Prinsendam is going out of Holland America Service on July 1. I wondered if I should write these reviews, but since Veendam is taking over some of the Prinsendam itineraries in 2020 I’ve decided this might still help future cruisers. We took two back to back itineraries, Celtic Explorer and Norwegian Fjords Explorer on the MS Prinsendam.
The 14 day Norwegian Fjords Explorer started with a sea day before arriving in Oslo. In Oslo the ship docked at someplace other than where the EXC Guide told us we would be. It was not on the map that HAL provides for each port. We were told that there would people with maps and a currency exchange, there was none of that, only a couple of cabs and a hop on hop off bus. The map for the Ho-Ho did not have our dock marked. It was a “special stop.” There was one sign pointing to downtown but no indication on how far a walk it was. I understand that sometimes things change. But when they do HAL has the responsibility to make an announcement of the different docking venue. We took the Ho-Ho. It was fine for getting us where we wanted to go but terrible for sightseeing. They had decals across the front window on the upper deck and blocking the windows on the bottom deck. The bus stopped running before we ran out of Oslo so we took a cab from Central Station to the ship, more than $30.
This was Prinsendam’s first, and last, call at Arendal, a charming town. We were greeted by a dance troupe who performed on the walkway climbing up from the dock. We walked through the town, spent time in the old town hall, a classic old, large wooden building. At a café we had some local pastries and coffee. A man sat next to us, his brother joined us, and we had a conversation about their grandfather who immigrated to America and made enough money to come back and buy a fishing boat. It changed the family’s life, giving them cash and status.
The cabin was roomy with a nice walk in closet. I like the fact it has a fridge. I wish it had more electric outlets. The lighting could be better. The bedside lamps lit the whole room. Would rather have had smaller and more directed bed lamps so I could read without disturbing my wife.
The toilet clogged or backed up several times. The plumber had to come to fix it. He said that somewhere along the line someone had flushed too much stuff and several rooms had problems. We were comped a meal at restaurant for our trouble. Wish the toilet had a night light. I loved the shower.
The cabin crew were great. We had some pulled muscles and they always had ziploc bags handy with ice..
Prinsendam did not dock where the EXC guide told us it would. So there were no maps, there was no money exchange and no instructions of where we were or where we should go. There was one sign that pointed to "Downtown" with no distance. The Hop on Hop off was there but where we were was not on their map. They told us this was a "special" stop for the ship. We took the Ho-Ho. The bus went through a tunnel that did not allow pedestrians. So it did not help us figure out how to get to where we were going.
But the HO-HO took us to where we wanted to go. It was good for transportation but lousy for sightseeing. There were decals over the front window on the top deck and on the lower deck there were decals that blocked our view.
We enjoyed Frogner Park, the Folk Museum, the Fram Museum and toe Opera House. The HO-HO stopped running before we ran out of Oslo so we stayed in the downtown area and took a cab back. It cost $30.
We took the Waterfall and Waffles tour. It was worth it. Eric was a great storyteller. He is a farmer/fireman/snowplow driver. It was worth it to get out of town into the alpine tundra. The tour was well run, with no more than one bus at each stop at a time.
The sail through Hardanger Fjord was worth.
Good walking town, enjoyed the wooden buildings .Everything we wanted to see was within easy walking distance.
A combo ticket fort the cathedral and bishop's palace cost 200 NOK, about $22.00. The Cathedral was worth it but the Bishop's Palace's main attraction, the crown jewels, were in a room that was sealed off with an iron gate. They closed it because they decided security was not good enough. They did tie a pair of binoculars to the gate so we could squint through them to to get a peek at the jewels.
Rockheim is the Norwegian Rock and Roll museum. It is right where the ship docks.
We loved this town. It burned near the beginning of the 20th century. It was rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style. It is a wonderful town for strolling. The Art Nouveau and Modern Art Museums are really good. The Modern Art Museum concentrated on people's, the artists', relationship to the sea.
Then we took a cab to the overlook for a wonderful view.
We took the Hop on Hop Off bus and it was worth it. It took us to a great overlook, a mountain farm and the Fjord Center. From the Fjord Center over 300 steps take you down to the town along a waterfall. It was a wonderful walk. We then did the loop on the Ho-Ho again, in the top deck, just for the view.
The Hanseatic League Museum is closed because the building is sinking, It will be closed for 6 years. They have placed some exhibits around old Bryggen. The Bryggen Museum was also closed for refurbishing. It was Ascension Day, therefore a holiday, so a lot of things were closed. Buses were running on holiday schedule and taxis were on holiday rates. There is a free shuttle bus from Bryggen to the Fisherman's museum. That was very much worth the visit. i live in a fishing town (Sitka) and learning about fisheries somewhere else was It rained most of the day but the sun came out for the sail out, which was glorious.
We docked right near the old town residential district with its white clapboard houses. The downtown has more colorful wooden buildings and is an easy walk from the ship, as is the petroleum museum, which does a good job of describing the Norwegian oil industry, what good it has brought, the social disruption it has caused and the threat of climate change. It left you with a lot of questions and some ideas of how to find answers without giving them to you. It was an excellent experience. As a bonus, if you have kids there is lots of interactive stuff geared to kids.
Amsterdam is always a wonderful city to explore. We took a canal boat cruise in an open boat this time and enjoyed it tremendously. We also walked along canals soaking up the ambience of this city where we have spent a lot of time in the past.