This was our tenth Holland America Line (HAL) cruise out of the 23 cruises we have taken since 1995. Each of the HAL cruises has been on a different ship, except that we've been on two cruises on the Westerdam. Our cabin on the Maasdam was a verandah suite (Category B) on the Verandah Deck, the deck 9, mid-ship. We sailed on a 16-day eastern United States (US) and Canada cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to three other ports in the US, and to eight Canadian ports ending at Montreal, Canada. We had done a similar cruise in 1997 on the Norwegian Dreamward from New York City to Montreal. Plus, on this cruise, there was three days at sea when going between the four US ports. Plus, we stayed one night before the cruise at the HAL approved Western Fort Lauderdale Hotel.
FLIGHTS - We selected Delta Airlines for our seven-hour flights from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale with a change of aircraft in Atlanta and a return nine-hour flight from Montreal to Los Angeles with a change aircraft again in Atlanta.
SHIP - The Maasdam is one of the mid sized ships of HAL. It has 10 decks with two groups of four inside elevators, located near the bow and the stern of the ship. The ship has 972 cabins for 1,258 passengers and a very friendly crew of 580.
CABIN - Our cabin was smaller (8 x 26 feet) than on our previous 2004 Westerdam cabin when we sailed the western Mediterranean. Our cabin had a thermostat that didn't seem to work as the cabin was always cool, and a comfortable king-size bed with six pillows with room to place our suitcases under the bed. There were two nightstands, a safe, two bathrobes, one chair, one large desk with extra drawers, four closets, and a bathroom with a toilet, bath and shower, and single sink. The cabin had only a single 110-volt electrical outlet at the desk location. HAL previously provided a special luggage tags containing our cabin number and our luggage arrived in our cabins before we did on the first day aboard the ship.
VERANDAH - The verandah (6 x 8 feet) had one chair and one long chair for resting the entire body. Plus, the end of the cabin towards the verandah was two large glass windows and a large glass door, which was nice.
IN-CABIN TV AND SOUND SYSTEM - A color TV with about 18 channels including CNN and Fox news, several movie channels, and views of the ship's bow. But frequently the news and other live local channels were interrupted for a while whenever the ship was moving. There was a DVD player with a choice of DVDs available the ship's library for a slight fee. And none of the public announcements were heard in the cabin.
DINING ROOMS The main one is the Rotterdam (decks 7 and 8), and the others are the Pinnacle Grill (deck 8), and Lido (deck 11). In the Rotterdam dining room, at our assigned table for eight, the overall and service food was good. The Pinnacle Grill is only available by making a reservation. Service was very good and the food was much better than the main dinning room. There is a $20 per person surcharge. And we enjoyed the Lido for breakfast and lunch to avoid the large lines waiting to enter the Rotterdam; plus the Lido served breakfast earlier than the Rotterdam. In addition, there were three formal nights during the cruise.
BARS - There is about four or more bars and we always enjoy the Crow's Nest, especially when leaving a port before dinner, as the room overlooks the ship's bow and the direction in which the ship is sailing. There are several major problems with the popular Crow's Nest - very often you will find all of the chairs and tables being used by non-drinking passengers either reading books or even just sleeping; a question and answer game being played there at happy hour when your second drink only costs one dollar; and a large smoking area; again this completely fills up the bar. And one more minor problem, the ceiling lights are left on during the daylight hours and they are reflected on the windows, which appear in your photographs. HAL should correct these problems.
TIPS - There's an automatic assessment of $11 per day per guest and 15% is added to all drinks.
CHECK-IN - Initial check-in is slower than usual. However, each time you board the ship during the cruise, your cabin card is scanned and your photograph is displayed to the ship's security personnel. And when returning to the ship in Canada, you needed to carry a second form of ID with your photograph (like your driver's license). Also, every time you re-board the ship, all carry-on items (purses, bags, etc.) will be scanned.
TOURS - There are 14 ports and here is the most interesting thing in each port. Some of the interesting sites are: where the US Civil War began, a small island where ten or more different sea birds live, a goat cheese farm, a glass blowing company, fresh lobster fishing, historical Canadian sites, etc.
ON SHIP ILLNESS - It was reported that one or two passengers got sick aboard the ship and the ship really increased the keeping the ship clean and there was no other sickness aboard.
OVERALL OPINION - We were the first cruise of the year to these ports in the end of April and the beginning of May; thus we experienced cold weather and infrequent light rain showers on some days.