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About cruisingrammie

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
  • Interests
    Sewing, travel, painting, crochet
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Disney, Royal Caribbean, Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
  1. cruisingrammie

    Maasdam Review - January 2018

    After multiple attempts to write a review of our Maasdam cruise to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific only to have the review tab not work, I am putting my review here! We booked our cruise about a year in advance. Reviews were mixed, but we decided to try a Lanai cabin. We booked directly with Holland America and used their EZAir program. In January, we boarded our flight in SLC and, after a 7 hour layover at LAX, we were finally on our way to Sydney. We had scheduled our own hotel, airport shuttle, and tours since we arrived in Sydney a few days early. We loved Sydney! We spent two days on the HOHO and seeing multiple places in the city, on the harbor, and at Circular Quay. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney, which was in the Rocks area and only a couple of blocks from the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Loved the hotel, loved the area. Would definitely do both again! Took a day tour to the Blue Mountains...what a great way to spend a day! Beautiful! The morning of embarkation, we rolled our luggage the two blocks to the terminal and were boarded before noon. Smooth, easy procedure, and we were allowed to go directly to our cabin. Luggage was delivered shortly afterwards. We were in cabin 346 on the lower promenade deck...midship. The cabin was on the small side, but there was plenty of storage room for us! Our luggage easily fit under the bed and the closet/drawer space was ample! The bathroom was plenty large for a cruise ship. It had a full size bathtub/shower combination. I am average height and the side of the tub hit me about mid thigh. You need to hike your leg over the side to get in the tub/shower...which could be a problem for anyone with mobility issues, but we got used to it! Another problem is the lack of electrical outlets. We were aware of this prior to traveling and took a multi-plug/USB combination adapter with us. With that multi-plug and an extension cord for my DH's C-pap, we had plenty of plug in places. We were able to keep our tablets and phones charged and still allow him to plug in at night. Our stewards were amazing! They made sure to keep our ice bucket filled, so not having a mini-fridge in the cabin wasn't a big deal for us. Lanai cabins have both advantages and problems. As long as it is light outdoors, the reflecting film on the sliding doors allows you to have your curtains open and no one can see inside your cabin. It also provides entertainment as people use them as mirrors, not realizing we were in the cabin watching them! With many people using the deck, we had the opportunity to enjoy our neighbors and meet many people who were walking the deck. We had reserved deck chairs outside our cabin, which we used frequently. Only one time did we ask people to please find another chair when we wanted to sit outside. Most people were aware and sat elsewhere. We were certainly not opposed to people sitting there when we weren't outside. Be aware that the crew comes around at about 7:00 p.m. to remove all cushions from those deck chairs. After about a week, we asked that ours be left on so we could enjoy the evening hours on deck. Our stewards made sure they were left until between 9-10 p.m. Also, our cabin deck happened to be directly below one of the tenders. The deck is not available when the ship is at a tender port. Mid-ship was a good choice for us, as there were several rough sea days during this extended cruise! Dining: We had anytime dining, but ate in the Lido most of the time. We ate with friends in the dining room a few times, but the food was just mediocre and we decided that we could eat the same mediocre food in the Lido in less than half the time! Dining took at least two hours. My DH had an inedible steak one night and when the chef came by the table he told my DH that he should've chosen something different! Wow! No apology, just that he should've chosen something else! My thought was that the chef should've made a better selection on the cut and how it was prepared! All 10 of us at the table were stunned at his reaction! Chile rellenos were awful! Lasagna tasted like cardboard. That was the end of our dining room meals! At least at the Lido, we could always have a freshly made salad. Service: Our room stewards (Made & Febian) were amazing! They always had a smile, a kind word, and kept our room clean and well stocked. We chose to do unlimited laundry for the cruise ($234). Our stewards would pick up our laundry bag when they cleaned in the morning. Some days the laundry was back when they did the night turn down service, but mostly it was back the following day. Front desk service was so-so. They were apologetic about problems but nothing really happened until we had an encounter with Candice. She was amazing! (More on that later!) Dining room service was good, but slow. For the first week in the Lido, we struggled with service. Often, we would be nearly finished with a meal before anyone would come by to see if we needed water, juice, or lemonade. We kept trying different areas of the Lido, trying to find a server that would do a better job. After a week of moving around, we found Amin. He was always on top of things! As soon as we were seated, he was there to see what we needed. For the remainder of the cruise, we sat in the area he served. He would help us find a table in his area and bring us water and lemonade at lunch or juice and milk at breakfast. His service was impeccable! We very much enjoyed getting to know him over the course of the cruise. Because we always chose to eat in one area of the Lido, we also became familiar with the servers on the line. They were also amazing! After just a short time, they knew us as soon as we walked up to their serving area of the line. They knew what we wanted and how we wanted it cooked! They knew what to add to the oatmeal and how the french toast needed to be cooked! They knew what ingredients went into the pasta sauce at the pasta bar. I was impressed that with as many people as they served, they could remember our preferences. The ship: Yikes! There was a constant barrage of maintenance happening. For s few days, we were without a handrail on our area of the deck as they took those to the aft area of the lower promenade to sand and refinish. Walkers would be assaulted with the aroma of stain and varnish with every lap! After a tender port, the tenders would drip on our deck lounge chairs for hours, soaking them and meaning we needed multiple towels to sit on our deck chairs for the rest of that day. More than once, the entire port side of the lower promenade was closed for maintenance, meaning that no one on our side of the ship was allowed outside our cabins. It could be closed for hours, and we had no notification, except a caution tape draped across all access to the deck. The day we did scenic cruising around White Island (an active volcano in New Zealand), the maintenance crew decided that was the time to use the bilge pump on the tenders directly above us. The captain had done a complete circle of the island for those on the starboard side of the ship with the cruise director giving commentary over the speaker system and then turned the ship around to do another circle around the island for those of us on the port side of the ship. Because of the loud clacking of the bilge pumps, we couldn't hear any of the commentary. I had been trying to get some video of the island and the commentary, but all we could hear was the very loud clacking of the bilge pump. That was another trip to the front desk to ask why they had chosen that particular time to do maintenance. This was our first experience with Candice. She was appalled at the lack of consideration from the maintenance crew. We thought that would be just another apology and the end of the story. However, just a day or so later, Candice called us and asked us to bring the video camera back with us. She had presented our complaint to her supervisors and they had brushed it off saying the bilge pumps could not have been as much a distraction as we claimed. So we took the camera and they recorded from our camera to her iPad. The next day, we had a letter from her supervisor apologizing for the problem and letting us know that they had posted a $350 credit to our account. Way to go Candice and thank you! After a few days of rain, the ceiling on the Lido deck (both inside the dining area and under the overhang on the pool deck) there would be dripping. We had to be aware to carefully choose our table and watch to see if it was one under a drip or not! One morning, the toaster oven for the bread, bagels, and English muffins was directly under a serious drip, so those items had to be taken to a different area of the serving line to be toasted. On two different tender ports, the tenders could not be raised back to their storage places, so our departures were delayed up to two hours because maintenance had to repair the lifts. Entertainment: If you are going on this cruise for the entertainment, don't. The shows were fine, but because of the length of the cruise, many were repeated or so similar that the second time wasn't worth going back for. The Test Kitchen repeated their program multiple times, the computer classes were repeated multiple times, etc. There were two groups of local ambassadors on the cruise. The first group of ambassadors were Maori and had some great instruction, information, and entertainment for the first portion of the cruise. The second group of ambassadors were Polynesian and also were informative and fun. The Maasdam singers and dancers were pretty good, but again...repetitive, as were the magician, and other entertainers. We tried to rent a couple of DVDs from the front desk, but after going through a list of 5-10 movies that we wanted to see and none of them being available, we gave up. We either watched whatever was on the movie channel on TV, went to the theater to see a movie (the projector in the projection room broke part way through the cruise, so they had a portable projector set up in the middle of the theater the rest of the cruise - choose your seats wisely, my friends!), or read on our tablets! Ports: Melbourne: We arrived during the Australian Open, so the city was PACKED! We enjoyed our free time there. Bought a Myki card at the port and then rode the free city tram. Burnie: Used HAL. Gunns Plains and Wings Wildlife Park...it was a great tour! Got to see and feed the kangaroos! Even saw a mommy kangaroo with a joey in her pouch. After we returned, we went to the Makers Workshop and enjoyed a couple of hours there. Cruising Fjordlands National Park: Because of the rain, there were seriously hundreds of waterfalls! Absolutely spectacular! One of my favorite parts of the cruise! Port Chalmers/Dunedin: Private tour. We ended up being the only 2 on this tour, so it was very personalized. We really enjoyed Dunedin. Akaroa: We did our own walking tour of Akaroa. Small town, easily walkable (Tender port) Picton: Used HAL...seaport walk. We saw many parts of the area we would not have known about on our own. First sample of Hokey Pokey ice cream....vanilla with honey comb...delicious! Wellington: City tour, included Mt. Victoria and the cable car. Napier: We walked the city on our own and enjoyed all the Art Deco buildings, then walked along the Marine Parade. Very enjoyable day. Tauranga: Booked a private tour to Hobbiton. What a great day! We are Lord of the Rings fans, so it was a fun day! Auckland: Arrived on a day when there was still remnants of a tropical cyclone. We used the HOHO, but it was a wet, windy, less than great day! Bay of Islands/Waitangi: Used a HAL tour. (Tender port... our tender pilot got lost so we had a great tour of the harbor!) Maori day trip. We so enjoyed our tour guide and visit to a marae. Great tour! Nuku'Alofa, Tonga: HAL Island tour. Great tour! Beautiful island! Glad we got to see it when we did...a cyclone made landfall in Tonga within a week of our visit and practically wiped out half of the island! Rarotonga/Cook Islands: Port cancelled due to high seas. The island I was most looking forward to visiting after a 30 year hiatus! I was disappointed that we missed Rarotonga even though I realize that was a safety issue because of the high seas. Our port charges were refunded (I think something like $6.00). Papeete, Tahiti: Because Rarotonga was cancelled we arrived the evening prior to what was on the itinerary. We got off the ship early the following morning and found a taxi to do a few things we wanted to do in Papeete. In the afternoon, we took a HAL circle island tour. It was a very enjoyable tour and the weather cooperated until we got to Venus Point! We saw the lighthouse in a downpour! Mo'orea: HAL tour to Belvedere. Beautiful island, beautiful day! (Tender port) Bora Bora: On our own. We took the shuttle to Matira Beach...it was cloudy with a little rain, so it wasn't nearly as beautiful as the pictures you see! (Tender Port) Honolulu: After 5 sea days, I was so grateful to FINALLY be in Hawaii. We've been to Hawaii previously, so we did a private tour that took us to Dole, North Shore and the Polynesian Cultural Center. We got a little rain while we were at the PCC, but it was a great day! The second day in Honolulu, we used the HOHO...best thing to do is take the shopping shuttle to the Ala Moana Shopping Center and catch the HOHO there. We got absolutely drenched on the upper deck of the HOHO in the afternoon, but thoroughly enjoyed our day! Disembarkation: Quick and relatively painless...waiting for the transfer to the airport was the most difficult part of the process. It seemed a little chaotic...no lines or specific places. Just wait in this area and fight your way onto the bus or wait for the next bus. If I had to do this trip over, I would disembark in Honolulu and fly home. The 6 days to San Diego were not fun! First of all, the seas were very rough... enough that it made it dangerous to try to swim in the pool on the ship. The pool was like a wave machine...the pool would literally almost empty out from end to end, with the entire Lido deck becoming dangerously wet because of the sloshing. The crew could not keep up! We had an emergency medical evacuation about 12 hours after leaving Honolulu and had to return to Maui to meet the coast guard helicopter. Then the captain made an all-out run to San Diego. It was a rough 6 days. There were so many people on the ship with motion sickness. I don't usually have a problem, but forward and aft on the upper decks were especially miserable! Seems like I spent a lot of time in my cabin. I couldn't be out on the deck because the waves were big enough to send spray onto the lower promenade and I would get soaked after just a few minutes outdoors. Walking also became more difficult. Thank goodness I had lots of books, games and puzzles on my tablet! We had friends who had no hot water for two days, no A/C for days, flooding in their cabins (which also continued into the hallway), broken toilets, etc. Our problems seemed minor, comparatively speaking. FINAL THOUGHTS: Would I do this cruise again? NO! At least, not on the Maasdam. The ship is aging, and not gracefully. The extended sea days are extremely difficult, at least for me. Some people may enjoy 5-6 sea days at a time, but I did not. The problems we (and others) experienced on this cruise meant that it was basically a 2-3 star review for me. Overall, I enjoyed the ports. I was grateful that there were so many interesting places to visit and good people to meet. I am not sure I would sail Holland America again, I guess that would depend on the itinerary and which other cruise lines sail to the same or similar ports. I definitely would not sail the Maasdam again.
  2. cruisingrammie

    HELP! Question about electrical plugs on MAASDAM

    Thanks for your quick response! Good to know!
  3. Ok, so I am aware that the electrical plugs on all of HAL's ships are the US kind of plugs. HOWEVER, are they the two prong plugs or do they have the 3 prong grounded plugs? We need to know if we need to bring an adapter for our cruise in January! Thanks everyone!
  4. Kudos! This is the most fun I have had reading a cruise review! Thanks for the laughs (some of them true belly laughs!)!:')
  5. cruisingrammie

    To All Our CC Friends In Southern California

    Prayers for all of you affected by the fires! Stay safe!
  6. cruisingrammie

    Internet Packages on Holland America

    Thanks to all of you for your input!! DH and I probably won't get internet service on the ship. We have a cell phone and an international plan for use in all the countries we will be visiting. The sea days we'll just be incommunicado with our family, unless they have an emergency and need to contact us via the ship's emergency line.
  7. Hopefully you are spending a day or two in Copenhagen before your cruise. It's a great way to overcome the jet lag and Copenhagen is an amazing city to visit. When we went a couple of years ago, we stayed at a hotel near Central Station (the Radisson Blu...nice and reasonably priced at that time). We hopped on the train at the airport and took it straight to Central Station and then walked the 2 blocks to the hotel. The hotel was just across the way from Tivoli and the Stroget. Then we took a taxi to the ship on the day of departure. It was all simple and affordable.
  8. cruisingrammie

    HAL's FlightEase Program

    We booked directly through HAL to use their FlightEase for our upcoming trip to Australia. We were able to book Premium Economy. Since it is a one-way flight, we got a much better deal on the fare than we could have on our own. We have access to our flights online (a different confirmation number and password than our cruise). We were able to select our seats months ago and we are very happy with our decision to use the HAL flight program. We'll let you know if we are still happy after the cruise! ;) Ask your TA for the flight confirmation number and password. You should have that access. A good TA will gladly give that to you.
  9. I have been looking all over through Holland America's web site and can't seem to find where you can purchase Internet time in advance. Most cruise lines give you bonus time if you purchase in advance, but I can't find it for our cruise in January. Any advice or help?
  10. cruisingrammie

    Tahiti Shore Excursions

    Frommer's has a free walking tour of Papeete posted on their site. Viator resells a few tours on Tahiti. We're taking one of their around the island tours when we get there in February. We chose history and culture and are taking a "around the island" tour. I have also heard good things about Patrick's tour if you want to snorkel or 4WD.
  11. cruisingrammie

    Post cruise sydney hotel stay (2 nights)

    We found the Old Sydney Holiday Inn which is in the Rocks, near the Bridge, the Opera House, Circular Quay, and within just a couple of blocks of the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Another plus is that the HOHO bus has a nearby stop, if you are interested in getting a good overview of Sydney via that form of transportation. The cost is reasonable, and the view from the rooftop pool is amazing. Nice view of the bridge and Circular Quay. However, if you are docking at White's Bay, it will be a train, taxi, or bus to the Rocks. Good luck!
  12. cruisingrammie

    Tours of Melbourne

    My favorite activity near Melbourne was visiting Phillip Island to see the fairy penguins. We had time to do some things in the city in the morning, then took an afternoon tour and got there just in time to see the penguins come rolling and tumbling in. What an amazing experience. For me, that''s a must-do from M.
  13. cruisingrammie

    The london pass !?!

    Depends on what you are hoping to see and do in London. I would suggest that you figure out what you most want to see and visit, then compare the cost of the London Pass to what you could do on your own. For us, the last time we were in London it was more economical to use the tube and pay our own admissions. That being said, it again depends on the places you want to see!
  14. cruisingrammie

    Never been to Europe. Need help with a few questions

    You can take the train to Edinburgh, if you choose to visit Scotland. It's probably about a 6-7 hour train ride (Virgin), and there are train fares starting at about 30 pounds. However, if you have never been to London, there is plenty to do there also without going too far away. The public transportation system in London is amazing and so simple to figure out. It's truly one of the easiest cities to get around in that I've ever visited. You could take the train to Paris...if that's a bucket list visit, but with only 4 days, I would use it to see London & surrounds. Where you stay in Southampton may be easier to figure out if you knew which terminal your ship would be using. From the Ocean Terminal, there is a quaint tavern called the White Star Tavern that is just a two block walk to the cruise terminal. The food and service were great! The only way to get upstairs to the hotel is via stairs though, so that would be a consideration. Some people can't do the stairs. But we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there the night prior to our cruise. Good luck with your plans! You will love the Baltics and London!
  15. cruisingrammie

    Transportation from Heathrow to Southampton

    Summer of 2016, we did UK cruise leaving from Southampton. We flew in a day early (to Gatwick) so we wouldn't be so jetlagged. We used the National Express bus from the airport to Southampton. We took a taxi to the White Star Tavern where we spent the night. Fish and chips in the pub were delicious. The only concern would be if you cannot handle stairs...there are NO elevators! The next day it was a 2 block walk to the cruise ship terminal. After the cruise, we used the ship's transfer back to London, simply because we could walk off the ship and onto the bus...no hassle. It dropped us off at Victoria Station. We stayed at the Comfort Inn just two blocks from Victoria Station...again, an easy walk. On the morning of our return flight, we just walked to Victoria, took the Gatwick Express train to the airport, and were on our way. The good thing about staying near Victoria was that it has a subway station, a bus/coach station, and the train station so there was easy access to all the places we wanted to revisit in London. We have, on previous trips to London, stayed at the Premier Inn at County Hall, Jury's Inn, and the Hilton London Paddington.