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rafinmd

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

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I rose at 5 and went for a walk about 5:40 in the hopes of catching a sunrise. Sadly, that was a double failure. While the Grande Place square is lovely, it is surrounded by rather imposing buildings. In any case, it was very cloudy and a bit chilly to boot; most of the day I wore both my sport coat and light jacket.

 

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I was a bit slow getting started this morning but finally set off for the train station after 10. It is not a high speed train, making the 55-mile journey in about an hour. The train was probably at about 70% capacity. Brugge is a pretty compact town with the train station kind of on the southern outskirts. There’s a tourist information office in the station, so I got a map and basic instructions. It’s a pleasant walk of about a mile to the biggest square, Markt. The lady at the tourist site pointed out the bell tower at Markt as a reference, unfortunately I never saw that tower again after getting into first trees and buildings, but other towers were in the same general direction. The biggest site I passed on the way in was St. Savior’s Cathedral, a church that seems to have been rebuilt several times in a strange mix of styles. A park between there and Markt has a statue of Simon Stevinplein, although I never quite figured out the significance.

 

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There’s about a 50-minute minibus tour of the city, and that seemed to be a good way to get a feel of the place beyond what I might walk. There was a multi-lingual headphone setup and a video screen at the front showed the major sites, but a bus window is not conducive to photography.

 

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One thing I learned on the tour was that the tower in the square could be climbed (about 360 steps), and I considered it but declined when I saw the “no backpack” and “no photo” icons at the ticket office. I did a loop around a northeast quadrant of the city, revisiting the theater, a statue of artist Jan Van Eyck, and following along a canal snuggled in between narrow streets and buildings on each side. Several boats were providing a rivers eye view of the city, they looked nice but also a little chilly today. Following the canal on sort of a reversed c-shaped course, I ended up at the other square, Burg, home of the City Hall.

 

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As I was starting the walk a wind had come up suggestive of imminent rain. I ignored it but as I approached Burg that was no longer possible. Fortunately, the 2 main squares are VERY close together and Markt is a hub for buses. As I approached, a bus marked “Station” came by me and pulled up in the square. My quick reaction was that it was time to head back The bus route was a bit roundabout but took me through some areas I’d missed on the tour and my walk. There are 3 oddly spaced (:08, :27, and :57) trains to Brussels each hour. I just missed the 2:57, got coffee, and found the 3:08 loading a few minutes early.

 

My Thalys train to Amsterdam leaves from Brussels-Midi Station, while the Novotel is at Brussels Central. They are about a mile apart, and I got off at Brussels-Midi to have a look. For tomorrow I can take a connecting train between the 2 stations at no charge, or a taxi is about E15. It’s a bit uphill to my station; without 85 pounds of stuff on my back I would take the connecting train, but will probably spring for the cab. For today, it was a pleasant walk back to the Novotel.

 

The rain hit Brussels about dinner time, and I tried to stay very local. Belgium seems famous for their waffles, but I thought mine looked better than it tasted.

 

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As today’s parting shot, I was somewhat stunned by how prevalent smoking seems to be in parts of Europe. It was mentioned for Punta Delgada by fellow passengers on the Crystal Serenity, and seems there are people smoking everywhere here. I actually passed on my first restaurant this evening because the place reeked of smoke when I entered. This makes me appreciate how much things have improved in North America.

 

Roy

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Thanks so much Roy for great reports :)

 

You are the intrepid traveller taking trains, etc. to get where you need to go.

 

Safe travels tomorrow and enjoy the journey.

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This will be short as I just have my iPad-mini but Thalys has wifi and I just left the last stop in Belgium. Still to come, Rotterdam, AMS, and finally Amsterdam central. I did walk to Brussels central, took my time on the uphill and it was ok. Will see about station to hotel, probably a taxi. Should arrive about 14:00.

 

Roy

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Got to my hotel, the Grand Amrath a little after 2. I've gone over to the the Renaissance (about a half mile away) and booked a 10AM transfer to the ship at the HAL desk there.

 

Roy

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Got to my hotel, the Grand Amrath a little after 2. I've gone over to the the Renaissance (about a half mile away) and booked a 10AM transfer to the ship at the HAL desk there.

 

Roy

 

Welcome to Amsterdam. I hope you will have another nice cruise on Prinsendam.

Have a visit to the bar at Doubletree Hotel near Centraal Station, great view over the city.

Edited by Ine

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Thanks, Jacqui and Ine.

 

When I rose at 5AM it looked brighter and an early walk revealed a crisp, cool morning. Up yo now I had stayed on the hotel side of Brussels Central but today I passed the station looking for something on the map called Royal Place, or something like that. It was a lovely park, roughly 2 blocks square, but the buildings around it were high enough that I didn’t see the sun until going out later for breakfast. There was a lot of evidence of the sun reflecting off the upper stories of buildings, but no direct view.

 

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My Thalys high speed train to Amsterdam left from Brussels Midi, about a mile south of my hotel. There was frequent local service between Brussels Central and Midi, but my station was uphill (probably about a 30 foot/10 meter rise), normally trivial but not for an old man with an 85-pound load. It had been a tossup between walking to Brussels Central or a taxi to Midi, but eventually I decided to walk.

 

I left the Novotel about 10:30 and walked SLOWLY up the grade to Central Station. From there it was down 2 long flights of stairs to the platform and about a 10-minute wait for the next train. Fortunately, this was a single level train and it wasn’t necessary to climb steps up to the passenger compartment. On the short ride between stations we went from an underground track to an elevated one, and it was down another set of stairs to the main level of Midi Station. The Thalys information desk directed me to platform 5A, a short walk, and up an escalator to the platform level.

 

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My load today was 55 pounds on my back and another 30 on a smaller pack worn across my chest. I can’t really lift the big pack, I’ll set it on a chair and pull the straps on and then stand up. Once it is on, it is best for it to stay on for a while rather than putting it on and off. I loaded it in my room and took it off once at the Thalys platform, resting it on the seat of the connecting train while the straps were still connected.

 

There are “Thalys lounges” which are really not much more than bus shelters with a door; I opted to stay with one of the outside benches. I was about 45 minutes ahead of my train, watched a Paris Thalys train load and leave, and worked a couple of Sudokus. A display showed the position of each car a little before the train arrived, my car was about 2 car lengths away and I went to that location about 5 minutes ahead of time.

 

I was in a First Class car, each row had a single seat on 1 side and double on the other, I had chosen a single seat. There were luggage racks at the end of the car, they were pretty full. My small bag fit in a rack, and there was a space at the end of the car with a big bag, mine went next to it.

 

The train schedule was 11:52 at Brussels and 1:40 in Amsterdam. Soon after we left an airline style lunch was served; frankly I thought it looked better than it tasted, but it sufficed. We had elevated platforms in both Brussels and Amsterdam, but all of our intermediate stops (Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Schiphol were underground. Amsterdam was the train’s final stop so there was a chance to put the bag on an open seat to load up. The hotel was actually quite close to the train station but that wasn’t obvious and I was happy to relax in a cab. The hotel is older but the room is very nice.

 

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One of the first things I did on arrival is walk to the Renaissance (HAL’s hotel in Amsterdam) and book a transfer to the ship. I’ll leave the hotel about 8:45 and the estimate is I’ll be on the 10 AM transfer, arriving in Ijmuiden about 11.

 

Amsterdam is a nice, walkable city, although there are a lot of bicycles and care is necessary. There’s a mixture of wide boulevards and narrow streets, with a number of canals and many tour boats circulating on them

 

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On the way to dinner I walked past the Doubletree hotel which looks new and very nice. I didn’t stay but it looks like a lovely place. This will be one final night that I hope to end the day early.

 

As a parting shot, much has been written about HAL’s use of Ijmuiden instead of Amsterdam as a primary port. I understand that there are some business reasons for it but that doesn’t make it more desirable. My post cruise comments will reflect that, but for right now it’s just goes hand and hand with sailing on a ship I love.

 

Roy

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Just caught up on all your various posts (you left after I did, and I haven't been back long). Thanks for all your entries! It's fun riding along with you.

I am looking forward to your portion on the Prinsendam, and to one of my favorite areas of the world.

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Welcome home RuthC. At one time I was booked on the similar Volendam itinerary for 2016 but cancelled it in favor of last spring's Maasdam South America trip when Crystal announced their 2016 Northwest Passage cruise. That was a lovely itinerary.

 

When I rose about 5 there was already a fair amount of light. I went out for a morning walk about 5:40 and the sun had officially risen, but at the waterfront it was not yet visible. There were 2 river boats moored at the waterfront, both looked very sleepy but I could see what appeared to be crew getting the dining room ready for breakfast. The sun found a hole in the clouds with some nice colors. On my way back I passed a number of houseboats, one came complete with a small car and a little crane to get it on and off. St. Nicholaas Basilica seems to be one of the main churches in town.

 

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I left the Grand Amrath about 8:45. I’m not sure what happened but somehow it was difficult to get the taxi driver to understand I wanted to go to the Renaissance Hotel. We weren’t really delayed long though, and for a fare of E10 it doesn’t appear he was doing anything intentionally wrong. There were 3 transfer buses to the ship. I was on the middle one (10:00am) and we arrived at the dock just after 11.

 

The representative stepped on the bus and announced that checkin would begin at 11:30. After getting a card to reserve my checkin group I did a little investigation of the port. Ijmuiden is a really out of the way port, and there are a few options for arrival. I had heard there was a bus but the final step was a difficult climb over a dike. It turns out the steps were only about 150 meters from the terminal so I went to have a look. The steps are somewhere between a 1 and 2 story climb, and the bus stop is about 50 meters past the dike. It was easy with just my carryon but would have been a real challenge fully loaded. I also knew there was an Ijmuiden Holiday Inn, it appeared to be about a half mile from the port something I could handle if I made 2 trips.

 

I returned to the terminal about 11:30m and they were calling group 3. There was an upstairs seating area along with a place to buy refreshments on the upper level of the terminal. I took a seat and waited until group 5 was called about 11:50. The line moved quickly and I had my key card and was through security by noon. Still one more hitch, although the ship was very close, we needed a compulsory shuttle bus to get to it. It moved fairly quickly and I was onboard about 12:10. Overall, a much smoother embarkation than the Maasdam in January. My luggage had not yet arrived when I went off to the Mariners Luncheon. I had the buttermilk chicken and the fruit salad as a desert.

 

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When I returned to my room my big bag was there and the smaller one arrived just a few minutes later. For the transfer to the ship I had the computer stuff and necessary meds in my carryon, and rearranged the other 2 for relatively equal weight (30 and 36 pounds). At those levels, I could actually lift the bags from the floor to my shoulders.

 

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I have ample storage space and a wide desk space with US and European outlets at opposite ends. It is a slightly nicer layout than I had on the Crystal Serenity (especially desk space) but both rooms have been very nice. Most of the afternoon up to the 3:30 muster drill was devoted to packing. The Prinsendam is one of a very few ships with open bridge wings and I went up to the Observation Deck for the actual sailaway. The lines were stowed just after 4 and one of the officers (not sure Staff Captain or First Officer) was at the controls, and shortly after leaving the dock motioned with his hands over his ears and we were treated to a nice long blast of the horn. At the luncheon there was a couple from the local area who indicated their grandson would be seeing them off. A car parked near the shoreline on the opposite side of our slip may have been them. It was pretty windy and a tug was stationed at the aft of the ship as we left.

 

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A group of about 8 Cruise Critic members gathered in the Crows Nest after sailaway, and then went down for Destination Specialist Brett’s talk on Hamburg and Warnemunde. He seems to be a good one although I only stayed about 20 minutes before leaving to prepare for dinner.

 

Table 151 is an 8-top near the main dining room entrance. In addition to me we had 1 empty seat, 2 couples who have been on the ship for a while, and 2 other solo newcomers. Our dining stewards are Sugeng and Tri and Dining Supervison Ananta. We will be greatly reduced tomorrow as several people have tours that run until 6:30.

 

The Captain’s Welcome toast was held about 8PM. Captain Tim Roberts is one of my favorites, only behind Crystal Symphony’s Ralf Zaander. Hotel Director Bart Groeneveld and Cruise Director Mark Brignone are both new to me, and Mark is new to the Prinsendam as well. I found my first flaw In the Prinsendam today and it doesn’t concern the age of the ship. There is a touch screen display board and one of the options is “Meet the Officers”. I touched on Staff Captain and it came up with Tim Roberts. Touching Captain brought up a blank screen. Presumably a programming glitch. The Staff Captain was introduced as Vincent with no last name given.

 

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There was a single 9:30 show where the Location Staff was introduced. Included was Youth Counselor Taylor who has 1 youth on board. I’m thinking a single youth might even be more of a challenge than a dozen. After the show I went up to the Crow’s nest where Buddy was at the piano. He’s no Debbie Bacon, Mark Farris, or Barry from Boston but he’s good enough. I generally avoid ships elevators but floor mats with the day of the week on them are pretty much a HAL tradition. They are usually brown, about the color of natural hemp. As I returned from the Crow’s Nest a door opened and I noticed that these mats were quite a different blue shade.

 

Today’s parting shot is something I’m just wondering about. There has been recent discussion on Cruise Critic about “class” systems in cruising. While the Prinsendam has now spent nearly half of it’s career as a HAL ship it has quite a history. I remembered her being built as the Royal Viking Sun and being the Seabourn Sun before moving to HAL. I had forgotten that from 1994 to 1999 the ship sailed under the Cunard flag. I never sailed Cunard until 2007 but I believe their class system was fairly active in 1994. I just wonder if that could explain why there is a separate forward section to the dining room and if the present Pinnacle Grill (now the breakfast spot for Suite passengers) could have originated from a Cunard upper class dining room. Just wondering.

 

Roy

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Thanks for the shout-out, Roy. Now if I could only get myself to unpack!

 

Buddy is more than just "good enough"; I think he's great! His milieu is more a piano bar than the Crow's Nest, though (although I have liked him in both).

 

I don't know what the configuration of the dining rooms was under Seabourn or Cunard, but under Royal Viking there was one sitting for dinner. The current Ocean Bar was the location.

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Thanks for the shout-out, Roy. Now if I could only get myself to unpack!

 

Buddy is more than just "good enough"; I think he's great! His milieu is more a piano bar than the Crow's Nest, though (although I have liked him in both).

 

I don't know what the configuration of the dining rooms was under Seabourn or Cunard, but under Royal Viking there was one sitting for dinner. The current Ocean Bar was the location.

 

We've enjoyed Buddy on both the Maasdam and the Prinsendam. He is a personable fellow who makes for entertaining evenings after dinner.:D

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Thanks for your report. Indeed IJmuiden is absolutely not interesting for tourists. The same for the Holiday Inn, rather isolated and only for maybe 1 night before embarkation. However the beach in IJmuiden is nice and very wide, but not when the wind brings in the smell of the steel factory.

Have a great cruise.

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Looking forward to following your posts aboard the Prinsendam...what a wonderful adventure you are having!

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One of the first things I did on arrival is walk to the Renaissance (HAL’s hotel in Amsterdam) and book a transfer to the ship. I’ll leave the hotel about 8:45 and the estimate is I’ll be on the 10 AM transfer, arriving in Ijmuiden about 11.

 

Can you tell me how much the transfer from HAL costs. Thank you

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Thanks, all. I get comments by email to read offline and they come a day late when I'm this far east but i will have a look at them.

 

Summer days are long at 53 degrees North. I went out on deck about 5:20 and the sun was already up on a very cloudy day but peeking out of a tiny hole. Me were moving so slowly I was thinking “this is the speed for picking up a pilot”, and when I looked to starboard there was a big boat for pilots, clearly a mobile staging base. I had intended a walk of about 3 miles but within minutes a shower started soaking the deck. We had entered the Hamburg traffic pattern but it was about 8am when I first started to feel we were in a river. My only other visit to Hamburg was 6 months ago on QM2 where I arrived at 8AM and went straight to the airport, seeing essentially nothing of either the approach or the city.

 

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Future Cruise Consultant Tina had a 9:30 talk in the showroom. When that finished I went on deck for most of my walk and Destination Specialist Brett came on the PA with commentary on our sail into Hamburg. As we passed the city limits there was a welcome center where the Dutch flag was raised and the Dutch national Anthem was played on huge speakers. We passed the factory where the Airbus A320 is built, employing about 15,000 people. Brett pointed out a “Beluga”, a very fat aircraft used to ferry Airbus parts between factories.

 

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About the time we swapped our river pilot for a pilot for the actual port, Captain Tim came on the PA and advised that due to heavy traffic our arrival into Hamburg would be delayed. In the city we passed a number of museum ships, including a Russian Spy Submarine. We pulled alongside the dock about 1PM, about a quarter mile upstream from where QM2 docked.

 

All of the day’s tours returned after my dinner time and I opted instead to explore a bit on my own. I left the ship about 1PM and had hoped to visit the complex of museum ships. I started out on a very pleasant riverwalk, but Hamburg is a city of canals, and my path turned out to be a dead end. A new concert hall is being built, and the construction zone has closed a bridge that would have allowed me onward progress. I had pretty much decided to return to the ship when a heavy rain broke out.

 

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The closest shelter seemed to be a small structure with an opening that turned out to be a visitor center for the concert hall. There was refuge from the rain on the second floor, a panoramic window on the project, and some brochures in English. When completed, the complex, which looks somewhat like a ship perched on a warehouse, will have hotel, apartments, several music venues, and a 65-stop great organ.

 

The rain subsided a bit and a pedestrian bridge provided shelter on the way to one of 3 prominent church steeples, Between the map not being very good and being distracted by the weather I did not get the names of any of the churches but this one appeared to be Lutheran. There was a small organ in the front and a larger one in the back and a lovely alter. The rain had pretty well stopped and I continued walking to the other 2 steeples, both interesting looking churches but I didn’t go inside. On the way back I passed the Maritime Museum, not far from the ship and about even with the stern. There was a beautiful propeller blade in the front, but there was no English version of the price list and it was getting a bit late so I did not go in. I returned to the Prinsendam after about a 2-hour stroll.

 

It was just me at table 151 and the service was very quick. The evening entertainment was soprano Penny Mathisen. When I went up to the Crows Nest after the show, Buddy was just finishing the answers to the name that tune quiz.

 

As today’s parting shot, never underestimate the value of a good map in a strange place.

 

Roy

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Hi Roy I am still following your adventures and enjoy reading all your posts.

 

Thank you for taking the time to let us in on your travels.

 

Susan

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Thank you RuthC, Ine, Skipper's Mom, Susan, and Brazilgirl.

One of the first things I did on arrival is walk to the Renaissance (HAL’s hotel in Amsterdam) and book a transfer to the ship. I’ll leave the hotel about 8:45 and the estimate is I’ll be on the 10 AM transfer, arriving in Ijmuiden about 11.

 

Can you tell me how much the transfer from HAL costs. Thank you

 

I had to check my bill to be sure. The HAL rep at the Renaissance quoted a price of 32 Euro to be posted to my onboard account. It was actually 32 dollars.

 

I’ve heard from some veterans of my ship in it’s earlier identities. In it’s former lives, what is now the Ocean Bar was part of the dining room and there was sufficient space in the dining rooms to sear everyone at once, and that, even while part of the Cunard family there were no class distinctions. I also learned of a connection relative to my current trip. Captain Birger Vorland, current Master of the Crystal Serenity, was part of the Royal Viking family in the period when the ship was operating as part of the Royal Viking Fleet. I am not clear that he was ever assigned to this specific ship, but certainly was to one or more of her sisters. According to Captain Vorland’s bio in Reflections, at the time he would have been either First Officer or Staff Captain.

 

When I went out on deck about 5:20 the sun was officially up but still behind buildings to the aft of the ship. When I went for coffee in the lido I had to search a bit for creamer and when I returned there was a space between the rooftops and the sun. There was a bit of a morning chill but still a decent morning. By 7 we had some company, the massive Mein Schiff 4.

 

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My morning tour was to Neuengamme Concentration Camp. We left the Showroom just before 8 and drove around the city for just over an hour, circling Lake Alster and viewing most of the major sites before crossing the Elbe and continuing to the camp.

 

Neuengamme was originally settled to get labor to restart a small brickyard. Hitler had grandiose architectural plans and needed a lot of bricks to complete his works. Soon, a much larger brick factory was built, along with a factory which produced guns. This all required a lot of labor and over the years about 100,000 people were assigned to the camp. The inmates were mostly non-Germans but any who did not support the **** agenda could be assigned there. They faced hard labor, bad food and clothing and generally brutal conditions. Few guards were needed as some prisoners were chosen as leaders. They were generally brutal to other inmates, and had separate, superior housing. If they did not produce the results their masters wanted, they would be returned to the general population where they generally would not survive the first night. As the war ended the camp was evacuated with the inmates subject to death marches. About 7.000 were placed on 2 ships, which the RAF mistook for fleeing ****s and bombed. Once the allies took over, the camp became an internment center for ****s and eventually a prison for the former staff and other ****s. It was closed and became a memorial in 2002.

 

Neuengamme today has just a few standing buildings. Most of the buildings were demolished and mounds of stone mark their locations with a little sign to say what the building was.

 

I felt a bit like my bus drew the short straw. The other buses had guides at the camp and walked around quite a bit. We had a curator who took us a couple of places and talked and talked. Our first stop was just a random spot where he talked for about 20 minutes. I could have gotten just about the same experience if he had come to the ship and talked in the showroom at sea. I had to use the toilet near the end of that talk and when I returned he was moving on to the next stop. I could see where he was going and made sure I walked past a couple of the signs at the site of various buildings.

 

There were 2 buildings for “special” inmates. They were elite Frenchmen who were given privileges beyond normal inmates, exempt from work, and were there as hostages. Other buildings were infirmaries (during the life of the camp the inmates never had much dignity but were eventually valued for the work they could do).

 

The second stop was at least a little better placed, a detention bunker where there were 5 small cells where problem prisoners were put in solitary and could be deprived of light. On 2 occasions about 200 people were placed in the small rooms and subjected to poison gas.

 

 

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The inmates were housed in barracks. Most were wood and were demolished but 2 brick “blocks” remain. The barrack spaces have been converted to displays which was where the final talk took place. Among the displays were a section of the original camp gate and a number of notebooks with stories of individual inmates. We were released to explore on our own at 11 with instructions to meet on the bus at 11:45. I spent most of that time walking the grounds. Lines of silver poles denoted the locations of barbed wire fences in the original complex. The original SS garage was converted to display space, and the large brick factory was visible beyond the garage. The location of the SS barracks was noted but I saw no physical trace of their existence.

 

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On another side were the metal factories where guns were built. That space looked like it was set up for temporary displays but is currently vacant. On the opposite side of the complex from the brick factory was a crematorium and a railroad siding where one solitary car stood guard.

 

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We returned to the ship about 12:30..

 

Roy

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After returning from the tour I took a fairly long walk around Hamburg, somewhat using the orientation to the city I had gotten from the bus tour. One of the highlights of the city is Lake Alster, a large artificial lake in the center of the city created by damming one of the Elbe tributaries. The upstream end is wide and fairly secluded while the downstream end near the dam is bustling and right in the center of town near the Town Hall(rathaus).

 

It appears that the Elbe is quite tidal in Hamburg as one of the canals was basically devoid of water when I looked at it.

 

I had considered heading to the docks with museum ships but got distracted when I saw the spire of St. Nikolas’ Church. The first church was built there in the 14th century, destroyed by fire in 1842 and rebuilt by 1874. The 147 meter steeple was the highest point of the city (although surprisingly easy to miss when walking between tall buildings) and the landmark used by allied bombers in 1944. The church was destroyed in the bombing but the tower mostly untouched. Instead of rebuilding, the people of Hamburg have maintained the shell as a monument to the war. There is a museum in the former basement, and an elevator now goes to an observation level about half way up. The tower is in restoration and surrounded by scaffolding, but the views are still excellent. I did also retrace some of my steps from yesterday’s walk and the church that appears to be Lutheran was St. Katharinen-Kirche and churches 2 and 3 were St. Jacobi and St. Petri.

 

My netbook is telling me the antivirus is out of date and I went online at lunch. The update loaded pretty quickly but the installation went on forever and appears not to have worked. I finally returned to the Prinsendam about 4. There are 2 terminal buildings in Hamburg. We walked through a small portion of Terminal 2 to pass security while all of terminal 1 was used by Mein Schiff 4 and the other half of Terminal 2 was used for their incoming luggage. It is a HUGE ship. They were still loading bags at 4PM, but pulled away sometime around 7.

 

We had a nearly full house at table 151. There was 1 newcomer who missed his flight to Amsterdam and talked of a wild cab ride from Hamburg Airport. The evening entertainment was comedian Stevie Jo.

 

Today’s parting shot is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on a sign with a statue at St. Nikolas’ Church: “No man in the whole world can change the truth. One can only look for the truth, find it, and serve it. The truth is in all places”.

 

Roy

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Captain Tim just came on the PA. One of the Kiel locks is damaged and there's a backup at the other one. We will anchor about 11 at the first lock and our passage will be delayed, possibly as late as 4PM local time.

 

Roy

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sorry to hear about the Kiel Canal issue Roy. Hopefully you get to go through and the timing doesn't disrupt the rest of the schedule.

 

The Kiel Canal is so pretty. I hope it is not later than the time given. You want to be able to see when you go through and not be in darkness. good luck

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Ahhh...That's why you are late entering the locks. Going to be nearly dark when you get to the other cams.

Prin1_zpsrdlscmil.jpg

 

Prin6_zpslbsmthwb.jpg

 

Prin4_zpsssiyjqxq.jpg

 

Prin7_zpsqas7yzm0.jpg

Edited by Essiesmom

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Thanks, Jacqui and essiesmom. According to Captain Tim, such delays are considered in our schedule and we are close to Warnemunde. It's a shame to have missed much of the passage but things happen.

 

At 5am we had total cloud cover. At our docking location people are not allowed to walk to the terminal, and I never saw the shuttle bus move during my 2-mile morning walk. All aboard was 7:30 but I noticed about 6:30 that the security facilities at the gangway had been shut down. I was doing some online work in my room about 7:45 when I realized we were moving and already about a mile downriver. One of the things our guide pointed out on yesterday’s city tour was a dome leading to an early tunnel under the Elbe river. It was quite a small simple tunnel, large enough for only small cars and accessed by an elevator at each end rather than a ramp. The tunnel entrance was quite visible as we passed.

 

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

 

We are carrying a Protestant Chaplain and with a port call on Sunday the interdenominational service was today at 9AM in the Wajang Theater. At 10 Future Cruise Consultant Tina presented her “10 bucket list” destinations. I’ve been fortunate to have been to most or all, in some cases more than once.

 

Captain Roberts came on the PA mid-morning with some bad news. A ship ran into one of the lock gates Friday, closing one of the 2 locks we can use and causing a traffic jam. We will proceed to the canal entrance but must wait our turn, perhaps until 4PM. That caused several program changes, including postponement of tonight’s formal night.

 

A Holland America tradition on Panama Canal Cruises is Panama Rolls. I do not have a HAL Panama Canal Cruise on my horizon and had been looking forward to the promised Kiel rolls. They were due at 11AM, but pushed back until 4PM, too late for lunch. I had also planned on walking a total of 5 miles, most of it while transiting the Kiel Canal. I did it a little at a time, finishing mid-afternoon. Unlike Friday’s mild temperatures it was about 10C with a biting wind. A sale on fleece in the shop was welcome today.

 

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

 

Captain Roberts came on again around 2:00 and made reference to a green hulled ship to our stern. He said we would be next in the canal after that ship. It remained anchored for quite a while, but around 3 I noticed it was gone. We started moving about 3:30. The Kiel rolls did come out at 4; I ate one and kept a second for a snack on my tour tomorrow.

 

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

 

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

 

According to our Destination Specialist Brett, the Kiel Canal is the world’s busiest man made waterway, carrying more ships annually than the Panama and Suez canals combined. While true, I’m pretty sure that would not carry over to tonnage as most of the ships are relatively small. The main advantage of the canal is not the distance saved, but the fact that the North Sea can be quite a handful in winter. There are actually 4 locks at each end, but 2 are very old and too small for the Prinsendam. The lift at the locks is only about 1 meter.

 

We entered the first lock about 4:30, with assistance from a tug at each end. We threw mooring lines to canal personnel and once they were secured the tugs left us. The lock gates on the Kiel Canal slide in from the side; it’s a relatively slow process. From near the bow the damage to the gate in the adjoining gate was clearly visible. While in the lock Brett pointed out a pair of ferry boats crossing the canal ahead of us. One of the promises made when the canal was built was that there would always be free ferry service at several points across the canal. It seems a bit odd that it still runs several governments later when there are now a number of bridges across the canal. Just beyond that point Brett also pointed out a gate sitting alongside the canal that had been so severely damaged by a ship that it had to be removed. We passed under the first bridge soon after leaving the lock but it was time to head to dinner.

 

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

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/ouch1.jpg

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/greeters1.jpg

 

I skipped desert in the dining room to be mobile on the ship, getting ice cream in the lido. We did pass several bridges after dinner and bridge clearance, rather than length and width is the reason larger ships cannot pass. The bridge clearance is only 43 meters and we can pass only with our mast folded down. At each bridge there were people waving to us, including the brother of one of the passengers. The ship greeted him by name at one of the bridges. The canal is pretty narrow and sitting up in the Crows Nest it feels almost like we are sailing down a highway. There are some points where it is too narrow to pass other ships and sometimes we had to wait for a ship before moving on.

 

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

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/greeters4.jpg

 

The experience of the canal varied somewhat by the deck one was on. On the upper decks, about lido or higher, you look out over the trees and see a vast landscape. Closer to the water, around the main and lower promenade decks you see a narrow passage between rows of trees. With walking paths on each side of the canal there are street lights, really giving the feeling at night of “driving” down a maritime “street”. It fell dark just about the time we passed the midpoint of the canal.

 

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

 

https://serenitytokiel.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/dusk0523.jpg

 

The evening entertainment was the Prinsendam entertainers in Bravo. I skipped the show but hope to catch it on the second leg of the collectors cruise.

 

As a parting shot, I’ve traveled most of the worlds canals and they are all unique. The narrowness of the Kiel, the unique lock design and the people alongside make it special. Sadly, the low bridges probably make it pretty close to a once in a lifetime experiece as the number of ships that can navigate it is dwindling.

 

Roy

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The daylight transit of the Kiel Canal is a unique experience, and I'm sorry you missed that. But you did get the opportunity to transit in some daylight, plus you got the dusk, twilight, darkness experience.

I would day this was a nice trade-off.

 

Thanks for the post.

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