We choose the Prinsendam as we had sailed on Holland America before and we wanted a relaxing vacation combined with interesting ports. This itinerary was scheduled to visit nine interesting Caribbean ports. Additionally, this cruise sailed on December 22, 2010 and returned on January 5, 2011, which allowed us to spend both Christmas and New Years on the cruise!
Boarding the ship was fast and within a few minutes we were onboard. The ship is small by todays standards and even though it is an older ship it is for the most part well maintained. Holland America is consistently updating the ship and during our cruise window coverings were changed. The contractors informed us that carpets were scheduled to be replaced as well. The ship is the perfect size and is not a giant ship like some of the others we have sailed on. The Prinsendam carries about 800 passengers which allowed us to get to know other people on the cruise, something that does not happen on the giant ships.
The staff is for the most part hard working and really attempt to please the passengers. The staff in the Lido dining area are always helpful and strive to make every breakfast just perfect for each passenger. The room stewards are excellent and strive to get the rooms cleaned up in rapid manner and are always smiling and friendly. The front office staff are helpful, especially John who went out of his way to assist us.
We selected an outside cabin, category D which included a walk-in closet and a bath tub, the first time I have had these amenities on a cruise ship.
We selected a fixed seating time, second seating at 8 PM. Fixed seating is in the smaller section of the La Fontaine Dining room while the larger section towards the stern of the ship is used for open seating. The food on this ship was outstanding and rarely did I not enjoy meals.
What we really enjoyed on the Prinsendam was there were no loud announcements and there no people shoving drinks in our faces trying to get us to buy drinks. The bars are located around the ship and drink prices are for the most part reasonable, a small Casino is on the ship but really did not attract a large crowd.
Entertainment on the Prinsendam is an area that could use some improvement. While the Showroom at Sea is small and does not have a high ceiling, the shows consisted of six singers and dancers who while talented were limited to old fashioned shows that resemble the 50's and 60's. The shows make you feel like you are sailing on a time warp and take you back, way back before most of us were born! There were other entertainers such as a singer who was excellent, unfortunately she only performed twice during the entire cruise and there was a magician who was also good.
The best entertainment on the Prinsendam was performed by a group called Rosario Strings, this group consists of three musicians, one played the piano, another played the chello and another played the violin. While I am not a fan of classical music, this group performed all sorts of music and the violinist was the best! He is young and we were all fascinated by the manner in which he handled the instrument and the music he played. Now that I am off the ship I really miss this group. You can buy a CD of their muusic in the gift shop which I did.
Also, the band was good with an excellent guitarist named Pablo. This group played occassionally in the Showroom at Sea.
The Indonesian crew show was truly outstanding and for Christmas various choirs performed Christmas carols which were beautiful. The New Years celebration consisted of the band playing and the officers asking passengers to dance, it was very traditional and joyous.
Finally, I like to work out in the gym and this is one area that Holland America has to expand on this ship. The gym is lacking modern equipment and needs to be both expanded and updated.
Overall, this is a cruise ship for those that want to relax, read a book on deck and not listen to loud announcements.