Aboard The Ms Prinsendam

Dec 13th, 2010, 06:13 AM
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Aboard The Ms Prinsendam

Hi all,

We were on the 15-Day “Ancient Mysteries” cruise Oct 24 – Nov 8, 2010. Here is my report
For now, please disregard the notes regarding pictures. I haven;t posted them yet.

I knew that ships were referred to in the feminine, but I didn’t know that we should call them “Mizz”. Anyway after an uneventful ride over the pond from ATL to FCO on Delta, we spent 3 pleasant days and nights in Rome. We stayed at www.hotelmaikol.com, which we can recommend.

On Sunday, we took our luggage down to the street to await our shuttle to Civitavecchia. The HAL documents had been very strict – we must be aboard no less than 3 hours before sailing. In our case, that was 2:00 PM. Therefore, I had arranged with www.airportshuttle.it to pick us up at 11:30.

What we didn’t know, and no one told us, was that you could board as late as 4:30 PM.

So we waited and fidgeted for the shuttle that came at 12:15. We fidgeted and fidgeted while the driver made a stop in Rome and another at FCO. We fidgeted all of the way up to the entrance to the ship. Of course, we arrived in plenty of time.

Once arrived, baggage handlers took our belongings and carried them away. Don’t try to do anything yourself except to tip the baggage handlers. After that, you and your accouterments (camera case, tote bags of wine, etc) will be directed to the receiving area, where pleasant young men and women will quickly move you along. Just do what they say and don’t think about it.

NOTE: Be sure that whoever you use to take you to the ship is licensed to enter the port. Some services can take you only to the entrance and it is a looong walk to the ship.

After washing our hands in Purell (we got to do that a lot) we made our way up to our cabin on Deck 9. Stateroom AA118 is a nice-sized room with a double bed, sofa, table and chair, walk-in closet, well laid-out toilet (shower only), and a balcony, located slightly behind and a deck below the bridge. The balcony is about a foot longer from door to rail than those farther back.

Pictures of room and balcony. Pic of waterspout.

Lifeboat drill, arranging for various thises and thatsis, and watching the ship debark took up the afternoon and evening. A lovely waterspout dropped out of the sky as we left the docks.

We had chosen “anytime dining” for dinner in the Main Dining Room (MDR), and we asked to be seated at tables of 6 or 8. This worked out well for us, as we met various interesting people, had many pleasant conversations, and only got into an argument about politics (which my Lady Wife squelched fairly quickly) once .

Restaurant Review: There is much too much that is good, very good and outstanding at the Lido Buffet, the Main Dining Room, the Pinnacle Grill (PG) and Room Service for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, snack, tea time, hors d’oeuvres with your pre-prandial cocktail, dinner and late-night snacks to warrant a detailed report. Here are some very subjective observations.

Baked goods are top-notch: the croissants are as good as any in Paris. The fish was excellent. I especially liked the smoked salmon at breakfast and the pickled herring at lunch. The Lobster Bisque at the Pinnacle Grill is not only superb, the preparation is a delight to see. Speaking of which, If you order the skewers (I had the lamb), service is a stage show.

The Lido ranks right up with the MDR and the PG in the quality of its raw materials and its preparation. Some might prefer it to the other venues because of the casual atmosphere.

Dinner was in the main dining room. The Serrano ham and the pumpkin soup were VVG. The house white was fine. The reds were acceptable.

NOTE: It’s a good idea to book your cruise early. Not only did we get a reasonable discount on a voyage that filled up quickly, we were able to purchase the now defunct wine cards and got a good discount on wine as well.

Monday morning, as we slowly passed the fog-enveloped volcano of Isola Stromboli at 07:30, I went up to the Lido for breakfast, took pictures and brought my Lady Wife a continental breakfast, which she enjoyed while we navigated the Straits of Messina. Being on the Port side, we were able to see the place where Charybdis would have been (Or maybe it would have been Scylla).

Pic of Stromboli 10/25

All that day, we leisurely cruised along the sole and bottom of the heel of the Italian boot. While Roberta read a book, sipped wine and nibbled on occasional snacks that I brought her from various buffets around the ship, I staunchly set about my chores of checking out the Prinsendam.

First the Lido buffet. The cold table with various greens and other salad stuff, sushi, breads and rolls, various meats and cheeses and a bunch of desserts is in the center. Further inboard is the hot table with various hot dishes, usually several pastas some meats and a vegetarian dish, more cold dishes and the tea and coffee.

Outside on the pool deck is the Grill. In addition to the usual burgers, hot dogs, grilled sandwiches, fries and chips are daily specials – wursts, sausages, wraps, tacos, etc.

Pix of Lido 10/26 IMG 45

NOTE: For the first 72 hrs the Lido does not have self-service. This is done to guard against the spread of viruses. The staff will serve you what you choose from the buffet (hot or cold) and bring it to the table for you. It slows down the line a bit, but (a) you’re on a cruise and (b) ain’t nobody starving.

The arrangement is the same at breakfast, but the offerings differ. The Muesli and the stewed fruits are very good. There are also fresh fruits, hot and cold cereals, eggs any way you want them, ham, bacon, French toasts, several variations on eggs Benedict, 4 kinds of waffles, breakfast meats, cheeses and fish, breads, rolls, croissants, coffee and tea.

Breakfast is the main dining room (MDR) is a bit more formal (you oughtn’t to wear a bathing suit) and more elegant.

More to come.

ira is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 06:35 AM
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Ira: Interesting start, looking forward to the rest of your report.

We sailed HAL this past March to the Panama Canal and although we thought the food and service were top notch, we were surprised that the average of the passengers was probably 75 to 80 years old. One of the few places we still felt like kids. Did you experience the same?

How was the weather during the time of year you sailed?
Frank is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 06:52 AM
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As I will be going on my first cruise in June (and another in October), I have been looking forward to your report and you haven't disappointed.

Looking forward to the rest.
cambe is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 08:58 AM
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Arrive 3 hours before the cruise? Maybe it was "suggested" as the cruises require 1 hr only.

"Don’t try to do anything yourself except to tip the baggage handlers... Just do what they say and don’t think about it." - first cruise, I can tell

"For the first 72 hrs the Lido does not have self-service." - this we never had in any buffet on any ship! Only during lunch at a restaurant.

And now I am hungry

And waiting for more!
Dayenu is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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You brought your Lady Wife tidbits from the buffets! vedy nice indeed!
Kealalani is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 01:08 PM
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Hi Frank,

>we were surprised that the average of the passengers was probably 75 to 80 years old.<

You shouldn't have been.

The CC boards have lots of postings about how the Prinsendam is the favorite of "an older demographic". Probably because she is more like cruising was 50 years ago.

Most of the people on our voyage were in the late 60 - late 70 range.
.................................................. .....
Hi K,

I learned that from a Cardinal I know.

There was one youth of 17 traveling with her grandfather. She seemed to be having a good time.

I think that the next older passengers were a couple of young men in their mid-twenties.

After that we jump to the early forties.
ira is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 01:17 PM
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Hi Day,

Due to more stringent security measures all passengers are required to check in at the pier for their cruise no later than two (2) hours prior to your scheduled sailing departure time. This is to allow adequate time for check-in, security screening and luggage handling. Guests are strongly encouraged to complete the online advanced guest registration form at least seven days prior to sailing as this will assist in the check-in process.
Please note guests will not be allowed to board after check-in has been closed. Late arriving guests may join the ship at an approved port of call in the scheduled cruise itinerary. Travel to that subsequent port of call will be at the guests' expense".

That sounds like more than a suggestion to me.

Anyway, it didn't matter. We got there in time.

ira is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 02:15 PM
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Thank you, this is new! It was 1 hour before.
Dayenu is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 05:41 PM
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ira : what were your ports of call !
Percy is offline  
Dec 16th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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Hi P,

From Rome to Dubrovnik, Corfu, Katakolon (Olympia), Alexandria, Ashdod (Jerusalem), Haifa, Antalya, Bodrum, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Athens

ira is offline  
Dec 16th, 2010, 09:20 AM
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The fruit soups at dinner were very favorably reviewed by those who like fruit soup.

10/26 Dubrovnik

I arose before sunup and made a thorough photographic documentary of the ship - from stem to stern and truck to keelson - or that part of the ship I was permitted to visit.

Pix of ship go here.

We made fast to the dock and passengers were allowed ashore from about 10:00 to 17:00.

Visiting Dubrovnik’s Old Town is quite easy. Exit the ship bringing your driver’s license and the boarding card they will give you. Entrance/Exit to the port is next to the “Souvenir Shops” sign. Show your ID and Boarding card to the port agents.

Go to the right to the bus terminal and buy two tickets pp (16 Kuna) for the RT. The exit to the street is on the left. The bus stop is just to the right. Take the 1A, 1B or 3 bus to Pilce Gate. (Buses run every 15 min or so.)

On the return from Pilce Gate, you exit at Groz – across the street from where you started.

We spent ½ day in Dubrovnik and found that sufficient. The highlight of our visit, except for the Croatian Spanikopita purchased at a bakery, was the “Sinagoge”. There are only 4 Jewish families left in Drubovnik, so the synagogue is used only as a museum.

Pix of Dubrovnik go here
ira is offline  
Dec 16th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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Did you walk the city walls? We were amazed by the restorations since the earthquake and then bombing in the war.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Dec 17th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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Hi HT,

My Lady Wife has a problem with heights. We didn't walk the walls.
ira is offline  
Dec 17th, 2010, 12:41 PM
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Got back to the ship about 4:00. It had been threatening rain all day, with light showers now and then. About 4:30 it began to rain in earnest. Donder und blitzen all night long. The shipped rolled somewhat, but there was little pitching. Even though our stateroom was forward, we were not disturbed.

The rain stopped in the early morning, and we arrived on Corfu to a cloudy day. We debarked and walked slightly toward the left toward the port gates to find the shuttle bus to take us to the visitor center – 1.2E pp each way. The VC is near the Byzantine Museum, so the bus saves about an hour of walking.

We visited Corfu town (Byzantine Museum, Achillion Palace, St. Spyridon Church, Saint Michael & Saint George Palace, we didn’t bother with the fortresses), poked our noses in and out of places and walked back to the ship in time for a snack from the grill (some sushi, herring, salmon pate, fruit). Roberta was too pooped to go up for tea, so I had some for her.

Corfu Pix Go here

About 4:30, just before sailing time, a glorious rainbow lit up the sky.

Dinner was at the Pinnacle Grill. The PG is worth every penny of the extra $20 pp. The décor, service and selections were all much better than the MDR. Wine flights are available at 12, 15 or 29 for 3-4 glasses of the higher priced offerings.

The amuse bouche of seared scallops with pumpkin puree was VVG. The lobster bisque was excellent. The vanilla souffle and the bread pudding lived up to their rave reviews. The main courses, fish and steak are recommended. We decided to come back another day.

Arriving at Katakolon the next morning we found clouds and scattered rain, the Voyager of the Seas, 3000 passengers, and the Queen Victoria, 2000 pax, were in port at the same time. For some reason, the port authorities had decided that the Prinsendam would have to anchor outside the piers and ferry her passengers ashore. This might have been because there were only 850 of us and over 5000 of them.

Anyway, having no interest in visiting Olympia, braving the weather and fighting the mobs, we stayed aboard. The day was spent checking out a few books, a DVD and sampling the offerings of various bars and restos.

We do not recommend the pizza at the Lido. The Oriental hot buffet was OK. The sushi was surprisingly bland. Dinner at the MDR was very nice – duck breast and the onion soup were noteworthy.
ira is offline  
Dec 17th, 2010, 12:55 PM
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I forgot to mention the towel animals.

I won't spoil the delight by showing pix of all of them, but I will post a couple.

First night was a simple, but very cute, seal. It was followed by a ray, a lobster, a swan, a clown fish, a floppy-eared puppy, an elephant, a dinosaur, a koala, a frog, a rabbit, a goose and a monkey that swung from a hanger.
ira is offline  
Dec 18th, 2010, 01:34 PM
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Ira, if you or LW wear glasses, did the steward put your spare glasses on those towel animals? Ours did.

Thank you for Corfu details! I couldn't find where the bus stops, your report makes it easier to plan.
Dayenu is offline  
Dec 20th, 2010, 07:19 AM
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Hi Day,

>Thank you for Corfu details!<

We aim to please.

ira is offline  
Dec 20th, 2010, 10:18 AM
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Dayenu is offline  
Dec 20th, 2010, 10:39 AM
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Wonderful report and thanks for posting it. Also delighted you obviously had an enjoyable vacation, too.
Dukey1 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2010, 06:15 AM
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10/29 at sea.
Pic of the deep blue Med with whitecaps goes here

We savored lunch at the PG. Orange and ginger soup was quite interesting. The lobster mousse, lobster and crabcake risotto and the lobster brulee were quite good.

A wine tasting at $35 pp was only so, so.

The Dutch Tea was offered in the specially festooned MDR from 3-4. At 3:45 I was the only person there. Everyone who came was in and out in less than 1 hr. The puff pastry swans filled with raspberry cream were especially good.

Formal Dinner at the MDR. My LW was, as usual, stunning in her newly acquired finery with the necklace I had bought her for her b’day. I was able to wear my new tuxedo.
(In truth it wasn’t all that new. I was able to find a double-breasted jacket, trousers and frilly shirt for $9. I had to pay $7 for a bow tie.)

NOTE on dressing formal. Jacket and tie is perfectly OK.

Had some very pleasant dinner companions. They had to throw us out at about 11:00.

10/30 Alexandria – overcast. Temps in the low 70’s.

We walked directly from the ship across the causeway and into town, ran the gantlet of people who wanted to take us in a carriage ride – 50 Egyptian pounds for 1 hr, then 40, then 30, then they gave up.

Went to the area that my mother thought was where my grandmother had lived about 1904 – nothing but office buildings.

Walked up to and along the Corniche to the Library. The Corniche would be a very pretty beach if it weren’t for the garbage. Passed several interesting buildings from the fin de siecle and arrived at the Library Plaza.

We stopped at a nearby resto for a rest. Everyone had to go through a metal detector and all belongings are put through an X-ray machine. However, if you don’t know this, and look like a couple of senior citizens who have just walked 2 km, the guard won’t hassle you.

Seated on the balcony, we people-watched until opening time. During this time, my Lady Wife had a bottle of water (much to the displeasure of the waiter) – 5EgyptPounds, while I, reckless squashbuckler that I am, had a cup of coffee – 6 EP. I did not come down with any dread disease.

The crowd below consisted of 100,000 munchikins on a school excursion, 50,000 youths on an out-of-class project, a few hundred University students and a couple of dozen very, very wealthy people (I think that they were drug lords, LW says they were oil-rich Arabs), their girlfriends and retinues. The munchkins were enthusiastic. The high-schoolers were high-schoolers. The University students came very close to public displays of affection. The rich people were very well dressed.

You buy tickets to enter the library at the side of the square facing the university. It is readily seen, once pointed out to you. Tourists don’t have to wait on line. They can just walk up to the ticket window. The local folks don’t seem to mind. They smiled and let us in ahead of them. It might have to do with the tourist fee being about 6X that for Egyptians.

The Library is enormous. Fortunately, the part that would interest most of us, the archaeological exhibition, is all on one floor. Exhibits ranged from very ancient to contemporary Egyptian. After about 2 hrs or so, we walked back to the Corniche and let a driver talk us into taking a carriage ride back to the ship. Starting at 150E, we settled on 70 EP, which was still high.

Our guide slowly meandered through town, taking us places that most tourists might never see, because the smell would keep them away. OTOH, when in Rome ……

It was a not uninteresting visit.
Pix of Alexandria go here
ira is offline  

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