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Holland America Line: Prinsendam

  • Holland America Line

Prinsendam Review

Insider Take

Overview

The former Royal Viking Sun. Just 793 guests, single seating dinner, excellent service, subdued surroundings.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

The more modern and diverseHolland America ships like Eurodam

Decor

Prinsendam's look varies markedly from area to area. Subdued lighting and paintings depicting rural Dutch life make some areas serene, while bold colors, chrome, and brighter lighting make others much more vibrant. The ship's Scandinavian origins - she was originally built in Finland as the Royal Viking Sun for Royal Viking Line in 1988 - are evidenced by the wealth of Norwegian art on display. A collection of artifacts to recognize the ship's long and distinguished globetrotting career adds to the ambiance.

On acquiring Prinsendam in 2002, Holland America spent $30 million to update and refurbish the ship, purchasing $350,000 worth of art. Additions include a new alternative restaurant and Lido buffet, Internet Cafe and a facelift to the main theater for production shows.

14 staterooms were added bringing the total passenger capacity to 793. There is a dedicated smoking room.

Public Rooms

All the HAL signature rooms are found onboard - the Explorer's Lounge, Ocean Bar, Crow's Nest, Java Cafe, Wajang Theater, and the Half Moon Room. Situated in the center of the ship's main public deck, the Ocean Bar, with blue leather banquettes tucked under windows facing the Promenade, offers fabulous people-watching. The Queen's Lounge showroom has a new stage with sophisticated sound and light system, with tiered seating assuring good sight lines.

Once having decided to offer two dinner seatings, HAL was able to convert some of the La Fontaine Dining Room into The Pinnacle Grill at the Odyssey specialty restaurant, a new Internet Center, the Art Gallery, and the Ocean Bar, complete with bandstand and capacious dance floor. A Concierge Lounge was installed on Lido Deck for the convenience of suite occupants.

The Half Moon Room, with a wonderful sea view, attracts bridge and other card players. The Crow's Nest observation lounge offers a 180-degree view. The Erasmus Library has a huge selection of books, so many on fact that seating is limited causing readers to flow into the nearby Explorer's Lounge. Cruise staff conduct quizzes and games therein by day; by night it becomes a piano bar. The newly refurbished 90-seat Wajang Theater offers first-run movies, while the 12-station Internet center offers an ocean view.

Might-have-been booty-shakers will be disconsolate to learn that Prinsendam has no disco. The casino is one of the smallest on any mid-sized ship at sea, though elegant. Feeling lucky? Try one of the ten-cent slot machines.

Coast Guard regulations preclude the use of its fully functioning fireplace, but it enhances the atmosphere of this wood-paneled, cigar and cognac lounge in the Oak Room, whose warmth actually emanates, not so romantically, from an electric heater.

Service

Prinsendam has the highest ratio of crew to passengers in the HAL fleet. The Indonesian and Filipino staff are warm and gracious, and the cream of the crop are sent to this ship.

Tipping

While tipping is still optional on HAL ships, "nominal" gratuities of $10.00 per person per day (including children) are automatically added to the shipboard account for dining and stateroom service. The amount can be increased, decreased or removed by visiting the front desk. A service charge of 15 percent is automatically added to bar bills.

Entertainment

The Queen's Lounge's a state-of-the-art sound and light booth adds considerable razzle to the dazzle of the shows it presents -- and make no mistake about its Broadway-style shows having improved almost beyond recognition over the past decade. Each of the cast of seven is a terrific singer and dancer. One caveat: the low ceiling, characteristic of ships built in the 80s, inhibits jugglers and Sousaphone players, but comedians and other musicians seem unperturbed.

Scrabble, chess, monopoly and dominoes all seem popular with Prinsendam passengers, even though there are bridge instructors aboard. Fresh popcorn is served at the Wajang Theater before showings of first-run movies. Prinsendam presents excellent lectures delivered by esteemed experts in various fields. The cruise staff supervise daily games, quizzes and bingo around the ship.

Cabins

Holland America spent more than $25 million upgrading cabins. Dowdy old draperies and carpets have been replaced with new ones featuring a blue and gold floral pattern. In the bathrooms, new sink units were added and tile and plumbing repaired. New French doors and classic rattan-look furniture were added to verandahs, and the teak decks refurbished. Spacious and handsomely appointed, Prinsendam cabins feature a walk-in closet, refrigerator, hair dryer, phone, locking drawers, and safe. Most bathrooms have a tub as well as shower. The mattresses, pillows, towels and al linens are excellent quality, with duvets on the bed instead of blankets. The in-cabin television features CNN, TNT, movies and programming about the ship and your cruise.

Most cabins have a sitting area with love seat, table and chair, and twin beds that convert to kings. Additional amenities for deluxe cabins and suites include bathrobes, extra-luxurious towels, DVD (and access to the DVD library), personalized stationery, a verandah and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Suites offerings include; deluxe verandah outside (228-238 square feet), large outside (181-191 square feet) and standard inside (128-138 square feet), of which there are only 25. Of the 373 staterooms, 155 have private verandahs. There are eight wheel-chair accessible cabins and three cabins for singles. The 577-square-foot Penthouse Verandah Suite has a whirlpool bath and dining area. Superior Verandah Suites bathrooms feature large tubs and sinks connected by a door to a separate room holding a toilet and sink, which design eases the "getting ready for dinner" rush.

Some of the staterooms, it bears noting, are irregularly shaped, a charming reminder of a more romantic time, when identical staterooms weren't installed as pre-built modular units. There are two self-service launderettes on Main and Verandah decks for those who enjoy a good tumble.

Fitness/Spa

Roman columns, statues, and wall murals adorn the magnificent 4,834-square-foot Ocean Spa on deck 9. A mini-fridge is stocked with chilled towels for those who get themselves all hot and bothered on or with the treadmill, stair machine, stationary bicycles, free weights, weight machines or exercise videos. The Spa has nine treatment rooms, including five for thalassotherapy, and massage rooms for a wide array of European, Middle Eastern and Asian treatments. A relaxation room, sauna and steam rooms, and a full-service beauty salon/barber shop complete the facility. Complimentary exercise, beauty and wellness classes are offered during the cruise.

For those who feel that no cruise would be complete without quoits, shuffleboard, or ping pong, they're all available on the upper decks. The sports court on deck 12 can be used for volleyball, basketball or as a practice tennis court. There's a jogging track around the Sports Deck.

Prinsendam and the Vista-class ships have Holland America's only golf simulators, which allow you to play 22, 18-hole courses, many used for PGA tournaments, in a variety of weather and course conditions. The cozy, wood-paneled Golf Club and Pro Shop has its own lounge area, a nice place to catch up on golf magazines to which you may have allowed your subscription to lapse. Lessons are available from the golf pro, who also leads excursions ashore during the cruise. A large golf cage is located on Sports Deck for driving practice.

A particular treat is the glass-enclosed swimming pool area on Lido Deck with two whirlpools and a swim-up bar.

Attire

A dressy ship on formal nights, with many men wearing tuxes; daytime attire is casual.

Best For People Who Want

To sail on a ship known in the industry as a break-through vessel in the world of luxury; longer cruises with few children; very exotic itineraries.

Onboard Experience

What is called Prinsendam today is a ship that was originally built by Royal Viking Line, the cruise line that invented the concept of luxury cruising. The ship has changed hands more than almost any vessel still sailing for a mainstream cruise line, but she deserves a special place in the hearts of many who remember her as the pinnacle of what was a much-loved cruise line, Royal Viking Line. Over the years she moved from Royal Viking to Seabourn, the Cunard, then back to Seabourne and now with Holland America.

Prinsendam is small ship (38,000 tons), the only Holland America ship built before 1990. Passengers enjoy a quiet life at sea, attending in-depth enrichment lectures about history and culture of the ports at which they'll call. Such ports vary almost all year long, and include a 100-day world cruise as well as visits to Antarctica and elsewhere. Wooden deck chairs on the wrap-around promenade, the 180 degree observation lounge, and vast upper decks provide myriad vantage-points from which to admire the view.

Captain Peter Halle Thon Gunderson has been with Prinsendam since she was first designed for Royal Viking Line, and helped to oversee her construction at Wartsila shipyard in Finland. Having been aboard over the course of her many name and line changes, he is often seen around the ship chatting with passengers, who, from the open decks, can watch him at work on the open-air wings of the bridge. Try doing that on a modern mega-ship.

Even with her small size, the ship is signed on to Holland America's "Signature of Excellence" widespread program of enhancements, including the wonderful Explorations Café which features the largest library at sea, as well as comfortable music listening stations and Internet access. New features include tableside waiter service at dinner in the Lido, and new shore excursions. Staterooms now offer the best mattresses and duvets sold in Europe, flat screen TVs, and DVD players. There's early boarding and a choice of four dinner seatings. Moreover, HAL hired the ship's original architect, Tomas Tillberg, to reconfigure the Prinsendam's public spaces, and Frans Dingemanns to curate its very impressive art collection. Because so few families choose this ship, there is almost nothing in the way of children's facilities.

Announcements are kept to a minimum, and there is very little of the promotion of daily specials in the bar and shops that you would suffer on other ships. You're not constantly inveigled to buy drinks in souvenir glasses. Reams of promotional flyers aren't pushed under your cabin door.

Cuisine

Overall, Prinsendam offers a wide variety of cuisine with the casual Lido Restaurant on par with the dining room. A flambé dessert is available every night in the dining room, but not prepared tableside. Luncheon buffets include soup, salad, cold buffet, hot meat and fish entrees, carvery, pizzeria, sandwich deli, taco bar, dessert buffet and ice cream bar. Hot dogs and hamburgers are served poolside at the Terrace Grill. 24-hour tea and coffee is available in the Lido.

The Prinsendam also offers its own version of the Java Café coffee bar, which serves cappuccino and espresso.

Room service menu offers continental breakfast, or hot meals, 24 hours/day. All are grandly presented with silverware and doilies on the tray. Afternoon tea is served in the Explorer's Lounge, and an afternoon Dessert Extravaganza in the La Fontaine Dining Room. Tea dances are held in the Queen's Lounge.

Restaurants

The LaFontaine Dining Room is a rearranged, repurposed design from the original version. It has two sections, mid-ship and aft, both with good sea views but aft slightly better. Tables are set with Rosenthal china and white linens. There are two seatings with tables assigned by the cruise lines, however it is easy for the maitre 'd to make re-arrangements after the fact if needed. The Lido Restaurant is open for buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. Entrees and pizzas can be made to order. The Terrace Grill, just outside by the pool, offers burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and fries. The reservations required Pinnacle Grill at the Odyssey alternative restaurant features Pacific Northwest cuisine and wines. Also on tap are filet mignon, lamb chops and cioppino. There is a $15 per person charge to eat at the Pinnacle Grill.




Ship Overview

The second ship in Holland America Line’s history to bear the name, Prinsendam includes many of the features found on her newer, larger fleetmates and offers classic-style cruises to far-flung, exotic ports with all the contemporary conveniences expected by today’s travelers. She can be found on Grand Voyages from the Mediterranean to South America and even on occasional sailings in the Caribbean.

Alongside her newer fleetmates, Prinsendam appears positively diminutive. Launched in 1988 and originally christened Royal Viking Sun for the now-defunct Royal Viking Line, the luxury ship subsequently sailed as Seabourn Cruise Line's Seabourn Sun before joining Holland America Line in 2002. Extensive renovations added signature Holland America Line features to the boutique-style Prinsendam. Artwork, antiques, and Signature of Excellence elements such as a Culinary Arts Center and upgraded cabin amenities have now made their way on board.

Originally designed for lengthy worldwide cruising, Holland America has dubbed Prinsendam the "Elegant Explorer," and filled her interiors with classic and comfortable public rooms. A traditional 360-degree promenade deck floored in teak and lined with cushioned deck chairs encircles Lower promenade deck.

Holland America Line has enjoyed a distinguished record of traditional cruises, world exploration, and transatlantic crossings since 1873—all facets of its history that are reflected in the fleet's multimillion-dollar shipboard art and antiques collections. Even the ships' names follow a pattern set long ago: all end in the suffix dam and are either derived from the names of various dams that cross Holland's rivers, important Dutch landmarks, or points of the compass. The names are even recycled when vessels are retired, and some are in their fifth and sixth generation of use.

Noted for focusing on passenger comfort, Holland America Line cruises are classic in design and style, and with an infusion of younger adults and families on board, they remain refined without being stuffy or stodgy. Following a basic design theme, returning passengers feel as at home on the newest Holland America vessels as they do on older ones.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Magnifying makeup mirrors and salon-quality hair dryers are in all accommodations
  • The sports deck has bocce and croquet courts as well as putting greens
  • With classic styling, Prinsendam feels more like a large yacht than a cruise ship

Cons

  • Inside staterooms are small and have two lower beds that cannot be combined
  • Prinsendam is more adult-oriented than other HAL ships and not particularly family-friendly
  • There's little nightlife after dinner
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 470
  • Entered Service 1998
  • Gross Tons 37,983
  • Length 669 feet
  • Number of Cabins 419
  • Passenger Capacity 835
  • Width 106 feet
  • New

Apr 1, 2017

Review of Prinsendam

Garry Ashby Age: 70 Occupation:RETIRED Number of Cruises: 25+ Cruise Line: Holland America Ship: Prinsendam Sailing Date: 2015-05-23 Itinerary: Iberian and Gallic Explorer As usual, our cruise experience was great. The staff of the Prinsendam are among the best we have ever encountered. The food in the main dining room was interesting, well prepared, elegantly presented, and HOT ! The entertainment was first rate and, because of the ship's size,

unique to the Prinsendam . All services, from cabin attendant to laundry was flawless. I noted that the front desk almost never had anyone lined up to speak to them, a sure indication that there were few problems faced by the passengers. The itinerary presented good variety of destinations although, unlike my spouse, I would have liked an extra sea day or two. Overall, a good value, a great ship, and an enjoyable cruise. The main dining room food was exceptionally good, better than expected. Perhaps because of the small size of ship, preparation, presentation, and temperature of the food was flawless. I often order beef (steak, prime rib, etc.) rare, they never missed the mark. The variety of selection was outstanding, from duck to crab legs, and simply superb salmon. I will add that it is almost sinful to pass up the soups on the Prinsendam as they are excellent. Although we had selected early seating, our party of six were always accommodated when excursions made us late. Our party's Vegan was presented with a good variety and many special accommodations. The wine list was excellent and moderately priced, the Navigator and Admiral wine packages offered good value. We always select a Veranda Suite and on the Prinsendam this cabin has a walk-in closet with ample storage and is not confining in any way. The beds are comfortable and well appointed. The only detractor we experienced was that there was only one 110VAC outlet. Staff quickly provided us with a power strip that accommodated all of our various chargers and electronics. On board activities were as you would expect, bingo, karaoke, dancing, piano bar, etc. The itinerary did not leave much day time to enjoy these activities but at night there truly was "Something for Everyone". We especially enjoyed the nightly "Sip & Savor", a pre-dinner offering of a selected wine paired with a light hors d'oeuvre.. As usual, to take, or not take, excursions is a highly personal choice. We heard nothing but positive feedback from passengers who took the offered excursions. We enjoyed the Medoc Wine and the Tank Museum excursions as well as several fine experiences with hiring a local taxi on our own. All ports-of-call were welcoming and enjoyable. We joined the ship in Civitavecchia after spending some time in Rome. We had purchased a transfer from downtown Rome to the ship that was to leave the collection point ( Visconti Palace Hotel ) at 11 AM. We were left waiting until 12:40 with every HAL representative offering a different reason for the delay. This disappointment soon was overshadowed by the wonderful staff and cruise arrangements. The Prinsendam is 20 years old but looks new in every way. Most unfortunately our cruise ended on a sour note. Due to the long distance between the cruise port, Ijmuiden, and Amsterdam, the front desk advised us to take the ship's transfer to the Renaissance Hotel in Amsterdam and a taxi from there to our hotel. We were assured that taxi's were available at the Renaissance. The transfer bus, however, dumped us out, with luggage, in the middle of a busy street somewhat near the Victoria Hotel but a long and confusing walk to the Renaissance. The bus driver said we should not have expected to be dropped at the Renaissance because of the size of the bus. We were told our best option was to schlep our stuff to the main train station (1/2 mile). So with a semi-invalided wife, two large suitcases, and two carry-ons, that's what we did. The event evoked memories of Bataan !! Never before have we been so mistreated.

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  • New

May 23, 2015

Iberian and Gallic Explorer

As usual, our cruise experience was great. The staff of the Prinsendam are among the best we have ever encountered. The food in the main dining room was interesting, well prepared, elegantly presented, and HOT ! The entertainment was first rate and, because of the ship's size, unique to the Prinsendam . All services, from cabin attendant to laundry was flawless. I noted that the front desk almost never had anyone lined up to speak to them, a

sure indication that there were few problems faced by the passengers. The itinerary presented good variety of destinations although, unlike my spouse, I would have liked an extra sea day or two. Overall, a good value, a great ship, and an enjoyable cruise. The main dining room food was exceptionally good, better than expected. Perhaps because of the small size of ship, preparation, presentation, and temperature of the food was flawless. I often order beef (steak, prime rib, etc.) rare, they never missed the mark. The variety of selection was outstanding, from duck to crab legs, and simply superb salmon. I will add that it is almost sinful to pass up the soups on the Prinsendam as they are excellent. Although we had selected early seating, our party of six were always accommodated when excursions made us late. Our party's Vegan was presented with a good variety and many special accommodations. The wine list was excellent and moderately priced, the Navigator and Admiral wine packages offered good value. We always select a Veranda Suite and on the Prinsendam this cabin has a walk-in closet with ample storage and is not confining in any way. The beds are comfortable and well appointed. The only detractor we experienced was that there was only one 110VAC outlet. Staff quickly provided us with a power strip that accommodated all of our various chargers and electronics. On board activities were as you would expect, bingo, karaoke, dancing, piano bar, etc. The itinerary did not leave much day time to enjoy these activities but at night there truly was "Something for Everyone". We especially enjoyed the nightly "Sip & Savor", a pre-dinner offering of a selected wine paired with a light hors d'oeuvre.. As usual, to take, or not take, excursions is a highly personal choice. We heard nothing but positive feedback from passengers who took the offered excursions. We enjoyed the Medoc Wine and the Tank Museum excursions as well as several fine experiences with hiring a local taxi on our own. All ports-of-call were welcoming and enjoyable. We joined the ship in Civitavecchia after spending some time in Rome. We had purchased a transfer from downtown Rome to the ship that was to leave the collection point ( Visconti Palace Hotel ) at 11 AM. We were left waiting until 12:40 with every HAL representative offering a different reason for the delay. This disappointment soon was overshadowed by the wonderful staff and cruise arrangements. The Prinsendam is 20 years old but looks new in every way. Most unfortunately our cruise ended on a sour note. Due to the long distance between the cruise port, Ijmuiden, and Amsterdam, the front desk advised us to take the ship's transfer to the Renaissance Hotel in Amsterdam and a taxi from there to our hotel. We were assured that taxi's were available at the Renaissance. The transfer bus, however, dumped us out, with luggage, in the middle of a busy street somewhat near the Victoria Hotel but a long and confusing walk to the Renaissance. The bus driver said we should not have expected to be dropped at the Renaissance because of the size of the bus. We were told our best option was to schlep our stuff to the main train station (1/2 mile). So with a semi-invalided wife, two large suitcases, and two carry-ons, that's what we did. The event evoked memories of Bataan !! Never before have we been so mistreated.

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  • New

Sep 22, 2014

Baltic

On whole this was an ok cruise. The ports were interesting especially Finland and St. Petersburg. The Prinsendam was in the poorest shape of any ship we have been on. The cabin furniture is very tired, SMALL. and The door to the bathroom is not sound proof. One could hear everything. We were very disappointed and surprised after hearing everyone rave about Holland. The staff was very gracious. We loved cruising down the Kiel canal in Germany. It

was a real treat. The food was good. Dated, small with a bathroom that was sound proof. The usual shows and activities for a small ship, meaning they were not memorable.

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  • New

Sep 8, 2013

Celtic Adventure

We are 4 star HAL cruisers. Was on Prinsendam from Singapore to Beijing and Beijing to Osaka. This was when HAL introduced her as a new ship! After our initial disappointment, we grew to love the size of the ship and took her again from Ft. Lauderdale, to Manaus and down to Rio. My favorite Prinsendam voyage was from Amsterdam on the Voyage of the Vikings. The fijords were breathtaking. The scenery was so different. It was amazing cruising

thru thick water, occasionally bumping ice. Our Captain said the Prinsendam had a rating to handle where we were, but if anything happened, no one was within 250 miles to help. Our voyage went to Spitzbergen, Longyearbein and beyond. Was wonderful going south to the Shetlands and Iceland. Last month we took our fourth trip from Amsterdam around the British Isles & Ireland. Read from some cruise critics that she looks tired and needs to be retired. We were so pleased to find that the interior furnishings were excellent. The carpeting was new, the back of the Lido is now enclosed and all the public places are still elegant. The only places I thought that needed help were the thresholds going in and out of several locations. Heard from some rumors that our favorite ship had been sold and were told by HAL people in the know that that wasn't the case. Someone did say that below (places we don't see) are in bad shape. They speculated we would have her 3-5 more years. The staff was wonderful, food great and entertainment outstanding. The people brought on board, especially, were outstanding. Bravo Prinsendam.

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  • New

Dec 2, 2009

Black Sea

The Prinsendam is a wonderfully elegant smaller ship. It's used by HAL to cruise around the world and as such, the service was excellent, the food was delicious (some of the best we've had in recent years). Everything was just as it should be. Because it's small, it's easier to see familiar faces, make new acquaintances and feel part of things. The cruise director was outstanding; a middle-aged professional who told a great joke, mingled with the

passengers and did a super job of finding good talent. We met people who had been on the ship for weeks and weeks and all had only good things to say. I would not hesitate to book a cruise on this ship, in fact, I would highly recommend it, particularly if you enjoy old style cruising and won't miss a 10 story atrium and glitz and glitter. The food was excellent. Everything was done exactly as it should have been. My friends and I thought since this ship is used for the world cruise, Holland was careful to put in a great chef, myriad choices and excellent quality food. The Lido also was the same quality, although with fewer choices. We chose anytime dining, but found a waiter and busboy, Asep and KuKu from Bali, who were delightful and attentive. After 2 nights requesting them, for every dinner, there was a table in their area waiting for us, regardless of the time we showed up. Only one night of 14 did we have to wait for 10 minutes until other people finished. Never had to request more iced tea or another cappuccino, it appeared automatically. Wonderful!! The outside stateroom was standard for Holland America: good pillow top mattress, love seat and table, flat screen TV with one large exception - the bathrooms were totally new. The sink and tub had a glass tile surround, brand new sink, new shower-head, full bath tub, and lots of room. I also had a walk-in closet with loads of shelf and hanging space, a safe, an umbrella to use and a shoe basket in case I wanted my shoes shined. I usually book a balcony, but since this is an older ship, they are at a premium and quite pricey. I found this cabin to be just fine, although at times, I had to turn down the air conditioning: it was very cold. Activities were pretty standard, although limited in some ways because it is a smaller ship. The entertainment was very very good. Seven singers and dancers provided production shows that were excellent. The other talent, singers, comedian and magician were good. The Culinary Arts Center provided a good number of programs during our 2 weeks, the theater showed first run movies, also playing in the stateroom the next day, and there was even a certificate-earning simulated dip in the Black Sea at the pool one day. Also I like the Walk for the Cure one morning that raised money for Susan Komen Breast Cancer charity. There was plenty to do for a small ship, but not the amount of activity that is found on the larger ships. Don't miss the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon Turkey. It's one of the "I can't believe I'm here" moments not to be missed. Also the full day tour of Istanbul is excellent. Stay very far away from a "Stroll through Sochi". Everyone on that tour had their money fully refunded because it was so bad. I went to Stahlin's dacha in the afternoon in Sochi which was interesting, but Sochi was not my favorite port. Also, in Sinop, Turkey, we took a tour that brought us to a lovely fjord and an archeological museum with wonderful artifacts, but no English annotation. We enjoyed it anyway, but would have liked to have known more of what we were seeing. Also, get ready in Turkey for toilets that are holes in the floor surrounded by porcelain. The women all managed with a smile. My friends and I agreed that if this was not our best cruise, it was definitely at the top. The intimacy and quality of the ship, the very unusual ports and the smiling faces we met everywhere made the trip stand out. There were 27 nationalities on board, so we met and spent time with people from all over the world - in some cases, even if there was just enough language between us to get by. Some of the ports were less well-known, but, with the exception of Sochi, Russia, fascinating. In the small port of Sinop, Turkey, we were walking the streets and a man in a wheelchair, in broken and halting English, smiled and said, "Hello! Welcome to my country." It was one of those moments that makes you remember why you travel. Or the pharmacist in Trabzon who gave me aspirin for free because I had no more Turkish lira, even though I tried to give her euro or dollars. Or meeting the First Lady of the Republic of Georgia since we were the largest ship to ever sail into Batumi. Go on this ship, and take this itinerary, you will not be disappointed!

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