The Heart of Bordeaux cruise on the Prinsendam met or exceeded our expectations except for some unfortunate experiences in the aft 200 level cabins.
We embarked in Amsterdam after overnighting at the HAL booked Renaissance. Getting to the ship was somewhat chaotic as the same buses loaded with luggage dropped off passengers at the hotel while many of us new passengers were waiting to board the buses with our luggage sitting on the street outside the hotel. Despite the hectic transition embarkation was handled smoothly and professionally and we were on board in less than an hour after arrival.
The Prinsendam remains a wonderful vessel, clean and well maintained.
We elected an aft veranda cabin on the 200 level. DO NOT DO THIS. The cabins despite being new and well appointed are sitting over the engines and stabilizers and they vibrate terribly even when in port. We and our surrounding passengers were constantly complaining to anyone who would listen but there was nothing they could do. Additionally the aft pool drains and spills over onto the verandas on this level making the verandas often unusable if the seas are just a bit rough. No one on board was willing or able to solve this until we were able to get the support of a travel agency that contacted HAL corporate. After that contact amends were made and we relocated for the duration of the voyage.
The cruise was quite port intensive but this was handled very well by the crew and shore excursion staff. Many of the ports offered previously unadvertised shuttles, often free, making many of the scheduled shore excursions unnecessary for those willing and able to explore on their own.
Food was average with some high points and some low points. Some meat was prepared perfectly as ordered. Some could not be prepared as ordered despite multiple attempts. Wine prices seemed a bit high for the bottles available (about 3x retail per bottle) making some of the packages worthwhile.
Entertainment was average cruise ship fare with a well motivated group of singers and dancers on board.
My DW and I differed in our assessment of the small ship philosophy. She felt a little claustrophobic and wished for more active venues especially in the afternoons and evenings. I enjoyed the intimacy and short walking distances that the ship allowed and was quite satisfied.
The staff in general was upbeat and cordial throughout.
Disembarkation was handled extremely well. Luggage was available arranged by tag color AND cabin...yes, they took the time to put each cabin's luggage together rather than making us search the whole port for our luggage...nice job.
Do check your accounts as we had two errors during our stay.
Overall I would not hesitate to return to the Prinsendam for a future cruise. I would avoid the ship for major sea crossings where heavy seas could be anticipated and would stay far far away from the new 200 level aft cabins. Stick with midship and things will be wonderful.