First a disclaimer... be forewarned... I'm a glass half full kind of guy.
I sailed on the first Canada/New England cruise after a recent refurbishment and she looked great. This was my 12th cruise... 4 with Hal, 2 on the M-Dam.
On my sailing the ship was unable to get into port (Montreal) so the company pulled off a wondrous task of overcoming the muddle. My hat is off to the near flawless handling of a potential catastrophe.
Food: I found the food to be wonderful ... as always. One will see cruise reviews where the rater will claim that the food was not very good. That's nonsense! I've been on 12 cruises and the food on cruise ships is always simply wonderful. One can eat dinner once in the main ding room, then turn around and stuff their faces again in the Lido buffet. In the Rotterdam dining room and Lido buffet, I found the Maasdam's service to be friendly & attentive.
Service: The personnel on the ship attended to all my needs in an expedient manner and with a sense of pleasant enthusiasm. The crew all seemed to take joy in speaking to me and at times learning my name.
Shows On this ship there appears to be a new emphasis on showcasing singers as opposed to dancers in the production shows. The first production show was a Broadway tribute and the second was called "Roadhouse" ... .which as the name might suggest was rocking/country. The performers are very talented!
On other nights, we were treated to a stand-up comedian who managed the task of being funny and tasteful at the same time. No F-bombs... thankfully! There was also a ventriloquist and a classical guitarist, both being entertaining. Fellow guest they tended to be on the older side and thus less active than on other ships. The Crow's Nest disco was mostly empty in the evening. On Karaoke, I and a few others seemed to do most of the "singing". The Maasdam is by no means a "party ship". That said I enjoyed my fellow guest.
Activities: Perhaps it was due to budget cuts, but I felt they needed more to keep us occupied, especially during our one sea day. There were some trivia games conducted.
Ports Montreal was the embarkation port. That is a lovely city and one must walk into the Vieux Montreal and see the Notre Dame Cathedral and cobblestone streets. I had lunch along the riverfront.
I took HAL's hotel, the Hyatt Regency downtown was quit pleased with the service. I do not recommend the hotel's over-priced restaurant. If possible one can get cheaper foods in the mall food court next door.
- Quebec City is a medieval jewel which looks more like a European river city than anything in North America. I did not one, but two walking tours of the old town, one culminating in high tea at the Chateau and the other a ghost tour.
- Charlottetown Prince Edward Island... Like most, I took the Anne of Green Gables tour. This is a lovely island.
- Sydney Nova Scotia... My tour took me to Louisbourg Fortress which is a re-created town of the early 18'Th century. Even though my visit was out of season , re-enacters were present by prior arrangement by me being on a ship sponsored tour.
- Halifax... I did the Highland Experience at the Citadel. Where I was part of a tour group of three partnered with a costumed guide. I got to play Highland soldier.
- Bar Harbor... I was part of the ship's Best of Both Worlds tour which visited Acadia National Park and a Lobster museum.
- Boston... I took the bus tour of historic Boston which ended at the airport. We visited some historic sites of significance such the outside of the USS Constitution and the Boston Library. Historic Boston is worth the time to see.
All things considered, the Maasadam to Canada/New England is a worthy cruise for those of us who are tired of beaches and t-shirt shops as ports of call. It is the ideal cruise of those who value history, culture, and nature over tourist traps.