We added a last minute destination to our Round the World list when a great deal on a Holland America cruise popped up. We had both wanted to visit Norway, but the high cost of the country had deterred us from adding it to our original list. When the cruise came in at just under $100 per person per day we decided to go for it. We were excited about the unusual itinerary that the small ship would sail. In a country where a hamburger costs $30 USD we decided a cruise was the best way to see the beautiful country of Norway.
Facilities: The Prinsendam is a small ship with less than 800 guests. It is an older ship that had started as a luxury line more than 20 years ago. The small ship means less common spaces, which sometimes made it hard to find a table or a quiet chair to read. There are 3 bars, a small casino, a large library, a coffee shop, a small movie theater, a few shops with jewelry and a small theater with a stage. Although clean, many areas showed their age and wear. We were surprised to see they allowed smoking in the small casino located in the middle of the ship, thankfully very few people used the machines. The ship also had a small spa and salon as well as a very small gym. The ship had 2 very small outdoor pools that were a little cold to use in the arctic circle! We did use one of the 3 hot tubs, but were disappointed that they closed at 9pm.
Cabin: Our first 5 nights were spent on the 5th level towards the back of the ship. The room shook so much that we hardly slept. We couldn’t believe that they actually allowed guests to pay for these rooms. After complaining a few times and being told another cabin was not available, one magically appeared during a sea day. We quickly moved to the 7th floor and were happy to finally be in a quiet, shake free room. The rooms on the ship where fairly large and included a walk-in closet, a sofa and a bathtub. The beds were comfortable although they were two twins pushed together, so they had a small gap between them. Both cabins were ocean view with a nice size window, although the 2nd room had a slightly obstructed view. It was nice after 11 months on the road living out of a backpack to unpack and utilize the walk-in closet!
Food: The food on the Prinsendam was pretty disappointing. Many meals arrived cold or seemed to have been sitting under a heat lamp for hours. We found a majority of the food to be very salty and quite bland. There didn’t appear to be any quality control. Several meals took hours due to long waits between courses. The dining areas closed early (8pm for the buffet and 9pm for the dining room). The only food you could get 24 hours was from the small room service menu. The vegetarian options were limited. There was an additional vegetarian menu, but the items had to be ordered the day before.
Staff: It’s hard not to compare ships and we tried not to, but we found the staff of this cruise to be pretty hit and miss. Some were friendly, especially those in the buffet, but others would rarely smile or interact with you. Our last cruise had a stellar staff and this one didn’t live up to those expectations. No one remembered our names, something that we were surprised by since it was such a small ship. It appeared many staff thought we were also staff since we were the youngest couple on the ship!
Entertainment: The entertainment was pretty good on the ship. We had new entertainers added throughout the length of the cruise, so it wasn’t the same performers over and over. There were a couple of shows we didn’t enjoy, but over 20 nights we enjoyed dancers, singers, comedians, musicians and more that took the stage nightly. The daily activities were few and far between, there was no naturalist on board, no lectures on the fjords or wildlife, and many of the activities seemed to be poorly planned and executed. Most days we were off the ship at port or on the decks doing scenic cruising, but during sea days we tended to get a bit bored. It was nice to have a full library and we both read several books during our time on board. We got to know a few of the entertainers which was nice.
- Seeing the fiords, polar ice cap and snow-covered mountains
- Seeing whales, seals, dolphins and walruses from the ship
- Stopping at ports that many ships don’t go to
- The average age was 80! Besides an 8-year-old boy with his grandparents and an 18-year-old girl with her grandparents, we were by far the youngest on board. For the first week many guests thought we were crew or entertainers.
- The food wasn’t great
- There was little to do or eat after 8pm
Overall the cruise was pretty disappointing! The ports were great and the scenery in the fiords was amazing. We’re not sure we would do another small ship, unless we were going to Antarctica with a naturalist. There just wasn’t a lot to do onboard. We felt that for us the length was a bit long and we started to go a bit stir crazy. This may have been different had the guest list been a little more diverse. We felt at times as though we were on a floating old age home. We expected an older crowd since not many people in their 20’s-40’s are able to take 21 days off for a cruise, however we anticipated an average age of 50-60 not 80-90! The food for us was a deal breaker and that alone is reason enough for us to not sail Holland America again. If a special deal comes up on one of their larger ships we may give them another try, but its pretty safe to say we won’t be sailing on the Prinsendam again.