Holland America Line - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews

Holland America Line

by John Parsons
Eastern Caribbean
April 20, 2003

little about ourselves?..we are married in our mid-50?s?.this our 5th cruise. Previously, we have cruised with the recently defunct tub Regal Empress, Celebrity Mercury, Princess Grand , and the Norwegian Sun. We are not party hardy types, and a good cruise for us is good food, a nice show and some low-impact shore excursions. Since this was Easter week and we didn?t want to be inundated with kids on the mega-liners at the advice of AAA and my brother we decided to book on Holland America. The Maasdam met our date requirement.

This was handled very well by Holland. Numbers were passed out and no lines to stand in waiting forever. I saw no real beefed up security in the post 9/11 era. Unless you were carrying an Uzi or 20 kilos of drugs in your luggage I doubt anyone would have known.
Overall, an ?A? in this area.

The Ship

Built in 1992, I won?t bore you with the stats. The ship was well cared for with lots of wood and fine carpets. Large flower arrangements at every turn and supposedly a 2 million dollar art and antique collection. It was well-laid out and easy to navigate your way around. Although full, seldom seemed crowded, elevators uncrowded and easily accessable. On the 6th level, (lower promenade) there was a wonderful ¼ mile covered deck that could be navigated without any stairs. This seemed to be a favorite with all passenger types. Lining this deck were classic wooded chairs with cushions. Unfortunately, the cushions were removed in early evening.


We were in an outside stateroom(c-371) on the promenade deck and the room was well-cared for and comfortable with ample storage. When we arrived I turned on the small 13? TV and it didn?t come on prompting a call to the desk. About a full minute later it did come on and I realized it was a tube type of television. I guess it was part of the 2 million dollar antique collection. Our room had a safe, no fridge, and a good lighting system.


The Rotterdam dining room was the only formal dining available on this ship, which was alright with us. We are not in favor of paying extra for restaurants on a cruise. There was also a lido buffet, and several smaller burger, taco, pizza and stir fry stations. We ate lunch twice in the lido and once for breakfast?.it was good, not spectacular. The pizza had good crust and nice cheese flavor?.a close second to the Mercury. Other mornings we used the room service to deliver a full breakfast?.a nice idea not followed on every ship we have been on?..it was generally correct and always delivered hot. I give Holland an ?A? in the room service category. It was offered on a 24 hour basis, with a limited menu after 10pm. Apple pie and chocolate cake always available.
The dining room was very nice with lots of windows and a good atmosphere. Service was superb!! We requested and received a table for two?.it?s not that we are anti-social, but some nights we don?t feel like being ?on?. Our table was in the second row from the windows(#146) and we were very pleased with the location and our waiter(Arika).
Overall, I say the food was very good, not excellent. The appetizers were especially delicious, as were the breads. Most entrees lacked spice, flavor but what can you expect when you are serving 1200. My best meal was swordfish. My wife enjoyed the Tortellini. The beef was generally tough and average tasting. Not up to the general quality of our local Outback. Desserts were very good on the whole. I especially enjoyed the apple-raisin-nut pie, key lime pie, and a hazelnut cake which was the star of the dessert week. On Monday or Tuesday, they had the waiters dance out with some kind of chiffon pie that everyone had to eat. It was awful, worse than the Jell-O box mixes in the store. Two bites and I saved the calories for room service apple pie later. Friday night was the traditional lobster tails?.as many frozen 6 months lobster tails as you could tolerate?.and of course that Baked Alaska parade(which I can live without). I could go on and on?..overall food was a ?B?


You must realize you are not going to get the same quality entertainment on a small ship you will on the mega liners. With that said, the entertainment was still our biggest disappointment. The Maasdam singers and dancers were wonderful and put on fine shows on Monday and Friday nights with Friday?s PartyGra being really enjoyable. They do a great job with the budget they have. The showroom is beautiful with bad sightlines. Get there early and get seats up front if you want to see the shows. The rest of the week?s entertainment was a joke. Edge the juggler was on part of Sunday night and then a whole night by himself?..we walked out on him, I am sure it has happened before. Tuesday night they wheeled in a screen and showed a James Bond movie?.please!!! The topper was a man and his duck?.a Vaudeville act, a ventriloquist, who according to the hype had been a big star on radio(and I don?t mean public radio). We couldn?t bring ourselves to attend, although a 90 year-old man in a wheelchair did tell me he was very funny.
Worth mentioning is the movie theatre. It is a true movie theatre that shows two films per day. Better than any ship we have been on to date. Popcorn was free and available 15 minutes before the feature. I have long legs and enjoyed the horizontal fire aisle seat with 6 feet of leg room. All chairs were very comfortable, on a par with the best movie theatres. Outside of the theatre was a free espresso and cappuccino bar?a great feature also.

Shore Excursions

First stop was Half Moon Cay?.a nice private island. Since we live in Florida we are not beach impressed, but this place was nice. This couple from Iowa thought they were on Fantasy Island?.I supposed it is to a view of a corn field. The food cookout was good?we had baby back ribs?not the best we have had?but good.

A bus trip in Puerto Rico saw some old forts and did some shopping in the old city. This is a very enjoyable place. Historical tour in St. Thomas, very nice island, very interesting, very beautiful. Good picture opportunities. We had been here before and had already done the St. John?s snorkel thing. Nassau brought the biggest shore excursion rip off I have experienced. A $59 per person historical harbor tour and admission to the Atlantis casino and aquarium tour. You can take the same harbor ride for $3 per person each way, or a cab for $4 per person each way. The aquarium tour was not worth it and is priced separately at $25 according to the guide. Anyway you look at it don?t waste your money. Atlantis was unusual, but you can do the whole thing for under $15 per couple if you want.

In Conclusion

A fun time as all of our cruises have been. Service both by our room stewart and our waiter were superb. The crew was friendly and helpful. This is definitely a strength on this ship. Hal has some silly no tipping rule?.we tipped above normal for above normal service. These people need and they do deserve the money. On the ?casual dining? cruises we have had some really poor dining service. This is a key-down cruise, bring a few good books and relax. Early to bed early to rise is the rule here.