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We just completed the 68 day Prinsendam Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage. It was our first cruise since the 1990s and it was MUCH better than we expected. We loved it and would sail on the Prinsendam again in a heartbeat. We crammed at least 5 peak life experiences into a little under two and a half months. The Panama Canal, The Nazca Lines, Antarctica, Carnival in Rio and the Amazon. Other experiences including, Glacier Alley in Chile, the Falklands, Buenos Aires, Salvador Bahia, and the Railway at the End of the World, to name only a few, were added pluses. The ports of call are what attracted us to a South America Cruise. Holland America's engagement with Sitka, Alaska, the community where we live, caused us to choose Holland America (HAL supports community events in its ports of call so it is only right that we support HAL.) But what made this cruise special were our shipmates, a group of curious, intelligent and engaged people, almost all of whom have more cruise experience than we do and were willing to help newbies like us, and the program of lectures and events on the ship. HAL had booked first rate lecturers who put the trip into historical, economic, geological and ecological context for us and prepared us for the ports we were to visit and the areas we sailed through. The combination of our traveling companions and the lectures reminded me of freshman year at college, without the pressure of grades. And there is a well stocked library. There was a wide variety of entertainment on board. Some of it we liked, some of it we skipped. The style had to appeal to a range of people across two cultural generations and the line did a good job in doing that. The Prinsendam orchestra was always a delight. I’m an informal Alaskan and I was somewhat intimidated by dress codes and "formal nights." There was no need to worry. This ship has hit the right balance. Smart casual was just that. I was very comfortable. On the weekly "formal" nights I felt at home in a sports coat and tie and was in line with a lot of my cruise mates. We were never at a loss for a choice of things to do that we found engaging and entertaining. Suzi liked the tai chi. I liked swimming laps in the aft pool. We both took courses in digital photography and in editing and organizing pictures. Food on board was good. I especially liked the cold soups. The portions were on the smaller side, which I appreciated. If I wanted more I could always get more but I did not feel like I was wasting food. The Lido, where we took Breakfast and some lunches had a good variety, although I would have liked to have trays. Walking back and forth to the table with a plate, then a coffee cup, then juice and water than.... It got old. I particularly liked the "Dive In" hot dog and hamburger stand near the pool. I always have to watch my weight. The combination of healthy food in reasonable portions and the activity on board contributed to the fact that I actually lost weight on this cruise without really trying. Reading reviews we were a little nervous because several people complained that the ship was old and things didn't work, there was rust, there were dings in the cabin furniture, at times the elevator was down, things like that. This didn't bother us. OK, it's an older ship and everything didn't work perfectly but the staff made sure that things that didn't work were fixed or compensated for. The line has replaced the air conditioning and while it could not always get the cabin down to 68 I don't think the room temperature ever got any higher than 75, which in 90 degree heat outside, is ok. We found no rust and while there were some dings in the cabin furniture there were fewer than we have at home. Prinsendam has character and personality. I liked the fact that it does not have a thousand passengers. It was a good size for my taste. I was nervous taking a 68 day cruise after not having cruised for two decades. I did not need to worry, the time went quickly and enjoyably. For us this was supposed to be a "trip of a lifetime." Having done it once I think we will be back. If you are interested in reading more you can check out my blog from this cruise. There are posts from most ports and some talk about sea days. There are also a lot of pictures (like 1700, OK I went overboard.) The link is: https://rich.mcclear.net/category/sa2015/

Better than I expected and I expected a lot

Prinsendam Cruise Review by Captain Ricky

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2015
  • Destination: South America
  • Cabin Type: Vista Suite with Verandah
We just completed the 68 day Prinsendam Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage. It was our first cruise since the 1990s and it was MUCH better than we expected. We loved it and would sail on the Prinsendam again in a heartbeat. We crammed at least 5 peak life experiences into a little under two and a half months. The Panama Canal, The Nazca Lines, Antarctica, Carnival in Rio and the Amazon. Other experiences including, Glacier Alley in Chile, the Falklands, Buenos Aires, Salvador Bahia, and the Railway at the End of the World, to name only a few, were added pluses.

The ports of call are what attracted us to a South America Cruise. Holland America's engagement with Sitka, Alaska, the community where we live, caused us to choose Holland America (HAL supports community events in its ports of call so it is only right that we support HAL.)

But what made this cruise special were our shipmates, a group of curious, intelligent and engaged people, almost all of whom have more cruise experience than we do and were willing to help newbies like us, and the program of lectures and events on the ship. HAL had booked first rate lecturers who put the trip into historical, economic, geological and ecological context for us and prepared us for the ports we were to visit and the areas we sailed through. The combination of our traveling companions and the lectures reminded me of freshman year at college, without the pressure of grades. And there is a well stocked library.

There was a wide variety of entertainment on board. Some of it we liked, some of it we skipped. The style had to appeal to a range of people across two cultural generations and the line did a good job in doing that. The Prinsendam orchestra was always a delight.

I’m an informal Alaskan and I was somewhat intimidated by dress codes and "formal nights." There was no need to worry. This ship has hit the right balance. Smart casual was just that. I was very comfortable. On the weekly "formal" nights I felt at home in a sports coat and tie and was in line with a lot of my cruise mates.

We were never at a loss for a choice of things to do that we found engaging and entertaining. Suzi liked the tai chi. I liked swimming laps in the aft pool. We both took courses in digital photography and in editing and organizing pictures.

Food on board was good. I especially liked the cold soups. The portions were on the smaller side, which I appreciated. If I wanted more I could always get more but I did not feel like I was wasting food. The Lido, where we took Breakfast and some lunches had a good variety, although I would have liked to have trays. Walking back and forth to the table with a plate, then a coffee cup, then juice and water than.... It got old. I particularly liked the "Dive In" hot dog and hamburger stand near the pool. I always have to watch my weight. The combination of healthy food in reasonable portions and the activity on board contributed to the fact that I actually lost weight on this cruise without really trying.

Reading reviews we were a little nervous because several people complained that the ship was old and things didn't work, there was rust, there were dings in the cabin furniture, at times the elevator was down, things like that. This didn't bother us. OK, it's an older ship and everything didn't work perfectly but the staff made sure that things that didn't work were fixed or compensated for. The line has replaced the air conditioning and while it could not always get the cabin down to 68 I don't think the room temperature ever got any higher than 75, which in 90 degree heat outside, is ok. We found no rust and while there were some dings in the cabin furniture there were fewer than we have at home. Prinsendam has character and personality. I liked the fact that it does not have a thousand passengers. It was a good size for my taste.

I was nervous taking a 68 day cruise after not having cruised for two decades. I did not need to worry, the time went quickly and enjoyably. For us this was supposed to be a "trip of a lifetime." Having done it once I think we will be back.

If you are interested in reading more you can check out my blog from this cruise. There are posts from most ports and some talk about sea days. There are also a lot of pictures (like 1700, OK I went overboard.) The link is: https://rich.mcclear.net/category/sa2015/
Captain Ricky’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Cabin Review

Vista Suite with Verandah
Cabin AA 138
This is a good cabin. It is midships and "ocean motion" was reasonable. Its location just aft of the atrium made it very convenient. It is two decks up from the dining room, one deck up from the show lounge library, shops and explorer bar and two decks below the Lido. This meant that I used the stairs rather than the elevator. This was good for me. The cabin is on the same deck as the aft swimming pool. Its location right above the library meant that wireless worked from the cabin.
We did not feel engine vibrations and it is in a quiet location.
The cabin has a verandah, which we enjoyed. It has a shower only, which we prefer. If you need a tub this in not your cabin. It is a little small but we found it comfortable enough.
We brought magnetic hooks that gave us places to hang things and some magnetic small "white boards" which allowed us to leave notes for each other. There is one 110 and one 220 electrical outlet. Most of our devices work on either voltage and having a European socket converter helped. Some reviewers for this ship said the beds were too low to stow luggage under. We got our baggage under the beds by lifting a corner. They did fit. Cabin service was first rate.
Upper Promenade Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Hop on Hop off bus
    Good hop on hop off experience. Were able to get off, walk between stops and get on again. We could pick it up right outside the tour port. Well worth it.
    View All 12,274 Hop on Hop off bus Reviews
  • Villa Victoria
    Villa Victoria is an old Valpo home that survived earthquake and fire. It has been a fine home, then a bakery and then fell into disrepair. Kenneth and Victoria and their children have lovingly restored it. They met us at the ship terminal and we decided to take them up on their offer of a 10% discount.

    The experience includes a history of the city, tailored to those in the group, for Americans it talked about Valpo's relations to the US through the Gold Rush and with whalers. For the Aussies they talked about Valpo as a South Pacific trading hub. For the Brits, Navel history.

    They presented in costume, served us tea and cakes, and made us feel welcome. They have a restored cooperage as part of the tour and I got to try some of the tools.

    This was a wonderful discovery.
    View All 12,274 Villa Victoria Reviews
  • Bertha Beach
    This was a wonderful tour with 4WD Land Rover. Our driver was a 21 year old woman who was raised on a farm and gave us great insights into growing up, going to school, and farming in the Falklands. And Penguins, we saw lots of Penguins, including a King Penguin.
    View All 12,274 Bertha Beach Reviews
  • Train to the End of the World
    We took this tour from the cruise line because one of the tour books told us that on cruise ship days the train is sold out. It is was not. Others took a cab to the station and traveled both ways on the train rather than the one way we got. Next time I will do it on my own, save the money and have more train time.
    View All 28 Train to the End of the World Reviews