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Live from the Prinsendam September 2 - 30, 2018

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August 30, 2018

DM (Dear Mother) and I are off on another adventure trying to get through her bucket list while she is still able and willing. It has been almost two years since our last cruise, and last Live From thread. Oh, what a painful drought that has been! The drought was mostly due to medical travel insurance issues that seemed insurmountable. But, DM, to her credit, prevailed and found another (recommended) provider. She said she was NOT ready to stop travelling outside of Canada just because she was over 80, and that was that. So, as soon as she gave me the go ahead, I booked the cruise - way back in January, 2017 for September, 2018! What a long wait! But, what a cruise!! Our very first, and likely only cruise on the MS Prinsendam. (I'm hoping we fall in love with the ship and I can convince DM that she really wants to go to Norway as much as I do on the Prinsendam's last cruise with HAL!. I'll keep you posted about how well that's going as we sail along...)

Our Itinerary: We start in Amsterdam, with two days pre cruise, then we sail around the UK, and Ireland, going to Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh, Ullapool, Derry, Belfast, Dublin, Portland, Guernsey, Dover and back to Amsterdam. That's our first segment. Yes, there's more! After leaving Amsterdam for the second time, we will go down various European rivers to Vlissingen, Antwerp, Rouen, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Cartagena, and then to Civitavecchia (Rome). Then we have to get off, because I'm guessing that someone else wants our room and mostly because I have to get back to work so that I can afford to keep up with DM.

So come along with us, if you choose to. I'll try not to make it too boring... If it is boring for you, just move along to another thread. I won't be offended. I'm sure there will be one that pops up which is more interesting and requires popcorn - there always is.

If others from this cruise (or segment thereof) would like to post their thoughts or experiences on this thread, they are more than welcome to do so.

August 31, & September 1, 2018

Amsterdam

We arrived in Amsterdam, after a non stop flight from Alberta, about half an hour earlier than scheduled. Unfortunately, it was about midnight our time. DM slept only a little bit on the plane in spite of taking a full sleeping pill with dinner. I didn't sleep at all which is unusual for me. Due to DM's age, aches and pains, I request assistance for her when we fly. I LOVE it because, most times, I get it too!! Except I don't have to ride in a wheelchair. We were picked up at the gate by a golf cart. DM had to transfer to a wheelchair at one point, before baggage claim. It took a while to get our luggage but then we were taken out to the hotel shuttle area and dropped off. I had pre-booked a shuttle to take us to our hotel, the lovely Banks Mansion. Even though we were early for our pick up time, they were able to get us on an earlier shuttle.

The shuttle driver dropped us and our luggage just passed the main entrance to the hotel around 8:30 am local time. There are three or four steps at the entrance with a short escalator for one's luggage. I think for this reason alone, this is not a hotel for anyone using a wheelchair or scooter. It was a wee bit of a struggle to get our bags up the mini luggage escalator, mostly because I had never used one before. (Kazu had a pic of the escalator in her review from a few months ago.) The belt is triggered on when one leans the luggage overtop of it but one still has to pick it up a few inches to get it onto the belt. Fortunately the desk staff saw me struggling with the big cases and came to help (after I got them up to the top!). I went back to get DM who was standing by the hand luggage, ready to whack anyone who came to take them with the cane she uses for travelling!

I had requested an early check in but they couldn't accommodate it. It's a small, boutique hotel with a noon check out time. I knew an early check in was a long shot but figured it couldn't hurt to ask. We checked in and left our luggage with them. Then we went to the FREE bar to have some water and coffee before going for a walk. Yes, the Banks Mansion has a free, open bar for all guests, all day. You just help yourself. There are many options but it is not a full bar. One could not make themselves a Caesar or Bloody Mary, for example, because they don't have the mixes or the spices. Other amenities at the Banks are free breakfast, free cheese buffet from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, free wine buffet every afternoon from 4:00 pm to midnight, free mini bar in the room AND three decanters in the room, one each of gin, whiskey and cognac. They have a pillow menu in the room which DM appreciated. They were very prompt in coming to the room to find out what kind of pillow she wanted and then bringing exactly what she wanted very quickly.

The hotel is very well located in the Central part of Amsterdam. It's only one km from the Van Gogh Museum, a very easy, flat walk (other than watching out for bicyclists!), and just a couple of blocks from the Bloemenmarkt (flower market). I thought the flower market would be really appealing for us but it was a disappointment. We did go there on our walk but the best thing about it were all the cheese shops offering samples. Each "flower" stall floats on the Singel Canal but sold mostly bulbs and souvenirs, and not flowers. Maybe it's better in the spring... I was hoping we would be able to return on Sunday before going to the cruise terminal to pick up a bouquet of flowers but there was no point. It was definitely not like the flower market we saw in Rotterdam years ago.

Both DM and I were fading so we walked back to the hotel and sat in the lobby. There we dozed off and on and/or read for over two hours. A granola bar served as lunch during this time. Our room wasn't ready until after 1 pm (which was still early since check-in time wasn't until 3 pm. Once in our room, we crashed. I set the alarm on my phone for 2 hours later. When that came up, I reset it for another hour and crashed again! It was 4:30 ish when I made us get up - after all, the cheese buffet is only from 5 - 6!!

The cheese buffet (and the wine buffet) were quite nice. The cheese buffet had a selection of 5 or 6 cheeses, most pre-cut, some we had to cut ourselves. There were also olives, bread, grapes and some pre cut bread. The wine buffet had a bottle each of a red, white, rose, a sparkling wine (prosecco). I had a glass of rose and DM had a Belgian beer, actually we both had two - the beer was in bottles of 250 ml which wasn't enough to whet one's whistle, according to DM. We chatted with a British family who were celebrating three birthdays within a few days. It was very much a convivial atmosphere; very nice.

For dinner, we went to see my sister's "other husband", as she used to call the store, Albert Heijn, when she lived in the Netherlands. We picked up a couple of to-go salads to take back to the hotel. We still were out of sorts and didn't want much. I don't think we made it past 8:30 before we hit the sack again. Unfortunately, we were both up during the night for a few hours each.

On Saturday, we woke with the alarm early because we had a full day tour. After a lovely breakfast in the hotel, we left at 8:30 to walk over to the museum district. We met our group at the Diamond Museum, walked over to the Rijksmuseum for a two hour tour of the building and the artwork within it. I didn't really want to see the Rijks but knew it was something that I should see. I'm not really a fan of Rembrandt but I'm a bit of a convert now after seeing it in person. Our guide was quite effusive and very knowledgeable of the artwork. We were lucky, too, because there were two portraits there that the Rijks and the Louvre purchased together (to be kept together at all times) which are to go to the Louvre on Sep 4th for an extended period - so we were lucky to see them before they go. I still don't care for the Night Watch although it's much better seeing it in person than the print we used to have but the portraits were amazing. In particular, I really appreciated The Jewish Bride; it was stunning. This is where having a guide really helped one appreciate the artwork.

At the end of the Rijks tour, we had a light lunch at the cafe within the Rijks. That consisted of a typical Dutch light lunch, a bowl of soup and an open faced sandwich. Both were quite good but it was definitely a light lunch. We then had some free time to go to the gift shop or back into the museum.

After lunch, we went for a walk to the included canal cruise meeting point. We took a one hour canal cruise all the way down to the old harbour and back, passing by the Anne Frank House. We then walked to the Van Gogh Museum for a one hour tour of it. That was also amazing and was the reason for booking this tour. Our guide was even more passionate about Van Gogh! He was actually insulted when one couple from the group left the tour to go souvenir shopping and back to the Diamond Museum so they could see that before it closed. The tour also included tickets to the Diamond Museum but it would be closed by the time our tour was done (we gave our tickets to the hotel staff so someone else could use them).

By that time, we were done in! DM was quite tuckered so when we ran into a pedicab, we asked him to drive us back to the hotel. It was a long day but a great tour.

Unfortunately, we made it back to the hotel as the cheese buffet was being closed up and wheeled away (it's on a cart). But DM had some beer; I had some water and we got a little hydrated again. We had another drink up in our room before going out for dinner.

After dinner, we crashed for the night. Again, I woke up during the night for a few hours and started writing this report (challenging typing with one finger while laying in bed!).

 

I should mention that we had lovely moderate and dry weather in Amsterdam. Best of all, no wildfire smoke like we've experienced in Alberta over the past few weeks. Nice to finally breathe some cleaner air again!

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I know this is a little late. Between jet lag, embarkation and learning a whole new ship, we've been having fun. I thought I would get caught up today but, alas, a jigsaw puzzle was calling my name, not to mention Happy Hour...

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Oh, I am SO glad you are doing a LIVE thread AQ :)

 

I'm looking forward to all of it but will have my eye on your River portion since that's similar to what we are doing next year.

 

Your LIVE thread is off to a great start!

 

Excellent posts and it sounds like you are enjoying the Banks mansion? BTW - look in the fridge below, there is beer there all day along with other cold drinks if your DM needs to wet her whistle ;)

 

sounds like you are off to a great start. Jet lag is a PITA as is sleeping on a plane. Glad you got in early to adjust. And glad you have escaped Alberta's smoke.

 

oh and before I forget, the staff will help with your bags, so just request it if they don't run up when you are getting ready to leave.

 

Have a great cruise and a WONDERFUL time :)

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Sorta kinds thread drift but, sine we are in my city of birth at the moment, found this live Amsterdam webcam, showing the Royal Palace, the 'Nieuwe Kerk" (New Church), Beijenkorf department store and the war memorial on the Dam square among other things

 

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So happy to see you post a "live from". Hope you & your mom have a wonderful cruise. Janet

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Thank you for doing a "live" thread.

Wishing you and your mother a fabulous cruise on the Prinsendam

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Oh lucky you for being on this Prinsendam trip. I'll be with you all the way. Thanks for writing up your adventures. Happy Sailing!!!!!:)

Marianne

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Great review. We join you on the European river part on Sept. 16. Can’t wait to be on that Prinsendam again. Looking forward to your posts before we leave. See you at the meet and greet on Sept. 17!

Mary

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Thanks so much for doing a live review....a great start!! Admire your Mom...for being such a traveler:)

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Have an excellent trip! Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

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Thank you for taking us along with you - I'm happy to follow along!

When you get to the ship, say hi to RuthC for me!

Smooth Sailing! :) :) :)

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Great review!!!! Am looking forward to more... my favorite ship and also you are in one of my favorite cities to start. And you are going to one of my favorite places.... Ullapool.

 

 

Susan

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Enjoying your live thread. Sounds like you are having a lot of fun.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Following along. Great to see you and DM are cruising again! Still talk about our wonderful table mates on that 18 day Circle Hawaii cruise. Hugs to both you and DM. If all the forces in the universe align well, Jamnut and I will be on another 7 day Alaska cruise in May of 2019! Smooth sailings. Jean

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August 30, 2018

DM (Dear Mother) and I are off on another adventure trying to get through her bucket list while she is still able and willing. It has been almost two years since our last cruise, and last Live From thread. Oh, what a painful drought that has been! The drought was mostly due to medical travel insurance issues that seemed insurmountable. But, DM, to her credit, prevailed and found another (recommended) provider. She said she was NOT ready to stop travelling outside of Canada just because she was over 80, and that was that. So, as soon as she gave me the go ahead, I booked the cruise - way back in January, 2017 for September, 2018! What a long wait! But, what a cruise!! Our very first, and likely only cruise on the MS Prinsendam. (I'm hoping we fall in love with the ship and I can convince DM that she really wants to go to Norway as much as I do on the Prinsendam's last cruise with HAL!. I'll keep you posted about how well that's going as we sail along...)

Our Itinerary: We start in Amsterdam, with two days pre cruise, then we sail around the UK, and Ireland, going to Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh, Ullapool, Derry, Belfast, Dublin, Portland, Guernsey, Dover and back to Amsterdam. That's our first segment. Yes, there's more! After leaving Amsterdam for the second time, we will go down various European rivers to Vlissingen, Antwerp, Rouen, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Cartagena, and then to Civitavecchia (Rome). Then we have to get off, because I'm guessing that someone else wants our room and mostly because I have to get back to work so that I can afford to keep up with DM.

So come along with us, if you choose to. I'll try not to make it too boring... If it is boring for you, just move along to another thread. I won't be offended. I'm sure there will be one that pops up which is more interesting and requires popcorn - there always is.

If others from this cruise (or segment thereof) would like to post their thoughts or experiences on this thread, they are more than welcome to do so.

August 31, & September 1, 2018

Amsterdam

We arrived in Amsterdam, after a non stop flight from Alberta, about half an hour earlier than scheduled. Unfortunately, it was about midnight our time. DM slept only a little bit on the plane in spite of taking a full sleeping pill with dinner. I didn't sleep at all which is unusual for me. Due to DM's age, aches and pains, I request assistance for her when we fly. I LOVE it because, most times, I get it too!! Except I don't have to ride in a wheelchair. We were picked up at the gate by a golf cart. DM had to transfer to a wheelchair at one point, before baggage claim. It took a while to get our luggage but then we were taken out to the hotel shuttle area and dropped off. I had pre-booked a shuttle to take us to our hotel, the lovely Banks Mansion. Even though we were early for our pick up time, they were able to get us on an earlier shuttle.

The shuttle driver dropped us and our luggage just passed the main entrance to the hotel around 8:30 am local time. There are three or four steps at the entrance with a short escalator for one's luggage. I think for this reason alone, this is not a hotel for anyone using a wheelchair or scooter. It was a wee bit of a struggle to get our bags up the mini luggage escalator, mostly because I had never used one before. (Kazu had a pic of the escalator in her review from a few months ago.) The belt is triggered on when one leans the luggage overtop of it but one still has to pick it up a few inches to get it onto the belt. Fortunately the desk staff saw me struggling with the big cases and came to help (after I got them up to the top!). I went back to get DM who was standing by the hand luggage, ready to whack anyone who came to take them with the cane she uses for travelling!

I had requested an early check in but they couldn't accommodate it. It's a small, boutique hotel with a noon check out time. I knew an early check in was a long shot but figured it couldn't hurt to ask. We checked in and left our luggage with them. Then we went to the FREE bar to have some water and coffee before going for a walk. Yes, the Banks Mansion has a free, open bar for all guests, all day. You just help yourself. There are many options but it is not a full bar. One could not make themselves a Caesar or Bloody Mary, for example, because they don't have the mixes or the spices. Other amenities at the Banks are free breakfast, free cheese buffet from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, free wine buffet every afternoon from 4:00 pm to midnight, free mini bar in the room AND three decanters in the room, one each of gin, whiskey and cognac. They have a pillow menu in the room which DM appreciated. They were very prompt in coming to the room to find out what kind of pillow she wanted and then bringing exactly what she wanted very quickly.

The hotel is very well located in the Central part of Amsterdam. It's only one km from the Van Gogh Museum, a very easy, flat walk (other than watching out for bicyclists!), and just a couple of blocks from the Bloemenmarkt (flower market). I thought the flower market would be really appealing for us but it was a disappointment. We did go there on our walk but the best thing about it were all the cheese shops offering samples. Each "flower" stall floats on the Singel Canal but sold mostly bulbs and souvenirs, and not flowers. Maybe it's better in the spring... I was hoping we would be able to return on Sunday before going to the cruise terminal to pick up a bouquet of flowers but there was no point. It was definitely not like the flower market we saw in Rotterdam years ago.

Both DM and I were fading so we walked back to the hotel and sat in the lobby. There we dozed off and on and/or read for over two hours. A granola bar served as lunch during this time. Our room wasn't ready until after 1 pm (which was still early since check-in time wasn't until 3 pm. Once in our room, we crashed. I set the alarm on my phone for 2 hours later. When that came up, I reset it for another hour and crashed again! It was 4:30 ish when I made us get up - after all, the cheese buffet is only from 5 - 6!!

The cheese buffet (and the wine buffet) were quite nice. The cheese buffet had a selection of 5 or 6 cheeses, most pre-cut, some we had to cut ourselves. There were also olives, bread, grapes and some pre cut bread. The wine buffet had a bottle each of a red, white, rose, a sparkling wine (prosecco). I had a glass of rose and DM had a Belgian beer, actually we both had two - the beer was in bottles of 250 ml which wasn't enough to whet one's whistle, according to DM. We chatted with a British family who were celebrating three birthdays within a few days. It was very much a convivial atmosphere; very nice.

For dinner, we went to see my sister's "other husband", as she used to call the store, Albert Heijn, when she lived in the Netherlands. We picked up a couple of to-go salads to take back to the hotel. We still were out of sorts and didn't want much. I don't think we made it past 8:30 before we hit the sack again. Unfortunately, we were both up during the night for a few hours each.

On Saturday, we woke with the alarm early because we had a full day tour. After a lovely breakfast in the hotel, we left at 8:30 to walk over to the museum district. We met our group at the Diamond Museum, walked over to the Rijksmuseum for a two hour tour of the building and the artwork within it. I didn't really want to see the Rijks but knew it was something that I should see. I'm not really a fan of Rembrandt but I'm a bit of a convert now after seeing it in person. Our guide was quite effusive and very knowledgeable of the artwork. We were lucky, too, because there were two portraits there that the Rijks and the Louvre purchased together (to be kept together at all times) which are to go to the Louvre on Sep 4th for an extended period - so we were lucky to see them before they go. I still don't care for the Night Watch although it's much better seeing it in person than the print we used to have but the portraits were amazing. In particular, I really appreciated The Jewish Bride; it was stunning. This is where having a guide really helped one appreciate the artwork.

At the end of the Rijks tour, we had a light lunch at the cafe within the Rijks. That consisted of a typical Dutch light lunch, a bowl of soup and an open faced sandwich. Both were quite good but it was definitely a light lunch. We then had some free time to go to the gift shop or back into the museum.

After lunch, we went for a walk to the included canal cruise meeting point. We took a one hour canal cruise all the way down to the old harbour and back, passing by the Anne Frank House. We then walked to the Van Gogh Museum for a one hour tour of it. That was also amazing and was the reason for booking this tour. Our guide was even more passionate about Van Gogh! He was actually insulted when one couple from the group left the tour to go souvenir shopping and back to the Diamond Museum so they could see that before it closed. The tour also included tickets to the Diamond Museum but it would be closed by the time our tour was done (we gave our tickets to the hotel staff so someone else could use them).

By that time, we were done in! DM was quite tuckered so when we ran into a pedicab, we asked him to drive us back to the hotel. It was a long day but a great tour.

Unfortunately, we made it back to the hotel as the cheese buffet was being closed up and wheeled away (it's on a cart). But DM had some beer; I had some water and we got a little hydrated again. We had another drink up in our room before going out for dinner.

After dinner, we crashed for the night. Again, I woke up during the night for a few hours and started writing this report (challenging typing with one finger while laying in bed!).

 

I should mention that we had lovely moderate and dry weather in Amsterdam. Best of all, no wildfire smoke like we've experienced in Alberta over the past few weeks. Nice to finally breathe some cleaner air again!

So was the place you picked for dinner memorable I guess not since you didn't mention it.

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So glad you get to experience the Prinsendam along with your mom. I will be following your posts.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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I'll also follow along. I spent lots of time in Amsterdam, your write up brings back good memories.

Allan

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Great review. We join you on the European river part on Sept. 16. Can’t wait to be on that Prinsendam again. Looking forward to your posts before we leave. See you at the meet and greet on Sept. 17!

Mary

 

Ditto what Mary said! See you on the 17th!!

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