Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Vibrant night life, active casino and lively after-hours scene. Not recommended for families with small children or singles seeking wild-'n'-craziness.
As you board these ships, a beaming Indonesian or Filipino staff member in white gloves greets you delightedly and then shows you to your quarters. Many of the most fondly recalled elements of the classical style of cruising are unmistakably alive and well here. You'll find no feverish singles action here, and the casino closes at an hour that will horrify some high-rolling insomniacs. What you will find is a palpable reverence for culture, art, and antiques, and lots of fresh flowers. If large cabins with private verandas, ballroom dancing and bridge float your boat, these, moderately-priced premium cruises may well be the boats to float it.
Maasdam was the second of the S-class of ships, a sister ship to the Statendam (1), Ryndam (3) and Veendam (4). Though built as recently as 1994, these are the oldest ships in the fleet.
Maasdam is fully subscribed to Holland America's "Signature of Excellence" program, with enhancements to nearly every area of the ship. Staterooms now offer the best mattresses and duvets sold in Europe, flat screen TVs, and DVD players. There's early boarding and a choice of four dinner seatings. New service amenities include a new Culinary Arts Program with a demonstration kitchen for instructional cooking classes, expanded spa and fitness facilities, tableside waiter service at dinner in the Lido, new shore excursions and upgraded Club HAL Kids Centers. The Explorations Cafe is a combination reading and listening library, Internet center, and sidewalk cafe.
Holland America has never been famous for its dining room food, much as you can hardly name a famous Dutch food item. Many meat entrees tend to be on the heavy side (veal, pork), and are often over-cooked and smothered in sauce. Adding injury, they may arrive from the kitchen less than piping hot. Steaks, chicken filets and salmon are offered every night as alternatives, as are vegetarian and low calorie meals. The buffets are where Holland America shine, with great breakfasts, lunches with seafood and wonderful desserts. You won't leave the cruise feeling dissatisfied with the food.
There are tables for two, four, six and eight in the opulent two-level Vista Dining Room, which benefits from sea views and a romantically twinkling, fiber optics-lit ceiling, Rosenthal china, sparkling crystal, and crisp linens. There are four dining seatings - 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Casual breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight buffets featuring ethnic cuisine are served in the Lido restaurant adjacent to the pool.
The cozy, intimate Pinnacle Grill specializes in the ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. Its dedicated galley includes 1600-degree grill. Bulgari china, unique holloware and a dedicated service staff enhance the elegant atmosphere, as too does the wine list, which features several California and Washington vintages not offered in the main dining room. Reservations are required and there is a $20 service charge.
Twenty-four-hour room service is very efficient, and between meals you can order from a large list of snacks, salads and sandwiches. At mealtimes, you can order from the same menu those in the dining room are perusing.
The main lounge presents variety shows, a lavish Broadway-style revue and an energizingly fervent dance production. There's a jazz quartet in the Ocean Bar and fresh hot popcorn in the Wajang Theater, where you can see first-run films every afternoon and evening.
All Holland America ships feature lovely, comfortable and spacious cabins, probably the best offerings in this price range. Stateroom amenities include a complimentary fresh fruit basket on arrival and bathrobes. There is a massage shower head in every bathroom. There is plenty of closet and drawer space, just make sure your suitcase will fit under the bed. Inside cabins are 182 sq. feet, outside staterooms are 197 sq. feet. Balcony cabins offer considerably more interior cabin space than you might expect.
Penthouse suites, at 1,100 square feet, are absolutely gorgeous with private verandahs and wonderful amenities. The 563-square foot suites, ultramodern with large private verandahs, are nearly as grand. The 120 deluxe category A and B cabins are 284 square feet (including verandah), each with VCR, minibar, and sitting area. There are whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms. For Deluxe Verandah and Penthouse Suite passengers, concierge service is available in the Neptune Lounge, a private retreat where they can relax, read and socialize.
The outside cabins on the Lower Promenade Deck have pedestrian walkways (and thus, at least intermittently, pedestrians) between their occupants and the ocean. While special reflective glass precludes said pedestrians from peeking in during the day, at night you have to close your curtains.
These ships all have large spa and windowed Ocean Spa gyms attractive enough to make even the most determinedly sedentary want to come in. The sauna/steam rooms, segregated by gender, are impossible to fault. Way up top is a jogging track, isolated from cabins and other activities to spare non-joggers the sound of thundering hooves. On the deck, comfortable striped cushions line a large pool covered by a retractable dome on Lido Deck, just the thing for rainy days in Alaska. The Dolphin Bar, with umbrellas and wicker chairs, is an unbeatable spot for a late afternoon drink and snack after a visit ashore.
Younger passengers are kept diverted with supervised Club HAL crafts, parties, and games for three age groups 5-8, 9-12 and 13-17, with the number of counselors allotted to each cruise dependent on the number of younger voyagers. Many children find Holland America's planned activities severely humdrum. The restaurant offers a children's menu. Baby-sitting is available at sea for $7.50 per child per hour.
The second ship in the oldest "S-class" (for Statendam) of Holland ships, the smallest and quietest in the fleet.
Best For People Who Want
A dignified cruise experience in elegant, flower-bedecked surroundings, fewer children than on other mass-market lines; the best dedicated crossword puzzle area at sea.
A gentle and warm decor that is easy on the eyes is punctuated by a $2 million antiques and art collection.
When you reach the atrium on Maasdam, or any other Holland America ship, you won't really recognize you have found it. It is a smallish space mostly taken up by the 30-foot-high glass sculpture, "Totem," by Italian artist Luciano Vistosi. On Holland America ships the action is elsewhere, mostly on the Upper Promenade deck where the public rooms flow bow to stern. It is remarkably easy to find your way around the ship. The large Ocean Bar, with large picture windows to the sea seems to be a natural gathering place for pre--dinner cocktails. After dinner, the actions moves to the sing along piano bar, or the 89-seat Explorer's Lounge offers a string quartet or a harpist performing light classical favorites in the evening.
The glamorous two-story main dining rooms, framed with floor-to-ceiling windows, feature a dramatic staircase and a classical trio holding forth demurely from a perch on the top level. Just outside the second level, ladies will find a wonderful, spacious powder room with ocean views.
The main show lounge has two floors and a wide stage, with comfortable seating, though sight lines from the balcony are partially obscured. There is a large dance floor in front of the stage and the onboard 9-piece orchestra plays pre-dinner dance music nightly. The Crows Nest observation lounge, with its 320-degree view, is the perfect place from which to watch your departure from port; at night it becomes the shipboard "disco" dance room. The beautiful wood-paneled library has etched glass doors, comfortable chairs and ottomans, an inlaid marble table, and excellent reference and travel book sections. The nearby card room can simultaneously accommodate four dozen players.
Holland America's Indonesian and Filipino crew is warm and gracious, though not always as fluent in English as American and British passengers might prefer. Speak slowly and make sure they understand what you need, because they can be to polite to ask you to repeat yourself.
For years Holland America was known for its no-tipping policy, intended to make passengers believe that staff were doing it for love, rather than money. Now, gratuities of $10.00 per person (including children) are automatically added daily to the shipboard account for dining and stateroom service. Visit the front desk to adjust that amount. A 15 percent service is automatically added to bar bills.
On the two weekly formal nights, half the men opt for dark suit rather than renting a tuxedo. Casual on these ships means comfortable, but T-shirts, jeans, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are all forbidden in the dining rooms and public areas.