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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Holland America Line

MS Maasdam

Rating:Five Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: Holland America Line
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1993 / 2003
Length / Tonnage: 719 / 55,575
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 629 / 1,258
Officers / Crew: Dutch / Indo / Filipino
Operating Area: Caribbean, New England, Europe
Telephone / Fax: Tel 130 2513 / Fax 130 2514

Review by Mark H. Goldberg, TravelPage.com, Cruise Editor

The wonderful MAASDAM is the second of the four STATENDAM sisters built by Fincantieri Shipyards at Monfalcone, Italy. She made her maiden voyage in November 1993 and has continued to amaze and delight passengers ever since.

Taking the name of earlier Holland America ships called MAASDAM, a former White Star Liner dating from the 1870s but more notably a small emigrant carrier built in the early 1920s for the Cuba/Mexico route and a sister to the newly conceived "Tourist" liner RYNDAM of the very early 1950s, this MAASDAM has as much in common with the earlier MAASDAMS as Model T has with the Lincoln Town Car...they're both cars and both products of the same great corporation. This new MAASDAM is quite a gal and as sturdy a ship as you'll ever see...she is a beauty. Because she was earmarked even before delivery to be the line's Europe cruiser, her interior is a bit more staid than that of her sister STATENDAM, a decor more sober than in the others...she is the sophisticated sister of the bunch. That said, after her fall 2000 season of Eastern Canada cruises, she will spend the next year offering lucky passengers 7 day Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale.

Public Areas
An exact sister on paper of the VEENDAM, the MAASDAM shows some slight differences from her other sisters STATENDAM and RYNDAM, which are another set of twins on paper. In the MAASDAM the bar in the OCEAN Bar is at the forward end and like the VEENDAM the MAASDAM wows passengers with a 28 foot tall tower of emerald green colored crystal in the three deck high atrium as well. From that statue the Krystal Court is named...but like the same spaces in her sisters, the small quiet Krystal Court Lounge has given way to a small shop…the "Gourmet Shop"…a store also featuring a selection of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products…Also different here from STATENDAM and RYNDAM is the Casino Bar which is located more to front and center and less a part of the gaming room than in the others. Her Piano Bar is different, too...with a decor anchored in the theme of Ottoman Turkey with a ceiling covered with billowing silk hangings. In the MAASDAM the two deck high show lounge is named for Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn ...and in this show lounge the decorators looked to Holland for inspiration. In here entertainers entertain and when the room is not being used for social affairs like Captain's Cocktail Parties, gala functions and rounds of trivial pursuit when passengers wait their turn for tender rides ashore in those few ports where the ship doesn't dock. The MAASDAM offers a wonderful observation lounge in her Crows Nest, way up on Deck 12...and delicious appetizers are served here at cocktail time every evening. GREAT views from here all day long. Very popular at cocktail time and after dinner is the Ocean Bar, where a quartet plays dance music at both events. Another Holland America signature is the Explorer's Lounge and its resident music makers, on our last sailing, the 16 day Voyage to the Northern Islands from Copenhagen to New York, it was a Hungarian quartette, the Champagne Strings - and as aboard all their fleetmates, the quartette plays here every evening. Though a lot of the songs are stuff Dave Barry recently wrote about in a book about songs you NEVER want to hear again, the refined set tend to flock to this room for after dinner coffee and cognac. Look for us in here any evening when we're aboard... I come here for the chocolates...Chris likes the Armagnac. There is also a Library, card room and a 249 seat cinema. Fan of snacks, I like the freshly popped popcorn which is served just outside the door of this theatre. Specialty coffees are served in the Java Cafe from morning until 6PM...look for me in here, too. During our recent transAtlantic crossing this room enjoyed unprecedented popularity...as large contingents of European and Latin American passengers discovered it and its specialty coffees and made a visit to the Java Cafe a part of their everyday aboard the MAASDAM.

Aesthetically a bit more together than the Rotterdam Dining Room aboard the STATENDAM, that in the MAASDAM is even more beautiful. The same two deck set up allows two entrances and ensures lessens possible bottlenecks at the doors here. Fun for some is making the grande descente down either of the two curving staircases within...Tables are spaced far enough apart to enhance the air of spaciousness and tabletops themselves are big enough for the expected service items. Until smoking in ship's dining rooms is entirely banned, smokers are usually seated upstairs on starboard side. Many passengers ask for a table along a window...but since night time is the only time the dining room operates with two sittings, and only in Northern Europe in the summer is it light enough to look out at dinner, it's dark outside...and no view is possible. So consider another location. Anyway those floor to ceiling windows on both decks give those great views to the sides and to the stern and provide wonderful natural light during breakfast and lunch which are open sittings, anyway. As aboard the other ships of this type, most passengers take lunch, if not breakfast, from the buffets in the Lido Restaurant and the Hamburger Bar. Menus offer dishes to please everyone, but the ship's mostly American passengers seem to go for the less adventurous items...late nights bring the ethnically theme buffets like German, French, Japanese and Mexican while Indonesian and Filipino lunch buffets let cooks really show their mettle.

The line's specialty Dutch dinner is by now a tradition. Some passengers have been heard complaining that the food is better on other ships they loudly name (to let you know they have been around) but I cannot recall so many people stuffing themselves to the extent I saw in the MAASDAM! And lately, with Chef de Cuisine Messiah Ritzinger running the show in the ship's galley…the food aboard the MAASDAM is superb…the equal of ships you'd pay a LOT more to experience. Indeed, we proclaim the MAASDAM's food some of the best at sea…so good we were not once tempted to special order…Dinners were wonderful and we'd be hard pressed to sing the praises of any one or two dishes but I will…the rack of lamb was one of the best I'd had in over twenty years…it was just perfect and a dinner of perch was so subtle and sublime I wanted to lay in wait and waylay a couple more orders of it as it emerged from the kitchen...I didn't have to do that…my great Indonesian waiter happily brought me another portion. Another asset to the MAASDAM's Rotterdam Dining Room is Maitre d'Hotel Jerry Spiess…a charmer of a Dutchman with a winning, impish smile, he is all over the room during every meal and he makes sure that everything is perfect…and with Jerry around, it IS!

A hotel service charge of US $10 per passenger is automatically added to each guest's shipboard account on a daily basis. Passengers can adjust this amount at the end of the cruise by visiting the hotel manager's desk. A 15% service charge is automatically added to bar charges and dining room wine purchases.

No legal or morally permissible recreational facility is lacking aboard the MAASDAM... she has it all in the same good measure and fine taste and extensive range of recreational opportunities as her sisters...from working out and aerobic exercise, jogging and stationary bikes to snoozing atop comfy pads on wooden deckchairs, this ship features it all...Swimmers have the same choice of either of two pools that the passenger in the sister ships get... there are whirlpools under the retractable dome near the Lido Deck pool. For the solitary among us the video library boasts over 300 selections and of course all deluxe cabins and penthouses have VCRs while standard cabins have TV only. For anyone whose umbilical cord is attached to a computer and would simply die without constant access to email, there is now an internet center…at 75 cents (United States) per minute is can be a tad pricey if you are addicted to web surfing, but to get your email, it's not a bad bargain…the room has 8 terminals and when we were last on board, little or no waiting…The typical range of cruise ship activities is offered here and you are sure to compose a schedule to your liking. Of course the MAASDAM has shopping, shows, movies...

Designer Kym Anton's planned cabins and suites aboard the MAASDAM to be exact replicas of those aboard the STATENDAM...those aboard the newer ships differ not at all from the design and execution of the private quarters in these ships. They are very comfortable, beautiful cabins, decorated in earth tones and with Indonesian inspired fabrics for curtains and bedspreads. The decor of the penthouse here is a bit better than that in the STATENDAM, and it is similarly an 1,100 square foot apartment featuring terrace, living room, dining room, bedroom and two baths and well equipped butler's pantry! Almost always sold out are the ship's 28 suites where 563 square feet of space includes sitting area and a large private veranda. The line's "Suite Life" program of amenities and perquisites add a special cachet to these accommodations and suite passengers are feted at a special "Suite Passenger's" dinner in one of the small private dining rooms off the main eatery. Avoid Suites # 30 and 45 if you don't want a balcony that is very shaded - just remember, though, you don't really get a lot of sunshine on a ship's covered balcony. My favorite cabins aboard any of these ships are the 120 deluxe category A and B cabins (284 square feet including veranda), each one provided with VCR, minibar, and sitting area. In the bathroom of every deluxe cabin is a whirlpool bath. I repeat NO bubble bath if you are going to use the whirlpool! The 2 aftermost category B cabins - # 225 and 220, have longer private balconies. But far more numerous are the 336 outside and 148 inside standard cabins and they deserve special praise and I do not hesitate to call them the best standard cabins at sea. All designed for the long haul traveler, each has a variety of cabin lights and is roomy enough for a sitting area but more important is the availability of ample storage space. Your head will rest very well on extra fluffy pillows and the beds can be pushed together to have a roomy queensize if you like company while you are asleep.

Of course every cabin has its own bathroom, all outsides have tubs, insides showers only and all have a hair dryer. Passengers seem to like the thick bath and hand towels (and the Line does not skimp - if you want more just ask), complimentary fine soaps, shampoos and ginseng body lotion. There aren't any bad cabins aboard the MAASDAM, just some more desirable than others. Avoid a cabin on Lower Promenade Deck if you want a lot of sunlight and like a great deal of privacy, because strollers tend to peek in, and since these cabins are set back from the ship's sides they are shaded. Remember...that one way glass does not always provide anonymity - especially at night when it is hopeless as a means to provide a measure of privacy, so keep the curtains drawn. Cabins in Category E are identical to the more expensive D cabins but all are located midships. The best bargains aboard if you'd like an outside cabin for the price of an inside room, are any of the I grade cabins on Lower Promenade Deck, except the two forwardmost. The 12 other I grade rooms, identical to higher priced category C cabins next door, have picture windows but are sold as inside cabins because they have no sea view.

Who Goes
Holland America Line delights in their "Tradition of Excellence" and pays the strictest attention to detail. Personnel here take great pleasure when they delight their guests and the MAASDAM and her sisters count many experienced cruisers among their passengers. These people seem to prefer gracious elegance and a refined atmosphere over a lifestyle of raucous parties and snazzy entertainment. Expect the soft, wonderful service from the ship's Indonesian and Filipino service crew.

After her fall 2000 cruises between New York and Montreal the MAASDAM begins a year of 7 night cruises from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean. I'd call her the best ship in the trade…but then again, I'm very partial to this exquisite beauty.

Remember what I said about the STATENDAM? Well, Chris Smith wants me to tell you that the MAASDAM is now HIS second favorite ship...he agrees with me, the ROTTERDAM (VI) is his favorite but like him, I also LOVE the MAASDAM…and so should you!

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