Prinsendam Cruise Review by Bluenose 47
- Sail Date: October 2015
- Destination: Europe - Black Sea
- Cabin Type: Signature Suite with Verandah
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.
The entertainment was not spectacular, but probably the most you could expect on a ship of this size. They had a troupe of 4 singers and 4 dancers who put on several shows. Unfortunately, one of the singers was taken ill in Sochi and had to be left behind, and they carried on as best they could. Several nights there were no entertainers in the Showroom. The ill crew member did return for the final night. They had an excellent comedian, a guitar player, and singer come on board and they all did individual shows and then all together for another show. Also, the "Station Band" that played in the Ocean Bar was excellent and could do just about anything, and we often enjoyed listening to them after dinner and before the show at 8 pm.
We chose this cruise mostly for the itinerary. We had never been to the Black Sea before. I really enjoyed the scenic cruising in the Dardenelles and the Bosporus Strait. I understand this itinerary used to include a couple of stops in the Ukraine, before the hostilities with Russia broke out, and they were replaced with additional stops in Turkey at Sinop and Trabzon. Both were very disappointing. We also were very disappointed with our excursions in Sochi and Istanbul. But our overall enjoyment of the cruise made these disappointments seem trivial.
Both embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly and we had very good ship transfers from Athens airport to Pireaus and return.
We will be looking for another opportunity to cruise on the Prinsendam before she is retired, which seems certain in the next two to three years. The Captain said he didn't know the specific plans for the ship, but said one thing is clear - HAL would never build a new ship of this small size, as the economics just don't work. Hopefully they will find a newer small vessel on the used market that could be a replacement. Ships the size of Oceania's Riviera and Marina would be perfect. We have sailed on Riviera twice and loved that ship as well.
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