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lizzielady

Prinsendam, 10/16/05 Black Sea Magic, All Aboard!

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Part One

CruiseCritic: Lizzielady -Carolyn and sister, Vesta

I will attempt to document our cruise as we go; however, this keyboard is tiny for my fat fingers and I find it quite difficult to type. We selected this cruise for the unusual and remote ports—some that it would be doubtful that we’d visit again.

Prologue

Last year on the Westerdam we had difficulty with our luggage keeping up with our plane schedule. So this time we decided to leave an additional day early: Wednesday for a Sunday sailing. We packed our clothing into two main pieces of luggage; one was to carry-on and contain the clothes for our three nights in Athens, the other was larger and it contained all of the clothing for our 12 day cruise. This way we wouldn’t even have to open the large suitcase until we boarded the ship! After a scheduled two hour layover after our flight from Jacksonville to JFK and an additional one and one-half hour delay because of rain in NYC, we boarded our very uneventful flight to Athens.

We had arranged for George’s Taxi (the best taxi driver in Athens) to meet us at the Athens airport. Noting that our checked luggage was wet, we decided to check on the clothes. So there went our plans to not unpack. We arrived at the Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel and went straight to our room.

I was lucky—only four garments and one shoe were wet. I had lined the top and bottom of the case with dry cleaner’s plastic. Vesta’s suitcase was another story. She had 244,00 Euros worth of laundry and dry cleaning, three stained and ruined silk garments, two pairs of soaking wet shoes, and socks that you could wring out the water. This luggage had to have been left in the rain for hours.

In spite of this difficult start, we did have a good beginning in Athens. We had done most of the typical tourist activities on our last visit, so we went to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poisiden, the National Archaelogical Museum, and the National Gardens next to Parliament Square. At the Plaka we ate dinner outdoors at Psara, just off the main pedestrian street. It was a delicious Greek meal. Earlier we had seen a large wedding at the church in the center of the Plaka. As we ate, the entire wedding party and all of the guests paraded down the street to have the wedding feast at our restaurant. The Greeks really like to celebrate—lots of music, singing and dancing!

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Ditto! I love following along on another's cruise. This sounds like it's gonna be good.

Thanks for the opportunity.

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lizzielady,

 

I am going to enjoy reading your postings as we did the same trip last year in October on the Prinsendam. We also arrived into Athens early and had a great couple of days before boarding the ship.

 

I am sorry to hear about your wet luggage. That happened to us once when we went to Bangkok and we immediately went out and bought Samonsite hard case luggage. No rain can get through them, though of course they are much heavier to begin with but it is well worth not having the worry of wet luggage.

 

I hope you have great weather. We did and enjoyed all the Black Sea ports. I don't think you are going to Yalta, which is a pity as it was one of our favourite ports.

 

Jennie

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Part Two

Prinsendam, 10/16/05, Black Sea Magic

The Cruise Begins

It is Sunday morning. The HAL rep in the hotel told us that 163 passengers were staying at the hotel. Some were taking the direct transfer to the ship and others were taking local tours before being transferred to the ship. The direct transfers were leaving at 11:30. We took a cab (10,00 for both instead of 30,00 each for HAL transfer) at 11:00 for the 15 minute ride through the busy streets of Piraeus. We were met at the cab by a HAL rep who escorted us directly to the check in desk while our luggage was taken directly to the loading area.

Since we were the only ones at the desk at the time, it took us less than two minutes to sign our names, get our cruise cards, have our pictures taken, and go through security. No people, no lines.

We were escorted to the Lido by a white-gloved steward who welcomed us aboard and explained that an announcement would be made when the rooms were ready for occupancy. There were several tables of passengers who were already eating and four people ahead of us in the serving line. By 12:00 just as were finishing lunch, the announcement was made. This kind of embarkation is enough to spoil anyone!!

The Prinsendam

Our stateroom, #55 on the starboard side, is much larger than expected. It has a walk-in closet with sufficient hanging space, shelving, and racks and spaces for shoes. Our cabin steward, Olive, stored our luggage so we have no additional clutter to limit access to the clothes. There are a number of drawers in the two desks and bedside tables to store cosmetics and all of the odds and ends we seem to pack—just in case. There are three glass enclosed cabinets for glasses, liquors, and additional shelves for personal items. The attached entertainment center contains a flat panel LCD TV with a DVD player above and a mini-bar-fridge below. The bathroom has two entrances: one with a toilet and sink (medicine cabinet and under-sink shelving), and another for the tub/shower, sink, counter and under-counter shelving. There is a sliding door between the two sections. That’s nice!

The balcony is disappointing (if the weather were warmer). It is large, but only contains two wicker-type chairs and a low wicker ottoman-like table. There are no other chairs, café table, or footstools as there are on the Vista ship balconies. However, each cabin is equipped with two plaid woolen blankets. (This makes me think of the deck lounges of the huge steamships of years ago. Yeah, I saw them in the movies.)

It is amazing. This is a small ship, yet there do not seem to be crowds anywhere. (When I return home I’ll look up the space-to-passenger ratio.) The floral arrangements are beautiful all around the ship. They are very artistic in their composition, with a wide range of types, shapes, colors, textures and varieties of flowers, greenery, vegetables, nuts and fruits.

The ship has a very comfortable feel to it. The colors are not gaudy, with the artwork and floral arrangements providing the prominent accent colors. Each area of the ship seems to flow from one to another seamlessly. The Lido is bright and airy. There is an indoor seating area, one aft, and one poolside. The pool is not protected by a sliding cover, but does have glass (or plexi-glass?) outside walls with covered areas all around.

I have read so much about Stephen Card’s paintings. Before this cruise is finished I will take a dedicated tour to find all of his paintings. They are hung at the stairwell landings. I’ve seen several of them so far. Even at this stage I can vouch for this—they are wonderful! His love for these ships shines through each one!

I enjoy playing the slots. And, just as they are at any casino on land or sea, for me they are very tight, tight, tight! (Yes, this still reminds me of the music hot, hot, hot.) There are only 5 nickel machines and this is one place the ship is crowded by those waiting for a vacant nickel slot. However, most experienced slot players know: you can spend more money per play than on any quarter or dollar machine.

There are the new spaces introduced by the SOE enhancements. I’ll have to explore some of these areas more. Because of this port intensive itinerary, it is hard to get around to all parts of the ship.

Next: Part Three—The Staff and Passengers

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Ahhh, Lizzielady... you're bringing back such wonderful memories of our time on the Prinsendam. Slinkie and Grumpy were just a little further forward, same side, same deck. You described the cabin very well. The first thing we did after getting settled in was to ask our steward if he could get us a deck chair. He got TWO! That was a little crowded and we had him take one to a neighbor that wanted one but had been told that no more were available.

 

We're looking forward to your reports... especially finding out who of the staff that we know might still be onboard. Keep up the good reports... Oh, yeah... ENJOY YOUR CRUISE!!!!

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Thanks for taking time to let us travel with you--excellent:)

 

We Floridians are waiting to see when and where Wilma will arrive. Go away, Wilma:(

 

Hope the rest of your cruise on the Prinsendam is as awesome as your beginning! Take care of her because my sister will be boarding for the Amazon cruise.

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Memories, indeed! We have been in 51 and 56. Great cabins. Yes, wonderful closets. Sigh. Wish we were onboard right now! I could use a good cruise! :cool:

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Lizzielady,

 

Thanks for the update. We were in cabin 51 last year on the Black Sea voyage. As soon as I met our steward I asked for a lounge to be brought on to the verandah. It was there within minutes.

 

I also asked for a egg crate mattress for the bed. I don't think you need that this year with the comfortable new beds. We certainly didn't when we were on the Maasdam in July.

 

Jennie

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Thanks from another Prinsendam lover!! :D Will look forward to each and every posting you make. I thought the floral arrangements were the most beautiful I'd ever seen on a Ship!

Calms seas and blue skies.....:cool:

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The Staff

The captain of the Prinsendam is Halle Thon Gundersen of whom many of you have spoken. He is very personable. We met him, Klaus Riezler (the Hotel Manager), and Jack Chambers (the Cruise Director) at the Captain’s Champagne Reception. Captain Gunderson’s sense of humor was quite evident as he introduced the staff, welcomed the 763 (I think) passengers from a number of countries (mostly USA), and wished us all a good, smooth cruise.

Our cabin steward’s name is Olaf (not Olive). He is very pleasant and efficient, and does an excellent job in our cabin. I’ve not seen a single grouchy staff member! Everyone speaks to you as you pass in the halls, something that I think is common to all HAL ships. Our room service waiter, Yogie (not sure how it is spelled), even calls us after about 15 minutes to see if there is anything else he can get us! Sudana is our waiter in the dining room. He is very good. He remembers what we like to drink and how we like it, makes recommendations regarding the menu, and doesn’t seem to mind that we’re often the last ones to leave the dining room.

One thing that I have noticed is that the staff supervisors in the dining room, Lido, or wherever, monitor their areas of responsibility to check to see if guests have any needs to be met. They continually “make the rounds” to interact with the guests. Another noticeable point is the number of staff members who have been with Holland America for a number of years.

The Passengers

Yes, there is a very wide range in ages of the passengers. However, I am surprised at the number of those in their fifties to sixties. Almost all are friendly and are eager to make new acquaintances. We almost always share a table with others in the Lido. As far as I can tell most comply with the dress code in the dining room! Actually, I am not one to even think to look for that.

We really like our tablemates. There are six of us, one couple is younger than us; the other couple is older. Both women are former airline stewardesses, and both men are attorneys. Isn’t that coincidental? We have a great time every evening. On the full moon evening we gathered on our balcony for a cocktail party. It was a beautiful evening, a gorgeous moon, but much too cold to stay outside for more than a quick peek. That started a tradition. Now we have a cocktail party on each of the three formal evenings, and when we get to a warmer area, we’ll have another to enjoy the balcony.

The Itinerary

Leaving Athens we sailed to Istanbul, Turkey after a full sea day. The ports on the Black Sea coast were Nessebur, Bulgaria; Constanta, Romania; Odessa, Ukraine; and Sevastopol, Ukraine. Today is Sunday 10/23. We sailed the Bosporous (narrow straight that separates Asian Turkey from European Turkey), the Sea of Marmara, and through the Dardanelles. By mid-evening we will enter the Aegean Sea on to our next port, Kusadasi. (An excursion to Ephesus is the primary reason we chose this cruise.) The last two ports before disembarking in Venice, Italy are Santorini, Greece and Dubrovnik, Croatia. I’ll write more about the shore excursions later.

Time is passing so quickly, much too quickly! I had planned to be very productive about writing and posting pictures. The connection is not very fast and neither is my typing. When we return from full day excursions we are exhausted and find that if we slow down a bit we fall fast asleep.

If any of you have questions, I’ll be glad to respond!

PS: The internet was down all day Sunday, so I’m o my way down to the Internet Café again. Will keep trying!

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Thanks for your post!

Great to see that you are enjoying the ship and crew as much as we did!!

They seem to be mch more of a "family" than on other ships we've been on.

Continued calm seas and sunny skies!:D

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I'm enjoying every word of your reports. You are making me want to sail the Prinsendam all the more.

Someday.

Would you speak to the entertainment in one of your posts, please? I'd like to read not only of the show lounge acts, but of the HAL lounge acts, too.

Thanks.

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Lizzielady,

 

you are bringing back wonderful memories so vivid in my mind from our cruise on June 4th this year......we were in 22 and it was absolutely wonderful.....our cruise to the Black Sea was fantastic as was the Prinsendam.....the only port we did not like was Constanta...but all others were fabulous....you will love Kusadasi...I wish we were back on that very cruise with you....have a wonderful remaining trip.....

 

Cristiano....

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Part Four

Special Occasions and Interesting Activities

Cruise Critic Gathering—Well, no one, not one other cruise critic poster signed on to the roll call. Two did for a time, and then cancelled for other itineraries. So, Vesta and I had our exclusive gatherings. Yes, almost every day about 5:00!

Cooking Demonstrations—We’ve had two. The first was by Chef Rudi Sodamin who demonstrated a mango strudel. He was hilariously funny. A member of the audience participated and did quite well with the phylo dough. The other demonstration was by Chef Jody of the Pinnacle Grill. His demo was Thai Beef Salad. One of the highlights of these events is that the audience gets a small plate to sample the dish. Both tried to assure the guests that cooking isn’t as difficult as most expect it to be, and both gave times for using knives, making shortcuts or ingredient substitutions, and for trying new recipes.

Explorations Speaker Series—Olga Stavrakis, born in Kiev, Ukraine, holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology and an MA in Archaeology. She presented three lectures: “The Byzantine Empire, Viking Russia, and the Renaissance”; “The Golden Age of Ancient Greece and its Enduring Legacy”; and “Ephesus: The Magnificent Roman-Byzantine and Early Christian Religious Center”. Dr Stavrakis used slides with photographs, maps, and charts to illustrate her points. She was very good of weaving anecdotes about ancient times to make her lectures very interesting. Her lectures provided great background to set the stage for the shore excursions.

Old Favorites—Royal Dutch Tea, Snowball Jackpot Bingo, Dessert Extravaganza, Filipino Crew Shows, Sail-Aways (not at every port-not many), Mariner’s Party (majority of ship’s passengers), and Trivia and team game have all been a part of this cruise, just as in all others on which I’ve been.

Note: Captain Gundersen was again very humorous at the Mariner’s Party. He was late arriving and joked about whether it was more important to get to the party on time or stay with the Turkish Pilot who was onboard to help us get through the Dardenelles.

Dutch Night—I’ve been on four HAL cruises and Dutch Night was held on two of them prior to this cruise. There have been numerous discussions on this board about Dutch Night and about the menu.

We had Dutch Night last evening, complete with white Dutch hats and men’s black-billed caps. In addition to a couple of appetizers in celebration of the affair, there were three special main entrees. There was Dutch Pot Roast, Dover Sole Meuniere, and Nasi Goreng, Rijsttafe. I can only vouch for the Sole—it was very good!

Things I Didn’t Know—Staff members go on the shore excursions to report back about any problems and about guides following the itinerary. On one of our trips a staff member from the shore excursion office went with us. On another trip a singer/dancer from the show went with us. And on another the ship’s onboard priest went with us. H e doubles as a “Ship Escort” (on his name badge). I had lunch at the same table with him on that day. John, from Australia, has four weeks vacation from his parish. He tries to book a cruise for this time. He holds a Catholic Mass every day.

Persons on full day excursions get a nice lunch (culturally appropriate for the country) and a HAL gift bag with OJ, two fruits, granola bar, a foil-wrapped muffin, a few hard candies, and an individual wet hand wipe. We get back to the ship thoroughly stuffed, just in time for dinner!

The Shows—Every time I see someone that is obviously not of the typical age for this cruise (no children at all), I am reminded that the person is obviously on the staff. If they are really young, they’re in the show. Some of the shows or headliners: Gary Arbuthmot (Irish entertainer), Jeanette Owens (pianist), Mickey Manners (comedian), Tom Ogden (magician), Jen Mize (singer). The Prinsendam Cast has performed a number of evenings, mostly broadway-type musical numbers.

The Captain’s Dinner Parties—Not aware he had any—we didn’t get invited!

That’s all for now. Hope I can get this posted, but only after I view our departure from the Santorini Caldera.

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The lecture series sounds excellent. I find that to be one of the best parts of the longer/European cruises. :)

I like that there's a HAL employee along on shore excursions. It always makes me feel a little more comfortable that there's someone from the ship to help out if something goes wrong.

When you travel alone it makes you feel like you have a buddy.

Haven't seen Tom Ogden in a couple of years; so glad he's still around. :) Did you get a chance to chat with him? He's quite approachable---a real nice man, and does a good show.

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Last year when we did our excurison in Split we had Captain Halle Gundersen on our bus. This was a first - Prinsendam had never visited Split before and Captain Gundersen wanted to have a look around. He is a delightful man and we had a long chat to him whilst on the tour.

 

Mind you, he made an excellent choice when he chose his wife, she is another Aussie! ;)

 

Jennie

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Hi Lizzielady.... & Vestalady....

 

Well it's 8:49 am Wednesday morning (DM & I just got to work....(lol) just joking!.....No really we just read your adventures in Cruising...sounds like ya'll are having a BLAST!

 

Alexis SAYS Hi and she's extremely jealous....Debbie says Hi too.

 

Wow the time sure does fly....everything is fine here...enjoy the rest of your cruise!;)

 

Sil & David

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Part Five

Some Responses

It is our last sea day, the disembarkation talk is over, the casino has not been kind to me, so I am sitting in the Crows Nest with the wide expanse of the Ionian Sea in view for about 45* from where I’m sitting. Tomorrow is a short day at Dubrovnik, Croatia before our final night on the Prinsendam.

Thanks for your encouragement in this endeavor. I followed every one of Grumpy1’s posts earlier this year. In fact, I read almost all reviews/reports on the HAL board. You’re right, it does bring back memories of past sailings and creates anticipation for upcoming cruises.

I am so glad I saved all of the Daily Programs! They contain most of the information of things I’ve forgotten and for activities in which I did not participate. Tim Kruse plays every evening in the Crow’s Nest, the Lookout Quartet is in the Ocean Bar, and the Champagne Strings are in the Explorer’s Lounge. I’m sorry that I cannot tell you who the members of these groups are.

The Ocean Bar seems to be the place for some of the special evening events. There was the 50’s Prom Night Party, the Country Western Jamboree, 70’s Disco Party, Dance Request Night, Baby Boomers Party, and the Singles and Solos meeting.

We have late dinner seating so we always miss the 9:30-9:45 activities. They had Name

That Tune (a few times), Super Dooper Evening Trivia, Sing-A-Longs, and the Celebrity Heads Game Show. I find it difficult to schedule activities as many of the game activities (Trivia, Scattergories, Pictionary) overlap other activities.

For those of you that like the Art Auctions, there are many opportunities to participate. I saw them setting up for the Grand Finale Champagne Art Auction to be held in about an hour. Appears that they have no scarcity of paintings

I plan to attend the movie in the Wajang Theater and get fee popcorn! Today’s showing is “Monster-in-Law.” Other movies that have been shown this cruise are as follows:

“Finding Neverland”,

“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”,

“War of the Worlds”

“Games of their Lives”

“Batman Begins”

“The Interpreter”

“Betwitched”

“Oceans 12”

“National Treasure”

“Crash”

These and other movies are shown on two channels on television, but we seem to be busy when they begin!

The Captain just announced that a passenger has taken ill and needs hospitalization. The passenger’s condition has stabilized, but we will sail full speed ahead at 20 knots (the fastest speed so far) to Dubrovnik. We will arrive about 3:00 am. I pray that this passenger will be ok. I know that HAL will do whatever is necessary for his/her benefit. On each of my last two cruises there was a helicopter airlift to transport the patients to the nearest hospital. On the Westerdam last summer as we sailed the North Sea from Oslo to London, a passenger was airlifted via Dutch Navy or Air force helicopter. We watched from our balcony, and what we couldn’t see from there, we saw on the TV from the bow camera.

A Coincidence—Yesterday, as we entered the caldera at Santorini, we saw the motorized sailing ship, The Galileo. In May 2001 we took an Elderhostel trip to Athens and the Greek Islands. The Galileo was our ship. Sailing with a group of 15, one cruise director, and one archaeologist, we visited a number of Greek Islands in the Dodecanese. (Not Santorini) We had a great time. We enjoyed the ship and the smallness of the group. The crew was Greek, the food was Greek, and we were able to dock at every small port. But it was not the Prinsendam or the Prinsendam experience!

It is Thursday, our last day on the ship. Last night was the Captain’s Farewell Dinner. The dining room was decked out with candles and white covered chairs. Escargot, giant prawn cocktail, broiled Maine Lobster Tails, roasted beef tenderloin, and the Baked Alaska parade were featured. We had a great time with our table mates. Yes, we had our cocktail party, but it was still too cool to use the balcony. It was already dark and we were underway. It was the 50’s night in the Ocean Bar, so we all went in for a while after dinner.

This morning was our last port of call—Dubrovnik. It was a short port day as we set sail for Venice at 1:00. (Too bad—this is a great port.) There was a salmon bake sail-away on the Lido Deck. There was a band and two of the galley guys did ice carvings from 300 pound blocks of ice. The sun was shining as we backed out of our space at the port, pulling away from this beautiful town and the Celebrity Millennium (BIG) that had docked after us this morning.

There are many activities planned for this afternoon. I may attend the Snowball Bingo game. The amount is close to $2000—not nearly the amount of the 7 day cruises in the

Caribbean. However, the attendance earlier in the cruise, especially with so many ports of call, was much less than I anticipate for today’s game. We’re also off to take photos of the Steven Card paintings. Someone else may have already done this. If you know of such a link, please let me know and I won’t post them

I’m off to the Internet Café to attempt to send this last report aboard the Prinsendam. We’re staying in Venice at Locanda Orseolo (great ratings on Trip Advisor and the Ports of Call Board) until Sunday. I’ll post the excursion comments and our stay in Venice after we get home and recuperate from the busy cruise and the time changes. We’ll edit and label over 1000 photos and post some of them as the last, and perhaps the most time consuming task, after that.

Thanks to all of you who are reading our reports and a special thanks to you who have responded and provided the motivation. As for me, it has been a great way for me to have a written summary of our wonderful cruise on the beautiful Prinsendam.

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Have enjoyed your reports Carolyn and am looking forward to details on the shore excursions.

THANKS for taking the time to post. Safe travels home to you and Vesta . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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lizzielady,

 

Thanks for posting. I have enjoyed reading the reports of your cruise, it has revived my memories of our lovely cruise last year on the Prinsendam. They have a great Captain and crew and a very happy atmosphere. Nothing was ever too much trouble. I would certainly sail again on that lovely ship.

 

Jennie

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We arrived home about 10:30 Sunday night after a whole day of travel and waiting. We had a fantastic time and didn't want to come home, but, as usual, when we do arrive home--we're glad to be home! Isn't unpacking a pain? My luggage is open on the bedroom floor, clothing and little bits of this and that strown everywhere, and that giant pile of dirty clothes is waiting for the incentive to put it in the washing machine.

 

I've been in somewhat of a stupor since arriving, but when things seem normalI'll get to the shore excursions and the pictures.

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Welcome home Lizzielady!!:D

I recall the post trans-atlantic flight stupor myself.....

give it a week or so!!;)

Glad to hear that my favorite Ship pleased you also!! Hard to come home after that kind of an adventure!!:cool:

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