While we have sailed on various Holland America ships, this was our first on the Prinsendam. In reading other reviews before departure, I was somewhat nervous about what the condition of the ship would be. I don't know if the ship has recently had some refurbishments or not, but I found most of the criticisms I had read to be unfounded. Keep in mind, this vessel is 27 years old. I have been on ships that were only 5 years old that were more tired looking than this one. Our cabin on Deck 10 was in pristine condition. The carpet looked new and the furniture had no signs of wear. Everything worked as it should, with the exception of the hot water, and this problem was largely remedied as soon as I reported it, although for some reason the water at the sinks never got as hot as the tub/shower. The outside of the vessel was sparkling and all the public rooms were in great shape. Someone might nitpick that the furniture in the main dining room was a bit beat up, but you really had to be looking for this to notice. The only signs I saw that indicated the ship was old was the molding around the dining room windows was not in great shape, and the caulking around the outside of our verandah door had been patched over rather poorly.
The ship was under the command of Capt. Tim Roberts, an affable, laid back Englishman. His personality seemed perfect for this small vessel. The cruise director was Bruce Scudder, who also seemed comfortable on this size of ship. I never heard him say if he works on larger Holland America vessels, but I assume he does. One of the guest entertainers remarked that this was a "happy ship". I would have to agree based on the interaction with various crew members. I have never encountered better or friendlier service, and the staff of the Front Desk were perhaps the epitome of that. Our Room Steward, Gede, was unfailing helpful and efficient, assisted by Hendra. They were constantly inquiring if everything was satisfactory in our cabin. The Dining Room stewards were also very friendly, but clearly overworked and it was hard to develop a personal relationship with them as they were too busy to talk.
We were very pleased with the quality, and particularly the taste, of food, both in the main Dining Room and in the Lido. I felt the food had improved substantially since our last HAL cruise on the Ryndam in 2013. Whether it was because this ship gets special attention because it has the highest ratio of return guests of any HAL ship, or just because it is easier to do a higher quality job on a small ship, I don't know, but the food was almost always excellent, particularly the taste and most notably the desserts. I learned to trust my DR Steward's recommendations at dinner time. I noticed how perfect the temperature of the soups were, on a consistent basis. Our only disappointment was that we had to eat in the LIdo more than we would have liked. The food there was excellent as well, but we prefer to eat in the MDR for breakfast and lunch as much as possible. Service was just too slow at breakfast for us to eat there except on sea days, and it was usually closed for lunch on port days. We had one meal each in the Pinnacle Grill and the Cannaleto, and they were both excellent.
This cabin, just aft of the forward stairwell/elevators on the port side, was an excellent choice. The room was in immaculate condition, and everything worked as it should, with the exception of the hot water at the outset of the cruise. This was quickly fixed, although the temperature of water at the sinks was never quite hot enough. We heard no noise from adjoining cabins and only the occasional dragging of chairs in the middle of the night on the pool deck above. There was no noticeable engine noise when the ship was underway. Our only complaint was the shampoo and conditioner, which comes from dispensers on the wall of the tub enclosure. The quality of these supposedly high end products was awful.