reassured that we were not hallucinating, and that these buses were there to transport us to Quebec City, where we would then board the MaasdamIt's a 3 hour ride from Montreal to Quebec City. We arrived at the Port of Quebec at 3PM on Saturday May 7. The Mariners Welcoming Brunch was delayed until our sea day on Tuesday May 10. We chose open dining, a first for us, and having experienced that, we will never return to fixed seating with the same folks for every dinner. We met so many interesting and diverse people in the open dining concept. There are always fresh topics to discuss and the wealth of so many experiences and stories made this such a super cruise. I would have paid money just to meet some of these fascinating people. It truly made our cruise so much more memorable.We stayed in Quebec City overnight, and the ship did not leave until 10PM Sunday night. Sunday morning, we had an early breakfast and scooted up the cobblestone streets to the Chateau Frontenac to have a magnificent view of the Maasdam down below.Quebec has so much more to offer than the confines of its historic past. We purchased a day pass for public transit at the corner store at St Paul Street and Dalhousie Street. Exit right after leaving the cruise terminal through the parking lot. On Sunday 2 people can travel on a one day pass. So the total cost of busing around. From this corner we took a #1 and then got on #800 at the train station, Palais de la Gare. It's a beautiful building, a real gem, with a lovely little park situated at the front.The Bus transit is an ideal way to walk Old Quebec. Get off at the Assemble National, the seat of government for the Province of Quebec. From this point all of your walking will be downhill as you head back towards the Maasdam, as you meander the lovely cobble stoned street.We travelled on the #800 to the western suburb of the city of Quebec called Ste Foy, where we visited Universite Laval.I would also recommend rue St Joseph which is in the vicinity of the train station. It has many interesting coffee shops and eclectic shops with unique French character. Avoid the chains, unless you are truly homesick.Since we were on a B2B, our return visit to Quebec City was on a Friday, so we again bought bus passes to bring us to Montmorency Falls. With all of the rain that's been falling, it was spectacular. Take the #1 and ask the driver to let you off at place Jacques Cartier. It's a 2 minute walk east to the very modern Gabrielle Roy Library. Take the #53, which is discreetly hidden on the east side of the library.Following the sea day, Our first port was Charlottetown. Free internet is available in the Founders' Hall located to the north of the cruise terminal, or at the main public library on Queen Street. There are many coffee places, Irish bars and sea-food restaurants downtown. Some entrepreneurial taxi drivers will take you on a customized or recommended tour. Several people I spoke with did this, and they really enjoyed it and thus maximized their time visiting the island. Charlottetown only has a pop. of 35 000 and is easily navigable by foot. St Dunstan's Basilica with its stained glass windows is worth a look. It's 2 spires are beacons to you from the ship. Several Maasdam passengers and crew were in attendance at the Catholic Mass which is celebrated every week day.I should point out that when you enter the cruise terminal you will be greeted by a retired member of The RCMP, in full ceremonial dress : Stetson, brilliant red serge, blue riding pants with the yellow stripe down the side,riding boots and spurs. Sorry, no gun. This fellow is enthusiastic and really enjoys doing this work. He will pose for as many pictures as you wish, is an invaluable source of RCMP information, and is a real gem that the tourist people have recruited for this purpose. Sydney was pouring buckets, so we did not venture into the town. Fortunately the terminal has an abundance of skilled artist who arrive from all corners of Cape Breton Island to entice you to buy their Made In Nova Scotia creations. There is a splendid free museum on the 2nd floor which depicts the interesting history of Sydney. Taxi drivers are situated at the end of the long walk, up the path which takes you into the town. The highlights for folks who took tours were Baddeque, the Birthplace Of Alexander Graham Bell, and the magnificent fortress of Louisbourg, one of the best reconstructed forts in Canada.We experienced 25-30 foot waves from Sydney to Halifax. At the 5:30 dinner, half the people showed up. A half hour later the Rotterdam Dining Room was nearly empty. Dishes were flying off the serving tables. One woman was attacked by a bottle of red wine which leapt at her and gave her a drenching.Halifax. We walked to Scotia Square on Barrington Street and picked up bus info and a fairly decent map of the transit system and schedules, all free, at Lawton's Drug Store. We travelled over the bridge into Dartmouth and looked around, but it was basically suburbia, so we headed back, took a bus to the Fairview Cemetery to view some of the gravesites from the Titanic tragedy. Hopping another bus we headed towards the Alexander Keith Brewery, only a 15 minute walk north of the cruise terminal. The best fish n' chips That I have ever enjoyed were cooked just for me. Alexander Keith's India Ale draft is a must.We then walked over to the public library on Spring Garden Road to check email. There is a lovely park another 20 minute walk up Spring Garden, located just north of the huge Queen Elizabeth Health Care Centre/Hospital. Many chose the tour to Peggy's Cove and most of the reviews were positive.Bar Harbor. This is the only time you will tender. Customs and Border Protection Services was done aboard ship quite quickly. Tons of touristy stuff such as hats, jackets, jewellery, and every imaginable kinick-nack ever conceived by a Chinese sweat shop. My friends had excellent clam chowder at Poor Peter's. There was a group with an express desire to walk way down the far end of Main St called Havana. I can only imagine it's cigars or Cuban food, or both. It's a popular spot in any case.This beautiful sunny day gave people a good reason to visit Acadia National Park. Those who took the tours raved about it.Boston. There are thick books written specifically about visiting this city. Since we were B2B, we we're given the option of getting off the ship at 7:30AM or waiting till 10:30. We were in a cab by 7:35 for the trip to South Station subway station where we obtained subway/bus passes which brought us to Harvard, Quincy Market, The Boston Common, and the HUGE public library. Food. We always ate in the Rotterdam Dining Room for breakfast. Fresh fruit,yogurt, freshly squeezed orange juice, capuccino, omelettes, and the best oatmeal that is served at sea. Delicious.Lunch was usually in the Lido. Very good salad bar, an Italian station, an entree stop with a carving table, and sushi at the end of the lido. The roast chicken, roast turkey, and ham are served on different days, but there is usually strip loin or some sirloin roast available as well. You can specify rare to well done for your steak selection at the Lido buffet.Dinners at the Rotterdam Dining Room. Roast turkey, filet mignon, New York cuts, surf n' turf at the farewell dinner. Bread is always excellent.Entertainment. Guitarist Justin Miller..simply amazing. Julie Barr a terrific comedienne who showed quick reflexes and wit when ad libbing with audience members. Ventriloquist Michael Robinson was outstanding with his dummy, Terrence. The second week's entertainment was a complete change, focusing on Broadway and singing. I only made it to one of those, but again the talent which was diplayed was absolutely superb.That's the end of my abbreviated review. The Maasdam..the best ship out there.
Math Guy’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Interior Stateroom
Cabin I 123
Cabin 123. Easy access from this cabin on deck 9 to the Lido and the Fitness Centre/Spa. The Rotterdam Dining Room is located at the complete opposite end of the ship, so a word of caution to folks with mobility issues.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins