My husband and I are experienced cruisers with travels on Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, NCL, RCCL, and several now defunct cruise lines. In the past five years we have cruised annually with Holland America enjoying their style of service and longer cruises.
PRINSENDAM is the smallest of the HAL ships, having been built by Royal Viking in 1988, and sailed for Seabourne before joining HAL. The ship has been nicely refurbished and did not show her age. At 38,000 tons and 793 passengers, but the usual ship facilities, it was a comfortable voyage.
INTINERARY This was a 14 day Western Europe cruise, beginning in Citivecchia (Rome), visiting Elba, Corsica, Spanish Morocco, Cadiz, Lisbon, Porto, La Coruna, Bilbao, La Rochelle, Guernsey, Dover, dis-embarking in Amsterdam.
CABIN Booked on an outside guarantee, we were assigned cabin 219 on the Lower Promenade Deck. The cabin was smaller than on Statendam class ships, but well organized with a walk-in closet, queen bed, TV, bar and refrigerator in a stacked cabinet opposite a couch by the large square window. The ship has been upgraded with new linens and towels, more pillows etc. The bath was shower only but conveniently arranged.
FOOD Holland America prides itself on the quantity, quality and variety of food offered. This ship was no exception. The main dining room was somewhat noisy (possible due to the number of families and small groups on the ship). The adjacent smaller room seemed much quieter (ask for a low table number). All HAL ships offer a small (extra cost) dining room with Pacific Northwest theme. The Lido casual dining on a top deck offers cafeteria service breakfast & lunch with extended hours for Continental breakfast & Luncheon salad bar. They have cooked to order eggs & omelets, plus specialty areas at lunch. The poolside snack bar offers hamburgers, hotdogs, soup etc all afternoon. The ice cream bar was a popular stop. From 6 pm to 7:30 pm half the Lido becomes an informal restaurant with some items off the main dining room menu plus other choices. Room service includes a special diet for persons with mal-de-mer (not needed on this sailing --- positively the smoothest cruise of my memory).
ENTERTAINMENT There was a wide variety , trying to meet every taste. A troupe of eight singers/dancers entertained three nights. Other nights there were musical, comedy and other entertainments in the main lounge. A regular event on Holland America ships, both the Indonesian (cabin & dining room staff) and Filipino (bar & front office staff) crew did shows with typical music and dancing from their home countries. The versatile group in the Ocean Bar and talented pianist in the Crows Nest provided evening music. A string group played after dinner in another lounge. There were recent movies playing 4 times daily in the movie theater (with popcorn) and more showing all day on the cabin TV. On sea days there were cooking demonstrations, and lectures on Mediterranean history. In addition to the usual bridge & games, the ship has a well stocked library. The Internet Cafe is open 24 hours, has several package payment plans, and space for your own laptop if wi-fi equipped. The one difficulty this sailing was the large number of children (due to several family groups on board). There is a children's program but with limited space. However the children I talked with said they found the activities interesting.
SERVICE Holland America prides itself on the level of service on their ships. This voyage was no exception. An almost invisible cabin steward kept our stateroom immaculate. The dining room staff were equally attentive to detail. A daily service charge is now added to cabin bils, but this change does not seem to have affected the service levels.
SHORE EXCURSIONS There were excursions (all marked as to level of activity) offered in all ports except Spanish Morocco. In most ports the ship was docked, and if any distance from the city center the local tourist board provided free bus transportation. In some ports like Cadiz, there was an expensive option of car or van with driver for the day to do individual sightseeing. Dover was the jumping off place for both group and individual trips to London plus other southeast English visits. Shore excursion prices seemed high, but perhaps the current Euro value contributed.
EVALUATION This was an interesting and different chance for us as fairly experienced Europe travelers to see the off the beaten track coastal cities of Europe. The ship, in spite of age, is up to Holland America standards in every way. Because we had such a wide variety of travelers (all over Europe, Canada, Australia were included) one met interesting people everywhere. I would recommend Prinsendam in Europe highly.