Meantime, in Greenwich . . . Prinsendam

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A short hop away from the office today – 15 minutes on the Docklands Light Railway – and I was at Greenwich Pier, ready to board the Prinsendam.
The delightful Holland America cruise ship, carrying just 793 passengers, was in London at the start of a round-Britain voyage. As we waited for the tender, one of the passengers about to go on board, who had heard me telling security at the pier why I was there, turned to her husband and said “This gentleman’s lucky, he’s here for lunch.”
“Not at all, ” I replied. “You’re the lucky ones, you’ll be on board for two weeks.”
“Actually, we’re here for 35 days, because we’re staying on for the next cruise, to Norway and Spitsbergen. We don’t leave until Amsterdam,” said her husband, leaving me completely deflated.
Like so many of the passengers arriving, they were HAL regulars. Captain Albert Schoonderbeek told me over a drink in the Ocean Bar – he was on Perrier, by the way – that up to 75 per cent of Prinsendam’s passengers can be repeat customers.
After a quick look round the ship, I could see why. The La Fontaine restaurant is a beautifully light room with huge ocean-view windows, and the wood-panelled Pinnacle Grill was the perfect venue for our lunch. The Lido buffet has a superb shaded open deck area at the stern.
There’s a 520-seat theatre, the Queen’s Lounge, which was being used to check in passengers this afternoon, and an extensive spa. After a recent makeover, the library and internet room is huge – much bigger than many on larger ships – and the improvements also include 10 Lanai staterooms which share a private covered deck and hot tub.
For Captain Albert ships are not just a job, they are a hobby as well. He travels on other ships on holidays – arousing suspicion from the captains who think he’s there to spy on them. He has written books and magazine articles about ships, and he blogs daily. He clearly enjoys playing the host and loves his ship, so I had to ask him about the rumours that the Prinsendam might one day leave HAL and become a Saga ship.
He confirmed that Saga, who are still looking for a vessel to replace the Saga Rose, have made offers for his ship several times in recent years. But he dashed their hopes when he said that, although Prinsendam is the smallest ship in the HAL fleet, it is the most successful in terms of bookings and earnings, invariably sailing full without having to discount fares.
All too soon, it was time for me to leave him to welcome more passengers on board, and I had to go ashore. At least I can follow Captain Albert and his ship on their travels via his informative and entertaining blog.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:41+00:00 3 July 2009|Cruise Ships|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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