This was my first time on a HAL ship so I was intrigued to see how it would match up to the company ethos. Now I know I chose one of the older ships in the fleet but that didnt matter to me - if anything it made more sense, this way I get to see the service and atmosphere onboard for what it is. All without being seduced by new furniture and sparkly decor.
The ships staff were very attentive which ever part of the ship I happened to be, but of course I noticed the service most at lunch. My waiter was gracious and ready to answer any of my queries or requests. He brought more bread without asking, topped the wine before I'd noticed the level going down and brought out the food in a timely and effortless manner. I was more than impressed.
The lunch itself was just delicious - i'm not really a beef lover but i (rather wisely) chose the filet mignon which turned out to be cooked to perfection, medium but with no blood, simply full of melt-in-the-mouth flavour. As HAL has a good reputation for food, the quality of my lunch only served to reinforce that.
The ship was pretty easy to navigate my way around due to the size and layout. Most of the facilities were grouped towards the center of the ship on levels 6,7 & 8 then other facilities either side of the Lido pool. There was notabley plenty of space on the deck areas which were filled with comfortable loungers.
I got to have a sneaky peak into one of the few empty outside twin staterooms while I mooched around the lower decks. The spaciousness of the cabin was such a breath of fresh air to me - having been stuck in pokey cabins on other cruise lines. The decor wasn't necessarily to my taste but I am one of those aweful creatures that prefers minimal, modern, beiges and curves.
The kind staff in the spa took me for a mini tour of their facilities including the Thermal room - I particularly liked the idea of relaxing on heated stone loungers in a steamy room whilst staring out through the large windows to sea. Dipping into the whirlpools every 10 minutes to reveive my senses.
The fitness area was suprisingly large and found it to contain all the equipment the avid gym-goer would need.
The most modern and the most recent additions to the ship were the culinary arts center, wine tasting and Explorations library/cafe. The culinary centre was set up like a small theatre with a purpose built kitchen taking the centre stage. Any demonstrations there would, im sure, be easy to view and feel like you are part of the process rather than just a spectator.
The library was larger than expected, a very comfortable area that exuded a scerenity that masde me want to drop my backs and put my feet up with a coffee and the latest hardback!
All in all, my tour showed me that even the older ships on the Holland America fleet have an undefined charm that cannot be overtaken by the lures of any new ship. Long may Maasdam sail the seas and fly the flag of excellence.