And We’re Off, Dover

There’s something we’ve not seen before, waiters and waitresses going table to table trying to upsell us to the “Premium” restaurants at significant discounts.  There are similar sales at the spa and for other “ad on” features.  As an incentive for us too sail this cruise we are given 15 “free” drinks a day.  I could never drink that much, although soft drinks and specialty coffee drinks are included in the 15.

Prinsendam sailed from Dover’s White Cliffs toward the isle of Jersey.  We have sailed on her twice before and we wanted to take one last trip before she is sold by Holland American to a German company.  The ship carries 800 passengers and is considered “small” too small for the growing Holland America fleet (growing in size of ships, although HAL does not have the mega ships of other lines.)  We thought that because we are in Prinsendam’s last two months and because she was touted as a popular ship there would be lots of nostalgia for her and therefore lots of people.  Our first indication that this may not be the case was when, in London, offered an upgrade to a balcony room that cost less than two tickets to “Hamilton.”  We took Holland America up on the offer but we still saw “Hamilton.”  When we got on the ship we found that while the passenger capacity is 800, she had only 567 passengers aboard, not at all crowded.  I’m not sure what this means.  Is it telling me that the ship is no longer popular, is it telling me that people do not want to be on a ship going out of service (fear it may not be maintained?) or is it just that May and early in the season and there is always a low census in May?

Our upgraded cabin is midships with a balcony.  It’s on the Starboard side just a couple of cabins aft, but on the other side of the ship, from where we were on our long South America cruise.  This is confusing because when we leave the room we walk aft when we mean to go forward.  The room is the same, the deck is the same, but we are on the wrong side of the ship.  I wonder how long it will take us to sort that one out.

Several of the crew remember us.  We have the same morning waitress that we had on the Amsterdam World Cruise.  She remembered the type of tea I drank.  The dining room maître d’ also recognized us from another cruise.

Staff are making their plans for when Prinsendam leaves Holland America service.  Some have contracts that end on July 1, when the new owners take over, others are being transferred to different ships, still more will be taking early vacations until reassigned.   

But we are off, with no sea days before our first four ports, Jersey, Falmouth, Fishguard and Glasgow on this “Celtic Explorer” cruise that visits also the Hebrides, Ireland and the low countries.

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