There’s something very special about the Prinsendam, something very special indeed. She’s extremely elegant, spacious for a small ship, beautifully appointed, extremely passenger-friendly, and may I dare say, cute? But most importantly, she carries with her a crew that is second to none. I mean that. Second to none. In fact, I will go so far as saying that when we arrived, they were crew. By time we left, they were family. (And of course, there were several crew members with whom we’ve sailed before, so they are well and truly family.) Old friends included Christina, who became the Cruise Director on the second part of our voyage, Kris in the Pinnacle and Charlie – from the dining room staff, all of whom warmly greeted us when we boarded.
Our suite was wonderful and wonderfully looked after by our room stewards, and the library became our second home onboard as we found it to be one of the best places to meet up with our fellow passengers and pass some very interesting time together. And of course, it was the best place to find a strong WiFi signal – shepherded by the best Internet Manager on the seven seas, Simon. Even through our extended communications black-out periods (above the Arctic Circle), Simon was there to answer questions and help out where he could.
However, it is the Dining Room that deserves special mention in this blog. To be honest, I was a little tentative about the food on a “Northern Hemisphere” ship. After all, the food on the Volendam and its Australia/New Zealand successor, the Oosterdam, was simply superb – very much geared to our Down Under eating habits. I needn’t have worried. Except for my preference for spicy foods – pastas, soups, Asian foods, etc. It was never a problem to ask for chili flakes, but chili flakes could only be found in the Lido, so by time someone was dispatched to get me some and bring them back to the dining room, I was usually finished with my meal. Undaunted, I went into the supermarket in Flam and bought a jar of chili flakes and presented them to Noor at the reception desk. From that day on, my chili flakes were handed to whatever waiter appeared first (open seating) and carried to my table – wherever it might be. I was never allowed to take it to the table myself – that would be a degradation of service! But it was always Noor’s and my private joke – the chili flakes kept in a special place in the cupboard behind the dining room reception desk. (Oh, yes – we had another running joke: whether Noor could remember our cabin number or not depended on whether he had his first cup of coffee for the day. We always knew when he didn’t – some interesting number combinations came out!)
As to the Dining Room, this is the first ship we’ve been on where Open Seating has well and truly been a pleasure. No need to make reservations, never a wait; all of the waiters soon learned our preferences and dislikes, and of course, very special mention has to be given to our fabulous wine waiters, Libay and Roy. How special these two are – open bottles cheerfully remembered and delivered to the table, mostly without having to ask.
All of this – every bit of it – is a credit to Ozgur, the Dining Room Manager who has become a very special friend along with his charming wife, Natalia and their wonderful 10-year old daughter, Yarden. How even more special the cruise was made by them, and their friendship. Ozgur looked after us in a particularly attentive way, and we looked forward to spending time with Natalia and Yarden whenever we could. If you want to know how special Yarden is: when we got back to the ship after being onshore in Akureyri, I asked Yarden what she did onshore. She said that she went to Santa Claus’ house and wrote a letter to Santa Claus. I asked her what she said in her letter. She told me that she asked Santa for no more war, that people shouldn’t hurt each other any more, that everyone should get along, and that no one should harm animals.
Can anyone think of a better friend to have on a cruise ship – and particularly on this cruise ship?