Our cruise was back to back so 28 days on the Elegant Explorer with only 6 sea days. Thus it was an adventure, not a sit and relax vacation. The weather was cool and sunny with temperatures in the low to upper 60's. I did not need the short sleeved shirts and shorts that I brought, but it was very good touring weather. We did need jackets in Iceland. At the later part of the cruise the captain made a decision to skip the Iceland port of Heimaey due to an approaching storm. We went to Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands instead and then to Invergordon instead of Scrabster and on to Edinburgh our last port before we disembarked in Amsterdam, Holland. We had already been to Akureyri, Seydisfjordur, Isafjordur, and (overnight)Reyjavik Iceland so we didn't feel too deprived at missing our last Icelandic port. At dinner we were all treated to a glass of champagne to compensate us for the change. Happily we missed the storm and enjoyed the new ports. Kudos to the captain!
The crew on the Prinsendam is superb-always smiling and going the extra mile to make your voyage the best you have ever enjoyed. Our steward and waiters cleaned and served without a hitch over 4 weeks of wonderful dinners. Our only quibble was that our gabbing table of 8 barely made it to the 10 PM show on several evenings.I especially enjoyed our bridge card instruction on sea days where I learned several pointers that I can apply at home from Brenda our excellent instructer. Also we enjoyed the 5 PM wine and culinary tastings presented by Jannette where we learned how to pair the wine and make the aud'erves.
We did buy the wine package and the unlimited laundry package which added to the seamless flow of the cruise.
Our ports were varied and largely English speaking. Mainly we booked private small group tours and used Hop on Hop off buses and ship shuttles to town. This kept the cost down and our interest level up. The smaller group of 8-12 facilitates interaction with the guide and each other during the experience.Also we were able to do things that a larger group could not do. For instance in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, we went on Jonathan's Seabirds and Seals boat tour with an underwater viewing camera which was phenomenal. Also the gannet colony and his description of their amazing life cycle was beyond compare. His boat only held 12 guests who gathered around him and the camera to see the underwater life in the cave. It would have been undoable with a larger ship tour.
Again in Akureyri 13 of us went with Saga tours on a Farmers Passion trip. We experienced a totally automated cow farm where everything including the total milking was done by machine and robotic sensing as the cows lined up to take their turn. It was amazing. Then we went upstairs to the dairy coffee cafe overlooking the cows and sampled the fresh milk along with our coffee. With a 12 person group everyone fit in and could see well. This was a highlight. On this tour we also got to pet and take pictures of the Icelandic horses,visit a beautiful waterfall, and go to an old family farmhouse with the owner taking us around and telling us stories.
Invergordon was another plus. We stopped there instead of Scrabster and our guide Nigel knew of our change of plans and was able to pick us up at Invergordon instead.http://www.shoreexcursions.co.uk He gave us a wonderful tour to the North instead of to the south and Lock Ness which he said would be too crowded. First we had a tour of Invergordon and its murals describing history and events in Scotland.Then we went to a shop with a waterfall next to it and watched the salmon jumping up it. We toured a whiskey distillery and had a tasting, toured a church and got an earful of Scottish stories. We just made it back to the ship on time- a wonderful day, but a rather crowded van with 8 passengers, better with 6.
Seydisfjordur was a small Icelandic town where we shopped for woolens at good prices and enjoyed our time using the internet and sipping coffee in a small cafe. Isafjordur was another small Icelandic town where we booked a ship walking tour which pointed up highlights but was not interactive with the locals as had been described in their literature. For this port the temperature was in the low 40's and a coat and sweater and hat and gloves were needed for the tour.I stuck my ungloved hands in my pockets.
I hope you enjoy the Prinsendam. We certainly did.