This was a perfect cruise for us to get away from Cold and Snow! Valuewise? A $$Bargain$$. Heavenly weather suited us perfectly; as we wanted to 'Soak up Sun' then get out and about amongst the locals at every port of call. Firstly, we were perhaps NOT typical of our fellow shipmates. Being 50-ish put us at the younger end of the guest list..but we loved it!! PRINSENDAM guests on Grand Voyages typically 'know their stuff' and appeared to be savvy cruisers and worldly beyond words. Add to this the ship's officers and a staff that acknowledge their clientele's expectations and we feel we recieved a 1st Class cruise. Such a deal. Now remember; we are 'active'. We sky-dive, we motorcycle/backpack, we have a 'Go-fast' boat, we stay out late at home etc.; so this Trans-Atlantic gave us a chance to quietly unwind at sea from our workaday world and yet snoop independently ashore, as we did no group ShoreExcursions. No belly-flop contests, no Metallica on the Muzak on this cruise, go elsewhere for that.
Embarkation: 9/10. I would suggest arriving the night BEFORE departure. We did not, and damn near missed the ship. My fault. Dumb. Maybe book a day-early Flight# and don't cut it close if you leave from miserable weather locales? Prinsendam Airport Staff saved our buns, thanks ladies! Sail-away cocktails and hor d'oveurs on the Lido Deck fantail Deck were great! Trip/Cruise Insurance? Maybe not a bad idea, IMHO. We learned something. Ha!
Cruise Director: 10/10. Tom Faulkner. You rascal! They can make or break a cruise. Hard working guy....and good. Cruise Consultant: 10/10. Tina Falkner. What a coincidence. So nice. Thanks for the wine, Tina.
Trans-Atlantic and St.Barts: 10/10. The weather was to die for. Add the StBart's Sailing Regatta before our very eyes was niffy for us sailors aboard. As we had hit most Carribean Isles previously, we hiked and walked and gawked at the Mega-Yachts in town for the Regatta. Days at Sea consisted of 'It's 5 O'clock Somewhere' around the Main Pool and HotTub. Few pool or Hottub-users, Prinsendamer's are sunners and readers it seemed. Plenty of Deck lounge-chairs every day poolside. Nice. We've been on cuises where that was a real problem.
Service and Dining: 9/10. I rarely ever give a 10/10 for anything (because I just don't); so a 9/10 is a great compliment by me, wife sez 10/10. Dining Room Table-for-8 #161 had very good service and location-wise. We are not gormands by any means, but the food was certainly of better quality than on any other cruise lines we have sailed with. Officer's Tina and Norm kindly joined us for Dinner on 2 occasions and picked up the Merlot Mega-Wine $tab$. Now how neat is that? Lido Buffet was where we took our Noonish meals/snacks and wife loves Room-service breakfast; we did not dine in the Uber-classe Pinnacle Grill. Those who did related it was a fabulous venue and meal. Was the wait-staff strained to keep up? Ours were wonderful, but had to hustle; but as Cruise-ships ARE money-making enterprizes certain fellow cruisers felt HA maybe cut back a little too much on Dining Room staff. Service personnel at the library and Front Desk etc. were so nice. Not a grumpy face to be seen.
Public Rooms: 9/10. I baffled me why a few other reviewers felt the PRINSENDAM was not spiffy. It was in my estimaton. OK, it isn't new, it doesn't have that new car feel. Good, I didn't want to cruise in a new car. it's Old World charm made it relaxing and comfy. New carpet was installed around all elevator/foyer areas during this cruise; so maybe that addressed legitimate concerns from previous guests. Sanitation and staff wipe-downs and cleaning were 1st-rate sez my wife (an RN for decades). Paint and Teak decks looked A-OK to me.
Cabin: 8/10. Here's why. It would take a Penthouse or Veranda Suite to get a 10/10 from me. And newer high-end vessels simply have all-balconies, all-suites etc. Our Deck #7 stateroom had a 4' X 4' window overlooking the Promenade Deck, w/ 1-way glass and right 'round the corner from the outside doorway. Perfect for our needs and $$$. Certain guests literally could NOT handle their engine-room lower inside stateroom. Period. But you get what you $$pay$$ for, No? Newer stateroom configurations might have solved such issues. Dunno. Great pillows/linen on our bed. Our bathroom was newly re-done. Very spiffy.
Lounges and Bars: 9/10. Talk about great bartenders and wait-staff. The bartender and table hostesses make the bar, right? Very perky and entertaining and skilled. I bought the $75 wine-cards to take care of house wine/beer needs Poolside and elsewhere. A similar mixed-drink swipe card avail as well. Saves a few bucks. Gil was our Main-Man up in the Crow's Nest after Dinner, at close down time and during certain Cocktail events. Our appetite was whetted 'round the window view tables served by the OceanBar cocktail staff. So handy to people watch and then head straight off to Dinner a few steps away. Complimentary hor d'ouvers were #1. Nice. Explorers Lounge near Casino had big-screenTV tuned to ESPN usually. Handy, small little nook. Now about the Sea-View Bar at the Stern (rear). 0/0. Whyso? Ya literally couldn't FIND the darn thing! Re-configuring the Decks during drydock put this area in Limbo-land. Too bad, as we would have liked to read and sip on a cool 'umbrella drink' back there occasionally. A few solitary types liked it I guess. And handy for the Penthouse Residents.(See Deck-plan). Keep in mind now that the clientele that return to the PRINSENDAM are certainly not the drunken Bubba-types one finds on booze cruises. A nice wine before meals and meeting new people over a drinky-poo make for enjoyable conversation times for us. The ambiance of lounges reflected the guest's preferences/sensibilities in the nicest way...except for the Sea-View's access issue, but no big deal.
Entertainment: 8/10. We did NOT take in all the Showroom events. The ones we did were fine. Taste and Style ranged from Lite Opera, Adiago Strings, The FourSeasons cover act and a Jazz combo. Dance floor band 'did it all' for the Ballroom dancing and lite Rock-n-Roll numbers. Buddy at the piano in the Crow's Nest Lounge up Top made for cocktail hour'Entertainment'. Puckish humor and great repetoire made the times there memorable. That the officers made it the Nightcap spot-to-be kinda sez it all doesn't it?
Lectures/Activities: 9/10. Thank goodness for Frank and Dave!! Frank helped immensely because we are Independent Snoopers. Frank is HAL's walking/talking Encyclopedia for Shore Excursion info. His experiences and Dave's various lecture presentations added much to the cruise. How lucky PRINSENDAMer's were to have them for their 'Answermen'. Thank-you HAL. Trivia Contest, Bingo time and Crafters personnel were more than up to the task.
Shore Excursions: Dunno. Never went on any!! We were OFF on our own, by motorcycle or train or hiking, but we waved to the buses as they went by. Users reported them as A-OK. Some bi****ing as they paid $$$ for same stuff we saw for $14.49. But then walking issues/mobility makes tour buses perfect for some.
Destinations: 9/10. St Barts/Carribean. Perfect weather. With Bucket Regatta for Mega-cruisers in town it was a quick look at the Rich n Famous close up. Yachts to die for. I will rate them all 9/10 as we like ALL places for different reasons. ie DeathValley gets a 9. So do Rainforests for us. Madiera. Lovely volcanic island where we took Cable-car gondola up for harbor view,backbacked. Then off to adorable restaurant 15 Miles West of Funchal (Santos Antonio)for open-hearth lunch of homemade bread and grilled chicken and Pitcher of Sangria with a view to die for.
Tangier, Morocco. Dunno. We were hit by a Force 10 Storm and 30ft waves and couldn't dock. Ha!! The ship handled it extremely well. Great for story time back home afterwards. I kinda enjoyed it actually.
Almeira,Spain. Nice city to backpack in. Up to Moor Walled fortifications above town and stroll thru the backway streets and hang with the local fisherman and drink local beer and talk shop with them in a streetcorner 'tapas bar' far from the crowds. Found EXCELLENT geologic fossils and semi-precious gems crystals near the dock. Neat for me. Tours went to the Alhambra of course.
Isbiza Island. Backpacked to Top of Town Fortress.for great view and then grilled sardines, calimari and beer streetside. Then we're outa here.
St Tropez, France. We rented a BMW motorcycle and headed off along the French Riviera. Spent most of our time near Grimaud. A nifty village with sensational views and castle and wine country vineyards. Then down along the coastline. Traffic was not bad. We would pull over, eat/drink and hike, take pics then tootle off for another gaze at paradise. WAY too short a stay. A 3-nite possibility.
Barcelona,Spain. Wow!! My wifes 'fave. Strolling the Ramblas Blvd, the Miro, Gaudi museums and fantastic architectural artwork allround made for great urban hiking extravaganza. Cable-car to mountaintop and buses in town let us hit it all. PRINSENDAM wisely overnighted here. Coulda been a 3-nighter for even more walkin' and gaukin' in our opinion.
Livorno, Italy. (Pisa). We took train to Pisa. 6 Euros@ 60mph! What's not to like? Light rain made it unique. No crowds, period. Fun little jaunt. Others went to Florence for the museums, or Lucca. Coulda spent 3 days here too.
Rome, Italy. Here's where our 3 weeks came to an end. Darn. We took train from Port (Civitacheccia) to Rome's TrainTerminal. 21 Euros/pp. Walked from ship to train station 1/4mile.(only 3 suitcases). Then 3 glorious days in, yes, Roma, Italia!! Actually saw fellow PRINSENDAMers after we checked into our hotel and headed out on foot.
NOW FOR THE WEIRD PART...We(and 4,200 others)got stuck in Amsterdam's Airport Sleeping on Cots for 5 Days/Nights account the Iceland volcano closed European Airspace before we got home. Ha!! Ha! and ha.... but we got free accomodations courtesy of Dutch Red Cross and a free look at Amsterdam and some good Heineken beer etc. There were no rooms within 100 miles of Amsterdam...for NO one!!. KLM Airline personnel were most helpful thru it all. Now would having 'cruise insurance' given a partial reimbursement? I dunno. But what a way to end a cruise. Amsterdam and the tulips and Spring flowers were wonderful. It will be HAL for our next extended cruise for sure. FINAL ANSWER: 9 out of 10.