The destinations were wonderful. Quebec City felt like being in Europe. PEI was beautiful as was going to Peggy's Cove in Halifax. Bar Harbor is also pretty and interesting. Sydney is not much of a destination, so take a tour that brings you out of town.
It would have been 4 stars but for an issue with a tour of Arcadia N.P., which was poorly handled by Shore Excursion Manager: Amy Hanson.
Favorite parts of the cruise - We thoroughly enjoyed the ports except for Sydney. The service on the ship was excellent.
Only disappointment was was that the cruise was a little light on entertainment and things to do.
Actually a 3 1/2. My favorite cities on the trip were Toronto and Quebec, which we saw by our Globus tour and then Quebec again, all of the Maritime Ports, and Bar Harbor on the Maasdam. All these towns had good restaurants, good pubs and many points of interest. The Canadians we met were all friendly and super helpful. The Maasdam is showing her age. There were repairs and maintenance going on underway that were likely due to her age. The immigration and then tendering in Bar Harbor was poorly organized and communicated. The food on board was good but not great. The service, especially for our cabin was excellent. The cabin was on the small side and dirty windows on the outside impaired our view. The ship does have self-serve laundry facilities, which is convenient considering we did a week's tour before the cruise.
The cruise itinerary was good. The service on board was good in comparison to other cruise lines but somewhat lacking for HAL. The service people that were on board were great! However, there seemed to be less of them. There was no live music around the pool nor any type of pool side activities. The format for the Plan of the Day has changed to the When and Where, which really didn't info us. No drink of the day, no weather forecast for the port, no menu for the dinning room, etc. disappointing
The ports call were wonderful but I would check with Trippet visor for any tors in those areas for any activities to do in those areas it was much cheaper to do them not through the ship. Also if you're traveling with anyone 40 and under say anywhere between 17 and 40 have something to do because this particular seem to be geared towards the elderly.
This is a good cruise to take if you want a taste of the Quebec, and Nova Scotia area. We chose the Ocean View Room, which was very comfortable.
The food was good, but if you are a foodie you may judge it as decent.
The crew was friendly and helpful. The entertainment was okay, but they seem to have a lot of selling items such as Art Actions, etc. as entertainment.
If your looking for a laid back, relaxing cruise this is it. Not a lot of frills, but nice people and beautiful sites to see if you take the shore tours.
Snorkling and swimming with stingrays in Grand Truk was exciting. I also enjoyed the tour of the Coen horse ranch and their Medical facilities for their workers.
The Maasdam singers and dancers made the cruise for me. They were the best entertainers we've seen on any cruise we've been on. The stewards, especially in the dining room, were excellent. Almost all of the excursions were worthwhile and enjoyable. The only one that was so-so was in Guatemala. The only negative was the size of the locker room in the spa. It was difficult to change with more than one other person in the room. The thermal suite was smaller than on other HA ships, but was adequate for the number of passengers. Overall, an enjoyable cruise!!
We had such an amazing honeymoon on the MS Masdaam! Overall, the staff were so friendly and helpful. We loved going to the Crows Nest for trivia with Jess. Caesar and the other bartenders up there were always so nice and made great drinks. Dharen at the Mix and Poy, kitchen staff on Lido were also so sweet and attentive. They always remembered our names and orders and greeted us with smiles and enthusiasm everyday.
Staff and food were incredible. The singers and dancers were wonderful. I do think that the daytime activities for days at sea were rather unappealing. The cruise director was mediocre at best, not really connecting with the guests. There were two noontime programs on the Lido deck by excellent Mexican folk dancers. The cruise director did not introduce or welcome them - he wasn't even present.
THE VERY GOOD: The cabin. The food. The cabin staff and the food and drink servers.
THE NOT SO GOOD: Shore excursions varied, some good, some bad - All overpriced. All drinks were overpriced. Entertainment varied, some good, some bad. Front desk service variable - good, if it was a simple matter - unhelpful, if it required a little imagination, see comments below.
THE UGLY: The ship's moving map stopped working after several days and was never repaired. The captain gave hardly any information as to where we were cruising and when he did make an announcement it was inaudible and the information given was about the port we were already leaving. We often docked at filthy commercial ports instead of cruise ports. At cruise ports we were nearly always moored at docks furthest from the port entrance or we did not even moor at the main cruise port. At Aruba we moored half a mile from the port entrance and on the cruise were many elderly people and persons with limited mobility (ie. Some in pushed wheel chairs and others needing walkers). Despite this, HAL provided no shuttle, golf carts or any other means to get these people to the port entrance where they could get transport. HAL should be ashamed of themselves for such inconsiderate behaviour. Front desk was unhelpful with arranging the meet up for shore excursions when people had not them booked through HAL, athough the ship did not even dock in the main cruise port. (HAL did not offer the excursions in question).
In general, the food on the Maasdam was excellent, as was the service. Although there was a variety of entertainment offered in the theatre, the performers, with only a few exceptions, were just average. The HAL singers and dancers were quite good, but only performed 6 or 7 nights of the 33. On several evenings, there was only a Natural Geographic film offered. There was a wide variety of daytime activities to chose from. Tendering presented a problem in several of the ports, with either rough seas or a very slow disembarkation process upsetting passengers. The ship itself had problems with the air-conditioning and plumbing, and even engine problems. Staterooms and hallways flooded, saturating carpet inside cabins and down hallways. This caused very unpleasant moldy and worse! smells. Snorkeling and swimming in the turquoise waters of the islands, relaxing on white sand beaches, and taking in the French Polynesia culture were the highlights of this trip. It is just unfortunate that HAL, which has a r long-standing reputation for immaculate ships, tarnished its reputation this cruise with the Maasdam, which is definitely in need of maintenance and repairs.
I'll start with the few positive things on the Maasdam...the food was very good. The ships galley presented a large variety of choices each day. Chef Peter did an excellent job of being visible and providing tasty menu options. The ports were enjoyable. The waiters and the crew were all very friendly... which on most cruise lines they generally are.
Now to the negatives... The ship is OLD. The carpets are miss matched on all of the decks. We had 8 days when the toilets didn't work. The veranda deck during those 8 days smelled like a sewer and feces. In our cabin the smells ranged from sewer gas, engine exhaust, varnish and unidentifiable odors. We had to purchase air freshener to mask the stink. We also had to keep the veranda door open so we would have fresh air in our cabin. This was all brought to the attention of the customer service department who always provide a sincere apology and then did nothing. When a maintenance person was sent up to check on the odors he said there was nothing he could do about them and provided an excuse on what he thought they was coming from. On the ship they were constantly varnishing, painting or chipping paint. Which created strong odors all over the vessel.
We purchased a Spa Veranda Suite at a cost of $19K+. When we got to the room it was dirty and there were hairs all over the bathroom. The hair dryer was so sticky and grimy that I refused to use it. It was replaced eventually. The room amenities that were listed for a Spa Suite were not in the room when we arrived. We had to notify housekeeping to provide them for us. Some of the drawers were broken and would fall on the floor when opened.
Tendering was a nightmare. The first port of Hilo we waited for 3 hours to get on a tender. In the port of Kona it was just as bad with a 2 hour wait to get on the tender leaving us only 3 hours of free time in this port. The Captain did somewhat apologize and gave everyone one hour of free drinks. During the wait time to get on a tender no reason was ever given as to why the wait was so long. Trust me when I say...NO ONE was happy tendering. Well, I take that back....maybe the people who are 4&5 stars who got all of the early tender tickets for themselves and their friends.
Here was our experience with the ships specialty restaurant called the "Pinnacle Grill". The first time we went we ordered Halibut & Shrimp. We had seen this demoed in the Culinary Arts Center. It look delicious at that time. When our Halibut arrived in the Pinnacle Grill it was dried out and salty. They offered to replace it. It was already late and we didn't want to wait for them to recook the fish and declined the offer. We decided to give the Pinnacle another try. Our second time was worse then the first experience. I ordered a petite filet cooked medium rare. It came out well done. I sent it back. The second filet came back raw. They returned it to the kitchen and recooked the same piece of meat. This time it was brought back dried out....plus all of our side dishes by now were cold. We requested they bring us some new sides which they did. After that, they never came back to ask if everything was okay. Having been to other "Specialty Restaurants" on other cruise lines and had excellent food and service....my advice is save the $35/person cover charge for the Pinnacle Grill and get a good meal in one of the ports.
We have cruised on RCCL, Celebrity, Viking and Azamara many times before. This was our first time cruising on Holland America. We definitely did not feel like welcomed "new" guests. They did nothing extra to make us want to cruise with this line again. We only selected this cruise because of the itinerary. Had we known the ship was is such disrepair we wouldn't have gone this voyage.
Based on our experience with Holland America....we are not sure we would recommend this to fellow travelers. Especially not traveling on the Maasdam until it has been refurbished or replaced.
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