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 More
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. Less
Prinsendam Cruises to the British Isles & Western Europe
Cabin 387 is Main deck starboard side beyond the elevators in the back. Thus there is a lot of shaking in the cabin when the ship is trying to dock. Often this is early in the morning and it can wake one up. The cabin has a shower but no bathtub which is OK with us as the shower is easy to get in and out of even when the ship is rocking. Access to the rear elevators/Lido/dining room is excellent.
There is a window for views and light. The dressing table and chair are situated so that you cannot get by the bed when someone is sitting at it as the cabin is too narrow. Otherwise the cabin has excellent storage and good air conditioning control. Occasionally the hall smells of diesel fuel when the ship is being filled with it.
The Canal tour was in 4 languages which made the description of what we were seeing rather short and it was difficult to take pictures though the glass. Nonetheless Amsterdam is beautiful and it was fun to see it this way.
We took an afternoon tour after the cruise which included Delft, the Hague and Maurodam. The entire tour was interesting and fun although the Delft authentic pottery was much more expensive than the supposedly imitation Delft found in all the nonsanctioned shops everywhere else. The Hague has all the government buildings and embasseys which are beautiful and Maurodam has the major buidings and monuments in miniature where we wandered about having fun.
In Belfast we took the ships shuttle to town and took the Hop on Hop off bus around especially enjoying the stretch where we viewed the murals and the description of them and the troubles. On highway stretches it was very hard to hear what the guide was saying.We hopped off and had a Guiness in a cute little pub where they poured it slowly and it was delicious. Then we sat and talked to a local family enjoying the conversation.
The bus was covered with windows so it was hard to take pictures through it. This was the frustrating part of the Hop on Hop off buses. Also the dialogue is not always well syncronized with what you are seeing.
We took the ship shuttle into town and got on the Hop on Hop off bus learning about Dublin history. We got off at the Guiness Storehouse which was a fun tour of the brewery but was very crowded especially at the top floor where we got our pint of beer and squeezed into a corner for our very limited panoramic view of Dublin. The energy of the young people there was contagious. We also got off at Dublinia and ChristChurch. Dublinia was a fun Disneylike walk through Dublins history, better done with a child in tow.
Not only is this a fascinating castle, but it has museums in it detailing Scottish military history, the royal jewels, etc. We heard the cannon go off at 1 PM and were taken around by a guide who explained it all to us (free).
A good time was had by all.
Liverpool has so many wonderful museums within easy walking distance of where the ship docks. There are two wonderful Beattles museums. We saw both, enjoying the interactive experience and the addition of the Elvis wing which we also explored. We did the Fab 4 ride. Then we went over to the Maritime museum and learned of the history of Slavery, but didn't have time to visit the Liverpool museum or the Tate Art museum also right there. We could have used more time in Liverpool.
Bragi took us to the Blue Lagoon on the second day of his tour and we loved it,from the electronic lockers that locked and unlocked with our wrist band that we also used to order a beer from the swim up bar, to the hot blue waters that felt so good after the short walk in the cold air to the huge pool. What an amazing spa!
We loved touring Reykavik on the morning of our second day with Bragi of brtours. We hit all the highspots including the amazing church, various residential areas- Bragi's own swimming pool and spa which was visited by a group of school children and some amorous lovers in the hot tub while we were there.
We learned about how the amazing Icelandic phenomenon came about and how all that power is being used. The short movie however was not well syncronized with our small tour group, so we ended up seeing it twice. We fit this stop in after our Golden Circle tour on our first day with Bragi.