............According to what I have read; It is my understanding that the Maasdam has already underwent her " drydock refurbishing " & is probably ' in the middle of' or ' about to undergo ' her Maiden Voyage after drydock...............Having said that &; in anticipation of our upcoming Cruise on the Maasdam on 11/30/03...........My wife & I would really appreciate hearing from anyone who has been on the Maasdam since her recent drydocking ?......What refurbishing and/ or improvements ( if any ) were made to the Maasadam ??? Were her previous deficiencies corrected ??? If not; what problems may still exist ?? Thanks, Don & Noel
....................I have read numerous messages re: speculation as to what the Maasdam was expected to receive and/ or was not expected to receive ( in the way of repairs, refurbishing or additions ) during her recent ' dry-dock ' in October, 2003...........however; now that her first ' post dry-dock ' Cruise is over..................I am anxious to find out what was actually done to the Maasdam during the dry-dock ??????
I have just returned from a back to back 14 day cruise on the Maasdam, right out of drydock. We had a great time. As to the changes, the newly carpeted casino has expanded its slot machines into what was the sports bar lounge and a few smaller TV's are located behind the "Casino Bar". The Pinnacle Restaurant is very elegant and the food is delicious. Ask to see the sampler tray before you order as the steak portions will feed more than one can eat. The service was a little too much, but all of the top brass were there, so perhaps the wait staff were just a little overly conscientious. Unfortunately the restaurant does not have its own kitchen and other diners did complain that their food was a little cool. It is definitely worth the $20 extra charge. Suite passengers may have their breakfast and lunch there.
We stayed on the Verandah deck and had absolutely no problems. Some passengers whom we met from the Main deck had problems with their toilet not working. I am unsure where, but a few others were complaining about water leaking and wet carpets. I am sure that these were simply isolated problems. The ship is clean and well maintained. We absolutely loved it. Have a wonderful vacation aboard.
I ate in the Pinnacle twice in the last 2 weeks and both times our food was hot, extremely tasty, well presented and as good as any 5 star restaurant shoreside. Being a restaurant food and beverage manager, I'm probably as critical as one can be in other restaurants and I was completely impressed.
The only (probably minor to most people) problem was the very weak entertainer in the Piano Bar. Fortunately they left the configuration of the Piano Bar as it was and not like the Volendam/Amsterdam, but Steven Frank was BAD! Rude, condescending, un-cooperative and downright abusive to guests. Certainly not up to HAL's usual standards. His contract runs until February but if the comments of the people I met on 2 cruises mean anything, he'll be long gone by then. I'm not out to get anyone's job and perhaps he has a place somewhere in the entertainment business, but certainly not on a HAL ship.
If any of you are going on the Maasdam soon, please let us know what you think of him.
Do you remember which nights "formal night" were for the western itinerary on Maasdam? We leave for our first HAL cruise in less than a week, and are getting very excited!!
Did either of you use the spa services? I make sure to visit my spa regularly at home, but I always look forward to a treatment or two on the ship. The ship is the only place my husband will go to a spa! (And he's looking forward to it!) I realize the Maasdam spa is not like Celebrity's AquaSpa, but was curious if you used any services and how you felt about your service.
Is there a "Not So Newlywed" game and did you attend? When was it? We married this past March on a cruise at one of the last ports of call, which occurred after the Newlywed game... so we didn't qualify to play. I want to coerce hubby into playing this time if we can get selected - we are about to hit our 8-month anniversary! We've attended the game on previous cruises, but were not married at the time. However, we had lots of fun watching the game!
Also, we are booked in one of the few inside cabins on the Navigation deck. With the Neptune right there, is it still relatively quiet in that area? On our last cruise, we were in a suite with no inside cabins on that deck, and enjoyed how quiet it was. Plus we were just steps from a pool, and we normally choose cabins based on proximity to pool. We were thrilled to see these few cabins on the Navigation deck for such a steal!!
Thanks for the heads up on the piano bar. That is always one of my favorite places on a ship. Probably won't be if this guy has that attitude! But we will still check it out.
Thanks for your coments on Pinnacle! We are also looking forward to the Pinnacle, as we took people's suggestions and reserved ahead of time through Ship Services for the $10 pp special on the first night. Definitely couldn't beat that! We'll just meet our tablemates on Monday night.
I, too, have read various postings on different boards regarding water and ac problems in recent weeks onboard. I just have my fingers crossed we'll be lucky! Regardless, we are just so excited to be taking this cruise, as we had not planned (or budgeted) for one quite so soon, so this is definitely a treat!
Sorry I rambled... but I am just so excited! I teach sixth graders, and could use the break! If you can help me out with any of my questions, I'd certainly appreciate it!
Mandy: As I recall, on Western itinerary, Sunday was casual, Monday casual, Tuesday (sea day) formal, Wed., informal, Thursday, casual or informal, Friday, formal, Sat., casual.
They did have the Newlywed/Not So game but I did not attend.
Did not use the spa services so can't answer that.
Cabin was not on the Nav. Deck but walked it from bow to aft to get to pool - Neptune Lounge looked lovely, elegant, cozy and seemed very quiet at all times. There never seemed to be very many people in it and it looked like there was always some kind of table with appetizers, breakfast items, fruit, cheese or something on it. I wouldn't worry about the noise at all - that seems to be a very quiet deck.
Please let me know if the Piano Bar guy, Steven Frank, is still on board. Several of us thought he was awful and would be surprised if HAL honors his full contract.
Pinnacle Restaurant will certainly please you!
Had absolutely no a/c or water problems.
All in all, ship was wonderful, staff excellent all around and entire cruise fabulous!
Mike M: Thanks for the info. Sorry I did not know the rules regarding other boards and will post a Maasda review later today (might as well do it while I'm at work!).
Sure do appreciate all the work you do to keep these boards interesting, up to date, informative and enjoyable. After over 25 cruises, I still learn things daily about places, ships, people and cruising! Keep up the good work!
We are doing Back to Backs on the Maasdam in Dec. and look forward to this ship post dry dock. The piano bar is one of my favorite places for a late night cap and if this person is rude, condecending or in any way not up to HALs standards, you can bet your life I`ll be reporting this to the CD, and probably give the pianist a taste of my mind also. There is never an instance where an entertainer should be rude to the pax. Hope you all put in your comments on the end of cruise cards so that the Management knows what is going on....jean
Back from Maasdam trip of 11/9/03 to 11/16/03. We had a suite on the Navigation deck and it was fantastic. I had sons who had an inside cabin #029 on same deck and they complained of sewage smell sometimes, plus their toilet had a delayed flushing action (which I guess drove them crazy). The Neptune lounge was great and Chen (concierge) was very helpful.
I wasn't crazy about the diningroom service at dinner, and one morning, I was directed to take my breakfast in the Pinnacle grill, since I had a suite. I guess that suite passengers are supposed to separate themselves from the normal people?
Yes, Mr. Frank is still at the Piano bar (left after one song), but enjoyed myself at the Ocean Bar and Crow's Nest. The pool on this deck is nice, but lots of people reserve those darn lounges early and we could never seem to get out there early enough. Watch out for the Friday sail, since the ship travels from Cozumel to Key West, and our speed doubled to make up the distance. Seems like alot of people were seasick due to the quick trip or maybe there was a flu bug aboard, so you may want to make sure you have some dramamine for this.
I hope this is helpful and that you have a good vacation!
We are taking our first HAL cruise this Sunday on the Maasdam (Western Carib) and are very excited. Thanks for the feedback about the inside cabins on the Navigation deck - that is actually where we are booked. Sewage smells do not sound very appealling though. On other message boards, I did read that we go through the front desk for issues such as that, but one Maasdam guest recently wrote of not having any replies to their complaints after three days. I hope that's not the service you get when not having access to the concierge. I wouldn't think that anyone would want to smell sewage...
Thanks for the feedback about the sailing on Friday. I haven't packed anything yet BUT the dramamine!! This will be the smallest ship we have cruised on yet, and as I understand it, you can usually feel the motion more on smaller ships. (?)
Any other tidbits you can share about this cruise? Did you use the spa services or workout facilities? Did you ever see "spa specials" during the week? Still fresh water in the pools? We are just so exicted to be going. We are always thankful to be able to do what we can do...
Mandy: I used the spa for a pedicure and loved it!! There are specials but I notice that most of them were offered the first day for the remainder of the week. My son took advantage of the "pod" massage while I had the cholesterol/nutrition test. The pools are still fresh water, and I never used them, but they were enjoyed by alot of the passengers.
By the way, the sewage smell from the inside rooms is not so noticeable all the time, just every so often during the day. I think the delayed flushing action in the boy's bathroom bothered them only because they were afraid it might overflow.
Just a hint: If you like crab, get the crab legs at dinner when offered. They were sweet and tender and I wished I had ordered two servings. The Chateau briand and lobster were also fantastic, but the Baked Alaska actually had a freezer burn taste.
The ports of call on this trip are perfect, and I wouldn't change a thing. Key West is a combination of Carmel/San Francisco (easy to walk, cute architecture and kooky people to watch). Don't miss watching the street performers when you leave (they come out about 5:00 p.m.) Half Moon Cay is a perfect place to float, swim, sun and relax. We had a blast with the stingrays at Grand Cayman and shopped/partied on Conzumel for the short time we had.
In St. Thomas about 3 weeks ago, we were docked at Havensight. There were 3 ships there and 1 over at Crown Point dock. I believe HAL has a "reserved" spot in St.Thomas as I've always been at Havensight whenever there (about 15 times).
Just got home 3 days ago from Maasdam Western Caribbean. It was a fantastic week. We didn't notice any of the odor problems that others have mentioned. Most of the entertainment was fabulous, but I agree with the others about the guy in the piano bar. I didn't notice any rudeness, just not a great voice (I thought maybe he had a cold or something, but since many have thought he was bad, I'll now assume that's just his voice). We loved Champagne Strings, the trio that played in the Explorer Lounge, and our lounge hostess Eva was a real gem. Bob Cates, the juggler/comedian is outstanding, and we also enjoyed the Maasdam Singers. Most of the food was wonderful (it must have been--I gained 5 pounds), although steaks on a cruiseship generally don't compare to steaks in a land restaurant I'm told. 2 of my steaks were wonderful, and the other 2 were just ok. Prime Rib was awesome. Most of the soups and desserts were awesome too. Salads in the dining room were ok, but I loved the salad bar in the Lido. All of the staff were very friendly and helpful, and I am still amazed at how they can remember our names even if we've only met one brief time! This was our first cruise, and it was absolutely the best vacation we have ever had!
Okay - I am finally getting around to posting about our trip. 11/23-11/30 on Maasdam.
We will definitely be returning to HAL, and really loved the Maasdam (particularly the size, layout, and amount of public rooms with windows). We are ages 29/31 and our past cruise experience (7-nt cruises): NCL Sky, Celebrity Galaxy, and NCL S/S Norway. All Caribbean cruises within the past 3 years. We even married on our last cruise on St John (USVI), taking about 20 guests.
Here are some random thoughts and my two-cents about our week:
~ Yes, Steve Frank was still on board. We went to listen one night, and left after the third song. His piano skills were good, but the singing didn't strike us that well.
~ We had cabin 037 on Navigation deck (an inside cabin). The restroom smelled like all ship restrooms smell with the delayed flushing like they all have. However, we did learn that it can back up and almost overflow even if you do not put anything in there other than human waste. Phone calls to front desk at 6:00-6:15 in the morning went unanswered. We went down there in person to tell them (no line, so I don't know why the phone wasn't answered on our multiple calls). She took it down. But it wasn't until we said it is about an inch from overflowing that she said "OH" and made a call. A steward was there within ten minutes and it was solved quickly. We've stayed in eco-resorts, so understand fragile toilet and compost systems. Overall, the bathroom was not a problem at all except for that one morning of almost overflowing. I understand other toilets can cause your toilet to back up.
~ Pre-Cruise: Stayed at Ft Lauderdale Embassy Suites room 1225. HIGHLY recommend it, and particularly that room. Large balcony and perfect, unobstructed view of port. Got it on Hotwire for $65 a night.
~ We went to the Explorer's Lounge three afternoons for tea, and really enjoyed that. Also enjoyed the many people we met there. Met two men who travel together now that their wives have passed (the wives were sisters). One of the two men has been on over 300 cruises, and now cruises at least once per month. We thoroughly enjoyed the strings.
~ Usually sat in the Crow's Nest prior to early seating dinner. Not crowded at all. Yummy appetizers each day. Drinks were reasonably priced.
~ Almost never in our cabin, which is why we booked an inside. Plus, an inside on the Navigation deck only cost us $484 each (grand total including port charges and taxes), so it was definitely the cheapest cruise we have ever taken - especially for being a holiday week. Booked it in late July.
~ Room steward was invisible. He was awesome. Plus, we don't trash out our rooms ever - we always leave it with things "picked up" except for the bed being made.
~ Navigaiton Deck: Overall, a quiet deck to be on. As sated previously, we were in an inside cabin. The S suite across the hall from us had a party or something on two separate days the beginning of the week. (thankfully, not at night). From what we could tell, it was a large family reunion, and only one cabin had a S-suite. So that became the meeting place. They usually left the door open. I was also not accustomed to smelling cigar smoke, but there were times the hallway reeked. I had not been on a cruise previously where I would smell cigar smoke walking to my cabin. It was usually outside or something. No big deal though. I could not smell it after closing the door to my cabin.
~ Pools: We did not swim in the aft pool, but did spend time in the Lido pool and hottubs. SO NICE to have fresh water pools on board!!! We spent one sea day by the pool relaxing, and the grill by the pool was yummy! Yes, we had the hamburgers, hot dogs, and nachos.
~ Ice Cream: Enjoyed the ice cream a couple of times, and liked how they changed flavors!
~ Java Cafe: They would make our hot chocolate with milk like we enjoy! That was such a neat place!
~ Movie: My husband enjoyed a movie one afternoon. I don't remember which one- a western I believe. The Hulk, Pirates of the Caribbean, and others were playing. The popcorn always smelled good, although he can't eat popcorn.
~ Shows: The juggler was awesome. We only went to one other show, and it was not our taste. We love Cirque du Soleil, and I will say NCL had more of that type show with the amazing acrobatics on several nights. The nights we didn't go to the show on Maasdam, we would take a glass of wine to the Sky Deck and gaze at the stars.
~ Newlywed Game Show: We did attend that, hoping to get on. (On our last cruise, we married the day AFTER the Newlywed Show, so didn't qualify to play.) But, a couple who had just married 7 days earlier got picked. It was a great game to watch, and like we always do, we would play amongst ourselves. This newlywed couple was probably in their 60s, and we met one other newlywed couple in their 30s. (I'd see her working out in the workout room - I did use the treadmill a couple of mornings - such a great view!) So, I guess we only knew of two true newlywed couples on board.
~ Casino. Looked nice, but neither of us are gamblers. Hubby will usually play about $20 worth of BlackJack, but didn't play this time. Also, we saw several people on Thanksgiving watching games on the three small tvs at the Sports Bar (Casino Bar).
~ Ship Pictures: Formal night pictures were $20.95 and regular "sitting at dinner" pictures were $14.95. We found this to be more than our previous cruises. We would normally pay $14.95 and $7.95 (respectively) for the same pictures. However, we always get nice pictures done on board to give as presents to our parents and grandparents, so we did spend a small fortune. I've scanned those into our webpage (link at bottom).
~ Spa: The spa facilities were the "least comprehensive" of the four ships we have been on. I had my pedicure a few days before boarding, so I was looking for a hot stone massage or reflexology (my hubby always gets reflexology on cruises). The prices were comparable to the regular prices at the Grand Spa in Dallas that I treat myself to occassionally (www.grandspa.com). Specials were not for services we were looking for. We did not partake in any spa services this week, yet we normally spend at least $300 at the spa when on a cruise. However, I did use the steam room one day (free) and the large shower afterwords. That was relaxing. (I've lookd at the HAL brochure to see which new ships offer an OceanSpa with hydrotherapy pool... thinking of trying those)
~ Spa lectures: I attended two lectures in the spa, but they turned out to be total sales pitches (one for getting a facial and one for a $45 bottle of makeup). I believe it was Steiner on NCL, and I don't recall Steiner doing NEARLY as much of a sales pitch there. Also, the Couples Partner Teach Massage class was $50 on the Maasdam, but you received a free bottle of massage oil. On both Celebrity and NCL, we would attend the same class for free and get oil to use during the class, but none to take away (unless you bought it). They'd also usually have drawings at the end for a free massage. I won one on my last cruise and immediately handed it over to my grandmother (who was on her first cruise). She thoroughly loved her massage... and it was free! I didn't see any give-aways on this cruise or any specials that appealed to my husband and I, so I can't speak of how any of the treatments were.
~ Passenger Clientele: We did not feel like we were on a "wheelchair cruiseline". Being ages 29/31, we had a great time. We are not late-night party people, and were generally in bed asleep at 10:30. Of course, the clientele changes weekly. We found that week's passengers overall to be very friendly and the children were well behaved.
~ Pinnacle: Tried it the first night for the advance payment of $10 each by calling HAL Ship Services. It was fine and the food was good, but for some reason I recall the LeBistro on NCL being even better. Maybe it was the bottle of Opus One we had that night... but the Pinnacle was still well worth the ten bucks. The service in the Pinnacle was just fine for us, but we only saw one other table in the back room with us that night. Service was fine for us.
~ Dining room waiter and assistant: These two gentleman, while friendly, could have done better, but we're so happy-go-lucky it didn't bother us. I'm sure it would bother others, and I think it bothered our tablemates since they didn't tip a single dime (we tipped the industry standard that we have on other lines). We were seated at a table for six, with a total of five guests. Each night, something was messed up. Every single night. No big deal for me - I got someone else's salad, had forgotten what I had ordered, but ate it anyway. The other man got my salad, but remembered he hadn't ordered that. If it was me and my husband getting backwards, we'd just swap plates (we had to do that a couple times). Also, each night I had to ask for lemon for my water (I always drink water with lemon). On past cruises, after the first night, the waiter would usually remember. Not on this cruise. Also, after dinner, I would have hot tea - cinnamon tea. They started remembering that about the fifth night, but I didn't mind asking each night. I had just been accustomed to it being brought out automatically after the first night of asking on NCL (Norway) and Celebrity. But - like I said - we're easy-going folks and none of this bothered us or caused us to tip any less than we normally do. It was just different, because on our last cruise we sat at a table for 15 and never had anything mixed up and always had our little things remembered (like lemon for water and after-dinner tea). I only drink water with my meals, so I didn't feel like I was being very "high-maintenance". Otherwise, the food was great! We loved the escargot, crab legs, lobster, and several other meals. Desserts were okay, but for some reason, I'm not fitting in my clothes this week. (???)
~~~ Ports were fine:
~ We loved Half Moon Cay and took everyone's advice to walk down by the cabanas takinga backpack of munchies and bottled water. We had a couple hammocks and chairs all to ourselves, and nobody ever ventured that far to come sit with us. BBQ lunch was not that far of a walk, so I went to grab lunch for the two of us. On a beautiful beach like that, nothing could taste bad!!
~ Grand Cayman was a choppy day - we did a trimaran tour with Captain Crosby from 10:00-1:30 that included three stops for $34 each. Rough waters that day. Tendering was absolutely no problem that day, and we bought our alcohol products that day as well. Paid about $9 for a liter of Malibu, and had it sent to the ship. One location gave you 10% off for buying any six bottles, mix or match. And oddly enough, we always go to the Hard Rock there for a restroom break. Nice, clean restrooms. And hubby wanted to buy a t-shirt this time.
~ Cozumel was lots of fun - we did a Discover SCUBA course for $69 each (one-tank dive that lasted about 55 minutes underwater after our class and boat ride to the location). This was through www.EagleRayDivers.com and we highly recommend them (the wife, Chellie, is from Arkansas). We walked through town a little, but it was just typical Mexico like Laredo or Tijuana. And hot. (I'm from Texas and thought it was hot!) We went back to the ship early to enjoy lunch in the dining room after making our purchases of Vanilla.
~ Key West was great as usual as well, except for not disembarking until 2:00ish. Showed our passports at 12:05, and off by 2:15. There were two cabins who had an awfully hard time making it to the Card Room to clear immigration, holding up the rest of the ship. Made our obligatory trek to Jimmy's place for new t-shirt purchases and had a drink at Fat Tuesdays (my husband likes the Fat Tuesdays cups). We had been to Key West for a weekend a few years ago, and Fat Tuesdays was not there then. We went back to Mallroy Square to watch the events, and then on to the ship. Watched sail-away from the Crow's Nest after taking lots of great sunset pictures.
*** I've tried to state my personal experiences above and report any thoughts - whether "positive" or "not as positve". However, of everything above, we were SATISFIED and would not claim any of these as a "negative" by any means. ***
The only two negatives we would actually say about this cruise:
~ Disembarkation. It was total chaos. It took an hour of standing in a cram-packed line (after our number was called) to move maybe 15-20 feet. We would move three feet, and more disembarkation groups would be called. We felt sorry for those passengers who were not comfortable standing for extended periods of time, as there were no chairs nearby for them. Normally, disembarkation takes us 15 minutes tops from the time our group is called until we are off the ship. Maybe for suite passengers disembarkation is fine, but for us "squid" as I've seen us referred to on other message boards, we felt like "sardines". A suggestion would be to actually form a line, put up "ropes" to guide the line and cut off the escalators and elevators that allow people to "cut in line". Another suggestion would be to actually look at the line and see if it is getting smaller before calling more groups. This disembarkation was totally ridiculous in our opinion. Not a good way to end a cruise. Always want to end on a positive note. (Our flights were fine with no problems whatsoever)
~ Clearing Immigration. (Key West). Not sure what to do, but apparently broadcasting on the tv, putting in the newsletter, and making repeated overhead PA announcements was not enough to let passengers know that EVERYBODY must clear immigration before ANYONE can get off the ship. Two cabins were paged repeatedly. Some passengers near us actually went to one of the cabins, knocked on the door (no answer), and asked a nearby room steward to use his key to at least check on them. Sure enough, they were in their cabin, as they were not planning to go ashore. They said their phone had been ringing but knew nobody on board so they didn't answer, assuming it was wrong number. Just send a uniformed crew member when you are down to a FEW no-show cabins. Who knows... maybe people died in their sleep. But physically send a uniformed crew member to go look inside the cabin. (Just my humble suggestion). We were scheduled for 12:30 disembarkation that occured at 2:00ish due to these no-shows.
We had to clear immigration the day of our wedding on St John this past March, as the day before we were on St Maarten. We had zero problems, and made it early to our 9:00 AM wedding on Hawksnest Beach. If anyone had planned a wedding at Key West on that day, there would have been problems for the couple.
So much of a cruise has to do with a passenger's personal attitude. If you are high-maintenance or have certain expectations, then you may have different views. But we are thankful for each day we have and realize we are blessed. We budget ourselves (I'm a teacher) so that we can vacation. We are happy-go-lucky and usually take things with a grain of salt. This cruise was another TERRIFIC cruise, and we will definitely return to Holland America again!! I've tried to be honest in my viewpoints above instead of saying "everything was perfect" - when in our minds everything was overall great. Each person has their own standards and expectations, but overall, this was an excellent cruise and an outstanding value for the dollar.
Pictures I have uploaded: www.cmgoddard.com and then click on Cruises on top left. Go to the bottom of the page.
I was on that same cruise with you; in fact, I was the woman that the juggler had come up on stage with my glass of wine that he used in one of his routines. (do you remember that?) I'd say I agree with just about everything you said, especially the 2 negatives about disembarkation and clearing immigration. For disembarkation, our number was called fairly early, which surprised us because our flight out of Ft Lauderdale wasn't until late Sunday night. When we went down to disembark and saw that crowd of people, my husband insisted we simply wait in a lounge chair out on deck, so we just sat and read until the crowds had cleared. We were certainly in no hurry to get off. Our dining experience was quite different from yours. Our service was excellent, and when we requested capuccino after dinner the first night, it showed up every night after that. There was never a mix-up of food at our table of 6 people. You must have had some inexperienced waiters or something.
I was wondering how you got to eat at the Pinnacle for $10? We were told it is $20 each; we didn't end up trying it, because every day we'd check the night's menu in the Rotterdam Dining Room, and everything sounded so good there we didn't see any reason to spend an extra $40 at the Pinnacle.
I am in total agreement that this was an excellent cruise, and we will definitely be cruising with HAL again!
We did figure our waiters were new or less experienced. Also, I had read before about waiter placement in the dining room and their relation to the maitre'd. Something about the closer to the kitchen, the quicker you can get passenger food and make them happier, bringing higher tips. I don't recall the whole article, but it did pop in our minds since we were next to the aft windows far away from the kitchen. I really did feel bad that the other three (husband/wife/daughter) did not tip at all. All I knew is that they were doing better than I ever could!! We did take the galley tour, which we had never done before, and were really impressed!! Wow! But, like you said, my guess would be that they were not the typical HAL server. We did give them both nice cards and a phone card the first night at dinner, and then another card, phone card, and normal cruise tip at the end of the week. (We always buy several phone cards from Sam's or Costco before going on a cruise to use as extra gifts.)
I had read on another message board about calling ahead to get the $10 special for Pinnacle. It was a 1-800 number for HAL, ask for Shipboard Services, and have your booking number and credit card ready. They took the reservation, charged the credit card, and I had a confirmation waiting in my cabin when we arrived. I had brought a copy of the credit card bill for $20 just in case. We did have to take that confirmation with us, as it served as our "payment". The $10 special was for embarkation night only.
There was only one other night we did not eat in Rotterdam - the night of Cayman I believe. We looked at the menu, and it was odd, but nothing appealed to us. But, my husband does have to watch what he eats, so sometimes that can play into it. We ate upstairs that night and it was fine. But the dining room food was very very good each night we were there! He ordered the crab legs and I didn't, but wish I had after he ate them.
We, too, had thought of going back up the stairs at disembarkation, but figured they wouldn't be calling that many groups if the line wasn't moving quickly. (wrong) We were group 12 with a 2:05 flight out of FLL, so not in any rush. Our tablemates lived locally, and their group (22) was called when we were even with the elevators. The doors opened, they saw us and knew our group number from dinner conversations, and decided just ride the elevator back up.
But, yes, it was a terrific cruise. It was good for us to see another new cruise line and be able to make mental comparisons. Of course, ships within a single cruiseline can vary so much, but the staff pretty much remain consistent with that cruiseline from what I've read. I'd compare the HAL crew to Celebrity as far as really knowing your name and likes. (Our last cruise - NCL Norway - was our wedding cruise, and the crew knew us as "the wedding couple" that week since we were marrying at one of the ports. The previous NCL crew didn't know us at all.) Our HAL room steward called us by name the first day, and Curt said "how'd he know that"? He was down the hall from us when we walked out of our door and didn't even have a piece of paper in his hand - and knew our names before we met. That really impressed us.
Of course, so many people have different thoughts. One lady in a wheelchair at disembarkation was complaining that she hated the cruise. I tried to tell it was just the disembarkation leaving a bad taste in her mouth, but she said she hated the whole week and would go back to Princess. Yet another lady pointed out the Princess ship the day we were sailing away, and talked about how much she hated Princess. Different strokes for different folks. I have yet to find a cruise or cruiseline I didn't think was a great cruise. (Knock on wood!)
We, also, were on your Thanksgiving cruise and the cruise before it.
We were on Navigation Deck, Mandy, but we were portside suite while your entry door was starboard....both midship. The back wall of your cabin would have been across from our entry door. Shame we didn't meet.
We had a great time and still think Maasdam to be a beautiful ship. We so enjoyed our time aboard.
Our dining service was excellent and our stewards were terrific. We have very few special requests but always look for double espressos after dinner and the Assistant Steward brought it to us steaming hot each evening.
We ate in Pinnacle twice and thought the food very good but were not quite as satisifed with the Hungarian service staff as we always are with the Indonesian stewards.
We got so annoyed with the two parties who failed to report for Immigration in Key West. Two couples held up 1200 pax and 500+ crew persons from leaving the ship for over an hour. IMO, they should be banned from ever being allowed to book an HAL cruisse in the future.
"The only (probably minor to most people) problem was the very weak entertainer in the Piano Bar. Fortunately they left the configuration of the Piano Bar as it was and not like the Volendam/Amsterdam, but Steven Frank was BAD! Rude, condescending, un-cooperative and downright abusive to guests. "
The guy in the Piano Bbar on the Veendam in Alaska in early August was just as rude as you have described. I will have to get out my old dailies to see if it was the same guy. He (the one on Veendam) ought to be fired.
I was so looking forward to spending lots of time singing in the Piano Bar, but he was so rude that we left and never came back. HAL lost $$ (drinks) due to this creep.
Oh my, Sharon. That's too bad about the entertainer being rude to you. I can't imagine any employee on the ship being that way, and I definitely can't imagine that he'd keep his job very long. We weren't impressed with our piano guy's singing, so we left before we'd heard the end of one song---didn't give him time to be rude to us! Did you let HAL know about your problem? What things did he do that seemed rude?
Kathyann, I was quoting and responding to another poster, agreeing about the Piano Bar guy on our sailing. He wasn't specifically rude to me, he was just ornery, and he cut the Sing-along time short and then started doing his own boring thing. We all left.
I didn't speak to anyone at HAL about him, though I would have if I had ever seen the Cruise Director "up close and personal".
The cruise entertainment staff was the weak point of this cruise, but we enjoyed ourselves despite them.
Agree with Sharon, the cruise staff seemed very young (this was Oct. 26 & Nov. 2 sailings) and inexperienced. Pool games are usually fun but no one showed up (pax, I mean). They didn't go out of their way to get people involved and seemed to rush every activity. The Trivia games are usually quite a lot of fun, especially if the moderator makes it so. We had both young men and women and none of them seemed very interested. Came in, read the questions, read the answers, gave out prizes- that's it!
Not a lot of personality involved.
Agree, if I'd seen the CD around I'd had mentioned it to her.
I did write some scathing reports on my comment cards about the Piano Bar guy, as did many of the people I met.
Must say these are small things considering the overall cruise experience. Everything else was wonderful and these little complaints are just incidental things that I remember.