Dustyn M. Sain
Number of Cruises: 8
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: December 17, 2002
Itinerary: Australia/New Zealand
Please consider this review a warning if you intend to sail on the Holland America MS Princendam in the near future. Change your travel plans now if you can. This ship does not meet the standards of Holland America. It is old, beat up, worn and small. My wife and I sailed on a sixteen day cruise from Sydney to Auckland. We were booked in suite 004 on deck twelve. Keep in mind that this was the best cabin on the ship other than the one penthouse suite. The cabin was large, but very worn and beat up. Part of the curtains had fallen down and not been replaced. The two sofas were broken down and very theadbare. The televison and stereo system were at least ten years old and well used.
The first day in our cabin we had to wear coats and sweaters because they couldn't get the AC to stop flooding the cabin with cold air. They explained that the ship had come from a very warm area and the system was set for that area. We were now in Southern Australia, and it was cool. We kept the door open to the cabin for the first day in an effort to get some warm air from the hall. I spoke with several other suite guests that had the same problem as we did. One night the power went out for half the cabin. I called to have it fixed and three hours later it came on. I went to bed and sometime during the night it went out again. It turned out to be a braker that had to be replaced, but it took forever to repair it.
As we walked about the ship you would see silver ice buckets sitting around. We learned that this was due to the fire sprinkler system leaking on the rugs. A staff member confirmed that one lady had a sprinkler go off over her bed while she was sleeping. What a way to wake up.
The staff on the ship was great as always, but it was clear they hated the ship as much as we did. They called it the "prisondam" because they all wanted to get off. The food in the dining room was always great and the staff friendly. The public rooms had been redone and were very nice but the cabins hadn't been touched and were a dump.
We stayed in Sydney and Auckland for a few days on each end. The Sydney Sheraton was a great hotel as was the Auckland Sheraton. Both were very well run and had very nice rooms. We loved Sydney and had a great time walking around the waterfront. Bring money, it is expensive even with the exchange. New Zealand was the best part of the trip. We loved Milford Sound, even if it was raining, as well as Picton, the Bay of Islands, and Duniden. The Antartica tour in Christchurch is a must, as well as the classic car tour in Duniden. Both were well worth the money. The people of New Zealand are the best part of the trip. They are very friendly and sweet, even in the large cities. America could take some lessons on how to treat guests.
Don't plan to swim on this ship. The main pool is not covered and it's about four feet deep. There is a second pool at the rear of the ship, but it too is very small. Nothing like the Amsterdam or other newer cruise ships. Also, don't plan on spending much time in the casino. It is VERY SMALL. Not more that about twenty slots and maybe three tables.
Be sure and take a good book with you. On the at sea days there is nothing to do on this ship. I have never seen a line with so few activities as this one. I guess when you serve older people that's what they want.
The internet cafe is nice, but the connection is very slow. Take the 250 minute option. It will take that long to send a few e-mails.
My mother in law traveled with us and she is the one that picked Holland America. She has traveled on about ten trips with Holland America and it is her favorite line. She was very upset with the Princendam. She often said that if it was her first trip on Holland America it would be her last. The bottom line is that this ship is old and beat up. It does not fit the standards of the Holland America Line. (Are you listening HAL?) I realize that Holland America needed a smaller ship for their world cruises, but this is not the ship. Sell this tub while you can and build a ship that fits your standards. I would strongly suggest you take another cruise line if you want to visit Australia and New Zealand.