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Aussie Gal

Prinsendam - Review (long) Ottoman Empire

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We arrived in Athens at 6.30am two days prior to our departure. It was a beautiful sunny morning which seemed to set the tone for the rest of our trip. The Paraplegic games had just finished in Athens and we were greeted with a small gift of a CD of Greek music upon our arrival. A lovely memento of our stay there.

 

We went straight to our hotel – The Grand Bretagne - and were fortunate to be given a front room overlooking the square and the Acropolis. What wonderful luck!

 

On the Sunday morning before we left for the ship, we watched the changing of the guard just across the road at Parliament House. We started chatting to a lady also watching and it turned out she was also on our cruise. The Prinsendam is such a good size we often bumped into Marjorie after that and had a chat.

 

We took a taxi down to Piraeus around 11.45am and there were very few people waiting to go on board. We went through the formalities within five minutes and were on board by 12 noon. All the cabins and suites were ready at 12 so we were taken by a white gloved steward to our SS suite and immediately felt at home. The one big advantage of the Prinsendam are the fantastic walk in wardrobes. There is so much room for your clothes. We have Samsonite Oyster suitcases and both of these were able to go under our huge bed. I did ask our steward for an egg crate mattress to go on the bed and also for a lounge to be put on our balcony. These were attended by 5pm that afternoon and we had wonderful sleeps. There was a ton of room on the balcony for both the lounge and the two wicker chairs and table. We took the laundry package which was $95 for the 13 days and well worth every penny.

 

I also looked at the Suites on the last day and the difference between the S and the SS is the extra space in the sitting area as they have two lounges. The bathrooms in the S and SS are exactly the same.

 

We left Piraeus at 5pm and sailed for Istanbul. The next day was our first day at sea and also our first formal night. Captain Haile Thon Gundersen made a wonderful, witty speech at the cocktail party and welcomed everyone on board. He went through all the nationalities which were many. U.S. passengers were the most with 50%. The rest comprised passengers from Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Panama, South Americans, Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, Germany and Belgium. A very International mix. There was a huge percentage of dinner suits amongst the men. Most of the passengers were very experienced travellers and had seen a lot of the world.

 

The next day we docked in Istanbul. That night we left for the Black Sea. Around 8pm the seas started to become quite choppy and it was lovely lying in bed with the feeling of the ship rolling. It was our only rough night. Next day we tendered in Nessebur and it was quite a difficult operation. We all had to take our time getting on board the tenders as the waves were quite big, but the crew were wonderful and everyone who wanted to go ashore managed to.

 

We visited Yalta and Odessa the next two days and we tied up in both ports. We had a band greet us in both ports as they do need tourists in these areas desperately. In Odessa the band appeared again about an hour before we left and serenaded us until we were quite a way from the shore.

 

We had a welcome sea day the next day and again it was another formal night. We passed again through the Bosphorous Strait and the Dardanelles, on our way to Kusadasi. The next day we spent an enjoyable day in Kusadasi and sailed for Santorini at 6.00pm.

 

We awoke the next morning in the caldera in Santorini. Again we were tendered but this time the sea was so calm. We spent a lovely day on this magical island and left at 6.00pm on our way north to Dubrovnik.

 

We had another sea day and that night was the Mariners Party. It was a semi formal night of which we only had two, though I found the ladies on board dressed up really well even for the casual nights.

 

We were in Dubrovnik the next day and Split the one after. The last formal night was the night we left Split and of course we had the lobster and the bomb alaskas. Even though we would be on board another night as we would be anchored in Venice, it really was the farewell night as a lot of passengers were out on gondoliers the next night and weren’t at dinner.

 

We sailed into Venice the next morning. I got up at 6.15am that morning and have taken the most wonderful photos of our sailing up the lagoon and past San Marco’s square. It was great to be in Venice but it was sad to know our wonderful cruise was just about over. We all went off to see Venice and if one hadn’t said their good bye’s it really was a bit late as there were very few people around for dinner that night.

 

The next day we left the ship for good. Disembarkation was a breeze. We left the ship and we were bussed to the terminal, though we could have walked it as it was only about 200 metres away. In fact we had walked into Venice the day before. At the terminal where we collected our luggage there was a desk where one could book the water taxi and we were able to share the trip with another couple and save money as were all staying on in Venice another couple of days.

 

This cruise was what we had expected. Wonderful weather, interesting ports, friendly people on board and sailing with a great captain and crew. The food was the best we have eaten on a ship and nothing was too much trouble. The entertainment was the one thing that could have been better. To us the chorus/dancers were abysmal and after watching them for 15 minutes or so, we would go to bed as we were on late sitting and needed our sleep. The artists brought on board were very good and well worth watching. We also are fortunate we had a verandah as we used it such a lot due to the terrific weather.

 

Now that we are home it seems like a lovely dream. We met some great people from around the world and we have many fond memories of that delightful cruise. We are now looking forward to the next.

 

Jennie.

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Thanks for your report. I agree that the Prinsendam cast left much to be desired. That's strange in a way because those on other ships have been outstanding ... especially when we were on the Zuiderdam. We're looking forward to next August when we circle the British Isles on the Prinsendam. You and your DH should come join us!

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Jennie.....What a wonderful review. Thank you for posting it.

 

I can just imagine your delight when you realized your hotel room faced the Acropolis. I would have sat up half the night just staring at the beautiful site all lit up. :)

 

When Prinsendam first joined the fleet, there were some negative comments but it certainly sounds as though HAL cruisers are now very much enjoying that ship.

 

When Captain Gunderson first joined HAL, DH and I had the opportunity to dine with him.... just the three of us. What a wonderful evening that was. He is a wonderful story teller and we so enjoyed the stories he shared wth us.

 

Sounds like you really enjoyed that fabulous itinerary.

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Sail,

 

We were also very fortunate when we arrived in Venice. We stayed at the lovely Hotel Metropole, right next to Vivaldi's church. I hadn't booked a lagoon room as our dollar is not fabulous against the Euro. When we were shown to our room I nearly died, we had a corner front room right opposite San Giorgio island and when the Prinsendam left late on Sunday afternoon I was able to take a fantastic photo of the ship passing by our hotel. I couldn't believe our luck!

 

Jennie.

Jennie.

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Jennie, thanks a lot for your review. Will be aboard in just 4 days for the transatlantic.

 

I have some questions for you...

 

Could you give me some informations about the check-in process? We are booked in a suite, which I want to keep a secret as long as possible to my friend...

 

We asked for a table for 2 in the dining room, are there many of those? In good locations?

 

How was the musical entertainment in the lounges?

 

What films did they show in the cinema?

 

Hope I'm not bothering you too much!!!

 

Thanks again,

 

Marc

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Aussie Gal,

Thanks for the review. I enjoyed reading it.

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I'm familiar with the Hotel Metropole.....fabulous location!! The 'travel fairy' was looking after you this trip, Jennie. :) What memories!!

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I read from the other forum members that there was a live band in the Ocean Bar and a piano man at the Crow Nest playing music nightly. The tone was more the oldies. No music in the Explorer Lounge.

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Aussie Gal .... Enjoyed reading your review and glad you had such a wonderful cruise!

 

When you have a minute, please tell us what you did in Odessa.

 

Happy Sailing! OCruisers :)

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Marc and Kam,

 

As I said check in was a dream. There were no lines at 11.50am and we were taken straight to our cabin which was 052. I am sure if there are lines, you will be able to go to the special check in line for the suites. I had filled out our two immigration pages on line, so just had to hand them over to the people who were checking everything. It really was just so easy. Apparently all the cabins are finished and ready to move in at 12 noon so I would plan to go on board around that time. Because we left from Athens, a lot of the planes got in later so we had the ship to ourselves for a couple of hours after boarding.

 

 

With regard to a table for two. I had requested a special table here in Australia as we had the plan of the dining room. I hoped that it would be noted, but knowing how our marketing agents work here, doubted if we would get it. Sure enough the first thing I saw when we walked into our cabin was the dining room plan and the table we had been given, which by the way was the very worst in the whole dining room. It was the first table, just inside the door in the first dining room. We went straight down to Stephan, who is a lovely Frenchman and is the Maitre'D and of course he said he had never received our request.

 

He offered to put us on a table for two in the "main dining room" which we decided to do after the first night. We did spend the first night on the awful table but because it is so close to the Ocean Bar, all I could hear was the music and even though it was a table for 6, that night there were only 4 of us.

 

The table for two was great and we received wonderful service from the waiting staff and the wine steward but we decided that in future we will have a table for 6 or 8 as we do like to chat to people at the end of the day.

 

The entertainment in the lounges was as follows: in the Ocean Bar an orchestra played both before and after dinner. We enjoyed this and danced before dinner nearly every night. They played quite a mix of music. We are in our early 60's and enjoyed the music, it was probably more our vintage, though I watched a couple in their forties dancing every night and enjoying the mix.

 

In the Explorers lounge there was a trio playing music. I really didn't see anyone dancing. There is a small round parquetry section where once can dance but we are not the type to just get up and dance, we usually wait until another couple are on the floor. We used to go there after dinner, as we finished so early being on a table for two and have our coffee or tea and chocolates there before going on to the show.

 

In the Crow's Nest a man did play the piano and a couple of times we went up there for a drink but he seemed to disappear whenever we were there, probably having his short break so we preferred to go to the Ocean Bar. It is not as big as the Noordam or Maasdam's Crow's Nest.

 

As far as the movies, they weren't playing the latest. We usually like to go when we are at sea, but the movies being played didn't appeal and as we always fly Singapore airlines, they have the latest films which we can choose from at anytime, so we didn't go to the Theatre at all. We did look at the theatre on the first day and it is a proper theatre like on the Maasdam, Statendam etc. ships. Popcorn is provided of course and the Java Bar is fabulous. We used to go there often for coffees and biscuits. We did watch a movie one late afternoon in our cabin but that was all.

 

Hope this has helped. Have a wonderful trip Marc and I hope your partner gets a huge surprise when boarding. I would love my husband to do that for me but unfortunately I seem to do all the bookings!

 

Jennie.

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Jennie,

 

Thank you very much for your detailed reply! Very helpful! I'm so excited... :-)

 

Marc

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Thanks Marc,

 

I would love to be doing your trip now. We have to wait until July for the next one!

 

Jennie

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Ocruisers,

 

In Odessa we also took the full day tour. This was an excellent tour. We first of all walked around some of the streets in Odessa and looked at the beautiful buildings. Their opera house is an exact copy of the Vienna Opera House and is under renovations at the moment. It will be absolutely beautiful when finished. We then went to a Russian Orthodox Church and listened to a choir sing without music - they were all highly trained singers. After that we had a wonderful lunch at their top hotel and were entertained by a string quartet and a opera singer. As we left the hotel which was beside the Town Hall we saw lots of brides. Apparently Friday is the day they have their civil ceremony and then on Sunday they have the Orthodox ceremony. They were all so young and our guide told us that the girls always wait for the piece of paper to make it legal, they do not move in together before marriage. Afterwards we went to the Ballet and watched two short ballets with Champagne at interval. It was a great day though marred by a horrible accident.

 

While we were going from the lunch to the ballet our guide in our bus warned us of the slippery marble floors and how the carpet can curl up at the ends. At interval we had to go upstairs for our drinks. While we were up there we heard a cry and then a crashing of glasses. We are not sure what happened first, whether a passenger fell down the stairs and the boy with glasses toppled after or vice versa. Anyhow the passenger ended up with a broken wrist and a broken hip. He apparently had been sitting right behind us on the bus. He was taken to hospital and his wife had to come back to the ship and pack up their luggage. We watched the luggage being off loaded just before we left Odessa.

 

I felt so sorry for that couple. We were only 5 days into our cruise and they were left in a very stange country, he with a broken wrist and hip and having to go to a strange hospital and who knows when he would be fit enough to travel. He was in his late sixties early seventies. I kept thinking that he would have woken up that morning, full of excitement at seeing a new port, never in his wildest dreams thinking that he would end up staying in Odessa. I just hope he had good insurance.

 

Jennie

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Aussie Gal,

I heard it through the grapevine that you have a diagram of the Prisendams Dining room. Is this so?? If you do would it be possible for you to email it to me? trvlnliz@adelphia.net trvlnliz @adelphia.net

 

Thanks, Liz :D

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Aussie Gal,

I heard it through the grapevine that you have a diagram of the Prisendams Dining room. Is this so?? If you do would it be possible for you to email it to me? trvlnliz@adelphia.net trvlnliz @adelphia.net

 

Thanks, Liz :D

 

Me too please...karenjburnham@hotmail.com

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Aussie Gal .... Really appreciate your time to tell us about your day in Odessa!

 

Awful about the accident! :( It's especially bad when something like this happens away from home ....

 

Thanks again! OCruisers :)

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Liz,

 

Did you receive the email with the copy of the Prinsendam dining room. I have heard back from both Karen, Marc and Kam and am wondering if yours went astray. Please let me know if you haven't received it and I will resend it.

 

Jennie

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Jennie - Yes, Liz received the dining room diagram. We are traveling with them & she forwarded it to me this morning after you sent it. Thank you SO MUCH - what a big help!

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Hi Jennie,

I emailed you as soon as I opened yours. I don't know why you didn't get my reply. :( Thanks you so much, it came through perfectly.

Liz

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