John and Gwen Bain
Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: January 29th, 2006
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation at Norfolk, Virginia was well handled and will only get better once the new terminal is complete. Arrival & welcome aboard made us very comfortable and after boarding at 12:20pm our cabin was ready within the hour. Our cabin was an outside on the Veranda deck so was very handy to all ship amenities. We had plenty of room and all in all it was very comfortable with excellent service from our cabin steward. Dinner the 1st night was in the Pinnacle Grill as it was my wife's birthday - service and food were both 5*. Wish we could have eaten there every night as we found the quality of food in the Rotterdam dining room somewhat disappointing for dinners. Other than surf and turf one night there was nothing really mouth-watering on the menu and most entrees had sauces or spices which were unusual. Breakfast in the Rotterdam was always good - can't speak for lunch as we usually did the Lido or hamburger stand. There were usually lineups at the Lido which is less than desirable and if you go there for breakfast expect a long delay due to the location of the omellet grill. The dessert selection in the Rotterdam was not as scrumptious as previous cruises. Overall the ship's amenities are fairly well organized although in most cases the upholstery (carpets and sofas) are in dire straits. The Rembrandt Lounge should be totally renovated. On board soloist entertainment was fantastic, as were the house bands and in particular Fritzie in the piano bar is a great entertainer. The piano bar in itself is very inviting with superb trappings and superb service from the Filipino bar staff. The onboard stage shows are pretty amateurish and leave alot to be desired. Overall the onboard atmosphere is fairly relaxed and the activities staff are perhaps too laid back. The ship's itinerary is very good and all ports seem to offer a little something for everyone. The San Juan stop is too short though, however, the ship has a schedule to keep. We love 10/11 day cruises as opposed to 7. Overall we feel Holland America (perhaps it is just the Maasdam) has slipped in their overall presentation. We sailed the Zaandam to Alaska in 2003 and were more than pleased with the food in particular. Since then it has been twice with Princess and we feel "Princess does it a little better". One of our beefs with both cruise lines is "when will the dress code be enforced in the dining rooms" - blue jeans with short-sleeved shirts are certainly unacceptable on Formal Nights and for that matter on any night and ball caps are unacceptable in the dining room at anytime. Would we sail HA again - yes, but it would not be our 1st choice.