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Maasdam - Feb 23 & Mar 5, 2007 - some ramblings

Discussion in 'Holland America Line' started by Krazy Kruizers, Mar 24, 2007.

  1. We had the regular Captain's Champagne Reception on the firsy cruise. Ours was at 4:45 for the 5:45 and 6:15 dining times. We had the usual formal picture taking in front of the shore excursion office, to the side of the front of the front office, one with the captain and the last one in front of the steps in the show lounge. There were lots of bar staff to pass out drinks and take drink orders. Also a lot of staff with appetizers (nothing to rave about here - jalepino poppers, bitterbauten? balls, and dim sum). The trays had the usual champagne, white wine, red wine and orange juice. There wasn't any problem getting any type of other drink and no charge. While we were sipping our vodkas, we watched one man in front of us down 3 Manhattans in less than 20 minutes -- guess he thought they were going to close down the bar! (By the time the party was over we think he had at least 2 more.)

    They were late in starting to introduce the various heads so the party wasn't over until 5:55. It also took a long time for everyone to get 4 pictures taken and get through the receiving line. Needless to say, those of us who dined at 5:45 were late to dinner.
     
  2. The second cruise we had something entirely different. We were told that they are doing this on the Zuiderdam and Noordam. It is called the Captain's Champagne Toast. There are 2 parties - ours was at 7:45 for those who dined at 5:45 and 6:15. For the 8 and 8:30 dinners, the party was at 9:45. Both parties are right before a production show. For these parties you could line up at either the port or starboard doors both on the lower and upper levels of the show room. There were no photographers anywhere near the show room!!! Of course this meant that you did not get your picture taken with the captain. When the doors opened (in our case 7:45) you could sit anywhere you wanted. No one directed you to sit in a certain area. Again there was plenty of staff around to pass out the regular drinks as well as staff to take drink orders. Since everyone had come from dinner there were no mixed nuts and no appetizers.

    Since this was the first time this has been done for a lot of cruisers and because some people didn't read their programs very well, there were some 8 and 8:30 dinners there in line complaining about how short the party was going to be for them. We didn't try to explain to them about this new concept and neither did the crew staff at the beginning of the line. Naturally within minutes of getting into the show lounge some of them had to leave for dinner. I really do think that some kind of announcement should have been made and this new concept should have been explained.
     
  3. There was not the usual introdcution of all the department heads, just the HM, chief of security, chief engineer, someone else I can't recall, the CD and the employee of the month which for March happened to be a waiter from the dining room. There wasn't any music played - thus no dancing. Then the only woman bar staff personel in the lounge went on stage and gave each person there a glass of champagne. The captain gave a toast and we all raised our glasses to his toast. Then the wine master came onto the stage while the 16 bar staff members lined up in front of the stage with bottles of champagne. The wine master tried to open a bottle of champagne with a sword. However he was unsuccessful -- shattered the bottle -- glass and champagne flew everywhere -- just barely missed the people standing on the stage. (We were told that he opened the bottle at the second party without any incidents.) The captain made the remark "Well we survived that attack." Then the bar staff began to serve more champagne and final drink orders were taken before the show began.

    We really liked this new concept as we did not have to go back outside the show lounge and line up for the show. We were able to keep the seats that we had selected for the party.

    Hats off to HAL for starting this new concept!!!
     
  4. The VIP party was one of the best we have been to in quite a while. It was held in the Hudson Room from 7:30 to 8:15. Actually they moved the divider and they used both the Hudson Room and the Half Moon Room. The first cruise there was about 50 of us, very few suite passengers, while the second cruise there was about 80 of us there -- very crowded the second cruise. On the first cruise there were quite a few single Canadian women there. In the center of the room there was a huge display of cold appetizers and desserts -- all displayed on glass mirrors and silver trays. A couple of waiters walked around the room with the hot appetizers. Drinks flowed freely. The first cruise many of us were from the early dining so we opted for after dinner liquors. The tables were arranged so that in the middle was an ice sculpture of a ram the first cruise and an eagle the second cruise. Two sides had the cold appetizers below huge displays of flowers. One side held the dishes, utensils and napkins while the fourth side had the desserts. The second cruise more suite passengers were invited and there were more desserts along with dark chocolate covered strawberries. Also a couple of waiters walked around with trays of hot appetizers AND spoons with curved handles that contained grilled scallops!! Even though we had just finished dinner, we definitely had to try one of them - yummy.
     
  5. For Dominica HAL offered a tour that was not listed on their site or the excursion sheet taht everyone got in their cabin. It was called "Dominica with a Touch of Elegance". They took the "Rainforest Drive and Emerald Pool" tour and added a luncheon to it. They arranged for a pre-set lunch at the Pinnacle beore the tour began. The original tour cost was $39 and was 4 hours long. This new tour was 5 1/4 hours and cost $49. That meant that the Pinnacle lunch was only $10!! Twenty-six people signed up for this special tour and they were given 45 minutes to eat before they had to get on the bus. This pre-set meal consisted of: Chiffande of greens and tomato tower salad or Northwest five onion soup. There was the choice of 3 entrees: Grilled salmon filet, Penne with grilled chicken breast or Vegetarian couscous. Everyone got the same dessert: the chocolate brownie decadence.
     
  6. On the first cruise never once did we have any live music in the dining room -- not even on any of the 3 formal nights like we have had in the past. On the second cruise, The Black Pearl Strings did play on the 1st formal evening. Don't know about the second formal evening as we went to the Pinnacle. The 3rd formal evening -- nothing.
     
  7. Originally we were scheduled to tender in St Thomas. But when I checked vinow the irst part of March I saw that we were going to be docked at Crown Bay. We had booked the "Downtown Shopping and Sapphire Beach" tour ( 5 1/2 hours) before we left home and then decided to cancel it. After talking to a couple of people we were glad that we had cancelled this tour. The tour did leave promptly at 8:30 to go into town for shopping. Everyone was instructed to return to the safari bus by 11 so that they could return to the ship to drop off their packages and change into their swimming clothes. Well there were a couple of women who did a lot of shopping and didn't return to the bus until nearly 11:30. Instead of having 45 minutes to drop off their packages and change clothes they were given 15 minutes. Naturally there were a couple of people in the group who realized that it was lunch time and they decided to get something to eat before going to the beach. It was nearly 12:15 when they left for the beach. The group was supposed to have had 2 hours at Sapphire Beach but because of all the delays there alloted just 1 hour of beach time. When they got to Sapphire Beach they discovered that they had to rent the beach chairs. They claimed that there wasn't any mention about that on either HAL's web site or on the excursion sheet. But it was pointed out to them that it was mentioned under a category called "beach equipment".

    I wonder if this tour always ends up like this?
     
  8. Explorations Speakers

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    We did have an Explorations speaker each cruise.

    The first cruise was "Around the World in 80 Antique Maps" by Doctor Jpseph Rosenthal. He talked about the Maasdam and its itinerary and compared todays cruising, via maps, with Caribbean sailings years ago.

    The speaker on our second cruise was much better - Geoffry Mark - author/writer/show business historian and lecturer (he loves Lucille Ball).

    The 1st sea day he talked about Lucy and showed some ultra rare videos. The 2nd sea day he showed Lucy & Desi's classic movie "Forever Darling" from 1956. During the afternoon while we were in Curaca he showed the movie "There's No Business Like Show Business". On our 3rd sea day he went all out. First there was a movie "Too Many Girls" made in 1940 when Lucy and Desi met. Then later in the day he had a talk about the lie and music of Ella Fitzgerald. The final sea day was about how Jackie Gleason rose from poverty to become Ralph Cramden on the Honeymooners. He also showed a couple of performances of the Honeymooners that he claimed no one has ever seen. At the end of each presentation Geoffrey always had a question and answer session. Two evenings he hosted "Evening Classis TV" trivia.
     
  9. Pinnacle Grill

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    After our Volendam cruises I posted the new daily features. Joe can eat anything and tried a couple of them.

    One item he tried was an appetizer: Caribbean spiced Tuna Sashimi which is an island spiced ahi tuna accented with seasame oil, spicy sambal, sake and seaweed salad.

    He also tried one of the new desserts: Zinandel - poached Bartlett pear with Italian mascarpone cream. The pear was soaked and cooked in the Zinfandel, then cut in half. Each hal was placed over the cheese and topped by a big, dark chocolate dollup.

    We always have after dinner cordials whenever we dine at the Pinnacle. This time they were served in new glasses. They are a little larger than a shot glass but have almost the same shape. The bottom is solid glass with a colored ball in it. There are 6 diferent colors. The set sold for $20 but if you ordered a cordial and mentioned that you wanted to keep the glass, then you were charged only $2 -- we bought ours.
     
  10. On each cruise we had a couple of wine and cheese sailaway parties -- very good -- we love them -- nice chunks of cheese, cheese fondu, wines (no specials), crackers, grapes, dates and appricots.

    At the Ft Lauderdale sailaways they had chicken and taco wraps along with tortilla chips and dip. Very nice.

    The sailaway parties were the nicest we have had in a long time.
     
  11. The suite buffet was held in the Explorer's Lounge from 12:30 - 1:30 on our last sea day. Both cruises it didn't start on time as the captain was late getting there. In fact the second one started without him. Really great on both cruises. You could order any drink you wanted. There was 3 different kinds of salmon, halibut, cod, raw shrimp, fried shrimp, caviar, rolls, crackers, several kinds of cheese, beef tenderloin, chicken sate', peanut sauce, delvied eggs, crab cakes, all kinds of desserts including DH's favorite - marzipan. The second cruise they had extra Pinnacle help and dining room staff to work the buffet since we were in Code Red and not permitted to touch anything. Neither time did they put any table cloths on the tables like we have had on other ships.
     
  12. Photos

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    The only photos that were $10.95 were the ones that they took of you as you got off the ship in the various ports. All the others cost $14.95 or $21.95. And they were all big ones. The only photo that we like to buy is the one on formal taken with the captain. This one was a 6 by 10 containing a 5 by 6 1/4 picture of us with the captain, The captain's name on the bottom, a picture of the ship on the right hand side and below that Maasdam Fact File. All pictures taken in the dining room were also 6 by 10. Some contained the ship's itinerary, some had 3 small photos which showed the ship in various ports -- St Thomas was shown and we weren't even there the first cruise!!!! Some had the dates of the cruise on them. The second cruise you could get your picture taken with the captain at the end of his Q & A session -- of course you wouldn't be all dressed up as this was a casual time of the day. We saw very few people buying pictures and heard a lot of complaints about the higher prices.
     
  13. The Maasdam did something in the Crow's Nest each evening - Sunset Concerts. They were usually from 5:15 - 6:15, 6 - 7, 5:45 - 6:45, etc. We never got to one since they were mostly while we were eating. This sounded great for the winter months curising the Caribbean. Most of the concerts were pianists.
     
  14. Our Mariner reception and party were on March 10th. The reception started at 11 AM in the Explorer's Lounge and then we went to the dining room. This one was for the 5:45 and 6:15 dinners. We had cocktails and appetizers before the awards were given -- very few given at our party. Then a group picture was taken of each of the medallion groups. After each picture was taken we were escorted to the lower level of the dining room and to our assigned table. There 8 of us holding silver medals and only 1 gold holder. We all sat at the same table.

    Those who eat at 8 and 8:30 have their's either tomorrow or the following day.
     
  15. The Mariner's Luncheon consisted of the following:

    Amuse -- "Something to keep you busy" - a small, sweet tart shell topped with a dollup of chive whipped goat cheese and a bit of salmon mousse.

    Then we had a choice of 2 appetizers: Mariner's seafood cocktail or Caesar salad with grilled herb chicken breast.

    We had a choice of 3 entrees: Broiled salmon with mustard sauce, sauteed spinach and fingerling potatoes OR Sirloin steak with green peppercorn sauce, macaire potatoes and assorted vegetables OR Spaghetti a la Putanesa - marinara sauce, flavored with anchovy, capers, olives, garlic and oregano.

    Dessert -- Viennese-style pancakes "Palatschinken". This was light pastry filled with cream cheese, raisins soaked in rum and served on a raspberry coulis. It came fresh out of the oven and has to be served warm to get the best flavor from it. It was delicious.

    All the time wine was served.
     
  16. There were only 787 Mariner's on our second cruise compared to over 900 on the first cruise.

    After all the medal holders were shown to their tables, then the other Mariner's were seated -- no cocktails or appetizers for them. The entire dining room downstairs was packed.

    Once everyone was seated the Captain talked about this new lunchon and a few words about HAL. After that he left.

    Our luncheon lasted about an hour.

    I understand that the captain stayed for the other awards luncheon and it lasted nearly 1 1/2 hours.
     
  17. I mentioned about our Mariner's party for the second cruise.

    The first cruise it was entirely different. It was held the same night as the production show "World Beat". For anyone holding a medal or going to receive one, the party was at 7:30 PM in the Crow's Next. As some of us arrived around 7:20, we were ushed into the Port side and told to sit in the orange area. Within a couple of minutes, that area was filled as well as the surrounding area. Then around 7:40, they began the line through the Starboard side. Those of us who arrived first were among the last to go in. We never did get to shake hands with the captain. In fact we have no idea if was there or arrived after the majority of the people were there.
     
  18. There was slightly over 150 of us there. Inspite of our going through the line near the end, we were able to get seats right in front of the area where they were going to do the award ceremony. We could have any drink we wanted -- we chose to have after dinner cocktails. There were several people who were to get 100 day medals -- most did not show up. Only a couple of people got 300 day medals and there was no one else for the other medals.
     
  19. They had trouble getting the microphone to work -- so the ceremony itself started late. By the time they got everything to work it was nearly 8 PM and the 8 PM dinners started to leave. There were alot of people seated in the "pink" area and surrounding area who could not see anything.

    The captain spent a lot of time talking about the new Eurodam ship coming out in 2008. He kept referring to "3" ships going to be built for HAL. I know of only 2.
     
  20. When he actually started giving out the awards well after 8 PM, the 8:30 dinners started to leave. Then they said that you could get your picture taken with the captain. The ceremony was over at 8:40. By the time we got an elevator and got down to the showroom, it was 8:50 and there weren't any seats left.
     

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