By Marcia Levin, Cruise Critic contributor
Prinsendam, Holland America's smallest vessel, is considered its pathfinder. This is the ship to choose if far-away destinations, longer-than-usual itineraries and superb value for money are key factors in selecting a cruise -- especially because Holland America has continued to upgrade and refurbish Prinsendam since acquiring the ship from Seabourn in 2002.
The latest major upgrade was completed in late 2007 and the ship now carries on more Holland America traditions. It's got the line's signature Explorations Cafe by the New York Times, a lovely reading room and library. The Pinnacle Grill, Holland America's alternative restaurant that serves Northwest-inspired cuisine, has a fresh look and new menus. Cabins were refreshed with new carpets. And the ship, which has never been marketed as a family-friendly member of the HAL fleet, now operates the Club HAL kids' program (though there's no dedicated facility and counselors are only onboard during holidays when multi-generational groups are likely to be traveling).
This "Elegant Explorer" sails on longer range, exotic itineraries, including a Grand World Voyage and several Grand Voyages to destinations including Antarctica and the Mediterranean and Black Sea. The ship sails 14- to 73-day itineraries.
Originally named the Royal Viking Sun when it debuted in 1988, and later the Seabourn Sun, the vessel has always been one where passenger comforts rank high with officers and crew. That philosophy has continued with Holland America. The ship's guest relations desk, for example, is visited daily by passengers who just want to say "hi" to staff rather than to voice a complaint.
"As You Wish" dining was introduced on Prinsendam in May 2008, allowing guests to select either traditional pre-set seating or dining on a flexible schedule from 5:15 until 9 p.m. daily.
Ultimately, one of the most delightful aspects of Prinsendam is that it is utterly unique within the HAL fleet -- despite the many features, facilities and amenities consistent with newer, bigger vessels. It's still by and large a ship for more mature travelers who want classic style cruising and contemporary conveniences.
Prinsendam Fellow Passengers
Prinsendam appeals to well-educated, well-traveled passengers. They are inveterate travelers -- primarily from North America and the U.K. -- in their late 50's and older. You won't be dazzled by diamonds on this ship (although I spotted some "beauts"), but you will be awed by the intelligence, curiosity and enthusiasm of your fellow passengers.
Prinsendam Dress Code
Country club casual is the norm, but count on a few formal nights per cruises and as scheduled on longer voyages. Formal can be anything from a dark suit to a white dinner jacket for men and a sequined ball gown to a glitzy silk short over pants for women. Shorts and sleeveless T-shirts are never worn in dining rooms.
Holland America Line automatically adds $11.50 per person, per day, to onboard accounts; this is then shared among waiters, stewards and other service personnel. That amount can be adjusted in either direction by visiting the front desk. A 15 percent gratuity is tacked on to bar bills. Note that gratuities are not automatically included on bills for spa treatments.
December 2013 islandhopper100
It was our first cruise on the HAL or the Prinsendam, it is a well travelled ship but well looked after over the years, the GREAT Best ever service ever from the crew, comfortable interior cabin best has was modern bathroom, very clean and good ...continue
I once read a question on the HAL forum about why it was that the Prinsendam cruises were more expensive than other HAL cruises and the answer was because they can get it. Having sailed many HAL cruises on other various ships, with the Amsterdam ...continue
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Pre-Cruise : Booked private car transport (online from Australia) from Miami Airport via Holland Limousine Service. Communication via email prior to arrival was excellent. Driver was waiting in the Baggage Claim for me on arrival and was very ...continue