Press Diary: 17 Days in the South Pacific With Holland America

Press Diary: 17 Days in the South Pacific With Holland America

Christy Woodrow and Scott Calafiore of the award-winning adventure travel and lifestyle blog, Ordinary Traveler, recently sailed on a 17-day Holland America Line EXC In-Depth cruise aboard Maasdam to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Read selections from Christy’s blog post to hear her reflections on cruising on Maasdam and the unique ports of call during her voyage!

Cruising the South Pacific with Holland America was a trip that was as adventurous as it was relaxing. Stopping at twelve ports throughout Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and New Zealand, the itinerary was perfectly paced with beautiful scenery and intriguing learning opportunities around every corner.

On this particular trip, we boarded Maasdam, a medium-sized ship that had great food and entertainment options, and was sized perfectly for stopping at smaller ports.

Here’s what to expect on a 17-day Holland America cruise in the South Pacific!


The Itinerary
With our time at sea perfectly spaced between the days spent in each location, the 17-day South Pacific cruise was excellent for balancing adventure and relaxation.

We started our journey in Brisbane and spent a couple of days at sea before docking at both Noumea and Tadine, New Caledonia, after which we pressed on to Luganville, Port Vila, and Mystery Island, Vanuatu. Next, we headed to Fiji where we explored Lautoka, Savusavu, and Dravuni Island before sailing to New Zealand – namely, Waitangi (Bay Of Islands), Tauranga (Rotorua), and Auckland.

  • Brisbane, Australia
  • At Sea
  • At Sea
  • Noumea, New Caledonia
  • Tadine, New Caledonia
  • Luganville, Vanuatu
  • Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Mystery Island, Vanuatu
  • Lautoka, Fiji
  • Savusavu, Fiji
  • Dravuni Island, Fiji
  • Waitangi (Bay of Islands), New Zealand
  • Tauranga (Rotorua), New Zealand
  • Auckland, New Zealand


The Ship
At 719 feet long with a capacity of 1,258 guests, Maasdam is a medium-sized ship that’s the perfect size to access off-the-beaten-path ports. While aboard, I found the ship’s size great for wandering around, and I especially appreciated the staff’s attention to detail – the zoo animals they made out of towels for us were adorable!

Explorations Central In-Depth Voyages
Maasdam is the only ship in the Holland America Fleet dedicated to Explorations Central In-depth Voyages. These special voyages are tailored to your interests and stop at multiple ports in each region, allowing you to explore all aspects of the local culture.

Additionally, when you’re onboard, these voyages provide options for lectures, workshops, and performances to further educate you about the region.

The Cuisine
Holland America provides many fine dining options aboard their ships, as well as some great casual dining options.

Lido Market
With an array of food ranging from the classics to the more adventurous, Lido Market is great whether you want to grab a meal to go or dine in. They offer everything from sandwiches and salads to local dishes and hearty desserts.

Care for a gourmet burger and some delicious fries? Then Dive-In is the place to go. The restaurant offers a variety of casual options with high-end ingredients.

The Dining Room
Whether you head to The Dining Room for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this restaurant delivers the goods. Not only are the chefs at The Dining Room world-renowned, they prepare everything from the staples to regional cuisine and vegetarian options.

Pinnacle Grill
A restaurant that focuses on premium ingredients, Pinnacle Grill is perfect for lunch or dinner aboard the ship. Their menu features selections based on prime catches from America’s Pacific Northwest.

Preparing dishes sure to be enjoyed by the whole family, Canaletto is a traditional Italian restaurant that features everybody’s favorite classics. They even make their pasta fresh every day!

Rudi’s Sel De Mer
If you’re in the mood for classic French cuisine, then Rudi’s Sel De Mer is worth booking during your cruise. This intimate French-Mediterranean seafood brasserie will delight both the classic and contemporary connoisseur.

While aboard Maasdam, you’ll find the Rudi’s Sel De Mer menu at Pinnacle Restaurant.

The Rooms
Comfort and luxury are priorities aboard Holland America cruise ships, and this is especially evident in the rooms. Personally, I stayed in an Ocean View room during my time on Maasdam, and I absolutely loved being able to wake up and immediately see the ocean every morning. Not to mention, the beds and linens provided by the ship are divine – every night was a great sleep!

In order to accommodate a range of needs, there are five room options on Maasdam – Inside, Ocean View, Lanai, Vista Suite, and Neptune & Pinnacle Suite. Each of these options has varying degrees of amenities with further customization options included.

Things to do Aboard Maasdam
I was very impressed by the entertainment offered on Maasdam. Many of the options were exclusive to Explorations In-Depth Voyages, and they were all catered either to relaxation or to teaching the guests about the cultures and regions they were visiting.

There are also two different pool areas, with plenty of room to lounge. We woke up one morning to an entire zoo of towel animals made by the staff. I had no idea I could get so excited about towel animals but they were adorable!


The performances aboard Maasdam were top notch and were tied into the local cultures of our destinations. These included drumming, dance, and vocal work.

Culinary Experiences
There’s nothing quite like learning about a destination through food. On each In-Depth Voyage, the ship will invite a guest chef aboard to teach you about the food traditions of your regions. These experiences include food tastings, wine pairings, and cooking demonstrations.

Presentations & Workshops
Having naturalists, photographers, authors, and historians onboard Maasdam to teach us about our destinations was very cool. They gave presentations and led workshops to further our understanding of each region.

Digital Workshops
Holland America provides awesome digital workshops aboard Maasdam, each containing photo editing, movie creation, digital organization, storage, and security tips. Each of these sessions are small in nature and are suited for those of any ability.

Greenhouse Spa & Salon
What’s the best way to relax after a long day of exploring? By visiting the spa of course! The Greenhouse Spa & Salon features heated lounges, facial treatments, massages, and so much more.

Just note that spa treatments are available at an additional cost.

Movies & BBC Earth Experiences
For those nights you just want to relax and hole up in your room, Maasdam provides an extensive movie collection for you to enjoy. I was also pleased to learn that there was BBC Earth concerts and films to watch onboard.

Fitness Center
To offset all of that heavy duty relaxing, Maasdam features a great gym! You can either work out solo or join one of the many fitness classes they have scheduled.

Christy Woodrow’s post originally appeared on her blog, Ordinary Traveler. Holland America Line received permission to share this article. All photos in the post © Ordinary Traveler.


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