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Experiences on our 40 day Maasdam cruise which started Oct 7, 2019


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On 10/10/2019 at 8:05 AM, Ken the cruiser said:

Hi all, we boarded the Maasdam in Auckland a few days ago for our long awaited 40 day cruise (Oct 7 - Nov 16, 2019) to some New Caledonia islands for the first 10 days followed by 30 days circumnavigating Australia. 
 

 

So if you would like to tag along I’ll periodically post some of our observations we notice along the way and try to answer any questions about the Maasdam and their in-depth EXC program you may have if I can. 

 

 

 

On 10/10/2019 at 8:05 AM, Ken the cruiser said:

 

 

 

Hi Ken

 

Thanks for your reports..we join Maasdam on the 3rd of December and are on board for 20 days doing a round trip from Sydney

 

We are very much looking forward to our cruise ... Massdam sounds a nice comfortable ship 

 

Thank you for the info regarding the internet that will be useful to us keeping in touch 

I've not been well and am just looking forward to a relaxing trip with some "nice" food and a comfortable armchair

 

We are a party of three myself , the wife and the MIL ..we have two adjoining ocean view cabins 

 

Anyway please keep up your reports they are most welcome

 

Regards

John VK3DQ

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9 hours ago, Ken the cruiser said:

They offered some excursions when we were at Mystery Island yesterday and we saw some folks on those excursions using the cones to look at the reef below the water line. But I didn’t see any in the water today. 

 

What are the cones???

Barbara

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10 hours ago, Ken the cruiser said:


If I can find out more about the future of the EXC program while we’re on the cruise, I’ll pass it along. But my guess is if they try to implement this concept fleet wide, the chances of the “in-depth” quality being maintain will probably be pretty slim. 

 

I agree 100%. I think it makes sense on the smaller ships and especially those that have longer and wider-ranging itineraries. On the larger ships (only MHO of course) they should focus on other onboard entertainment options -- they have a good start with the new music venues. 

 

I know from my days on Voyages to Antiquity that the "in-depth" lectures and focus on destinations don't suit everyone. I see it as a win-win for HAL if they could brand a couple of their smaller, older ships as the 'in-depth' program ships. It would be hard to fill the larger ships with those who would really enjoy such programming (especially for ships plying the Caribbean) and the smaller ships lend themselves to it by virtue of their number of passengers, type of itineraries, and lack of space for the music venues. 

 

Anyway, enjoy hearing about your experiences and the info you're sharing is great.

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2 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

I agree 100%. I think it makes sense on the smaller ships and especially those that have longer and wider-ranging itineraries. On the larger ships (only MHO of course) they should focus on other onboard entertainment options -- they have a good start with the new music venues. 

 

I know from my days on Voyages to Antiquity that the "in-depth" lectures and focus on destinations don't suit everyone. I see it as a win-win for HAL if they could brand a couple of their smaller, older ships as the 'in-depth' program ships. It would be hard to fill the larger ships with those who would really enjoy such programming (especially for ships plying the Caribbean) and the smaller ships lend themselves to it by virtue of their number of passengers, type of itineraries, and lack of space for the music venues. 

 

Anyway, enjoy hearing about your experiences and the info you're sharing is great.

Agreed. I also think HAL needs to be more specific about the EXC in-depth cruises. When you search on an area you get all cruises in that destination and the Maasdams shows nothing about the differences. Which can lead to complaints and disappointment if someone books unknowingly.

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4 hours ago, bcummin said:

 

What are the cones???

Barbara

They look like traffic cones, but the top is cut out for you to look inside. You basically lean over the side of the zodiac, hold on to the handles and put the large end of the cone (which may or may not have some sort of a glass lens) into the water to see what is below. From where we saw them being used, they were probably looking at a reef 10-20 feet below. 

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For those of us who have enjoyed the "In-depth EXC cruises" - please let the Home Office know immediately after your cruise, and book another one as soon as you are able.  The bean-counters will not implement more of them, or assign an additional ship to more itineraries unless they see that the loyalty is there.  I am booked again on Maasdam in December, and again next September.  I too would be excited to see other itineraries in Europe..and more!

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19 hours ago, ScottishMaid said:

When you get time please post the names of the speakers. Some of the naturalists have worked for the really expensive small ship lines but said they enjoyed the Maasdam more.

Is there Travel Tales in the Crow's Nest at 9 pm? We really enjoyed the chance to hear a personal story from a speaker then ask questions. We heard some amazing stories.

As requested here are the EXC speakers that are on the ship now:

 

Ben Osborne - photographer

 

Chris Cook - naturalist

 

Dr Christina Damiano - oceanographer

 

Erin Britton - biologist/naturalist

 

Dr Peter Carey - Director of Explorations for HAL

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With the cutbacks, I was shocked to read that HAL is considering the in-depth program for its entire fleet.  I agree with others who have expressed concerns about how well received such programs would be on the larger ships, which generally have 7-14 day itineraries.  On those shorter cruises, passengers generally don't anticipate in-depth lectures in lieu of more entertainment options.  On longer cruises, passengers normally desire in-depth information about the ports/cultures.  Were HAL to designate longer cruises as in-depth and deliver such an experience, they may draw a larger, loyal customer base.  In other words, deliver what the customer expects at a price people are willing to pay.  That combination is the best way to build brand loyalty.

 

BTW, before all these cutbacks, HAL delivered lectures on most of its ships, regardless of the cruise's duration.  I used to attend many of them and learned something each time.  Sadly, that experience is now sadly lacking on almost all sailings.  I miss it.

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1 hour ago, Ken the cruiser said:

As requested here are the EXC speakers that are on the ship now:

 

Ben Osborne - photographer

 

Chris Cook - naturalist

 

Dr Christina Damiano - oceanographer

 

Erin Britton - biologist/naturalist

 

Dr Peter Carey - Director of Explorations for HAL

 

Thanks for posting this. Dr Peter Carey  was the person hired to set up the In Depth program well ahead of the first cruise in September 2018. We had him with us on that cruise to Easter Island and French Polynesia. He has a huge amount of prior experience with zodiacs and on that cruise he was working out how to get the passengers onto the zodiacs. Unfortunately many ports or countries are not giving permission to use the zodiacs.

He was not  on board our Alaska to Japan and around Japan cruises last summer so I'm glad he's back on board to keep the program going.

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51 minutes ago, sevenseasnomad said:

With the cutbacks, I was shocked to read that HAL is considering the in-depth program for its entire fleet. 

 

To clarify what I said in post #44, we were told there may be EXC programs extended to all the ships, but they would not be as "In Depth" as on the Maasdam. I think the intent is to have more speakers than now on the other ships but not as many as on the Maasdam.

Seattle has taken note that many people are interested in, for example, talks about volcanoes, or jelly fish, or Japanese etiquette, or how to take better photos or how to cook a local dish.

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4 hours ago, Ken the cruiser said:

They look like traffic cones, but the top is cut out for you to look inside. You basically lean over the side of the zodiac, hold on to the handles and put the large end of the cone (which may or may not have some sort of a glass lens) into the water to see what is below. From where we saw them being used, they were probably looking at a reef 10-20 feet below. 

 

Thank you,  They sound sort of like personal glass bottom boats.  It could be tricky holding onto the zodiac handles and trying to see down into the water.

 

You are blessed to have Dr. Christina Damiano and Chris Cook aboard.

Impressed that Dr. Peter Carey is back on board.  I was deeply disappointed not getting to meet him last winter. 

 

Barbara

Edited by bcummin
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3 hours ago, bcummin said:

 

Thank you,  They sound sort of like personal glass bottom boats.  It could be tricky holding onto the zodiac handles and trying to see down into the water.

 

You are blessed to have Dr. Christina Damiano and Chris Cook aboard.

Impressed that Dr. Peter Carey is back on board.  I was deeply disappointed not getting to meet him last winter. 

 

Barbara

The handles I were referring to were on the cone rather than the zodiac. Sorry for the confusion. I didn’t see any handles on the zodiac. But in any case you definitely need to stay alert when using them

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We’re at the Isle of Pines today and took a pleasant excursion around the island as well as walked around the pier area. 
 

But I also wanted to pass along this little tidbit to those folks that either get the free laundry package because they’re in either a NS or PS, are 4 or 5 star mariners like we are, or just like to avoid doing laundry altogether when you’re on a cruise and don’t mind paying the $7 per day per stateroom.
 

If you can believe this, we are getting our laundry back the SAME evening as the morning we turned it in! This has never happened to us before. Most of the folks on the ship now are on a 22 day Sydney to Sydney cruise, so you would think the laundry folks would be busy. But when we asked how many 4/5 star mariners were on this ship, they said only 10-15 total! So hopefully our luck continues and the turnaround time stays relatively short once we start on the 30 day Australia circumnavigation portion of the cruise in another 5 days. 

Edited by Ken the cruiser
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4 hours ago, ScottishMaid said:

 

To clarify what I said in post #44, we were told there may be EXC programs extended to all the ships, but they would not be as "In Depth" as on the Maasdam. I think the intent is to have more speakers than now on the other ships but not as many as on the Maasdam.

Seattle has taken note that many people are interested in, for example, talks about volcanoes, or jelly fish, or Japanese etiquette, or how to take better photos or how to cook a local dish.

When I think of an in-depth EXC expansion to the Atlantic region on one of HAL’s smaller ships they can’t seem to sell (eg, the Veendam or the Zaandam) that would entice us back to HAL, I’m thinking of more intense subjects. For example from the historical viewpoint, I’m thinking of talks on Ancient Greece, the Roman and Ottoman Empires, the Pyramids, WWI and WW2, the rise and fall of the Spanish, French and British empires.
 

With regards to the planet we’d love to hear about advancements being engineered to make our world more eco-friendly, such as the evolution of the massive wind turbine farms popping up all over Northern Europe. We also hear there are some countries trying to go completely fossil fuel free within the next 10 years. We’ve also heard the Dutch have been making great strides in this area as well for many decades.
 

Also, where have all the wild animals in Europe gone? How are the polar bears and walruses doing in the Arctic and Greenland? 


Stories about European volcanoes would also be cool along with other natural occurring events that have gone on there for eons to include the big blast near Santorini that changed everything in that area - as well as a variety of interesting talks about everything in between.  And what about that collider in Switzerland? What’s that all about?


That’s the kind of stuff we’re interested in hearing about. Stuff that makes us think about where we have been and where we are going as a world. 
 

That’s why we’re enjoying the lectures we’ve heard so far on this cruise and are so looking forward to hearing more!! They are all focused on teaching us stuff and making us think about the area of the Pacific we are cruising in.
 

Ok, I’m stepping off my soapbox now. 😁

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On 10/9/2019 at 5:37 PM, FlorenceItaly said:

We have purchased a travel router.

 

Which one did you purchase?   

 

 a Google Home Mini + tiny travel router the size of a deck of cards are permanent residents in my suitcase.   After connecting the router to the hotel wifi, all devices (laptop, iphone, phones)  simply connect to the travel router, as easily as they connect to my home router when at home.  It’s a big simplifier, more secure, and saves a ton of time re-connecting more than 1 device (laptop, phones, Ipad...) after enforced annoyingly frequent (12 hour!)  time-outs in hotel wifi.

 

 I just plug in the google home mini.   It auto-connects to my router, and then I can ask it allll the useful questions needed when traveling about commute times, weather, etc., and most importantly, play whatever music I ask it to.  “Hey google play death cab for cutie”  Or “hey google play tranquil day spa”

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1 hour ago, Ken the cruiser said:

When I think of an in-depth EXC expansion to the Atlantic region .  .  .  

Ok, I’m stepping off my soapbox now. 😁

 

Those are some good deep thoughts.  Your mind is in gear, and the EXC In-Depth program is working.  The past Grand Voyages and our 2017 Voyage of the Vikings did offer some great lectures.  But our world is changing and there are more subjects to consider in addition to deep history, culture, etc, etc.  Hopefully the EXC In-Depth program will continue to evolve and grow.

Barbara

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We arrived at Tadine, New Caledonia today under cloudy skies. Not many exciting excursions offered today, so we’re just going to be walking around later on. BTW they didn’t list any zodiac excursions either, so I guess the pilots were just out having fun zipping around the ship. 
 

But I did want to pass along that the Club Orange Committee is onboard and the rumor is they may offer it starting on the next leg at the beginning of the circumnavigation cruise. 
 

No idea how much it will be per person or who will be invited. Also the exact location has not yet been identified either. But as soon as we hear something, we will let you know. 

F8CB2CED-87E6-4388-80A3-7789B2A35701.jpeg

Edited by Ken the cruiser
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