All aboard the Maasdam

words & images: Judy McAuliffe

I’ve always loved the idea of cruising, but I’ve never actually been on one, so imagine my excitement this month when Rand and I were invited to join a group of other like-minded cruise-wannabes, for a tour of the ms Maasdam when it berthed in the port of Timaru.

The Maasdam is a Holland America cruise ship named after the Maas River in the                  Netherlands. It weighs 55,575 tonnes, is 220metres long, carries 1,200 passengers

and has a staff of 580. There are 10 passenger decks, and we set off to explore them all.

What appeals to me about cruising is the idea of only having to unpack my bag once, travelling to amazing new places while I sleep, and waking up rested and ready to explore the next destination! It doesn’t hurt to be waited on day and night, either! It’s my dream mode of travel.

Cruising, I discovered, is what you make it. Like all cruise ships, the Maasdam has on-board activities, but, if you want to avoid the bustle, there are plenty of quiet lounges, a fantastic library, and lots of cosy nooks and crannies where you can curl up with a book, or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee whilst watching the sun rise.

Most days are spent in port, and you can join organised sightseeing excursions, go ‘off piste’ and explore on our own, or stay on board and relax.

‘Sea-days’ are perfect for indulging in a massage or manicure in the spa, browsing the extensive art collection, or there are there are six lounge bars, six cafes and six entertainment venues! Too much choice!

Evenings are either in port or cruising.  The cruise fare includes dinner on board every night, but you can ‘go local’ or, for a small fee, the Maasdam also has an Italian restaurant.

All too soon, we were treated to a fabulous 4-course lunch, and it was time to leave this floating 5-star hotel.  Sign me up! I’m ready to cruise.

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.