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20 Norfolk to Caribbean - Southern Cruise Reviews

I have cruised with Royal Caribbean a few times in the past and thought I would take my new fiance on his first cruise to celebrate our engagement. We saw a ship leaving out of Norfolk, VA and thought it was perfect so we wouldn't ... Read More
I have cruised with Royal Caribbean a few times in the past and thought I would take my new fiance on his first cruise to celebrate our engagement. We saw a ship leaving out of Norfolk, VA and thought it was perfect so we wouldn't have to fly. The day of, we had our family drop us off at the port and in the family frenzy, the porter took my fiances carry on bag with his passport inside. No more than five minutes went by before we told the people at the ship what happened and they told us not to worry because it happens all the time and they could bring us the bag in time for us to board the ship. Over two hours went by and by the time we were told that this was actually impossible, we were standing in the terminal watching the ship sail away. We immediately got on the the phone with our travel agent and Royal Caribbean to see what could be done. Of course, after hours on hold and talking to multiple people, they said nothing. They wouldn't even let us talk to them directly without our agent on the phone! Long story short, after 5 people teamed up to try to get an answer, we got a letter stating that the only way for us to redeem out trip would be for it to meet it in the next port of call, San Juan. At our own expense of course. None of this was met with a kind word or an "I'm sorry for your situation" from the time we were at the pier to the time we arrived in San Juan. To top it all off, we were NOT told that someone had gone in my fiance's bag to retrieve his passport and thought it had been lost when they transported it to the room, because it was in the outside pocket of his suitcase. But on the last day on the ship (which was not the greatest ship I've seen), we happened to run into the same crew member who we told about the passport issue in Norfolk and he said "Oh, yeah, hey man, I have your passport". Ridiculous! How is it possible that you can hold on to someone's property and not tell them? Not to mention if we hadn't met the ship, they would have kept our bags on the ship and we would have had nothing. We saw them turn people away in Norfolk with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and their purses, and these people had no where to go. We were lucky in that we left out of our hometown and had family to stay with. Admittedly, we have two things working against us, one being we booked through an agent and turned down the agent's insurance. However, we did learn after the fact that the insurance would not have covered our situation and we would have been out the money anyway. Regardless, what is my ultimate concern is that you can keep people's money without providing them any kind of service. They made real money off of the three days we missed of our cruise and would have made more had we not showed up. Also, what makes it worse is when you encounter sour people with callous attitudes who put you on hold for minutes on end and respond flatly with the company line, "there's nothing I can do". If you're going to put me through a hassle, at least don't patronize me in the process. I have a good many years left in me of cruising, and from what I hear, RC doesn't want you on their boat if you are going to complain about anything, so so long Royal Caribbean! And you can bet, I've told this story to everyone I ran into who sails as well. Sorry to say. And I guess I should say something about the cruise itself. The ship was okay. Wouldn't recommend it. Had some toilet problems, which happens I guess. In the public rooms and our room. Also, one of the ports, Samana in the DR was awful. Some of our cruise mates said they didn't feel safe. We were stuck on the excursion to nowhere, guess that was a blessing in disguise. I guess the silver lining is that we didn't get sick? That no one was hurt? If that's the best thing about the cruise then what does that tell you? Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We are a married couple (in our 30's) and this was our 3rd cruise: first with Royal Caribbean.  The cruise overall was nice.  I won't go into detail regarding everything about the cruise; I will only detail the things that ... Read More
We are a married couple (in our 30's) and this was our 3rd cruise: first with Royal Caribbean.  The cruise overall was nice.  I won't go into detail regarding everything about the cruise; I will only detail the things that stood out to us.  Our first two cruises were with Carnival and we had a blast! Dining: we really enjoyed the My Time Dining option and had a table for 2 ready, whenever we chose to go to dinner. The food in the Dining room was okay-to-good in my opinion, and terrible in my husband's opinion.  The food quality seemed to get better as the week progressed though.  My biggest complaint: lack of seafood dishes! That's really all I want to eat on a cruise.  Besides formal nights, the only seafood main course was tilapia (the cheapest, farm raised in china, fish you buy at Walmart). We only went to one formal night, and we had excellent lobster (the waiter actually offered us an extra tail each - to which we took him up on it).  The Windjammer was okay, but in no way comparable to the food on Carnival's lido deck buffets.  The Solarium pizza/hamburger joint on the Grandeur had really poor pizza (like cheap frozen pizza).  The fries were really good though.  The pizza on Carnival cruises is excellent in comparison. Ship:  very beautiful and classy.  The ship is a smaller ship and doesn't offer as much as the larger ones.  There was really only one night club, and each evening it started off with an organized group of cigar smoking - YUK!  I loved the promenade on Deck 5.  You can actually walk around the entire ship except when tendering (they block off the from for the anchor crew). The aft of Deck 5 has lounge chairs and this was probably may favorite spot on the entire ship - very majestic looking at the ships wakes in the infinite sea. Ship activities: really, really geared to the older crowd.  In fact, I guess 80% of the guests onboard were over 60.  A funny story:  in San Juan, about 1 hour before we were leaving, out of boredom, we decided to go play shuffle board. Up on the top deck, we saw another couple sitting in deck chairs looking at the action going on at the adjacent Carnival Victory ship.  There was a huge movie screen playing videos and a "fun" party time going on over there.  The other couple, in their thirties, looked at us and said, "I wish we were on that ship".  I said "Me too".  We have sailed on the Carnival Victory before and it was a blast. Our ship was calm, relaxing, and mature.  Not crazy and fun.  On the flip side, we were always able to find a pool deck chair, while on Carnival it's hard to find a prime location. The indoor Solarium pool was almost empty all the time and you could get some peaceful whirlpool tub time. Entertainment:  Your basic ship shows.  The guest comic jugglers and the Argentina drum dance/comedy team were great! San Juan - we arrived here about 4 hours early for a medical emergency of a passenger.  Old San Juan is nice and we walked around exploring. St. Thomas - A beautiful and clean island.  We took a 2 hour tour of the island and stopped off at Sapphire beach for about 3 hours.  I loved the snorkeling there and got some excellent underwater photos with my camera. Dominican Republic - I loved it there.  Why?  Because I love the cultural shock.  My least favorite ports are always the commercial beaches that look like a Florida beach, just somewhere else.  We took the ATV excursion through RCI.  I was amazed by the poverty in the county. We rode through villages where some of the kids were actually unclothed.  The children came out of the 'houses" to wave at our ATV caravan.  I had brought a backpack of toys for the kids and handed them out.  They appeared thrilled. We even stopped at a small waterfall and a nearly-secluded beach.  The beach was absolutely gorgeous! Labadee - nice beach, but there was construction going on at both sides of the peninsula. It wasn't actuall peaceful, as we constantly heard the heavy equipment scraping and dropping boulders.  Beware of the Haitian flea market: severe haggling and pressuring.  But the Artisan Market was nice and peaceful and sold many of the same things and at good prices.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
I was on the Maasdam Cruise that departed on Nov. 30, 2006. The boarding was delayed by about 2 hours due to the norovirus concerns. This is fine but there was no procedure for insuring that people were treated on a first come first served ... Read More
I was on the Maasdam Cruise that departed on Nov. 30, 2006. The boarding was delayed by about 2 hours due to the norovirus concerns. This is fine but there was no procedure for insuring that people were treated on a first come first served basis it was more like a mob scene and there was no one or not even a sign advising what the problem was. Although I had requested assistance in boarding my wife with a wheel chair (which we brought with us) we were left on our own until we got to the gangplank. The disembarkation was even worse, they told us by letter to go to the Rembrandt theater and some one would be there to assist us in getting off the ship. When our number and color was called there was no one there to assist us and the elevators were a big mess. The first elevator we got on had a mechanical problem and would not go to deck three, it would go to deck four and then start up again. We finally got off on deck five and after 5 plus minutes we were finally able to get the wheel chair on a different elevator that got us to deck three. We got off the elevator and proceeded to the gangplank and thank goodness some of the crew members assisted me in getting the wheel chair off the ship. This whole procedure needs lots of work, what surprised me is that I took this cruise about two or three years ago and had the same problem boarding and disembarking with our wheel chair. I must say that my experience with Princess and Carnival Cruise lines have been much superior in assisting people with wheel chairs. Another problem that we had was at Half Moon Cay, my wife chose not to leave the ship so this was not a wheel chair problem. It seems that not enough tenders were in use, our number was called and we proceeded to deck three and stood in the hallway for 40+ minutes waiting to board a tender, then when we got on board we waited another 15+ minutes for the tender to be fully loaded. We finally got to the Island at about 1:25pm, at 2pm they started shutting down the BBQ, so we had to rush from the beach in order to get a sandwich. Then at 3:25pm we got in line to get a tender back to the ship and stood in line for 30+ minutes, I think we got back to the ship about 4:20pm. This was a very bad experience and again it has not improved since my previous trip, the last time we got to spend about two hours at Half Moon Cay and no meal was served because we arrived late. Another comment about people with wheel chairs. All of the shows are at the Rembrandt Lounge and there are no accommodations for wheel chairs, sometimes if you are lucky you can get at an end of a row and move a chair. But most of the time we were forced to park the chair in the main walkway and this is bad for people trying to pass and for my wife and makes us feel like we are an obstruction. It would be nice if they had a designated area for people with disabilities. One comment about wheel chairs and the deck layout. Our dinner was the first seating on deck seven generally there was no problem getting an elevator to deck seven, but quite often when you got to deck seven you could not get the wheel chair off the elevator because of people waiting for the dining room to open. The real problem was when you finished dinner to get to the Rembrandt for the shows you had to get on the elevator or use the steps to get to deck 8,(there is no passage from the dining room on deck seven to the Rembrandt on deck 7) with a wheel chair the stairs are not an option and many times when we would try to get off the elevator on deck 8, people would be in line waiting for the second seating. This also forced everyone on deck seven to use the elevators at the front of the ship, this created a real traffic jam after the shows, especially for people with wheel chairs and on this particular cruise there were quite a few wheel chairs. I have a suggestion that the Maasdam might consider: assign guests in wheel chairs to the dining room on deck 8, and provide an area on deck eight for wheel chair guests at the Rembrandt theater. I do not want to sound totally negative, the ship personnel were very friendly and I have no complaints about any of them. It did seem like the dinner staff had been cut the waiters and assistants seemed to have more tables assigned to them. The service is what has been my primary reason for choosing to cruise and it does not seem to be as good now as it was when I took my first cruise in 2000. This was my 7th cruise my second with Holland America. Thank you for allowing me to express my comments and I hope you will take some actions to accommodate people in wheel chairs in the future. Princess does an outstanding job in this area.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
This was our first cruise with Holland America. We sailed out of Norfolk VA to the Southern caribbean in November 2006 on the Maasdam. The night before our cruise we stayed at the Sleep Inn in Norfolk. They provided a park & cruise ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Holland America. We sailed out of Norfolk VA to the Southern caribbean in November 2006 on the Maasdam. The night before our cruise we stayed at the Sleep Inn in Norfolk. They provided a park & cruise package that included one nights lodging, free continental breakfast, free parking for duration of the cruise and free shuttle transportation to the pier and back. I am handicapped and they do have a shuttle with a lift for wheelchairs and scooters. The staff at the hotel was very friendly. There was quite a bit of traffic at the pier but everything was handled smoothly. The embarkation was very fast and easy. They do allow the people with physical handicaps priority entry to the embarkation area. I loved the Maasdam ship. With about 1200 passenger capacity, there was plenty of room for me to navigate around the ship with my scooter. Of course the elevators are small but we still could get my scooter and about 4-5 other people in the elevator together. I had no problems with anyone making complaints about me taking up room in the elevators like I had when I was on Carnival earlier this year. We had a handicapped cabin 709 and it was VERY spacious. It was like a cabin and a half in size. I had enough room to turn my scooter around and park it inside the cabin. There are only 2 cabins on this ship this size. The others are handicapped rooms with wide doorways but still tight inside with a scooter parked there. The service on this ship was great. The crew is mainly Philippine and Indonesian. They were always pleasant and had a smile. Every time I went to the Lido deck for the buffet, someone would come up to me, take my tray and walk with me down the line and get my food for me, get my drinks and carry my tray to a table. If you happen to meet Chandler on the Lido deck, he is great. He was always there to get us a table, replenish out drinks and he was even in the luggage holding area when we got off the ship and he helped find our luggage for us. He is a great asset to HAL and the Maasdam. Room service was always on time and the food was hot and I always received what I ordered. The cheeseburgers in the terrace grill were very good. I was expecting some small dry patties but was very surprised. The Lido buffet was good but could use more variety. It seemed to have almost the same things everyday with a few exceptions. The ice cream and bread pudding at lunch was excellent, just as the other reviews I read said it was. The entertainment was ok. The ventriloquist was excellent and the crew shows were good. The bingo player and the juggler was ok. We had Jason Venner as a cruise director and he was fantastic. This was his last sailing on this ship for now as was Sante, the DJ in the Crows Nest Lounge. There were several lounges with a wide variety of music. We mainly hung out in the Crows Nest on deck 12 with the wrap around view of the ocean. During the day we would sit there in these nice black recliners and stare out the window and relax. At night the DJ would come in and play music. It varied each night from country, 50-60's to rock. There was alot of line dancing. The only issue I had with the Crows Nest is that there were children in there at midnight and 1am dancing and sitting at the bar. They were with there parents and the kids were about 7-13 yrs old. I did not feel this was the place for them that late at night and in a bar atmosphere. We mentioned that to the cruise director and he said that the kids had to have a place to go too as the other lounges were geared more to the adults. In that case, HAL better improve there kids and teen programs. I was able to get off the ship in each port with my scooter except the private island (had to use my manual wheelchair as this was a tender port). St Thomas was the same...lots of shopping. We did not do any excursions as it is hard with a scooter to find transportation. We just got off the ship and went right around the ship area. In Dominica, you are harassed quite a bit to take a tour and buy souvenirs from the local folk. Just smile and say no thank you. St Kitts was very nice but prices seemed much higher there to me. Barbados was very nice also but the area we docked in was all freighters and loading docks, not very nice scenery. I am sure the excursions were great and it would have been nice to be able to get more inward on the islands to see all of the scenery. I even had my scooter break down on Dominica. Some of the island people tried to lift it down a curb and dropped it and it stopped working. We pushed it back to the ship and right away, a crew member took over and pushed it up the ramp and onto the ship for us. Jerome (2nd Engineer from Holland) came to our cabin twice and fixed it for me at no charge. We even saw him later in the Crows Nest after he got off work and he bought us a drink. THANK YOU JEROME !! I belive HAL and Jerome and Chandler (as well as many others) went above and beyond what I expected from this cruise. I will definitely sail HAL again. Overall, I give this a 9 out of 10. Being handicapped, I have never had such great personal service on a cruise. It is a shame HAL is no longer sailing out of Norfolk after December. Driving there is much more convenient for me than flying. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
Greetings All, We had the pleasure to sail on the Maasdam on the 11 day Southern Caribbean itinerary from Norfolk on the November 8th sailing. As I have not sailed with Holland America since 1995, I was looking forward to this cruise and ... Read More
Greetings All, We had the pleasure to sail on the Maasdam on the 11 day Southern Caribbean itinerary from Norfolk on the November 8th sailing. As I have not sailed with Holland America since 1995, I was looking forward to this cruise and to experience their Signature of Excellence upgrades. In a few words, I really enjoyed the upgrades, the Maasdam and the Holland America experience. The Maasdam though a smaller ship, just under 56,000 tons and came into service in 1993 is looking fabulous. This ship and it's staff was wonderful. The public rooms are classy and the expanded Explorer's lounge and library was a wonderful place to mingle, play board games (scrabble in particular), to jigsaw puzzles, check emails, etc. They also have a specialty coffee shop there also. By the way, you still can get cappuccino's and espresso in the dinning room free. It's been a long while since I booked an inside cabin, but was very pleased with the spaciousness. We had four in our cabin and had plenty of cabin and drawer space. The stateroom had two lower beds, a couch which made into a bed and a bed that recessed out of the ceiling. The bathroom was typical size and during the ships refurbishment must have been re-tiled. It was clean and actually two people could use the mirror area at the same time. We were on Deck 5 main deck. The cabin had a 20-in flat screen TV and DVD player which they had an entire library of DVD rentals or you could play the one's you may have brought with you. Cost on the DVD rentals was $3.00 and I believe you could keep them two days, we were too busy to rent DVD's, but a nice offering. The upgraded bed, linens and bath linens and amenities were welcomed. It was one of the most comfortable beds I have slept in on a cruise ship ever. Our cabin steward and staff was very efficient. We never left the cabin not to have the cabin made up or turned down for the evening completed. As this cruise was booked about a month before sailing, we were confirmed for late seating dining. The Maasdam has staggered dinning times, 5:45p, 6:15p, 8:00p and 8:30p. Yes, you guessed it we had 8:30p. We tried to change it without luck. In talking with other passengers, there were folks who had booked over 6 months out and couldn't clear an early seating. We dined only once in the evening at 8:30p as my 9 and 13 year old was missing here nightly program. The next few days we ate in the Lido. After missing 3 nights in our dinning room, we received a phone call from the Ass't Maitre 'D, Kuz asking why we weren't coming to the dinning room. After explaining to him that it was too late for the children, he said to come at 5:45p the next day and he would tried to fit us in and indeed he did. We were able to eat early on a rotating table situation which was better than eating every night in the Lido as the dinning room experience was very good. Though we didn't get to have the comradery you would have with the same wait staff, we did find good service with the various tables. We had very good wait service and Kuz check on us several times every evening. He really took care of us and I am glad that we didn't miss out on the dinning room experience. The meals were presented nicely on the plate and in average to smaller portion sizes. The food overall was very good. I found the desserts to be average and often had ice cream. The fresh ice cream and soft serve along with sundae fixings in the Lido was great and also complimentary. We also enjoyed the complimentary pop-corn in the movie theatre. Nice touches and most appreciated. They often had live music during dinner which was very nice. We typically ate on the 2nd floor of the Rotterdam dinning room, which I preferred over the main floor. On the 5th night out we ate at the grill. We really enjoyed it but found it to be one of the more expensive optional dinning at $30.00 pp. Service was attentive and the decor in the Grill was modern/clean. The menu was Pacific Northwest themed. As I had been on a fish marathon, I had the Filet Mignon which was excellent. If you are celebrating a special occasion, it is worth the cost and the intimate atmosphere. The crew/staff on this ship was excellent. We had many crew members in various positions that we conversed with daily. We gave many tips to folks we normally wouldn't have given to due to their friendliness and attentiveness. We got to know all of the Cruise Director/Staff quite well and had lots of fun with them also. There is much to be said in sailing on this size ship. You have a better opportunity to meet fellow passengers and crew daily. We got to know the bathroom attendant another nice touch with cloth towels to dry your hands. It's the little things that make a great cruise, though small, but nice. Again, we found the crew very happy to comply to your requests, for example the first night out was pretty choppy and my 9 year old was it the top bunk and rolling all over her bed. I asked it there was a bar of some sort for the bed so she wouldn't roll out of the bed onto the floor. They had the maintenance department come to the room and look and listen to my request. They made a padded upholstered bar and it was in the room for use the next day. I was impressed with their need to please. It worked great. The stage productions shows and cabaret entertainment were typical of cruise line's fare. The lounge acts were typical evening entertainment on cruise lines. We went to the Crow's Nest disco late in the cruise and had fun. We probably would have gone more had we gone sooner. The younger cruisers seemed to congregate here in the evenings. Yes, I would say the average age was 68 or so, but this did not really bother us being younger ones on the ship. You make your good times. We participated frequently with shipboard events such as Volleyball, trivia games, etc and collected "Dam Dollars" which we turned in at the end of the cruise for "Dam Sweatshirts" and nice "Dam Water Bottles. The gave away nice prices for the events that didn't give "Dam Dollars". We came home with key chains, hats, mugs, luggage tags, "Dam Dark" mini-mag lights, etc. I will say that there was plenty of stuff to do onboard the ship when in port. I really liked this as often most Cruise Director's plan nothing on the ship while in port. Other lines could take a lesson here. When you have been on the islands before, the ship really becomes your destination. We really enjoy our days at sea which were crammed pack with things to do or not to do. The culinary program which is help in the theatre was very enjoyable and samples of the items prepared were giving to all in attendance. They also had a towel animal demo which was fun. When we asked it they had the instructions on paper, they were only too happy to have picture instructions delivery to the cabin for those who requested them. The casino was one of the smaller ones I have experienced on the ship, but was a good size considering the size of the ship. The casino personnel was excellent, one of the best I have encountered. We never made it to the Greenhouse Spa which I heard good things about and normally a place that I visit and get a treatment at least once. The ports were: Half Moon Cay, St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Kitts, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Embarkation and Debarkation were a breeze, though they are still working on the pier area in Norfolk, still a lot of temporary structures. We asked for a later departure of the ship, they allow you to stay in your cabins. We were off the ship and at the airport by 9:15a. We took a cab to and from the airport. The cost was $24 -$26 dollars each way for 4 vs. $28.00 pp to use the Holland America bus transfers. We stood-by for earlier flights and got home a few hours earlier than our ticketed times. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
Between October 28 and November 3, 2006 my wife and cruised out of Norfolk on Holland Americas Maasdam This was our first cruise on Holland and on the Maasdam. We chose the ship because it was very near to our home and travel distance was ... Read More
Between October 28 and November 3, 2006 my wife and cruised out of Norfolk on Holland Americas Maasdam This was our first cruise on Holland and on the Maasdam. We chose the ship because it was very near to our home and travel distance was 3 ½ hours to the port vs. 13 to Bayonne or Fort Lauderdale or even Tampa. The Maasdam is an old ship constructed in 1993 and apparently never renovated. Major systems such as air conditioning, plumbing, toilets, whirl pools and pools, electrical systems, stabilizers and even engines appear to have suffered profound neglect. Facilities for children appear very spartan, although some limited activities are done poolside. Room amenities such as an umbrella or shopping tot do not exist. The cooking staff and management are arrogant and non-responsive to the many problems that exist. No real flexibility exists in dining menus, the food is just fair, the baked goods are dry and tasteless and their Pinnacle Grill has poor fare, is no value, a waste of time and certainly money. Honestly the Golden Corral family restaurant has better overall food, selections and buffet. Daily activities and music are extremely limited. Evening entertainment ranges from good to hokey. The nightclubs are out of touch with the clientele whose average age is about 68+. That also is the general age of all the ship's cruising populous. The DJ is not sensitive to this fact and plays the hustle and 80s and 90s rock consistently. In the Crows Nest Bar, it seems that 5 or 6 of the activities staff are forever present and their only function appears to be drinking, flirting and dancing among themselves. This includes the DJ. These activities do not look professional and perceptions are realities. This ship and line seems to be on a cost cutting binge. For example smoking is allowed aboard the ship, but it is impossible to find a match. The staff and bartenders say It's because of 9/11!, but they DO sell $3.00 propane lighters and propane lighters can also be more problematic. Perhaps not giving out matches cuts costs. The Holland standardized tipping policy is hideous. Many travelers refuse to abide by it and opt out. Deserving individuals given tips are forced to forfeit them to the general pool under threat of firing. A disgusting policy! We have been cruising twice a year since 1996. Generally we have traveled on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships. This journey on the Holland line and the Maasdam was an experiment. As it turned out, one NEVER to be repeated. This was the worst cruise we ever had without exception. There wasn't a single item or event that we could reference that would sway our opinion. Our cruise was not pleasant nor fun nor comfortable and a very poor overall value. We would never recommend this line or ship to anyone. Dining The Lido Cafe is located on the 11th floor adjacent to the covered pool. This is the buffet restaurant. It is organized somewhat oddly. The serving lines, starboard and port are each arranged in sections (i.e. Breads, starters, Asian, Italian, entrees, sandwiches and finally soups and salads.) This is an indication of the similar fare served each day. The arrangement is not at all conducive to speedy service. As people wait for certain items and the server is busy somewhere else (this is the rule rather than the exception), the lines back up and the wait time to be served increases proportionately. This situation is painfully evident during the breakfast hours. At breakfast a section is setup that just does fried and boiled eggs, another just pancakes and French toast, another just omelets. This poises real logistic problems for passengers in the line trying to get toast, scrambled eggs, bacon or sausages and then move on and out, but CAN NOT since the line is constantly backed up with people wanting eggs done their way. Passengers do not move past the holdups for fear of skipping in line. Perhaps a REAL egg station would correct the traffic jams. Incidentally on most days, at 9:20AM or so, the servers run out of French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon and turkey sausage. Then the lines really back up until more is made. The server staff behind the buffet is always one short and that creates the problem that you just can't get served. So you wait and wait If you desire waffles or baked goods, there is a separate line that also serves iced creams. The waffles are tasteless, often served broken, there are no fresh or frozen berries only terribly sweet jams (two types). The pastries are terrible. They are dry! When I asked why, I was told it was because of the high humidity, a ludicrous excuse. Another person said it was because much of the baked goods were made off the ship. Breads and rolls were just as bad. Overall a very unsatisfying, confusing and frustrating way to start the day. Incidentally there was no corned beef hash and people complained, the steam tables and heat lamps used to keep the food warm, did a terrible job! You can't pour your own juices and, although they serve five or six types and guess at what is in those glasses. Even the ice machines in the Lido Cafe are so difficult to operate that a bus boy needs to get you the ice. The ice machines use an infra red sensor that only delivers ice if you wave you hand behind the glass to be filled. The Late Night Lido Buffets start at 11:00PM and generally run out of food at 11:25 or so. Each evening one line of the Lido Cafe is closed to the public. That line is reserved for the officers and upper level staff. Apparently they have no food service of their own although a food service, of far lower quality is provided for the lower level staff on the lowest deck. Elitism rides again and at the expense of the passengers.. The 11th floor pool outside the Lido Cafe is the indoor pool and two overheated whirlpools, one of which only partially worked. There are lounge chairs adjacent to the pool and sitting areas with small table along the outside walls. A selling point for this pool is that it has a retractable dome cover, 98% of the time the cover was open and because of that and a lack of cross ventilation, and non-opening windows, this area becomes unbearably hot. The pool and whirl pools have no shade whatsoever. If you are out in the open, you will literally fry! Shade should be provided in some form, perhaps a cabana over the whirlpools and part of the pool. Or close the retractable cover partially. They refused to do this. Ventilation is very poor and side windows should installed that can be opened. Incidentally they DID close these pools down on day 10 and 11 for maintenance. This should be done in Dry Dock. The passengers were not happy campers. For avid sun worshipers there is another outdoor pool with sitting areas, tables and a bar. There is very little of any shade here. The Pool hamburger, pizza, and taco bar. The pizza is cold, the taco bar appears filled in the morning and the food seldom refreshed or exchanged any time during the following 10 hours. One day I asked for some French Fries only to be told they were out. I was offered Tater Tots. I demanded French Fries since this WAS a hamburger bar but I was told that the cook would have to ask permission of his supervisor. Ten minutes later I did get my French Fries. Is this another cost cutting measure or just more evidence of a stogy and intractable management mentality? Health Conscious Fare is not a priority with Holland. People who may be Health Conscious will have no real alternative aboard the Maasdam. Celebrity provides excellent alternate healthy choices but Holland does not. Fitness and Recreation. A Spa is located on the 11th floor and it appears nice. The exercise areas, adjacent to the Spa are fairly well equipped but the weights on the equipment are not marked and the trainers don't know if it is pounds or kilograms and neither did I. There is a jogging short track around the upper lever and on the 6th level is a larger walking track completely around the ship. Four times around equals a mile. There is a fairly well stocked library that contains news papers, books, for rent DVD movies and a large section to communicate via the Internet. The main Rotterdam dining room is an attractive two level hall with a staircase to the upper level. Our wait staff, Peter and Harry were excellent although somewhat forgetful. On the first night, for an appetizer, both my dinner partner and I requested a shrimp cocktail. It was not notable but ok. The breads and rolls served were again dry. Four pads of butter were served. Throughout the cruise we had to request, time and again, a few more pads. We do like coffee before and during our meals and we requested that from our waiter. Sad to say he never could remember to serve coffee as requested. In general the entrees were limited and not at all memorable. The desserts were very sugary, the cakes from Duncan Heinz and the occasional NEW YORK Cheese Cake was horrible. We are food judges and days prior to this cruise judged cook-offs for Red Star Yeast, The Beef producers of North Carolina, Pillsbury Pie crusts (38 entries) and The North Carolina Egg Producers (28 Cheese cakes). The cheese cake on the Maasdam was a pathetic! Speaking with the head waiter who communicated with a chef, who was very defensive and arrogant, and who claimed he made changes, NEVER improved the product. The chef DOES NOT know a cheese cake from and apple and he is supposed to be from Germany! Incidentally we only had one shrimp cocktail on the 11 days of menus. I personally like shrimp cocktails and made a special request, which could not be honored until the next day. After it was served I requested one for the following day but was told that the chef said that he did not have any more full sized shrimp on board. I was upset, as were may other passengers making similar requests. Other, better supplied, cruise lines do allow special requests. . The Pinnacle Grill is supposedly the high class eatery. They charge $30.00 per person to dine there. The definition of Pinnacle is a lofty peak perhaps the top and that is how it is promoted. My wife and I decided to give it a try. It was our 4th day out. . The restaurant is attractive but not overly done and basically empty. It is hard to believe that one must setup reservation days in advance. The Pinnacle Grill boasts its Silver Award beef. (Silver that's second place right?) They also have specialties that include entrees of Cedar Planked Halibut with Alaskan King Crab or Cedar Planked Shrimp Scampi and various beef fillets. I decided on the large beef fillet and my wife chose the Cedar Planked Halibut with Alaskan King Crab only to be told that They were out of Cedar planks. We could not believe it! When I inquired about the number of patrons they have had in the past days I was told that on day 1 they had 8, day 2 was unknown and day 3 was 18. Well I am sure that this 28 to 40 patrons had not all ordered Cedar planed dishes. I was told that the ship had supply problems at Norfolk, however Holland America has been doing this cruise run for 4 or so years. Disappointed we ordered the "Monk Fish". What was served was a thin, slightly burnt. piece of halibut. Monk fish are skinned, boneless and shaped like a small beef or pork loin. We again protested since we eat Monk fish often and this WAS NOT Monk fish. We were repeatedly assured it was. Monk fish is sometimes called poor mans lobster because when broiled has the firm texture of a lobster. This fish flaked and had a tail. My wife was insulted by this deception. On the desert menu was a glorious chocolate desert called a Warm Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake. We each ordered that. When it arrived, it was burnt, bitter and inedible. We left it and on our way out, I added my name to the guest list with this comment& Horrific, but they probably changed that to Terrific. This was one of our absolute worse dining experiences. A solution for Holland may be to replace the chef. If you have $60.00 throw away, toss it over board or give the Pinnacle Grill a try. Accommodations on the Maasdam appear fairly nice but believe me, looks are very deceiving. The service from my cabin steward, Wayan, was outstanding. I could not have asked for better service. I'm sure that true with most all cabin stewards. They were just fabulous! The absolute biggest complaint I heard about accommodations was that a very large number of guests had NO air conditioning throughout the cruise Some were given table fans, some nothing and some even got $150.00 in cash credit. People were moving luggage from room to room almost every day. This was by far the number 1 complaint. This was a major problem throughout the ship. The piano bar, which was the best entertainment on board, was an oven. The entertainer Barry Blyth, who was spectacular, had his own personal fan. People would came in sit a moment and have to leave because of the heat. The second biggest complaint was the sanitation system. Sinks and tubs that mysteriously and ominously gurgle and toilets that DO NOT work nor consistently flush. I spoke with disgruntled passengers that said their toilet facilities did not work for 6 days or more and no one on board would fix them! Usually, the toilet in my room would not flush until after 9:00 AM and then it took 10 or 12 pushes on the flush button. A terrible combination of situations. The third largest complaint was the roughness of our cruise. We really had no rough weather and the published Cruise Log will verify this, yet this ship rocked like no other I had ever been on. I later learned that the stabilizers were not entirely working and neither were the engines. The captain, in order not to overtax the engines, ordered the stabilizers shut down. In 20 cruises made on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean this was the most rocky. The crew, too, was often seasick. The next group of passengers have my sincere sympathies since repairs do not seem to be forthcoming. Adding insult to injury, on the last night of this cruise, at 1:30AM, the ship lost ALL electric power for over 20 minutes and actual propulsion for well over an hour. There absolutely no lights on the ship on deck or below deck. It was pitch black. The baggage handlers were trying to load baggage for disembarkation and when those lights went out people and baggage and handlers came tumbling down those stairways. We were about 120 miles from shore and shore lights could be seen but the ship was dead in the water and it began to significantly list. At about 2:40AM the engines started and thankfully we were under way. After disembarking and on the shuttle back to the parking areas, people on the shuttle said that the list had been so great that the water in the Lido decks large pool poured out and down the stairs to several lower levels. Again my sincerest sympathies to the next group of passengers. Help IS NOT on the way! Entertainment in the Rembrant lounge is comprised of singers and dancers, comedians, a juggler, a woman ventriloquist and a musical performed by the Indonesian or Philippine crew staff. The production numbers are good especially Romance on Broadway, but the ship rocked so much that we feared someone on stage would be hurt. The native music and dance performance by the Indonesian or Philippine labor was interesting. The rest was rather hokey. There is a Casino offering Black Jack, Roulette, Craps and a large number of slot machines vary from $.05 to $1.00 contributions. Shopping on board is available although because the ship is smaller in size, the number and size of shops is limited. They do run contests and drawings just about daily but you must be present to win. On board there is a movie theatre that actually shows recent movies. We thought that a movie could not be screwed up to badly but we were wrong. We were viewing the Da Vinci Code, but half way through it the captain broke in, the sound turned off so we could only here him. He proceeded to tell us weather conditions, location etc. Many people, jeering and disgruntled, left in protest and went to Customer Relations. Then, just as the captain shut up, the entertainment director cut in to read us the events for the day. 15 minutes later the movie resumed. Then it stopped entirely, was rolled far back and restarted. 20 minutes later it was stopped again to very large and vocal protests and then started again. Someone should have the awareness to coordinate captain interruptions and stop and start movies in a coordinated fashion.. The Piano Bar, although often an oven, is one of the best bits of entertainment on board. The pianist, Barry Blyth, is spectacular. He sings well, gains audience participation via sing alongs and plays very well. People who came and survived the heat loved him. The Crows Nest Bar located on the 12th Floor is the major dance area. The room is surrounded by large windows and is a very nice for viewing arriving or departing ports. The Crows Nest Bar features a DJ and recorded music and occasionally, early evening, there is also a pianist who is fairly good. The wait staff in the Crows Nest was extraordinary, In particular a waitress named Daye who served us, was extremely nice, super accommodating and just fabulous. Congratulations to Daye for a job well done! As stated early on, the passenger population appears to have an average of about 68+. This being the case, the Crows Nest musical selections are out of touch with the clientele. The DJ is not sensitive to this fact and plays the hustle and 80s and 90s rock consistently. She said that is what the people have requested. If so, then why are the passengers not dancing. This demographic grew up in the 40s, 50s, and early 60s. Their music was not the Hustle, not Disco but Rock and Roll. Also it seems that 5 or 6 of the activities staff are forever present. They arrive early and leave late. Their only function appears to be drinking, flirting and dancing among themselves. This includes the DJ. They sometime try to teach dances but the Crows Nest at 10:00PM is not a dance class and once again, they dance among themselves. Dance classes should occur during scheduled afternoon activities so that passengers can practice what they learned later in the evening. I got the perception that each night they were there to entertain themselves while the real crew was working diligently elsewhere on the ship. The actions of these staff people do not look professional and perceptions are realities. The Holland Tipping Policy. The Holland standardized tipping policy states that a gratuity of $10.00 per day per guest will automatically be added to your shipboard account. They assure everyone that all gratuities will go to the staff and absolutely none goes to Holland. It is said that $3.50 goes to the cabin boy, $3.50 to your waiter and the remaining $3.00 will be distributed among the cooks, bakers, servers, assistant waiter, cleaning personnel and whomever else I've missed. If you want to then give a larger tip to whomever, you can. It is further stated that if, at the end of your cruise you, you want to modify this deduction you can at the Customer Relations Office. Many people do this. They want to tip those who served them best. They do not want their tips pooled and distributed. Therefore, at the end of the cruise many passengers line up to fill out forms to cancel their automatic gratuity deduction. They then personally give tips to the people who serviced them best. There is a real problem in this practice. If you cancel your auto gratuity deduction fully, any tips you give personally may more than likely end up in the pool anyway. Why you ask? Because they will run a report showing all those that cancelled their automatic deduction FULLY. Management will then use this list and query the people who personally served you and, with threats of firing, require any tips you gave that person to turn it into the pool. A solution may be to reduce the automatic gratuity deduction to $1.00 a day per guest. Then when they run their report, your name will not be on it and, in theory, you may reward fully those you believe are most deserving. Holland America's automatic daily gratuity deduction is hideous. This is a disgusting policy! Personally I will never follow it but it is a moot point since I will never travel on this line again. If they tell me that if I do not follow their policy, there will be repercussions on the people that have served me best, then for this publication, I say I do not tip more than $1.00 a day. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
I have read the reviews of the three others who criticized this particular cruise in the MAASDAM; my main reaction is "Picky, picky, picky!" My wife and I are newly-minted "Bronze" Mariners with Holland America, so I ... Read More
I have read the reviews of the three others who criticized this particular cruise in the MAASDAM; my main reaction is "Picky, picky, picky!" My wife and I are newly-minted "Bronze" Mariners with Holland America, so I can safely compare our most recent experience with the others we have had. First, we drove 1100 kilometers from Kingston, Ontario, to Norfolk (in 2 days), so that we could enjoy the autumn scenery. Except for the snow in New York and Pennsylvania, it was an enjoyable drive. We booked a room at the Sheraton Waterside Hotel, about 3 blocks from the Cruise Terminal. It was a good choice, although the hotel's management is not keeping a good eye on maintenance or cleanliness. Embarkation was an experience. We arrived at the terminal by car at 1100 and were met with a large number of disembarking passengers, so confusion was rampant. However, we left our luggage with a porter and took our car to the Norfolk Cruise Parking ($10 per day), where a shuttle bus took us back to the ship. The actual embarkation was quick and efficient, especially notable because we had been upgraded at the last minute, to an outside stateroom (we have always taken an inside stateroom, because they rock and roll less, and because we only use our cabin for sleeping and changing clothes). (I actually felt that the outside cabin was a little smaller, or tighter, than a comparable inside cabin.) I will not repeat all of the Ship's Info that the others have so eloquently done. Suffice to say that the MAASDAM is getting "older" at 13 years, and there are likely to be breakdowns. Stateroom service was excellent, as always, although we had expected to be given a tote bag. When I queried the Cruise Director, he seemed dismayed that no one had received on; I suspect that someone forgot to order them for this cruise. We had an "experience" on our second day out: a flood in our stateroom. Actually, it was a wet carpet caused by leaking of the fire main in the machinery compartment next to our stateroom. The people on the other side of the space also got some water on their deck. Our steward was very quick to get help, and the water was quickly sqeegeed into a bucket; then a large drying fan was put in our cabin for the rest of the day. We made no complaint to the office. Consequently, we received a bottle of fine red wine from the Passenger Relations Manager. Several days later, we also received a note from her apologizing for the inconvenience and crediting our shipboard account with $35. I congratulate Holland America on the excellent Passenger Relations shown in this instance. We hit some "rough" weather off Cape Hatteras on our first night out. Big deal! Every ship going past Cape Hatteras experiences swells and high waves, even on a relatively calm day. Just ask any sailor if you need confirmation. One of the ship's officers explained to me that they retracted the stabilizers because we were sailing against the swell and the wind, and the pitching of the vessel would have damaged the stabilizers. Makes sense to me. If you can't handle a few bounces, go camping, not cruising. We did not take any shore excursions, because we had visited all of these ports before. We loved Half Moon Cay, and the shore-based tenders are a real asset to the passengers (and, I suspect, to the ship's sailors, who do not have to run the ship's tenders). St Thomas is St Thomas, and we spent the day shopping and stocking up on the premium booze (Canadians are allowed only 40 ounces per person to take home, as opposed to our American friends who can take home 5 litre bottles from St Thomas and i litre from anywhere else.) Made very good friends with the owner of Imperial Jewelers, a firm that is not on the ship's "approved" list - it should be. Excellent service and good prices. We did not berth at Heven View, but on the other end of St Thomas; too bad, because I recall Haven View having some excellent shops. Dominca is a port which could easily be skipped, although for first-timers it is probably very interesting and scenic. We did find an Internet Cafe where we could send e-mail for 5 cents per minute. St Kitts also is interesting and very scenic, and some of the shopping near the port was excellent. Here also we found the only Internet Cafe, and it cost us 10 cents per minute. We found Bridgetown, Barbados to be much dirtier than it had been on our previous visit about 5 years ago. However, we enjoyed the long outdoor shopping mall, and mingling with the Barbadians in the shops. Internet here was also 5 cents per minute. Our last port was San Juan. We could have skipped it altogether, because it was Sunday morning, and there was little to do but take a long walk through the old city. We saw about what we would have on an arranged excursion, but the ship left at 1300 (1 pm) for Norfolk, so the stop was almost insignificant. Our early departure was necessary for the ship to arrive in Norfolk on schedule. For this reason, among several, we will not take a cruise again out of Norfolk. Better to spend more time in visiting exotic ports than pounding through the sea past Cape Hatters again. The high point of our cruise came nightly in the dining room. In all of our 12 previous cruises, we have had excellent table service (and bar service), but this was the best. our Steward Edy, and our Assistant Steward Ariy, were top notch. The meals were also excellent, although it is easy to see that Holland America is cutting back. This should not be a surprise when the fares are so low; ten years ago this same cruise cost us almost twice as much. So I say "Well Done" to Holland America and to our two stewards who made our trip so delightful. I cannot make myself sympathize with another Cruise Critic who complained that he was not able to order a shrimp cocktail at every meal. I can almost hear the remarks of the galley staff when they get "requests" like his. Cutbacks can also be noticed in the entertainment, but still the entertainers are high caliber and "entertaining". Our Cruise Director added to the nightly enjoyment with his fine wit. Incidentally, we did not notice the power failure or the ship stopping in the water, because we were sleeping and enjoying the rocking motion of the ship. In summary, it was a fine cruise in a fine old ship, with excellent service and very good weather. Isn't that what cruising is all about? Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
We drove from our home near Allentown, PA a day early so we could spend some time in Norfolk. I especially wanted to see the USS Wisconsin exhibit. Against my better judgement, I booked a hotel through Priceline.com and got just what I ... Read More
We drove from our home near Allentown, PA a day early so we could spend some time in Norfolk. I especially wanted to see the USS Wisconsin exhibit. Against my better judgement, I booked a hotel through Priceline.com and got just what I deserved. The hotel was supposed to be a Ramada on the beach but turned out to be a freshly painted "flop-house". At least we didn't see any roaches and it was only for a night. -Embarkation Embarkation at Nautilus in Norfolk was fairly easy. We decided on a parking area the day before and had our game-plan in place. I was able to drop off my family and our luggage in the "circle" and parked in the garage a block away ($14.00 per day). By the time I met up with my family, the luggage was already headed for the ship. We started the boarding process around 11:30. It was a little strange walking through the cattle chutes within a plastic igloo, but it worked fine and was quick. The computers were working fine and we all got onboard shortly after Noon. - Dining Aside from the "problem", we found the food to be at the high quality we experienced before. The only differences is that there seemed to be less variety in the Lido restaurant and the secondary choices were missing from the main Dining menu. My kids have tried several different foods but once in a while, they just want a steak or chef's salad. It is my personal opinion that chef's are trying too hard to come up with different tastes that it's all starting to taste the same. In other words, it's beginning to get harder and harder to taste the chicken, beef, etc. because of the strong sauces and seasonings. The Terrace Grill was very popular this cruise. My kids ate there for lunch nearly every day. - Ports Half Moon Cay, as always is a dream. We scored the Turquoise Cabana and enjoyed it for the four hours we were there. We found the "treasure" left by jes2245 and left our treasure for Ziggy7 to find. Because we didn't anchor until 11:30 am, the barbecue was done on the Lido deck, not the island. St. Thomas is OK. We really didn't have anything planned for tours so we just went ashore to browse and pick up some souvenirs. I shopped for a digital SLR and found prices to be close enough to US Internet pricing (within $100.00) that I decided to wait. Dominica. We loved this port. We did the whale watch excursion and were fortunate to see at least 4 sperm whales including a mother and her "baby". The tour operator was very knowledgeable and patient with our questions. After 3 1/2 hours of whale and dolphin watching , we went to a quiet cove where snorkeling was provided as well as some incredible rum punch. Dominica is a naturally beautiful island. Barbados. I think Barbados would be a great place to spend some time. Bridgetown seemed to be full of energy. There was almost a party atmosphere. I have decided, however, that I am taking a sign along next cruise that says "Thank you, but I don't need a cab right now..." St. Kitts. We liked this port also. The shopping plaza that's being built will be very nice when it is complete. We found some good bargains here and contributed heavily to the local economy... San Juan. I know some people love this port, but we thought it was a hole. It could be due to the fact that the ship docked early on sunday morning and nothing was open until 10:00. We were told how beautiful Old San Juan so we grabbed a map and headed out. We walked to the fort in less that 20 minutes. What we saw was garbage in the streets, gang markings etc. This is the first time I have felt unsafe in any port. We will avoid any itinerary that stops at San Juan. One real issue I had with the Southern Caribbean itinerary on the Maasdam. Time in ports was very short. We had about 4 hours at HMC. I suppose that's one great advantage of the new ships with azipods. The extra speed gives you more port time. - Accommodations We had two "B" category verandahs, 154 & 156. The Maasdam is showing her age and we had a couple of problems with the cabin AC. We called the front office and they sent a person up with a digital thermometer. I was not in the cabin at the time but they pointed the thermometer at the grill and told my son that it was 64 degrees and the room was 70 degrees. Everything is working. Now, I happen to be a refrigeration engineer.  There was NO AIR MOVEMENT! 64 degrees IS cooler than 70 degrees, but if the air doesn't move, it won't cool. We were told to make sure the drapes were always closed. The AC went out on the entire floor the 9th night also. This was a formal night and it was quite uncomfortable getting dressed. However, it was repaired by the time we returned at 7:00. - Entertainment The shows were great. The singers & dancers were excellent and the productions were quite professionally done. The other acts were good too and I won't review them here as I know this al has to do with preferences, however, I have to mention the ventriloquist. This young lady was really good! The problem is that the audience must have had their humor filter on high, or didn't understand the jokes. Maybe I'm just different. The Crow's Nest was fun, and bartender Jamie impressed us with his bottle handling technique and let's not forget the number puzzles and bottle cap tricks. Bingo was the best! I joined my wife and daughter for a game towards the end of the cruise. My wife asked if I wanted to play and I said..."yeah, I guess..." Wouldn't you know it, we won a 7 day cruise for two! I guess that answers the question about which cruise line we'll be using!!! - Ships Crew A mentioned before, the entertainment staff from CD Jason Venner and his assistants bent over backwards to provide activities during the 11 days. The dining, lounge, cabin, and support staff were friendly and accommodating as ever. I did notice, that the Officers seemed a lot more "aloof" than our previous experience. They never said hello, nodded, anything unless you approached them first. I don't want to stop them from doing their job but a smile and a nod doesn't take much effort. - ms Maasdam She is beautiful and elegant, but like all of us eventually, she's beginning to show her age. Flat screen TV's seem to be a little out of place in a room with carpeting that's lifting at the corners. We saw a lot of rust stains on the verandah that we didn't notice on the Westerdam. I wondered if anything was done during dry dock besides the spa modifications. Don't misunderstand, we loved the Maasdam...we just loved the Westerdam a little more. - Miscellaneous We missed a few of the little things HAL is known for. No canvas totes. The ship's Chief Engineer didn't hold a presentation. We had to beg for our tiles (I know these aren't important to some, but they were our first). - Overall We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. This was our second cruise and don't have a lot to compare it too, but we feel our needs are better suited with the Vista class ships. I feel that the Maasdam was stretched to her limits by the itinerary and that seemed to make me feel rushed. I don't cruise for that. Also, even if HAL would continue to use Norfolk, we won't sail from there again. We won't even sail from New York. I don't mind a little "motion of the ocean", but until they install seat belts on the beds, I won't intentionally cruise through rough waters. (Sea sickness is not the problem, staying in bed is...) We're looking forward to our next cruise in March. We are HAL devotees and really don't have any desire to sail on the floating cities we docked next to. I look stupid on a water slide anyhow... Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
This was our 6th cruise, but the first on Holland America. Ship: This ship is old (1994) and has problems despite renovation. On this cruise, our room was hot. When nothing improved after two calls and 4 hours, we were given a fan. We ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise, but the first on Holland America. Ship: This ship is old (1994) and has problems despite renovation. On this cruise, our room was hot. When nothing improved after two calls and 4 hours, we were given a fan. We heard from others that the A/C problem was throughout the ship and that HAL ran out of fans. I personally noticed cold areas (casino) and hot areas (movie theatre) throughout the ship. As much as we were in a warm cabin, some others were in cold cabins. There were also complaints of flooding (water backing up from toilets) on the lower floors. The Hudson room had a water pipe break making the room unusable the day following. Embarkation: We drove to Norfolk and used the Cedar Grove parking facility. We chose to drive into the terminal drop off and give our bags to the porters. After dropping off my wife and bags, I drove over to the parking lot. This is a city of Norfolk parking facility that provides cruise parking at $10 dollars per night. No reservations are required and the parking fee is paid in full upon entering the lot (Major credit cards and cash), so they wanted $110 in advance for the 11 day cruise. Norfolk's cruise terminal (Nauticus) is not finished and processing is done in a tent-like structure. Despite arriving earlier than the 1PM start time, there were long lines that were help by those who had their documents completed on line. However, there were still two forms that were not made available in advance (one was given upon entry to the tent and the other when we reached the check-in counter). Handicapped individuals (wheelchairs, scooters, etc) are taken thru a side entrance and do not have to wait in line. Cabin: Our cabin (the first time I've had an inside cabin) seemed roomier than the cabins we had on other ships. While our traveling companions were in an outside cabin and had a tub, we only had a shower. Still, this shower seemed slightly bigger than any we've had in the past. But there was only one small wire shelf in the shower (about 4x4x6) which barely held a bar of soap and small bottle of shampoo. Anything else needed had to be placed on the floor of the shower. Our cabin was just mid-ship on the port side, with a short walk to the forward elevator and self service laundry. The cabin steward kept it clean and it had six 6 large drawers, three large closets and two night tables, each with a lockable top drawer. A small safe is in the closet. TVs are flat panel LCD with DVD players. We seemed to have no A/C in our room (moving the dial on the thermostat had no impact on heating or cooling the room) and HAL's solution was to give us a fan. The A/C problem was apparently ship wide as several people told me the Maasdam ran out of fans. Dining: Rotterdam Dining Room: There are two floors - with the upper floor starting dinner at 5:45 PM while the lower floor started at 6:15 PM. Main seating occurred at 8:00 and 8:30 respectively. We found the food to be average when compared to other cruise lines - no better, no worse. On the first night, my wife found hair in her entrEe. The head waiter came over and asked our cabin number (I never figured out why, as nothing was done to compensate us in any way for finding hair in the food). Lido (Buffet): Finding hair in the food was not limited to the dining room, as later in the week we also found hair in food at the buffet. We preferred the Lido for Breakfast and Lunch since we had problems with both service and food in the two times we tried the Rotterdam dining room for breakfast and one time for lunch. Pinnacle Grill (specialty restaurant): This is not worth the $30 per person cover charge. It requires reservations and is open 5:30 to 9:00 PM. Service was no different than in the main dining room. The bar service person kept pushing us to order drinks. The appetizers were small, but the fillet mignon was excellent. However, the $30 is about what I would pay in a restaurant for a similar meal. Terrace Grill (next to pool on Lido deck): The grill had hamburgers, hotdogs, veggie burgers, chicken breasts, tacos and fajitas. It is only open from 11:30 AM to 6:00 PM. Oddly enough, this area provided no drinks (water, coffee, tea). So, if you are at the pool and need water, put on a shirt and shoes and walk back to the Lido Restaurant. It is difficult to find paper napkins, plastic-ware or paper cups on this ship, so any drinks brought to the pool area from Lido will be in GLASS. Entertainment (Theater): The singers/dancers on the ship were quite good but not all of the show content was good. Several shows were just the singer/dancers. They also brought in a comedian, a singer (soprano), a juggler/comedian, a multi-instrumentalist and a ventriloquist. I found the ventriloquist's material to be lacking and she laughed at her own jokes (most I did not find funny), plus she did not do anything special with the voice throwing. Entertainment (Lounges): The Ocean Bar had a piano and singer. The piano bar had a player/singer (sing along welcome) and also offered name that tune games. The Crows Nest had a singer (Emily) until 10:15 then switched to a DJ. Explorer's Lounge had strings (Piano, Violin, Cello). All were very good. Ports: After leaving Norfolk, we hit the private island in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts and San Juan, with 4 days at sea. We only did shore excursions in Dominica (whale watching / snorkeling) and St. Kitts (Scenic Train). San Juan is an early arrival with a 1 PM departure  thus there are 2-1/2 sea days to get back to Norfolk. Sea Days: After leaving San Juan, we had two full sea days. But the seas were rough and they shut down the Lido Pool on deck 11. It was mid-ship and the water in it was moving back and forth pretty fast. The pool on deck 10 aft was open and not as much movement occurred there. Pools/Hot Tubs: The inside (retractable roof) pool was fresh water, chlorinated. I used the outside pool (salt water) because I could not stand the chlorine smell. The info on HAL's web site said three hot tubs, but there were only two. I never had a problem finding a lounge chair. Gym: The gym was small and at times you had to wait for equipment. But I was not there to use a gym. Activities: There are enough activities to please everyone's taste or you can just relax by the pools. The 12th level is a sports deck with basketball, shuffleboard and volleyball, but wind was constantly a problem on this deck. There were two ping pong tables by the pool. Other activities include Art auctions, walk-a-mile, team trivia, lectures, chats and ship tours. Lounge Chairs: I had to put a separate category for this. There are three different types of lounge chairs. The ones on Lido deck (11) near the pool were like heavy PVC with pads very comfortable in good condition. The chairs by the pool on Navigation Deck (10) were cheap plastic (resin?) with mesh. Many were broken and dirty. They were not comfortable. And finally, on Deck 6 (walking deck and lifeboat deck) had very nice wooden deck chairs but some did not have pads. Cruise Staff: Jason Venner (Cruise Director) was one of the best (and funniest) CDs I have come across on my 6 cruises. Chris (senior asst CD), Sonte, Mark, Ashleigh and Sarah were all fantastic. Sarah was also the DJ at night in the Crow's Nest. Disembarkation: This went very smoothly, although one of my suitcases was not in the proper area and took a while to find. I am not sure how much of my negative impressions were due to the age of the ship and its problems. I have been happy enough with Princess and RCCL to keep my loyalty there. However, given a decent price and itinerary, I'd be willing to go on Holland America again (but only if the ship is newer - i.e., less than 4 years old). Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
First let me say that this was our 7th cruise, but the first on HAL. Embarkation - Although Norfolk's cruise terminal is not finished the embarkation went smoothly, just not use to getting on a ship from a tent. Cabin - Our cabin ... Read More
First let me say that this was our 7th cruise, but the first on HAL. Embarkation - Although Norfolk's cruise terminal is not finished the embarkation went smoothly, just not use to getting on a ship from a tent. Cabin - Our cabin was just forward of the aft elevators. This was great for us as I had recently injured my leg and was walking with a cane. The cabin was about the same size a a D cabin on RCCL and about 1/3 bigger than a Concierge Cabin on Celebrity. It was very clean and had more than adequate space to store our clothing. Having a balcony made for some great views right from the cabin at sea. Our cabin steward did an outstanding job of taking care of any and all problems we encountered. Dining - This was one of the great experiences onboard. The selection and presentation of the food in the dining room was outstanding. The food was excellent and far exceeded what we had on Celebrity last October. The only down side here was our asst. waiter had an emergency and had to leave the ship so our waiter did not have any help and the dining room staff was slow to respond to this (did not get help 'til the 6 day out). Lido - The buffet had a good selection for breakfast and lunch and the staff Amil and Shy took care of us when ever we went there. Entertainment - For the most part the entertainment was good, the only disappointing show was the "Diamonds Magic Show". Ports - All the ports were great although arriving in San Juan at 7 AM and leaving at 1 PM was a little strange. Since port experiences vary by what one does I will not address each port. Disembarkation - Was real smooth although the snow on the dock did make the dock did make it a little slippery. Overall we really enjoyed this trip and plan to sail with HAL again. The only thing that made us wonder about the staff was when we first boarded a passenger asked a dining room officer for help and he more or less told the passenger it wasn't his job. We found later that this officer was not the norm and that the vast majority of the staff bent over backward to help the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
Older crowd - Large majority retired couples. (I'm 37 yrs) Nightlife - not much happening. Piano bar was hopping but no one was in the Crow's Nest dancing at night. Service - EXCELLENT!!! Every crew member went out of their way ... Read More
Older crowd - Large majority retired couples. (I'm 37 yrs) Nightlife - not much happening. Piano bar was hopping but no one was in the Crow's Nest dancing at night. Service - EXCELLENT!!! Every crew member went out of their way to make sure I had everything I needed. I love food and thought the food was poor-average. Lido deck has a great breakfast. Dining room food was hit and miss. Last night - Surf & Turf was very good. Exclusive dining available for $20 fee in a small restaurant on board. WELL WORTH IT! Movie theater was great. Loved the Spa!!! Had several treatments and they were definitely worth the money. BEST shore excursion was in Dominica - was a Jeep tour into the rainforest ($99) Best tour I have ever been on (they stop at a natural spring you can swim in for a while). San Juan - only 4 hrs and not enough time to really enjoy. Green Monkey tour in Barbados was a real let down. A LOT of time on the bus and did not see ANY monkeys. St. Kitts had a hidden treasure. Turtle Bay is a small exclusive beach. Free access to chairs. Small outdoor restaurant to eat light fare. Actually saw numerous monkeys here around noon and it was FREE!!! They would almost eat out of your hand! Had a stomach virus and had to call on the ship doctor. Wonderful care and reasonable cost ($70 and have a receipt to turn into my insurance co. for reimbursement). This is a very LAID BACK cruise and I had a good time but am booking one on Carnival this summer for the nightlife. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
This was my 5th cruise, but my first on Holland America (I have cruised twice previously on Royal Caribbean, once on Carnival, and once on Celebrity). The cost was $940 per person including taxes and port fees for 11 nights out of Norfolk, ... Read More
This was my 5th cruise, but my first on Holland America (I have cruised twice previously on Royal Caribbean, once on Carnival, and once on Celebrity). The cost was $940 per person including taxes and port fees for 11 nights out of Norfolk, VA over New Years (leaving 12/27/05). First, I will fill you in on our philosophy on vacations  my husband and I love cruising because of the nice weather offered (Caribbean destinations anyway), the ability to swim in pools and soak in hot tubs, the access to food 24 hours a day, and the ability to thoroughly relax and enjoy each others company. We typically get a table for just the two of us at dinner, dont see many of the shows, and dont really do any of the excursions, so Im sorry but I cannot tell you about ship-mate camaraderie, or recommend shows or excursions. I can give you a detailed account on the food and service and how easy or difficult it is to relax on this ship and how this line compares to the other lines I have cruised with. If you care about these things, read on. Checking in at the port was relatively easy  we waited in line for about 30 minutes total. We drove to the Cedar Grove Parking lot in Norfolk  parking was $10 per day and a bus brings you to the cruise pier. We boarded the ship around noon and proceeded to the Lido to wait until our room was ready. There was a buffet available while we waited but we decided to hold off until we were settled. SHIP: Our overall impression of the actual ship is very favorable. It was clean, attractive and had amenities that we enjoyed immensely. The Lower Promenade was a deck that went fully around the ship and it was completely covered so that you could walk around during the day to enjoy the views but not be scorched by the sun. There were various other outdoor decks and areas for one to enjoy (basketball court/tennis court, volleyball, ping pong, shuffleboard) and we even discovered near the end of our stay that you could go out on a huge area on the bow of the ship and we watched flying fish jumping out of the water on the sides. We never went into the pool on the Lido deck (which was designated as the kids pool in the in-room guide but was used by everyone). We used the pool outside on the Navigation Deck (adult designation but similarly ignored) and it was the first pool on a cruise ship that Ive been on that was actually heated! It was a real treat to swim in there since Norfolk is not the warmest place to leave from in December. I have to say that the Maasdam was our favorite ship of all that we have been on, but unfortunately, the rest of my review leaves Holland America as our least favorite cruise line. CABIN: Our cabin was in the next to least desirable area of the ship. We booked a NN guarantee (lowest priced cabin) and were upgraded to L676 inside on the Main Deck (the worst is the lowest deck - A Deck). We were at the back end of the ship, above the stern thrusters  the reason for it being the least desirable area  ESPECIALLY for this trip and this ship. More on that later. The cabin was a great size and decorated nicely. The premium bed linens were welcome and the mattress was extremely comfortable. Our room had two closets, a desk, a chair, a couch and a small table, and an in-room safe. The bathroom was a good size with the shower area large enough to not have to be touching the wet shower curtain the entire time you were in there, and water pressure and temperature were great. The room was fairly clean  please note that I have some of the highest standards for cleanliness and I always pull back the bedspread and blanket to reveal the sheets and pillows  searching for human hairs or other signs of recent occupancy. On Maasdam, while there were sheets covering the blanket on both sides, I did find a lot of human hairs during the bed inspection. I asked our room steward if he could get us clean sheets that I would change myself (since he kept insisting that the ones on the bed were clean, regardless of the hairs). Upon looking at the new sheets, I just went along with him since those had hairs on them too. HAL could do a better job during the laundering process I think. This room did come with nice bathrobes  with soft terry on the inside and spa-type waffle weave on the outside. HAL only provided conditioning shampoo, soap, and lotion which smelled fine but we used our own mostly. I was surprised by the paltry selection since this is supposed to be a premium cruise line. Of all the lines Ive been on, Carnival was the only one that actually provided a big basket of toiletries with different shampoos and such to choose from. The bathroom did have the vacuum-style built-in hair dryer that blows at about the strength of a hand-held fan that most old boats seem to have, but they also provided a real hair dryer in the top drawer under the TV so that was appreciated. The whole Signature of Excellence that HAL is promoting on their website said that all rooms on the Maasdam now had flat panel tvs and DVD players. This was not a true statement at the time of my cruise. Thankfully, we assumed this and brought our DVD player anyway so we were able to enjoy some in-room movies. Our only real complaint about the room would have to be the toilet. It stopped up 3 times during our cruise through no fault of ours and it was like pulling teeth to get anyone to do anything about it. This had never happened to us on any other cruise and this new experience made us realize that a working toilet is something to be thankful for. Another summary of the helpfulness of our steward: The first time our toilet clogged, we rushed to tell him and he looked at us blankly and said, There is probably too much paper. When I asked him what we should do about it, he just repeated that it was too much paper. We just ended up calling the front desk and waited for 2 hours to have it fixed so we could use it. I now say kudos to all the other lines weve been on for keeping their toilets clog-free. SERVICE: What can I say  service was downright dismal. Not a lot of helpfulness from the mostly Filipino crew. I dont really know how to explain it but it really seemed like any time you asked any of the crew for anything, it was like you were putting them out  most of these guys had a real attitude like the service industry was beneath them. Some examples: Our first day on the ship we went to change our dining arrangements for a table for 2. What a hassle! The Assistant Dining Room manager (Menchie?) refused to let us have a table for 2 for the first night. He said that he would see what he could do the next day. I told him that this had never happened to us before and that we wanted to eat in the restaurant. He said ok, and when I asked him what table we were changed to, he said no change  you can eat at the table you are assigned to. This guy was really snotty  I honestly was shocked at his behavior. I then told him we would speak to the Manager (Becti) and when we came back to speak to him, he had obviously been briefed about the nasty lady and her husband, and while he backed his buddy up, the Manager finally did say that he would find a table for us that night (after I said Look, Im not saying he did anything wrong. I just want to know if you are telling me that the only way we can eat in the dining room tonight is that we HAVE to sit with other people?). After sitting and waiting for 10 ten minutes while the 2 of them spoke to each other in their language, we decided to leave. We did get a table in the dining room for the next night and our waiter was also not so great  this one interaction sums up our dealings with him very easily: On the first night they served steak, my husband and I requested medium rare. He actually said that we could not request how we wanted our steak cooked because it would be too difficult to get everyones order right. What?!!! I honestly thought he was joking but then he said he could see what he could do. Yes  that sums it up perfectly. Even the guys at the buffet were put out when you requested something  even when it was within the norm. There were 3 exceptions to this  A different Assistant Dining Room Manager (cant remember his name  Ti? Or Tu? Or Tony?) was so accommodating to us during lunch and dinner in the dining room. We also noticed how attentive he was  he obviously took his job seriously. We noticed him giving instructions to some waiters who were just standing around chitchatting one day and he was always there pointing out if someones empty plate sat too long or if a passengers water glass was empty. We gave him a tip at the end of the cruise to let him know his efforts were appreciated. Also, the guy who usually worked the ice cream bar was very helpful. I had asked him why the ice cream tasted terrible one day and delicious the next  he told me that they served 2 alternating brands. After that, I would ask him every day which brand he had and he would tell me if it was the good one or bad one and how long he expected it to last. We tipped him as well. Lastly, one time I asked one of the guys for a chocolate milk and he went into the back and got me one and smiled when he gave it to me. I honestly have to call this out because it didnt happen very often. Mostly, they rolled their eyes and the majority of the time, you had to interrupt an in-depth conversation being held in their language to get them to give you a spoonful of something. I honestly think that diversity would go a long way to improving service on the Maasdam and this is not a racially motivated comment  my husband is a quarter Filipino himself and I am of mixed race too. There was definitely a feeling of us against them that came from the crew but who knows, maybe it was an aberration since some of the reviews rave about how great these guys are. It could have been that the crew was morose over spending their holiday far away from their family and loved ones. Whatever it was, this was the worst service we have ever received and dont care to experience it again. It would be one thing if we were demanding things out of the ordinary, but the service for just doing ones job was definitely not there. If you want comparisons, I will say that Royal Caribbean provided the best service I have received so far  on both of the ships I was on (Grandeur and Enchantment)  everything was done with a smile and a willingness to help  even when they werent able to provide it for you. That goes a long way. FOOD: In a word  DISAPPOINTED. In all the excess, gluttony and over-the-top presentation of food on cruise lines, HAL was remarkably unable to come up with more than 5 dishes that we considered to be very good. My husband and I love to eat and we are not food snobs either  we can find enjoyment in Big Macs as well as filets from Mortons or the Capital Grill. Our overall impression of food on the Maasdam was that it is the Ponderosa of the high seas; i.e. the food is ok, but their chefs arent in danger of winning any culinary awards. The dinners in the Rotterdam dining room offered steaks you would expect to find at your local diner  not awful, but not great either. The dishes I considered to be very good were the mushroom ravioli, the jumbo shrimp cocktails (these shrimp were truly jumbo and the best Ive ever had next to Grill 23  a superb Boston steakhouse), the individual round chocolate cakes, the apple tart (i.e. pie)  but it was good only sometimes, and cornbread pudding (a side dish one night). Also, the hours of operation were very limited at all dining venues. Breakfast closed at 10:00 a.m. which is really ridiculous. Every morning there was a mad rush of us late sleepers waiting in long lines at 5 minutes to 10:00  which perhaps had something to do with the crews surliness. They openly complained every morning this happened (this time in English) to each other that breakfast ends at 10:00 and the passengers should not be able to be served after such time. Thankfully, the line was able to proceed until everyone had been served. Lunch in the dining room was only usually open for an hour. This was one cruise where it seemed that the cruise line was hoarding the food. My husband and I loved Celebrity  where they were open late for breakfast and pretty much served food in some area of the ship almost all day long. AMENITIES include the standard casino, big 2-story lounge for large events, 1 movie theatre (Wajang), 1 small nightclub venue, a piano bar, and a couple of other small lounges, game room, library, fitness room (small), spa, 1 outdoor pool, 1 indoor pool and 2 hot tubs (under a retractable glass roof that way opened while down south). There will probably be one or two things going on daily that you will enjoy - from Las Vegas type shows, comedians, to a talent show, trivia games and bingo - there's something for everyone and the entertainment seemed more varied than other ships weve been on. There was a mixed crowd on this ship (my husband and I are in our mid-30s) but it seemed there was a slight majority of retirees  more our speed anyway. We only saw one show  the passenger talent show and it was pretty entertaining. We really enjoyed the movie theater and the in-room movies were better than we remembered on other cruises  more variety it seemed. As for the EXCURSIONS, you'll have to read reviews from other people. I can tell you that, when in port, the amenities on the boat are MUCH more accessible and we found ourselves enjoying the pools and hot tubs with very few other guests around. The dining rooms are less crowded as well and you can take your time with the selections at the buffet. Our ports of call were (in this order): Half Moon Cay (tender), St. Thomas (gangway), Roseau, Dominica (not sure), Bridgetown, Barbados (gangway), San Juan, PR (gangway). We were supposed to go to Basseterre, St. Kitts as well, however, one of our engines cut out as we were leaving Barbados and it was just a fiasco after that. From reading the other reviews, I know this is something that seems to happen pretty often on this ship. Our philosophy is  que sera, sera. If you let something like this ruin your vacation, then it is your own fault so we went along with it  even when it got pretty terrible. The noise from where we were located was deafening. Our only solace was that a few doors down (closer to the very back of the ship) was even worse and we could only imagine the horror of the people directly below us. We lost the engine just after leaving Barbados, which made us wonder why we didnt just go back there to wait for the engine part that was to be flown in, but I guess the captain did what he did for some reason. We continued on toward San Juan  dragging the unworking propeller through the water. The noise and vibration was so bad the first night that we could barely sleep  waking up for hours at a time. Thankfully, they were able to fix this for the second night  it was loud but nothing like the previous night and we slept fine. Each person received a $50 credit for the missed port plus a return of the port fees. After the fix in San Juan, we continued to Norfolk when the thing failed again and again the noise and vibration  this time added to rough seas. Long story short  we got into Norfolk at 2:00 pm (supposed to be 8:00 a.m.) and we didnt get off the ship until 5:00 p.m. We were lucky  we had driven so we didnt have any flight arrangements to rebook. Some passengers had to rebook their flights twice due to the first projected delayed arrival being pushed out a few additional hours. It was pretty crazy. In summary, we had a very good time  we were on vacation and we were together  we dont ask for much more than that. But, the food was not so great and neither was the service, so we definitely will not cruise Holland America again. We can be on vacation and together on Celebrity AND get great food and good service too so it doesnt make sense to try HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This was the first cruise for my wife and I as we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful experience from beginning to end. Embarkation was efficient and well-handled. Although the Maasdam is beginning to show its age ... Read More
This was the first cruise for my wife and I as we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful experience from beginning to end. Embarkation was efficient and well-handled. Although the Maasdam is beginning to show its age in some areas, the ship is clean and well-maintained. I am not aware of the ship having any mechanical problems although, according to the cruise log, it never sailed at its full speed of 22 knots. Some vibration was noticeable, but having never sailed before, I don't know if it was excessive or not. Our cabin, a mini-suite on the verandah deck, was well apportioned with plenty of closet and storage space. The bed was one of the most comfortable I have ever slept on. Every member of the crew, especially our room steward, that I met were friendly and went out of their way to be helpful. The dining room stewards were terrific and added greatly to the enjoyment of the meal. The food in both the dining room and the Lido was delicious and well presented. The entertainment shows included musicals and variety/comedy. All the acts were good, although not quite the professional level some would probably expect. Made port calls at Half Moon Cay, St Thomas, Dominica, St Kitts, Barbados, and San Juan. Half Moon Cay was a bit of heaven on earth-I had never seen such a beautiful beach. The natural beauty of Dominica is striking, but a trip through the city shows how fortunate we are to live in the USA. The return to Norfolk featured a day of high seas and gale force winds, but the other 10 days couldn't have been better. The storm put us 2 hours late returning to Norfolk and disembarkation seemed rather hectic as we were trying to disembark at the same time the folks for the next cruise were coming in. The Nauticus port at Norfolk did not seem conducive to handling all the people arriving and departing at the same time. All in all, a great trip and wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
This was my first time on Holland America. The cruise director and his staff were the best that I have had ever. Craig (the cruise director) was wonderful, Troy (the Bingo Boy), could have called better numbers but he help the 52 year old ... Read More
This was my first time on Holland America. The cruise director and his staff were the best that I have had ever. Craig (the cruise director) was wonderful, Troy (the Bingo Boy), could have called better numbers but he help the 52 year old man feel like he was 25 again. Candice (Cotton Candy), her smile was always there and she was an excellent DJ that week (she was a little slow on blow darts though). Peter, Rowan and Lindsey added their own flares to this group to make this cruise very enjoyable. If you are going to be cruising this spring and summer of '05 make sure you go up to Troy and give him a blow dart from me (he must fall down where ever you blow dart him). Let him know you heard it from Dickie. Now to the not so good, I was expecting the food to be better is not as good as any cruise line in the category but it was lacking taste and substance. My room was a little warm and the air conditioning did not seem to be putting out like it should. The overall atmosphere of the ship was great and she will be making a much needed visit to the shipyards in April '05. This was also my first small ship since 1979 and that made for a nice cruise. Also, I would like to commend Carla from the purser's office. I had a group of 74 onboard and the bus driver left two pieces of luggage on the bus. She helped me contact the bus company to have those bags forwarded to our first port of call and help me avoid a disaster for two of my guest. Great job Carla! I found the shore excursion personnel to be not so nice, just not as friendly as they could be towards the guest. The room steward and dining room steward were great and very helpful throughout the cruise. Even with the few negative comments I have made the overall cruise experience rates up in my top five cruises. Give this ship a look now or what until after April 05 I think you will like it. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
First, I want to say that we had an absolutely WONDERFUL cruise, so even though this may come across to some of you as totally negative, it was not. My expectations were extremely low after reading the bad reviews on this, and other ... Read More
First, I want to say that we had an absolutely WONDERFUL cruise, so even though this may come across to some of you as totally negative, it was not. My expectations were extremely low after reading the bad reviews on this, and other boards, so my enjoyment factor was much higher than many of my fellow passengers. So, I'll start with the really negative and then move on to happy things. I met several people who had to move due to sewer and air conditioning problems. Luckily, we experienced no A/C problems.... those that did mention having to be moved (three times for one couple in particular) were very angry at the "lip service" they received and feeling there was no real caring at all about good service. Thus, the same problems that have been talked about for years on here are still going on, with no improvement (including engine and satellite trouble, as the communications satellite was out, and captain told us that a new part had to be flown in for the ship). My mom uses a motorized scooter, and because of Holland America's stringent disabilities policy, had to buy a smaller scooter to fit through the cabin doors (because they would not allow scooters to be parked in hallways, and had to fit through cabin doorway). Surprise, surprise.... after all that extra expense, she was told to park it by the elevator, not in the cabin as there was no room to move! Someone removed the basket, and stole the recharging cord from the scooter!! Guest services was of absolutely no help, but I finally found a nice crew member who was willing to let me borrow a cord I thought was similar enough to work (yay---it did!!) I was highly disappointed in the service. At best, I would rate Holland America one-star, not five-stars. Literally only one time did I ever see anyone cleaning brass, whereas on other ships I constantly see people cleaning and polishing public areas. At dinner *every* night, water glasses were chipped, plates/bowls were chipped, and the tablecloth was not changed for three nights that I know of as the same exact spot was on the tablecloth where my mom dropped gravy next to me. We all stopped ordering cakes of any kind as they all seemed to have the texture and taste of being freezer-burned in sections. My understanding is that everything was supposed to be made fresh, but we all had the exact same feeling that could not be true based on the taste and appearance. The most disgusting was when my mom said yes to coffee.... the first cup had a whole lipstick ring on the side that had obviously not been washed.... she pointed out to waiter, who brought another cup that had sticky, yellow dried stuff on the side. Needless to say, she decided to skip coffee that night Conor at Club Hal was great. They had fun activities for the kids, were very friendly, and I recommend highly. My complaint about the kids stuff, though, is that there seemed to be no coordination at all with the other departments on board. For example, bingo would start at a time that wouldn't finish before the kids had to be picked up... so we couldn't finish a session. Kids couldn't eat dinner in the kids club, so they had to come to dinner every night instead of parents having option for a nice dinner out alone (other cruise lines I've been on--especially Disney--allow the kids to stay and eat with their friends at the buffet, which they ADORE). You couldn't go to see a movie as started at 8, and you couldn't drop off kids before then (and had to be picked up at 10, and many of the movies ran over that, too). Just seemed like there was no coordination between any of the departments. Also, the movies in the theatre offered two PG while in port days---but none on the sea days! Good old common sense would say to offer PG movies in the theatre while at sea with nothing else to do for the kids. The only other kid thing that was a problem was the "Treasure Hunt and Ice Cream Party" advertised as shore excursion at Half Moon Cay. We had the kids excited for six months about this---only to find out it's no longer offered! That was a big disappointment for our excited pirates-to-be. Again, though, Conor and his ladies were very enthusiastic, the kids enjoyed going to the club. Great advice on the helpful hints thread regarding slapping a cabin tag on cases of water at the pier and having sent directly to the cabin. I brought on three cases, delivered with no problems, and we drank all but four bottles (so we saved ~$200 by bringing our own water). Having experienced extremely watery/flat sodas, I would also recommend bringing your own sodas, too (I was told the reason for the watery/flat sodas is that the bartenders make nothing off the soda cards... by serving lousy drinks, they hope you'll buy canned sodas, or at minimum, stop ordering sodas). The first night was absolutely wonderful in our A cabin on Navigation deck... slept ever so peacefully on just the absolutely most wonderful mattress ever made! Unfortunately, in the morning, we were told by other friends/family that it had been a night from hell for them and they had very little sleep down on deck 5. From their descriptions, it sounded like they were scraping bottom and hitting whales all night long, as it was varying loud boom noises and shaking (I assume must have been hitting waves/rudder). We were told this was "normal" for those cabins, but honestly, they were terrified--and they had been on a cruise before, so it wasn't first time jitters We arrived at Half Moon Cay. I had smartly read on these boards about the late tenders and had booked my son and I for the first stingray swim of the day since tours go over first. The cost was $19 AND included a free photograph! The $19 was the best I've ever spent! The ride to get there was terribly bumpy , but the swim itself was just absolutely awesome! I would recommend this excursion for all ages, and for all physical limitations as it was super convenient. You basically walk down a flight of steps, put your mask/snorkel on, and then just float out in the water. No long distance walk or wading into the water. It was "scarier" getting on/off the tender than it was going on the stingray swim. As others had previously mentioned, the latest tenders didn't drop off until almost 2 pm and had to board the ship two hours later (with no lunch as that stopped at 1:30), so I was even happier I had scheduled this first tour of the day. When we were done with the excursion, we pretty much had a lovely deserted beach to ourselves while waiting for all the other tenders to get over. Also, we completely avoided any of the hell endured by those fighting for tender tickets... the descriptions I heard was that the lounge was full, and then they told everyone to line up... people were all so rude/eager that the table was actually shoved into the guy giving out tickets and he had to yell at people to back off. Whew, thanks for the advice so I avoided that mess! Half Moon Cay was by far the best beach I've visited, and the kids play area was really phenomenal, although very dangerous, so definite changes are needed there... kids (and adults) were slipping and falling off/hitting heads on the cute animals in the water. Great fun until the first lawsuits begin, though The funniest thing we saw was two lizards mating as none of us had seen that before (even have pictures to prove it LOL), and a live rooster on the island, too. We next arrived in St. Thomas and did the Atlantis Submarine excursion. That was really awesome time, too, as we saw many sharks... that was a thrill! Most of the kids actually loved even more what we saw afterwards---a huge iguana in the parking lot!! The only scary thing about St. Thomas was security... I realized while we were on shore that somehow we ended up with grandma's ship card instead of my son's.... I decided to err on not saying anything rather than being honest in case we had problems with customs.... scary thing is that we just scanned right in, no passports compared to IDs at all.... so my 8 year old son got on the ship using a 64 year old woman's card. So much for feeling secure!!!!! I found out the next day while on a shore excursion with crew members that some people WERE left behind in St. Thomas because they had lost their ship cards, and that the larger ships do have photo-check when people reboard as the pictures pop up on a computer... but the older Maasdam does not have that security in place. Scary! Loved the Crows Nest, and I even participated in a hula hoop contest (and I can't hula!) and won a free coffee mug. The cruise directors were very generous with giving out champagne and coffee mugs, and lots of fun Onward bound to Dominica, we did the Wacky Rollers Dominica by Jeep tour. My son and I really enjoyed this adventure, but we had one woman who became sick (not sure if mentally afraid of heights, or if it really was altitude sickness as it just didn't seem that high), and the ship's crew members on the tour with us did not enjoy it very much as they felt the description had been misleading. My son and I did enjoy, though, very much. Dominica was much more beautiful than what you see from the ship...the lush rainforest is just breathtaking! The description of the Gorge is not at all what is described, though... basically a small place you walk down a flight of steps, and then swim in a small area to see a waterfall. Even though we really enjoyed this, from talking to people, I believe the Dominica's Favorites tour would be a much better choice---although the Dominica's Favorites tour description does not say swimming is available, the tour tickets/tour DO actually allow time for swimming at the Emerald Pool. I do have to laugh and say that it was on this tour I realized just how bad we thought the sodas were on the ship.... when the guide pulled out a 2-liter of Coke, my son and I both gushed "wow, real Coke!" and they all chuckled at us about where we were from that we were so thrilled to see "real" Coke... we do get out once in awhile LOL Dominica is now one of my favorite islands as it was truly a beautiful place, and every single person I interacted with was extremely nice---didn't experience the "pretty lady, pretty lady" pushiness AT ALL. Well mannered, sweet, friendly people! Next stop was Barbados, and what gorgeous beaches!!!! This was our favorite excursion of the entire trip---swimming with sea turtles, and then unlimited banana boat rides! The sea turtles were so close you literally touched them and were so much fun--when my brother stuck his head out of the water, one even stuck his head up right in front of him as if to say "hi"... scared the heck out of my brother and we all laughed We then docked on a beach and enjoyed the water---including kayaking and unlimited banana boat rides. This, by far, was the absolute best time for all of us. I can't recommend this tour too much as the personnel on the boat were outstanding and offered superb service (even continuously walking around the boat for the full four hours asking to bring us free drinks---when does that ever happen!?!?) We did not go, but I heard from many others that going to the Boat Yard was well worth the time---it was only about $12 each and included chair and umbrella--and apparently had swings into the water! Next was St. Kitts, which unfortunately was mostly closed up as it was Easter Sunday. We had a nice time snorkeling, and were surprised to find out that tour operators only receive $20-$25 per head for the tours---the rest of the money is kept by Holland America to cover "marketing costs"... well, that was a shocker. We paid $64 for the tour, of which they received only $25. Ouch. They did a great job and the shipwreck site was awesome as we saw octopus, sea turtle, cannon, and lots and lots of sea urchins. Next was San Juan for about 5 hours in port. We had decided we wanted one last day at the beach even if it wouldn't be the beautiful Caribbean water....but couldn't find any good leads from the crew we talked to. So, we took a taxi to the hotel district (specifically, the Wyndam El San Juan since that had been recommended to try). We enjoyed walking around the lobby, but we couldn't cut through to the beach as they had a guard stationed checking for room keys. So, we walked a bit down the street and found access. It was safe, clean, and easy to catch a taxi back to the port after a few hours. Great way to end the port stops! FYI, the cost was only $16 for full taxi each way.... so for $8 each, we had a great time at the beach (and very enjoyable breakfast at that Burger King---fast food was surprisingly tasty after 9 days of cruise food!) The ride back to Norfolk was horrible, and I luckily had anticipated/warned our group that I had read this on the boards. Whoever made the decision to have the Maasdam do the San Juan/Norfolk route in 2 1/2 days was very irresponsible. We saw numerous people (including me!) fall down steps, with one woman really bloodied. When you looked out at the sea, there were no white caps---just irresponsible, pedal-to-the-metal going too fast speed. If this happened just once, you could sea "ocean swells" or "bad weather pattern", but I haven't read a post yet that the pools were able to be open on the last day back! As mentioned on the first night out of Norfolk, some in our group were terrified as the noise/movement was so bad. My niece was too afraid to sleep in her own cabin and had to come up to ours After such a relaxing cruise, it was sad way to end it---especially the insulting loudspeaker message from the captain that we were in a hurry as there were passengers waiting to board when we got off..... thanks, dude, just what we all want to hear.. people can't walk, many are seasick, all because you want to rush to pick up the next cruise?!?!?!?!?! All in all, we had a great time, but most of us were very disappointed in the service compared to Holland America's advertising and video. We expected 5 star and the best description I heard was "Holland America is the Kmart of cruising" It sounds like Maasdam used to be a good ship, and our cabin was mostly well maintained except for the balcony door I mentioned, and badly chipped furniture. So, it was my first---and last---cruise with Holland America.... I'm sticking with my beloved Disney and Norwegian. I really wish Holland America had lived up anywhere near the advertisements because I would have enjoyed taking MANY more cruises out of Norfolk...so here's hoping another cruise line will try using Norfolk, too. My brother-in-law over $5000 in the snowball bingo game, though, so his opinion is probably that the Maasdam totally rocks ;o) Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
Well, first of all, we had the best time of our whole lives that we can remember up to now. OK, so we're new at this cruising thing. It was our first one, and we don't know if we'll ever get used to having our cabin ... Read More
Well, first of all, we had the best time of our whole lives that we can remember up to now. OK, so we're new at this cruising thing. It was our first one, and we don't know if we'll ever get used to having our cabin cleaned every time we sneezed or the undies coming back from the laundry wrapped in tissue paper or the endlessly smiling crew or.... So I was surprised to read the really awful review of the same cruise, but it could be we had a great time due to the stars in our eyes. We did hear a lot of complaining but having worked in beach house rentals where people become homicidal because the VCR doesn't work, well we just chalked it up to ugly Americanism. We did notice a real variety of life represented among our fellow passengers. Great to watch it all pass by and then go back to the cabin and our little deck to get away from it all and just watch that beautiful sea slide by. The only real statement I'll make about my fellow travelers is that MY momma taught me that you just don't let all that cellulite hang out in polite society ... oh well. We had a wonderful concierge, Michelle, just a darling! And Rachmat, our room steward never stopped working and never stopped smiling. Our dining room steward was Naviar, and his always helpful assistant Gito. We truly enjoyed getting to know them and our hearts have been torn apart as we pray that none of these lovely crew members have family affected by the tsunami. These folks conspired to spoil us beyond anything we have ever experienced! Also, we have a profound respect for the seamanship skills of our Captain, as he struggled to keep us on schedule with failing engines, rough seas, etc. These are things that just happen, but it takes a particular skill to maintain the ship's comfort level during such time. Food -- Overall, great, sometimes less than spectacular, but never as bad as others reported! The whole to-do over soft drinks confused us, but maybe we missed that lecture. Activities -- Well, a little lame, but we just really wanted to be at sea. The endless jewelry sales pitch got tiresome, especially since I am a goldsmith/gemologist and could not bear the misinformation that the fellow was handing out. Also we found the "Art" auctions to be a real laugh ... anyone who thinks that a factory produced Thomas Kincaid print that he signed with his "DNA" (i.e., spit) is art -- well they get what they pay for. Shore excursions -- We found out that we really hate being herded and standing in line. And riding in a tiny bus with bad shocks, packed cheek by jowl with fellow travelers laden with exposed cellulite and complaining and talking about Ethel's surgery ... well that wasn't for us. So we learned about finding a local cab driver and getting the tours that we wanted. We found lots of original local art in St. Thomas and Barbados and had a breathtaking drive in St. Kitts. The Barbados Arts Council had fabulous work by locals! As lifelong small boat sailors and boaters, we love the sea. My husband hasn't been on a ship since the Navy and Vietnam, so this was a thrill for him. Even with all of our boating experience I am still prone to seasickness, but the suite was so nice and the view so great I didn't care about feeling uncomfortable on the couple of days of 20 ft (and coming home 30 ft) seas. So overall, we loved it. We wish the ship could have stayed on schedule, but it appears that perhaps the schedule is a bit ambitious for a smaller ship. That was OK by us. We relaxed more than we ever have, and a month later we're still not over it yet. In fact I hope we never get over it, because I don't know when we'll ever scrape together the funds to do this again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
First of all, we booked this cruise for relaxation and the fact that we did not have to fly. Now for the nitty gritty. We returned late yesterday, and I do mean late, from our cruise to the Southern Caribbean which was round trip out of ... Read More
First of all, we booked this cruise for relaxation and the fact that we did not have to fly. Now for the nitty gritty. We returned late yesterday, and I do mean late, from our cruise to the Southern Caribbean which was round trip out of Norfolk. What a disaster!! What has happened to Holland America? And I am not referring to the broken engine exclusively, although that made it truly what many passengers were calling "The Cruise from Hell." First of all, the new idea of deducting $10 per person per day instead of allowing tipping of our own individual servers is a disaster. This rewards those whose service is not up to par at the same rate as those who proffer excellent service. And there are some of each. We were lucky in our cabin steward, Yardo (cabin #634) and our waiter, Oscar (table #143, early dining.) Others were not so lucky. The service up in the Lido was spotty, with some excellent attendants and some who stood around and did nothing. You used to have excellent menus on HAL ships. I have the menus because they used to give a set to every woman on board. In those days HAL was proud of its menus. On the Caribbean Seafarer Cruise that sailed from Fort Lauderdale on December 13, 1997, the Bon Voyage Dinner (the first night) included the following items: Appetizers- Orange and Strawberry Cocktail, Smoked Brook Trout Fillet, Grilled Vegetable Terrine, Prosciutto Ham with Melon Fan, and Deep Fried Herbed Crusted Brie and Jumbo Onion Ring. Soups- Essence of Seafood with Saffron, Cream of White Mushroom, and Chilled Pineapple Soup with Cinnamon. Salads- Arugula and Spinach with Enoki Mushroom, and Wedge of Boston Butter Lettuce. Entrees- Pan Roasted Gulf Snapper with a Warm Pineapple and Tomato Relish, Grilled New York Sirloin Steak, Roasted Center Porkloin Stuffed with Fios, Sauteed Aromatic chicken Breast, Roasted Eggplant Ravioli, and Penne Primavera. Desserts were not included in our menus. But you can see that this is a far cry from your "comfort foods" of today such as pot roast and meat loaf. Are you sure this is still Holland America? I will admit the food is good. But the menu selection is abominable. And it isn't due to the opening of the Pinnacle, since their menu did not reflect what we used to enjoy on HAL ships. The cabins, of course, are indeed comfortable, but HAL isn't changing the sheets as frequently as they once did. Why not? As far as daily activities are concerned, I am sorry to say that other than watching a movie in the Wajang Theater, there was nothing to do. HAL took away the Social Hostess and all the wonderful activities she used to run. Yes, we liked the scarf tying and the napkin folding. But even more we missed the Art Tour of the ship, which was wonderful. We also used to enjoy the morning question and answer sessions with the entertainers that was conducted by the Social Hostess. I remember Denize Mobit doing a marvelous talk on coffees, and Susan Michaels running a hilarious Jokers Beer Bash as well as a discussion about table d'hote place settings. Why have these activities disappeared? We also used to enjoy sitting in the deck chairs on Lower Promenade Deck. It was very relaxing and quiet compared to the Lido pool area. Why are only about a third of the chairs there provided with pads? The others were left bare. It was very uncomfortable sitting on the wooden chairs without the pads. We had a lecturer on board who was really not very good. Unfortunately he was the type of lecturer who read directly from his notes with an expressionless voice. When we went to the second lecture he gave there were only three people in the entire Rembrandt Lounge. We walked out. We were just too embarrassed to stay. The evening entertainment left a lot to be desired. The guest artists other than the first two nights were not very good. The very talented Maasdam cast of singers and dancers were working with horrible material. Except for the last show "Romance on Broadway" the shows were frenetic, the singing was shouting, the songs were unrecognizable as well as unable to be understood. What a disappointment! Furthermore, there were no classical music concerts like those HAL has had in the past by artists such as Hannah Staroska. Yes, the Explorers' Lounge did have the Champaign Strings, but that was the only group to offer classical music at all. The Ocean Bar music was at least recognizable and danceable. HAL used to have a magnificent chocolate buffet in the Explorers' Lounge every evening. Now, they offer a small plate of only one or two selections. Is this Holland America? Not the line I know. Furthermore, in the dining room, when a passenger at a neighboring table wanted shrimp cocktail one evening, the waiter asked for her cruise card so he could charge her room for it. Is HAL kidding about this? That is unheard of. Now, we get to the part that resulted from the broken engine. We arrived so late in St. Thomas and were forced to anchor in the outer anchorage. Even with two tenders borrowed from the Zaandam our tender wasn't called until 3:30 p.m. By then it didn't pay to go ashore for the short time available. And we had wanted to go to Coral World this trip. From then on the trip went downhill fast. Everyone was complaining about cancelled shore excursions and ruined plans. Then, when we heard that the arrival would be late, we had trouble trying to contact home to let people know about the situation. Phone calls wouldn't go through. I tried FAXing and that wouldn't go through either. I tried to get some compensation for having to stay overnight in Norfolk again because I don't drive at night and I had about 200 miles to go. I was ignored and told only those with booked flights would be accommodated and only at the Airport Marriott. We were on the cruise package at the Radisson Norfolk. Now, the final indignity of all- we booked this cruise last January. We thought we got a fairly decent rate. Then, after the cancellation grace period was over, we got an offer from HAL for this cruise at a ridiculously low rate. My agent called the special phone number provided and was told that all we could get was an upgrade, unless we wanted to pay the cancellation fee and rebook (which would have been ridiculous). And to whom did HAL market this cruise? I have never seen a collection of people on Holland America like this. From the hillbillies to the tattooed lady (from her neck to her ankles) to the wild children running around the ship to the bare feet in the Lido Cafe along with the wet bathing suits to the people who showed up for dinner on a formal night in shorts and tank tops (and they were permitted in the dining room). The entire cast of characters made us feel as if we were on the Jerry Springer Show. Never again. Holland America has lost me as a customer. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
We cruised on the Maasdam mainly for the convenience of the port of Norfolk and the smaller size of the ship. While the overall cruise experience for us and our adult family members was very good, some folks on the cruise had problems with ... Read More
We cruised on the Maasdam mainly for the convenience of the port of Norfolk and the smaller size of the ship. While the overall cruise experience for us and our adult family members was very good, some folks on the cruise had problems with the air conditioning, a problem that seems to be persistent. The Indonesian and Philippine crew members are just simply wonderful - they are friendly, willing and thoroughly cheerful folks. Sight lines in the Theatre are not good. Unless one sits in the front row of the main floor or the balcony, all one sees is the back of some taller person's head! Food is plentiful: good variety, well presented, and pleasing, but definitely more in the comfort food area than gourmet. The cold soups are fantastic. The grill on the Lido deck is better than any restaurant I know for hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, tacos and nachos. Embark day was a bit hectic because the ship was late - due to engine problems. This older ship appears in great condition, at least in the suites and the public rooms, but one wonders if with the continuing air conditioning problems and the recent engine problems - is she due for some major work? The itinerary could use some tweaking. We had less than 3 hours on Half Moon Cay, and with cabana rental this was a very expensive three hours. We had only about 5 hours in San Juan - too short a time. St. Thomas is not a favorite with me and I would gladly skip it for more time elsewhere. The passenger mix was terrific - we met a lot of nice people and one or two cranks. Not bad! The cruise was summed up for me by a comment from the sister traveling with me - "HAL is comfortable, sort of like an old shoe, not exciting, but comfortable." Had we been among those without air conditioning, I doubt that this would have been true. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
We just returned from this cruise. We had a great time. The following are my opinions of the ship and the cruise in general. This was our first HAL cruise after many cruises with RCCL and 2 on Carnival. I traveled with family and some ... Read More
We just returned from this cruise. We had a great time. The following are my opinions of the ship and the cruise in general. This was our first HAL cruise after many cruises with RCCL and 2 on Carnival. I traveled with family and some friends. No children. Ship-It looks great for its age. On the inside anyway. The outside really needs some sprucing up. The paint is really faded. However, on the inside it is beautiful. It has some problems that need to be addressed. As others have mentioned, we smelled a sewer smell in various areas of the ship at different times. The smell would be there and the next day it would be gone but might turn up in another area. Not really a big deal but it should be fixed. There were some wet areas on the carpet in different areas of the ship. We saw the crew trying to suck up the water several times. The self service laundry was having problems. Not all the washers were working and one day we put in a load that was still washing after one and one half hours. We called the front desk and it was quickly fixed. Over all, the ship is beautiful but needs some work. Staff-the staff was friendly and did their jobs well but no different from RCCL. Didn't think they were outstanding except for a few special people. Room-We were in a mini-suite and it was very nice. The carpet looked new, the bedspreads needed replacing and the mattresses were a little lumpy. There was plenty of space for your clothes, both drawers and closets. The bathroom was small and not much space to put things. Only one very narrow shelf in front of the mirror. 3 women in one room-not enough space for your stuff. Entertainment-I only caught part of a few of the shows so really can't comment on that. Ports-Our ports were changed at the last minute because the ship was not able to make it back to Norfolk on time. They dropped Tortola and Guadeloupe, added St. Kitts, made San Juan the last stop and changed St. Thomas from last to second stop. We were quite upset over the change since we booked because we wanted to visit Tortola and Guadeloupe. After seeing Dominica, we think they should have dropped that. We were not too impressed with this island. And we were only in San Juan from 7 to 1. The shops don't open until 10 so that didn't leave much time. Hopefully they will rethink the ports if they continue to go out of Norfolk next year. Food-The food was wonderful. Best part of the cruise. Better than RCCL. Small portions in the dining room but you could ask for more. We did not eat in the Pinnacle. The food in the Lido was also great. Coffee was really bad-unless you like it very, very strong. The captain was great. It was the first cruise I have been on where every day, sometimes twice a day, the captain talked to us over the PA system. He would tell us exactly what was going on, be it good or bad. We hit some really rough water going down the East Coast and he kept us informed of the sea conditions and what he would try to do to keep us comfortable. Not much he could do but it was comforting to hear him talk about it. That was great and more captains should do that. Overall, we had a great time. The majority of passengers were older, 70's and up, than on RCCL so the atmosphere was really different. We would not sail again on a ship this old. The possibility of problems is so much greater. And for the price (much more than RCCL) we didn't feel that it was that much better. Don't know if we would consider HAL again-maybe. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Norfolk is not ready to handle cruise ships! Embarkation and disembarkation were the worst I have ever experienced. 3 1/2-4 hour waits on lines, mishandled and damaged baggage and more....Norfolk will have a new passenger terminal by 2006. ... Read More
Norfolk is not ready to handle cruise ships! Embarkation and disembarkation were the worst I have ever experienced. 3 1/2-4 hour waits on lines, mishandled and damaged baggage and more....Norfolk will have a new passenger terminal by 2006. wait for it!!....... Maasdam is a beautiful ship, she sparkles inside and out, great public rooms especially the Rotterdam dining room and the Rembrant theater, Atrium, Lido, etc. That's where it stops! This ship has a management problem, and I suggest an "attitude adjustment" program for officers and staff that interface with the passengers. Aloof, unfriendly, I don't give a DAM attitudes, and this has a way of filtering down to the crew especially in the Hotel area. Not the usual HAL standards on this trip. Cruise Director was bad they should lose him, he lives with an ego that doesn't exist, staff also not much to brag about.... Food and beverage-Way off the usual HAL standards. Good menu choices, but meats and and vegetables tough and tasteless (over cooked). Exception, the Pinnacle (alternative with a $20/pp charge) everything here outstanding. Indonesian wait crew outstanding as usual, but we had the exception, he had some traits that became boring and obnoxious. Lido for breakfast and lunch generally very good, but lines have a tendency to get long. Food presentation great... Cabin spacious and well equipped. Recommend verandah, well worth the extra few dollars. Cabin steward okay, but room didn't get made up until late in the day 4-5 times. Strong odor of garbage throughout the ship on several occasions... Entertainment outstanding every night. Very professional. Singers and dancers top notch, music, lights, stage effects, best I have seen on a cruise.... I have been critical of this cruise, I have been on the Rotterdam and other HAL ships, and they have been great. The Maasdam can be also, maybe I just hit a bad one. I will be back on HAL again, but not out of Norfolk!...... My rating on this cruise 2 1/2. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004

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