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Review - 31 May Prinsendam Black Sea and Beyond

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My wife and I just returned from 14 days on the Prinsendam sailing from Athens to Rome with a three day pre cruise in Athens and a 3 day post cruise in Rome. After two continents, seven seas, eight countries, and fifteen different cities this is by far the best cruise we have ever taken. This is the way cruising was meant to be. I have decided that I really like the Prinsendam; it is like being in Cheers, everybody knows your name. We were constantly running into the Captain and his crew and they always has a friendly greeting, and even knew our names. It was also never crowded, even though it was booked to near capacity. There was always seating available in the Lido, bars and lounges and we just never felt crowded. It was like being on a private yacht. This is the smallest ship we have ever been on but it handled the seas much better than many of the larger ships we have been on, although I have to admit we had near perfect weather the entire trip. We only experienced rain once, and that was in Florence, and it only lasted for about an hour. Just long enough for the vendors to sell a lot of umbrellas. We have taken nineteen cruises with this being the fourth time we have sailed with Holland America and the other cruises being on most of the other major cruise lines. I think the food was much better on the Prinsendam, than the other HAL ships or other cruise lines that we have been on, although I realize that is a matter of personal opinion; I think preparing for smaller numbers of people allows for better food and service. The Hotel Manager told us that they are really trying to live up to the reputation of “elegant explorer.†There were some pipe leaks in the hallways on some of the other decks, but I understand that action is being taken to correct this problem. We were told that because of the ship being at near capacity they had to buy water in some of the ports and the acidity in the water was causing the leaks. Water was shut off on the ship twice during the cruise to repair the leaks, but both times we were on tours and it didn’t effect us. If I had stayed on the ship it would have been an irritant. We had an S category suite on the Lido deck and I truly can not find one thing to complain about. Because they are marketing the ship as the “elegant explorer†they have not cut back on many of the suite perks that I understand have been eliminated from the other HAL ships. The suites could still eat breakfast and lunch in the Pinnacle; we had a welcoming cocktail party in the Captains quarters, a dinner with the Captain and his staff in the Half Moon Room, and an Indonesian Lunch in the Pinnacle. All very well done and very impressive.

For our pre cruise we stayed at the Ledra Marriott Hotel in Athens and I think for me the reality of the adventure we were about to embark on hit home the first night when we went up to the roof top café for a glass of wine and something to eat, after traveling for 25 hours straight, and I looked over my wife’s shoulder and saw the Acropolis lit up in all its grandeur. What a view. We booked three days of tours with the HAL representative in the lobby and all three were extremely well done. We took the hotels shuttle to the Plaka the morning of the first day and then went to The Temple of Poseidon on a HAL tour that afternoon. The next day we took a full day’s tour to Delphi and the third day we toured the Acropolis on the way to the ship. Embarkation started at noon and we were on the ship in about thirty minutes. Our luggage was picked up at the hotel and was in our room when we boarded. This cruise was really port intensive and we enjoyed the relaxation offered by the three sea days. We took the full day tours whenever they were offered and the tour guides and lunches that were included were all outstanding. The tour guides were all very passionate about their countries and this added to the enjoyment and knowledge gained on the tours. In Istanbul we did the Full Day City Tour, Nessebur we did the Nessebur, Beach and Folkloric Show, “Beach†did not mean going to the beach, just driving along the beach resort area on the way to lunch and the Folkloric Show at a new restaurant on a hilltop over looking the sea. Nessebur was like stepping back in time, nothing has changed since 1947, but they are now evolving and 10 years from now I probably won’t be able to afford to go there. Odessa we did the Full Day Tour which included a fantastic locale lunch with two classical singers that could easily make it in any Opera Company in the World. Yalta we did the Best of Crimea, visited two palaces, and the summer home of the last Czar of Russia where the Yalta Conference was held. Again another great lunch with great local entertainment. Because we took two ships tours in the Ukraine, visas were not required. In Kusadasi we took the Ephesus Full Day Tour, well worth the price. In Santorini we took the Akrotiri Excavations & Oia Village. The excavations are shut down because Greece pulled all of the money to help support the Olympics but the tour was still worth while. After the tour we walked around the city, did some shopping and I rode the donkey back down the hill while my wife walked. Quite an experience. In Malta we visited Malta’s Mysterious Megaliths and the tour ended at the museum in the center of Valletta, so we elected not to ride with the tour back to the bus but instead explore a little on our own. We visited St John’s Co Cathedral, extremely impressive, tagged along with a HAL tour in progress and then visited the Malta War Museum, a must for anyone interested in WWII. We were told that it was a 20 minute walk back to the ship but ended up taking us about 2 hours, we could see the ship but couldn’t figure out how to get down the bastions to the ship. I was about ready to repel over the edge when we found the way. In Monte Carlo we did the Jewels of Cote d’ Azur full day tour and then went to the Casino. In Livorno we did the Tuscan Landmarks: Florence and Pisa getting back to the ship about 7:00 pm and then having to pack to get off the ship the next day. I think HAL really outdid themselves on our three day post cruise stay in Rome. We were met at embarkation by our guide Umberto who spent the next three days with us even staying at the hotel. He truly went out of his way to make sure everyone was pleased, and I cannot say enough good things about him. There were only 5 couples on our post cruise tour and we really covered a lot in a short period of time. We stayed at the Hotel Villa Degli Angeli in Castle Gandolfo, the Pope,s summer residence. This is a suburb of Rome and it did upset some people that we were not down town. For our first visit to Rom, we really liked it. Our room had a balcony overlooking the lake and the Popes summer residence and we would sit out there each night with a bottle of wine and preview the digital pictures we had taken that day. The last night HAL had set up a dinner at a Counts Residence and Winery and we dined with the Count in his dining room, what a fantastic evening. We even got him to play the piano for us, quite an accomplished musician. His residence was used by the Germans to spot their big guns in the hills during the allied invasion at Anzio Beach. The residence was almost destroyed but rebuilt identical to the original construction in the 15th century. A fascinating individual and a very memorable evening.

Conclusion: This was probably the best cruise we have ever taken. We did meet a couple that was constantly complaining, so we started avoiding them .I am convinced that some people take cruises to intentionally look for things to complain about. I am sure that if we looked hard enough we could have found things to complain about, but this cruise really did exceed our expectations in all areas. We truly had no complaints at all. I brought my laptop and could get wireless reception in our stateroom, so each evening we would send e-mails and post pictures on a website that I established before we left so our friends and family could enjoy the cruise along with us. Because of the all day tours and the early morning departures, along with late dining, we ended up missing most of the entertainment. We figured we can always see entertainment but probably won’t be back to that part of the world again. Those that saw the entertainment said it was good. We booked another cruise for next year while on board, one that originates in Rome. Now that we feel comfortable with Rome we will probably stay at one of two hotels in Rome that we looked at while we were touring. This has gotten a lot longer than I had intended, so if anyone has any questions I would be happy to try and answer them. Bottom Line: Great Ship, Great Crew, Great Food, Great Itinerary, translated into a Great Time.

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GREAT review, so happy for you that you enjoyed the cruise and touring. We did the two itineraries before you and wished we had more time (and money) to include the Athens/Rome segment as well. Just love the Prinsendam and will be looking for another Europe part for next year. Thanks for your post.



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Great review!!! SO glad you enjoyed your cruise and tours. You can feel how wonderful it was in your words.


Maybe some day...............


Lisa L


Monarch of the Seas-March 2002 West. Carib.

MS Zuiderdam-April 2003 East.Carib.

Monarch of the Seas-December 2003 Baja Mexico

MS Oosterdam-May 2004 Alaska


Till we set sail on the MS Ryndam-Sea of Cortez-November 2004



Till We set sail on the MS Westerdam-Western Caribbean March 2005









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In a word "WOW" !!


Great review , I'm my way over to the T/A web-site's to check next years Med Cruises..





~~14 Cruises & Counting~~


~~ Last Year's ~~

Rhapsody - Western 2/02/03

Zaandam - Alaska 5/31/03

Zenith - Bermuda 10/04/03


~~ This Years Just Back ~~

Horizon - 10 day Ultimate 4/02/04


~~ Next up 15 ~~

<MARQUEE> Zuiderdam - Eastern 9/11/04 ... Zuiderdam - Eastern 9/11/04 ... Zuiderdam - Eastern 9/11/04 ... Zuiderdam - Eastern 9/11/04 ... </MARQUEE>

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That was sure a great review! Enjoyed reading about your tours, etc., many of which we did when we sailed on a similar itinerary in '97 while aboard the Maasdam.


So glad you had such a fantastic time...makes one want to book right away again for next year?

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Thanks for your lovely review! We are sooo excited about our Baltic cruise on her. We were even able to get one of the new minisuites at the back of the ship (A197), it's an odd size with a larger veranda!

Maybe Jasl will consider the Prinsendam next summer, July 26th would be a perfect in my opinion!! Hehe, there is never any shame in tryingicon_wink.gif))

Thanks again for the wonderful review, plan to share it with my DH!


Happy Cruising!


7/04 Ryndam Alaska B2B

12/04 Rotterdam Panama Canal

7/05 Prinsendam Baltic

11/05 "Veendammers" Carribean


RCCL x2(1999), Volendam (2000), Millinneum (2000), Maasdam (2001), Disney (2001), Statendam (2003), Amsterdam (2003)

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What a lovely review. We are going on a very similar itinerary in October on the Prinsendam except we end up in Venice and of course the weeks will not come quickly enough.


I was interested to read about your excursions in Nessebur, Odessa and Yalta. We have chosen similar ones.


I was also very interested to read that you did not need a visa for Ukraine. This was the same when we did the Baltic trip in 1999, as long as we did the ship's excursions, we did not need a visa.


I am going to email my TA in a minute, as the rep. here in Australia for HAL has told my TA that a visa is needed in the Ukraine at a cost of nearly $100 each person. Hopefully, we will be able to save that money.


Thanks again for letting us read about your wonderful cruise.




The next cruise is always the best!




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Oooooooh, I'm so excited! We'll be on the Prinsendam starting in Lisbon on Sept. 20, stopping in Rome for 2 days, ending in Athens. Thanks for your wonderful review, although it makes waiting much harder.



Prinsendam 9/20/04 soon!

Statendam 2003

Ryndam 2002

Veendam 2002

Maasdam 2001

Dana 24 sailboat 1989-1999

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Thanks for the review. Makes me even more anxious to board the Prinsendam in September.


Cactuslady, have you decided on tours yet? I have a tentative with Max in Rome for the Saturday we're there. Might you be interested? E-mail me at jhannah@reviewjournal.com and I can give you what information I have.


'Vegas Jim


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I have been trying to get as much information as possible on the Prinsendam, and in all fairness, since someone here posted a link of your good review of the Elegant Explorer to CruiseMates, I am posting the discussion I just read there, with a negative review, so that there is balance on both boards.



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Obviously the person that posted that review had an entirely different experience on board the Prinsendam than I did. I stand by my experiences and my review.

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I'm very interested in the Prinsendam Europe 2005 14-days reposition itinerariey between Rome and Amsterdam. We were always on the 70,000 to 120,000 tons less than 18-months old ships all these 15 times so I wonder if the 38,000 tons one like this will get sea sick easier while at the open Atlantic coast line regions the second half of June or September. The gallery at http://www.shipcafe.net/shipcafe/pr/prdm04.htm shows its swimming pool, restaurants, dancing lounges, etc. are being scaled down quite a bit. Are they roomy enough? Do the crews, particularly the dining ones, have mix nationality to share their views of their home cultures?

Thanks for sharing so much in advance.


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Thanks for posting that very interesting review. We spent two wonderful weeks on the Prinsendam from Singapore to Hong Kong in March, 2003.


We liked the ship and thought the food was the best we've ever had on more than a dozen cruises. There were some minor technical problems with the AC and cabin telephone, but that did little to detract from the overall experience.

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