Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: April 1998
Itinerary: Panama Canal
Maasdam (Holland America)
Panama Canal (4/98)
Third Time Around On The Maasdam!
Well as usual, the Holland American Line kept up it's high standards. The Maasdam was as wonderful this time as it was the last 2 years. They keep it spotless and the food is very good and I can't say enough about the Indonesian and Filipino help. They are sincerely happy and cordial and we learned from various conversations that they love the life aboard the ship - much better than at home - and are treated very well.
Both ethnic groups put on individual shows for the guests which were so professional and beautiful and they are all very proud of it. We had the good fortune to be at the table of the Chief Engineer. A charming Hollander - who also loves his job. His son works on the Noordam also as an engineer. We asked him if we could see the engine room and a few days later, each at our table (a great bunch I might add) received an invitation. We were shown all around the engine room by a young female engineer-apprentice and it was most interesting.
The ports on this trip (Acapulco to Ft.Lauderdale) were just o.k. as far as I was concerned. First was Huatulco (Mexico) but really not too interesting. By the way, the ship's tours were ridiculously expensive and from those who went, were not worth the money. In this port we took a taxi into the nearest town and just wandered and shopped for some handcrafts.
Next stop Guatemala. Ugh! We were warned of the dangers and did not bother with the tour. The mountain people came down and set up a large flea market near the ship which was interesting and the bargaining was hilarious. They were lovely people but poor and hungry. They asked for fruit from the ship and postcards. so when I went out the 2nd time brought the fruit from my room, later to learn that what I did was illegal. Don't know why - they were so grateful.
Costa Rica is really worth seeing. We took a tour to Sarchi where they make oxcarts and other carved wood. I was going to buy a rocking chair but the cost to send it home was higher than the chair itself.
The tour guide on that bus (about 2 hrs. each way) was exceptionally bright and the country seems quite modern and clean and enterprising and is an ecological paradise. I would go back there to stay sometime.
The last stop was Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas (owned by HAL) It is a clean, pretty beach (seemed almost Disneyesque). They had wonderful sports there and a barbecue from the ship. I tried snorkeling for the first time but was not too successful but other people went parasailing which looked marvelous and banana boating which they said was fun.
The entertainment on the ship was not spectacular but pleasant enough and we preferred the movies - they had a bunch of great pictures and you get popcorn before you go in and cappuccino when you come out. Great. The Chocolate Thunder Cake was probably the most decadent thing I have ever tasted and would go back for that alone!!!
The only bad part of our entire trip was the inefficiency and absolute neglect by Continental Airlines. The bad weather at Newark could not be helped but their handling of the passengers thereafter was unpardonable.