Sail Date: June 2019
Holland America is going bigger and that means selling their small ship, the Prinsendam. This is our 5th trip and small ships are more rewarding for us. This is the most popular Holland America ship and there are no plans to replace her. ... Read More
Holland America is going bigger and that means selling their small ship, the Prinsendam. This is our 5th trip and small ships are more rewarding for us. This is the most popular Holland America ship and there are no plans to replace her. Competition from Viking Ocean Cruises and others will take many loyal travelers which is what we heard on board.We agree as we did Viking and their new ships are great. As usual our only issue with the cruise is that it costs extra for Wifi, water for shore trips, more for the specialty dining, more for wine and beer at lunch and dinner, etc The staff was excellent and couldn't do enough for us. The shore trips continue to be excellent. Our only complaint was that the shore excursion staff was not well informed about the ports and couldn't answer basic questions. They were put off when asked a sensible question. We did our homework before we went so we were well prepared. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
Prinsendam is going out of Holland America Service on July 1. I wondered if I should write these reviews, but since Veendam is taking over some of the Prinsendam itineraries in 2020 I’ve decided this might still help future cruisers. ... Read More
Prinsendam is going out of Holland America Service on July 1. I wondered if I should write these reviews, but since Veendam is taking over some of the Prinsendam itineraries in 2020 I’ve decided this might still help future cruisers. We took two back to back itineraries, Celtic Explorer and Norwegian Fjords Explorer on the MS Prinsendam. The 14 day Norwegian Fjords Explorer started with a sea day before arriving in Oslo. In Oslo the ship docked at someplace other than where the EXC Guide told us we would be. It was not on the map that HAL provides for each port. We were told that there would people with maps and a currency exchange, there was none of that, only a couple of cabs and a hop on hop off bus. The map for the Ho-Ho did not have our dock marked. It was a “special stop.” There was one sign pointing to downtown but no indication on how far a walk it was. I understand that sometimes things change. But when they do HAL has the responsibility to make an announcement of the different docking venue. We took the Ho-Ho. It was fine for getting us where we wanted to go but terrible for sightseeing. They had decals across the front window on the upper deck and blocking the windows on the bottom deck. The bus stopped running before we ran out of Oslo so we took a cab from Central Station to the ship, more than $30. This was Prinsendam’s first, and last, call at Arendal, a charming town. We were greeted by a dance troupe who performed on the walkway climbing up from the dock. We walked through the town, spent time in the old town hall, a classic old, large wooden building. At a café we had some local pastries and coffee. A man sat next to us, his brother joined us, and we had a conversation about their grandfather who immigrated to America and made enough money to come back and buy a fishing boat. It changed the family’s life, giving them cash and status. Sailing into Eidsfjord includes a trip through Hardanger Fjord, worth getting up early to watch. In Eidsfjord we took a HAL tour to the highlands, a lake, waterfall and the alpine tundra. The guide was a farmer who raised a traditional breed of sheep. He is also a snow plow driver full of stories about sheep, farming, and rescues on mountain roads. The next stop was Flam. We took the HAL tour on the train. We should have just gotten off the boat and gotten our own tickets. It would have cost us half the money and we would have been on a less crowded coach. Having said that, it was worth the trip. There is a nice railway museum. We needed the sea day that followed Flam because after there were 6 ports in six days. Trondheim was a walking day. We went to the cathedral, which was beautiful. Unfortunately, photos aren’t allowed although you couldn’t tell by the number of people whipping out iPhones. The crown jewels were a disappointment. After paying the admission fee to the museum they told us that because of concerns over security the exhibit was not open. We could stand at the door to the room where the jewels are displayed and look through the iron bars. They had tied a pair of binoculars to the bars for us to get a better look. The resistance museum next door is worth your time. The old wooden houses in Trondheim create nice neighborhoods to walk through. Rockheim, the Norse Rock and Roll Museum, is right where the ship docks. Ålesund burned down in the early 20th century and was rebuilt in Art Nouveau style. We walked through the town, stopping at both the Art Nouveau and Modern Art museums. Both were well done. The Modern Art exhibitions were expressions of people’s relationship with the sea. We took a cab to the lookout for a great view of the city. It was worth the NOK 300 ($33.00) Geiranger is approached through a long series of fjords. It’s worth getting up early for the sail in. In town we took the Hop-On, Hop-Off. It stopped at an overlook, a mountain farm and the Fjord Center. From the Fjord Center you can walk down more than 300 steps, along a waterfall, to town. It always rains in Bergen, like my hometown Sitka, Alaska. We wanted to go to the Hanseatic League Museum but last October they discovered it was sinking, it’s 300-year-old pilings were having problems, so it’s closed. The museum shop and some exhibits are spread around Bryggen, the old section of Bergen. The Bryggen Museum was also closed for renovation. It may be open by the time you read this. There’s a free shuttle bus between Bryggen and the Fisherman’s Museum. Living in a fishing town I found comparisons interesting. The docents are more than willing to talk fish. Stavanger was the next stop. The ship docked right at the old wooden residential section with its white buildings. It was a short walk to the commercial district, also made up of wooden buildings and beyond to the petroleum museum, which does a good job of discussing the importance of the oil industry to Norway’s economy while also discussing the ramifications of oil on climate change. It raises a lot of questions and leaves you thinking about the answers. The final port of call was Esbjerg, Denmark. Because of tides the ship has to time its approach to hit an hour and a half window to make it into port. Sailing through the sand banks we pass by offshore wind farms. Docking was difficult because of winds and currents. Prinsendam had to hold steady while a second tug came alongside to help her dock. In Esbjerg we spent the day with friends visiting Tirpitz, a museum made from an old German bunker with a lot more. It talks about WWII, the occupation, fortifications and other seafront topics like fishing and amber. HAL’s tours miss the most interesting stuff, Tirpitz and the original Legoland, located near the Lego factory. If you stop at Esbjerg consider these alternatives. When we got off the ship in Amsterdam from the Celtic Explorer, they did not stamp our passport because we were going back on the ship. When we got off after the Norwegian Fjords Explorer there was no one to stamp our passport because everyone had gotten on in Amsterdam. As a result We were detained at the airport leaving Amsterdam because we did not have a proper entry stamp. The immigration people were polite and helpful, there was no problem there, but it was time consuming. Had we not arrived at the airport three and a half hours before the flight, instead of the recommended two we would have missed our flight. We finally got to the plane at the tail end of boarding. Part of the problem was the 30-minute walk from immigration to the gate. Be prepared if you fly out of AMS. Here are a couple of other notes. Because of the small number of sea days there was no outside lecturer on board. We missed this but Brett, the EXC Guide gave good port talks and a lecture on Norway and one on the Vikings that we enjoyed. May was a good time to cruise. We had unusually good weather and the ship was not nearly full. Prinsendam has a capacity of 835. On the Norwegian Fjords Explorer there were 665 on board, short lines for dinner, an uncrowded lido and lots of seats in the Showroom at Sea. I’m sorry to see Prinsendam go out of Holland America service. We’ve enjoyed Prinsendam in the past. She’s an older ship but we like her size, her aft saltwater pool good for swimming laps, her classic but understated appointments, her generous cabins and her walk-in closets. We’ve been on other HAL ships and enjoyed ourselves, but not as much as on Prinsendam. We will still cruise on HAL but we will be reading Cruise Critic reviews, looking for smaller ships that match our lifestyle and budget. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
My wife and I had been wanting to visit these countries for the Outlander Tours (wife and Viking interests. Celtic portion, 14 Days: We enjoyed our foray to Jersey and visited the castle and enjoyed local food. Many of the towns that ... Read More
My wife and I had been wanting to visit these countries for the Outlander Tours (wife and Viking interests. Celtic portion, 14 Days: We enjoyed our foray to Jersey and visited the castle and enjoyed local food. Many of the towns that Holland America Line chose to stop at were small and quaint. We found some had absolutely nothing to do except to walk around have a beer and a bite of local food. Tobermory, Scotland had a great scotch distillery. They invited us to take the tour for free and were generous with bottling up some free samples of the whiskey. We walked about a mile out of town to visit a dairy and see some cheese making. No one was in sight so we walked through the barns and saw the cows and had a close up wet tongue visit with the calves. Dublin Ireland is a very busy and bustling city. The tourist maps that are put out make the town look very walkable. It is walkable but not as much as the maps make you think. DO NOT TAKE THE GREEN HOP ON HOP OF BUS. There are 3 HOHO lines, Green, Red & Blue. TAKE THE RED HOHO BUS. the blue seemed like it did not cover too much. The green line covers a lot, too long of a route, and time consuming especially if you are riding when they change drivers. The drivers will talk for 15 minutes and then the new driver will sit there and take a 30 minute break which cost us a taxi back to the ship on our 2nd day there. We ate at Nancy Hands at their back bar and had a great salmon meal on slate and of course, some pints of Guinness .We also ate ate at The Guinness Storehouse on the top floor. It was good but not real good. DO GO TO THE GUINNESS STOREHOUSE. What a wonderful story the tour has to tell. Get there in the morning and there will probably not be much of or no line to get in. We took a really good Outlander Tour with Clansman Tours. Tom (owner) was great to spend the day with and share some good scotch in the van at the drop off. He picked us up at the dock. Brugge Belgium was very interesting. We (3 couples) hired a round trip taxi at the Zeebrugge port Very cheap splitting the cost. Antwerp was good also. Don't miss the Chocolate Museum, (Chocolate Nation). We wanted to go into the diamond district but since it was Saturday and Jewish Shabbat, nothing was open so we had to skip it. In Amsterdam we took a canal tour with a red HOHO boat and spent quite some time at a street market. The food was great and some stalls were difficult to pass up. In Alesund , Norway we had to ask 8 different people for directions to the bus stop going to the Sea Park Aquarium. It was very nice. In Bergen, Norway we ate at Bernard Tonghandel's stall in the fish market and had great mussels and fish. It was located near the end and close to the information cent with a good view of the Bay. er. He offered sit down dining with a good view of the Bay. Don't miss it. Take the ferry across the bay to the 3 Viking museums. Very good and informational.In Flam (Pronounced Flome), (Norwegian town names get butchered in English), we took the train and had a good time. One hour up and one hour back. The best souvenir prices we found were at the main building by the railway. Other towns had a lot of the same things but were moderately to much higher priced. This is the place to buy a caribou hide if you want one. They are MUCH less costly. There was a food truck there and we tried grilled whale. Along with generous samples they offered it was very good and the samples also. In Stavenger, Norway you will want to go to the very interesting Canning Museum, with a great guide Piers Crocker. He was funny and very informative and the Petroleum Museum. It's a very walkable town. See the Viking Center across from the docks. As with just about all European towns the streets may be curvy and not well named, Most street names are on the corner of the buildings if they are there at all. We are an older couple and find it difficult to find our way around the towns. It can be difficult to find people to give good directions. The tourist maps can also be inaccurate. As for the Holland America cruise we were on the Prinsendam which is the oldest and smallest of their ships. Our cruise was from May 6 to June 3, 2019. The ship has been sold to a German line and will go out of service for HAL on July 1. Our stateroom was not an expensive one but had a good sized unobstructed window. How ever that window along with every other window on the ship was always dirty on the outside, unlike other lines we have been on. The room was comfortable and had plenty of room for two. The TV and DVD player were constant problem all through the voyage. I think they didn't want to repair it as the ship was sold. The dining buffet was not good. Most of the food was over cooked or too salty and very repetitive almost every day. On HAL I have always found their salmon benedict my go to breakfast but not on the Prinsendam. The 1st morning I had to tell the cook how to make one and found their hollandaise sauce to be like mayonnaise with some strange flavor. I tried it the next day and it hadn't improved. It remained unimproved for the rest of the cruise. There were a few things that were acceptable for breakfast but most were repetitive. The coffee was great. Lunch usually found us on shore except for "at sea" days. Lunch and some suppers found me at the hot dog stand by the pool. This was a cool to cold weather cruise. I found the main dining room very noisy as I wear hearing aids. The waiters were very attentive to our needs and good at what they did. The menu was somewhat repetitive here also and portion size was not consistent. We would find a dish we liked with a nice size portion and the next time get a very small portion. The ship was small and some people have been lead to believe the small, older ships have a quaint ambiance that is lost on the larger ships. We ran onto people on the Prinsendam that had been on board 100+ days. I got bored and couldn't even drink my way through it due to the high cost plus a 15% sure charge on every drink. There was a movie every night and some were good. Theater was comfortable there was popcorn for the viewers. In that same room during the day America's Test Kitchen would put on a live demonstration. Went once and it was a joke. The demonstrator couldn't even make a simple omelette. I like their TV show. I couldn't figure out why Oprah is the "godmother" of HAL. All she does is appear on their on board TV channel and promoted a book she liked. The crew was friendly and for the most part helpful and caring. On the good side, Prinsendam offered a couple of free laundry rooms with 6 washers and dryers each unfortunately many were routinely out of service. The exercise room, steam room and dry sauna were free also. These we enjoyed immensely and used them often. The EXC excursions purchased from HAL were very expensive. Many passengers did not take them for that reason. I hope that HAL keeps up their ships as we have found them in the past. I also realize Prinsendam was pretty worn out. I would also recommend to HAL to install free laundry to all ships. This is such a big plus and so helpful to be able to have clean clothes. Keeps your room smelling fresher too. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
I am an active, adventurous mature adult who has seen the world on 56 cruises to date. I travel solo (with the constant wish that more cruise lines would offer better rates for solo travelers!). I love the sea and sailing, and probably ... Read More
I am an active, adventurous mature adult who has seen the world on 56 cruises to date. I travel solo (with the constant wish that more cruise lines would offer better rates for solo travelers!). I love the sea and sailing, and probably enjoy the ride on the ship as much as the ports. I remember the “old” Holland America from the years before Carnival obtained it, and wish that this historic cruise line could have remained independent. I am a Two Star Mariner with Holland America’s loyalty program. This cruise had a lot of interesting ports I’d not seen before, plus the chance to sail on a unique ship before it left the company. Due to some serious quality issues, I had to rate the cruise average, but in many ways it was also very good (service and itinerary, especially). I flew to England from Boston for the cruise, spending one night at the very good Hilton hotel near Heathrow Terminal 5. I had a private chauffeur service for the scenic ride to Dover the next morning. I’ve not officially toured Dover, but have seen some of it by car several times when arriving for cruises. Embarkation was one of the best ever at the small Dover cruise terminal. The staff are mature adults with lots of smiles and courtesy. From check-in with a very gracious lady to entering my suite, the total time was 24 minutes. Might have been even faster, but I used stairs rather than elevator from the entry level deck to my suite with my carry-on bag. My luggage arrived about 20 minutes after I did. Holland America is planning on selling the “Prinsendam” to another shipping company in July. The ship had previously been in service with Regent Seven Seas, among others. It is a small “boutique” size, with an elegant, yacht-like profile, and considering its age, looked extremely well maintained on the exterior at first glance. The classic blue and white hull of Holland America is lovely in its simplicity. The full passenger contingent is close to 800, approximately, but on this sailing we had just 535 people, mostly from the USA, England, and other English-speaking countries, plus a nice mix from around the world. Crew is international, with the famous Indonesian service crews in the cabins and dining rooms. Amenities are similar to other cruise ships, but on a smaller scale. You will not find the rock climbing walls and amusement park attractions, nor the huge size so popular with today’s newer ships. Classic, almost English country estate style décor throughout the ship. Magnificent fresh floral arrangements are everywhere, and are changed frequently throughout the ship. This cruise line must have the world’s best florists onboard their ships. It’s easy to get around inside the ship, and I was given a useful map of the ship with my room keycard upon check-in. Plenty of stairs and elevators to keep things moving. Traditional wood promenade deck circles the ship, but no jogging is allowed – have to jog on the very top deck on a designated track. The ship appeared to be extremely clean on the inside, and crew were visible night and day at their assigned housekeeping tasks. There is no spectacular atrium, only a few decks with an open center with art work in it. There are gorgeous art objects and collectibles of museum quality in display cases throughout the ship, as well as very nice paintings of the ship in its various incarnations and in various places around the globe. There is an observation lounge forward and high up in the ship with a stunning view forward. Fairly small lido buffet, lovely main dining room and other small dining venues nearby. The usual “you are here” ship maps are displayed on each deck. Nice central pool area with hot tub, sheltered areas with tables for outdoor dining nearby. One popular feature was the “America’s Test Kitchen” venue, with theater-type seating for a small audience. Whatever they cooked, however, sent its aroma throughout the entire ship, as did the galley area. A small lounge area had an elegant marble fireplace, and it looked straight out of Downton Abbey – really beautiful. Huge library with game tables, books on many subjects, computer stations, comfortable seating. The few shops were not large, but staffed by extremely nice crew. Large jewelry store, small sundries/logo item shop, usual duty-free items. The guest services area was far too small and too public, and it was often hard to hear when all the agents were serving guests and people were speaking loudly to be heard over the other guests. The future cruise consultant worked at a small desk in the main foot traffic pattern just off the guest services desk area, again with no privacy. This was a very busy and popular area, with people signing up on a clipboard for time to meet with the future cruise consultant. The clipboard filled within minutes for each day’s chance to book another cruise. Lots of very loyal cruisers and Mariners Club members on this cruise with plans for more cruises. Activities were geared toward the demographics on this cruise, and the average age seemed to be 70+. Lots of board games, bridge games, Bingo, sedentary activities suited to guests with limited mobility or health issues. There was a morning stretch class, and daily yoga for those interested. Nightly shows in the small theater with typical cruise ship entertainment. Shopping opportunities while at sea. Small casino for the gamblers, but it did not seem very popular, even in the evenings. Port talks and a lecturer about what to see and do at each port. People seemed more inclined to entertain themselves with reading, using the computers, walking, eating, time in the various bars, and socializing with people they knew. Mostly couples traveling with other couples, very few single people. I did not see a child on this cruise. There was daily Mass, as well as other religious service options, during this 14-night cruise. I’m sure I missed some of the activity options, as I am a very early riser and like to get to bed at a decent hour and read. The ship had a small but nicely equipped fitness center, which was almost entirely empty every time I was in there. Service on Holland America ships is legendary. My two experienced room stewards could easily have worked in Buckingham Palace – they were quick, discrete, respectful, courteous, friendly, and once briefed on my usual schedule, had my suite cared for at my convenience every day and night of the cruise. I never really saw these two nice men, either – they did their magic and disappeared. I never saw service carts in the corridors, either, which was a blessing for those using walkers and scooters. My two dining room waiters treated me like royalty as well, as did all the head waiters and the maitre’d. More on that in the dining review. Shop crew were all nice and friendly. Some of the spa crew seemed a bit burned out, with one manicurist who really did not seem to know what she was doing – but the hair stylist was fabulous. A few of the guest services crew had “attitude” and seemed to get aggressive, argumentative and defensive far too quickly considering the job they were doing – and they were too young to really be able to have the experience and maturity to deal with older adults. The rest of the guest services desk crew were very polite and helpful. All were enviably multilingual, as were most of the service crew within the ship. Some of the best service came from Eugene, one of the engineering staff – details to follow. Some of the service crew at lower levels did not have proper English skills to understand or communicate, unfortunately, which led to frustration in both parties in various situations. There is an obvious chain of command to get things done on this ship, and the bottom links in the chain need more skill in English. There was a nice variety of shore excursions, with good detail about level of activity, special requirements, and what to expect, travel times, etc. I had booked just one excursion, a hike for one of the island ports, but it was cancelled due to lack of people booking it. I usually explore on my own anyway, and still had an excellent time. In some ports, shuttle buses were provided and proved to be a blessing as far as saving time or not having to walk if it rained. Inevitably, some of the ports required the tender service, which seemed to run more efficiently on this small ship than the big ships. It was lovely to arrive on shore and find a canopy for shelter, and hot and cold beverages nicely dispensed, plus places to sit while waiting for the tender back to the ship. The itinerary for this ship was really a great way to sample the UK and two European countries. It included the Isle of Jersey, Falmouth England, Fishguard Wales, Greenock Scotland, Isle of Skye Scotland, Isle of Mull Scotland, Dublin Ireland, Brugge/Brussels Belgium, Antwerp Belgium, and ended at Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Nearly perfect weather most of the trip, or at least dry, and my two favorite ports were the stops at Skye and Mull. Every port had something really good and valuable to enjoy, however. Holland America offered me a last-minute upgrade for reasonably small sum, so I traded my veranda cabin for a large suite. The veranda was enormous with two wicker lounges with small foot stools, and a table. The entire seaward wall of the suite was glass. King-size bed (made from two twins), with outstanding high-quality mattress and bed linens and lots of pillows. There was a desk/vanity area with mirror, makeup mirror and chair, surrounded by storage in part of the unit. Holland America offered me a last-minute upgrade for reasonably small sum, so I traded my veranda cabin for a large suite. The veranda was enormous with two wicker lounges with small foot stools, and a table. The entire seaward wall of the suite was glass. King-size bed (made from two twins), with outstanding high-quality mattress and bed linens and lots of pillows. There was a desk/vanity area with mirror, makeup mirror and chair, surrounded by storage in part of the unit. Two bedside tables, plenty of lamps and lights. A very long marble combination bar, desk, and work space area was on one wall, with multiple storage drawers and cabinets above and below. There was also a small refrigerator in a cabinet here. Lots of bar glasses, mini-bar setup in the refrigerator, offering waters, beer, sodas, etc. Evian water in liters was on a tray. Fruit is delivered upon request, as is ice. Nice upholstered chairs, and a large curved sofa in one corner of the suite, with a large table. It would be easy to entertain at least 6 people in the space. The wood furniture was traditional, but sadly tired and chipped with some stains. The soft fabric furniture fared better. Unfortunately, the sheer curtains and too-thin drapes did not do much to keep out the daylight which seemed to start about 3 AM at the high latitude of the cruise, in May. The drapes had to be re-hung at my request due to not tracking or closing properly. There was an enormous walk-in closet with plenty of good wooden hangers. There were multiple shelves within the closet, and drawers. Slippers and toweling robe were provided, as were a huge umbrella and a clothes brush and shoehorn. This suite would be marvelous for an extended cruise, between the comfortable bed, ample storage space, and some nice useful extra amenities. However, the age of the ship is exposed when looking for USB ports (none) or any electrical outlet save one at the vanity mirror. The lights were also extremely dim, which made reading in bed nearly impossible. Large modern flat-screen TV in place over the marble workspace/bar area, with OK but not great programming. Nice handy small container near the door for the keycard and do not disturb/make up room card. While the furniture showed a lot of wear and tear, the bed linens were great, and the carpeting seemed to be in good condition. Rather dark and somber colors in the suite, but that probably is intentional to hide dirt or wear. The bathroom was gorgeous peach and cream marble, and had two compartments with sliding doors. Small toilet compartment opened off the entry foyer, with a sink, and could be closed off by two sliding doors. The main part of the bathroom had a very large tub with hand-held shower spray and unfortunately a clingy shower curtain and an old-fashioned plastic bath mat. This mat had to be replaced immediately upon arrival, as it was slimy and old – this was fixed very quickly upon request. Plenty of space around the large sink, with a modern single-lever faucet system. There were several very tiny glass shelves, and two metal rings holding small glasses. Plenty of towels and towel racks, but the towels were either new and thick and fluffy or nearly threadbare and scratchy. The main bath area had its own sliding door into the main part of the suite, and if one wanted to soak in the tub and watch the sea roll by, simply open the bathroom’s sliding door and enjoy the view straight out from the tub to the glass veranda wall and the sea. The suite bathroom was provided with Elemis toiletries. This product is considered spa quality and is famous around the world, but I found the scent overpowering and the products themselves quite drying to sensitive skin. The soft water from the ship’s desalinization system literally melted the bathroom soap. The suite was serviced twice a day, but I prefer to make my own bed and just have the bath cleaned at night, which shocked my kind stewards. They did as I asked however, and joked that I made my bed better than they did. I try to stay healthy on cruises, and the fewer hands which touch my personal things and living space, the better. The ship was entirely silent at night, so sleep quality was incredibly good, even with the early daylight. AC and heat were controllable individually in the suite, but the thermostat was a challenge, as I will detail at the end of this review. The suite was located on one of the highest decks, directly below the Lido deck, and I did not need an alarm clock for early rising – the deck crew began dragging the lounge chairs around the pool, and the tables and chairs, right at 4:30 AM. I did mention this to guest services, but it did change the situation. Being up high on the ship and quite forward, there was a lot of motion during sailing. Thankfully, there were only two rather impressive storms at sea. The motion was strong enough to remove any doubt that this was a real ship doing real sailing, and it provided a surprisingly good night’s sleep. I would not ordinarily select such a location, but the suite upgrade offer was too good to pass up, and the suite selection was very limited at the time of the upgrade. I had my dinner in the main dining room, early seating and was able to sit alone as I had requested. A nearby table with an interesting couple provided enough company if they wished to visit, which was good for both of us. The small passenger population enabled very speedy, gracious service and I never saw one waiter trying to serve 20 tables as they do on other cruise lines. The head waiters often became a bit too intrusive and hovering, but I understand they genuinely wanted their guests to enjoy the food and avoid any possible problems or issues with the menus. The chefs were Indian and Indonesian, and definitely cooked the various items in their native style. The food seemed to be heavily over-salted, and loaded with very hot spices, no matter what the food item was. Many people were complaining about their legs, feet, hands swelling and blood pressure going up from the salt. After one or two dinners that were nearly inedible, I had to talk to the head waiter and maitre’d about modifying what I ate or getting something made special. I was amazed at how much the crew leaders in the dining room, including the head chef, came to my rescue and showed me the dinner menu 24 hours ahead of serving, and if there was something there I couldn’t enjoy they would make something I could eat comfortably. The menu items were at times bizarre combinations of probable leftovers, especially the starters, with a lot of fruit items. Plenty of typical American home-cooking and comfort foods, too. Long gone are the elegant Continental gourmet cuisine of earlier cruises! I heard some comments that the meats were all very greasy. Some items were recognizable on the menu and familiar, but when they arrived, were totally different and often inedible. There is some serious confusion about the use of mayonnaise in their cooking on this ship, for instance, and some of the soups were peculiar. Fish was very good, and if one loves rice, this is the cruise line for you – they make all the world's rice varieties in rice cookers, the Asian way, and the rice was better than the breads and most of the deserts. I had room service for a very simple light breakfast, and light lunch. I do not eat at cruise ship buffets anymore, again in an attempt to remain healthy, not gain weight, and stay away from food that always seems to be dried out, cold or hot when it should be hot or cold, and I’ve seen too many people put their fingers in buffet food. Room service started out as terrible experiments for lunch. Chicken soup looked like brown dish water with garbage bits floating in it, filmed with grease. I ordered a cheese quesadilla for one lunch, and it consisted of a Middle Eastern pita bread wrap, filled with hard yellow corn kernels mixed into an onion paste. No cheese. I don’t expect authentic Mexican quesadillas on an Indonesian-themed cruise ship, but this was going a bit too far. Two regular room service stewards, both cheerful and friendly, brought whatever I needed morning and noon and delivered it at the requested time to the second, breakfast and lunch time. Trays were set up beautifully, and even tea arrived quickly and elegantly. Once the stewards knew what I liked, I could ask them to custom-make an item like a quesadilla and it arrived perfectly cooked and prepared. It does take time, patience and some team effort to get cruise ship food the right way, and while there may be initial frustration, eventually on my cruise it all worked out beautifully. I believe the ship provisioned in England before it sailed, and that may account for some of the rather unique food items and ingredients. The suite’s minibar was restocked as needed, but nothing in there was free. Other than one Diet Coke, I did not have anything else from the minibar stock. A few times, I noticed some room-service plates and dining room plates which had areas of a thin film of grease on them. This ship did not appear to be welcoming to children. Perhaps there was a designated child entertainment area on board, but it there was, I never saw it. I did not see any babies or children on this cruise. Entertainment featured something for everybody, be it quiet board games, reading, the evening main show featuring the typical singers, magicians, dancers and specialty entertainers. I only watched a time of one of the pianists who performed, and he was very good. The singers seemed to be a full note or two off key, with tired old song and dance numbers in the “Broadway” style show entertainment. There were never enough seats for the early show with many people standing in the back of the theater. My favorite entertainers on the cruise were the two musicians who played chamber music in the Explorer’s Lounge. They deserved a better venue, as people constantly talked while they were playing, and there was a lot of foot traffic back and forth in front of them. One gentleman played the piano, and the other the violin. They were from Hungary and Romania, and obviously had serious and excellent classical training. Requests were welcomed, and everyone eventually heard a favorite piece. They played three 45 minute sets after dinner, and I usually went to at least two every night. It was so relaxing and soothing it was hard to stay awake, and with the older crowd as audience, some people went to sleep. Nothing bothered these two young gentlemen during their performing, even enormous rough seas one night. They should have been a featured concert in the main theater. Very sociable and gracious to chat with, as well. There were a variety of movies on the TV system in the cabins, but some were old and outdated. Lots of “commercials” for shore excursions and shopping on the TV, as well. There was a singer and/or pianist in the bar or bars, but as I don’t do the bar scene, can’t really report on that. There was a late-night DJ or some kind of music advertised, but most of the guests retired early. The best entertainment I saw in the theater was a music group brought onboard during the long port call at Dublin, with classic Irish humor, songs and some fabulous music and traditional Irish dancing. This group had some of us singing with them and dancing in the aisles! Fabulous! The last night of the cruise, the ship slowly moved along the Scheldt River and into a series of locks on its way to Amsterdam’s busy port. With the early daylight and needing to be up very early for the express departure, I was up at 3:30 AM, and enjoyed watching the slow progress down the river and the locks. There was a hazy blue mist or fog part of the way, and huge flocks of lovely white swans serenely floating in the water as the shipped quietly slipped past them. Worth getting up early to see this last bit of serenity before returning to the reality of a big city and hectic airport experience. Disembarkation was as nice as embarkation, at least for me. I chose the express departure option, and at 7:15 AM was able to haul my own load of bags off the ship and into the terminal, right on time. It took probably 10 minutes altogether, and was a blessing, as I had a private tour booked for Amsterdam before being taken to the airport by my fantastically good guide. While most of my cruise experience was really very good, unfortunately there were some things which made me seriously consider leaving the ship at the first port after Dover. I was wondering about the condition of the ship, considering its imminent sale in two months. I’d not sailed with Holland America in 15 years, and was also curious if the level of service was the same and the serene, adult, quiet ambience still reigned. Probably the most annoying issue was the appearance of dirty brown water, twice during the cruise, from the bathroom sink and shower and in the toilet. Some problem with the storage tank, supposedly. Of course this necessitated requesting bottled water. I can’t digest the Evian water placed in the stateroom, and asked for something different. I spent most of one whole day trying to communicate with people lacking English that I needed to get a different brand of water, and they kept bringing more Evian. Had to hassle with the guest services crew about this, and finally a gentleman who was in charge of the main bar found two varieties in the crew provision area and sent a bottle of each to my suite for me to try. Both were good and I chose one brand. I was told the water would be free for the cruise, and a large quantity was delivered. I had to wash my face and brush my teeth with this water, as the brown water took two days at least to finally clear. I never trusted it after that anyway. A few days before the end of the cruise, a bill came for the last delivery of bottled water, and I protested that it was supposed to be free. Guest services would not budge however, and I had to pay for the water. The second issue was the ventilation system in the suite. Noise level out of the bathroom vents and the main suite area was that of a jet in flight. I called guest services, who sent two useless people who could not communicate, and then Eugene arrived – the ship needs 100 Eugenes, he was that skilled and wonderful. He removed the suite’s main grill and pulled out foot after foot of filthy, blackened, disgusting sooty foam filter material. The carpet was coated with this stuff, and a tray of clean glasses was soiled. The soot and dust floated throughout the suite, and I don’t want to think about what we were all breathing. I covered my nose and mouth and got as far away from this mess as I could, but it was still in the air. Eugene vacuumed out the ducting as far as the vacuum wand reached, and then put clean new foam filters in and adjusted the air flow. Blessed silence finally. He then did the same thing with the bathroom vents, which had the same filth in them, and they too became silent while doing their job. This is something which should have been cleaned and routinely inspected and apparently had been neglected, perhaps in view of the upcoming sale. For whatever reason, this issue was addressed in the early evening, but due to the mess it ran on into the late evening. Unfortunately, the stewards, who were called by Eugene to clean up the horrible mess and replace the soiled chair, did not realize that the water was still running brown in the bathroom – they turned on the water full force to check it, which splashed all over the just-cleaned bathroom, and they had to clean it all over again, as well as clean up the bathroom mess from the vents. It took hours, and was a terrible way to spend an evening on a cruise. The ship had a nice little laundry for guest on several decks. This was somewhat of a challenge to use, however, as the instructions on the machines were in Dutch. There was a translation of sorts, thankfully, and use of the facilities was free. Even detergent was provided. Nice when everything worked. However, there were problems with some of the machines, which often stopped mid-cycle. Once again, I called the fabulous Eugene, but had to go through several episodes of very young crewmen trying to fix things but not understanding a word of English. They had to call their supervisors, who talked to me and then called Eugene, which wasted a lot of time. I doubt they ever fixed everything so all the machines worked at the same time, but at least the laundry got done. I’ve never seen such complicated washers in my life, but it beats having to wash things in the bathroom sink, and was a good way to learn some basic Dutch words, no kidding. A cruise ship is a foreign country, so why not take advantage of what one can learn while having (or enduring) new experiences. If we want things to be the same as at home, just stay home. I was mildly annoyed to be told that I could not jog on the promenade deck. It was usually deserted, and I jog silently and slowly. I was told by Guest Services that the bridge “would get me” and stop me if I used the prom deck, so I was stuck up in the wind, stack soot and some cigarette smoke on the top of the ship where the jogging track was. Never could figure out what the issue was about the prom deck. My one manicure in the spa was a disaster, performed by a burned-out or unhappy young woman who did not really know the proper way to do a manicure. My nails looked horrible, and it was very painful. On the journey up the Scheldt River to Antwerp during the night, the ship passed an enormous refinery or chemical plant or some such structure which seemed to stretch for miles. I was awakened by the stench of what seemed to be burning hair and garbage, and got up to look in the cabin for a problem, and looked outside to see this facility erupting huge clouds of smoke into the air. I opened the door to the veranda, and could smell the stink coming from this place. The horrible odor made further sleep impossible, and permeated the entire ship for almost two days. My first purchase in Antwerp was a solid air freshener to put in my suite – nothing got rid of the stench, even with the veranda door opened once in Antwerp. I was not the only guest who complained about this, and there wasn’t much to be done – there had to be some source of ventilation for air into the inside of the ship, even if the air was polluted. The thermostat in my suite was placed almost at ceiling height up one wall. The tiny numbers, in Celsius, were nearly impossible to read even with strong reading glasses. Whoever decided to place this important device at such an impractical height was either 7 feet tall or a fool. With the large variables in the cruise climates, both heat and cooling were necessary at times. Outrageous pricing on the internet – one paid for 24 hours of usage, rather than by the minute and it averaged out to about $24 US per day, even if used for minutes or an hour or two. Costs were slightly lower with buying a package, but it was still far too expensive. Service was slow, and several times could not be accessed at all from my suite. I had to use the public computers, and was thankful to see large canisters of antibacterial wipes near each station. Lots of very sick people in this ship, coughing and sneezing all over everything, including the keyboards and computers. Guest services, or somebody in the crew, kindly delivered a large plate of chocolate-covered strawberries to my suite as the list of problems began to increase, but since I cannot digest fruit, I had to sadly decline the peace offering. In summary, despite the long list of problems, Holland America is still the proud old company it began as, even if Carnival has imposed its cost-cutting measures in some areas. There was still a feeling of quality and class, especially on this lovely older ship and among the senior and “mature” passenger contingent. It was a very quiet cruise, with none of the carnival-barker hawking of “seminars”, art auctions, bingo games, etc. Especially appreciated was the fact that nobody used the little line about “have an EXCELLENT day,”, which is really just trolling for good reviews, as Princess and other cruise lines so irritatingly continue to do. The American cruise director had a lovely speaking voice and would make a few short important announcements as required, but otherwise it was blessedly silent. No blasting of loud, noise-machine type music in the public spaces, either. The captain was magnificent in his ability to clearly communicate and keep the guests informed – very good with his detailed nautical reports once a day as well. The famed Indonesian and Asian level of service is still there, maybe even better than years ago. I was impressed and gratified that the long letter I sent to the main office of Holland America upon my return home, listing the issues which were extremely upsetting and annoying during my cruise, was actually read by a human and generated a reply from a human, and not a computer-generated generic “so sorry” letter. The agent sent a very nice letter to me in reply, in a timely manner, acknowledging my concerns and problems, and seemed genuinely distressed that my cruise was not 100% perfect in every way. I was also given a large discount on my next booked cruise. This is what one would expect from a company with as old and reassuring a history of customer satisfaction as Holland America’s, but if such expectations could usually be counted on in the past, they have become lovely surprises when they turn up in the world of cruising today with the level of guest satisfaction at the excellent level far less common than it used to be. Holland America is clearly proud of its reputation, and obviously seeks to retain it. Would I sail on this cruise line again? I have a short coastal cruise booked for this fall, and hoping the good things remain and the problem issues are few or non-existent. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
The Celtic Explorer started in Dover and traveled to Jersey, Falmouth, Fishguard, Greenock, Skye, Mull, Dublin (2 days), Zebrugge, Antwerp (2 days) and Amsterdam. The main problem with this 12-day itinerary was that with only two sea ... Read More
The Celtic Explorer started in Dover and traveled to Jersey, Falmouth, Fishguard, Greenock, Skye, Mull, Dublin (2 days), Zebrugge, Antwerp (2 days) and Amsterdam. The main problem with this 12-day itinerary was that with only two sea days, ports came fast and furious. There was no sea day between embarkation and Jersey. For folks flying directly from the States there was no time to recover from jet lag. If you get travel fatigue or suffer from jet lag this is something to consider. This itinerary also had 4 tender ports. Two of them (Jersey and Fishguard) tended in rough seas. Some people opted not to go ashore or could not because of disability. Other tender ports were Skye, Mull. We enjoyed all the ports. In Jersey we went to the Maritime Museum and while we hadn’t intended it, the museum took up most of our day, it was so engaging. We walked around town a little after the museum. In Falmouth we walked around town, went to the Maritime Museum and took the train to Truro. If you do that you may should know that there is a railway station at Falmouth Port, not just downtown. We walked to the downtown station, it was a nice walk, and returned to the port station.. In Fishguard we wanted to go to St. Davids, but because of the short port call we could not get there and back on public transport, so we took the HAL tour. It was worth it, with an engaging guide who was a natural story teller. St. Davids has a beautiful gothic cathedral, bishop’s house ruins. It is a charming small town where we enjoyed tea and scones before walking through the town market, In Greenock we visited with friends in Glasgow, but also took time to go to St. Mungo’s Museum, a museum presenting information and art from the different religions practiced in Glasgow. The art was inspiring but the exhibit I liked the best took us through the stages of life as celebrated by each of the religions covered, birth, coming of age, marriage, adulthood, elderhood and death. We arrived in Skye (Portee) on a Sunday so local buses were not running. We went ashore and found a skipper giving wildlife tours from a boat. When the tour was over some of our cruise mates who had booked taxis for a morning tour were back and we were able to take a taxi to some of the places outside of town that we wanted to see. Helen, our cab driver, was the last baby born in the Skye hospital before it closed down. She was full of stories and local lore. On Mull (Tobermory) we enjoyed walking around town, stopping at the aquarium where all the inmates are there only for a month before being returned to the sea. There was a touch tank and exhibitions on local sea life. The Tobermory distillery offers scotch tastings. The shops were multi-purpose, books and fishing tackle or iron monger (hardware) with wine and spirits. We lost ourselves in the book store for a while, got into conversation with the book seller, and the iron monger. We enjoyed scones and tea in a café that used to be a church. Dublin was a two day stop. The dock is away from downtown. There was a shuttle bus available for a hefty fee. It drops you off across from the Oscar Wilde statue in Marion Park. I recommend being on deck for the docking. The ship had to make some tight maneuvers interesting to watch. We pulled up close to downtown before turning around to face the mouth of the River Liffey when we docked. In Dublin we wandered the streets and when we saw something interesting, we went in. This included The Church, a bar set in the former St. Mary’s church which, appropriately, had been the family church of the Guinness family. We also had tea and scones in Brewley’s Café, which houses a luncheon theater, where we enjoyed a one act play. We found several small galleries and exhibits and wandered Temple Bar. When we heard music we liked we went in to listen. This was a relaxing way to see Dublin. It’s not our first time so we were not in a rush to see the Book of Kells and other well knows sights. After a much-needed sea day it was Zeebrugge. Since we’ve spent a lot of time in Belgium, we had no need to take the train to either Bruges or Ghent. Instead we bought a day pass on the tram that runs along the coast from the Dutch border practically to France. We could get on and off whenever we wanted. We had lunch in De Hann Ann Zee, a charming late 19 century beach resort where Albert Einstein spent some time after leaving Germany. If you’ve been to Bruges or Ghent this is a good alternative. Two days in Antwerp were not enough. We bought a mass transit day pass and enjoyed going the Art Nouveau neighborhoods. We also enjoyed the Cathedral, the Central Railway Station, Antwerp’s “second cathedral” and visiting churches filled with baroque art, including works by Rubens. We went to the Mas Museum and walked the old town and red-light districts. As much time as we had spent in Belgium we had never been to Antwerp. It was the most wonderful surprise of the cruise. We were tired when we arrived in Amsterdam because of the fast pace of the cruise so we took the tram to Central Station and enjoyed an hour-long cruise on the canals before getting on for the Norwegian Fjords Explorer cruise. When we got off the ship in Amsterdam from the Celtic Explorer, they did not stamp our passport because we were going back on the ship. When we got off after the Norwegian Fjords Explorer there was no one to stamp our passport because everyone had gotten on in Amsterdam. As a result We were detained at the airport leaving Amsterdam because we did not have a proper entry stamp. The immigration people were polite and helpful, there was no problem there, but it was time consuming. Had we not arrived at the airport three and a half hours before the flight, instead of the recommended two we would have missed our flight. We finally got to the plane at the tail end of boarding. Part of the problem was the 30-minute walk from immigration to the gate. Be prepared if you fly out of AMS. Here are a couple of other notes. Because of the small number of sea days there was no outside lecturer on board. We missed this but Brett, the EXC Guide gave good port talks. May was a good time to cruise. We had unusually good weather and the ship was not nearly full. Prinsendam has a capacity of 835. On the Celtic Explorer there were 567 passengers on board, no lines for dinner, an uncrowded lido, no need to arrive early to get a good seat for evening shows, and for less hassle tendering. I’m sorry to see Prinsendam go out of Holland America service. We’ve enjoyed Prinsendam in the past. She’s an older ship but we like her size, her aft saltwater pool good for swimming laps, her classic but understated appointments, her generous cabins and her walk-in closets. We’ve been on other HAL ships and enjoyed ourselves, but not as much as on Prinsendam. We will be reading Cruise Critic Reviews to try to find an new favorite. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Prinsendam European River Explorer 4-24-19 Note this is a long; log-style review. For just the summary scroll on down to the end. We left Pennsylvania on Monday evening April 22 on American non-stop to Rome. The flight was on time ... Read More
Prinsendam European River Explorer 4-24-19 Note this is a long; log-style review. For just the summary scroll on down to the end. We left Pennsylvania on Monday evening April 22 on American non-stop to Rome. The flight was on time and arrived 35 minutes early into Rome. We met one of our fellow cruisers at the airport and had arranged a shared transfer to Civitavecchia. Despite some airport confusion, it all worked out. Note that after leaving through customs I did not find an ATM at the airport. They must be there, but not in the places they used to be! Our driver with Civitavecchia Shuttle Express was kind and professional. He did not talk very much. We were dropped off at our guest house, “MyHomeBLU” at about 10:40. MyHomeBLUE is an interesting guest house on the top floor of a condo building. It has some great views of the city as well as the Mediterranean. We went back to visit our new friend at her hotel and found an ATM. We attempted a walking tour I had downloaded from the port website. Streets are poorly marked, and while we found the two churches they were both locked and we could not enter inside. We were too late for the market. We stopped at a supermarket for two bottles of wine to bring on board and a small gelato container. The gelato became lunch. At 4:00 we met our new friend and went for dinner. Many restaurants are closed from 3 – 7 PM but along the seaside promenade several were open. The “New Gran Caffe” has a very nice upstairs dining room with views of the sea. My dinner was good although not what I expected. We walked along the sea for a while afterwards taking photos. Walking back to our temporary home DW said she was still hungry. There is a supermarket on the first floor of our building so we visited there and she bought some cheese and olives. This was very satisfying as it was enjoyed in the “Living room” overlooking the coast. At about 8:30 we called it a day! Wednesday, April 24, 2019 – embarkation We slept very well. We woke to my phone alarm to get ready for the day. We had a light breakfast in the MyHomeBLUE living room. There is cheese and olives left from last evening and that was helpful as little that was available met DW’s dietary needs. We took a nice walk to the town market. About half the market was fruits, veggies, seafood, & meats. The other half was an assortment of goods including clothing and electronics. We walked back and enjoyed a few minutes rest chatting with the proprietor until heading down for our prearranged 10:30 taxi. He was waiting for us at 10:25 and off we went to the port. We were in the terminal before 11:00. They told us boarding would begin at 11:30 and handed us boarding card #1. At 11:10 they called for #1. We had our photo taken for our last embarkation on Prinsendam, and headed to our cabin. It seemed a few things were not as cleaned as DW prefers but our room steward took care of everything. We sent away the soiled laundry from our travels and headed to the Ocean Bar. Here we found the maître’ de and discussed dinner plans. We handed him our prepared list of DW’s dietary restrictions and he kindly assigned us to table 143, a four top all the way aft. He also took a preorder for dinner. We also stopped at the Pinnacle Grille to preorder tomorrow’s lunch which we are having with several roll call members. Lunch was enjoyed in the dining room and all our special orders were very nicely taken care of. We headed to the cabin and our luggage was just being delivered. We unpacked and had everything stowed away prior to the 2:30 Mariner’s welcome aboard gathering. We attended the welcome aboard party and it was the best one we’ve ever enjoyed. The wait staff kept the beverages flowing freely and we had a great conversation with a couple we met in the elevator. After the party there was just enough time to shower and put on evening clothes before the 4:30 muster drill. The muster drill was pleasant enough with only about ½ the normal crowd as so many have stayed on from the prior cruise segment and they were excused. We were finished by 4:44. We headed straight to the Ocean Bar. At the Ocean Bar we renewed acquaintances with roll call members who we had shared tours with last year on the Iceland cruise. Other roll call members also joined us; it was a lot of fun. We went to dinner at 5:30 and had two sisters join our table. Conversation was very enjoyable and while I thought the menu tonight a little sparse my chicken was better than expected and the sisters both ordered the “Flank steak” but it looked more like a nice London broil. We left dinner with just enough time to stop in our cabin before the 7:30 welcome aboard show. Linda the cruise director was also CD on last year’s Iceland cruise. The Ocean Bar quartet is good with a strong vocalist. After the short show we visited the Ocean Bar to listen to the quartet but by 8:30 called it a night. Tomorrow is a busy day at sea and we are looking forward to it! Thursday, April 25 – at Sea After all our travels this was a morning to sleep in. We were up by about 7:45 but by the time we were ready to leave the room it was getting close to 9:30. With a 10:10 appointment with the future cruise consultant, we decided to head to the lido. To our delight the special of the day was Gingerbread Waffles with Orange Butter. I had asked for these on the Rotterdam recently and they did not know what I was talking about. DW ordered an omelet to her specific desire. To our further delight, Rosiato was serving in the lido. We got to know Rosiato last year on the Iceland cruise and she remembered us right away. We enjoyed breakfast with a couple from Australia and it was very nice. We were five minutes early for our appointment and she was ready for us. Knowing what we were looking for the booking was expeditious and quickly handled. We were also able to book a cabin for our friends who had asked to go with us. We finished just in time to head to the crow’s nest for the 10:30 Cruise Critic meet and greet. This was a tremendous event! Special thanks to cruise critic member KAZU for all her efforts in organizing our roll call and the wonderful name tags that remain on display in our cabin. Only one couple she had name tags for did not attend. We met many folks we have scheduled tours with and it was a super meet and greet. At noon we had a reservation with cruise critic members at the Pinnacle Grille. Our “Captains table” was delightful. The food was good and the conversation terrific. This was a busy sea day as at 2:00 we had our complimentary wine tasting session. This was really not as nice as the tasting we had on Rotterdam’s Christmas cruise. It had become very windy out on deck putting a literal damper on our hopes for a few laps on the promenade deck. All too soon it was time to get ready for gala night. We enjoyed happy hour in the Ocean Bar while the Ocean quartet entertained. On the way to dinner we found another crew member who remembered us from last year. As they say, Prinsendam is like a large family. We will miss the chance to sail her in the future. Friends from the Iceland cruise joined us for dinner. We had a very nice time. After dinner was the captain’s welcome toast in the theater followed by “Atlantic Crossing” by the cast. We have seen this show before but it was worth seeing again. The four vocalists are very talented. I’ve always felt the cast on Prinsendam are a cut above those on the other ships. After the show we went to listen to Daniel in the Crow’s Nest. We had a nice time but it was getting late so by about 9:40 we called it a night. Tomorrow we are in Alicante, Spain and have a full day tour scheduled. Friday, April 26, 2019 – Alicante, Spain The alarm went off at 6:45 although DW was up before that. Our tea order arrived at 6:55. We enjoyed a cup of tea in the cabin while getting ready. It is very sunny today so sunscreen is a must. We went to the lido for breakfast where I enjoyed one of today’s specials, a meat-lovers omelet. We were talking with a couple from Calgary during breakfast. The meeting time for our tour is 8:45. We watched the docking process from our balcony and then went to meet our group. The ship was cleared and off we went. Our tour was with Spain day tours with our guide David and driver Juan Carlos. First we drove to the historic center of Alicante (not very far). We visited the cathedral and the town hall. David took us over to the seaside promenade and introduced us to the specialty Alicante ice cream flavor which is honey and almond. We had just enough free time to walk down the promenade to the first leather merchant where I was able to obtain a ratchet style belt for 12 euros. Back to the van we were off to Guadalest in the mountains. It is about a 1 hr. drive mostly along the coast before crossing a mountain range. Guadalest is very photogenic being set among the hills. Leather and chocolate is produced locally and could be purchased, although we did not find anything that could not be passed up. One of the shops had purses at very good prices (at least so we thought). We returned to the van and headed back to Alicante to visit the castle. We certainly got our exercise climbing from the mini-bus parking area up to the top of the castle. This was a crystal clear day and being able to see everything around for many miles was quite a treat. No one will believe the photos were not enhanced as the color of the sea is just stunning. Back at the van at 3:30 and David and Juan Carlos had us back at the ship before 4:00 for our 4:30 all-aboard. We quickly got ready for dinner although missed happy hour. Dinner tonight was just all right. I was excited to see prime rib on the menu and having skipped lunch was looking forward to it. It just wasn’t juicy as prime rib should be. DW’s fish entrée was also just okay. We listed to the Ocean Quartet until they finished their set and then enjoyed the show. Yaniv Zarif gave a tremendous show with his interpretation of several Broadway and west end hits, in multiple languages. He was excellent and this was one of the best shows seen on a HAL ship in a few cruises. After Yaniv’s performance we called it a night as we have a long tour tomorrow and also King’s Day festivities on board. Saturday, April 27, 2019 – Malaga, Spain Prinsendam docked on schedule this morning in Malaga Spain. We enjoyed a quick lido breakfast with today’s special of Cinnamon & Bacon Waffles and a small ham omelet. We met our cruise critic group for our tour with Spain Day Tours to Granada and the Alhambra. This was a really great tour. We had plenty of time for our guided tour of the Alhambra and the gardens. We really enjoyed hearing of the 800 year history of the palace and fortress. From the Alhambra we were taken into Granada and had 90 minutes of free time. Our guide showed us where the department store and supermarket was, along with a variety of tapa bars. DW wanted shoes as her dress shoes were not working. We were successful in finding shoes. We then picked up a few apples and some local chocolate at a supermarket. The apples were “Lunch.” All too soon our 90 minutes were over and everyone was back on the bus. We returned to the port just after 6:30. After a quick stop at our cabin we went to the lido for the special “King’s day” Dutch dinner. DW’s special order dinner was delivered from the dining room, along with our wine bottle. I enjoyed many of the dinner options served, including poffertjes. The desserts were extra special with almond cookies, Dutch Apple Pie, and Ollie Bolen available. After dinner we enjoyed a little balcony time until we went to the showroom for “Authentic flamenco.” I always enjoy it when the cruise line brings local talent on board; in this case I just wish the troupe had explained the dances a bit. All in all this was an exceptional day and at 10:30 it was past time to call it a night! Sunday, April 28, 2019 – Gibraltar, UK Territory We enjoyed watching the Prinsendam wind its way to the dock this morning. “The rock” of Gibraltar blocked the sunrise. We docked on time and after a nice lido breakfast of today’s special Buttermilk and Corn waffles we met our tour group in the Ocean Bar at 7:45. We all made our way down to deck 4 at 7:50 and were allowed ashore at 7:55. We were the first group ashore and the first van leaving the parking area. This proved to be important. Our guide Rachel took us first to the Pillars of Hercules to view the strait of Gibraltar and in the hazy distance we could see the coast of Africa. From there we visited St. Michael’s Cave. We spent quite a bit of time at the cave. We’ve been to many caves over the years and this was impressive as I don’t recall ever seeing a natural open cave environment so huge. The sheets of limestone formations are extremely impressive. Outside the cave we had our first encounter with a Barbary Macaque Ape. This one was posing for photos and we enjoyed the opportunity. We were the second van to leave the caves and we made our way up the hill to the “Top of the Rock” and the upper Apes den. We spent maybe 30 minutes here watching the apes, taking photos, and being well entertained by the apes. Next we visited the Great Siege Tunnels. In addition to the natural caves, there is over 50 miles of man-made tunnels carved into the rock. These were made to move cannons and soldiers in case of war and siege. After exploring some of the tunnels, we visited and climbed the steps of the Moorish Castle, originally from 1160 and enlarged in the 14th century. This structure has withstood many wars and sieges over the centuries. We drove to Europa Point, the southernmost point of mainland Europe. This means we have now visited the northernmost and southernmost point of Europe. We drove the east side of the rock and Catalan Bay, with colorful houses along the beach. We crossed the active airport runway as the main road does to reach the border with Spain. This was a terrific tour and highly recommended. Back on Prinsendam at 12:10 we enjoyed the British Fish & Chips lunch being served at the Dive Inn pool grille. It was a gorgeous day to enjoy outside dining. DW had some fare from the lido. We met friends who joined us for lunch and had a similar tour. During the sail away we enjoyed watching the African coastline slide by from our balcony. I used the pool and hot tub for a while before getting ready for dinner. Dinner was a nice time in the dining room with a cruise critic member joining us. The show was “Sessions” featuring the Prinsendam cast singers. This was a very nice show. After the show we enjoyed the Crow’s nest piano bar and happy hour, before calling it a night at 10:30. All in all, another super day on Prinsendam! Monday, April 29, 2019 – Lisbon, Portugal We woke at 6:00 (after gaining an extra hour due to a time change!) and found we were already close to shore as we sailed towards the Lisbon cruise dock. As the sun rose we passed the Moor tower along the river and sailed under the Lisbon “Golden Gate” bridge. We enjoyed a lido breakfast and met our tour group at 8:10 in the Ocean Bar. Everyone was early so we headed out to meet our guide. Our group of six had booked the “Setubal Wine Tasting tour” with Lisbon Riders. This was a superb tour. We were met outside the cruise terminal at about 8:20 and our guide gave us a quick drive by of Lisbon and we twisted and turned our way towards the highway over the Golden Gate Bridge. He gave us the recent (and not so recent) history of Portugal on the way. We headed south to the wine region of Azeitao. We visited the small local family owned cellar “Quinta de Alcube” in the middle of the peaceful Arrabida Mountain. We tasted four different wines and visited their very nice shop. Bottles ranged from two to seven Euros each. We ended up buying one of the seven Euro bottles of White “Reserve” to hopefully enjoy on the balcony. From there, we crossed Arrabida Mountain & Arrabida Natural Park. We were always close to the sea and passed a number of beaches with azure waters enjoying the incredible views. Our next stop was the fishing town of Sesimbra. We enjoyed the oldest fish restaurant, owned by generations of fishermen. This place, called, Isaias, was outstanding. We would never have gone there without our guide, as from the outside it is a “Little hole in the wall.” They cook fresh fish, just off the boat, on a charcoal grille built into the exterior wall of the building. We both ordered Swordfish and it was both incredible tasting and a large portion. All meals came with a simple family style served salad, warm rolls out of the oven, and boiled potatoes. I enjoyed a “Lemon beer” and a coke zero while DW had a glass of white wine and bottled water. We all agreed to cover our guide’s meal and the total bill was just under 15 Euros per person. After lunch we walked down to the beachfront and went into the restored beach front fortress. Our guide went to retrieve the van and he took us to an overlook of the town for photos. From there we traveled back towards Azeitao for our second winery visit. Next we visited the oldest cellar of the region, owned by the same family for more than 7 generations. The Jose Maria de Fonseca winery gave a very nice tour and the wine cellars were impressive. We really enjoyed the tour and the samples of two wines, including a 16 year aged Moscatel. From here we headed back to the ship. This trip took longer than expected due to unusual traffic according to our guide. We returned at 4:30 for a 5:30 all aboard. The Lisbon cruise terminal makes you walk through a maze to get past security and it was 4:50 by the time we returned to Prinsendam. That gave us just 40 minutes to prepare for dinner but we made it. We enjoyed dinner and left port on schedule by 6:00. Sailing down the river I took a break to get photos of the Christ the King statue on the hillside near the Golden Gate Bridge. Later that evening we enjoyed a comedian, Rikki Jay. His routine was entertaining. We are exhausted from the last few days and called it a night after the show. Tuesday, April 30, 2019 – Porto, Portugal Prinsendam was just a little late on arrival to Porto today. Our 8:00 arrival became more like 8:25 by the time guests were able to disembark. We enjoyed breakfast in the lido, nothing special today but still a good start to the day. We met the one other roll call member on our “Off the beaten track” photo discovery tour with Pictuary photo tours. Jose was great and met us as we left the cruise port. He drove the three of us in his car to the end of the tram line where two Tuk-tuks were waiting for us. The first 2+ hours of our tour were by tuk-tuk. This was literally a little “Cool” but it was fun, and it sure beats climbing the hills of Porto by foot! We saw so much it is too much to list, but certainly one highlight is the six bridges crossing the Duro River. After one incredible viewpoint to another we bade farewell to our tuk-tuks at the Bridge of Luis 1st. This dual layered bridge was a pleasure to walk over. The top level is for pedestrians and trains. Beware the trains!!! The bottom level (much lower) is for vehicles. After a light lunch, we then rode the Rodonorte Funicular down to the river level. We walked along the river enjoying the sights and incredible buildings of the historical Ribeira neighborhood and went shopping in a 100% made in Portugal shop where DW picked up a handbag made of cork (from cork trees). To end the tour, we rode the #1 “Electric” streetcar back to where the car was parked and returned to Prinsendam at 3:10 for a 3:30 all aboard. DW shot over 200 photos and I took about 300. What a day! Back on board we ran into friends enjoying the lido sunshine and stayed there for sail away. Tonight is “Rudi’s Sel de Mer” at the Pinnacle Grille that we are trying for the first time. We met friends at the Ocean Bar at 5:30 for pre-dinner conversation. At the last minute, they decided to join us and the Pinnacle was happy to oblige changing our reservation for two to four. Sel de Mer was enjoyable and we would do that again on a future cruise. Dinner went for 2 ½ hours but the conversation was most enjoyable. After dinner we visited Daniel at the Crow’s Nest Piano Bar for “Sing along night.” By 9:45 it was time to call it a night. Tonight we LOSE an hour as we are headed to France which is in the European time zone. Wednesday, May 01, 2019 – 2nd day at Sea After five port days in a row a day at sea was most welcome. No alarm, no room service, just sleep. Sleep until 8:30 or a bit after! We got the day rolling by heading to breakfast in the lido. Today’s special was listed as “Dutch pancakes” but other than being made on a Holland America ship I’m not sure what was “Dutch” about them. We were invited to the 10:30 Mariner’s reception which was a nice event. About 20+ copper medallions, five silver medallions, and one gold medallion were handed out. The nibbles were nice and drinks ample, but I did not see wine being offered as an option. The mariner’s lunch followed and we were able to sit with several friends and one couple we had not met earlier in the cruise. The Prinsendam tiles were most appreciated and will be added to our collection. After a cabin stop to store our tiles we visited the lido for ice cream. The ice cream man was funny as he was really ‘pushing’ the macadamia nut ice cream with caramel. It was pretty good but neither of us found any macadamia nuts in our serving! We chatted with friends and before you know it the clock was at 1:45. At 2:00 KAZU from cruise critic had invited the roll call to her Neptune Suite for a “Wine tasting.” At least two dozen (likely more) from the roll call visited and we had great conversation along with lots of wines to try as well as a bunch of nibbles provided by the ship. My favorite was the Tempura Shrimp. Most folks stayed until nearly 4:00 when several, including the host, had an appointment with the Bingo game. DW was the winner of one of two door prizes, a hand-made wine bottle stopper / corkscrew donated by one of the roll call members. We truly appreciate this and will both treasure it and use it regularly at home! A brief cat nap (after all that wine) in our cabin brought us to 5:15 when we headed down to deck 5 for passport collection. For some reason, Bordeaux customs wants to inspect non-EU passports. These will be returned on Saturday. Dinner (and more wine) was enjoyed in the dining room. Prime Rib was on the menu and now having learned the ‘secret’ to ask for a “King’s cut” it was superb and very much enjoyed. The show tonight is “Dance” by the dancers. We have seen this before and decided to pass, just enjoying being on the ship with nowhere specific we needed to be. We caught up with the travel expert’s Bordeaux talk on the TV and called it a night. Thursday, May 2, 2019 – Bordeaux, France We awoke to catch a slight glimpse of Prinsendam sailing under a bridge as we approached Bordeaux. We docked on schedule and the ship was cleared at 7:30. Our tour is not until 10:00 so we had time for a leisurely breakfast in the Lido with today’s special of Gingerbread waffles. We met our tour group at 9:50 in the Ocean Bar and departed the ship. We met our guide from Ophorus Wine Tours right outside and off we went to the town of St. Emilion. During the 45 minute drive our guide told us about the area we drove through as well as about the development of wine in the area. St. Emilion is an incredibly original / restored medieval town centered around a church that was begun by St. Emilion. We toured the underground church – a very impressive structure considering the work was done with medieval age tools. The stones were quarried out and used to make buildings, and the church and catacombs were built in the resulting cave. Regretfully no photos were allowed and after the tour we could not find any postcards to be purchased of the underground monuments. After touring the underground our guide showed us the highlights of town and we had two hours to explore further and have lunch. We ended up at a suggested place for lunch, chosen due to the outdoors patio. We also stopped at Moulierac bakery for almond macarons. These small almond cookies are the closest to what I enjoyed as Dutch almond cookies when I was young. They have just three ingredients; Almonds, Egg Whites, and sugar. Gluten free even DW could enjoy them. After the village we toured two St. Emilion chateau/wineries. To be honest, we didn’t care for the wines. All St. Emilion wines are reds with Merlot being the dominant grape in the region. We returned to Prinsendam about 5:45 and had dinner in the dining room. One note I haven’t mentioned yet is that the dining room menus have been somewhat disappointing this cruise. I’ve eaten three times off the everyday menu, something I have never done in the past. This evening the fish entrée was not very good to my taste, although DW enjoyed hers. I then had the Wiener schnitzel instead. After dinner we left the ship and walked. We passed by the reflecting pool and took photos. We went half way out on the nearby bridge and took photos. We wandered around part of the old town until back at the reflecting pool. The wind was picking up and we became cold and thus returned to the ship at about 8:50. We were bushed and called it a day after watching the sun set from the verandah. Friday, May 03, 2019 – Bordeaux, France day 2 This morning we woke without alarms and enjoyed breakfast in the lido. Today’s special of a meat lovers Omelet called my name and it was nice. We met one other roll call member at 9:15 to head out for our 10:30 “Free walking tour.” We managed to figure out the tram system tickets and rode the tram to the meeting spot. The tour was enjoyable and ended up not far from the ship. We did want to walk the “Longest pedestrian street” in Europe, Rue St. Catherine, at 1.2KM. So we did. We stopped to look in one shop along the way but nothing else. We took the tram back towards the ship and stopped at a Patisserie recommended by the guide from the prior day. They had a Meringue cookie that DW could enjoy while I had a raisin bun and chocolate croissant. From there we walked back to the ship and reached the lido just as they were cleaning up lunch. DW was able to get some chicken and salad, while I ordered a Dive-Inn burger. We returned to our cabin and were entertained by the dogs playing in the park next to the ship. The crew gave one of the dogs a cup of water and that was a happy dog! It soon became time to get ready for dinner and sail away. Dinner was again a bit of a letdown. The Arctic Char was pretty good but the short ribs were overcooked, dry, and inedible. I certainly didn’t go hungry but if you are going to spend 90+ minutes in the dining room the food should at least be good. We ran into friends before the show and they stayed outside for sail away and had dinner in the lido. They said the lido had whole turkeys and delicious fish & chips. I ended up going to the lido to have two slices of turkey with gravy before they shut down. The show was different. This was the “Pianist with the hair” aka as Julian G. Classical piano is not my cup of tea but Julian made it entertaining in various ways so I would give his show thumbs up. After the show we enjoyed Daniel in the piano bar and called it a night at about 10:15. The Indonesian crew show was at 11:00 but there was just no way to stay up for this. Saturday, May 04, 2019 – Sea day #3 Prinsendam spent the day sailing leisurely through the bay of Biscayne with a still head wind but rather calm seas. With the wind from the northwest it was much cooler than our two days in Bordeaux. A 9:00 deck sale of previous port gear had us buying ‘South America’ cruising sweatshirts at 75% off. We’ve been there and are going again so this was a good buy for us. We enjoyed breakfast in the lido and spent 90 minutes talking with another roll call couple before leaving for the 11:00 “Ask the captain” session. No new information was shared during this 45 minute chat. We went with friends to lunch and even though not hungry after the late breakfast, they were serving Turkey again! Two slices with gravy made for a delicious light lunch. I had an appointment at 12:50 with the future cruise consultant to obtain future cruise deposits for a friend that texted me the prior day. We tried walking the promenade but the wind made it too cold, even with multiple layers. We also tried sitting on our verandah and in a sheltered area it was tolerable for a while. A friend made it to the final in the blackjack tournament so we went to support him. He was the third of five to be eliminated. It is a gala night so afterwards it was back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. We met friends before dinner in the Ocean Bar as the time passed quickly. They joined us for the gala dinner. I will say without question this was the best dining room dinner of the cruise. After dinner we exchanged the tulip vase I had purchased earlier in the cruise for one more to DW’s preference. We enjoyed the show with the singers and dancers, “Concerto.” The Crow’s nest Piano bar was hopping with Daniel doing a tribute to the Beatles. At 9:45 the “Chocolate Surprise” took place and everyone had a few specialty chocolates. By 10:15 it was time to call it a day and prepare for our last port. Sunday, May 05, 2019 – St. Peter Port, Guernsey, UK. Last evening we received notice of a mandatory immigration inspection prior to going ashore in St. Peter Port. Well, okay, but they could have notified us much sooner. This caused a lot of concern with the private walking tour that one of the roll call members set up. As immigration began their process early, it all worked out, but this was just poor planning on the part of Holland America. We arrived ashore at about 8:45 and shortly thereafter began our walking tour with Annette Henry. Annette was one of the most interesting walking tour guides we’ve ever experienced with her bag of props and she told very detailed stories of Guernsey’s history. This was a very worthwhile 2.5 hours and we left her at the tour’s conclusion at the sunken garden. Annette gave us directions to the local flower garden, just a few blocks away. This was very nice and a tea room was open. We enjoyed a pot of tea and hot chocolate. While a beautiful sunny day it is cool so the warm drinks were welcome. I took a bunch of photos of various plant arrangements and we headed down the hill towards the harbor. We stopped in a few shops along the way and ended up at the pharmacy as we had a few pounds of coins to spend before leaving. This was successful! Back to the tender and we returned to Prinsendam for the very last time  just after 1:00. We went straight to the lido and enjoyed some lunch. We lingered talking to some folks before returning to our cabin at 2:30 to begin packing. By 3:30 with the majority of the packing complete we began getting ready for dinner. It became pleasant on the verandah. We ran into one of our roll call friends who just returned from a fantastic day exploring all around Guernsey AND taking the ferry for 90 minutes on one of the out-islands. We got to talking so we ended up skipping the Ocean Bar and heading right to dinner. Tonight one of my favorites “Sweet & Sour Shrimp” was on the menu. Scallops were an appetizer. Sorry, HAL, and no disrespect to the chefs, but these had to be about the worst scallops ever. The muscle was not removed and they just looked ugly and did not taste much better. But the Shrimp dinner was good. After dinner we wondered the ship a little and listened to the quartet in the Ocean Bar. Roll call friends stopped by to chat and we wished each other safe travels home. There was a one-time variety show at 9:30 but we did not stay up for that. I wish we could have paid Daniel a farewell visit to the Crow’s nest but with the last minute packing and setting out the luggage that was not to be. At a little after 9:00 we called it a night. Monday, May 06, 2019 – Dover, UK (Disembarkation and travel home) At 6:00 we were entering the port. It took nearly 50 minutes, and the help of a tug before we were securely docked. We enjoyed one last breakfast in the lido. No “Specials” today. We ran into roll call friends to bid them farewell. I’m sorry we never ran into a few others. They began calling for disembarkation right on schedule at 7:15 and with our 8:05 “Purple 1” tags we left the stateroom at 8:00 to head to the elevator. We went up to go down and left the ship at virtually exactly 8:05. By the time we reached the luggage only a part of the Purple 1 had arrived. We waited a few minutes and the cage with purple 1 was unloaded. We retrieved our bags and headed out to the bus. We were the first on the bus and with the luggage stowed underneath it was a pleasant enough ride out to Heathrow. The driver told us to expect it to take 2.5 hours due to “Roadworks” but we actually made it in two hours. I was tracking along with my Waze phone AP. From drop off until check in at the A1 lounge it was less than 30 minutes. We had a few hours to kill so I finished up this log and enjoyed some lunch and beverages. The flight itself was quite pleasant as the plane was far from full. We even landed in Philadelphia 30 minutes early. Then we sat for another HOUR and ended up being 30 minutes “Late” as there was no gate for us (???) By the time we picked up our car it was 7:00 so we had no traffic for the drive home. Conclusion: Oh Prinsendam, Prinsendam, we will miss you Prinsendam. This cruise was a log of fun. With all the ports (except St. Peter Port) new or ‘essentially’ new to us, we had a blast and saw so many things. Prinsendam is the opposite of the flashy new 4,000 – 6,000 passenger ships. The ship is NOT the destination. The trip is for the ports. I doubt HAL has another ship that could go up the river to Bordeaux and fit under the bridge. Is there another that can go to Porto, maybe? Prinsendam is showing its age without question. The new owners will have a lot of work ahead of them. Yet the crew is simply the “Best in the fleet.” I really believe that. We didn’t eat breakfast in the dining room once the entire cruise. Why? I generally dislike the lido. On this cruise, we enjoyed the lido as unlike the other ships, there are always crewmembers to bring tea, coffee, water, etc. And refill them! They help carry items when you are juggling two plates, and the ice cream man is funny and obviously loves his job! On the other hand, it seems that since last year, the lido service times have been further curtailed. I believe HAL is going in the wrong direction here. There is no more “Late night snack” either. If someone takes advantage of a late night or an overnight in port, staying out past 8:00, there is no food available other than room service. Lunch is over at 2:00. We came back one afternoon at 2:10 and while DW was able to grab some left-over chicken, the pickings were slim. We had two mornings that the water in the cabin was yellowish. We used the bottled water from the mini bar to brush our teeth. The front desk couldn’t tell us much about what was going on, but the last afternoon of the cruise they called to apologize and offered a small token as an apology. Customer Service needs a refresher course at the upper levels (likely in Seattle). We had a roll call group tour planned in St. Peter Port. Then, the evening before, the ship springs on everyone that there is a mandatory immigration inspection. Why not notify the passengers at boarding, or even earlier (like, when they changed the port) so those of us making plans outside of ship tours can plan accurately? Our cabin team of Agus & Heri was super, going above and beyond when some sticky substance got all over our hard sided suitcase between embarkation check in and stateroom delivery. They scrubbed it down the best they could. The laundry service is terrific even if at times things may not be as perfect as we like them at home. But they sure do press things to make the clothes so neat! Our dining room team of Setaji & Andrian took very good care of DW’s special dietary needs. The Wine Steward Theresa was great and found nice alternatives that were to our liking and fit within our package. Amin was outstanding both in the morning in the lido and after dinner always greeting us with a smile and a taste of ginger. All in all, the good ship Prinsendam on her fifth to last HAL voyage gets 3 ½ out of 5 stars for the cruise experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose the cruise for the ports. It is very Port intensive and did enjoy the experiences . Could use a few more sea days as it’s quite exhausting. The older people had a lot of trouble navigating on the tours as there was a lot of ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the ports. It is very Port intensive and did enjoy the experiences . Could use a few more sea days as it’s quite exhausting. The older people had a lot of trouble navigating on the tours as there was a lot of uneven ground. The food in the main dining room is awful and is quite repetitive. A lot of fried unhealthy foods. Choices are also limited. The restaurant is very good. The staff in every area is excellent. They greet you with a smile even if they are not in direct contact with you. They are very accommodating with whatever your request. Also the laundry is very fast and efficient. The HAL tours have been good but only chose a few as they were very overpriced. Choose to do mainly private tours at a quarter of the price. Was very happy with this decision. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Had sailed on Prinsendam 10 years ago and many other HAL ships since, but always intended to come back to the Prinsendam. When we heard it had been sold we got on with booking (travelling with friends we had met on the ship 10 years ago ... Read More
Had sailed on Prinsendam 10 years ago and many other HAL ships since, but always intended to come back to the Prinsendam. When we heard it had been sold we got on with booking (travelling with friends we had met on the ship 10 years ago and travelled with many times since). We enjoyed the trans-Atlantic and western Mediterranean cruise, especially 3 ports in Morocco. Pretty much everything was up to the usual HAL standard though there were obvious aspects of changes already underway for the ship's handover on July 1st. The food was almost invariably excellent and on the sea days there was no shortage of things to do, so much so that they were decidedly busy at times. It's sad to see the Prinsendam leaving the HAL fleet, her small size has plenty of appeal as she's small enough to feel intimate but big enough to include most activities (as long as you don't want a climbing wall or an ice rink). That said, the demographic on particularly the TA was decidedly in the over-70s group. We're sorry to see her go but look forward to seeing some of her lovely crew on future cruises. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I really wanted to try the Prinsendam while she is still under the HAL flag. Everything I heard about the passengers and the staff was spot on. Everyone was friendly and approachable. The staff was competent and always in a good mood The ... Read More
I really wanted to try the Prinsendam while she is still under the HAL flag. Everything I heard about the passengers and the staff was spot on. Everyone was friendly and approachable. The staff was competent and always in a good mood The shops are extremely limited. Mostly jewelry and HAL branded items. My cabin steward and his helper were so very nice and accommodating. Friendly, spoke very good English, and responded to my requests with pleasant and speedy solutions to my requests.. I never get seasick --- until now. On a guarantee ocean view I was put in the absolute first cabin at the front. Even on quite moderate seas, I became ill twice! There was a lot of movement all over the ship, but much worse in my cabin. Very noisy and rough. Then there was the food. Very limited choice in the Lido.I will not miss this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We didn't really care for Brazil but the cruise was first rate. This ship is wonderful and small. It didn't take me 30 minutes to walk to the front of the ship. I loved this ship and am sad we are losing it. A few weeks ... Read More
We didn't really care for Brazil but the cruise was first rate. This ship is wonderful and small. It didn't take me 30 minutes to walk to the front of the ship. I loved this ship and am sad we are losing it. A few weeks before the cruise we decided to upgrade to a balcony cabin. It was the best thing we could have done. We were always out on the balcony. It made our cruise so much more enjoyable. The service was top notch. Never had an issue with anything. Every staff member was kind and bent over backwards to help you. Entertainment in the show room was hit and miss. I loved the production shows. The other musicians were talented but I can only take so much flute or horn music. The comedians were clean but not very funny. The food was excellent. We ate in the dining room and it was always good. The buffet was also good. The dive in had the best burgers and fries. This was a very quiet cruise.So relaxing. No kids. No bells or whistles on this ship which was fine with us. Being 55 I think I was one of the youngest passengers on the ship. Most everyone was over 70. Wonderful cruise. Will be cruising with Holland America again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
The Prinsendam is a small ship that has the capacity of about 800 passengers. We were on board for a 28 day Amazon River Cruise and found the ship to be very well maintained. The dining room area and the Ocean bar are small, but lovely. ... Read More
The Prinsendam is a small ship that has the capacity of about 800 passengers. We were on board for a 28 day Amazon River Cruise and found the ship to be very well maintained. The dining room area and the Ocean bar are small, but lovely. We were on the promenade deck in and ocean view stateroom which had a walk in closet and walk in shower. We enjoyed this room because it was easy to get out on the promenade quickly when we spotted something from inside our stateroom. The room was also located close to the main dining room and only one floor up to the evening entertainment. The dining room is split into two area, one very small for those who have assigned dining times and a larger are for those who have open seating. However, within 28 days we were seated in the smaller one time and requested not to be placed there again. Just too small and lots of traffic walking through to the other section. Our food was excellent and they did an excellent job of preparing my “special orders”. I have a rare medical condition that comprises by pancreas and liver and can only have 25 grams of fat a day, but they were spot on all but two evenings. On the last evening they brought me fried shrimp! But took it back quickly when they realized what had happened. The service in both the dining room and Lido was excellent. Our cabins stewards were fabulous and the service all over the ship was beyond excellent. We went to the entertainment all but two evenings and overall thought is was descent for a super small ship. Our favorite was a band called the Ravons who one evening did a Buddy Holly review. All I can say is go and give each show a try, you can always leave if you aren’t enjoying it. We went to see a women who played a variety of flutes expecting to leave after one or two number, but stayed for her entire, amazing show. Most of the ports were great. The speaker who spoke about the Amazon, consolations and so on was excellent. I can’t say for the other two speakers because I did not go listen to them. Otherwise, most of the activities on this ship revolve around eating and sitting. We had to be creative in staying active. There were numerous tender ports, especially on the Amazon. We especially enjoyed Boca Da Valeria and Perintins on the Amazon. The embarkation and disembarkation went very well. We would go on this ship again for a shorter cruise, but it has been sold to a German company and will leave the Holland America fleet July 1, 2019. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We wanted to cruise on prinsendam one last time before she was sold. We flew to lisbon and was very surprised on what a nice city it is. Saw jeronimos monastery which is over 1000 years old. alfama area tiles, narrow streets and churches. ... Read More
We wanted to cruise on prinsendam one last time before she was sold. We flew to lisbon and was very surprised on what a nice city it is. Saw jeronimos monastery which is over 1000 years old. alfama area tiles, narrow streets and churches. bought a cork purse as cork is a big product over there. good food, tried green wine and inexpensive city. ponta delgada is a nice city to walk around plus it was a nice day. Praia di victoria azores we took a cruise tour was a nice full day. A good way to see the island. Biscoitos black lava rocks, mt brazil, churches,nice island tour. nice transatlantic cruise. captain dag is a very hospitable and friendly person. he did extra nice socials. He will be retiring with the ship. We enjoyed the size and cabins on the ship. This was a last minute cruise but everything went smooth. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This is a long, "Log style" review. If you just want the summary scroll all the way down. Prinsendam 8-19-18; Scottish highlands and Icelandic Fiords We left Pennsylvania for Newark airport a little after noon on Friday ... Read More
This is a long, "Log style" review. If you just want the summary scroll all the way down. Prinsendam 8-19-18; Scottish highlands and Icelandic Fiords We left Pennsylvania for Newark airport a little after noon on Friday August 17. We enjoyed an uneventful drive to our reserved off-airport parking and they quickly took us to terminal B. There was no line at Aer Lingus check in and we dropped off our two bags. I noted they marked the bags for “Quick transfer.” The arriving flight was delayed and by the time we pulled away from the gate we were an hour late. Thanks to a brisk tailwind our arrival in Dublin was only 15 minutes late. We quickly transferred to our connection and were able to change our seats to an aisle and middle for the short flight to Amsterdam. This flight was also delayed and we arrived at our gate nearly 30 minutes late. It took about an hour to get through immigration and obtain our luggage, which was about the last ones off our flight. Schiphol airport has changed since our last visit and we had a time finding an ATM. The prior “Row” of competing ATM’s is gone and it seems ABN bank and Travelex now have a duopoly. We used the Travelex ATM and they now have a 2 Euro charge to use the ATM. That is still the least costly way to obtain Euros. We had a light, late breakfast at “Dutch and Delicious.” We obtained our Chip Kaarts (transit debit card) and left for the train to Amsterdam. We ended up on an express train with no stops. While that was fast, it was not as luggage-friendly as the regular train. We would take the regular train when we do the return. From Central Station, it is a 5 minutes’ walk to the Amsterdam Doubletree. We agreed to take a courtyard view room rather than our assigned harbor view in order to get an early check in. The courtyard room is actually quiet while any room with a view will have some noise from the trains immediately adjacent. We took showers and changed. We walked through town to DAM Square where we had pre-bought tour tickets for the Dutch Royal Palace. The Royal Palace is a very nice tour however with being so tired after about half the tour we had enough. We went looking for a late lunch / early dinner and ended up at the central library next to our hotel. The LaPlace restaurant we had enjoyed on our last visit has been replaced with another restaurant and we did not think it was as good. Our hotel stay included access to the executive lounge so we enjoyed beverages and snacks in the evening and called it a long day. Sunday, August 19 – Amsterdam We woke about 6:15 after eleven hours of wonderful sleep. Breakfast began at 7:00 in the lounge and we were there shortly thereafter. Omelets were made to order if desired and lots of nice coffees and teas were available. The city outside was very different on this Sunday morning (very quiet) as opposed to a very bustling Saturday! We took a short walk enjoying the quiet and snapped photos. We repacked everything we took apart at the Doubletree and began walking back to Central Station to catch tram #26. The tram pulled up just as we arrived. We took the tram for the short ride to the Amsterdam Passenger Terminal. Upon arrival at the terminal we followed signs for the Prinsendam (as the Koningsdam was also in port) and dropped our luggage. We proceeded through check in and joined the line for security. By about 11:40 we were on board and in our cabin #270 on Deck 7. We put our soiled clothing in a laundry bag and hung it outside the cabin. We walked down to our traveling friend’s cabin at 276 and to our delight they had just arrived! After a short chat we went to the dining room for lunch. Lunch was very nice and we had a great time catching up since we were last together15 months ago. We also spoke with the dining room host about possibly changing to a dinner table in the smaller dining room. We have enjoyed that on previous Prinsendam cruises as it is quieter. We walked over a good portion of the ship pointing out some of the unique features of Prinsendam. We returned to our cabins and found our luggage delivered so unpack we all did. Everything was stored away before the muster drill. We attended the muster drill and at its conclusion were told we were leaving as quickly as possible to make room for another ship docking early due to a medical emergency. The sail away from Amsterdam is very nice. We had a narrated departure and enjoyed seeing the various buildings and landmarks along the way. Part of the sail away is industrial but portions have nice residential neighborhoods as well. Along the way at times the water is much higher than the surrounding land demonstrating how the land has been reclaimed from the sea. While we were at dinner we reached to locks to the North Sea. The wind became very strong but regardless I walked around the promenade taking photos of the lock area. Dinner food was very good but service was lacking. It was 7:45 by the time we left the dining room, 2:15 after we arrived. Once we hit the open sea we could feel the movement of the sea in the 2.5 meter waves. This made for great sleeping and by 8:30 we called it a night. The clocks go back an hour tonight as Scotland is an hour behind European time. Monday, August 20 at Sea We woke and prepared for breakfast in the dining room. We were there when they opened at 8:00 as we have a 9:30 cruise critic meet and greet. Breakfast was very nice and prompt. We enjoyed our company. The meet and greet was a nice success with about 25 of the 50 on our roll call attending. Half is about what we expected and everything worked our nicely. We met our friends at the M&G and next went to the 11:00 destination talk on Edinburgh. The destination guide is very good and we enjoyed his talk. I walked around noting the sun has come out and taking photos. We met back at our cabin and went to the Pinnacle Grille a few minutes before our 12:30 lunch reservation. We were immediately seated and truly enjoyed our lunch. At 2:00 the ladies went to flower arranging demonstrations while I enjoyed the aft pool. The aft pool is salt water and it was a little brisk. After 10 minutes or so floating around the pool I moved to one of the hot tubs. It was very nice just relaxing in the hot tub before drying off and heading back to the cabin to ready for our invite to a 4:30 cocktail gathering hosted by our travel agency prior to the first gala evening. The first Gala Dinner tonight was not pleasant. Despite arriving on time, and a special request to our wait team to get us out before 7:30 so we could attend the captain’s welcome reception, this was not to be. They seem to be split between fixed seating and ‘as you wish’ dining. Being at table 105 is a distraction at best as we see the constant line of as you wish diners waiting for seating. DW’s special diet order was mixed up and one of our tablemate’s meals had been giving to another table making our main courses staggered. My water glass was empty for a long time and when enjoying my beef there was nothing to wash it down. By 7:15, DW left to go to the lido in search of something she could eat. I ended up meeting with the assistant DR Manager and expressed our concerns with the dining room service. He promised to get back to us on all matters. They tried to deliver DW’s meal to her in the lido but it again had issues. She made up a big salad instead. We did attend the welcome toast followed by the cast show “American Crossing.” While we have seen this on a prior cruise this is an excellent show and the cast did a great job. We returned to our cabin and called it a night. One of our friends attended the piano bar entertainer and told us he was very good. We will need to try this soon! Tuesday, August 21 – Rosyth, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK We were up early to prepare for a very long day of touring and excitement in Scotland! I did not go up on deck for the sail under the three bridges crossing the Firth of Forth as it was very foggy early in the morning. We had breakfast delivered to our room and it was okay. We met our touring buddies at 8:10 in the Ocean Bar and joined the line for UK Passport inspection. We were through the line by about 8:25 and off the ship to meet Helen, our tour guide with “Local Eyes tours.” We were off to the Central Highlands and must say we sure saw a lot. Helen began by driving us over the new Queensferry Crossing Bridge. She drove us through South Queensferry and we stopped for a photo stop under the railway bridge. We then headed out of town with our first stop being the Kelpies, towering metal horses from mythical Scottish legends. The visitor’s center provided a nice chance for a rest stop as well. Added to the tour at my request was a stop at the Felkirk Wheel. This one of a kind engineering feat allowed the reopening of a canal system into the highlands. We then toured Stirling Castle. Stirling is largely restored to as close to the original as historians can figure it out. After the castle we stopped in a nearby village at a market, used the ATM, and bought lunch items which we enjoyed in the park at Loch Lubnaig (Crooked Lake). Helen also provided samples of two very different Scotch Whiskeys for us to try. At the lake there was a coffee shop and nice teas were enjoyed. We drove to Doune Castle and enjoyed touring this mostly original and unfurnished landmark. Doune is rather famous of the castle used for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” as well as the TV series Highlander. The audio guide is narrated by one of the actors from Monty Python. Finally, our last stop was the village of Culross, the best example of a 16-17th century village in Scotland. We enjoyed a walk through the village. We returned to the port at exactly 5:00. We had a quick dinner, with DW’s special order being delivered to the room and I obtained some excellent Prime Rib and good fish from the Lido. Then we gathered at 6:35 to head out and meet our driver from Capitol Cars to take us to Edinburgh for the Royal Military Tattoo. Our driver was delayed by traffic but we still made it into town with plenty of time to spare. Edinburgh is very crowded with both the Tattoo taking place as well as the “Fringe festival” with 5 stages of (mostly) free entertainment throughout town. The Tattoo performance is a 10 on a scale of 1-10. The Tattoo is simply incredible and very hard to describe. As US citizens, we were surprised by the amount of positive USA involvement, from the pipe and drum corps dressed as during the revolutionary war and the positive portrayal of George Washington, to the US Air Force Drill team’s performance. I can only wish everyone at home would be as supportive of the USA as the Scottish are. The final farewell before the fireworks was “Auld Lang Syne” and as the audience was standing we used that as an opportunity to exit before the crowd. We made it down to our pick up point and I let Capitol Cars know we were ready. Our driver and van were there within 10 minutes and we returned to the Prinsendam at 11:30, just as the late night Lido buffet was opening. We enjoyed some time to unwind with a snack and as the bus groups began arriving a little after midnight we called it a night. This was a very full day but well worth it! Wednesday, August 22, 2018 – At Sea We slept in this morning after the long day before. With no hurry on a delightful sea day we slowly began getting ready and after being dressed I was looking at the daily schedule to find that it listed the Lido closing for breakfast at 10:00 and it was now 10:05! I went up to the lido and an Omelet cook generously made me two omelets for myself and DW, who followed me about ten minutes later. We kept breakfast light as DW had special ordered a dining room lunch for 12:30. We attended the “Ask the Captain” session at 11:00. This was very nice and the captain dispelled the opinion shared on cruise critic that certain US requirements prompted the sale of the Prinsendam. Being the only ship of its kind in the HAL fleet simply makes it too difficult to maintain as it continues to age as all the other ships come from the same shipyard and despite major size differences share many components. He is sad to see it go but is looking forward to being the captain during the last four or so sailings next Spring. We enjoyed lunch in the dining room and then relaxed a bit as we were still tired from the day before. We attended the travel talk by Brett at 3:00 and then enjoyed happy hour and the Ocean trio at the Ocean bar before dinner. Speaking of dinner, we have been moved, along with our friends, to table 27 in the small dining room! Dinner tonight was excellent with the main course complete at 6:40. This is so much better, relaxing, and enjoyable than where we were. The performer tonight was Scottish Soprano Elaine Gray. We sat near the back not knowing if we would enjoy an opera singer but she was very good and mixed up the style performed quite a lot. We listened to the Ocean trio and went with our friends to the crow’s nest for the late happy hour before calling it a night at 10:00. Tomorrow we visit Torshavn, capitol of the Faroe Islands. Thursday, August 23, Torshavn, Faroe islands We enjoyed breakfast is the Lido. Some of the servers know us and take good care of our needs. We had a ship’s tour to the Vestmanna Seacliffs. The provided motor coach was first class with just enough room to be comfortable. We stopped at an overlook on the hill above Torshavn for a photo stop. Across the road was a Hyundai dealership. The narrated ride was informative and the roads were in excellent condition. The Faroe Islands is greatly expanding its inter-island road network by building bridges (two) between islands and tunnels (two) with two more planned the longest of which will be 26 KM long with a small breather on a small island midway. Due to their weather the ferries are not reliable as storms often create unsafe conditions. We reached the town of Vestmanna and boarded a nice boat to sail to the seacliffs. The first 40% of the boat trip was magnificent. Regretfully the weather turned a few moments before reaching the main cliffs and with pouring rain I was not able to get any clear photos of these cliffs or the birds thereon. I nodded off on the way back but the weather did not improve much until we were almost back to the dock. We took a faster route back with the bus (through a new mountain tunnel) and we took the port shuttle to downtown. We walked around and took photos of the Danish Royal family yacht as they were visiting Torshavn. We also stopped in a few shops but made no purchases. Returning to the Prinsendam to our delight we found it was “Dutch lunch” in the Lido. Lunch was good and the desserts were incredible. Olle Bollen, Apple Floppies, Butter Letter and other wonderful Dutch treats were on all the dessert table. I would not need much dinner that night! Still recovering from our long day in Edinburgh, it was time to rest a while before getting ready for dinner. Dinner was very nice although I kept it very light. After dinner we enjoyed the Ocean Band and were able to dance for a bit. The entertainer was Ruben Vilagrand, billed as a “Unique Illusionist & Visual Artist.” I will say it was unique. Ruben never said a word the entire performance. Not really my cup of tea but it was different. Immediately after the show we made it to the Crow’s Nest for Piano Bar Entertainer Steve. We enjoyed him so much we made it to 10:00 before calling it an evening. The seas are 6-9 feet and the Prinsendam rocked us to sleep. Tomorrow begins six days in Iceland! Friday, August 24, Djupivogur, Iceland This is our first tender port. With a 9:00 private group tour we had some concern over getting everyone off timely. We went to the 4 & 5 star waiting area in the Ocean Bar and were quickly dispatched to the tenders. Much to our surprise, our touring friends were already ashore upon our arrival. We met our guide, Hrönn Jónsdóttir, who led the group of ten on a tour of the area. We began by visiting the “Elves’ church,’ rock formations that sing from interaction with the wind. We next visited two beautiful waterfalls, each quite different from the other. Hrönn showed us a local farm and told us the value was about 90,000,000 Krone (about $900,000 USD). We made our way back to town where we walked along the harbor enjoying the ‘egg’ sculptures made of polished granite, each egg commemorating one of the local bird species. Our last stop was the best – the black sand beach with magnificent rock formations. We shot many photos here. The black sand is a fine powder and the contrast with the ocean and mountains is stunning. Hrönn returned us to town, dropping a few of us off at the local bank to use the ATM and bringing the rest of the group to the tender dock. Walking back to the tenders we stopped in a local souvenir shop but made no purchases. We ended up on the same tender as the rest of our group and enjoyed lunch in the lido. Just as Hrönn predicted, the last buses from the long tour to the glacier did not return until nearly 3:00 and Prinsendam finally pulled away at about 3:40. Dinner was very good with our wait team taking good care of us. We were done before 7:00 but lingered a bit talking. The performer in the show was Pete Neighbor, a clarinet player. Backed up by the band Pete played a tribute to many of the great leaders of the “Big band” era. Pete created some of his own scales as I certainly heard notes never before heard from a clarinet. After the show we were exhausted and called it a night. Saturday, August 25 – Akureyri, Iceland Prinsendam docked a few minutes early in pretty Akureyri. One thing that became very clear on this day was that if one doesn’t like the weather in Iceland, just wait a few minutes and it will change. We had a car rental reserved from Europcar, and they were literally right outside the port gate. I had to call and within a few minutes a young lady arrived with our keys and a credit card reader. No rental agreement to sign and off in a full size Toyota on an adventure with another couple we met on our roll call. We had planned five stops and five stops were made. Number one was the “Waterfall of the gods” (Godafoss) which was a wonderful sight. The name of the waterfall comes from the first Christian leader in Iceland who threw all his statues of gods into the waterfall. We hiked around to see the falls from several angles, made a brief rest room stop, and headed on to stop number two, the Dimmuborgir Lava Formations (Dark Castles) near lake Myvatn (mosquito lake). The Lava Formations are unique in the world and we certainly never saw anything like this. We also have seen nothing quite like the midges that swarm around any living thing when there is little wind. While they do not aggressively bite, they sure are a pest. This was the only spot we encountered a real midge issue and surely cut this visit a bit short due to them. Next we moved on the #3, the Namafjall Geothermal area. At Namafjall it certainly looks other-worldly. I can’t imagine that numerous Sci-Fi movies have not been filmed here! Between the bubbling mud pools and the orange mountain hue, craters and ridges, flowing heated water, this is something to experience! We walked around trying to avoid the worst of the direct Sulphur fumes and took many photos before heading to stop #4, our longest stop, at the Myvatn Nature Baths. We were ahead of schedule so we took a few minutes for a light lunch before changing to enjoy the baths. The water was delightfully warm and it didn’t matter to us if it was raining, foggy, cloudy, or sunny. During our 80 minutes in the baths, we experienced all four of these weather conditions. One thing that seems very true is that if you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait five or ten minutes and it may change! This is a wonderful spot with very pretty views of Lake Myvatn but without the midges. Leaving the baths, we made stop number 5, the Skutstaoir Pseudocraters. We walked the 1.5KM trail around these unique volcanic craters, formed when lava interacted with lake water some 2200 years ago. There are many birds in the area and the breeze had picked up enough that the midges were gone. Next we drove back to Akureyri where we filled up the gas (3600 Krone, about $33.50) for a quarter-tank. We stopped to take a photo of Prinsendam at dock and dropped off the car. We returned to the ship through a gift shop (the only way into the port area) but carrying wet towels we did not stop to look. We were back on the ship at 4:30 giving us just enough time to get ready for dinner. Dinner was very nice and we were finished before 7:00. We listened to the Ocean Band for a while and attended the singers and dancers show, Stage & Screen. We are sure we have seen this before but it was a good performance. We left the show for the crow’s nest and enjoyed Stevie until about 10:10. We hated to leave as that left Stevie with an audience of two but we needed to call it a night. Sunday, August 26, Isafjordur Iceland No need to rush out this morning as our walking tour doesn’t meet until 10:20. We slept in and enjoyed breakfast in the Lido. We left the ship a bit early and walked around before finding our meeting spot. Four of the eight on this tour did not find the spot immediately so we did begin a little delayed. This was a nice tour of the industrial and historic part of town. It was billed at 90 minutes but it actually ran 2.5 hours. Our guide, Herbert, told us a lot about living in the northernmost town in Iceland. Isafjordur is surrounded by mountains and they are sheltered from the worst of the winds. Normally their temperature range is from -5 C in winter to +9 or 10C in summer. There is still snow on the higher mountain tops near the town. The tour brought us back to near the ship. An enterprising individual had set up a souvenir trailer with a “Last ship of the season sale.” We took advantage and bought Icelandic gloves and a hat with some of the Krone we had. Back on board we had a nice lunch, took photos of the surrounding mountains, and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon before dinner. We made arrangements for a Pinnacle Grill dinner near the end of the cruise and pre-ordered DW’s meal for the next evening’s Canaletto dinner. Dinner tonight was the best meal of the cruise so far. The Prime Rib was large and perfect. The sweet & soup shrimp (tempura style) were great. We left the dining room for the game show in the showroom; it was entertaining watching the proceedings. The show was a variety show. Regretfully they started with Ruben Vilagrand, who talked this time and put us all to sleep. Elaine Gray completed the show and despite a cold was wonderful with three numbers including Amazing Grace and Danny Boy. The highlight of the evening was certainly Stevie in the Piano Bar. He had a bigger crowd with lots of interaction. Samantha the cruise director also circulated among the guests. At 10:15 we called it a night. Monday, August 27, 2018 – Reykjavik, Iceland No rush this morning as our Golden Circle with Geothermal Bakery tour doesn’t meet until 9:15. A leisurely morning with breakfast in the lido was enjoyed. Prinsendam must have ‘drawn the short straw’ as we are docked 4.5 KM from Reykjavik town center. We need to take a shuttle bus (or walk three blocks) to the ship’s tour buses or a taxi or shuttle to town for 2200 Krone each. We met for our tour and walked the three blocks to the tour bus. This was a great tour, among other reasons we had a full size coach for just 24 guests, so we had lots of room to spread out. Our tour guide was very informative the entire time. We headed out of town first to Pingvellir National Park. Pingvellir is a Unesco World Heritage Site for two reasons. It is the site of the first Icelandic parliament in 930 AD and was the capitol for many years. Additionally, this is the only place in the world where the North American and Eurasian plates are above sea level and the separation (by an inch a year) is actually visible. Leaving there, we headed to Laugarvatn to visit the “Geothermal bakery.” There, we witnessed the digging up of the bread pot buried in +100 C mud, where it baked for 24 hours. The bread was cut, spread with Icelandic butter, and then fresh local trout was added on top. There was plenty for seconds (and thirds) and this stop was greatly enjoyed by all. Third, we went to visit the Gullfoss (Golden) waterfall. The waterfall is actually a series of two falls. At that time the wind had become so strong that it literally ripped my glasses off my face. Fortunately at the time I was returning to the bus from the falls so they fell in a field and I was able to retrieve them. The last stop was at Geysir. Yes, this is the original Geysir from which all other Geysers are named. We watch two eruptions and caught them on video. We then drove back to the ship in a wind-driven rain. With no rain during our stops we were most fortunate with the weather as it rained in Reykjavik nearly all day. We stay docked tonight and tomorrow have a day planned in town, hopefully the weather will be better! Dinner tonight is late for us as we are eating at Canaletto, the Italian restaurant on board. Monday night the featured special is swordfish thus our choice of tonight. This also avoided a mad rush to make our 5:30 dinner in the dining room. Dinner ended up being less than great. In 20 or so HAL cruises this was our first time in Canaletto, and the only reason we went there was for the swordfish. Of course, once seated, they told us the swordfish had gone bad and they did not receive their new shipment today. We ordered Sea Bass, after double-checking that this was real “Sea bass” and not “Mediterranean sea bass.” It ended up being Mediterranean Sea bass. While it was okay it was not what we expected. We won’t return to Canaletto. There was no show tonight and it was late so we called it a night. Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - Reykjavik, Iceland Tuesday brought mostly sunny skies and we caught the first hop-on; hop-off bus. The Ho-Ho bus was less than satisfactory. The commentary was unreliable as the connections did not all work. We rode the Ho-Ho around to the stop for the famous “Church of the hill,” the Hallgrims-Kirkja. We took photos of the church and the Leif Ericson statue out front. From the church we walked down the main shopping street to downtown. We went by the parliament building and city hall, and toured the old harbor. We thought about having lunch in town but decided we didn’t want to drop $100 on lunch for two. We tried to find the Ho-Ho stop #4 but couldn’t find it so we walked to stop#5 at the Maritime Museum. After a rather long wait we rode the Ho-Ho back to the ship. If we had to do this again we would not have used the Ho-Ho as for the 16000 Krone the four of us paid I’m sure we could have gotten a taxi both ways. But better yet in Reykjavik, get out of town. There is too much to see outside of town. Back on Prinsendam we had a nice late lunch in the lido. They had wonderful cod and I made myself a fish sandwich. I enjoyed the hot tub and then started to get ready for the evening. Our friends had an appointment with the future cruise consultant, Sheryll. She could not match the pricing on a potential cruise in February that I received by e-mail from HAL so we just bought future cruise deposits. I even showed her the e-mail. Dinner tonight was great and every table was filled. There was a problem with DW’s special order (Dewa does a great job triple-checking it) and that delayed our meal a bit. Turkey and a rib-eye steak is hard to beat. After dinner the show was the singers in “Sessions,” covering a lot of popular music from the last 40 years or so. This was a very interactive show, kind of like the piano bar on steroids. Stevie had a night off so after the show we headed back to the room to call it a night as we have an early tender tomorrow at our last Icelandic port of Heimey, the “Pompeii of the North.” We had noticed the last two evenings an apparent wet spot on our rug in the middle of the room. At first I thought our cabin steward may have spilt some rug or other cleaner, but it seems to be getting worse. I wrote a note to drop off at the office tomorrow morning. Wednesday, August 29 – Heimey, Iceland Early in the morning the Prinsendam anchored off the coast of the Westman Islands. Despite a beautiful sunny day it was cool and the winds were still at 20 knots so getting into the tenders was a bit of a challenge. We went over early, at about 8:20, and there were only about a dozen passengers in our tender. This was a fantastic port! Upon arrival it was very quiet except for the ferry leaving for the mainland. Nothing opens in Heimey before 9:00 AM. We walked around and found the travel information office just as they opened the doors. This combination T.I., office supply store, and café offered a clean n/c WC. From there we walked the road into the lava field from the 1973 eruption. 400 homes were buried in lava and 1/3 the land area added to the island. There were no deaths or injuries as there was plenty of time to evacuate. There are many memorials in the lava field indicating the home buried beneath. This provided many other-worldly photos of the various lava formations. We also walked to the Norwegian Stave Church and meeting house, but we were a little too early for them to be opened to see the inside. Keeping a watch on the time we returned to town at 10:40 for our 11:00 Puffin and Volcano Tour with Eyjatours. This was a great tour featuring the tour guide demonstrating Sprangan, cliff rope climbing for bird eggs, Stórhöfði – the windiest place in Europe with loads of puffins, the golf course with more puffins on the sea cliffs, the mouse island formed by a recent eruption off-shore, and a demonstration of the different colors of lava rock and their sources. The tour ended at the small local aquarium which is also a puffin hospital. Local children rescue about 1,000 young puffins every year as they fly into windows attracted by evening lights. The next morning these puffins are brought here. They have two puffins, Thor, 4 years old, and, 2 years old, that sustained injuries such that they cannot be released. These puffins are used to people and pose for photos, they are so cute. We slowly walked downhill back to the tender port. A tender was just pulling in and we were quickly on our way back to Prinsendam. Back on board, we quickly dropped our bag and coats in the room, and found a large fan blowing on the carpet. We went to the lido for a bit of lunch and returned to the cabin to find a message from guest services. They claim the shower is leaking and they repaired the grout. Why a shower leak would show up in the middle of the floor is beyond me. In any case, they said we could turn off the fan when we are in the room but to please start it when we are leaving. Dinner tonight was great. Our wait staff is superb and Dewa outdoes himself taking care of us. The show is comedian William Caulfield. His show was decent and the comedy clean. Stevie was great in the Piano bar with a very interactive audience. One thing I’ve noticed is that some of his numbers are repeats from earlier in the cruise. Tomorrow is a well – needed sea day after seven port days in a row. We called it a night at about 10:30. Thursday, August 30 – Sea day With a time change losing an hour and being rather exhausted, we didn’t leave the cabin until nearly 10:00 AM. We had a very light breakfast in the lido as we were invited to the 10:15 Mariner’s reception in the showroom. The showroom was packed and about 30 or so folks received their bronze medallions for reaching 100 sailing days with HAL. No silver, gold, or platinum medallions were awarded, although platinum and president’s club member couples were both introduced. The reception was followed by the mariner’s brunch in the dining room. It was okay, but the table conversation was very nice. We attended Brett’s talk on Lerwick, the following day’s port of call in the Shetland Islands. We noted that about 80% of what Brett showed us was on our private group tour itinerary. Still being very tired, we both napped until our alarm went off at 4:00. This is the last gala night so we prepared accordingly. The “Gold Gala” dinner was most enjoyable. The chairs were covered with white slipcovers, very elegant. The surf and turf meals were delectable. I thought the turf part was exceptionally well prepared and very tender. The show was Iceland’s own Greta Salome. Greta was Iceland’s performer at the 2012 and 2016 European showcase of some sort. She gave the best show of the cruise. Just WOW! After the show we enjoyed happy hour in the Crow’s nest singing along with Stevie. At 10:15 we called it a night looking forward to our last port of call. Friday, August 31, 2018 – Lerwick, Shetland Islands The alarm woke us at 6:15. A peek outside showed blue skies with not a cloud in sight. The TV showed we were just off the southern tip of the ‘mainland’ Shetland Island. We had a nice lido breakfast and met our tour group at 8:30. A nice surprise was that we are docked rather than tendering! We had a “South Island tour” booked for eight with Grant Redfern. This ended up being a great tour with the only downside being that two needed to squeeze into the front seat and I believe that couple was not entirely comfortable. We left the port and headed to an overlook over the town. From there we stopped at Fladdabister, an 1850’s Norse-style farm and crafters home. Two Shetland Ponies were in the front yard and seemed to enjoy photo attention. 1800’s Shetlanders must have been very short and the doorways were tiny. The house was authentically heated with peat in the fireplace and it was quite smoky inside. The next stop was Jarlshof, where 5000 years of Shetland History can be seen in a small area. Ruins from the stone age through the 1700’s can be seen here, in many cases one building built above the remains of another. We stopped in the hotel next door for lunch, which was just okay. Next we drove to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head, the southern end of the island. This lighthouse in on top of sheer cliffs that are populated with thousands of sea birds. Regretfully the puffins are long-gone but other birds were happy to pose for photos. We drove north along the western side of the island stopping to look at a beach with seals lying in the sun. Grant said a few months ago there were many seals but some have left and others were eaten by Orcas looking for lunch. We stopped at a stretch of beach that connected the mainland to a small island. We actually saw someone swimming in the 54 degree water. Our last stop was Scalloway where we viewed the castle and the Shetland Bus memorial to the Shetlanders who risked all to help the Norwegians during WW 2. Grant took us back to Lerwick and drove us through town showing us the main sites including the very nice town hall building. We were brought back to Prinsendam at 3:33 PM. Returning on board we found that the fan was back in our room. After dropping our coats and bag, we visited guest services who were not sure what was happening and asked us to stop back later. We had ice cream from the lido and visited with friends. Happy hour was going on so we enjoyed the Ocean Bar and watched the scenic sail away from there. Stopping back at guest services they still don’t really know where the water is coming from. They offered to move us to a deck 5 cabin but with only one full day left in the cruise who wants to do that? We were told we would receive a letter tomorrow. We have a 7:00 Pinnacle dinner tonight so we began to get ready. The Pinnacle was a great experience and very enjoyable. The only problem with the Pinnacle is one always eats too much. After dinner we visited Stevie in the Crow’s nest until after 10:30 when we simply couldn’t stay awake any longer. We lose another hour on the clocks tonight to get back to Europe time. Saturday, September 01 – At Sea After being up until after midnight (after the clock change) this was a morning to sleep in. I left the cabin just before 9:00 to bring DW’s dinner pre-order to the dining room. There was a letter in the mailbox from guest services offering a modest amount of OBC for our carpet troubles. We went to the Lido at 9:30 for breakfast and walked around a while before finding a table that two folks had just vacated. After last night’s Pinnacle dinner neither of us finished our breakfast. At 9:50 Samantha the CD made her morning announcements. “On deck for a cause” is this morning and DW decided to participate. During that event I caught her on camera and also downloaded all the photos onto my laptop. We met our friends and enjoyed lunch together. That afternoon was the Filipino Crew Show, always worth seeing. This crew was exceptionally talented especially the group doing the dance with the colliding sticks. We did our last happy hour and got ready for dinner. This was a truly wonderful dinner in the dining room with both Prime Rib and King Crab Legs on the menu. We said our sad farewells to Big D, Dewa, and Giovanni. We saw Greta Salome at the Ocean Bar and after we asked she told us that she was to be the second performer in the variety show. We visited Stevie one last time in the crow’s nest departing at 9:45 to catch Greta’s show. William Caulfield ran a little long but once he was done we were able to get seats. Her performance was terrific and a great way to end the cruise. About 10:25 returning to the cabin, closing up the suitcases and putting them out for transfer to shore in the morning. Sunday, September 2 The alarm went off and we were already well up the canal towards Amsterdam. The Prinsendam docked right on time at 7:00 and we met our friends for one last meal together, a dining room breakfast at 7:25. Breakfast was great and we said our farewells, until the next time! We disembarked at about 8:40, quickly found our luggage and dragged it to the tram stop. A quick tram ride to Central Station (we saw many folks just walking the distance) and then the train to the airport. It was a long walk from the airport terminal to the Hilton. Upon entering the terminal we saw one cruiser from our ship. We checked in and our Hilton status helped and we were given the keys to our room and also invited to complimentary breakfast in the restaurant. After “Second breakfast” (which would double as lunch) we walked back to the airport and took the train to Rotterdam. We ended up in Rotterdam a little early for the 1:30 “Free walking tour” and ended up standing and walking too much before the tour. We found the tour guide and about two dozen folks showed up for the tour. We ended up leaving the tour at about the half-way point as it was too much standing. We did see some interesting sites including the “Cube houses” and the old harbor, as well as a war memorial. We took a tram back to Rotterdam Central and caught a train back to the airport, returning to our hotel a little after 5:00. We enjoyed the executive lounge and had dinner at the hotel restaurant, “The Bowery.” Portions were large and everything was very good. They accommodated DW’s dietary needs nicely. We returned to the lounge for a nightcap and called it a day. Monday, September 3 – return home We had breakfast in the executive lounge at the Hilton and then loaded our luggage onto a luggage cart for the walk back to the terminal at Schiphol. We found the Aer Lingus check in and it took about 20 minutes in line to drop our bags. The offered to check our overnight carry-on “For free” but we declined as all our meds were packed in there. Security was about a 10 minute line and passport control about the same. US passports can use an automated lane for departure. We made a necessary stop and spent most of our Euro coins at an airport shop on waters and chocolate for the flight. At the gate, I asked if we could be switched to an aisle & middle (from our assigned window and middle) and they have us two isles, across from each other. After the door closed, there was no one in the two seats next to me so I moved to the window and DW took my aisle seat. The connection in Dublin was a pain as we unexpectedly had to walk outdoors a good distance, and it was cold! I was dressed for the +90 degrees back home. Eventually we got through the passport check and we had enough time before US pre-clearance to use the airport lounge. We enjoyed some ‘lunch’ there and left for US Customs 90 minutes before our flight as instructed. Our Global Entry helped save us some time. Still, it was another long walk to the gate. We boarded on time. While we had a window/isle two seats the folks in front of us took no pity and reclined their seats to the max, so it was an uncomfortable (to say the least) seven hour flight back to Newark. We arrived on time and while we did not need to clear customs in Newark we waited an hour for the luggage. Park Plus picked us up very promptly and we were in our car within 15 minutes of luggage retrieval. Summary / Conclusion: All things considered this was a great cruise! After the dining room issues of the first two days the rest of the dining was flawless. “Big D” took great care of us in the lido at breakfast/lunch and in the dining room at dinner. The one lunch and one dinner in the Pinnacle were both wonderful. We will not do Canaletto again though. Our room stewards performed well and kept the room clean, although we literally laid eyes on them less than three times the entire two weeks! Entertainment is not Holland’s strong suit. The singers/dancers were okay but we’ve seen all those shows before. The guest entertainers ranged from incredible (Greta Salome) to pretty bad. But there was ‘something for everyone.’ We very much enjoyed Stevie in the piano bar and the Ocean trio at the Ocean bar. We are not by any means big drinkers but we enjoyed the happy hours very much. Since HAL announced the sale of Prinsendam I was hoping we would do one more cruise on her. That seems very unlikely as the remaining Prinsendam cruises have had price spikes as they are mostly close to sold out. We greatly enjoyed the port calls; doing the “Ring road” in Iceland without the driving was terrific! The larger ships cannot get into all these ports so we are happy to do these while we could on Prinsendam. All things considered, this was another four stars out of five Prinsendam cruise. It might have been four and a half but the three days with the damp carpet in our cabin has to detract a half-star. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this cruise because it had more stops around Iceland than any other and because it was on the Prinsendam, which I have always wanted to experience. We were not disappointed, quite the contrary. We sailed from Amsterdam. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it had more stops around Iceland than any other and because it was on the Prinsendam, which I have always wanted to experience. We were not disappointed, quite the contrary. We sailed from Amsterdam. Checking-in and boarding was a breeze - effectively we arrived at the terminal, almost walked straight through and were in our cabin in a matter of minutes. That set the scene for the whole cruise. Our first stop was Edinburgh, where the Tattoo was on , along with the Fringe Festival, which meant it was very busy. We were berthed a Rosyth, which is across the Firth and a way out of the City, but not as inconvenient as we thought it might be. There was a shuttle bus to the closest train station, then a train ride into the City. Spent the day looking around and then returned to the ship by train and shuttle in time for dinner. The next stop was Torshavn in the Faroe Islands. A neat little town. Hopped on the local free bus and did a tour around to get a feel of the place. The Crown Prince of Denmark and his family arrived there during the morning and we saw him and his wife (Princess Mary, an Australian - from Tasmania) at an open-air reception in the Town Centre. We then sailed to Iceland , which was the main destination for the cruise. We had five stops in Iceland: Djupivogur, Akureyri, Isafjorour, Reykjavik and Heymaey, and all of them were marvellous. Wow! Iceland is a great destination! We then headed back to Amsterdam, with a stop at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. Life on board more than lived up to our expectations. The food was excellent. We ate in the Lido for Breakfast and Lunch, and in the Main Restaurant every evening. Great choices and good quality. We went to the entertainment every night and were very satisfied with the variety and quality. On two occasions I even went back for the second performance of the early show. We attended all the Port previews and learned a lot. The presenter was an expert in his field; outstanding! Our cabin was comfortable, adequate, and well maintained. The staff did a great job each day and were able to come in when we were either at meals or off the ship. In summary, a great cruise. Having now sailed on the Prinsendam, I am pleased we did so before she will be retired from the Holland America fleet in 2019. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Chose this cruise based on itinerary. Had 4 ports scheduled for Ireland but wound up with 5 ports because the ship was not able to dock in Bristol. Prinsendam is the smallest HAL ship which makes it possible to go into smaller ports. ... Read More
Chose this cruise based on itinerary. Had 4 ports scheduled for Ireland but wound up with 5 ports because the ship was not able to dock in Bristol. Prinsendam is the smallest HAL ship which makes it possible to go into smaller ports. Our cabin 147 was very quiet, which was one of the main considerations for choosing it. Dining room and Lido buffet very good. We ate in 3 specialty restaurants, one of them twice and , though they were good, decided that was too many times since the dining room had a good selection and good food. Also enjoyed the burgers at the Dive In, by the pool. Service was excellent all around. Good variety of professional entertainment in the main showroom. We enjoyed Adagio classical music in the Explorers lounge. We used the HAL shore excursions and had great excursions everyday! Just 2 sea days on our leg of the cruise and we needed those rests. This was our 2nd cruise with HAL (Alaska with Denali last time). We will definitely go with HAL again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this trip for the itinerary--Cornwall in England, especially (Fowey)--small Irish ports and then crossing to Belgium and Amsterdam. Our porthole cabin, 421, was smaller than we expected (hard to walk past the foot of the bed) but ... Read More
We chose this trip for the itinerary--Cornwall in England, especially (Fowey)--small Irish ports and then crossing to Belgium and Amsterdam. Our porthole cabin, 421, was smaller than we expected (hard to walk past the foot of the bed) but comfortable and we liked the bathroom--we had a bathtub, although all porthole cabins do not, so check if you prefer a shower or bath. The service onboard was consistently excellent and the food was pretty delicious! For anytime dining in the dining room we always got a table for two immediately. We enjoyed the pretty touches, such as flowers, especially orchids, in all the public rooms. We celebrated my husband's birthday and our anniversary in Canaletto, the Italian restaurant, and enjoyed it. For his birthday, he got a large piece of cake and they sang to him. For our anniversary the hotel director, who had talked to us in one of the bars, sent a bottle of champagne to our table. Much appreciated surprise! We ate in Pinnacle for a lunch given to us by our travel agent. It is a pretty room and the food was good. We had to tender in to one port (Waterford) that we were supposed to dock for, but there was heavy fog. The captain and crew seemed very concerned that we were able to still do excursions. We liked the excursions although next time we will check to make sure there are stops rather than mostly driving as one went on too long. Next time we will also try to have a cruise with fewer tender ports simply because they take up more time and sometimes the sea is rather rough. We liked the bar venues, especially the Java Bar area. The Crow's Nest has great views. My husband enjoyed the steam room and sauna (free in the men's bathroom spa area) and the hot tubs. The casino is small and several machines didn't work. The library area, where the internet computers are located, is large and very nice. The entertainment was good. The onboard performers gave it their all and some of the guest performers were very enjoyable. We liked watching some of the movies in the theatre or on tv. There weren't many tv channels offering programming, mostly news and obscure sports rather than the "big games." We didn't go to the test kitchen or the digital workshops or the book club and the shops on board are small, so sea days were pretty quiet for us. The passengers were, for the most part, over age 60, so we often had to wait for elevators to the buffet on the 11th deck since many people used them. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
We’ve been on several HAL cruises and this one was just what we expected – excellent food and service and a good time over all, despite a few things that could be tweaked. Embarkation The transfer was long, largely because we ... Read More
We’ve been on several HAL cruises and this one was just what we expected – excellent food and service and a good time over all, despite a few things that could be tweaked. Embarkation The transfer was long, largely because we spent 40 minutes driving from terminal to terminal at Heathrow. The people who got on at the later terminals complained that they had to wait too long for the bus to come and the people already on the bus complained that it took forever to leave the airport, so pretty much no one was satisfied. The security check at Dover before getting on the ship was probably the strictest I’ve seen, but there was no line to check in and the luggage came to the cabin quickly. Boat drill seemed unusually long because it started with a series of announcements made while you were still in the cabin. Ship This is a small ship that has a lot of passengers who stay on it for multiple cruises, so the average age of the passengers and the number with walking difficulties is much higher than on most cruises. I like this ship a lot, but if you haven't been on this ship before make sure you know what you are signing up for. Newspapers and puzzles are available every day. Apart from the port lectures and the nightly entertainment, we didn’t do any of the other activities. One of the elevators broke down quite early in the trip and was never back in service. There was a fiasco one day when everyone sitting in the theater was asked to leave and come back in 15-20 minutes for the Captain’s toast. A lot of the people had come early specifically to get a seat for the toast and were not happy to have to stand around in the halls with no place to sit. I felt bad for the drink servers who had the ugly task of asking people to leave. After a couple passengers had some sharp words with an officer who happened to walk by, we were allowed back into the theater. There was no reason they couldn’t have put something in the daily schedule to warn people that the theater would be closed for some time before the Captain’s toast. Cabin The cabin had smaller than normal balcony doors, so there was no wall of glass, but the balcony itself was bigger than normal (we were in a Vista Suite). The cabin had good lighting and was well stocked with deck blankets, beach towels, robes, slippers, etc., although I would have preferred a shower over having to climb over the side of the tub. The water temperature in the shower was erratic. Unusual for a ship, the bathroom door could be left ajar without swinging or slamming, making the bathroom a useful nightlight. Our steward Gede took very good care of us. Our cabin was behind the casino, and I had been worried that smoke and noise from the casino might be a problem, but it wasn’t, perhaps because the casino seemed to be pretty empty the whole cruise. Entertainment The production shows were fantastic, some of the best we have seen, and the singers had strong voices. Ocean Trio was good but they mostly played instrumental old standards, which got somewhat boring night after night. The Band was excellent, but they only play on nights when the show that night doesn’t need them. Piano Stevie was entertaining. Georgina Jackson (she sang and played trumpet) was very good. John Lenahan (comedy and magic) was very funny. Misha, the port lecturer, was energetic and charming and funny. Unlike on some ships, she wasn’t part of the excursion office, so the talks were actually full of practical useful information and not just someone describing the shore excursions and trying to sell them to you. Shorex The excursions were very well run and the staff had excellent English (better than we have seen on other ships). The excursions were very expensive, though. There were a lot of tender ports on this itinerary. In a couple ports, the tendering service did not run very smoothly. We would get back to the ship but not be able to get off the tender for 10-20 minutes because another tender was at the platform. In Fowey, the tendering was a mess. Buses aren’t allowed on the narrow streets in town, so tenders for the excursions were sent to a different dock than the tenders just going downtown. It would have made a lot more sense to have the two groups meet in different lounges and to use two different tender platforms. Instead, they mixed the two groups in the same lounge, confused everybody with the announcements, and had chaos when the 2 groups mingled near the tender platform as they tried to keep people from getting on the wrong tender. Food On the first night in the dining room, no one escorted us to our table – they just pointed (in the wrong direction, as it turned out). The food was excellent and it was hot (both in the dining room and in the buffet) but our dining room stewards had too many tables, so the service really suffered. Some nights our waiters were practically running in the dining room, with sweat pouring off them, trying to keep up. We were rarely greeted with menus, bread and water, some of which would already be on the table when we arrived. We never got steak knives or fish knives, crumbs weren’t removed, and we were not reliably offered tea or coffee at the end of the meal. Most of this I don’t really care about, but the comparison to the level of service we have experienced on other ships was striking. What was not acceptable was the long waits between courses. Most nights it took us much longer to have dinner than what we have experienced with the same size table on other ships. Disembarkation We walked off early with our own luggage, which worked well. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We love visiting the British Isles and love the Prinsendam. We found this cruise as a great way to see many new places and avoid a long flight across the Atlantic. The Prinsendam is our favorite ship and this will be our fourth cruise on ... Read More
We love visiting the British Isles and love the Prinsendam. We found this cruise as a great way to see many new places and avoid a long flight across the Atlantic. The Prinsendam is our favorite ship and this will be our fourth cruise on her. She does seem quite popular with experienced Holland America travelers, nearly all of the passengers were veteran Mariners. We were offered a low priced upgrade to a Neptune cabin and found it to be a great call. The biggest room we have ever had on any ship. Great choice for an Atlantic crossing. We were lucky to have great weather most of the trip, only rocky out of Miami and only a couple hours of rain in the British Isles. Even the locals were surprised by how sunny May was there. The Prinsendam is our favorite ship in the fleet, no eternal hallways to navigate. Captain Dag and his crew were great and the service was excellent. Our suite was huge and we loved the staff in the Neptune lounge, especially Precious. Great service. We did have a late night plumbing issue but that was quickly taken care of. And one of the aft elevators was broken for most of the trip, but it didn't seem to affect us. The Pinnacle Grill, main dining room and the Lido all had good service and a wide selection of food. We liked the salad bar offerings in the Lido a lot. We visited the Pinnacle for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Very good service, but honestly the service in the main dining room was also very good. The only place we felt lacking was the Canaletto. The service was friendly and fast, but the menu didn't have enough Italian comfort food for me. We never go to the evening performances but did have a great time at night in the Crow's Nest piano bar with Stevie. He has such a wide variety of songs and is willing to research the ones he doesn't know. We also liked the daytime talks about our destinations and the NASA guy. We enjoy trivia on our cruises and Stone, Johnny, and Cam all were great at challenging us every day, and it was very cool to win champagne. Service all around the ship was excellent. It was amazing to see how fast they learned our names and preferences on drinks. Firman and August as our room stewards were so good at working around our crazy schedules. Nissi was a great bartender at the Crow's Nest. Nick was very attentive in the dining room with our wine and other drinks. Emri was a great cellar master and we loved his tastings. Since many of the ports were small, we did tender a lot, but maybe cause the weather was so good, it went really well, even after a tender broke down. I liked all of our stops, but the highlight was visiting Normandy for the first time. The D-Day/Mulberry museum, the American Normandy gravesite, and looking down over the beaches themselves. We also had a great visit to the Channel Islands with a great guide taking us to the occupation museums. We also liked the overnighter in Antwerp. Would I do this cruise again? Absolutely! It was one of our favorites and we have been on over ten cruises. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This cruise began in FLL where we spent a couple of days pre cruise and crossed the Atlantic. Days at sea beat flying any time to get to Europe and we loved the ports on the first leg of Bermuda, Azores, Cherbourg, Brest France. The 2nd ... Read More
This cruise began in FLL where we spent a couple of days pre cruise and crossed the Atlantic. Days at sea beat flying any time to get to Europe and we loved the ports on the first leg of Bermuda, Azores, Cherbourg, Brest France. The 2nd segment left from Dover for unique ports in Ireland and the British Isles as well as Belgium and the Netherlands. Embarkation was quick and easy on May 5th. On the 19th it was a non issue for us as we were "in transit" but from what I saw in the terminal it seemed to go just as well. Once on board, it was like coming home. Haven't sailed on this ship in 4 years and happy to say that the quality of the food, care of the staff and service were as I remembered them. The ship is laid out differently than other Holland America Ships (I like that) but because of it's size, it's not hard to learn your way around or find the location you want to get to. The staff on board are incredible. Best service on any HAL ship. The crew compliment to passengers is very high and it shows. They are friendly, attentive and always cheerful. Dining on board was good to excellent. The Pinnacle Grill was fabulous. Food in the MDR ranged from good to excellent on most occasions (there is usually one hiccup on any cruise). Entertainment on the ship was good for it's size. Along with it's own cast, they had outside entertainers who were very talented. Steve from Halifax on the piano kept many entertained in the Crow's Nest at night. The Adagio was very good. the 2nd segment was very port intensive and all of the ports were intriguing. Our stop at Bristol had to be substituted for Cobh, Ireland due to the tides and, although I was disappointed originally, Cobh is utterly charming and we had a great time there. The entire itinerary was wonderful. The service on this ship just can't be matched on any other HAL ship IMO making this ship ever so special. We disembarked in Amsterdam and stayed 2 days. Disembarkation was unbelievably smooth. We were sorry to have to get off and have her sail away without us. Would we sail this ship again? In a heart beat. She remains my favourite ship in the fleet for her elegant interiors, her fabulous crew, good food and wonderful itineraries. On the first segment we were in cabin 005 and the 2nd segment 054. Both were wonderul cabins with good service. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
For 2 1/2 months this past winter and spring, my husband and I have been on a grand adventure—a 68-day cruise around the entire continent of South America, stopping at Antarctica, and continuing back to Ft. Lauderdale. We saw many ... Read More
For 2 1/2 months this past winter and spring, my husband and I have been on a grand adventure—a 68-day cruise around the entire continent of South America, stopping at Antarctica, and continuing back to Ft. Lauderdale. We saw many amazing sights including the breathtaking natural beauty of Antarctica with its snow-covered mountains, whales breaching, and close-up views of chinstrap and gentoo penguins on the coldest, driest, most isolated place on earth. Another spectacular experience was an all-day walk through Iguazu National Park to see Iguazu Falls, 1.7 miles of waterfalls on three different levels in the park that make Niagara Falls look like a miniature waterfall, and the meeting of the muddy Amazon and the blue Atlantic Ocean that run parallel to each other and don’t mix for over 100 miles into the ocean. We also got to experience other memorable things like holding the toucans, sloths, snakes, and capybaras of the Amazon rain forest and being astounded by the spider and capuchin monkeys, agoutis, (like guinea pigs on stilts!), and coati mundis that walked right by us! These memories from our trip of a lifetime will stay with us forever.  As St. Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” The food was excellent, the lecturers were knowledgeable and interesting, and the variety of countries, cultures, and scenery was astounding. We would recommend this cruise to anyone wanting an extraordinary experience! Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We are not even in our room for one day, when we have wet carpets. We are soaking in as we step. The main desk seems to take it in stride, as if we are at fault. We are switched for one night, to the back of the ship, where we can feel ... Read More
We are not even in our room for one day, when we have wet carpets. We are soaking in as we step. The main desk seems to take it in stride, as if we are at fault. We are switched for one night, to the back of the ship, where we can feel the motors of the ship and the noise. The room is not suitable and we have to push for another room. So we now are in a third room in less then 3days. We have to be firm in insisting that they sanitize and clean the luggage and other wet items. When they moved our items, they carried up what we had on hangers and tossed them on the bed. Items that were in drawers, were put in the wet suitcases. Now that makes no sense. It was a mess, and we felt as if anything we said was ignored. We did push hard to sanatize and dry the suitcases. Now this is the only time that we felt a great blessing. When the suitcases were returned, there were notes on the outside, with arrows. We had forgotten that we had used the cases a year or so before, and we have a habit of putting money behind the fabric or inside zippers. NOW these folks who earn not that money, had not touched a cent of the money. WOW So after washing all our clothes and in a new room, we are certain that all is well. NO. we are now on the 9th floor, and early morning I hear noise in the early morning in the halls. I look out and there is water draining from the ceiling. They are moping and there are pails filling with water. There is also standing water on the balaconies. We had loud fans running for two days in the halls. I was told by some, that they had read on line that this ship has had flooding in their past. OH later we received a notice that that later that evening, we would be without water for several hours, as they would be working on the water lines. And when we did have water, to be sure to check to make sure that the water was not brown, IF so let is run out unyill it was clear. We did our best to try to enjoy the trip and the outings. It would of help, if I felt that the front desk cared. It was as if we were bothering them. And we should just go away. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The Prinsendam is a small older ship. It was great. very well maintained and cosmetically, very attractive. It changed hands twice before it was acquired by Holland America. She sails longer itinerarys. It was built as a luxury ship and ... Read More
The Prinsendam is a small older ship. It was great. very well maintained and cosmetically, very attractive. It changed hands twice before it was acquired by Holland America. She sails longer itinerarys. It was built as a luxury ship and that is obvious. The likes of the Prinsendam may not be seen again. If you like the old style of luxury cruising you'd better sail on her soon. Now it's a matter of scale and small ships are not very profitable. Granted there are still small luxury ships out there, but they are much more expensive. Holland America does a great job with this ship. The crew was wonderful. I think it's going into dry dock soon and I'm sure after that, it will look even better. Great food and service. Not a ship for children. It does cater to an older crowd but that's because of the longer trips. A friend of mine cautioned me that the Prinsedam was full of "the newly wed and the nearly dead". I didn't see any newly weds. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Our cruise to the Amazon River in Brazil was a bucket list priority and our Prisendam itinerary fit the bill perfectly. Our experience on the Prisendam cruise was as expected with great service from all departments. Our cabin stewards ... Read More
Our cruise to the Amazon River in Brazil was a bucket list priority and our Prisendam itinerary fit the bill perfectly. Our experience on the Prisendam cruise was as expected with great service from all departments. Our cabin stewards were excellent as was in room dining services. The food was very good overall, especially the Alaska King crabs night; what a treat. We particularly appreciated the great service we experienced in the Lido deck dining area. Port of call excursions were for the most part good but we found none to be exceptional. Our best excursion was booked thru a 3rd party for our first day in Manaus, Brazil, and it was truly exceptional. Overall I would recommend this cruise and Prisendam as it is one of the few cruises available for the Amazon on a major cruise line and Holland is in our opinion one of the finest in service and value. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Thirty day cruise to the Amazon River from Port Everglades. Passenger load 716, average age 71, most friendly and helpful crew of any previous cruise. Cozy atmosphere with plenty of public space, quick and easy and to get around the ... Read More
Thirty day cruise to the Amazon River from Port Everglades. Passenger load 716, average age 71, most friendly and helpful crew of any previous cruise. Cozy atmosphere with plenty of public space, quick and easy and to get around the small ship. Not really advertised as a senior cruise, but being 30 days we were all older and there was none of the me-first problems that occur which the younger more aggressive crowd. Entertainment was acceptable but not the quality found on big ships. Also, fewer on-board activities compared to big ships; I enjoyed the Microsoft technology lab; many readers enjoyed the large well stocked library. But just adapt and enjoy the more quiet small ship atmosphere! To me, a welcome shortcoming was no constant loud music around the pools... horray for quiet time! The Crows Nest offers a great view and a place to relax and Enjoy a discounted drink during happy hour. Our first time on Prinsendam and would definitely sail with her again. We learned that many other passengers we repeat Prinsendam guests. Read Less
Prinsendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.6
Family 2.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 5.0 3.7
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 3.0 3.7

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