We have done 8 HA Line cruises in a variety of ships, the most recent was Nieux Amsterdam in the western med last year. Felt that ship was too big, with too many commercial activities like art auctions, photo gallery, lots of shopping space, etc. The Prinsendam looked perfect with most of the activities without 12 decks and 2400 other passengers. Plus the trans atlantic itinerary had 2 days in Lisbon and a full day in Normandy. Booked SS cabin through Cruise Specialists and departed May 13, 2012 from FLL.
Liked the ship's size, cabin layout, walkin closet, updated bath, and the whole atmosphere that said this is a ship, not a floating hotel. The crew was superb and food and service was excellent and certainly up to HA standards. The problem was that the "Elegant Explorer" is no longer elegant. She is old, dated, rusty, warn and way past her prime. Launched in 1988, and bought and updated by HA in 2002, most of the furniture, fittings, and decorating looks original, as are the ship's systems.
That was disappointing, but nothing like our cabin experience. On the 4th morning we heard what sounded like vacuuming in the hall (6AM!). Turns out it was a shop vac sucking up standing water outside our cabin from a plumbing problem. Soon our cabin carpet was soaked and we spent three days with a dehumidifier and large and noisy fan in our cabin. Had to take our hanging clothes out of the closet so they were on a garment rack in the middle of our room. Our room and cabin smelled musty for most of the trip. The staff was responsive, and did offer us a free shore excursion, but our expensive superior suite was not very superior.
There were other problems with HVAC issues (not in our cabin) in the card room and in some cabins. We had heavy rain on the first day and water was flowing in several exit doors and even running down the elevator. The captain announced we were doing routine maintenance on the stern thruster in the Azores, and would be late departing. When we finally left we cruised at a very slow speed for several hours while maintenance was completed. Sorry, but I don't buy that routine maintenance was done in the Azores while we are scheduled to be in Lisbon, a very large port, for 2 days and London 3 days after that.
The final blow cam at out last stop, Cherbourg, FR. We were scheduled to arrive early and depart at 4:30 or 5PM. While underway we were told that Cherbourg was to be cut short and we would depart at 1:30PM. This port is near the D Day beaches of Normandy and we were there the Sunday before Memorial Day, and there were special events at the American Cemetery. It was the prime port of the cruise and I initially had wished we would spend the night there but then it was reduced to just 5 1/2 hours because of "issues at Tilbury", our final stop.
We booked this because we thought the ship really was "elegant", and we had a full day to explore Normandy. We were very disappointed and would caution anyone who is thinking of booking the Prinsedam. I was also disappointed with our booking agent for not warning us. as I see it as one og their responsibilities.