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MS Prinsendam Baltic, Kiel Canal and Celtic Explorer, May 20-June 17, 2015

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I know it's early to start a live thread but I leave home Friday and want to have it set up before leaving home. I leave by train for Miami and am on the Crystal Serenity to Lisbon May 4-17:

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2203126

 

This thread will be pretty dormant while I'm on Serenity but hope to post pictures of the Veendam when we call in Bermuda.

 

I've also set up a combined thread for the whole journey of the "Friends of the Prinsendam" forum:

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2203036

 

A companion blog with pictures will be at:

 

http://serenitytokiel.wordpress.com

 

I will add links to selected pictures in this thread.

 

Roy

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Can't wait!!!

So enjoy your wonderful cruise!

You will love Crystal Serenity!!

Brings back fond memories?

I look forward to your live thread?

Denise

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Ray:

 

Have a great time! I have followed many of your blogs and look forward to another. You bring much joy to all of us who remain land-locked for now.

 

Bon Voyage!

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Thank you, Roy for taking the time to do a live thread. Hope you have a wonderful cruise.

 

 

David

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Looking forward to following your adventures on the P, we did that cruise last year, really loved it.

Allan

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OK, the Serenity is docked in Miami and I will soon be boarding. I thought I'd mention that Lou and Dave now have a webcam in Bermuda, and people may want to check it from time to time about May 5-8. It's based in Kings Wharf so Veendam and Serenity will not be prime targets, but they are doing wonderful things with telephoto shots so there may be something of interest.

 

Roy

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Looking forward to following you on your journey. We will be boarding the Prinsendam on June 17th, so will enjoy your descriptions and impressions of her before we take our turn on the "Elegant Explorer" to experience the Norwegian Fjords. Thank you for the time and effort you put into taking us along with you!

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I'm excited for you - hope you have a wonderful cruise aboard the Elegant Explorer.

 

Smooth Sailing ! :) :) :)

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A belated thanks to all.

 

When I stepped out on the Crystal Serenity’s promenade deck at 5:30, the lights of Bermuda were on our port side. We picked up our pilot at 6:30 for the long sail through the coral reefs, and passed the Celebrity Summit and NCL Breakaway about 8, dropping anchor a bit later in Great Sound. Our tenders are not allowed to operate in Bermuda Harbor, leaving our only access to shore via the ferry Bermudian, about once every 2 hours.

 

I was on the first trip ashore, leaving the Serenity about 9AM, and got my first glimpse of the Veendam about 9:20. From the deck of the Bermudian (about 20 feet above the water), the Veendam looked great, even the aft non-pool. The bulbous bow did look like it was ready for a scraping. Our dropoff point was about 200 yards from the Veendam and I walked past, checking with a Veendam passenger to determine their all aboard was 12:30. I explored Hamilton a bit (I’ve been to Bermuda before in 1998 (NCL Leeward) and 2012 (Enchantment OTS) so it felt reasonably familiar. I took advantage of the Library’s free wifi to load some software on my netbook and returned to the dock for the noon transfer back to the Serenity.

 

I was back on Serenity about 12:30 and went up to the Trident Grill (think Dive-In) for lunch about 1. I got my first glimpse of the Veendam’s upper decks moving among the islands about 1:20, closer to the Serenity than I had feared but not quite as close as my best hope. I was hoping to hear some horn action and took a position forward on the Sun Deck where I would be close to the Serenity’s horn if there were an exchange of salutes, but there was total silence. The Veendam came slowly out of the channel until it was perhaps a half mile to our stern, then turned to starboard and proceeded directly away from us. This is likely the last I'll see of the Veendam for some time as I think she will be on the Voyage of the Vikings when I sail the Maasdam in August. I did take some video (probably too much) that I hope to upload from town Friday and will post links here.

 

So far, in all my ports where there have been HAL and Crystal ships together I’ve been on the Crystal ship, and this is the first time I’ve had a touch of envy of the HAL passengers with their superb location. It’s ok, though, there are several reasons to be thankful I’m on the Serenity.

 

1. It’s an AWESOME ship.

2. If I were on the Veendam I would not be working my way closer to the Elegant Explorer. Transferring between 2 of my 3 favorite ships in the world is hard to beat.

3. Finally, I’m still in Bermuda (and have another day here). If I were a Veendam passenger that stern I watched sail away would mean I’m stranded.

 

While I have a very busy cruise schedule next year, I may have time for a getaway to Bermuda. I have 2 very good options, the Grandeur OTS which leaves nearly from my doorstep (While not Hamilton, being in Kings Wharf is still a big improvement over being at anchor) or the Veendam. I’m leaning towards the Veendam.

 

I posted too many photos to link to them individually, so here’s a link to the blog entry where they are posted:

 

https://serenitytokiel.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/day-cs3-thursday-may-7-hal-version-hamilton-bermuda/

 

Roy

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Folowing along and enjoying it very much.

 

thanks Roy :)

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Thanks, Jacqui. I'm now sitting in the cruise terminal waiting for the tender to take me back to the Serenity, and have uploaded my video of the Veendam leaving yesterday.

 

Emerging:

 

 

Part 2:

 

 

Part 3:

 

 

Part 4:

 

 

Disappearing:

 

 

Next stop Porto Delgada in about a week.

 

Roy

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Yes, I'm still on Serenity but just a quick update. My plan was to fly to Brussels on arrival in Lisbon for a couple of days before boarding the Prinsendam in Ijmuiden. I just happened to check my flight yesterday and found the time had been moved from 13:50 to 12:25. You can bet I went down to the front desk immediately and let them know of the change so Crystal will get me to the airport on time.

 

Roy

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Yes, I'm still on Serenity but just a quick update. My plan was to fly to Brussels on arrival in Lisbon for a couple of days before boarding the Prinsendam in Ijmuiden. I just happened to check my flight yesterday and found the time had been moved from 13:50 to 12:25. You can bet I went down to the front desk immediately and let them know of the change so Crystal will get me to the airport on time.

 

Roy

 

WOW! Good thing you caught that Roy. You could have had a very unpleasant surprise!

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Roy,

 

Thanks for taking us along again. I always enjoy your blogs about the amazing travels you do. Enjoy!

 

Kathi

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I really enjoy Live Threads..Thanks

 

Me, too. Could you post about Prinsendam's condition? Would greatly appreciate it, as we sail on her at Christmas.

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Thanks, all.

 

I’ll post here because this was a port on this year’s Amsterdam World Cruise and I followed 2 HAL blogs. I read on Bill & Maryann’s (WCB) and/or JohnnyB’s threads that they were interested in a museum with some WW2 tunnels and that sounded interesting to me. I left the ship about 9 and stopped at the tourist information desk in the terminal. It may have been that the attendant spoke little english but in any case he was no help to me just saying “the museum is ‘here’ but it is closed”. I wandered around town and the description on Crystal’s map of Forte de Sao Bras suggested that it was an active naval base which might be closed to the public. Thinking that it was listed as a point of interest I decided to have a look anyway and found that it is both an active base and interesting museum. There were guards at the gate, and they inquired if I was interested in the museum. Well, then you need to buy a ticket, and I was ushered into an office. I was almost embarrassed to have asked the price when I found it was just 1 Euro.

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/fortsaobras.jpg

 

There were 3 kind of distinct parts, starting with a couple of traditional rooms with the expected kinds of displays. The fort was originally built in the 16th century, and was updated during the 19th and 20th centuries, especially for World War II. Unfortunately, most of the signs were just in Portugese so I’m just catching the highlights. The first room on the tour was dedicated to the war in the 1960's and 70's that saw Portugal losing it’s colonial possessions and becoming a democracy. The rest of the first part was fairly routine displays.

 

I had heard about tunnels and my heart sank when I got to the back of the complex. There were some arched enclosures with military vehicles inside and I thought “These can’t be the tunnels”. They weren’t, the tunnels were off to the right. I’m not sure I would call them tunnels, I think bunker might be a more accurate term. The rooms appeared to be on the surface but covered over with concrete and earth giving the effect of tunnels and caverns. There were narrow passages connecting large and small rooms, all filled with military items of all types, from messenger motorcycles to big and small guns to marching band instruments. There were about 6 different rooms in the complex.

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/nottunnel.jpg

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/tunnel.jpg

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/tunnelroom.jpg

 

The 3rd part was the ramparts with lookout posts and gun positions, one of which gave a perfect vantage point to fire on the Serenity if there had been a gun there. Two large guns looked ready to be fired, although I’m sure they were not.

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/ramparts.jpg

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/armor.jpg

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/serenityatarget.jpg

 

All in all, it was a very nice couple of hours (just over a half mile from the pier), and I’m glad I followed those World Cruise threads. Lisbon is our next and final port where I will fly to Brussels for a couple of days and finally to Amsterdam.

 

Roy

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Roy,

 

I'm posting here to wish you continued fun travels, and also b/c my thread tools aren't working and I wanted to be sure to have this thread bookmarked!

 

--May

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Thank you MayB. I have disembarked the Crystal Serenity and am officially headed for the Elegant Explorer and will post here from now on.

 

At 5am it was a lovely morning except for some “music?” blaring from speakers off the bow of the ship. While I’ve been wearing at least a light jacket on most of the sea days this morning I walked with just a light shirt and it was ideal in the absence of wind. It was almost totally clear and the sun came up over the stern just a little to starboard about 6:30. I walked a total of 6 laps this morning.

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/dawn0517.jpg

 

This is my first disembarkation in Lisbon. I was assigned an estimated time of 8:55. I went down to the Galaxy lounge about 8:20, and they were then running about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. They lost some time while I waited but my Red 6 was called at 8:45, and at 8:55 I was seated on the coach. I arrived at the airport about 9:20.

 

I had booked through TAP air Portugal but my flight was operated by Brussels Airlines and used a separate checkin counter for Star Alliance Partners. Staff was just arriving as I lined up and it took a while to get checked in. Security became suspicious of something in my bag and went through it pretty thoroughly. Their interest seemed to focus on a HAL thermal mug filled with chocolates but they found nothing of concern. I was in the gate area about 10:15 with the gate assignment to be posted at 11;10.

 

I seem to read mostly when flying and haven’t touched my Kindle IPAD app in the 8 sea days I was on the Crystal Serenity. Today I read about a quarter of my current book, split roughly between time on the airplane and time on the plane.

 

The gate turned out to be quite close to where I was waiting. When the 11:45 boarding time came, the Airbus 320 had just reached the gate. Boarding for the 12:25 flight began just after 12 and we pushed back about 12:35. While there was no baggage fee on the flight everything else was extra including coffee and tea. The crew seemed more focused on commerce than on passengers. We touched down just about at our 4:00pm (Brussels time) arrival time. This was the first time on the trip I was actually glad to move my watch forward.

 

My bag came off the carousel at 4:30 and for the first time of the trip I became responsible for all of my junk at once. The big red bag was 50 pounds and the smaller green one about 35. Airport information told me the best way to get to the Novotel off Grand Place was the train to Brussels Central. I got on a 5:15 train for the roughly 20-minute trip. I find once that big bag is loaded on my back it stays there unless I am stopping for a long time. The smaller bag that I wear across my chest was placed on a table at my seat but I just kept the big one on, resting on the seat. .I kind of spread across the bench seat but the train wasn’t crowded. Things got a bit more difficult as there were no directions and no information desk in the station. After wandering for a while I finally found a helpful police officer who told me my hotel was behind the very visible Hilton. I probably wandered for about 20 minutes looking for the hotel and once there I was a bit drained.

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/unloaded.jpg

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/novatel1.jpg

 

I got a quick dinner and walked around a bit but most is closed on Sunday evening. I’ll probably be in bed relatively early.

 

Today’s parting shot has another local focus. Monday, May 18 is a special day for the US Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis. Congratulations to the class of 2015 who will be earning their commissions and beginning their active service to our country, and congratulations to the class of 2018, climbing a greased Herndon monument and concluding their Plebe year.

 

Roy

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