For starters, my husband and I love 'Prinsendam'. This shapely vessel, launched in 1988 as ‘Royal Viking Sun’, is an anomaly within the 14-ship fleet of Holland America Line, carrying only 835 guests, whereas her 13 fleet-mates each accommodate from 1,350 to 2,659 passengers. While the 28 year-old 'Prinsendam' does not offer many of the bells and whistles found on newer ships, that's precisely what her very loyal fans appreciate about her. Moderate in size, with sleekly nautical lines, her onboard spaciousness and easy-to-navigate layout set her apart in an industry that is increasingly dominated by boxy, cookie-cutter cruise ships. Though she's at an age when passenger liners traditionally have faced imminent retirement, Holland America is planning to spend millions of euros to preserve and improve ‘Prinsendam’ during a refit scheduled for May, 2016.
Many cruisers will remember the prestigious Royal Viking Line, which operated from 1972 until 1998. San Francisco-based RVL was the Seabourn/Crystal/Silversea of its day, offering lengthy, luxurious cruises to all corners of the globe, for a discriminating clientele who returned year after year. 'Royal Viking Sun' was designed and built for passengers who expected the very best, and were willing to pay (a lot) for it. She was, when new - and remains today - the antithesis of mass-market cruise ships.
As Holland America Line divests itself of mid-sized vessels (the 55,000 ton ‘Statendam’ and ‘Ryndam’ were recently transferred to P&O Australia) and replaces them with ever-larger vessels (the new 'Koningsdam' is 99,500 tons.), the 38,100 ton ‘Prinsendam’ exemplifies what cruising used to be; a past-time primarily for the well-traveled and well-heeled. There are no rock-climbing walls onboard, no neon-lit atrium, or fast food franchises. There’s no crowding and seldom any lines. Even when full, ‘Prinsendam’ feels spacious. Fellow-passengers are primarily in their 70’s (and 80’s, and even 90’s on our crossing) and are more likely to be found browsing in the extensive, well-stocked library, or strolling the broad, wrap-around promenade deck, than engaging in frenetic activities.
We chose this cabin for its Lower Promenade Deck location; steps from outside and on the same deck as the Pinnacle Grill and La Fontaine Dining Rooms, as well as the popular Ocean Bar.
A perfect city in which to begin or end a cruise.
An excellent pedestrian-only shopping street and a restored Roman theater within a ten minute walk from the ship.
A slightly faded resort city that is working hard to improve its offerings.
At times you may need to remind yourself you're in Spain and not Morocco! Wonderfully atmospheric and the ship docks right downtown. (We even returned onboard briefly to drop off some purchases and the headed-out again.)
One of our favorite destinations for forty years. Reserve ahead for tea on the terrace of the historic and beautiful Reid's Hotel. And then have a cocktail in the bar. (Passengers taking the ship's tour are served tea in an anteroom.)