Prinsendam Cruise Review by Roycal
- Sail Date: August 2017
- Destination: Baltic Sea
- Cabin Type: Signature Suite with Verandah
The ship is old and decor dated, but mostly well maintained. The age and decor didn't bother us (we're old too, and in our mid-70s I'd guess we were below the median age of the passengers on the ship -- in other words, in the young set). I suppose because it is an older ship, there were only four small elevators, one of which was out of service for a number of days. It could have also used a few more strategically located public restrooms. Another funny thing that I'm not sure about, was that in certain places the floors were uneven, that is, even though you were on the same deck, there would be slight rises and falls.
I'd give top rating to the on-board entertainers. The house singers, dancers and band were top drawer, as were the visiting singers. They were the only thing on the ship that exceeded our expectations. HA also had a juggler one night and a magician another, but we did not see them. The lounge music was very good, too, with the exception of the evening piano bar pianist/singer.
Lectures -- forget it. There was only one lecturer, who was good, but she only gave three lectures, one scheduled a really poor time. Otherwise, you could do bingo -- not sure how many did play, but it seemed to be the main leisure time offering. The did offer computer classes, and some good movies, but we didn't see the need for the classes and only saw one movie.
The food was for the most part very good to excellent, too. I'm talking main dining room, here. We only had a couple mediocre meals and only one bad one (should have sent it back, but did not). Lunch and breakfast in the Lido restaurant, buffet style, was noting to write home about, but serviceable. For extra money they have three specialty restaurants: The Pinnacle, Canaletto, and Le Cirque (which is a special night in the Pinnacle space), all of which we tried. The small size of these venues was attractive. On the other hand, for us the extra cost really wasn't worth it -- the food and service were no better than in the main dining room. If you do want to eat in these places, wait to sign up until you get on board, when special deals may be offered. We made the mistake of making our reservations in advance and paying full price.
The shore excursions through HA were good - lots of variety, and we did nine of them. I'd say of the nine I'd rate only two as below average, well below our expectations. And they are not in expensive.
The most striking thing about the cruise was the obvious corporate atmosphere and cost-cutting. Details, details. Among other things, the dining rooms were under-staffed. The staff seemed to be working hard, but had too many customers to cover. (Staff were, with one exception, friendly and pleasant.) The public men's rooms I visited twice had run out of soap, and several times out of cloth towels. They're always telling you to wash your hands, so you'd think they'd staff-up enough to keep someone on top of the restroom conditions. The "bathrobes" in our room were clean, but badly stained (time to get some new ones, folks).
One plus is that service is included. No tipping. Our room attendants got an automatic $15 per day added to our bill, and a la carte beverages had a 15% added.
Finally, and this, I guess derives from our prior cruise experiences, which have been "all inclusive," the a la carte approach that HA takes is bothersome and confusing -- there are special deals, packages, etc. -- but no good way to make sense of them. We passed and just paid one at a time (e.g., for drinks). Crew members going around selling lottery tickets. Really?
Would we go on Holland America again? I would never say never, but it would not be our first choice.
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