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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Holland America Line

MV Prinsendam

Rating:Four Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: Holland America Line
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1988 / 2003
Length / Tonnage: 669 / 37,983
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 418 / 835
Officers / Crew: Dutch / International
Operating Area: Year-round World Wide
Telephone / Fax: Tel 110 4517 / Fax 110 4514

Review by Isobel Glaremin, TravelPage.com Guest Contributor

We joined the Prinsendam in Lisbon - temperature was in the high 60's under a clear blue sky. The mandatory Boat Drill was well attended. Announcements were, thankfully, kept to a minimum - Voice From the Bridge, crew drills and Bingo times only.

Public Areas
Don't know if I missed this on other ships but, in the elevators, the floor mats have the day of the week woven in. The Oak Room, with it big leather chairs, Half Moon and the Erasmus Library were ideal quiet spots for a quiet read; the Java Café a wonderful place to meet and chat (leads right into the Casino); Explorers Lounge too was a relaxing spot for after dinner drinks. Daytime, more or less impromptu gatherings took place there, e.g. Canadians on board, we were about 60, got together for a chat; animal lovers also met up and each one it seemed carried a picture of the his/her loved pet(s); 'bragging Grannies' met there and informal chats with Officers and entertainers were also scheduled.

The Queens Lounge (show room) allowed an unobstructed view of the stage from any seat. Swivel chairs also contributed to its comfort level. On either side of the stage,there are giant screens (invisible unless in use) on which the stage presentations are projected, virtually life-size. The Wajang theatre, very comfortable and pre-show popcorn is still free.

Laundry facilities were available on Main and Verandah Decks. Didn't use them so can't comment. Looked in on the Spa facilities, appear to be state of the art but I'm no judge. Four times around the deck and you've walked a mile - all for free!

On Lower Prom deck there is the La Fontaine Dining room, The Pinnacle Grill (shows as Odyssey Restaurant on Brochure deck plans). We didn't dine there this trip -heard the steaks are a full 24 ozs.! How can anyone eat that much!!! The Volcano cake is 'to die for' and the wine selection very adequate. For an additional $20.00 plus wine and tips, I guess it's a great deal.

The Internet Café (well laid out), the Art Gallery and 33 cabins are also on Lower Prom.

HAL ships have always featured wonderful artwork and artifacts - Prinsendam is no exception, paintings and wall hangings, all exceptional. Exotic flowers were everywhere, including a bonsai tree in every washroom. Hubby says they are real - I'm not so sure - perhaps someone can comment. Every table in the Lido had a spray of tiny orchids atop a long stem (don't know the variety) ……..definitely real!

Shops on Board carried up-scale expensive (to my mind) merchandise. It was most disappointing that little, if anything, worth buying in the line of souvenirs was available. The usual “t” shirts were there together with some very tired and badly crumpled looking stuff presumably left over from the last Around the World cruise. Boxes of Mexican made chocolates were priced at '2 for the price of one' the last few days - a poor replacement for the much-loved packages of 'HAL pillow chocolates'………..yes there was one on our pillows each night: and we did enjoy the S of E pillows and duvets (light as a feather) and bathrobes. The addition of a fridge in Cat 'C' is also a nice touch.

Photographers were in evidence- in no way was anyone badgered. Pictures were pricey, US$10.95 - but the quality better than usual.

Being a small ship, dining times were the traditional First and Second Seating. Food was excellent in quality, variety and quantity (no problem about double entrees if requested) but unfortunately most things arrived on the cold side. Beef Wellington, no matter how tender, is not the same when it's just warm!

The Lido menu was varied, well prepared and presented. Wait staff was available to assist with trays etc. The Ice Cream Bar was a busy place. Hot Dogs, burgers, tacos were also available.

Our dining room waiter had 18 diners to look after and was regularly on duty in the Lido for breakfast. Those girls and guys carry a heavy load but somehow manage to smile and remain attentive and courteous. Lounge waiters also have to hustle. Daily on the Lido the Wine Steward solicited orders for dinner and offered a 10% discount…….I was told he earns 'brownie points' for his efforts. Having the Wine Desk was fine but I thought the 'walk about' solicitation was tacky.

A hotel service charge of US $10 per passenger is automatically added to each guest's shipboard account on a daily basis. Passengers can adjust this amount at the end of the cruise by visiting the hotel manager's desk. A 15% service charge is automatically added to bar charges and dining room wine purchases.

There are really only 5 varieties of cabins on Prinsedam....138 square foot inside doubles, (best taken as singles), 191 foot outside doubles with your choice of bathtub/shower or just shower, 238 foot outside doubles with private verandas, 362 square foot deluxe A grade cabins with verandas and 488 foot penthouse suites. Lots of storage space, the size of the bathrooms, amenities such as refrigerators, VCRs, TVs, and wonderfully comfortable beds with thick down filled comforters are found in each and every cabin.

As for good locations versus bad locations of cabins, here’s a plus.....there are no bad locations.....so if you are inclined toward booking a regular outside cabin, go for the lowest price. The only difference between that cabin type, located on Pacific Deck, and cabins costing hundreds of dollars more, is that you get two portholes instead of a picture window.

Our cabin on this trip had a walk-in closet, it was roomy with adjustable rails for jackets, slacks and full length dresses. There was also a shoe rack and stacked shelves suitable for folded shirts/blouses, sweaters etc. - and a special hanger for ties! A cotton laundry bag was provided. Coat hangers, with skirt clamps were in plentiful supply.

The safe was housed in the closet - usual magnetic strip card operation. The vanity/desk in the cabin had 4 drawers, (two could be locked) suitable for underwear etc. The night tables had a deep bottom drawer - I stowed my hair dryer there.

Cat 'C' on Prinsendam provides a mini-bar. The fridge was well stocked with drink mixes, soda, tonic, ginger ale, beer etc. Anything used was replaced and the charge showed up on the on board account.

Ordering an in cabin liquor package worked out well - it can be arranged through Ship Services prior to sailing. Have your CC and booking number handy.

Hallways on the suite decks are spectacular - each suite is named for an explorer - the name and signature appears on the door together with the suite number. Service, due to cutbacks, is not as good as it used to be - our cabin steward was responsible for 17 cabins.

The Explorations Series Lectures were outstanding and well attended; Professor Firooz Zadeh told of his escape from Iran and subsequent settling in the USA.

Dr. Robert Copaken reviewed and discussed the 2004 election results and its foreign policy implications. Stephen Card was also on board and gave great insight into his wonderful paintings.

Entertainment was some of the best we've experienced - Dr. Justin Miller - Classical Guitarist and a wonderful speaker; Nick Lewin *both Justin and Nick were pressured into giving unscheduled lectures - Magician; Bill Acosta - Impressionist; Tian Jiang -Classicial Pianist and Sally Jones - singer and, of course the Prinsendam orchestra and show cast Filipino and Indonesian crew members also put on their own wonderful shows.

For dancing there was Fred Radke and the Harry James Orchestra, The George Kowalski Trio played in the Ocean Bar during Cocktail hours. Music was also available in the Crows Nest.

Lectures and entertainers mingled freely and were happy to chat with passengers.

'Donations' could of course be made in the Casino from almost dawn until dawn. I can assure you that those machines did not pay well! Don't know if the tables were any better.

Our only Port was Funchal, Madeira - a very beautiful and interesting island. We settled on a coach tour that ended with the Basket Sleigh ride. The newest attraction is the Cable car ride. I'm sure the views are spectacular. Even from a coach, looking down into some of the valleys we passed was awe inspiring. We stopped to view/buy handmade lace and embroidered items. Earthenware bowls, decorated by hand with brightly coloured flowers and fruits were most tempting. Getting them safely home would have been a problem methinks. At another stop we sampled Poncha da Madeira, made with honey, rum and lemon. Sounds innocent enough but our Guide informed us that one drink made you happy, 2 drinks made you giddy and after three you'd be speaking Spanish! Whatever, it was agreed that it packed a punch. We, and I think everybody else bought a bottle - cost about US$14.00. No problem getting it back on board and into the cabin.

Seven days at sea for some can seem like a lifetime - being sea day people, we looked forward to them and were not disappointed. The weather was unbelievable - averaging 70+ degrees every day - the ocean like a millpond, not what one might reasonably expect in November.

There was something for everyone - the usual daily Bingo, Trivial Pursuit and other team games, cooking demonstrations, first run movies, competitions (boat building), scavenger hunts, bridge, line dancing instruction, art auctions etc. (I'm told a most knowledgeable auctioneer was in charge and prices were good).

Half Moon Cay it seems is back to normal with horseback riding and parasailing added. The Zaandam was anchored before we arrived so until she sailed around noon the island was pretty busy.

Who Goes
At a guess I'd say more than half the pax were repeaters and many had joined the ship in Athens 12 days earlier. Ages ranged from early 20's (a group of about 12 charming Chinese students) to a lady of 102 accompanied by her 82-year-old daughter. There were 2 children on board - extremely well behaved brothers aged 5 and 7.

She goes everywhere from a long winter world cruise and transAtlantic sailings in spring and fall to two week European and warm weather cruises. See the brochure. We don’t feel comfortable enough to either recommend this high priced item or is either of us in the mood to spell out her list of ports...so if you’re still interested in this one, the easily obtained brochure will reveal all.

The Prinsendam is what we and many others consider to be just about the right size. She is not for everyone but is now on our 'favorites' list. We hope she is around for a long time. We understand that the S of E work will be completed very shortly.

Click on image below for a larger version...

Crows Nest Lounge

Internet Cafe

Deluxe Verandah Suite

Exercise Room

Explorers Lounge

Odyssey Dining Room

LaFontaine Dining Room

LaFontaine Dining Room

Lido Restaurant

Lido Terrace

Swimming Pool

Outside Stateroom

Ocean Bar / Dance Floor

Spa Entrance

Outside Stateroom

Presidential Suite

Presidential Suite Bathroom

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